27. Search for the Oasis
“Let’s head to the oasis first.” Just standing around was a waste of water. Why not take a look at whether the oasis was still where HereticKing remembered it to be?
Players who’d been grinding in the desert all know it’s very important to know where the oasis was. It’s one way to be sure they had a steady supply of fresh water. Those who were lucky might even hunt some food.
“Okay.” XiaoYu’s eyes were already exhausted by the endless sea of yellow. It would be nice to freshen them up with the legendary desert’s oasis.
The location of the oasis closest to the city had already been charted out by other players. It’s now a secret everyone knows. It just so happened to be in the same direction as the area they were about to scout out.
Bai XiaoYu bent down to pick up the tiny cat and followed behind HereticKing towards the south-west. He’d learned not to walk around half-heartedly now. His two round eyes stared down at the ground as he walked. The tiny cat imitated its owner in staring at the floor as well. Anyone witnessing this sight might think gold and treasures would be popping out from beneath the sands.
HereticKing would occasionally look back at the two cats “hanging their hands in remorse”. While he admired how well XiaoYu was able to follow him with his head hung low, the mischievous side of him wondered – if he just stopped and turned around without notice, would XiaoYu just rush in and send himself into HereticKing’s arms?
The thought lingered in his mind, but HereticKing never acted on it. He knew LuckyCat didn’t have skin as thick as I_Am_A_Poor_Man. His face was as ripe as a tomato during the incident before. If he was teased again, he might faint from embarrassment and anger or even just stomp away and tear up a Return Scroll right then and there.
He’s got plenty of time. He’ll play with this little guy another day.
XiaoYu was oblivious to the fact he’d narrowly escaped from a “disaster”. Still, he could hide once but he can’t hide forever. He’ll be met with more “disasters”.
HereticKing always had I_Am_A_Poor_Man chattering on beside him. It felt rather strange to be walking on and on in silence. Furthermore, he didn’t have a tiny cat to play with now. Perhaps he could make the rare move to try and start a conversation.
However, HereticKing didn’t know what’s the trendy topic for boys these days. (There’s a reason why the little cat viewed him as an “uncle”.) I_Am_A_Poor_Man nattered on endlessly last time, but he never mentioned anything about LuckyCat’s interests or hobbies. LuckyCat looked like he should be around 20 years old, about the age of a university student.
“Are you studying in university?” HereticKing slowed down until he was walking beside XiaoYu. They should be walking side-by-side if they’re chatting. If they talk while one is at the front and the other behind, it’d feel like a leader questioning his subordinate.
“Um…no.” If all those events hadn’t happened, XiaoYu should be in his second year now.
“…” HereticKing didn’t think his eyes were fooled. XiaoYu’s awkward personality didn’t seem like he’s already struggling in society’s rat race. The only option left was he’s a university student. As for the miniscule chance of not being either… At the sight of XiaoYu’s dull eyes, HereticKing decided not to continue asking about this. Perhaps some unhappy memories were related.
“What kind of healer are you planning to be?” Since there’re some issues with his real-life situation, HereticKing thought they could talk about his in-game life.
“I’m thinking tank.”
“Oh…not many build tank healers.”
Other than the basic Intelligence for healers (to increase Magic Attack, Magic Defence and MP), the other stat points could be distributed as a player pleased. There were many builds for healers, like the violent build (Strength), the tank build (Vitality), Agility build (increases dodge chances, reduces cooldown and delays), speed build (upon reaching 200 in Intelligence, a new stat would be branched out – Wisdom. It increases casting speed and MP recovery speed), and even pure Intelligence builds.
Based on the current meta for healers right now, a lot plan their builds towards the latter few. There weren’t many healers around. They’d usually train in parties and even then, it’d never be their turn to tank monsters. They do very much need their spells to be fast, so they can protect every party member, and effective, especially their healing spells.
“I grind solo.” So, to ensure he would not be smacked to death with just one blow, he needed to increase his Vitality!
“Not going to party up?”
“Too much trouble.” XiaoYu shook his head. When he saw doubt on HereticKing’s face, he lifted up the kitty in his arms. “It levels up according to the items it picks up, and it loves to pick up items. I won’t restrain it, nor would I put it away.”
“So that’s why. There’s already been trouble from it, right?” Otherwise, you wouldn’t look so helpless and crestfallen.
“Don’t be upset. They think everyone’s like them. Petty and selfish. I know you definitely won’t hoard everything.” You wouldn’t have chased after me just to return that one gold coin otherwise. HereticKing ruffled XiaoYu’s hair.
“Thanks.” It felt nice to be trusted. XiaoYu brushed away the clouds in his mind and smiled, revealing two cute little canine teeth.
As if he was infected by that smile, HereticKing smiled back. It sort of felt like they were smiling knowingly at each other.
“Once you reach your second Job Change, would you be willing to join the Heretic Demons?” The minimum requirement for entering the branch guilds of Heretic Demons was over Level 50 after the second Job Change. As the big Guild Leader, he can’t break the rules. Still, he really hoped XiaoYu could be part of them.
“Yes.” A guild must be lively. Perhaps he could experience the atmosphere of a classroom again.
“Remember to notify me as soon as you successfully get through your Job Change.”
“Then, I eagerly await your application.”
“Mn. But, my level would be the lowest. Hehe.”
“It’s fine. Your level would be quickly trained up. Maybe you’ll level up five times or more once this S-rank quest is done.”
“That much experience?” Why not hunt for an egg to trip over every day?
“That’s a conservative guess. Quests ranked S and above aren’t easy to find.” Of course, the Level 100 was an exception to the rule. The game would love it if everyone rolled a quest ranked S or above, so they’d lose experience from being unable to complete the quest. In reality, over 90% of players would draw an S-ranked quest the first time they attempt the Level 100 quest.
“Then we must complete it.” XiaoYu clenched his hand into a fist. He could almost see the vast amount experience waving at him.
“Meow!” The little cat stretched out a paw and waved, as if it too was set on the mission. But it was most likely seeing a pile of gold coins waving at it instead.
“Hehe.” The big and tiny cats were so in synced with each other. It looked like his future won’t be boring at all.
“There’s a snake!” XiaoYu, who’d been staring down at the ground, suddenly noticed something wriggling in the sand before him. Upon a closer look, it was a small green snake about as wide as his wrist.
“Don’t panic. It’s a passive mob. It’s fine if you don’t step on it.”
XiaoYu carefully stepped around the little snake. It seemed to be able to detect when players were near it. It raised its round head and stared at XiaoYu. He somehow felt disdain coming from it. The snake then looked at HereticKing and quietly stretched back on the sand to continue its slow wriggling.
Did a snake just look down at him? =_=+
“Seems like the A.I. of the monsters around here were improved.” That meant their journey west might not be that peaceful. Thus, HereticKing started up a discussion with I_Am_A_Poor_Man via private messages again.
“Don’t be sad. Once your level is higher, we’ll come back. I guarantee it will be moving around you instead then.”
“Mn.” XiaoYu scrunched his nose and silently glared at that cowardly bully of a snake.
XiaoYu’s discreet actions did not escape HereticKing’s gaze. He was very satisfied to see LuckyCat being more relaxed around him. So much different to that respectful and formal yet detached attitude from the start.
Perhaps LuckyCat was just like some lonely little beastie (Not a typo! It’s not little bottom!). At the start, he’d treat anyone trying get close with hostility and indifference. Once they know each other more, he’d slowly let down his guard and reveal his original naive personality. He’d even throw a minor temper tantrum now and again.
HereticKing smiled. He affectionately looked at XiaoYu who kept his head down low in search of “treasures”. It’s sort of like how an older brother would look on at his pouting younger brother, yet not really.
- Hide once but can’t hide forever: Twist to the Chinese saying, “One can hide on/from the first day, but they can’t hide from the fifteenth”. The reason the 15th is used is due to the lunar calendar. The first day is the new moon and the 15th is the full moon. Some interpret it as never being able to hide from justice or karma. Bad deeds are typically done during the night, so the moonlight is seen as a metaphor for justice.
- “Disasters”: More accurately, it’s the character used for trials and tribulations (more commonly found in cultivation stories).
- They think everyone’s like them. Petty and selfish: Rephrasing of a Chinese idiom (以小人之心度君子之腹). The proper translation is “assuming the noble heart with the mentality of a petty man”.
- Smiling knowingly at each other: Part of a meme/idiom (相视一笑). It simply translates to “Smile at each other” but there are some nuances in it that’ve been added in since the poem it first appeared in.
- Beastie/Bottom: There are many homonyms to “shou” (bottom/uke in Chinese). This is one pairing the author specifically pointed out.