Chapter 3: Xiao Xiao Lan, Part One – translated by Nausicaä
Aiya, that pigheaded Long Ming! What’s he doing, smiling at those two males like an infatuated idiot… Doesn’t he know just how potent his current appearance is? Just wait until the Elf or that Demon Overlord set their sights on taking him for themselves; I sure as hell am not going to go save him.
Ah! I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Min Lan Lan, but everyone calls me Xiao Xiao Lan. That’s because my mom is called Feng Lan, so she’s Xiao Lan, and since I’m her daughter, that makes me Xiao Xiao Lan!
Thinking of this, I couldn’t help but shake my head again. Never mind that my mom’s ability to choose names is subpar, but even that dad of mine, Min Gui Wen, who’s reputed to have an IQ of 200, fails in an equally shameful manner when it comes to picking names. Thanks to that, even though I’m fifteen this year, I’m still being called Xiao Xiao Lan.
Just how small am I? In any case, I’m a little bigger than my mom— I’m an A-cup! Seeing that beautiful elven bishie and cool demon hottie actually give a fine fifteen-year old maiden like me the cold shoulder and instead fawn over Long Ming just made me feel so incomparably…jealous! Considering this, I resentfully shouted, “Let’s go, Long Ming, you pig head.”
Long Ming turned his head toward me, and with that exceedingly beautiful angelic face, he said innocently, “Alright, we’re leaving now! You don’t have to be so mean!”
“You should be gentler towards ladies,” Elf said in a rather displeased tone, and even the aloof demon hottie shot a cold look at me!
The real “lady” here is me! I wailed inwardly, Sob sob! I want to be protected by hot guys too!
“Why were you two trapped here?” I asked, feeling it was strange. It couldn’t be that the two had come here to elope? No, no, no. These two bishies were definitely not… They treated the busty Long Ming very well, so they shouldn’t be gay, right?
The elf and demon both looked as though they wanted to say something but couldn’t. For the longest time, they would start mumbling vaguely, then break off again, unable to utter a single word. At this point, Long Ming said in an annoyed tone, “Xiao Xiao Lan, every person has secrets. What do you think you’re doing, prying into other people’s affairs?”
I just asked because I was curious!
Dissatisfied, I pouted and followed the other three back to the village. Along the way, I watched as Elf and Demon Thirteen carefully opened a path for Long Ming, pushing aside branches and even spreading a cloak on the ground, like they were afraid Long Ming would step in mud. But just when I was also about to step on the cloak, Demon coldly snatched it back, nearly causing me to fall flat on my face!
What’s with this difference in treatment? I really wanted to cry.
As Long Ming and I were leading Elf and Demon back to the village, we saw all the villagers standing and waiting anxiously by the village entrance. Upon seeing the four of us, all of them let out a cheer.
The village chief was even more moved, and he patted Elf and Demon on the back while tearfully saying, “Thank goodness you got out alright.”
“You guys are on really good terms with the villagers,” I said with surprise.
Upon hearing this, Elf, and even the aloof Demon Thirteen, smiled bashfully.
“Alright, alright! Everyone calm down. The two of them are still going to Infinite City with Long Ming and Xiao Xiao Lan,” the village chief said as he wiped his tears and prevented everyone from rushing at us in their excitement.
The village chief turned his head toward the four of us and happily said, “All of you must be extremely careful; the road to Infinite City will by no means be a peaceful one. Infinite City itself is also not a place to take lightly. All of you must help each other, work together, and must not fight amongst yourselves.”
The four of us nodded our heads.
“Hey! Buy some more potions before you leave. Since I can finally be rid of you, I’ll even throw in a twenty percent discount,” said the NPC lady from the village pharmacy. She was even holding a bunch of health and mana potions in her hands and wore an expression that plainly said “get-the-hell-out-of-here-you-pests.”
“What kind of attitude is that? In any case, I’ve visited your store a number of times, yet you still want to get rid of us that badly?” I asked in a sour tone, especially upon seeing Long Ming who was saying goodbye to the village chief, weapons store NPC, and class change NPC. All of them wore very sorrowful expressions on their faces and looked very reluctant to let him leave. So why was it like this with me?
“Hmph! Every time you come, you do everything you can to bring down the prices. I’m only too eager to see such a bad customer like you leave,” the NPC lady snapped back, her face full of loathing.
“Oh? For an NPC like you, who always greets customers with such a sour face, it’s not like I want to see you again either!” I responded fiercely, without forgetting to pointedly extend my longest finger.
The NPC lady’s face flushed red, and with a heave, she threw over the red and blue potions and shouted, “Scram! Get as far away as you can, and never come back here again.”
After she finished saying this, the NPC lady turned away and left furiously.
“She didn’t have to be so mean,” I mumbled to myself resentfully. At the same time, I wasn’t completely sure, but just now I thought her eyes looked a little red…
Right at this moment, the village chief walked over, and after heaving a long and loud sigh, he shook his head as he remarked, “An ill-fated relationship. Such an ill-fated relationship!”
I walked toward Long Ming.
“Long Ming, are you done saying goodbye? Let’s go.”
“Cough, cough,” the village chief coughed forcefully and in the blink of an eye, moved between me and Long Ming. Gazing far into the distance, he said, “Love is really an illogical thing, wouldn’t you say so?”
“I guess!” I answered irritably. This damn village chief definitely knew that, in my fifteen years, I had not had a single boyfriend, and that’s why he was deliberately mocking me. At that thought, I repeated, this time more angrily, “Let’s go, Long Ming.”
Long Ming nodded and followed me, and together with Elf and Demon Thirteen, the four of us prepared to leave.
“Wait!” the village chief gave a furious shout.
The four of us froze mid-step, and in unison, we turned to look back with puzzled expressions on our faces.
“Have you not discovered her feelings for you?” the village chief asked in a disbelieving tone.
An expression of sudden realization dawned on my face. So the village chief was talking about that! I immediately assumed a look of understanding.
“Of course I have. Even though she and I have had our differences, I still understand her feelings.”
On everyone’s faces appeared an “oh-so-you-actually-knew” expression.
I lifted up a belt of potions. “She’s actually pretty nice. Seeing that I’ve been to her place for over a month, she actually gave these potions to me for free. She has an awful temper, but she still has a sense of ethics when it comes to business.”
Everyone fell over. Long Ming was even crying as he apologized to everyone, “I’m sorry. It’s my fault for not teaching her well.”
After Long Ming finished apologizing to everyone, he grabbed hold of the back of my collar and dragged me out of the village with Elf and Demon Thirteen, wearing disbelieving looks on their faces, following behind. But I still couldn’t figure it out.
Just what did I say wrong?
“Xiao Xiao Lan, you probably don’t need to carry a bunch of potions at hand. We already have Long Ming as a priest,” the Elf kindly suggested.
I glanced at Long Ming’s innocent face and was reminded of how every time I was risking my life training desperately, there would always be an angel sleeping and drooling under the shade of the trees. I distributed a few jars of health and mana potions to Elf and Demon Thirteen. To the two clueless people, I said earnestly, “Trust me, it’s better to hold onto these.”
In the following days, I found myself extremely thankful for the addition of Elf and Demon Thirteen to our team, even though the latter always wore a dour look on his face, as though he had lost millions of dollars to someone who promised to pay him back but never did. As expected, the increase in battle power caused our team’s levels to rise at lightning speed.
Whenever a monster approached us, I instantly rushed to the front lines to defend, while Elf would shoot arrows from behind to help kill the monsters closing in on me. Demon Thirteen would stand beside Long Ming, freezing all the monsters that came near, and when the situation on the front lines took a turn for the worse, Demon Thirteen’s Frozen Arrow Burst, a technique with which I had a love-hate relationship, proved even more indispensable. I just hoped that those frozen arrows wouldn’t get shot into my butt again.
What? What was the priest doing?
Long Ming was, of course, performing his duty as a priest. During the battle, he was responsible for sleeping, and after we finished fighting he would conveniently wake up, eat, and then do his job by throwing a few healing spells.
Being a priest is such a nice profession! I thought, grinding my teeth.
“See, I told you guys to hold on to those potions,” I chided them from the side, and the two desperately nodded their heads.
“I’m dead tired from walking so much,” Long Ming said as he gave a huge stretch, then proceeded to lie down lazily on the hammock that Elf and Demon Thirteen had set up for him. Next to it, there were even fruit and beverages.
I took a rusty hatchet and began to furiously hack at a tree. Demon Thirteen walked past me and coolly said, “Warrior, after you finish chopping the firewood, don’t forget to pitch the tent.”
Having said this, he took a freshly-picked coconut, which even had a straw stuck into it, and walked to Long Ming’s side, somewhat shyly putting it next to Long Ming’s hand.
What’s with this difference in treatment? Damn that Long Ming. Stupid Long Ming, going so far as to steal the cool, silent type of guy I liked best. I brandished the hatchet violently, imagining that the tree before me had turned into that damned angelic face of Long Ming’s, and hacked it into bits and pieces, thus proclaiming the end of the tree’s life.
After chopping up the firewood, I threw down the hatchet and went to pitch the tent, my entire heart full of hatred. As I passed by Long Ming’s hammock, I made a point of not forgetting to glare at him fiercely.
“Elf said to pitch two tents. One is for my personal use, and the other is for the three of you,” Long Ming said while grinning broadly.
Dissatisfied, I growled, “Why do you get a whole tent to yourself?!”
“What? Not satisfied?” Long Ming’s smile became even lewder. “Being able to sleep with two hotties is a rare opportunity, yet you want to let this heaven-bestowed chance pass by?”
That’s right! As if suddenly struck by lightning, I realized that I could sleep with a beautiful elf and a handsome demon, Th-this thought is simply too drool-inducing.
Thinking of this, I happily prepared to go to the lakeside to pitch two tents and even Long Ming’s lewd smile could not dampen my spirits.
I cheerfully began to pitch the tents. First, set up the main frame…
I continued my happy task of pitching the tents. Next, throw the cloth on top.
I continued to happily pitch the tent for me and the two hotties. All that’s left is to nail down the four corners of the tent, and then, we can sleep!
“Idiot! Are you deaf?” An angel, a demon, and an elf simultaneously roared.
“What?” I looked toward the other three, not comprehending why they were suddenly yelling at me for being deaf. In any case, I was doing my best to pitch the tents!
“Look behind you!” Long Ming shouted as he pointed behind me, his eyes nearly popping out.
Behind me? Isn’t the lake behind me? What’s there to see? Is it possible that there are sharks in the lake? Completely bewildered, I turned around.
Based on my meager knowledge of biology, if a shark came out of a lake, that would definitely constitute an extraordinary phenomenon. However, if a clam came out of a lake, that would still be considered possible. Following this line of reasoning, I should be more surprised to see a shark in this lake than a clam… But at this moment, the situation was the exact opposite. I saw a clam, and moreover, I received a shock a hundred times greater than if I had seen a shark.
With great difficulty I recovered my voice and immediately yelled, “Wow, what a huge clam!”
There it was, a clam that was bigger than a person, and it was alive and standing… or rather, floating on the surface of the lake.
“That’s not the point! Look, look! It actually has eyes,” shouted Long Ming, sounding like he was going crazy.
I peered closely and above the clam’s pink and extremely bouncy meat, there were indeed two eyes as big as yellow watermelons. With a very serious expression on my face, I said, “Usually my mom does all the cooking, so I never noticed whether clams had eyes or not. Now I finally know—as it turns out, clams have eyes after all.”
“Do clams…have eyes?” Elf and Demon Thirteen asked each other.
“Of course not!” Long Ming maniacally screeched, his mouth wide open and golden hair a disheveled mess, scaring the two males, who stared at him with wide eyes.
Sudden silence fell over the scene, and the hysterical angel finally recognized his own loss of self-composure. He turned his head away, sprayed on some “Sassoon,” then gently arranged his hair back into its original position. He turned back and, putting on an innocent, angelic look, said, “I want to eat clam!”
Long Ming assumed a sparkly, teary-eyed expression, spurring the two bishies into action. Elf and Demon immediately gave in; as one raised his bow and arrow and the other a magic staff, the two of them released a terrifying aura that clearly said, “The fair lady wishes to eat, and we will obey even at the cost of our lives!”
However, I didn’t know why, but even I, who also loved to eat clams, didn’t dare attack this clam. I couldn’t help but feel that this clam was no ordinary clam, and a faint but dangerous aura seemed to be emanating from it…
I didn’t know why, but since I was little, my mom had always told me this: “Do not randomly eat things that have eyes!”
That’s why, whenever we ate fish at home, my mom would always dig out the eyes beforehand. Naturally, I didn’t dare eat anything with eyes—even more so if the thing had eyes as big as yellow watermelons as the clam in front of me did.
“Take this! Continuous Arrow!”
With the fair lady watching, Elf demonstrated 200% of his strength and simultaneously fired five arrows, aiming every single one at the clam. But, as expected, that clam was no ordinary clam. It closed itself up, and its solid shell easily deflected all five arrows. After deflecting the arrows, the clam once again opened its shell, its two large eyes fixed on Elf as if it were mocking the futility of Elf’s arrows.
Seeing this, Elf covered his face with both hands as he sank to his knees. Listening to him muttering to himself, he was probably regretting being miserly and not buying Drill Arrows and so on.
“Hmph! I’ll cook you directly! Meteor Shower!”
The mage raised his magic staff high, and in a flash, ten meteors sped toward the clam. Just as I was about to witness the completion of a cooked clam, the clam suddenly jumped, dodging all the meteors, and with a snap of its shell, it forcibly swallowed Demon Thirteen, who had been standing by the lake.
After swallowing Demon Thirteen, the clam appeared to be unsatisfied, and it instantly rolled beside the slim Elf, and it swallowed him with lightning speed as well. Long Ming and I, who were standing to the side, were both scared witless; it was only then that we found out that man-eating clams actually existed! My mom was right after all; things with eyes should not be randomly eaten!
At this point, the clam once again began to make strange movements, using all of its strength to rock itself up and down, left and right, once in a while even doing a 720-degree spin. As I watched, my eyes began to spin—what’s more, I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it, but I thought I heard a shout that sounded like “Help!” originate from within the clam.
After a long time had passed, the clam opened its shell very slightly and spat out two people. They were an awful sight to behold; Elf and Demon Thirteen looked as though they had just been extracted from a fruit using a juicer and were presently sprawled on the ground. Not only did they appear boneless, they were also completely beaten up.
The clam used its two very large eyes to look straight at Elf and Demon Thirteen, and from within the clam came a phrase, “Do you discriminate against clams?”
Both Long Ming and I opened our eyes wide. No way… Could it be that this clam was not only really big, had eyes and superior fighting strength, but could even talk?
Seeing that Elf and Demon Thirteen gave no response, the clam once again moved toward them, and repeated, this time in a louder voice, “Do you discriminate against clams?”
“Hey, AnRui! The way yer daddy sees it, they don’t have any strength left to discriminate against clams,” a deep male voice laughed as he stated the facts.
Immediately, I looked toward where the voice had come from. A cool, heavily-muscled man with a crew cut was casually sitting on a tree branch, wearing a look of delight on his face as though he was enjoying watching us suffer.
Upon hearing the crew-cut man’s words, the clam lowered itself to look closely at Elf and Demon Thirteen, and only after confirming that the two were really unconscious did it raise its head to reply, “XiMen Feng, you’re late.”
“Oy oy, it’s your fault for hitting me that far. Do you know much trouble it was just to walk back here? I would have been smashed to a pulp if I hadn’t put my neck on the line to learn the Parabolic Landing Technique back when I had first been sent flying by you. Otherwise, who knows how many times yer daddy would have been killed!” XiMen Feng bellowed resentfully.
“XiMen Feng’s the one who wanted to follow AnRui.”
“Shut up! That guy Prince hasn’t appeared for so long, who’s yer daddy supposed to follow if not you?” The crew-cut man jumped down from the tree branch, walked in front of the clam, and even boldly leaned on the clam’s shell.
Long Ming and I glanced at each other, and I immediately dashed in front of the crew-cut man and hurriedly asked, “Do you know Prince?”
XiMen Feng looked startled, and then pounded his chest and said, “No duh. Of course I know Prince. I’ve known him since more than ten years ago.”
Long Ming and I both had puzzled looks on our faces, and Long Ming even pulled me aside and muttered into my ear, “He said he’s known Prince for more than ten years. If that’s the case, then that guy called XiMen is also an NPC.”
I opened my eyes wide. “Really? He doesn’t look like an NPC.”
Long Ming rolled his eyes. “Just what NPC here acts like an NPC?”
I bit my thumb and recalled the pharmacy lady who argued with me every day, the warrior job change NPC who even let me bargain over the job change quest requirements, and the weapons shop keeper Wu Da Lang who slept and drooled on the job, not even noticing if his weapons were stolen. I shook my head.
“None of them.”
“I think he’s definitely a character from a story plot.” Long Ming excitedly continued, “Aren’t all games like this? First, you have to find the key character and unlock the story plot. Only then, can you battle the final boss in the end.”
I suddenly understood, and I too became excited. If that was the case, then we were also getting closer to finding Prince.
Long Ming wore a triumphant smile, walked before XiMen Feng, and with that angelic face of his asked, “Mister XiMen Feng? If I may ask, where are you heading now?”
Upon seeing Long Ming’s angelic face, XiMen Feng also couldn’t help gulping before saying, “Yer daddy’s goin’ to find someone.”
“Find someone?” Excitement flashed across Long Ming’s eyes. “Can we go with you?”
XiMen Feng shrugged his shoulders indifferently and answered, “Doesn’t matter to me. If the little girlie wants to come, then come.”
After hearing XiMen Feng’s reply, Long Ming turned around and made a victory sign at me…
Just who was the one who, a couple weeks ago, fervently swore to me that he would die before using seduction…?
“Since you guys want to go, get on. And bring those two ooze-like things as well,” said XiMen Feng.
Get on? On what? As I watched the big clam become a huuuuuuuge clam, my confusion disappeared completely. Then I saw XiMen Feng lie down comfortably on the clam’s meat, treating it as if it was a dream waterbed, and he promptly began to snore.
“Can we really…ride the clam?” I doubtfully asked Long Ming.
“The clam can even talk. Riding it isn’t that big of a deal,” replied Long Ming, who sounded as though he was trying to remain calm.
“But just recently, Elf and Demon Thirteen went in and came out like ooze.” With some apprehension, I looked at Elf and Demon Thirteen, who were still knocked out on the ground.
“That’s because they offended the clam. Don’t worry, we won’t be turned into ooze.” As he spoke, Long Ming climbed onto the clam, then lay down on top and let out a comfortable noise. “It’s so soft. It feels so nice to lie on.”
Seeing as Long Ming had already gone ahead, I had no choice but to pick up Elf with my left arm and carry Demon with my right (I swear that I did not seize the opportunity to eat their tofu; it’s hard to avoid touching someone’s waist and chest when carrying them!) and jumped onto the clam, causing the meat to ripple. After placing the two bishies on either side of me, I lay down comfortably between the two of them, a very content smile on my face.
The clam slowly closed its shell, and I suddenly got that feeling of intense excitement you get when you’re sitting on a rollercoaster, the safety bar has been lowered, and you’re just about to set off. At this moment, XiMen Feng’s voice drifted over. “Oh right, yer daddy forgot to tell you guys. You won’t be used to riding AnRui at first, but you’ll get used to it soon.”
After saying this, XiMen Feng placed his two hands behind his head, and without further ado, resumed his snoring.
Not used to?
Before I even had time to ponder this, the clam suddenly shifted into a standing position. That’s right, a standing position. As one might well imagine, all of us who were lying down on the clam’s meat obviously rolled and rolled until we fell to the bottom, our chests pressing into each other’s backs… Long Ming’s D-cup breasts were squashed into my back, and my chest in turn was pressed into someone’s—I didn’t know whether it was Elf’s or Demon’s—back.
“Long Ming… I’m in so much pain,” I said, nearly breathless.
“Ugh…” Long Ming emitted an unintelligible noise.
“What’s wrong, Long Ming? If you’re injured, then hurry up and replenish your HP,” I somewhat urgently reminded him. He was a priest after all. It wouldn’t do for him to be so lazy that he died before replenishing his own health.
“I, I think my breasts exploded…”
“…Don’t worry, even if they did explode, this is a game. They’ll come back after you restore your HP.”
“No more, let me out.”
After Elf and Demon Thirteen had woken up (in fact, it was just a few seconds after Long Ming’s breasts exploded), they kept desperately trying to get out of the clam, banging on the shell non-stop, though most of the time it was actually them being thrown into the walls of the shell by the violent rocking motion of the clam.
“I’ll never use a blender again,” I sobbed. “I understand the pain of the apples and oranges.”
“Heal, Heal, Heal…”
Long Ming kept casting healing spells, one after another, because his three teammates kept losing blood non-stop. Elf, who had very little HP, nearly died, and it was only thanks to Long Ming’s healing spells that he barely managed to survive. What was more, now the clam’s body was shaking up and down, left to right like a milk bubble tea shaker; the only difference was what was being shaken was not milk bubble tea, but a scarlet red “watermelon juice.” Among the three of us, only the human warrior, who was the strongest –that was to say, me! and had the most HP, still had the tiniest bit of strength left to look around.
To my surprise, I saw XiMen Feng still fast asleep and snoring inside this “watermelon-juice shaker.” Just how high is this guy’s defense? Or is he simply too thick-skinned?
“XiMen Feng, we’ve arrived,” AnRui said.
How strange. This XiMen Feng, despite the tremendous convulsion, had been sleeping so soundly, actually woke up at the clam’s one phrase. He even gave a big stretch and slowly opened the clam’s shell, allowing sunlight to peek through. XiMen Feng led the way out of the clam and we too rushed out, scrambling frantically.
I was just thinking of asking XiMen Feng where Prince was when I saw a strange sight. XiMen Feng’s crew cut suddenly began to grow longer and longer, finally stopping when it had transformed into a sheet of raven-black hair that fell to the waist. I followed it with my eyes, and when I reached the waist, I abruptly realized that slender, tiny waist could not possibly belong to a large man, not to mention that curvy and tight butt and that curved and beautiful pair of long legs…
XiMen Feng turned around, and a fresh, beautiful woman stood before us. She placed her hands on her hips, and in a coarse manner that was completely unbecoming of her appearance, said, “Come on, yer daddy still needs to find an extremely troublesome guy. Damn it, that pretty boy is always givin’ me so much trouble.”
“But you…you,” I stammered, unable to continue.
XiMen Feng looked at himself, waved his hand carelessly, and indifferently explained, “Yer daddy’s a woman during the day and a man at night. Get it? Yer daddy’s going now. Whether you want to come or not is up to you.”
We watched as XiMen Feng really turned around to leave, giving us no time to ask any further. We promptly followed him, and Elf uncertainly asked me, “Where are we going now?”
“I don’t know either,” Spreading my hands, I honestly stated, “I don’t even know where this is.”
After a little while, a city appeared before our eyes. It was extremely immense in scale, and it definitely wasn’t something our tiny village—whose total number of NPC and players you could count with two hands—could compare with.
But the strange thing was, this city’s gates were unexpectedly hanging slanted upon their hinges, and there were even vines growing all over them. Dust covered everything like a blanket, and on both sides of the road were many strange tree demons. If I hadn’t been completely certain about which game I was in, I would’ve thought that I was role-playing as Ning Cai Chen standing in front of LanRuo Temple, preparing to seek out the grandmother tree in a fight to the death.
“Is this a ghost town?”
Long Ming, on the other hand, was surveying the scene with wide eyes. For him, who often played games like Resident Evil where you shot dead carcasses into even bloodier piles of dismembered flesh, this wasn’t much.
“Ghost town, my foot! Before, this used to be Southern Continent’s most prosperous capital,” XiMen Feng retorted. Then, with a slight shudder, he continued, “What’s more, this place is that guy’s territory, and if I’m seen by that hideous pair of eyes… Yer daddy would sooner risk his luck dukin’ it out with the cold-faced duo than look into that damned pair of eyes.”
Could eyes be so terrifying? Don’t tell me that this was the legendary Medusa, whose eyes could turn you into stone with just a single look?I couldn’t help but swallow nervously. I definitely did not want to be turned into a stone statue and placed at the ghost town’s entrance as decoration.
“Alright, we’re goin’ in. You all had best look out for yourselves; yer daddy don’t have time to babysit you.” Having said this, XiMen Feng boldly followed the clam in.
The four of us exchanged looks of dismay and then looked at the malevolent NPC grandmother trees. Immediately, we broke into a run and rushed behind XiMen Feng, following him very carefully, afraid that we would be snatched away and sucked dry by the trees.
“Don’t worry. AnRui is ranked very highly among the NPCs. There aren’t many NPCs who would dare do anything to AnRui,” XiMen Feng said, laughing at our timorousness as he crudely sauntered along and complacently patted the clam’s shell.
“XiMen Feng, just who have you come here to look for?” I couldn’t resist stealing a glance at the surrounding NPCs. There were various types of NPCs, and their only shared trait was that they all held the same expression that suggested they really wanted to rush forward and tear us to pieces.
“Didn’t I tell you already? The one with the hideous eyes,” XiMen Feng impatiently answered.
I opened my eyes wide and yelled, “Since he is so terrifying, why are you looking for him?”
“You think yer daddy wants to find him?” XiMen Feng said irritably, “If it weren’t for the pretty boy wantin’ yer daddy to come, and even gettin’ that sister-in-law to stand by with that smile of hers, yer daddy wouldn’t have even bothered to come here.”
I listened, completely bewildered. Pretty boy? Sister-in-law?
“If it weren’t for that, why else would yer daddy want to come to this kind of creepy place.” XiMen Feng abruptly stopped walking and raised his head to look toward the strange sight in front of us. There was a “human” presently fighting with a grandmother tree, and moreover, as the fighting continued, sobbing noises could be heard.
Could that be Xiao Qian crying as she desperately struggled against the grandmother tree? If so, how could this Ning Cai Chen ignore her plight? At once I raised my claymore and rushed over as I bellowed, “I’m coming, Xiao Qian!”
“Sorry, I’m sorry. Our Xiao Xiao Lan loves playing RPGs too much, so…” Long Ming hurriedly apologized. Then, together with the Elf and Demon Thirteen, he hurried to provide back-up support.
I dashed to the front, and only then did I realize that it was no Xiao Qian, but rather a man who had an extremely muscular body. Even though his back was facing me, there was no mistake that the waves of sobbing were coming from him. Except… This image of an Arnold Schwarzenegger crying like a girl who had just been dumped was simply too strange.
Nevertheless, since I am already here, I might as well help him. Just as I was thinking this, Arnold Schwarzenegger actually brutally ripped the grandmother tree’s branch off, and even climbed onto it, using his mouth to bite off the leaves. By this point, not only was Arnold Schwarzenegger crying, but even the grandmother tree began to wail, and for a moment I wasn’t sure who was more pitiable. Just who am I supposed to help? The three who had come to provide back-up and I stood there, uncertain of what to do.
“Undying Man, yer daddy’s come to find you!” bellowed XiMen Feng, who had also caught up. The strange thing was, he was now wearing a pair of sunglasses.
The grievously weeping Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly stopped, and the grandmother tree that he had been chewing on took the chance to escape, sobbing as it went. Arnold Schwarzenegger slowly turned around, and before we had time to get a good look at his face, he had moved in front of XiMen Feng. In an extremely grateful tone, he sobbed, “XiMen Feng, did you come here to help me recover my Southern city? I’m so thankful.”
As if in slow motion, Arnold threw himself at XiMen Feng. On the other hand, XiMen Feng, who’s expression had changed drastically, turned, intending to run away as he howled, “Stay awaaaaay from meeee!”
Unfortunately, XiMen Feng was not as quick as Arnold, and in one swift motion, Arnold grabbed on to XiMen Feng, even forcibly turning XiMen Feng’s face toward him. Even though Arnold’s back was facing us, we could still see very clearly that Arnold didn’t do anything to harm XiMen Feng, but the latter let out a scream and then, foaming at the mouth, fainted dead away.
“Aiya, to think that XiMen would be so happy that he fainted,” Arnold said happily and then used one arm to place the thin and weak XiMen on top of the clam.
“Just who are all of you? How come you’re not the people with Prince?” Arnold slowly turned around.
The four of us were so happy upon hearing the word “Prince” that we forgot to consider a certain matter: what had caused that fearless XiMen Feng to faint?
Suddenly, a pair of sparkly eyes appeared before us. The instant I saw that pair of large and bright shoujo manga eyes, the only thing I thought of was Candy Candy. Candy Candy’s theme song played through my mind, and then, quite abruptly, I saw Candy Candy’s eyes being ripped out and stuck onto Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face—what’s more, the eyes continued to sparkle brightly, never ceasing their sparkle attack on us.
<Strength minus 9999! All four receive powerful shocks. Commence non-stop vomiting!
Arnold-Candy continued to approach us, looking at us with concerned Candy Candy eyes, and then, in a boorish Arnold-esque voice asked, “Are you alright?”
<HP minus 9999! All four receive a one-hit K.O.. Status: You have died!
“Aiya, why has everyone fainted? No worries, come to my house—AnRui, if you wouldn’t mind carrying them.”
“Undying Man, the owner of Meatbun wanted XiMen Feng and I to find you and then meet up at Infinite City as quickly as possible.” AnRui opened its clam shell and looked at Undying Man with its two large eyes.
“Prince wants us to meet up? I wonder what he’s up to?” Undying Man scratched his face and promptly said to AnRui, “Alright, then let’s head back immediately.”
Having said this, Undying Man used his sturdy arms to pick us up and toss us into the clam one at a time, and after everyone was inside AnRui, he also jumped in. Then the clam shell clamped shut once more, and it gradually stood upright. Immediately, a series of “Bang-bam-thud-aiya-my-poor-head” sounds from various objects colliding issued from within.
“Nooooooooo! Let me out! I don’t want to ride a clam!”
From within the clam shell came several different voices, yet all were saying the exact same thing.
When the clam opened once again, the sky was already full of stars—no, perhaps it was because I was so dizzy and muddleheaded that I was seeing stars? With effort I crawled out of the clam, and when I raised my head, I saw tall city walls and a set of grand and imposing gates. These gates did not belong to the ghost town from before—it was very obvious that this was another city.
Furthermore, I also saw that Undying Man was speaking with someone we recognized: the white-haired, green-eyed dark elf, Wicked. I could faintly make out what they were saying.
“Why haven’t you gone in yet? How long have you been here?” Undying Man asked concernedly.
“Almost a month…” Wicked answered with a forced smile.
“A month?” Undying Man showed a surprised expression, “Don’t tell me that you’ve been lingering around outside like this for a whole month?”
Wicked remained silent.
As if he understood, Undying Man asked, “Is it because of Prince?”
Wicked maintained his silence, though his expression seemed to darken.
“I heard that it’s been almost ten years since you disappeared from Prince’s house?” Undying Man worriedly inquired.
“Seven years. Xiao Xiao Lan turned eight that year,” Wicked said, looking as though he were recalling distant memories.
“Why did you leave?”
“Xiao Xiao Lan…resembles how she looked as a child too much,” A pained expression came over Wicked’s face, “I couldn’t bear looking into that large pair of eyes any longer.”
Both Undying Man and Wicked fell silent, but my mind was filled with a chaotic buzz. Wicked disappeared from Prince’s house? What relationship does he have with Prince? But why was my name mentioned? Whose childhood self did I resemble?
I was utterly unable to understand Wicked’s words, yet I had the feeling that I had forgotten something very important. Especially upon seeing Wicked’s pained expression, my mood had also become heavy and I felt as though there was something I absolutely had to remember no matter what.
“Wicked!” A clear and sharp male voice interrupted my train of thought, and a person’s figure also appeared at the city gates.
Wicked nearly fell over, but I was very certain that he knew the person who had called him because a surprised yet happy expression appeared on his face. He gently called, “Xiao Lan?”
“Xiao Xiao Lan”: “Xiao” means small or little and is used as a diminutive in nicknames. “Xiao Lan” (Little Lan) is Feng Lan’s nickname. Most people call her Xiao Lan (never just Lan). Xiao Xiao Lan is Min Lan Lan’s nickname, in which “Xiao” is used twice (as she is the younger Xiao Lan, making her Xiao Xiao Lan). Her name would make her “Little Little Lan,” which is why she’s complaining about how she’s still being called this nickname even though she is already fifteen.
“I’m sorry. It’s my fault for not teaching her well.”: In Chinese, the pronunciation of he/she/it/him/her is exactly the same. Although Long Ming referred to Xiao Xiao Lan as a “her”, he did it in speech and not on paper, so he hasn’t given away her gender.
“…As though he had lost millions of dollars to someone who promised to pay him back but never did”: The original Chinese expression reads “好像被倒了幾千萬的會似的.” 來會is a Chinese group lending practice, where a group of people pool together money, each person contributing the exact same amount. Then, everyone offers a payback interest rate as a bid for the pooled money, and the person who offers the highest payback interest gets the money. 被倒會, then, is when the person who receives the money breaks his promise and does not pay back those who had contributed.
“Sassoon”: A brand of beauty products.
“Ning Cai Chen”: A reference to the character Ning Cai Chen (寧采臣) from one of the stories in Liaozhai Zhiyi (聊斋志异), also known as Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, a collection of nearly five hundred tales that are mostly supernatural. In the story that Ning Cai Chen is in, he journeys to a temple to fight against the tree demon Lao Lao for his love, Xiao Qian (小倩).
“Arnold Schwarzenegger”: Arnold Schwarzenegger served as the governor of California for several years but is better known as a movie star and body builder. The Terminator is one of his most famous roles as a movie star.
“Candy Candy”: This is a shoujo manga from the 1970s.