Chapter 351 - Ferry Business
“Your boat?” The three stared at the man. He looked like an average Warrior, and a quick Appraisal showed that he had no particularly outstanding equipment on him, either. He was also only level at 38, which was below the average players’ level in Parallel World at the moment.
“That’s right!” The man grinned and said, “Do you three hope to travel to Linshui City? That ferry just departed; it would take two hours for it to return and two more be to set off. That means that there are four hours in total before all of you can get on your way, so why don’t you all take my boat, instead.”
“Where did you get a boat?” Even the jack-of-all-trades Xi Xiaotian that had rich knowledge about various aspects of the game had never heard of players being able to own ‘boats’ and the ilk.
“Made it myself,” that man replied.
“Made it yourself?” the three echoed. This was something they had no knowledge of and did not know what questions to ask pertaining to the topic of boat-making.
“Uhm… There are many players waiting for the ship just now, right? Why didn’t you offer them a ride on your boat?” Gu Fei curiously asked.
That man laughed bitterly and said, “I am most willing; it is just a pity that my boat can’t accommodate that many.”
“Oh…” the three hummed.
“Anyway, are you three interested?” the man asked once more.
Xi Xiaotian’s eyes glanced over and asked, “This boat of yours, I’m afraid we won’t be riding for free, are we?”
The man chuckled. “Naturally, you all have to pay me to ride my boat.”
“And how much will it cost?” Xi Xiaotian pressed on.
“50 gold coins,” the man replied.
“So expensive!” the three exclaimed in unison.
The man simply added, “That system-operated ferry charges 60 gold coins a ticket.”
“F*ck! The system is the most despicable,” Vast Lushness angrily spat. Players were already used to how Parallel World would take advantage of them, charging an exorbitant price for things and services while having a monopoly on every aspect of business in the game. Everyone was frustrated about this, yet they were helpless to fix it. Some players with keen foresight predicted that breaking this monopoly would be a guaranteed path to in-game wealth. Because everyone was very resentful over being under the thumb of the system’s monopolization for so long, many reckoned plenty of people would rather let their fellow players earn that same amount than to let the system to get away with it.
This player who had built his boat to start his own ferry transport business seemed to be a forerunner of this realm. The three finally took his offer to ride his boat.
“Follow me, please.” That man was naturally delighted now that the negotiations were successfully completed, leading these three players over to another thatched shack by the pier.
“Where’s the boat?” the three asked curiously. The man nimbly pulled off a layer of straw and a small, wooden rowboat, similar to those found in parks, appeared before their eyes.
“This is the boat you’re talking about? Would this do…” The three were skeptical. After all, the body of water the system had created was far larger than any manmade ponds people would find in parks. The water stretched out as far as the eye could see with fog in the distance. The ship made by the system was not too quick, either, but it had since been swallowed whole by the fog and was no longer visible to those standing by the shore.
“Don’t you worry; I’ve been doing this for a real long time. The water here is much calmer than you imagine. As long as I know the direction we’re heading to, we’ll be fine even if we’re paddling over on a piece of driftwood,” this man assuaged as he continued to clear out the straw covering his boat. He helplessly explained, “There’s really no other way to hide this except for resorting to this method. It is considered as a handcrafted item, yet I can’t fit it into my dimensional pocket. I guess it’s considered to be too bulky and very heavy as of the moment; maybe, I’ll be able to fit it inside once I level up more!” His current expression showed how much he was looking forward to such an eventuality, dreaming about the day when he could casually carry around his boat in his dimensional pocket.
After he finished clearing the straw, he made his way to the boat’s stern and pushed, slipping it on to the water.
“Please get on board, you three!” The man smiled pleasantly when he said this.
Each of them climbed aboard it. Following this, the man pulled out a long bamboo pole from his dimensional pocket, stabbed it into the water, and pushed with enough force. The little boat swiftly left the shore at this. The man continued this action with great familiarity as the boat steadily gathered speed, demonstrating just how skilled he was at the task, similar to how Gu Fei had brought his real-life kung fu skills into the game and successfully integrated it into the PvP of Parallel World.
“Can the three of you please hand over your payment, please.” The man continued to steer the boat as he said this, adding, “Frankly speaking, if you three up and leave upon reaching our destination later, I won’t be able to chase you all by myself.”
The three did not say anything upon hearing this, and each of them fished out their money pouch to pay the fee of 50 gold coins. It was an amount these experts could afford.
“Thank you!” Once the payment was made, this person started working even harder. The boat got further and further away from land, as the water got deeper and deeper. Once the pole became entirely useless due to the depth, he kept it and took out two oars, which he tied together to form one double-bladed paddle, before positioning himself at the back of the boat. He began to row with the smooth, skillful movement of a consummate professional.
The novelty the three felt toward the boat and the boatman had long ended. They were no longer fixing their gaze on his way of steering, and they started to admire the view of the lake as they chatted.
“Are you two friends?” Vast Lushness finally asked the question she had wanted to ask back on the shore. Gu Fei and Xi Xiaotian evidently knew each other, except the two seemed to share a rather unusual relationship, as though they were friends and enemies.
Neither commented when they heard the question, which only made her feel the oddity of the two’s relationship. She was not a nosy person, however, so she did not pursue this line of query with them.
“What are you doing here?” Gu Fei also started questioning Xi Xiaotian. Seeing no victims around, her appearance here was rather bizarre.
“Just like you two, I’m doing the mission for Traversing Four Seas,” she answered.
“Oh, really? Why haven’t I seen you before?” He found this odd.
“There were over a thousand players doing this mission, so why is it shocking to miss someone?” she asked.
“How did you miss the ferry, then? Didn’t you arrive earlier than us?” When Gu Fei and Vast Lushness arrived, the ship had only left moments ago. Since Xi Xiaotian was there earlier than them by a bit, she should have been able to make it.
“I was here for quite some time, but I was busy grinding on the monsters nearby and ended up mistaking the time, and missed the boarding time. I would have made it, though, if I were you,” she remarked.
“Blink!” she explained.
“Ah!” he nodded.
Only then did they notice the absence of rhythmic sound of splashing water from the paddling boatman and that the boat itself was slowing down. The three turned their heads to look and saw the person by the stern of the wooden boat was no longer paddling anymore and was instead holding a shield in hand. He smilingly regarded the three once he saw them look over to him, “You three, do you know how to swim?”
“What are you trying to do?” They already realized that something was amiss.
“If you don’t know how to swim, I’ll simple capsize our boat and you’ll be in big trouble. If otherwise, hmm… How comfortable are you in the water? Can you fight while in the water?” the man asked.
The three exchanged glances. Few people had tried fighting with others in the water, and Gu Fei was truly incapable of doing such as he did not know how to swim. He would be busy drowning the moment he landed in the water, much less even fight back.
“Okay. What do you want from us, so you won’t do any of that?” he asked.
“Simply put, 300 gold coins for a level. You guys are players above level 38, right? I’m sure exchanging one level worth of experience points for 300 gold coins isn’t too shabby a trade,” he said slyly.
“Meaning, you want us to pay 300 gold coins each?” Gu Fei asked.
“Nope…” The man shook his head, saying “These two beautiful ladies here can pay me 300 gold coins each, but you, my friend, will have to pay me 1200 gold coins since you’re not just losing a level here but four, instead.”
“How do you know I’ve got PK value?” Gu Fei was surprised by this. His PK value of 29 points would cost him four levels a death.
“He he… There’s plenty of strange equipment in this game!” the man replied.
“1200 gold coins… I don’t have that much gold on me,” Gu Fei said.
“Not many do,” The man clearly had a good grasp of gaming conventions. The sum of 1200 gold coins was indeed something not many people would carry on hand or even possess. “That’s why I’ll let you to give me equipment as payment, instead.”
“So it’s like that, huh,” Gu Fei posed as though he were contemplating.
“Buddy, you seem to be stalling for time here.” The man smiled. “I know who you are. To get a PK value of 29 points, you’re that Video Mage, aren’t you? I know your Twin Incineration is powerful, and from your conversation before, it seems you know Blink. Are you thinking of using it with your Twin Incineration the moment I let my guard down?
“Given my knowledge of your identity, why would I not come prepared? You’ll have to insta-kill me, or I’ll immediately jump into the water, capsize the boat, and everyone will suffer! You better stay your hand, my friend! I know you’re a capable man, but chalking it up as a loss once in a while is fine, too!” the man spoke at length, showing his determination to succeed.
At this same moment, Xi Xiaotian sent Gu Fei a private message: “This guy has a shield with fire resistance trait!”
“It’s fine,” he replied to her.
“What do you plan to do?” she asked.
“Slay him, of course,” he replied matter-of-factly.
“Exactly as how he said,” he answered.
“Can you insta-kill him, though? He’s a Guardian with a fire-resistance shield,” she reminded.
“Guess I’ll have to try,” he said. He had never once considered compromising with such sort of people.
“Maybe, I can increase your chances a little.” She sent over this message. Before the man’s speech ended, Xi Xiaotian said, “I’ll pay.”
“This beautiful lady here is a smart cookie.” The man chuckled. “Slowly take out your money pouch and toss it at my feet.”
“The moment he picks the coin pouch up, an opening should present itself.” Xi Xiaotian messaged Gu Fei even as she did what she was told. Her method of creating an opening by making the man reach out for her money pouch was truly excellent. It was just a pity that....
She tossed the coin pouch over to that person’s feet, but his glance barely registered this action before he immediately returned his gaze on the three people in front of him. The shield was still held before his body as he slowly squatted to pick up the pouch.
He must pick this up, as the system would delete and clear the items players toss in ten minutes. The opening Xi Xiaotian had been hoping to create never occurred, though.