Chapter 1: The Final Victor – translated by Samuki
“Let’s get started, Wicked. Don’t make me repeat myself,” my voice, laced with anger, rang out.
Wicked gazed at me solemnly, a trace of melancholy in his eyes. At long last he drew his sword and said, “Then, before that – I want to duel Zui. I can’t let you keep hogging the limelight.”
I scratched my cheek, wondering, Had I really been hogging the limelight? Okay…maybe just a little. “As you wish.”
I glanced over at Zui and Fan, just in time to see Fan being forced into a corner before being cut in half by Zui. Seems like Fan isn’t Zui’s match in one-to-one combat, despite being his superior when it comes to strategy and tactics… (Or should I say Fan’s a sneakier bastard?) Could it be that it was very cruel of me to have forcibly hauled Fan back from the brink of death, only to let Zui beat him to death? …Never mind! At the very least, it’s better for him this way than being beaten to death by me instead.
After finishing Fan off, Nan Gong Zui walked slowly toward me. It can’t be that he wants to challenge me to a duel, can it? Interesting! I thought. With a faint smile I raised Black Dao, readying myself. I watched as Nan Gong Zui drew closer to me with each step. He’s about to attack! I tensed up…
“Thank you, Prince,” Zui said suddenly.
“…Huh?” I froze. Thank me? I massacred all his allies and still the man wants to thank me?
“You gave Fan and I the chance for a fair duel to the death,” Nan Gong Zui hastened to clarify as he eyed my unconvinced expression. “Besides, that was the main reason why I entered the tournament in the first place.”
“Oh… Ah, right, Wicked said that he wants to fight you first.” I pointed over at Wicked.
Nan Gong Zui simply smiled upon hearing that. “There’s no need; I’m the only one left in my alliance, so there’s no point in fighting on. Besides, I have more important matters to settle, so you might as well kill me now, Prince,” he said, a deep melancholy in his eyes.
His gloomy mood rubbed off on me, and I said softly, “All right then…”
Before I had even finished what I was saying, a sword’s blade suddenly pierced through Zui’s chest –and the owner of the sword was none other than Wicked. Wicked wore an irate expression as he looked at Zui.
I can overlook the fact that this fellow became friends with Xiao Lan, he thought, and it’s no big deal if he had the opportunity to be carried by Xiao Lan in her arms. But now he actually dares to ask Xiao Lan to kill him? Why can’t he just go and find some place to die quietly by himself?
“Wicked, what are you doing?” I exclaimed, deeply displeased. “Zui already said he wanted me to kill him!”
A flicker of realization darted across Nan Gong Zui’s face as he looked at Wicked’s resentful gaze. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter, Prince,” Zui said. “After I’ve settled my business, I’ll look you up for a drink…”
The conversation was once again interrupted as a translucent arrow was fired from behind me, on my right, landing squarely in the middle of Nan Gong Zui’s forehead. The culprit, Gui, threw a cold glance at Nan Gong Zui. I thought, I guess you could say that Gui was more chivalrous than Wicked; at least he waited for Nan Gong Zui to say that he would come back to look for me before he finished him off!
Watching as Nan Gong Zui’s pillar of white light shot off into the sky, Gui and Wicked both revealed sinister, satisfied smiles as they thought,Who asked that slightly handsome bastard to get close to Prince!?
“Since when were the two of you on such good terms?” Even their smiles are identical, I thought as I looked suspiciously at those two butchers. However, as soon as I said that they immediately stopped smiling, and even glared hatefully at each other.
“Two weirdoes…” I muttered to myself.
I hefted my Black Dao and leveled it at Wicked. “Whatever the case, it’s now time for us to fight to the death once again, Wicked. I really missed your longsword – and your moves that seem to come out of nowhere!”
“Prince…” Xiao Lan…thought Wicked, pained. How could he possibly turn his blade on his beloved Xiao Lan? Originally, Wicked had planned to perish together with Nan Gong Zui, so that Xiao Lan would be spared from having to kill her friend, and also so that he wouldn’t have to swing his sword at his own beloved girl — even though it would mean letting down his friends in Dark Emperor!
Wicked looked towards his teammates and they returned his gaze expectantly, waiting for him to draw his sword. As for Feng Wu Qing, he had long since drawn his own rapier… Feng Wu Qing, if you knew that this was your own sister, would you still be able to attack her?
(Feng Lan: You don’t have to worry about that, he’ll be more than happy to thrash his sister – who stole his women from him – till kingdom come…)
I waited for Wicked to draw his sword, but for a long time he didn’t move an inch… Could it be that Zhuo-gēge wants to let me attack first? I frowned, feeling extremely ticked off. I want to win, but not this way! I roared, “Draw your sword!”
My fury only blazed more fiercely still as Wicked continued to look at me hesitantly. What’s this supposed to mean? That I can only win if people go easy on me? I—
Suddenly, Gui rested a hand on my shoulder and the look in his eyes seemed to be telling me to calm down. He walked up next to Wicked and murmured by the latter’s ear, “If you don’t want to lose Prince forever, then you’d better draw your sword. Any kind of concession on your part will only further agitate him. Do you still not understand what he’s like, even though you’ve known him for eight years?”
The problem is, Wicked thought, Xiao Lan didn’t use to be like this. In the game The World, she had always hidden behind him, and was always cajoling him to buy things for her. Wicked felt nostalgic as he recollected Xiao Lan’s impish antics, but… Now she’s really grown up. Now she’s always at the front of her team, always laughing delightedly even as she fights, weapon in hand; now she knows how to work hard for what she wants. Prince isn’t the old Xiao Lan anymore.
“I admire the current Prince…” But I miss the Xiao Lan from before, Wicked added silently in his heart.
Wicked looked steadily at Gui. “Watch your own back; even if you’ve just helped me, we’re still love rivals. Just you wait; I’ll still gut you like an animal later.”
Gui’s lips curled upwards slightly. “My words exactly.”
Wicked finally drew his sword, and I gave a satisfied swing of my Black Dao. Both teams began to prepare for the battle ahead. Wolf-dàgē hurriedly told Doll to summon her skeletal minions and then directed us to take up our positions. When the members of both teams had taken up their positions, the skeletons and I stood in a fan-shaped formation in front to protect the rest of the team, while Dark Emperor had Wicked and Feng Wu Qing at the fore.
Wolf-dàgē reminded us, “Everyone, the outcome of the battle will be determined the moment the mages cast their large-scale spells. As such, we have to either cast our spell first, or take down Ming Huang. Lolidragon, you’ll go and distract Playboy Lord, and no matter what you must not let them kill Yu Lian. If you can, finish Ming Huang off. Gui, you’ll have to pay attention to the enemy archer. Doll, you hide at the back as much as you can and keep the number of skeletons up. Your job is to stay alive. Last of all, Prince, your duty is to protect all the team members.”
All of us gave Wolf-dàgē an “OK” sign.
Wolf-dàgē observed Dark Emperor for a moment, and after making sure that their preparations were ready, he tore a corner off the hem of his shirt and threw it into the air. Everyone watched as it slowly drifted to the ground – and landed!
Both sides went into action simultaneously.
After releasing his breath explosively, the commentator Xiao Li exclaimed, “The final battle has begun at last! It’s a showdown between Odd Squad and Dark Emperor — which team will be the victors of the Adventurers’ Tournament? Presently, we can see the Blood Elf Prince engaged in battle with the dark elf Wicked, as well as the human swordsman Feng Wu Qing. The movement of their weapons is so rapid that I, Xiao Li, can’t even begin describing their moves.
“Prince is now executing a series of attacks, following it up with a flying kick, then a low kick… Wicked isn’t backing down either, crouching and whirling around quickly to evade Prince’s attack. Now it’s Wicked’s turn on the offensive with a Z-shaped attack, almost hitting Prince… Has it appeared; is that Prince’s ultimate attack? Heavens, a series of blows, all laced with flames, what an amazing move! But did it hit Wicked at all? Pity… Only one attack landed and once again there is a clash of blades. How will this contest between longsword and dao end?
“Next, let’s take a look at how Feng Wu Qing is decimating the ranks of skeletons with his rapier —he seems to be holding his own against eight skeletons! The way he handles his rapier is simply incredible; all of his attacks are deadly. The speed with which the skeletons’ HP is going down has left the necromancer in a fluster… Wait a minute! Everyone quick, look at the battle between the thieves; it’s like a fight between wind and wind. Did you see that? The two shadows are darting about the stadium relentlessly, drawing close to Odd Squad at times, forced back toward Dark Emperor at others, so quickly that I, Xiao Li, cannot differentiate one from the other!
“As for the mages on both sides… Are they preparing to cast large-scale magic? No, they’re both now maintaining shielding spells over their teams. It looks like neither mage is able to execute such attacks for fear of the long-range attackers on the opposing team. The mages and long-range attackers have come to a stalemate; it looks like they can only sit tight and hope that their warriors at the frontline will triumph, or that their thieves will be able to successfully assassinate members of the other team.”
I see, so it all depends on the warriors and thieves huh? I smiled. I definitely cannot lose to Lolidragon; otherwise she’ll use her piercingly shrill laughter to make jabs at me. I decided to step up the pace, increasing the speed of my attacks.
I wonder if you can still manage to keep up so effortlessly, Wicked? I smiled slightly.
“Ugh…!” A sudden flare of pain in my knee – Impossible! I’d clearly dodged all of Wicked’s blows! I looked down and saw that it was actually an arrow, its head buried in my knee. I raised my head to look at Ambusher and sure enough, he was smirking at me. Worse still, a whole volley of arrows was flying toward me. With an effort, I managed to roll away, but an arrow still found its mark in my left shoulder. Cold sweat poured down my back even as pain washed over me. Luckily, Wolf-dàgē immediately restored a large amount of the HP that I’d lost, so I was able to get back to my feet, but only with considerable effort on my part.
I turned around hurriedly to face Wicked in case he was going to make use of the opportunity to attack me…but he was just standing there with a look of reluctance on his face. I glared furiously at him and even swung my Black Dao in front of his face a couple of times. I think I must be the first person on Earth who’s ever had to remind the enemy in the middle of a fight to not hesitate to attack, and even to take advantage of the opportunity to land a sneak attack!
Wicked seemed to have finally decided to quit dawdling. “Flawless Circle of Profundity – True Blade of the Solitary Man.”
What a bizarre-sounding move… Of course, I’m not going to lose to you. “Watch me! Ringing Blade, Frenzied Strike!”
My Black Dao seemed to morph into a thousand copies, each blade striking Wicked from a different direction. Blood spurted as wounds appeared all over Wicked’s body, but…
True Blade of the Solitary Man indeed, I thought. I see. It’s completely different from my Ringing Blade, Frenzied Strike. That move of Wicked’s was designed to pierce just one time, but to hit a vital point in the process.
Unfortunately, due my wounded knee, I was only just barely able to prevent the attack from piercing my heart by shifting slightly. My daowas around twenty centimeters away from Wicked’s neck, whereas his longsword was buried deeply in the right side of my chest. Moreover, the point of the blade was angled towards the left side of my chest, at my heart. No matter how you look at it, it seems that I’ll be dead before him…
Back to main fight, neither Yu Lian, who was maintaining the protective shield, nor Gui, who was waiting for the opportunity to strike, had expected the enemy archer to leave the safety of his team’s shield to spring an attack on Prince. It was clearly a kamikaze strategy…but what was still more frustrating for them was that even though Yu Lian immediately dropped the protective shield, letting Gui rain a barrage of arrows on Ambusher, the archer continued to fire a number of shots at Prince before he died.
Gui quickly turned to check on Prince’s condition. Upon seeing the situation, his heart almost stopped, but lucky his hand continued to reflexively fire arrows. Wicked, who had not noticed Gui, was hit squarely in the middle of his forehead by an arrow. He looked at Gui with astonishment in his eyes before turning into a pillar of white light and shooting away into the sky.
I breathed a sigh of relief, but instantly the pain in the right side of my chest nearly overwhelmed me. Gripping my chest tightly, I forced myself to endure the agony as I waited for Wolf-dàgē to finish the incantation for the healing spell. I have to get rid of Ming Huang while he’s still casting the spell for the large-scale magic…
“Urgh!” I looked down disbelievingly at the blade that had just emerged from between my ribs, and then turned my head to look at the owner of the rapier… It’s a really complicated feeling, dying at the hands of your own brother! I thought. Feng Wu Qing, you bastard, you sure chose a good time to kill your sister!
“Prince…!” Gui gave an ear-shattering roar, but could only watch on helplessly as I followed in Wicked’s footsteps and turned into a pillar of light.
Ugly Wolf, who wasn’t able to cast the healing spell in time, could only direct the team to change tactics. “Doll, block Feng Wu Qing. Gui, get rid of the mage. Yu Lian…” Ugly Wolf turned toward Yu Lian, about to ask her to begin the incantation for her large-scale magic, but Yu Lian had already seen Ming Huang chanting the incantation and begun chanting her own.
Feng Wu Qing could see that the situation had turned against Dark Emperor. Should he hurry back and protect Ming Huang, or should he go up to Odd Squad and kill off their mage?
“Playboy, quit fooling around over there and come over here to help!” he roared, even as he backed up to Ming Huang, using his body to shield the latter and frantically deflecting Gui’s Supersonic Soul-chasing Arrows with his rapier.
Playboy Lord only smiled bitterly as he thought, Does Wu Qing think that I actually want to fool around? If he hadn’t been following that elf thief – who was fast as the wind and could burrow into the ground – closely, she would have assassinated heaven only knows how many members of Dark Emperor already. Still, as the situation seemed to call for a different strategy, Playboy Lord gave up on pursuing Lolidragon and turned his attention to the other members of Odd Squad.
Lolidragon and Playboy Lord were locked in a stalemate as they circled Yu Lian continuously. Playboy Lord knew that he would be unable to attack Yu Lian right in front of Lolidragon’s eyes. He smiled coldly, and with a light step, retreated several meters. He turned around at the same time and the dagger in his hand scored a line across Doll’s throat. Thus, adorable Doll was killed and the skeletons that had been about to pursue and attack Feng Wu Qing also crumbled into dust.
“Damn it!” With a single leap, Lolidragon jumped and landed right in front of Playboy Lord. Not caring that she was weaker than Playboy Lord in terms of physical strength, she attacked him in a flurry of dagger blows. Light danced and glinted off their daggers, and there was the sound of metal on metal as their blades met over and over again unrelentingly.
“… Wrath of the Nine Heavens!” Ming Huang spat out the final line of the incantation viciously.
“…Meteor Shower!” Yu Lian-dàsăo was only slower by a heartbeat.
Instantly, the earth and the skies began to heave violently…
“Shit,” both teams thought at the same time.
As an aftereffect of death, I was a little fuzzy-headed when I stepped back into the stadium and stood next to Ambusher, who had arrived a long while ago. I’d returned just in time to witness an amazing sight – Ming Huang’s lightning had consolidated into pillars of electricity, and there were so many meteors descending in Yu Lian-dàsăo’s meteor shower that you could lose track of the number of wishes you’d made on them. I searched the arena for signs of survivors…but unfortunately, I couldn’t see anyone.
“Don’t tell me it’s a draw again! Wicked and I survived the last time, but everyone perished this time around?” I remarked.
I waited silently for the spells to dissipate and for the outcome to be decided. Just then, Wicked too came to stand beside me quietly…and then came Doll, with two streaks of tears on her cheeks, and was whining about the pain as she came up to me. The seconds seemed to tick by slowly, and we grew tenser with each passing moment.
The commentator Xiao Li seemed to be just as eager as the audience to know the outcome. “Members of the audience, this is the moment of the tournament that we’ve been anticipating most. Which team will be the ultimate champions of the Adventurers’ Tournament, Dark Emperor or Odd Squad? Or were both teams annihilated? Ah… The spells have faded away. There seems to be figure in the midst of all that smoke; let’s see which side he or she belongs to. That’s, that’s… The person lying on the floor is Feng Wu Qing, the human swordsman from Dark Emperor! Although he’s close to death, he is still alive. The winning team has emerged!”
“Ah! It’s Wu Qing!” I couldn’t help feeling a little crestfallen, but it made sense that the sole survivor of the deadly storm of magic would be the warrior, with the highest HP and strongest defense. I turned to Wicked. “Congratulations on winning.”
The audience went into a frenzy of roars and cheers. Xiao Li’s voice was like the sound of pigs being butchered as he shrieked, “Dark Emperor! Dark Emperor has emerged victorious!”
A hand appeared! From the arena’s dirt floor, a hand abruptly shot out. At first only a few spectators stared at it in silence with mouths gaping wide open, but like a contagious disease, that silence soon spread across the rest of the audience as everyone stared at the hand sticking out of the ground… The entire stadium was engulfed in silence!
“What is that thing?” I went numb all over, thinking, Don’t tell me it’s the fourteenth day of the seventh lunar month… Could it be a haunting? No way! Do those things also play online games?
Following that, another hand shot up through the ground. More than a few members of the audience couldn’t take the terror and were already screaming…
“Whew… It’s a good thing I’d taken the pains to learn Burrowing,” Lolidragon muttered to herself as she clambered up from the ground and began dusting off the dirt from her clothes.
I paid no mind to my image as I gaped at the sight. However, my mouth wasn’t gaping that widely compared to the members of Dark Emperor, the audience, and Xiao Li.
When Lolidragon had finally finished patting off the dirt, she sauntered over to Feng Wu Qing with an intolerably smug smirk on her face. “Yooou look like you’re about to die!” The evil smile on her face was definitely Satan’s own; it was a bewitchingly charming smile, but one which you would definitely not want to see twice!
Lolidragon raised her dagger, but lowered it after a moment as the smile on her face grew even smugger. She lifted her foot lightly and then stomped forcefully on Feng Wu Qing’s solar plexus. As she grinded her foot into his chest, she remarked coyly, “As the saying goes, ‘dying under the peony, a gallant hero even as a ghost’. Isn’t that right, great hero Chu Liu Xiang?”
Finally, Feng Wu Qing vomited a huge mouthful of blood and then turned into a pillar of white light which shot into the sky… I really can’t tell, was he stomped to death, or infuriated to death?
“Odd Squad, victory!” yelled the referee.
[½ Prince Volume 3 Chapter 1 End]
Fourteenth day of the seventh lunar month: This is more commonly known as the “Ghost Festival”, a traditional Chinese festival that takes place on the fourteenth day of the seventh lunar month every year and is usually celebrated by Taoists and Buddhists. The seventh lunar month in general is known as the Ghost Month, during which the gates between the realm of the living and the realms of the dead are believed to be opened such that the dead may freely walk the earth. The fourteenth day is known as the Ghost Day and it is on that day in particular that deceased ancestors would visit their living relatives.
Dying under the peony, a gallant hero even as a ghost: This is actually a line from a poem, which has also become a well-known saying. What “dying under the peony” actually means is “to be killed by a beautiful woman”. Thus, the saying’s meaning is actually along the lines of “a gallant hero should act like a man and not mind dying at the hands of a beautiful woman”. (In case anyone’s forgotten, Chu Liu Xiang is the fictional character that Wu Qing loves to emulate. He’s supposedly a gallant hero but also a huge flirt as well.)