8. Grinding at the Zombie Cave
Being too lazy to find more NPCs and accept a string of messy nonsensical quests, Bai XiaoYu ran straight for the Bounty Board, Prole’s special kill quest board, to see if there were any quests suitable for his level.
He looked around and chose a Level 15 quest to protect the kingdom from zombies (one cannot accept a quest over 10 levels above their own). Zombies should be in the undead category. Just in time for him to train up his healing skill’s proficiency.
Past the Southern Gate of Prole lies a patch of thick woods. The further south-east one walked, the more overpowering the scent of rot became.
Even before the cave’s entrance was spotted, XiaoYu already felt like puking. He paused by a tree and leaned on it, trying to get a hold of himself. The tiny cat’s eyes had also spiralled into mosquito coils. He’d made a mistake. He was too focused on finding undead enemies that he’d forgotten about the game’s realism. It wasn’t just restricted to what he can see but also what he could smell.
XiaoYu called up the game’s Menu and, with a trembling hand, hurriedly turned the Scent sensitivity to its lowest. All to prevent himself from dying before succeeding. To add insult to injury, it would be through suffocation by foul odour.
“Come on. Return to the Pet Space.” He lightly patted the little one’s head. He was not willing to let it suffer along with him.
“Meow…” The little cat forced itself to lift a up a tiny paw, and waved it left and right. It then buried its head inside his clothes to block out some of the stench.
Bai XiaoYu couldn’t help let out a sigh in at how amazing the pets in AO were. The AI for them sure were sophisticated. With a money-loving, food-loving TinyLuckyCat that wouldn’t leave him and was completely unwilling to enter the Pet Space, he was finally not alone anymore.
At last, they’ve crawled into the Zombie Cave. XiaoYu held his small wooden wand with a tight grip and stared warily at his surroundings. While he could faintly detect a foul stench, it was still within what he could tolerate. Once his vision adjusted to the cave’s lighting, a narrow little path lay before XiaoYu’s eyes. There were no monsters but he could hear shuffling sounds coming from further within.
He carefully walked along the path. After a turn, his field of view suddenly expanded. Although he’d prepared himself for it, the sight before him still made his hair stand on end.
The room was roughly the size of two basketball fields and filled with dozens of human zombies in all sorts of sizes. Tattered pieces of fabric hung on their bodies. What they once were, he could not determine. The vast swathes of flesh revealed were covered in pus and bones could be seen glinting through the rot. Flying around each corpse were large flies that would swoop down for a bite of flesh once in a while. The zombies had no eyes. Their deep sockets overflowed with green slime. Something that looked suspiciously like saliva could be seen oozing down the sides of their slightly gaping mouths. Hunched over with their arms swinging, the zombies wandered around this great expanse aimlessly.
Other than the entrance which XiaoYu had just came through, a few tiny corridors could be spotted on the opposite wall past the horde of zombies. The passages were over one person tall and three wide. They looked like they lead further down the cave. However, not only a player clear out a path towards one of these passages but they must also have enough luck to have picked the correct corridor. Otherwise, they would probably loop through this type of scenario over and over again.
But Bai XiaoYu was not interested in the legendary Zombie King at all. His goal was just to kill this floor’s low-level zombies. After some careful observation, he noticed that though the zombies wander around aimlessly, they were restricted to this area only. Those that were headed for any of the small passages would turn away at the entrance. They wouldn’t enter the corridors.
Occasionally, a zombie would discover XiaoYu’s popped-up head. Only then would it lumber over with seemingly heavy feet and follow the retreating XiaoYu into the narrow passage. It seemed like the zombies would only enter the corridors once their attention was caught.
He calculated the zombie’s walking speed and began releasing healing spells as he withdrew.
-35. The white glow of a healing spell hit the zombie’s body. As if it had received a heavy blow, the zombie’s body bounced backwards. Just when he thought it would fall back on its back, it forcibly twisted its body upright, as though its feet were rooted into the ground, and continued walking towards XiaoYu.
Shuffle backwards a little more to maintain distance then release another spell. Shuffle a little more… As he was a mere few steps away from exiting the cave, the zombie finally collapsed onto the floor and burst into coins and a zombified fingernail. Lucky. If he had stepped out of the cave, the game would detect no aggressors to the zombie and make it shuffle back to its original spot with its health fully replenished.
“Meow!” The little cat perked up all of a sudden. It hopped off his shoulders and pounced at the items on the floor.
“…” Alright. He’ll admit it. His lips twitched then. And to think he was moved by the little one’s unwillingness to leave him. It probably didn’t want to leave behind the things that were dropped instead.
“Meow~” Having picked up everything, the tiny cat swayed eagerly by his feet. Its tail would even slap at his leg once in a while as if to encourage its owner to kill some more. It wasn’t done collecting things.
“…orz” Defeated once more. He shouldn’t have underestimated the little cat’s perseverance for money. Even the foul stench of the Zombie Cave cannot stop it from collecting money.
One by one, the zombies were attracted over, then defeated. Just when he thought this round of grinding was very smooth going, an accident occurred.
“Aah!” A man’s sharp shriek echoed from within one of the other passages.
One by one, zombies far off were being batted away into the air. Only one red-headed Knight dripping with the zombies’ signature fluids could be seen. With his eyes shut tight and his long spear flailing wildly about, the Knight dashed straight for the exit passage Bai XiaoYu was standing in.
XiaoYu frowned. There shouldn’t be a boss on the first floor. This Knight’s level and Strength didn’t seem to low at all. The zombies that were struck into the air transformed into piles of items even before the corpses struck the ground. What could the Knight possibly be afraid of? If he was afraid of zombies, why did he even try grinding in the Zombie Cave?
Afraid that this blind Knight would bulldoze over him accidentally, XiaoYu hurriedly ran out of the cave. Once he’d reached a few feet away from the cave’s entrance, he turned around only to see the Knight still stumbling towards him with his eyes closed and his spear swinging.
While XiaoYu admired the Knight’s ability to find the exit blind, XiaoYu knew that if he did not stop that Knight he would be the next unfortunate soul to be sent flying into the air.
“Stop! You’re already out of the Zombie Cave!” XiaoYu pointed his wand at the Knight. Although he knew the wand would never be able to stop the Knight with the power gap between the two of them, XiaoYu would die without regrets if he could rouse the Knight from his frenzy before XiaoYu vanished into a ray of white light.
The spear stopped a mere few centimetres away from XiaoYu. Startled, the Knight eyes peaked open. As he confirmed all that surrounded him were just sunlight and trees, the Knight released a huge sigh.
At the sight of a small Acolyte in ragged clothes (System rewards = ragged in his mind), CopperPlateKing threw his spear away and leaped towards XiaoYu with wide glistening eyes as though he had seen his mother. “Finally, a living person! Awesome!”
Sadly for CopperPlateKing just before he managed to touch XiaoYu, he was struck in the forehead by a wooden wand. Looking down at the Knight’s armour still covered in all kinds of zombie fluids, XiaoYu thought, thankfully, the other person was stopped. If any of these fluids had touched his body, XiaoYu would definitely puke in disgust. Even if they would be cleared away by the game automatically in 2 minutes.
“Hm? Bleurgh…” CopperPlateKing followed along XiaoYu’s disgusted gaze onto his own body. Only then did he realise his body was dripping with unknown fluids. However disgusting one can imagine, that was how disgusting it was. The Knight immediately turned away, leaned against a tree and started dry heaving.
“Are you…okay?” Even though Bai XiaoYu didn’t want to interact with a stranger, he sympathised with the Knight at the sight of his suffering. If the one dripping with revolting zombie fluids was XiaoYu, the one dry-heaving against a tree would be him.
“I’m…fine.” CopperPlateKing weakly slide down the tree trunk and sat on the ground. The fluids on him had already been washed away. His silver knight’s armour revealed its shimmering self.
“Okay. Then, I’ll be off.” XiaoYu only had a few more zombies before his quest was done. With that on his mind, he decided to continue killing more zombies.
“Ah!” Not even a few steps away, XiaoYu heard the Knight shouting once more. XiaoYu rolled his eyes. Turning to the other, he was about to ask what’s wrong with him now when he heard, “Where’s my Dirk Spear? I spent over 100 crystals in making it!”
As soon as XiaoYu had turned around, his vision was filled with a Knight crawling all over the ground looking for his spear. It shouldn’t have been more than 10 minutes since the Knight tossed the spear away. How could it have been wiped away by the game already?
With a tiny sense of foreboding, XiaoYu stiffly glanced at his notifications.
“Your pet picked up Dirk Spear which was dropped by Player CopperPlateKing.” As he thought…
“Little one…” XiaoYu didn’t even have the strength to be angry at the tiny lucky cat anymore. He lightly flicked the small cat’s forehead, opened up its Inventory, took out the spear and handed it back to CopperPlateKing.
“Here. My apologies. My pet has a bad habit of picking up items.”
“Oh, I was just thinking how could it have disappeared. I didn’t see you picking it up.” CopperPlateKing happily accepted his precious spear. “So your pet is the type to pick up items. It was so cute that I thought it was a decorative type.” It even held its paw over where its head was flicked. So cute~ A field of blooming flowers appeared as CopperPlateKing’s backdrop.
“Erm…yea.” XiaoYu fiddled with a Return Scroll. Hopefully this Knight wouldn’t take an interest in TinyLuckyCat like the players he met last time at the flower sprite zone.
“My name is CopperPlateKing. Let’s be friends.” The red-headed Knight stretched out his hand. His mouth split into a grin, showing off 8 shiny white straight teeth. At the same time, a friend request was sent over.
“…My name is LuckyCat. Nice to meet you.” After a brief moment of hesitation, XiaoYu accepted the friend request and sent one over as well. He didn’t feel any bad intentions from this Knight. He stretched out his hand and shook CopperPlateKing’s hand.
First friend GET!
As a side note, I have now started another project. As things will become messy in the future, Prev/Next and Index buttons will be appearing at the bottom of each post (other than the default Prev/Next post buttons).