LC: Chapter 82

82. Knight

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.

“It’s fine.”

“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.”

“But…”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“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.

“Yes.”

“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.”

“Yes.”

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.

“Mn.”

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?”

“Yes…a little.”

“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.

Translator’s Notes:

  1. 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!


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LC: Chapter 81

81. A New Beginning

Everyone was happily chattering away on the forums. It was as if they had all forgotten it was the first day the updated Guild Wars would be held.

The event had now gone through a major patch. The largest change was to the players’ damage. It wouldn’t be limited to just the enemy units now. It would follow the usual rules. That meant when a huge skill was casted, everyone within range would be hurt. This also meant players must have great teamwork and bond with their own parties.

Another eye-catching update to the game were the four new monster maps. Every day, a new type of monster would be randomly spawned on them. That meant today’s mobs might all be Animal types. The next, Undead. The day after, Human…All monsters spawned were above Level 90, and there’s a chance a Boss mob might spawn.

These maps were great, but they were located under the four maps used for Guild Wars. It meant it was harder to enter these maps. A player’s guild needed to be the master of one of the five fortresses above the underground monster map for them to enter. That’s because the map’s entrances were located in the fortresses, guarded by an NPC that’ll only let in members of the fortress’s guild. That meant the underground maps would be the conquering guild’s personal training grounds.

There was also another update to the fortresses, just for the Guild Leaders. Each fortress now had a special room called the Lord Mayor’s Office. The focus of this room was the large treasure chest held within. It can be opened for all sorts of treasures and new items will appear every day at midnight. However, its items won’t accumulate if left inside. If the Guild Leader didn’t log in and open it that day, they would’ve missed out on that day’s treasures. In consideration for Guild Leaders who might not be able to log in every single day, the Lord Mayor’s Office can be opened up to other players if so desired.

There were a few more minor notes to the patch, like how the “Build City Order” item won’t be released just yet. Overall, quite a lot had changed but everyone, particularly the powerful guilds, were itching to try out the new maps and treasure chests.

The Heretic Demons’ flight network didn’t need to be tweaked so XiaoYu didn’t bother reading up on the above updates. He went on with life as usual. Head in early to his post. Have his dinner. Play with his cat. All around him, his guildmates would pretend to glance in his direction. They wanted to see for themselves just what kind of magic the personal healer to their Guild Healer had to have made their Chief run over to protect XiaoYu himself. While there were some jealous people, at least none of them were dumb enough to start causing trouble.

Tonight’s battle would be a messy one. Initially, none of the players had to worry about harming their own teammates. Now, before any skills were let loose, they had to keep an eye on the icons above everyone’s heads and confirm if the players within range were part of their own alliances or not. It caused great headaches to the many who had gotten use to just throwing out spells and skills as they pleased. If they accidentally killed any of their own teammates, they had to make sure to apologise in the appropriate chat channels too.

Thankfully, all subsidiaries of the Heretic Demons use the same logo as the main guild. All leaders had been emphasising on the importance of team formations and working with each other when using skills. With a tiny bit of effort, none of the Heretic Demons fighters had issues adapting to the new update. Despite the hiccups caused by the new patch, their enemies had seemingly multiplied overnight. Every guild wanted to try their hands at the new maps and treasure chest. Just what kind of monsters would spawn there? What kind of treasures would these chests reveal? There were no clear answers by the game developers. The players had to seek out the information themselves. Thus, for the right to scout out new information, the players had to take over a city first.

By the time the event ended, the Heretic Demons had just two fortresses left to their names. Prole-3 from the main guild and Prole-4 from a subsidiary guild. While they had been prepared for strong guilds to start their ambush late in the battle, no one could’ve imagined losing Prole-5 to the guild I Die For Riches again. If the game publisher could show the official number of players participating in a Guild Wars event, it would announce that today’s was the highest ever. Hence, it was rather difficult for the Main Guild to defend two cities at the same time.

QiYao still had some work left to do after the battle was over, so XiaoYu returned to Prole alone with his tiny luck cat. When it came to selling off his items, XiaoYu preferred going to the Market more than to setting up a stall. The Market didn’t disappoint this time either. No matter how lively and crowded it was outside, the Market hall would always have more NPC than players.

As XiaoYu was intently looking up the prices with an NPC and making his transactions, the bored and restless little cat started prowling around him. What’s this? What’s that? Hm? A knight smelling very strongly of gold just walked in. Let’s stare at him for a little while~ (*@○@*)

By the time XiaoYu was finally snapped back from staring at the NPC and turned around to call for his kitten, what he saw surprised him. A knight was squatting down before his little cat and playing with it. XiaoYu had to admit it. His cat was really eye-catching. It’s a genius at looking cute.

Then, as if the other man felt his gaze, the knight looked up.

“???” XiaoYu’s mind went blank at first. He wasn’t sure why the knight’s face had that effect on him.

“Your kitten is very cute. Here, all yours again,” the knight said. He scooped up the little cat, stood up and handed it over to XiaoYu.

“…Oh, thanks.” XiaoYu was still staring at the knight. His arms instinctively reached out and accepted his small cat back into his embrace.

“Is there something on my face?”

“Ah, no. I’m sorry.” XiaoYu too wondered just why he would stare at a stranger so hard that he blanked out. While the other man was very handsome, almost as handsome as QiYao, XiaoYu didn’t react this badly when he first met QiYao. By that logic, he shouldn’t have blanked out just because of the other’s beauty. Yet there was an inexplicable familiarity to the other man. That was why his gaze was locked onto the other’s face from the very first moment he saw the other.

“It seems like fate for your little cat and I to meet. Let’s be friends,” the knight friendly said, ignoring XiaoYu’s rather rude gaze. He handed over his name card.

“Okay.” XiaoYu was never one who liked rejecting others, so he approved of the friend request. Anyway, he didn’t feel any bad intentions coming from the other.

After the two parted ways, XiaoYu received a message from QiYao asking him to head to Prole-3’s Lord Mayor Office. While they had never been in the same guild system before, QiYao had used his right as the Lord Mayor to add in XiaoYu’s in-game name to the new list of players allowed in the city.

It wasn’t XiaoYu’s first time in Prole-3 plus QiYao’s directions, XiaoYu soon found the new Lord Mayor’s Office. He politely knocked on the door before entering.

To his surprise, it wasn’t just QiYao in the room. There were a few familiar faces too.

“Hi, Xiao-Yu,” greeted Poor_Man, the almighty and forever follower. The other players in the room were various team leaders with great sway in the main guild.

“??” XiaoYu was starting to suspect it wasn’t the Lord Mayor’s Office he’d entered but a meeting room.

“Wait a second. I’ll chase them out now,” QiYao said as he pulled XiaoYu up against his side.

“Relax, Chief. We’ll definitely disappear when the clock strikes twelve,” Poor_Man vowed with his right hand held up.

“Are you guys still in a meeting?” XiaoYu asked.

“No. They just want to take a peek at what the treasure chest holds,” QiYao said, pointing out the large chest hidden in a corner of the room. “Let’s go to bed a little later tonight, okay?”

“Mn.” XiaoYu might be a good kid who slept and woke up early, but he had no issues with occasionally staying up past midnight.

There was still some time left to kill before it was midnight. None of them would be a fool to just stand around waiting, so they started talking about the new map.

Don’t be mistaken by them just sitting there and chatting. All of them had been down there at least once. Today’s mobs were Animal types, specifically berserk elites. It was much more suitable to explore it fully in a party.

Still, they didn’t linger down there for long. While the map was huge, they still met a few other players. Some were from their own guilds; some were from the others. Everyone was there to take a peek at the brand new thing. With how crowded it was going to get, they’d quickly left. They had plenty of time in the future to slowly explore. After all, it would require the other top ten guilds of the server working together to pull the Heretic Demons down from their fortresses forever.

The only remaining curiosity left to explore was this big chest and the secret wonders it may hold. Naturally, Prole-4’s chest was Egg_Tart’s to open, as was his right as the subsidiary guild’s leader. They would communicate with him later in chat anyway. As for Prole-3’s chest, who would it be? Who would open the chest? Everyone turned their gazes to QiYao only to see him affectionately look at XiaoYu.

“You open it,” QiYao dotingly said.

At that very moment, everyone’s mind thought of the same thing – this would be a leader drowning in lust.

With how lively it was in the room, midnight soon arrived. The air around the treasure chest began to gleam and glow in rainbow light. It was as if the chest was calling out to them.

“Come open me,” it seemingly sang. “Come open me.”

With everyone’s eyes stuck on him, XiaoYu walked over to the chest. The tiny cat was mesmerised by the light too. It reached out its paws. It swiped. It pounced. All it touched was air, but it didn’t care. It kept on trying, deliriously happy in its efforts.

When XiaoYu’s hand touched the chest, he received a reminder from the game. Please ensure you have enough space in your inventory, it said. This was not a problem at all to XiaoYu, who’d just cleared his inventory of junk. In one sharp move, he flipped the chest wide open.

Despite the room being fully lit, everyone still felt as if they could visibly see a blinding amount of light jumping forth from the chest. They were nearly, very literally, blinded. When their eyes finally adjusted to the light and were finally able to look into the chest, all they could see was the bottom of an empty treasure chest.

“Where are the items?” everyone asked.

“In my inventory,” XiaoYu answered.

“Oh. So what are they?” They were all vibrating in excitement. They hated how they can’t look into XiaoYu’s own inventory themselves.

XiaoYu opened his inventory and took out everything, one by one, he had gotten from the chest.

A bundle of tree sticks, one of which had some blood on it. Everyone in the room instantly recognised them for what they were – Dead Branches. Break them and a random monster would be summoned. The ones without any blood on them could summon normal monsters with a small chance of summoning an elite and no chance of summoning a boss. Dead Branches were considered a rather common item. On the other hand, branches with blood on it were called Bloody Branches. It could summon elites at worst, bosses at best. It was very precious.

A bag of rocks used to refinement. There was at least thirty to forty of them from the looks of it.

A few heavy bars of gold. These were required for crafting equipment.

A large chest of medicine containing hundreds of XL potion bottles of both red and blue varieties.

The remaining items were equipment. A knight’s cape, shimmering blue, and a pair of leather boots. They weren’t especially rare, but they were at least above average.

Also, ten Crystal Coins.

By the time everything was placed down, a large portion of floorspace had been taken up by the chest’s contents. Overall, it was great loot. It seemed like the game was rather kind to them. With a few clicks on their internal calculators everyone in the room could tell just how astonishing the treasure pile would become with time.

“Erm…Egg_Tart’s chest only gave him a medicine chest, a pair of boots and…one normal Dead Branch,” a squad leader said as he looked at the items laid out before him. He was starting to suspect his ears and eyes. It’s rather hard to mess up one stick with one bundle.

Even if that was a mistake, just the number of items outside of the branches was way too different to what they had before their eyes. Silence reigned the room.

Who was it? Who commented the game was being kind? That it was generous? Drag them over to Egg_Tart for some stress relief!

Translator’s Note:

  1. Dead Branch/Bloody Branch: Also exist in RO under the same names.

Sorry for being late! Had some cross-state driving to do and got exhausted from it.

Also, since I know that the majority of my readers are from the US (unless you’re using a VPN), take care. No matter what time it is or where you’re from, take care.


PreviousIndexNext

LC: Chapter 80

80. Trouble on the Forums

After a long night’s chat, QiYao finally had a rough understanding of the story behind the animosity between XiaoYu and Snow. Who would’ve thought it’d be related to the scheming assassin Egg_Tart mentioned before?

If one boiled it down to the basics, it’s a series of unfortunate and unpleasant reactions born from the meeting between someone who’s used to just thinking of herself and someone who’d so introverted that he didn’t know how to explain things. Objectively none of them were in the wrong and none of them were right. It was a simple case of a clash of personalities that easily led to misunderstandings and grudges.

Most men wouldn’t think too much on what’s in the past. That’s why the two men put aside the PvP duel after a good night’s sleep. Just because they’ve put it aside, doesn’t mean everyone had, especially not the person who was outclassed and forced to leave in humiliation.

Unknown to QiYao and XiaoYu, a post on the forums was gaining popularity.

A large-scale game like AO would have countless of new posts appearing on its forums. They asked for help, for trade, to chat, to fight. If one wanted to stand out from the crowd, they would need an astonishing, eye-catching title. Like this one.

Bully of the weak, dogsbody of the strong! Who knew the Heretic Demons leader would be like this? [picture]

Gossip about famous people were topics the average player of the game preferred, especially if there were pictures. Quite a few of the readers only clicked into the topic because it had an image of the Heretic Demons Guild Leader.

Indeed, there was a picture attached to the post. In the image, QiYao had a blank face on and pointing his sharp sword at a weak female wizard with her head lowered. On the surface, it certainly did look like he was bullying a lower-levelled player.

Under the image was the post detailing how she, a low-level wizard, was scouting out the Pyramids when she accidentally hit the same monster as another healer. Some misunderstandings were born from that incident and the other player called his party member for help. To her surprise, it was the famous Guild Leader of the Heretic Demons. They forced her to apologise just because they were part of a major guild. If she didn’t apologise, they’d kill her. They were very mean and evil. She’s just a weak little wizard. She wasn’t looking for justice on how she was bullied by two men, she just wanted everyone to know the true character of these people.

Before Snow uploaded the photo, she’d erased her own nametag which would show that she was the one who attacked first. However, she left QiYao’s and XiaoYu’s nametags in the image as QiYao had decided to show their party name. The bright “(Black-White)” text clearly announced they belonged to the same party. It portrayed an image of the Heretic Demons Guild Leader threatening a wizard to apologise after a misunderstanding happened.

There’s an air of a culprit making a complaint before the victim in Snow’s post. That’s because the more she thought about it through the night, the angrier she got, the harder it was to calm down. But she can’t go against QiYao and XiaoYu head-on. None of her so-called best friends were useful. All she could do was vent out her anger on the forums.

Anyone who have spent some time on the forums would know how messy things were. There were all sorts of people on there. When a hot topic appeared, there were always those clicking in just because they were curious, just because they wanted to watch the fire burn, and just because they wanted to make sure justice was properly served. The replies started piling up until the conversation veered off into rather strange territories.

No. 1: First~ I’ll edit after reading.

No. 2: Second. Watching.

No. 3: Please give the truth. *roll around*

No. 9: Wow, who knew HereticKing would do this.

No. 10: So what if you’re from Heretic Demons?

No. 25: Is this just clickbait?

No. 26: HereticKing is so hot. He’s so handsome even when fighting!

No. 48: Is this image fake or real? Video, please!

No. 78: Sometimes, healers are just bad news.

No. 79: Healers only know to hide behind others. Hahaha!

No. 80: 78, 79, if you’ve got the balls to, then don’t beg us for help. I hate those who are biased against healers!

No. 85: Healers just love acting like fckbois.

No. 90: Scram. If you’ve got guts, post your IGN. Let the Healers Alliance hunt you down.

No. 125: Heretic Demons, come out and apologise. You think you’re all that just because you’re a big guild?

No. 131: OP, is this slander about our boss? Go home. It’s your bedtime already.

No. 132: 131, you think your leader really is a good man?

No. 133: You may know someone for years but you’ll never know who they truly are.

No. 134: 132, are you looking for a fight?

Verbal fights broke out regarding the Healers Alliance and the Heretic Demons. A cold smirk spread over Snow’s face as she read through the thread. The replies mocking and insulting the Healers Alliance and the Heretic Demons made her feel so very happy and satisfied. While some of them also directed hate at her, she ignored them. However, after she logged off for the night, the replies started swerving to another direction in a few pages.

No. 282: Why’s no one talking about the healer behind HereticKing? It doesn’t look like Mr Poor!

No. 283: It definitely isn’t him. Analysis complete!

No. 284: Does His Majesty not want the great Poor anymore? PS. The height difference is just beautiful!

No. 290: According to a little bird, that’s Heretic Demon’s Mrs Guild Leader.

No. 293: I told you HereticKing’s gay.

No. 285: Disgusting!

No. 298: 285 is the most disgusting one here.

No. 299: Bunch of ignorant women who only know to gossip.

No. 300: Requesting the healer’s information. I’m curious.

No. 311: I’ve seen them in Prole before. They looked so happy with each other!

Most of the replies after this shift then focused on gossiping about HereticKing and the new healer. Even if someone tried to bring the conversation back on topic about HereticKing’s character or tried to implicitly mock the Heretic Demons, it’d be drowned out by the gossiping replies. The more topics were introduced to the thread, the messier things became. There were those fighting with each other. There were those just there to gossip and fawn over the couple in the image. Kings of providing new information and confirming information began popping out of the woodworks. Simply put, the thread slowly began to get off-topic.

With everyone’s passionately replying, the post was “manually pinned” for the whole night. More people began to notice the post and participate in the discussions within. Heretic Demons guild members were a significant portion of them. Due to the real-life gathering they just had two days ago, anyone with eyes could tell something was going on between their Guild Leader and this young healer. A few of the higher-ups could feel their curiosity bursting out of their bodies. They had watched as their calm leader suddenly jump out of his seat halfway through the meeting and dashed out the door without a single word to them. What a thrilling story behind that mysterious act. Please, they need the truth!

When Snow woke up, she was hoping to see more and more players joining in the fight. No matter who won in the end, the insults thrown around would pacify her anger. To her astonishment, replies of that type started to peter out. Unfortunately, there was no way for her to create alternate accounts to poke the fire and start a fight all by herself. While forum usernames were different to the in-game names, the two accounts were linked when registering. She wouldn’t have taken the risk to pretend to be the feeble victim otherwise. She would’ve started up hundreds of alternate accounts to flood the forums with insults targeting the two men.

No. 3183: (OP)  Healers are so arrogant. How can a major guild’s leader intentionally spoil them? I don’t know why so many people are on their side! [cry] [cry]

No. 3184: Oh, OP’s finally popped out. Should you add another line about how tired you are and how you’ve lost all faith in love?

No. 3185: Don’t be so serious to a little girl. It’s true love~

No. 3186: You must have a sense of humour. Gossip is king.

No. 3187: I support OP. Bullies should all die!

No. 3190: Pictures aren’t the truth. If OP really wants our sympathy, post the video. PS. So was OP killed in the end?

No. 3193: Video please. I really want to see the mighty HereticKing unleashed! He’s a rare “Emperor”

Snow’s reply didn’t pull the thread back on topic. Instead, people started spamming her with replies requesting for a video of the incident. How could she have one? The image was taken after everything when QiYao made her pick between apologising and dying. In the few moments she had to think, her mind went blank. It was only a tiny urge that made her take a screenshot of the moment for her revenge in the future.

As the topic went off-topic again, a new problem started to present itself. The longer the thread was, the fewer players would have the patience to scroll through the replies in search of its highlights. New posts regarding this post appeared. Posts like “Let’s gossip about the thing between HereticKing and Healer”, “Caption this. Let’s write a novel”, “Heretic Demons bullying compilation post”, “All the ways the healers acted like arrogant bastards”, and so on.

Of course, the latter examples were started by people with ill-intent. They wanted to seize the chance to stomp on the people they always disliked. Usually, nothing would come of it. Now, they had this incident as their shield. To top it all off, one of the people involved was a famous player. With the truth being unknown to the public, it was fodder for arguments. The moderators could close off replies that personally attacked the other party, but they had no power to stop the people from discussing controversial issues.

Snow, as the first poster, gradually lost any offensive powers. Even so, new threads about the topic kept it viral, especially among those who didn’t have any good intents in mind. It became a place where they could gather and let their anger loose.

The main characters of this post rarely appeared on the forums. Thus, while the world outside burned, the two men went about their day as usual.

For some reason, XiaoYu mused, the female healers’ gazes were particularly heated when looking at him. He kept looking down at himself to make sure he had the correct equipment on today.

“Well, if it isn’t Lil Lucky,” someone called.

“Ah, Chrysanthemum. Hello,” XiaoYu replied.

“Come. I’ll grind with you today. Just the two of us. Let’s head to the Berserk Mummies downstairs.”

“Oh, okay.” After a word to his party leader, XiaoYu left the party he was in to join Chrysanthemum’s.

As the two players went through the first floor, Chrysanthemum nonchalantly asked, “Lil Lucky, did you and Chief come train at the Pyramids yesterday?”

“Yes. How did you know?”

“About half of all AO players know by now.”

“Huh? What?” XiaoYu shouted.

“Did you two get into a fight with a wizard?”

“Yes.”

“Go take a look at the forums. I’ll keep guard.” She pulled XiaoYu over to a dead-end and buffed him up.

With question marks stamped all over his mind, XiaoYu “left his body” to browse the forums. He didn’t have to search for anything at all. All of the trending topics were posts about the incident. All of them made XiaoYu very uncomfortable, be they idle gossip or insults. It’s no wonder. He had always been a very private person who liked to keep a low profile. Now that he was forced into the limelight, and pulling QiYao, the Heretic Demons and the Healers Alliance in as targets too, it would be weird if he didn’t feel uneasy at all.

“Why did this blow up?” XiaoYu asked in confusion. He merely took a rough glance at a few of those threads. Of course, Snow’s post was included in his reading. Soon, his soul was pulled back into the game.

“Because Chief and the Heretic Demons are way too popular. Someone would always use the excuse to start a fight.” After all, the rumours didn’t come from nothing. That image was very real.

“What do we do?”

“The most direct way is to ignore them. After a few days, they should stop. But…” While Chrysanthemum had pulled her friends along to pull the thread off-topic, there would still be plenty of people who loved to see the world burn. They would keep starting negative threads. They couldn’t keep their facade of “unrelated personnel” forever.

“But what?”

“But with the truth unknown and that wizard embellishing the whole story, the two of you, the guild and the alliance would be affected one way or another.” After all, it was easier for a lot of people to accept the first story to be published.  While the source of all the discussion was just a picture, the story created was rather plausible.

“I didn’t think this would explode just because of me.” It was impossible for him to not feel guilty. XiaoYu was a very responsible man.

“Lil Lucky, I’m now asking you, seriously. Did it happen like how that wizard described?”

“We did hit the same mob, but what happened later is very different.”

“I believe you, but other people don’t know you. Ugh, if only we have something to prove your words. The worst part about this whole thing is that woman’s picture.” While the picture didn’t really prove anything, it was much more credible than a block of text.

“I’ve got a video.”

If Chrysanthemum wasn’t familiar with how slow-paced XiaoYu was, she would’ve slapped him at the back of his head. Why didn’t he say he had that?

One of the reasons XiaoYu would have a recording of the incident was because his past few PvP duels had taught him a grave lesson. Another reason was how Poor_Man and some of the other healers would chatter on at him about the ways a healer could protect themselves. They kept emphasising how important it was to have proof, to have a video of everything. With that, the Healers Alliance could publicly help him. Hence, when the two spells hit the Evil Santa Claus, XiaoYu instinctively started recording. The entire incident was recorded, from the moment the mob died to the end.

With a video on hand, everything was so much easier for Chrysanthemum. XiaoYu didn’t mind going public about it too. The default setting for recordings was the third-person point-of-view. If it wasn’t changed to the first, individual information would be kept private. XiaoYu didn’t have to worry about unintentionally exposing anything at all.

Chrysanthemum confidently assured XiaoYu she would handle the matter with a fist thump to her chest. She shamelessly begged him for the video. She had a selfish wish to be the first to witness QiYao heroically saving the cat. Luckily for her, XiaoYu had always been too lazy to create an account on the forums. He’d always been browsing as a guest. Now that he had the option to not register and verify an account just for this matter, he took it.

Never in all of Snow’s dreams would she have thought there would be a version of the incident that perfectly exposed all of her evil words and deeds. The easily swayed masses also began bombarding her with judgements. Comments like “You shrew!”, “Are you a kid?”, “How shameless of you to hide your name when you’re the one who actively attacked them!”, “Snow? Haha. This woman really overestimates herself!”, “What a loser! How can a magician not have Cough Drops?” filled her initial post. It made her so angry that she started smashing everything she could reached in her home. That was the truth though. There was no way she could argue and turn it to her favour. Furthermore, her forum account had been suspended for a day by the administrators due to spreading misinformation.

And so passed the incident, neither major nor trivial, with QiYao still ignorant to the fuss. Never could QiYao have imagined he would end up mesmerising players with the way he’d drawn his sword to protect his healer. His fanbase grew tremendously.

Translator’s Notes:

  1. Fckbois: The more accurate translation for “装逼” would be “boasting/bragging/pretending to be more just to fulfil their own superficial pride”. However, it’s the forums and the term fits. It’ll date really fast though (as if my translation would stay up for more than a decade heh).
  2. How tired you are and how you’ve lost all faith in love: For those who don’t understand the reference/meme, it’s the common line spoken by “lotus” characters (characters who play the innocent saint but really create problems due to their naive [supposedly naive and evil if they’re “black”] actions). Another way to translate it would be “I’m tired. I won’t love anymore”.
  3. Easily swayed masses: “Water army” to be literal. It’s just people who have already have their mind set on a story, either because they’ve been paid to or because they share a common goal (like being fans of a certain celebrity). A more accurate translation would be “bots” or “paid commenters” but with obvious proof that those are not what’s going on, it’s been changed. I welcome any and all suggestions. I don’t dig into comment sections enough to know the proper accurate term.


PreviousIndexNext

LC: Chapter 79

79. Apologise or Die

Stalemates would always end. While the two players are engrossed in their duel in the Pyramids, a shadow was flying through the land to them.

When Snow’s first fireball struck XiaoYu, QiYao in Prole received a notification:  (No Party) Player Snow has attacked your party member at Pyramids 1st Floor (112, 332). Hurry and help them.

This was a major benefit of being partied up. It was why XiaoYu would always be partied up with QiYao when he wasn’t with the grinding parties at the Pyramids. After the incident where XiaoYu was killed when not partied up, QiYao never wanted to witness the sight of his lover grieving all alone in a corner somewhere with all means of contacting XiaoYu closed off.

From the ID, this attacker should be a female player. However, QiYao didn’t recall anything about it at all. He might not know why she started a fight with XiaoYu, but AO’s healers can’t solo-PvP. Whether it was intentional or an accident, QiYao needed to assess the situation personally.

QiYao kept an eye on XiaoYu’s health during his dash through the countryside. It went up and down and up and down, but fortunately there were no signs of imminent danger.

Here was where his white Thousand-Li Horse shined. Its large galloping strides at up the distance much faster than the typical horse. And so, when QiYao arrived at the Pyramids and started to search for XiaoYu, the younger man had just Silenced Snow for the fifth time.

A duel between a magician who can’t finish a spell time after time and a healer with only one attack skill and long cast times was a very boring duel to those who knew how to PvP. What’s stranger was how Snow, a magician, became overwhelmed with rage after being Silenced multiple times in a row a began to act out in a very entitled, angry housewife fashion. “You won’t let me cast spells? Fine. I’ll hit you with my staff!” was the implied thought.

Thankfully, XiaoYu didn’t lose his calm too. The fight didn’t end up being two spellcasters hitting each other with their staffs. Every time Snow got close to him, he would pull back until he was a safe distance away. Then, he’d cast all sorts of debuffs on the woman. His skill proficiency bars were visibly increasing by the minute.

This bizarre sight was what QiYao saw when he finally charged into sight. XiaoYu should’ve been the weaker party. He looked like the bully instead while the magician who should be the stronger party was acting as the punching bag with a dark look on her face and ellipses filling the air above her. Ugh…okay. It seems like there was nothing he could do here.

By the time the current bout of Silence was ending, Snow was near insane. At first, she could still hit XiaoYu. Now, she could do nothing but take hits. She downed potion after potion. If this situation went on, she would die a shameful death in the hands of a healer. She was about to shout and yell at XiaoYu when she suddenly spotted a Knight standing in the shadows behind XiaoYu. She hurriedly swallowed back the curses about to escape her throat.

XiaoYu was prepared to continue casting Silence until it succeeded again, but then his opponent stopped moving and her gaze shifted to something behind him. He looked back. It’s QiYao. When did he arrive?

The two players had noticed QiYao’s presence. He couldn’t just stand by and watch the show now. He softly cleared his throat and walked over.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“He stole my kill!” shouted Snow.

QiYao ignored the rude display and looked at XiaoYu. His instincts told him he would get a clearer picture of the story from his lover. However, a certain someone didn’t know to read the room. While the bully voiced her complaint first, she was also arrogantly pointing her finger at XiaoYu.

Faced with QiYao’s questioning gaze, all XiaoYu did was shake his head and blandly replied, “It’s a long story.”

Indeed. The grudge between Snow and him was something that was hard to fully explain right now. Should he not have partied up with her way back then because he had the tiny little cat with him? Should he not have thrown that robe over to her? Should he not have saved that scheming assassin? Should he not have pointed an Evil Santa Claus out for her? Should he not have attacked that monster? There was so much miscommunication and lack of patience in their interactions that XiaoYu didn’t even know just how he had offended the other player.

“It’s not a long story. You stole what was mine back then and now you’re stealing my kill!” It was such a rough summary that excluded a lot of context.

“That’s curious. Just what monster was here that was worth stealing?” QiYao could tell just how much hate was behind that one sentence. QiYao can hear XiaoYu’s thorough explanation of the whole thing afterwards. Right now, he at the very least didn’t think XiaoYu was the kind to kill-steal, or that he was strong enough to steal a magician’s kill.

“Evil Santa Clauses! He stole two at once!” Snow was the best at exaggerating the truth.

Unfortunately for her, QiYao wasn’t as brainless as the assassin from Wings. Anyone with the slightest bit of logic would realise the hole in that accusation.

“Oh? How did he still your kill? Melee attack or magical?”

“Of course it’s through magic…”

“That’ll be Holy Light then? There’s a Poring over there. Try hitting it.” The latter half of QiYao’s words were directed to XiaoYu. A finger rose to point at the green Poring being all cute and bouncing around them, ignorant to its imminent death.

XiaoYu didn’t really get what QiYao was getting to, but he locked onto the Poring and started to cast Holy Light.

“Over two seconds. He stole your kill with that cast time?” Magicians could instantly cast a spell. How could a healer who needed over two seconds to attack kill-steal? How could he do it twice? Even a fool would know something was fishy.

“I…”

“If you can’t explain why, then please apologise for this duel,” said QiYao.

“Why?” Snow screeched.

“Because you attacked first.” He glanced at the grey name above Snow. If it was a male player, QiYao would never have wasted his breath. He would slice the other down in one swift slash. However, as a gentleman, he had to be patient with ladies. That didn’t mean he could let the other bully her way around though. Because even if this was just a game, she should know basic gaming etiquette.

“…I won’t apologise. Especially not to healers.” Snow had hoped the famed guild leader would be leaning towards her side and snuff out the other player’s ego. To her surprise, everyone she met helped the healer. As if he’s all that great just because he had the Healers Alliance backing him up! As the two men selected to hide their party name, Snow still thought QiYao’s appearance was just a coincidence.

For the first time ever, QiYao could feel his patience hitting rock bottom. “Well, you should’ve been ready to die when you decided it was okay to have a grey name out in the wild,” he said, pulling out his sword.

“You…! You’re a major Guild Leader! How could you bully players at a lower level than you?” Snow had thought a famous man like Hei QiYao wouldn’t be so nosy, but the man had just displayed his desire to help the healer out. He had pulled out his sword. It would be a lie to say she wasn’t afraid of death.

“I’m just protecting my healer.”                QiYao switched their party settings to show their party name. The words “(Black-White)” appeared before their name tags.

“You two…!” It was only then did Snow understood why the over-Level 100 player would appear in the Pyramids. It’s because the two were in the same party all along.

“One last chance. Apologise or die.”

“…” Her fist curled into fists. Snow didn’t want to apologise at all, but she knew the Heretic Demons Guild Leader was very much stronger. It was impossible for her to escape either. She wavered between her life and her proud dignity for a moment. In the end, her jaws clenched tight.

“I’m…sorry,” she spat out between gritted teeth.

*****

Once Snow hastily left in a dishevelled manner, QiYao languidly hid their party name once more. The name hovering before their individual names vanished.

“Yao, thank you,” said XiaoYu.

“If you really want to thank me, tell me everything about the grudge between you and her tonight,” QiYao said.

“Okay. Your meeting’s done?”

“No.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be silly. I came because I wanted to protect you. Although, you didn’t seem to need my protection today.” It’s only natural to protect one’s beloved. Of course, QiYao understood he had to let go and stop when appropriate. That was why he didn’t instantly charge into the scene before. Watching XiaoYu grow and learn to PvP a magician on his own gave him a sense of satisfaction too.

“Hehe. Do you still need to go to your meeting?”

“No, it was about to end anyway. Let’s go grind.”

“Okay. Hm?”

“Mrrrrow~” The tiny cat clambered up XiaoYu’s leg. It wanted hugs. Today was so terrifying. It needed to pick up some gold to help it get over the shock. >w<


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 78

78. A Bloody Case Started by a Sock

The next day, QiYao and XiaoYu trained separately. QiYao couldn’t spend all his time by XiaoYu’s side after all, unless he didn’t want to level up. Also, with him around, XiaoYu wouldn’t have an easy time grinding as well.

It was just a piece of candy yesterday and it was enough for them to get lovestruck for half-a-day. Afterwards, QiYao still wasn’t satisfied. He commented how surprisingly delicious the candy would be when shared. He insisted on looking for another Santa Poring. XiaoYu was blushing so hard by the end of it and stomped his feet. He proactively objected and said he didn’t want another candy. He just wanted to head back to Prole to sleep. A rare sight indeed.

Thus, after a honey-sweet morning kiss, XiaoYu swiftly ran away, with the help of a Haste spell, to the Pyramids in search of the Healer Squad. QiYao was left behind on the comfortable bed in the inn, helpless to XiaoYu’s escape. Did he dote on XiaoYu so much that the other started to be a little spoiled? But that’s fine. He’s the one who spoiled XiaoYu. Anything the other did was okay. It might even add a little spice to their relationship.

The couple might fight their own battles apart during the day but they would always have dinner together. That was a habit they’ve developed ever since they started dating.

“Do you still want to go grind later?” QiYao asked.

“Mn. I want to sell off the stuff I got earlier first. If I have time afterwards, I’ll go train a little more,” XiaoYu replied.

“I’ll come look for you after my meeting. Be careful.”

“Okay.”

“Right. These are for you.” As QiYao said so, he stuffed a few pieces of candy in XiaoYu’s hands.

When XiaoYu saw the candy, he felt his cheeks flushing. Weren’t these the culprits that ruined their grind session yesterday?

“You can have some when you’re training. It’ll be a minor insurance. But…” QiYao leaned in close to XiaoYu’s ear. “Leave one for us to share.”

Daily teasing of a blushing lover is so very fun. ╮(╯▽╰)╭

****

The two split up. QiYao gathered some of their guild’s researchers to sort through the information on the new updates. XiaoYu went around with the tiny cat and cleared their inventories of the day’s drops while replenishing their supplies.

Once everything was settled, it was only past eight. XiaoYu decided to train for two more hours and teleported straight to the Pyramids. His proficiency at Teleport was very high now. Not only can he maintain all the portals he needed for the Guild Wars, he could even save one slot for his own personal use.

The first floor of the Pyramids was a maze. However, after the players mapped out the whole dungeon, the maze lost its meaning. All it did now was act as a buffer floor between the mummies upstairs and the Berserk Mummies downstairs. The monsters on this level weren’t that strong, bats that die in a few hits and little Porings that only knew to be cute and pick up loot.

XiaoYu buffed himself up and hurried through the maze to the floor above. Along the way, he smacked away the few bats attracted by his presence.

“Hm?” Out of the corner of his eye, XiaoYu spotted a large shadow to his left. He turned to find an Evil Santa Claus standing not far away. It was looking around at a cross-junction with its back to XiaoYu. The maze seemed to have confused it.

He raised his hands and chanted Holy Light. Soon, a sock should be his.

All of a sudden, right before his spell hit the monster, a fireball came streaking from a hallway blocked from XiaoYu’s sight by the maze’s walls and struck the Evil Santa Claus too.

It would be hard to tell which spell hit the mob first, so they had to rely on the game’s judgement. The one who hit it first would have priority in collecting the EXP and loot dropped.

From the way the small cat went sprinting for the sock, XiaoYu knew the game decided his spell struck first. What a pity for this unknown other player.

“Where did this ratty cat come from? Die!” shouted a female voice. Another fireball was casted and headed straight for the little kitten.

Fortunately, the kitten was very fast at picking up loot. It was also very good at retreating fast. Therefore, the fireball didn’t hit it at all. It merely brushed by the cat’s tail and struck the floor. It did scare the unsuspecting little one. It immediately charged back to XiaoYu and hid behind his legs.

XiaoYu frowned. This voice…it reminded him of very unpleasant memories.

“Where are you running to…it’s you!” the other player yelled.

Frankly, XiaoYu didn’t want to see her either. The past two times they met, they’d parted on bad terms. The two seemed destined to be enemies.

“Hmph. I was wondering why that darned cat looked so familiar. So it’s you, you arrogant bastard.”

“Why did you hurt my cat?” XiaoYu didn’t care much for the verbal jabs aimed at him. He just didn’t like Snow’s attitude towards his precious cat.

“Did you need to ask? It stole my sock!”

“The game is the judge.”

“This…!” Snow was rendered speechless. When the kitten bounced out and grabbed the sock, it hadn’t click in her mind yet. She soon realised if the game hadn’t decided it was XiaoYu who hit the monster first, the cat couldn’t have grabbed the sock, not with the loot protection still active. But the words she had thrown out on impulse were already spoken. Even if she wanted to take it back, she couldn’t. She didn’t want to admit she was in the wrong before this hateful healer anyway.

When Snow didn’t reply, XiaoYu didn’t feel like saying anything anymore. He wasn’t the kind to force others to do something anyway. He was just a little angry at seeing his little cat being nearly hurt.

“There’s another behind you,” XiaoYu said. He had been about to turn and leave when he spotted an Evil Santa Claus spawn right behind Snow, so he pointed it out to her. Then, he turned to leave. He didn’t want it. Why not just let the other have it? They’ll be even then.

“Freeze! I don’t need your charity!” Unfortunately, some people loved to think badly of others, especially because Snow always had some biases against XiaoYu. No matter what he did, she would be upset.

XiaoYu, on the other hand, was unsurprised by Snow’s ridiculous tantrum. The consequences of acknowledging her back at the Zombie Cave was nearly being 3v1-ed. So, he ignored the frustrated and irritated shouts. He checked his position on the map and continued towards the staircase connecting this floor and the above.

However, Snow had always been the one ignoring others. Being ignored was a hard pill for her to swallow. In a fit of rage, she flung out a fireball. Of course, she didn’t aim for XiaoYu. She merely aimed for the spell to brush past him and hit the ground before him. That would be more threatening.

XiaoYu had to stop and turn around at that. He wasn’t afraid of being killed, but he didn’t want to turn his back on an attacker. That would only be bad for him.

“I’m warning you. Don’t think you’re all that just because you’re a healer,” Snow threatened.

XiaoYu had never thought he was superior in any way. The communication gap between them was way too big.

“Aren’t you going to hit it?” XiaoYu asked, pointing to the Evil Santa Claus behind Snow once more. The mob was about to leave the range for magic attacks.

“I don’t have to hit it just because you let me!” Snow snarled.

“…” If XiaoYu understood that correctly, that meant she didn’t want that monster. It’s not rational for him to ignore a present that’s inviting him to open it.

“!!!” Snow didn’t think XiaoYu would immediately start chanting Holy Light. While the chant took over two seconds (XiaoYu’s more proficient in the skill now), she didn’t react in time. All she could do was stare as the cross-shaped light flew past her and hit the Evil Santa Claus behind her. Then, a tiny black shadow dashed over before bouncing back to XiaoYu.

“W-Who said you could hit it?” Snow might’ve said she didn’t care about the mob, but it has been two days since the event started and Snow didn’t have a single sock. Today was the first time she’s seen an Evil Santa Claus. How could she not panic? But the more emotional one was, the harder it was for her to make the right decision. A tiny temper tantrum and she missed out on a sock.

At that, she lashed out on an impulse.

Suddenly, XiaoYu felt like this whole situation was rather laughable. If not for the fact this game was only open to adults, he would’ve thought Snow was a primary school student. He’d be insane to argue with such an illogical person.

“How dare you laugh at me!” Snow shouted.

Was XiaoYu really smiling? XiaoYu raised a hand and touched the corners of his mouth.

The meaning of a trivial, instinctive action would always change in the eyes of the petty. Snow was always bad-tempered. The only reason she didn’t attack XiaoYu the past two times was because there were more rational players by her side. Today, she had been made a fool of over and over again before the healer she hated. What little drops of patience she had were long since gone. When emotions overruled logic, she forgot all about the Healers Alliance. There was no way she could show her face in AO if she didn’t punish him!

The basic skill of a mage could be casted within milliseconds, but it wasn’t that powerful and there were no proficiency levels to upgrade it with. When faced against healers whose builds also relied heavily on Intelligence, this party trick did as much damage as a tickle. That’s why XiaoYu’s mind didn’t understand what the tiny sparks clashing into him were until he saw the familiar notification from the game. He was being pulled into a PvP fight.

“Player Snow has attacked you. PvP  mode activated. You can retaliate within the next 10 minutes and your nametag won’t change colours.”

Even instantaneous spells had cooldowns. Snow usually switched between the instant-cast spells and those that needed to be chanted. She was currently chanting Fire Arrow, a more threatening spell.

Did she think XiaoYu would just stand there like an idiot and let her cast her spell? That’s impossible. XiaoYu used the time Snow spent chanting to buff himself up. Against mages and wizards, the Acolyte tree had a skill that technically wasn’t an attack, but it would make the enemy grit their teeth in anger.

Silence: Inflicts Silence status on a target by chance. When Silenced, the enemy won’t be able to use their skills for a given period of time. Improved with Proficiency. (Ineffective against Boss monsters)

Of course, the Magician tree had an item to counter Silence – Cough Drops bought from the Item Shop. It could cure Silence and grants immunity to the status effect for five seconds.

XiaoYu had never used Silence before so the success rate was very low, but he patiently casted spell after spell as he dodged attacks. He did get stabbed by a Fire Arrow or two, but he could never be instantly killed. This PvP duel couldn’t really be called a fight. They were locked in a stalemate.

Snow didn’t dare use her high-level spells all willy-nilly. Without a tank, her chanting would be interrupted. She started to regret being greedy and just levelled up her attack spells. The Dark spells meant to protect her were very low-level. Otherwise, she could cast a high-level Dark Barrier and she could chant all the spells as she pleased to torture this damned healer to death.

“Ding. Spell successful. Proficiency +1.”

Accompanying the pleasant ding of a system notification, a series of ellipses appeared above Snow. It told everyone the Silence spell was a success. Snow was halfway through her chant for the next Fire Arrow spell when it fizzled out. Snow had the urge to yell and scream, but something seemed stuck in her throat and preventing her from saying anything, even if it wasn’t to chant a spell. What’s worse is that she didn’t have the habit of bringing Cough Drops with her everywhere she went, even though she was a wizard. There was no way she could cure herself of this status effect. She could only stand and stare at the fifteen-second timer.

By this time, XiaoYu too realised Snow didn’t have any Cough Drops on her. He could do a lot with these fifteen seconds. He could have hit Snow with five Holy Light spells. He could even replenish his health back to full, buff himself back up and ready himself for the next round of attacks. He could even leave Snow behind in the dust and continued with his grind session.

“I don’t know just what you misunderstood of me, but I don’t want to fight you. If possible, I hope we can each go our own way after the debuff ends,” said XiaoYu.

Snow’s unruly temper hadn’t given XiaoYu even a chance to speak up. This was a rare chance. He had to use this opportunity to communicate his thoughts to her. Of course, if she wasn’t willing to listen, he’ll continue with the fight. After all, he didn’t like to kill.

What Snow heard instead was a taunt. She clenched her teeth and waited out the timer. “Stop pretending,” she spat out. “One of us will die today!”

It seemed like there was no way for them to talk it out. XiaoYu internally sighed and continued tossing out Silences. His level was higher than Snow’s and his gear was better than hers. The walls of the maze meant he could avoid being locked on by her spells. Strictly speaking, this round of PvP was just a meaningless battle. There was no way of telling just how long it’ll last.

Translator’s Notes:

  1. Silence spell: Likely referring to Lex Divina by Priests. However, this version of the skill can’t un-Silence targets.
  2. Dark Barrier: Mages in RO had a spell called Safety Wall that could stop a number of melee attacks. However, AO’s version of the spell is Dark-element and (implied) could stop magic attacks too.


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LC: Chapter 77

77. Christmas Event

XiaoYu pulled the tiny cat, that’d been curling round and round his legs, up into his arms. Four days ago, XiaoYu would never have imagined the few days of server maintenance would be so eventful. The happiness overwhelming him made him rub his face against the small cat. Sensing its little owner was very much happier now than when he’d logged off, it stretched its tiny pink tongue out and licked him.

“Heeheh. Let’s go grind,” XiaoYu said.

As for how the new Guild Wars update, that wasn’t something XiaoYu needed to worry about as long as the grind spots stayed the same. His mission was to level up. What about QiYao who should be concerned about this matter? He’d left for work after having the breakfast XiaoYu had lovingly cooked.

However, the update this time not only made some changes to the weekly Guild Wars rules, it patched in the Christmas and New Year events. The year was nearly over.

First to occur was the Christmas event. Just like last year, it was about the grudge between the two Santa Clauses.

In Asgard Online, lived two Santa Clauses. One was an NPC dubbed the “Crying Santa Claus” while the other was a…monster named the “Evil Santa Claus”. That’s right. The evil Santa Claus was a mob. It would spawn in every single place a normal mob might spawn.

The true Santa Claus was the crying NPC. Every year, he aimed to spread happiness and give Christmas presents to everyone. But an evil person would always appear and disrupt his plans.

Last year, the evil culprit stole his presents and threw them all over the world. The Christmas event required players to defeat the Evil Santa Clauses and collect the “Scattered Christmas Present” items. Return five of them to the real Santa Claus and he’ll give you a present in return. These boxes would drop some peculiar and unique little joke items.

This year, it’s a little different. The alert Santa Claus didn’t get cheated. He didn’t have his presents stolen but, infuriatingly, the socks the kids of Asgard Online used to collect their Christmas presents had been stolen overnight. This meant even if Santa Claus had his presents, he couldn’t give them to the children. Hence, he has sought help from the players once more. It was roughly the same quest. Defeat the Evil Santa Clauses. Collect five Christmas Socks and exchange them for a present from him.

It was a little overdramatic for a Christmas event, but the players of AO were already grinding everywhere. They didn’t mind attacking another mob. It was an easy monster to tackle anyway, even a Level 1 player could kill it. The reason’s simple. He won’t attack and he only had 1 HP.

Thus, even if the players just lightly tapped the Evil Santa Claus with their weapons, he would immediately collapse, wriggle in pain for a few moments before disappearing and leaving behind the quest item. Last year, this sight made quite a few players’ faces go 囧, but everyone was used to it this year. They were even curious just what kind of drama these two characters will act out this year.

Staring at the red and worn-down, with holes in the heel, sock in his inventory, XiaoYu hesitated. With every event, there would be a major business opportunity lurking behind it. Be it the socks or the presents, the streets would soon be filled with players buying and selling them. Should XiaoYu sell them or open the presents himself for some fun?

To be honest, XiaoYu quite liked opening chests and boxes. After all, that’s how he got his tiny cat. So, it was only a moment of dithering before he decided to keep the socks. He’ll just take it as a chance to open some presents.

By the end of the day, XiaoYu was able to exchange the socks for two presents. That was a nice battle record. If one were slightly unlucky, they might not encounter a single Evil Santa Claus at all within 24 hours.

After a glance at the time, XiaoYu bent down and lifted the small cat into a hug and a kiss. “I’m sorry, little one. I’ve got to log off for a while. I’ll play with you more tonight,” he said.

“Mrrooow~”

What was XiaoYu logging off for? To cook dinner.

With the existence of high-grade nutritional solution, having an actual meal didn’t really matter. However, since XiaoYu and QiYao were living together, XiaoYu wanted to do something for their home. Most of the household chores didn’t need him though. QiYao had plenty of high-tech products in charge of them, plus the occasional professional cleaners.

At the sight of XiaoYu wrecking his head over this, QiYao suggested that XiaoYu be in charge of all three meals whenever QiYao had to head in for work. That way, he would be able to have XiaoYu’s loving cooking at work too. He wouldn’t have to order takeout all the time. XiaoYu thought that was a great idea too and agreed to it. Unknown to him, this man was a boss so rich that his savings were enough for both of them to live off of. He was also way past the period when a new boss needed to achieve something grand to prove himself. There were more days QiYao didn’t need to go to work than the days when he needed to.

After dinner, the couple logged on.

“For me?” QiYao asked, shocked at the present XiaoYu handed over.

“Mn,” XiaoYu replied. He scratched the back of his head bashfully. “It’s a little early but I’m afraid I might not be able to hold back from opening it up.”

“Thanks.” While the logic behind the decision made QiYao want to laugh and cry at the same time, he appreciated the intent behind it.

He reached out to accept the present and snuck a kiss along the way, successfully making XiaoYu’s hair stand on end from the gesture. They were currently in Prole. There were players all around them bustling about >///<. QiYao didn’t mind at all. He was so quick, and he had done a quick survey of their surroundings, that even if someone wanted to take a photo of them kissing, he would be done before anything could be done.

“Let’s go grind at the Pyramids,” QiYao said.

“You don’t have a meeting today?” XiaoYu recalled the patch notes he had briefly read through earlier that day. The points about the Guild Wars update occupied more than half of the notes.

 “It’s tomorrow night.”

“Oh.”

With QiYao in party, XiaoYu could climb to the top of the Pyramids to fight the higher levelled Mummies that spawned there. They could even kill a Christmas-only mob called Santa Poring, which was basically a ball of jelly wearing a Santa hat.

The Santa Porings and Evil Santa Clauses spawned anywhere a normal mob could. The reason for Santa Poring’s existence was to assist the weak and fragile Santa Claus. Santa Porings didn’t have a set level. They would spawn five levels higher than the average mob at their spawn location. Hence, if players were trying to power level by grinding in an area too strong for them, they would first need to consider the level gap between them and the mob before any attempt to attack a Santa Poring. Wouldn’t want to be stomped to death by a ball of jelly.

Fortunately, Santa Porings were as rare as the Evil Santa Claus and they weren’t aggressive. If one wasn’t attacking it, it can be considered a very cute creature. In spite of all that, it had a very irritating characteristic. It would pick up loot and there was a chance the loot it gobbled up would be dissolved. That meant if one were to be really unlucky, the item that was eaten up by the Santa Poring would still be gone even if the monster was killed.

Nevertheless, any and all loot-picking monsters had to bow down to the tiny cat, the grandmaster of the art. And so not only did the Santa Poring that came bouncing towards the party, attracted by the loot drops, not find anything for it to gobble up, it was also tragically dissected by a certain Guild Leader.

“XiaoYu, take out the Christmas Candy.”

“Okay.” XiaoYu opened up the little cat’s inventory to find a piece of candy wrapped in pretty and colourful wrapping paper. He took it out and read its description.

Christmas Candy: A special candy that can be used in battle. 1 HP regenerated every second for 5 minutes after consumption.

To high level players, that measly health regeneration’s worth nothing but it was better than nothing. And the candy’s quite delicious.

“Try it.” Last year’s event had that candy too. The prices went as high as 50 gold per piece. It might be expensive but it was one of the most delicious candies in the game, according to those who liked sweets.

XiaoYu unwrapped the candy and popped it in his mouth. An “Auto-Regen” symbol instantly appeared in the buff section of his status bar.

“Is it tasty?”

“Mn. It’s very sweet.” It’s sweet yet not sickly sweet. It was a very tasty candy indeed.

“Is that so…”Because QiYao had been tanking mobs for XiaoYu with his back to the younger man, XiaoYu couldn’t see the sly smile that was creeping up the knight’s face.

All of a sudden, QiYao let out a few of his Third Job moves to clear the area around them. XiaoYu was confused. Were they going to rest now? Then, he saw QiYao turn around and pull him into a kiss.

“I want to try it too,” muttered QiYao.

When kissing, keep his mouth open. After a few days of “training”, XiaoYu had taken that lesson to heart. But they were kissing in the middle of a monsters’ den and QiYao’s tongue was still chasing after the candy in XiaoYu’s mouth. It was the first time anything like this had ever happened to XiaoYu. He didn’t have the mental capacity to wonder if there were any more monsters around them, if doing this right then and there was dangerous. All he could do was clutch at QiYao’s cape and drown in that passionate and sweet kiss.

Translator’s Note:

Santa Claus: In RO, there were no 2 Santa Clauses. The “Evil Santa Claus” here is likely a stand-in/adaptation of the Christmas Goblins.


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 76

76. Meetup

Qiong Lin had been busy buzzing around ever since he woke up early that morning. Confirm everything was ready at the venue. Make sure everyone’s nametags were sorted properly in their own groups. Speaking of the nametags, they were actually just a piece of sticky note with the player’s game ID and the headshot of their avatars printed on it. Then, the players can just stick their nametags at their chest or at their arm. It would make it so much easier for everyone to get to know each other.

As time ticked closer to the appointed time, Heretic Demons guild members started flocking in from all places. They stuck their nametags on and rushed into the field. The instant they stepped past the doors, they were shocked by the signs on the floor. They looked identical to the signs they’d use at the Zhang Village to direct players to the different portals at the airport. Instinctively, a lot of them started to follow the arrows to their own subsidiary guilds’ spots.

Soon, the majority of the guild members snapped back to their senses. This wasn’t a Guild War. Their goal today was the Guild Leader! Thus, they all ran towards the main guild’s section to take a look instead. In a blink, the spot designated for the main guild was crowded. Unfortunately, no matter how hard they searched, they couldn’t find anyone with the name “HereticKing” on them.

Still, all that looking around led to many players finding familiar names in the crowd. Soon, they charged towards them. Squad leaders for the different Jobs, guild leaders, the grinding party leaders, all of them were quickly surrounded. Everyone was chattering happily away. No one even noticed QiYao when he led XiaoYu into the stadium.

The two of them had arrived way before. They’d merely been resting in a break room. To XiaoYu, the ride over had been as breezy as riding on clouds. However, he learned his lesson from yesterday. He kept his eyes closed the moment he stepped out the door. It was so much less traumatic because of that. That meant he didn’t have to endure the embarrassing process of being carried around by QiYao. Alright, he’ll admit it. He did get carried for just a bit, just.

The gathering spots for the main guild and the subsidiary guilds were at different areas of the stadium. The two men quickly split up and XiaoYu successfully merged into the crowd and waddled over to his designated area. There were too many people around though so he didn’t spot any familiar names.

Contrary to the peaceful journey XiaoYu had, QiYao was very unlucky. Before he even got close to the main guild’s section, someone in the crowd shouted, “It’s Chief!”, and silence dominated the hundred-or-so-square-metres-large stadium. Countless eyes started darting around in search of the man, only to end up staring up at the large screen stationed high above their heads. They gasped. The drone hovering in the air had caught QiYao’s figure in its camera.

Most VR players would improve their looks in one way or another to make up for whatever they lack in real life. Who would’ve thought their great Guild Leader did the opposite? The face on the screen was much more handsome than a celebrity. Those who hoped to pounce on their leader deflated with their courage fleeing at that sight.

“Everyone, our mighty boss is here! A round of applause!” shouted Qiong from among the crowd. He climbed up onto the big stage they’d hired, grabbed the microphone and did his best as an MC.

At first, the crowded was stunned silent. They then erupted into cheers. They were so excited that one could’ve mistaken them for fans welcoming their favourite celebrity to the stage.

“Ahem. I’m sure Chief also felt everyone’s love. Well then, I formally welcome everyone to the Heretic Demons Gathering! It has begun!”

“Yay!”

“I’ll make this short. First, let’s watch a short – ugh, or as I should say, long – clip. There was so many submissions. Everyone, thank you for being so kind as to provide me with them. A friendly warning. Please don’t drink anything while watching this video. Those who have issues standing might want to sit down for this.”

Under the confused gazes from most of the crowd, the large screen switched to a familiar sight – the official trailer for Asgard Online. It was just over a minute but it made them recall the sights they saw when they were first introduced to the world of AO. The picture after the trailer petrified everyone present, even QiYao was startled.

In the picture were HereticKing and I_Am_A_Poor_Man out in the wild and in newbie gear, that seemed rather hilarious now that they looked at them. The former was drinking some milk with a blank face. He clearly didn’t realise he was being photographed. As for the other, he had a somewhat evil smirk on while a hand is held up in a V sign.

This was taken not long after they’d started playing. Most of the Heretic Demons members had never seen their leaders as tender and naive as they were over a year ago. Their awe-inspiring Chief actually were once as weak as they were too. One could actually be so very photogenic while drinking milk. Everyone immediately realised another side to the great player they worship. He could be cute and friendly too.

Picture after picture flashed by. Familiar faces began to slowly appear before the crowd’s eyes. They were always wearing cheap, ratty gear with ever-so normal weapons and not a single shine in sight. Sometimes they’d be facing off a monster, sometimes they would be resting.

Clearing the fields of mobs, attacking bosses in groups, the joy of finding gear or a card at the end of a battle, the corpses that litter the ground when a party wipe happens, the moment the main guild and the subsidiary guilds were created, the mass partying-up for major events, marching around on their night patrols…the different people featured in the picture and videos slowly grew before the crowd’s eyes. They saw what they used to look like. A tranquil peace gradually enveloped the gigantic stadium, leaving only the music from AO ringing through the air.

The sight of the familiar faces of their leaders as fresh new players made them laugh, but those smiles soon turned wistful and nostalgic. Hearts were touched. Every player had once gone through that. A simple picture might dust off the memories hidden away in their minds.

The Search for Yesterday’s Memories.

If one had to give the first half of the video a theme, that would be it. The following section was vastly different.

The figures crowding around the Zhang Village. Players shaking hands and bumping fists. The unrestrained anticipation and excitement in their eyes. Party leaders raising their flags up high in search of party members in the sea of players. Healers solemnly standing at their stations in the airport. The guild witnessed those sights once more. To XiaoYu’s surprise, he and his tiny cat showed up in the video too, even for a brief moment. In the shot, the little cat was rubbing against his neck with a tilted head in an affectionate gesture while he was looking down at it with a doting gaze. The sight warmed XiaoYu’s heart. He must get Big Brother Lin to send him a copy of that moment.

The camera panned towards the various battlefields they fought in. Blood-red wings mixed with the logos of other guilds. Them laying siege on the fortresses, breaking through the fortress defences, counterattacking, clearing the fortresses of remaining monsters, witnessing server-wide announcements ring out about a fortress being conquered…Most of the people present were the heroes of these scenes. Even mere audience members who hadn’t participated in any of those moments felt their blood rushing through their bodies.

The last scene in the video was focused on the square in the middle of Prole. There, five flags were flying in the air. These represented the guilds whom the fortresses belonged to and three of them featured their beloved red wings.

The Glory of Building Tomorrow.

The video lasted well over an hour. From an outsider’s perspective, the fancy display of skills and light flashing around was very boring. To every single Heretic Demons member in the stadium, all of that was just part of the pride and happiness that only they could understand.

“It’s free time next. You guys can do anything, cards, just chat, sing and even have a real-life PvP match. Just follow the signs here. We’ll gather back here at five later. Many more activities to come tonight! Dismissed!”

For a brief second everyone just remained where they were. Their minds still occupied by the video they’d watched. It was only when the video started to play again on the screen did voices start to rise in chatter.

“Chief is so cute with overalls one!”

“I’ve even forgot I wore that wood armour before. That was so thick.”

“I’ve tried catching that fox cub before. I never caught one unfortunately.”

“Haha. I was part of that corpse pile on the street. Who knew that the Centipede King would go berserk?”

“I was the one who found that scarf. What a pity it broke at +7.”

“At least half of that sprite guild were killed by my group.”

The video was well-received. Qiong who had jumped down off the stage after his announcement was very satisfied with the reaction. He had asked so many people to help him. He requested to have every single guild member who would be attending the gathering appear at least once. However, he didn’t think he would find a picture of him and Chief when they were at the Newbie Village. It seemed like his habit of just recording and taking screenshots at all times was very handy.

“You took quite a lot of photos while I wasn’t paying attention,” QiYao nonchalantly remarked.

“I’m innocent. Most of them were found by the others. You’re more popular after all.”

“Oh? The one from the Newbie Village too?”

“Ha…Ha…I’m sorry.” T-T

“Send me the photo of XiaoYu to me later.”

“You think that was a good one too, right?”

“Mn.”

“Chief, give me an autograph!”

“Chief, I want a selfie with you!”

“Chief…”

The members who’d been watching at a distance due to the special Boss aura QiYao exuded mustered up their courage and crowded over after having seen him looking so very cute in the video. Qiong took the chance and escaped but he was soon swarmed as well.

“Poor_Man, can you send me this video later?”

“What are you planning with fanning everyone’s passion through this, you brat?”

“Yeah! I nearly cried!”

“Did Enlighten send you that picture of the party-wipe? Aah! I’ll get him for this. My heroic image!”

Everywhere, everyone was chattering excitedly with each other. XiaoYu even found a few familiar figures…well, actually, he was found. It’s because his face was exactly the same as his in-game avatar’s, which meant it was the best sign to advertise with. Occasionally, someone would say, “Ah, you’re LuckyCat. You look just the same.” Then, the heads around XiaoYu would snap to look at him. Well, he and QiYao had been acting so obvious that quite a lot of the Heretic Demons members were still thinking, “Is he the legendary Mrs Guild Leader? -o-”.

In twos and threes, the players soon wandered off to the numerous entertainment rooms available in the stadium to continue their mingling. XiaoYu was also dragged to sing some songs by a few passionate women in his subsidiary guild. Later on, his grinding party came and borrowed him for a few rounds of card games. While he was in the toilet, he met Below_The_Moon (Xue KaiYue) who’d escape his own flock using the toilet as an excuse. Then, he was pulled along to a PvP match. Of course, that’s not a real-life PvP match. It was a match on a computer. It was proclaimed to be to train XiaoYu’s reflexes and skills. XiaoYu was kept dizzyingly busy, but he was very happy with it.

At five, the eager crowd gathered at the stadium’s centre field once more. There were many long tables set up this time. It wasn’t realistic to have everyone sit in the usual round tables so tonight’s dinner was a self-serve buffet.

While enjoying the delicious food available, there were lucky draws with prizes ranging from in-game items to real-life merchandise. (The merchandise was gotten through the tricks of a certain someone calling the game publishers. Of course, they were happy to provide with such a different way of generating publicity.)

The lucky draw winners would be selected through the camera randomly locking onto someone. It could be anyone, from the guild leaders to the average member. They even had someone who was wolfing food down when they were selected. The winner was so excited that he rushed up stage with a big plate of food. Everyone had burst out laughing then.

Naturally, the most welcomed guest to draw the next winner would be QiYao. Qiong even gave him the special authority to draw a few more. No one would say no to that. Everyone stretched their neck high, hoping to be drawn.

“MildlyMorose.” The screen zoomed in on the paper held in QiYao’s hands. It had both the player’s ID and their avatar headshot printed on it. That way, they can avoid mixing up players with similar names.

“Yay! I love you, Chief!” A petite little girl from one of the subsidiary guilds hopped up and down in happiness. It made those around her even more jealous.

“UnhappyBreakup.” From the avatar, it should be a guy.

“Mmmgh!” sounded a strange noise from the crowd. The drone immediately zoomed in on the source.

“Hahahaha!” Everyone broke out in laughter at the scene shown on the screen. The guy had been stuffing his mouth full of meat and hadn’t had the time to swallow the food down for the draw. He was waving a chicken leg up in the air while dancing madly on the spot to indicate the winner was him.

“…” Once the two’s prizes were handed out, QiYao continued to pull out the next paper slip. When he saw the name written on the paper, he was stunned, but the corners of his lips lifted into a noticeable smile. Warmth filled his eyes.

“!!!” QiYao hadn’t announce the winner and he’d yet to show it to the camera. All everyone off-stage could do was be shocked at how QiYao’s eyes seemed as though they were looking at his lover. Just what name was it? Who was so charming as to make the ever-poker-face Chief be so gentle? Was it himself? It didn’t look like it.

QiYao looked up and immediately picked out XiaoYu from the crowd. The smile in his eyes grew and he showed the paper to the camera.

“LuckyCat.”

The other camera followed QiYao’s gaze before locking onto XiaoYu whose nametag read “LuckyCat”. He had just shoved a forkful of cake into his mouth. When he felt eyes boring into him, he looked up, startled eyes wide and blinking with his fork still in his mouth.

“Congratulations, LuckyCat. Please head on stage” Qiong had known who QiYao had drawn just from the smile on his face. He had to admit, love was so strong and powerful that even the gods would help lovers out. Ah, they had a merchandise here that would be perfect for XiaoYu. Qiong had planned on keeping it to give it to XiaoYu later. He’ll go look for it now.

Under numerous curious stares, XiaoYu slowly walked up to the stage. At the same time, he tried his best to secretly chew and swallow the cake in his mouth. Once on stage, he just stood there. He didn’t know where he should stand. All he could do was seek help from QiYao with his eyes. The other smilingly pulled him over to his side.

When Qiong ran back out from backstage, he was nearly forced to retreat from the pink bubbles floating onstage. Just what were these two doing? Why are they holding hands and shooting glances  at each other? Can’t they tell everyone else’s jaws were already glued to the floor?

Qiong handed over the prize he found to QiYao while continuing to grumble and whine internally. The latter then handed it over to XiaoYu. When XiaoYu’s eyes landed on his prize, his eyes twinkled and shined. It was a black cat sprawled out with a red ribbon tied to its tail. This was a cute head accessory found in-game that could only be crafted through collecting different equipment. It’s called the Lazy Kitten. As the whole crafting process was rather troublesome and the materials needed for it were quite hard to collect, XiaoYu had never tried to get one.

“Thank you,” said XiaoYu.

“No need for thanks,” replied QiYao.

Alright, alright. Qiong felt like his eyes were going blind from the dazzling display of love before him. If these two kept going like that, they wouldn’t need to continue with the activities planned for later.

“We still have plenty of prizes left. Don’t worried, dear friends who have yet to win a prize. Next up, let’s welcome the leader of Suicide Squad, Egg_Tart,” Qiong announced.

……

The event went on until late at night. By the time the two arrived home, XiaoYu overcame his nervousness from being in a car, and recovered some strength to wash up and prepare for bed, time had already ticked past twelve.

“Did you have fun today?” asked QiYao.

“Yes. I’m so happy,” XiaoYu replied, still hugging to his beloved lazy kitten.

“That’s good.” It seemed like the decision to get XiaoYu to attend the gathering was correct.

“Yao…”

“Hm?”

“Thank you…” XiaoYu leaned his head on QiYao’s chest and rubbed his head against the other like a little cat.

“What is it?” What surprised QiYao was not XiaoYu’s proactiveness, it was the rather strange tone he used.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to have someone else be with me on my birthday.” And there were so many people today. This was something XiaoYu who’d spent his 19th birthday all alone, with his parents having just passed away, would never have imagined.

QiYao was shocked. He quickly looked up at the clock. It was already past midnight. “Yesterday was your birthday! Why didn’t you tell me?” he gasped.

“You didn’t ask…”

“Erm…Sorry, XiaoYu. I didn’t prepare any gifts for you.”

“I already have the best present I could wish for.” XiaoYu held up the kitten up and shook it. “I’m so very happy. Thank you, Yao.”

“While it’s a little late, happy birthday, XiaoYu.” QiYao held XiaoYu in a tight hug. Unfortunately, this year’s birthday was past, but QiYao had already sworn he would never ever miss it again. From now on, he’ll be spending XiaoYu’s birthday with him.

“Mn.” XiaoYu hugged the other man back. He really, truly did felt like he was very fortunate to have this.


Previous IndexNext

LC: Chapter 75

75. Living Together

It was obvious to everyone in the car that XiaoYu was greatly disturbed this time. XiaoYu was left to curl up in a couch in QiYao’s home. He sat there for a full half-hour before he finally regained his strength.

During this whole time. QiYao stayed by XiaoYu’s side, except for the brief period of time when he had to direct the professional movers on where to install XiaoYu’s gaming pod. Even without being able to walk around, the two did plenty during these thirty minutes. They ordered their takeaway to be delivered during lunch, the groceries they needed for dinner that night and any spice or seasoning they lacked. QiYao’s kitchen was just a lavish display after all.

“Thank you, Yao,” said XiaoYu.

“If you really want to thank me, then you’ll be in charge of washing the dishes tonight.”

“Huh?” XiaoYu had been feeling awkward. He didn’t know how he should face QiYao after the episode. Now, confusion replaced any unease he felt. He looked up into QiYao’s eyes to find them sparkling clearly with laughter. Only then did he realised he was being “bullied” again.

Such a flabbergasted look on XiaoYu really gave one the strongest urge to just pounce on him. Fortunately, QiYao remembered there were outsiders present in his home just then. He merely smiled and pulled the other man over to ruffle his hair.

Meanwhile, Qiong was in a state of great depression. He could be considered a guest too, sort of. Why is it the master of the house was allowed to slack off while he had to be in charge of supervising the movers? He could understand the act early on. XiaoYu still couldn’t stand and walk yet. But then the two eventually moved on to a tour of the house. Hand in hand, they merely glanced in the room where he was. Before he could even greet XiaoYu, Chief pulled him away. >皿<

There were three floors to QiYao’s mansion, with a similar-sized private garage next to it. QiYao didn’t lead XiaoYu there. He didn’t want his precious one to be traumatised again on the very same day.

Finally, XiaoYu’s gaming pod was installed and the workers left. The three who’d been working hard the whole morning gathered in the luxurious living room to savour their…takeaways.

“Hm? Why are there so many bottles here? Seasonings?”

“Yeah. We’ll need them for tonight.”

Qiong shot a glance at QiYao. This pampered and posh Chief clearly wouldn’t know how to use these. “XiaoYu, you know how to cook?” Qiong asked.

“A little.”

“Hee-hee. You wouldn’t mind if I stayed for dinner, right?”

“Sure. What do you like?”

“As long as there’s meat, I’m fine.” One must know their limits. Just look at Chief’s face. It’s turned so much the moment Qiong mentioned the word “stay”. If Qiong tried to ask for any dish, he would’ve been kicked out by now.

Qiong was determined to stay, even with his Chief’s death glare boring holes into him. He didn’t want to be a third wheel, but he was very curious about XiaoYu’s cooking skills. Even if Qiong was a chef in the game, he just had to dump the ingredients required by the recipe into the pot and the dish was cooked. In real life, he was completely useless at cooking.

That afternoon, the three sat together and amicably discussed about Asgard Online. From battling in fortresses to market prices for items, they’d discussed anything and everything, even rumours regarding monsters. What shocked Qiong and QiYao was just how familiar XiaoYu was with the market prices of most items in the game. Potions, common materials, gear and even cards, he knew nearly everything as well as the back of his hand. This was not without reason. For the sake of his plan on earning a living, XiaoYu would look up prices from the street stalls and requests whenever he wasn’t grinding. Inadvertently, this led to XiaoYu discovering his talent for memorising prices.

Afterwards, while XiaoYu familiarised himself with the new fancy kitchen, Qiong and QiYao discussed about the guild gathering. It was set to start tomorrow afternoon at the largest stadium in the city. While it was still a question on whether XiaoYu could leave the house tomorrow, Qiong hoped to see the younger man at this gathering. It was a rare opportunity for the guild to meet up in real life. Naturally, this question was up to QiYao to solve.

After dinner, Qiong had no more excuses to stay behind. He had to leave, but he had also sussed out just how polite and easily persuaded XiaoYu was. As long as XiaoYu agreed to it, Chief would never say no, no matter how badly the Chief doted on XiaoYu and disliked the decision. It seemed like Qiong could come over for dinner next time. That sweet and sour pork ribs were so delicious! >▽<

******

“Why are you all the way here?” QiYao asked. When QiYao finished his shower, he’d went looking for XiaoYu only to find nothing. In the end, he found XiaoYu all the way downstairs in the first-floor guest room near the living room.

“Unpacking my stuff,” XiaoYu replied.

QiYao could feel a headache building up as he watched XiaoYu pile his clothing up on the tiny bed in the room.

“”XiaoYu, did you think you’d be sleeping here?”

“Yes…? I’m not?” Could it be the next room?

If it were anyone else, QiYao would’ve thought they were just playing hard to get. But when dealing with XiaoYu with zero experience with love, one had to be a bit more proactive, a bit more demanding.

“XiaoYu…” QiYao sighed as he pulled the younger man into his arms. “You’re not here as my guest. Have you forgotten our sleeping arrangement before?”

There was no way XiaoYu could’ve forgotten that. Still, he had slept by himself ever since he’d matured from a clingy little boy. The thought of the two men sleeping like they did in the game made him embarrassed. “That’s just in game…”

“It’s the same. If you treat me differently, I’ll be very sad.”

“Ugh…hehe…” QiYao didn’t look sad to XiaoYu at all. All he saw was a miserable giant hound. He could even see two large floppy ears drooping down the sides of QiYao’s head.

“XiaoYu, if you laugh again, I’ll eat you up.”

>////< That trick always worked. It always turned XiaoYu into a bright red tomato.

“So you were worried I’d gobble you up. Is that why you didn’t want to sleep with me?” QiYao continued his attacks with a solemn face.

“Um…n-no.”

“Then why?”

“Just not used to it.”

“You’ll get used to it after a few times, just like in the game.”

“…okay.” That sounded logical, but why was there a voice in XiaoYu telling him he’d been tricked once more?

“We’ll tidy what you’ve unpacked tomorrow. Let’s go to sleep,” QiYao said as he pulled the stunned XiaoYu up to the master bedroom on the third floor.

Compared to the enormous bed occupying the centre of the master bedroom, the bed in the guest room looked like a toddler’s crib instead. Of course QiYao didn’t want his precious one to sleep downstairs.

“Since you’re not worried about me eating you up, does that mean I can eat you up?” The big bad wolf closed the door and continued his main quest, teasing the little white rabbit. He successfully saw the bunny stiffen up and shrink against the door.

“XiaoYu, you really hurt me with that reaction,” QiYao sighed as he sat down on the giant bed, giving up on physically cornering his prey.

A big round of applause for the best actor of the year! This time, XiaoYu really did felt like QiYao was hurt. He hovered, flustered and panic. He didn’t hate QiYao. He just wasn’t ready yet.

“I-I didn’t mean it, Yao. I just wasn’t ready…” XiaoYu said as he cautiously walked forward to tug QiYao’s sleeve. However, the other man had his eyes on the floor. XiaoYu couldn’t see QiYao’s face at all. The panic in him worsened.

In reality, QiYao’s face wouldn’t show any hurt or sadness at all. In fact, he was rather satisfied with XiaoYu’s honesty. He reached out and pulled the younger man up onto his lap.

“XiaoYu, do you remember what I told you? I won’t force you to do anything. I’ll wait for you to be ready, but don’t make me wait too long.” After all, there wasn’t a single man in the world who didn’t want to hug his beloved. Sooner or later, they would encounter this problem just through living together.

“Yes.” XiaoYu hugged back. He was so glad he had such a kind lover.

All that teasing about eating XiaoYu up was only done semi-seriously. Since the younger man wasn’t ready yet, QiYao didn’t mind waiting a while longer. There was one more important issue to deal with.

“XiaoYu, do you remember about the real-life meet-up the guild talked about before the server went down?”

“Hm? Yeah.”

“It’s being held tomorrow afternoon in the largest stadium in the city. Don’t think about anything else. Just tell me. Do you want to go?”

“…I do.”

XiaoYu wasn’t that anti-social. He’s not an introvert or autistic. He’s just not that good at interacting with other people. He didn’t hate being in crowded, noisy and bustling places. The previous few times he rejected the invitation, he merely said he couldn’t go not that he didn’t want to. He had always wanted to join them.

“Then let’s discuss how we’ll make it happen.”

While XiaoYu did suffer quite a shock during the day, that didn’t mean he would act like a cowardly tortoise and hide in his shell forever. QiYao would prefer to avoid causing unnecessary stress for XiaoYu though. He had realised what XiaoYu was truly afraid of today. It wasn’t cars. What he was terrified of was the sight of a car hitting anyone. This was why XiaoYu avoided anything to do with vehicles. That meant XiaoYu could start from trying, with QiYao by his side, to get his legs to accept being near car.

The night darkened. The two could continue their discussion for a long time in this pose before QiYao’s legs turned fully numb.

Translator’s Notes:

Pampered and posh: An abbreviated translation of the saying, “十指不沾阳春水” which translates to “all ten of his fingers have never touched spring water before”. The logic behind this saying comes from the concept of water from the rivers in March/Spring are the coldest. Only the wealthy would never know what it’s like as they would never need to fetch water themselves or wash their own clothes. Typically, this phrase refers to women. While it supposedly came from a poem, we do not have a written record of the exact poem it came from. The alleged source used “mud” instead of “spring water” with the phrase “spring water” coming from a different section of the poem.

Autistic: Unfortunately, the correct Chinese term for autism can be interpreted as being a shut-in/extremely introverted. Its proper English variant depends heavily on context and even then, one never truly knows what the author intended it to be in the first place. A brief reminder that this story was published in 2011. Attitudes in China regarding mental health were very much worse than now (no matter how bad they are currently).

Trauma plan: In real life, please try and avoid flying by the seat of your pants regarding trauma. It’s understandable that life moves on, but sometimes it’s not the best thing to do. If there’s one thing to be learned from this, it’s that the person with the trauma knows their own mind and body best. Ask and make sure the other knows what’s going to happen before executing any plans.


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LC: Chapter 74

74. Moving

XiaoYu’s arms reached out into the air and stretched. A glance outside showed it to be another bright and sunny day. Perhaps it was from the great weather, perhaps it was because XiaoYu had finally let his emotions loose. XiaoYu felt like his body was lighter than ever. However, when he thought back to how he had bawled before QiYao yesterday, he had the urge to dig a hole and bury himself in it.

Today, he’ll have to organise his luggage and decide what to pack. XiaoYu surveyed his room. He opened up his closet and scanned it. He didn’t have a single clue on where to start.

This wasn’t like packing for a holiday or a camping trip. He wasn’t just packing for a few days. The number of days he’d be staying at QiYao’s place was an unknown number. So how much clothing should he pack?

As he was stuck pondering, his phone started ringing from the living room.

“Did I wake you up, XiaoYu?” QiYao was secretly calling XiaoYu in the middle of his busy workday from his private office. The reason’s simple. He missed XiaoYu. While waiting for XiaoYu to answer the call, he was wondering if it was too early for a call. Would he see XiaoYu with bed hair? What he was met with was a confused XiaoYu instead.

“No. I was awake for a while now,” replied XiaoYu.

“What are you doing? You’re frowning,” QiYao said, pointing to his own brows. XiaoYu looked troubled. Had he gone spiralling down in doubt again?

“Yeah, um…I don’t know what I should pack.”

“Hehe. You just need to prepare some of your own personal products. You can come back for something at any time if you want to after all.” QiYao didn’t mind making a few more trips. He could use those trips to help XiaoYu overcome his trauma.

“True.” It wasn’t like XiaoYu would never return, even if every trip out would be a huge hurdle for him. “Did you need me for something?” he asked.

“Nothing. I just miss you.”

“Hehe…” XiaoYu couldn’t help but feel bashful at how straightforward QiYao was.

“You haven’t forgotten about my braised pork, right?”

“No. I’ve already gotten the ingredients.”

“I look forward to it.”

QiYao’s stomach started complaining just then. It was near lunch break. However, when QiYao finally hung up, his eyes gradually hardened into a solemn gaze. The computer monitors before him were filled with numerous news articles on a single headline. Frankly, they can’t be called news. They were from last year.

As victims were protected by the law to an extent, their full name and photos were never publicly disclosed in the news. Thus, the XiaoYu in all these reports had been processed and altered. Still, if someone really wanted to, they could still recognise the figure being squished by a crowd of reporters as XiaoYu.  Unfortunately, the focus went from sympathy for the dead to a discussion of whether humanity should completely rely on automation for safety. This exploded into a great debate all over the world and the most direct victim of the incident, XiaoYu, quickly faded away from the public’s attention.

XiaoYu looked so much thinner in those articles than he did now. QiYao could just imagine just how much pressure XiaoYu was under, how much pain he was in, from those images.

“Ugh, Chief, you’re so scary when you look like you want to kill someone,” a voice rang out.

QiYao looked up and saw Lin Qiong leaning out from QiYao’s office entrance, his head peaking at him with his entire body hiding behind the door.

“Why didn’t you knock?” QiYao said.

“I’m innocent! I’ve been knocking and knocking but I heard nothing. I thought something happened to you.”

“What is it?”

“Let’s go have lunch.” When Qiong felt QiYao retract the serious air that had been bulldozing around the room, he merrily walked right in. He placed his palms on the office desk and leaned down. “Or do you want takeaway? From where?”

“Anything’s fine.” QiYao was feeling hungry before, but he wasn’t in the mood now.

“What is it?” Everyone was on their lunch break now and this morning went quite well. What could possibly make the Chief’s mood turn sour? Qiong was very curious.

“Qiong, don’t drive a black car tomorrow. Have the cars’ A.I. gone for their yearly checks yet?”

“Sure, and of course they have.”

“You have the afternoon off. Go get the car we’ll be using to fetch XiaoYu tomorrow checked again. Send the report to me tonight.”

“Huh?” Qiong didn’t feel any joy at having the afternoon off, rather he found QiYao’s orders weird.

“You would know sooner or later anyway. Come take a look,” QiYao sighed, leaning back on his chair.

“Isn’t this that infamous car accident from last year?” asked Qiong as he glanced at the articles displayed on the screens. The tragic scene of the accident, the street splattered with blood, images of a hospital and a court room, but the majority of the photos were of the same lanky figure.

“This…Is this…Could this be…?” Qiong muttered.

QiYao didn’t reply. He merely nodded.

“How can it be…?” Qiong could never have thought of it. The kind and stiff child they met in the game would have met such a tragedy in reality.

*****

At five in the afternoon, the doorbell to XiaoYu’s home rang.

When the door opened, QiYao was stunned by how homely the apron clad XiaoYu looked. Warmth filled QiYao’s heart. Was this what home felt like?

“The pork still needs to cook for a while longer. You can watch the television while waiting, Yao.”

“Mn.”

QiYao might’ve given an affirmative reply, but he didn’t obediently sit down before the television. Instead, he leaned against the door frame to the kitchen with his arms crossed and silently watch XiaoYu’s busy figure.

“Hm? Aren’t you going to watch the television?”

“No. I’m okay just watching you.”

“…>//<” Alright. XiaoYu still wasn’t used to how upfront QiYao was with his flirting.

“Do you need my help with anything?”

“Hm…help me set the table.”

“Okay.”

It might just be an ordinary part of daily life, but dinner had turned into something so much more interesting with someone by his side.

QiYao didn’t stay that night either. After he confirmed with XiaoYu what luggage he had and thoroughly lay out the schedule for tomorrow’s move, he left. He too had to arrange for XiaoYu’s room in his home.

XiaoYu’s stuff were minimal, just a few personal hygiene supplies and a few sets of clothing. The gaming pod would be moved by professional movers tomorrow. Most of the move was settled. The only thing left was how XiaoYu would handle walking out the door.

****

The next day.

“All ready?” asked QiYao.

The gaming pod had already been picked up. Soon, Qiong had called to inform them he was downstairs. This simple move was finally at the hardest step of all.

“…yes,” XiaoYu hesitantly replied. He just had a breakdown the day before yesterday. It was impossible for him to say he was absolutely over it.

“I’ll take the boxes down first. You do the final checks.” QiYao wasn’t in a hurry to force XiaoYu forward. He gave XiaoYu some time and space to slowly get used to the idea of actually moving out.

“Hm? Where’s Xiao-Yu, Chief?” The assistant of a certain someone moving boxes down the stairs quickly stepped out of the car to help, naturally. Qiong had spent a while in the car steadying himself for the meeting with Xiao-Yu, imagining just how the other would react. In the end, Qiong had yet to spot the shadow of the figure he was hoping to see.

“Give him some time.”

“Oh.” Yesterday, Qiong had roughly understood XiaoYu’s condition. He too knew that psychological issues were hard to resolve. Why else would there be so many different kinds of perverts and insane people running about still? Of course, his cute little brother didn’t belong in that category.

Qiong thought they would have to wait a long while. He didn’t think the real LuckyCat would appear before his eyes barely two minutes after the exchange. He couldn’t help but sigh at that. This kid hadn’t collected himself at all.

XiaoYu wasn’t used to having people waiting for him. This was why he’d arrive at any gatherings early. After QiYao left, he didn’t dawdle at all. He made the final checks on all the switches, taps and valves, took a few deep breaths, and walked out.

It must be said that when XiaoYu stood next to these two over-185-cm-tall men, his height was relegated to the “third-rate useless” category. However, there was a benefit to this. With these two towering guardians, they blocked the car behind them mostly from sight. It’s why XiaoYu’s legs didn’t instantly turn to jelly.

“Big Brother Lin?” While QiYao did tell him I_Am_A_Poor_Man – Lin Qiong in real life – would be driving them today, Lin Qiong looked drastically different to his rather fragile healer avatar. He was dressed in a sharp business suit with his hair slicked and style with not a single strand out of place. The only thing missing was a large sign written all over Qiong’s face stating, “I’m part of the elite”.

“Hey, Xiao-Yu. Can’t recognise your dear brother Lin?”

“Hehe. A little, but now I’m sure about it.” The moment XiaoYu heard that familiar voice, he was 100% sure this man before him was I_Am_A_Poor_Man.

“Give me your bag.” See. This is what they call a talented assistant. When it was time to cut the chatter and just do the work, he would never waste his breath.

“Ah, thanks.”

“Let’s go,” QiYao said. He turned around to head down to the next step when a hand clamped down tight on his arm.

When Qiong took XiaoYu’s bag and turned to the car, the previously blocked car was now halfway revealed. Then, QiYao turned too. Without his two guardians to protect him, even if it was just a parked silver car that had no chance of hurting anyone, XiaoYu’s heart froze and he instinctively held onto QiYao.

QiYao looked back and saw XiaoYu’s eyes stuck on his beloved car. He knew psychological traumas weren’t that easily cured. At least XiaoYu just grabbed his arm with quivering hands instead of collapsing from wobbly legs just like two days ago. As expected, the greatest thing haunting XiaoYu’s mind was a black car. Regrettably, that colour’s very popular with the masses. It seemed like they’ve got some ways to go before XiaoYu could walk on the streets without a care.

“Can you walk?”

“I’ll…try.” Holding onto QiYao was XiaoYu’s last sign of weakness. Someone as stubborn as he wouldn’t ask for help unless he had no other choice. He had to walk out with his own two legs.

XiaoYu slowly moved his right leg forward a few centimetres. His foot was uncontrollably shivering but it was planted solidly on the floor. Then, he slowly shifted his left forward.

In the eyes of someone else, it was just a simple step. To XiaoYu, this was the most important step in him turning around and facing his mental trauma. The few times he left home and saw a car, his feet felt like they were nailed to the ground. They wouldn’t even shuffle. The common ending to those encounters would be his legs giving way and he’d be sitting on the pavement.

The entire journey from the steps to the car was spent in silence. QiYao didn’t even reach out to help support XiaoYu. He just walked beside XiaoYu, but all XiaoYu needed to know was the other man would be by his side. His loved one silently paying attention to him and following beside him were the greatest motivators for him to keep moving. He could even feel a never-ending stream of strength coming from the arm he was grasping.

XiaoYu didn’t know his tiny step shocked QiYao and Qiong to the core. While they knew psychological problems were complicated and hard, but it was one thing to know that and another to see that with their own eyes. Seeing how hard it was to take this tiny step, they now didn’t even dare to think just how XiaoYu survived the past year or so all alone.

XiaoYu gritted his teeth and prepared to take his second step with quivering feet. QiYao nearly couldn’t resist reaching out and embrace him, but he still held it in. He knew that he needed to be a little “cruel” right now. This was the best way to convey his respect to his loved one who was currently doing his best to overcome his own issues.

QiYao and Qiong were both focused on watching XiaoYu. Just then, XiaoYu heard an alarming sound. He looked up and his eyes went wide.

“Look out, Brother Lin!”

A black car was driving past behind Qiong. To be honest, there was nothing dangerous about the entire situation because Qiong was standing by the door on the driver’s side while the black car drove past by the passenger’s side.

Thus, nothing would happen. If an outsider witnessed it, they might be wondering what XiaoYu was babbling about.

However, to XiaoYu, the black car drove by before him and someone he knew was standing very, very close to it. This was his greatest nightmare. He really cannot bear it if someone else was smashed into pieces right before his eyes again.

XiaoYu’s foot had finally descended to the next step, but then all of his courage scattered at this sudden change. Luckily, QiYao had quick reflexes. XiaoYu went from falling to the ground to falling into QiYao’s embrace.

Qiong initially wondered why he would be suddenly spooked by XiaoYu before he quickly realised what happened was an accidental recreation of something extremely horrifying to XiaoYu.

“Don’t be scared, XiaoYu. I’m right by you,” QiYao coaxed, his arms tight around XiaoYu who had been shivering this entire time. He knew what had happened actually made XiaoYu think back to the worst and most cruel memory of his life. He rather regretted this now. Perhaps he shouldn’t have pushed XiaoYu so hard at the start. He should’ve made better and more thorough plans to help XiaoYu.

“I’m fine, Xiao-Yu. See. Your Big Brother Lin is still here.” Qiong once thought that no matter what happened, he could deal with it. But this whole matter made Qiong panic. All he could do was run over to pat XiaoYu.

“I’m sorry…” XiaoYu’s voice was still trembling. He wanted to calm down. He knew Lin Qiong wasn’t in any danger, but he was unable to control his body’s instinctive reaction.

“It’s fine. It’s not your fault,” said QiYao, kissing XiaoYu on the forehead. It was the first time he’d ever realised just how powerless he truly was. He was unable to stop his precious one’s shivers at all.

Through a series of glances, Qiong asked QiYao what they should do next. The latter looked down at the young man in his arms. XiaoYu had done very well today. As for the rest, leave it all to him, XiaoYu’s somewhat unprofessional lover.

“XiaoYu, close your eyes. Relax. Hand everything over to me, okay?” asked QiYao, his hand gently patting XiaoYu on the back.

XiaoYu looked at and saw no impatience in QiYao’s eyes at all, just an endless well of warmth. He quietly closed his eyes and nodded.

QiYao lifted XiaoYu into a bridal carry and gestured for Qiong to open the car door with his eyes. His assistant immediately understood the glance.

Even with his eyes closed, XiaoYu could feel himself being carried over to and into the car. His body stiffened. Fear swelled in him. He tried to tamp it down and while it was a little uncontrollable, it wouldn’t make him panic at least. Because QiYao was by his side this entire time. The other man had stood by the promise he made two days ago that he’d never abandon him. This made him regain some sense of safety and some of the courage that had fled him.

No one said a word on the drive to QiYao’s mansion. Qiong dialled back his usual devil-may-care attitude and solemnly controlled the automated car. He hoped that this might slightly alleviate some of XiaoYu’s fear. As for QiYao’s duty, he was to hold his precious one tight through the entire journey and provide the greatest sense of safety possible to XiaoYu.

Translator’s Note:

Spiralling down in doubt: The literal translation is “drilling horns”. If it was translated as an adjective, it could be translated as “pessimistic”. The slang is usually used as an adjective/action for/of someone who would think about issues from their own past experiences (usually negative) and would overthink on it so much that train of thought would be up until they’ve gotten completely off-topic (based on a petty/trivial/minor point) and are unable to extract themselves from that train of thought.


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LC: Chapter 73

73. Snatched Back to Lair

What happened next was not the common scene found in novels, movies or TV shows, that dramatic clichéd scene were the two protagonists would comfort each other to the bed. Because QiYao thought that act would be taking advantage of  XiaoYu, it’d be like robbing someone while their house was on fire, especially since his XiaoYu was still a rather naive kid. He was easily embarrassed by anything regarding emotions or relationships. He needed to be slowly guided to such acts.

“Sorry. I dirtied your shirt.” After a long time, XiaoYu could finally wrestle his emotions back into control. However, he still didn’t dare to look up. His eyes must look like the eyes of a certain long-eared animal right now.

“It’s fine.” QiYao lightly patted the head buried in his embrace. If XiaoYu knew the shirt he’d cried all over on cost a few thousand Earth Dollars, who knew how this stubborn little guy would beat himself over for that.

“I’ll help you wash it.”

“Hehe. XiaoYu, do you plan on making me head out shirtless in a jacket like some middle-aged man?”

“Ugh…”

“You can help me wash it next time.”

“Oh,” XiaoYu dazedly replied. He couldn’t think of any other solutions off the top of his head. He also didn’t realise the question hidden within QiYao’s statement.

“XiaoYu, can I come over tomorrow?”

“Yeah, you can.”

“But I have to head into office during the day. I’ll only be able to come over in the evening. Do you know how to cook red-braised pork?”

“Okay…yes?” XiaoYu found it a little hard to keep up with QiYao’s train of thought. Why were they talking about food all of a sudden? “I know how to cook that,” he said.

“I would to eat red-braised pork cooked by you tomorrow.”

“Okay. Anything else you’d like to eat?”

“Not for now. If anything pops into my mind, I’ll tell you.”

“Okay.”

“XiaoYu, what if you spoil my stomach? What if I can never eat food cooked by anyone else again? What then?”

“Uh…I’m not that amazing. They’re just ordinary home-cooked dishes.”

“The taste of home is more than enough. My parents are always working overseas. It’s been so long since anyone cooked for me.”

“…” Perhaps QiYao was a lonely man too, a voice in XiaoYu whispered.

“Hey, XiaoYu,” QiYao called. A thought suddenly popped up in his mind.

“Hm?”

“Let’s live together.”

“Huh?” XiaoYu didn’t know what to say to that.

“That way we can take care of each other. Or do you mean to say you’d prefer me running back and forth?”

“But…” XiaoYu replied, shaking his head. “I don’t know where we should stay?”

“If it’s possible, I hope you can move over to my place. That’s because I have a lot of documents and references in my study room. I’m just worried you can’t bear to leave here.”

During the afternoon, XiaoYu had shown QiYao around his home. It was a normal apartment with two bedrooms and one living room. In the beginning, QiYao found it slightly curious. The larger room should belong to XiaoYu’s parents, so why did XiaoYu say he lived alone? Everything only clicked after XiaoYu told him about everything that night. That room should be filled with this family’s memories. Even if QiYao moved in, he shouldn’t take that room for himself.

“But I can’t go out.”

“XiaoYu, tell me. Do you want to go out?”

“I do.”

“Then, how about using my visit as an opportunity to try walking outside? I’ll be with you.”

“…okay,” XiaoYu eventually said after a long pause. QiYao said he would never leave him alone. He trusted the other man, but he shouldn’t be selfish and just rely on QiYao, trouble QiYao, while doing nothing himself. If possible, XiaoYu wanted to walk out and bathe in real sunlight. He wanted to walk hand-in-hand with QiYao through all the cities of the world, just like in AO.

“That’s settled it then. Let’s use these few days to pack up and clean this place up.”

“Mn.”

“XiaoYu,” QiYao said, pulling back slightly from XiaoYu. His hands rose and rested on XiaoYu’s cheeks, enveloping those jaws with warmth. His heart ached at the sight of XiaoYu’s red eyes. He leaned down and gently kissed the other man. “Trust in me. I’ll help you overcome this trauma.”

“I trust you.”

“Well, I’ll be heading back home. Rest well. We’ll start packing up tomorrow.”

“Okay.”

When QiYao picked up his jacket and starting to put it on, XiaoYu suddenly felt like he didn’t want the other man to go. He’ll admit it. He had completely fallen for QiYao. He loved QiYao. He wanted to cook QiYao’s favourite dishes for him. He wanted to do his best to overcome the mental issues within him for QiYao. He wanted to always be with QiYao. This was probably what they called love.

“What is it, XiaoYu? Can’t bear to see me go?” QiYao teased upon seeing XiaoYu staring blankly at him.

“Mn,” XiaoYu unwittingly replied with a nod. Then, he immediately realised he had accidentally shown what he was thinking. He panicked. His eyes shifted around, not knowing what they should be looking at instead.

How could his XiaoYu be so cute? QiYao shouted internally. This was against the rules!

“Open your mouth,” QiYao said.

“Hm? Mmgh…” Before XiaoYu could react, he was kissed once more. Right before his instinct made his lips purse together, something soft broke through his defences and started pillaging.

Tongues twisted and danced together. XiaoYu had never experienced a kiss such as this before. Wave after wave of spine-chilling tremors tingled through him. He anxiously clutched tight at the front of QiYao’s jacket, terrified that his weak legs would crumble and slide.

“Huff. Huff. Huff…” Finally, QiYao let XiaoYu go. The latter began to gasp and pant, fervently replenishing his oxygen supply.

“Silly boy. Next time, remember to breathe with your nose,” QiYao said, patting XiaoYu on the back to help the other calm down. QiYao’s desire to get this natural ditz back to his own lair as quickly as possible grew stronger.

“I’m fine now, Yao. Head back and rest up early. You still have work tomorrow.”

“Will you be lonely? Are you sure you don’t need me to stay?”

“It’s fine. I’m not a kid anymore.”

“You say you’re not a kid, yet you clearly couldn’t bear to part with me,” QiYao said, his finger lightly tapping the tip of XiaoYu’s nose.

“Hehe…” XiaoYu chuckled, shyly ducking his head.

“But, that’s fine. We’ll soon be able to live together.”

“Mn.”

XiaoYu walked with QiYao down to the apartment block gates. Thankfully, no car passed by this time. Otherwise, the “tragedy” from that afternoon would be repeated.

“Drive safely, Yao.”

“Okay,” said QiYao, giving XiaoYu a goodbye kiss on the forehead. Then, a mischievous thought struck him. He leaned down to XiaoYu’s ear and continue, “XiaoYu, remember to leave your mouth open for our future kisses, just like back then.”

“Aah…!” >////<

****

When QiYao reached home, it was nearly XiaoYu’s bedtime. So, he just called the other to tell XiaoYu he was safely home. Then, he called his talented assistant.

“Well, Chief?” Qiong Lin near-shouted into the phone. His eyes had nearly transformed into a pair of blinking stars at the sight of QiYao. He’d been praying and wishing the whole day for this call.

“…I didn’t ask about the gathering.” QiYao had forgotten about this whole matter. He only just remembered he was supposed to ask XiaoYu about it.

“Ugh! Then do you know why Xiao-Yu can’t come?”

“Hm…” QiYao could recall the pain and bitterness he could feel from XiaoYu as he described everything in a seemingly nonchalant tone.

“It really is because of some bad news.” QiYao’s serious face clued the smart Qiong in on how tragic the story hiding behind this whole matter would be.

“Yes. Either way, I’ll be heading back to XiaoYu’s home tomorrow. I’ve already convinced him to move in with me in a few days.”

“…! Chief, that’s godlike speed!” The first time Chief visited, he immediately snatched the other up and even have the other tied up with a bow, waiting to be taken back home. This was definitely not something just anybody can do.

“Qiong, I might not be able to drive on that day. You’ll need to come fetch us.”

“Okay, no problem.” He could even meet up with XiaoYu in real life.

“No matter what you see then, I hope you won’t ask XiaoYu about it too much,” QiYao solemnly said to his best friend across the internet.

“I got it.” Qiong could sense that, perhaps, he wasn’t far from the truth.

Translator’s Note:

Red-braised pork: Also called Shanghai-style braised pork. A name that’s more accurate: caramelised braised pork. Lightly boiled, seared then braised in diluted caramel. Usual seasoning used are garlic, star anise and maybe Sichuan peppers.


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