Chapter 39: Death of The Poet (4)
Magic was a subject that was neither difficult nor easy. Tang Cuo closed his eyes, practised based on the ‘Moonlight Meditation Techniques’ as taught in the book and successfully perceived the magical elements that existed in his surrounding space.
Unlike the natural awakening of special ability users, a wizard paid attention to elemental affinity. There were so many types of magic, and the type that had a higher affinity with the wizard would be easier to absorb, and spells of that type could be released faster.
Tang Cuo tried to feel his surroundings but found that the magic elements within his space stayed distant. If magic elements could manifest their emotions, their expression should be the same as Tang Cuo’s, which was ― no expression.
The magic elements were absorbed into his body and turned into magic energy.
Ten minutes later, Tang Cuo sensed that an equal amount of each element had gathered in his body, and they continued to be expressionless. He added all the points to his Strength value, while his Intelligence stayed at 0. Even with his foundation, he didn’t have much capacity to hold magic energy. Now that he had to divide his capacity into different types, he had no idea whether each type had stored enough energy to even cast a spell.
As he completed this step, the next thing that awaited him was spell casting.
Magic spells felt jarring and awkward. Even though simple entry-level spells were very short with only a few syllables, as soon as Tang Cuo opened his mouth, the magic energy in his body began to surge and made his head hurt slightly.
His face remained unchanged as he tried a few more times, intermittently chanting a ‘Fireball’ spell.
As his voice fell, a small fireball appeared in front of him and shook a few times. With a “pop”, it appeared, then with another “pop”, it disappeared.
Tang Cuo looked down at the wand in his hand with no expression on his face.
This wand made of walnut wood was taken by Jin Cheng from the magic store. His fireball disappearing so quickly must be because of this low-quality wand.
So he conjured a fireball again, and this time he clearly felt that his magic elements were not active at all. They were passive and lazy, and they went on strike the moment they got summoned. [T/N: Wow, Tang Cuo, your genes are passed down to even the magic elements, aren’t you proud? (￣▽￣)]
Hearing the sound, Jin Cheng looked up from the book and met his eyes. Tang Cuo looked at him quietly and wanted to hear what the instructor had to say.
Jin Cheng said: “Your fireball is very bright.”
Tang Cuo: “…”
When Jin Cheng finally learnt of Tang Cuo’s issue, he didn’t comment much and just said: “Indeed close combat suits you better.”
Tang Cuo squinted: “Are you laughing at me inside?”
Jin Cheng: “Don’t you know that it’s a crime to slander your instructor?”
Tang Cuo: “Yong Ye City doesn’t have this crime.”
Tsk, this little bastard is getting more and more difficult to fool.
Jin Cheng closed the book and said: “Did you never read fantasy books before? The male protagonist is just like you, a versatile wizard who cannot specialise in any single type. Everyone thinks he is useless, laughs at him, insults him, and they all get counter-attacked badly. After that, he climbs to the pinnacle of life.”
Tang Cuo: “…”
What Jin Cheng didn’t say was that Yong Ye City circulated this saying regarding all those ‘versatile’ wizards and special ability users ― ‘From afar, they look fierce; coming closer, they are flimsier than a piece of paper.’
Tang Cuo knew that all his ‘climbs to the pinnacle of life’ was bullshit. But he never intended to be a wizard when he first came here, so he didn’t feel disappointed for now.
“Have you found the bookmark?” He asked.
“Not yet, but I have seen Lancelot’s name on many borrowing cards.” Jin Cheng pulled out one of them with two fingers and threw it to Tang Cuo.
Tang Cuo caught it, glanced through the names, turned to the back and found a line of writing.
[When I grow up, I must find the most beautiful flower in the world and bring it back to the Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight.]
The writing looked exactly the same as Lancelot’s signature, and it seemed to be relatively old. It should have been written when he was studying here. Had the wish of the bard Lancelot finally come true?
Tang Cuo couldn’t help looking out the window, at the white rose blooming in the moonlight.
For the time being, they weren’t sure if Lancelot’s message on the borrowing card was useful or not. Jin Cheng then quickly flipped through the remaining books and eventually found Eve’s bookmark.
It was sandwiched in one of those books about travelling, and a line of writing was also found on the bookmark.
[If you want to be a great adventurer, you must be brave, Eve.]
The small characters weren’t neatly arranged and the handwriting was rather crooked, and there were even typos. This seemed like a message that Eve wrote to herself, or it might be something she hid in her heart and never told others.
She was a child born in the desert who yearned to explore the boundless continent and wanted to be an adventurer. It was precisely because of this that the bookmark was clipped in a travelling book.
While Jin Cheng was looking for the bookmark, Tang Cuo also studied the remaining entry-level spells in the book, namely, ‘Illumination’, ‘Waterball’, ‘Wind Blade’, ‘Lightning’ and ‘Earthquake’. A few other spells seemed neither suitable for beginners nor practical for himself, so Tang Cuo put them down first.
But regrettably, they still didn’t find a map of the Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight and couldn’t yet locate the Well of Time.
Leaving the school, the two of them wandered around and found themselves back at the tower in the west of the city. It was about 1 or 2 in the morning and the moon was hanging high in the sky. Jin Cheng lit the lamp in front of the tower and walked up again.
The west tower was the highest point of the city and gave the best view of the whole Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight.
Under the cold moonlight, the land and the sky were completely still, while the vast desert had transformed into a golden sea. Countless maiden white flowers were blooming on the islands across the sea, dotted with sparkles of fireflies.
The fireflies didn’t just carry a warm shade of white. As colourful as the glass lamps along the streets, the fireflies blended into an ethereal stream of hues and floated along the slow evening breeze, molding everything into a brilliant dream.
Standing before such a majestic scene, Jin Cheng simply stepped back and gently admired the view. He carried the glass lamp rewarded by the earlier mission and dexterously climbed to the top of the tower, then stood firmly on the slanting tiles with one hand clutching the spire and looked into the distance.
“Look, when all the lights are on, it becomes a flower.” He said, his voice blown by the evening breeze, laced with a hint of joy and pride.
No matter what kind of surroundings Jin Cheng was thrown into, he could always find himself some leisure, such as lighting up the entire city.
The city of Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight was circular and its streets were not straight, with most bending in certain ways. It wasn’t easy to notice during the daytime, but now that the lights were on, they discovered that these streets were all connected together to form a blooming flower.
In the mission where they helped the blind Billy, the previous king told his people: “When the lamps are on, the colourful glass will look like flowers blooming. Our citizens then will not have to look at the wind and the sand all day.”
“Boom!” Suddenly, a loud sound came from above. Tang Cuo looked up to see stream of light ascending into the sky and passing through the curvy crescent moon, then fireworks blossomed in the starry night.
Tang Cuo was startled, then he asked: “Are they fireworks for the Flower Festival?”
In the side mission [Mr. Toke’s Little Toys], Mr. Toke kept a lot of peculiar toys in the trunk to make children happy. Some of them were firework sticks, likely prepared for the Flower Festival.
Jin Cheng lit a firework stick and said: “Since today is the Flower Festival, it’ll be a pity to not have fireworks.”
Tang Cuo declined to comment. Although there were many signs that the time in this city had stopped on the day of the Flower Festival, it didn’t mean that today must be the festival day. When the two travellers from a faraway land entered this place, it might have been hundreds of years since that Flower Festival. But Tang Cuo didn’t always want to ruin the atmosphere, so he didn’t say anything and watched quietly.
He thought of the side missions one by one.
The beautiful Cecilia who was secretly in love with Lancelot; Aunt Anna who worked hard to send her son to school; the blind Billy who still yearned for the lights; then Eve and Little Jack who harboured grand dreams. Although they hadn’t been seen, there were traces of their existence everywhere.
How many side missions like this were still hidden in this Kingdom Hidden In The Moonlight?
“Aren’t you coming up?” Jin Cheng poked his head out from above.
“Why should I go up?” Tang Cuo said.
“There are two more firework sticks, don’t you want to light them? Maybe this is the key to triggering the mission.”
As if I believe your bullshit.
Of course Tang Cuo didn’t believe it, but a few minutes later, he still climbed to the top of the tower and sat down by Jin Cheng’s side to light the fireworks. As the evening breeze gently blew, the glass lamp that Jin Cheng hung on the tower spire swayed with the lights and the shadows, blurring this dreamlike land.
With the enchanting fireworks above and the dazzling lights all around, Tang Cuo stayed silent, and he caught a glimpse of Jin Cheng’s profile from the corner of his eye. He didn’t quite understand why a man as fine as this was still single at his age.
Jin Cheng was 32 when he passed on.
When Tang Cuo was in the camp, he often heard people talk about who was having a crush on the instructor or which captains wanted to matchmake him. Jin Cheng came from a great background, was well-educated, had good looks and embraced a bright future. Tang Cuo believed that one day he would marry an equally good person.
Who would have thought that this man would suddenly die at 32 and left behind nothing?
“I remember that I said this on the day we met.” Jin Cheng turned around, one hand stroking his chin, and said with a smile: “If you look at me like this, I may have some filthy thoughts and can’t sleep at night.”
Just shut up, this straight man. I’m really gonna curse you till death.
Tang Cuo decided to strike him, so he was silent for a few seconds, then suddenly said: “I actually like…”
Jin Cheng raised his eyebrows. This was truly unexpected and he was stunned. Then, Tang Cuo breathed out heavily and added with a blank expression: “… your number of points.”
Jin Cheng laughed angrily and threw the last firework stick into Tang Cuo’s arms: “Wake up, I’m not giving you even one point.”
Tang Cuo couldn’t care less either, and he casually turned to light up the firework stick. In the dim light, no one saw the corner of his mouth slightly curled up, then quickly flattened again.
“Boom!” The fireworks blossomed again and both of them looked up. It was truly stunning.
At the same time, at Yong Ye City’s prison in Zone G.
Due to a series of disturbances in Zone F, the usually half-occupied prison suddenly saw itself more than eighty percent filled. If one person glanced at another, it was likely that they knew each other.
And because the prison wasn’t divided according to the zones that the players belonged to, the elites of Zone A had to mingle with the people whom they liked to call ‘garbage of Zone F’. Everyone stayed in the same room and ate the same food, no one more noble than the other.
Jiang He and Chen Liu, both members of Heaven’s Will, were put next to each other, and The Great Mage Leng Miao and two familiar players in Zone A were also in the same spot. As for Chong Yanzhang and the puppeteer Yao Qing, they were placed a little further away.
As players from Zone F and other zones were mixed with this group of big bosses, all of them shrank in the corner, wishing they could become invisible. However, Zone G only had single-person cells, so the big bosses stayed gloomy and had no intention of making any move.
Jiang He’s room was at the end of the corridor, with the wall on the right and Chen Liu on the left. Diagonally across from him was Leng Miao, and directly opposite him was a barefoot girl.
The little girl was lying on the ground with her back facing him, her whole body curling up. She wore a funny green dinosaur head on her head, as if it had been torn from some other clothes.
Jiang He had been watching her, because since the point he entered the prison, the little girl hadn’t moved at all, and there was dried blood all over her clothes. He looked at her for a long time before he realised that it was a hospital gown.
Chen Liu had been rambling so much nonsense that Jiang He wanted to kill him.
“Jiang He, tell me the truth, did you see through Jin Cheng’s plan very early on? You did it on purpose, didn’t you?”
“Have you been holding a grudge against me all this while, thus you deliberately kept quiet so that I would fall into his trap. If you’re like that, I ―”
Jiang He finally couldn’t stand it any more and said in a deep voice: “You deserve it?”
Chen Liu gasped heavily and stood up. He couldn’t see Jiang He through the wall, but it didn’t stop him from pouring his anger. “Jiang He, don’t think I don’t know what you’re planning. You just want to be the second in command, don’t you? Have you looked at your position? If you join halfway, what do you have to fight against me?”
Hearing that, Jiang He closed his eyes and suddenly lost his line of thought.
Chen Liu continued to be aggressive: “Why don’t you answer? Are you guilty? Oh, let me tell you, Jiang He, if I’m still here, don’t you dare play any tricks! Do you think that you’re the only smart one here? Were you not fooled around by Jin Cheng? ―”
Before he could finish his words, a magic attack suddenly struck from the opposite cell, passing through the iron railing and decidedly trying to cut his arm. Chen Liu quickly dodged, then his infuriated eyes shot to the other side and met with Leng Miao’s. He suddenly held himself back.
“You’re so noisy.” Leng Miao said with an icy cold expression.
Chen Liu let go of his arm and stopped talking. If Chong Yanzhang wasn’t here, he wouldn’t dare to confront Leng Miao.
Leng Miao didn’t want to talk to this stupid man either, and he gazed attentively at Jiang He, feeling extremely irritated inside. This annoyance wasn’t aimed at Jiang He but in fact Jin Cheng. He lost it just now because Chen Liu mentioned Jin Cheng again.
The smell in the cell wasn’t good, and the stench of blood from next door had probably been there for several days. It was so strong that it made him want to throw up.
Leng Miao didn’t want to bear it anymore, so he raised his hand and conjured an ‘Air Cage’ to seal up the cell next door. With this ‘Air Cage’, he finally felt more comfortable, even though all this might just be a trick on his mind.
After a while, Jiang He suddenly looked over and said: “If you do this, the person in it will die of hypoxia.”
Leng Miao sneered: “Are you having pity on her?”
Jiang He: “I just thought that for The Great Mage Leng Miao, even if you lust after the [Twelve Movements], you’re not someone who casually kills other players for fun.”
“Heaven’s Will poisoned the entire Zone F and sent loads of people to prison, and you’re here talking to me about this?”
“Poisoning is just putting them in jail. But killing here is really killing. “
Jiang He’s tone was flat, as if it was just a blatant fact.
Chen Liu’s arm was trembling with pain, and when he heard what Jiang He said, he gritted his teeth in fury. This was what he hated the most about Jiang He. In the face of anyone, he was neither too humble nor too arrogant. Chong Yanzhang also said that he carried the aura of a general. When they went against Jin Cheng this time, Jiang He was the first to object the moment Chen Liu proposed to use BS101.
They were all seasoned players of Zone A and knew each other. What’s with this moral high ground? So hypocritical, so revolting.
Chen Liu only hoped that Leng Miao would also hate such a hypocritical person. This man had a notoriously cold temper and few people could please him.
But Leng Miao took a deep look at Jiang He and actually withdrew the ‘Air Cage’. Jiang He nodded to him, but neither side spoke again.
Chen Liu fell down in exasperation, his face turning all blue. But he didn’t dare to question Leng Miao. He cast a wrathful look at the little girl to find that she suddenly coughed and her body twitched, but soon she went silent again.
“Ding ding ding―” An electric bell suddenly rang.
Chen Liu’s heart thumped and he immediately forgot about the little girl, because — If the electric bell rang, the warden would make a round.
The nightmare of Zone G’s prison had come again.
Translator and reviewer at Strictly Bromance blog. In essence, she lives to indulge in plot-driven stories sprinkled with camaraderie and slow-burn drama-free romance, especially more so if they belong to adventure, mystery or supernatural genre. A trope that she always thirsts after: “Comrades who go through life and death together”.