LC: Chapter 18

18. First Portal Opened

Saturday was soon here.

“Paging LuckyCat. Hurry to Zhang Village. Transfer from Prole to Serica, then to PingYang Village. You can transfer flights from there to here.” Teleporting is usually known as taking a flight by players as one will arrive at their destination with a whoosh = =.

“%*&^(&)” A long series of places he’d be transferring to and from nearly sent Bai XiaoYu’s head flying into a whirlwind. How did I_Am_A_Poor_Man find such a remote and isolated location?

The four main cities were already packed to the brim. Not all guilds could afford to assign Acolytes to just setting up flights. Most had decided to attack whichever fortress was nearer to the North Gate. They’d have to ride there anyway.

The larger guilds had all selected a remote village as their revival point. That way, they won’t be lost in the crowd and outsiders won’t be able to sneak through their Teleports. Of course, if someone accidentally stumbled upon some isolated village and found a large gathering of high-level players, that’s fine. As long as they didn’t try and hop on for a free flight. They’d be asking to be killed back down to Level 10 by that guild after the dust settled.

(⊙o⊙) That was the expression XiaoYu and the little cat had when they stepped through the portal to Zhang Village. The word “many” wasn’t enough to describe how many were there. The last time it was this packed, it was at the newbie villages when Asgard Online first launched.

It was just past 5 and there were already so many gathered there. Did everyone use gaming pods? Do they not need to log off for food?

“Big brother Poor, I’m here. Where are you?”

“Just stand near the portal and don’t move. I’ll come look for you.”

It didn’t feel nice being stared at, especially by so many pairs of eyes. It’s no wonder why. Everyone there, except for Bai XiaoYu, had a black crest with a white cross and blood red wings on their left shoulder. That was the crest of Heretic Demons and its subsidiary guilds. The parent guild specifically requested all members to display this crest to prevent spies from other guilds from sneaking in.

Because there wasn’t a lot of slots in the main guild, Heretic Demons established a few subsidiaries. Only when the parent guild levelled up would a batch of outstanding members be chosen from the subsidiary guilds to enter  Heretic Demons. This session of Guild Wars would be used by their group to scout out each new city and the abilities of other guilds. They’d consider whether to collaborate with other guilds afterwards.

For XiaoYu, someone whose low-level Acolyte robes clearly announcing him as a new player who’s not even Level 40, to appear in this crowd, it was somewhat of a shock.

“Come on. Let me through please.”

Soon a path through the crows was formed. Everyone recognised I_Am_A_Poor_Man as the main guild’s Acolyte Squad Leader, a violent healer who liked to bash at naughty kids with his thick book.

“Lil Lucky, come,” I_Am_A_Poor_Man waved.

And so, XiaoYu slowly walked over to I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s side with all eyes on him. As soon as XiaoYu shuffled over, the other began pulling him away by the hand.

After running for a while, they reached an empty plot of land. A glance around revealed a shop with the sign “Item” hanging before it. That must be the NPC Item Shop.

There were roughly 20 healers gathered. They stood around in four distinct areas and seemed to be around Levels 60 to 80. These must be players from the subsidiary guilds assigned to opening up portals.

“You stay here. These are the ones in charge of Prole city’s portals. Yesterday, I asked you to mark down the East Gate id Prole-2 and the West Gate of Prole-3. You marked them, right?” Every fortress had one to four gates players could enter through. All of these entrances would lead to the City Crystal at the centre. All five minor cities of Prole had at least 2 gates.

“Mn.”

“Good. Look carefully at the signs on the ground. Go according to Prole-1 to Prole-5. The arrows above the door indicate the gate. Up is for North, down is for South, left is for West and right for East. You’ll open up two portals. One from here to here and the other from here to here. Got it? Don’t open up at the wrong spot.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man drew out a rough map with a stick. Making a mistake with the portals would be life-threatening.

“Mn. I got it.”

“Ensure there are at least five active portals in each spot at all times. If there’s a large number of transfer notices, keep at least twenty active. Keep refreshing them. If you need more Teleport Gems and potions, there’s an NPC Item Shop nearby. Do you have enough money? Do you need me to give you some now?”

“I’ve got the money.” He withdrew every bit of wealth he had hidden in his Storage.

“Good. Once it’s over, remember to claim the money from me. Have you emptied your inventory and filled it with gems and potions?”

“Mn.” He even went and bought a new bag – Trendy Waist Pouch. 60 slots. He’d thought of using the tiny cat’s inventory. Even though he can’t put anything in it, he tried throwing some items on the floor for it to pick up. The result was a yawn from the little cat who then ignored him. He couldn’t help but sigh in awe at how sophisticated the game’s A.I. was. Throw an item intentionally for the cat to pick up and it’ll ignore you. If someone else accidentally dropped something, it’d eagerly collect it.

“Okay. I’ve got more things to organise. You can start opening portals after 6.30 pm.”

“Okay.”
“Meow~” Bye-bye~

“Hehe. The little cat is as cute as always.”  He vigorously coated his hand with grease from cat fur.

“Take good care of my little friend.” That sentence was directed to the healers near XiaoYu. Each healer was in charge of at least two spots. To make sure the portals were not bunched together, each station was placed somewhat far from each other.

“Yes, Leader.”

“Little Acolyte, are you clear on Leader’s orders? Making a mistake would mean being hit in the head with his Bible.” The female healer to XiaoYu’s right winked mischievously. She didn’t like fighting and killing so opening up portals suit her fine. It’s just a pity there’s quite a distance between each healer. XiaoYu couldn’t see the funny face she pulled.

“Mn…Thanks, big sis.” XiaoYu recalled how tyrannical and demonic I_Am_A_Poor_Man looked with his book raised threateningly when saving him. XiaoYu shivered. Being hit by it would be very painful. Perhaps he might even be Stunned by it.

“Meow~” The tiny cat patted its owner’s cheek with a paw in encouragement. Knowing that there’ll be nothing for it to pick up in the upcoming battle, it lazily stretched and loosened up its joints. Curled up over XiaoYu’s shoulders, it started to nap.

When waiting, time always felt like it’s crawling by. The healers around him all seemed to while away time by chatting with their friends. There’s nothing that could be done. The squad’s rules stated they were not allowed to leave their spot on a whim.

XiaoYu’s personality meant he wouldn’t bother his friends out of boredom, so he could only look around at the scenery on the spot. Broken walls and tiles. It’s even more desolated than the Nameless Village he was in.

Ah, the “Item” sign was swaying. What if it fell when he went for more supplies? Would it hit him in the head? He’s not seen a single NPC in this village yet. Were they frightened off by the guild’s forceful takeover? Erm, that little girl NPC banged the door shut after sneaking a peek at him. Was he that scary?

With such nonsensical thoughts running through his mind, 6.30 soon arrived. The female healer beside him probably received some private message too. She called out to XiaoYu to start opening up the portals.

He started focusing. The next three-and-a-half hours were spend in the boring and repetitive job of being the airport. But if this could help I_Am_A_Poor_Man even a little bit, it wasn’t a waste of time at all.

With every five portals opened, one gold coin went clinking away. Guild members began walking in pairs and trios. They looked at the destinations indicated on the ground then walked on through the portals. As XiaoYu watched them disappear one by one before his eyes, he suddenly felt invirogated. Could this be the mentality of a small town citizen? He’s so easily satisfied = =.

And so the wars began with endless portals opening and closing. He didn’t know how many cities this Heretic Demon’s guild could conquer. None of the players looked panicked at all. They looked so well-trained. One minor city should be fine.

Occasionally, XiaoYu would see a huge batch of players pouring into that female healer’s portals. They’d probably been told to transfer over. Still, the sight of her calmly and speedily opening up dozens of portals encouraged him. If he received a transfer notice too, he mustn’t lose out to her.

Time ticked on. It’s been over an hour since Guild Wars began. XiaoYu didn’t know what happened on the battlefields. He only knew no guild has conquered a city yet. The players walking by him would occasionally complain about how insane the game’s monsters were and how chaotic it was on the battlefield.

XiaoYu could only use his imagination to imagine what it was like.

“Congratulations Guild Angel Wings on conquering Serica-2.”
“Congratulations Guild Heretic Demons on conquering Prole-4.”
“Congratulations Guild Glory of the Wolves on conquering Kemet-5.”
…………

In the second hour of Guild Wars, game announcements finally started sounding out. The big guilds had begun occupying cities one after the other. When Heretic Demons members knew that their guilds had occupied a minor city, joy spread through them. Even so, they still moved on with their own missions and did not rush over to Prole-4’s portals. All because they’ve yet to receive notice to support and defend it.

The tiny lucky cat had woken up sometime ago and was excitedly observing the humans rushing by. It even hopped on top of XiaoYu’s head for a higher vantage point. XiaoYu wondered if it was hoping these high-level players would drop a gold coin or two.

What he didn’t realise was the little cat wasn’t just looking around aimlessly. As soon as it found its target, it began staring at a single direction and goofily smiled.

HereticKing had just returned from Prole-4. He was about to head over to the other areas and observe the situation there. The primary goal of the first Guild Wars was to familiarise themselves with the areas. While the Assassin Squad would try their best to record down every inch of the new maps, it’s still better to walk around and experience them in person.

Prole-4 had a few squad leaders to defend it so it’d be fine. Because small guilds usually had issues when working together, half of them will be culled down outside the city. All the other big guilds had their own cities to defend and they won’t be familiar with the layout of other cities. If Angel Wings dared to invade, he could lead a force over to their palace too.

He’d heard of how horrifying Prole-3 was. Just in the City Crystal Room, 5 Boss monsters over Level 90 were spawned as guards. Perhaps he should go have a look. All realism from debuffs and deaths had been decreased after all. It wouldn’t just be the female players who can’t handle it otherwise. Even male players would rage quit after dying a few times in a row.

Yes, the game will be patched up and polished later on to maintain its realism. For example, the negative effects from debuffs and deaths will be reinstated, players won’t be able to return to the battlefield after the first death etc. This trip was all to form a solid base for future Guild Wars.

HereticKing moaned in his mind. He’s felt a pair of eyes seering into him since he arrived. Which daydreaming guild member was it? (= =||) If he ever catches who’s staring so obviously at him, he will definitely give them a good training session.

While that’s what he thought, he wasn’t bored enough to peer around just to find them. He focused on the ground’s markings to Prole-3’s portal. Just before he stepped through, a weak meow reached his ears. He raised his eyes. As he was about to be whirled away, he saw a familiar little black kitten waving at him with a paw and goofily smiling.

“Meow~” It’s the mister with the fish skewer and gold coin (′▽`)づ.

XiaoYu did not realise the big boss of Heretic Demons himself had walked through one of his portals. That’s because he’d never seen HereticKing in person before. As for the little cat’s excitements, he thought it was just interested in a high-level player with some nice equipment. He didn’t know it was happy because it saw the kind-hearted uncle who showed it the wonderful taste of a grilled fish skewer and gave it a gold coin. (Actually, HereticKing was only 24. A moment of silence for him.) XiaoYu also didn’t know his kitten had muddled up the great guild leader’s thought processes…for a second.

Be it in business or war, it’s the same. Even if HereticKing was distracted for a moment when he was being teleported to Prole-3, he pushed the trivial question aside and focused on analysing the battlefield.

Three hours of war passed by. It didn’t rush by, but it didn’t crawl by either. The World Chat was filled with rage and sorrow. And so, the first Guild Wars of Asgard Online ended with a bang. Naturally, some would be celebrating and some would be panicking. Only 7 cities were occupied by guilds. The rest were still controlled by monsters, waiting for the brave players (cannon fodders?) in the next Guild Wars.

As expected, Heretic Demons secured Prole-4. This filled the small Zhang Village with excitement. Most members could be found chattering about what they saw in each city. Squad leaders gathered around with the higher ups. They began anxiously discussing the recordings from each area and tallying up their gains and losses from this session.

XiaoYu saw that everyone was busy so packed up and returned to Prole.

He wasn’t worried I_Am_A_Poor_Man would try and avoid paying him his meagre salary. Even if he did, it was fine. Participating in such a large-scale activity was good exercise for his observation skills and technique. The little one was also exceptionally happy. He thought it’d sleep through it all.

**********

In the largest restaurant of QingYang Town, the executive committee of Heretic Demons were having a meeting (idly chatting?).

“Who was in charge of Prole-3’s portals?”  HereticKing subtly asked I_Am_A_Poor_Man.

“Erm…East, South or West Gate?” I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s heart skipped. No way. LuckyCat made a mistake?

“West.”

“It’s a kid I invited from outside the guild. Did he do something wrong?” Doomed. Doomed. It really was LuckyCat.

“No. Just asking.” Kid from outside the guild. It can’t be that much of a coincidence, right?

HereticKing thought it over again and again. That familiar little black cat should be that greedy thing of LuckyCat. He believed in his eyes. That cat certainly did smile and wave at him. No other pet’s A.I. was that sophisticated. There’ll be more chances. If it really was LuckyCat, that meant they were destined to meet.

Phew. I_Am_A_Poor_Man let out a sigh of relief. So he didn’t make a mistake. Thank goodness. He was wondering how could such a serious kid have made such a basic mistake. Chief was probably curious why LuckyCat didn’t have a guild crest on him.

The wars ended at 10 p.m. Once the meeting was over, it was very late. Only the streets lamps were still twinkling brightly. Of course, the main cities still shone. The night market was a major attraction.

“LuckyCat, LuckyCat. Where are you?”

“Ding. The receiver is currently asleep and unable to receive messages.”

“Huh. He sleeps that early.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man recalled he had yet to give XiaoYu his pay. He’d wanted to have a chat with him and vent too.

Ah, children with no problems weighing them down sure were lucky. After mailing over LuckyCat’s salary, I_Am_A_Poor_Man continued working overtime and organising the information they’d collected.

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