Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
“Shut up, Black Coal!” Urien shouted in a shrill voice. He was wearing a black robe for magicians, his face a little grim. He watched as the father and daughter walked away. “Such a strong magic wave! The little girl is a genius? Or is that man a hidden master of magic?” he muttered.
“Now you’re a real Black Coal.” The green parrot giggled at the black crow whose feathers had been burned away, gloating.
“Call me honorable Fama Odin Ben, old man. My palace has been burnt down buy that little girl, so get me a new one quickly. And make a flamboyant robe for me, or someone may catch a glimpse of my beautiful body,” complained the black crow. Then he sniffed around. “Good heavens, why do I smell a roast chicken?” he shouted.
Urien turned to look at his black crow. “Shut your mouth, or I’ll feed you my new potion!” His face was expressionless, his voice as shrill as the voice of a demon that had crawled out from hell.
The black bird stopped his unruly behavior right away. He moved over his feet timorously. “At least… at least give me two leaves to cover my body. You don’t have to see me like this.”
“Green Pea, get him some leaves,” Urien said as he walked towards his shop. “Why haven’t I noticed that magic wave before? Maybe we could exchange experience some day,” he muttered to himself.
“My Lord Urien, next time, call me Sunny when you want me to help,” said the green parrot merrily. She cocked her head to one side to open the lock on her cage and flew away; after a little while, she was back and put two leaves beside Black Coal. Then she flew back to her cage, locked the door, and preened herself gracefully.
“Never thought I’d come to be like this.” Black Coal sighed. He looked around and picked up the two leaves to cover his most important parts.
Mag was walking with Amy on the square. Apparently, she had become very happy after she set that black crow on fire. She skipped merrily in front, paused to wait for Mag, and resumed her skipping again.
Mag had 10 gold coins in his pocket. They were very important to him right now, but if Amy wanted to buy anything, he wouldn’t hesitate at all.
However, the little thing was very considerate. They had walked around for half an hour, but she had only asked for a puppet with strings.
Then Mag took Amy to the largest market on the Aden Square. Unfortunately, they didn’t find a swan, much less an ugly duckling.
They had found regular ducklings, though, but Mag feared that when they failed to grow into beautiful swans, Amy would feel he had cheated her, so he didn’t buy any.
The vegetables were cheap here, but the system once said that he was not allowed to take outside ingredients into the kitchen, so he wasn’t tempted by their low price.
“Father, we can’t find an ugly duckling today, right?” Amy looked up at Mag, a little disappointed.
Mag nodded. “They say the ugly ducklings haven’t been born yet, so maybe we could buy one later.” He was trying to find a way to comfort Amy, who had been filled with expectation. It was early autumn now. Big swans were very rare around Chaos city, let alone the small ones. There was a high chance that he wouldn’t find one in a long time.
“What’s that?” Before Mag could offer any consolation, Amy’s eyes were already drawn by an herb stall by the roadside. She ran to it and squatted down immediately. She looked at it with her wide eyes for a while, and then turned to wave at Mag as she shouted, “Father, look! This must be an ugly duckling egg!”
“Oh?” Mag walked over to her. The stall was owned by a strong, dark middle-aged man who was weaving a basket from dried stalks. He looked like an herb collector, and his hands were covered with calluses from climbing ropes. The sacks on the ground were filled with herbs. Beside his feet was a small pile of hay, and on it lay a gray egg the size of the mouth of a bowl.
“Father, can we buy this egg? You said there is no ugly duckling right now, so we can hatch this one when we get home.” Amy looked up at Mag as she pointed at the egg, her face full of anticipation.
Mag nodded, smiling. “Yes.” The little thing had been disappointed enough times today. He wanted her to go back home in a good mood, so he turned to the herb collector and asked, “What is this egg?”
“Well, I’m not sure myself. I found it on a cliff yesterday when I was collecting herbs. Only birds can reach that place, so it should be a bird egg. It’s very nutritious,” the seller said with a smile.
“How much?” Mag’s eyes brightened. If it was a bird egg, then it would be something like a swan when it hatched; besides, judging by its size, the bird might be even bigger than an ostrich, which would make a great ride for Amy after being well trained.
The seller smiled and scratched his head as he looked at Amy who was watching the egg with great interest. “I see the little girl loves it, so… three gold coins,” he said.
“Fine. Here, three gold coins.” Mag handed over the money. The herb collectors were risking their lives every day to climb cliffs. If this was truly a bird egg, three gold coins was not expensive at all.
“Thank you. Take this small basket with you, little girl. The egg will fit perfectly in it.” The middle-aged man put the egg with the hay into the little basket he had just made and handed it to Amy.
“Thank this mister, Amy,” Mag said to Amy quickly.
“Thank you, Mister.” Amy took the basket merrily and carried it with her two hands. “Be good, ugly duckling. I will hatch you out very carefully,” she whispered.
“You’re welcome.” The seller waved his hand, smiling. Then he turned to Mag, and said, “I have a little girl about the same age as her and she likes raising animals too. But she already has two monkeys, so I decided not to take this egg to her.”
“I see. This little thing has been going on about raising an ugly duckling for several days. Hope she’ll like it when it hatches.” Mag gave him a sour smile, but when he looked at Amy, his eyes were full of love.
They left the herb collector’s stall. Mag wanted to help Amy carry the egg, but she refused. She was carrying the basket with effort in front of Mag, making him worry about her dropping it.
Finally, they made it back after nearly half an hour. Amy put the basket gently on the stairs outside the door and sighed with relief. She turned to Mag, and said earnestly, “Father, thank you for buying this ugly duckling egg for me. I will take very good care of it.”
“But that mister said it might not be an ugly duckling egg. It could belong to other birds,” Mag said, smiling. He took out a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off her forehead.
Amy shook her head stubbornly. “No, I’m sure it’s an ugly duckling egg. I’m going to hatch it and raise it. It will grow into a beautiful swan, and… and…”
Then Mag saw her swallow her saliva.