21. Reuniting With a Friend
“Hey, hey. Come look. Three ranged players are bullying a healer.” A pleasant female voice sounded out from one side.
The four were standing in a spot near a major intersection. Just then, a female healer glowing red walked around the corner. The red glow came from the robes she was wearing. It was most likely a high-tier healer’s robe. She was looking back over her shoulder, calling out to her party members who’d yet to turn around the corner.
“Aah, my blade flies to help in the face of injustice. I’m coming.” It was a strangely familiar and lively man’s voice.
When the voice’s owner appeared, Bai XiaoYu was shocked. The other was too.
“Lil Lucky~!” CopperPlateKing threw down his spear and went flying towards XiaoYu with his arms wide open.
Unfortunately, he only took one step before he was lifted off the ground by the back of his collar.
“NonMeta, you pervert! Why is your Strength higher than your Agility? You’re a failure of an assassin!” CopperPlateKing struggled and flailed, but he had more Vitality than Strength. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get free. Pissed, he swore that he’d only increase his Strength from then on!
“CopperPlate, NonMeta….Blaze?” XiaoYu didn’t understand why his eyes started to burn at the sight of his first two friends. However, BlazeTheEarth appearing with them made this whole group a little peculiar. Fortunately, he didn’t recognise the female healer. If I_Am_A_Poor_Man was here too, XiaoYu would’ve started sighing about how small the world was.
“Hm? Lil Lucky, you know Lil Shumai?”
“Ahem. Let’s postpone the reunion first. Can’t you see your friend is surrounded?” The female healer cleared her throat. She didn’t think this little healer she stumbled upon would know all three of them.
“What do you guys want? Those who want to bully my friends would need to get past my spear first!” CopperPlateKing was going to give the floor a hard knock with his spear to show how fierce he was. But he had thrown his spear away in excitement. A look around showed his spear to be missing.
“Little kitty…you again.” All the air in CopperPlate puffed out him. He crumpled down to his knees before the tiny cat beaming at him. He weakly poked the little cat on the head with a finger.
“Here.” XiaoYu walked over, took out the spear once more and returned it to CopperPlateKing.
NonMeta flashed over to stand behind XiaoYu, blocking XiaoYu from the other three players’ line of sight. Now, even if the three lower-levelled players wanted to kill XiaoYu with a surprise shot, they can’t.
XiaoYu was rather moved by NonMeta’s silent protection. While they’d never talked much, he understood NonMeta. They were quite similar. Once someone became their friend, they’d do their best by the other.
“I-It’s a misunderstanding. We weren’t trying to bully him.” The archer waved his hand in an attempt to clear the party’s name. He was so glad that they’d stopped Snow from attacking just now. If any of their names turned grey, nothing they said would stop them from being killed.
“Hmph. Don’t try telling me that mage’s wand wasn’t aiming at Lil Lucky.” CopperPlateKing accepted the spear from XiaoYu and moved to stand between him and the three players. BlazeTheEarth was standing at the back of everyone. He didn’t say anything but his grip on his wand tightened. He stealthily aimed it at the archer who looked to be the highest-level player of the three.
“It really is just a misunderstanding. We still need to keep grinding. Excuse us.” The archer shot a look at the two mages. They took out Return Scrolls. Three beams of white light later, they vanished on the spot.
“Meow~” The tiny cat pounced at where the three were standing. They had forgotten about the robe with the faint blue glow. Swiped. Hee-hee.
“Lil Lucky, do you know what their names are? I’ll chase them down and kill them for you.”
“It’s okay. They didn’t hurt me.”
“Alright. Alright. He’s fine. Everything’s good now. Can you introduce me to your friend?” The female player smoothed down CopperPlate’s temper and changed the topic. Anyone could tell that it was the fault of that equipment on the floor just now. It was all done now, so there was no point going on about it.
“Oh, yes. Chrysanthemum, this is LuckyCat. Remember the last time we asked you to help find a buyer for a crown? We got that with him in the party. He’s a lucky charm.”
“Oh?” The healer called Chrysanthemum gave an evil smirk and eyed XiaoYu. “Tsk-tsk…tiny build. Tiny waist too. Not bad, not bad. Very slim (shou?) …” (Only the gods knew how she’d see a tiny waist under the loose and bulky Acolyte Robes.)
XiaoYu’s hair stood on end. He couldn’t really hear what she was mumbling about, but it definitely didn’t feel like a good thing.
“Heh. Hehe…” CopperPlateKing’s mouth twitched. Inwardly, he sighed with regret. Perhaps he shouldn’t have introduced Lil Lucky to Chrysanthemum. “Lucky, her full name is SereneChrysanthemum. You can just call her Chrysanthemum like me.”
“Aaaaah~ Hi, Lil Lucky. Let’s add each other. Next time you’re bullied, you come to me. I’ll make them experience the taste of being tormented by a group of healers until they want to die but can’t.”
“Um…” Why was every healer he met more violent than the last? He seemed like the only easy target for bullies.
“She’s one of the higher-ups of the famous Healers’ Alliance on the forums. You won’t ever need to worry about others snatching away your items.” CopperPlate patted XiaoYu on the shoulder. “Chrysanthemum, Lucky is a newbie. Please take care of him.”
“Relax. I will gently t-r-a-i-n him.”
“…= = |||”
“Ahem.” BlazeTheEarth decided to pipe up to make his presence known after being ignored for so long. He was about to melt into one with the background.
“Ah, right. Lucky, how did you know Lil Shumai here?”
“Shumai? Isn’t he BlazeTheEarth?” Was this a twin? Did XiaoYu have the wrong person?
“That’s right. That’s him. Because he was always selling, we combined the characters for ‘blaze’ and ‘sell’ and call him Shumai,” said CopperPlateKing in a solemn tone. “D’uh” could almost be heard lurking within his voice.
“Pfft. Sorry.” XiaoYu felt that this nickname was even more of a masterpiece than the one he made up, NonMeta.
“It’s fine. We met when LuckyCat bought my old staff.” BlazeTheEarth pointed at the Crystal Staff in XiaoYu’s hands.
“No wonder I thought it looked familiar.”
“You’re here for the boss?” There was only the Level 70 Jiangshi King in here that XiaoYu could think of that’s reasonable for them to be going up against. The rest of the mobs were just over Level 60. Nothing else about this cave seemed like a place for a party over Level 80 to be training in.
“Do you still remember the Zombie King’s heart from before? That quest was actually a chain of quests looking for medicinal ingredients. The medium for the next medicine is the ashes created when the charm paper from the Jiangshi Cave is burned. Say, do you think the pharmacist could be a quack? How can you use ashes as an ingredient for medicine?”
CopperPlateKing vented out all the complaints he had been keeping in. A Level 70 boss was not something he and NonMeta could handle alone. Furthermore, there was a chance the Jiangshi King would enter Berserk mode once its health was lower than 10%. That’s why they sought out helpers this time. Shumai was a mage who majored in fire spells. Fire just so happened to be the bane of Undead monsters. Chrysanthemum was a Level 98 healer. With how buffed and strong she was, it’d be hard for her to even die.
The four of them had been camping for two days already. This boss was not as ignored as the Zombie King which no one cared about. If they were unlucky, small-scaled wars would occur between several hunting parties. The last Charm Paper they farmed was found on Saturday night when everyone went to observe and participate in the Guild Wars. That was handed over to CopperPlate. The subsequent Jiangshi Kings didn’t drop any. Today was Monday. They were going to test their luck and try for another Charm Paper for NonMeta while the server was less busy in the afternoon.
“Lucky, come with us. You’re so lucky that another crown might drop. Hahaha~”
“LuckyCat, what’s your Level?” The primary concern for BlazeTheEarth was whether it’d be too dangerous for XiaoYu due to his level being too low.
“Would it be too dangerous?”
“Nope. Last time when he went with us to challenge the Level 50 boss, he was only Level 11.”
“Fool. The Zombie King and the Jiangshi King are not in the same tier. Bosses over Level 70 can go berserk.” Chrysanthemum knocked CopperPlateKing on the head.
“Ugh…Is there no other way?” CopperPlateKing was rather dejected. If Lucky went, a Charm Paper might drop. After the crown dropped, his trust in Lil Lucky’s Luck was very high.
“Ahem. Who said no? When had anyone in my party ever died?” That was her slogan.
“It’s not a problem. It’s just a Jiangshi King. Even in Berserk mode, I’m not afraid of it.”
“Awesome! Come, come. Lil Lucky, join the party.”
“…” They don’t even bother asking him if he wanted to. Ah, just treat it as if he’s going to scout out the land.
“Oh, right. Chrysanthemum, remember to let the little cat pick up the drops. It levels up through item pickup.”
“How curious. Come, let Big Sis pet you.”
“Mrrow~!” Save me~!
The five players and one cat marched on towards the bottom floor. Chrysanthemum casted Safety Barrier on XiaoYu. Along the way, she told him about everything he needed to be aware of.
With a high-level healer around, the journey was much more relaxing. As they searched for the boss, they chatted.
“Hm? Lucky, you were at the Guild Wars last week?” Somehow the topic switched to the first Guild Wars last week. CopperPlateKing was a little surprised XiaoYu knew so much about it. He thought XiaoYu would’ve been hiding in some unknown corner grinding hard, his ears closed to all news from outside the cave.
“Mn…sort of. I was part of the airport.”
“When did you join a guild?”
“I didn’t. I was only there to help.”
“Were you scammed? Have they paid you for the Gem and Potions?” Just like CopperPlateKing, everyone else was as concerned for XiaoYu as if they were his actual mother.
“Mn. They also gave me 100 crystals as pay.”
“How generous. Which guild was it? I regret not going for an Acolyte now.” With just a few waves of a staff, one could earn that much money. How nice.
“!” All four players looked at XiaoYu as though they were looking at an alien.
“God, you actually know someone from Heretic Demons.”
The Heretic Demons were famous in AO for their overall professionalism and integrity, contrary to their name. This came from how strict they manage their members. At the same time, they had the best member benefits in the game.
Rumours say a gigantic company was directly behind the main guild. The guild’s mission was to work their heads off earning money and distributing products. They had regular guild activities like large-scale questing or boss hunting, and all potions and items used during this time would be reimbursed. There were also plenty of additional rewards which vary according to the individual’s performance.
To be fair, people say they were strict, but they weren’t especially so as long as members don’t get involved in several problematic actions like PvP-ing or stealing mobs with evil intentions, speaking crassly in public, etc. If they were the victim or acting in self-defence, the guild would not ignore the culprits. They’d do anything they can, including hiring squads of players and NPC soldiers, to hunt down the culprits and kill them until the culprits apologised.
That’s why one shouldn’t underestimate the tiny team in charge of teleporting players. They might be mere low-levelled healers picked out from the subsidiary guilds, but every one of them were handpicked by the Healer Squad’s Leader. Through strict selection criteria, every one of them was guaranteed to be strong, in game and in mind.
“Lucky, you know I_Am_A_Poor_Man?” Chrysanthemum squinted in thought. XiaoYu was able to enter the team in charge of flights in Heretic Demons. That meant he must know of the Healer Squad’s Leader. I_Am_A_Poor_Man would never fool around with his own guild.
“Mn. He saved me once.”
“What? What happened to you before?” shouted CopperPlateKing. He honestly couldn’t imagine how a high-levelled healer who’s over Level 90 could be connected to XiaoYu.
“Um…it’s nothing.” That incident happened so long ago. XiaoYu was too lazy to bother with revenge or what-not. Provided that swordsman stopped being obsessed with him.
“Heeheehee…” Chrysanthemum stroked her chin. Her mind whirling and scheming something unknown. “So, you know HereticKing too?”
“…? I do. Why?” XiaoYu could not follow her leaps in logic. How did her mind jump from the guild to HereticKing?
“Heehee. So, what does the great guild leader look like?” Chrysanthemum who was meant to be the mature lady character looked like a gossiping old hag now. It dramatically shifted XiaoYu’s impression of her.
“What guild leader?” XiaoYu really didn’t get what she was going on about.
“Ugh. You…It can’t be you don’t know who the guild leader of Heretic Demons’ main guild is, right?”
“God. After a whole day, I finally find out I’ve been talking with a Martian.” Chrysanthemum looked depressed and shocked. She poked at the ant-holes in a corner of the cave with her high-tier staff.
“No, wait. Then why do you know HereticKing?” She jumped back up in excitement as she was suddenly reminded of something.
“Haah?” Everyone was stunned. What is this situation? A great big guild’s leader was connected to a newbie because of money?
“It’s like this…” XiaoYu realised a weird misunderstanding was forming in their minds, so he told them a brief summary of how he met HereticKing.
“Oh~ I see. Heeheehee…”
= =||| XiaoYu tried his best to ignore the strange and dangerous cackling that came from Chrysanthemum.
“Still, Lucky, you’re way too slow. HereticKing is the Guild Leader of Heretic Demons. Everyone knows this.” CopperPlateKing patted XiaoYu on the shoulder with a look that spoke of how he wished XiaoYu wasn’t this unaware of the world.
“…” Who’d have thought the two would be connected just because they share the word ‘heretic’? =_=+ “CopperPlate, did you participate too?” Change the topic fast before they talk about any more ‘common game knowledge’ topics he knew absolutely nothing about.
“Nah. The current model is too old-fashioned.”
“Yeah. That’s the model of guild wars 200 years ago. They say Asgard Online’s previous incarnation was an MMO game long-ago called Ragnarok Online. Before I played AO, I downloaded the single-player version of that game client just so I could get familiar with the system. While everything is now remodelled for virtual reality, you can actually find a lot of similarities at the start. It took a few major updates before AO became how it looked now. The Guild Wars were just patched in. I had a look at it. It’s not that different from what it used to be. The developers should be updating it soon enough to a version more suitable for virtual reality. I’m thinking of joining in after it gets updated. By then, I could also rush ahead to Level 100.”
“Whether it’ll be updated will depend on the players,” interjected Chrysanthemum in a rare display of seriousness.
“What do you mean?”
“Have you not noticed that all of the third minor cities have yet to be conquered?”
“I think I’ve heard something about that.”
“According to the feedback found on the forums, all monsters found there were drastically stronger than the monsters in the other buildings. Not only were there more high-level bosses, they also have a higher chance of going Berserk.”
“What does that prove?”
“That proves they’re special. I’m guessing the game will release its first Guild Wars patch once all four of those buildings are conquered.”
“Hm…Chrysanthemum, you’re so amazing. Ouch!” CopperPlate felt his head being smacked from the back. When he turned around, he saw a high level Jiangshi nearly two meters high grinning scarily at him. It raised its arms in preparation of whacking him again.
Great. They were so into chatting with each other that they’d forgotten they were inside a cave of monsters.
Slim/Shou: In Chinese, these are homonyms. Shou = uke = bottom.