Name meanings:

Teritsukeru Kaen (Japanese: 照りつける 火炎) "Teritsukeru" can mean "to ignite" or "to shine" and "Kaen" is "flame/blaze".

Cao Cai Sen (Mandarin: 曹蔡千) - "Cao" and "Cai" are common Chinese names. "Sen" is written as "thousand", and he uses the Japanese pronunciation.

Hitoride Ryuukei (Japanese: 一人で 流刑) "Hitori-de" means "alone" and "Ryuukei" is "to be exiled".

Wu Jin An (Mandarin: 武 金 安) - "Wu" Is a common last name, though the pronunciation is the same as the word for "martial". "Jin" written like that means "Gold", and An with that character is "safe".

The Prince's Rebirth

Reality Strikes

"Sen? Cao Cai Sen , are you okay?" Rei said frantically, shaking the person I supposed was her cousin. Jin An was off to the side, dazed by a quick strike to the neck from Rei, and Kaen was sitting there in a TREE, staring at all of us.

There's definitely something wrong with these guys…they're even worse than the old Odd Squad! I thought to myself. All we're missing is someone like Yulian-dasao to take care of scaring all of us…

"Lan, how are you?" Zhuo-gege asked worriedly, clutching me in his arms and stroking my hair."I haven't seen you since you…died. Yang Ming told me that you were…" at the reminder of my former life, I burst into tears."Xiao Lan? I didn't mean to remind you…" Zhuo-gege just held me tighter, but was suddenly kicked away by Rei, who clearly had an anger mark popping out on her forehead.

"How do you know Feng Lan?" she asked brusquely, glaring fiercely at him. Zhuo-gege's eyes narrowed as he stood up to glare back at her.

"That should be my question," he replied. Lightning flashed between them and my tears dried up as I tried to hold in my immense laughter at Zhuo-gege's confusion.

"Gege, this is my new teammate," I introduced, "Her name is-"

"Hitoride Ryuukei. I know already; his cousin is using the same lab as I am for our graduate studies," Zhuo-gege cut in, "How are you?"

"Lan, it's time to get back to class," Kaen commented worriedly, glancing between Rei and Zhuo-gege. "Besides, these two look ready to blow up at any second." At this, the two of them whipped their heads around to glare at the redhead.

"We are not going to blow up like human bombs!" they chorused.

"It's scientifically impossible," Zhuo-gege said in an intelligent tone.

Rei rolled her eyes, "Are you sure about that? It's called concealed weapons, fool!" Their eyes connected once again and she scowled. "Sen! C'mon, my classes are over for today! Let's go home!"

At this, Sen perked up from whatever fanboy-induced daze he had been in, reminding me of a dog listening to its master. That actually makes perfect sense. In game Len has Exile to protect him, but he does just absolutely everything she says. Outside of the game, they're cousins and if what he's wearing isn't a puppy-dog face then I don't know what it. I mused.

"What is your in-game name?" Zhuo-gege snapped. I gulped. I had never seen him this upset before.

Rei stood up, and I noticed she was tall enough to look Zhuo-gege in the eye. "I'm Exile Wrath. Lan's name is Zero."

"The moment I see you, we are dueling," he said in a challenging tone.

"I wouldn't have it any other way."

The rest of the day had gone by smoothly. I had been missed by many of my classmates, and Kaen was being shown around by me and Yang Ming. Zhuo-gege had stormed to his laboratory after lunch, and Rei and Sen had probably left to go to their home. I had been glomped countless times by my friends, especially by Jing and Wen. They made me promise to add them the moment I logged on, and I guaranteed no promises.

I will do this with my own strength. I'm not going to cheat by getting my old friend's help. I silently reminded myself. Yang Ming was in his room and I was staring at my notebook full of battle strategies for my new team to use. Speaking of which... that team name we came up with... *sweat*

Second Life

The moment I logged in that day, I noticed, to my horror, that Exile and Len had somehow tied me up the moment my avatar appeared and were now glaring daggers at me. If looks could kill, I'd have been killed by now. "Errr, hi again!" I remarked, trying to act oblivious to binds around me. They were very uncomfortable. I looked up and frowned, "Hey, why is my sword embedded in the tree trunk and why is the ability Power of the Wood Spirit activated?" I questioned uneasily.

"Len's Thief-type mode has an ability called Hijack. It allows him to use one of his opponent's abilities as long as he is holding their weapon. In this case, your sword and Power of the Wood Spirit." I gulped at the tone she was using, and Len was looking at me as if I was a doomed soul.

"So…why am I like this?" I asked with a grimace. I don't recall pissing them off today…

"Zero, what the hell is going on? Kaen told us that you're royalty or something. I don't believe that. But with the hype going on lately about the "Reborn Prince" world quest and the fact that it seems that you and Wicked are on highly good terms with each other, to the point that he challenged me to a duel, makes me question the circumstances," Rei asked in a flat, no-nonsense-or-I'll-kill-you tone.

"Hmm…I think I heard some voices around here…" an unfamiliar voice muttered nearby. The three of us froze as we looked around in desperation at our messy, messy campsite.

We were in the Tou Flatlands, a prairie on the outskirts of Diamond Dragon City, or as I knew it, home to Winter Triumph, the holder of my Black Dao and the scariest cheapskate of all time. The problem was that since the Tou Flatlands were under his jurisdiction, he collected a tax from all players that hunted and camped there. In fact, the primary job of his city guards was to collect money from the citizens! Our team was no exception, as we were currently in said Tou Flatlands. And worst of all, Kurotenshi being the flake she was when food wasn't involved, came up with the great idea of sneaking around the barrier which automatically subtracted 15 gold coins from our inventories the moment we walked in. The problem was that the barrier also immediately gave you the item Tou Flatlands Hunting Ticket, which was required for you to hunt there. If a guard found you without one…the effect were definitely NOT pretty.

In short, our team is going to be murdered in cold blood if that person is a city guard! We thought simultaneously, Len releasing me and all three of us diving into the bushes. I swore quietly under my breath as I manipulated the party inventory and put all the camping items back in. 3 pots, 5 sleeping bags, and several other miscellaneous items later, the bushes rustled once again as we watched with abject horror when a complete platoon of city guards tromped in the clearing where our camp had been.

"Sir, there's no one here," one guy towards the back called out, making an impassive-looking guy at the head of the group turn around, examining the area with interest and suspicion.

I held my breath, and out of the corner of my eye, I spied Exile and Len manipulating their stats windows for some reason, and I stared at them intensely (It's really hard to stare without moving your head...)

The guards grew closer and closer, yet I was unable to move lest I made too much noise and got caught. Shit, I am never listening to Kurotenshi's advice ever again!

"We're outta here!" Exile PMed me. I only had enough time to read it when she threw a handful of exploding tags across the clearing, distracting the guards with a spectacular explosion. When I heard the first earth-shaking boom, I realized that she and Len had been placing Sound buffs on the tags to strengthen them to the point they blew out the guards' eardrums. I'm pretty sure they blew out mine. With that last thought I sprinted after the duo, inwardly cursing Winter.

However, unluckily for us, several guards noticed us, even with the great earsplitting booms. They chased after us, and some dropped to their knees and got in shooting positions, aiming great longbows and crossbows. Len was the first to react with his Mage—type Sound attack – Strafing Hawks. The platoon quickly focused on the dive-bombing birds than pursuing us (mostly because they couldn't see us through the huge flock of hawks. With each level, Strafing Hawks summoned another 25 hawks. And the terrible thing for Sen's enemies was that he had used it to the point it was level 36. Do the math.)

Exile, on the other hand, took a look at me and ran over, tapping my shoulder. "I'm casting Track on you. It'll be better if we split up! We'll regroup later. Meet us at the Third Gate of Diamond Dragon." With that, she cast a quick enchantment and veered away. I made a dive into the tall grass, getting on my hands and knees to move quickly as possible and stay out of sight from the guards.

It was at times like this that I really remembered Odd Squad. The starting position for Lolidragon's signature Burrowing technique was the same as the dive I had just executed. Heading towards the bamboo thickets, I tried to make no sound. The sounds of the guards' feet were coming closer, and when the bamboo was only a meter away, I made a short dash into the greenery, colliding painfully into another person.



I was knocked backwards into a bamboo, but instead of faltering, I used my dao to swing to the side of the bamboo and hide behind a clump of lemongrass. Peering at the pair of feet in front of me, I whispered urgently, "Please don't tell anyone I'm here!"

"..." the feet moved away, and there was a rustle as the person went through the bamboo.

Moments later, I heard the guards rush towards the plants. A soft voice, much different than that of the guards, "Please do not make so much noise, please. Your sounds have been making the rare Wintergrass Rabbit that I have been hunting here hide."

"Well, have you seen an elf with black hair and silver highlights running this way?" the troop leader demanded.

"No, I have not. I have been hunting on the edge of the bamboo for a while now. I believe I saw someone that matches that description running towards the city," the soft voice answered.

There was muttering among the platoon, and then the captain clapped a hand on the person's shoulder. "Thank you for assisting us!" then they all began sprinting towards the city walls, intent on catching "me".

When the sounds faded away, the person's feet came back in front of my bush. "They have departed."

I leapt up, shaking my hair to get rid of the leaves that had gotten stuck there. "Thank you very much!" I stated gratefully. "You've really saved me there!"

I looked up, seeing that my helper was a male archer with a longbow and a crossbow slung over his back with an intricate quiver full of strangely fletched arrows. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow, "It is okay. I do not mind helping persons in genuine need. But may I ask why you were running from the city guards?"

I laughed quietly, scratching the back of my head. "Well, you see, one of my teammates is not thrilled when it comes to paying tolls, and we wanted to hunt a bit around here before going into the city. Another teammate has a moderate barrier-dispelling skill that got us through before it closed again. So... yeah," I explained.

He dipped his head politely. "Very well. Have a good day, and good luck dodging the city guards, miss."

I bowed back, calling as he walked off, "Thanks again, mate!"

With another swipe of my dao, I felled a weak Blade Insect as I continued walking towards the city gates, Firebun running to pick up the loot. I had managed to get out of the thickets a little while ago by wandering around and then hacking my way through half of the bamboo in order to get away from the Jade Dragon that I had walked under and woke up. It had been beautiful to see, really (Wacko and DanDan would have loved to glimpse it; I could just imagine them gushing over its jade scales) but it was a hidden Level 75 boss, and I had no intentions of dying, so I had fled. However, I had mowed down a whole lot of trees in order to escape.

Hopefully Winter doesn't figure out who did it and charge me for damages! I prayed.

"Finally found you!" Fai exclaimed, popping out from the undergrass. Taken by surprise, I nearly hit him on the head with my dao, but stopped just in time. "Right when I logged on a little while ago, Exile sent me a PM and told me the situation. I rode a mount towards here from Black Tortoise City."

I looked at him oddly. "Then why aren't you going to meet up with us at the Third Gate of Diamond Dragon City?" I asked in confusion.

He sighed, "Lolidragon told me you have a horrible sense of direction. And besides, you're headed to the barrier, the opposite direction of Diamond Dragon," he added pointedly.

I turned on my heel, marching off to the way that he had pointed out. "Wrong way!"

The rogue couldn't help but palm his face. "I didn't think my Cousin told me that Prince's sense of direction was this bad."

"Oi, I heard that, Fai!" I threw the rogue a skill-strike to the shoulder.

"Thank God I cast Track on you," Exile muttered as she and Len weaved their way through the crowd. "What took so long?"

"I found her walking the wrong direction, away from the city," Fai explained, tossing a thumb in my direction. He smiled brightly, the way a con-man would. "If I may ask, how are the benefits of being in our party so far?"

Exile shrugged as her cousin, seeming to recognize Fai, gave the Death Glare of Utter Annihilation. "It's good. Zero cooks fairly well, and we've been levelling up nicely the past couple of days," stepping up, she extended her hand for a handshake. "I look forward to working with you, Fai Blaze."

They exchanged a brief, manly handshake (it was was the kind that you'd think you'd see from partners in the Triads) and Len was oozing malicious intent. "So what are we doing now, Zero? Should we wait for Angel?" he gritted to me, hands twitching as he tried to send Fai to the rebirth point by glaring.

I thought for a moment. "Nah! Let's go look for the NPC for the Eastern Continent's Reborn Prince quest!" I exclaimed, putting my fist to my palm. "Kuro should be able to meet up with us later. In the meantime, I'll check out the quest to get my gear back!"

Fai watched in disbelief as the warrior thoughtlessly walked away, towards Banking Triangle where the quest was. "She-"

A bounty hunter clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Yo, Fai, mind explaining what she meant by 'getting her gear back'?" Exile grinned congenially.

I'm gonna die, aren't I... Thinking fast, "Uh, it's nothing!" Seeing a suspicious glint in Exile's eyes, "By the way, what's our team name?" he inquired, trying to change the subject.

"Look at your screen. By the way, Zero chose the characters at random, so don't compla-"

"新千気- One Thousand New Air? WHAT KIND OF NAME IS THIS?!"

Len butted in, ticked off, "It's supposed to be read as Thousand Air, actually."

The rogue decided at that moment to go to a nearby store and commit vandalism via banging his head repeatedly on the window.

I slammed by hands on the desk for the Reborn Prince quest in irritation. "What do you mean, I can't accept the quest!?" I demanded. That's completely irrational!

The NPC looked at me coldly, and gestured at my chest. I looked down, saw nothing. When I continued to glare at the burly man, he snapped, "You're a woman!"

"So?" What's wrong with my gender, you XXX?

"Only males can sign up for the quest," he stated each word slowly, as if talking to a little child. "You're obviously a girl. Go run home to your hubby, girlie."

That- That's sexist! I was flabbergasted, and stayed a stone statue as a male holyman warrior stepped up and received the quest to win my gear without any hassling. He looked at me derisively, and attempted to grab my chest when, out of sheer irritation, I grabbed his wrist and tossed him into the stall, on top of the NPC. Take that! I'm a female, but I'm also a warrior with 78 strength right now! Drawing my current dao, a light, thin silver blade that was quite good for stabbing mobs unawares, I gave them my most Princely demeaning gaze, holding the tip to the NPC's throat. "Quest. Now. Or regret it."

"I-I can't," he stammered weakly.

I flicked the blade, "accidentally" cutting the player-I-threw's jugular vein and carotid artery, sending him off the the rebirth point. The quest NPC paled. "Why?" I added a Princely Blood-Elf smile.

"I-It's in my orders. Only the City Lord can grant such an exception," seeing my thoughtful look, he hastily added, "It has to be done by Winter Triumph personally."

I scowled, stepping off of the NPC. "And what's the likelihood of him personally approving?"

He gave an arrogant smirk before lifting his fingers up, snapping and yelling, "Guards!"

I bolted, scrambling to a roof like Fai had painstakingly taught me (so then I could go on top of buildings to figure out where I was and not get lost in cities) and was about to jump to another building when a rope lassoed me, tugging me to the ground roughly. I tried not to yell. Hey! Don't you know it's impolite to handle a lady like that?

"This girl was being a public disturbance and demanding to be given the Reborn Prince quest," the NPC stated smugly.

The guards surrounding me froze for a moment- "AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA-"

"ARE YOU SERIOUS?" one howled, doubled over. "THAT'S HILARIOUS."

"You must be mistaking your sex, little lady," another grinned, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.

The group collapsed, as well as a couple of passerbys. Cooly, as civilly as possible, "I am not mistaken. Limiting the Reborn Prince quest to only males is sexist!" I retorted.

"It's because Prince was a guy, which you clearly are not," they said in a mockingly patient tone. "Now off to the dungeons with you until you can tried and fined by our Lord."

"You little XXXs! I'm going to XXX your tongues, stuff them up your XXX, and then XXX every single one of you into finely XXX-ed XXX!" I roared, causing the whole lot of them to pale and stand, petrified.

The ropes around me were cut away and Fai grabbed me by the back of my collar, hoisting me up over his shoulder and sprinting away from the scene. Exile slapped a seal on our backs, (Unnoticeable Haze, 50 MP, causes target to be unnoticed by mobs, NPCs, and players for 10 minutes) gesturing to us to get away.


"What, Zero?" he snarled, obviously in a bad mood. "You need to say something meaningful after causing a major fuss in front of at least a hundred people?"

"I know how to get the quest without meeting Winter."

He dropped me like a sack of bricks. Hey, at least treat me like the team leader and a lady, you know! and stared impassively. "So? How?"

I grinned, remembering all of Wolf-dage's strategy planning. "I just need to destroy the city gem and become Lord of Diamond Dragon City."

Why is he banging his head against a wall? It's a good idea- hey, you're offending me now, Fai.


The next chapter should theoretically be out sooner than this one took.

One Thousand New Air: To me, Prince was like an essential part of the air of Second Life. Without him, many things crashed and spirits died. His effect on Second Life could not be repeated by even a thousand people. And Lan is back, new, as Zero.

Review? *dodges flaming tomatoes*