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

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  • thanks for the chapter
  • edited May 2017

    Book 4, Chapter 12

    Kidnap

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                "Ziri.....! ...you...asshole!... Help me!"

                The ghost sounds really miserable. But how did she know my name? I don't think I've ever done anything serious to any women before. Did she have to become a ghost to revenge on me?

                Now wait a minute. This is a game! I know plenty of ghosts and spirits in the Lost City, why would I be afraid now??
      
          "Um Ziri? I think the ghost is coming for you, not me." Rose finally decided to look around.
      
          The voice came again. "Help...help me already!"
      
          "It's not far." Rose listened carefully. "I think...it's below us."
      
          "Below?"

                I steadied myself by holding onto a spike on Lucky's back and looked under. What I saw nearly shocked me into falling off!

                "Re-Red Moon?? Bah-hahahaha!! How did you get up here?"
      
          "HELP ME UP!!"
       
          "You were trying to kill me for crying out loud! Why would I help you? Just teleport back to the city or something."
      
          Her face went pale. No idea she's angry or is just too scared. "I...would have, done it, if I had one!"

                Okay. She's still shaking.
      
          "...Promise, don't do anything stupid."
       
          She looked down and nodded unwillingly.

                I returned onto Lucky's back. "Lucky, can you send our...passenger, up here? Oh and, try to be a little 'passionate'."
      
          "I got it."

               Lucky grasped Red Moon, who had been hanging on his other claw, and threw her high into the air. Then he flew towards her so she would land on us.

                Red Moon's screaming echoed across the clouds in the whole process. I helped her keep balance when she landed, but she clamped herself onto me out of instinct like a koala. Now Rose is watching. Well, this is embarrassing. I tried to push her away, to no avail.

                "Let go. You're safe!"
      
          Red Moon raised her head slowly. What she saw is, of course, my face. She bounced away as if she touched some exposed electric wire, and almost fell off Lucky again. She looked down behind her and approached me again. I don't like where this is going so I grabbed Rose and stuffed her into Red Moon's arms.

                "You can have my wife as your hugging pillow. And no, I don't mind it. I'm pretty generous you know!"
      
          Rose waved her fist at me. She knows what I'm thinking though, so she didn't protest. Actually she is pretty surprised to find out that Red Moon is shaking like mad.

                "Are you okay Miss Moon? You feeling ill?"
      
          "I-I-I'm afraid of heights! When I was young I fell from my second floor balcony and got hurt. That's when I started to get terrified whenever I go to high places!"
      
          "Ooooh. So the mighty Mrs Red Moon has her weakness. I thought you were like, a total fearless woman." Yes I'm trying to be sarcastic.
      
          "What did you say??" Red Moon yelled and reached for me.
      
          I stepped back. "Lucky my friend! It's a mighty fine day today, how about we fly higher and enjoy the sky?"
      
          "Noooooo!" Red Moon cried. Her response wouldn't stop Lucky from following my words though.
      
          "Roger that sir, gaining altitude."

                He flapped his wings harder, bringing us above the clouds again.
      
          Red Moon's face is white as paper now. "I'm gonna get you even if IT MEANS RISKING MY LIFE FOR IT!!"

               She gave up rose and lunged at me!
      
          "Lucky! Barrel roll!"
      
          "AhhhHHHH--!!!"

               That was Rose. She screamed even louder than Red Moon. Lucky, as a living dragon, is a lot more agile than an actual fighter jet. He did 7 or 8 side rolls without taking any break, almost making me dizzy as well.
      
          When he stopped I can no longer see Rose nor Red Moon.

               "Ziri!!"

               I hear Rose's call from ahead. Then I saw her being carried in Lucky's mouth by her clothes. So I quickly pulled her up.

               "You alright?"
      
          She punched at my chest. "Why would you do that?? Thank god Lucky caught me. So where is Miss Moon?"
      
          "Lucky?"
       
          "I shook her off!"
       
          "What?? Why didn't you catch her too?"
      
          "Well, you told me to roll so I thought you just wanted to get rid of her. That's why I only saved the mistress but not the other woman."
       
          "Oh shit! Get down fast and see if we can still save her!"
       
          "Understood. Hold on tight."

                Lucky folded his wings and began to dive.
      
          ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
      
          On the ground, a group of members from a small sized guild are inspecting the terrains.
       
          "Boss, the place is good enough. That Mist Mountain ahead is a good place for leveling, and I heard the Wyvern Gorge not far got some pretty rare drops. There are two major cities in both left and right side of here, each about 300 kilos away. We should choose this place as our headquarter."
      
          Whoooosh
       
          "Hey Jason, did you hear something?"
       
          "Nope. You saw anything, Brandy?"
      
          "I heard something...above." Brandy looked up. "Hey you all check that out!!"
      
          The whole guild looked upwards. They see a small dot falling from the sky at extreme speed, and another bigger dot, falling even faster. The small one seems to be a female, and the bigger dot came out as a fierce-looking dragon. That sharp noise is caused by the dragon's descending. It sounds like a mortar bomb is heading towards its target.
      
          The dragon caught up with the female before she can reach the ground (which obviously would result in a bloody mess), then spread its wings to slow down, which still didn't provide a safe landing, so the dragon stomped on the ground and turned its momentum into a close-to-ground glide instead. The giant force and the air current following behind knocked everyone over.

               The dragon successfully went up again, with that woman caught inside its jaws. It vanished into the clouds as fast as it came, like nothing ever happened.
      
          Several minutes later
      
          "Um boss? I think I saw a dragon fly by. Am I seeing things?"
      
          "I saw it too!" Brandy pointed at the ground. "Look at that footprint! So I wasn't dreaming!"
      
          "...Jason, how about we find another place to build our city?" Their boss asked.
      
          "Agreed. Let's move."
      
          "Yeah... The dragon ate a woman right? We won't be recruiting any pretty girls if that dragon just came to pick up a snack when it feels like it. And I don't want to run a man-only guild."
      
          The guild packed up their tools and ran away.
       
          ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
      
          I'm sitting on Lucky, looking at Red Moon, who's been lying still for a while now.

                "Phew, we did it."
       
          "Close one." Rose patted her chest. "We almost killed her. So what's going on now?"
      
          "Maybe she's TOO scared." I checked her face. "Well, she'll wake up."
      
          Rose is still worried: "She's afraid of heights right? Did we cause too much trouble? We might have hurt her if she got a weak heart or something."
      
          "Oh don't worry, I asked father about that before."
       
          "You asked father?"

                Wooh. She actually addressed my father like that, probably because she's in panic.
      
          "Be patient alright? Already calling 'father'? I hope you keep it that way."
      
          Rose just knocked me on the head. "Tell me already!"
      
          "So, our father said:" Ouch. Another hit. "...The helmet will completely cut off the connections between your brain and the other parts in your body, including those autonomic nerves that control your breath and heartbeat. The designers already thought about the possibility when some of the content in the game might over-stimulate the players and cause negative effects. So they simply set up a computer to control your nerves, and return the control back to you when you exit the game safely. So you don't have to worry about anyone having a heart attack and such."
      
          "I still don't feel good!" Rose held Red Moon up. "She's out cold. I don't want to give her a mental scar. This was how she acquired acrophobia right?"
      
          "...I'm not sure about that." I spoke to Lucky: "Find a clean water source and bring us down."
      
          "On it."

                Lucky landed towards a giant lake. We carried Red Moon to the lake and wiped her face with lake water.

                No reactions.

                "Okay. Lemme try it."

                I raised her up and threw her into the lake, which caused Rose to scream. "What are you doing???"
      
          "Argh-*cough* You jerk!!"

                It worked. Red Moon jumped onto the land so fast as if the lake water is boiling.

                "You AHHH---" She fell back again.
      
          "Pfff. That should teach you not to get in my way again." I turned to Rose. "Let's go."
      
          She looked back at the now wet Red Moon who just crawled back ashore. "Let's take her. I don't see any city around, she'll lose her way. She doesn't have any scrolls on her right?"
      
          "Lose her way? Sounds good to me." I huffed. "So I'll never see this nuisance again."
      
          "Come on. Pleeeeeease." Rose shook my arms. Ugh, I can't resist those kitten eyes.
      
          "Ok ok my good Rose!" 

                I switched back to my angry tune and spoke to Red Moon. "Get on."
      
          Red Moon peeked at Lucky in horror and shook her head. "NOT AGAIN!!"
      
          "Geez fine!" I summoned Night Shade. "Come on, get on!"
      
          "I-I don't know how to ride horse!" 
      
          "For the love of--" I waved my hand. "Phantom! Get her. And Red Moon, relax, don't resist."
      
          Phantom controlled her body and hopped onto Night Shade skillfully. After a while she recovered from all the scares. She began to check around Night Shade with curiosity.

                While Night Shade is quite annoyed. "...Can you not touch me like that?"
      
          "You can speak?" She began to fiddle with Night Shade's ears like a little girl!
      
          Night Shade looked at me with all the annoyance I can see from his expression. "Hey you! Where the hell did you find this thing on my back?"
      
          I glanced at Red Moon. "Picked up by accident."
      
          Then Night Shade asked in a mocking tune: "By accident? So you won't mind if I break it by accident eh?"
       
          "Break?..." I see Red Moon totally unable to comprehend what we are talking about. "I guess not."
      
          "Where are we heading?" Night Shade asked.
      
          "The Lost City."   
         

               "Kay. Find me there."

               He dashed away at the speed of wind. I can hear a faint scream from his direction.
      
          Rose didn't hear our conversation so she asked in surprise: "Where's he going?"   
        

               "Oh. He said we're too slow so he went to the city by himself."
      
          "I...see."
      
          I patted at Lucky. "Let's take the air too. He's right, we should save some time."
      
          "Sure." 

               Of course it's faster to be flying but we still can't catch up with Night Shade. I can only see a small black spot disappearing from our view, with a trail of dust behind his path.
      
          As we finally arrived within the vicinity of the Lost City, we saw Hawk and Elfy as well as Night Shade. We planned to meet up at the city gate. Elfy is waving at us, Hawk is facing against the city wall, no idea what he's doing. Red Moon is leaning over the railings near the bridge for some reason, and Night Shade is trotting around her as if he's satisfied with something.
      
          Lucky landed at the graveyard outside. The bridge is wide but is still inconvenient for his current size.

               Night Shade came running at us and helped us cross the bridge. Now I can see the scene: Hawk is inspecting the carvings on the wall, while Red Moon...is vomitting into the water.
      
          I looked at Night Shade. I'm sure he's grinning. "What's the deal?"
      
          "Oh nothing really. I was a bit too fast. It must have been a tough ride for her."
       
          Red Moon raised her head and looked at me weakly. "You...Even your horse is a stupid ruffian like you! I hate you! I hate you both! Gurrrrrr....!"

               She continued producing rainbows.
      
          Rose went over to her and patted on her back. "Ziri? You should be gentle to girls!"
      
          "I'm always gentle to girls!" I play dumb. "Am I not to you? Or...do you think I should be more, rough, from now on?"
      
          Rose didn't say anything this time but Elfy gave me a knock. "Oh shut it! Don't teach any wrong idea to MY husbando here!" She looked at Hawk, who quickly shook his head.
      
          "Nonono, I'll always follow my dear waifu's orders!"
      
          A palm-sized angel appeared near Red Moon, carrying a small camera on her shoulder. Well, that's not a monster, it's a video tool in [Zero]. Everyone is free to chat with each other but you need to buy the video tool to use the related additional features. The tools come with various models and sizes. By the way, mine is a cartoonized bee carrying a camera on a fishing pole.
      
          A voice came from Red Moon's camera. "Master! Finally! Where have you been? What happened? You just, disappeared in front of us! We thought you were blown away by the wind but we never found you. Then we can't send you private chat because the system said you are unconscious! Then something about 'extreme conditions', and 'severe illness'! What in the world happened to you?"
      
          Red Moon glanced at me with a...wicked grin. Okay, something is not going to end well. I can feel it.

               She managed to squeeze up some real tears and began to cry in front of the camera. "Take this video to my brother! Waaah! I'm kidnapped! That Ziri took me to some strange place and I can't get away now!"

              She filmed at the lake under the bridge, which is giving out creepy green bubbles.

              "See that? Help me! He's mean! Noooo he's coming again!  No, please! I'm not calling for help--"

              She shook her camera while screaming. It's obvious what she's up to.
      
          I hear a lot of angry voices from her chat. "ZIRI! Let our master go now or you'll really regret it!!"
      
          I tried to take her camera away so she won't be ruining my reputation further. But she took the chance to make a scene as if I'm seizing her camera by force. Now I can never clean myself up!

                Red Moon took the camera away from her angel and tossed it into the lake. Then she shouted into her voice chat: "Oh no! He broke my favorite camera! Help me!! Ahh! Don--don't pull my clothes!"
      
           Oh fuc it! I look like a universal pervert now! 

                Next she cut all her chat and looked at me with a victorious expression. "That's what you get when I'm angry. Humph!"
      
          "So you really want to make me condemned by everyone?" I gave her a stern face.
      
          "No one rejects my offer. You're the first one and will be the last one! From now on you will always be the worst hentai out there as long as I don't tell the truth. Our Goddess Alliance and the Righteous League will be looking for you! You won't be playing this game even if you can get your name white again!" 

               So she's serious. Fine.
      
          I turned back to Rose. "You have research work to do right?"
       
          She nodded.
       
          "Go. Sorry I can't give you ride today, just call father for a car. Take care."
       
          "Ziri!..." 

                She took back whatever she was going to say, since she knows I won't listen to her when I'm mad for real. She just handed the bracelet back to me and logged off.
      
          Next, I looked towards Hawk and Elfy. "I owe you two big this time, but it's not really a good time to thank you, let's find another chance. There's a valley behind the city, the monsters are good targets for leveling up. You can find strong monsters deeper inside. Oh and, keep away from any dark fighters and similar monsters. They act in groups, you won't stand a chance against those guys."
      
          They can see the situation and just nodded and ran away as fast as they could.
       
          So there are only two of us here... 

               I slowly walked towards Red Moon and began to undress myself, which caused Red Moon to step back. 

               "What what what are you doing??"
      
          I didn't stop my actions. "You've already told the whole world that I'm a big villain, looks like I'm never going to clear that out. I'm going to carry this made-up crime anyway...so why not I just make it real? I mean, I can't just earn that title without...enjoying my privilege."
      
          Red Moon is so scared that her voice sounds funny now. "Don't-you-don't you dare! I'm the leader of Goddess Alliance! We have more members than you think!!"
      
          "Leader of Goddess Alliance? Just about right. I'm curious about what makes a goddess different from normal women!"
      
          "Noooo...Ah!....!"


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    Oh don't worry. The author is not going to write about "explicit" stuff.



  • thanks for the chapter

  • Book 4, Chapter 13

    Tail

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    Sorry but, I don't know what this title means.

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            "No! Ah....!" Red Moon moved back in horror.

            Of course I won't stop my movement. "Come on. Cry! Louder! This is the worst red-name zone, only the most terrible criminals would come here! No one will help you no matter how you try! If anyone comes they will be as bad as myself! Haa-hahaha!     
           
            I tried to imitate a villain laugh. My plan is to force her into triggering that female protection mechanism so she would get sent to a nearby city, which means I can finally get rid of this troublesome woman without her realizing that I'm letting her go on purpose.

            Ha! I'm a genius.

           "Now now dear, you'd better not resist..." I approached her while carrying a wicked smile.

         I pulled on her robe. She struggled but didn't use the protection--she isn't trying to teleport either of us away. She didn't even use any wizard powers but is just pushing me with her weak fists.

            Does she want to escape at all??

         No I can't go on like this. Time for my ultimate move--I pinched her face into facing me head-on and began to move us closer.

            I stopped after several seconds. I tried to push us as slow as possible but obviously I can't prolong this movement forever, since we were pretty near from the start. Now our lips are only about a millimeter away. She stopped her struggling when she realized what I'm trying to do. The problem is, she closed her eyes and relaxed as if she's waiting for it!

            So now I either have to keep going and make the kiss, or drop her down to break her ego.

         The choice is obvious. I released my grip. Red Moon lost support and crash-sat on the ground. The pain on the bottom caused her to open her eyes.

            I'm re-equipping my armor. She stood up and...went towards me?

           "What are you doing??"

      "Oh, I just found that you aren't very attractive. So...I gave up!"

         "But but but--"

      "No buts. Or are you actually hoping I would bust you right here?" I finished my equipment and hopped onto Night Shade. "I apologize for bringing you here, and I won't be accusing for what you did today anymore. You can leave."

      I asked Night Shade to leave the city gate. Then I felt a weight behind me. I turned back to check--

           "How did you get here again??"

        "By jumping, duh." Red Moon is looking at me with a big smile.

        "Ugh! Please, miss, can you leave me alone?" I took off my bracelet. "I'm never going near any system cities from now on. Come on, you can take it. Now do me a favor and let me play my game!"

      "No!" She smile again, an evil smile. "I'm following you, so you'll always be a terrible kidnapper, every time someone see you they'll just try to take you down right away. I never let my enemies go for free. You're no exception!"

      "Sigh. So you will stick no matter how?" I failed to suppress the hint of threatening in my voice.

      "Yes I will!" She just nods.

         "Lucky!" I don't believe she dares to go through so more aerobatic shows.

      "Ah, where are we going?"

            She jumped onto Lucky first!

         I un-summoned Night Shade and climbed on. Now I just need to keep going with my plan.  

            "Let's fly. Higher this time."

      "Sure." Lucky kept going up until I began to feel faint myself. I wonder what kind of fear I would bring her.

         The first move, is our signature barrel roll which was pretty effective. I forgot how many rounds we went through. The only thing I knew is that Lucky was a little dizzy himself, as he told me.

            Red Moon just hang on tightly on Lucky's back spike without giving out anything I would expect.

            So that failed.

            I got more tricks though! I'm going to throw her off and catch her before she reaches the ground again. That should be frightening enough.

      I went over the scene where Red Moon would scream like a kid in my mind while walking towards her.

           She noticed my terrible expression. "...What are you planning?"

         I didn't say a word. I just held her up by force and walked to the edge.

           "Enjoy the principle of gravity!"

            I threw.

            However!

            She managed to catch my armor which caused me to lose balance as well. Now we're both falling down!

            Why is this happening to me??

         "Luuuuucky heeeeelp!"

            I asked him to fly particularly high just to scare Red Moon harder, now I hit my own feet with it! It seems Lucky didn't hear my last call at such height, he didn't even notice two people have gone off his back.

         I need to think of something! I'm dead for sure if I reach the ground like this.

            Maybe summon another flying companion?

            No. I need to give them orders using words, and if I summon anyone now they will be out of hearing range before I can say anything.

            Right, my wing blades. I can fly on myself! They can't help me fly such high up, but I can still use them to keep a better balance, instead of rolling over like a broken doll.

         The problem is still this stupid girl who is hanging on my back tightly. I can't open my wings like this! Her last action is to hold onto something out of instinct, and that something is me!

            Now I know why you need to knock out someone you want to save in the water before you actually try to reach for them! This is what happens if you don't--they'll drag you to hell along!

            Wait, knock her out? Maybe I can make her release me if I stun her.

            ...But I can't! She's BEHIND me, I can reach her head but there's no way I can hit her hard enough in such a position.

       I need tools. Yes, I need to hit her using something with long reach, like a stick.

            In the end I decided to take my sword sheath off my waist and use this thing as a staff. The handle part can easily act as as hammer. So how much force do I use? I don't like her, but that's no reason for me to crack a girl's head open.

            Argh why is this so complicated?? I don't have time. I can already see the mother land reaching for me at an alarming speed. Well, the other way round!

            Oh Fuc it. I'd rather leave a big bump on your head than dying with you anyway.

       I smashed her head with the most proper strength I can think of. There is a muffled BAM. Hope I don't damage her brain or cause some mental issues.

            I know I succeeded because her screaming stopped. I struggled only to find my terrible fate didn't let me free yet. I did knock her out but she's still locked up on my back. Her body is still following the last order from her brain, which is grabbing onto the last straw no matter what happens. And she's going to kill that "last straw" at this rate!

      "AHHHHGH!" 

            I'm done! Screw this damn woman! She won't leave me alone and now she's going to pull me to death! Worst day ever!

      

          

                ————————————————————————————————————————

     

            Not far below us, is the most famous leveling site outside the Cold Jadeite, and thousands of people are witnessing our fall.

       A warrior is sitting together with a pretty female archer. The warrior pointed at the sky. "Hey look, a shooting star!"

       "Wow really!"

             They leaned close to each other. "I never knew we can find shooting stars in this game. It's beautiful!"

          Somewhere else, a small team is taking a break from their grinding campaign. A warrior shouted. "Boss, I see a shooting star over there."

          A berserker looked up. "Ohh wow. Now this game's more realistic than I think."

       A priestess spoke: "Maybe it's a hidden quest! We should check it out."

       "Nah forget it. You know how hard those quests can be, we'll just wipe in an instant. Stay patient and let's get some more levels first!"

      

          ————————————————————————————————————————

     

        I'm trying to look at our landing point using my Star Gaze. I can clearly see five people just below us. That's...five ninjas! And the one standing in the middle is that Chinese-Japanese mix I saw the other day. They don't look like a team. The other four ninjas are attacking the one I know. What the hell? They are fighting among themselves?

        Though that's nothing I should be worrying about now, cause I'm heading down towards them! The one in the middle noticed me first, then the other four all followed his gaze. But the mixed ninja has already dashed away before the other realized what's going on.

              He got down to the ground and covered his head and ears.

           Shit. I'm not a carpet bomb or something. Do you really have to do that??

      

          ————————————————————————————————————————

      

          Razor (name of the mixed ninja) is in the middle of the fight when he saw something falling down from the sky. A human, actually.

               He's already losing, so he did hope that whoever it is can become his helper. But he soon noticed that...maybe that's not a proper way to land. So he decided to get out of the dangerous zone and dropped to the ground.

               Ka-BOOOM!

               He felt a shock wave going over his back. He thought the danger is gone when he tried to get up. But he was showered by a bunch of broken equipment pieces and ... fallen human parts.

      

          ————————————————————————————————————————

      

          I watched as I crashed into the ground. The impact caused me to lose conscious for a while, though not very long.

               Now this is no football match so I'm not gonna earn any points by this "touch down". But...my EXP and Evilness increased!

               I brought a dust cloud into the air, plus some random unknown flying objects mixed inside it. The whole scene looks like a missile just exploded inside a crowd. Yes, I see the human parts as well.

            "Uhhhh..." Red Moon groaned, still on my back. I opened my wings in the last moment and became a damping cushion for her. She's still hurt, badly.

         She realized she's sitting on me and rolled aside. She's in no condition to stand up though.

               I hit the ground first but my condition is actually better, since I'm wearing full Artifact armor here. This thing is way stronger than her paper wizard robe.

             It took some effort for me to pull my hands out of the ground. I landed limbs-first, and they stuck solid into the dirt like wooden construction stakes. I struggled to get up on me feet, only to find there are two other people under me!

               Aha, so I'm not the bottom. Someone else is even more unfortunate.

               We caused a small meteorite crater where we landed. No, not quite, since there are two human-shaped hollows that really stand out.

          I needed to use my lance to pry the two "volunteers" out of the dirt. They turned out to be two ninjas from that small group.

               "Thanks mate. But I'm not paying you. I didn't ask for your help anyway."

               They wouldn't mind me saying that at all because they're already dead cold.

            "A little help here!" Red Moon yelled.

         "What now?"

         "Pull me up!"

               I held her straight so she can try to move her waist. She recovered after a some cricks and cracks.

              "Better. My bones were in the wrong places."

         "Find a tree and rest. I see someone alive over there. I'm go check."

               I released her without waiting for answer. She fell on her hips again. "Oof!"

               I walked to the player who's still lying on his stomach. It's a ninja too, the one who was attacked by the others.

          He bounced up when I tried to flip him over.

               "WHO ARE YOU??" He looked at me with horror in his eyes.

               "Calm it."   I raised my hands (in front of my chest, not over my head). "Just checking if you're alive or not."

            He stepped back with caution. "Did you see the four people who's been attacking me?"

         I pointed at the mess around us. "You mean these. Oh and, Another two, at the bottom over there."

         "But you were---" He pointed upwards, then at me, with his mouth agape.

            "Eh, heheh. It's just, an air accident."

            "I thought you were some helper who came to save me!" He put his katana behind his back. Seems he believed me. "If I'm a Chinese player I would just help kill the other four, then finish off the last one. Now you're strange."

            "Save you? Huh. I wouldn't play skydiving like that without a parachute! As for killing you, yeah it's totally legit, considering where you are. Because that's what most players will do--eliminate Japanese invaders in the fastest way possible."

               I picked up my sword from the ground. The ninja immediately drew his katana again.

            I waved it, showing him that it's still sheathed. "Oh don't worry, I was using it as a hammer--- Owwww!" I turned around. "What the fuc??"

            As expected, Red Moon is standing behind me, with one hand rubbing her head and another hand holding her staff, which is probably the weapon she used to hit my head just now.

             "So YOU were the one who hit me! I thought I bumped my head on the ground!"

          "You asked for it! Had I not knock you like that to get you off myself we'd already be in the resurrection hall now!"

        "I don't care! You hit me and you should apologize for it! Join our guild!"

        "Oh for the-- Please please my good lady, forget it already! That's not how you recruit people!"

        "Well I'm not forcing you! I'm negotiating!"

              How is she still acting as if she's the justified one?? I saw a comment somewhere and now I believe it: Women are like computers, no one ever knows how their brains function, except for their producers (their parents)!

          "You call that negotiating?? Then 'forcing' doesn't exist in this world anymore!"

       "You---!" Her gaze suddenly shifted towards behind me. "An intruder!!"

             She pushed me aside. "Outta way! [Floating Thunder]!"

             A lightning ball went from her hand towards the ninja, who obviously didn't have enough time to make out the situation and took the attack head-on. He's now bouncing on ground like a Magikarp using "Splash", which is of course, not effective.

             I just recalled Red Moon is the second place on the ranking list in China region. That's was impressive. She threw that spell without taking much time to prepare.

            Why didn't she use anything like this when she was fighting with me?

         The ninja is still numbed by the electric attack but he managed to bring out his katana. I think this class has really high Dexterity, wizards will have a hard time hitting him at all once he starts moving.

            I was wrong.

            Red Moon crossed her arms. "[Fire Blast]!"

         Whooopm! The ground below the ninja's feet began to erupt flames like a volcano. He evaded aside but the flaming crater followed him as if it's alive. He ran around for a while before he realized he needs to take care of Red Moon who's actually controlling the fire pit.

            The ninja put away his kanata and jumped high up. "Ninpo! [Doton]!"

            Poof. He disappeared into the ground like water.

          A bump began to slide towards Red Moon with high speed. The ninja jumped out of the dirt in front of Red Moon, who activated her wizard shield in time but was still knocked back for some distance.

            She crouched and pressed both her hands on the ground. "Fire converge, [Burning Sky]!"

            Countless fireballs and flame pillars appeared and began to fly around everywhere. I realized what's happening and dodged around together with the ninja, or I'll become barbecued meat too!

         The ninja used his skill and went underground again. Now the whole scene is total chaos, with raising dirt bumps here and there plus all kinds of fire attacks dancing all over our heads.

         This is wasting my time!

            "STOP IT!!" I yelled. All companions and servants came out, including Lucky, who's still flying somewhere just a moment ago.

            "Get these two under control!"

         "Yes sir!" Everyone answered in unite.

       Phiona reached her original size, all the flames began to fly towards her and then absorbed. The burnings immediately died out.

            Then the ground shook violently. Rosa pushed the ninja out with a strong vine strike. The ninja still tried to escape, but a series of tentacles blocked his path, before the Phantom Knights locked up his neck using their lances.

         "Now that's a lot better."


  • edited May 2017
     Isnt the title refer to Red Moon sticking and clinging to MC like his tail ?
  • null said:
     Isnt the title refer to Red Moon sticking and clinging to MC like his tail ?
    Nice one!
  • edited May 2017

    Book 4, Chapter 14

    Ninja (Made in China)

    ------------------

    Hate content alert

    I'll try to mitigate harsh words best as possible but some improper stuff in the main story can't be avoided.

    ------------------

               "Put me down!!"

               Rosa is holding Red Moon up in the air by one of her ankles. She can't shake herself free with that upside down position.
      
          I released that ninja first. "Come on. You can go."
      
          He collected his weapon but didn't leave. He just stared at me.

               "You aren't going to kill me?"
      
          "Why would I? That's a strange request." 
      
          "I'm a ninja!"
       
          "Of course you are. Do you think I'm blind?" I pointed at his equipment.
      
          "You still let me go?"
       
          "That's nothing to do with your class. Or do you wish to die actually?" I ordered Rosa to capture him again. "I wouldn't mind giving you a little help."
      
          "Nononono!" He shook his head like mad. "It's just...Aren't Chinese players just gonna kill a Japanese ninja on sight? Especially someone strong like you. You don't hate Japanese?"
      
          "Listen, I don't care where you from. I'm practical, I look for benefit. Killing you means bringing myself another enemy but without any rewards, so I won't do that. You are not trying to do anything to me right? Then there's no point wasting my time here. Mind you, I don't like Japan either because what they did to us before. You'd better run if you see me on your own land or I'll not hesitate to kill you."
      
          "But I'm not a Japanese! My name is Razor, I live here!"
      
          "Ah don't worry. I said I won't kill you now and I meant it. It's not like I'm going to stab you in the back or something."

                I turned back to Red Moon.
      
          Razor caught up from behind. I heard the sound of blade being drawn. The guy wants to go dirty??

               I immediately turned around and readied my claw blades, but I stopped. He's pointing the katana handle towards me.

                "What's that for?"
      
          "Take this blade, please."
       
          I didn't move. "It's your weapon. Why?"
      
          "It's one of the Nation Treasures of Japan, [Rin Ray], the straight sword (*). It was a lot of effort for me to take this thing back here!"
       
          I can't resist the curiosity and took the weapon in my hands.

                "There are many problems here."
      
          "Problems?"
      
          "Ok first, what do you mean 'Nation Treasure'? I only know about Artifacts or similar ranks. First time I heard about this kind of treasure. Next, they haven't opened international travel routes right? How did you bring a Japanese weapon here? And, I think you said you're Chinese before. Then however did you become ninja?"
      
          "Those are simple. I'll tell you about the last question first. I was born in Japan but moved here when I was a year old, with my grand parents. At that time my identity belonged to Japan. Now I'm already applying for Chinese citizenship but it haven't come through yet, when I started this game I used my Japan ID so I can choose ninja as a class. I was hoping to bring the knowledge of this class to other players here so they can learn about it.

                Now, the second question. I went back to Japan to visit my parents the other day so my character moved along. You can't travel between countries yet but moving in real life will still affect where you spawn. That's all you can do though, you can't actually start a war in this way, but you CAN try to send a spy or something if you really want to. When I was there I happened to see a guild fighting with a boss monster. I snatched the treasure away when they're not noticing!"

               He pointed at the blade.

               "As for Nation Treasure, I just heard about it recently. To prepare for nation wars, they gave two sets of Nation Treasures to each country. The treasure is actually a equipment set, designed for nation wars. Two nation sets already got exposed in Japan. One of them is called the 'Invisible Ninja', which gives you super powerful hiding skills and some insane Dexterity bonus. The other is a Channeler set, it lets you revive corpses on the battlefield and command them to fight for you. No one knows how many you can control yet. This sword is a part of that ninja set. Now I brought it here so Japanese players are never going to wear it in full."
      
          That sounds interesting. I examined the sword carefully. Its appearance is just an ordinary eastern style katana, but a bit longer then average.

               The attributes...are not really impressive.

               [Rin Ray], straight sword,

               Attack 400-480,

               Attack Speed: Very Fast,

               100-200 additional Lightening damage,

               100% chance to cause laceration,

               Amplified damage,

               Targets hit will have all their attributes reduced by 20%.

               Set bonus: invisible weapon, attacks do not cause pain.
      
          It's powerful, but not THAT powerful. The main feature of this thing is invisibility, and now Japanese players have to find another weapon. So if I see a weapon floating in the air in the future, someone's probably wearing the remaining parts of the Invisible Ninja set.

                This is fun. Now those Japs gonna worry about this weapon in their sleep!
      
          "Why don't you use such a good weapon then? You're a ninja yourself you know." I looked at the young man in doubt. Now I can't understand what he's thinking about.
      
          "They chased me all the way here! I'd be in serious trouble if I carry this thing around!" He seems reluctant to give up the treasure. "You saw those four guys? They came just for me. They followed me to China in real life to get this weapon. I heard their leader's planning to bring even more high level players soon!"
      
          "Crap. Just for a sword?"
      
          "Just for a sword?? It's labeled 2.5 million Crystals on the Japanese market!" (**)
       
          "That's...a lot of money. Why don't you just sell it back then?"
      
          "Ha. I wouldn't have gone though all the trouble to bring it here if I just want money for it! I don't need money anyway. There's something I don't like about Japan so I decided to take it away."
      
          "My respects man. Now I trust I can see you as a fellow player here, despite of your half foreign blood." I stretched my hand. "I'm Ziri. Nice to meet you."
      
          He shook my hand. "It's not half, just a quarter. My grandpa is a born Chinese too."
      
          Alright. There's no doubt I'll run into tons of ninjas when I go to Japan, should I recruit this guy? He seems friendly enough, and he knows all about ninjas. His weaknesses are the weaknesses of every ninja!

                "Will you follow me if I'm to do bad things to Japan?"
      
          "What kind of bad things?"
       
          "Well, smash their stuff, kill some people and maybe burn their buildings."
       
          "I'd love it! I'm planning to go over there and cause damage from the start. I chose ninja because of this reason, they'll never suspect me as a spy!"
      
          I gave him the sword. "I know a place where you can try to get some EXP. And take this thing, they won't find you there."
      
          "They will!" He complained. "This weapon ranks second on the Japanese weapon ranking list. That list will always display the weapon's owner and his current location. The game is big, how do you think those people find me so easily? I give it to you because I think you can protect it. And you can fly right?" He pointed at my wings. "Ninjas can't fly so they can never catch you."
      
      
          That reminds me...There are many different rankings in China as well. The thing is, my Hermit's Ring hides my name from them. Or I'm pretty sure every list except for the level one would have been showing my name all over them.

               "But how do you grind without a weapon?"
      
          "Oh. I have this one." He took out another katana behind his back. "My original weapon. Weaker of course but I can still use it."
      
          "So where are you going now?"
       
          "Find somewhere to grind. Let's go have some fun in Japan when nation war is open!"
      
          "Wait, I'll take you to my friends. I got someone with me who also plan to do that. You'll level faster than doing it alone."
      
          "Nice! Some teammates, that's what I'm hoping for."
      
          "Give me a moment."

                I contacted Hawk and Wayne, asking them to meet me at the gate of the Lost City. They are all not far from there. And even if someone's far I just ask Lucky as transport. We won't have any travel problems with this large sized rotorcraft around.

               We met as scheduled. Razor almost went into a fight with Hawk the moment they met, if I didn't drag them apart fast enough. I explained a lot but Hawk is still looking at Razor with a weird expression.
      
          After some introductions I began to explain my main topic.

               "I'm here to tell you one thing: I'm going over to Japan and do some nasty business to them when nation war system is open. Your opinions?"
      
          Hearing this, Hawk started to inspect Razor up and down again, trying to find anything suspicious.
       
          "I'm in." Elfy is decisive as ever. "I don't like them. Let's go kill someone and get their stuff, that means we get profit AND have fun. Two birds with one stone."
      
          Hawk followed up. "No objections here. Of course I'll tag along."
      
          Wayne: "Take me if you don't mind I'm not really a good fighter. I can't give up this online war this time!"   
        

               Yuri raised her hand too. "I'll go too! Granny told me Japanese are bad people. My skills are useful, you can keep me safe for three minutes and then do whatever you want!"
                She confused everyone. The only people who witnessed her skills before are Wayne and me.
      
          "Yuri, they don't know what you can do yet. Play a song for these guys."   
        

                "Of course!"

                She took out her silver flute and began her performance. All the listeners enjoyed the great music for several full minutes before they finally realized they can't move their bodies!
      
          "What's happening??" Elfy struggled. "I'm stuck!"
      
          "Surprise! This is Miss Yuri's special attack. She's a hidden class, the Spell Flute. Her skills are these music with all kinds of effects. The one you just heard is used to restrict people's movement. Those with similar levels will be frozen for about 7 or 8 minutes. If she keeps playing you will never move again."

                I picked up Red Moon who's been following me all this time (now like a plaster statue), and put her onto Lucky's back. "Go. Come down after some minutes."
      
          "Alright!" Lucky disappeared into the sky while carrying the helpless Red Moon.
      
          I turned back to the others. "Now the trouble is gone, let's continue. Razor, you said you would join right? Everyone has agreed."
      
          There's no need to ask him again, I'm just making sure that the other people can accept him since we all have a same goal now. His ninja class makes it really hard for people to trust him.

                "Of course I'll join. As a Chinese player."

                Hawk looked consented after he heard that. Though I don't think he trusts Razor enough.
      
          "Next, let's talk about ninjas."
       
          "Something special about them?" Elfy asked.
      
          "According to Razor, this class makes up a great portion of the Japanese player population. There will be a ninja in every five players there. There are many optional classes in [Zero] and still, 20% of them are ninjas. That's a lot! You may already know that this game claims to allow every player to play their own favorite, customizable class, so there can't be a particular class that too many players choose. Example, Elfy is an Archer, it's only a general concept and there are hundreds of sub-classes under it. Since there are lots of ninjas in Japan I think Razor can tell us something we should know about them. To know your enemies, as they say."
      
          Razor stepped front. "A Ninja, just like Archer, Warrior, Wizard, Tamer and such, is also a general title. Everyone can choose to become sub class when they reach level 200. For a Warrior, he or she can become a Shielder, Lancer, Bow Fighter, Berserker and so on. Ninja too, has many further sub classes. My current level is 379, and my direction is Blader Ninja. This class usually has very high Attack Speed. My Attack is lower than most people but I can deal ten cuts when my enemy only makes one! My choice is not a major trend. Most people will choose from these four: Jutsu Master, Tool Master, Cloaking Master and Flash Ninja.
      
          Jutsu Master is the ninja version of Wizard. They use all kinds of 'Jutsu' just like spells, they possess the highest damage abilities among all other ninjas. But they're the easiest to kill. Their Speed and Defense are average and their HP is usually very low. As long as you are careful enough about their attacks, they won't cause much trouble.
      
          A Tool Master uses concealed weapons to attack. They're like Archers. Main weapons includes darts, blowpipes, mini crossbows and similar trick weapons. But they'll also carry melee weapons like chain blades and daggers. Their main role is distraction--they don't have much power, so they can't kill you as long as you don't expose your weakness first.
      
          Next, the Flash Ninja. Well, they are fast, really fast. Their movement and attack speed can usually go beyond the reasonable degree. They're troublesome, but shouldn't be hard to deal with if you keep your defenses up. One thing to note is that they're a nightmare for Archers because arrows can't hit them. That's why they always go straight to enemy long range damagers. They can still kill Archers easily even if their own Attack is poor. Wizards don't really have to worry about them cause they can't break through their mage shield. And some AoE skills can be deadly to them. As for Warriors...Well no Flash Ninja is stupid enough to take on a Warrior head on. They avoid melee dps whenever they can.
      
          Cloaking Master...is the most nasty one among the four. Each of their attribute can be a bit higher than average. I mean, they're not fast but at least they are faster than wizards and warriors. Their Defense is not high but is still tougher than Wizards and Archers. Just like that. The problem is they can go invisible. People say that a high level Cloaking Master can move and attack without causing any noise, and they won't leave any traces either, like, footprints. There's no way to detect them unless you can hit them with an area attack. The good part is that there aren't many of them in Japan because monsters can sniff them out, so it's really hard for them to level up without their only advantage. Few people would choose this class.
      
          Apart from Ninja, there's another featured class in Japan called Channeler. They're like those Necromancers who can manipulate corpses, a lot of them!"
       
          Wayne cut in: " As a Spectral Mage I can control corpses too. I can just summon all the corpses on the field and then make them disappear, so Channeler is no threat for me. A corpse rots beyond use after it's controlled once. I can make sure there are no corpses lying around for them."
      
          Razor looked at Wayne: "It's always good to have professionals in the team. Alright, that's all I know. What's the plan now?"
       
          "Do we go level up now?" Yuri asked. "We need to get more levels if we are to invade another country."
      
          "Before that, I need to go visit a city. I haven't go inside cities for ages!"
       
          Hawk pointed at the sky. "What about that missy up there? You're the number one criminal plus kidnapper in the whole country! You're not planning to take a walk on the street like that, right?"
      
          "That's why I must go now! Before more people know about it!"
       
          Yuri asked: "I always wanted to ask... Who's that lady? I think you hate her."
      
          "Hate? More than hate! I think she's the most devilish being out there. Now I know why you don't judge a book by the cover! I became the top pervert in the game because of her false accusations!"
      
          "Pervert? Hahaha! You?" Yuri laughed. "I'll pass today, got to leave. Maybe tomorrow!"
      
          "Oh, it's pretty late I see. Then you guys should rest early. Let's make a schedule and have some fun in the city next time."

               Razor: "Yeah, I never actually went into any cities, since I'm a Ninja and all. It should be no problem if we all go together. I'm itching to see what those Chinese cities look like!"
      
          "So I'm not the only one expelled!" I exclaimed. "Let's make it up tomorrow.  So when do me meet? Can you all get up early? I never sleep in you know."
      
          "I always sleep in!" Wayne said.
      
          "Me too." Elfy followed. "Girls need enough sleep to keep their image!"
      
          "I see. Let's make it 10 o'clock then. You should all be awake by that time. Let's meet up right here, do whatever you want if you get on earlier than that."
      
          "It's settled!" Everyone agreed.
      
        


                I feel faint when I took off my helmet. Now I think about it, I never had any lunch today!

                "Wayne? Hey Wayne!"
      
          "What?"
      
          "Let's eat out." Rose is needed at the labs and she won't be back till night.
      
          "You finally remembered me.  Aren't you going to have your happy hours with your wife?" He joked.
      
          I changed my tune. "Oh you're right! Maybe I should go enjoy something at the Fortune Grand Hotel...with Rose only!"
       

               I can already see he fell for it. Over all the years, I know he never rejects hot girls and hot food.

                "Boss! I'm sorry! Please please take me with you!" His expression makes me worried that he might eat me up if I say no.
      
          "Go get dressed! Are you going to go out like this?"
      
         

               That was quite a feast. For Wayne at least. He ate until he can't sit up anymore. Ugh, money is always a good thing to have.

               On our way back, he just limped slowly like a pregnant. I kept looking around for people and kept distance with him whenever there are people around. This is too embarrassing!
      
          It's already dark when we finally made it.  I hear my phone ringing inside the room.

               It's dad.

               "Out playing at such an hour huh boy? At least remember to take your phone with you! Got time tomorrow?"

               Well that's straight. Seems he got some more business for me.
      
          "I'm planning to play together with some friends. They are the people I found to help me with your infiltration plan. Gonna socialize with them."
      
          "I see..." He thought about something. "What about after tomorrow?"
      
          "I can do it. So what do you need?"
       
          "A business trip!"
       
          "A trip? Ask an employee will you? I'm not your worker."
      
          "I have several business talks here and I don't have more time on my schedule!"
       
          "Those managers in the company are not just freeloaders right? Why me?"
      
          "This job has some company secrets involved, the only ones I trust are all busy! You're the only choice left."
      
          "Well shoot. I'll do it. But don't forget the rules!" I grinned.

               This is a special term between me and father. If he asks for my help he'll need to agree on something I ask, as long as it's reasonable.
      
          "Sure. Go to our secret lab in the morning the day after tomorrow. It's the one you went with Charon last time."
      
          "Got it, I'll be there."


    ----------------------
    (*) Japanese Straight Sword

    (**) ≈ $ 3.65 million
  • thanks for the chapter
  • edited June 2017

    Book 4, Chapter 15

    Inside the Grand City

    ------------------

                I appeared at the gate of the Lost City the next morning. Everyone arrived except for Yuri. Rose would come too but both of us are red name, and the bracelet can only hide one person so she chose to go attend her research instead.
      
          Yuri showed up a bit later. We all moved out towards the city. Oh this gonna be fun.

                It's a pity that Red Moon tailed me as well.

                Actually only me, Yuri and Razor are waiting to see the cities. The others have been to the places countless times. I was trapped in the dungeon quest and then got red named. Yuri has been isolated in that garden. And Razor is like a sting in everyone's eyes, nobody would listen to him. He had no choice but to avoid any places with dense crowds.
      
          Now finally, we can go enjoy ourselves! As our first destination, we chose one of the three biggest system cities--the Celestial City. The place is quite eye-catching when we're still a good distance far away. It's 5 times as big as the Lost City, and I heard the city has two levels, the other half is underground! Really unimaginable. Such a huge city, comes with its own dungeon village! There's no way to build something like that in real life.
      
          We see more and more players as we get closer. Some small groups rush around for their own business, and some are simply enjoying the sunlight on the grass. [Zero] is not just a hack-n-slash mmorpg game. It got more playable content than anyone can imagine. To attract more players, those developers tried very hard to copy all kinds of concepts from real life. There are many casual players here who enjoy the game in ways other than fighting, such as hunting. Obviously you can't carry a gun and shoot at animals as you like, but here, they get to hunt however they like. Many came to this game to realize their dreams too, such as climbing a high mountain. The game even set up some safe mountains without monsters on them, just for these players.
      
          We saw a group of people sitting along the city moat, each holding a fishing rod in their hand. There's a flag beside them, the...Angler's Fishing Club?
       
          "What's this?" I'm at loss. This is totally new to me.
      
          Wayne explained: "They are non-fighting players who loves fishing. Normally you need to travel to watersides right? Well, you don't have to do that here in the game. The only problem is you can't actually fill your stomach in here, but no one cares! If you want to eat fish you buy them at the market. Those people simply enjoy the process."
      
          Yuri pointed at one of those people. "What's that mark on their back? Their guild emblem?"
      
          Elfy: "No. That's a combat-free protection mark. People who don't fight can go apply for the combat protection system, that's when you get those marks on you. They can't fight with us and we can't do any damage to them either. They can choose to disable the mark if they want. You can switch that protection on and off how many times you wish but...you need to wait for a week to change your status, and each application costs quite a sum."
      
          "So they are invincible against any attacks!" Razor is surprised. "That's a lot of advantage!"
      
          Hawk: "Not really. They're invincible but they don't have any damage either. They came here to enjoy their lives in another way. Ordinary players usually don't have any interactions with them."
      
          "Makes sense." Yuri nodded in understanding. "So they cannot fight, are there any other restrictions?"
      
          "Not that I can think of. They can usually open up a shop or something." Elfy continued. "Normal players sometimes apply for this system to grind their side classes too. One of my blacksmith friend just did it recently. He built a big weapon shop in the city so he can develop his forging skills!"
      
          "These developers are so creative. They actually merged some game systems like the SIMS in here." Razor exclaimed.
       
          "Let's move! Into the city already!" Yuri urged us.
      
          I'm waiting to see the biggest city in the region too. The Celestial City also has a city moat but it's not wide, not as big as the Lost City at least, so the stone bridge leading to the gate is relatively short. But the bridge is really broad in width--I would say it's more than three times wider than the Lost City one. Understandable, since the Lost City acts as a fortress so it doesn't need a wide bridge to increase its defense difficulty. The Celestial City on the other hand looks like a commercial city, it needs to look good.
      
          We reached the gate after passing through the bridge. There are many NPC guards stationed under the three gateways. Three guards carrying broadswords stand on each side of the big middle gateway, while only one stands under the smaller, side gateways. I also see two riders watching the main gateway on their horses. Their equipment looks really shiny but...I don't think these guys are coming to the battlefield when there is an actual war.
      
          Our view opened up when we went through the gateway. The central road in front of us looks well maintained. There are many structures around us but they're mostly low buildings without any fixed patterns or unified styles. In comparison, all buildings in the Lost City look like temples and some religious architectures. I like the look in there way better.

               Countless vendors are selling their stuff on the roadsides, either on the ground or on simple stands.

                "Are these NPCs or players?"
      
          "Both." Hawk explained. "Those on the ground are players, NPCs don't do that. But those with stands or bars can be players too. You can't see it from here."
      
          I scouted the area and wow, that's tons of stuff. I don't even know what most of the items are used for.

                "How do you use these? Or, are they usables at all?"
      
          "Oh these." Elfy looked at the counter I'm pointing at. "Those are decorations. You can put them up on your house if you buy one."
      
          "House?" Me, Yuri and Razor asked in unite.
      
          Wayne: "Well didn't I take you to my house last time?"
       
          "But why would anyone buy a house?" Razor asked.
      
          Wayne began to lift his finger one by one. "For many reasons. First, as a storage. You can also put your items into the bank but that comes with a small service fee. Second... You regenerate your HP and MP several times faster when inside your own house. Next, as shelter. A private house is non-destroyable, and no one gets in if you don't allow them to, no matter it's police or city guard or city mayor or whatever. You can also sleep in there. Sleeping in your house grants you a better buff than sleeping outside. Private waterbeds and air cushions are also a lot cheaper than those in hotels and inns. Of course, the most important..." Wayne whispered into Razor's ear. "You can do 'business' with your girl in there without being seen."
      
          I looked at the dense buildings around us. "These are all private houses?"
       
          Wayne nodded. "They are. But don't judge them from the outside. The spaces in there are individual and can be a lot smaller or larger than what you can see here. You can also set your preferred styles and patterns, or choose from existing ones if you're lazy."
      
          "Sounds good. But this is too crowded. It'll be better if I can get a house outside the city."
       
          "You can." Wayne continued. "As long as you can pay for the land and the construction work, the system will build your house where you point. You can build them anywhere as long as it's not any irrational places like on top of water or inside volcanoes. But still, you'd better build one close to a city or you'll have a hard time traveling around. There are some restrictions. First, houses outside cities cannot use virtual spaces, so the interior size equals to how big it is on the outside. Each player can buy up to five field houses, each house can be no larger than 50k square meters and the total size of five houses must be within 200k SQM. Each house can have two levels of basement below and six levels above, but house towers and cabins can reach all the way to the 10th level. A single level must be lower than 8 meters, while the whole building cannot go beyond 50 meters, basement not included. As long as you follow these lines you can design your house however you like, or ask the system to make one for you. If you can make the full payment in one go for both the land fee and construction fee, you get 10% off. Or you must pay 30% of the money as down payment, and at least 10% each following month if you go hire."
      
          When he finished he found us all staring at him with our mouths open.

               "...I don't know, are you their salesman or something?"  I joked.
      
          Wayne though, answered in surprise: "How did you figure that out? I have a quest here asking me to sell 10 villa houses. I mean non-city houses. If I can finish the quest they'll give me one for free!"
      
          Everyone rolled their eyes.
      
          I didn't show it but I'm actually interested in a field house now. It will feel nice if I can build a home somewhere!
      
          "What are they doing? The crowd over there." Yuri dragged on my clothes. "Let's go see it Ziri!"
      
          "Uhm. Alright!" I saw it too. Curious.
      
          We squeezed across the crowd and found a player selling companion eggs on the ground. Most people around are non-combat players, which means they mainly raise companions as pets, so low-level companions with cute looks are well accepted here.

               Yuri picked up a sample companion--a bunny with really long ears---and stroked its fur. "She's adorable!"
      
          Elfy picked another one. "Indeed. Too bad I will need a companion who can help me fight."
      
          The vendor turned to Elfy. "Oh pardon me lady, but there is an auction center in the middle of the city. The very first companion auction sale across the land will be held there later today. You can go have a look."
      
          "Really?" Elfy jumped. "Let's go!!"
      
          Elfy dashed ahead while we followed her behind. For some reason I can see quite a lot of people gesturing at us.

                I approached Wayne. "Why are those people pointing at us?"
      
          Wayne looked around. "Huh really... I don't know."
      
          Hawk and Razor joined us, while Razor asked in worry: "Is it because of me again? Oh no..."
      
          Hawk looked at him. "I'd say so, with that look of yours."
      
          Red Moon nudged between us. "Oh come on idiot. Look at what you're wearing for god's sake! And look what the others are wearing! Are you blind?"
      
          She spoke that aloud. I gave her an angry look.

               "Don't give me that look. I'm talking about you! Hawk and Elfy are just beyond standard, but yours are beyond common sense! Look at yourself, all black, and shiny, and is that an antenna on your head?" She pointed at the horn on my helmet. "Those wings! Can you at least try to hide them? Now everyone knows you can fly, rich boy!"
      
          She was pretty true but I'm still getting annoyed in the way she said that.

               She didn't stop though. "How about you call your eye-catching horse and ride on the road? That's will draw more attention, mister."
      
          I summoned Night Shade in frustration. "As you wish!" I intentionally tried to make the scene showy. "Get on. The city is big. It's too slow to run."
      
          "But...we don't have enough horses?" Yuri asked.
      
          Elfy waved her hand. A snow-white pegasus wearing silver barding appeared, which caused a lot gasps from the bystanders.

               "I logged on too early this morning so I took it and went for some grinding. Now it's grown enough. So, with Ziri's mount and Sunshine, we have three horses. Oh, we have seven people? Now that's a little..."
      
          I jumped onto Night Shade and gave orders. "Razor, you take pegasus with Wayne. Elfy and Hawk take Sunshine as usual." Then I picked up Yuri and put her in front of me.

               "What about me??" Red Moon yelled from behind.
      
          I released my dragon cord and caught her wrist, then I tied the other end onto my saddle.

               "You walk!"
      
          We received even more glances along the way. Well, let them stare. They're not doing it for any bad reasons anyway. 

               Wayne is holding the bridle while Razor is standing straight on the pegasus' back. He says he can see farther this way.

               The couple is riding on Sunshine as always, with Elfy sitting on Hawk's shoulder. She's almost as tall as Razor.

               I'm pulling on the bridle in one hand while keeping Yuri in front of me with the other hand. Red Moon is trying to get rid of her restrains, without any success, so she can only get dragged in the back like a prisoner.
      
          Most people would get astonished by our bizarre group. I think the majority are just amused by how I'm dragging a beautiful girl behind a horse. But for now, no one stepped up to stop us. Probably because we look pretty strong. Red Moon mumbled all the way in the back. I can't hear her clearly but I'm sure she's cursing my family.

               Don't care. You're the one pestering me. Let's see who loses patience first.
      
          We reached the auction center. Hawk asked me to go with him but I refused.

               "No, nono. You know my companions are probably better than anything they may sell. Besides...I'm in the red now. I still owe someone over a hundred thousand Crystals! Even if I see anything good I won't be buying it."
      
          Red Moon looked at the sky. "Humph! So a cheaptard was just acting rich!"
      
          I pulled on the cord in anger and dragged her close. "What did you say?"

               She didn't repeat it but started to scream instead. "Help! I'm being assaulted! There is a pervert!"
      
          Damn it. This is the city center, tens of thousands of people are waiting to get into the auction zone. Now they all heard it.

               A crowd soon gathered around me. They aren't doing anything yet but I'm afraid it will happen sooner or later.
      
          "Oi young lad, now you shouldn't do that." An old man wearing the combat-free mark walked to me. "Do ya feel ashamed, harassing such a fine young lady on the street?"
      
          Ok, there's no way I can explain myself out of this. The circle is getting smaller. Someone is already reaching for their weapons.

               Yuri suddenly pulled off my helmet. "Stop it sisters! The auction is starting! Let's get inside!"
      
          All people around looked between our faces and gave out an "Ohhhh!" before they scattered away. Someone's still looking back but I don't see aggression anymore.
      
          The old man said gladly: "Ah, so it's just two ladies having fun. Sorry for that."
      
          "Oh don't worry." I answered. "Your intention is good sir, and we should learn from you."  I can still remember to respect the elders.
      
          After the scene cleared up we decided to split. Razor, Hawk, Elfy and Wayne will be attending the auction, while Yuri and I will visit somewhere else. Yuri's companion slots are already full so there's no point for her to buy any more.

               As for Red Moon...She won't leave me alone.
      
          We are seeing around the streets so I un-summoned Night Shade. We first asked around for the entrance where we can reach the underground part.

               It's a whole business street, everyone here is selling their merchandise.
      
          Yuri chose a grand-looking clothing store first. The owner is a slim, middle-aged gentleman. He came to us when we entered the door. "What'll it be, my friends?"
      
          "Oh uh, first time we came to a store like this. Are these all equipments?"

               All these colorful garments don't look like they can offer much protection.
      
          The owner smiled. "They're decorative wears. You can equip them over your armors."
      
          I checked the blades and spikes on my armor. "...Are they not gonna tear up if I wear them?"
      
          "Well, try it on!" He picked out a scholar uniform and put it over me. It...completely covered my armor outfit! The uniform doesn't have a headwear but my helmet disappeared. The most important part is that the clothes suit me just fine, my broad armors didn't puff it up as I expected.

                "Looking good, sir!"
      
          "Ohh this is neat!" I looked at myself in the mirror. "Now I don't need to worry about getting salutes from people because of my equipment!"
      
          Yuri rushed to the lady's section and began to dress up. They don't even need a fitting room in here, you simply equip the clothes and it will fix on you. Red Moon was just having a staring contest with me but she's now enjoying the dressing up with Yuri as well. Sigh. No girls can resist pretty clothes.
      
          Looks like they totally forgot about me so I chatted with the owner. "Will these clothes break up?"
      
          "Yes of course, or I'll lose a lot of business! They'll break after you've worn them for 500 to 1000 hours, depending on its price. Expensive ones break slower. You can come buy another one, or buy the same one you like as long as you remember the serial number."
      
          "So the Durability decreases over time? Will it break faster if I go into combat?"
      
          "Nope. It only wears with time, in a fixed speed. The attributes and durability of your original equipment still apply."
      
          "That sounds good!" I browsed over the stalls. A wizard robe caught my eye, I wonder if I can wear this thing to pass myself as a mage so I can play some dirty tricks on enemies.

                "How much is this one?"
      
          "This one?" He seems somewhat troubled. "This robe has some bonuses."
      
          "But I thought they're merely decorative?"
       
          "Well, normally yes. But this one is special, and it is the only special one I ever sold."
       
          "What kind of bonus?"
       
          "Apart from hiding your equipment...There's a [Demagogue] skill on it. But there's no explanation about the skill. You sure you want to buy it?"
      
          "Why not? An extra skill isn't a bad thing."
       
          "Well this stuff's expensive!"

                He's doubting me!
      
          "How much is it?" I'm already taking out my credit card.
      
          "Ten thousand Crystals." 
      
          "What??" I dropped my card onto the floor. "No kidding? As in, 15k dollars??"
      
          "Told you. Normal people don't spend so much money on this kind of item. The price is determined by the system. I only sold two of them since the beginning of this game."
      
          Well this is embarrassing. I only have....7349 Crystals on me. But I already--

               "Ziri! Oh? You want this robe?"
      
          I nod. Darn it they're back.

               "I don't think I have enough money though."
      
          Red Moon seized the chance. "Ah ha! Poor guy. Beg me and maybe I can lend you some money!"
      
          "Never. I'd rather go find a prostitute job than borrowing money from the likes of you."
         

               Yuri came up: "How much you need? I'll pay it."
      
          "No, no. Now I shouldn't do that."
      
          "Um, I haven't thanked you for getting me out of that garden. I saved up something in there so I can just pay for you this time. But you'll have to pay me back!" She giggled. "If you really don't want to borrow my money for free, you can pay me some extra interest later."
      
          Ugh. Now I can't refuse that.

               "Alright!"

               Arrrrgh I got myself even more debt now! I need to think up something to earn money real quick or I'd be in serious trouble if this keeps on.




  • thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 16

    GET THE THIEF!!

    ------------------


                We left the store. I noticed the area is even more populated now.

                "That's a lot of people in this place." I spoke.
      
          "Huh, you call that 'a lot of people'? You should try coming here on a holiday, nerd."

                Ok. Red Moon loves bickering sooo much.
      
          "Where are we going now?" I asked Yuri. "There're a lot more shops selling clothes or accessories. Want to see them?"
      
          "Of course!"
      
          We walked deeper into the street. I can see much interesting merchandise along the way. The problem is, it's becoming harder to get around because of all the people.

                Someone bumped my shoulder. It's a nice-looking young lady. Nothing serious so I didn't stop.

                But Yuri yelled beside me. "Ziri! Where's your robe?"
      
          "Huh? What's wrong?" I lowered my head, only to see my black Dark Dragon Lord set on me. The robe I just bought is gone.
      
          Red Moon raised her voice as well. "Hey I can see your red name. Pshhh. It looks like a light bulb in here."
      
          "What??" I jumped. My bracelet has disappeared too!

               "Damn it! That woman is a pickpocket!"
      
          Red Moon is already laughing. "Bah-hahaha! You're real idiot! You lost two items within a minute. That's impressive!"
      
          I turned to Yuri. "You go ahead. I'll go catch the thief!"

               Then I dashed towards the woman.
      
          She began to move faster when she noticed me. She keeps jumping around in the crowd, our distance is getting bigger!

               Man she's fast! This won't do.

               I summoned Night Shade. He can't sprint in the crowd but it's still better than running by myself.
      
          The woman is escaping even more faster when she saw my mount. I still can't reach her in this dense crowd!

               We soon reached the exit to the ground level. The thief zapped past the guard, who obviously attempted to catch her. Ouch. Looks like thievery increases your Evilness too so the woman is also a red name now.
      
          Now it's my turn to get past the guard.

                "Phantom Knights!"

                They appeared in front of me in their battle array.\

                "Break through the guards!"
      
          "Yes sir!"

               They turned into an arrow head in the next second and began to charge ahead. The thief was about to turn around and watch me getting caught by the guards but...what she saw was the two guards were easily squashed like pancakes, so she instantly jumped and ran again. Two level 800 guards are strong enough to keep most players at bay, but are still useless when going against 10 level 850 Phantom Knights.
      
          The knights stayed behind to fend off any pursuers. I appeared in the middle of the city so the guards didn't have enough time to assemble a defense line yet. And I need to get my bracelet back before it happens!
       
          But how can she move so fast?? I chased after her on Night Shade from the central area all the way to the east wall, without reaching her!

               This is the situation now: A female thief is running in front, a rider wearing full black armor is chasing her, which is me, while 10 similar riders are racing behind, followed by a thousand city defense cavalries. This whole lot of people and thundering hoofsteps caused much freak-out among the citizens.
      
          The thief dragged several passing by girls into the middle of the road, trying to stall us. Night Shade hopped above the panicking girls, while the following Phantom Knights caught them one by one onto their horsebacks, according to my instructions. At their level, grabbing someone when galloping at full speed looks easy enough.
      
          I think the three girls are looking at their saviors with stars in their eyes. Too bad the knights are only NPCs. The ladies gonna be disappointed.

               I saw a group of boys up ahead who look kind enough. When I went by I shouted to them: "Catch them!"
      
          They didn't understand what's going on but the Phantom Knights are already tossing the girls into their arms. I wonder if it should be considered lucky when you get knocked dizzy by random pretty girls. Well, they look strong enough so the girls won't get hurt. Probably.
      
          ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
      
          Hawk and his group are just leaving the auction site when the event is over. They saw all the people standing on both sides of the road without moving.

               Hawk lifted Elfy onto his shoulder. "Saw something?"
      
          Just as Elfy steadied herself, she saw a girl dashing across the road at inhuman speed, followed by me and my Phantom Knight team, before countless city guards thundered after them. The ground is shaking!
       
          "It's Ziri! He's chasing behind a woman!"
      
          Wayne asked in surprise: "He's fighting with Red Moon again?"
       
          "No. Never saw her before."
      
          Razor: "Huh? It sounded like a thunderstorm out there. Does he need to call so many people just for one woman?"
      
          "Those are city guards. Ziri's name is exposed! The guards are after HIM, not the woman!"   
          ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
      
          My private chat is ringing. It's hawk. I'm pretty busy now so I only opened voice-only mode.

               "What's going on, Ziri? We haven't been apart for long and you're already causing a scene to the whole city! Are you doing a parade?"
      
          "You saw me??"
       
          "Well of course! You just led like a thousand men passing in front of us! What the hell are you doing? What kind of pretty girl made you so determined?"
      
          "It's not a pretty girl! A thief! She took my bracelet. I fu*king need that thing to survive in cities, I need to get it back NOW!"
      
          "Oh I understand!"
       
          "I hope you do! I need Elfy's help! And tell Razor to come with Sunshine. I need someone who can move fast!"
      
          "What about me?"
       
          "The bastard's too fast for warriors to deal with! Oh and Yuri is still underground, you can go find her."
      
          "Got it!"

               Elfy contacted me soon. "Where are you now and how do I find you?"
      
          "A thousand horses are running in the city, just follow the noise!"
      
          "Coming!"
       
          Elfy and Razor joined me from a corner. "Yo. Is it fun chasing a girl?" Elfy joked.
      
          "Do I look like having fun?? Watch it!"

               Some more random girls are pushed onto the path. Night Shade doesn't need any warning as the thief tried this trick many times now. I was only reminding Elfy and Razor.
      
          The pegasus went over the girls easily. It can fly after all. And Sunshine already demonstrated his jumping ability before.

                Like always, the Phantom Knights picked up the girls and threw them into the crowds to get them out of harm's way. But they missed one this time. Well not my concern now. I can only hope the city guards are skilled enough to avoid her. Though it seems too much to hope, with that kind of number.
      
          The guards jumped. Looks like they're serious about protecting normal players. But...some of the riders jumped too slow and stumbled, which caused a series of traffic accidents to their comrades.
      
          "...Hahaha!" Elfy laughed when she saw the pile of helpless city guards. "I only saw that kind of move in Disney cartoons."
      
          "Hey watch out!"

                Some unlucky bystanders got dragged in front of us again. The still laughing Elfy didn't react in time and crashed into the roadside.

                Her voice appeared in my channel. "Go on! I'll catch up! Sorry for that-- ouch!"
      
          "We're just wasting our time running around the city like this!" Razor worried.
       
          "Any good ideas?"   
          "Split up. I'll try to force her out of the city."
       
          "Let's do it!"   
          Elfy appeared when Razor ran the other way. "What's he doing?"
      
          "Split tactic. We'll flush her out of here! Once outside our mounts will be faster than her. "
      
          "On it!" Elfy chose another direction.
      
          They approached the thief from the sides, blocking her way to turn back into the alleyways. Now she can only run towards the main gate.

               The gate is near, for some reason I don't see any guards. Don't tell me they all joined the army behind!
      
          The thief rushed out of the gate, then us, followed by the thousand riders who just managed to recover from their accident. People traveling on the bridge are shocked in their places by the massive guard crowd. A small number of them managed to get clear while the majority fell into the city moat.
      
          Now there are no more covers for the thief. The guards all retreated when we left the defense range.
          ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
      
          We finally cornered her!

               "Lucky! Phiona! Loong'er!" I summoned all my companions. Let's see if that's enough to catch you!
      
          "On foot." I asked Razor and Elfy to get off their mounts. She has no where to run now so we don't need to be riding anymore.
      
          "Hand them back and I'll let you leave." I asked her in a threatening voice.
      
          Unexpected, the thief simply charged at me.

               I feel a sting on my shoulder before I can react. She wants to take me by surprise!

               And shit! 3000 HP gone. What the fuc is that attack??
      
          The thief also seems shocked as why I'm not dead yet. I think most people would, given that I'm wearing a full Artifact armor set.

                When I'm about to attack her she already stepped a dozen meters away. Man that's some crazy agility.
      
          She dodged past me and headed towards the city direction again. Looks like she knew the place is safer.

                Night Shade moved into her way, she slid past from under him. She looks quite experienced about how to avoid pursuers.
      
          "Rosa! Get her!" 

                Rosa quickly built a wall on her path. The thief dashed to the left side when Lucky dropped down and stopped her, while Phiona is already standing on the other side. 

               Without a way out, she turned back and ran to me. I saw something in her hands. A series of sleeve knives flew towards my face. Dart jumped in front of me and caught the four knives between his teeth.
      
          Elfy drew her bow. "Multi-shot!"

                A barrage of arrows covered where the thief is standing. But she rolled out of the area! 

               Razor appeared behind her and stabbed using his kanata at extreme speed. The thief crouched to avoid his attack. Razor wasn't expecting her to notice him so he failed to stop his momentum and crashed into me instead.
      
          He pulled me up while mumbling:" The woman's slippery like a loach! You guys got something to slow her down?"
      
          "I can!" Elfy took her bow again and readied a headless arrow. Then she fixed a strange-looking tip onto the bare shaft. 

               "Advanced homing arrow, [Frozen Path]!" 

               Woosh! An arrow carrying some snow-white mist shot towards the thief. The thief rolled and jumped around but the arrow followed her. 

               "Ha! That thing will follow you until it hits or you die! Just give up!"
      
          Razor watched as the thief tries to avoid the attack. "Never heard of this skill before. Where did you learn it?"
      
          Elfy took out another headless arrow and prepared it. "It's not my skill, it's special ammunition. I only got two on me by the way."
      
          I pulled on her arm. "Don't waste that here."
      
          She still released her shot. "Oh don't worry. I'm not as generous as you think. That arrow regenerates on its own, just a bit slow. I never used all two in one fight."
      
          "That's a relief." 
      
          We heard an explosion. When the scene cleared out we saw an ice cube standing ahead. 

                "Ouch. That was impressive." I checked at the ice cube. The thief is frozen inside! It's like a coffin made of ice. The woman is locked up in there while still carrying the posture when she was blown away.
      
          Pom! Before we can claim victory, the thief's body turned into smoke. Then the ice scattered, leaving a wooden puppet behind. 

               "It's [Substitute]!" Razor yelled. "Taoist skill!"
      
          As we stayed shocked, the thief emerged from a nearby grass rick and ran away.

               "Who the hell is her? She's like, knows all kinds of moves!" I ordered all my companions to chase up while complaining. 

      
          As we try to get close, the thief stopped in her track and pressed her hands onto the ground. A fire pillar appeared and moved towards me. 

               "Get away!! That gonna blow us up!" Razor warned us aloud.
      
          We immediately scattered. The pillar soon reached where we were staying and exploded. We already kept distance but the shock still stunned us a little.   
          The woman is taunting me! 

               "Damn it you asked for it! I was hoping I don't have to do this since you're a girl!"

               I slapped off my left gauntlet and pressed on the fire gem on my helmet. Countless small red dots showed up around me like fireflies. Then the "fireflies" grew bigger, until they are the size of volleyballs.
      
          I made a spell-like gesture in front of my chest (for show, of course), then locked my gaze onto the thief. 

               "Flame Hornets, go!!" 

               There were over 600 red balls, now they all turned into gigantic flying hornets. The terrible insects stretched their bodies to full size, by which I mean about 50 centimeters.

               These crimson-black colored creatures carry weapons all over them. They have pincer-like mandibles on their mouthpart, three pairs of sharp legs which could probably be used as knives rather than movement tools. They're called hornets, of course the most scary part is the sting, also with a deep red color. The thing's almost half a foot in length! 

               The noise caused by these 600 giant insects is like a bombard plane flying by. I can see the grass around us shaking.

               But there's a problem. They just landed around the area instead of following my order and attacking the woman.
      
          Razor already ran to a safe distance. He shouted towards me: "Ziri! Those are not Flame Hornets!!"
      
          "Huh? They're not?" 

                I called Phantom. "What's going on? I thought my fire gem summons hornets?"
      
          Phantom paused a bit before he explained: "These summoned creatures are different from your companions and servants. I can't talk to them, now I don't know why they came. But I've seen them before in the depth of the Perish Swamp. They're called Dragon Wasps. These things are only level 200 but they usually attack those who are two or three hundred levels above because they always stay in big swarms. They're famous for their speed and deadliness. Even level 700 minor bosses in the swamp will have to avoid them. I think the gem changed somehow because you inserted it into an Artifact. Now it called something much much scarier than hornets."
      
          "I see... How do I control them though? They won't listen to me."
      
          "You got the wrong name maybe?"
       
          "Oops." I turned to the thief again. "So, Dragon Wasps. Attack!!" 

               They immediately took off which almost deafened me.  

               The woman backed off in panic. She threw some of her knives again and killed several wasps, which is totally negligible. The dead wasps didn't disappear but all turned into small fireballs and flew towards the woman with even higher speed. She jumped away in shock. The fireballs exploded on the ground, they don't look powerful but still caused mass fire around the grassy area.
      
          Now I know why even strong monsters would run away. They're suicide bombers!  
      
          The thief dodged most of the fireballs but a single one managed to set her clothes on fire. She rolled on the ground to put it out. That left enough time for the rest of the wasps to bury the woman under their attacks. She may be fast but she can't prevent all these killers from leaving a good number of needle holes and gashes on her body. 

               One of the wasp clamped onto her neck and took a good bite. Blood splashed out, then some of the wasps snatched the liquid clean before a single drop can reach the ground. These little things drink blood for saint's sake! The woman stabbed the wasp on her neck to get it off, which caused it to explode and bring her more agony.
      
          A minute hasn't passed and the thief's HP is almost empty now, while she only got rid of ten wasps. Or less. 

               Elfy watched the terrible scene and frowned. "This is...creepy."
      
          Razor came to me too. "Seriously, this suicidal attack will just scare the shit out of any ordinary people before they can decide to fight back." 
      
          "I--I give up!! Sto--please stop! Please!!" 

                Finally.
      
          "Dragon Wasp, come back." I called. 

               They turned direction and charged towards my head, almost with the same imposing manner as before. For a moment I thought I'm in trouble. But they just disappeared into the gem on my helmet.
      
          We approached the thief with caution. When we got close enough we all dropped defense--it doesn't look like she can even lift a finger now. She's trembling on the ground, and her clothes are all torn into ragged pieces. A series of long stings are lodged deep inside her body. One of her leg is pinned solid on the ground. Man, I think I would beg for help too if I'm in the same situation.
      
          Elfy tried to help her pull the stings out. When she did, the sting blew up and blasted her away. 

               "Oh you must be kidding. Thank god that one didn't hurt much."
      
          "I'll do it." I picked on the stings. They didn't react this time.
      
          Razor: " So there's even a last safe to prevent the target from getting healed. Ziri is safe because he's the master."
      
          Hawk and the rest of the group arrived when I'm trying to make the woman look better.

               "Ziri! You found your items?" Yuri reached me first.
      
          "Well, yes." I pointed at the lying thief who still carries a good number of needles on her.
      
          "...Woooeeh. What happened to her? I think she needs help." She's too kind! 

      
          Yuri took out her flute, everyone else covered their ears. "What are you doing??"
      
          "Um, use my Sun Anthem to ease her pain?"
      
          "Ohhh. Go ahead." They dropped their hands.
      
          Red Moon arrived too. "Oh gud. Whatever have you done to this poor lady? I was right when I said you're pervert!" 

               She went up and helped the thief with the stings. Of course, Boom. 
      
          It took some time for me to clean away all the mess. That was at least 500 shots. Though it seems it wasn't enough to kill her, since she took a lot of potions as well. 

                She handed over my items unwillingly. "Really bad hit today. Why didn't I choose anyone else? Geez."
      
          "You're complaining now?? You ruined my sightseeing plan!"
       
          "What kind of item did I take anyway? I haven't checked them. People would just chase me for like 5 minutes before giving up. But you kept on for half a day!"
      
          I showed her the attributes. "See it now?"
      
          "Ah... I was wondering why a thousand guards were behind me. So YOU were their target."




  • Here comes the new recruit for the harem ^^
  • Wow. This is a gem! Translation is super good! Keep up the good work! Bookmarked
  • thanks for the chapter
  • edited June 2017

    Book 4, Chapter 17

    Temporary Salesman

    ------------------

     

               "Oh greeting my lady, the name is Nameless, a Spectral Mage. It's my pleasure to meet you!" Wayne appeared out of nowhere.
      
          "What's he doing?" Elfy whispered to me.
      
          I just shook my head and looked at the sky.

               "Spring is coming."
      
          "Ah." Everyone nodded in understanding.
      
          I pushed Wayne away. I got questions to ask her first.

                "So...let's have a little talk."
      
          "If you promise not to send me to jail."

                Is she trying to bargain with me??
      
          "Why would I do that? I'm not a bounty hunter."
      
          She seems surprised. "Huh...so you don't know. If you use [Steal], whether it succeeds or not, you will become 'Wanted' for some time. If any victim can capture me to the jail they'll have the right to take away half of my money. Now, I'll answer whatever you ask as long as you don't do that."
      
          "Fine. I'll let you go."
       
          "Thanks! So what do you want to know?" She seems pretty relaxed now.
      
          "First, your name. I'm Ziri, how do I call you?"
      
          "I saw your name when I stole your items. My name is [Golden Coin]."
      
          "That's a...worthy name for you." Elfy commented coldly.
      
          "Good. So miss Coin, where did you get such powerful stealing skill? I don't know about it but it must have something to do with our Luck attributes. My Luck is pretty high for that matter, it should be hard to steal items from me. How did you lift two items in one try?"
      
          She chuckled. "It's coincidence. I do have a high skill level but this is only the third time I actually seized two items. You just had a tough luck, if you ask me."
      
          Well that's embarrassing.

                "I see. Are you wearing something that gives you a lot of speed? You ran faster than horses!"
      
          She just displayed her equipment window on her shoes.

               "[Boots of the Spring Rabbit] (Nation Treasure) Defense 300, Dexterity +7, Base Speed + 21, Movement Speed +300%, Evasion +50%, Jumping +500%. Active skill [Wind Walker]: Doubles speed for one minute, cooldown: 1 hour..." Elfy read through the texts, "No wonder we couldn't catch her."
      
          Razor: "Another nation treasure of ours!"   
         

                I interrupted their discussion. "Do you have other parts of the set?"
       
          She shook head. "I won't be standing here in front of you if I did."
      
          "Makes sense." I nod. "What's your class? You can steal, use Taoist skills, and that stab on my shoulder can kill most people in one hit. There are a lot of mysteries on you."
      
          She smiles. "Same for you! I'm both Taoist and Assassin. That attack is a combination of [Assassination] and [Magic Pierce].  I created the combo myself. I've killed tanks with it before. Let me guess. You either have a lot of PvP experience so you weren't scared of the attack at all, or you have way more HP than that."
      
          I smiled too. "I don't PvP much. Your damage is good but it will still take three or four more hits like that to take me down."
      
          "You're the craziest tank I ever met." She mumbled.
      
          "You're wrong. I'm not a tank. My HP is high but I mainly survive with my high Defense. You only did 3000 damage to me. That wasn't really a deadly hit for average warrior classes."
      
          "Just 3000? Your Defense is insane!"   
         

               "You're the insane one. Usually that damage is impossible with such Defense level."
       
          "That's not what I mean!" She became excited. "I call that skill [Last Resort]. It depletes my MP and halves my own Defense if I use it. After hitting a target I'll be locked in place for a full second, you just missed the chance to finish me off. This skill will either kill my target or myself every time I use it."
      
          "Wow. Looks like there is no perfect skill after all."

               Still, I think Coin's skill is enough to help her win most 1-on-1 encounters.

                "Oh right, you said you are Assassin and Taoist. But assassins don't learn [Steal]. Isn't that a Rogue skill?"
      
          "I stole it!"

               She showed us her ring. I read it aloud:

               "[Eagle's Knowledge]: Permanently learn the skill that is activated by your enemy. Success rate: 0.1%. What the fu-- That's way overpowered! Pity the trigger rate is too low."
      
          She canceled the window. "That's not the only problem. You need to be fighting with the target. And they must use it at least twice. Also, the skill must hit you! I asked a rogue to help teach the skill. He kept stealing stuff from me for four days before I finally learned it."
      
          "I want to learn that Last Resort skill!" Wayne cut in.
      
          I kicked him away. "Didn't you hear it? You need to take the skill, twice! You'd be dead in one hit! ...Now I think about it, I can try to learn the skill."
      
          "Yeah right!" Hawk pumped his fists. "If you can use that skill you'd be killing dragons with it! When you go to Japan, just one-shot whoever's wearing their nation treasure and bring it back! No one would believe the host of nation treasure can get killed like that!"
      
          "It will take a lot of time. And I don't think Coin's gonna agree."
      
          She jumped. "Of course I agree! A living strike dummy to grind my skill level, why not? So what's the plan, right now?"
      
          "Uh, not today. I'll tell you when I have time. That's all I have to ask."
      
          "I'll leave then. Remember to call me! I was worrying about how to level up my skill."

               Coin rushed away. She doesn't really meet the beauty standard but somehow I like her personality.

               That reminded me of Red Moon. Ughhh. They're completely opposite beings.
      
          Now that I get my items back, and know enough about the mysterious girl, there's no point in staying here. I talked about the plans with everyone and decided to go leveling a bit. Don't feel like going back to the streets now.

               Hawk and Elfy asked to go with me, Yuri and Red Moon won't leave me, and Razor would come together as well since he's the only one left. A ninja can't wander around the city by himself.

                As for Wayne...He took off after Coin!
      
          We came to the Dark Forest outside of the Lost City. We're all good fighters so we simply picked on high level monsters. Everyone made good progress during an afternoon. With the lowest level among all, I earned a hefty 8 levels. Now I'm at 321! I should have found a team like this sooner!
      
          I have work from father on the next day so I told everyone to go without me for several days and logged off.

               I drove to the laboratory the next morning. Father isn't here, a senior researcher picked me up.
      
          "Where's my father?" I asked him when we reached the office.
      
          "The president is still busy with some affair so he told me to do this..." He typed something into the computer and turned the screen to me.
      
          Father showed up on the display. "You're here, son!"
      
          "I thought we'd talk about this here together?"   
         

                "I said I'm busy! I won't be asking you for help if I got enough time with it."
      
          "What do you need then?"
      
          "Remember I said our nation is about to make a big move?"   
         

                I nodded. This sounds fun!

                "What move?"
      
          "I don't know. I'm not their commander, it's classified!"

                I hate secrets.
      
          "Aren't you deputy of the congress? So what do you need me to do if you don't know anything?"
      
          "Well, the military gave me a research schedule and a bunch of purchase plans. We're going to meet with their delegate today, I need someone I can trust, who knows our technologies, to speak with them. That means you."   
         

                "I got it. Where do I go?"
      
          "Here."

               Father's image moved to one corner. A map appeared on the screen.
      
          I looked over the map. "Shanghai? Any particular reasons?"
      
          "You know the Third Base beneath New Nanjing?"   
         

                "...We got another one under Shanghai?"   
         

                "Exactly." He seems rather proud. "And it was built earlier than the Nanjing one. Their representatives will arrive at noon. You will be leading them through the showcases of our company's newest products while giving brief introductions. You may need to operate some of them on the scene, to show them the actual performance. You can decide on the details!"
      
          "Hold it!" I shouted before he can cut the chat. "That's not enough. What are the prices for the products? How do I introduce them when I don't even know what kind of stuff I'm going to sell?"
      
          "I've sent the data to your car. Go through it on your way! Sorry for the rush, the original plan was that you can do it yesterday!"
      
          "Will do then."

                I hurriedly bid farewell with the researcher and took my car towards Shanghai city. I set my GT8000 into auto-pilot mode and began to read through the new products. These things are pretty complicated in terms of production procedure and technologies but I only have to remember those technical figures and numbers since I'm about to be their salesman, not an engineer.
      
          The computer alerted me that I'll be leaving the motorway soon. Geez, now I really hope I can use auto pilot on ordinary roadways too.

                I came to where the map is pointing at. It's a mass construction complex, the entrance is inside a military base!

                I'm stopped by the gate sentry. I lowered the side window when a soldier walked over and gave me a salute.
      
          "The area is off-limits, ma'am. Your permissions?"
      
          "Shoot. Read it!" I handed over my ID card.
      
          He scanned the card on a device and gave it back. "I apologize. You're free to enter."
      
          After I've left, the soldier mumbled:

               "Huh that's a man? I think I camped here for too long. I need a holiday..."
      
          Well I've no time to be concerned about what the soldiers are thinking. I went through another two check posts before I can reach the underground base. That's some tight security.

               The military representatives are already here. A dozen lead researchers are talking with them.
      
          I quickly parked my car and joined them. There are 7 people. Their leader is an officer about the age of 50. I never learned how to read shoulder marks so I don't know his rank.

               Two officers stand on his sides. One in his 40s, the other is younger, must be around 25 or so. The remaining four men standing in the back must be guards.
      
          I walked to their leader and raised my hand. "Welcome, sir. I'm Sairin, tech department CEO of Dragon Fate Corporation."

               This department CEO is a position my father forced on me just for this job. I used another two different titles when doing similar work before. The representative is a high-ranking official this time which means we can't send any ordinary employees here.
      
          "Why is the president Sai-Jingu absent?" The youngest officer asked first. He seems unsatisfied.

                Now this is fun. I don't think that's a wise move in front of our main guest, by which I mean his own boss.

               He continued. "We're here to settle a contract involving hundreds of billions worth of military assets, and they sent a woman?"
      
          Crap.

               Before I can explain, their leader took my hand. "Yan-Ray, lieutenant general, manager of the General Armament Department. Your name is Sairin right? That isn't a common name in China. Are you Mr. Jingu's...?"
      
          Old wiser.

                "I'm his son."
      
          "Ahh!" He gave me a firm handshake again. "We never heard about president Sai's inheritor. The company surely keeps their secret tight!"
      
          "It's not really a secret. I'm the family's only child so my father is just protecting me from harm as best as he can. That means to keep my true identity low." I tried to steer the topic back to the main course. "Shall I show you the products now, or do you prefer a lunch first?"
      
          "Oh don't worry about eating. I've really wanted to see those wonders!"

                The general is obviously the straightforward type. And speaking with these people saves a lot of effort.
      
          "Please follow me."

                I led the way. When we arrived at the elevator I turned and asked him: "Can I know about your...companions?"
      
          "Oh, my bad there. I forgot!" He dragged the 40-rish officer in front of him. "This is colonel Shin, from the NSA." Then he faced the other officer. "Major Junken, Political Department. And these four are my personal guardsmen."
      
          I shook hands with colonel Shin but left out Junken, intentionally.

                "The area below is highly restricted, I'm afraid I can only take Mr. Yan-Ray and colonel Shin with me." Then I asked a company personnel nearby: "Please take the general's guards, and the...other guest, to the lounge room."
      
          Junken failed to conceal his anger. I didn't even look at him.

                I led the general and colonel into the lift. The elevator began to descend after I went through several super complex authentications.

               It kept moving for about 350 meters before reaching our destination.
      
          The pair stopped when they stepped out of the elevator door. The underground area in front of them is too big. We're standing on the spiral observation platform in the middle of the room. The platform has many more levels to provide a better view for weapon experiments from all angles.
      
          I called the general's name for three times before he noticed me.

               "How did you build something like this below the surface? I think you at least need to remove an entire island."
      
          "The base was not built in one go. Our initial plan is about a third of what you're seeing now, and we enlarged the area to such size after three expansions. This place is mainly used as a testing area for advanced weapons. We can test almost anything here excluding airplanes and nuclear weapons."
      
          The colonel recovered from shock as well. He looked down at the vacant area below our feet. "How deep is it? More than a hundred meters I'd say."
      
          "174. We're standing on the middle level, the area above us is a similar space."   
        

               "Impressive."
      
          I took two copies of purchase plans from the secretary and gave them to the two officers. "Pray tell me which ones you'd like to see first and I'll show them right here. Oh, no airplanes please. The digital plan books on you hand have all the product numbers and brief introductions on them, along with the prices. Tap on them to check their pictures."

                The general looked at the page number. "That's over 200 pages. This will take some time."
      
          "Don't worry. You will be staying here for several days I assume? We have enough time."
      
          The colonel pointed at something on the list first. "This...TZ-01 Magnetron Tank, can we see it?"
      
          I told a worker to bring a tank in.

               "Let's get to the base level. The tank is not a hazardous weapon so we don't have to stay far."
      
          "I'd love it!"

               The general walked down first like a child waiting to see his new toy. But I think such weapons are pretty much toys for these military leaders.
      
          The tank is already stationed when we got there. It's big, with blue-gray outlines.

               They touched around the armor on the tank, while I searched around what I learned this morning and began to introduce:

               "Special alloy outer shell, produced by one-time metal stamping method. Hard to repair but can provide solid defense. The front armor can withstand multiple hits from kinetic projectile weapons using 120 mm caliber or lesser ammunitions propelled from 200 meters or farther. Similar for the side armors, against attacks from 400 meters or above."
      
          The colonel looked up at the main cannon. "Isn't the barrel too long for a tank?"
      
          "That's a 180mm electromagnetic cannon. We can't put a standard-sized transformer on a mobile tank cause it will too big, so we can only increase the barrel length to give the shell enough initial speed. Well new products always carry some flaws. But I guarantee the power and accuracy of these cannons are way beyond common explosive powered ones. And the shells can be smaller because they don't need all the extra compound, which means you can carry more shots around."
      
          "Can I see a live shot?" asked the colonel.
      
          "Ready targets!"

                Three armor plates raised at about 1.5k meters away from our location. The plates are 200 centimeters thick, 10 meters away apart from each other.

                "Fire!"
      
          Sharp electric charging sound came from the barrel. After five seconds we heard a damp "Poof", then a distant explosion up ahead.

                I jumped onto the tank's edge. "Let's get close while you can see the mobility of this thing on the way."
      
          General: "I'm afraid these old bones will break if I sit on that thing. I'll just take the cart."   
         

                He got into the tour cart prepared by a worker while the colonel jumped up beside me.

                "Let go!"
      
          The tank levitated about half a meter above the ground and raced towards the targets.

                "Can it shoot while moving?" the colonel asked.
       
          I lifted the hatch and told the operator inside: "Two shots on the move. Use AP shells."
       
          Poom. Poom.

               I looked towards the colonel. "So what do you think? 5 seconds per shot, that's 3 seconds faster than America's STS-1." (*)
      
          We arrived at the target location. The plates are already scattered open from the center.

               The general reached us in his cart soon after. "That's fast. This utility car can't catch up with you!"
      
          "It can run at 200 kph, and that vehicle of yours isn't designed for such speed. Are you satisfied till now? This is the first electromagnetic cannon in history that can be actually used in real wars you know."
      
          "Of course I'm satisfied!" General nodded. "But what about fuel consumption? We need to consider all aspects. We will put too much burden on the support team if it eats oil like a lion."
      
          I spoke towards inside the tank again: "Open the engine chamber!"

               Psssssh! The rear hatch of the tank bounced open while releasing some white vapor, revealing the signature radiation mark inside.
      
          "This is nuclear powered??" The colonel yelled.
      
          I grabbed a handle, rotated it in three spins and pulled it out, bringing a water bladder shaped container with it.

               "Atomic fusion reactor, driven by tritium rods. Each rod can last for seven years or so, we usually prepare two for each unit, the other one is a backup in case the main rod malfunctions. Convenient, and safe."
      
          "Is this necessary?"
       
          "Don't get fooled by the speed you saw. The body weighs 27 tons! If it runs on liquid fuel then we'll have to attach a pipe behind it at all times. Besides, tritium rods are safer than fuel. They don't blow up at least."
      
          "I see." Colonel seems satisfied.
      
          General checked his list. "Mark this down as preliminary selection. Oh one more thing, how's the fire control?"
      
          "You probably can't use the cannon to kill a mosquito but...we can try hitting a fly."

                That was only a half-joke.
      
          The general didn't question my answer. I'm sure they know the computing capabilities provided by Dragon Fate.

                "Here, what's 'ICA'? Never heard of it."
      
          "Individual Combat Armor, can be worn by soldiers." (**)   
         

                "Bullet proof vests?"
      
          "Oh no, totally different."

                I asked the workers to recover the tank and bring an ICA over. A trailer dragged a row of 2-meter high robot-like devices to us.

                "These are ICAs. Sometimes we just call them iron units."
      
          "That's a lot of them." Colonel looked among the armors. Every one looks different.
      
          I explain: "What you see here is the entire armor series. The first one is assault unit, next is heavy suppressor unit, the third, anti-air unit, fourth, sniping unit, fifth, support scouter, sixth, automatic unit, the last one is anti-riot. They're only meant for special forces because the production cost is too high. You can assign only one to each platoon at best even if I keep the price low for you."
      
          The colonel seems interested. "I know it's impossible to arm the entire army but we can at least establish several special op divisions, no?"   
      

               "I can only tell you that each of these costs 2 million, basic, since I don't know how much expense you're allowed. But I do know our country hasn't put up much war expenditure in these years." (***)   
        

                I jumped onto one of the assault types while they had their discussion. I opened the front hatch and climbed in. The four limbs of the armor are designed for human bodies to fit their own limbs into them. Since the armor is bigger than a human, my hands and feet can only reach the elbow and knee part.

                I controlled the unit to jump down from the trailer. It's simpler than I expected, just like playing in [Zero]--you give the command using your brain, and receive feedback inside you brain too. Sigh. Even a game made by Dragon Fate has lot of crazy technologies in it.
      
          The general and colonel are still arguing over the armors when they see me hopping around with one. There are wheels under the feet of the armor so I can run freely like skating. It's even equipped with a booster system so I can make short-range flights, or really big leaps.

                I made a demonstration in front of the general. The armor is able to jump as high as a hundred meters, and land slowly using the air thrusters.
      
          The general said he would talk with the higher-ups. But his expression told me he's going to buy it for sure, which is good news to me. If I sell enough of these stuff I might as well ask father for one and put it into my collection.


    ------------------

    (*) I didn't find this tank. Maybe the author made it up.

    (**) The original name created by the author makes no sense so I altered it.

    (***) The novel started in the 00s, which means some concept will be a bit off according to modern standards, such as the cost for producing weapons.

    Also, recent updates will be slower, because...



    The author doesn't control chapter length. I'm having a headache.
    t.jpg 10.8K
  • thanks for the chapter 
  • Book 4, Chapter 18

    Treasure Crisis

    ------------------

                I performed all sorts of military drills for threes days in front of the general and colonel. In the end, they signed on a purchase contract worth 130 billion, and planned another 180 billion, which needs to be discussed over with the central committee, as they said.

                I finally relaxed myself after I sent them on their plane. I kept standing straight along General Yan in these days and now my waist hurts. An armyman selecting weapons feels a lot like women browsing clothes. We tried through everything on the list in the three days. I'd have already given up if not for such a big contract, and the fact that this is father's order.
      
          I hurried back to the office to contact father. Despite my looks, I still love guns and swords, just like most boys. And since I have more background than "most boys"...
      
          "Hey boy! You done the job?"

               Is he in a...forest?
      
          "I did! 130 billion settled. Another 180 billion will have to wait. Whatever their decision is, it won't fall below 100 billion." I patted on my chest. "By the way, where are you? Is that a rainforest behind you?"
      
          "I'm in the ecology simulation lab. These plants are the first ones we're going to send into space. How do they look?"

                He picked up a giant, red...object. "A new type of fruit I planted. It's big AND juicy! You want some?"
      
          "Uh, no thanks. Hey dad, I want my reward now."

                Strike while the iron is hot. It's easier to ask for stuff when dad's satisfied with my work.
      
          "Decided already?" His dropped his smile. "Don't tell me you want something from the base?"
      
          I just looked at him with a hopeful look. An obvious answer.

                "Alright. Remember, no funny choices."
      
          "What kind of funny choices?" I need to see if that thing is on his blacklist.
      
          "No bio weapons!"
       
          "I'm not a terrorist why would I need those?"
       
          "No nuclear weapons!"
       
          "Do nuclear powered ones count?"
       
          "Nuclear powered? Is it big?"
      
          "Nope. Smaller than my car!" That's true. The iron unit is only about 2.5 tons.
      
          "Just tell me what it is. I'll see if I can allow it." He lost patience.
      
          "An ICA unit!"   
        

               "Oh, that one..." He considered. "If you insist...But! I'll have to remove some of the parts first. Tell doctor Wong, I'll speak to him."
      
          "Understood!" I dashed out of the office and dragged the aged head researcher back in.
      
          "He's here."
      
          Father spoke to him: "Mr. Wong, I need you to modify one of the iron armor and give it to Sairin."   
        

                "Huff...huff. No-no problem. How do I do it?"
       
          "Take away all the weapons."
       
          Doctor Wong looks surprised. "You mean everything? The unit is just an empty shell without the weapons."
      
          I joined them. "If you remove those, can you get something else onto it instead?"   
         

                "What do you want?" Father seems worried that I'd ask too much.
      
          "The cockpit in there feels way better than my bed. Can you try to install the game helmet into the armor?"
       
          "Shouldn't be a problem." Father nodded to the doctor. "Do anything he asks as long as it's not a weapon. I'll pay you later."
      
          "Of course, sir." The doctor rolled up his sleeves. "Let's go drop some weight for the big guy."
      
          "Drop--what?"

                I didn't understand his words until I saw the pile of various components on the ground that were just taken off the armor. The original armor weighs 2.73 tons, and now it's only 0.97. I knuckled at the armor's body which gives out a sound like I'm knocking at an iron bell.

               "There's...nothing in there anymore?"
      
          Doctor Wong looked at me with an "of course" expression. "It's a military weapon. What do you expect if you remove all the killer tricks? The power unit and computer are pretty tiny compared to the others."
      
          "Crap. This is lame."

                I think I need to do something to make it up, or an empty iron shell is too boring.

               "Since you're done with removing, now help me load something to it."
      
          "You say it. We got everything here."   
         

                "First, this one." I pointed to a device on a nearby container.
      
          "Molecular Camouflage Unit? What for?"
      
          "Well, just do it. Oh and this." I carried a bigger air thruster over. "Since it's less than a ton it should fly if I have this right?"
      
          "Should be." The doctor ordered the engineers to do their work while he watched me messing around the items.
      
          "This."   
        

                "...TBD Field Generator. What are you gonna do with that?"
      
          "Don't ask. Anything besides weapons right?"

               Actually I'm only looking at the prices. I take anything that looks expensive!

                "This one, this thing here...and that!"
      
          "Organic Detector... Electromagnetic Anomaly Probe. Super Computer??"

                After ten hours, I'm looking at my final product while all the technicians plus the doctor lays on the ground. Now this super toy of mine costs 10 million! You won't find any crazier toy in the whole world now.

               Also, the doctor agreed to equip a Taser Gun into it (after listening to my carrot-and-stick speech for three hours). At least it's not a paper tiger now.

               The weighbridge showed it as 1.3 tons. All those costly stuff can only fill it up so much. There's no point in putting all the parts all around the armor so the doctor stuffed them to one location. Now there's a big storage area on the armor's back.
      
          The only tools I'll actually be using is the camouflage and wireless connector. The first tool can make the armor appear as anything, I can disguise it as an ordinary car and run on the roads when no one would notice what it truly is. The connector will allow my helmet to play the game anytime, anywhere. They didn't even do anything to my helmet, because the game helmet is exactly the same with the armor's original controller helmet. They only need to transfer some data to it.
      
          "I'm leaving!"

                I drove away from the base with the armor fixed on top of my car. The camouflage system will completely hide it from naked eyes.
      
          Now I'm itchy to try out my new game room. The armor is still a bit too big for the department hallways. I can try to steer it carefully but one mistake and I'll bump into walls or even people. And I don't think the stairs can support this thing. I decided to enter the room through the balcony. The armor is only at half weight now so it's easy to jump into a building.
      
          I tried my best but still accidentally stepped on the balcony bar, bending it. I moved it into the right position after some efforts. There are still twists and turns but shouldn't draw too much attention now.

                I didn't find Wayne in the dorm. Where did he run off to again? Whatever. I turned off the camouflage and logged into [Zero].
      
         

                "Hey Ziri!" A private message from Hawk. He sounds in a hurry.
      
          "I'm here. What's the matter?"
      
          "We found a player trying to sell equipment." His seems more hurried now.
      
          "Well go ahead. You want it? Do you have enough money? Don't ask me. That robe cost me everything I had, and that's only because Yuri lent me some. I only have 300 crystals on me. Take them if you want."
      
          "That's not what I'm talking about! Do you know what is he selling??"
      
          "What? Artifact?"
      
          "One of the Chinese Nation Treasure part!"
      
          "Say what?? Nation treasure? Where?"

                Ok, that's not something I should ignore now. I wasn't expecting we found the second piece so fast!
      
          "The auction site at the middle of the Goddess City! Be quick! I saw Japanese players wondering around. I think they're trying to break up out nation sets too!"
      
          "Have you talked to the seller?"   
        

               "Not in person. I heard he's a wizard called [Arch Necromancer]. The NPCs told us he registered the equipment on the morning yesterday. We couldn't find you or Wayne anywhere."
      
          I calmed down myself and thought this over.

                "I won't go there for now."
      
          "But why??" He jumped.
      
          "It's already in the auction, we can't get it unless it's bought-in, or do you have enough money for it? I won't help even if I go there!"
      
          "What are you going to do then? Nothing?"
      
          "I'll look for money!"   
         

               "Huh??" Hawk gave me a "you're kidding me" look.
      
          "I'm going to try buying it off!" I explained again.
      
          "The attributes are already revealed. That thing's at least 500 thousand crystals!"   
        

                "Oh shit. Now this is trouble." I complained. "Tell me the attributes then! What is it anyway?"
      
          "A Taoist equipment, [Robe of the Primordial Lord], Defense 700, doubles the power of all your Taoist skills, +50% element resistance, +25% MP regeneration, and a passive skill that reduces all damage you take by 20%. A Taoist can just take a Warrior head-on if he wears this thing! Do you remember that rabbit boots we saw on Golden Coin?"
      
          "Yeah?"   
       

               "They're from the same set! The boots is part of the Primordial Lord outfit!"
      
          "Damn it. Now we can't lose it. Ok I'll go think of something!"
      
          "Alright but make it fast! The auction is tomorrow evening!"   
        

               "Got it. I'll try!"

               I cut the chat and sat on the ground. What to do what to do what should I do??

              Exchange real money?

               No. Father said there's no end once you started throwing money into a game. And I shouldn't start it in the first place.

               So the only option is to earn money in the game. But how?? I still got some serious debt on my ass for crying out loud!

               Maybe try to do some business? But what kind of business brings so much money within two days?
      
          Rare stuff is always precious. So what is rare? Good equipment and companions. According to Hawk, an average level companion egg can usually sell for tens of thousands of crystals on the market. Should I go farm some eggs and sell them?
      
          I contacted Hawk again. "Hawk! Do you know what kind of companions sell best in the game now?"
      
          "Why do you ask?"   
         

                "Eggs are expensive right? I'll go get some to sell!"   
         

                "...That's right! I forgot you have good capture skills!"
      
          "Tell me!"   
         

               "I'm not sure but higher leveled ones are always more expensive. We don't have time to lift the prices so try not to get anything TOO high, or no one would buy it! Consider your level, find some average companions around level 500. They should attract enough buyers."
      
          "What do you mean average companions?"
      
          "Balanced ones. Your companions all have certain specialties like very fast or something. They're good but not many people will choose them.  We need to find companions favored by all people!"
      
          "Ok, ok! I'll see to it!" More explanations will just make the matter worse at such a moment. "You help me find some buyers first!"
      
          "Roger that!"   
        

               So, level 500. That means mini bosses around cities.

                I teleported to the grassland outside Goddess City and rushed towards the high level area. The Goddess City is one of the three main system cities. There are tons of players here.

               Thanks to my wizard robe (10 thousand crystals!!) and the bracelet, people would just see me as a common mage. The only problem is the robe looks too luxurious. And I can't hide my face either. The robe hides my cape as well.
      
          The players watched in amazement as a fake wizard dashed straight into the depth of the grassland. Sometimes I pulled several monsters, and I just dodged them. I still caused the players to drop their jaws . They never saw a wizard who can move so fast. Monsters that managed to get close almost did no damage. What kind of wizard runs inside monster crowds without even using his mana shield??
      
          I suddenly realized a problem. What if all the monsters run wild all over the field? This is the first time I'm trying to capture monsters on open ground. I don't want to run a marathon after them!
      
          I looked around the place and all the player groups who are grinding together.

               Eurika!

               "Hiring bodyguards! Good payment!"

                I can find some people to help me herd the monsters. They may not kill them easily but I only need them to keep monsters in check.
      
          I'm surrounded by the nearby players in the next second.
      
          "How much??" A high-pitched male voice.
      
          "How many people you hirin'?" A deep male voice.
      
          "For how long?" Even females are interested!
      
          "What monsters are you killing?" That sounds like a student.
      
          "Immediate cash?" A trader!
      
          The scene is getting too chaotic. I raised my hands to silence them.

                "Deep into the grassland, against level 500 monsters. Teams only, no solo players!"

                That's because teamwork would be of help. Players who don't know each other will cause troubles.
      
          Some people left after I said that. Either solo players or those who don't feel safe against level 500 targets.    
         

               I looked at the remaining people and proposed my conditions. "This is urgent, we'll be working overnight, starting right away. We take some rest late today but start working early the next morning. Until 4 pm tomorrow."
      
          Someone spoke: "Piece of cake. What kind of gamer doesn't stay up late?"

               Of course there is. More people left.
      
          Only a small number stayed. They stood in three groups, apparently they originally belong to three different teams.

                I continued: "I'll hire all of you if you agree. I need lot of people here. 300 crystals. You decide how to share the money and any drops you may find. I won't ask. But I won't provide any potions and consumables either. 50 down payment, another 50 when you log off tonight, 50 when you log in again, and the rest when we finish."
      
          They began to count people to see how much money each one can earn out of this.

               The left group has five players, two male Warriors (again, this is only a general title, I don't know what sub-classes they are), one female Elven Archer, a female White Mage and a Priest. Now that's rare, usually only girls play priestesses.

               The middle group, one female Warrior, two male Black Mages, a male Swordsman.

               The rightmost team, three male Elven Archers, a Priestess, a female Taoist, and a ....woman wearing wizard robe with a two-handed sword on her back. No idea what she is.

               15 people. If shared evenly, everyone will get 20 crystals. That's pretty good income. (*)
      
          "I'm going to catch monsters as eggs. You still get the payment if I fail, but if I succeed I'll pay another two crystals to each one of you. I'll be pointing out monsters and your job is to prevent the target from escaping."
      
          "No problem. We're in!" The Priest from the first team stepped out. It seems he's the leader. Huh, but I thought one of their Warriors is.
      
          The female Warrior from the second team agreed on their behalf. 

               The spokesman, I mean spokeswoman, for the third team is the female player whose class I didn't recognize.
      
          "Now that you all agreed to participate, I'll give you 20 minutes to get prepared. Be sure to bring enough potions or anything you may need. Come back here when ready, late comers will be left out!"   
          They fell into discussion. Each team sent a member back to the city for supplies. Or not, the third team sent two people, probably because they have the most members? 

                The remaining people waited with me. It's boring enough so their leaders decided to chat with me. 

                "Are you grinding a support class?" The unknown woman asked.
      
          "No, I'm a combat class."   
          

                "Then...isn't it too hard for you?" The female Warrior said, "Even those professional Breeders won't have much luck, and you're not a professional."
      
          "Doesn't hurt to try." Not going to tell too much to someone I haven't known for long. "Like I said, you still get the payment if I fail, so don't worry. By the way, the task seems hard enough, but you all accepted. I thought I wouldn't find so many helpers. You will lose levels if you die right?"
      
          The Priest spoke. "Why not? The pay is good. I'd accept even if I lose a level for it."   
          "Good? You mean, 20 Crystals for each one?" I didn't think much about the payment because 300 crystals were all I had. "That's like, the lowest pay rate for Dragon Fate employees."
      
          "Dragon Fate??" The female Warrior exclaimed. "Well I ain't compete with people from that place. You know how people would throng for a position there. Your lowest pay is higher than some of the managers in other companies! Do you know 20 crystals means three days worth of my salary?"
      
          "I don't even have income. Student, heh." The unknown class spoke up. "I used to spend money on the game and get items or pay for game time cards before. If I can find such jobs often then I don't have to eat cheap buns all day."
      
          Everyone chuckled. The female Taoist put an arm around her. "Hey sis, come to me and I'll treat you to instant ramen bowls. That's at least better than buns."
      
          "Ha-hahaha!" People laughed this time. Though I don't really feel like joking, with the hot matter at hand. There's a good chance that our Nation Treasure will get taken away by Japanese players if I don't do something. This is no joke, you don't want to lose your flag item to someone else during nation wars!

               I'm confident in my capture skills but there are always accidents. What if I don't find enough eggs in time? I need a plan B!
      
          Maybe just take it by force? 

               Possible, but too risky. If I'm a player with a Nation Treasure and knows someone's gonna take it away when there's no chance of protecting it, I'd just log off and never get on again. At least they'll never get hands on it. 

               No. This is not safe. Besides they can just do that the moment they buy the item. So this means I need to prevent them from winning the auction in the first place!
      
          Everyone else is chatting while I'm struggling with my mind. They look more and more acquainted now. Good, since better teamwork will help a lot.

    ----------------

    (*) This means $30 for playing a game overnight. Not bad.



  • thanks for the chapter

  • Book 4, Chapter 19

    Gulliver's Travels

    ------------------

                Two people are coming towards us, each carrying a giant backpack. They are from the unknown woman's team because they all rushed over.
      
          "I gave your staff to the auction house, ma'am. I'm sure you'll fetch a sum." The errand Elven Archer began to report his duty.
      
          Another two people came back, which means everyone's here. I waited several minutes for them to assign the items before we departed towards the far end of the grassland.

                I've been saying "grassland", but the vegetation around us are taller than average grass.
      
          They began to grow in size as we marched further in. After an hour the plants almost reached our heads. Thank goodness they're not really dense, or we'll have serious trouble walking forward.
      
          A female Archer pushed on my back. "Did you hear something?"
      
          "Em?"

                I stopped and listened carefully. No, nothing.

                "I don't think so."
      
          The White Mage came over. "But Elves hear better than us."
      
          The three male Archers raised their hands. "Confirmed. We heard something too."
      
          "Really? So you got that kind of advantage."

                I looked around us but still can't see anything.
      
          The Archer lady readied her bow. "There!"

                All other Archers followed her action. I can also hear it at this point, something is stepping over the grasses.
      
          "I saw it!" A male Archer looked to one side.
      
          "It's coming to us. Careful, it's big!" Another Elf alerted.
      
          Something suddenly jumped and landed in front of us. The four Archers released their arrows in shock, and every shot missed. One of them even released his arrow straight upwards, which almost hit my head when it came down!

               They began to stumble around in front of the sudden monster. I watched in silence as they bump into each other while trying to get into position.

               Sigh. So much for teamwork.
      
          They faced the monster solemnly. Warrior stayed in front, trembling; Archers behind them to provide cover, while wizards hid in the back of course. Although from the monster's jumping ability I'm not sure the back line is absolutely safe.   
         

               "What the hell is that??" The Priest looked at our enemy, puzzled.
      
          "Is it a...rabbit?" One of the girls responded. I don't know which one since I can't look back now.
      
          "But it's too big!"
      
          "I know right!"
      
          "Anyone can use [Identify]?"

                Finally, a solid suggestion.
      
          "I'll do it." I proposed myself.

                I used my skill and--

                "Grassland Lepus. Common animal. Non-aggressive."

                What the fuc?
      
          "Huhhhh." Everyone lowered their weapons but they still kept distance.
      
          The unknown woman puffed up her courage and touched the rabbit's side. It simply stared at us with those football-sized eyes.

                People finally dropped their caution. The Priest asked me: "So it's just an ordinary white rabbit you would find everywhere?"
      
          "That's what the skill said."   
        

                "But, but, the size of it--"   
        

                That's my question as well. I glanced at the rhino-sized creature again.

                "The rabbit at least weighs a ton! Why would they put something like this in the game? A bug maybe?"
      
          "Bug? Maybe you're right." Yup. Even a rabbit can be pretty scary if it grows so big.
      
          When we're discussing about the anomaly, the rabbit jumped up and hopped away at extreme speed.

               "GET DOWN!! AIR STRIKE INCOMING!"

               I don't know which bastard shouted beside my ears but I still complied out of instinct. The remaining people either followed the warning or got pressed down by someone else.

               A giant shadow swept past our heads. I twisted my neck as best as I could to saw a...golden eagle, above us. The problem is the bird is no smaller than Lucky!
      
          I used my [Identify] again and showed the result to everyone.

                "Yellow Savanna Hawk. Common animal."
      
          "Is this some kind of joke?" They climbed up while dusting their clothes.
      
          "Ok something is not right." I said while watching the hawk going after the rabbit.
      
          The unknown woman nodded. "Yes. I know that bird. There are a lot of them among these parts but I never seen such a big one."
      
          "No kidding! That thing is like a bomber plane!" The Priest yelled.
      
          "Monster behind us!!" Someone screamed.
      
          "What now??"

                I immediately turned around and saw another giant creature that looks like a centipede. I said "looks like" because I don't think there are centipedes as thick as water barrels. The insect is at least three meters long, and I'm yet to see the end of it!

                "Get away! That's a monster, level 200 [Toxic Centipede]!"
      
          I identified it without trouble but I still can't understand why a level 200 lesser monster can grow so big!

               It crawled towards me. I stepped back and threw a [Compressed Fireball]. The spell hit its mark but isn't really effective.
      
          The Archers used their shooting skills, which failed to penetrate the insect's shell.

               The White Mage used a simple binding skill and locked the monster in place. But it struggled free in the next second, causing the girl to scream and run away.
      
          "Are you sure your [Identify] isn't broke?? That feels like at least level 500!" An Archer came standing beside me. "It completely resisted my level 400 [Pierce Shot]. It can't be--watch out it's coming again!"

                He pushed me aside and rolled away to the other direction. The terrible bug charged past between us.
      
          "[Fusion Bomb]!!"

                The two Black Mages released the skill they have been preparing for some time. A magic missile almost as big as the centipede flew towards the monster. Black Mages have some of the most powerful skills in the whole game, and this skill needs time to cast which means it should be very deadly.

               The missile landed right on the insect's body and produced some bright electric shocks before it exploded into a miniature mushroom cloud.
      
          When the dust cleared out, we saw the centipede trembling on the ground with its body broken in half. That attack finally worked.

               The two mages wiped their sweat. "Again, are you sure this thing's 200? We only use that spell to damage level 600 monsters. And our MP is only enough to use it once!"
      
          "Well I don't know!"

                I've no idea what's happening. I decided to summon Dart to help us find a path. He's pretty tiny and no one would notice his actual level.

               "Come out Dart!" I raised my hand.

               Boomsh! A monster several times bigger than the rabbit appeared near me, causing everyone including me to dash away in horror.

               The monster followed me and caught up in a blink of an eye. I stepped back, and it kept following but isn't doing anything else.
      
          Wait a second. It looks familiar. I saw a golden collar on its neck.

               "...Collar of Protection...Dart."

               This massive creature is Dart??

                I took another good look at its entire body and yes, this is no other than my supposedly smallest companion.
      
          The Priest moved closer. "Another common animal?"

                Well, Dart does look like a harmless animal.
      
          "It's my companion. Maybe."   
         

                The Priest stared at me. "What do you mean man? You don't know your own pet?"
      
          "I...know, but, he is, way smaller than this."   
        

               "Now wait a second,"

               Yup, we realized the same thing.

               "WE became smaller!!" We cried out at the same time.
      
          "What did you say??" People panicked.
      
          "We are the ones that are smaller than before." I explained. "You saw the grass growing taller? They didn't! That was because we were turning smaller as we walked! The enlarged rabbit and such, they are just ordinary critters. The thing is we became tiny so they looked really big. And this is my companion. He should be puppy size before, I can put him on my shoulder. Now this is what we see!"
      
          "I can't believe it!" They failed to accept the reality.
      
          The unknown woman said to her friend. "Your servant, you know, that little furred ball. Let it out."
      
          "Oh. Come, Meowy."

                The Priestess summoned her pet servant...a giant fluffy round creature.

                The creature lunged at the Priestess, who screamed and ran away.

                "No! Don't--"

                Ok, now we can only see her hands, as the rest of her body is buried under all that fur.
      
          The Taoist girl explained to me. "Well she would ask her pet to come into her arms every time. It's a routine."   
         

                "So it's true." The Priest slumped down while looking at his team trying to remove the three-meter tall furball from the poor lady.
      
          "We didn't turn small all of a sudden. It happened slowly, so the culprit followed us from behind all the time." The unknown woman tried to analyze the situation.
      
          Ok, I can't hide myself now. I don't have time!

                "Phiona!"

                Phiona appeared beside us in her parrot form, which is still like 2 meters tall, from our point of view.

                "Scout the area for any high leveled monsters. Tell me if you see any."
      
          "On it."

                She soared into the sky and turned into her true form. She blocked all the sunlight since she now looks no smaller than a football court.

                She circled in the air for a while and came down in her parrot body again. "Nothing!"
      
          "Huh? Maybe underground?..." I mumbled to myself while the other people are already shocked frozen by what they just saw.

               "Rosa."

                After a terrible earthquake, one of Rosa's tentacle came out of ground and looked around, without finding me.

                "Down here!" I called from below.

                He lowered the feeler in front of me.
      
          "Search from below and check if anything is hiding underground. Push anything you find to the surface."

                I turned to Phiona. "Get ready, something may show up."
      
          "Okay." They went their ways.
      
          "They are your companions?" The Priest questioned me.
      
          "Yeah. I'm a Tamer you know."

                No point hiding it anymore so I'll just give them an explanation. That isn't really the right answer but at least I didn't lie.
      
          Rosa soon chased all kinds of animals and small monsters to escape from their hiding places. With a great shake, a dirt block is hurled towards us.

               Phiona dived and knocked the block away. "Master, I think Rosa found what you're looking for."
      
          "What is it?" I hopped on my feet to get a better look around us. The grass is now taller than our heads which means we became even smaller now. We can't see anything like this.

               "Lucky!" I summoned my number one helper. "Get the target!"
      
          Lucky charged to whatever was driven out.

                I climbed onto Dart. "Phiona, go help them!"

               Then I called back to the other people: "Find some place to hide."

                I asked Dart to go to the scene so I can give more orders.
      
          The monster is an...ox. To be more precise, it's a white water buffalo with three eyes on the forehead! Considering Lucky's size, the buffalo must be at least three meters tall.
      
          Must be a powerful boss. Lucky wrestled with the creature. They're both strong physical attackers so the brawling looks pretty intense.

               The buffalo tried to ram Lucky using its horns while Lucky grabbed them and blocked the attack. A laser beam came out of the monster's third eye and hit Lucky in the center. That one must hurt, since Lucky roared in pain and rolled away.

                The buffalo seized the chance and began to dig at the ground with its front hoof, which means a signature bull charge is coming. 
      
          "Loong'er!" Lucky is hurt badly so the buffalo's level must be pretty high. I need more helpers. "Seal that eye with your spells!"
      
          "Understood!" She floated into the sky and began to cast.
      
          I faced Phiona. "Place a fire wall to block his attack!"

               Woosh! Now Lucky and the monster are separated.

               Rosa tried to catch one of its legs but it struggled free quickly.
      
          This is not enough. "Night Shade, cover them!"

               He rammed into the buffalo's body with his horn lowered in front. This is the first time I see Night Shade actually using this move. And it's effective. A big bleeding hole is now opened up on the side of the monster. Night Shade shifted away the moment he finished his attack so the buffalo didn't find any target to revenge on.
      
          "Phiona! Burn the place and roast it alive!"

               The dry grasses soon caught a mass fire. The flames won't hurt us because we're in the same team. The buffalo on the other hand, isn't so lucky.
      
          It was trying to catch Night Shade. Now it realized the target is too fast so it decided to catch someone else, which is me.

               Oh silly. Dart is even faster than Night Shade. You got no chance.

                I summoned Phantom to suppress its movement. "Occupy its body. Just make sure it moves slower."
      
          "Yes sir!"

                It's more effective than I expected. Now the buffalo is twitching in place. Phantom sure is getting better at causing nuisance.
       

               "Lucky? Are you alright?" We moved to where Lucky is staying. That wound looks serious. What kind of attack can take down a dragon in one hit? A portion of Lucky's torso is burned black. Ouch.

                "Have some rest." I de-summoned Lucky since it doesn't look he can fight anymore.
      
          The buffalo is now chasing Night Shade again. It's fast but not as agile as Night Shade so the situation is quite safe.

                But this is wasting time. I noticed I'm still getting smaller. I need to take it down somehow.
      
          "Phantom Knights!"
      
          "LEAVE NO ONE STANDING!!" A thunderous battle cry roared from above my head. I should have told them to keep it down. Damn it.
      
          "The ox up ahead. Kill it!"
      
          "Yes sir!" The leader ordered. "Lances ready! Release!"
      
          They threw all 30 lances within 10 seconds, and they all hit! Now I see how they can build a freaking prison just using these polearms.

               The buffalo now looks like a hedgehog with all those lances pinned on its body, and its white fur completely turned dark red.

               "Shit. What level is it? Not dead yet?"
      
          I was just complaining to myself, but Loong'er heard me and answered. "I think that creature is the vahana of Shiva, one of the three major deities in Hindu. If I remembered right...it's level 850 monster." (*)
      
          "Wait what? The ox got a background behind it? Who's Shiva, someone powerful?"
      
          "Major gods are not listed among common monsters. You remember my father? He sits on the same level with Shiva. If you must need a level I'd say they're beyond 1000."
      
          "Crap. Will he or she get back on me for making their mount a hedgehog? Well shoot. I'm dead."
      
          "I don't think they will. Lucky can probably protect you. Lucky is a dragon king, the same title held by my father. His rank should be over a thousand as well, don't worry too much."
      
          "Woooh, I didn't know he got such an origin."

                I knew about dragon king but never realized the actual level of this title.

                "But you're offspring of a dragon king. Will you go past 1000 too?"
      
          "No I can't. The system designed me as a level 1000 monster. I guess my fate is sealed. And watch out!"

               The buffalo charged at me again!
      
          "Phantom Knights! Cook this thing into beef dumplings!"
      
          "Yes sir! Knights, charge!"
      
          "Crush the bull!"

                They surrounded the monster. The buffalo doesn't have much HP left after all the ordeal. And ten Phantom Knights with the same level chopped it down without much trouble.
      
          Rosa's tentacle suddenly came beside me.

                "Um, translation, Phantom?"
      
          "He wants you to call Lucky, he can do something about that wound."   
         

               "Perfect!" I summoned Lucky who's still laying on the ground, groaning.
      
          Rosa pressed a tentacle on the wound, then he used several more vines and completely wrapped up the buffalo corpse. The corpse was torn into countless shreds after some noise like a meat grinder. Rosa absorbed all the blood and created a red glow on Lucky.

               Lucky crawled back up soon. The black mark is still there but he can move again.
      
          "Hey Rosa, that's some nice trick!"   
        

                "AH!!" Someone screamed. I saw an unfamiliar girl looking at us in horror, while the knights and my companions started back at her.
      
          She's probably scared by the battlefield. There are burn marks everywhere, and some of the grasses are still aflame. A giant blood pool is in the middle of the Phantom Knights, Rosa is still healing up Lucky. Phiona is standing on Night Shade's back, while Loong'er is floating above our heads.

                ...Yeah, this will definitely scare the shit out of most people.
      
          She ran past me before I can say hello. Well, not surprising, since I'm still tiny. I'm afraid I'm only the size of a bee now.
      
          The girl approached the Phantom Knights. "Who's in charge?"
      
          They didn't answer. They all looked towards the leader knight.   
        

                "Are you the leader? Which guild are you from?"
      
          Of course they don't know what a "guild" is. The leader answered according to what he knows: "We're from the Dark Sanctuary."

               Phantom Knights received their titles from that place. They belongs to the dark force, so that answer is mostly correct.
      
          However the girl doesn't understand it in the right way. "Dark Sanctuary? A new guild? Never heard of it. I only heard about that Holy Sect."

               ...That's an existing guild established by other players. But that name conveniently caused a big understanding to the knights.
      
          "You're Holy Sect??" All of them drew their swords out. Clerics are natural enemies to them, they'll never tolerate any Priest and similar classes as allies even if we're in the same team.
      
          "Huh? I'm not! I HEARD about them!"

               That was close. But the girl didn't realize the danger.

               "Did you just kill a big, white ox?"
      
          "We did!" They nod.
      
          "Where is the corpse?" She seems worried for some reason.
      
          "He ate it!" The knights pointed at Rosa.
      
          "But but, it must dropped something right?"
      
           Drop?

                She just reminded me to check my storage bracelet. This thing auto-recovers any loots so I didn't realize till now.

                I took out something that looks like a token. But the moment it left the storage, it grew bigger and dropped on the ground.

                Shit. The ox is dead why am I not turning back??
      
          "Ah, here!" The girl saw the item and ran to it. "It's under protection??" 

                Duh. New items dropped by monsters are protected for a period of time, other players cannot pick them up.
      
          She gave up on the item and turned to me. By which I mean, Dart.

               "Awww such adorable foxy! What's your name?"

               The girl asked the Phantom Knights who are still not sure about what's going on. "Who's the owner?"
      
          I yelled as loud as I can on Dart's head. "I AM! HERE!"
      
          The girl heard me but didn't see me clearly. "Is that a bug? Wow this game is so realistic."

               Then she tried to flick me away!
      
          Before she can catch me, we heard several "POOM"s around us. We finally returned normal.

               Now a stack of people are laying on the grass, groaning.

               "YES!" I jumped up happily. The girl just stared at the dozen people who just came out of nowhere.

    ---------
    (*) Vahana: a.k.a God's Mount



  • edited June 2017

    Book 4, Chapter 20

    Indian A-Sirs (*)

    ------------------

    Alert: minor offensive content against India and Japan.

    ------------------

                "We recovered!"
      
          "Hooray!"   
         

                People celebrated for getting out of the curse. The newly arrived girl just looked at the group without knowing what to do.
      
          "You--but, who are you people??"
      
          "Well, I'm [Ziri]," It doesn't look like the other people are going to answer her. "good day."
      
          "Oh, uh. Hi, I--I'm[Shura Violet]."

               She's stammering. Hasn't recovered from all the shock, maybe.

               "What are you...?" She waved her finger at the scene.
      
          I answered with a question instead: "Why are you looking for the ox?"   
         

               "OH!!" She finally remembered what she came for. "The ox!! Did it drop anything?"
      
          I picked up the token I just dropped. "This. A black...metal plate, haven't identified it."
      
          The girl's eyes are beaming. "Are you selling it??"
      
          "Sell?" I looked at the plate again. "Not yet. I'll decide after I figure out what it is."

               Obviously the girl knows something about it. I'm not giving it for free though.

                "I'll [Identify] it right now if you're in a hurry. I'll sell if I have no need for it."
      
          "No you don't have to! 100 thousand crystals! In cash!"   
        

                "...Let me think about it."

                Curious. She's either rich as hell, or this thing values a lot.

                "Why do you offer like that? We don't know what it is yet."
      
          "But I know! Trust me, 100 crys is pretty good price! And I really need it now! Please please sell it to me!"

                She's looking left and right when she said that, which means someone else is looking for this thing as well.
      
          A chance to make a fortune.

                I can wait for her competitors and ask them to bid for it. Maybe I'll earn a lot more.

               "No, I'll get it identified to make decision. That's a high price, and there must be a reason."
      
          She seems really worried: "Do it fast!" Then she gave me a recall scroll. She's making sure I don't bump into anyone on my way back.

               That's what I'm hoping for though.

                "It's not far. Let's walk it. These scrolls are not free you know."

               Aha. Her face is turning red. And she's stomping her feet because of the impatience.
      
          "Why the hurry? It's not like I'll lose it."

               She looks about to explode!
      
          "Stop right there!!"

               Another group showed up.

               Jackpot.
      
          When I'm inspecting the new arrivers I suddenly felt a sting on my chest.

               "Yaaaw! Hey what the fuc??"

               The girl wants it so bad and now she's trying to take it by force!

                My team immediately came standing in front of me. I hired them as bodyguards after all, they know they shouldn't slack off on that job.
      
          "What's that for?" I pretended to be angry with the girl. That hit didn't hurt much. I was expecting her to do that anyway. "You want to spend time in prison??"
      
          She just stared at me in shock without responding to my provoke.

                "You're not dead??"
      
          "Huh? You're expecting to one-shot me like that?" I robbed my chest, pretending to be hurt.

               Of course I'm not hurt at all. The Dark Dragon Lord set counts as heavy armor, I won't feel much pain if it didn't get penetrated. Still, I need to put on an act since I'm a "Wizard" now.
      
          "But that was my special skill! Aren't you a caster?"
      
          "What's wrong with that?" 

          "I used [Mana Burn]! It damages your MP and causes double damage for how many mana points you lose. No casters would survive that!"
      
          I looked at my status bar.

               "...It didn't do anything. The skill failed maybe?"

               Must be the resistance of my armor. It nullified the attack.
      
          The new group arrived at the scene. They look...brown. And they're wearing cloth folds on their heads.

               Indian A-sirs?? Aren't international routes not opened yet? Why is tourism becoming so popular in China?

               The leading Indian man walked to me. "Hallo flend. Mai I aska if you took da token from da sacred cow?"

               His language sounds so awkward. The guy didn't even buy the system translation?

              ([Zero] doesn't translate foreign languages. You can pay some money to buy the simultaneous interpreting system, paid by hours, very convenient.)
      
          "Yes I did. Here." I held up the black object. "Why? You want to buy it too?"
      
          "Don't!!" The girl yelled from behind. "That's their Nation Treasure! If we take it now they'll have nothing to counter us in nation wars! You are a Chinese player right?? Sell it to me!"

                She must by panicking since she let out the secret on her own. Still, I think she's doing the right thing. I tried to rip her off when she's protecting our country...I should apologize.

                Shame.
      
          The A-sir laughed. "If ya sellit we pay you good plice! Nation war ish not fun if we don play it fair! Come on flend. Giv me a plice, we pay you here!"
      
          The girl clenched her teeth. "150 thousand crystals. That's all I have! Think carefully. Please!"
      
          My helpers looked at me as well. They would want me to reject the A-sir too.
      
          I turned to the girl.

               "Take it!"

               I tossed the token over. She caught it and looked back at me, eyes wide.

               I shrugged to the now blue-faced A-sir. "Sorry my friend, who pays more gets it. You'll never pay enough to win our passion for our home. "

               It seems they're about to start violence. I waved at the Phantom Knights. "Get into position folks! We got work to do."
      
          They lined up in front of the nine Indian players. Now that will scare them. We got over 30 people here if I take my companions into account. They only got 9. And I don't think they can survive against the level 850 knights anyway.
      
          We ignored the foreign players and headed towards our destination again. Every helper nodded to me along the way and patted on my shoulder.

               "Respect man."

               "Good job back there."

               That satisfied my ego a lot. Though I do hope they could be more gentle next time, cause a dozen hit on my shoulder would have hurt me, if not for my armor.
      
          "Hey wait!" Violet caught up. "You take it!"
      
          "...What do you mean?" I took the token back, not sure what she wants to do anymore. "Weren't you trying to buy it?"
      
          "That's because I didn't trust you. I don't want the Indians to have it. You proved your standing point so I can let you keep it. It's safer."

                Umhmm. That smile is so sweet. Now she's friendly, I can see she's pretty passionate girl.
      
          "Since you two are so modest with it, we'll help you get it off your hands!"

               The A-sirs appeared again. More of them this time! I see somewhere near forty people following behind. So they were just waiting for backup?
      
          "I knew we wouldn't get out of this easily." The unknown girl stepped ahead. "This is our land and you will remember it! Go, everyone!"
      
          "Kill them all!!" My temporary mercenaries all charged forward.
      
          "No, wait a sec--" They're too hot-headed! "Phantom Knights, go help them!"
      
          They wouldn't send any ordinary people for this job, plus my helpers are not really high-end players so the outcome is pretty obvious. Three of my team members died on the first conflict!

               To my relief, the Phantom Knights are still deadly to the enemies. These Indians all belong to one class called "Pope". They look like our Taoists, good at both physical and magical skills. Still, their level is too low compared to the knights. Nothing to worry about.
      
          Violet joined the fray as well. I already know she's a melee class with all those red armors on her, what I didn't expect is that she is 100% damage dealer. None of her skills have any showy effects, every hit of her aims for best and fastest damage. She can almost take down any of the Indian players with just two hits. That's impressive!
      
          Without clear targets, all the mages and the fake mage (me) have to stay put on the outside.   
         

               The battle ended after about a minute. It would have ended even faster, but the knights couldn't use their team attacks because too many players are blocking their way.

               We began to clean up the battlefield after all the enemies are dealt with. There are many small bottles scattered on the ground. I picked one up.

               "[Blessing Oil]?... What's this?"
      
          People inspected the bottles too.

                "I don't think it's healing item."
      
          "Let's try it then!" The female Warrior is straight enough.

                I thought she was going to use the potion on her own, however she dragged the Swordsman over and stuffed the bottle into his mouth.

               That looks...uncomfortable.

               "How about it?" She asked the now mouth-filled Swordsman.
      
          He didn't answer. He just crouched and started to vomit.

               There are letters printed on the bottom but...I can't read Hindi. I paid for the system translation. Then I held my stomach and laughed.

               "It's not for drinking!"
      
          "Really? Thank god I didn't do it." A Black Mage from the female Warrior's team mumbled. "Wow look at Till's face. He's green."
      
          Violet asked me. "What does it do?"   
         

                I'm still trying to hold my laughter. "This is sold in Indian temples. It's mostly the same thing as those holy waters in western cathedrals. Your pour it on your body to increase your status for a short while."
      
          "I was wondering why those people are so strong. But...look at your Swordsman, bah-hahahaha!"

                He's going to throw his lunch up. His Black Mage teammate is still joking. "Hey Till! Think about it, holy oil sold in Indian temples! What do they call it? Indian god oil! You just drank a full bottle of it. You gonna pierce the sky! Girls will scream after you! "
      
          All the guys laughed hard. Violet followed them with several dry laughs and asked me. "What is Indian god oil?"
      
          "Ah so you don't know?" I looked at her in surprise. "Then why are you laughing?"
      
          "I don't want to feel awkward. Tell me, what is it?"
      
          "Ahem. The oil is used on the..." I whispered into her ear.
      
          Then she laughed for real!

               "HAAAHahaha! So that's why they fought so hard!" (**)



               "Hey what's this?" The Priest picked up a long stick and gave it to me.
      
          I used [Identify] and almost jumped. 

               "Holy shit! Their other team arrived late because they were after this thing, and they didn't even have time to get it identified!"
      
          "What? What?" Violet urged.
      
          "It's a Nation Treasure of India, the [Almighty Rod]."
       
          "Really??" Violet took the item and checked. " They didn't send enough force after me because they were after a bigger treasure!"
      
          While my team passes the item around I asked Violet: "But why would TWO Indian Nation Treasures show up here?"   
         

                "Pre-war treasure exchange." Violet explained with an "I know everything" attitude. "Not all Nation Treasures appear inside the original country. For every country, there will be four pieces located in foreign lands! This is written on the official site. I can't remember the details. Two pieces of ours should be in India, another two in Japan. For India, two in China and two in the UK. As for Japan...two here, one in America, and one in Korea."
      
          "All unfriendly territories." The Priest commented. "They're trying to start a war?"
      
          "Of course they are! The nation war system is coming, they'll cause more conflicts and attract more players to join!" The female Warrior explained.
      
          "I see it now." I held my chin. "People will now try to find their own treasures in other nations. This will create a lot of hostility among players before the incoming wars."
      
          "That's what they're trying to do." Violet agreed.
      
          I heard my private chat ringing. 

               "Ziri! How's it going on your farming? I found the seller [Arch Necromancer]!"
      
          "Hawk!" I just remembered what I was trying to do. The Hindus distracted us! "Not yet! What about you? What did he say?"
      
          "Good news and bad news. He's a good guy, but he can't decide because the treasure doesn't belong to himself! The good news is he already prevented foreign players from joining the auction."
      
          "That's not enough. You know there are always people who'll help the enemies! What if the Japanese hire someone for the job?"
      
          "Oh shit...you're right! Better than nothing, at least it will buy us some time! Oh and, I asked our friends and we managed to collect 100 thousand crystals so far."
      
          "Far from enough."   
          

               "I know! We're still trying!"   
          

               "Alright. I'll work on it too!"   
         

                Violet noticed my expression. "Something went wrong?"
      
          "Yes." I nod. "Someone is selling our treasure piece in Goddess City. We don't have enough money, and I'm worried it would get taken away by Japan."
      
          "Here." She opened up the trade system and gave 150 thousand crystals to me. "All I have. For the motherland."
      
          Oh thank you thank you thank you--

               But her following words prevented me from actually saying thanks.

               "I'm glad I met sister today! If you need any help, as long as it's for our country, I'm all yours, sis!"
      
          Oh for the-- 

                "I'm a gentleman!!"
      
          "You are??" 

               Everyone, yes EVERYONE, stared at me. 

                "No kidding?"
          "You're a guy??"   
          "Lies!"   
          "I don't believe it!"   
       

               That explanation took some more time. Ok, I really need to make a hood for my wizard robe. Or this will never end!
      
          "Ok now, back to business!" I asked them to continue with our hunting plan.
      
          No more surprises this time. Shura Violet also volunteered to join our quest.

    -----------------------
    (*) "阿三" (a san) is a joking, sometimes offensive way to address Indian people. I'm not sure how to properly put it here so I'll just create a word for it: A-sir.

    (**) It's a product which is said to be able to...make you last longer. On the bed. Oh well.

  • thanks for the chapter

  • Book 4, Chapter 21

    The Wild Hunt (Part 1)

    ------------------

                We can finally get onto our quest! We wasted some time but I'm positive I can still make it if things go well.

                My mercenaries are now scouting the path ahead in a cone formation, while my Phantom Knights watches us from behind. I really don't want any ambushes again.
      
          Violet chatted with me while keeping a lookout for monsters. 
         

                "So where did you pop up all of a sudden?" She didn't get that answer yet. "Really, you scared me for good. I thought you were all monsters."
      
          "We didn't 'pop up'. We were already there. It's just you can't see us."   
        

                "...You can all go invisible?"

                That's...a legit explanation.
      
          "No, not like that.  You were after that ox right?"
      
          "Yeah. But it lost me pretty fast. I came to you because I saw fires."
      
          "Do you know what that ox can do?"   
         

                She doesn't. She knows the monster drops a treasure but never witnessed its skills.

                "No, is it powerful?" 
      
          "Yes. That's why you couldn't notice us."
      
          "What skill exactly?"   
         

               "Shrinking. It can turn any targets small. And it was terrible. Apart from the size our status were also reduced."
      
          "How did you kill it then? And your ten...subordinates, weren't affected right?"
      
          "I think the skill needs a long time to take effect. We were targeted from the moment we entered the grassland. We walked for an hour before we noticed it. And none of my companions were affected. So the ox can only shrink something it can see."
      
          "You killed it with your companions? Then who are those ten guys?"
      
          "My servants. I didn't summoned them at the beginning either."   
         

                Violet looked at me with a shocked face. "You serious? Those knights are you servants?"
      
          "Yup. Why not?"
      
          "Wait wait wait, you can have TEN servants? I can only take three!"
      
          "Duh. I'm Tamer, I rely on companions and servants. How do I survive if a Tamer can't have some advantages?"   
        

               "That's still too many! Ten servants I say, Ten!" She refuses to accept the fact. "I'm jealous. If can bring such a big group with me then I'll find a bunch of handsome bodyguards! Ooohohohoho!"

               "Stop, hey stop. I didn't think you can manage that laughing mode though."

               This reminded me again that I should never judge a girl by the looks.

               "Not gonna happen. I intentionally put more points on Charisma when I created my character. And that's only because I finished some really lucky quests before I can find such a party."

               That two-month dungeon run...I don't want to experience that again.
      
          "I saw a dragon flying above. I mean, an eastern one. And another winged one on the ground. Oh and a phoenix! Aren't they born from flames? Why is a phoenix burned black? "
      
          She is...talktive.

                "...The dragons are my companions. And the burned phoe-- I mean, ugh! You got me. The phoenix is an Inferno Phoenix. What you said must be ordinary flame phoenix."
      
          "Those whole lot of creatures are all your companions?"   
         

                "Bingo. No prizes for you though!"
      
          She gave me a side look. "You got lot of secrets on you. What else are you hiding? I'm sure that's not all."
      
          I'm defeat!  Women's sixth sense huh? It's a bless that Red Moon doesn't have such senses, or it would be a real hell.

                "Enough questions, let's talk about you. Shura Violet, female Warrior, that's all I know." I don't feel like exposing anything further so let's change the topic.
      
          "Me?" She said plainly. "Just a common player. You know, the most boring players you can find anywhere."
      
          "Spill it. I told you enough about myself, how about a little returned favor?"
      
          "Okay." It looks like she just made a big decision. "But really, I meant it. Human race, Swift Warrior, which is, a Warrior with a lot of Dexterity. Ordinary equipment. Well you see it, Crimson Armor set, the best outfit you can find in system shops. Expensive but not really special. Everyone can get one as long as they got enough money. Servants...none."

               She suddenly gave me a mysterious look. "But I have a powerful companion!"
      
          "A companion?" That's unexpected. She didn't use it in the previous fight. "What kind of companion, can I see it?"
      
          "Alright. Come, Ashura!"
      
          Poof! A smoke cloud blocked my view.

               "Cough! Cough! Argk... What's this?? Lucky! Do something!" 

               Lucky used one of his wings to blow the smoke away. He used too much force and it felt like a storm.

               The smoke cleared and revealed a...little...boy, in front of me.
      
          It's a blonde boy with azure colored eyes, about the age of seven or eight. He's holding a strange-looking sword in one hand, which is longer than his own body. It's too big so he can only carry the blade on his shoulder.   
         

               "This is your companion??" I looked at the amazing little boy. The pair of tiny wings behind his back indicates that he's an angel.
      
          All females in my mercenary team rushed to the boy and squeezed Violet and me away.   
        

               "He looks so cute!"   
        

               "What's your name little friend?"   
         

               "I love his hair! I want to see him when he grows up!"
      
          "Can I hug him??"
      
          "His skin looks too good! Ahh my nose-!"
      
          However the boy is much annoyed by all the gabbling.

                "Beat it flower girls!! Who do you think I am??"
      
          ...That could have sounded imposing, if not for his childish voice.

               The squeaking girls kept touching and pinching him.
      
          Violet pushed around the crowd without finding a chance to get in, so she can only yell: "Leave him! Don't get him mad!!"
      
          She's too late though.

               "WE ARE executors of divine scourge. LEAVE US NOW YOU FILTHY MORTAL WOMEN!"

               He pointed his sword to the sky. "Divine scourge, combat mode!"

               The boy became bigger. To be precise, he's GROWING bigger. The apple appeared on his neck, and a series of strong muscles and blood vines emerged on the white, slim arm. That miniature armor on his body is also growing with him!

                It didn't take long. Now a super cool guy about 20-rish, wearing glimmering golden armor is standing before us. The only thing that didn't change is that sword he's been holding.
      
          The ladies are scared silent.

               Ashura spoke again, with a stronger, deeper voice this time. "You dare to challenge the divine executor. DO YOU SEEK PUNISHMENT??"
      
          Violet finally managed to get into the crowd and grasped Ashura's raised right hand.

               "Do-don't get angry! They are playing with you because you look too good!"
      
          "Don't worry sis. These infidels will not hurt you when I'm here!"

               Ok. He's big, and maybe powerful. But that brain stayed a kid.
      
          Sigh. I'll have to solve their problem again.

                I walked to the staring girls and gave each of them a big knock of the head. They looked back in anger. I ignored them.

               "How can you harass our Ashura the godsend and lady Violet?? Now I have defeat you, obey my orders and serve as my soldiers!"

               I secretly gave them a wink. "Now get out there and act like soldiers, like those males who are already able on their job!"

              They went away and continued on our quest.
      
          I turned to Ashura. "I have taken care of the enemies. The lady is now safe."
      
          Ashura nodded to me, "Thanks for the assistance, human."

               Then he turned back to his boy form.

               To prevent those girls from coming back, I commented aloud: "Is Ashura's sword a mighty weapon, if I may?"
      
          He spread his hands to Violet, asking to be picked up. Violet complied. Obviously that's a common practice between these two.

               Then he talked to me while sitting on Violet's arm: "My sword is called the Divine Punisher. I can call punishment strikes from the heavens and burn anyone into ash!" Then he faced Violet. "Sister...my face hurts!"
      
          "Easy, easy boy. Oh poor Ashura. Here, a kiss will take your pain away."

                She gave Ashura a peck on the cheek.

                "Feeling better?"
      
          "Better! Thank you sis!"

                Well shoot. I really can't put this boy into the same figure I saw a moment ago.
      
          "Um, Violet? So who exactly is your companion?" I don't think I know about this character.
      
          "I'm not sure. He can transform. He stays an eight-year-old most of the time, and he gets mad if someone hurts me or himself. Then he turns into that Executor you saw. He's way more stronger like that. But apart from how he speaks, his intelligence doesn't change much."
      
          "Is the new form stable?" To tell the truth, I'm becoming interested in this weird companion. "I mean, can he control that on free will?"
      
          "I...don't know. He always does that when he's angry, and recovers when the fight is over.  So I think he can at least choose when to get back."
      
          "That's pretty good. So no time limits. It'll be a disaster if he turns back to a kid in the middle of fight."
      
          "Agreed."
      
         

                "We found monster!" Someone yelled ahead. "Hey Ziri! Come here!"
      
          "Finally, some business." I quickly went to my helpers. "What did you find?"
      
          "Over there!"

                I looked to where the Priest is pointing at. My mercenaries are attacking a lion with beautiful golden mane.
      
       
          "It's strong! Fast and high attack power. You knights did most of the work to block its attacks."
      
          "Alright. Keep it busy!"

                I removed my gloves and began to cast [Capture]. The lion gave up on its targets and charged towards me.

               "Stop it!!" I yelled in panic. It would be a problem if it reaches me.
      
          A red shadow flashed in front of me. Violet moves so fast!

               She stabbed her sword downward from above the air, forcing the lion to twist its course away to avoid the attack.

                I kept using my skill. The skill hit the lion and failed for a second time, then the lion turned to my direction again.

                Violet did a quick leg-sweep at the lion's body to draw its attention. But she didn't keep her balance well and landed on the ground on her back.
      
          "Rosa! Restraint!"

                If anyone's good at holding something in place it's Rosa.

                He shot out several vines but the lion dodged them all!
      
          "Phantom! Interfere!" I have backup plan!
      
          The mind control worked better. The lion is still fast but it would now crash on plain ground now and then for no reason.

               But the damn beast still ran towards me!
      
          "[Dark Mist]!" Someone used a support spell. It got the opposite effect. The spell doesn't distinguish targets. Now nobody can see anything!

               This created a perfect chance for the lion since it has a good nose.
      
          "Ouch! Stop it! Why are you poking me??"

               Someone is hurting their teammates!
      
          "Where's the White Mage? Clear it up!" 

                She successfully got rid of the mist but...my heart skipped a beat when I saw the Lion is only about 3 meters away from me. It's already going to attack but was distracted by the sudden light.

                It didn't pause for long though. Now the terrible beast lunged at me.
      
          "[Grapple Toss]!!"

                A young man suddenly rushed beside me. Woah look at that! He charged at the lion bare handed.

                He didn't actually toss the lion but still interrupted its attack by ramming it away.
      
          They recovered their stance and are now staring at each other. This is not time for a fair fight. I signaled my mercenaries to get close.

                I put my hand on the young man's shoulder. "Thanks for the assist. But, who are you?" I don't remember this man in my team.
      
          "Oh hi! I'm [Timely Big Pot]! Hawk told me to come. We're classmates." (*)

                We shook hands.
      
          "Hawk's friend? Nice knowing you. Why did he send you though? We're not short on hands or something."
      
          "He asked me to give you something!"

                He took out...a giant bundle of rope from behind his back.

                "You aren't going to capture it without this." He handed one end of the rope to me. "Let's tie up the big cat!"
      
          "But we need to get close to it first." Violet came over. Those dirt and messy hair suggest that she had a rough landing back there.
      
          Big Pot (*) just rolled up his sleeves. "We got enough folks here! It's just a lion. Now go! Human wave tactic!"

               Then he threw the rope away and charged at the lion first.

               He did manage to grab the lion. The tail, at least.

               "Ahhhhhh-- Help!!"
      
          It looked silly but is actually effective. The lion is obviously running slower with a human hanging on its tail.

               Ok, here goes nothing.

               "Let's do it! Keep it on the ground!"

               All melee classes followed my order and ran towards the beast. The scene looks funny. A bunch of people is now trying to climb onto the lion like in those monster movies.
      
          The weight of all these players is real. The lion may be a high level monster but it still fell on the ground with so many solid burdens. It struggled for a bit and finally gave up.

               The girls used the rope to wrap it up like mummy. And is that a bow knot on its head?

               Finally. It didn't look good but at least we did it!
      
          So the first try-out succeeded. Big Pot is the first one into the mess so he got crushed under all that weight real bad. His clothes are a bit ragged, and some bruises are now on his otherwise brilliant face.   
        

                I asked people to go find other monsters while I spammed [Capture] on the helpless lion.

               Later, many high level Breeders in [Zero] learned to use this approach to capture something as a defenseless target to grind their skills. Of course, this is another story.
      
          The lion turned into egg after thirty tries or so.

               "Now this is MONEY!" I carefully stroked the egg.
      
          Then I contacted Hawk.

                "Hey Hawk!"
      
          "Something's wrong again??" He worries too much!
      
          "No no no, I just got the first item to sell. Level 512, [Savannah Lion King]. Find buyers. I also recorded how we captured it, show it to them!"
      
          "That's pretty fast. Good job man! I'm on it. Did my fellow give you the rope?"
      
          "Big Pot?" I chuckled. "Funny dude. He tried to ride the lion using his own body. But it worked! I'm thinking about hiring a group of Orc Berserkers as my professional hunting team."
      
          "Really? I see the video... Ahahaha! That's the man. He's always like that in the school. But he's a good guy. Everyone on the class likes him! I don't think you can keep using that crowd tactic. What if you find something bigger like Lucky?"
      
          "I see. I'll think about it later. Going to find more monsters, you find a buyer asap!"   
         

               "Leave it to me!"




    --------------------
    (*) This is a randomly typed name: "asdgf". It has a funny meaning in Chinese pinyin (completed by the initial letters): The timely big-pot. I'll use "Big Pot" as his nickname.

  • Thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 22

    The Wild Hunt (Part 2)

    ------------------

                Hawk is going to find a buyer soon so I need to make it fast. Companions eggs are expensive as of now but not to the extent where you can buy a Nation Treasure with just one egg. And this lion I caught is not really a high end monster, it won't be enough.
      
          I guess quantity works better than quality in this situation. I just need to capture more eggs.   
        

               Our team found the second target soon. It's a bulky creature covered in armored skin. I thought it was a rhino first but...it got no legs? It just, stays there, like a giant black rock. Anyone would have missed it if not for that vibrating part on its side.
      
          I took out a random bow from my bracelet and shot at the target. It won't do much damage but I can see its status with the attack.

               The arrow didn't hit where I aimed at but it's still a hit. A red "-1" floated up. That shot didn't break its defense. I'm not an Archer, and the bow is a common junk but...I still have a high general damage. I should be able to do more than that.
      
          The attack succeeded so my Star Gaze showed its status.

               "[Iron Beetle], level 650, Physical Attack 900-1800, Physical Defense 3000, Speed (ground) 72, Speed (airborne) 132. Skill: Flamethrower, Acid Spit, Tackle. All attacks carry strong poison effect."
      
          I read that out aloud. Someone gasped.

               Violet gave me an uncertain look. "We should find something else. I don't think we can take it down. Your Phantom Knights may kill it eventually but it's pretty much impossible to capture it."
      
          Big Pot joined us. "That shell looks too smooth. The rope's not gonna work."
      
          "Difficult target means more money. I'm not going to let up the chance." The sitting black object is made of gold in my eyes! "Let me try it out."
      
          "Wait, I'll do it!"

               Our female Warrior charged with her sword raised. It doesn't seem the black creature can avoid the attack at all, or, it isn't planning to dodge in the first place.
      
          Goong!

               That sounded like a hammer rather than a sword strike. The Warrior is bounced flying, and her sword stuck into Big Pot's left foot. Now he's hopping single-legged while yelling in pain. We got Priest here so his foot is not a problem, but...
      
          "That's hard like shit." I looked at the unmoving creature in worry. "How much damage?"
      
          The Warrior spoke with a thick tongue. I think she bit her tongue back there.

               "Didn' b-break the-defense. 1 point."
      
          "No kidding? So even a Warrior can't hurt it?"

                Big Pot proposed himself when his foot is healed. "I'll try it!"

                He took out his weapon...A nine-tooth spike rake!

                Shite. That looks badass!

                He roared and charged at the monster. A metal clash, then he flew back just like the Warrior.
      
          "So how did it go?"  The female Warrior asked in a challenging attitude.
      
          "Just...just, a little, better!"

                I pinched his head to help him stop vibrating.

                "Thanks for that. At least I broke through its defense. 43 damage."
      
          "Not bad buddy!" I looked at the monster again.

                It's moving??
      
          Phantom alerted: "Get away master! Rosa told me the monster's body underground is way bigger!"   
        

               "Huh?!"

               It already looked like a mini van. So that's not all of it? This will look ugly.

               "Get back you all! It's coming out big!"
      
          We didn't react in time. The ground collapsed below us, involving everyone except the agile Violet.
      
          A pan-shaped crater the size of half a football ground appeared. I managed to run up the edge, then me and Violet helped drag everyone up.
      
          "Is everyone here?" I asked the team leaders.
      
          "We're good!" They answered.
      
          But Violet found something amiss. "Where is Big Pot?"
      
          "Oops. Anyone saw him?"

               No answer. They all shook their heads.
      
          "Help!! Up here!!"

                I looked towards the center of the pit. The beetle looks like a small island, and Big Pot is standing on its back!
      
          "But how did you get there?" I yelled to him.
      
          "The ground is sinking and this is the only solid point! So I jumped!" Big Pot answered while trying to keep himself stable. It looks really hard because the monster's back is slippery like a mirror!
      
          Before we can figure out how to save him, the "island" moved. It stood up. The body slowly showed itself in full, maybe even bigger than Lucky. When it finally lifted itself using its six insect legs, it reminded me of those tanker bugs in Starship Troopers, just a bit smaller.

                However the smaller size doesn't necessarily mean it's any less powerful!
      
          "Eh?... Ahhhhhh!!"

               Big Pot lost his footing due to the sudden movement. Luckily he slipped towards behind the bug's head, and grabbed onto it's giant horn.
      
          "What in the name of the god is that?..."

               The Priest stared at the gigantic creature while drawing cross in front of his chest. The dude took his game role for real!
      
          "RUN, RUN DAMN IT!!"

                I noticed the beetle drawing breath. Of course I know what that means! That's exactly the same move when Lucky tries to breathe fire. Step 1: a deep breath; 2: force up a pressure; 3: let it out! The monster is taking in air now, which means bad stuff is coming!
      
          The beetle opened its maw and released a purple flame beam at us. It looks like military napalm bomb rather than regular flame throwers! Thanks to my warning, no one is caught in the attack.
      
          The beetle stared at us with its two pairs of green eyes. The four creepy light bulbs are making our hair stand.

               "Phantom Knights! Attack!"

                Forget it. I do need eggs but obviously my life is more important. If I die here I'll need much more time to get back. I should just kill it and find other targets.
      
          The knights took my order and turned towards the bug.

               They first used their signature javelin attack. Perfect hit. Level 850 is no joke, every lance pinned into the bug's body, causing green fluid to come out.

               But the lances all began to smoke, then melted and disappeared under the liquid!
      
          The knights looked at each other, and me, in shock. Looks like they're not expecting to lose their weapons like that either.

               So my Phantom Knights won't work here.

               "Lucky! Ready your fire!"
      
          "Got it!"   
         

                Lucky took aim at the bug and draw breath. The monster did the same. I think they're going to have a clash at it. But Big Pot is still on the beetle. I don't know if dragon fire can kill the bug but surely Big Pot's not going to survive that!
      
          "Rosa! Now! Get that guy off the beetle!"
      
          Rosa caught Big Pot with a tentacle in the next second and dragged him underground. Then Lucky and the monster released their attacks at the same time. Lucky's dragon fire is powerful because of nature talent and all kinds of species bonuses, while the beetle's currently level is too high. The two fire beams don't have an apparent winner.

               They are both enclosed in intense fire. We already kept distance but the heat still caused us to back away further.
      
          Lucky is the first one to give up. His current level is too low. The beetle is no better. The ten holes on its shell were enlarged into ten big hollows, and its shiny shell lost its luster. Now it looks like burnt plastic.

               Lucky's scales stayed intact against the fire. The beetle's attack must be corrosive because Lucky's body is smoking while giving out some irritating smell.
      
          I took the ropes and gave them to everyone. "Circle it around. Bind up its legs!"

               They moved. While the beetle is confused by so many targets, we successfully got the ropes around its legs. When it discovered what's going on, it lifted its back shell, revealing a pair of transparent insect wings.
      
          Violet mumbled to herself. "It can fly?..."

               Then the heavy creature left the ground for real!
      
          I shouted to the Phantom Knights when the beetle has already gained some altitude. "Knights, another round of lance attack. And use something explosive if you can!"
      
          "Yes sir!" The leader ordered. "Ready up! Blaster lance array! Release!"
      
          10 lances were hurled away almost the same moment as he finished that order. They all hit again, and this time they hit the bug's soft belly part.

               The weapons exploded on impact. Ten fireballs erupted below the creature. Then the beetle tumbled down like a plane hit by a missile, while leaking out fuel. I mean bug juice.

               It's dying. I quickly began to use [Capture] when there's still time. I succeeded after thirty tries! A big, winter melon shaped egg fell into my hands.

               Somehow I don't want to sell it. The bug can be a really nice companion.

      
          Too bad, the Nation Treasure is first priority now, so I still contacted Hawk.

               "We got a new product. Watch this video!" I waited him to finish. "How does it look? "
      
          "Good stuff! You really did it!"
      
          "Got any buyers?"   
         

                "Yes but he's still on his way. I'll contact you once we settle the details. It's 1 o'clock in the morning! Not much time left!"
      
          "I know I know!"
     
          I put away the egg and asked them to continue. The next target showed up in our sights soon. I think we're getting experienced.   
         

               "Get down! A Thunder Eagle!"
      
          Someone alerted us so we all followed. Well, except for Big Pot. I don't know why he decided to be the only one standing.

               The eagle swept down past our heads. After a strong gust, Big Pot is gone. He's carried away by the monster!
      
          "Archers! Aim!" I ordered. "Watch where you shoot!"
      
          "I got it!" One of the Archers gave me a confident respond, then he released his skill.

               The arrow flew towards the bird with a beautiful star track trailing behind it. That's the effect of a Frost Arrow.
      
          "OWAAHHHH---"

                It hit something. But I don't think the eagle can scream like that.

                Under the moonlight, we noticed that the human figure hanging on the eagle now have a "tail" on its bottom.
      
          The Archer scratched his head. "Sorry. Heh heh heh... Accident. It's too dark."
      
          "Booo." Someone gave him a middle finger.
      
          "Sigh. I'll do it again I guess."

                I raised my right hand and rolled up the wizard robe sleeve.

               "Dragon cord hook out!"

                Pom! The hook was launched towards the eagle. The bird obviously saw my attack, and avoided it with a brief mid-air halt.

                I raised my left hand and shot again. I caught its leg this time.
      
          Then I found another problem. I'm not strong enough to pull it alone! The cord is going away fast like fishing wire, which means--

               "AHhhhh---"

               I'm flying too!

               "Rosa! A little help!"

               When I'm still within reach, a tentacle came up and wrapped around my waist.

               The strong stopping power almost split me in half!
      
          The Thunder Eagle is in no better condition. It got dragged down by the sudden force and crashed on the ground. Phantom Knights and my mercenaries immediately rushed to the bird and did their work. The knights pinned its wings on the ground using their lances, while the players packed it up for good.
      
          It's level 517. But a flightless eagle is just a meat chicken waiting to be slaughtered.

               Big Pot crawled away from below the eagle with stars in his eyes.

               "Med..medic! Help..."

               Thud. He walked several steps and fell face-first.
      
          That's not my job. I need to capture the monster fast.

                It took less time. Only 13 tries.
      
          "Ziri come here!" That's Violet. 
      
          "What's wrong?"   
       

                "Just look!"   
        

                I looked where she's pointing to, and my mind stopped!   
         

                "A nest??"

                A dirt pit about a meter in diameter is in front of us. From those dry grasses and scattered eagle feather, it must be a bird nest!

                "Wait, so that means--"

                I didn't finish my sentence when Violet disappeared.

                Crap. We got another one in the air!
      
          "Archer--"

                Big Pot shouted but I stuffed his mouth.   
        

               "Phiona! Take care of the eagle!"

               Surely a phoenix is enough to get rid of a common beast.

               "Lucky, catch Violet when she's free."
      
          Phiona's currently level is a lot lower than the eagle, but a legendary avian is still legendary.

               The two flying creatures brawled in the air. The Thunder Eagle cannot keep it's hold on Violet while fighting so it dropped her off without hesitating. And Lucky is already there to catch her.
      
          "Phiona! Retreat!"

                I told Phiona to get away, then ordered towards my back. "Archers, do it!"

               A round of arrows went up. They all used area skills, probably because no one is confident in hitting something that far away.

               Now I really hope Elfy is here.
      
          The arrows hit. In fact it will be a real joke if that kind of area attack misses. But the damage...is less impressive.
      
          "Leave it to me!!"

               Big Pot grabbed a javelin somewhere, performed a short run-up and threw it like an Olympic athlete. The javelin moved towards the eagle real fast. It won't do much damage but I noticed something different.

               There's a thin, metal wire attached behind the javelin. So this guy is not all blockhead!
      
          The weapon pierced one of the eagle's wings. There's no significant damage but our plan is to use the wire to drag it down.   
        

               The Thunder Eagle looks enraged. It turned to Big Pot, who's holding the other end of the wire.

               Violet muttered to herself: "Oh no..."
      
          "Hm? What's wrong?" 
      
          "It's called [Thunder Eagle], right?"   
         

               ...Right.

                "AHHH--wehwehwehwehwehweh--"

               Big Pot is already trembling. The eagle used its skill. A visible blue electric wave traveled down from the metal wire, and Big Pot is the last part of conductor on the ground. Now we're looking at a shining blue skeleton figure holding onto the electric wire while performing an impressive break dance.

               Violet face-palmed. While the Priest is drawing cross again. As for me...I sighed in relief for how my dragon cord isn't conductive.
      
          The electricity lasted for a dozen seconds. Then Big Pot opened his mouth and let out a smoke puff, before going down again. He's all black, and some parts are still giving out blue smoke.

               The Priest and Priestesses finally got the chance to go help him. Big Pot is a Warrior class so he had enough HP to survive it.
      
          I still need to do something about the eagle. I turned to the Phantom Knights:

               "Someone shoot it down. And mind how much power you use, it didn't have much HP left."
      
          The leader stepped ahead and threw his lance at lightening speed. The heavy-looking polearm precisely pierced the eagle's wing base.

               The wing was broken apart as it was just hit by a mortar shell. From the scattering feathers and blood, I realized that the lances they unleash are actually rotating, like drills. So that's why they got so much piercing power!
      
          The eagle crashed on the ground. It was hurt even worse than the last one and I only used my skill six times to capture it.   
        

                "Over here!!" Violet called me again from the nest.
      
          "Don't tell me there are more thunder eagles!"   
        

                "Well no," She pushed some grass aside. "I was going to show you this."

                She took out an...eagle egg.

                "The two birds must be a couple. This is their nest. I think there are more eggs down there."
      
          "Really??"

                I fished around the nest.

                Prize!

                I found five eggs, which means we just got another six eggs without fighting.

                "Wah-hahaha! Rich I'm rich!!"
      
          They say misfortunes never come single, I guess fortunes also love to pile up together!

               Since I got enough outcome, I decided to dismiss my team early. I paid them what I promised and they're also happy to be able to rest early.

               Me, Violet and Big Pot teleported back to the Goddess City. Hawk and the others are already waiting.
      
          "There you are!! How did it go?"
      
          I gave him my loot. "Level 517 Thunder Eagles, eight of them. A level 650 Iron Beetle. A level 512 Lion King."
      
          "Wowzah. How did you--brilliant!" He gave them back to me. Well he doesn't have enough inventory to keep all these eggs.

               "The buyer is in the Moonpeak restaurant. Just waiting for you!"
      
          "Who's the buyer anyway?" I asked on the way. "I'm not selling the eggs to anyone suspicious. I'm protecting our nation treasure, it will cause another problem if I sell powerful companions to enemies."
      
          "Don't worry. He's called [Shadow Gale], the boss of Righteous League."   
         

                "Righteous League?" I looked at the sky. "I heard the name somewhere. "
      
          "Of course you heard it!" Elfy jumped out. "They're the biggest guild in China region, and Gale is Red Moon's big brother!"
      
          "Oh right!" Hawk explained, "Speaking of Red Moon, she helped me contact Gale."
      
          "What??" That's a blow to my head. A terrible scene appeared inside my mind: I kneel before Red Moon, pinned down by all the companions I sold her, while an unknown man snickers at me: "So how do you feel, getting rekt by your own companions?"
      
          "NO!!" I stopped in my track. "I can't sell to them! Red Moon is trying to get back on me. How can you sell weapons to your enemy when there's a war going on??"
      
          "Come on stop it." Hawk slapped my head. "I don't know about his sister but I can assure you Gale is a good man. We talked. He's kind enough, and wise. Somewhat mysterious though."
      
          "...Let's go and see."

                I trust Hawk. And besides I don't have time to worry about something like that anymore. He's the leader of the number one Chinese guild, so he's probably going to lead all players to fight with intruders. He can't be bad.
      
          We reached the Moonpeak restaurant. The name didn't lie, it looks like the moon is just on top of the building when we looked from below.

               Hawk led us into a private room on the 9th floor. It's a big one designed for such large scale meetings.
      
          A line of chairs sit across the front door, and a knight about the age of 20 is sitting in the middle one. He wears full silver glimmering equipment, he can pretty much act as a light bulb in here. A row of beautiful girls are standing behind him. Each one of them has the face of super star!
      
          Hawk dragged me in front. "I'll introduce. This is Ziri, he's the one getting the eggs, so speak to him for prices and other details."
      
          The knight stood up to me and politely stretched a hand.

               "Greeting. I'm Shadow Gale, I came to buy your companions. Before we start, may I ask how you get them? I'm willing to pay a million crystal for your secret technique!"
      
          I smile. "A lot of people have seen it so it isn't really a secret. But you probably can't copy it because it relies on my attributes. I'm the only one who can do it now. Shall we begin?"
      
          "Of course, take a seat."

               We walked the long conference table. Gale walked to the window side while we took the other.
      
          I lined up all the eggs on the table. "Eight Thunder Eagles, level 517. An Iron Beetle, level 650. A Lion King, level 512. Do you need to review the videos for their abilities?"
      
          "There's no need," he kept calm but I can still see the excitement in his eyes. "I know these monsters, all good ones. Especially the beetle, it has always been a terrifying target." He carefully checked each egg. "Thunder Eagles...They're not strong but can be really fast. however did you capture them? No one succeeded before!"
      
          "That's...a secret." I just smile. As Hawk said, this man feels comfortable to talk with.

                Unlike Red Moon.

                "How much can you offer?" That's my main concern now.
      
          "100 thousand crystals for the lion, is that alright?"   
         

                "Deal!" I put the number in my mind. The Nation Treasure should worth at least 500 thousand. And I'm expecting it to raise to 550 or even 600 in the auction. The lion is the lowest leveled one. If I can get 100 thousand out of it I'll definitely earn over 1.2 million out of all the eggs. More than enough!

                "How about the others? Do you need them?"
      
          "Of course I need them!"

                I was worrying he won't buy them all but it seems he's even worrying more. Companions eggs are still extremely rare on the market, he waited here since the early morning!

                "110 thousand for each of the eagles."
      
          Elfy wrote a "120" behind my back before I can respond. I immediately changed my tongue.

                "120."
      
          Gale nodded without hesitation. "Deal. 120 thousand that is. The beetle is too rare for an offer. You can give me a price!"
      
          I looked towards Elfy for help. I know nothing about market prices!

               Elfy wrote a "200" this time. But isn't that a little...?

                I still spoke. "200 thousand Crystals."
      
          Gale hesitated this time. Only for several seconds.

               "Alright. I'll take it!"

                He opened up the trade window and put 1.26 million in it. I quickly stuffed all the eggs in.

               Confirm.

               My actual income is 1.159 million, since the system would take away 8% as tax.
      
          "I'll be off then. Until next time." I stood up.
      
          But Gale stopped me.

              "One moment. Are you interested in joining the number one guild in China?"
      
          Sigh. Brother and sister.

                I pointed at the emblem on my chest. "I'll have to decline, for I'm already in a guild."
      
          He didn't persist like his sister though. He just chuckled.

                "Too bad then! Red Moon told me about it. And she was right. But! Please kindly contact me first the next time you sell eggs!"
      
          "That's no problem."

                 I shook hands with him and left the restaurant. Then I handed the money to Hawk.

                "I need to rest. I'm not sure I can come to the auction, so don't wait for me. I'll message you if I come."
      
          "Okay." He nodded. "I'm off too. But you'd better come, just in case. Don't push yourself though."
      
          "I'll try!"

                I said goodbye and logged off. It's 4 in the morning! I'm having trouble keeping my eyelids open. I can only hope I wake up before the auction tomorrow. I mean, today.
      
          I left my Iron Unit and looked around the dorm room. Empty. So Wayne didn't come back the whole night. Where did he run off to?

               Nevermind. Sleeping time.
      
       


                I was woken up by a series of hysterical cries. I opened my eyes to see Wayne dancing around beside my bed.   
         

                "Why the hell are you losing your mind in the morning??"   
         

               "The- I mean, the??"
      
          "The what? Slowly!"
      
          "What what what's that robot? Gundam??"   
         

                The Iron Unit.

                "It's just my new toy! Now keep it down I'm trying to have some rest!"
      
          "Toy? That thing's a toy??"

                He won't let go. I can only spend some time to explain.
      
          "I want a father like that!!"   
         

                I kicked him away. "You're already richer than most people here!"

                Not as good as my family but he also have several billions in his pocket.
      
          "What's the time?"   
         

               "Four. Why are you still sleeping?"   
         

               "FOUR PM??" I jumped. "I'm late!! Get into the game NOW!"
      
          "Late for what?" Wayne has no idea what's happening.

                I don't have time to talk anymore so I just pressed his helmet onto his head.

               "Get in there and I'll explain! Go to the Goddess City!"

               I jumped into my Iron Unit and activated the system.




  • Book 4, Chapter 23

    Auction War

    ------------------

                "Boss! I'm in the teleport station. Where are you? And what's going on anyway?" Wayne started to annoy my ears the moment we entered the game.
      
          "Get to the auction site in the city center!"   
        

               "Ah okay." Wayne went on his way, a bit unwillingly.
      
          I logged off near the center so it will take some time for Wayne to get here. I began to search for Hawk in the crowd while giving him a call.

               "Hawk, I'm here!"
      
          "Finally!!"
      
          "Sorry sorry. I slept over! Where are you all?"
      
          "We're inside. Wait we'll go pick you up. We reserved a box with a nice view!"

                This guy sure knows how to enjoy himself.
      
           I cut the chat and saw Big Pot running towards me. "Hey Ziri!"
      
          "Hello again."   
        

               "Let's go my friend!"

               I looked around. Big Pot followed my head and looked around too. "Looking for something?"
      
          "I have a friend on his way here, let's wait a bit."   
         

              

               Wayne came in several minutes. He must had a rough way from all that panting.

                "Boss...huff...what on earth happened? Someone asked if my pants is on fire."
      
          "Let's get in. You'll see." We then followed Big Pot.
      
          We traveled through a stair to the second floor, then a long arch hallway. I can't see the end of it, it must lead towards inside the auction hall.

               We walked to the door labeled "2179". All the doors are making me dizzy! Countless of them are stacked close to each other along the hallway, I'd say each two doors are no farther than a meter away. The rooms behind these door must be small as hell.
      
          But I was shocked when I saw the interior. The room is a large, standalone lobby. I poked my head in and out of the door to check if I'm seeing things right.

               Hawk called out: "Come here. The room is like those private houses, you know, virtual spaces."
      
          Bleh. I forgot that.   
        

               The people in the room are all familiar faces. Apart from Hawk and Elfy, Yuri, Razor, Golden Coin are here, and...Violet! So including me, Wayne and Big Pot, that's nine people in total.
      
          "You're too late. It's starting!"
      
          There's a balcony-like structure overseeing the hall below us. The hall isn't really big from where we're looking, but again, it may have been adjusted to improve visual. The seats are mostly taken. The event hasn't officially started yet so people are chit-chatting among themselves which makes the area really noisy. But it's a lot better inside the box.
      
          The personnels are carrying all sorts of stuff onto the stage. Must be the auction lots.

               "Hey Hawk, do you know how many items they're selling today?"
      
          "I don't. I'd guess a lot, from the looks of it."
      
          "When is our target?"   
        

                "Will be late." Elfy said while looking at the workers. "They always reveal good stuff at last to keep the audiences. I'm sure a Nation Treasure stays far behind, if not the last one. Look, they're starting!"
      
          A middle-aged gentleman walked to the center of the stage. According to Hawk, he's a real-life auctioneer who specifically joined the game today to hold the event.

                "Thanks for your patience everyone, the auction shall start right now! Please look at our first item today."

                He snapped his finger. A pair of pretty guiding girls carried a three-meter-long combat lance to the stage.
      
          "Now pay good attention if you will! Lot one--the [Cloud Piercer]. This is a Knight Lance, Golden rank, Attack 203-271, with amplified damage bonus. A rare weapon at the current stage. We start off at 10 thousand crystals, increment no less than a thousand each time and must be the multiples of a thousand. Begin!"

               (Equipment below Golden rank cannot enter auctions)
      
          "11 thousand!"
          "15 thousand!"   
          "20!"   
          "25 thousand!"   
         

                The people competed in chaos until the bid reached 80 thousand!

                "It's just a common lance! They all lost their mind?"
      
          "Hah. Of course you wouldn't know. Rare equipment is just like companions eggs. 9 out of 10 level 300 players are still wearing stuff below level 200. Not everyone is as lucky as you!" Violet answered while calculating something with her head lowered.
      
          "Okay then. You guys watch, I need to catch some more sleep. Wake me up when the treasure comes up."

               I called up the in-game sleep assistant program. This is the first time I ever use it.
      
         

               When they called me it's already six in the evening.

               "It's here?" I asked Big Pot who just shook me awake.
      
          "Almost. They're bidding on the second item from last. Clear your head!" 

               Then Big Pot gave me a strange look. "Hawk told me this but I want to ask again..."
      
          "Hm?"
      
          "Are you sure you're a guy?"   
         

               "Shoryuken!!" I sent him into the ceiling. "That's my answer."

               I humphed and walked to the balcony. The hall is quiet, only people from the boxes are bidding now. Looks like all the rich guys stayed behind.
      
          "500 thousand!" The sudden voice from the nearby box made me jump. What the fuc are they trying to buy?
      
          "510!"

                Shit. They're adding by the tens!
      
          "510 thousand crystals. Any more bids?" The auctioneer's throat must be sore now.

                "510 thousand once! Anyone? 510 thousand twice! 510 thousand last. Deal!"
      
          Finally. That leaves the last item.

                He personally took a box from the stand, while a guiding lady took out the robe and displayed it to everyone.

                "This is one part of the Nation Treasure outfit which will be used to activate the nation defense system in nation wars, [Robe of the Primordial Lord]. Defense 700, doubles the power of all Taoist skills, 50% element resistance, +25% MP regeneration. It comes with a passive, [Heaven Barrier]. It automatically triggers your defense and reduces incoming damage by 20%. Starting bid is 400 thousand crystals. Bidding rules are the same. Now begin!"
      
          "500 thousand!" Hawk shouted first. This is our plan, we raise the price quickly at first to scare off the weaker competitors.
      
          "700!"

                A voice from a nearby window made us all jump into the air.
      
          "Uh Hawk? How much fund do we have?" I started to think about new plans. There's someone even crazier!
      
          "Your companions, and the money we collected, that's 1.6 million in total. This should be enough, I guess."
      
          I gave them a grave look. "I don't do much business but I heard a lot about them from my parents. That man is obviously not considering about the price, he must be the agent those Japanese players sent here. Their goal is to break up the treasure set no matter what the cost is, and they will not care how much money the piece actually worth. They WILL raise the bid like there's no tomorrow! We need to do something!"
      
          "But what can we do??" Everyone panicked.
      
          Another voice came from another box across from us. "1.5 million!"
      
          Thud! Violet crashed from her seat.

               "This is madness!!" She crawled up and yelled.
      
          "1.5 million first call!" The auctioneer is settling up!
      
          I gave Hawk a knock on the back. He's already petrified!

               "Uhhh 1.6 million!"
      
          "1.6 MILLION SOMEONE CALLED 1.6 MILLION IS THERE ANYONE HIGHER?!"

               Apparently the auctioneer isn't expecting such high prices either. He's waving the hammer like a cheerleader.
      
          "2 million!" That's from the room near us.
      
          Crash! Bunk!

               Everyone fell or sat on the ground this time, and nobody in the whole auction center besides these three rooms are responding anymore.

               Hawk helped Elfy stand up. "I, I need some air! My heart can't take it! I'm not gonna risk my life like those bastards! Elfy, let's go."

               Before he exit the door he turned back to me. "Do we do it?"
      
          I just nod.

               "Get prepared then!"

                Looks like we'll have to do it the hard way.
      
          "More bids anyone? 2 million, last call!"

                The room across gave a price before the auctioneer can drop the hammer.
      
          "2.3 million!"

               The room shook. People fell again.

               I'm sweating hard. Who the fuc are those guys??
      
          "2.5 million!" The adjacent room lit it up.

                I see groups of people running towards the exits while holding their chests. The auction is giving out a lot of heart attacks tonight.
      
          The opposite room didn't give up. "2.6 million!"
      
          The price race is slowing down, which means the result will come any second now.

                I contacted Hawk. "Hawk, speak to that Arch Necromancer guy, we need to know who bought the piece as fast as we can!"
      
          "I know. I'm right beside him. He's losing it too! The price must hit him too hard. We'll know the name the moment the auction ends!"
      
          "2.7 million!" Came from the room nearby.
      
          A third voice came up. "3 million!"

               Someone else showed up! Now this gonna be fun.

               I talked to Hawk again. "Stay put, we got new situation. The price will keep rising. Watch over the guy don't let him faint!"
      
          "He already did!" Hawk sounds depressed. "I'll try to wake him. You watch over the auction!"
      
          "Will do!"
      
          "3.1 million!" The room nearby is raising the bid again.

                Where did they come from?? 3.1 million crystals. That's like, 4.5 million solid US dollars!
      
          "4 million!" It's the new voice.

                I spit the tea I just drank. The auctioneer dropped his glasses and the guiding lady holding the robe almost tripped on her feet.

                Big Pot pinched his own face. "For real? 4 million?? They're just, insane! Did someone from the central bank decide to play the game??"
      
          All the participants in the hall are restless now.
      
          "5 million!" The nearby window dropped another bomb. More people are now heading outside while carrying those who can't walk anymore.

               "That's money I say! Real money! And this is just a freaking game!!"
      
          "5.5 million!" It's the new voice. This is getting beyond out of hand. No one expected this to happen.
      
          "6 million!" The voice nearby began to sound uneasy. They won't last long now.
      
          "6.2 million!" The new comer is clenching teeth. Both sides are at their limit.
      
          "6.5 million!" The first voice sounds broken.
      
          The hall stayed silent for a while. The new voice never came again.

                The auctioneer spaced out for a minute before he remembered his job.

                "6.5 million, first time. Anyone? 6.5 million second time.  6.5 million last call! Alright, de--"
      
          "7 million!!" A female voice appeared.

               The auctioneer tried to stop his hammer which caused him to stumble off the stage.
      
          But the room nearby didn't even hesitate.

               "10 million!!"
      
          "Argh!!" My legs gave out. No one is sitting on their seat anymore. 15 million dollars!! What kind of lunatic--
      
          "Hawk! Get ready it's almost over! Is he awake?? Someone bid 10 million crystals, I don't think anyone will keep up!"
      
          "He's here! The name is--[Smoker]! Do it!!"
      
          "I GOT THIS!!"

                I used my Star Gaze. The target has already moved to another city. He must be prepared.

               Too bad your enemy is me!

                "I found him. At the Far Land!"
      
          "What do you mean far land?"   
         

               "It's a city! The city is called the Far Land. He got teleport scrolls. Come now!"
      
          "We did!"   
        

                "Huh??"   
        

               "We were waiting at the teleport station. Now waiting for you!"   
       

               "Understood!"

               I told the location to the rest of the people and teleported. I saw Hawk, Elfy, Golden Coin and Razor standing outside the station.
      
          "There!" I pointed to one direction and moved, while keep checking my ring.

               After some distance, we saw an Assassin running ahead, that's the target!
      
          "What's the plan?" Hawk asked with a worried voice.   
         

                "You guys leave the city and find an open space, tell me the coordinates. I'll teleport that guy over there!"   
        

                "On it!"

                Hawk led the others away, while I kept following. He's running fast. Someone must be waiting for him to deliver the goods.

                So this man must be the traitor! I was hoping someone else can help preserve the treasure. But now it looks like the Japanese won the upper hand.

                I know that's an enemy because an ordinary Chinese player doesn't need to run like this while trying to send the item to someone else.
      
          Hawk pinged me soon. "Ziri! Here! The location!"
      
          "Got it!"

                I lunged at the Assassin and successfully grabbed his waist. I activated my teleport ring and appeared...inside a crowd?

                I entered the wrong numbers in the chaos and teleported to another city!

               The Assassin jumped and tried to get away. I reached for him, planning to teleport again.
      
          I have good attributes but the Assassin is still a bit faster. More importantly his level is higher!

               "Night Shade!" I know how to catch you!

                Now I think about it, why am I always rampaging inside cities on a horse these days??

                I lost target after several turns. Damn it.

                I used my Star Gaze again. Wait, our coordinates are exactly the same?

                I raised my head and saw him hanging on a rope above me.
      
          He quickly dropped down when he realized it.

               "You aren't getting away!" I took out my lance. "[Heart Piercer]!"

               The tip exploded into several pieces while hurting some of the bystanders. But that's not my concern now.

               Two of the pieces caught the Assassin. I pulled on the lance and dragged him down on the ground.
      
          Night Shade charged and stomped at him. The attack only broke the stone floor, the Assassin dodged away with a side roll.

               "Phantom Knights! Catch him!"
      
          "Chaaaarge my honored steed!!" The knight leader is super excited for some reason.

               The group of knights moved in unite but the Assassin jumped into a hotel nearby. That's not going to stop these violent mayhem makers though. They crouched on their horses and simply rode into the building!

               Sigh. Guess I'll have to follow.
      
          Hawk sent me a message. "What happened?"
      
          "I reached the wrong place! Still after him!"   
        

                "Where? Do you need us?" Elfy sounds worried too.
      
          "Not yet! I got enough helpers! Give me a moment!"
      
          The Phantom Knights chased the Assassin to the second floor. Their horses can climb stairs! Again, I should worry about that later.

               We didn't see anyone on the second floor.
      
          "There!" One of the knight pointed to the rooftop across the street.
      
          "Hee-Haw!" The knight leader controlled his horse and leaped over to the roof. And every member followed his lead!
      
          I looked at Night Shade. "Well?"
      
          "Piece of carrot." 

                Night Shade hopped across the broad street like it's nothing. The rooftop is not flat but all the war horses galloped after the Assassin without slowing down in one bit.
      
          "Stop right there!!"

                I used my crossbow on my right hand. I may not hit him but it will affect his speed.

               We're getting closer. He realized that the terrain won't stop us so he just jumped back to the ground again.
      
          I summoned Rosa and Phantom. "Phantom, control. Rosa, rope him up!"
      
          Phantom floated ahead but quickly went back to me again. "Master, he has something that would resist me. I can't get in."
      
          "Huh? Nevermind then. Just merge with me and give me some speed."

                The Assassin is shifting through all kinds of small alleys and dense crowds which makes it really hard to catch him.

                When he turned his head to check on us again, several tentacles flew towards him. He avoided them with a backflip.

                Rosa kept following. A broken trail appeared on the stone floor and began to move, while causing the stone blocks to scatter everywhere. A big gap is now left behind where Rosa marched. We followed behind.
      
          "Phantom Knights, lances ready!" The leader finally gave the order.

                A series of lances completely blocked the entrance to an alleyway where the Assassin just planned to go in. He quickly turned to another direction. I summoned Dart and asked him to block his only exit.

                Now I got you!
      
          "GO!!"

               Ten knights circled him up.

               "Hand over the item and I'll let you go, son. Why are you helping the Japanese?"
      
          He didn't answer. I can see he's trying to log off, but I hit him before and he can't do it in battle status.

               I charged and grabbed him again. This time I successfully teleported us to Hawk's location.

               Coin is already prepared. She spammed her [Steal] before the Assassin can figure out what's going on. And she's a pro! I thought we'd have some trouble taking the loot but Coin lifted the target within 10 sec.
      
          "Is this it?" Coin displayed the robe to us on her hand. "Looks nice!"
      
          "That's it. Yours now." I told her. "It's from the same series as your boots. Don't lose it. And don't you dare sell it! If you can help us with our plans in Japan, I can try to collect the whole set for you."
      
          "You meant it? Deal!"

                She seems a bit worried though. She saw the auction. That thing's 15 million bucks!

               "I don't really like them either. And since you gave me this...I'm all in!"
      
          Hawk went over to us. "Aha! That was too easy."
      
          Coin: "It's just luck. I can't choose which item I take you know. Wait, you're not thinking that I can steal stuff on free will right? If I can I'd definitely 'clean up' Ziri first! His armor looks so good! Haha-- Uh, I was joking!"
      
          While we're celebrating over the treasure, the Assassin began to cry.

                "Help me please!!"
      
          "..What the fuc?" I moved back. I don't want to bump into another Assassin who can steal my equipment.
      
          "My boss will kill me for this!!"

               Yup, I see tears. He's crying for real.
      
          "Your boss? A Japanese man I guess?" Elfy is smart as ever.
      
          "I'm [Smoker] but you knew it. The money I used is from the boss, he exchanged those crystals with his own real money! And yes he's Japanese. When he saw the Chinese-only thing he asked me to buy the item for him. And you took it away! He will kill me for sure!"
      
          "Hey chill. This is China, not Iraq. It's not like anyone can try to kill you when they want. Worst scenario, you get fired. I can give you a better job if that's the case."
      
          "That's not all!!" He cried harder. "They sent my wife and my mother to Japan yesterday to prevent me from escaping with the money! The boss only said he wanted to thank me for my work so he can give my family a vacation. Now I know they are taking them as hostages!! Help me!! Waaaaah--!"
      
          "Bastards." Elfy stomped the ground. "Ziri?"
      
          "...Tell me your address and phone, and their names. I'll help you get them back."   
         

                "Really??" His face is totally ruined by all the crying.
      
          "Yeah, I got this."

                I told him to log off and keep the situation from his boss for now.

                "Tell him that you're being tracked by Chinese players so you logged to avoid them. Just delay. I'll do the work, and I'll tell you when I saved them."
      
          I quickly logged off and contacted my father. This is human lives we're talking about, I don't want to cause real accidents.

               Father came up with an idea soon when he heard the story. Dragon Fate doesn't have much influence in Japan but saving a pair of common civilians should be no problem. He told me to leave the matter to him and concentrate on the infiltration plan.

               He also gave me a mouthful for wasting too much asset on the Iron Unit last time before I hang up. I just gave him silly laughs. I already brought them, he can't take them back now.
      
          Everyone has left when I logged back again. They really need some sleep, that's about 30 hours without proper rest.

               The only people in the online list are...Wayne and Coin. I called Wayne to level together but he said he need to hang out with Coin.

               Heh, traitor.
      
          It's myself then. I asked around the Far Land city and was told that the city is built between the sea line and a desert. This is the east most part of the Chinese game region, and that's how it's named.
      
          The sea huh? I wonder if I can swim in there.

                Forget it. I decided to go to the desert first. Unknown means dangerous. The sea won't run away. I'll check it out later.
      
          The immediate outside of the city is covered in grass. I can see the desert from here, but there's still a distance.

               When I reached the desert I saw a lot of camels, and groups and active players.
      
          A low leveled Warrior is being chased by a wild camel. I may as well ask him for information.

               I locked the camel up with a fire ring and killed it with several lightning skills. It's not a strong monster, only level 300 or so.
      
          "You alright?" I helped the Warrior up from the sand.
      
          "I'm fine-- Woah!" He froze up upon seeing my face. And I know the reason. Sigh.
      
          "Hey, hey! Anyone there?" I waved my hand in front of his eyes to call his soul back.
      
          "Ah! Sorry!"
      
          "Oh it's fine. I'm male by the way. Keep staring if you want. Can you tell me what are all these players doing?"
      
          "They're trying to catch camels." His sight isn't moving away from my face, which means he didn't believe me.
      
          "What for?"   
         

               "To ride them of course." He explained. "They act as mounts. They're weaker than horses buy they move faster in the desert. Ordinary horses will sink into the sands."
      
          "I see, thanks."

                I began to march into the desert. The Warrior yelled from behind to ask if I want to team up. Well of course not. I kinda know what he wanted.

                I pretended that I didn't hear him, summoned Night Shade and ran as fast as we can.



  • Book 4, Chapter 24

    Monster

    ------------------

                As the Warrior said, the terrain isn't nice to horses. Or nightmares. Night Shade soon began to have trouble lifting his hooves. We could only choose paths that looks more solid. All the camel riders would run past us at ease. Now I know why they're called the ships of the desert.
      
          Eventually I had to de-summon Night Shade and walk on my own. I can move faster this way!

               The sun feels terrible but I must admit the scenery here looks quite equisite.
      
          My feet suddenly sunk. Damn it, quicksand!

               "Rosa!"

                Poom. A tentacle shot out of the surface while lifting up a lot of sand. Looks like the soft area is quite suitable for Rosa to move around.

                The tentacle pulled me to safety.  I'm seeing fewer players now, probably because the deeper part can be more dangerous.
      
          "Help me!"

                I heard a faint cry. But it's coming from...underground? It sounds muffled.
      
          I followed the voice, ran over a small dune and saw it's source. An Assassin is struggling in the sand. He wears a strange shaped mask which covered his face, so I can only see his eyes and a small portion of his mouth. I have no idea what he's wearing because he's immersed under the sand. Only one of his hand and the head are visible now.
      
          "Relax!!" I jumped off the dune. "Don't move! It will kill you faster!" (*)
      
          He heard me and stopped moving. I ordered Rosa to stretch a tentacle towards him. Even Rosa can't enter the quicksand area so we can only pull him from far away.

                "Catch it!"

               He grasped the tentacle and we successfully pulled him out.
      
          "Thank--thanks for that! I thought I'm done for." He sat on the ground and breathed heavily. "I'm [Merciless Heart], a Killer. Just call me Merciless. May I know your name, maam?"
      
          "I'm Ziri. Male. Don't call me maam or I'll throw you back in there."

                I didn't tell him my class. He can guess on his own. I don't like lying anyway.

               "But Assassins usually don't level up in deserts?"
      
          He didn't question me, probably because he believed I'd throw him into the sand for sure.

               "I'm not leveling." He stood up. And woah this guy's tall. That's at least 180 centis. He looks good too. But that body doesn't look really strong because of those assassin tights. Jealous. I'm only 172, I look miserable when standing beside him.

               "I got a quest which needs me to kill some monsters here and discover the hidden desert road."
      
          "That sounds fun. What's the reward?"
      
          "10 thousand crystals, an egg and a champion badge." He didn't keep any secret. "But it's a unique quest. If I accept it then no one else can. You can team up if you wish. The quest said I'll need a lot of helpers. It will not give us any extra reward so I tried coming here alone."
      
          "If I join you I will share the loot you know?"
      
          "You saved me, let's consider it a thank-you. Besides if I die the quest will fail."

               He sent a team request without waiting for my answer.

               Interesting. I accepted it.
      
          My quest recorder beeped. Yup, I got the quest too. The destination is not far. We'll reach it soon according to the map. The description didn't say much so I can only ask Merciless again.

                "What monsters are we fighting?"
      
          "I think they're called [Army Bugs] or something." He shook his head. "I don't know what they look like yet. this is only the third time I actually come to a desert."
      
          "Really?"

               So he wandered here without knowing what he's doing? I got the feeling that this will not be easy. Considering the rarity of companions eggs, this quest must be really difficult. And the money reward is not bad either. It even mentioned that a team is required. So it either involves something that needs a lot of teamwork, or a strong boss which is impossible to face alone.

               And he still came on his own! I should have asked for more information before I joined him. Shoot.

               "Did you ask for any information around the place before you came?"
      
          "Why? I can just come and see for myself."   
         

               Dang! A total quest noob!

               I can't quit now. I saw the penalty for failing the quest, I'll need to pay a lot of items plus losing a level. Fuk. I should have used my brain more.
      
          "We're here!" Merciless stopped abruptly.
      
          "Huh what?" I'm still worrying about the bad outcome in my mind. "Already?"
      
          "Over there." He pointed to a burrow located on a sand dune ahead.
      
          We carefully approached the burrow and poked our heads inside. Nothing, it's all dark. 

                Sssssss!

                Something caught our attention behind us, and we jumped when we looked back. It's a pale brown colored monster that looks like a crab. Luckily it's also shocked to see us. It must be intelligent. I've noticed from previous experience that intelligent monsters can sometimes get distracted or surprised, while dumb ones just charge at people without thinking.

      
          I drew my sword and moved to the monster. I'd hope to keep my identity a secret but protecting my life is more important.

               I swept at its legs instead of attacking its body, since that shell looks pretty hard. Cutting its thin legs is a better choice now.
      
          My sword easily broke six of its legs. Obviously it never learned how to stand just using two legs so it collapsed down with a BONG.

               "Run!!"

                I dragged the dumbfounded Merciless and ran away. He recovered soon and ran even faster than me. But neither of us made it to safety.
      
          A giant wave of sand was pushed into the air. The dune disappeared, and now more than 300 monsters are standing at the place. They're bigger than the one we just met. They look like those hairy tarantula spiders found in forests, each one is no smaller than a water buffalo!
      
          Merciless took out his dagger. "Careful now. [Desert Tarantula], level 507. They don't usually stay in big groups but we must be really unlucky today."
      
          "...Do you know that monster I just cut?"

                I already identified it. And I know this will end badly the moment I heard the name of these monsters.
      
          "What was it?"   
         

               "[Desert Tarantula Queen]!"   
         

               "Huh?? But they look so different!"
      
          "Too bad then! It's the truth!"

                I'm already thinking up plans. Using Lucky to strike from above may be a good idea.
      
          But something else went wrong before I can make the move. The ground shook. Then a black, smooth, half-sphere shaped object appeared behind the spiders. And I recognized it! That mirror-like back...Iron Beetle! So they can live in desert too??
      
          The small bump raised quickly, followed by its body. Then a second, a third Iron Beetle.

                Now this is serious trouble. We wandered into a monster nest.
      
          "What the hell are those??" Merciless doesn't know about the beetles.
      
          "[Iron Beetle], level 650, with insane defense! You aren't gonna damage them!"   
         

                "No kidding? What about that thing behind us?"
      
          "Behind us??"

                I turned back and, sat on the ground. The burrow we saw is completely gone. An Iron Beetle, three times larger than the other ones, is standing there! I don't need to use my skill to know that it must be an Iron Beetle King!

                "I got an idea!"
      
          "What is it??"   
         

                "We run!!"

                I run ahead while Merciless reacted a bit slower. The beetle king breathed a green flame beam, Merciless simply disappeared.
      
          I kept running. My private chat came up.

                "Ziri? I was killed!"
      
          "I know! That thing's at least 700, insta-killing a squishy class is too easy for it! Now leave me alone I'm trying to survive here!"

                I cut the chat. The spiders are already hot on my tail. I can't get away without Night Shade!

               "Lucky!"

                I jumped onto his back. The ground is a killing zone!
      
          Before Lucky can take off, a white object flew towards us. It hit Lucky but didn't do any damage...? 

               But it locked us onto the ground!

       
         That's a lump of spider silk. Countess silk wires are attached behind Lucky's body, and a group of smaller spiders are pulling on them, keeping us in place!
      
          "Everyone come out!!" I summoned all of the companions and servants. I can't get away so I have to fight it!
      
          Phiona quickly cast a fire wall, separating the monster group from us for the moment, while burning the web away. I called the Phantom Knight leader over and began to assign tasks.

                "Take your knights and block those Iron Beetles. Phiona, use your AoE fire skills inside monster crowds. Loong'er, can you do something to prevent the beetle king from moving?"
      
          "I can use my sealing spell but it will only last for a short while."   
        

                "Do it then! Lock up the monster king. Phantom come with me. Rosa, disrupt their movement, and pick out the small spiders when you can! Dart, run around the monsters and distract them. Night Shade... stay far and support us with your spells. Lucky attack with me! Let's do it!"
      
          Phiona cancelled her fire wall and began to use massive burning skills. Blue flame covered a huge area, causing the spiders to run amok.

               "Lucky, dragon fire!" That's a perfect skill when the enemies are stuffed together.
      
          Lucky released a fire beam and cleared out a straight path across the monster group. The Phantom Knights took the chance and sprinted through the monsters. They can't use their horses now but they're already fast on their own.

               When the path got filled up by monsters again, the knights are already closing in on the other Iron Beetles. I took off my wizard robe. No need for that now.

                I drew my double swords and jumped into the spider horde 
      
          Lucky went airborne and helped me clear monsters nearby, I moved towards the legless spider queen while killing anything in my path. The tarantulas realized my intention and all moved to intercept, which only helped Lucky to get more kills with his dragon breath. Each flame beam would kill or hurt a dozen spiders.
      
          A bigger spider jumped from the horde. I'm defending myself from all the other ones in front of me and I don't have time to block this one!

               I hope I'm a spider now. If I have eight legs--gah!
      
          I thrust the dragon tooth sword in my right hand into a spider's maw. Green fluid covered my face. The sword is stuck in the corpse. I simply gave it up, aimed my hand at the falling spider and released my dragon cord.

               Pssh! The spider is split into half. Another wave of green blood showered me from head to toe.

               I spun around while waving the dragon cord in a full circle, creating a series of green fountains around me. I just realized the cords are better weapons now! But it's not perfect. Cutting stuff with the cords will consume my MP. That circle attack did kill a lot of spiders but it only left me with less than 20 MP!
      
          Another spider jumped towards me. I can't use the cord now so I used a Soul Chaser bolt instead. It's a waste but I don't have choice now!

               The bolt went through the spider. I shot another bolt, a common one this time, and hurt another jumping spider.
      
          When I'm trying to finish off the second one, a giant force pressed me onto the ground. A tarantula got onto my back!

               But it soon disappeared. I turned to see Lucky's tail just did a perfect homerun. He tried to sweep away more spiders. It didn't work well because there are too many!
      
          After some stressful fighting I noticed my burden is being relieved somehow. The spiders are moving away?

               I looked around and saw the Phantom Knights coming towards me. The Iron Beetles are all corpses!
      
          Rosa sneaked under the spider queen and wrapped his tentacles around it. Poof! The entire body of the spider was dragged underground. I don't know if that's enough to kill it because I don't have time to check. My EXP bar is already flying due to all the kills.
      
          The knights reached me. These spiders are completely defenseless against them due to the big level gap. They are killing these bugs like primary schoolers playing with ants. Compared to them, I'm in pretty bad shape. Cuts and holes are everywhere on my body and my HP and MP are already at bottom. I don't carry much healing items on me since my companions can share their HP with me. Now I regretted it. I need to at least keep some stock.
      
          "Watch out behind!"

                I saw the Beetle King breaking out of Loong'er's spell. My alert is a bit late, three Phantom Knights running in the back are knocked flying by the giant monster which is even bigger than Lucky.
      
          Their HP nearly got emptied. I immediately un-summoned them. Servants can't get revived, I can't lose them!

               The other seven knights scattered apart, the Beetle King charged straight towards me. And it obviously doesn't tell enemies and allies. Some spiders on the way all got squashed.
      
          Before it can reach me, Lucky charge over and parried its giant body. Lucky is then sent flying and rolled on the sand for some distance. It's too strong!

               "Loong'er! Help!"
      
          She flashed above us.

                "[Thunder], level 10!"

                A thick lightning pillar hit the beetle on the back. It didn't do any significant damage!
      
          "Master! Rosa killed the spider queen!" Phantom spoke.

                All the other tarantulas escaped faster then they came. That's at least a relief. I got two whole levels in the fight. I don't know the exact number but the sand around us is totally soaked in green.
      
          The Beetle King is the only monster left. I took the chance and scoped it with my Star Gaze.

                [Gold Beetle], level 900.

                Attack 1,200-2,300,

                Defense 5,000,

                Speed 100,

                HP 10,000

                MP 5,000.

                Attacks carry poison effect.

               Talent skill [Strong Acid Spit], damage 120, causes continuous damage for 1,200 seconds.

                Physical Resistance 50%,

                Spell Resistance 45%.

                ???

                That's a fucking tank!!

                The skill looks deadly. And what the hell are those question marks? There's something even Star Gaze can't detect?
      
          That's the only breather I can get. The beetle is charging again.

               "Phiona!"
      
          Phiona swept down and dragged me into the air. The beetle raised its head, a ruby-like object on its forehead flashed before a red beam of light hit Phiona.

                We crashed on the sand again. What the fuc was that, laser weapon??   
        

                The remaining Phantom Knights threw their lances. Unlike against Iron Beetles, the lances only produced metal sounds without piercing the hard shell.   
         

                "Phiona, are you alright?"

                She can't stand up anymore. I had to un-summon her. Oh fuck you Merciless. You might as well call yourself Brainless!! This is no solo quest. You need to bring an entire guild to do it!
      
          Complaining is not going to help. I need to get out of this!

                I asked the Phantom Knights to form up. They're the only reliable force now. The beetle's HP bar was chipped away quite a lot. So the lances aren't completely ineffective. Level 900 means it's only 50 levels higher than the knights. Seven knights will still cause some solid damage to it.
      
          The knight leader charged ahead first.

               But the beetle got another secret weapon!

               After a clash, the leader flew backwards which took all the other six members to catch him. Apart from six legs, the beetle has an extra pair of fore limbs as weapons!


    --------------------
    (*) Tip: knowing how to survive quicksand, swamp dirt or thin ice can be useful.

    How many words did I finish this week? I overdid it again.

  • You're one hard working fellow.
    thank you for the chapters, I really appreciate them :smile: 
  • Thanks for the chapter
  • Book 4, Chapter 25

    The Tank

    ------------------

               Different from other Iron Beetles, this thing has a pair of highly developed fore limps. And they're obviously weapons! They have been folded close to the beetle's chest part until we see them.

               They're long. The outer part has a structure like a bone hammer, and the inside is sharp, jagged blade. They are like mantis scythes equipped with hard rock!
      
         The knight leader was knocked away by that hammer part. And now the limbs are completely stretched in front of us. The hammer is located a bit below the pointy tip. A stab of that thing could prove lethal.

               The beetle rubbed its two limbs against each other like knife and fork, as if someone is planning to enjoy a feast!
      
          I recalled Dart and Night Shade. They won't help here. Phiona is down, so she's out. And only 7 out of 10 Phantom Knights...

               This is not good.
      
         "Attack!"

               The beetle slashed the scythe at me. I dodged it by putting myself against the ground, but the other one stabbed downward and there's no way I can avoid this one!

                Loong'er dropped from above and entangled her own body onto the scythe. Then she began to release electricity. I didn't expect she can do that kind of move like a shock eel.
      
          Rosa released dozens of tentacles and wrapped them around the beetle with several layers. Some of them pulled on its six legs.   
         

                Lucky lunged and sunk his fangs into where the beetle's head is connected with the body. It's the only part without any hard shell. Usually that spot is not easily reached since the beetle can hide it by raising its head. He revealed that weakness because of all the distractions.
      
          The Phantom Knights all went up with their lances. These experienced fighters are good at picking out vulnerable parts--they stabbed at the joints on the legs which are less protected compared to elsewhere.   
        

               I crawled up and pressed my dragon lance against the beetle's head.

              "[Heart Piercer]!"

               Boom! I was knocked away by the blast power of my own skill.

               The beetle suddenly raised. The first one to get hurt is Rosa, all the tentacles were torn up one after one!

               Then it retracted its scythes. Loong'er got locked inside the blade and shrieked in pain.

               Her voice stopped soon. With a Snap! The beetle completely closed up its fore limbs, slicing Loong'er's body into several pieces. Golden blood showered down on me and the knights who were trying to help her.
      
          My heart stopped for a bit. I know they can be revived but...this hurts.

               Before I can react, the scythes bounced open again. The bone hammers knocked away two Phantom Knights as if they're toy figures. I tried to catch one of them and was then sent flying by the enormous force as well. Thank god the sand is soft so the landing didn't hurt us further.
      
          Lucky has completely climbed onto the beetle and won't release his bite. The beetle tried to reach for Lucky but realized his limbs aren't long enough. It shook violently, without success, so it can only jump and spin in place.
      
          Maybe it knows I'm the master of Lucky so the beetle simply charged at me again. That giant body, added with Lucky's weight, is now causing an earthquake. The Phantom Knights tried to distract it from behind.
      
          I heard Phantom's voice. "Don't worry master. Loong'er is coming back soon!"

                A dark cloud appeared in the sky and Loong'er emerged from it. I forgot about Phiona's special skill which is shared to everyone. We can get revived for once! Watching Loong'er die like that really disrupted my mind.
      
          "Master! Can I use my new skill?" Loong'er talked to me while swimming in the cloud.
      
          "What skill?"   
       

                "[Heaven Storm]!"   
       

                "What does it do? Nevermind just do it!"
      
          She went back into the cloud and disappeared. The piece of dark cloud grew bigger, until it covered a huge area of the sky above our heads. I think this can be a good move when I want to escape from the harsh sunlight!
      
          Rolling thunder came from the cloud, then a lightning came down and hit the ground. It's pretty far from the beetle, so the skill's accuracy is poor?

                I'm wondering if we can hit the beetle at all when more lightening pillars appeared non-stop.

               Holy cheese 'n' rice! This is literally a "thunder storm"! Countless lightening strikes rained down from the cloud and swept through the entire battlefield, hitting everything inside including me and my team.
      
          Thankfully the spell doesn't hurt friendlies. Electric arcs ran all over my armor but I'm not feeling anything.

               On the other hand, the Gold Beetle is now burnt into a ladybug with god knows how many spots.

                Lucky is still hanging on the beetle's neck. I can see Lucky's HP almost empty.
      
          The dark cloud didn't go away when the lightening stopped. Instead, large water drops began to pour on us. A rainstorm followed the lightening attack, a big one! I'm surprised when I see my HP bar getting filled up, same for my team. The rain can heal us!
      
          As a plant, Rosa must loved the weather. His damaged tentacles all recovered. Numerous of them emerged from the ground and wrapped onto the beetle again.

               The immobilized beetle started to draw in air, and its belly is growing. It's going the breath fire again!
      
          I called everyone to retreat. Lucky should be safe for now, since the beetle won't be throwing that fire onto its own back.

               The beetle stopped breathing. But it didn't use fire, it let out a greenish fluid instead.

               The first victim is Rosa again. The liquid melted most of the tentacles in an instant like strong weed killer!

               A Phantom Knight was knocked into the attack. His armor immediately disappeared! I quickly unsummoned him. This is bionic acid damn it!
      
          All the knights ran away from the terrible attack. Their armor can be restored after some time but their lives cannot. It's not wise to keep fighting upfront now.
      
          When I'm un-summoning all the knights, the beetle turned its head and brought the acid stream towards me! There's no time to avoid. The only thing I can do is to lower my mask and cover my face.

               The green, viscous slime engulfed me for good. I heard some "fizzzzz" sound. Then I lifted my hand and checked. Weird, apart from all the smoke, I'm not receiving any damage.

               I looked at my equipment durability. Nope, nothing.
      
          "Ah-ha!" I cried in joy. The Dark Dragon Lord armor is immune to acid! Which means the beetle's last resort can't hurt me at all!

               Wahhahaha! Meet your doom today, bug!!
      
          The attack stopped. I don't know if it's because the beetle realized my resistance or it used up its liquid stock. But it didn't give up. It followed up with a green flame attack. This time I intentionally took the attack head-on.

               0 damage!
      
          Poor bug. Your breath weapons all aren't gonna work.

               The beetle then began to rotate that strange looking mouthpart. I saw two holes hidden under it.

                Bam!

                I was then knocked flying by a great force. My HP dropped alarmingly. Two more hits like that will kill me!
      
          "Phantom! What was that?"
      
          "I don't know. Maybe the hammer?"   
         

               "No. That thing can't reach this far!"
      
          Loong'er spoke from above: "I think it spit something from its mouth. But I didn't see it."
      
          Phantom added: "Rosa said he sensed something flying just above the surface!"   
        

                The beetle's belly grew and shrank. I'm blasted away again. I saw it this time! The bastard can use air cannon. Those holes must be its nose or something. It compresses the air inside its body and releases it with great speed. And it's powerful!
      
          When I'm getting ready to dodge a third air shot, that ruby flashed again. It's going to use its laser weapon instead.

               Oh come on, this thing's a freaking mobile artillery battery! It's acting more and more like a real tank!
      
          The beetle didn't actually use any of the weapons. It began to dig the sand and...went underground! The hole was quickly covered up by the surrounding sand. Lucky can't survive underground so he could only give up his position and flew into the air. Now our only effective damage won't work!
      
          "Rosa! Give me its position!" 

               Can this fight become more complicated?? Jesus.
      
          Before Phantom can translate Rosa's message, the sand in front of us rose, then the ground shook. A stream of dark green liquid sprayed out and soaked a large area of sand. 
        

                I don't need Phantom to tell me now cause I saw it from the system. Rosa was easily killed by the beetle! So the green liquid was Rosa's blood!

                I de-summoned the revived Rosa. He'll only be killed again if he remains there.
      
          A series of long needles suddenly emerged from under my feet. I rolled aside to avoid them. Another needle array immediately followed to where I landed. I opened my wings to dodge this time.

               This will be troublesome.
      
          The beetle lost target and stayed motionless for a while, then needles erupted under one of the Phantom Knights. All the knights avoided the attack by turning into bats.   
         

               Fuck. How do we attack this thing like this?? Rosa is our only member that can move underground and he can't do anything.
      
          I summoned Phiona again. She looks better after the rest.

                "Can you set fire under the surface? The bug escaped there!"
      
          "Let me try!" Phiona circled around in the sky for a bit and quickly dived into the sand.
      
          The sand started to shift, and we can already see the surface turning red. The ground shook again. Then a bump appeared, followed by the beetle's giant body.

               "There you are stupid bug. Phiona, get out of there!" I recalled Phiona and prepared to confront the annoying enemy again.
      
          Our team is pretty battered up but I can see from my Star Gaze that the beetle doesn't have much HP left now. Lucky did most of the damage by tearing up its neck. We're almost there!
      
          Right. I should try to capture it after all these effort. I'm glad this idea came up in time or I'll kill it any time soon.   
        

               I concentrated my magic onto the gem on my forehead and summoned the Dragon Wasp swarm. I ordered them to attack anywhere on the beetle that looks soft. The beetle may be powerful but it doesn't have much to counter these tiny killers. It tried to use its air cannon, and it's like using artillery to shoot mosquitoes, just won't work. Looks like being big isn't all about advantage.
      
          I watched as its HP dropped to about 20. The beetle is already having a hard time standing straight. I de-summoned the wasps as the beetle finally fell, then I asked Dart to hit it using plain attacks. Dart's Attack is not near enough to penetrate that Defense so he can only do 1 damage each time. And that's just what I needed.

               We stopped at 1 HP. Now there's no better chance to capture such an impressive companion.
      
          After a dozen tries, the beetle turned into a green egg. I didn't hesitate to drop my blood on it. A pitch-black miniature Gold Beetle cracked the shell and crawled out. Oh shoot. It's black again. Every companion of mine is black except Dart. Actually Dart is only white on the outside, if I smooth his fur aside I'll see the black skin beneath. This demonize effect on me is a headache.
      
          The beetle on my hand is only about a foot long. That's no problem since I'm sure it'll grow to its full size in the future. I named the little bug as [Tank], cause that's literally what it is! 

      
          [Gold Beetle], rank level 900 (current level 0)

               Attack 100-200,

               Defense 200,

               Speed 100,

               HP 2,000,

               MP 500.

               Attacks carry poison effect.

               Talent skill [Strong Acid Spit], damage 120, causes continuous damage for 1,200 seconds.

               Physical Resistance 50%,

               Magical Resistance 45%.   
        

               That's not all its skills. Maybe I need to level it up to activate them. Should be easy enough. Companions level faster, it is usually my own level that restricts their levels in the end. And the fact that I always ask them to kill monsters for me only makes it more obvious.

               Now I think about it, I've already have a good number of companions. Lucky, Phiona, Loong'er, Night Shade, Phantom, Rosa, Dart and now Tank...That's 8 of them. My slot limit is 9. I should be careful with it. It's a good thing that everyone I captured so far turned out to be strong helper. I'm still relying on the Phantom Knights to soak most of the damage now but I think these Boss level companions will become the actual heavy hitters when I get my level high enough.
      
          My private chat interrupted my thoughts. It's from...Merciless?

               "What's the matter?"
      
          "I saw the quest done, and I already claimed the reward. Come here and I'll give you your share."

               Ohh, nice. Usually most people will just run with the spoil in such cases.
      
          "You keep them. I'll just consider this as a level campaign. I got three levels in two hours! If I find more of these quests I can try go for the top of the rank."
      
          "Well no!" He became...excited? "Come and take them. You did the whole quest, I don't want to just be a tour guide or something!"
      
          "Huh. Wait for me then."

                I looked around the battlefield for any good drops. Nope. I spent some time searching around and only discovered all sorts of trash. There are over a thousand items lying on the ground, most of them are necklaces! Why the hell did they only drop one type of equipment? Are those spiders fond of collecting necklace??

               Well shoot. I'm short on money anyway, so any reward is welcomed. I managed to pick up every single item thanks to my patience. That felt like a homeless scavenger. Owww, my back... (*)
      
          Just as I'm finished, Merciless pinged me again.

               "What are you doing bud? Did you fall into another pit?"
      
          "Very funny. I'm picking money!"
      
          "Picking money?"   
         

               "Yes! The place is full of junk. Maybe 10 crystals or so."

                I can't help it. I owe people big time! I do have those money from selling the companion eggs but that's far from enough!
      
          "You mean, all those monsters only dropped useless common equipment?" Merciless exclaimed in surprise.
      
          "Worse. They are all necklaces, about 700 of them. All trash, as in, the likes that give you one bonus attribute point or two. The rest are random weapons or other parts with one or two bonuses. Not even one valuable piece."
      
          Merciless's mouth fell open. "Wait wait wait you're not joking right? 700, necklaces??"
      
          "Yeah. What's wrong? Let me see, small ones, big ones, colorful ones, for men and for women or for orcs. All kinds of them. I can give you a dozen or two for free if you want them."
      
          "Well, I mean, just come back! I'll explain it in front of you."
      
          "Alright."   
         

                I teleported to the station in the Far Land city. I sent Merciless a private chat to find out he's waiting for me at the city gate. He ran towards the station, panting.

                "You have recall scrolls? I thought you were going to come back on foot."
      
          "Where's the NPC shop? I need to sell this mess."   
        

               "Wait." He sent me a trade request and put a companion egg, a champion badge and 10k crystals in it. "Take them!"
      
          I glanced at the items. "I'll take the money, you keep the egg and badge."
      
          He only took the egg off. "Just take them. I already earned big. I have my rules you know!"
      
          "Okay then." I confirmed. The badge gives you +1 Luck and 10% HP regeneration speed. Not too shabby.

                "Here, have a necklace as a souvenir."
      
          "However did you get this thing? I mean, you are carrying a whole bunch of them right?"
      
          "Yeah, as I said, about 700 of them. All similar ones, they give you one or two attribute point bonus. Not very useful."   
         

                "NOT USEFUL??"

                Woah the dude's eyeballs gonna stick out.

                "They give you BASE attributes! The points you set up upon character creation! Do you know how much actual bonus you'll get, with all the other multipliers??"
      
          "Really?"

                I picked out a necklace with a "+1 Luck" and equipped it. All my base attributes became 14! Holy moses. This is almost Artifact level! (**)

                I'm rich! Thank goodness I didn't discard or sell them.  Looks like I know how to get rid of my debt crisis now!
      
          Merciless watched as I giggled like an idiot. "Are you alright?"
      
          "Oh, I'm totally fine!" I wiped my saliva clean. "Let's go celebrate!"


    ---------------

    (*) It happened again. The author forgot his auto-loot bracelet. Please just ignore these logic bugs.

    (**) The MC has something that modifies all his base attribute points to the same level as the highest one.




  • Thanks for the chapter
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