Chapter 15 - Nine Blades of Tang
When Sword Demon first met Gu Fei, he was so shocked by his skills he had not thought of using Appraisal to inspect his equipment. Truth be told, Gu Fei’s robe was the usual run-of-the-mill so there was no value in using Appraisal on it. Top tier items, like Frost Memories, had distinctive designs after all.
Sword Demon’s curiosity grew as he continued to hear the endless cries of the monsters from the other side.
How exactly is he fighting the monsters? As a player familiar with the many in-game skills, Sword Demon could evaluate anyone's fighting style just from sound alone. Yet, he simply could not see through Gu Fei’s methods.
Researching other players’ techniques and skills was Sword Demon’s passion, so he could no longer resist his curiosity and decided to scout Gu Fei’s fight.
Sword Demon used the Stealth skill to creep in closer to his research target.
Skills in Parallel World were not easily executed once learned. Constant practice was required to raise their proficiency level, and the higher the proficiency level, the greater the effects of the skills. Repeated use, quest rewards, or stat option from equipment were some of the ways players could raise their skill proficiency level.
Stealth could be considered as the most important skill for the Thief job class. Experienced players like Sword Demon were very aware of its importance, so he had practiced it nonstop and managed to raise its proficiency level. The current Stealth Sword Demon used had no time limit and could be maintained as long as he did not get attacked or initiate an attack. The skill was definitely essential for sneak attacks.
Sword Demon who was under Stealth mode made his way across the wall of trees and finally spotted Gu Fei.
There was no passing wind in the forest, yet Sword Demon still felt chilled to the bone. It was the type of coldness that originated from one’s soul.
Gu Fei’s way of fighting monsters completely went against everything Sword Demon had learned from his years of playing games.
The man in mage robe appeared as if he was one with the wind with his elegant and swift movements; the shabby straw hat covered half of his face. His hand moved in a flurry of motion with constant flashes of silver. These flashes were accompanied by the monsters’ screams which persistently hung in the air. The silver flashes came from a blade Gu Fei was holding in his hand.
The blade looked similar to a real Tang sword with how it danced in Gu Fei’s hand. Sword Demon could feel his gaming knowledge getting cleaved with every blow.
Gu Fei’s strikes were very beautiful as they were executed perfectly.
But although the attacks were beautiful, they were not in-game skills but just regular moves!
Who would believe him if he said a Mage was defeating monsters and grinding much faster than him with just basic moves alone? Sword Demon was at a loss.
Sword Demon continued to carefully watch Gu Fei’s fight. After a while, he discovered just how amazing Gu Fei’s way of fighting the monsters was.
Every attack he dealt would inflict maximum damage!
Weapons in online games would often have a set range of value toward the application of damage. The difference between the minimum and maximum damage one could apply was significant. There had always been an ongoing argument if it was better to have a weapon with a high but unstable damage output or to have a fixed, small range that averaged better. Many players concluded that they could only rely on luck to maximize their weapon’s damage since it was still a mystery on how one could do it at will.
However, in the fully immersive online game, Parallel World, Sword Demon started to realize that low and high damage output was no longer dependent on luck, but rather something a player could have control of.
Based on Sword Demon’s preliminary analysis, the damage applied was directly affected by the accuracy as well as the proficiency exerted behind each attack.
Gu Fei before him was like this.
Sword Demon was convinced that every attack Gu Fei made dealt maximum damage or at least close to it. Having spent quite a long time grinding his level here, he had a clear idea of how much health the monsters in this map had. Dividing that by the amount of cuts the blade landed, he easily figured out each strike’s degree of damage. Taking into consideration the fact that he was a Mage, Sword Demon was still certain that Gu Fei’s every blow had inflicted maximum damage.
Control! That was the word that drilled into Sword Demon’s head.
Who said there was no control in a VR game? This was control, far beyond the usual MMORPGs’ mouse or even keyboard control.
The ability to control your level of damage and inflict maximum damage at will… This could be considered as peak control! Sword Demon saw a whole new world opened up in front of his eyes and could not help but get excited.
At this moment, Gu Fei began to coordinate his movements, moving to cleave the monsters while deftly stepping backward to dodge.
Wait, does he even need to rest? Sword Demon wondered. He did not see Gu Fei receive any injury! Although the game had a fatigue setting, its design was just a hindrance to the player’s gaming experience. It would be hard for players that only possessed an average human physique to continue playing when they had been utterly exhausted from the constant high-intensity fight.
While there was a fatigue gauge, it decreased rather slowly. Players dubbed it as the anti-addiction system. In a way, they were poking fun at the gaming company that tried to prevent people from playing the game regularly.
Could it be that the fatigue gauge actually decreases faster when you’re using peak control? Sword Demon thought silently. If that really was the case, the drawbacks would somewhat outweigh the benefit. Fatigue recovery was slow and there was currently no way to speedily restore it except for waiting idly, although the time one was offline also counted as part of fatigue recovery. Sword Demon could not consider it worthwhile if that was indeed the case.
Regardless, Gu Fei was obviously attacking while retreating. The newly spawned monsters were not drawn over since he was out of the aggro range as he methodically eliminated the remaining monsters one by one. By the time he reached the edge of the forest, he had already cleanly sliced the last monster.
How wonderful! Sword Demon marveled quietly. Gu Fei had such a high level of precision that he was able to grasp a path of retreat flawlessly; it was the very definition of peak control.
However, the real wonder had yet to begin. After killing the last monster, Gu Fei held the blade with one hand and adjusted his straw hat. His eyes which had been covered by the straw hat were now unveiled as he gazed in Sword Demon’s direction and laughed, “Is something the matter?”
Sword Demon turned around but saw no one behind him.
“Are you talking to me? You can see me?” asked Sword Demon as shock colored his face.
“I can’t see you, but I can feel your presence,” Gu Fei said.
“How is that possible?!” Sword Demon was surprised, but he immediately recalled his failed Backstab that day when they PvP-ed. He thought Gu Fei became aware of the last attack and was able to grab him because Sword Demon had revealed himself prior to attacking.
Putting the two incidents together, could it be Gu Fei already knew he had been here under Stealth mode the whole time?
What is this? Is this still considered control? Sword Demon was at a loss.
“Reveal yourself already!” Gu Fei shouted. He knew Sword Demon was nearby, but he could not see him. Hearing his voice hanging in the air just made the situation too peculiar.
Sword Demon slowly emerged into sight as he released his Stealth.
“What’s up?” Gu Fei asked.
“I just wanted to see how you fight monsters,” Sword Demon said.
“So how was it?” Gu Fei asked with a smile.
“It’s great!” Sword Demon nodded.
“My Nine Blades of Tang.”
“Nine Blades of Tang?”
“Yup!” Gu Fei nodded.
What is that? Is that what he calls his peak control? If I recalled correctly there's a wuxia online game two years ago that had a similarly named low-level equipment... Sword Demon wept silently as he realized that his vast knowledge and experience was only limited to online games, mistaking the famous Tang sword for some insignificant equipment.
“Three forms of Fenliu!” Gu Fei suddenly called out. With a twist of his wrist, he lifted the sword and delivered three cross slashes into the air.
“Three forms of Duanlang!” The momentum changed as he called out once more. Three fierce slashes were made before him, akin to an enraged tiger descending the mountain.
“Three forms of Chiri!” The blade cut the air before him, with three rapid strokes falling upon a single point with a shake of his arm.
“The Nine Blades of Tang allowed the user to flexibly slice, cut, and stab their targets. Getting anywhere near mastering it would require decades of diligent kung fu practice. How can my mediocre skill be a match?” Gu Fei laughed to himself.
Sword Demon could only nod his head obliviously. He simply had no idea what Gu Fei was talking about. In his eyes, the few strokes that Gu Fei had displayed messily in front of him was not nearly as amazing as him fighting the monsters from before.
“Oh, yeah. Do you have a reason why you’re looking for me?” Gu Fei asked.
There was actually something Sword Demon had undecidedly wanted to ask. But after seeing Gu Fei’s peak control, he finally decided to go for it, “I’ve got a friend who’s looking for a few people to form a mercenary group, and I’m wondering if you’re interested?”
“You know what that is?”
“Of course, I do.” There was no way Gu Fei, who was concerned with all aspects of this game, would not know the two major organizational features that existed in-game.
Guilds and mercenary groups.
Guilds were much like gangs in the usual online games. In Parallel World, a guild could be formed through a person’s nomination and twenty individuals’ agreement.
Meanwhile, mercenary groups were a new feature very different from the traditional type found in most online games. Since there was no required amount of players to establish a mercenary team, even a single player could form one. The mercenary quests given by the system allowed the members to earn money, gain experience, or be rewarded with equipment. Similarly, players and guilds could also release missions for mercenary groups by providing remuneration; by completing a quest, the mercenaries would then be able to acquire the previously agreed upon reward. Naturally, players and guilds could not provide experience as rewards, so many would usually provide equipment, gold, etc. as payment.
Guilds and mercenary groups never clashed with each other. Even if the players were from different guilds, they could still form a mercenary group together. Though, the current trend was for the same guild members to form a mercenary group. While it was possible to have a one-man mercenary group, the quests given by the system were usually impossible to be completed solo. Lone wolves might as well just wait for simple quests made by other players! Therefore, one of the most popular things to do in the game right now was for guilds to groom their mercenary groups.
Gu Fei momentarily laughed and said, “Oh, you want me to join the Heaven-Defying Guild’s mercenary group?”
Sword Demon laughed bitterly, “Heaven-Defying Guild had already been disbanded.”
“Ack! Why?” Gu Fei was perplexed. Guilds could only be established by level 30 players, while only those above level 20 could second the establishment. Since Sword Demon had already reached level 30, Gu Fei had thought his Heaven-Defying Guild would have long been established.