Start from Zero (从零开始) by Thunderstorm (雷云风暴)



  • Book 4, Chapter 26

    The Ace (Part 1)


                I dragged Merciless to the restaurant. I know the location in the unfamiliar city because it's just next to the teleport station, and that giant flag with a beer cup on it really attract your eyes.
          "Hey what's the deal? I know you earned a lot but don't drag me like this!" 

                Despite his complaint I still pulled him into the door.

                They say great joy is always followed by misfortune. Now I believe it. I bumped into someone behind the door. I was walking too fast so both of us got knocked onto the ground. And I assure you that dumping your hip onto the solid rock floor is not something to enjoy!

                As for Merciless, he crashed into my back and stumbled back out of the door.
          The opposite man knocked over a table before he can re-balance himself.   

               "Watch where ur going damn it!" He brushed his clothes. "Are you blind? Or are you looking for trouble?"
          "Sorry sorry. I...didn't see you across the door. Are you hurt?"

               That was my fault so this is not a good time to play tough.
          "..." He froze up and stared at me for a few seconds before regaining his language.

               "Beautiful...!" That was his first comment after the stare.
          "I'm really sorry, my bad there. Do you need help? If everything's fine I'll be leaving."

                I don't have time to explain my gender issue with a random passer-by.
          But you know, things always go towards where you don't want them to go.

               "Hey! You look brilliant! And I love your voice. Like an angel...!"
          Shit. I know my throat can be a bit strange but it sounds like child voice at best, which is totally different from actual woman voice.

               "You're mistaken. Excuse me but I need to go upstairs." I dragged Merciless again and headed up.
          The man blocked my way. "Come on what's the hurry? I wasn't being polite back there. Would you have meal with me?"
          I inspected this sudden intruder. 176 in height, ordinary look. He wears traditional oriental style kung-fu costume, must be a hidden class.

               "Sorry, I have other business. Can you let me through? I'm taking my friend up there."
          He looked over my shoulder to Merciless with a disapproving look.

               "Hey kid, there's no way you can protect this chick. Go away, I'm taking her."

               Crap. The retarded thought Merciless is my boyfriend! And what the fuck does he mean "chick"??
          Merciless looked between us. "Ziri? You told me before but are you sure?..."

               I knew it. He didn't believe me!
          "Ahem!" I turned around. "Let's go somewhere else."
          The man blocked the exit again. "Miss, my name is [Smokin' Ring]. I ask you to be my girl now!"

                Merciless gasped behind me. I don't know for which reason but I don't have time for him now.
          "Let's get this straight," I grabbed his collar. "listen, I'm a man. And I don't enjoy business between guys. I prefer women just like any sentient males out there. Now get away. And keep distance. You're making me sick. Smoking Ring right? If you don't leave me now I can beat you into a bloody donut instead."
          "You know, you don't have to make up something like that if you just want to reject me. Oh please, don't hurt this sincere lover boy!"

                He won't give up!
          "What'cha doing brother?" A group came down from the stair. Must be his comrades.
          "Ooooh. Where'you find this girl? Hot!"
          "Your new wife?"   

               "Hey when did that happen? You didn't even tell us!"
          None of them noticed what's going on. Oh kids these days...

               Wait, I'm not really a grown-up myself.
          "Can I go now? Or do you want a fight?" I'm losing patience.
          "Ah, so not your wife." An uneducated looking guy snickered. "Hey chill gal. Do you know who muh brother is? He's da second place on the level rank, [Smokin' Ring]. He hit level 497 this morning, same with that Big Blade dude! He may be the second now but he can beat the hell outta Big Blade I tell you! Go with him and you can have your life however you want in Zero!"
          "You rank second?" I'm interested. I've been improving myself in hermit mode for too long and I never knew how much I can do. He is the second in rank and claims to be the strongest...that means he's the best target to measure myself. If we can have a fight...

               "Are you sure you're the strongest player?"
          Smokin' Ring chuckled. "Do you ever check the ranking lists at all?"
          Well, I certainly haven't looked at them for some time.
          Merciless explained from behind :"There are different lists in [Zero]. The man in front of you is the 2nd place on the level ranking, and the tied 1st place on the overall combat rating list! You didn't know??"
          "But I didn't find it in my Help menu." I asked in surprise. Is something wrong with my system?
          "It's not in your Help. Ask any of the guards in cities and they'll tell you the newest lists. You don't even know this? How many quests did you skip?"
          "What do you say?" Smokin' Ring looked at me in defiance. "Accepting my offer yet? I can give you a bright future!"
          "I have a question first."   

               "Go ahead. I never refuse to talk with beauties!"
          "You're tied first with someone. Who is it?"   

                "The system determines this rating with really vague calculations. There are many people on the first place. Three other people tied with me, so four champions in total.

                [Not a Jerk], level 493 Grand Beast Wielder.

                [Hydralisk], level 487 hidden class. I don't know what but he's good.

                And [Wind Drifter], level 479 Fallen Angel. He's Divine Demon so his own attributes are pretty high. He may have the lowest level among us but he's probably the strongest one if we actually compete."
          "I see..." I opened the note system and recorded his words.
          "So have you decided?"   

               "Can I have a fight with you?" I dodged his question.
          But he took my word in the wrong way. "So you'll come with me if I win?"
          "Let's talk about that if you can win at all."

                He'll see my identity anyway. I don't think he'll actually ask me out when that happens. Besides...I won't lose.
          "Alright. You'd better keep your word for it. Let's get to the arena, so we don't get red names or lose level or items."
          "No problem. Lead the way."
          We paid a small entrance fee and entered the arena. It looks like those ancient Roman Colosseums, just a bit smaller. The city is pretty small for that matter.

               Before we can start, the observations seats suddenly became occupied. His buddies called all kinds of people to watch! Oh crap. They're adding a lot of unnecessary trouble for me.
          "You can do it boss!"

               "Finish this quick!"

                I saw Smokin' Ring's personal cheering team. There are a lot of girls rooting for him too.

                "Smokey we love you!!"

               Dang. Is he a superstar or something?
          He looked at me :"I don't hold back when I fight. Don't blame me for hurting you."   

               "Do it. I'm not made of paper. And don't get cocky, I have some serious attacks. Don't take it too hard if you got insta killed."

                I'm confident enough in my own skills. I'm wearing full Artifact set for cake's sake.
          Ping! The system announced the start of the battle.   

               Smokin' simply charged towards me. I'm wearing my wizard robe so he probably thinks he can win this easily if he gets close.

                I just watched as he approaches and waited for a chance.

               But he didn't even attack me!

               "Do you surrender?" He asked.
          Huh? What?

                "Why would I do that? We haven't started yet."
          "You're a Wizard, and a Warrior just got to your face! Of course you lost."   


                I grinned. As I hoped, he lost his guard for a brief moment.

                "Surprise!" I revealed my attack. "[Heart Piercer]!"

                This is currently my most powerful skill as a D&P Rider. I want to see if the so-called No.1 can survive this. It'll be a joke if he died for it. If he didn't, I'll have a good reason to carefully research on him and the other three elite players.
          After an explosion, Smokin' was shocked far away without any defense prepared. His face went pale. He moved even farther away with several hasty backflips.

               "That robe is a disguise? You're a Warrior?"

               He no longer carries that girl hunter attitude. He sees me as a rival now.
          I just smile. "Oh no you got me. So how did it feel? I prepared that big move just for you!"
          He stuffed potions into his mouth while looking at me warily, fearing that I may ambush him again. And I know why he's scared. I can read his numbers from that hit: total HP 4,737, and my skill did 4,592 damage. Almost killed him in one shot. That's my best damage without a critical hit too, since the number is in red. He can't see that information, so he believes that I still have enough power to kill him if I'm lucky.
          "Hey come closer! We're both melee classes, how do we fight like this?" I taunted as I saw his HP bar getting filled. Since I can't kill him with that, I'll have to be careful about his moves now.

               "Still not coming? I'll shoot you then. Don't blame me for being mean." I aimed my right arm at him. I never tried to adjust the crosshair on my Revenger crossbow, now there's a perfect target.
          I clicked my finger, a feathered bolt went out. He wasn't expecting a long-range shot like this so he didn't react.

               The attack still missed. Uhmm. So the crosshair strays too left...

               I began to tune my Revenger. This thing shoots every four seconds, after some exercise, the wall behind Smokin' Ring is filled with bolts. None of the audiences are cheering now. They are wondering why a Wizard took out a lance, then a crossbow, and with so much ammunition! The wall is loaded with over a hundred bolts now. None of my concern. I collected enough bolts to support my whole game career in that underground dungeon, plus there's no space limit for my bracelet, so I brought them all.
          As I'm enjoying the shooting practice I heard a system message:

               "[Revenger] crossbow leveled up. Attack is now 680-980, Attack Speed is 3 seconds per shot. Number of Soul Chasers increased to 3." 
          But there was no level up feature for Revenger?

               Dark Dragon Lord armor set can be leveled up, and Reverger is merged with the set. That must be the reason.

               This is a prize!
          Smokin' took the chance and charged at me again. "[Leaf Sweep]!"

               He knocked me off my feet with a spinning leg sweep. Cheering voices rose again. Oh fuck you all, you kept silent when I beat him up, now you all came back alive?
          He didn't give me chance to regain posture. He kicked me higher with another leg sweep, then he jumped above me and punched downwards. I was wondering where his weapon is, now I see those metal knuckles on his fingers! That will be painful if it hits me.

                I'm half Wizard. Of course I know this universal defense spell. Wizards usually fight like this: Barrier up -- attack -- re-barrier if it gets damaged -- attack. I don't use this skill because I have my companions to protect me, besides I'm half Warrior type too. But now I need to stay cautious.
          Crack! His punch instantly shattered the barrier and hit my waist. That's was strong! The spell still dampened his attack. I only received a scratch damage.

                I immediately retaliated when I landed. "[Heavy Bash]!"

               This is the most basic but the fastest melee skill. And he can't dodge it with that kind of position.
          "[Iron Skin]!" He used his skill and took that attack head-on. 1 damage!
          Woah that's some serious Defense.

               Humph. Let me see how much defense you can get.

               "Night Shade!" I hopped onto his back. "You're not expecting a Rider to fight without a horse eh? Call your companions if you have any."

                I took off my wizard robe which caused gasps among the audiences.
          "A Rider huh? As I thought. I never saw Wizard carrying a lance."

               He didn't summon anything. So he doesn't have any?

               No that's impossible. The number two figure on the ranking list should find companions easily, and he got a lot of fans too. Someone like this is bond to have a lot of resources.
          "You're not calling companion? Are you underestimating me again?"
          "No. It's just my companion isn't good at fighting. It won't help." He took out another knuckle set and equipped it. "Careful now, I'm going to hit hard!"
          He charged. I legged Night Shade's belly, he dodged aside with a quick hop. Smokin' may be fast but he'll never reach the same speed as Night Shade.

                I ordered Night Shade to run towards Smokin' who just dashed past us.

               "[Pole Pick]!"

               Smokin' dodged my lance attack combo with several ground rolls. Man he's pretty quick on his feet.
          Now we're the ones facing the other direction. Smokin' rushed at our back.

               "[Cloud Pusher]!"

               You should never slap a horse's ass but he did. His palm precisely hit Night Shade on the rear. The sudden pain caused Night Shade to perform the signature horse attack -- He supported himself using his front legs and bucked hard.

                Smokin' went flying as if he was hit by a truck. Boomsh! A human-shaped hole appeared on the arena wall.
          The palm strike was obviously strong because Night Shade fell sideways after the kick. I checked his wound and noticed that deep hand-shaped hollow part on his rear-end armor. He's not going to run like that. I could only de-summon him.
          Smokin' freed himself from the hole and dusted himself. "Nice horse. It still has the strength to kick after my best attack?  And what's that on the hooves? The kick did piercing damage!"

                I can see several small bleeding holes on his body, drenching his clothes. So those horseshoes are pretty useful, I guess I need to tell Night Shade to use his kicking attacks more often.
          "You asked for it. If you touch horse ass or girl ass or whatever's ass again you might get kicked by who-knows-what."

                I'm joking but I'm still serious about this fight. After all, I don't meet many people who can take down Night Shade in one hit.

                "You're good. My mount is not just an ordinary pony you know."
          "I can do better!" He rushed. "Fuuuugaaa Heaven Punch!"

                I felt as if a wall made of air just fell on me, then I took countless punches. The speed of these fists is like raindrops!
          "Gah!" I was sent flying and rolled on the ground. At least the impact is strong enough. I crawled back up and...700 damage? That's lame.

               That skill must be used to cause damage using the great number of attacks. But the outcome is greatly reduced by my high Defense.

               "Nice one. But your fists feel so weak. It didn't do anything."
          Of course he knows how much damage he did. And it must have shocked him.   

               "[Feinting Lances]!"

                This is a new D&P Rider skill I just learned. A wave of lances enclosed upon his body from all directions. He tried to dodge but there's no way he can avoid hundreds of attacks at once.

               Without a way out, he used his Iron Skin again.

               Got you!

               The lances dropped to the ground and disappeared, leaving only one, which pierced his abdomen.

               "Those were shadows, there's only one real lance. The name already told you those were feint and you still fell for it."
          Smokin looked up from his would, painfully. " did you break through my Iron Skin?"
          "I can't. But my lance ignores Defense. Now give up."

                I tried to pull the lance out of his wound, but Smokin' pulled at the tip and dragged it out from behind him instead. I was taken aback for a while.
          Smokin' seized the chance and rushed close. "[Mountain Breaker]!"

                I was taken by surprise. The palm pushed me into the sky with a strange but deadly force.

                I crashed on the ground hard, coughing up some blood.


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  • Book 4, Chapter 27

    The Ace (Part 2)



                I was taken by surprise. The palm pushed me into the sky with a strange but deadly force.

                I crashed on the ground, coughing some blood. My whole body is filled with pain. I managed to stand up with some hard effort, but just as I balanced myself, something exploded on my back with a POOM, tearing up a big wound while causing my blood to flush out.
          "*Cough* Ahh!..."

                More blood came out of my mouth. I stumbled forward and dropped to the ground, supporting myself with my hands.


               Smokin' lost balance and knelt down as well.

                "Heh ha ha--a-ark!"

                He tried to laugh but that wound on his stomach grew bigger.

                "What a powerful lance."
          "Likewise. Your kung-fu is good!" I forced a smile. "Pity, you still lost."
          "We don't know that yet." He seems pretty confident. "You took my [Mountain Breaker], so you won't be moving for a while. Just surrender."
          "Oh really?"

                I raised my right hand. A bolt stuck into his arm causing him to scream.

                "I can kill you like this, slowly."
          "My skill can do more than that." He gave me a wicked grin.
          Poom! My arm exploded too. The bolt I was preparing was shot towards the sky instead.

                Damn it another one? His skill isn't over?
          "Good job, I'll give you that." I still kept calm. "But you think I'll let you win? No! I will not lose! Never!"
          Smokin smiled bigger, probably because he thinks I'm getting desperate. But my next move removed that smile.

                I stood up while shaking.

                Pong! My left arm exploded. I'm knocked to the right but I kept standing.

                Pam! That's my left leg. Blood covered the ground yet I didn't lose my smile.

                "So how many times can you do this? Five? Six? Or--"

                Bom! My right leg was torn up. I staggered, almost falling down again.
          The audiences are silent. No one is applauding anymore. Everyone is trying to confirm if I'm a monster.
          Poof! Boom! Pah! The ruptures are becoming faster. I feel like being pushed around by a lot of people. My HP has dropped to the bottom, but the Collar of Protection will still keep me alive, by pouring the life force of my companions into my body.
          However the skill stopped before I need to rely on the collar. Looks like the skill only tries to empty the target's own HP bar.
          I'm now covered in red but still standing. I gave my neck bone a crack and spoke:

                "Not bad. Pretty scary skill. Almost killed me. " I raised two fingers and smiled again. "Pity, just a teeeeny tiny bit left. Shame."
          Then I regained my posture. "Night Shade!"

                Night Shade is already recovered. Thanks to Phiona's buff bonus, everyone heals faster than average.

                I aimed my left hand at the knight lance dropped by Smokin. The lance flew towards me. I grasped the weapon and gave it a wave-around.

               "You're the best opponent yet, for getting me into this shape. I'm give you an honorable death!"

                I ordered Night Shade to Charge.

               "[Pole Pick], aerial execution!"

                I pierced his body and leveraged Night Shade's speed to hurl the lance away.
          The lance carried the helpless Smokin all the way onto the reviewing stand on the audience area. It stuck into the platform and quivered for a while due to the momentum, but Smoking is no longer moving.

                Even the best technique in the world won't win against absolute power. A good martial artist may defeat someone much stronger than himself, but he's never going to beat a war tank just using his skills or reflexes.
          Still, my victory was not guaranteed. If I don't have this collar, if I don't have my lance, or if he used his best attack at the start of the battle...I'm not sure I would have won. Time to learn some tricks I guess. I may have a lot of superior weapons and companions but I'll need more than these to beat someone like Smokin.
          Smokin has already turned into a white flash and gone reviving. I remote-retracted my dragon lance and put it behind my back.

               But I forgot players get revived where they die in the arena. Smokin appeared again in front of me. Hm. This place is sure suitable for sparring with other people.
          He looked at me with a scary expression.

               "What? I won. You will leave me alone now."
          He didn't say anything. He stared at me for several more seconds before he suddenly jumped over and clamped onto my waist!

               "Hero! I mean, miss heroine! Take me with you!! I'm following you from now on!"
          I tried to run away but was dragged onto the ground instead.

               "Help!" I crawled towards the exit. He won't let go of my legs. "Halp!! Get away you freaking gay!  Damn it why isn't any beautiful girls doing this to me??"
          "Oww!" He was poked by the spike on my leg guard and released his grip. I immediately stood up and kept distance with him.

                He tried to get close again. I summoned my wasps and asked them to form a barricade between us.
          "Get the hell out of my face or I'll make it violent!"   

                "Lady master!! Take me!"
          "Are you a stray dog or something? You have guild and lot of followers, why me? You're famous here! And don't call me lady I'm a man HOW MANY TIME DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU!"
          "Uh, alright! So you're male, bring me along!"   

               "Urgh!" This is getting too complicated. "Here, how about we call each other brothers from now on?"
          "Well," He paused. "Okay! Let's do this."
          I dismissed my wasps, he ran to me again.

                "Stop!! No closer! I don't feel good with dudes near my face!"
          "Alright then! Give me a call if you ever need help and I'll always be there first!"

               ...I think I can believe that.
          "I got it. Farewell!"

                I dashed outside the arena as fast as I can, leaving a smoke trail behind me. I almost bumped into Merciless, who's waiting at the gate.

                "Why are you...?"
          "Oh, well, don't blame me for not watching your fight. Those fans are crazy. I tried to cheer for you and they tosses me over the wall!"
          "I...see. I can totally understand that." I wiped a drop of sweat on my forehead. "Let's get out of here. I've had enough. And I need to find a cute girl to heal up my heart!"
          We stopped to take a break when we're far enough from the arena. Then someone almost knocked me over again.

                "What kind of bastard--" I'm full of anger now. Can I even walk peacefully for once??
          "Oof...So...Sorry...ugh!.... I...I didn't...mean that..."

                The man is swaying left and right. I'm surprised he's not falling down yet. He got really thick tongued and a red face. He's drunk, for sure.
          There's no point in arguing with someone like this so I dragged Merciless to leave. But the man somehow shifted in front of us.

                "Oh hello beautiful sisters. Why...why are you...all look the same? Tri-triplet?"

                I looked around. Nope, it's late and no one else is walking in these parts. Oh come on. He drunk too much and he's seeing double images.

                "Hey friend. Can you stop being all wobbly? You're making me dizzy."
          His tongue is still not straight. " did you know-know my name?"
          "Your name? I don't know your name."
          "But you just called me."   

                "Did I? What's your name?"
          "I...I'm [Wobby]!"   

               "That's, well, a proper name for you." Merciless commented. "We'd better not disturb this brewmaster. Let's go."
          I turned away. "So, enjoy your drink! We'll go now."

                Man we'd better hurry. That alcohol smell is making it hard to breathe.
          He followed us with that unstable step. And he actually followed us for some distance before we can lose him! We're already outside the city gate. The night has arrived but the visual is still good thanks the the moon. This is specifically configured for those night shifters. Some people prefer to play at late night.
          Merciless pulled on my arm again. "Can you tell me how to hatch eggs?"   

                "Oh shoot. Another one!"
          "...What do you mean?"
          "So many people are totally clueless about how to use companion eggs. And you're yet another one."
          "Huh. Is that a surprise? I don't see many people with companions around, I guess it's just normal. The slots are mostly useless, cause people can't catch any monsters at all. It doesn't matter if you have one or two or five companion quota."
          "I see... I can understand that. You got an egg from the quest reward right? I can tell you now. Let's see it."

                He followed my instructions and hatched the egg. An adorable black kitten jumped out of it.

               "...What's this? The quest is freaking impossible and they only give you a pet kitten?"

                I can only admit that the look of this little creature can probably seize the heart of most human being. But...
          "Seriously! A cat??" Merciless is getting depressed. We were both expecting something way better out of the difficult quest.
          "Well, easy for now. Check the status. Maybe it got some surprises." The cat doesn't look any special but who knows. "Companions all look small when they're hatched. Maybe it'll turn bigger."
          As he read through the texts I see his expression getting brighter. He jumped in place in the end.

                "It's not cat! It's called [Winged Leopard (Alpha)]. Ha! A leopard. And a pack leader!"
          He looks like a kid who just found his new toy. Well, I can share that excitement somehow.   

               "Alright alright, stop it. Find somewhere private and dance however you like, don't do it in front of the city gate. You'll get a bad name."
          He looked at all the people staring at him and went silent.

                "Oops, sorry. I was...overjoyed."
          "Be happy then. I'll log for now. I got schedule to level up with my friend tomorrow morning. I don't want to sleep in."   

                "Level up?" He gave me some uncertain glances.
          "Tell me if you want something. There's no sissy here."   

                "Can I join you?"   

                "Any particular reason?"   

                "I kinda earned myself some enemies around here so someone's always trying to kill me. And that's why I went on the quest alone. I don't have to worry about that if I can find a group to grind together."
          "Come then."

                I told him the time and exited the game.

  • thanks for the chapter
  • edited June 2017

    Book 4, Chapter 28

    Another Me?


                I woke up early enough. According to plan, I need to pick up Merciless before we head to Hawk and the others.

                "Oh, you're already here? Am I late?"
          "Nope. I came too early."
          "Follow me."   

                 I grabbed Merciless's arm and teleported to the station in Goddess City. This is where we'll meet up.

                No one's here. Yup, this is too early. We found a corner around the street where we can see the station and sat down. I watched the passers-by in boredom, while Merciless plays with that black kitten.
          "Hey Merciless. We look like some beggars. Someone's not going to throw coins at us right?"
          Merciless looked at me, then turned to his cat again. "Definitely not you. Not sure about myself though."
          "What do you mean?"   

                "Duh, that robe on you is obviously something expensive. No one is wearing anything better as far as I can see. They must be blind if anyone thinks you're poor."
          "Hey! The Wizard over there!" A female voice called out.

                I looked around, the only one that qualifies as a "wizard" is me.

               "Are you calling me?" I looked at the woman who just approached me. Something caught my mind. She's familiar, as if we see each other everyday. But...I can't remember who she is.
          I can see the same doubt on her expression too.

               "We met before?"
          She's accompanied by a male Warrior, who looked between us for several rounds. Merciless is attracted too and began to check our faces.
          The woman finally spoke.

               "Are you--"

                But she stopped, not sure what to say.
          The male Warrior stared at us for a full minute, rubbed his eyes, then stared again. He spoke to Merciless instead. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
          Merciless nodded. "I think I agree."   

                The woman fished out a mirror somewhere behind her back and looked at it, then at me, the mirror, repeat. She then turned the mirror towards me.

                I observed myself in the mirror and--
          "You, huh? Wait, I'm--nonono, you're--" I stuttered without making out any full sentence.

                I turned to Merciless: "5 minutes!"   

                "What's going on?"

                I didn't reply. I just quickly logged off.
          And I saw the woman did the same.   

                I didn't leave my Iron Unit, I used the built-in telephone and gave my father a call. I also dragged my mother into the conversation.

                "What's up son? It's still early."
          "I have a question, and I want a clear answer for it."   

                "Something went wrong?" Mother seems worried.
          I considered for a while. How do I put this, to express my doubt without sounding too harsh?

               "Are you sure I'm the only child in the family?"
          Mother paused. "What's going on dear? That's out of the blue."
          "Just tell me. Am I the only child? Do I have any twin brothers or sisters or something?"
          Father chuckled. "You lost your mind son? Why, you want a little brother now?"
          My mother seems annoyed. "You don't believe your own mother huh boy? Do you think I can't even remember how many kids I have?"
          "No no no no that's not what I meant! "

                Apologize first. Getting mother angry means she'll take me back to the company and give me punishment, which means, asking me to manage business.

                "I met some problem and I'm just making sure. Well, not going to disturb your work. Bye!"

                I quickly cut the comm. Any more and I'm going to get myself a serious mouthful.
          I went back into the game to see the female Warrior just logging back too. We stared in silence again. When we noticed we're already walking in circles, inspecting each other.

                I finally decided to starting talking first.

               "I'm Ziri, and you're...?"
          Yup, she's surprised by my name.

               "I'm Zirai! Divine Demon race."
          We looks like a pair!(*)

                "Same here. I have double classes."
          "Me too. That's quite a coincidence. And I believe we did the same thing when offline?"
          I nod.

                "So we got the same answer?"
          "I don't have a twin!" We spoke and laughed at the same time.
          Then my appearance issue hit me, so I quickly asked: "Are you female?"   

               She(he?) just gave me a weird look. "I may not be a star but I'm confident in my looks. Can a man have such a bright face like me?"
          "So, you're a woman?"
          "Of course!"   

                 I chuckled. "You're wrong then. I'm a man with that bright face you mentioned."
          "What??" That shocked her for good. "You're not messing with me right?"
          "Do I look like that type?"   

                "Wait wait wait, you're serious?" She got closer. "You didn't use your true appearance for your character?"
          "Yeah. I made it 10% more masculine. I tried to make those body curves and lines straight."
          Zirai snickered. "Ah I did the same! I wanted to look cooler so I attract less stalkers. I wonder if we look the same in real life."

                She took out her mirror again and began to compare us. "Almost the same person! Funny. Never thought I'd run into something like this in my life."
          "Where do you live?"   

                "New Nanjing. You?"
          "Same. I study in the Neo-Dragon Academy."
          "You don't say? I read in the Zenith Faculty."
          "Zenith? That's close."

                Zenith Faculty is just behind Neo-Dragon. There's only a wall separating the two places.
          "I'm free tomorrow!"   

                "I'm free everyday!"

                We both smile again. This is fascinating, the girl in front of me is just like myself. We look alike, we think alike...You know the feeling when there's someone who can totally understand your own thoughts.

                Communication without having to speak...wonderful!
          "Let me trying something out." I got a wicked idea.
          "You want me to trick people?"

                Bingo. We're in tune!
          "My friends. They're arriving soon."

                I told Zirai about the characteristics of Hawk and others.

                Shortly, Hawk, Elfy and the rest of the group appeared, and I can see Rose too. She's been away for quite a while. I dragged Merciless and the male Warrior somewhere to hide, while Zirai simply went to greet them like I would.
          "Hey dear! Miss me?" Rose leaned into Zirai's chest. Even Rose didn't notice! This is just why we both went to confirm with our families if we have a long-lost twin.
          Hawk patted on Zirai's shoulder. "Good morning mate."

               That's not surprising. This muscular big bro carries the least awareness among us all. Well maybe not, cause there's Big Pot.
          Big Pot joined them. "Yo Ziri! That monster hunting was awesome! I'm looking forward to today's work!"
          Violet looked at Zirai and tilted her head. But she didn't catch anything.

                "Where's your armor Ziri? And your robe?"
          Zirai is quick enough. "I changed so no one would recognize me here."

          "What happened to your voice?" Elfy noticed something amiss. "It's...sharper? You sound more like a woman now."
          "Pff ha hahaha!" Zirai looked towards my location. "Come out already, I can't hold it! Ah hahaha! Oh wow this is so much fun!"
          Everyone froze. Except Rose, who immediately jumped away from Zirai's hug.

               "Huh, what is--" Rose looked between us for a while and finally came over me. "Ziri?"

               I nod to her.
          She held my arm. "Who is that?"
          I didn't answer. "How do you make sure this is the real me?"   

                She raised her head. "I don't. But I can feel it. So who is that? I won't notice at all if you didn't show up."
          "She's Zirai. My twin sister." I dragged Zirai to stand beside me.
          "I knew it. You two look no different." Hawk is as careless as ever.
          Big Pot scratched his head. "I thought you learned how to use those shadow clone skills. Totally the same one if you ask me."
          Everyone nodded and commented about how we look so alike, except Rose. She knows our family and she's definitely aware that I don't have any sister. But she only observed the scene without pointing it out.
          However Zirai failed to hold it back again. "Hey you all believed that?"
          "Believe what?"
          Rose stepped out: "Ziri is the only child. There's no sister or brother. Otherwise Dragon Fa woooo--"

               I held her mouth.  I don't think it's a good idea to let the others know about my identity. They'll just think someone in the company gifted all my resources for free.
          "Alright alright, can you introduce her to us? And that two new faces over there?" Hawk opened the topic.
          "This is Merciless, I met him in a quest yesterday, a high level Assassin. We don't have any Assassin in our team so I invited him. This pretty lady here is Zirai, we just met. Trust me, I know nothing else. The gentlemen is together with Zirai, I don't know him yet."
          "Let me introduce myself!" Zirai sure feels like a boy and I like that. "Good day. I'm [Zirai], Divine Demon, duo class, Dragoon and Sealmaster. Pleasure to meet you. Ziri told me all about you so you don't have to introduce back. This is a friend I just met today, name is [Passerby], I think his class is called Chaos Rider or something. And ugh! I forgot why I came today because of all the fuss!"
          "What are you doing?" We looked at her curiously.
          "I want to steal the city defense cannon of Goddess City!"

                Say whaaaat?!
          "You mean, that energy crystal cannon on the city wall?" Hawk pointed towards one of the giant weapons located on the battlement.
          "You're serious?" I also looked at the cannon in shock. "We don't know if we can move it at all. Even if we That thing looks like at least a dozen tons, and it's set high up on the platform."
          "It's not safe here, let's talk about it outside."   

                Zirai led us into a forest far from the city.

                "I'll call my companion now. Don't get scared!" She waved her hand. "Come, Skyfire!"

                With a strong air current, a red dragon similar to Lucky descended from the sky. Apart from the bright red color, it's also a bit bigger than Lucky.

                "How does he look?" Zirai touched the large dragon's nose and waved her other hand. "Come, Big Bill, Little Bill!"

                Boom! Two giants taller than the city wall appeared near us.
          "Titan!" We stepped back. She got a lot of interesting members!
          Zirai seems satisfied with our expressions. "Now how's this? Big Bill and Little Bill can help us carry the cannon. I just need some helpers to take care of the NPC guards. These two are big but they're not good at fighting. We can't defeat too many enemies. And Skyfire is not enough to fend off hundreds of guards. This is why I came for help. What do you say? I'll pay for the extra hand!"
          Hawk and I exchanged a glance.

               I spoke: "Our team has set up a goal to go to Japan and cause some troubles there. We'll help you get that cannon if you agree to join our mission."   
          Zirai seems embarrassed. "Not 'that cannon'. I need THOSE cannons!"
          "Huh? All of them?" Gold Coin looked towards the city wall and shook her head. "Oh dear. Now here's someone even greedier than me."
          "No, not like that." Zirai explained. "I'm helping our country. I'm going to carry these weapons to the Nation War border and use them as the last defense line. Or what other reason do you think I have? For fun?"
          "We're in the same team then! Hahaha! Let's do this!" Everyone laughed.
          I stopped them. "Not yet, we have problems. We can walk into the city alright, but how do we get out?" I looked among them. "You can summon your titans inside the city, how can we get them out after that? Are they able to climb over the wall with the cannon? The main gate is no-go. It's like a doghole for these big guys, and there's no way for the cannon to get through. Putting your hands on the cannon means to start a city siege war. We will be facing more than city guards. Goddess City is a major system city, it can spawn 100 thousand regular army units during a war, you sure our small team can handle that?"
          They fell silent.   

                I continued: "Now suppose we can get out of the city. There are five energy crystal cannons on the walls of Goddess City. So, we carry one, the one in the opposite direction can't see us, but the rest three will have no trouble blowing us up. If my guess is right, those cannons are not designed for individual player targets at all. One hit and we're done. Death may not be a problem but it will destroy the cannon we're carrying. What do we do then? Go back and get another?"
          "Ouch." Zirai slumped down. "I thought this would be you broke all hope."
          "Not really."

                They stared at me again.

               "How much weight can your Skyfire carry?"
          "Not sure but must be a lot." Zirai is uncertain what I'm planning. "How does that help?"
          "Lucky!" I summoned my No.1 assistant. "Say, if they work together, can they carry the cannon into the air?"
          Zirai didn't answer. But Hawk shoot his head.

               "Not likely. Even if they can it will be too slow."   

               "Phiona! Loong'er!" I summoned everyone who can fly. "What about now?"
          Zirai recovered her smile. "Yes, yes! We can do it! Two dragons? Oh my. I wonder which one is stronger, Lucky or my Skyfire."
          "Forget it. Skyfire will definitely lose unless it reaches level 1000." That I'm confident.
          "Why's that?" She's not convinced.
          I opened Lucky's status and showed her. "As dragon king, he does double damage to any dragon-type monsters. Phiona can give him a free revival once per day. Can Skyfire kill him twice?"
          "Is that dragon king's crown in the inventory?" Zirai swallowed. "I want one for my Skyfire..."
          "It's a crown, not a cheap hairpin. It will make no sense if everyone has one."
          "So when do we start?" Hawk asked."It will really help us if we can put those cannons into the war zone."
          "How about this evening?" Zirai suggested.
          "Let's do it in the day." Gold Coin proposed with a professional attitude. "This is a game, those NPCs can stay fully awake even in the night. But we can't. And the view is better during the day so we can give it our best. There'll be complications in the evening. You're carrying a big object, we'll need someone to give orders within sight. And NPC's visual field stays the same during night hours, if I remember correctly."
          "Good point. I agree with Coin." I gave my stand. "Let's prepare, we do it in the afternoon."   


                "Let's see what we'll need." I drew a picture in my mind. "Potions and consumables. A lot of them. Be sure to stock up. Some ropes. Long ones."
          "What's that for?" Big Pot asked.
          Violet knocked his head. "To bind up those cannons! Do you think we can carry them just with dragon or bird claws??"
          "Oh! Right."   

                "Ok now, go get the items now." I dismissed them.
          Zirai stayed and looked at me. "You are not going?"
          "Me? I'll stay in the back and give orders. Oww don't hit me! Hey!"


    (*) It's too hard to turn their names into English while keeping the meaning behind them, so I didn't.

        Ziri: the purple sun.  Ziyue: the purple moon. I altered the latter. Directly calling them purple sun or moon doesn't feel right.

  • Thanks for the chapter 
  • Book 4, Chapter 29



                We soon gathered in front of the city gate. Hawk is pretty smart when it comes to these operations. He bought many ropes from the system shop and prepared them into thick towlines enough to drag the cannons.
          "How about this?" Zirai used the towlines to make a giant noose with four ends. So Phiona, Loong'er, Lucky and Skyfire can each take one end and lift the cannons. The cannons look more like some kind of observatories. Who knows how heavy they are.
          "Should be good!" Everyone nodded.
          "Let's move then!" Zirai is getting super excited.
          "Wait!" Big Pot raised his hand. "Someone needs to stay on the rope right? The companions aren't going to command themselves."
          "You go then!" Violet pushed Big Pot onto Lucky's back. "Be careful not to fall."
          "Noooo! I'm afraid of heights!!" He tried to climb down.

                I signaled Lucky to take off with the three other companions, bringing the rope noose and the screaming Big Pot with them. They didn't go far. Skyfire stayed lower, without leaving our sight, which caused the other companions to stay behind too.
          "Um, Zirai? Is your dragon afraid of heights too?"

               "Very funny. That's MY companion, what do you expect when I'm standing on the ground? You at least know there's a limit for how far you can command your pets right?"
          I think Hawk and Elfy mentioned this before. Ordinary companions can only operate within their master's sight. This is not the case for my team though.

                "You should go with them then." I told them to get down.

                Zirai summoned her titans to lift her up, then un-summoned them again. Well that's handy.
          "You guys wait in the city! I'll get to right above the cannon. Give me a signal when ready, and I'll come down!"
          "Got it. Let's move!"

               The team marched towards one corner of the Goddess City where one of the energy crystal cannons is located. Four cannons are separately placed at each corner of the city, and a bigger one is stationed on top of a tower in the city center. This layout is used to make sure that at least three cannons can hit something no matter which direction they come from.
          Our targets are the four smaller corner cannons. Of course we want the middle one as well but we're not sure we can lift it, with that kind of size. If we manage to pirate the other four this time, we can try to get the big one later.

               We sneaked under the cannon in the southeast corner of the city. The stone platform support made of flagstones is as tall as the city wall, whereas the half-sphere shaped cannon stays aloft in the center of the platform. Thirteen guardians are standing under the cannon in a circle, with their backs against the cannon. There's an unconspicuous room nearby which must be the spawn point. When the city goes into war, the five rooms at mentioned locations will produce 100,000 level 800-850 regular NPC soldiers. That will definitely be quite a view.
          "Is it possible to seal that door?" I pointed to the spawn room and asked Hawk.
          "We can't seal it but...It's still possible to stall them."
          "How do we do that?"
          "Look at the cannon."   


               "What will happen if we knock it over and make it crash into the door?"   

               "I like your way of thinking." I gave him a thumb-up.
          "Be quiet you two! We're going!" Elfy lost patience.
          I sent Zirai a /tell, asking her to start.   

               A black spot in the sky quickly grew bigger. The temporary transport team arrived almost in an instant.

               Zirai jumped onto the cannon and began to tie the ropes. The NPC guards looked back towards her the moment she touched the cannon.
          But we already moved before they can react. The ten Phantom Knights charged ahead, followed by everyone else. We knocked down the guards within a matter of seconds.

               I gave Zirai an "ok" gesture. She then ordered Skyfire and the others to gain altitude. They (those with wings at least) flapped their wings as hard as they can.
          A dull bumping noise, followed by a smoke cloud. The cannon left it's base and went afloat.

               Groups of NPC soldiers are already appearing inside the house nearby!

               Zirai summoned her titans. They pushed at the remaining cannon base, which fell and broke the stone platform to pieces and caused all the rocks to bury the spawn point under a giant rubble.
          Something's not right. That base lying on the rubble...It looks like a tripod stand, with a long, thick iron pipe attached to it.

               Wait, it's the cannon! I looked up to the transport team. What they're carrying is the half-sphere casing of the cannon. So the actual cannon isn't so big, the heavy casing is used to hide the cannon's long barrel!
          I quickly contacted Zirai. "Come back! You took the wrong stuff!"
          "What??" Zirai watched from Skyfire's back as we stood on the rubble, waving at her and pointing to the object behind us. She soon realized the real target is still on the ground.
          We can't hesitate now. I simply asked Phantom to send a telepathy and call Lucky and the others back. Phiona used her fire to burn the rope away. The giant half-sphere cannon casing fell and created a big gap on the city wall, while causing block pieces to fly about. We all covered our heads and dived for cover.
          Lucky is already flying down. The cannon in the city center turned to our direction and fired with a strange "poof" noise. A cannon bullet carrying a violet colored trail, like a comet, approached us. It aimed high, apparently going for Lucky.
          Lucky did a beautiful tactic roll in mid air, dodging the bullet. It flew towards outside the city and landed on a small mountain tip. The landing point is pretty far away but we still heard the explosion. We observed the scene from the opening gaps on the wall. The mountain tip is flattened into plain ground!

               Shit, that was scary. I hope no one's over there.
          Lucky continued to dive down when the northeast cannon fired at us too. Lucky didn't have time to avoid this one, and was killed fast and clean! 

               The explosion brought a shockwave towards us. The ground full of rubble is now covered in smoke and dust. There's no way we can reach the gate now so we just decided to get away through those openings on the wall.
          The dust was blown away by a strong gust. Loong'er came down like a swimming snake. She is no smaller than Lucky but her long, slim body is much much harder to hit.
          She only had to dodge one shot before touching down, then she coiled around the cannon and began to float. Lucky was revived using Phiona's skill. He quickly escaped from those cannons' lines of sight because he doesn't want to experience that again. This is the first time something one-shot him. Not even the dragon deity Ao Guang can manage that.
          We quickly jumped off the city wall. There's a deep city moat below, obviously we'll have to rely on ourselves to get past it.

                I summoned Night Shade who did a wonderful job again. He leaped over the moat with me, Rose and Yuri on his back, although a little breathtaking.

                Hawk, however, caused some embarrassment. With Hawk and Elfy on the back, Sunshine fell into the river half way.
          Gold Coin simply ran across on top of the water surface, leaving a trail of separated water current behind. She runs too fast!   

               Razor used his ninjutsu "Suiton" and teleported across the river.   

               Violet summoned Ashura. The kid has a mount with him, a silver pegasus!
          Zirai's friend, Passerby, summoned his companion too.

               Oh my god what a giant roach!!

               Someone actually caught a cockroach as a companion! Of course it can fly. It had no trouble bringing Passerby over the water. Man he got guts. I got gooseflesh just looking at the size of the bug. Most women are terrified of these things, while I tend to avoid them because they carry too much filth. I hate filth!

               Passerby is holding onto one of the hairy legs like it's nothing. Ewwww.
          So there's only Big Pot and Wayne left. They looked at each other, nodded hard, held hands, jumped into the water and began to swim.

               Oh well.

                "...What are they doing?" Rose asked while looking at the duo who are moving slowly to us, dog paddle style.
          "Why not using their companions?" Yuri muttered.   

               Violet came over on the pegasus (Ashura is lying in her arms). "I know Big Pot's pet. It can't swim. As for Wayne... no idea."
          I chuckled. "Wayne got no companion. He only has two servants, and they're can't swim either."   

               "Ow." I think Yuri is actually feeling sorry for Wayne.
          "Okay okay, let's be quick. Get those guys up here, we need to run!" Elfy and Hawk dragged their soaked bodies ashore and urged us.
          I summoned Rosa and gave orders, though I can't hide my amusement looking at the swimming competition.

               "Drag the two guys out of the water."

               Rosa extended two tentacles and fished them out.

               "Enough swimming, now run!" I turned to Hawk and the others, telling them to retreat.
          Wayne gave me a sad face. "I don't have companion!"   

               Razor followed him. "You know, same here."   

               "You have enough companions for them right?" Yuri suggested.   

               I shook my head. "Loong'er is carrying the cannon, Lucky and Phiona will be against the enemies. They can't bring people. Same for the Phantom Knights. Night Shade is already carrying three of us, that's enough burden for him."
          Passerby came up and put his hands onto their shoulders. "You can come with Roachy. He's fast I tell you! It will be like racing a car."
          "Okay I guess..." Wayne climbed onto the giant cockroach's body, unwillingly. Oh ho ho man he looks so funny!

                Razor didn't say anything. He jumped onto the bug's head and stood straight, arms crossed.
          Big Pot summoned his companion too, a...gray, wild boar, as big as an ox. I gave out a hearty laugh and almost fell off Night Shade. Big Pot has a giant pig with a horse saddle on its back! I know about those Wolf Raiders, but what is this, Pig Raider?
          The NPC army didn't give us time to think about that. A battalion appeared at the front gate and marched towards us fast. And they look strong!

                I wish I could take the time and observe the army parade but obviously that's not going to happen now!
          Apart from the flyers, the fastest one among us is still Night Shade.

               The second place is--surprisingly--Big Pot's boar. Ahh har har hahaha those four tiny legs are almost as fast as Night Shade!!   

               Gold Coin is sprinting on her feet. She has no problem keeping up with us.

               The one in the back is Hawk's unicorn, Sunshine. I wonder what he's thinking about now. The handsome steed has the same body build as Night Shade but he fell behind a boar.

                Again, never judge a book by the covers I guess. And no, don't judge pigs either.
          The army cavalry is getting close. We have to pick up speed. Lucky and Phiona no longer need to help with the transportation so I called them back to stop the pursuers.

               Lucky swept past the rider formation from start to end while unleashing his breath. It didn't do much to the level 850 city defenders but was enough to cause trouble to their horses. Phiona washed them over again using her purple flame. After some white flash, thousands of riders became footmen.
          The Phantom Knights took the chance and launched their attack during the brief chaos. When the defenders managed to organize their retaliation, the knights are already running away.
          We soon reached a great distance where the Goddess City is only a small dot on the horizon. It should be safe but I'm feeling really uneasy for some reason.   
          Hawk noticed my expression. "What's the matter?"
          "I think someone's watching us."
          "Someone? You mean, someone went this far from the city behind us?"
          Then I heard sharp noises coming from the sky. We all looked up. There are...spots, coming out of the clouds.
          "Griffins!! Take cover!" Razor is the first one to recognize the beasts and alerted us to hide.
          From my point of view, there are at least 5,000 griffins up there. The sunlight above us is becoming blocked out. And the sounds of these things flying is no different than an airplane formation!
          "Watch out!"

               One of the griffins left the group and dived at us at full speed. My warning came too late. Big Pot is caught into the air.

               Phiona charged from the side and collided into the griffin, which lost its balance and fell from the sky. Passerby's cockroach caught the falling Big Pot with an impressive move and ran away.
          I tried to call Lucky for help before I saw him already entangled in a fierce fight against a group of griffins. I summoned everyone available. Any extra hand would be helpful now.

                Dart waited for a chance when Phiona flew low and jumped onto her back, then switched to a griffin's back when Phiona got close to the enemies. There are too many of them so the griffins can't really stay far from each other.
          Dart is simply hopping between different griffins. The thing is, when he left a griffin, it will come down spinning in the air, while losing some feathers at the same time.   

                "Woo-ho! Hey Ziri, your pet's awesome!" Gold Coin talked to me while checking one of the fallen beasts.
          "Is he?"
          "Just look!" She pulled the griffin's wing, and I instantly saw what she meant. Dart went to pick their feathers! The back edge of this griffin's wing is almost bare. Since they don't have a wide tail like birds, they'll need to use their long feathers at the back of their wings to steer around. If Dart plucked them clean...
          Razor suddenly exclaimed. "Hey I gained a level! But I didn't do anything. We get EXP by killing NPCs?"
          I looked at my own EXP bar, and yes, it's growing. There's still a long way to go before I can level up though.

               Tank is leveling up rapidly. These griffins are level 800, each kill can gain him several levels at his current state. I watched as the palm-sized Tank grew bigger. He will turn into that original size in no time at this rate.
          Phantom pulled me out of my thought and alerted me to help Dart. I saw him falling down, so I ordered Night Shade to ran up to him and then caught Dart in my hands. He was hurt by someone. He has no trouble annoying the common griffins, but some of them got riders on their backs, one of them managed to strike Dart down.
          Despite our efforts, most griffins got past us and caught up with Loong'er and Skyfire. Zirai ordered Skyfire to fight off the griffins. Some more feathers rained down.

                Loong'er failed to hold against the assault. She dropped the burden in order to fight better, and the cannon was caught by a dozen griffins before reaching the ground. They began to carry the cannon back. We can only watch as they flew past our heads but we can't do anything!
          As I'm trying to come up with something, I heard a buzzing sound behind. Tank is now big as an elephant and he's trying to fly with his hidden insect wings.

               He got into the air after some attempts. It sounds like being the middle of a bee swarm, amplified by some loud speakers.

               The griffin transport panicked when they saw the sudden attacker. Maybe he's confident in his hard shell, or maybe he's just not good at controlling his flight yet, Tank simply threw himself into the griffins like a bomb.
          The griffins lost their balance, and the cannon fell down again which landed on Passerby's cockroach.

               Yuri is already finishing up the second chapter of her Fallen Variation. The skill will come into effect any time now.
          But something always goes wrong. A griffin dived before we can react and caught Yuri. I'm struggling against a griffin myself so I can't help her. I should have left her and Rose on Night Shade! We scattered up to keep more enemies from going after Loong'er. Now it seems a bad choice!
          Yuri was killed soon due to her weak build. She disappeared in a white flash, with her song interrupted. Before I can make new decisions, Rose is lifted into the air as well. Damn it I can't protect anyone like this!


    Novel migration imminent. If things go well.

  • Thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 30



               On the other end of the battlefield, Passerby is intercepted by several griffins, causing the cannon to fall and finally crash on the ground. It shattered into several parts. A bullet went off and flew in the direction towards the Goddess City!
          We didn't give it much thought since we're pretty far off from the city and the random shot probably won't do anything. However the shell precisely landed on the city gate, pulverizing it, while causing dozens if not hundreds of people to get buried alive.

               Right. Innocent bystanders always get into trouble.
          "Oh shit! Why me again??"

                My Evilness rose! It was Tank who caused the griffins to drop the cannon they have to count ALL the deaths on my head??
          Jesus cakes. All those people must have received messages that I attacked them. I just made a second mass-kill accident! I didn't mean it!!

               Since I'm already the top criminal, the system didn't announce my honorable deed again. This won't cause TOO much of an issue since I have my Masking Wheel bracelet, compared to last time.
          The griffins all retreated when the cannon is destroyed. They hurt Phiona badly before they leave, Rosa saved her from a fatal crash.   

               We began to wrap up the whole fight since the enemies are gone. Rose is the busies one. She's the only healer in the team. Yuri can heal people but she died just now, which means Rose's first task is to revive Yuri before she gets teleported back to the city by the system due to time limit.

               Rose used her skill three times at Yuri's body before she can bring her back. Fortunately she only lost one level. Rose could really make a fortune by selling her skill on the battlefield.
          They soon returned everyone to their full state. I looked at Zirai, who's sulking at the remains of the crystal cannon. I walked to her and patted her on the shoulder.

                "Don't worry. We can always try again."

                I feel as if I'm comforting myself. This is strange.
          "What's the plan now?" Razor asked me. "Do we do it again when the city is in a mess, or wait and save up strength?"
          Before I can respond, Elfy yelled and startled everyone.

                "Ziri, your pet!! What's he doing?"
          "Hm? "

                I turned around and saw Tank munching on something. Oh good lord, he's covered in griffin blood while tearing on a griffin corpse!
          "Ew. I don't want to look at that." Gold Coin pointed at the griffin shreds. "Where did you find this freak?"
          "He's not a freak." I retorted. "You have no idea what he can do when he grows up enough. He's invincible!"
          Zirai recovered her spirit. "You don't say?"
          "Yes. When he's still an enemy he can knock Lucky away like he was nothing."
          "...The bug can knock a dragon away?" 

               "You should check his status. Maybe eating corpse is something he learned." Elfy suggested. "I know some monsters that can heal or strengthen themselves by doing this."
          "Good point."

                I read through Tank's description and my mouth instantly dropped open.


                "What?" Rose finished her work and ran to me. "He can heal up like that?"
          I shook head. "He's not healing."
          "What is it then?"   

                "It's a special skill. He can learn the skill of whatever he eats!"   

                "You serious??"  Gold Coin squeezed to my side. I opened the window for everyone to see.

                "...[Fire Bullet](Griffin). Yeah that's one of their skills. Good god, what happens if he eats a dragon? He can breath fire?"
          Merciless answered this one. "Oh he doesn't need to. The bug can already breath fire. And it's powerful."
          "How do you know that?" Gold Coin turned to Merciless.   

               "I was killed by it. I'd say that fire is just like dragon fire."   

               "A little less than that but close." I added. "Lucky was in a breathing contest with it, and he lost. Though that was probably because Lucky's level was too low."
          Tank has finished his meal during our discussion. He slowly crawled away when no one's noticing.
          "Where did it go Ziri?" Elfy is the first to notice the missing bug.

               She turned around and saw Tank just behind her, still biting on something.
          I went over to check. "Geez how many griffins do you--"

               Then I stopped, which caused all the others to look towards Tank as well.
          "The scraps! I mean, the cannon--"

                Tank is munching on the remains of the crystal cannon. There are only a few screws and springs left on the ground!

                But, but he eats CANNONs??
          "Ziri, check his skill!"

                I didn't close the window, Violet saw something new.
          "[Crystal Cannon Shot]? Wait wait wait you're not saying--"

                I told everyone to step aside and started to give orders to Tank. "Hey Tank, that hill over there, do you see it? Use [Crystal Cannon Shot] on it!"
           No response. 

                "What happened?" I asked Phantom.
          "Give me a moment." Phantom went silent for a while. "He says he can only use that skill with full HP."
          "Rose, heal him up. Looks he needs a full HP bar to use the cannon skill."
          Rose filled up his HP soon, when Tank turned towards the hill I mentioned. He fixed his six legs deep into the dirt and lay low.

               The wing-case on his back opened up. I thought he's going to display his wings again. Instead, a pipe-like cavity organism stuck out from the middle of his back and pointed at the hill. The alien object is obviously part of Tank's body now.

               The long, light green barrel began to glow. Poom! It kicked back in the same manner when a cannon releases a shell. A bullet like the ones we saw before went towards the hill. The only noticeable difference is that this one is green colored.
          It landed on the tip of the hill, causing a shock wave that can be seen by bare eyes. The tip part disappeared from our sight, silently. It was when the shock wave reached our position when we were finally met with the thunderous explosion and terrible ground shake. We all had to crouch on the ground to avoid all the debris.
          When the whole scene calmed down, Tank fell sideways and almost crashed on top of me, if not for my quick reflexes. I looked at his attribute again -- HP 1, MP 0. All skills are grayed out. A half transparent message is displayed on top of the window: 

               [Exhausted. Cannot act. 72,000 seconds left (online time)]

               And the time meter is slowly going down.
          Everyone gathered up with their bodies covered in dirt. Violet commented: "We should-cough! Should have picked something farther away! Cough! I wasn't expecting that kind of power."
          I showed them the countdown. "Pity. It got a really long cooldown."
          Coin: "Totally legit. That was like a nuclear missile. If you can use it without any limit you might as well go fuc up Japan on your own. You know, just stand there, and give five or six shots, that's enough to blast a medium-sized city into plain ground."
          Elfy: "Nice. A portable cannon. Now we can really call it a 'Tank'."   

               "I'd prefer 'Self-propelled Howitzer', if that counts as a name." Passerby commented.
          Merciless looked at the now strange-shaped Tank. "Apart from the speed...there's another problem."   

               "What is it?" We all looked at him.
          "The cannon is actually a skill right? And using it means Ziri's companion will have to drop out of any actions for a while." Merciless paused a little. "It may be powerful but there are not many chances we can use it for real. Close combat is absolutely a no. As you see, the attack doesn't distinguish friendlies. If we shoot in the middle of a fight we'll bring everyone down with it."
          Violet spoke: "We can use it during city siege. A shot like that on the city gate or among the city defenders will solve us a lot of problems."   

               "That's right. But did you notice how long it took him to expand the cannon?" Merciless gave us the cold water again. "He needs to be at top status, and a full minute to prepare the shot. If anyone manages to touch him, the skill gets interrupted. The skill is really impressive on the looks, but not very practical, if you ask me."
          We lowered our heads. That made a lot of sense. As he said, the kill power is really good. But I can only use it at somewhere really far away from the team.
          "Oh oops...sorry for that. It's better than nothing at least."   


               "So...what's the plan? We go fetch another?"
          "Not now." Hawk shook his head. 
          "I agree with Hawk. We should wait for the night or wait till tomorrow. If we go now we'll run into their main force again."
           Gold Coin held her chin. "I have an idea but...It's just a matter whether you guys got the guts to do it."   

               "Well shoot. We tried to take a city defense cannon for real. Is there anything else we can't try?"
          "Do you know how the three major system cities got their title?" 

               She got us hanging. And I don't think she's going straight if we don't play along.
          "Why? Cause they're big?"
          "Nope!" She looks satisfied. "The major cities are not the biggest ones. I've seen cities bigger than the Goddess City but they're still not major cities. The reason is the three cities have imperial palaces in them."
          "You mean, the inner city?" Hawk nodded. "I see what you meant. Only major cities have those palaces in the center. But what's important with that? They never allow players in there. Anything worth taking?"
          Coin waved her index finger. "There are five crystal cannons in each city."
          "Duh, we all saw that."
          "What you didn't see is the biggest cannon is located inside the palace area." 
          "Can you make it simple?"   

               "Okay, the simple question. Are you willing to lose a level to get that cannon?"
          "How do we do that?" I still don't catch up with her.
          "It's, well, maybe a minor system bug. The bug doesn't mean anything to common players but we can use it."
          "System bug huh?" I perked up. Never thought I'd encounter any bugs in [Zero]. This is big news, I'll go tell my father later. 

               "Tell us already!"
          "It's a strange system setup. I noticed it by accident. There's one point when I stole something and was cornered. My only choice then was jumping into the inner city area. Guess what next?"

               "The NPC guards all retreated. They can't get into the palace."   

               "That doesn't look 'minor' to me!" I yelled.
          "Let me finish! City guards can't get in, sure. But there are imperial guards inside the palace, level 900, led by level 950 captains! These imperial troops will come after you instead."
          Hawk shrugged. "No bug for us then. Those level 900 guards will be way harder to deal with."
          Coin: "Wrong again! I survived for a while thanks to my speed. The imperial guards only try to kill you, instead of taking you to prison. And I found a problem: there are very few of them, and they don't respawn. In other words, they're short on hands. So what happens if we attack from several different locations?"
          "Even they don't have enough men, they can still kill us before we can bring the cannon outside the palace."   

               "We don't have to! Actually, we don't do that in the first place."
          "Now we're not going to steal the cannon at all?"   

               "The ordinary city guards left me alone after I was killed. I sneaked back into the palace again, guess what I found? The items I lost were still there on the ground. I tried several times more and this is my conclusion:

                First, the city guards don't care if someone enters the palace. They only go after thieves and criminals. 

                Second, items left in the palace will not get cleared up. The imperials don't check what you dropped.

                (In [Zero], items don't disappear on themselves but passing monsters and NPCs will try to take them away. Remember how Hawk and Elfy witnessed a dragon snatching a gem away from a group of fighting players?) 

                And third, when I went back for my items, the imperials came after me but they stopped at the palace boundary. The outside city guards never showed up again either. So, the imperials either try to kill me because I trespassed on forbidden ground, or because I have stolen items on me. Either way, they can't go outside bounds. The city guards won't care if I go back again and retrieve the stolen items I lost. You see the bug now?"
          "Okay, so, for whatever reason, imperial guards only attack intruders inside the palace, and city guards will stop pursuing anyone after they're killed once. Neither of them actually care about the stolen items." Elfy gave her own sum-up.
          "Close. The city guards do care about the items, but they don't try to take them if they can't. Normally they will take the items from the thief and give them back to the owner, but since they can't reach the items dropped inside the palace, they'll leave them there. Even if I take them out again they won't do anything."
          "How does that help with our plan?" Passerby asked.
          Someone still didn't get it so I explained: "Coin wants to say that if we move the palace cannon, the city guards will gather outside the palace and try to kill us to retrieve the cannon. Here, we move the cannon near the gate and let the imperials kill us. Then all the NPCs will return to their original positions, we revive, go into the palace again and take the cannon. In this case, neither the imperials nor the city guards will come after us. We can just carry the cannon through the city gate under broad daylight!"

  • thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 31

    The Palace


               "Nice idea!" Passerby applauded.
          "Possible. This means everyone must die once right?" Razor looked among all the people. "We should carefully go over the plan, and maybe bring the necessary members only. I don't think we ALL need to lose level. Besides, you should change your setup. Put on something cheap. Level 900 enemies will easily kill anyone whatever we wear, and you don't want to lose your valuable equipment by accident."
          "Razor made a good point." Elfy nodded. "Yuri and Rose can stay behind, we don't really need healers this time."
          I looked at Elfy. "You should quit too. We need tanks or anyone with enough HP to move the cannon as close to the palace gate as possible. Let's try making the casualty minimum."
          Hawk nodded to Elfy. "As he said. Stay outside and help me carry extra equipment."
          "I want to go with you!" Elfy gave Hawk a stern look. "We all know you'll die, then let me at least be there with you. That's what a wife does!"
          "Elfy!!" Hawk held Elfy's shoulders and called her name in a really dramatic way.
          Elfy also threw herself into Hawk's arms. "You big fool!"   

               "Ahem!!" Big Pot turned his head away. "Knock it! There are damn singles here! A lot of them! Be kind and don't hurt our feelings further, okay??"
          "Leave us alone. This is family problem! "
          I patted on Big Pot's shoulder. "Easy. Don't you already know they're couple of the year?"
          Big Pot brushed my hand away and grabbed Passerby. "You don't understand how we feel!"
          Passerby played along. "Yeah! You have enough pretties around you. Give us some space!"
          Rose walked behind them and gave each of them a good knock on the head using her mage staff.

               "Back to topic!"
          I cleaned my throat. "Okay now, still, the less people the better. I'll now decide the team. No objections.

               First, me and Zirai. We can't go without our companions. 

               Hawk is in. He's the best tank we have.

               Wayne stays behind. A caster won't help much in this case.

               Yuri and Rose will stay outside. This will probably only take several minutes, there's no time for you to heal us. Rose should be on reviving duty. It will be of great help if we lose less level."
          Rose opened her mouth but didn't anything. She knows my decision will be better.
          I continued: "Elfy's shooting skills aren't really effective here, so don't go. You can observe the situation and give us orders accordingly.

               Coin will come with us. We need your speed and your knowledge of the palace layout.

               Merciless is out. Your assassination skills won't work against those level 900 guards.

               Big Pot and Violet will join. You both have good defenses, and Ashura is pretty strong.

      can decide for yourself. I don't know about your class."
          He quickly stepped up. "Of course I'll join. You haven't seen my special skill! That's a perfect skill to draw monster attention!"
          "You can do that?" Zirai turned to him. "You never told me about it."
          Passerby scratched his head. "It's a skill of my Roachy. It kinda...stinks, I don't usually use it in front of girls. But I assure you it works wonders!"
           "Alright, come with us then."

                I need enough people and also need to make sure less people die at the same time. Guess I can't satisfy both.

                "Razor is fast but you won't work well against high level enemies, stay with Elfy and help us with situation control."
          He nodded without a word. He talks the least among us. Besides Merciless, maybe.   

                "Do we start right now?" Zirai seems anxious about getting the cannon. She came up with the plan first!
          I checked the system clock. "Not now. The NPC army should be still up. The cannons will fire at us at this moment."
          Yuri raised her hand: "Um, there are THREE major cities, right?"   

                Zirai dragged her over hugged her tight. "I love you!!"
          Yuri is blushing hard. I think that's the same expression when a girl goes on the date for the first time.


                Oh dear. I hope she's not looking at Zirai in place of me.
          "Great idea!" Hawk interrupted my random thought. "We can go to the Celestial City or Cloudtop! Which one's the target?"
          "Cloudtop then." Passerby suggested. "It's my home city so I know it well. It's also the smallest city among the three, which means the palace must be smaller. This will make the quest a lot easier."
          "Let's take Passerby's advice. Now, gather up in front of the palace gate in Cloudtop. Share your teleport scrolls if anyone doesn't have any, go to any city and use the teleport station to our destination."

               Then I held Rose's hand and directly teleported to the station in Cloudtop city.
          Everyone walked out of the station soon. Passerby has several scrolls to this city on him. As he said, you should prepare enough major city teleport scrolls because you will need to get to them often.   

               We soon reached the palace gate in the city center. The gate arch structure is as tall as the main city gate itself!   

               "How do we get in?" Hawk looked up at the impressively fortified rampart.
          Passerby gave him a mysterious grin. "Time for my Roachy to show his wonders again!"

                He summoned the giant bug.
          "What are you gonna do?"
          "If anyone doesn't know how to climb the wall, come here and hold onto one of his legs. I'll take you in."   

                "For real? You want me to hug a cockroach leg? I'd rather die!" Violet moved back a bit.

                I totally understand why Violet would say that.
          Coin nodded, supporting Violet. "No, no, not cockroach, never. Zirai has a dragon right? She can bring a dozen people without problem. And Ziri has another!"
          "Yeah!" Big Pot nodded quickly. I can also understand why he doesn't want to hug a cockroach. As a man. "Two dragons, a phoenix, that's enough to transport several teams of people!"
          I shook my head. "We're going stealth. This is not a sightseeing tour. What do you think will happen if a giant dragon went into the city palace by air?"
          "Oh...I see." Big Pot tilted his head.
          With the dragon transport plan busted, Passerby began to sell his bug bus again. "Come on come on! Try Roachy, fast, and safe! No noise! No hazard! Almost."
          "Rosa!" I ignored Passerby's advertisement. I already have an idea. And personally I don't want to choose the cockroach either if I have a second choice.

                "Make a ladder for us."
           Rosa crossed his vines onto the wall and created a plant ladder within seconds. I took off my armors and handed them to Rose. The ladder is narrow but shouldn't be a problem to climb as long as we're careful enough. As for coming back out...We can just jump. That little fall damage won't cause any issue for us Warrior types.
          The palace must have that virtual space technology as well. It's too large compared to what we saw from outside!   

                Just as we landed on the ground, a group of imperial patrols appeared around the corner ahead.

                I rolled on the ground and hid myself behind a garden rockwork, followed closely by Hawk. Violet jumped into a flower bed, followed by Big Pot (clumsily). Coin ran around behind another big rock. Zirai panicked a little before she squeezed herself inside an open gap in the rock.

                Passerby is the only one exposed now. He insisted on riding on Roachy so he landed a bit slower than us. When the NPCs appeared he hasn't balanced himself yet!
          I prepared for a fierce fight, which never happened. The patrol team walked in front of Passerby without doing anything.

               We all left our hiding places when they passed around.
          "What the fuc?? You almost ruined everything from the start!" Coin said angrily while trying to keep her voice low.
          "Did you use skill or something?" Hawk asked. "The guards can't miss you out without a reason."
          "Yeah, one of Roachy's skills. It's called [Mimic]. We can blend into the background as long as we stand still. That's why I didn't move an inch back there."
          "Ooh. Nice trick buddy." Big Pot commented.
          "Heh, thanks."
          Another team showed up. Everyone dashed away into their original covers. Expect for Passerby, who still stood there like last time.

               When the guards passed we quickly looked around the area and tried to change location.
          "This way!" Coin rushed into a door across the path. But a patrol came up before anyone can go after her, so we hid again. Thank god no one went too fast or they'll be caught in the middle of the road.
          When it's clear, Coin poked her head out of the door and contacted us via team chat.

               "One at a time. Run!"
          I went first. The patrols appeared mid-way, I immediately expanded my cape and stood still. It was a good choice to keep my cape and other accessories instead of leaving them all behind.
           The cape perfectly covered my body. The guards marched past me about only a meter away from my face. I had to hold my breath!

                I reached Coin's room when they disappeared. I told the others to wait and observe the patrols.

                We noticed there were more than one team patrolling this area. Two teams are walking on two different patterns, that's why there will be a certain point when they both show up together.
          Finding their patterns means finding a solution. I've played the Commandos before, that game was way harder than this. The rest of the group went into the room successfully, following my command.
          Coin guided us outside the other door of the room, into a courtyard. We proceeded past some distance while hiding, running, hiding, running again. We finally reached right below the crystal cannon. 

                Ha! There's no guard here!
           When everyone's ready, I gave the signal and we all moved. With the experience from last time, Zirai first summoned her titans to lift the giant half-sphere cover off the cannon. Loong'er hooked the cannon up using her tail, while Skyfire helped her carry the cannon towards the gate. We should be safe as long as we can get the cannon to the exit!
          All NPC guards in the city moved the moment we touched the cannon. Countless city defenders spawned. They surrounded the palace but couldn't do anything else. 

               Several imperial patrol teams also noticed us. Rosa trapped the approaching soldiers but his tentacles were all cut down within 5 seconds. These enemies are way more terrible than the city defense out there!
          Skyfire can only fly a little above the palace wall height with the cannon, which means the intercepting guards ahead can attack him. A team of archers and crossbowmen appeared in our path. They aimed their weapons high, obviously planning to shoot Skyfire down!
           Hundreds of arrows and bolts went into the air before we can react. Lucky is the only who managed to do something -- he simply placed himself in front of Skyfire as a meat shield.  The projectiles decorated Lucky into a porcupine. Thankfully, his thick scales absorbed most of the damage. He looks badly hurt but those arrows didn't go deep. However from the status bar I can see he's not going to survive another attack like that.
          Lucky's move gave Skyfire enough time to fly past the archers. When they turned around and loaded their next attack, Phiona and Loong'er launched their skills at the same time, covering the shooters in both flame and ice.   

               The first long-range team is thrown off their feet but a second team appeared soon. Lucky blocked their attack again, which of course, resulted in his death. 

               Phiona tried to replace his position and she was killed soon by the fierce attack. Even if she can instantly resurrect where she died, she got instantly killed for a second time.
          This means I'll need to wait for a while to summon Lucky or Phiona again. The 4th round of arrows didn't give us any time to arrange our defense. Dart jumped in front of Skyfire in time and intercepted a good number of arrows. But the rest of the attack can be still deadly.
          A shadow appeared and protected Skyfire. It's one of Zirai's titans.  As we watch the giant body fell, we all came up with the same conclusion.
          We proceeded with the rest of our escape plan while keeping Skyfire in the air by sacrificing members. We each ordered our companions to take the attacks, and when there's no companion left, we go in ourselves. 

                Now only me, Passerby and Zirai are still alive.
           When the main force of our pursuers got close, Passerby's Roachy suddenly moved. We were expecting the cockroach to hold off the last round of attacks, but it decided to stay behind for some reason.

               I saw its belly swelling up. 


               A terrible stench spread in the air. I almost vomitted on the spot. Then we fell the ground shaking. Endless cockroaches crawled out from under our feet!
          Passerby's companion must be a cockroach king or something. It can summon allies! 
           The tiny cockroaches swarmed up against the NPC army. They don't have much damage but the sight of them is terrifying enough! In the next second, every single NPC soldier is covered in cockroaches. They tried to clean them off but more bugs will get onto their bodies even faster!
          They soon realized it's impossible to get rid of these nuisance so they decided to keep coming for us, while carrying all the bugs on their faces. However, the brief chaos provided us enough time to reach the palace wall. The outside is just within reach, our mission is finished.
          The following NPC army readied their bows and unleashed the last arrow rain, pinning us onto the wall. Our corpses all carried smiles instead of fear, before we vanished.
          Our souls were teleported to the resurrection hall after the time limit. The NPC resurrection wizard rushed to us to provide business, which of course, was declined. Rose is already running to us with Elfy and Yuri following behind. Though Rose is the only one who can see us now.
          Rose's reviving skill is quite impressive. Violet is the only one who got unlucky enough to lose two levels. If we let the old NPC do the work we probably would have lost way more than that.
          I took my armors back from Rose, put them on, and headed to the palace with everyone. According to Coin, the dropped cannon should be absolutely safe there. But I'm not sure until I get it into my own hands. That's why I asked everyone to run as fast as we can.
           It's been half an hour since we died. The palace perimeter is completely clear of any city guards. I summoned Rosa again to take us over the wall. Zirai quickly ordered Skyfire and her remaining titan to get the cannon out. It only took less than a minute. When the imperials found us we had already escaped.
          As Coin said, the imperials didn't come after us outside the wall, and the city guards totally ignored our actions. We were quite nervous when we saw a team of city patrols walking in front of us. Thankfully they didn't even spare a glance at the giant cannon we're holding. 

               That doesn't mean the players will ignore us though. A lot of people decided to come to us and satisfy their curiosity. This is expected. We already know a titan carrying a big cannon walking in the city would cause a scene.
          "What is that, miss?" A blind dude asked me.
          "Look for yourself! You can't even tell man from woman??" I hate these kind of people!
          A Warrior player spoke: "It looks like a, I don't know, cannon? The game got cannons? Wait a minute..."

               Following his words, everyone turned their heads towards the tall ornamental column in the city center.   

              "They carried the city defense cannon away!!" Someone yelled. 

               And it invoked a serious panic among the people. More players came and stuffed the road without giving us any space to move! 

               It were the city guards who helped us out of the situation. An NPC team came and started to break up the player crowd because they are "holding up the traffic". There are still too many players around for us to walk easily though. It took some effort to reach the city gate. 

               Then the titan made a huge mistake!
          He bumped into the gate while holding the cannon! I don't know if we're just unfortunate, or the cannon got some problem with it. It miss-fired again! A cannon shell went out and landed among a player crowd in the city! 
           Before we can take in the situation, the titan turned around too fast which caused the cannon base to bump into the gate again. A second bullet exploded right under our feet and sent us flying out of the city wall! 

                The damaged titan let go of the cannon. Dammit we worked so hard to get this one, we can't afford to break it again!
          "Phantom Knights!" I summoned my ace card. "Catch that thing!"
          The knights followed my finger and saw the falling weaponry. They all charged and placed their bodies under the cannon with professional baseball player style. Now the cannon is safe, I can finally breathe again. Pheeew! 

                A voice behind us startled me for good. But NPC guards never shout like that! 

                Could it be...?!

  • Thank you for translating :)

    P.s The names a little hard to keep track of
  • Thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 32

    The Havoc


                I turned around. As I feared, a player crowd is rushing towards us.
          "Stop where you are!" A player running in front cried out.
          Oh please. Of course I'll not listen to you.

                "Coin, Razor, Merciless! Hold them off for a while!"
          "Got it!"

                They went to the path, facing the incoming players. I asked them because they're all fast classes. Even if they can't defeat the players they won't be caught at least.
          At least that was my plan, until I realized I've made a really bad decision by sending Razor out.

               Someone in the front line yelled when they saw Razor:

               "It's the Japanese! They're trying to break up our city defense system! We must stop them!!"
          I tripped on my own feet when I heard that. Break the city defense?? Then why are we taking all the effort to take the cannon all the way here, instead of sabotaging it inside the city? Besides that cannon will get refreshed after 24 hours. If I'm the enemy I'd do it right before a city siege begins. Why now??

               Well I don't think they'll give us any chance to explain. And they'll probably break the cannon by accident if they get their hands on it!
          Merciless and the other two have already contacted with the players, the crowd is quickly shrinking towards them three. Coin is running in front while Razor and Merciless followed behind. Coin is going towards the leading player, because he's either intentionally trying to throw hate at us, or is just plain dumb. Either way, we should take him down.
          The player grinned when he saw Coin getting close. Coin is seemingly a fragile class with all the cloth she's wearing, and this high leveled Warrior has all the confidence in a head-on conflict.
          Coin is wearing the same grin as the foolish Warrior. Doubt replaced the smile on the Warrior's face, but he no longer needs to worry about it in the next moment.
          Coin jumped into the air about 5 meters away from the target, and landed right on top of the Warrior's body, submerging her dagger deep into it. She used her self-created skill [Last Resort]. The Warrior died in a white flash before he can even see what just happened.
          All the running players stopped. Their leader just died for no reason!

               And that moment is enough for us to gain enough distance from the city.
          "Zirai, take the cannon away!"

               I picked up Yuri and tossed her onto Skyfire's back. "Wait for us in the Lost City. Yuri knows the way!"
          I don't want to make Zirai feel that she's the only one escaping. But I believe she can understand that getting the cannon to safety is our top goal now.

               She ordered Skyfire to retreat from the scene without hesitation.   

                I can finally put my heart back into my chest when Zirai is gone. A flying dragon can't be easily intercepted unless something really powerful shows up.   

                I faced the battleground again. Razor's group is now surrounded by all the players. I don't really want to fight them, since most players are just trying to protect the city from "invaders". But I can't leave my team behind.
          "Hawk! Get them out of there, and try to avoid killing if you can."
          "I'll do it!" Hawk nodded hard.
          "Finally, some real exercise." I cracked my neck. "Most companions are still down. I'll go in myself."

                I rarely do any fighting on my own because Lucky is always tanking, with all kinds of support around. I won most of my fights while giving orders from safety. Now Lucky, Phiona, Loong'er, Tank and Rosa are all gone for now. Guess no other choice.
          "Night Shade, Dart. Come out!" That's my only available companions. As for Phantom, he never left my body.

                I hopped onto Night Shade and prepared my dragon lance.
          Hawk and Elfy were separated from each other. Of course Elfy can't be sitting on Hawk's shoulder during a fight. She got a pegasus now!   

               Passerby is causing most of the damage among us all at the moment. Groups of witches and caster ladies sat on the ground and never stood up when they saw the gigantic cockroach. Now I know why he seldom uses his companion. He'll scare every girl (and maybe some guys) away!
          Merciless is locked inside an intense fight on another side with several people.

               We don't have time to set up a formation or any plans now. I summoned the Phantom Knights behind me, pointed my weapon skywards and gave the order aloud:

          "Leave no one standing! "

                The ten Phantom Knights plus the temporary makeshift rider (me) produced quite an impressive galloping horse formation. Our mounts are pretty big, all with heavy spike horseshoes, after all.
          This greatly affected the players' moral. In a game, players either level up on their own or in small groups of four or five at most. You don't find a dozen riders practicing combat horse charge together. A game means the guilds manage their players in a casual way. They won't set up any pre-established units like cavalry regiment or swordsman squad or something, nor ask them to constantly train as a group. I always despite those guilds calling themselves like some kind of military units. This is a game! We play games for fun, not listening to orders. There will be no armies in online games. The biggest fight you can get in here is a street brawl involving thugs and random hooligans. You only see trained troops in real life.
          I can say that a cavalry team of 11 people charging together is the biggest combat establishment you can find now in [Zero]. The players are all intimated because they never seen something like this.

               "Run!!" Someone cried.

               Too late though. Our mounts covered the distance between us quickly. Most of the players are still packed on the city bridge outside the gate. There's no way they can run easily.
          We swept a good number of the people off the bridge like cleaning autumn leaves. Once we're in, we'll have to rely on our weapons without the initial charging speed.

               Cleaning out a path proved to be an easy task. The Phantom Knight's didn't even use their weapons. I told them not to kill anyone so now they are simply grabbing and tossing them into the river like throwing trash bags. More players rushed to the knights trying to defeat them, which only means more players get sent down. The river below us is getting filled up quickly. These barbarous guys never learned how to treat ladies, they are hurling girls into the water as well!
          I didn't have enough time to stop them before they rushed into a group of mages comprised full of pretty girls. After some screaming and flying human figures, over 30 girls were sent swimming with everyone else.
          However, not everything is going smooth for us. Elfy and Rose were isolated, the other people were pushed several meters away from them, and they can't move around in the time like this.
          A dozen people noticed the easy targets and moved towards the pair. They're trying to take the advantage! 

                I saw Elfy taking out her homing arrow she used to catch Coin the last time, which means she realized the situation. Elfy is an Archer, and Rose is a healer. Close combat is never their expertise. Getting surrounded by enemy group is really bad news.
          "Hawk!!" I yelled to Hawk who seems to be the closest one to me. When I caught his attention I pointed a finger to Elfy.

                He immediately noticed what's going on and moved. But the attackers already reached the girls before Hawk can make it.

                Being an Archer doesn't mean Elfy has zero damage up close. She released her frost homing arrow she's been preparing. Poom! The foremost attacker is turned into an ice block, those stayed too close to him are also affected.
          One frost arrow can only stop so many people. Someone on the other side still lunged at the girls. Before one of the attackers can hit Rose, a white figure appeared and slammed him away. I'm relived when I saw the figure stationed itself in front of Rose -- It's the white alpha wolf I gave Rose a long time ago, I almost forgot it. It grew so big.
          The wolf stopped the following assailants for enough time, allowing Hawk to get into place and protect the two girls. With Hawk and the wolf tanking in front, the beauty pair began to show their talent. Rose's healing skills can pretty much help Hawk fight all the enemies without having to worry about losing HP. Hawk already has high Defense and quick reflexes.
          Elfy is even deadlier -- she's displaying what I would call "one shot one kill". Though she's not actually killing people. She only uses low-damage skills, aimed at her targets' eyes. Those attacks don't kill anyone but of course no one can keep fighting if they have a freaking arrow locked inside their eye socket.
          Since those guys are safe, I began to move towards Coin. Hawk blocked most of the players on the bridge. There are many of them but only a small portion can actually attack Hawk. And those still inside the city can't see what's going on out there, they only try to push out of the gate. Now the area around the city gate is completely locked up by the human wave. No one gets through!
          Me and the Phantom Knights are trying to move to Coin (by keep throwing people away) when we saw Coin's group coming out on their own. Coin is hopping on top of people by using their heads as jumping platforms. And no one can catch her! Hack, with that kind of crowd they can't even take their hands out.
          Razor on the other hand, is using his ninjutsu to move underground. Only some of the sharper players can notice him but they can't do anything either.   

                Merciless is totally the opposite. I thought he's an Assassin. Assassin would be someone who hides a lot and only jumps out to kill important targets. But...he's obviously not the case. He attacks like a killer bee -- stabs someone, and disappear. Anyone hurt by him either dies immediately or becomes seriously wounded. That leopard of him hasn't grown up but is also attacking people just like its master, by shifting here and there among the crowd while scratching random people.
          Their display distracted me too much. A Half-orc Berserker sneaked near me, slammed his weapon on Night Shade, knocking me off horse.
          I heard news before when people get hurt during a stampede when all the shoppers went crazy inside a mall, now I'm experiencing it -- I can't get up under all the feet! Thankfully Night Shade wasn't hurt much by the attack. He simply bucked at that overconfident Berserker, sending him flying into river below.
          Then he managed to push the people around away from me, that's when I can finally stand up. It would be really stupid if I just died like that. Talking about too many people in China.

                But at least this can prove a big advantage when we go on a war against Japan.
          That aside, I still need to get out of here. I climbed on Night Shade to get a better view of the whole battlefield. The Phantom Knights have completely blocked the city gate according to my order. Ten level 850 monsters are more than enough to do that at the current stage.
          Coin's group has reached a safe distance. So I came to help them and now I'm the only one trapped inside!

               Dang it.
          I also noticed some riders, unable to move an inch just like me. Most of them are NPC city defenders. They already came to solve the mess but they can't get around the crowd either. Their job doesn't allow them to do anything to innocent players.
          I went all the way into the crowd by using the momentum of our charging skills. Now I'm stuck! The good thing is no one is attacking me for now. To be precise, no one CAN attack me.
          Night Shade tried as hard as he can to squeeze through while I used my lance to pick people and throw them behind us. But the tiny space I clear out each time is instantly filled up by someone else. We can only advance like a snail!   

               In the end I'm even considering if I should fly away using my wing blade. I'm not sure about that idea, cause that's will make myself an obvious target. Besides I don't really want to show my true abilities in front of so many people.
          I lowered my head and spoke to Night Shade: "Any good idea?"
          He looked around a bit.

               "Hold tight."   


               He suddenly jumped high into the air before I can understand what he meant. It's no joke to jump among such a dense crowd, he crushed a good number of people when he lands, and jumped again before they have the time to scream in pain. Now we're also hopping inside the crowd to move around, kinda like what Coin did just now. A little bit more violently, though.

                We reached the edge of the crowd after some dozens of jumps. Usually Night Shade would have achieved that by three or four good jumps, but he can't do that when he's using human bodies as stepping stones.
          When I finally got away, Hawk also called everyone else to retreat. The city gate is no longer blocked, allowing a huge wave of players to rush outside. That looks even more impressive than last time when we attracted those NPC riders into chasing us.
          But this time they don't have horses so we shook them off easily.

               We slowed down when we no longer have any pursuers in sight.
          "Ziri!" Hawk approached me.

                "You see Big Pot?"   

                "Big Pot?" I looked around. "He's not here? Didn't he run with us?"
          "I don't know, that's why I'm asking!"   

                "Violet?" I called her over to us. She was the one fighting along Big Pot.
           "What's wrong?"
          "Did you see Big Pot?"   

               "He's...not with you guys?" She gave us a blank stare.
          "Me? I went inside to help Coin. Isn't Big Pot outside with the others?"
          "He wasn't. I saw him charging in behind you on his boar."
          "What?? Big Pot went after Ziri?" Hawk waved his arms around dramatically. "What was he thinking??"
          "Do we go back for him?" Violet asked.
          I spoke before Hawk: "No. If he can get away he already did, and if he can't, he should be dead by now. Either killed by someone or stomped to death by the people."

                I'm speaking the truth. I would have ended up like that if Night Shade wasn't there to help. Big Pot's boar isn't as agile as Night Shade so I'm not sure he can make it.
          "I agree." Hawk nodded. We shouldn't risk everyone's level to save Big Pot. "Well, we can always help him get a level back later."
          We waited for a while longer to leave combat status and teleported to the Lost City.

                (Once involved in any kind of conflict, a player can no longer use teleport or city recall skills/items for a while. But this rule only applies to attackers. Passive victims can still try to teleport as long as they have enough time to prepare it.)   

               Zirai and Yuri are already waiting for us there. Zirai spoke to Yuri :"See, told you they'll come out of the station. Why did you think they would come in through the city gate?"
          Then she walked to us. "How was everything?"
          I checked our team. Everyone is carrying some injuries.

                "Basically all good. It didn't look cool but we made it."
          "Oh my god my god my god! I did it!"

                Before I can tell them about the missing Big Pot, he stumbled out of the teleport station and fell in front of our feet.
          "What happened to you?" I looked down.

               "Did you know I went after you?" He managed to stand up, that's when I saw a lot of footprints covering his entire face. "That was too close!"
          Hawk spoke: "Violet told us. So where exactly did you go? No one saw you."   

               "Take a guess. Man that was really unlucky. Those people trapped me on the bridge. I saw Ziri went past me on his horse and tried to call him, then he knocked people into the water, me included!"

  • thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 33

    The Plan


    Alert: Minor offensive content towards Japan.


                "Hahaha that's so lame!" Everyone laughed.
           Even Big Pot himself began to laugh hard, which made us worry that he's too stressed because we laugh at him.   
           Violet nudged him. "Hey. You ok? We didn't mean to make fun of you, sorry for that." 

           Violet gave us a look. We all nodded quickly until we felt dizzy.

                "See, we meant no harm. We were trying to lift the mood."
          Big Pot posed a "V" at me. "Thank you for throwing me off like that!!"
          "Did you bump your head somewhere?" Hawk looked at Big Pot with a raised eyebrow.
          Razor checked all those footprints on his body. "Maybe someone broke him by stepping on his head?"   

                Merciless pointed out the question. "You fell into the water right? It didn't wash off the footprints? And, why are you not wet?"
          "Oh yeah! That doesn't look right." We just noticed the missing point here. What made him so happy if he dropped into the moat and without any water on him?
          Big Pot looked at himself and spoke: "Wet? Of course I'm not wet! Ziri buddy, you're awesome! I'm so following you from now on, you're my belief!"
          "...What did I do?" Something feels creepy.
          "You don't know? You and your knights pushed like a thousand people down into the river. It's just a small water ditch. It was filled up with all the players! I fell on top of a group of cute girls! They felt so soft!" 

               Ok. Is that making him happy? I don't want to question it.
          Hawk interrupted his daydream. "Alright, let's get back to business. Where's the crystal cannon, Zirai?"
          "I put it at the central plaza. Skyfire is watching. Nothing to worry about, this place is like a ghost city or something, I don't see a single living thing."
          "You know what, I enjoy places like this." I led them towards the plaza while chatting about random stuff. "It's like being the king of the entire city. I can use anything here as I like! Oh, Hawk, do you still have the money I gave you for selling the companion eggs?"
          "Yeah. We don't lose money on death anyway so I didn't take the time to bring it to bank. You want it back?"
          "Yes, all of it. I need to pay my debt."   

               "Debt?" Zirai gave me a puzzled look. "You borrow money from someone?"
          "An NPC. He repaired my armor last time and I didn't have enough to pay him. Now I have some money so I'd better pay him fast!"
          "NPCs allow IOUs?" Everyone opened their mouth wide, except for Wayne and Rose. They already know about my business.
          "Why not?" I turned to Hawk. "I'll go take care of it. You all wait for me at the plaza. Won't take long."

               "Clark?" I rushed into his shop. Of course, no one's here. He's probably over at the clothing store again. 

               Sigh. This sugar guy... 

               I ran to the clothing store. Yup, as expected.

               "Why do you run wild all day instead of looking over your own shop? Here, 150 thousand crystals."
          He took the money. "You actually got enough money all of a sudden?"   

               "I sold something and made a small profit. Oh, right. Do you know how to use a cannon?"
          "Cannon? You mean, the magic crystal cannon?"
          "That's it. We stole one of them and haven't figured out how to get it working. Actually we don't even know how should we make good use of it." 

               Clark was a chief in the demon legion, he must know about such stuff.
          He held his chin for a while. "Where is it? I need to take a look. Our troops had mobile ones and stationed ones, they all work differently. Can't give you answer before I look at it myself."
          "Follow me then!" 

                I poked my head around Clark and shouted to the store mistress. "Hey sister, I'll borrow your dear husband for a bit."
          "Oh shush you!" 

                Is she blushing??

                We walked to the central plaza. Everyone else is waiting. Hawk drew his sword hastily when he saw us. 

               "Ziri, behind you!! A Shadow Warrior!"
          "It's my friend!" 

               Clark walked straight to the cannon while only sparing a small glance at Yuri, of all people. Looks like everyone else didn't add much Charisma like us. 

          He touched around the two-meter tall mechanism and spoke: "Good stuff. This is the biggest sized magic crystal cannon used for military fortresses. We also have some here in the Lost City."
          "You do?" Well I never saw them.
          "Yeah, hidden in the river. When the Eye of Underworld opens, they'll emerge from the water and attack anyone who approaches. You can't see them now. You stole this thing from Cloudtop I assume?"
          "Huh?" I jumped. "How did you figure that out?"
          Clark pulled out a giant violet crystal as big as a human head from under the cannon. 

                "The crystal still has Cloudtop's mark on it. Look here." 

                We all looked at it closely. There is a strange symbol on the crystal, though it seems no one knows what it means.
          "This thing is the energy source of the cannon, be very careful with it. The crystal becomes pale after every shot, and depletes when it turns pure white." Clark jumped off the cannon and turned to me. "Don't throw it away when that happens. You can sell it to me, I recycle these things."
          "What for?"   

               "It's a perfect material for crafting high level armor pieces, what do you expect? Oh one other thing. You can't shoot the cannon too fast, make sure you wait at least 30 sec before the next shot. Otherwise the cannon may explode!"

                I wasn't expecting the cannon to be so complicated.

                "Where can I find extra crystals like that one?"
          "That's beyond me. Go ask Domergor, that kid should know something."   

               "I see. How do I operate it?"
          "Here." Clark pointed to a handle-like part on the cannon base. "Pull that thing and the cannon will shoot. It goes back on itself when the shot is over. Don't break it."
          "Thank you!"   

               "No need to. Just help me collect materials. You still have that list I gave you right? Don't forget."   

               "Of course brother. I'll keep it in mind."

               Hawk went to me when Clark left. 

               "Is that an NPC? That's really different from everyone else."
          "The NPCs in this city are all different, just try to be nice to them. So what do we do?  Leave the cannon here? There are still months before nation wars start."
          "I have an idea." Merciless stepped up. "We use it to fight Japan right? We can deploy it in naval wars first."
          "Naval wars?" Hawk looked between us. "What do you mean naval wars?"
          Everyone seems lost so Merciless began to explain. "Ziri, you remember the Far Land city?"
          "Yeah. That's where we met."
          "You left in a hurry and didn't get a good look at it. It's actually a port city."   

               "Port city? As in, a city with a lot of boats?" Passerby became excited. "It's my dream to sail the sea! They have boats in this game? Then I'm definitely going!"
          Elfy seems interested too. "Are there any seaside entertainment? Some enjoyment would be nice!"
          Merciless chuckled. "Yes. There's also one other thing you won't be expecting."   

               "What?" We asked that together.
          "Japanese pirates!"   


          "But nation war hasn't started yet?"   

                "That's true. But the game world is still a complete map. All countries or regions exist on the same planet, so we're pretty close to Japan. There's only a small distance on the sea. Same for other adjacent countries you can find on the globe. We're separated by mountain ranges. So, you can travel to whichever country you like as long as you get past a special zone. When nation war starts, travel routes will appear and we can fight with them for real. We can't do that now but small teams with several dozens of people can still cross the border if they can manage it. So if you want to go to Japan, just use a boat."
          "You mean those scums can send people to us right now??" 

                Zirai seems the typical anti-Japan extremist. She gets drastic whenever someone mentions Japan.
          "In theory yes. But they haven't done anything big, only some random players will show up now and then and raid the citizens who live close to the sea."   

               "What did you say??" 

               Man, I see blood veins in her eyes. I'm really worried she might just jump into the sea, swim there and get revenge. 

               "Have we done anything to stop them? We just let them do whatever they want?"
          "Some of the guilds sent patrol teams along the coastline. They usually level up there while watching out for enemies. I even heard some richer guilds have their own battleships. never know when those pirates will come, and we can't be staying on guard twenty-four-seven, so they won over us most of the time."
          "Argh I can't believe this!!"

                Now Zirai looks like an infuriated bull with those steam coming out of her nostrils. Scary.
          "Hey calm down. Calm it!" We tried to soothe her. Or she might do something stupid for real! She was brave enough to steal property from the system city after all.
          I tried to change the topic. "So how are we going to use the crystal cannon?"
          "The pirates come here on boats right? So what if we sink their boats with the cannon?" Someone suggested.   

               "Oh nice idea!" Zirai jumped up again. Hawk and I tried to press the girl down, and we failed. "Let's go get the cannon over to the sea!"
          "Hold it!" Elfy stopped us. "The coastline of China is...over 26 thousand kilometers. One cannon won't help much." (*)
          "Ah..." We all became quiet. 

                Having a big land isn't all about advantages it seems.
          "Merciless mentioned battleships. How about building one of those ourselves?" Big Pot raised a very practical point. "The cannon can't protect much area on its own but what if we place it on a ship and move around with it?"
          "Yes, yes, YES! Let's do it! Quickly!!" Zirai went berserk for a third time. "Skyfire, go!"
          We reached the Torrent Point city (with a little bit of chaos, with Zirai urging our asses), which is the biggest port city within the Chinese game region. We're more familiar with the Far Land city but it's too small to hold any big vessels. Of course we can't put that cannon on a pathetic wooden plank. 

               It's almost evening. After some dedicated persuasion, Zirai finally allowed us to log off and rest, leaving the plan to tomorrow.

               We went straight to the port area the next morning. And wow it looks big! The docking area expands more than 10 kilos along the sealine, full of all kinds of ships and boats. But I can only see a small number of combat cruisers, most of the rest are fishing boats.
          The biggest sailboat attracted our attention. It's made of wood, with tons of people working on it. I can't tell which are players and which are NPCs from here. A giant triangular sail hangs on the main mast, with a small flag on the tip of it. The actual size of the flag should be pretty big though. It appears to be small compared to the other parts. 

               There's a sun on the flag, similar to the red object on the Japanese nation flag. A shark is drawn beside the sun, with its maw wide open, ready to swallow the sun in whole.
          An unfamiliar voice dragged us out of admiration mode. 

               "The Ocean Might is the biggest battleship in Torrent Point city. She already took down seven Japanese ships in the past two months."
          I turned to look at the new face. He stands taller than average, with full black battle armor on his body. But it looks seriously rusted. Very common appearance. That pair of thick eyebrows gives him a heroic look.
          He stretched out a hand. "Hello, name is [King Conqueror], leader of the Anti-Japanese Association."
          "Good day. I'm Ziri!" I shook his hand. "So that boat belongs to your guild?"
          "Aye. Our members raised all the money for this customized galley. It cost us 500 thousand crystals! But those trophies are worth the ticket! Want to join the board, miss? Our guild-- Uh, hello?"
          I face-palmed and crouched on the ground. Not again! They're hurting my feelings! 

               King Conqueror's hand is still left in the air. Zirai quickly took it over. "Anti-Jap Association? I like that name. We need people like you!"
          Obviously he never noticed Zirai until now. He looks more than surprised. He shifted his gaze between us for several times before finally asking Zirai: "That's...your sister?"
          Zirai didn't answer him, "Where did you order your ship?"   

               "Oh, you want one too? It costs a fortune you know!"
          "Just tell me." Getting a ship to fight pirates is the only thing on her mind now.
          "If that's the case...follow me ma'am." 

               He kept chatting with us on the way. "May I know your name too?"
          "It's Zirai."   

               "So, Ziri and Zirai? I knew you're sisters! You look almost the same."

               Zirai gave me a glance and smiled but didn't help me explain. Geez.
          We walked a long way to reach the edge of the docking area. There's a giant harbour structure, separated from all the other ones. It has a roof too. 

               "Here. This is the boatyard. Go talk to the NPCs to order a ship."
          Before he leads us in, someone rushed to King. 

               "So you're here! Move it! The Japs showed up again. Ocean Might is departing!"
          "Again? Then let's show them who's boss!" 

               King ran away while shouting back to us: "I'll be back once we rid those thieves. Will talk to you then!" 

               There he goes.
          "That's an interesting dude." Hawk commented. "Alright, let's go get our own ship so we can beat up some pirates too!"
          "Let's do it!!" Zirai is pumped up again and dragged me towards inside. "Hurry up sister!" 

               She's doing that on purpose!

               There are many people running up and down in the boatyard. The keel structure of a medium-sized boat is placed in the middle, with people fixing planks onto it. Must be another new order they received. (**)

               I dragged a random NPC over and asked him where to order for a ship, and was told to go find their designer in a small room deeper inside. 
          We reached the said room in the far corner. It looks broken, and feels like about to come down at any moment. Still, we pushed the door open. There's an old man inside writing something on a piece of paper. He stopped his work when he saw us. 

                Pale blue gown, a big apron, typical carpenter setup. He's also wearing gold-rimmed glasses. 

               "You want to order ships?"
          "Yes. A special one!" I spoke before everyone else. I have the highest Charisma here so I should do the talking to make thing easier.
          "Come here then." He opened a room and signaled us to get in. I never noticed there's a door on the it a hidden backdoor? 

               We walked into a place and saw a series of giant sailboat keels lined up. 

               "These are keel templates. You choose which size to use based on what you want to do with the ship. The smallest one is for ordinary fishing boats. You might need to choose the bigger ones if you want to catch whales or sea monsters."
          "Pardon me please," I stopped him from explaining further. "We need a battleship."
          "Battleship? You should've said that earlier." 

                He led us around the keels and towards another area with even more templates. These ones are big, and they all have more frames and beams to make them sturdier. 

                "These are warship keels. You need to choose a keel first because it decides the ship's overall size. Equipment and everything else can be determined later. So, anyone catches your eye?" 
          "Are there any bigger ones than these? Truth is, we have something really bulky to load onto the ship and I think we need something extra large. The larger the better." 

               The biggest one I see here is about only 50 meters in length, which means just a bit bigger than the Ocean Might we saw outside. The cannon is apparently too large for a ship like that, and we already saw how much kickback it produces. I don't want the cannon to sink our own ship first.
          The old man inspected us for a while. "I do have a secret collection but..."   

               Persuasion check, successful.

               I quickly tried to flatter the old man with every commendatory word I can dig up in my brain. 

               "Alright, I'll share the knowledge since you're such a bright and mannered young man. I have another keel which may qualify as 'extra large' you mentioned." 

               He glanced around and then whispered into my ears: 

               "It's actually the corpse of an ancient beast. Those breast bones are perfect for forging the keel of a ship. However, the beast was once a foul existence. Its plagued aura still lingers even after it has been dead for a thousand years. With those bones you can make your ship exceptionally huge, and way stronger than those ships you can see out there. But...!" 

               He stopped where it's important!


    (*) This may not be a correct number.

    (**) A "keel" is the base frame used to support a ship's hull. I hope I used the right word.

  • Thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 34

    The Beast Bone


    Alert: Minor offensive content against Japan.


               "But what??"
          "We can't transport the corpse because it's too big!"   

               "So it's not here?" Zirai asked.
          The old designer slowly turned around. "It's sitting over the mountain yonder. You need to move it here on your own. The cave is guarded by some monster recently and I never tried to enter the place ever since. If you can chase the monsters away and move the corpse here, I'll help you build a large warship. You won't even need to pay for the keel."
          "Right on it!" I led everyone and rushed towards the mountain's direction. 

                But the old man stopped us from behind.
          "Not yet! I'm not finished. The beast's evil power still remain on the corpse so it is too dangerous to approach. Use this to purify it before touching anything!" 

               He took out a crystal bottle from behind his back. "Take this holy water to banish the devil. Just spray some of it on the corpse." 

          "Got it!!" Zirai snatched the bottle away and dashed out of the boatyard.
          He called it a mountain but the place is actually a big dirt clump, not any larger than a small park. It took less than 30 minutes for us to climb over the terrain. 

                There's the cave. We don't see anything at the entrance besides some twisted grass and weed.
          "Where are the monsters?" Coin watched around the area.
          "Maybe they're inside." I told everyone to stay on guard. I also drew my weapon to prepare for any encounters.
          We reached the entrance. There's a lone passage leading towards deeper inside. After a dozen meters we entered a large stone hall. A series of blue magic lamps hang on the wall around us, making the hall bright as day. The bone carcass of an unknown monster is located in the far end.
          From the remains I can tell the thing was at least 300 meters in length when alive. Even Lucky would feel like a kid compared to it. The corpse lies in a coiled position inside the cave. The breast part should be somewhere around 200 meters long, which means our ship will come out around a similar size when finished. We should be able to put several crystal cannons on a ship like that.

                A loud, aged voice boomed around us, making us jump.
          Zirai looked around without finding anything, so she just spoke towards the ceiling. "Who are you?"   

                "I am the divine beast, Bi-Lin." (*)   

                "And where are you?"   

                "Right in front of you!"   

                "In front??"
          "You claim that you do not see this magnificent body of mine? Your joke is appreciated, young one."
          "You mean, you're this, skeleton?" I figured it out first.
          "An apparent answer."   

                "But aren't you dead?"   

                "A divine beast never dies!"   

                "But, but you're only bones left!" Yuri exclaimed. It silenced the "divine beast" for a brief moment.
          "My...body was badly damaged so I gave it up."   

                "So why are you still here?"   

                "The hatred!!" The voice suddenly became excited. "I demand revenge!! It shouldn't have come to this!" 

                It's becoming more violent. Even the cave began to shake, a number of falling rocks forced us to dodge for cover. 

                So the "monster" the old man mentioned must be this soul or spirit or whatever it is.
          "Hey easy. Calm down, please!" 

                I need to do something or we'd get buried alive! "Just, you know, tell us who did this to you, maybe we can help?" 

                I immediately regretted that. Whoever killed this thing must be way powerful beyond our imagination, which means there's no way we can help!
          "It was a snake with nine heads. It claimed to be a god spirit from the land of pirates east of here."   

               "Land of pirates? You mean Japan?" Zirai yelled. "You fell against the snake monster from Japan? Is it strong?"
          "Humph! A petty creature. Do you know about the four symbolic beasts on this land?"
          "Oh I know. Vermilion Bird, Black Turtle, White Tiger and Azure Dragon?"
          "The Azure Dragon of the Eastern Rain, and the Vermilion Bird of the Southern Flame are my disciples. The nine-headed snake couldn't even beat these two kids back then. However, that cursed abomination and those eastern pirates lured me into a deadly trap. I managed to get away alive, but those wounds they inflicted on me could never be healed, so my only choice was to stay here and wait for perish. Ahhhh... the hatred!!" 

          It's getting agitated again. I quickly interrupted. "I read about the snake monster in Japan stories. But it only has eight heads if I remembered right?"
          "That's because I bit off and ate one!"   

               "Aha! So that's how things went." Zirai snickered. "I thought those Japs don't know how to count." (**)
          I pushed the topic:"Your excellency, we are actually planning to fight with Japan and stop their intrusion upon our land, now we need a keel bone to construct a ship. That's why we came here for the body you left behind."   

                "If that's what you're going to do, just take it. These bones are of no use to me anymore." 

                So generous!
          "But what about your soul?"   

                "Just make sure you don't break up the bones and keep it whole when making that ship or yours so I can remain. I may even help you protect the ship."   

                "Much appreciated! We will be moving it now."
          I summoned Lucky, Rosa, Loong'er and Phiona to help with the bones. Tank would help too but he's still on cooldown for using that cannon skill. Zirai also summoned her titans and Skyfire to help. With some extra effort from Passerby's Roachy, we barely managed to move the giant skeleton remains.
          It's already afternoon when we finally got the bone to the boatyard. The old man walked around and inspected it in delight.
          "Good stuff! So the legendary beast is real."
          "Well, get to it will you?" 
          "Of course, of course. Shall we settle on the extra requirements and payments?" 

                Yup, this is very expected. 

                He took out some paper roll. "Tell me how you would like the ship, and I'll give you a final price for it."
          I gave him a troubled look. "Truth is, this is the first time we're trying to make a ship so we really don't know what to look for. Can you give us some pointers?"   

               "Oh that's no problem." He gave me a small handbook. "It's a purchase guide, just read the instructions."
          They even prepared something like this! 

                I read it aloud so everyone can hear it. 

               "First, determine your desired ship keel according to the size and functions of the ship you're expecting."  

               "We can skip that one." Hawk said.
          I turned the pages. "Once the keel is set, choose the materials. There are usually the following available choices:" 

               I passed all the cheap ones and began to read through the more sturdy ones. 

               "These are pretty good materials so let's pick among them. 

               Teak Wood, average protection, light weight, so you can put a lot of stuff on the ship. Problem, easy to burn. 

               Iron Lumber, high resistance against both impact and fire, very heavy. 

               Sun Wood, average protection and weight, resistant to spells, won't catch fire. 

               The last one is Crystal Wood. Very strong, average weight and good spell and fire resistance. But several times more expensive than the other choices. 

               Okay, which one?"
          "It would be best if we can choose the crystal one but...?" Zirai seems unsure about the cost.
          "How much money do we have?" Rose asked the simple question.   

               "I have a million crystal pieces on me." I checked my inventory.
          Hawk opened his too. "I have 550 thousand here, collected by everyone."
          "1.55 million that is." Rose turned to the old man. "How much if we use Crystal Wood on this keel?"
          He glanced over the structure. "So I won't be asking money for the keel... From the size of the breast part I'd say 500 thousand crystal pieces."
          "But Bi-Lin asked us not to break it apart." I quickly added.   

               "As a whole?" He considered for a moment. "It's possible but the final product would reach beyond 300 meters. And you'll need to pay 600 thousand for mere materials."
          Rose continued: "How much for labor work?"   

               "That depends on how you plan the cabins. It costs more if you build something complex. But 500 thousand crystals should be enough for even the most difficult layout."
          Rose did some mind-calculation. "I guess we have enough fund to use full crystal wood. We should make it best as possible since Bi-Lin gifted his valuable bones to us. We won't find a second chance like this."   

               Zirai jumped: "Rose is right! Here, I have 50 thousand, take it."
          I spoke to the old man. "Okay, Crystal Wood please. Next is...let me see. The cabins. First, do we need lounges and storage rooms? We need them if we're to go for any long-distance sails or crews will die. Opinions?"
          Zirai jumped again. "Of course! We're going to travel all the way to Japan right?"   

                "Sure. One storage room and one lounge cabin please."   

                "How many crew do you need? You should decide on those rooms after telling me the number of sailors that are going to live on the ship. One lounge cabin is only enough for 20 people, and one storage can hold supplies enough for a hundred people to survive 10 days."
          "Hm. Let's think about that later. Go for the next items." Hawk suggested.
          "Next, paddle chambers. They must be symmetrically placed on both sides. Each paddle chamber holds a long oar which needs four sailors to operate. How many levels of chambers we can build depends on the draft length between water level and ship's rail, and how many chambers we can put in each level depends on ship length."
          "What is the draft length for our ship?" Rose asked him.   

               "More than 8 meters, or 9 meters at most. That means five levels of cabins. Be sure to leave enough space for the cannon rooms though." 

          "How many cabins on each level?"   

               "For something with this size...125 rooms should be no problem."   

               Rose considered for several seconds. "Three levels of paddle chambers, 125 on each side of the level. That's 750 chambers in all, 3000 sailors."
          I read further. "Cannon emplacement. They share the same positions as paddle chambers, while you can also place cannons on the deck, or build a front cannon room on top of the bow of the ship." I looked at the old designer. "Can you make the front cannon base rotatable? We're going to put the crystal cannon there."
          "Of course."   

                "Then...fill all the rest of the space with cannon rooms."   

                "They all use small sized firelock cannons, mind that they're way weaker than that crystal cannon you have. You still have two levels of windowed chambers, plus a row of cannons on the deck. 100 rooms each side of the level, one cannon in each room, each cannon will need 3 sailors. That should be 600 cannons and 1800 sailors."
          "Next is...mast. We need one or three or five vessel masts."   

               Coin spoke:"Well of course we put five of them for a ship so large."   

               "Five it is. Next is sailcloth. Three choices, Lug-Sail, high downwind speed but cannot leverage any side wind. Lateen (triangular sail), average downwind speed but can have a boost when there's side wind. Or combination of them, so we can use any types of wind but of course it will be expensive."
          "Obvious choice." Zirai said that without hesitation.
          I can see the others nod too. "Composite then. So, rudders. We need to decide their number and positions. That's beyond me, any advice sir?"
          "They usually go behind the tails of ships but since your ship is bigger than average, I'd suggest you use separated rudders. Two in the front and three at the buttock, so you can control the whole thing better."
          "Let's do it." I kept reading. "Do we place a ramming horn or figurehead in front?"
          "I don't think we're going to ram people using this giant with all the cannons. Let's use a figure." Hawk said.
          "We choose figurehead. Outer plating? We have iron plating, mithril plating or crystal wood pads."
          "Mithril. It doesn't catch rust and can withstand spells."  Elfy said after reading over the descriptions.
          "That should be all. Can you help us settle up the lounge rooms and storage? And give us the final price."
          The designer read through the long paper roll. "You have 3000 paddlers, 1800 cannoneers, 300 sail settlers, 200 support crew. That's 5300 sailors, so you need 265 lounge rooms and 159 storage rooms to last for a month. Let's still have a lot of spare space on the ship."
          I thought this over. "Make it 400 lounge rooms, and build 40 additional double rooms. Fill the remaining areas with storage."   

                "Alriiight...Give me a moment to finish this up. Oh and, you also need a captain room and a chart house."
          "Just give us the best plan." 
          "Right on it."   

               He even needs some more people to help measure the ship. It doesn't look like he's going to finish anytime soon. We have nothing better to do so we all moved to the harbor to enjoy the view.

               That's when we saw King Conqueror's ship coming back.
          We saw the Ocean Might drifting towards the port in a strange angle while giving out thick smoke. I said drift because none of the broken paddles or tattered sailcloth seem to be working anymore. 

               We ran to the docking area and asked about the situation.
          When the ship went close enough, we can see countless holes on the ship's hull. A number of sailors are running wild, I also saw King giving out orders to put out all the fires. Their mail mast is almost burnt out!
          We watched in shock as the massive battleship bumped into the buffer ropes around the dock and finally came to a halt. More workers on the dock joined the fire fighting as well, and a group of boatyard NPCs ran towards it with all sorts of ladders, hammers or wooden planks. Guess Ocean Might needs one hell of an overhaul this time.
          I decided to help too. The ship is damaged like this in a fight against the Japanese after all. I can't repair ships but putting out some fire is no problem. 

                "Loong'er, come out. Can you control the sea water?"
          "That's my job!" (***)   

                "Nice. Can you do something about the fire on that ship?"   


                She dived into the sea. The area quickly turned dark. A small-scale rainstorm completely extinguished the last ember, before sunshine returned as fast as the rain came. 

               Loong'er didn't return when everything's done. She instead began to swim and dance on the water surface. I think I should let her into the water more often in the future.
          Since there's no more work to do, King Conqueror came down from the ship and walked to us. 

                "Did you get your ship?" 
          "Not yet. That's a battleship we're talking about, it takes time." Coin complained.
          "Battleship? So you're going to beat Japanese pirates too?" 

               His face is blackened by all the smoke. He wiped it using one of his hands, only to make it look even funnier.
          I looked at the broken warship. "Do you end up like this every time you fight them?" 

               That's too much damage to my liking. 
          He forced a chuckle. "Not every time. We encountered a big fleet today. Seven of them, and we only had one. We sank a ship, damaged another, before we escaped."
          Zirai spoke with excitement: "Are there no other guilds fighting with you?"   

               "There are, but only few of them. Besides their ships aren't gonna hold themselves against those Japan ocean warships. Not everyone can afford these babes you know."
          "I see..." 

                We became silent. Must admit, the Japanese have way more money to spend right now. We have a bigger land but everything becomes scarce when "averaged" to individuals.
          "It must cost a ton to repair your ship." Zirai spoke.
          "Ah, nothing to worry about. We seized a lot of stuff from previous fights, and we get EXP too. Worth it."   

                "Wait, what? Exp? The Japanese count as monsters too?"
          "Nonono, of course they're players. But you still get EXP by killing foreign enemies. A lot I'd say. Players are considered as high level monsters so these battles level you up even faster than grinding by normal means. You know, if you kill a ship, everyone on board dies."
          "I see it now." Elfy sighed. "I was wondering why you're so passionate about it. So you get both fame and wealth out of these fights huh?"
          "Right-ho! Ha-hahaha!" 

                King let out a hearty laughter, as if he already forgot about his precious, now badly damaged Ocean Might.


    (*) I found little English reference about this creature. Something about "the mentor/master of the four symbolic beasts." 

    (**) They're talking about Yamata no Orochi, the "8-branched giant snake" in Japanese mythology. However it is often considered to have 9 heads in Chinese illustrations because of two reasons:

    1: It is confused with Xiangliu, a Chinese mythology creature with 9 heads;

    2: Language issue. The correct Chinese translation for Orochi is "the giant snake with 8 forks". And someone believe that "8 forks" means "9 heads" .

    The confusion still exist even today.

    (***) In some Chinese mythologies and stories (such as Journey to the West), eastern dragons are not majestic or very powerful creatures. Rather, they're more like “local officials” who are responsible to control local weather and obey orders from other higher-ups.

  • edited August 2017
    Update paused. Dealing with novel migration issues.
    Should be done within 1-6 days.
    Roll a dice.

    Update: Delay. Yeah, officials always delay stuff.
    I didn't stop my work. 3 new chapters in pile, will release them all when everything clears up.

    Update: Finished chapter: b4c38. Waiting for the whole fuss to clear up. Don't want to be a part of it.
  • thanks for the chapter
  • Translation transferred to Qidian International, i suppose
  • This post will no longer be updated. Please find further updates at Qidian International, if you're willing to keep reading.

    I offered this to them myself, quite some time ago. The timing is just a coincidence. 

    ----End of Post----
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