78. A Bloody Case Started by a Sock
The next day, QiYao and XiaoYu trained separately. QiYao couldn’t spend all his time by XiaoYu’s side after all, unless he didn’t want to level up. Also, with him around, XiaoYu wouldn’t have an easy time grinding as well.
It was just a piece of candy yesterday and it was enough for them to get lovestruck for half-a-day. Afterwards, QiYao still wasn’t satisfied. He commented how surprisingly delicious the candy would be when shared. He insisted on looking for another Santa Poring. XiaoYu was blushing so hard by the end of it and stomped his feet. He proactively objected and said he didn’t want another candy. He just wanted to head back to Prole to sleep. A rare sight indeed.
Thus, after a honey-sweet morning kiss, XiaoYu swiftly ran away, with the help of a Haste spell, to the Pyramids in search of the Healer Squad. QiYao was left behind on the comfortable bed in the inn, helpless to XiaoYu’s escape. Did he dote on XiaoYu so much that the other started to be a little spoiled? But that’s fine. He’s the one who spoiled XiaoYu. Anything the other did was okay. It might even add a little spice to their relationship.
The couple might fight their own battles apart during the day but they would always have dinner together. That was a habit they’ve developed ever since they started dating.
“Do you still want to go grind later?” QiYao asked.
“Mn. I want to sell off the stuff I got earlier first. If I have time afterwards, I’ll go train a little more,” XiaoYu replied.
“I’ll come look for you after my meeting. Be careful.”
“Right. These are for you.” As QiYao said so, he stuffed a few pieces of candy in XiaoYu’s hands.
When XiaoYu saw the candy, he felt his cheeks flushing. Weren’t these the culprits that ruined their grind session yesterday?
“You can have some when you’re training. It’ll be a minor insurance. But…” QiYao leaned in close to XiaoYu’s ear. “Leave one for us to share.”
Daily teasing of a blushing lover is so very fun. ╮(╯▽╰)╭
The two split up. QiYao gathered some of their guild’s researchers to sort through the information on the new updates. XiaoYu went around with the tiny cat and cleared their inventories of the day’s drops while replenishing their supplies.
Once everything was settled, it was only past eight. XiaoYu decided to train for two more hours and teleported straight to the Pyramids. His proficiency at Teleport was very high now. Not only can he maintain all the portals he needed for the Guild Wars, he could even save one slot for his own personal use.
The first floor of the Pyramids was a maze. However, after the players mapped out the whole dungeon, the maze lost its meaning. All it did now was act as a buffer floor between the mummies upstairs and the Berserk Mummies downstairs. The monsters on this level weren’t that strong, bats that die in a few hits and little Porings that only knew to be cute and pick up loot.
XiaoYu buffed himself up and hurried through the maze to the floor above. Along the way, he smacked away the few bats attracted by his presence.
“Hm?” Out of the corner of his eye, XiaoYu spotted a large shadow to his left. He turned to find an Evil Santa Claus standing not far away. It was looking around at a cross-junction with its back to XiaoYu. The maze seemed to have confused it.
He raised his hands and chanted Holy Light. Soon, a sock should be his.
All of a sudden, right before his spell hit the monster, a fireball came streaking from a hallway blocked from XiaoYu’s sight by the maze’s walls and struck the Evil Santa Claus too.
It would be hard to tell which spell hit the mob first, so they had to rely on the game’s judgement. The one who hit it first would have priority in collecting the EXP and loot dropped.
From the way the small cat went sprinting for the sock, XiaoYu knew the game decided his spell struck first. What a pity for this unknown other player.
“Where did this ratty cat come from? Die!” shouted a female voice. Another fireball was casted and headed straight for the little kitten.
Fortunately, the kitten was very fast at picking up loot. It was also very good at retreating fast. Therefore, the fireball didn’t hit it at all. It merely brushed by the cat’s tail and struck the floor. It did scare the unsuspecting little one. It immediately charged back to XiaoYu and hid behind his legs.
XiaoYu frowned. This voice…it reminded him of very unpleasant memories.
“Where are you running to…it’s you!” the other player yelled.
Frankly, XiaoYu didn’t want to see her either. The past two times they met, they’d parted on bad terms. The two seemed destined to be enemies.
“Hmph. I was wondering why that darned cat looked so familiar. So it’s you, you arrogant bastard.”
“Why did you hurt my cat?” XiaoYu didn’t care much for the verbal jabs aimed at him. He just didn’t like Snow’s attitude towards his precious cat.
“Did you need to ask? It stole my sock!”
“The game is the judge.”
“This…!” Snow was rendered speechless. When the kitten bounced out and grabbed the sock, it hadn’t click in her mind yet. She soon realised if the game hadn’t decided it was XiaoYu who hit the monster first, the cat couldn’t have grabbed the sock, not with the loot protection still active. But the words she had thrown out on impulse were already spoken. Even if she wanted to take it back, she couldn’t. She didn’t want to admit she was in the wrong before this hateful healer anyway.
When Snow didn’t reply, XiaoYu didn’t feel like saying anything anymore. He wasn’t the kind to force others to do something anyway. He was just a little angry at seeing his little cat being nearly hurt.
“There’s another behind you,” XiaoYu said. He had been about to turn and leave when he spotted an Evil Santa Claus spawn right behind Snow, so he pointed it out to her. Then, he turned to leave. He didn’t want it. Why not just let the other have it? They’ll be even then.
“Freeze! I don’t need your charity!” Unfortunately, some people loved to think badly of others, especially because Snow always had some biases against XiaoYu. No matter what he did, she would be upset.
XiaoYu, on the other hand, was unsurprised by Snow’s ridiculous tantrum. The consequences of acknowledging her back at the Zombie Cave was nearly being 3v1-ed. So, he ignored the frustrated and irritated shouts. He checked his position on the map and continued towards the staircase connecting this floor and the above.
However, Snow had always been the one ignoring others. Being ignored was a hard pill for her to swallow. In a fit of rage, she flung out a fireball. Of course, she didn’t aim for XiaoYu. She merely aimed for the spell to brush past him and hit the ground before him. That would be more threatening.
XiaoYu had to stop and turn around at that. He wasn’t afraid of being killed, but he didn’t want to turn his back on an attacker. That would only be bad for him.
“I’m warning you. Don’t think you’re all that just because you’re a healer,” Snow threatened.
XiaoYu had never thought he was superior in any way. The communication gap between them was way too big.
“Aren’t you going to hit it?” XiaoYu asked, pointing to the Evil Santa Claus behind Snow once more. The mob was about to leave the range for magic attacks.
“I don’t have to hit it just because you let me!” Snow snarled.
“…” If XiaoYu understood that correctly, that meant she didn’t want that monster. It’s not rational for him to ignore a present that’s inviting him to open it.
“!!!” Snow didn’t think XiaoYu would immediately start chanting Holy Light. While the chant took over two seconds (XiaoYu’s more proficient in the skill now), she didn’t react in time. All she could do was stare as the cross-shaped light flew past her and hit the Evil Santa Claus behind her. Then, a tiny black shadow dashed over before bouncing back to XiaoYu.
“W-Who said you could hit it?” Snow might’ve said she didn’t care about the mob, but it has been two days since the event started and Snow didn’t have a single sock. Today was the first time she’s seen an Evil Santa Claus. How could she not panic? But the more emotional one was, the harder it was for her to make the right decision. A tiny temper tantrum and she missed out on a sock.
At that, she lashed out on an impulse.
Suddenly, XiaoYu felt like this whole situation was rather laughable. If not for the fact this game was only open to adults, he would’ve thought Snow was a primary school student. He’d be insane to argue with such an illogical person.
“How dare you laugh at me!” Snow shouted.
Was XiaoYu really smiling? XiaoYu raised a hand and touched the corners of his mouth.
The meaning of a trivial, instinctive action would always change in the eyes of the petty. Snow was always bad-tempered. The only reason she didn’t attack XiaoYu the past two times was because there were more rational players by her side. Today, she had been made a fool of over and over again before the healer she hated. What little drops of patience she had were long since gone. When emotions overruled logic, she forgot all about the Healers Alliance. There was no way she could show her face in AO if she didn’t punish him!
The basic skill of a mage could be casted within milliseconds, but it wasn’t that powerful and there were no proficiency levels to upgrade it with. When faced against healers whose builds also relied heavily on Intelligence, this party trick did as much damage as a tickle. That’s why XiaoYu’s mind didn’t understand what the tiny sparks clashing into him were until he saw the familiar notification from the game. He was being pulled into a PvP fight.
“Player Snow has attacked you. PvP mode activated. You can retaliate within the next 10 minutes and your nametag won’t change colours.”
Even instantaneous spells had cooldowns. Snow usually switched between the instant-cast spells and those that needed to be chanted. She was currently chanting Fire Arrow, a more threatening spell.
Did she think XiaoYu would just stand there like an idiot and let her cast her spell? That’s impossible. XiaoYu used the time Snow spent chanting to buff himself up. Against mages and wizards, the Acolyte tree had a skill that technically wasn’t an attack, but it would make the enemy grit their teeth in anger.
Silence: Inflicts Silence status on a target by chance. When Silenced, the enemy won’t be able to use their skills for a given period of time. Improved with Proficiency. (Ineffective against Boss monsters)
Of course, the Magician tree had an item to counter Silence – Cough Drops bought from the Item Shop. It could cure Silence and grants immunity to the status effect for five seconds.
XiaoYu had never used Silence before so the success rate was very low, but he patiently casted spell after spell as he dodged attacks. He did get stabbed by a Fire Arrow or two, but he could never be instantly killed. This PvP duel couldn’t really be called a fight. They were locked in a stalemate.
Snow didn’t dare use her high-level spells all willy-nilly. Without a tank, her chanting would be interrupted. She started to regret being greedy and just levelled up her attack spells. The Dark spells meant to protect her were very low-level. Otherwise, she could cast a high-level Dark Barrier and she could chant all the spells as she pleased to torture this damned healer to death.
“Ding. Spell successful. Proficiency +1.”
Accompanying the pleasant ding of a system notification, a series of ellipses appeared above Snow. It told everyone the Silence spell was a success. Snow was halfway through her chant for the next Fire Arrow spell when it fizzled out. Snow had the urge to yell and scream, but something seemed stuck in her throat and preventing her from saying anything, even if it wasn’t to chant a spell. What’s worse is that she didn’t have the habit of bringing Cough Drops with her everywhere she went, even though she was a wizard. There was no way she could cure herself of this status effect. She could only stand and stare at the fifteen-second timer.
By this time, XiaoYu too realised Snow didn’t have any Cough Drops on her. He could do a lot with these fifteen seconds. He could have hit Snow with five Holy Light spells. He could even replenish his health back to full, buff himself back up and ready himself for the next round of attacks. He could even leave Snow behind in the dust and continued with his grind session.
“I don’t know just what you misunderstood of me, but I don’t want to fight you. If possible, I hope we can each go our own way after the debuff ends,” said XiaoYu.
Snow’s unruly temper hadn’t given XiaoYu even a chance to speak up. This was a rare chance. He had to use this opportunity to communicate his thoughts to her. Of course, if she wasn’t willing to listen, he’ll continue with the fight. After all, he didn’t like to kill.
What Snow heard instead was a taunt. She clenched her teeth and waited out the timer. “Stop pretending,” she spat out. “One of us will die today!”
It seemed like there was no way for them to talk it out. XiaoYu internally sighed and continued tossing out Silences. His level was higher than Snow’s and his gear was better than hers. The walls of the maze meant he could avoid being locked on by her spells. Strictly speaking, this round of PvP was just a meaningless battle. There was no way of telling just how long it’ll last.
- Silence spell: Likely referring to Lex Divina by Priests. However, this version of the skill can’t un-Silence targets.
- Dark Barrier: Mages in RO had a spell called Safety Wall that could stop a number of melee attacks. However, AO’s version of the spell is Dark-element and (implied) could stop magic attacks too.