Hi Everyone! Before I post this chapter I’m going to write a [not so] quick note. I know the usual ‘tradition’ is to have some sort of separate post with this type of note, and then link to the actual chapter. However, I intend to eventually delete this note, so I would like to avoid creating issues with links to the chapter and flow between chapters.
First, thank you for reading!
Second! When I first started this novel, it was my first time MTLing anything, period. I had read other translated novels, but that was the extent of my experience. In fact, I’d only discovered danmei existed a couple months prior—manga was really my environment for BL. So, I made the decision to follow the majority of the google translation tense and have it be present tense. I’m not sure why. I don’t know if I’ve read a novel in present tense that wasn’t from a first person pov. It was awkward, and I often slipped out of tense.
So, this is the plan. I have, as of this chapter, switched over to past tense. There will probably still be mistakes. Once I finish Screen Partner (31 chapters total, I’m on chapter 16 right now), I will go back to PUP chapter 1 and start fixing those chapters. Once I catch up to here I will delete this note.
I have been contemplating doing this for a while (especially once I started the other projects), but a lot of my feedback has finally kicked my butt to do it. I was stubborn. I admit it.
Now a WONDERFUL GIFT!!!! One of my amazing readers, Ima, made some beautiful, amazing, wonderful fan art. She said it wasn’t that good. I think its FANTASTIC. It’s a before/after haircut shot. I’m absolutely over the moon about it. I am also excited because I think, that someday, we can maybe hope for more!!!!!! If you happen to want to use this photo somewhere, give credit where credit is due! Ima, if you have a blog please comment/email me the link and I’ll add it in here.
“Then, quickly hand over the task list.”
Nami laughed charmingly. Her hands were not at all delicate, and they looked very powerful as she held them out in front of Xi Wei and Zeno, and urged them to give her the task list.
Xi Wei took the task list in his hand. It was still warm to the touch since it had been exposed to the sun on their walk back to the guild hall. It was unmarked, and in the same condition as when it had been given to him by Nami.
The young and illiterate protagonist made eye contact with Nami, who could only sigh in frustration, “Young man, don’t look at me like that, the task list is necessary in order to be paid for everyone. If you don’t turn it in, we cannot calculate your contribution points, and you can’t get your next task.”
Xi Wei was not intimidated by her, “What should I do?”
Nami thought that this young boy was a poor communicator, and did not know how to express himself.
Unfortunately, one thing this quiet protagonist lacked was a tactful expression, so Zeno decided to personally go to battle. He threw his moral integrity into the corner, and showed off his cleverness towards Nami, “Jiejie, please help us write it, we can’t.”
Unsure of whether or not it was an illusion, Zeno felt that when Xi Wei heard him speak those words he silently gave him praise for them. Sure enough, his protagonist did not care about saving face; if they could achieve their objective then any method would do!
Nami smiled wryly, “Usually when there are members who cannot write the list themselves then the employer will do it, but you are in a very special situation. Your employer is a blind person. In cases like these, the guild has alternative options.”
Nami opened her mouth to speak, but then stopped.
Xi Wei did not ask her about it—he knew that the woman would explain it herself.
Sure enough, Nami saw that Xi Wei had no reaction at all. Disappointed, she made a “tut” sound and shook her head, and then said, “However, the guild won’t help for free. For each task list that we assist you with, we will take a 5% commission from your reward.”
This fee was actually very expensive. Since it was based on a percentage of the total reward, rather than a fixed cost, it was glaringly apparent that the people who had developed those fees were profiteers.
Owing to the particular nature of the tasks being carried out, the assurance of confidentiality, and the fact that the average person cannot complete the task list themselves; most mercenaries would rather have the guild complete the list than try find someone themselves.
Xi Wei tightly clenched the paper bag he was holding in his hand; inside the bag were the fish steaks that Xia An had given them as payment.
Nami saw that he had not acted, and helplessly urged Xi Wei, “Handsome little guy, in the end would you like to hire me to help you write your task list?”
Zeno could not bear to watch—he did not want to see what Nami’s reaction would be when she saw that her commission would be coming from that bag of fish.
Xi Wei handed the paper bag over to Nami and uttered, “Commission.”
Naomi took the oily paper bag with a faint sense of ominous foreboding. Mr. Xi Lun1 had warned her to keep a special eye on the young beggar—and be ready for surprises. Despite her strength as a third-level warrior, Nami was still a bit reluctant to open up the bag to see what was hidden inside.
As expected, her premonition proved true. The paper bag contained only ten golden fish steaks. The fish was still cool and fragrant, and Nami, who had not eaten dinner, involuntarily swallowed.
However, she quickly recalled the current situation, and not sure whether she should laugh or cry, asked, “Young man, was your payment these fish steaks?”
Xi Wei nodded very casually.
Nami choked on her words, unable to spit them out or swallow them. The mercenary guild charged a commission of 5% across the board, but there was no rule that it must be money. She could not come up with any grounds for refusal.
What was the commission on ten fish steaks? Half a fish steak?
Eventually Nami twisted a piece off the fish steak she took, and held it in her mouth, chewing it, while filling out the task list at a table. On completion, she gave the paper bag with nine steaks and one copper coin to Xi Wei.
Because the market price of a fish steak was two copper coins, Nami felt that she owed him that much.
Having done all these things, the twilight had long since arrived. Xi Wei held the fish in his left arm, and held Zeno’s hand in his right, and they walked down the road towards home. For the first time in his life, it seemed like he had that thing called hope.
Zeno clutched Xi Wei’s fingers tightly with one hand, and rubbed his stomach with the other.
Within a moment, a fish steak was pressed against Zeno’s lips, and Xi Wei spoke in monotone, “Eat.”
Zeno leaned his head back and pouted. He gestured towards Xi Wei that he wanted him to eat first. In the dim light, Xi Wei’s brow seems wrinkled, and he coldly asked, “Don’t want to eat it?”
When Xia An had first spoken of the fish steak, Xi Wei had stared at Xia An for a long time with a thoughtful look on his face.
He was obviously in a cheerful mood; Zeno rubbed his eyes, overcome by the sight of his happy protagonist.
He bit into the fish steak, and chewed it in a covert manner. In his heart, nothing about the flavour was getting through to him.
Xi Wei continued to work in the Mercenary Guild in this way. Because he was so young, there were not many suitable tasks for him to do. The ones that he could complete were mainly errands and odd jobs.
If the journey to his task was fairly long, Xi Wei would use strips of cloth to secure Zeno to his back and bring him along. This had no affect on the work, and it had the benefit of keeping Zeno safe and within his sight.
Zeno clutched a towel in his hand, and held an old canteen in his bosom when they were on the road. That way he could either help wipe Xi Wei’s sweat or quench his thirst2.
They continued to work at Xia An’s home once a week, and every week it was like a human-cat war. While they fought, Zeno took advantage of his identity as a child, and chatted with Xia An, trying to gauge the likelihood that the youth would blacken. But, each time, he came up with nothing.
The Elf Queen still dropped in to see them occasionally. Xiao Wu would still recklessly barge into their space, and make Zeno do something that would have him 囧. They had finally freed themselves from their lives filled with hunger; everything seemed to be getting better and better.
In the blink of an eye, two years had passed since Zeno had come into this world. When the winter snow gently fell once again, Zeno absent-mindedly realized that time had been flying by so swiftly.
Xi Wei was thirteen-years-old, and because his nutrition was finally able to match his needs, he could grow properly. Before, Zeno could easily grasp his fingers, but now if he wanted to do that then Xi Wei would have to bend over at the waist for him.
Zeno was two and a half years old, and he grew more and more—just like Xi Wei. As he matured from a baby to a child, the soft lines on his face had also become hale and hearty. At first glance, he looked quite similar to Xi Wei.
Xiao Wu often lamented. She felt that the increasing masculinization of a girl was no good; in response Zeno could only clench his jaw and swallow down the rising blood, darkly rubbing his hands together while waiting for a ‘sensible’ age to give her a great ‘surprise’.
When all was said and done, waiting for an appropriate age became unnecessary. On the very next day, Ye Sa City had been transformed into a vast expanse of white. Xi Wei once again bathed Qiqi for Xia An, and then turned to depart.
From far away, their broken little boat was easy to spot, bobbing gently below the low arch of the bridge. Right next to that was Xiao Wu’s pink-clad figure, and apparently she had been standing there for quite some time—she constantly stamped her feet and blew on her hands as they watched.
Zeno released his grip on Xi Wei’s fingers, and ran up to Xiao Wu. She adjusted Zeno’s collar out of habit, and then stuffed a candy into his mouth like usual.
Although not much different than usual, Zeno was acutely aware that her mood was low. In line with his mentality of caring for friends and future flowers, Zeno asked, “Are you unhappy Xiao Wu-jie3?
Xiao Wu was surprised for a moment, and then laughed incredulously, “This little one is truly attentive.”
There was snow swirling and drifting outside, and the weather was frigid. Zeno grabbed Xiao Wu’s cuffs and dragged her towards the boat cabin, but she stopped him and said, “I do not need to go in. I just came to say a few words to you.”
Zeno felt a faint sense of foreboding within his heart.
“Little one, your jiejie is leaving. Baba said that he is willing to stop doing those bad things, and he sold off all of his properties and businesses in Ye Sa City. He is willing to take me to learn martial arts; I will study hard, and become a strong warrior, famous across the continent. ”
Indeed, in the “Curse” story line, when they had originally shown up, they had not been living in Ye Sa City. Therefore, the news that the scar-faced man had decided that he and Xiao Wu would leave here was likely not false.
Xiao Wu did not seem to expect that Zeno would understand her words. She bent down to give the little one a big bear hug, and whispered in his ear, “Little one, you will have to grow up quickly so you can come find jiejie in the future. Don’t forget about me! You must not be deceived by that bad man.”
She did not know where this little one’s mother was, but she had a feeling that Xi Wei had cheated on her.
Zeno laughed and cried a little inside, and endured, and ultimately did not make an issue about his own sex. Perhaps, now that they were saying their goodbyes, his gender was not that important compared to other things.
Let Xiao Wu keep this time as a beautiful memory.
When Xiao Wu brushed past, Xi Wei spoke for the first time, “If I want to kill, I’ll do it. I don’t care if I have to use a blade or poison.”
Xi Wei spoke these terrifying words without any apparent reason, and then hugged Zeno to him again and climbed into the dilapidated boat cabin.
Xiao Wu was shocked silent for a moment, and then she began angrily scolding, “You bastard, who could be like you, spending all day thinking of murder ah! Pervert! Lunatic!”
After those words she ran away, swift as the wind.
Zeno held his forehead in dismay. My protagonist, why did you have to say such misleading words? Obviously Xi Wei wanted to say that if Xiao Wu wanted to be so powerful, why care about learning martial arts over magic?
In order to learn from her idol, Xia Zuo, Xiao Wu had always insisted on learning martial arts. Unfortunately, her martial arts talent was inferior to her magic skills, and Xi Lun was very disapproving. However, although Xiao Wu looked like she had a good temperament; she was actually very stubborn, and that could prove very troublesome.
He did not know how much he cried for this matter.
Zeno could not help thinking of his past life, when children who disagreed with their parents about what they wanted for their future were pressured to conform to their parents’ dreams for them. He could understand Xiao Wu’s bitterness.
She did not know that Xi Wei reacted with a sense of irony. The straightforward Xiao Wu may never be able to understand his words.
Xiao Wu had to leave. After two years of getting along well, both people were a bit emotional; Zeno felt a rare wave of sadness engulf him.
Xi Wie’s appearance remained unchanged as always—it was impossible to tell whether it was due to his constant facial paralysis, or whether he was completely unmoved by the news.
Zeno reasoned that although Xiao Wu was leaving, he still had his protagonist. If a day came that he had to part with Xi Wei, he was not sure how he could bear it. This world was vast, but there was nowhere he wished to go if it meant separating.
I intend, unless I change my mind, to complete two chapters of RAAS before coming back to PUP next. Those chapters tend to go quite quickly, so hopefully it won’t cause much of a delay. I am sorry if it does. We finally got a bit of a time skip though!!
- In this instance I have left Mr. in front of his name since Nami is the one referring to him. She does not not have a more intimate/personal relationship with him so I’m trying to show that distance/respect with this way of addressing.
- I took massive liberties with this. Not because I had difficulties. But because it was the stupidest paragraph ever. It was not important to the plot in any way, and now it actually makes sense. I’m sorry. I’m bad. I’m not actually sorry. But I am still for real Canadian.
- Basically means Elder Sister [name goes here], rather than just addressing them as elder sister. Which you could probably figure out without me telling you, but I thought I ought to say.