Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Duran’s face changed abruptly, and he threw the packing bag he was sorting into the cart. “Quick, put the grill on the cart, we have to leave now.”
An Jin, who had been tensed by his emotions, rushed to help carry the grill, somewhat puzzled. “What’s wrong?”
“The sound just now is the sound of an inkhorn howler attack. It sounds like it’s gone berserk, it’s far away from us now, if it gets any closer, we’ll have to use our spiritual power to resist, otherwise we’ll get hurt.” He set the empty basin on the grill and grabbed the cart handle. “We can always go offline, but the grill will be ruined, look at the forest.”
An Jin looked over and saw the forest, where the roar came from. The surrounding trees toppled over, smoke and dust rose, and the trees at the edge of the forest swayed violently. He was looking at it, and he was thinking “inkhorn howler beast”, which sounded familiar.
Soon he remembered, before and Norman into the holographic world together, someone who asked Norman to help mentioned this word.
“This place is geographically advantageous, but no one has a stall just because it’s outside the town shield and not safe,” Duran said, pushing the cart quickly in the direction of the town and urging An Jin, “You go offline first, I’ll haul the stuff back to the hut.”
An Jin responded, but instead of getting offline, he opened his panel and the sign belonging to his parent was lit, right in the forest. Norman was hunting inkhorn howlers! He thought for a moment and ran towards the forest.
“An An,” Duran shouted when he turned around and saw him running towards the forest instead of getting offline, “what are you doing, get offline!”
“I’m going to check it out, if there’s danger, get offline, don’t worry.”
Duran saw him say that, so he did not nag. He was worried about the extended range of the next sound attack of the inkhorn howler beast, no longer delayed, into the town.
An Jin ran in the direction of the small blue dot on the panel. The forest was full of shrubs and weeds; it was good that the middle was out of the way of the hunting people, he ran quite smoothly.
An Jin became dizzy and a fishy taste came to his mouth, and he hurriedly ran his ability to heal.
Ten minutes later, he saw Norman and the huge star beast in front of Norman.
The star beast had dark skin and two dark, shiny horns on its forehead, and there were many bloody holes in its body. Its copper-bell eyes were bloodshot, and it attacked Norman like a madman.
An Jin’s heart was tight, biting his lips to not make a sound.
Norman’s tall body was very agile. He was dodging the attack of the ink-horned howler beast side by side when shooting, with the spiritual force of the slug penetrating the skin of the neck of the star beast, splashed with bright red blood. The sound wave pushed away from the trees that had collapsed nearby, leaving the area more open for one person and one beast.
An Jin was prepared this time and ran his ability in advance without discomfort. He looked at Norman nervously; he found that whether the star beast attacked Norman or Norman attacked the star beast, Norman’s spiritual power always decreased.
Norman, expressionless, quickly moved to the right side of the star beast and fired several shots at the neck. The star beast twisted its head, lifted its iron pillar-like foot and quickly stepped over it.
An Jin, quicker in action than in thought, subconsciously tried to run past it, but stumbled over the grass stems on the ground, his feet hurriedly stomping on the ground to stabilize himself.
Norman flipped sideways to avoid the attack and noticed him. His eyes changed slightly and he said in a deep voice, “An An, get offline.”
As he spoke, the roaring beast attacked him again, and he dodged it while striking back.
An Jin stood still and did not go offline, nor did he move again, fearing that it would affect Norman. The ink-horned howler was covered in wounds and bleeding profusely, but the attack was still not slow.
Norman also had blood on his body, but he was wearing black clothes, so An Jin couldn’t tell if he was hurt or not. An Jin was more worried because Norman’s spiritual power was being rapidly depleted. Norman saw that the little mermaid did not come closer, so he put his heart down and focused on the inkhorn howler beast.
The howler was the most difficult star beast to hunt in the holographic world, not particularly powerful, but tenacious, and could use a sound attack—very consuming of spiritual power.
The best way was to fight in rotation, which consumed spiritual power slowly, but the distance of a sound attack was very large, so it was difficult to constantly rotate.
It did not matter if someone was online or offline, because each time someone came online, the location they started in was not very good and they may be directly under the soles of the howler’s feet.
Eddie’s squad tried to team up with another person to reach another location in the holographic world and then rush to the battlefield, but the results failed.
If they rushed to the road and heard the roar, spiritual force would be consumed. The rush would take time, and in the meantime, the front would have to deal with the roar of the star beast, and it was difficult to hold out for support.
And in the holographic world settings, they could go offline while battling the star beast and immediately recover, and do not need to slowly recuperate.
So if you want to hunt star beasts, you must kill them all at once; you can’t slowly grind them to death. This was why there were many people who chose to exercise their skills in the holographic world.
As long as you got out of the battle before the star beast died, you could repeat against one star beast a day for targeted training.
About half an hour passed, and Norman once again accurately shot the inkhorn howler beast in the neck. His shooting while flying was often accurate, and almost all of the bullets landed in its neck. The beast wailed, its huge pupils bloodshot, and raised its head, its mouth wide open, letting out a final vocal attack.
An Jin looked at Norman’s spiritual sea and opened his mouth to sing.
The light song sounded, and the energy particles quickly flew into Norman’s spiritual sea.
Norman froze and looked at the teenager, not expecting the song to have a healing effect while he was in human form.
An Jin smiled at him, and while he wasn’t paying attention, he ran his water ability, condensing the blood on the inkhorn howler’s face into rapidly rotating water arrows that quickly shot into its eyes.
“Woo…” With a short, painful cry, the inkhorn howler beast’s vocal attack came to an abrupt end and it fell to the ground with a thud, the ground trembling along with it.
An Jin looked over and his eyes lit up slightly, this was his first attack with the water ability, and he was pleased with the result.
Norman walked up to him. “Why didn’t you go offline?”
An Jin didn’t have the heart to say that he was worried about Norman, as if he doubted Norman’s ability. He knew that even if he didn’t make a move, Norman would be fine. He said, “I just wanted to see. You’re good!”
Norman met the teenager’s bright eyes and did not hold back. His wide palm fell on the top of the teenager’s head and rubbed it. He said seriously, “An An is also very powerful. Many people can not cope with the inkhorn howler beast’s continuous sound attack.” He said this and looked at the teenager and asked, “Do you feel uncomfortable?”
An Jin shook his head. “No.” He frowned and raised his hand to point at Norman’s sturdy arm where there was a blood stain. “Are you hurt?”
“It’s not my blood.”
An Jin sighed in relief and was about to drop his hand when it was grabbed by Norman. He froze and looked up.
Norman stared at the little mermaid’s finger and asked in a deep voice, “What’s going on?”
The little mermaid only changed his appearance, not his body. His fingers were slender and soft, but on his white skin, there were clearly traces of burns.
An Jin’s fingers curled. “Nothing.”
Norman listened to the little mermaid’s soft voice, thinking that the little mermaid was good-tempered, timid, and petulant. Suspecting that someone was bullying him, his face became more and more serious. “Someone is bullying you?”
An Jin shook his head. “It’s really nothing.”
He didn’t want to tell Norman that he was working at a barbecue stand for the time being. He was going to give Norman a little surprise.
An Jin’s finger pushed a little harder and Norman let go of him.
An Jin smiled and pointed to the inkhorn howler. “Should we get it out of here?”
“I’ll call someone to come and transport it away, you go offline and rest first.”
An Jin shook his head. He was in a good mood, his spiritual power was returning fast, and he didn’t want to get offline yet. His eyes were very bright and he asked, “Are you free now?”
Otherwise, he should not be in the holographic world.
“Yes,” replied Norman.
An Jin’s eyes were expectant. “Will you come with me to a place?”
Norman looked at the time, not yet five o’clock, and nodded. “Yes.”
An Jin’s eyes curved, and after waiting for a while without hearing Norman speak again, he looked down, tapped his toes on the ground, and couldn’t help but look up and ask, “Aren’t you curious?”
A smile flashed in Norman’s eyes. “You’ll tell me if you’re curious?”
“No,” An Jin said with a wink, “then there would be no surprise.” He muttered, “But you didn’t even ask. You didn’t seem to expect anything.”
Norman was slightly surprised, and looked at the teenager’s slightly puffed cheeks and seriously pondered if he was too boring. He said seriously, “I’m looking forward to it.”
An Jin blushed slightly, Norman so with his little heart, but he was a little embarrassed, his head tilted to the side.
Norman looked at the side of the teenager’s pink tinted face; the smile in his eyes deepened.
Soon, Eddie’s squad logistician came over and thanked Norman. “Thanks a lot. The boss and Eddie, their spiritual force has not returned to the safe point, and they are forbidden to go online, so let me help say thanks.”
In the middle of the fight, the boss and Eddie could not hold up and were forced offline by the system.
Norman nodded. “You’re welcome, you’re busy, don’t mind me.”
The logistician transferred a large portion of the bounty to Norman and greeted his team members. Norman did not check the amount; he hunted in the holographic world mainly for exercise, the money was incidental. He looked at the little mermaid. Below the chin, the little mermaid’s skin was white and soft, and looked warm and clean.
He raised his hand and took off his T-shirt, and his firm and exaggerated pectoral muscles and abdominal muscles were unobstructed.
An Jin looked at it for two seconds and hurriedly moved his eyes away.
The next hunting team members praised, “Team Leader Tang’s body muscles are simply a man’s dream! So handsome, I also want to get such a body, but unfortunately I’m too poor.”
Norman didn’t say anything. He wiped the blood off his body with his T-shirt, took a wet paper towel from his backpack and wiped off the residual dried blood, and put on a clean T-shirt. After he was dressed, he put both hands around the little mermaid’s waist and gently placed the man on his left arm and headed out into the forest.
An Jin hurriedly held his shoulders, noticing his change of clothes and guessing that maybe it had something to do with him. The tips of his ears reddened. “I can walk by myself.”
“You just almost fell down.” Norman stated the truth.
An Jin froze and tried to retort, but then he thought of the straw he had tripped over earlier and felt ashamed, so he whispered, “I was just careless.”
Norman rubbed the top of his head. “It’s okay, you’re light. We can walk faster with you in my arms.”
An Jin accepted the reason Norman carried him: it saved more time!
When he got outside the forest, Norman looked around and frowned slightly.
An Jin followed suit and looked around, “Are you looking for something?”
“I heard there’s a barbecue stand around here that has particularly good barbecue. You should like it,” Norman explained and continued on his way.
An Jin’s eyes lit up, he didn’t expect his kebabs to be so hot already!
The corners of his mouth quirked up and he pressed on, “Maybe it’s already closed.”
The more he thought about it, the happier he became.
At this point, Duran, the owner of the barbecue stand, was not in a very good mood. He returned to the hut and was about to clean the grill and the basin for marinating the skewers when Mu Chen came to his door.
Mu Chen’s image in the holographic world was handsome. His figure had been changed, only thinner, looking like a nobleman.
“Excuse me, are you Duran?” Although Mu Chen recognized Duran, he still asked politely.
Duran was puzzled. “I am, what do you want?” He asked this and then added, “Today’s kebabs are sold out.”
“I’m not here to buy kebabs, I have something to ask you.” Mu Chen smiled gently. “To show my sincerity, let me introduce myself. I’m Mu Chen, the leader of the Third Legion. Hello.”
He said this while opening his panel and showing it to Duran. The real identity was hidden on the panel and could only be seen with permission.
Duran’s eyes widened with surprise and excitement after reading it.
The Imperial University student, who was no stranger to the generals of the military, wiped his hands nervously. “Mu, Admiral Mu Chen, may I ask what you want?”
Mu Chen smiled and patted his shoulder. “Don’t be nervous, relax,” he said as if making small talk. “Did you know that your roast meat has the effect of boosting spiritual power?”
“…What?” Duran did not react for the first two seconds, and when he did, his voice was completely out of control. He looked at Mu Chen incredulously with a face full of an “are you kidding me” expression.
When Mu Chen saw this, he was even more sure that the effect of the roast meat had nothing to do with Duran. He nodded seriously. “I’m telling the truth. It seems that you did not know.”
“How would I know? How is that possible? If I did, how could I sell it at such a low price?” Duran spoke very fast. “It’s not right, it doesn’t seem to be of much use in the holographic world.” He calmed down a bit and then quickly became nervous again. “You don’t think I’ve taken advantage of the holographic company and committed a commercial crime, do you?” He held up his hand to assure. “I definitely did not,” he continued, thinking of his partner, “My partner is certainly not that kind of person either. His family is very poor. He can’t even read a few words, he can’t even speak well, and he is probably only a few years old.” He concluded, “There must be some kind of misunderstanding!”
Mu Chen smiled, but also could not help but suspect that the previous guess was wrong.
The Ministry of Information could not find specific information, so was it because they were from a remote area and an unregistered citizen? Was there such a place in Siao?
Mu Chen thought to himself, if it was really a misunderstanding, he must report to His Majesty and hurry up to develop the economy of remote areas. However, on second thought, the effect of the grilled meat did exist, if it had nothing to do with the two people at the barbecue stall, it was more unlikely.
Their earliest investigation was the store selling meat, but the store’s meat was ordinary, nothing special, and the findings of the condiments were the same as the meat.
After ruling out all interfering matters, it could only be related to people.
He surveyed Duran, was this guy a movie star? Was the shock just now acted out?
But Duran’s information from childhood to adulthood was transparent to him; there was no suspicious point. To really have the ability, Duran was not even able to get the money for his mother’s hospitalization, during the examination he also took time to set up a stall to make money.
After thinking about it, Mu Chen still felt that the partner was the most suspicious. He asked, “Where is your partner?”
“He should be offline.” Duran mentioned the inkhorn howler beast rampage, and while opening the panel, he saw An Jin was online and was surprised. “Hey, actually he did not go offline, then I also did not…”
“Boss.” As he was talking, a clear and soft voice came from outside the door.
He whipped his head around and saw his partner being held in the hands of the town’s celebrity, Team Leader Tang. He was surprised for a moment and then it dawned on him. “When you said you were inviting your friend to a barbecue, you meant Team Leader Tang?”
An Jin nodded and poked Norman’s arm. Norman understood and put him down.
Mu Chen looked at Norman in surprise and then at An Jin before teasingly saying, “Team Leader Tang, don’t you want to introduce me to this teenager?”
He had a gossipy light in his eyes. When His Majesty was mentioned by all the people of Siao, the adjectives were always the same: powerful, high and cold, serious and reticent.
When had he ever seen His Majesty holding someone with a gentle face?
Mu Chen was sure in his heart that His Majesty had secretly fallen in love!
An Jin heard Mu Chen’s jibe, blushed slightly and greeted politely, “Hello, I’m An An.”
“An…” Mu Chen’s voice skipped a beat. He looked fiercely at Norman, and spat out a very heavy word with a strong flavor of questioning, “An?”
Norman looked unchanged and nodded. “Yes, you’re thinking right.”
Mu Chen took a deep breath and subconsciously looked at An Jin’s feet. It was two feet! He felt a strong shock and even suspected that he was dreaming an absurd dream and perhaps unconscious.
The room suddenly fell silent.
Duran quietly took An Jin’s arm, pulled him aside, pointed to Mu Chen and whispered, “This is Admiral Mu Chen, he said our roast can restore spiritual power and came to investigate.”
He was speaking in a whisper, speaking very quietly, almost close to An Jin’s ear in order to let him hear clearly.
Norman saw this, his eyebrows unconsciously frowned.
An Jin was stunned at the words, but quickly calmed down thinking that the military ministry was really powerful, so they quickly found out. He was not used to being too close to people, so he took a step to the side and smiled reassuringly at Duran. “It’s okay.”
Duran saw that he reacted calmly, not like he was caught doing something small, and muttered, “I told them it must be a misunderstanding.”
Mu Chen calmed down, went to Norman’s side, and whispered to Norman what the General found. Norman’s eyes immediately fell on the teenager’s hand. The teenager’s hand injury—the barbecue was hot! He looked a little chagrined. He actually forgot to give the little mermaid money. If the little mermaid was playing in the holographic world and wanted to eat, he could not buy anything without money.
It must be because of the lack of money that he worked part-time.
Mu Chen finished his report and said in a dazed tone, “No wonder the information department couldn’t find the information, couldn’t trace the address. No wonder Duran said he was poor, couldn’t read, couldn’t speak well, and I was surprised that Siao actually had such a poor place.”
Norman became more chagrined thinking his little mermaid had not yet learned to talk, but was working to earn money, and could not help but feel pain.
Mu Chen was still poking his heart. “Your Majesty, you are also too stingy. To actually not even give An An pocket money.” He looked at An Jin with two eyes. “If Little Silver went into the holographic world and could also talk to me, was also so well behaved, I would give him all my money to spend!”
Norman said in a deep voice, “I didn’t expect that.”
He grew up without a shortage of money, and usually paid with money directly using his fingerprint or pupil. The process was almost silent; he did not even feel the money spent.
He treated the little mermaid as a teenager, but the impression of the mermaid was too deep. He also did not think that the little mermaid would need to spend money. He opened the panel and transferred 100 million star coins to the little mermaid.
An Jin heard a beep and opened it to see that it was a transfer alert from Norman. He stared at the row of zeros at the back, was startled, and looked at Norman in a hurry, puzzled. “Why are you transferring money to me?”
“To buy you something. Tell me when you don’t have enough to spend.”
An Jin shook his head, transferred the money back, and said seriously, “You have spent a lot of money for me. I can earn my own money now.”
He walked over to Norman with a smug glint in his eyes. “The delicious barbecue you said was good, I grilled it. When you invited me to dinner last time, I wanted to invite you back. I bought a lot of vegetables with yesterday’s salary. You sit and wait. I’ll make the barbecue for you.”
Norman didn’t move and looked down at the teenager. “Did you earn money to buy me dinner?”
“Not really.” An Jin scratched the side of his face in embarrassment. “I’m also going to buy some things.”
Mu Chen’s inner heart was as sour as a lemon. His Majesty was too lucky. Even though he was raising a mermaid, not only did he not have to coax him to sing, he would also earn his own money, treating guests to dinner!
Norman’s heart was soft as he rubbed the top of the teenager’s head. “You do not have to work. If you want to buy anything with money, you can spend my money since you give me enough.”
Although An Jin knew Norman said so because he could provide spiritual power, his heartbeat still accelerated.
He looked at Norman with a serious expression and suddenly felt that Little Silver was right, they were not pets but mermaid masters.
What he wanted Norman to do was not abuse him nor discard him, to only be good to him. He did not have to worry about anything. Wasn’t this the same as being a master? But he was not really a mermaid. He was a person, had an independent personality, and did not want to completely rely on others.
He smiled at Norman. “I like to make my own money. I feel content.” He pursed his lips, looked at Mu Chen, then looked at Norman and asked in a small voice, “Can I still work at the barbecue stall later?”
Norman pondered for a moment. “Do you like barbecue?”
An Jin wrinkled his eyebrows and thought about it. “Not really,” he said, pinching his fingers in embarrassment, “but I only know how to grill.”
“You can do what you like. What do you like?” Norman asked.
An Jin thought about it for a moment, but didn’t say anything. What he really wanted to do would only make sense if he did it in reality, but in reality he was a mermaid.
Norman saw that he didn’t say anything and thought he couldn’t think of anything he liked, so he said, “You’re still young, so it’s normal that you haven’t found anything you like. You’ll find out later.”
“Mn,” An Jin answered in a low voice, “can I still continue the barbecue then?”
Norman looked at the teenager’s fingers. If the teenager liked it, he would not stop it, but the teenager clearly just wanted to make money, and he privately wanted the teenager to change his job.
Mu Chen saw the topic turn to barbecue and said to Duran, “I found out that someone investigated you, and found out about your mother. I had someone transfer your mother to the military hospital. She does not know my people, and may not be too at ease, so you should go see her.”
Duran’s face changed steeply. “It’s the barbecue?”
Mu Chen nodded. “Don’t worry, we have the people under control. You and your mother will not be in danger.”
Duran said thanks, said hello to An Jin, and went offline.
Mu Chen closed the door behind him and came back smiling at An Jin. “Hello An An, I’m Mu Chen, Little Silver’s master.”
An Jin drifted off, no wonder he felt some sense of familiarity, he smiled. “Hello.”
He thought of Duran’s mention of Mu Chen’s identity and Mu Chen’s attitude towards Norman. Mu Chen was an admiral, so what could Norman be? He knew that Norman worked in the military, but he had no idea what his position was, so he asked curiously, “Are you a marshal too?”
Norman nodded his head and An Jin’s eyes lit up. “That’s awesome.”
Without outsiders, Mu Chen could no longer resist asking, “An An, did you know that the meat you grill has the effect of restoring spiritual power?”
An Jin hesitated for a moment, and thinking of his importance to Norman, did not hide it. He nodded. “Mn.”
Mu Chen stepped forward excitedly. “How do you know that?”
An Jin subconsciously stepped back. “I transmitted spiritual power to them.”
Norman reminded Mu Chen, “You calm down. Don’t scare An An.”
“Sorry,” Mu Chen restrained his excitement, “you mean, you passed spiritual power to food?”
An Jin nodded, his eyes glowing. “They will become especially delicious!” He sensed Mu Chen’s friendly attitude and knew that Norman and he were good friends, so he said, “I’m going to grill something for Norman to eat, do you want to join us?”
Mu Chen quickly nodded. “Yes.”
An Jin thought to himself: I’m glad I bought more food. He took the food out of the corner and laid it out on the table. “Wait a while, it will be ready soon.” He opened the window and looked at Norman. “Can you help me move the grill to the window?”
Norman did as he said and moved the grill.
An Jin thanked him and, seeing that he was still standing, told him to go sit and wait.
Norman asked, “Do you need any help?”
An Jin shook his head. “No, the ingredients I bought are all taken care of. Just need to grill them.”
He turned on the switch and placed the hard-to-cook food on first, brushing the oil and putting in the spices in a sharp movement.
Mu Chen looked curiously while whispering and discussing with Norman, “Your Majesty, how will this be handled?” He said with a sigh, “Many people in the military department are looking forward to it, thinking that someone has the ability to make food that can restore spiritual power, but I did not expect it to be related to a mermaid.”
He couldn’t help but sigh again. “No wonder you said earlier that you were surprised when An An entered the holographic world. I’m still surprised. Is he really An An?”
“Yes,” Norman said, “pure color mermaids are probably closer to humans than fish.”
Mu Chen looked at An Jin’s sharp movements and nodded his head in approval. “Want to announce it?”
Norman looked at the small mermaid and pondered for a moment. “No, the mermaid is precious enough, there is no need to add a heartfelt bargaining chip to the unsuspecting.”
Mu Chen said, “I’m afraid it can’t be hidden. In addition to the military, there are the rest of the people who also found out the role of the barbecue. Those people had their hearts set on Duran and An An and were warned by my people.”
“Let the holographic company announce a bug.” Thinking of the little mermaid’s previous silence, he said, “The bug retained as a holographic world benefits, when An An does not want to grill meat, then cancel the benefits.”
Mu Chen asked, “You are still prepared to let An An grill meat to make money ah?”
Norman was a bit helpless. “As he likes,” he paused and added, “Call the holographic companies to negotiate a good price.”
Mu Chen agreed. “The barbecue made by a pure color mermaid can not be too cheap.”
This moment, the barbecue emitted the fragrance of rich meat and sweet corn, a spicy sweet mix, stimulating people’s uncontrolled secretion of saliva.
Mu Chen took a deep breath. “This is too fragrant, right?! I didn’t go online to buy kebabs before, I lost a lot.”
An Jin grilled the star beast meat Norman ordered last time and handed it to Norman, saying expectantly, “You try it.”
Norman stared at the meat. He did not expect the little mermaid to still remember his order, and with his heart soft, took a taste of the meat. The pure meat aroma in his mouth spread with a slight acidity. “Delicious.”
An Jin’s eyes curved. “Last time we had dinner, I saw that you didn’t seem to be able to eat spicy things, so the taste is sour. When I grilled it, I only used a little chili and a little lemon juice.”
Norman was slightly stunned. He did not expect the little mermaid to have noticed. Having his heart seen like this, he felt strange and warm.