“Can’t you see?” The youth spoke in a way that seemed unintentional. When Zeno heard those words he felt a burst of guilty conscience. However, he still quickly covered his left eye as well, and then took two steps, pretending that he could not see at all. After that, he continued to deliberately knock into the table legs, and then sat on the ground in pain, rubbing his forehead.
Xi Wei turned a blind eye to Zeno’s selling meng; he was just thinking seriously about how to bathe the cat.
The youth did not receive an answer, so he was somewhat at a loss. He extended a hand towards Zeno, bending over slightly to help up the child on the ground. Zeno crawled up to seize the warm fingers of the young man, using them to pull himself up.
The youth asked again, “Can you not see?”
The youth gawked for a second, and then apologized, “I’m sorry, I thought you bumped into it because you couldn’t see things like me. When I was a child, I often walked into furniture and things like that.”
It was said that the other senses of blind people become very keen—these words were true. The youth only had a few clues about the general situation yet figured it out; if you gave him eight he would guess nine and ten.
Zeno thought that this was true nobility: humble, courteous, and open-minded.
However, how could such a person live in Ye Sa City?
This city was such a chaotic place—any person of means would not be willing to stay here. But since they were here to bathe the cat, it was not right to pry into their employer’s private life. Zeno could only swallow down his curiosity.
Xi Wei was an uncommunicative person, and the young man did not have an outgoing and talkative personality. Zeno was too young to talk too much. For a time, the house was quiet.
Fortunately, not long after, the quiet was interrupted by a ‘meow’, and a white shadow quickly and gracefully leaped onto the shoulders of the youth, who smiled happily. He reached up to caress the small animal on his shoulder, gently rubbing the fur along its back, and spoke in a way that revealed he must really spoil this cat, “Qiqi, I’ve said many times not to go out alone, what would I do if someone captured you?”
The white cat meowed twice and licked the young man’s cheeks with his moist tongue, all while flicking his tail in a pleased manner. It seemed the cat knew just how much he was loved.
The youth helplessly shook his head, then grabbed the cat by the scruff of his neck and passed him over to Xi Wei, asking, “Sorry to trouble you, but please help Qiqi, this naughty bundle, take a bath.”
Xi Wei solemnly intended to take over in order to start his first job. However, who could know that as soon as that cat heard the word ‘bath’ he would break away from the young man, appearing in the blink of an eye a safe distance away from the boys. Their thin employer simply could not hold him back, and his eyes could not see, so he could only stand in place awkwardly.
Zeno’s little body was not of much help in this situation, so shutting the door should be more than enough. Xi Wei and the young man seemed to have an optimistic attitude about bathing the cat, but Zeno could see through this creature’s bad attitude at a glance. Zeno just walked to the door, and soon a crisp “click” sounded as the door latched—the cat war has begun.
“Qiqi, Qiqi you come out okay? Be good,” called the youth gently.
Zeno walked back and forth between the tables and chairs, using his small size to his advantage. In the struggle to capture the delinquent white cat, it was time to show his techniques!
It did not matter if this task was dignified; it was an iron rice bowl3 for he and the protagonist!
Zeno’s eyes were completely filled with dollar signs at this point. He was initially worried about getting his clothing dirty, but fortunately the employer was a rich man, so the house had wooden floors.
Xi Wei was also very busy, trying his best to seize Qiqi, but the cat was intuitively cunning, leaping and dodging all of their attempts with its small and flexible build. The three boys were tired to death, but they still only managed to grasp a few hairs.
The golden haired youth had a face full of exasperation, and earnestly apologized to Xi Wei, “Sorry, my Qiqi is really naughty. I’m one of the few who can hold it, except that I can seldom catch it in these cases. However, even if it is wishful thinking, I had really wanted Qiqi to bathe.”
Zeno finally stopped being so useless, and crawled out from under the table. He removed a white hair from his little bald head, and stood in front of his employer, “Sir, did Qiqi eat?”
The white cat seemed to have a premonition of the sinister plans being carried out by Zeno. The cat meowed loudly, all of its fur stood on end, and it perched on a chair, baring its teeth at Zeno.
Zeno smiled proudly; he could not keep up this game of tag they are all playing.
Their employer suddenly realized what he was hinting at, and with a happy expression he said in an exaggerated voice, “Qiqi, if you do not take a bath today, then at dinner I will have to give this little brother your fish to eat.”
Qiqi reluctantly jumped twice to come over, meowing angrily.
The blonde youth reached for Qiqi, scratched his chin, and then looked unfocused, towards Xi Wei, “Come with me.”
Xi Wei was not a curious person, but at this moment the situation had moved beyond his cognition. In his mind, cats were as dirty as the little beggars, with their green eyes glowing in the night, chasing mice and rummaging through the garbage. That some people would raise them as pets, and then pay others to bathe them, was already a surprise. However, that this cat could actually understand their speech was actually a bit frightening!
“The cat can understand?”
When he heard Xi Wei’s question, the blonde youth froze, stunned, “Ah, although Qiqi looks like a cat, it actually has unicorn blood. It’s not a normal cat, so it knows what I am saying.”
Xi Wei did not ask any more questions, and he vaguely felt that this world seemed to be exceeding his understanding of what he has learned over the more than a dozen years behind him. As to what these changes meant for him, he could not tell.
Zeno walked up and pulled on his pant legs. Xi Wei did not hold him all the time, but when they went out, he would do so to prevent him from being lost. If his protagonist was gone, to whom could he cry? Who could compensate him with another Xi Wei, exactly the same?
Over time, it had become a habit.
The treatment Qiqi received was indeed enough for 90% of the people living in Ye Sa City to be jealous. Hungry and cranky, Zeno accidentally hit Xi Wei’s legs because he did not notice that the protagonist had stopped walking.
The room they entered was actually dedicated to bathing and grooming cats, and it was very well equipped. There was a small bathtub, hairbrushes, and combs—everything you might need. The young man dropped the unhappy white cat into the empty tub, and then began directing Xi Wei on what to do.
Xi Wei maintained total silence as he completed the task, following the youth’s instructions meticulously. That included where to find hot or cold water, how to achieve a moderate water temperature, and how to lightly sprinkle the water on the white cat without splashing it—the list went on.
The whole process was an eye-opener for Zeno; bathing was actually so stressful for cats. Before coming they thought this task was probably relatively simple, but they really did not understand.
Zeno was on one side, helping hold down the cat. Since it was summer, the two boys’ faces were all sweaty. The cat was struggling and splashed a lot of water outside the bath, so of course, Zeno and Xi Wei’s clothes were wet.
Once Qiqi was finally clean and bundled up in a towel, he was handed to his master with great difficulty. Zeno leaned forward, panting, with his tongue out. It was good that Xi Wei often had to bath Zeno—he had a little experience, so he was not left too embarrassed.
According to Nami, the remuneration for every bath was ten copper coins. Zeno used his fingers to calculate; well, for about two days they would not have to go hungry.
The blonde teenager’s face bore a playful expression. He held a towel gently in his hand, using it to help wipe Qiqi’s wet fur. After that he groped around until he found a comb, and then prepared to comb out Qiqi’s fur.
Zeno tried to use his tiny hand as a fan to cool himself, but found that his hand was too small to properly play that role. He wiped the sweat off his face, and then quickly moved to tidy up the bath area with his protagonist. He stood on his tiptoes, reaching up to wipe Xi Wei as well.
Xi Wei’s hands paused, but his expressionless face showed no change.
When the cleaning was complete, their employer opened his mouth again, “The reward decided on with the Mercenary Guild was ten copper coins, but that was the basic reward. You’ve helped me a lot, and I can’t let you go back when you’ve had such trouble made for you by Qiqi. There is another bathroom next door, and you could take a bath in there.”
The blonde paused, then bashfully explained, “Unfortunately, I did not expect that there would be two mercenaries, so I’ll have to inconvenience you two, and have you wash up together.”
However, it was fine with Zeno, since he is small enough to allow for the two boys to fit easily. The biggest difference was that this time it was not just the little one, but the two of them would wash up together.
Xi Wei started running the hot water until he was happy with the water temperature, and then helped Zeno get undressed. Zeno obediently allowed the protagonist to undress him and lifted him into the tub. In the beginning, he was uncomfortable with the fact that that someone would have to help him if he wanted to bathe, but the more times it happened, the more he grew used to it.
However, this was the first time he would get to take a bath with Xi Wei. Zeno was filled with excitement over the fact that he would be so close to his idol.
Xi Wei almost looked emaciated, but due to his high amounts of exercise, coupled with the transformation wrought on his body by the ring, he was a far cry from the weak beggar he once was. Taking three hits was no longer a problem, but fighting was a waste of energy. Since he often could not eat, Xi Wei never bothered to do it.
Zeno silently gave his protagonist a thumbs-up.
Xi Wei hung their semi-wet clothes on the windowsill; the summer sun was blazing hot and would quickly dry them.
Xi Wei first grabbed Zeno and scrubbed him clean from head to foot, and then proceeded to wash himself.
Zeno yawned and squinted from his one eye towards Xi Wei; his shoulders had not yet broadened, but they were still covered with many scars—big and small. Zeno thought of scars as a man’s badge of honour; not to mention he was also handsome, which was also noticeable when he slept. When they finished bathing, the boys climbed out of the tub, dried themselves, and got dressed.
“Here is your payment,” the youth said as he handed Xi Wei a small bag.
“I don’t want it,” answered Xi Wei in a low, cold voice.
“Why?” Asked the young man, very surprised.
Xi Wei said, “We do not want money.”
Zeno rubbed his eyes, grabbed Xi Wei’s neck out of habit, and twisted his face to look at their employer.
The employer had a wry smile, “I am fully prepared to pay the full amount,” he sighed, “What do you want?”
Xi Wei looked at the cat that was full of hostility, adjusted Zeno within his arms, and admitted with a lowered head, “Fish steak.”
The youth was lost for a moment before Xi Wei’s words sunk in. When they did, his face broke into a huge smile, he even had a shallow dimple, and then he nodded.
Before he walked out, the blonde asked, “Was it Xi Wei? My name is Xia An, if you wish, would you like to be friends?”
Xi Wei did not answer.
Xia An ‘watched4’ them from the threshold as they walked away, and murmured, “Xi Lun, you did not lie to me, thank you.”
Zeno, who was shocked by the name ‘Xia An’, was feeling out of sorts. Whenever he forgot about the existence of the plot, the plot jumped out of the bushes at him.
Xia An? That was the name of the first little boss taken down by the protagonist. He could not write it off as only a coincidence, because that clever little boss was also blind.
The only questionable point was that the boss from “Curse” was cruel and merciless, while the teenager named Xia An seemed peaceful and happy. The two entities seemed to be from totally different dimensions!
What happened in the next few years that caused Xia An’s temperament to change to such an extreme?
Xi Wei was accustomed to Zeno slipping into his trance-like state. The deepening colour of the sky indicated that it is growing late, so he accelerated his steps as he made his way back to the mercenary guild.
Nami was waiting for them, even moving to the hall from behind the counter to wait. When she saw them come in, she walked over leisurely, “So the handsome little guy has returned. Was the task completed?”
Xi Wei nodded.
Nami motioned towards the counter, “Then, quickly hand over the task list.”
Kind of a fun cat chapter. So I figured I better have a pic of a kitty. And Zeno is just a cute lil fanboy!
- 理直气壮 – an idiom that means one is bold and confident with justice on one’s side/to have the courage of one’s convictions ↩
- Gege – older brother (male equivalent of jiejie) ↩
- Iron Rice Bowl – means secure employment ↩
- I am pretty sure this doesn’t mean he can actually see, but he is just facing the direction they are leaving in. ↩