LC: Chapter 25

25. It’s No Good Underestimating Birds~

“You brought sufficient water supplies?” Normally, HereticKing would not natter on about such things. One, he had capable subordinates. A single glance would be enough to make himself understood. Two, even if there were idiots, he wouldn’t bother to worry about them. However, LuckyCat was rather special. Instead, the foolish antics of LuckyCat was funnier and more interesting to him. Provided, of course, that they wouldn’t put LuckyCat’s life at risk.

There would only be a Hunger meter usually, but in certain special areas, a thermometer-looking special status bar would appear in the upper right corner of a player’s vision. For example, a Thirst meter when in a desert, a Freezing meter on snowy mountains, a Heat bar when inside a lava cave, and so on. Once those meters reach over 100 points, the player would be inflicted with a special status and would lose health continuously until they die.

The only way to avoid such a fate would be to use special items, which would lower that specific bar and subsequently stop decreasing the player’s health. The player cannot use Return Scrolls or items like it as they’re being hurt. Once a player was stuck in such a scenario without any supplies, they can only wait for death.

“I brought 100 bottles of milk.” It was enough to fill 1 slot of his inventory.

“= =|||. Bring 5 slots full of clear water.”

Of course, pure water was the most effective against the Thirst meter. However, one cannot buy that in most NPC stores. There were plenty of streams and rivers in the world, should anyone want water. Water didn’t help with Hunger either. Only Kemet’s NPC stores would sell water. 5 silvers a bottle. Of course, there would be players who’d try and earn some cash by collecting empty bottles then come running back to Kemet to sell them to other players.

“Oh.” XiaoYu thought about it. There was a special note in the section regarding grinding in the desert about bringing water which was sold in shops. He should’ve familiarised himself with the area on the forums this morning when he woke up. Sometimes, the want to experience everything first-hand could cost him his life.

“Meow~~” The tiny cat was done scratching its nose and was up and running again. It pounced into HereticKing’s lap and started asking for attention. It’s a pity the large hood blocked its face. Otherwise, the two humans would be able to see its eyes transform into gold coins and its face trying its best to be cute.

“Ugh…” The moment HereticKing pulled the little cat’s hood back, he regretted it. As expected, there’s a reason why everyone says there are some things better off unseen. Now, before the little cat’s expectant gaze, he really can’t refuse to take out something to tease it with.

“Ah.” XiaoYu sighed with his head in his hands. If the small cat was given another chance to choose its owner, XiaoYu was sure there’s an 80% chance it would abandon him at once for the shiny new being.

HereticKing recalled the last time he played with the tiny cat. From what he remembered, it seemed to prefer the gold coin more than the fish. Thus, he took a coin out and flipped it back and forth between his hands. The tiny cat was so interested that it started wriggling and pouncing after the coin.

“Hehe. You should’ve named it GreedyCat.” HerecticKing actually didn’t know the kitten’s name. XiaoYu never mentioned it before and I_Am_A_Poor_Man didn’t mention it at all in his constant chatter last time.

“Close enough.” Both names involved money.

“What did you name it?”

“TinyLuckyCat.”

“Ugh…” His hands froze, and the gold coin was stolen by the little cat. “Hahaha…A big lucky cat and a tiny lucky cat.”

XiaoYu scratched his neck. He was basically immune already to the laughter at the names he entered. He took a gold coin out and handed it back to the other.

HereticKing was made to understand XiaoYu’s stubbornness regarding money once before. So, he said nothing of it and continued teasing the tiny cat with the gold coin.

Once the clock struck 10, the whirling winds immediately stopped. XiaoYu ran once more to buy a bunch of water, then stepped out of the North Gate of Kemet. As soon as they did so, the Thirst meter slowly began to rise.

Far off in the distance, large golden pyramids specifically constructed for Guild Wars could be seen. Unfortunately, they weren’t there to sightsee. Still, the map was certainly huge. It was only after they’d walk to the northwest for over an hour were the pyramids gone from view. (As long as the Guild Wars buildings could be viewed, the area was considered a Guild Wars map. No aggressive mobs will be spawned, and players could not battle each other.)

At this point, XiaoYu and the tiny cat had already drunk half a slot full of water. His respect for veteran players raised even more and his impression of HereticKing rose again.

Meanwhile, HereticKing was frustrated over why he’d been so stubborn as to not buy a horse from the game earlier on and decided to tame a temperamental purebred Thousand-Li Horse. Now he could only stumble along the desert sands with XiaoYu. It would be much more comfortable if he rode his horse, but it’s too stubborn. It would never allow anyone outside of its owner to ride it. The last time a female healer who was interested in him coyly talked about riding together with him, his horse took out half of her HP in one kick. His name had turned grey because of that =_=+.

Before the Guild Wars was patched it, players need only walk for 30 minutes before they arrived at the Peco Peco region. Now, they’d need to walk for about 2 whole hours. Fortunately, he’d decided to carry the TinyLuckyCat in his arms for the journey. He could tease and play with it to relieve the two players’ fatigue. If he teased the big cat, he’d blush. It’d be fine if he teased the tiny one, right? After all, it was covered in black fur. If it blushed, no one knew.

In the desert, a player could see everything around them until the far ends of the horizon. With one glance, they could tell if there were monsters around them. Outside of the venomous scorpions buried deep under the sands in the far regions of the desert, it’s still a rather safe area.

“That’s a Peco Peco,” said HereticKing as he pointed to a bird far away with its butt swaying high in the air and trying its best to bury its head into the sands.

= =|||. It’s exactly like an ostrich. Unfortunately, the ostrich had a small brain which could be buried in the ground. This dumb bird worked so hard and so long, but was only able to bury of its large beak in the sands. A gloomy cloud loomed over XiaoYu’s head. He somewhat regretted coming to tame a mount.

HereticKing stepped up and released a Taunt. The skill was successful. Normally, the monster would be forcefully pulled in by HereticKing and attack him. But this idiotic bird just raised its large head, looked around, and continued in its attempt to bury its head in the ground.

= =+. It wouldn’t even respond and be courteous to a major guild’s Leader. HereticKing resisted the urge to slash down at it. After all, the capture would have to depend on XiaoYu himself. Even if a player wanted to make the taming attempt easier by beating down on the monster until it only had a sliver of health left, the attacks must come from the tamer themselves. A monster that had been beaten up by other players could not be captured. Thus, it can be said that Taunt is a skill that was very good at taking advantage of the game’s loopholes.

Far away, XiaoYu frowned slightly. He really didn’t like this Taunt skill. It made him recall the inhumane torture he’d suffered before.

In order to save the reputation of all Knights, HereticKing just walked all the way to the Peco Peco and shoved a handful of sand onto the Peco Peco’s short neck. Such a close-up taunt should have a 100% success rate. If not, he’ll complain to the GMs!

This time, the first thing the dumb bird saw as it raised its head was HereticKing with irritation written all over his face. The two tiny eyes hiding behind its large beak blinked and blinked. Then, it tilted its head 30° and continued blinked. Either way, it just wouldn’t attack. It nearly made HereticKing think he’d found a mentally retarded bird. Just as he was prepared to chop it to pieces and go look for another, it finally flared open its fat wings. With a loud cry, it rushed forward to peck him with its large beak.

HereticKing placed a large stone shield before himself and watched as the Peco Peco pecked hard on the sold rock. When it saw stars from the recoil, HereticKing’s heart was soothed a little. He then gestured XiaoYu to come over.

XiaoYu placed the tiny cat on the ground and he quickly jogged ahead to stand behind the Peco Peco. He stood close to the bird and silently waited for his chance.

“Now,” HereticKing signalled to XiaoYu the moment the Peco Peco confused itself with another failed attack at the stone shield. It would only be confused for 5 seconds or so.

XiaoYu jumped onto the Peco Peco as if it was a vaulting horse from his middle school days. He hurriedly closed his eyes, leaned down, and hugged its neck tightly.

Having recovered from its dizziness, the Peco Peco soon felt the abnormal weight on it. It let out a sharp cry. The sudden fervour and wild rage made one think the dumb and dull bird from before was a totally different perso-no, bird. It flailed itself up and down, left and right. It swung round and round to try and throw XiaoYu off.

XiaoYu who knew he was weaker in strength than the bird, could only cling onto its neck in hopes of winning it over with his stamina.

Now that the Peco Peco had given up on attacking HereticKing completely, the carefree HereticKing put his stone shield away and stood aside, observing the other. Mn. He’d really taken in all the directions HereticKing had told him before. It seemed like their capture attempt would be very successful…Just as HereticKing thought so, an unexpected event happened.

The Peco Peco suddenly stopped struggling. It mournfully cried. XiaoYu slowly opened his eyes and looked up. The Peco Peco’s tiny eyes were streaming with tears. It looked so very pitiful. His heart sank and his arms around its neck loosened.

“Hold tight!” HereticKing thought the Peco Peco’s sudden calm was because the game had already told XiaoYu the capture was successful. (The confirmation dialogue box that appeared before players could not be seen by other players.) However, the gleam flashing across the bird’s eyes when XiaoYu’s grip loosened made his guts tell him there was more to it.

No matter how fast XiaoYu reacted, it was too later. The Peco Peco fiercely swung its tail to the right and XiaoYu was sent flying.

“Mrrow!” Upon witnessing its owner fly off with a swoosh, the tiny cat was yowled in fright. It laid flat on the ground and covered its eyes with its paws.

As XiaoYu’s brain repeatedly chanted “crap” and wondered if he would instantly morph into a beam of white light, he felt himself collapse into a soft embrace.

“Are you okay?”

A deep voice echoed in his ears. The stunned XiaoYu twisted his head up and felt something soft brushing across his face along his ears. (You’re asking about the hood? It’s long been thrown off during the struggle before. ╮(╯▽╰)╭)

>/////<. When XiaoYu realised what it was, his face instantly became as red as a cooked lobster. If one looked closely, they would find white steam appearing above his head.

“Awwk!” screamed the Peco Peco in an untimely manner. It furiously rushed over in an attempt to attack the two humans and burst the pink bubbly atmosphere.

HereticKing quickly put XiaoYu down and stood before him. He brought out his stone shield and blocked the Peco Peco’s pecks.

“Hmph. It’s been so long since I’ve last seen them. Looks like their A.I. became more sophisticated.” Still, an attempt to attack HereticKing was just a daydream. His high Agility was not just for show.

HereticKing’s guess was correct. When there were a lot of new players around, a lot of players ran over to catch this monster which could be the first mount they would ever have in their gaming life. The desert was once filled to the brim with humans. The moment a Peco Peco appeared, all eyes would be staring at it. After countless bloodshed from its elders, the Peco Peco’s A.I. drastically increased. This teary trick was the big stumbling obstacle stopping recent new players from trying to capture them.

Unfortunately, no matter how much their A.I. improved, they’re still a tiny speck before high-levelled players. Frankly, even without any equipment, HereticKing could punch this Peco Peco to death with one blow.

“Don’t be fooled by them. Before the game’s notification appears, don’t ever loosen your grip.”

“Um…okay.” The shocked XiaoYu finally snapped back. Still, he was unable to look at the other straight in the eye for now. With his head lowered, he looped over until he was standing behind the Peco Peco. He readied himself, geared up for his chance and pounced…

With a high-level Knight’s death glare beaming down at it from the side, the Peco Peco seemed to know it had lost. With a single twitch of his fingers, HereticKing could beat it back to its respawn point. Thus, it only twisted around for show. It didn’t even bother with “crocodile tears”. It really felt so wrong. It’s innocent! Its beak hurt from all that pecking, and its neck was aching from all that strangling. It really wanted to cry. T-T

“Ding! Peco Peco is now tamed. Would you like to accept it as your mount?”

“Yes.”

“Ding! Congratulations Player LuckyCat on taming your first mount – the desert Peco Peco.” Players could tame an unlimited number of mounts, as long as you have the capability. However, players could only tame one of each kind.

“Done. Thank you.” XiaoYu sat up straight and thanked HereticKing. But his gaze would drift and roam all over the place. Even when he wouldn’t look at the other in the eyes, his face was still burning.

“No need to thank me.” Hm, hm~ There’ll be more chances in the future to bully this disrespectful idiotic bird.

The Peco Peco shivered. Why did it suddenly feel so cold in this blazing desert?

Translator’s Note:

North Gate: Previously translated as South Gate due to a mistake. The proper direction is to the north.

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LC: Chapter 24

24. Bird Catching?

During the event, there wasn’t any kind of big unexpected accidents. All the large guilds were defending their own cities. There were no major clashes. Other than the initial seven, another four more cities found their owners. Still, no one took over a number 3 city. It made those cities much more mysterious and mystical.

 As to how the Heretic Demons fared this battle, XiaoYu could only guess from the expressions on the guild members. They didn’t look too upset. Looks like Prole-4 was successfully defended.

XiaoYu who wasn’t used to staying up overnight went back to Serica as soon as the event was over. His revival point was now set to Serica. After some bag organisation, he found an old broken-down little hostel and prepared for sleep.

While he’s now considered quite rich, he’d save and scrimp on wherever he should. It’s just sleep. Close his eyes and he’d be unconscious. Who cared where he slept as long as he wasn’t being bitten by monsters.

XiaoYu was still saving for when he reaches Level 40. Then, he’ll be able to convert in-game currency for real life currency. He’ll convert a portion of his crystals to help with his savings issue. It’d be for the best if he could find a way to earn a lot of money. Then the monthly fee will be paid by crystals and if the game shut down, his bank account would still be filled to the brim. (While there’s a limit to exchanging real life money for crystals, there’s no limit to exchanging in-game currency for real life money, as long as you had enough crystals. But reality has always been that cruel. XD)

When HereticKing ended his meeting and recalled he’d yet to set a meeting time and place with LuckyCat, the other had already taken a tour around the globe while snoring. He tried calling LuckyCat and got the door shut in his face by the game. And so, the rarest of all happened – HereticKing wrote a letter himself. Tomorrow 10 am. Meet me at the North Gate of Kemet.

********

While there was still a lot of time between 9 am and the appointed meeting time, XiaoYu had never been to Kemet which was also hailed as one of the four big cities of AO. Thus, he teleported over bright and early to shop around and prepare.

Kemet was really a city that’d bury a player in sand (what a shock.). Look out to the horizon and all one would see were yellow and gold. The buildings were made with yellow clay and yellow clay. Once out of the city, there’d most likely be sand and more sand. It made him suspect whether camping here for long would turn one colour-blind. No matter what, all colours would be perceived as yellow in the future.

XiaoYu didn’t know what the monsters were around the area or how to capture a mount. He pondered about it. It can’t be he’d have to ride on a gigantic venomous desert scorpion, right? He shivered. HereticKing’s not that petty, right? He didn’t mean to treat him as an NPC yesterday > <.

Still there’s only yellow and more yellow there. There weren’t many people roaming around either. XiaoYu finished exploring the place in a snap. He sat down near the North Gate and started daydreaming.

“Achoo!” “Meow-choo!” There were quite a lot of sand being blown about by the desert winds. XiaoYu had accidentally inhaled some in. Even the tiny cat that wanted to comfort its owner sneezed. XiaoYu rubbed his nose. Did he forget about something?

“Hehe. Little fool, why didn’t you buy a cloak?” A large hand suddenly landed on XiaoYu’s head. He looked up to find HereticKing grinning down at him whilst covered in a large cloak. “Luckily the hurricanes aren’t that active today. If you lost a level due to that, I’d have gravely sinned.”

It was only then did XiaoYu’s mind connected the dots. No wonder most of the players wandering around were equipped with a large cloak. The forums did mention the areas around Kemet would be covered in hurricanes from 8 am to 10 am, and from 4 pm to 6pm. The magnitude differs according to area and time. Even though the city’s quite shielded, players were told to be wary in the post introducing all the major cities in the game. He knew he’d forgotten something.

“I’ll go buy one now.” It’d be normal if players die suffocating in the sands outside near the launch of the game when no one was certain of the times, but to be blasted by sand while in the desert now? That’d be hilarious.

“It’s fine. I bought two extra.” HereticKing took out two cloaks, one large and one mini, from his bracelet and handed them to him.

“Thank you.” XiaoYu was rather moved. The other had remembered his little cat. The cape was already mini-sized but it’s still quite big. If the tiny cat came out wandering at night with its cape on, it’d look exactly like a white will-o-wisp.

“You’re here so early.” HereticKing pulled XiaoYu over to an alcove blocked from the winds and sat down.

“Mn. I came to explore. You’re here early too.”

“I was worried there’d be two foolish little cats who didn’t know how to take care of themselves and get blown away by the sands.”

“…>///<” Alright. XiaoYu will admit he did ignore that point. After all, the Undead monsters here, the Mummies, were over Level 70. It’s too early for him to start camping here, so he didn’t pay much attention.

“Hehe. Don’t worry. You’re still a newbie.” When HereticKing saw XiaoYu’s face blushing from embarrassment, he sighed internally. Why did this boy blush so easily? It happened in the Newbie Village. Yesterday too. He only said the other’s hands were small and that tiny pale face immediately flushed red. Afterwards, he was even told by I_Am_A_Poor_Man in Prole-4 that he was flirting with a little kid. But he didn’t think so. He just said what was true.

“Mn.” How was XiaoYu still not used to being humiliating? The number of times he’d humiliated himself in the past month was more than one hand’s worth.

Bai XiaoYu hung his head, as if he was still flustered over how embarrassing he was. Even his kitten raised its paw and buried its face within the large cloak, as though in embarrassment. (It’s actually just scratching at its nose. It was itchy from all the sand.) HereticKing’s lethargy from having to wake up early trickled off by the view of two dusty and ruffled cats. There’s not even a tinge of apathy left in him. Seemed like waking up early once in a while was very much worth it.

HereticKing lifted his hand to pat at XiaoYu’s head again. It’s a pity the pleasant experience was decreased just now due to some bandages being in the way. Now, there’s an additional layer of fabric between his hand and the other’s head. Next time, he’d got to find a chance and make the other take of his accessories and let HereticKing have his fill of touching that hair.

“What’re we catching today?” XiaoYu was not repulsed by HereticKing’s hand at all. It made him recall the time when his parents were still living. They loved to touch and pat his head. He was so opposed to it back then. Now, there’s no chance left for them to do so.

“The desert’s Peco Peco.” HereticKing thought of catching a feline mount for XiaoYu, but he gave up on the notion after some thought. One, there were no large cat mobs in the game that could be ridden. Two, those ferocious feline monsters had rather high levels and there’re way too many obstacles in the forests. If they suddenly stumbled upon a herd, he’d be fine but LuckyCat would be sent flying back to the revival point with just the swipe of a paw.

“…a bird?” XiaoYu remembered reading that monster’s introduction. They range from Level 35 to 45. Large-sized and they run fast. They’re gentle which made them a suitable mount for players who hadn’t hit their Second Job Change. While they’re birds, they can’t fly like the ostrich. However, the biggest difference between a Peco Peco and an ostrich was in the neck. Their necks are thick and short. Their beaks large enough that the special mount reigns could be looped around it. The only issue was only one person could ride on it, and that rider cannot be tall or too buff. For lovers who wish to have a romantic ride together, it was suggested they wait to buy a horse after the Second Job Change.

“Mn. The most important aspect is its stability when running. Players don’t need to learn how to ride and your tiny cat won’t be shaken off.” A player can’t just ride on a horse after buying one. They have to learn how to ride and raise the skill’s proficiency before they could ride on a galloping horse. Otherwise, the player would be galloping alongside the horse.

“Oh. So how do we tame it?”

“Ride on top of it. Hold tight to its neck and don’t be shaken off. Once it calms down, the game will notify you.” While Peco Pecos were gentle, they’d naturally object to humans riding on them. HereticKing’s main duty was to attract the bird’s attention, then ensure LuckyCat wasn’t shaken off. While the ground’s covered in sand, a bad fall will split one’s arse wide open. Their brains too.

“Mn. I’ll try my best.” Since the other had taken so many aspects into consideration, it should be no issue. XiaoYu felt the only thing he can do now was wait for the hurricanes to end at 10 am, then head out of the city in search of a Peco Peco.

Translator’s Note:

What a shock (Kemet): The Chinese name translates to “Sandy City”. So, the sentence would go “Sandy City was really covered in sand (what a shocker).” Trivial puns like this are not worth making a city name weird, especially if it’s just a one-liner. I wish I knew enough Middle Eastern-ish languages to find a proper translation for that. Google Translate is so unreliable _(:3」∠)_

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LC: Chapter 23

23. Directly From “a Wide Range”

The reason why HereticKing and I_Am_A_Poor_Man were at the portal zone so early on was for the last preparations at Prole-4. As the mighty Guild Leader, of course he’d have a private plane. This was also why HereticKing only appeared once in the Zhang Village during the last battle. They’d planned early on to focus on conquering Prole-4 first, so I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s saved Teleport locations were just Prole-4’s entrances. Thus, HereticKing only arrived at the guild’s public airport when he decided to have a look around elsewhere.

While Bai XiaoYu didn’t know why HereticKing would want to add a puny portal opener like him as a friend, he still accepted it. Then, he watched as the two heads of Heretic Demons disappeared into a portal’s glow.

He sat down and continued eating.

The tiny cat hung its head in dejection. The uncle didn’t give it any gold coins to play with this time. Paw, dirt. Dirt, paw.

XiaoYu was speechless at the mercenary ways of this little cat. He dug out a grilled fish skewer from his inventory and teased the tiny cat with it. And so, the uncle with the gold coin was thrown back into the back of the kitten’s mind.

************

Meanwhile, HereticKing and I_Am_A_Poor_Man were resting in the Crystal Room after a check over Prole-4’s defences. Once they made sure every defence station had NPC soldiers (The city’s lord could hire a certain number of NPC soldiers to help defend the city, according to the city’s development.), they were prepared for the upcoming three hours of intense battle.

This time was usually meant for I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s and Below_The_Moon’s bantering and lively fights. Unfortunately, Below_The_Moon was rushing a batch of special traps and setting them up today, which were not done yet. That’s because there’re only three Level 100 archers in the entire guild, including Below_The_Moon, who can make this special large AoE trap. The workload was unimaginably huge.

“Chief, how do you know LuckyCat?” I_Am_A_Poor_Man is curious. He’s just so curious. At least he’s in the same class as LuckyCat. Even then, they barely interacted. The chief and LuckyCat were really miles apart from each other. He couldn’t think of a way they’d be able to know each other at all.

At the thought of the past two meetings where the big and small cats were mimicking each other, especially the first time they met, HereticKing’s eyes crinkled with laughter.

I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s curiosity was seriously hooked. Chief actually smiled when he thought of LuckyCat. It seemed like they made a good first impression. Was their first meeting so interesting? However, LuckyCat’s reaction to seeing Chief didn’t seem like they met.

Thus, I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s brain started imagining a play about a hero saving the damsel in distress-no. A hero saving the cat in distress. At the time, LuckyCat had been tormented to the point of collapsing on the floor. He’s panting. His vision’s going blurry. TinyLuckyCat was going to falling into the hands of a villain when the hero finally arrives. He saved the little cat and gently returned it back to its owner’s side. Then, he’d walk off into the sky of colourful clouds. The breeze blew dust up, further blurring LuckyCat’s vision. All he saw in the end was the shadow of a back walking away. Smaller and smaller and smaller until it disappeared…At last, LuckyCat’s vision blacken and he faints.

Ah, look at how talented I am at creating scenarios. If Chief doesn’t want me in the future, perhaps I can earn a living through script-writing. As I_Am_A_Poor_Man drowned himself in his thoughts, he suddenly realised Chief never bothered replying to him.

“Chief? Chief~ Chief~” Chief was in a good mood, so I_Am_A_Poor_Man bravely started bothering HereticKing. He was the ideal ever-curious baby.

“Ahem. Nothing. That tiny cat just snatched a gold coin from me.”

“…orz” Reality was cruel indeed. I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s wonderful fantasies were all popped.

However, since the little cat’s race was a lucky cat, perhaps it really loves money. I_Am_A_Poor_Man would try using a gold coin next time. He’d given that tiny cat so many fish skewers but he’d never seen it act so affectionate to him before.

“How do you know LuckyCat?”

“!!” It’s was so rare for Chief to start a conversation. I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s mind perked up and he started blabbing nonstop. It’s still quite early.

“Chief, you don’t know how pitiful and miserable LuckyCat was when I first met him. He was being attacked by a swordsman to the point where his body was covered with wounds. There were at least dozens of cuts on him. All because LuckyCat didn’t want to sell the kitten to that swordsman blah blah blah…”

I_Am_A_Poor_Man never noticed HereticKing’s slight frown.

“…While LuckyCat is a little tactless, he’s an honest, serious and a good child. He even helped me collect Zombie Fluids and Rotten Bandages without pay…Ah.” All of a sudden, I_Am_A_Poor_Man realised what he said and covered his mouth with his hands.

“Hm-hm. So you weren’t the one collecting them, and for free too.” HereticKing’s lips curved into an evil smirk.

“Hehe…That…” Chief really went around in circles just to set a trap for I_Am_A_Poor_Man. He must’ve suspected I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s and LuckyCat’s meeting was most likely related to the Zombie Cave. That’s why, to him, HereticKing’s evil. “I did thank him. I sent him a lot of fish skewers and cake. I even recommended LuckyCat to come earn some pocket money through opening portals!”

“Really…” He knew it. No one was really willing to head into that cave. I_Am_A_Poor_Man loved money so much, he’d never put up a high asking price for those materials. It’s absolutely suspicious that he could actually collect so many materials in such a short time.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t enslave kids. Once the battle’s over, I’ll personally go collect some. T-T” I_Am_A_Poor_Man was getting goosebumps from HereticKing’s stare. He took the initiative to raise his right hand and admit he was wrong. But in his heart, he wept. Why did he let it slip? It’s all Chief’s fault, and Below_The_Moon’s (he’s the most innocent).

HereticKing caressed the patterns on the city’s Protection Crystal with a blank face. Sometimes, it’s not a good thing to have outstanding subordinates. He didn’t say anything at all. He never even thought of punishing I_Am_A_Poor_Man. He just wanted to tease I_Am_A_Poor_Man after watching him try and be smart by covering his mouth up. As expected, after bumping into the two lucky cats, his mood would be especially good.

“Thank you.”

Bai XiaoYu who was playing with the little cat to pass time away suddenly heard HereticKing’s voice. He looked up and around but didn’t see the other at all. Ah, it was a private call.

“Huh?” If it was just about helping out with the Guild Wars, did he need to thank XiaoYu so many times?

“You helped me collect fluids and bandages.”

“It’s nothing much. I happened to be grinding.” So it was about that. It must’ve been I_Am_A_Poor_Man who told HereticKing.

“Do you have a mount?” Name cards exchanged to befriend other players would record the player’s current level then. HereticKing remember glancing at it. The other should be over Level 30. He can have his own mount.

“No.” NPC stores do sell horses, but those can only be ridden after the Second Job Change. Other mounts require him to catch them himself.

“Do you have time tomorrow?”

“Yes.” He has time every day.

“I’ll go catch a mount with you.”

“…Okay. Thanks.”

“Thank me once we capture one.”

“Mn.”

The call ended, and the Guild Wars was about to begin. After a last check through their inventory, every member of the Heretic Demons guild started to put on their serious faces. I_Am_A_Poor_Man didn’t know it yet, but his boss was already prepared to secretly give himself a day off tomorrow. That meant more work would be bearing down on him. By the time I_Am_A_Poor_Man knew about it and started scratching at the walls, it was already too late.

PreviousIndexNext

LC: Chapter 22

22. Encounter

It must be said that XiaoYu really had the potential to enrich a party’s drops. This time, the boss dropped a Charm Paper even though no crown was found.

CopperPlateKing pounced onto XiaoYu and rubbed himself all over the other. He said it was to leech some luck off of XiaoYu. This went on until NonMeta decided he had enough of it and plucked CopperPlate away from XiaoYu. Finally, XiaoYu who’d been squashed to the point of gasping was saved.

“Thank you.” It was rare for NonMeta to speak up, but that Charm Paper was for him after all.

“It’s nothing much. >///<” XiaoYu didn’t think he was some lucky star or lucky charm. Why else did he never get a good drop when he’s grinding alone?

XiaoYu split the rest of the loot to the other four players, rejecting his own portion. This time, he’d not been of use at all. He was only there to observe a boss-hunting session and to learn from it.

Once the other four sent XiaoYu back up to the top layer of the Jiangshi Cave, they left for the city. Before the bright white light whisked them away, Chrysanthemum’s thoughtful stare at XiaoYu terrified him more than being killed by another player. The tiny cat seemed to be quite afraid of that healer too. It hid behind XiaoYu’s feet and only dared to pop out half of its head to peep at the departing players.

Four beams of light later, XiaoYu was left all alone in that vast cave. He shook away the questions filling his head. She was a friend of CopperPlate and NonMeta. She wouldn’t harm him. His current mission was to keep grinding.

********

Saturday soon arrived. Every guild in the game prayed and hoped that the name of their own guild would sound out to the entire server.

Bai XiaoYu arrived at the Zhang Village just past 5. Not a lot of Heretic Demons members had gathered there yet. They grouped together in duos or trios, either chatting with each other or staring blankly at the forums.

XiaoYu sat down cross-legged at the spot he was assigned to last time. He took the time to rearrange his inventory as he ate dinner with the little cat.

As previously mentioned, the in-game sun would stay up shining bright until midnight for students and those working 9 to 5. It was only slightly darker than usual and did not affect anyone’s line of sight at all.

Hence, XiaoYu immediately noticed it when the light shining down on him turned significantly dimmer. The first thing that he saw as he looked up and packed away his bag was a pair of combat boots.

The glow emitting from the boots looked neither gold nor silver. It wasn’t blinding yet it still made one feel as if they shouldn’t look at it for too long. It’d be disrespectful and might taint its shine. XiaoYu’s first reaction was this was definitely not a normal pair of combat boots. It was at least an SSR item. XiaoYu’s eyes trailed upwards along those boots until the face of its owner could be clearly seen.

Mn. It’s a man. A rather attractive man, XiaoYu reviewed mentally.

One can’t fault XiaoYu for that. If it was a woman in XiaoYu’s place, the most common reaction now would perhaps be to screech out loud, then spin round and round the other player. If it was a brave woman, she might even try seducing him outright.

It’s a pity that while XiaoYu couldn’t really be called a man, due to a lack of experience in certain aspects, the “sex” category in his birth papers stated “male” in black and white. Thus, even if it was a face so handsome that the gods would be infatuated with it, XiaoYu wouldn’t act like a lovestruck fool when looking at another guy. Furthermore, this man was still standing before him and staring down at him for some unknown reason. Was there rice on his face?

“Meow~” The little kitten sprinted across to the man’s feet and lightly twined around them.

“?” XiaoYu felt even more curious. The tiny cat wasn’t afraid of strangers, but it would never act so affectionate with a stranger. Was this man some special NPC? Did the two know each other because they were created by the same A.I. overlord?

As if HereticKing wasn’t pitiful enough, because he still didn’t know he was being seen as an old “uncle” by a tiny cat, he’s not even a human in XiaoYu’s mind. At that moment, HereticKing was just a string of numbers.

“LuckyCat?”

“? Yes! Hello. Can I help you with anything?” When the other spouted his name right off the bat, XiaoYu was even more certain this attractive man before him was an NPC. NPCs with sophisticated A.I. systems would sometimes proactively hand out quests to players they liked.

“…” HereticKing suddenly remembered that the previous two times they’d met, it was just him looking at the other. This boy in front of him didn’t seem to recognise him.

Bai XiaoYu patiently and politely looked back at HereticKing. This NPC might have been in some complicated situation or had some complex backstory. He’s just considering how to phrase his speech.

“Chief~ What wind blew you over? Everyone in this airport has been personally t-r-a-i-n-e-d up by me.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man saw HereticKing and XiaoYu staring at each other in the eyes from far off in the distance. He was very afraid XiaoYu would accidentally offend his boss. This was an existence over a hundred times more perverted and insane than the worst of the game’s bosses.

“You’re a human?” When XiaoYu heard what I_Am_A_Poor_Man had called the other, he was going to ask him “So you’re a player?”. However, his mouth ended up being half-a-beat faster than his own brain and what came out of his mouth warped.

“!!”/ “= =+” That line obviously didn’t go through the brain filter, but the other two understood it.

I_Am_A_Poor_Man sighed. Sure. Even if this lucky cat’s mouth was usually that foolish, it’s fine. But to actually question the Chief to his face whether he was a real human or not? XiaoYu’s doomed. Doomed. He’s going to be killed over and over again until he’s back to Level 1.

HereticKing was stunned at first. He didn’t think XiaoYu was mocking him, but why did that line sound so weird? “You mean you thought I was an NPC?” he answered with twitching lips.

“Aren’t you? Ah, Big Brother Poor called you Chief. Chief…Uhm. You’re HereticKing?” I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s Chief would be the Guild Leader. CopperPlate said the Guild Leader of the Heretic Demons was HereticKing…Only then did XiaoYu link everything together.

“S-Sorry. I thought you were a Quest NPC.” XiaoYu hurriedly bowed. He embarrassed himself again >///<.

“…” HereticKing didn’t know whether he should cry or laugh. Every meeting with LuckyCat was a fresh new experience.

“Meow~~” The little one scratched at HereticKing’s boots. It liked this uncle. He gave it delicious food to eat and even shiny gold coins to play with.

“Aah, it’s fine.” HereticKing bent down and picked the tiny cat up by its neck, lifting it until it could meet his eyes on an even plane. He stretched out a finger and bopped it on the nose. “Little one, are you craving my fish skewers or gold coins?” He wasn’t that egotistical to think his face could subdue a tiny cat.

“Meow. Mrrow~” The kitten pawed at the finger poking the tip of its nose. If the humans could understand it, they’d know it was saying “Gold coin! Gold coin~ Shiny, shimmering coins!” Because Big Brother Poor had already fed it fish.

I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s mouth was gaped wide enough a large chicken egg could fit in it. Why was the Chief acting so close to the greedy cat? From the tone of his voice, they probably knew each other for some time already. That meant he should know LuckyCat. However, LuckyCat didn’t sound like he knew the other.

Fortunately, the area around them was empty. The rest of the healers would not be on standby so early on. Normal guild members would also not roam around for no reason at the portal zone before the battle. Otherwise, the area would be planted with rows of dropped jaws. Their great and mighty Guild Leader was playing around with a tiny black cat, and their ever-violent Healer Squad Leader actually had a goofy, foolish expression on his face.

“Lil Lucky, you know Chief?” whispered I_Am_A_Poor_Man as he pulled XiaoYu aside.

“Mn…Sort of. We messaged each other before.”

“Gods, why didn’t you say so?” He was so dead. He’d gossiped, moaned and bitched about Chief so much. Did the Chief know about it?

“Sorry. I didn’t know he was your Guild Leader.”

“Then did you m-mention about…two days ago…” mumbled I_Am_A_Poor_Man.

“Nope.” XiaoYu didn’t have much to talk to HereticKing about anyway. And why would he spread around what I_Am_A_Poor_Man told him? He also just knew the cheapskate and harsh boss I_Am_A_Poor_Man was going on about was HereticKing himself.

“Good. Don’t pay attention to what I’ve told you before. He’s actually quite nice. He didn’t really squeeze and force me to work. Mm-mph.”

“Oh.” It really didn’t matter what kind of person he was. XiaoYu was not one to gossip.

“So, you two know each other.” When HereticKing was done teasing the little cat, he found I_Am_A_Poor_Man and LuckyCat whispering to each other far away from him. His intuition told him they should be talking about himself.

“Hehe. So, Chief, you know Lil Lucky too. And I was even thinking about introducing you to each other.”

“There’s no need.” HereticKing walked over to XiaoYu and elegantly held out a hand. “Let me reintroduce myself. HereticKing. Heretic Demons’ Guild Leader. Thank you for your help.”

“LuckyCat. B-Being able to help is my pleasure.” XiaoYu rubbed his hand on his robe before nervously shaking HereticKing’s outstretched hand.

“Hehe. What a tiny hand.”

>///<. It’s not his fault his hand was tiny. It’s clearly HereticKing’s hand that was too large. That’s what XiaoYu thought. But when he looked down at his hand that was nearly engulfed by the other’s hand, he blushed for some strange reason.

PreviousIndexNext

LC: Chapter 21

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.”

“Hi, Chrysanthemum.”

“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.

“31.”

“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.

“That means…”

“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~!

“Hahaha…”

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.

“Heretic Demons.”

“!” 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?”

“I don’t.”

“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.

“Returning gold.”

“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.”

“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.”

“I see.”

“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.

Translator’s Note:

Slim/Shou: In Chinese, these are homonyms. Shou = uke = bottom.

PreviousIndexNext

LC: Chapter 20

20. The Trouble With Partying

The next morning, Bai XiaoYu followed I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s directions and found the Jiangshi Cave.

The Jiangshi weren’t as scary as the zombies. At least they were completely dressed in perfect condition Qing Dynasty clothes and accessories. Tiny round hats sat on their heads. The paper charm dangling before their faces practically obscured half of their pale, greenish faces.

But they were much faster than the zombies. With their arms raised straight out, they jumped to and fro within all the large and small passages of the cave. There was not a single safe spot for XiaoYu to aggro them from. Because of this, for healers, grinding at the Jiangshi Cave was one that really challenged the player’s mobility, aim, and spatial awareness. Of course, being able to keep calm was very important as well. Lurking at every corner was a high chance of a Jiangshi pouncing onto the player.

After XiaoYu was forced to go into close quarters combat several times, he finally remembered a spell within his skill list that decreased the target’s speed. It’s a support-type skill that branched out from the hastening buff, once the player achieved a certain proficiency in it. The zombies were naturally slower than XiaoYu, so he didn’t pay much attention to such a skill. Now, he understood every skill has its own reason for existing.

The slowed-down Jiangshi would move at the exact same speed as XiaoYu. As long as he’s careful and paid attention to how far he was from the other monsters, he could grind away at the aggroed monster without being disturbed.

Perhaps it was because the Jiangshi Cave wasn’t as dramatically foul smelling and harsh on the eyes, three parties had already passed by XiaoYu within the few hours in the morning. Maybe they were there to test their luck at the boss. Maybe higher-levelled Jiangshi dropped some rare accessories. They didn’t bother taking another look at XiaoYu who was grinding all alone. They already had a high-level healer.

In the afternoon, XiaoYu bumped into a party that didn’t have a healer. A male archer with a slightly higher level and two female Mages hiding behind him. It wasn’t clear whether they were there because the girls were yapping about testing their courage or if they were really there to grind. Attacks with Holy attribute can do additional damage to the Undead, and so can Fire-attribute attacks.

The three players were all ranged characters. It’s still okay for them if they hit far away monsters. They’d be able to kill the monsters before they get any closer. But if a Jiangshi spawned near them, they’d panic.

When they noticed XiaoYu grinding alone, they whispered to each other for a while.

“They’re Level 40. Healer, party? I won’t join. I’ll just be responsible for carrying you guys.” The archer was clearly past his Second Job Change.

“…Level 30.” XiaoYu was quite reluctant to partying with strangers. However, the other party had already revealed their own levels. He shouldn’t try and keep his a secret.

“That’s just nice. Experience will be split evenly and we can even go to the next level. Party up?”

“Okay.” The archer was quite nice. And when equal distribution was set in parties, there’d be bonus experience.

“Erm…” The archer hesitated.

“?”

“Can you keep your collection pet back into your inventory? We’ll split the drops equally afterwards,” The archer voiced out their request. They’d observed this kitten picking up drops. That’s also why they didn’t immediately ask this lonely healer to party up with them at the start.

“…Then, forget about it.” Other than going offline for that particular patch’s maintenance period, XiaoYu had never left the tiny cat. Making him store the little one back to some unknown pet storage was absolutely impossible.

“How about this? Let’s change the pick-up settings to Party Leader Only? We’ll make sure to hand you your fair portion afterwards,” One of the female mages suggested.

When partying up, the default setting was everyone could pick up items. The Party Leader could change this setting, but a pop-up will appear before every member. Only when the members agree could this setting be changed. After adding a new party member, it’ll revert back to the default regardless of what the pick-up setting was before. If the party wished to change it, members need to agree once more.

Party Leader Only was one of the most common and equal settings. Of course, that’d mean this Party Leader was trusted in the first place.

“No. I’ll just continue solo. Thanks for your invitation.” Party Leader Only pick-up meant the little cat would not be able to pick up anything as well. Then what was the point of him grinding? He might as well just go back to the city and complete missions.

“Don’t tell me you want to take everything for yourself? That’s so selfish. Don’t think you can do what you want just because you’ve got that Healers Alliance from the forums backing you up.” The other mage’s temper was clearly not as good as the other two’s.

“No. I’ll divide everything the little cat picks up equally.”

“Who’d believe you?”

“…”

The air around them turned awkward for a moment. It wasn’t that XiaoYu didn’t trust that they’d share the drops fairly. He was just too lazy to explain to everyone the little cat’s method of levelling up and the reason he was grinding here. Since the other didn’t believe he’d be fair, then there’s not much else to talk about.

“Hey, hey. Alright. Don’t fight. Why don’t we switch the setting to Round Robin?” The archer turned into the mediator.

Round Robin was a pick-up setting usually used when the party members were all strangers and no one trusted each other. But because they don’t trust each other, party members usually weren’t that considerate of each other. There was also a commonly known but unspoken rule to Round Robin settings – members did not need to share their loot fairly. If someone picked up a nice item on their turn, then he’s got good RNG. The other members can do nothing in spite of their jealousy. Who told them to distrust each other at the start?

“Okay. Round Robin. Whatever anyone picks up, it’s theirs. There’s no more sharing. Okay?” As the first mage posed the question to XiaoYu, she pushed at the other mage. Having a healer would make things different. Not only could XiaoYu throw out buffs and debuffs, he’d be an extra hand against the Undead.

After being poked at by her good friend, the mage with the bad temper decided to cease commenting. They’ve got double the chance of XiaoYu at picking up good loot after all.

After such a fuss, XiaoYu really didn’t want to party with them now.

However, if he still disagreed, it might make them really think that he wanted to keep all the loot to himself. That archer and the first mage had maintained a kind attitude this whole time. Two vs one. He decided to agree still. It’d be faster grinding in a party, so he’d gain more experience. He wanted to level up faster too, but he also had to make sure the little cat had something to pick up.

“Okay.”

“Hmph.” After the other female mage had a look at the new party member’s name, she softly hmphed. LuckyCat? It’s two versus one. Let’s see who’d have the better loot. She was so going to make that healer go mad with anger.

It’s such a pity that reality is cruel. The one who went mad with anger was that mage.

If one said XiaoYu was lucky for the first good equipment to be dropped was his, then what did it imply when he received three equipment consecutively in one brief hour while the other two only got trash equipment? It meant if RNGesus wasn’t favouring him, then he had some hidden skill or attribute that’d increase the rate of item drops. Either way, they’d never admit it was because they had bad RNG.

What they didn’t know was XiaoYu had been grinding by himself for the whole morning and he’d never picked up a single equipment, not even the trashy ones. In the half a month he’d been camping at the Zombie Cave, he’d only picked up five or six white trash gear that could be bought in NPC shops, other than the Rotten Bandage headdress with special damage %.

Hence, it can be seen that the drop rate of equipment with additional attributes, which everyone loved, adored and hated, was very low outside of boss encounters. Looking at XiaoYu’s past experience, it can be seen that RNGesus didn’t really take great care of him. But as for the current situation…Perhaps it’s because XiaoYu was exceedingly lucky in groups. A lucky cat beckons fortune. He might not be blessed with wealth, but his party would be.

“Let’s stop. Have a break.” The mage with the bad temper was irritated when the first equipment dropped. At the sight of the third equipment, she finally couldn’t stand it anymore.

The Jiangshi in the Jiangshi Cave were spawned according to certain restrictions. If one observed carefully, they could find one or two slightly safer blind spots. The row of four sat down on the ground.

Of the three gear dropped, two were of the white, normal class and one had additional attributes. XiaoYu roughly swept his eyes over the items in the tiny one’s inventory. Not a bad harvest. He wasn’t that familiar with the other three, so he’d sat two to three meters away from the rest.

The atmosphere turned tense once more. After watching one person pick up so many equipment, even if only one had additional attributes (it had an additional glowing aura), the other three were quite frustrated. Especially that bad-tempered mage. But they can’t say anything. The Round Robin setting was very fair, to a certain extent. Everyone’s pickups were based on their luck, unless…

“Hey, healer. Take out everything you got. We’ll start dividing it all up equally.” Unless this new healer didn’t know of the unspoken rules of Round Robin. After all, it’s a rule created and acknowledged by players only.

“Snow, Round Robin…” The other mage was about to speak up. Players shouldn’t need to divide up their loot with Round Robin. And she’s just said they won’t split up the loot. However, she was stopped by that Snow mage so she swallowed the rest of her sentence back into her stomach.

“…Why?” There were quite a few newbie guides on the game’s forums. All those quick guides and walkthroughs were pinned to the top so newbies could look up all of the basic rules and settings. Naturally, XiaoYu would not miss out on reading those. Therefore, he knew what each party setting meant.

“What why? You’re just a low-level healer leeching off a higher-levelled party.”

That was theoretically correct. Without the three of them, XiaoYu would never dare to venture alone to the second level with Level 45 Jiangshi mobs. Grinding way above one’s level was a fast way to level up, but it’d be hard for someone to solo-kill a monster over 10 levels above their own. If things went bad, they might lose a level for nothing.

Even so, this didn’t mean the agreed-upon rule of Round Robin could be ignored. If they wanted to blame someone, they could only blame themselves for bringing a low-level healer.

The faces of the other mage and the male archer began to turn pale. They were deeply afraid this healer would screenshot or record this. No matter what, Snow was in the wrong. If this incident was posted on the forums, all three of them would be chased after by the Healers Alliance.

The other classes’ alliances on the forums are still alright. Bullying was something that happened every day, but healers were the official support class. It was hard to grind as a healer, so there weren’t many of them. However, they’re always needed when partying up to grind or to quest. Thus, a fierce and brutal Healers Alliance was formed.

Rumours say the higher-ups of the Alliance were high-levelled female healers with some of the most famous in-game players in their network and loved to poke their nose in everyone’s business. Not only are they fiercely protective of each other, they were very protective of male healers. As males typically enjoy combat-based classes, few would select a support class. And so the male nanny is a highly protected species. (Actually, they just feel that the weak and meek figure of a male healer was much better at inciting their motherly instincts. He’s also a better target for their wild, wild fantasies = =)

“…” XiaoYu hated unreasonable people the most, for he wasn’t good at arguing. He knew that the cause of this scene was most likely that last equipment he picked up – a mage’s robe with additional attributes and a blue glow.

He flipped through the tiny cat’s inventory and checked the stats of that robe. Defence +50. Intelligence +5. Chant time of Fire-attribute spells +5%. Absorb 10% of Undead attacks as player’s MP. Slots: 2. Level Limit: 50. Job Limit: Magician.

It was a rather nice gear for a mage after the Second Job Change. That’s why that mage hung on so tight to it.

“This is the one worth the most money.” XiaoYu took it out, threw it to the other three, stood up, and left the party. He headed towards the exit back to the last floor. Perhaps he should’ve went with his desires and not join this party. Perhaps he wasn’t suited to partying at all.

“D-Do you think we’re begging for scraps?” Snow was enraged by XiaoYu throwing the robe before her.

He really didn’t mean anything by it. His only thought was: Aren’t you just being cold and mocking just because you wanted this robe? Here, I’ll give it to you. We don’t need to split anything up now. I’ll just leave the party. Everyone just do their own thing. As for the throwing…XiaoYu was quite far away from them. He didn’t have the mood to kindly offer the equipment after being treated so unfairly.

“…” He stopped, turned and looked at that Snow mage in the eye. His gaze said, I’ve already given it to you. What more do you want?

Unfortunately, what Snow interpreted was quite different. She thought XiaoYu was using his gaze to tell her, “Weren’t you begging?”

With a “Fwoomph!”, Snow stood up. She aimed her wand at XiaoYu. She will not just take being enraged like this. That healer was humiliating her.

Realising that something was wrong, the other two hurriedly stood up and stopped Snow from attacking. Killing a healer levels below oneself was the worst crime in everyone’s eyes. It’s worse that not splitting up loot with a healer. They might be repeatedly killed back down by the top healers of the Healers Alliance.

Translator’s Note:

Bad RNG: A semi-hidden nuance gone untranslated here. RNG in Chinese is written as RP, meaning the quality of a person (sort of based on the karma system – do good deeds and you’ll have good luck). Admitting they themselves had bad RP would imply they were bad people.

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LC: Chapter 19

19. Changing Spots

When Bai XiaoYu woke up the next day, he received the letter with his pay.

“Meow~” There’s so much~. The little cat wriggled happily in the pile of crystals.

“Ah, there’s so many.” 1, 2, 3…There’s actually 100 crystals here. It’s enough to bury the tiny cat in crystals. Big guilds really were able to pay lavishly.

I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s icon was still dull. He must still be asleep. After some consideration, XiaoYu decided to stop living in his usual poor and frugal ways. 5 silvers was nothing compared to his current finances. He ran out and mailed a letter to the other. He’s bad with words and can only say “Thank you”, but the other would get him.

He tidied up his thoughts, his inventory and storage, then continued being intimate with the zombies.

It was around noon when I_Am_A_Poor_Man finally crawled online. As soon as he logged in, he greeted XiaoYu and invited him to dine together at the finest restaurant in Serica.

“Pfft. What kind of head accessory is that?” Out spewed a heavenly shower of alcohol.

“Rotten Bandage.”

“Hahaha! I thought it was a little beggar from some random beggar sect.” The bandages looped round and round his head in a messy fashion. There was even a strip of cloth drooping down on the right. Wait, it’s a strip of rotten bandage.

“>///<” It was only then that XiaoYu realised his new accessory did not fit in with the restaurant’s decor. He’d been grinding. Equipping it would increase his damage to undead monsters by 10%. He thought it was better than the grass wreathe so he switched it out.

“Don’t just stand around. Sit.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man only found his kindness after having enough of laughing. He called XiaoYu, who was standing there with a 囧 face, to sit. It’s an enclosed room. No one would laugh at the other here.

“Okay.” XiaoYu was thinking of changing accessories, but he dismissed that notion at the thought of that grass wreathe. He’s always found in shameful situations. Perhaps he’ll get used to it after a while.

“Eh? Erm…Why do I feel like your headdress is on backwards?” Something just felt weird. The front was lower than the back. It nearly blocked the other’s eyes.

“Mn. If this droops on the left, the little one would keep playing with it,” said XiaoYu as pointed at the strip of bandage on the right.

“Haha, true. That’s a cat for you.” If they see a hanging object swaying, they’d want to pounce at it. Who knew if the kitten had fallen from LuckyCat’s shoulders before? The more I_Am_A_Poor_Man thought about it, the funnier it felt. “Pfft.”

囧. XiaoYu always had complicated and dangerous feelings about this man who has the well-defined face of an elite but is always acting out of character.

“Ahem. You must be hungry after training for the whole morning. Come, order whatever you want. It’s my treat.”

“Mn.” Trying to reject would just make him sound petty or spoiled. Even so, XiaoYu didn’t order anything rare or expensive. If the restaurant was highly rated, that meant the normal dishes would be delicious as well.

As the big and small lucky cats ate, they thought: High-class restaurants are special. (╯▽╰)

“You don’t drink?”

“I don’t.”

“Not even a sip?” I_Am_A_Poor_Man felt like he was the evil man who’d seduce children away.

“No. I need to go back to grinding later.” He didn’t know what it’d be like to be drunk in-game, but he’s sure he won’t be able to continue grinding.

“Ah, you don’t need to work so hard. Why don’t you log off and have lunch first?” XiaoYu’s personality didn’t feel like a child who was born in a rich household to I_Am_A_Poor_Man. But the other was always online whenever he logs in. It’s as if the other never went offline. So, I_Am_A_Poor_Man decided to do a little test.

“It’s fine. I’m using a game pod…I got it from a lucky draw.” XiaoYu tacked on the last bit when I_Am_A_Poor_Man looked doubtful.

“Wow~ You really are a lucky cat. You can even win that.” What kind of XX luck? He’d never won anything from the lottery, not even a few bucks. There’s always someone who’s greater. How annoying.

“Hehe…” Perhaps it’s because his parents were looking after him from Heaven.

“Ugh…Mn.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man chugged down some alcohol. He was going to ask the other why he was always online. Even if there are not nutritional issues using a gaming pod, the other spent his entire time over the last 2 weeks or so grinding materials for him. It wasn’t the school holidays right now. However, everyone had their own difficulties and secrets. He shouldn’t stick his nose too far in because he believes LuckyCat was a good child.

And so he began spilling his guts to XiaoYu. It’s so troublesome managing a big guild There were also lots of work to be done in his real life company. His boss never raised his pay. I_Am_A_Poor_Man yearned to clone a few more of himself just to help himself out.

XiaoYu listened in silence. Occasionally, he’d nod in sympathy. It looked like I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s chief was extremely petty and heartless.

From the start until the end, I_Am_A_Poor_Man called HereticKing as Chief. He thought XiaoYu would know who it was. HereticKing was a famous figure in the game. Additionally, the square in the capitals would fly the flag of the conquerors. Touching the flags would pop out messages like “Prole-4 is occupied by Heretic Demons. Guild Leader, HereticKing. Those who object, please raise up your swords on Saturday and march onwards!”

It’s a pity XiaoYu never opened up the World Chat, never roamed the gossip and guild wars sections of the forums, and never touch other’s flags on a whim. He really didn’t know who the guild leader of the guild he’d helped out yesterday really was.

“LuckyCat, what level are you?”

“30.”

“So fast…Did you grind at the bottom level?” XiaoYu nodded. “But high-level monsters are annoying, right? They have range attacks.”

“Mn…” He was even poisoned a few times. Being poisoned didn’t feel good at all.

“So even if a healer grinded solo, they’d never hit those zombies at this level. Let me tell you a tip. Go north-east from the East Gate of Serica. There’s a Jiangshi Cave there. The monsters range from Levels 30 to 60. While the higher levels have range attacks too, you’d have no issues hitting Second Job Change just with the low level mobs.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man once went all over the world to challenge bosses with HereticKing. He was very knowledgeable on what the monsters were like.

“But the mucus and bandages…”

“It’s fine. Levelling is more important. You can’t soak in that pool of zombies forever.” At the meeting last night, he’d raised an idea with the other squad leaders. Those who disobey directions or abandoned their posts will be punished to go farming in the Zombie Cave. The whole process would be recorded so they can’t just buy the materials.

“Oh.” XiaoYu was certainly sick of those zombies. It’d be nice to challenge others.

“And Jiangshi Hats can be used to make Mini Jiangshi Hats for pets. You can get a hat for that greedy kitten. It’d increase Intimacy. Once you get the Jiangshi Hat, message me. I’ll bring you to the NPC who can craft it.” Actually, the mischievous I_Am_A_Poor_Man just wanted to see the goofy scene of the tiny cat constantly pawing at the paper charm dangling in front of its eyes after it wore the Mini Jiangshi Hat.

The most unique characteristic of Jiangshi Hats are the paper charms stuck on the front. Of course, they could be torn away. He just wanted to tease the little one before XiaoYu realised it.

“Could non-decorative pets equip accessories?”

“Hm? Is it not one? Does it have a skill?” I_Am_A_Poor_Man had never seen the little one pick up items or smack its paw. He thought it was just a decorative pet with a better A.I.

XiaoYu showed him the Pet tab. Explaining would be more troublesome.

“Wow. The mystical big lucky cat has a mystical tiny lucky cat with him. Tsk. Tsk.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man finally understood why it was called TinyLuckyCat. He thought it was because the big lucky cat was too lazy to think of a name. (In reality, he was too lazy.)

That afternoon, I_Am_A_Poor_Man continued drowning in agony. XiaoYu decided to go to the Jiangshi Cave the next day. He’d finish up this one last batch today. Because of that, he just roamed around the upper level. He only needed 1 to 2 spells to kill those low-levelled zombies now.

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