Chapter 20 - The Secret Pathway in Oolong Cave
Sword Demon and the rest had no time to remain watchful of their backs as they were fully occupied with dispatching the monsters in front. Unlike Young Master Han, the others were not so inflexible regarding how to carry out their mission. They didn’t think there was a need to observe how well the others were doing, especially when a team member was not assigned to do anything.
Young Master Han tried to think of a way to backtrack and give Gu Fei a piece of his mind, but having accepted this particular mission before, he was aware that he could not do that now as they had already advanced further into Oolong Cave. The deeper one ventured into the cave, the higher the monsters’ levels were. Seeing how the surroundings would get even more cramped the deeper they went, they could only make sure not to commit any mistakes to avoid alerting any additional monsters.
They had to keep this up until they reached a stone door. Once they got there, they would have to face a quite competent Mini Boss, which was guarding a lever that opened the door. Once the Mini Boss was taken care of, the pathway to Mountain Bandit Leader Sooto’s chamber would be revealed by pulling the lever.
Young Master Han had carefully planned for their actions and kept track of the time, but he failed to notice that a mishap had occurred behind their backs.
The cave’s pathway was steep and rocky, and it was difficult to walk on it.
Their employer got careless for a moment, lost his footing, and wobbled to the side with a few unsteady steps.
“Careful!” Gu Fei warned him just verbally as he could see that the employer merely lost his balance and did not actually fall down.
The employer balanced himself and thanked Gu Fei. At that moment, Gu Fei felt something was amiss within the darkness behind the employer.
“Get away quickly!” Gu Fei dashed forward as he shouted.
The employer had yet to regain his composure when he saw Gu Fei dash past him and take a position behind his back.
Clink! It was a crisp sound of swords clashing. Gu Fei had unsheathed the scabbard from his sword, and was able to timely defend against the shadow within the darkness.
“Hurry up and leave! No need to help me!” Gu Fei turned around and said.
“F*ck!” Gu Fei cursed after seeing that the employer had already run far away. He clearly had no intention of helping Gu Fei. From his perspective, he hired Gu Fei and the others to help him, so of course they had the responsibility and obligation to protect him. It was only natural for Gu Fei to endanger himself to keep the employer safe. As for him helping Gu Fei instead? F*ck! Why would I hire you lot in the first place if I could deal with these monsters myself? was what the employer was thinking.
“Oh, fine! Just keep on running!” Gu Fei said to him as he kept on fighting.
The employer started to have some doubts as he ran away. He’s a Mage, right? Yet, he seems to be fighting the monster using a sword? Oh, yeah! He’s trying to increase its aggro rate against him, so that it will focus more on him instead of me! He’s a pro alright!
The employer hastily rushed himself back to the main group, leaving Gu Fei to handle the enemy alone.
It was difficult to engage in combat within the darkness. Gu Fei was slowly retreating as he fought, and as he reached the intersection, a ray of light from god knew where had allowed Gu Fei to have a clearer look of the opponent. It was a Mountain Bandit, but one wearing a blue outfit.
What did the blue outfit signify? It actually differentiated the different tiers of bosses. In this virtual reality game, the names of the NPCs no longer hovered above their heads. Naturally, a new way was needed to differentiate the tiers of the bosses. It did not seem appropriate to carve 'Big Boss', 'Mini Boss', 'Henchman' onto the faces of monsters; in the end, the developers decided to display the differences through their outward appearances.
The Mountain Bandit before Gu Fei was just a Henchman, which was weaker compared to a Mini Boss or a Big Boss.
Gu Fei was a little excited as this was his first time encountering and fighting a Henchman after grinding for so long.
Unfortunately, a Henchman still lacked the ability to provide Gu Fei with his much desired excitement and thrill.
In the strictest sense, a Henchman was not considered a real boss. It was just an ordinary monster that had been bestowed with better attack, defense, and health. Real bosses would actually have flashy entrances when appearing in front of players, clad in golden armors or godly attires. Their looks alone would leave the players humbled. Bosses were NPCs with powerful skills, great equipment, high level, and impressive AI. Compared to a real boss, a Henchman was nothing but a mook.
With Gu Fei’s peak control that allowed him to deliver maximum damage every strike, it was only a matter of time before the current mook was taken care of. Unfortunately, Gu Fei was lacking in Strength and all his equipment was common grade. While he could still deal with regular monsters in a jiffy, the enhanced version of monsters proved to be a little more tedious. This particular scrimmage required a few more minutes before the Henchman finally collapsed on the floor.
Gu Fei could clearly hear the Henchman mumble something before it collapsed, “The key to the secret path… I will never give it to anyone!”
“What key?” Gu Fei asked instinctively.
But the monster was dead. And even if it were still alive, it would not reply to a player’s question unless it was programmed to.
Gu Fei looted the Henchman thoroughly. Besides it producing a larger pile of coins compared to regular monsters, there was a heavy metal key as well. Upon a closer look, a message was displayed. [The key to Oolong Cave’s secret pathway.]
But where is the secret path? Gu Fei looked around him, and headed toward the dark area where the Henchman had appeared from.
Although it was very dark, Gu Fei did not feel that it was a hardship since he had a few torches with him.
He killed quite a number of those groups of Vagabonds by the campfire near a lake back then. Aside from looting a bundle of meat-carving knives from them, Gu Fei acquired a lot of items for setting up fire as well. Unfortunately, Gu Fei was just a Mage and there was a weight limit to how much he could carry. His Doraemon’s dimensional pocket was not unlimited in size after all. Of course, he did not plan to loot every meat-carving knife a monster dropped. Just having some was enough. And being the boy scout that he was, he had kept a few torches with him just in case he needed them in the future. His location right now was exactly where a torch would come in handy.
Gu Fei was grateful that he had anticipated something like this back then. He casually took a torch out of his pocket and lit it up.
The torch lit up the darkness. Gu Fei noticed a large iron plate on the ground instantly. A latch at the end was fastened together by a giant padlock which was currently bolted. Gu Fei inserted the newly acquired key into the padlock and turned the key, resulting in a loud clicking noise as the padlock was unlocked. He removed the padlock and lifted the iron plate on the ground, revealing a hole which could only fit a single person at a time. Gu Fei directed his torch into the hole, and what he saw was a tunnel around the height of a single person.
Gu Fei promptly sent Sword Demon a message, but all he received was a system notification. [Message reception is off.]
Well, it was only natural for Sword Demon et al. to turn off their message reception, for they did not wish to be interrupted when undergoing intensive battles. They were all standing close to one another anyway, so if there was anything to say they could just shout it directly.
Maybe I should just wait till the mission is successfully carried out... Gu Fei closed the iron plate, but he hesitated when he went back to the main passageway.
The monsters, which were taken care of by Sword Demon and company, had already respawned in front of the cave.
These monsters would not actually cause much difficulty for Gu Fei, seeing as they were only level 35. But the thing was, unlike Sword Demon and the others, Gu Fei was not that knowledgeable regarding information like the positions of the monsters or the range of the monsters’ aggro. If Gu Fei proceeded alone now, he might just have to defeat all the previous monsters again. In other words, it was troublesome.
“Just my luck I guess!” Gu Fei sighed and went back to lift the iron plate open again.
Who knows? I might surprise those people by arriving there ahead of them! Gu Fei went down the tunnel with a slight urge for mischief.
The hidden tunnel was cramped, but it was much easier to walk on compared to the rocky pathway of the cave. Gu Fei lifted his torch high in the air as he remained mindful of any traps.
Surprisingly, it was smooth sailing till the end of the tunnel where a huge stone door loomed before Gu Fei. The stone door grudgingly opened as he pushed it with all his might. Though, Gu Fei felt as if the door wanted to crush him to his death as it pushed back against him. With much effort, he finally wedged himself through the small opening and entered. The door closed by itself when Gu Fei stopped pushing once he fully got through to the other side. Gu Fei tried pushing the door from the side now that he was inside, but the door would not even budge. Maybe it needed to be pulled instead of pushed? Unfortunately, Gu Fei did not think it was possible as he had already turned all sweaty from just pushing the door. He started to ponder about adding stat points to Strength in the future now that he was feeling dissatisfied with his lack of power.
Gu Fei looked around and saw a wide, empty area as he left the stone door.
It was a surprise to find such a flat and spacious area inside a cave. Within a split second, Gu Fei noticed the small hut situated among the leveled open space.
“Sooto is in a small hut situated inside the deeper parts of Oolong Cave... Although there’s plenty of space outside the hut…” Gu Fei recalled Young Master Han’s words when he was briefing them about the mission.
I actually reached the targeted location first… The secret path is actually the shortcut for this mission! Gu Fei was overjoyed by this, Since there’s nobody around, maybe I should... Gu Fei clasped his sword, and slowly approached the small hut.
As for the strategy set up by Young Master Han, Gu Fei had nothing but admiration for him; Gu Fei witnessed all of their excellent teamwork with his eyes. If everything was carried out exactly like how Young Master Han had planned, the risks involved would only be minimal.
However, admiring something did not necessarily mean fondness! What Gu Fei really craved was a face-to-face combat.
Luring the monsters, trapping the monsters, attracting the monsters’ aggro; Gu Fei was familiar with these terms as he had heard them regularly as well. These were aspects that showed just how skillful an online gaming expert was. But Gu Fei was different. It was true that he wanted to be a prominent expert in the game, but he wished to achieve that by relying on his kung fu and not by relying on some online gaming skills. This was his purpose for playing Parallel World.
Gu Fei had only dealt with regular monsters all these time, and he had always been wishing for an opportunity to face a challenging mob boss to test his limits. It seemed the opportunity had finally arrived.
Missions that required players to fight a boss were hard to come by. The system released a list of missions on random every day. There were countless item-finding or delivery missions for the players to choose from, but it was rare to actually come across a challenging top-tier mission. Even if the players managed to come across one, they would still need luck to actually receive the mission as theirs. This was why a player or an employer was willing to spend big bucks to hire others to help with the mission.
Now that I think about it, joining this mercenary group isn’t that bad. The harder the missions, the more chances I have to face greater challenges.
Gu Fei arrived outside the small hut as he was still lost in his thoughts.
The NPC within the hut was the exact same one whose head was needed to accomplish the mercenary mission. Of course, Gu Fei did not even bother to knock on the door and greet. He busted the door down with a flying kick and yelled, “Sooto!”
It appeared that this was also a way to attract the monster’s aggro. The person lying on the bed immediately bounced up and rushed toward Gu Fei after retrieving his huge knife from the side of the bed.
Gu Fei brandished his sword and sprang forward; they clashed!
“Such strength!” Gu Fei managed to block the attack, but he could not withstand the force behind it and was blown away.
Sooto roared and charged out of his hut.
Gu Fei’s face turned pale. He recalled Young Master Han saying, “Sooto will whistle for his lackeys once he exits his hut.”