Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
Once again, I sighed. Then I put myself down on the grass.
Layers upon layers of clouds kept traveling overhead, altering shapes, which in my eyes, precisely resembled this unpredictable world.
“Awesome.” I closed one eye and started drawing in the air with a finger pointed between my face and the sky, “… this moment like I’m able to grab them, those clouds. But forget it, I never am.”
“Stupid clouds…” Wilder said anxiously, “Just tell me, boss. Isn’t our relationship with Prince Fischer as good as it can be? Just let me know what happened. I won’t tell!”
“You do wanna know?” I said faintly, “Perhaps after listening what I have to say, you’ll come up with stupid wild guesses.”
“Trust me!” said Wilder, “I promise with my name that I will not venture a guess and will keep it a secret.”
“Wilder is a cheap name, screw you. Never mind, this relationship, normal people with average eyes could all tell.” I rested my arm and said, “Fischer’s head might as well be aching now. Rather, I’ve always been considering myself a smart man, though only until recently…”
“The problem stands between Fischen and me isn’t that of a difference from the one between you and me.” I closed my eyes, “Fischer is a prince and he will be the king someday. I will be his hand or first consult. In other words, I will have to obey his will, wills of any kinds. However, our currently bearing is quite the opposite: I boss him around all the time.”
“It’s so true!” exclaimed Wilder, “I recall last time when His Majesty had warned you. But Fischer did mention that he’s ok with it.”
“The reason he said that was to muddle through the conversation.” I thought back, slowly, then murmured, “Fischer knew I would rather not talk about such a matter in front of the seniors, which was quite the occasion, so he said that. Now, to think back, he must’ve wanted to give me more time to reflect on the matter and be prepared to face it. He wanted me to get his intention. Sigh, I let him down by simply ignoring it.”
“So to speak, when Fischer was with you all the time,” Wilder slumped on the grass, “he was pretending to fool around?”
“He might, with a high chance.” I nodded and made a bitter face, “When he was with me, he forced himself to accommodate my disposition. To think that he treasures our friendship this much and I was such a mean friend. I’ve been too tough on him.”
“What’re you going to do?”
“Suppose I should kill him in order to indulge my true self.” I opened both eyes to Wilder, said word by word, “Like what you might do to me in the future.”
“NO WAY! Fischer, he’s our friend and brother!” Wilder’s chest shivered, he said with a trembling voice, “and I’ve never even had the wildest thought about killing you somehow.”
“If I let you go like this, you will someday.” I closed my eyes again, “It’s normal.”
“You can’t! Boss, you can’t! Think again!” Wilder caught my shoulders and started shaking them violently, “Think again! Think of a better way to deal with the relationship. Haven’t you been thinking these days!?”
“You want another story?”
“Yes, boss, I do.”
“How reckless you are.” I glimpsed Wilder’s hands on my shoulders.
“Boss, I…” Wilder paused and let my shoulders go, “I’ve calmed down.”
“Fine, since you’re still with me.” I straightened my mind strings and started telling my thoughts, “After days of painful consideration, I ended up with a choice between either killing Fischer or giving up the position of dominance.”
“If it were the first case, I just can’t and I don’t know if I would. Even if I would, I will have to live in regret the rest of my life. In other words, I’d be losing Fischer as well as what I had once that I was so proud of. I would not be able to face anyone close to me. If I were to choose the latter, I would still have everything above; but for a man as vigorous as myself, the process will be tough.” I flirted the grass under my boots, “If I’ve made my decision to be the latter, I must set off immediately adjusting my mindset and try best to temper with such a relationship for the better. I will have to make him the dominance. That is to say, Fischer will be replacing me as the boss.”
“Call it, boss.” Anxiously, Wilder gazed at me, “Which one.”
“Yeah… which one…” I ripped 2 roots of grass. I moved eyes from left to right, “Fischer, and my ego, which one?”
“It’s not just Fischer on this side!” Wilder ripped off a bundle of grass, then one by one he crammed them between my left hand fingers, “It’s Fischer plus I, Moya, Jack, Marfa, Rohna sisters, Winslet, Merlin… you mum and dad, 2 brothers… bunches of, piles of people!”
I gazed the grass from Wilder and my vision started to blur. Now either one could be the convincer.
“Now, boss, call it.” Wilder said softly, “Pick one, it’ll be easy.”
“One! Be a man!”
My left palm slowly gripped harder and the right loosened powerlessly to let the lonely grass fall. Finally, with both hands, I welcomed the grass leaves under my nose and sniffed. It was fresh.
“Boss!” Wilder yelled, “You chose us?”
I lifted my chin then dropped it firmly.
“Can you keep your promise?” His both eyes were fixed on mine, “Promise!?”
“I can.” Fischer’s smile took shape in my head, “After all, I treasure your friendship so much and not at all am interested in being a king.”
“But can you live with it?” Wilder was half convinced and rejoiced, “You’re much more reckless than me. Can you live with the fact to kneel to Fischer daily and tell him all the ‘wise king’ crap?”
“I said I can.” I nodded seriously, “It’s called a sacrifice. Yes, it is. For Fischer, for my friends, I’m willing to sacrifice.”
“Boss! I knew it.” One more earth-shattering yelling, Wilder gave me a heavy slap on the shoulder, “You never let us down!”
“En…” said I, “It hurts.”
“Hold it, oh crap!” Wilder suddenly pushed me away, “This isn’t right!“
“What’s not right?”
“You’re the one lecturing me in the first place! How come it is I do the speech now!?”
“You’re just too easy.” I shrugged.
“Fucking hell, err, forget it.” Wilder spread his hands, “So now your problem is fixed, what about mine? I’m not you. What about the relationship between us two?”
“That I can’t help.” I shook my head, “I’ve told you, you’re a smart guy. Think further, think deep. Just keep your head under control.”
“That easy!” said I, “Feel free to tell me if you still can’t let go after settling down.”
“Then I’ll give you my place.” I hinted my throat, “Afterwards, point your sword here. I’m not a pain-tolerant guy so do it quick. Then you rise up high.”
“That easy!” I replied.
Moments of silence. This time it was Wilder’s turn to freeze to the grass.
“Let’s go. It’s not a matter to settle within a few hours. Do it yourself in the camp.” I stood up and dusted my cape, “We have other business here.”
“Don’t you forget? The 6, 000.” said I, “Since we’re here, we may as well pay them a visit.”
“Man, boss…” said Wilder, “We’re still on that?”
“Why not. It’s a necessary recon mission.” I relaxed my slightly sore body then strode on, “Besides, it’s not like we’re not going to taunt them somehow.”
“Oh, I see…” Wilder made a neck spring and stood still, “Give me a second, boss!”
(Somewhere very close to the canyon exit)
Wilder and I abandoned our redundancies and wormed our way into the densely-formulated forest. Crawling, the two of us approached the edge of the canyon. Though a little wretched, we managed to stay under the enemy’s radar.
“Boss,” Wilder kept his voice so low that only me can hear, “it’s their camp we’ll be looking at in the front. If we come across their patrols.”
“You can’t be less useful!” I replied with an even lower tone, “How can you call a recon mission without going closely? Careful, we need the most detailed intelligence.”
The man nodded, “Okay.”
“Spread out.” I said, “Communicate with hands.”
Having said that, I started chanting quietly. Several strings of soft vines sprouted and began camouflaging my entire body. Seconds later, a thin layer of green had perfectly merged me into the environment. The last vine hardened to mystify my outline as a human. It was a spell I ordered the elves to teach me.
In the meantime, chanting voice came not far around. Somehow it sounded close to mine earlier. I looked aside with surprise and found Wilder was also using magic. Looking closely, there was the difference: the plants covering his body were clumsy and strong, traces of fuzzy and uncomfortable-looking green leaves can be found there.
“You learned that too?” I hushed.
“Yeah…” Wilder adjusted his body, suddenly trembled, “Damn it!”
“Those elves can’t be more discriminating! How come I get this crap and you have that beautiful shit!” Wilder was not at all pleased, he glanced my cozy plant camouflage, “It’s itching and painful!”
I sniggered then crawled aside while throwing Wilder a ‘Maybe in a few years, amateur’ comment.
The two of us managed to move apart for 15 arms-length then started approaching the canyon edge one after another.
I focused on everything ahead of myself while listening to every sound within a diameter of 50 arms-length. My nose was sniffing slowly all kinds of scents mixed in the air. I can tell the smell of rot, dry woods, flowers, even animal feces. In a place protected by such a dense woods that even shielded sunrays, a man’s vision was less useful than auditory and olfactory senses.
Wilder and I took turns to advance; while I was going forward, he stayed alerted; while I reached a certain distance, I’ll gesture him to follow, it went on and on until we’ve arrived a cliff. A few steps forward it would be that unknown force’s campsite.
It was the edge of the woods and tree trunks have already gone thin. That was why I had to pay extra attention while traveling in.
A sudden, tiny click of crack over my head froze my body. I hinted Wilder to pause. The click sounded like the break of dry tree skin.
Wilder replied positive and concealed himself aside within the communicable range.
I stayed absolutely still and closed my eyes. I put all my attention listening. A few more sounds of cracks, which sounded like breaking twig, leaves scraping metal, came over. A guy must be turning… on the tree!”
I shifted my body behind a fat tree to keep myself from being discovered then looked over to that tree where the click sound came. However, the bushy plant had kept me from valuable information.
I passed my judgment to Wilder with gesture along with his next move.
Wilder blinked, his hands reached for the mud. He made a dirt bullet then fired it into the shrub within range.
It worked, a startled bird flapped out from the bush. Once the noise occurred, all sounds on the tree earlier seized to exist as if the things inside were alerted and watching the situation.
Though absolutely silence, the atmosphere had gone uptight. I even stopped breathing while observing that tree. The situation favored Wilder and I since we were at the opponents’ blind spots before the incident occurred.
A few more clicks. Sounded like they’ve gone alarm-free.
“TWANG!” An arrow thrust into the bush where the bird flapped out. Then a green figure dropped from the tree. Before his feet reached the grass, the long blade he was holding had already started wielding. In blinks of white lights, the bush was shredded into scraps.
“Not bad. He’s not an average soldier.” I gazed at this guy and thought, “Poor birdy, sorry about your nest.”
The soldier stopped as the uproar of dust and leaves took the ground. He gasped, inserted the blade into the earth, and sat down. From my point of view, he was average-figured, equipped with fitting, hard, black-mass armor, and camouflaged. The vines in disguise were all fixed between the armor slims. No wonder he’d made a sound earlier.
Wilder sided his eyes to ask me if we should terminate this man. I slightly hinted with my little finger to tell him to wait.
“Pss, what’s with you?” A voice asked from the tree, “Found anything yet?”
“Found your ass!” The man sitting in dirt complained, “You morally sick coward bitch. Why don’t you come down and see for yourself!”
One more guy jumped off the tree, pressing a lot of twigs along.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, big deal.” The latter guy dressed more or less the same, though he was one head shorter than the first soldier, “You deserve it with your scissors. That’s what you got, money free.”
“Curse you! When the hell are we gonna stay in this godforsaken place! Fucking place!” The first guy was obviously full of profanities, his helmet was taken off and placed aside, “And this armor, it’s fucking tight and small. If that even made for humans?”
“Save it. It might be just a couple of more days.” The short guy sighed and said, “We’re lucky to be alive after such a dreadful war.”
“Fuck the War! I’m a glorious Symbian soldier. Never imagine I’ll end up here corrupting. Not only do I have to petrol in this shit of darkness, I had to dress like local bandits!”
“Shush!” The short army-man warned, “Keep it low, you don’t want our commander to hear you.”
“Commander? Screw him! Now he remembers to put up airs. When we were surrounded by AUFs, he’s no better than a slave soldier…”
“Just drop it. You’ll dead if someone hears you.” The short man tapped his companion’s shoulder, “Quit whining. We’re just soldiers. The officers are different.”
“Needless to say. But why do we ended up here? Just to kill a few refugees?”
“I heard our primary job is to keep the local demeanors on the line from pouring in.” The short guy said, “I also heard that the order was from the merciful left pope instead of the headquarter. He must worry that the refugees might lead to trouble if they come all the way into our allied empires.”
“The left cardinal’s order? Then how come we’re the ones to carry it out? We’re Symbia’s best of the best.”
“Haven’t you heard? Our commander is somehow related to either the left or the right pope.”
“No wonder. He’s gonna get a rank higher once going back…”
“One more thing, have you heard?” The short said, “Some nasty business occurred on the other side of the canyon…”
“How did you know?”
“That’s why you never win any money. You stupid swine!” The short spat, “Can’t you see we’ve set so many watch posts along the canyon. Why did the refugees run to us like hell days earlier? Why our commander ordered to shot to kill every last one of them?”
“Didn’t you say the left pope is afraid of the trouble they might bring to the allied empires?”
“I was right calling you a stupid…” The short’s lips smacked, “Any dogs can live in the wild, let alone these refugees. Why not just keep them from entering the border? Why he ordered us to take so much effort to cut them off here?”
“How should I know?” The short tapped his companion’s ass with a foot, “Go back to the trees. Next shift is coming. I don’t want any trouble!”
The two cursed and went back to the treetop. Their conversation continued.
I hinted Wilder to stay put while detoured the enemy’s tree to reach for the cliff for a better view of the canyon exit.
This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.