Chapter 8 : Being Lost, a Precursor to Being a Wanderer
“Papa, which direction is Kaiser?” Baolilong flew a while, but suddenly stopped perplexedly; it didn’t seem to know where Kaiser was..
Liola paused, and asked with a lowered head, “I thought you knew.”
“Baolilong doesn’t know!”
Baolilong turned its head and looked innocently at him with its pink eyeballs at the size of Liola’s head, while Liola also stared blankly back at it. He was never the one to be the pathfinder. After thinking for a while, Liola looked up at the boundary-less land and clear skies, and noticed the winds had changed directions.
“Let’s go with the wind.” Liola decided easily.
Baolilong yelled “okay” loudly, and happily began to play a game of gliding in the wind. There were countless number of wind changes in their journey, and Baolilong naively thought: no matter how many times the wind would change, because papa said to go with the wind, that would be exactly what it would do.
A Dragon who knew nothing about the concept of path, plus a person who never had to find a path, both allowing the wind to determine the direction they would take…
The two also didn’t seem to care much. If they got thirsty they would find a river for water; if they got hungry they would land and cruise around the bushes and trees; Liola could always find some form of food. Besides, they didn’t even need to start a fire; he could just release his aura, and the meat would be cooked.
Also, these meat were usually taken from gigantic animals, such as a three-story tall Lesser-Dragon. In the end, Baolilong ate even more satisfactorily than before, and therefore it didn’t miss Purity as much.
They continued as such for days, to the point where they lost track for how long, and lived carefreely and leisurely, until one day, when Liola suddenly saw a strange city. He thought for a moment… in fact, more like was put in a daze for a while. After Baolilong suggested getting some desserts, they decided to enter.
Because he didn’t have clothes for Baolilong to wear, Liola asked Baolilong to resume the form of a small Dragon to enter the city. As they walked through the streets, the small city looked very crowded. Everyone seemed to be carrying luggages of varying sizes, as if they were carrying all of their wealth on them at all times. Some of the bags were even so full of gold and silver that one could see them from the outside. Nevertheless, no one’s eyes showed any signs of avarice, instead…
Liola frowned; it seemed like all their eyes were towards him? He looked to the side, other than Baolilong chewing a piece of meat, there was nothing else there. Could Baolilong stand out too much? Liola thought about it a bit, and felt relieved; after all, a Sacred White Dragon was a rare sight to be had.
The more Liola walked, the stranger he thought it was. Everyone he saw in Aklan capital used to be glamorous, but this city was the complete opposite: their clothes were torn and dirty, and the sides of the streets were littered with pale and thin people. The whole city looked like a giant refugee camp.
“Yo! Yo! There’s a Knight here. Look at him, such beautiful clothes, he looks like a Prince or something.”
A refugee who looked somewhat alive said loudly; his tone was obviously mocking, but no one knew his words hit spot on: Liola was indeed a Prince.
Liola looked confusedly at that person, not sure what he meant. He thought, could this person had already recognized he was the Dragon Empire’s Prince, Silver Moon?
“Mama, I’m really hungry, I want meat!” A child on the side suddenly began to cry loudly.
“Don’t cry, there’s still a piece of cracker here. Here, hurry and eat it.”
The mother who held the child’s hand reached into her bag and painstakingly took out something so broken that it looked nothing like a cracker, then handed it to the child. The child took the cracker, but his eyes were fixated on the meat in Baolilong’s mouth. Had it not been his mother holding him back, the child might have already ran up to fight the Dragon for the food.
Seeing this, Liola seemed to have realized something, and he walked towards the child. The mother immediately threw the child panickedly into her arms, and looked at Liola’s approach with fear on her face. Some of the refugees dashed off, but some of them inched closer with a gloomy look; out of the crowd who drew near, the person who spoke mockingly before was the one leading them.
In an instant, there were a dozen or so people blocking Liola’s path to the mother. Liola thought it was strange; he said with a frown, “Please let me through.”
The person leading seemed to be surprised, most likely with the word “please”. He thought briefly, then asked carefully, “How come your clothes don’t have lining? What rank of a Knight are you?”
Liola lowered his head and looked at the black Knight’s uniform he was wearing; the uniform did not have the lining other uniforms usually would have, but instead it had a Dragon pattern indicating his royalty in the Dragon Empire. If the person looking at the uniform was from the Dragon Empire, just by looking at the Dragon pattern, they would have known this person had the Royal Family’s blood running through his veins, and they could determine which of the royalty this person was.
The current Dragon Empire had a Purple Dragon as his pattern, while the Eldest Prince used Black Dragon. The Second Prince was dead, but used to use a Gold Dragon when he was alive. Third Prince used red, to represent his Fire Dragon. The only Princess, Lanski, loved blue. The one on Liola, was Silver Dragon; not only did it reflect his unique eye color, it represented his title as Silver Moon.
However, the Dragon Empire’s royalties rarely appeared in front of the general public. Even the Dragon Empire’s peasants wouldn’t recognize the looks of the royalties, they would have only heard about the Dragon pattern colors, but the Aklan peasants would know of no such thing.
Liola frowned, unsure of what he should answer. The Knights who have their own unique auras have always been recognized as Knights who have surpassed ranks, and they were often famous, such as the Paladin and Dark Knight. They would only call out their titles, and no one would ever ask them about ranks.
“I… am Silver rank.” Liola didn’t know why, but for some reason he stated the rank far below his true power. Perhaps it was because Silver Mask had been a silver Knight for a while.
Silver Knight… everyone present spitted. They clearly knew a Silver Knight’s power was more than enough to handle a dozen of these people. The dozen or so people standing in front of the mother and child looked hesitant.
“You are a Knight, you wouldn’t hurt a peasant, would you?” The person in lead clearly knew what code of conduct a Knight should follow, and he took off his hat towards Liola.
Liola shook his head. Of course, he wouldn’t harm any ordinary person without a reason.
The person in lead was hesitant for a moment, then slowly backed away. The others following him saw and slowly backed off as well. There were nothing else blocking between Liola and the mother and son. Seeing this, Liola began to walk again towards the mother and child.
The mother clearly was panicking, and she apologized hurriedly, “S-sorry, sir Knight, my child didn’t mean to stare at your Dragon.”
Liola had already reached the mother. He was confused about what the mother said, but he continued to do what he wanted to do: he took out something wrapped in lotus leaves from his pockets, and slowly put it in front of the child.
By now, the crowd didn’t know what this Knight wanted to do, and they looked timidly at the lotus leaves wrapped bag. The child scaredly went further into his mother’s hug; the mother also seemed timid and unsure on how to react.
“For you.” Liola pushed the wrapped bag forward a bit more.
The mom was at a loss, but the child seemed to have noticed something. He hurriedly struggled out of his mother’s arms, and grabbed the bag out of Liola’s hands. After quickly tearing off the leaves, he began to bite into the thing inside. The mother saw, and panickedly grabbed it from the child’s hands, fearing that her child would have mistakenly eaten something fatal. As soon as she had done so, however, she realized it was a juicy piece of meat with the same size as three adult fists.
“Mama! I want to eat.” The child was hungry. He grabbed the meat from his mother’s hands, and began biting into it again.
The mother and the crowd looked surprised. Seeing the child happily eating, everyone seemed to have relaxed, and they thought the Knight had, after all, no malicious intent. At the same time, however, their mouths watered as they looked, but they had to suppress their own hunger. On one hand, they didn’t want to snatch food from a child, on another, the Silver Knight was still present. If they snatched food he had given to a child, it would be no doubt a slap to his face, and no one would do something that stupid.
After the child eating for a while, he raised his eyes to see his mother looking hungry. He felt a bit guilty, then handed the meat to his mother and said, “Mama, this meat is delicious, I’ve never had anything so delicious. Have a taste.”
The mother gulped, then said, “You eat first, give it to mama if you can’t finish.”
“Mama, I already can’t eat anymore.” The child said so, but he still couldn’t refrain from the hungry look on his face.
Liola saw this, and he felt an indescribable feeling in his chest. It was just like the warm hug he had gotten from the blood-covered Mocha — a warmth with a sense of sadness.
Yet another lotus leaves wrapped bag appeared in front of the mother and child. When the two raised their heads to look, the young Knight offering the bag was smiling slightly. It was a smile so clear that it felt like the soft moonlight guiding the travelers home, and everyone couldn’t help but smiled as well.
The mother reached out her hand to receive the bag. She opened the bag, and sure enough it was another piece of meat. With lights reflecting off tears on her face, she began to slowly eat the meat. She didn’t know if she had been so hungry or what, but the meat tasted especially delicious, juicy, and tender. Before she knew it, she began to eat faster and faster, until she had forgotten everything else except eating. It wasn’t until she heard the gulping sounds surrounding her, did she finally stop biting.
Seeing everyone around, she remembered the dozen or so people in front of her just now. After a slight of hesitation, she looked towards Liola, and asked carefully, “E-excuse me, can we divide the meat among others? They’ve also been hungry for a long time.”
Liola looked around at the crowd, finally understanding that the expressions on their faces represented hunger. He thought for a moment, and said, “Not necessary.”
The mother paused, not necessary? She was just about to ask what he meant, but the young Knight gestured to the little white Dragon next to him, then the Dragon flew into the air and suddenly transformed into a large Dragon. Everyone stared at awe at this scene, and the mother was no exception. When she got out of the daze, the Knight and Dragon were now only a small dot in the sky.
She didn’t know what she should do. She wanted to give some of the meat to others, but she was afraid of the Knight being mad. She thought, would the Knight come back?
The person in lead also saw the mother’s indecisiveness. After gulping, he said, “Don’t worry, that’s the meat the Knight gave you, we wouldn’t snatch it.”
Hearing this, the mother felt even more guilt. She pushed the guilt, and suggested, “Let’s divide this between everyone, us two couldn’t possibly eat such a large piece of meat.”
Everyone heard, and no matter how much they wanted to act like a hero, their stomachs disobediently began to growl. The crowd looked at one another awkwardly. The mother smiled, and handed out the meat, then said, “Come, let’s all eat.”
The crowd finally decided not to resist. The leading person took out his knife, and divided the large piece of meat into smaller pieces. Only the dozen or so who tried to protect her got a piece, and they only each got a piece of meat about the size of a finger. If they were to divide this to everyone on the streets, they might not even get a sliver of meat.
Everyone seemed to have treasured this little piece of meat, but the leading person still acted with alacrity; he threw the entire piece of meat into his mouth, but he kept chewing it, and didn’t want to swallow it. He said as he chewed, “I can’t believe there are still some good people among the Knights.”
Another person heard, and sighed while shaking his head, “The Knights now are far different than before. Once upon a time, a Knight was always willing to help, and us folks would always ask him if he’s married. If not, then any of us with a sister would grab her, or if not then cousins, hoping they would join the family…”
“Hmmph! If my sister wants to marry a Knight, I will break her leg.” Someone shouted this from the crowd. As soon as this was said, everyone else seemed to agree.
“Everyone, don’t say that, the Knight just now seemed to be good.” The mother hurried to the Knight’s defense, only because this Knight gave her and her child two pieces of meat.
“Yes, at least a few hundred times better than the Knights who drove us out of our homes.”
When they mentioned their homes, everyone was quiet. This city was not too far from the Aklan capital, and that was why it was populated by many people who used to live in or around the Aklan capital. When the people living here heard about the news of the Dragon Empire taking the capital, they were so thankful that they were going to knee before the Dragon Emperor to thank him. However, when they returned to the gates of the capital, they were not allowed in, and even the people of the surrounding cities were forcefully driven out of their homes.
Though the reason they claimed was spies of the Black Dragon King among them, but many people questioned back:
“Isn’t it the Knight’s duties to protect us? Instead they drove us out because of spies, what the hell is this?”
“They drove us out and left us here without an ounce of care. If the Black Dragon King sends a few flying Dragons to massacre us, what are we going to do?”
The bigger problem for them now was a source of food. By now, the commerce and agriculture of Aklan Continent had practically came to a complete stop. Because the Black Dragon King had taken the north, so there were countless refugees going into the cities to the south. The amount of food in the storage in the south had been emptied by the refugees, and food was now so scarce that it was difficult to buy with money, which was the reason why there were people dying in the streets from hunger while still holding gold and silver.
“Sigh, when will these days ever end? I really miss Prime Minister Qiusi…”
Everyone began lamenting about the good times they had while Qiusi was still the Prime Minister.
“Mama, the Dragon is back.”
The child naively and happily pointed into the sky. Everyone raised their heads and sure enough, they saw an eye-catching White Dragon. Now, everyone was in a hurry to stuff the piece of meat into their mouths, fearing that the Knight might get angry when if he found out they ate the meat he gave to the mother.
The mother herself was afraid as well, but she was worried the Knight would mistake others for snatching her food. She mustered her courage, planning on clarifying it for others. When the Dragon flew near, however, all she could do was drop her jaws.
The White Dragon was biting on a Lesser-Dragon. The Lesser-Dragon was not moving, and it clearly looked like it was dead. The White Dragon slowly landed, giving enough time for the people underneath to scatter. As soon as it got near the ground, the White Dragon threw the Lesser-Dragon to the side, and instantly transformed back to a small Dragon.
The Knight with the black uniform, on the other hand, elegantly jumped off the Dragon as it transformed, and landed squarely right next to the Lesser-Dragon. His unique silver eyes then looked towards where the mother and other stood.
“Ah, ah!” As soon as the silver eyes fixated on her, the mother acted like she had been electrified. She quickly explained, “I, uh, it was me who divided the meat to others, they didn’t forcefully take it, please don’t misunderstand.”
The Knight frowned at the mother’s explanation, and this made everyone else nervous again, but then the Knight nodded, which calmed everyone’s nerves…
The Knight took out a silver stick from his long boots, and with a click, he unsheathed a thin blade. Everyone stared blankly at the Knight, unsure of what he was going to do. The Knight began to float, yup, indeed, float. Every raise of hand he did looked like a virtuoso dancer on the stage. A faint red mist began to surround him, almost like a light red veil covering him. It also continuously sparkle, which made it look all that much more pretty.
Everyone were entranced by such a sight. It was a long while before they were awakened by a delicious smell. They then realized, as the silver lights flashed from the Knight, pieces of meat the size of a person’s head had been chopped off from the Lesser-Dragon’s body. The pieces of meat slowly started to build up to a small hill. When the meat hill was about half the height of a person, a red light would shine from the Knight, and cover the meat hill for a few seconds. When the red light disappeared, the meat mountain emitted an alluring smell. Even idiots would know from the smell that the meat was cooked and delicious.
But no one dared to move. If anyone weren’t familiar with Silver rank before, they have completely understood now. The Knight possessed unseen speeds, and their aura could instantly cook meat… If he were to use it on a person, that person would probably become a cooked meat hill as well.
The little Dragon suddenly climbed up the meat hill, and began to bite into the meat with its mouth, but then it seemed to think it was a bit inconvenient. After a flash of a white light, the little white Dragon disappeared, and in its place was a naked and pretty adolescent person, but it was eating indecently.
Everyone’s jaws dropped; the Dragon turned into human?
Lioa yelled unhappily. It’s not that he didn’t want Baolilong to eat, but Baolilong ate while sitting on top of the meat mountain, and it was far too rude.
Baolilong knew what it did wrong. After saying “oh”, it obediently jumped off the meat mountain, and sat next to it while continuing to chew pieces of meat.
Liola didn’t realize until now, all the other people were staring at him. While keeping a few meters of distance away, as if they were scared to get any closer. Liola gestured at the meat mountain, and said simply, “For you all.”
Everyone froze, as if they couldn’t believe something like this could happen in this world.
Liola originally planned to continue slicing and cooking meat after saying so, but seeing no one moved, and their eyes looked even more fixated at him than before, he thought they didn’t understand what he meant, so he elaborated, “These are for you to eat. Lesser-Dragon meat is edible, it’s not poisonous.”
At first there were silence, but in an instant, an excited yell broke the silence. Everyone acted as if they were in a craze, and all charged up to grab meat. The situation quickly descent into chaos. The leading person saw the situation getting worse, and yelled immediately, “What are you doing?! What are you doing?! Don’t make ourselves a joke in front of the Knight. Order! Give some meat to the old, weak, pregnant, and children first.”
After his yell, everyone seemed to have calmed down. A few muscular lads looked at the meat on their hands, and guiltily handed them to the older people next to them who didn’t have enough strength to get meat. Everyone began to form a line, and if they saw a weaker person behind them, they would all start to send the person up in line.
Liola saw all of this, and felt another strange sensation in his heart — it was a warm feeling, and he found himself really liking such a feeling. He turned and began to slice and cook meat again, until the Lesser-Dragon slowly turned into nothing but bones. When all the meat were taken off the bones, Liola thought to himself, was this enough meat to make everyone full?
Liola stopped, and turned to look at them. He realized there were still quite a few meat mountains left, but the speed at which they ate was slowing down. Many of them had already stopped eating, and patted their full bellies with satisfaction.
The leading person saw Liola had stopped cooking and stood still, then he walked towards the Knight while picking his teeth with his finger nails, and asked strangely, “Knight! Why are you helping us?”
Liola looked at him with a tilted head. He thought for a moment, and said, “Because I want to, and because this makes me feel happy.”
The “want” and “happy”, were exactly what Mocha requested.
“There aren’t many people like you nowadays.” The leading person shook his head and smiled bitterly, then continued, “Knight, you have no idea how many people you saved with your happiness. Tell us, what’s your name? Even if we can’t ever repay your debt, we will always remember the name of our savior.”
‘My happiness saved people?’ Liola was very shocked. He always thought of himself as a burden to others, even to the point of killing others.
“Are you not willing to tell us?” The leading person scratched his face, “If you don’t tell us your name, can you at least give us a nickname to call you?”
‘Nickname?’ Liola was still thinking about why his happiness could save people, and as soon as he heard “nickname”, he answered reflexively, “Silver Mask.”
Everyone’s jaws dropped. To them, this name was not strange at all. They still remembered, more than a year ago, the Paladin’s apprentice, Silver Mask, had been quite active on the Aklan Continent. Of course, to these peasants, it was just a topic for them to gossip about, they only heard rumors about how strong Silver Mask was and how righteous he was.
However, like the Paladin, Silver Mask was like a person in heaven to them, and it was fairly unrelated to their everyday life. No matter how righteous or strong he was, it was still just a legend. After they finished gossiping, the people returned to their lives. Silver Mask had nothing to them with them in the end.
But now, Silver Mask actually appeared in front of them and delivered meat to them in times of need. To these peasants, these delicious meat was far more practical than defeating the devil.
“Where’s your mask? Didn’t you always wear a silver mask?” The leading person asked confoundedly.
Liola thought with a tilted head, then answered, “I forgot where I put it.”
The leading person slipped, almost to the point of falling on his back from such a simple answer. With a bitter face, he smiled loudly and put his thumb up for Liola, “Your answer is extreme enough! I like you, Sir Silver Mask, call me Bour.”
Liola went silent for a moment, then said, “Bour, strange name.” This was always something people had said to Liola, and he’d never thought he would be the one saying it one day.
“Haha, yeah, it is a bit strange. Blame it on my parents, it’s not like I wanted to be called that.”
Bour found this Knight quite interesting, and he didn’t have the arrogance other Knights had. Having always been easy going, he began to relax a bit. Had it not been Silver Mask’s pretty and clean clothes stopping him, Bour might have already put his oily hands, thanks the Dragon meat, onto Silver Mask’s shoulder.
“Silver Mask, you’re quite famous, so why did you end up in this little city?” Bour inquired curiously, while the surrounding people also began to eavesdrop on the conversation.
“I’m looking for someone, but I’m lost.” Liola frowned. He had absolutely no clue where he was. Also, he didn’t know where he should go to look for Kaiser.
Bour asked reflexively, “Who are you looking for?”
“Kaiser, Daylight, Purity, and Meinan.” Liola answered straightforwardly.
“Kaiser and Daylight? Isn’t that…” Bour and the people around him looked awkwardly at one another, then asked skeptically, “Aren’t those the two people who are now on the wanted list for attempting to assassinate the Dragon Empire’s successor? Are you trying to capture them?”
“They’re wanted criminals?” Liola paused. Because the arrest was ordered by the Dragon Emperor, he didn’t even know they had now became wanted criminals.
“Yes, didn’t you know?” Bour seemed surprised; this was the most recent earthshaking news.
Liola shook his head, and said, “We’re friends.”
As soon as the words were spoken, everyone froze. Being friends with wanted criminals, wouldn’t that make him an accomplice?
“I have to go find them.” Liola locked his eyebrows. Originally, he thought Kaiser and others should be fine, and that’s why he had been a bit lax in his search. But now he knew they became wanted criminals, he began to panic a bit.
Bour paused, “Where would you find them?”
This was exactly what Liola was wondering, too. He shook his head, “Don’t know.”
Bour frowned, and suggested, “How about this, stay here for now, and we’ll ask around for you. You won’t be able to find them while running around like a headless chicken.”
Liola thought for a moment; indeed, he probably could never find Kaiser like this. More importantly, he really liked here, and he did indeed want to stay here for a bit longer. Just with the “want” was enough of a reason for Liola to stay.
Wanting to stay here, wanting to see Kaiser and others, and wanting to use his happiness to save people; for the first time, Liola realized, the reason to do something was as simple as wanting to.
‘Eldest brother, thank you for teaching me how to ‘want’.’