Chapter 7: The Day Before Setting Off – translated by Akakuroi
“You’ve really decided to set out tomorrow?” Nan Gong Zui asked me several times in disbelief.
“Yes!” I patiently answered him over and over again. I’m aware that setting out tomorrow might be a little too sudden, but I have a feeling that the sooner we reach the Northern Continent, the better. It’s not Celestial’s words that make me feel like this, but another strange feeling, as if… something in the Northern Continent is calling to me. To me, it feels like even setting out tomorrow will be too late.
“The deadline of twenty-one days is still a ways away. Why are you in such a rush? It wouldn’t hurt to wait until we have a better plan…” Lolidragon said hesitantly.
“I have to go. There’s something there, calling out to me,” I replied while staring toward the distant Northern Continent, although I had no idea what awaited me there. The Dictator of Life? That can’t be right; why would he be waiting for me? Waiting for me to chop him up?
“There’s something calling to you?” A weird expression appeared on everyone’s face. That’s understandable; this is not a fantasy novel, so how could there be something calling out to me? Even I suspected that the mounting stress had caused me to develop auditory hallucinations.
“I believe you, Prince,” Lolidragon suddenly said excitedly.
“Really?” How touching, and here I actually thought that Lolidragon would be the first to say that I’ve lost my mind.
“Yes, when you were looking toward the Northern Continent earlier, you actually looked in the right direction! That is absolutely amazing, so there really must be something guiding you,” Lolidragon said eagerly, clenching her fists.
“So who is willing to come with me tomorrow? I will not force you. It’s okay if you guys follow when all the preparations are ready,” I said while looking at everyone.
Everyone fell silent. Are you serious? No one is willing to come with me? Then I really must reconsider going tomorrow.
“Odd Squad will always act together!” Wolf-dàgē said after a while, and Yu Lian-dàsăo gave me an encouraging smile.
In an unfriendly tone, Lolidragon said, “If you let me die for no reason, I swear I’ll chase you all the way back to your house and kill you.”
To my house? So you would like to come and see if my brother really is that handsome in real life while visiting my parents, your future parents-in-law, at the same time?
“Wherever his Highness goes, so too will Gui.” Gui bowed elaborately as usual.
Doll pounced on me, and giggling, with no hesitation on her face, she said, “I want to go with Prince-gēge.”
“I’ll go too,” Feng Wu Qing said lightly, simultaneously calling me a stupid sister through a private message.
“I’ll definitely follow you, for without you I wouldn’t even be here in Second Life.” As for the one who said that, of course it was Wicked, the Zhuo-gēge who’d always cared for me.
“We’re friends, so of course I’ll follow you.” As always, Nan Gong Zui went straight to point without any extra words.
“Let’s go, let’s go! The two of us want to see just how beautiful the Dictator of Life is!” Neurotic and DanDan laughed happily.
As for Winter Triumph, he could only shake his head helplessly while saying, “Although there’s no money to be earned and I may even lose money, the princess is going, so staying here instead of going to protect the Princess would be unacceptable.”
“Lolidragon, you are going? Then I’ll go too.” Everyone turned their heads in time to avoid Undying Man’s sparkling eyes attack.
“Fairsky and I will be going. We’re going to fight for ourselves!” Sunshine said, hugging Fairsky tightly. I could see the look of resolve and determination in his eyes, the total opposite of the laziness and naivety I had seen when I first met him… However, the Sunshine now was even more attractive.
How peculiar. Kenshin didn’t say anything, yet everyone needed only to look at him and a “…” appeared automatically in our heads. I guess this “…” probably means a silent agreement.
“I’ll go. It’s fine, so long as there are battles to fight,” the other “piece of ice,” Cold Fox, said. His eyes were filled with longing and passion for battle, definitely not for me.
I was filled with gratitude. I would never have thought that everyone would be willing to go with me. Wholeheartedly I said, “Thanks, really, thank you everyone.”
“What is there to thank us for? We are all friends,” Neurotic said as he tightly gripped my head, and vigorously ruffled and messed up my hair. I started laughing, ran away and gave DanDan a peck as revenge.
“Ah! You rascal, don’t you know that one should never mess around with his friend’s wife?” Neurotic rushed toward me and brushed me away.
I laughed, my heart filled with gratitude. Regardless of whether it’s God, the Buddha, or Allah, whoever it was, thank you for letting me have such wonderful friends!
Everyone messed and fooled around for quite a while before taking their leave one after another, until the ones left were the daughter of the company’s president, who had nothing better to do, and me, a slacking university student who had no lessons in the morning. After a minute, Lolidragon asked worriedly, “Do you think this whole thing about Celestial wanting you to head out as soon as possible is actually a trap?”
“I’m not sure.” I shrugged. “Anyway, the only way out now is to fight our way into the Northern Continent and defeat the Dictator of Life. That is a fact that even Gui cannot deny. And didn’t Gui mention that our every move is already known to the Dictator of Life? So it wouldn’t make much of a difference if we went now or later,” I said indifferently. I was also rather disturbed by what Celestial said to me the other day. I had a feeling that I would regret it if I didn’t listen to what Celestial said and get there immediately.
After a moment of silence Lolidragon finally asked, “Prince, do you still insist on having the ND attached to you?”
“Yes.” I nodded determinedly, having never once regretted the choice.
“Fine, because you’re the only one who can… If you’re the one to solve this, then I guess it’s fine,” Lolidragon said, with a slight hint of grief.
“What’s wrong?” I was really shocked. Lolidragon could actually emit this aura called grief? How surprising; usually other than a perverted aura, the only other aura Lolidragon would have would be that of murderous intent.
Feeling a little awkward, Lolidragon said, “I guess it would be alright to tell you this. The physical features of the Dictator of Life were actually decided by me, and were modeled after a real person.”
Ohohoho, modeled after a real person? Are you serious? There is someone that handsome in real life? I swallowed. “So where is that person? Bring him along and let me take a look at him someday?” I suggested.
“He escaped,” Lolidragon’s face darkened.
“Escaped?” Did I hear that correctly? The Dictator of Life was designed using the face of an escaped criminal? That must have helped to achieve a rather effective raise in the public awareness of the Wanted List…
“Yup. In fact, he is actually a key figure in the Second Life Company. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he is the father of Second Life.” Lolidragon seemed to convey this in a rather relaxed manner. However, I could clearly see that she was a little stiff, and there was a look of either love or hatred in her eyes. Then again, maybe both feelings were there.
“His name’s Long Dian. He is an excellent programmer. No, maybe I should put it this way: in the area of programming, if he were to say that he’s the second best, no one would dare claim to be number one. He single-handedly created Second Life, becoming a right hand man my father was most proud of. In my father’s company, he could get anyone or do anything he wanted.”
“Then why would he escape?” Why would someone like that need to escape? Don’t tell me it’s to escape from the claws of Lolidragon?
“Because he had secretly used Second Life to conduct illegal experiments.” Lolidragon’s face became very stern as she continued, “He made use of the company’s name and funds to recruit test subjects to conduct illegal human experiments on.”
“Use Second Life to conduct illegal experiments? Second Life is just a game, what experiments could possibly be carried out here?” I was a little confused. At most a survey or a trial test could be conducted, right? Is there any need to escape just because of that?
After remaining silent for a long, long time, Lolidragon finally said, “I have no idea why I’m telling you this… Maybe it’s due to my guilt, my remorse for those people. He first had those people play the game, temporarily taking the roles of NPC characters. Then he cut off their brain waves, trapping them in the game, and murdered their physical bodies.”
Murder? My eyes widened, “Why would he do that?”
“He wanted to see if a human could actually live in the game, hence obtaining eternal life,” Lolidragon answered, coldly.
I gasped. Why do I always come across situations that would only occur in a science fiction movie? Immediately I asked, “So what happened to those people? Are they really living in the game?”
With a slight sense of regret and resentment, Lolidragon sighed and said, “We initially thought that it would be impossible for the experiment to succeed as after those people died, the NPCs reverted back to their original state, with no signs of humanity at all. Even so, we dared not delete those NPCs. Who would ever have guessed that problems would start to arise after so long…”
It felt as though something snapped in my brain. Don’t tell me… “Kenshin and Sunshine?” I asked softly.
Lolidragon nodded wearily. “Yes, both of them.”
“Oh my God!” I gasped. So that’s the truth! Both Kenshin and Sunshine were originally human. They are humans who are living inside the game!
Could it be that the Dictator of Life whose blueprint was based on Long Dian is also…? I couldn’t help but ask, “Is the Dictator of Life actually Long Dian?”
“I don’t know.” Shaking her head, Lolidragon said bitterly, “There has not been a single piece of news from him since he escaped, so maybe he really is just living in the game now.”
“Yeah, it might just be that the Dictator of Life is actually him.” I smiled ambiguously. “So that’s why. Lolidragon, you wanted me to go and finish off your ex-lover?”
Lolidragon blushed. “What ex-lover? There’s nothing between me and him.”
I chuckled while protecting my head, to protect myself from getting beaten to death by the rarely embarrassed Lolidragon. However, I could not help but feel a little puzzled deep inside. If that is the case, then why did Celestial say that the Dictator of Life is waiting for me? Even if he’s waiting, shouldn’t he be waiting for Lolidragon instead?
“Are you really going to install the ND on yourself?” a voice suddenly cut in while I was fooling around with Lolidragon. I looked up and saw that it was Gui, and he wasn’t smiling at all. I had never seen Gui give me such a cold expression before and could not help but feel a little anxious.
“Are you really going to install the ND on yourself?” Gui asked again. Fury could be seen in his eyes. Even his fists were clenched tightly. I was horrified and stared at this Gui, who was nothing like the Gui I knew.
“Eh, I think I’ll leave first,” Lolidragon swallowed, made a beeline for the exit, and ran off. Traitor!
“Answer me!” Furious, Gui charged up and grabbed my shoulders.
Looking at Gui’s bloodshot eyes, I could barely mutter a word due to fear. Did Gui eat something bad? He has never been so fierce to me before. I could not understand this change, and I was terrified.
“Yeah…” I finally managed to squeeze out.
“You’re going to disappear forever. You’re going to disappear forever, do you realize that?” Gui bellowed.
“I know.” I struggled free of Gui’s hands and protested, “But I must do this, for Kenshin, for Sunshine, and for the Dictator of Life!”
“Then what about me?” Gui suddenly shouted, “If you were to disappear, what would I do?”
I was stunned. So this is what Gui was so angry about.
“Have you never thought about me? Not even for a moment?” Gui’s eyes were filled with dismay. A teardrop slowly fell from his eye. I could not help but catch it in my hand. I stared at it, dazed. “Prince…” Gui suddenly hugged me tightly. Just when I felt that something was not right and was about to struggle out of his arms, he begged, “Don’t push me away! I know my strength is incomparable to yours, but please, please don’t push me away.”
Hearing Gui’s whimpering pleas, I really, really couldn’t bring myself to push him away. I could only stand there quietly, allowing him to hug me as he cried softly, letting his sobs wound my heart as memories of the past appeared before my eyes…
My beloved Highness, if you cannot remember Guiliastes’ name, then please call me by my nickname… Just call me Gui…
Prince is like a rose with thorns. If at first I had known about its thorns, then perhaps I would not have picked it up. However, I have already picked the rose up, smelled its fragrance and seen its beauty. If I put it down now, the suffering borne by my heart would be more painful than the pain of my bleeding hand, torn open by the thorns. Therefore, I cannot put it down.
No matter who you might be, I don’t mind. I firmly believe that who you are now is the true you, just as the person I am right now is the true me. Everything else is of no importance – be it gender, appearance, or even the facades we assume in real life… None of those are important…
If my tears can be used in exchange for your smile, then it’s more than worthwhile.
“I’m sorry, Gui, I’ve always broken your heart.” I gently ran my hand over his long, silky hair. Why am I always making this man cry? Shattering the heart of this man who’s always been quietly watching over me?
“I have never considered your feelings… I’m really sorry,” I apologized sincerely, deciding that I would never, ever ignore him like that again.
“I don’t care about anything else; as long as you don’t leave me or ignore me, I will be fine.” Gui’s arms which were already hugging my tightly, tightened again, as if fearing that I would simply disappear.
“Don’t worry, no matter how the situation turns out, I will never disappear from you, I promise.” Holding up Gui’s face, I gave him a light peck on his forehead before continuing, “If Prince was to disappear, I promise you that you will definitely meet the real me.” Even if there’s no Second Life, I still had to attend Professor Gui’s classes, right?
“Prince…” Seeming like he had finally relaxed, Gui slowly let go of me. Looking a little regretful, he apologized, “I’m sorry Prince, I shouldn’t have troubled you before your departure.”
“I—” I don’t mind… Before I could finish my sentence, the door suddenly burst open with a loud bang and two eavesdroppers tumbled in.
“I told you to pull the door tight. Look, now we can’t eavesdrop anymore,” Lolidragon, who was on top, roared angrily.
Unwilling to lose to Lolidragon, Feng Wu Qing, who was on the bottom, retorted, “It’s because you kept pressing down on me! You need to lose some weight.”
“What did you say? Are you saying that I’m fat?!” Lolidragon shouted with flames of fury shooting from her eyes.
I guess my brother’s definitely dead meat this time. Didn’t he know that there are three taboo things which you can never complain about when it comes to women? One: the looks. Just a single word, “ugly,” and even if you buy her a diamond ring, a Porsche, and a bungalow afterward as an apology, she would still remember that word for life. Two: the figure. Similar results as the previous one. Three: her boyfriend. If you dare to look down on her boyfriend, then it means you’re looking down on her standards, looking down on her ability to get a boyfriend, looking down on her future long term food provider… But I digress. Anyway, my brother will probably die a painful death this time.
“Gui, let’s take our leave first,” I said calmly.
“But Lolidragon looks like she’s going to murder Wu Qing. Shouldn’t we stop them?” Gui looked worriedly at Lolidragon, who seemed to burn with fury.
“There’s no need to. They’re just showing their care, concern, and love for each other through fighting and scolding. Let’s not disturb them in their process of being lovey-dovey with each other,” I said as I pushed Gui’s back, propelling him out through the door.
And also, this might be the last time they’ll ever fight like this. Feeling a little depressed, I looked at them. This time, we might not be revived again.
“Prince,” Lolidragon suddenly called me.
I turned around, confused. “What?”
“I’ve let the programmers attach the ND program to your character already,” Lolidragon said, moving her foot away from my brother’s most vital part… The second most vital part in the game.
Installed on me already? How come I don’t feel any different?
“When you’re going to launch ND, just shout, ‘ND self-destruct program activate.’ After shouting that, a flash of white light will appear on you and that will indicate that it has been launched,” Lolidragon explained carefully.
Just as I was about to nod to show that I understood, Gui spoke. Coldly, he said, “Wouldn’t that be a little too obvious? The Dictator of Life would definitely find out that the ND program is on Prince.”
“You can shout it before you see the Dictator…” Lolidragon replied hesitantly.
“And why don’t you install the ND on everyone? Wouldn’t there be a greater chance of succeeding? If it’s only installed on Prince, and it just so happens he fails, wouldn’t everything be over then?” Gui pressed.
“Oh yeah. Lolidragon, do you want to install it on more people? It would be safer that way.” Heaven knows if I will be able to finish off the god of Second Life. I think the chance of me actually achieving success is rather slim. For Kenshin and Sunshine’s sake, I think it would be safer for more people to be installed with ND.
“Prince, don’t interrupt.” Gui’s unhappy face scared me a little as he said, “I won’t believe that in such a well-known gaming company, not a single person realized that it would be safer if more than one ND was installed.” Finally, Gui stopped beating around the bush and demanded, “What are you hiding?”
Lolidragon looked as though she wanted to say something, yet could not say a thing. Her apologetic eyes even tried to avoid mine. Is Lolidragon really hiding something from me?
“Lolidragon?” I understand Lolidragon less and less now. Is there actually a need to hide something from me?
Lolidragon sighed again. “Prince, can you promise me that, no matter what happens, you will definitely kill the Dictator of Life?”
“Are you talking nonsense?” I couldn’t understand her at all. If not for that, why would I be going to the Northern Continent tomorrow? For a field trip?
Lolidragon closed her eyes, as if confessing her sins to a priest. “Prince, I’ve kept a lot of things from you, but I promise, once everything is over, I will definitely tell you everything. As for now, I’m sorry! I can’t say anything.”
I was a little stunned. Lolidragon has kept a lot of things from me? But… Why?
Lolidragon opened her eyes, and went straight to the point, “All I can say is that only you can kill the Dictator of Life. That is why attaching the ND to others would be utterly useless.”
Only I…can kill the Dictator of Life? What does that mean?
“Rubbish, the Dictator can’t be killed by anyone!” a ferocious voice suddenly sounded from behind me, but this voice was not a familiar one. Just as I was about to turn around, I suddenly found myself in a situation similar to being sucked up by a super powerful vacuum cleaner. I couldn’t counter that force at all; I could only let myself be pulled into the air by this unknown person.
“Prince!” Gui, Lolidragon, and Wu Qing—who had been pretending to be dead on the floor—all started attacking the thing behind me. However, from their expressions I could tell that all their attacks were futile!
I struggled desperately, suspended in the air. It was as though a merciless and powerful hand was holding the back of my neck, and I could not break free no matter how hard I tried. In fact, I slowly started to feel a warm liquid trickle down the back of my neck…
“Damn it!” I unsheathed my Black Dao and with all my might swung it behind me. Before I managed to cut anything, another surge of energy flung me heavily into the wall and I collapsed onto the floor. It felt as if all my bones were going to break into pieces.
“Prince.” Gui ran toward me and helped me up. His exposed worries and concerns could be seen crystal clear in his eyes.
I looked up toward the uninvited guest. A wind-like person appeared before my eyes… They were translucent, floating in the air, with long clothes that fluttered in the wind. A name popped up in my mind—Flowing Wind, one of the Four Heavenly Kings Celestial had mentioned! I instinctively knew that this must be Flowing Wind.
“Just what is there in you that the Dictator of Life values so much?” After scrutinizing me, he said disdainfully, “So weak, yet you still dream of killing the Dictator of Life? What a joke.”
“You’re Flowing Wind?” I asked seriously as I stood.
Flowing Wind’s eyebrows rose. “That stupid Celestial told you? Where is he?”
“What’s your reason for coming to Infinite City?” I was shocked. Didn’t Clay Child mention before leaving, that the other three Heavenly Kings hated Celestial? Don’t tell me Flowing Wind came for Celestial?
“Humph, I will go anywhere I feel like! Do I need your permission?” Flowing Wind shouted discontentedly. While he was shouting, the wind got stronger. It was blowing so much that I could barely open my eyes. However, through my pride and anger I forced myself to keep them open. This guy is so annoying. If I don’t beat the shit out of him then I can just forget about killing the Dictator of Life, because I might just die right here from vomiting too much blood due to my pent-up rage.
“I can’t control where you feel like going,” I said coldly. “But since you’ve entered Infinite City, and it just so happens that I’m the Overlord of Infinite City, I will not put up with your impudent behavior.”
Flowing Wind was momentarily stunned, but burst into laughter soon afterward. He spoke while still laughing, “You? You won’t put up with my impudent behavior? Hahaha, can you even do anything to me? If it weren’t for the fact that the Dictator of Life forbids it, just I alone would be enough to kill you.”
What an annoying guy! My temple vein throbbed. Raising my Black Dao, I said coldly, “Try me!”
“Come.” Flowing Wind snorted as he curled his finger, goading me.
Far too annoying! Just as I raised my Black Dao, I immediately felt the wind around me picking up speed. Humph, trying to stop me with wind? Don’t you know that wind aids in the spreading of a fire? In a split second, I ducked and made a slide for Flowing Wind. Looking surprised, Flowing Wind immediately turned the wind into a whirlwind, surrounding and protecting himself. Excellent opportunity!
“Inferno Slash!” Engulfing my Black Dao with flame, I followed the direction of the wind and sent slash after slash into it. Just as I had expected, the wind picked up the flames, turning the whirlwind around Flowing Wind into a mini tornado of flames. Shocked, Flowing Wind immediately stopped the wind to avoid being burnt by the fiery tornado, without knowing that this was exactly what I was waiting for.Without the protection of wind, let’s see if you are still that tough.
Seizing the opportunity, I shouted “Dragon Whirlwind Strike!” I slashed toward Flowing Wind like a spinning top. This is a move where even if it misses, it can still cause harm to the opponent.
“Eh!” Flowing Wind immediately dodged back, avoiding the deadly move, and then stared furiously at the bright red blood stain on his shoulder. But of course I couldn’t be happier; just one move and he was severely wounded… All right, I admit the damage Flowing Wind had suffered was just a tiny graze. But at least there’s blood. I’ve finally taken revenge for having been thrown into the wall by him.
“You!” Flowing Wind’s eyes gradually turned from blue to blood red. The turbulent wind around us raged even more, causing me pain as it whipped against me. Looking down, I could see numerous red graze marks appearing on any exposed skin not covered with armor.
I smiled warily. It seems that I’ve really gone and angered Flowing Wind now… He is one of the Four Heavenly Kings under the Dictator of Life; can I really beat him?
“Supersonic Soul-chasing Arrow!”
A translucent arrow suddenly grazed Flowing Wind’s face and a trickle of blood ran down his cheek. Seeing how stunned he looked, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Well done, Gui,” I said as I laughed. I had not expected Gui to make such a sudden attack, causing this member of the Four Heavenly Kings to experience humiliation yet again.
“Despicable humans!” Flowing Wind howled and suddenly disappeared.
Where is he? I stood stunned.
“Gui!” Lolidragon suddenly screamed. My heart skipped a beat and I instantly spun around—
A heart covered in blood suddenly appeared in Flowing Wind’s initially empty hand, and a ragged, bloody hole appeared in Gui’s chest…