Chapter 19 - Refusing to Improve
Oolong Cave was located exactly in Oolong Mountain.
Oolong Mountain was about five hundred meters northwest of Yunduan City’s west gate. The mountain was rife with bandits, and the official description for the mountain stated that it was an ideal grinding and looting map for players between levels 25 and 30.
However, what was inside Oolong Cave was completely different from Oolong Mountain. The bandits within it were around level 35 and were largely considered as elite among the criminal NPCs lurking on the mountain. The cave had messy passageways with plenty of twists and turns which made it easy for players to lose their way. GMs did not consider it as reasonable grounds to help players who made such a silly mistake of losing their way inside the cave. This caused the players to curse once more the game officials who had made the statement about the ever-ready-to-assist GMs.
Gu Fei’s statement before leaving to learn a new spell in the Mage Academy had caused Sword Demon and the others to become listless and resulted into the eruption of an argument. So when Gu Fei arrived to the cave, he could not catch even a glimpse of their shadow. Instead, he spotted a player, most likely a Mage, pitifully squatting beside the entrance.
Is he our employer? Gu Fei pondered silently, before going forward and greeting the person, “Hello!”
The person raised his head and looked at Gu Fei, “Hello.”
“What are you doing here?” Gu Fei asked.
“I’m waiting for some people,” he replied.
“Are you waiting for those who agreed to help you finish Oolong Cave’s bounty mission?” Gu Fei pressed on.
“Why do you know that?” the person said in shock.
Gu Fei chuckled, “That’s because I am one of those people.”
“Oh! You’re someone from the Young Master’s Elite group!” the person immediately stood up.
Gu Fei had just found out his mercenary group’s name. The name was rather detestable but it was understandable. Given the level of Young Master Han’s narcissism, how could the group he formed not be named after himself?
“Why are you the only one present?” he asked.
“The rest will arrive shortly.”
“Oh!” the man answered and began to closely size up Gu Fei. He had previously mistaken Gu Fei as a mere passerby and had not even bothered to raise his head to acknowledge him. Once the employer knew that he would be one of the key factors for the success of his quest, he started to take note of him and was left shocked by what he discovered.
A straw hat, a beginner’s mage robe, and a pair of casual shoes worn by Thieves – he was wearing three different types of equipment with opposing styles. This unique blend had the employer stumped! He sneakily used Appraisal on Gu Fei and confirmed his job class as Mage.
He immediately focused on the magic staff Gu Fei was holding. It had a very innovative design: elongated, flat, and simple. It even had a hand-guard attached to it. What sort of rare item is that? the person quietly speculated.
Gu Fei turned just then; he placed his hand across his eyebrows as he looked down the mountain trail and finally spotted the figures of the five people.
Everyone met right outside the cave entrance. Young Master Han introduced each member of the team to the employer. Seeing that they were all renowned players from other online games, he could not help but be thrilled. The living legends of the online gaming world! He deeply admired the Mage pro player Royal God Call as he was a Mage player himself, so he was especially disappointed when he found out that the latter had decided to be an Archer instead of a Mage in Parallel World.
When they got to Gu Fei, the employer who kept spouting “I heard so much about you”, “Pleasure meeting you”, “It’s an honor” had finally stopped using those phrases.
Thousand Miles Drunk? Who’s that? Never heard of him. What does he do? Is he a pro? Everyone could guess what the employer had on his mind from his expression alone.
Gu Fei did not actually mind. He was never part of their clique after all. Gu Fei’s prestige would have preceded him had anyone asked about him among those who practiced kung fu. Alas, there were significantly fewer people active in the kung fu community compared to the online gaming community.
“Do you even play online games, bro?” sounded like a legitimate insult over here.
But the question “Do you know kung fu?” would have sounded preposterous to them.
The things they were exposed to were worlds apart! Gu Fei was feeling rather disappointed just as everyone began to enter the cave.
Young Master Han repeated his final instruction, “We’ll take care of all the monsters along the way. You two just have to follow closely behind. Don’t get into fight, got it?”
Gu Fei and the employer nodded. He was visibly excited but Gu Fei was listless. He was instructed: “Don’t get into fight.” But the sole reason he even played this game was to “get into fight”!
The cave’s pathway was rugged and had no obvious light source, but players could still see clearly what was in front of them. It could be considered as one of the few miracles the game provided. It did not take long for them to encounter enemies. Gu Fei and the employer obediently stayed behind the group’s formation and struck up a conversation in boredom.
“You’re a Mage as well?” the employer asked.
Gu Fei nodded.
“What’s your level?” he asked once more.
“Level 30. What about you?” courtesy demanded this follow-up question.
“25” the person said as his eyes revealed a glimmer of worship.
“Your magic staff is very unique!” he said.
“Magic staff?” Gu Fei was stunned for a while before coming back to his senses and smiling brightly. He offered the item to him, “Try it.”
“Really?” the person was taken aback. Casually handing his equipment to others. How dauntless! he said to himself as he dutifully received the item. He shuddered as he took it into his hand, slowly calming himself down to properly inspect it. He immediately shouted, “F*ck!”
This was not a magic staff! This was clearly a sword. It looked like it was a cross between a western longsword and a Tang sword, which was basically a generic weapon with no special properties; it could be found anywhere in the game. But it was far too unusual to find it in the hands of a Mage.
The employer concluded that this Mage would most probably be holding a blade for the looks. Ultimately, having a longsword slung by your waist was a lot cooler than having a magic staff.
I should get one as well! the person thought as he approached the expert and returned the sword.
While the two were having a leisurely chat, the fight ahead of them had become fiercer.
The monsters were five levels above the players fighting them right now!
It was not easy to beat monsters beyond a player’s level in Parallel World. It was already a given that the player’s average equipment would be of no match to these monsters. If the player was slightly better geared, it would be slightly doable. Only with outstanding equipment could the player properly attempt to engage and survive fights against higher level monsters. The gaming pros currently assembled were not only very well-geared, they possessed great instinct as well.
That’s right, instinct! In VRMMOs, it was no longer about having superb keyboard operating skill but actual combat skills! Would the common players possess such a thing aside from Gu Fei? Therefore, instinct became a deciding factor in differentiating the good and bad players.
Knowledge in usage and control, experience from practice, etc. all became the building blocks of instinct.
These people ahead of him were quite possibly among the people with the most outstanding gaming instincts.
They easily coordinated and complemented one another beyond the realm of the normal players while they were fighting the monsters.
Archer Royal God Call would swiftly shoot an arrow to a monster, causing it to promptly turn and make its way toward him. Sword Demon who was on Stealth would instantly score a Backstab when the monster turned. When the monster tried to face Sword Demon, he would have already run off. War Without Wounds and Brother Assist would then rush over and position themselves on the left and right of the monster to trap it, then they would slash in a frenzy to hold its aggro. Sword Demon would then return into the combat and finish off the monster together with the others. Young Master Han’s healing would timely be bestowed on each and they would recover their health at just the right moment, and not a single point of restoration would be wasted.
This was the quickest and most efficient way of engaging into a combat. More importantly, they knew only to fight the monsters that crossed their path and nothing more.
This was the main reason why Young Master Han would not allow the two Mages, Gu Fei and the employer, to join in the fight. A Mage’s spell-casting, attack, and radiance would draw aggro from a large area. They were not able to concentrate their attacks on a single target. What was aggro? To put it simply, it was a monster’s judgment of the player’s threat. The value from the calculation of this algorithm could be understood as aggro. Once the value passed a certain threshold, the monster would initiate an attack on the player. If there were multiple players simultaneously threatening the monsters, he would target the player with the highest aggro.
Because Mages could draw aggro from a wide area with their attacks, it was very easy to draw three or five monsters toward them with just one attack. That was definitely not something players would want to happen.
The target for their current mission was the Mountain Bandit Leader Sooto, so they should not be wasting any time along the way. Young Master Han’s way always emphasized on completing missions with speed and efficiency.
Furthermore, Parallel World actively recorded the time players took to accomplish missions. Over at the Quest Handling Counter, the employer would have his name jotted down as the quest taker, yet Young Master’s Elite would have their group name recorded in the Great Hall of Mercenaries. This was the best way to prove the strength of their mercenary group.
As the group used this extremely efficient method to progress through the cave, Young Master Han could not help but be impressed. Were it not for the dominance that the Parallel World currently had over all other online games, it was truly hard to even imagine all these experts working together. On that note, Young Master Han turned back and looked for the stragglers. He found Gu Fei and the employer unhurriedly making their way behind the team, acting like a pair of tourists taking a tour as they casually related to one another and took in the sights and sounds of the cave. They seemed to be absolutely oblivious to the wondrous coordination that was happening right in front of them.
Young Master Han could not help but feel dismayed. Gu Fei was a member of the group. Compared to these online gaming pros that already had some levels of interactions with one another before, Gu Fei was a total stranger to them. He expected Gu Fei to quickly familiarize himself with each member’s specialty, attitude, and combat habits so that he could fit in without compromising their current efficiency and to effectively contribute toward the group.
And yet, he had not grasped this golden opportunity to observe and learn. Instead, he spent the time chatting over god knew what with that weak level 25 Mage!
Young Master Han felt a fire burning in his heart! Yet, he was not able to guide Gu Fei right now. The other members who were busily fighting monsters were more pressed for his attention. Priest was a job class that had a rather busy and tiresome role. Many players thought a Priest’s job was to heal others like a doctor; that it was most suitable for ladies to play since they were not required to spill blood. In truth, a great Priest player would need to have the ability to see the bigger picture, have superior concentration, be able to calmly make judgments as well as pivotal split-second decisions, and have a good sense in creating and grasping opportunities. Not many female players could reach such standards. Thus, while there were a lot of women who played the Priest job class, the real peak experts were all male players.
That was the role Young Master Han played. In the past, it was always his partner Sword Demon that took the lead in online games, and he was the right hand man. But now that the virtual reality had exposed Sword Demon’s real appearance, he had been crushed by what happened afterward, and the incidents had left him somewhat dejected. So Young Master Han decided to personally take up the mantle and form a group with himself as the core.
Being a perfectionist, he could not stand to see his new recruit Gu Fei’s lack of effort in trying to find ways to fit in, even appearing to treat this mission as a leisure tour. He would have rushed over and lectured Gu Fei without restraint if his hands were not tied to the current fights.