Not long after the treasure chest was opened, and under the pressuring aura radiating from QiYao, the crowd finally, unwillingly, filed out of the Lord Mayor’s Office. QiYao had also decided to just kick everyone out from the list of allowed players, all except for XiaoYu.
How could rooms set aside for the Lord Mayor of the city not have a bed? This bed was even more lavish than the grand bed found in the most expensive hotel in-game. It would be waste to not use it. With the Lord Mayor’s room available, XiaoYu could wave goodbye to staying at hotels forever. Well, almost.
Due to the extraordinary performance of XiaoYu at the midnight meeting, the main guild’s treasure chest will be opened by him from then on. However, he didn’t have to stay up until midnight every day. He could open the chest during the day. The first time they did it at midnight just to test out the new shiny thing. Of course, even if no good loot was found, QiYao wouldn’t blame XiaoYu. However, from how XiaoYu would give him a Christmas present weeks before the actual holiday, QiYao deduced his XiaoYu might be a bit obsessed with boxes. Why not just give the other a big treasure chest for them to open together?
Team training was scheduled for the day, but because of the new maps, all guilds with a fortress to their name were looking through their team training arrangements and doing some reorganisation. Thus, Egg_Tart announced last night that training for today would be cancelled. Guild members were free to party up and train together, but anyone who were heading to the underground maps should pay attention to their behaviour and safety while down there. Just to avoid unnecessary confrontations with other guilds.
The levels of the new maps’ monsters were way beyond XiaoYu’s consideration for now. It just so happened some of his team’s members were away on business trips. As such, XiaoYu had nothing to do. And so, he went back to the Pyramids and began training his day away.
“Hey, LuckyCat, are you free?” It was nearly noon when a somewhat unfamiliar voice rang out beside XiaoYu’s ears. It took him a few seconds of blankly staring at nothing before he realised it was the new friend he’d made yesterday.
“I am. What do you need?” The Healers’ Squad Pyramids training parties were very lax with their members. People who needed to leave just had to mention it to the party leader before they left.
“I’ve accepted a quest that needs me to grind for quest items in the Undead caves. Want to come with?” the other asked.
“Okay. Which cave?”
“I’m all done at the Zombie Cave. Next is the Jiangshi Cave. Let’s meet at the East Gate of Serica.”
“…Okay. I’ll be there soon.” It had been quite some time since XiaoYu had last been to Serica.
Nevertheless, XiaoYu still remembered the way to the Jiangshi Cave. He teleported to Serica, partied up with his Knight friend, and raced for the cave. They then began grinding from the lowest level monsters up.
“What item do you need?” The other man didn’t share his quest with XiaoYu, so all the items the tiny lucky cat could gather would just be normal items. It was best to get clear information beforehand.
“All sorts of essences, like the essences of the lower-levelled Jiangshi, the mid-tier Jiangshi and so on. I just need one of each.”
“Okay, got it.”
The monsters in this Cave were already no threat to XiaoYu at his level. The knight tanked all damage heading their way. He carved out a path through the horde and looped back and around. Meanwhile, XiaoYu would check in on the little cat’s inventory. However, there was no sign of an essence. It seemed like this quest item’s drop rate was exceptionally low.
“So you’re already grinding above your level at the Pyramids? Sorry about this. I thought we could grind together or something.” Just killing monster after monster in silence was a very excruciating experience. That’s why the two players would sometimes engage in small talk.
“But you’ve been so very helpful. I couldn’t have imagined just how quick the kitten would be at picking up loot.”
“Mn. I’ll hand you everything it collected later.” Loot-splitting was always the greatest headache of partying up, especially with a random group one wasn’t familiar with.
“I don’t need them. You have them.”
“I can’t share this quest. You’re already losing out. It’s fine. I’ll have my quest reward.”
“Oh.” XiaoYu paused and thought about it. That made sense too. However, if anything rare dropped, they can discuss about it then.
“You’ve got a guild?”
“Yes. Suicide Squad of Heretic Demons.”
“A subsidiary guild of the Heretic Demons?”
“Speaking of which, I was in a guild of theirs too. But then life got very busy so I left the guild.”
“What a coincidence. Are you re-joining?”
“I’m only back to take a look around. If I’m interested, I’ll continue playing.”
“Ah. We were so busy talking that the essence has already been picked up.” XiaoYu had just opened up the small cat’s inventory tab by habit. It didn’t occur to him he’d find an essence silently shining back at him.
“That’s fast. Let’s head to the next floor.” The three Zombie essences had taken him the entire night. He had been stuck in that cave until early morning.
Now that they both know they belonged to the same guild, or used to, there was so much more they could talk about now. Their conversation went from the subsidiary guilds in Heretic Demons, to the Guild Wars, then to the main guild. As long as XiaoYu knew anything regarding the knight’s question, he would do his best to answer it. XiaoYu didn’t know of any secret, higher-ups-only information anyway.
“The main Guild Leader is still HereticKing?” the knight asked.
“You’ve seen him?”
“Yes…” We see each other every day.
“What do you think?”
“…” This particular question seemed rather broad. If it was asking if XiaoYu liked QiYao, he would naturally reply he did. If he didn’t like QiYao, he wouldn’t be dating the other. However, the question was about what he thought of QiYao. He can’t just reply he liked the other, right? That wasn’t really answering the question.
“Can’t think of a description?”
“Yes. Not right now.”
“From what I know, I think he’s got issues with expressing his emotions.”
“Pfft. Haha.” It wasn’t the first time XiaoYu heard someone say that of QiYao. His fellow guildmates would often chat in the guild channel. Whenever they talked about QiYao, they would always mention something along that line. XiaoYu, on the other hand, didn’t agree with them. After all, QiYao had always been very expressive and kind to him.
“You don’t think so?”
“No. He’s a very gentle man.” XiaoYu didn’t realise it, but when he spoke, his eyes and mouth was full of mirth. Tiny flowers of joy nearly bloomed in the air around him.
“Looks like you two are very close.”
The knight then took it as an appropriate time to end the topic and moved on. He didn’t keep asking because he’d already gotten the answer he wanted.
With XiaoYu’s help and the tiny cat’s agile and cheat-code-esque movements, the three essences they needed from the Jiangshi Cave didn’t take as long to collect as they’d anticipated. There was still quite some time left before dinner.
They decided to continue onto the Pyramids and stepped through the portal XiaoYu placed. Unlike the Jiangshi Cave where players were rarely ever seen, the Pyramids were filled with players. This was the holy land for the large batches of healers preparing for their Third Job Change but had to grind themselves because they had no one to pull them up. XiaoYu had also been around for some days now. Most of the healers there recognise him by now.
The crowd was already used to XiaoYu and QiYao occasionally appearing at the Pyramids for some post-dinner exercise. They also took the chance to sneak a few glances at the wholesome couple. However, XiaoYu’s companion today was very obviously not the great guild leader himself. This man was just as handsome as QiYao though. Who was this knight? Why were they together? Was XiaoYu cheating? Did they break up? Instantly, dozens of varied heart-wrenching tales were thought up. How they wished they could instantly post them on the forums for a satisfying session of gossip and swooning.
XiaoYu didn’t understand the twists and turns imaginative minds can conjure up. Therefore, while some people were crafting up entire worlds out of nothing, he acted as he usually did. Kill some monsters, buff both players up, chat, check in on the cat’s inventory. Not a single hitch in his actions.
“XiaoYu, are you still training?” It was past dinner time. QiYao was wondering why XiaoYu would suddenly forget about food for AO.
“I’m helping a friend with his quest. Ah, it’s so late.”
“Since it’s for a quest, then you keep going. Remember to come back to Prole-3 to sleep tonight.” QiYao wasn’t one to force XiaoYu to be by his side all the time. A certain someone couldn’t run away when it came to bedtime anyway. Since XiaoYu was busy with a quest, QiYao would take this time to seek out Poor_Man for some discussion about business.
Mummies were generally more powerful than the Jiangshi, so the rate of monsters killed were visibly lower. The main attacking power came from the knight while XiaoYu followed along, leeching some experience with a few hits from time to time. XiaoYu and QiYao often trained in the Pyramids together. A simple comparison and XiaoYu was shocked to discover that while this knight was only at Level 99 at his Second Job, his attacks were much more powerful than QiYao’s. Was it a Strength-heavy build? But the other’s Constitution should be quite high too because the monsters’ hits took away less health from the knight than they did from QiYao. The only stat that the other seemed to have lower than QiYao would be Agility, but it shouldn’t be that much different. The knight’s attacks and dodges were rather swift. Perhaps this was a skilled player keeping it low.
“Is there something on my face?” the knight asked, turning around to look at XiaoYu with an amused face.
“Ah, no. Your attacks are really strong.” XiaoYu didn’t realise he had been staring at the somewhat familiar face again while he analysed the other’s stats.
“If I tell you I’ve got a special skill, will you believe me?”
“Hm? I would.” XiaoYu himself had special skills too. What surprised XiaoYu was just how straightforward the other man was. Did that mean the other trusted him?
“Aren’t you curious?”
“Hehe.” The knight didn’t say anything more. He just reached out and placed his hand on XiaoYu’s shoulder.
Soon, that hand went away. Mysteriously, a white light appeared between the two of them. It was as if they were being linked together by the light.
“What’s this?” Even if XiaoYu wasn’t a curious cat who’d never proactively suss out other people’s secrets, one of the white light’s ends was connected to him. While he didn’t feel any change and his Character tab showed no changes, it’d still be abnormal for him not to wonder.
“It’s protection for you. Any and all damage you receive would be transferred to me.” This was one of a Knight’s skills – Sacrifice.
“!!” XiaoYu had never heard of a skill like that before. His belief that this knight was a skilled player was even stronger now. He was also a little moved by how much this skilled player was trusting him. “Thanks,” he said.
“You’re welcome,” the knight said with a wave. He turned around and continue slashing down Mummies around them.
XiaoYu rummaged through his Inventory. Thankfully, he hadn’t buried the Bible in his bag in his Storage. He glanced around. They were in a rather empty part of the floor. There was not a single player in sight.
“Wait,” XiaoYu called out.
“Hm?” This time, it was the knight’s turn to be the curious cat. XiaoYu seemed to be softly chanting at him. The chant kept going on and on. It had been over thirty seconds and it was still not stopping. That was when he realised this might be the healer’s special skill.
Finally, the minute-long chant was over. A beam of white light shone down on the knight and his immediate surroundings. After a brief wash from head to toe, it vanished. Even without an explanation the knight understood what went on, because there was an obvious jump in all of his stats.
“So we’re the same.”
“Hehe.” The two looked at each other in the eye and laughed. There was no need to say anymore.
That’s just XiaoYu’s character. If someone sincerely treated him well, he would do the same.
- Sacrifice: The skill in RO uses the same name and has the same function. It’s also known as Devotion.
Sorry for the late update! Real life got away from me again. This will be the last of that though. Take that, pesky real life!