An incessant crackling and rattling sound was coming from all directions. Due to the constant shaking, any items that were on the table began to fall off and some even fell on Zeno’s feet. On the one hand, Zeno was trembling with fear as he attempted to dodge, while on the other hand, he covered his head to sneak away ignominiously1 as the ground below him leaned unsteadily from side to side.
In his past life, there had never been an earthquake where Zeno lived. The biggest disaster in his memory was a typhoon that occurred while he was still living in the orphanage. When the typhoon passed through he was taking a nap. By the time he woke up, the yard was a huge mess. Many of the children were disobedient and did not have their naps as they should have—they were all frightened and crying loudly. Zeno, who was sleeping like the dead, completely lacked any feelings about what had happened. He calmly comforted the other children of the orphanage.
In reality, natural disasters were very formidable and scary. Even just the motion sickness that was a hundred times more powerful than it would be from the regular causes was enough to make people feel sick and dizzy. Zeno resisted the nausea he felt and staggered towards the door. There was only one train of thought in his mind: go outside, get to an open place, won’t get buried outside, Xi Wei is outside, I’m only safe with the protagonist.
However, his reverie was interrupted by the cry of a cat. Qiqi issued a mournful scream, its voice sharp and harsh. Even in the middle of this ‘earthquake’, it could not be ignored.
Zeno turned his head in a hurry and glanced towards the sound. An unstable bottle gourd rolled back to the center of the house and stopped at Xia An’s feet. Xi An was blind and could not see anything. When the earthquake started, he was quickly knocked unconscious by an object that was flying around. However, he was in good luck. After he collapsed on the ground, he conveniently ended up underneath the table.
Zeno felt foolish. Boss Xia An had left a deep impression on him, to the point that he felt as if Xia An was almost invincible. When he suddenly saw him get knocked out right before his eyes, he was so shocked that he actually forgot to escape.
So boss actually passed out in an earthquake?
The wall was crumbling to dust and the roof beams were swaying. Zeno coughed, wiped his nose, and noticed fresh blood on the hand he pulled back—it must have broken when he hit it on the table. No wonder he felt a constant ache and had no control over his leaking tear ducts.
Zeno continued clutching his nose, and no longer tried to stand up amidst the strong vibrations. He resorted to lying on the ground and did his utmost to climb under the table, and hovered pitifully next to Xia An. Thankfully he had learned earthquake survival tips from watching xx News Network. Although he did not remember much, he knew that he could hide under the table.
It was not that Zeno changed his mind and chose to risk his life and stay with Xia An. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the upheaval, cabinets and chairs sliding along the floor and getting stuck in front blocked the door to the house. With Zeno’s small arms and legs, it was impossible for him to move properly through such a harsh environment and then move such heavy items.
Time passed by and the earthquake still showed no signs of stopping. Xia An was still unconscious and there were constantly things smashing down around them. Zeno could only clutch his ears and make himself as small as possible.
Slam! Slam! Along with a smashing sound, there was even a sign that the cupboard that blocked the door was slowly moving. There were only three people and one cat currently at the house. It went without saying that there was only one person who could be on the other side of the door. Zeno looked up excitedly and knocked his forehead on the table leg again. He thought, in pain, that he must have some enmity with Xia An’s family’s table legs. It seemed like his forehead, nose, and brain all needed to meet the table legs at least once.
It was unclear if the protagonist’s halo played a role, but after Xi Wei slammed against the door for a while, the vibrations around them gradually subsided and there were no longer various items flying around the house. Zeno was still prostrate with fear under the table, unwilling to attempt an escape.
In the absence of tremors from the earthquake, Xi Wei finally shoved the door open. His face did not show any fluctuating emotions, but the sweat dripping down his forehead and his heaving chest showed just how intensely he was working to get in.
The two were positioned opposite from one another, and Zeno’s body reacted faster than his head. He crawled out from under the table on his hands and feet, and threw himself into Xi Wei’s arms.
After this calamity passed, Zeno felt like he had a renewed lease on life. However, he was still trembling due to some lingering fear. Xi Wei’s arms were also shaking due to his excessive physical exertion.
Xi Wei checked Zeno over thoroughly and touched him up and down. He found that only the bridge of his nose was broken and bleeding—there was nothing serious anywhere else. At most, some places were bruised and only appeared severe.
How can they not be afraid? In the face of nature’s power, the lives of ordinary people are so fragile ah.
Qiqi mewed pitifully, biting Xia An’s sleeve and trying to drag him out. Unfortunately he was far too small. Even with all four legs straining, to the point that every white hair on its body stood on end, he was helpless. Qiqi cried sadly and licked Xia An’s cheek.
Zeno’s strength was much greater than Qiqi, but naturally he was unable to help however much he would like to. He could only pull his own protagonist over and let Xi Wei attend to the situation.
Xi Wei was silent, but he still dragged Xia An out from under the table and then lifted his employer, despite the fact that Xia An was taller, in a princess carry. He brought him to the bedroom and threw him onto the bed.
Xia An was merely passed out for a short time and would soon awaken. He was breathing evenly—it seemed like nothing serious.
As for how clean the bed and bedroom were after the earthquake, it is not something the mercenary Xi Wei should care about.
People in a disaster could not accurately perceive the passage of time. Zeno felt that a long time had passed, when in fact, it had been a relatively short period of time. Yet, during this short time, all of Ye Sa City had suffered a huge disaster. Everything was in ruins; the houses that were not sturdy collapsed into rubble. Many of the trees in the streets were actually sheared off, and others were ripped from the ground—roots and all. Some trees even slanted into the walls of roadside houses.
They were fortunate; as they moved through the streets they saw many people who had come out far worse. In one case, a severed tree trunk had pierced directly into the wall—it looked almost like a person who was chopped in half at the waist. Zeno, who had never seen this level of devastation, almost vomited out last night’s meal.
Xi Wei pressed Zeno’s head onto his shoulder and calmly passed through the city streets, which were mostly ruins.
Zeno had not choice but to admit that, despite living years and months before he crossed over to live with Xi Wei, because he was able to grow up in a relatively peaceful environment in China, he possessed less than one-tenth the mental toughness of Xi Wei. Adversity always urged people to prematurely confront the cruel darkness of reality.
Xi Wei’s cold and detached behaviour to their current surroundings did not frighten Zeno. On the contrary, it caused his heart to be filled all the more with pity and sorrow.
When he thought of that, Zeno could no longer blindly avoid it. Since he had chosen to help Xi Wei develop the plot and become a god in the future, then he must start to act within his own capacity now. How else could he accompany Xi Wei who was destined for foul winds and bloody rain throughout his life?
When they passed the Mercenary Guild, Xi Wei paused. The two gold-clad pillars in front of the guild were broken, and the formerly tall and magnificent façade appeared to be broken down rubble. Nami spearheaded the efforts to clean up by having mercenaries remove the mess and start the reconstruction of the guild building.
Xi Wei stood for a moment and then started to leave. Nami had come out for a breath of fresh air and her sharp eyes spotted him and saw his intentions.
“Handsome little guy…Xi Wei? You’re still standing!”
Xi Wei and Zeno only had feelings for the scene of utter disarray before them when the surprised Nami stopped in front of them.
Nami managed to tame her slightly messy long hair and took a deep breath, then said, “Since you have come here why not help? The guild renovation is just lacking manpower. This handsome little guy shouldn’t even have to contemplate not taking on this task, the pay will be very good.”
Nami had obviously caught Xi Wei’s weakness and knew that the best way of dealing with him was by using a task as bait.
Sure enough, Xi Wei agreed after a brief consideration.
So they were intercepted at the Mercenary Guild and began a new round of miscellaneous tasks.
A few days later the work at the Mercenary Guild was almost completely finished and new news came to them. This time the earthquake was indeed caused by the avalanches on the mountains near Nice. The recent avalanches were more violent than before; they had never actually affected Ye Sa City before now. A few days ago the entire northern part of the city had been completely buried in snow. There were countless dead, their corpses scattered about, but no one went to collect the corpses.
Surprisingly, there were new clues about the treasure in the snow-capped mountains of Nice, so there was no shortage of greedy desperadoes advancing, undaunted, in wave upon wave.
From that winter onwards, Ye Sa City seemed to have opened Pandora’s box2. Every winter there was at least five or six earthquakes, as well as avalanches caused by the earthquakes. No one dared go to Northern Ye Sa City.
Recently, Zeno had felt some indistinct jitters within his heart. It was roughly his fifth year in this world. Xi Wei was sixteen years old, and they were finally coming to the beginning of the main story of “Curse”. However, according to the protagonist’s character, he would never take the initiative to leave the familiar Ye Sa City unless there was something happening that he could not survive.
In other words, something ‘bad’ would soon happen. The avalanches that happened every winter seemed to be commonplace now. The answer seemed to be pretty straightforward. The problem must lie with the so-called ‘treasure’.
Once again Zeno cursed the author in his heart. How can you not write these events out?!
In the past three years, Zeno finally stopped moving toward being a look-alike of Xi Wei, and instead became more like the body’s mother—Evelyn. In short, he looked like a little girl, which made him extremely distressed. Since Nami always wanted to ridicule him about this matter, combined with the girly clothing left for him by Xiao Wu, almost 100 arguments ensued. If not for his conspicuous bald head, Zeno really would have wanted to hit the wall.
What kind of big man looks like a little girl? I may as well resemble the protagonist—Xi Wei looks so handsome!
As usual, the task form was given to Nami and Xi Wei stood by waiting for her to complete writing it out. After Nami finished and the ink had dried, she smiled at them. She was still beautiful and charming, but when she smiled a hint of visible fine lines appeared around her crinkled eyes.
Today’s Nami was a bit unusual. Instead of wearing her usual favourite, a red dress, she had donned blue light armour. Her hair was no longer flowing loose; it was tied up at the back with a ribbon. She was still beautiful, but also gave off a feeling of heroic spirit.
“Xi Wei, you have not learned martial arts, correct?”
Xi Wei did not understand her intention behind asking this question, but he nodded in agreement.
Nami opened the desk drawer, took out a slightly old-fashioned book, smoothed it with the palm of her hand, and said, “This is a basic martial arts technique, originally…Mr. Xi Lun gave it to me. Now that you have reached the age at which you can learn martial arts, I will give it to you. I hope you can study hard.”
Both Zeno and Xi Wei were taken aback. As it turned out, the beautiful Nami was actually acquainted with the scar-faced man? No wonder she had been taking care of them all this time. Xi Lun had unexpectedly entrusted their care to her?
Nami seemed reluctant to say any more. She stuffed the basic martial art technique book into Zeno’s hands and touched his little bald head and smiled, “Goodbye little one.”
The sun sets in the west and it was indeed time for the Mercenary Guild to close for the night. The boys watched Nami’s back as she left down the road. Zeno then looked down the book in his hand and recalled one line in his mind.
The wind brought rain that filled the gable and streaked down the building wall.
So. That first paragraph had like, three idioms in one sentence. Whyyyyyyy.
Second, a little info from the last chapter. We learned that Hill’s real name was Asil. It’s a really small detail, but one of Xiao Wu’s heroes is Xia Zuo, the first martial artist on the continent (100 years ago). The one who came to pick up Hill had the same name. His wife was ‘Princess’ Asil. I also just found out that the author has another novel that seems to be about their story.
Lastly, I’m not sure what line Zeno recalled, but I don’t think it was about the rain. But…BUT…he’s five now!
- First off, the original idiom is ‘to cover one’s head and sneak away like a rat, but I don’t want to call Zeno a rat. Second, it means ‘to flee ignominiously’, and, thirdly, ignominious means deserving or causing public disgrace or shame. ↩
- MTL fun: google translate called it Pandora’s Ink Cartridges. Which is somehow fitting. If you don’t know what Pandora’s Box is please wiki it, it’s from Greek Mythology and needs a long explanation. Edit: there is a perfect explanation in the comments….you’ll know when you see it! ↩