“Ah, right. LuckyCat, remember to open the guild chat,” messaged Egg_Tart to XiaoYu who had just finished looking through his new skills and was being dragged through the roads and alleyways of Prole by HereticKing.
XiaoYu looked through the list of channels to find the words Guild Chat, which was greyed out for him previously. He changed his settings so the Guild Chat would show up and immediately a long screen that went from his head to the ground appeared. The Guild Chat.
[Guild Notification]: Welcome, LuckyCat.
SleepEveryDay: Welcome, new friend. *claps*
WorkEveryDay: Clap clap clap.
Winnie: Lucky cat? Lucky charm?
CrazinessLeavesScars: Bearie, are you worried about your place as our lucky charm?
Winnie: No. I gladly welcome him to take my place.
Flute_In_The_Wind: Why don’t you two just combine? Then, our guild’s lucky mascot will be the panda.
Broken-Winged-Angel: Good idea. Fuse up!
Winnie: Shoo. I should be retiring. LuckyCat, please take over the baton.
CrazinessLeavesScars: Bearie, you can’t force them.
Winnie: You guys forced me to at the start!
Flute_In_The_Wind: You’ve all scared them. The little one’s too afraid to speak up.
SleepEveryDay: They probably forgot to turn on Guild Chat.
LuckyCat: Hi, everyone. I’ll be in your care from now on.
CrazinessLeavesScars: Aah. I found LuckyCat’s profile. So cute! Give me a kiss.
Winnie: Oh, that avatar. You’re the healer who flew the Prole-3 flights, right? I recall you have a pet cat.
Winnie: That’s it then. From now on, you and your pet cat are our lucky charms.
Flute_In_The_Wind: Don’t listen to him, LuckyCat.
Winnie: Hey, why does everyone bully me?
Broken-Winged-Angel: Because we love you. Haven’t you heard? To love is to bully.
SM_Queen: Whipping in agreement.
CrazinessLeavesScars: Why are you ignoring me, LuckyCat? I’m so sad.
LuckyCat: I’m not. Hello.
CrazinessLeavesScars: Good boy.
Winnie: This is double standards!
Flute_In_The_Wind: Yes. We treat you so well, yet you’re not satisfied.
XiaoYu happily laughed as he read the bustling guild chat. That made HereticKing who’d been ignored for a long time very unhappy. The tiny cat was also hanging off XiaoYu’s shoulders, napping. HereticKing felt that if he sold these two cats right now, they wouldn’t react to it. Perhaps the small cat might gleefully help him count the money out.
“What’s made you so happy?” asked HereticKing.
“Ah. The guild’s very lively,” replied XiaoYu.
“Uneasy about it?”
“No. I like this atmosphere.”
“Where are we going?” It was only then that XiaoYu realised he was on a big ship.
“Selling you off.”
“I’m joking.” The goofy sight of XiaoYu’s dazed and frightened form turned HereticKing’s mood from stormy grey to the refreshing blue sky that appear out after the storm has passed.
“What’s with the foolish chuckle while staring at me?”
“I didn’t think you’d crack that kind of joke.”
“Should I have a poker face on all the time? Like this?” HereticKing put on a serious and sombre face.
“Pfft. You look weird.”
As they laughed and joked around, land began to emerge from the horizon before the boat.
“We’ll be there soon.”
“This is Holiday Island?”
“Yes. That’s the nickname players gave it. San Raphaelus is its official name due to Raphaelus, the Level 110 mer-prince boss in the underwater city beneath the island.”
While the lower depths of the island were filled with strong monsters, the island’s surface and beaches were still safe. The only worry was an aggressive Level 100 mer-soldier. It was a soldier sent from beneath the sea to patrol the island surface.
However, Asgard Online players have long figured out the rules it acted on. It would only patrol the beach near the sea. A full patrol of the island took 10 hours. If one saw it, walking slightly inland would be enough to avoid it. Furthermore, the average Level of AO were much higher now. It’s not hard to just kill it.
There were no Revival Points on the island and this place couldn’t be marked with Teleport. Thus, the main mode of transport to the island was through a scheduled boat trip which takes an hour. Of course, players could sail over themselves. As long as they’re not afraid of getting lost and stranded in the middle of the sea.
The moment they stepped out of the small port, the unique tropical scenery of the island enveloped them. The crystal blue seawater, the white sandy beach, and a thick forest which only grew thicker the closer they got to the heart of the island.
They walked along the beach until a row of identical tiny cottages appeared before their eyes. The houses were built along the border between the beach and the forest. Available to the visiting tourists as a place to dine and stay, players could also rent equipment here.
Not many players would choose to be at this island early in the morning. HereticKing and XiaoYu looked around for a less crowded plot of beach, rented some beach-related gear from the shop behind them, plopped their beach umbrella down, unfurled their beach chairs, and changed into bright and colourful swim shorts. They were the very image of holidaying humans.
Those garish swim shorts really must be given the limelight here. As soon as they were put on, all other equipped gear would be automatically taken off, including the singlet players wore under their clothes at all times. Wasn’t that extremely dangerous? No, it wasn’t. Once a player equipped them, they would be “Protected” by the game. That meant they couldn’t be PvP-ed. They could still be attacked by mobs. Of course, since there’s only a mer-warrior on the whole island, there wouldn’t be any other mobs appearing next to the player unless they were so bored as to wander over 100 meters under the sea levels. Additionally, these swim shorts would self-destruct once they were 10 nautical miles away from the island.
As XiaoYu never tweaked a single modifier for his avatar’s physical form, the game rendered a very realistic version of his own body. His skin was quite pale from rarely being bathed by sunlight, but his figure wasn’t sickly. Before he entered Asgard Online, XiaoYu didn’t just sit around and game. He worked out. Hence, even if he didn’t have obvious ab lines, he wasn’t as thin as a stick that’d go flying away at the slightest breeze.
Nevertheless, when compared to HereticKing, XiaoYu still looked rather thin and tiny. There was nothing to be done about that. His bone structure wasn’t as big as HereticKing’s. He also didn’t have special sports equipment in his home. No matter how much he exercised, he’d never be able to achieve the kind of muscles that adorn HereticKing’s body – solid yet not overwhelming.
XiaoYu snuck a few glances at HereticKing’s body. As a male, XiaoYu was naturally very envious of the other. He pinched and twisted the flesh on his own body and let out a sigh. There was no hope for him to get that kind of body through training, but there was still some hope if it was done through diet.
HereticKing knew XiaoYu was secretly looking at him. He was rather confident in his own body. Conversely, in his eyes, XiaoYu’s figure was considered malnourished. It really made him wonder if this kid’s real-life diet was the same as his in-game diet – bitter and hard carrots all the way through.
While this was a game, one still had to warm up before swimming. If a muscle cramped up, they’d start losing health and risk drowning. The tiny cat, unwilling to just be a bystander, mimicked them. It bent and twisted and stretched, just like an actual human warming up. An accidental glance at it made the two, who’d been solemnly bending over in a stretch, instantly crumble with mirth.
“I bow down before your kitten. It really loves mimicking you,” HereticKing commented.
“Hehe. It’s probably due to the high Intimacy score,” XiaoYu chuckled.
“It’s been high since the Newbie Village?” Intimacy levels usually rose with a snail’s pace. It would take at least ten days to half a month to get a pet’s Intimacy score maxed out. The first time HereticKing saw LuckyCat, the other must’ve been playing for two days at most.
“Its Intimacy score was maxed as soon as it was born…Huh? Newbie Village?” XiaoYu was really curious as to how HereticKing knew the small cat was with him at the Newbie Village. It made him recall a particular embarrassing moment back then…
“Yes. A rare trip back to the village showed me two cats swearing they’ll work hard to earn money at the sky.”
“That…The one who laughed was you?” XiaoYu couldn’t believe it.
The “Yup. That’s me” look on HereticKing’s face showed him otherwise.
“Vwoom!” XiaoYu’s face was as red as a tomato. Aaaah…He really wished he could just bury his head into the sands under him and pretend to be an ostrich. Such a humiliating moment was actually witnessed by someone he knew.
HereticKing could never grow tired of poking fun at XiaoYu. Perhaps it was because he’d been constantly teased by his older brother growing up. He’d always been hoping for a younger brother he could protect and “bully”. Perhaps it was because XiaoYu felt different to his other friends. Whenever he’s with XiaoYu, his mind would unwittingly relax.
“Alright. The two cats can go play now.” HereticKing ruffled XiaoYu’s hair. Just as he expected, it felt so much nicer without the headdress.
“Mn.” XiaoYu scooped the tiny cat into his arms and hopped into the water. He needed the cooling sea to help cool him down.
Don’t judge that tiny shop they rented their equipment from by its ratty appearance. It had everything a shop like that should have. XiaoYu took out an inflatable miniature rubber boat from his inventory and placed the little cat on it. Then, he let the boat loose to sway with the waves.
The tiny cat wasn’t afraid at all. It crouched down on the swaying float and stared wide-eyed down into the water. Once in a while it’d splash and tapped at the water as if it spotted numerous fishes. XiaoYu stroked its head to remind it to take care not to flip the rubber boat. Who knew if it really understood him? It squinted its eyes in comfort and lightly meowed.
XiaoYu took it as the little one’s acknowledgement and let himself loose. Leaning back, he drifted on the water beside the boat, swaying to and fro with the waves.
The memory of his father teaching him how to swim when he was still a child floated to the front of his mind. Back then, he looked just like a little kitten. Just like a cat, he was deathly afraid of water. He refused to enter any bodies of water. Whenever his father had spare time, he’d drag XiaoYu to the swimming pool for training time after time with infinite patience. He even promised XiaoYu that once he knew how to swim, the whole family would go for a holiday at the beach. Teeny XiaoYu didn’t understand what going on a holiday meant. All he knew were there’d be a lot of tasty food, no school and sand to play with. He forced himself to hold the fear in and learn how to swim. Finally, he overcame his fear of water.
The two cats were both floating safely in the sea. While XiaoYu looked somewhat like a drowned corpse, the smile hanging on the corners of his mouth, as if he was recalling something pleasant, made HereticKing let go of his worry. He walked slightly further away from the two drifters and dove into the sea.
Time flowed along just like the white fluffy clouds hanging in the sky. Slowly yet surely.
As afternoon arrived, more and more players started trickling into the island. Beautiful bikini-clad players filled the area. The sight made the blood of the male players who came here for a hunt thrum. All of that however were none of the two men’s and a cat’s business. HereticKing and XiaoYu had long waded back to shore. They lay on their little chairs, sipping the colourful specialty drinks of the island, watching the tiny cat pouncing and playing on them, lazily chatting, enjoying a luxurious and carefree afternoon. Unbeknownst to them, there were many lady players with blazing eyes secretly taking pictures of them. Through an unspoken agreement, those pictures were all named “Family of Three”.
In this era, homosexual relations were legal globally and were extremely common. Still, gossip and curiosity were natural parts of a female, especially when it involved attractive humans. Immediately, ten thousand different kinds of stories about love and hate were being written out in their minds. It made one squirm with excitement. The top with mouth-watering, perfect body and face, plus the sweet and pure bottom with that cute smile, along with an adorable pet cat; they were the ultimate source material for a few perverted fantasies.
The sun descended down west. The crowds on the beach gradually left, especially the high-level players. No one had forgotten that today was Saturday – Guild Wars day.
HereticKing and XiaoYu changed back into their gear and packed up. Just as they were about to return the hired gear back to the NPC shop, two bikini-clad sexy women arrived. They’d ran over from another part of the beach. The moment they saw HereticKing’s equipment, they knew he was a high-level player. Their eyes gleamed.
“Mr Knight, the mer-soldier is here. Can you help us kill it?” they asked.
“Sure.” HereticKing thought it was a good opportunity for XiaoYu to practice his new skill – Holy Light. With XiaoYu in tow, he headed towards the direction the two players pointed to.
The mer-soldier was currently marching along the beach with its small trident, as calm as if it was just taking a leisurely stroll. Occasionally, it’d stop and surveyed his surroundings. The ideal model of a serious soldier doing his duty.
“Try using Holy Light. I’ll tank. You attack.” HereticKing threw a Taunt to attract the mer-soldier’s attention. XiaoYu began chanting Holy Light. As his Proficiency was low, the chanting took three long seconds. But with a tank, there was no danger.
Thus, the few female players on the beach were able to witness the mer-soldier’s most unsatisfactory death ever. In times before, it had always been able to die a glorious death after a magnificent battle against a crowd of players. Yet this time, its health was slowly and forcefully ground down to nothing by the Holy Light of a healer half its level while it kept attempting to stab at an agile knight who evaded every poke it tried.
- Looking through new skills: The phrased used here was “learn all the Priest skills”. This was probably a typo on the author’s part as A.O. lets you have all the skills with the usual Proficiency levels. Traditionally, one would have to gain skill points and assign them accordingly. Ragnarok Online was a game that one had to plan their skills carefully as there were more skill levels available than there were skill points per class/job. Hence, this phrase has been translated to mean XiaoYu read through the skills that weren’t listed previously (i.e. he looked through his Priest skills). This meant that Bishops were basically Priests with 2 extra skills – Incremento and Obsecro.
- Panda: Bear (Winnie) + Cat (XiaoYu) = Chinese for panda.