Traversing across mountains, ridges, valleys, and rivers, the terrain around Xiawu City was anything but simple. However, the one thing that remained unchanged was the heavy fog that hung all around them, which made the journey exceptionally difficult for the six men. Because they were aware of the city’s direction but not the road to it, they could only forge ahead in a straight line. They had no choice but to face whatever sort of danger or dilemma that they came across or met along the way head on. They eventually started coming across other players, and their journey became a lot easier upon inquiring after the right path.
When the number of people they met along the road increased, the six men could tell that they were getting closer and closer to Xiawu City. Brother Assist went to ask another passerby and came running back, happily announcing, “That player is only at level 14, so I reckon it won’t be too long till we reach the city.”
Sure enough, after walking for a bit, the outline of Xiawu City came into view through the heavy fog, and the six seemed to be about to reach the city walls. Xiawu City’s heavy fog was so impermeable that even something as huge as a city got shrouded by it.
Players were coming and going by the city gate. The moment their group brushed shoulders with someone, Young Master Han asked, “How do I get to the tavern?”
This person carefully peered at his face in surprise before telling him the location of the nearest tavern. Young Master Han turned back and saw the other five men staring at him disdainfully.
“I believe we are here to hunt after Southern Lone Blade,” Gu Fei said.
“I know that, but we’ve asked plenty of players along the way, and none of them saw a squad pass them, so we currently have no idea where they are heading. As the group leader, I decided that we should locate the bar to act as our rendezvous point and have a drink or two before we begin discussing our long-term plan. Perhaps, Southern Lone Blade is as clever as me and has thought up of the same wonderful plan as I did. There’s no telling that we just might meet each other there,” Young Master Han said.
“Wonderful my a**,” these people muttered. However, the situation that Young Master Han had said did indeed have a chance of occuring. Having traveled all this way and finally reaching the new location, they were all tired and found nothing wrong with heading to a tavern to rest for a bit.
With that, the six men all went to the nearest tavern. They looked around anxiously the moment they pushed open the door and entered, yet they found nothing. It seemed that Southern Lone Blade and his crew were not that delicate; even though they had an exhausting day spent in desperate flight, it was still unknown just where they had run off to.
Young Master Han’s purpose for being here looked to just be to drink. While everybody was looking for traces of Southern Lone Blade around the place, he had already slid right up to the counter and ordered two bottles, picking out a table and sitting himself down. By the time everybody came over, he had already polished off an entire bottle by himself.
“Brother Assist, ask Southern Lone Blade when he’ll pay us the rest of what we’re owed,” Young Master Han said.
“I’ve already asked him, and he hasn’t replied to me yet,” Brother Assist informed.
“Could he have blocked you, too?” Young Master Han thought aloud.
“What do you mean by ‘too’?” Brother Assist was confused.
“Oh, nothing that concerns you,” Young Master Han said and finished two more glasses. He was now facing the others. “Let us analyze our current scenario.”
“The first scenario is probably the worst: Southern Lone Blade’s seven-man squad is using the heavy fog to randomly walk about in it. They didn’t Xiawu City and went to another location, instead. That’s jinxing it too much. Quickly spit, spit, spit.” Young Master Han poured a glass of liquor and passed it over to War Without Wounds as he said this.
War Without Wounds was in a daze: I’m not the one jinxing things, so why must I be the one doing the spitting?
“Besides this scenario, they would have most likely reached Xiawu City. Alright, everyone. Let’s do a bit of a roleplay. What will you do the moment you see a new city? What we’re doing now is my answer,” Young Master Han said.
“I’ll go register my account in a spawn point.” Sword Demon was the more cautious and dependable sort.
“I’ll casually walk around the city and chat up with locals before heading to the Hall of Mercenaries to check things out.” Brother Assist was the sort to collect information, so he enjoyed quickly getting a grasp of a city’s distribution of strength.
“Walk around, familiarize myself with the terrain, and take note of the coordinates for the important landmarks.” Royal God Call was useless at finding his way around.
“Head to the local Peddler’s Street or Auction House and look around. See if there’s any new equipment I haven’t seen before.” War Without Wounds was the kind that would never forget to fish for material benefits.
The last was Gu Fei. “Uh, I’ll clear off my PK value...” He was the slayer that would forever be burdened with PK points.
Six players with six different answers.
Among them, what Gu Fei, Brother Assist, and Royal God Call would do could be considered as anomalies, unlikely to be replicated by Southern Lone Blade and the men he was with. Young Master Han’s scenario was essentially eliminated by now; this was the closest tavern from the city gate, so if Southern Lone Blade and his crew had any intention of taking a rest, it would logically speaking be here.
“So that means they’ll either be registering their account or shopping,” Brother Assist concluded. When these men heard the two options, all of them felt that the first was more likely. It sounded weird for the seven men to immediately go shopping after arriving in a new city; the rest of them all regarded War Without Wounds scornfully for even providing this option: This person is really far too lacking in machismo. He’ll actually go shopping the moment he arrives at a new city?
It was finally Young Master Han who made the arrangement. “Sword Demon, head over to the nearest spawn point and check things out!”
Sword Demon nodded his head and left.
“Miles, head to the various taverns and look around,” Young Master Han said.
“The seventh scenario will be Southern Lone Blade and his squad having friends here, so they may meet up with someone.”
“Makes sense.” He nodded and departed as well.
Sword Demon would not be discovered since he had Stealth, while Gu Fei could be discovered but was able to directly kill the enemies. Sending these two alone was the safest choice; this was why Young Master Han had instructed them accordingly, while the other three were not given any additional tasks. However, drinking was a pastime only Young Master Han enjoyed, so there was no reason for the other three to sit around doing nothing.
“I’ll go take a walk, too!” Brother Assist said, “Perhaps, I can discover something.”
“Me, too,” War Without Wounds also got up.
Young Master Han did not object, but when he saw Royal God Call looking as if he were about to stand as well, he patted him and said, “The fog is heavy; don’t go running around.”
Royal God Call looked dejected.
Gu Fei sprinted out of the tavern and immediately asked a passerby about the location of a tavern. That man looked strangely at Gu Fei before pointing toward the building right behind him. He quickly told the man about his desire to know the location of all the taverns in the city, which resulted into him being given the coordinates for all eleven taverns in Xiawu City.
Out of these eleven, six were system-operated and five were player-owned. Gu Fei made sure to ask this man for this detail, since it was in his experience that players tend to patronize the player-owned establishments when looking to gather around for a drink or two with friends. Players seemed to enjoy the layout of these taverns, and the transactions had a very human touch to it. From time to time, promotions, such as ‘buy six, get one free’ would be held, which players loved.
Gu Fei marked one of these and was about to make his way over, when he heard someone call out from behind him. He turned and found Royal God Call standing there. The latter might not dare run about due to the heavy fog, but he would rather risk dying in this fog than stay and accompany Young Master Han drinking. Fortunately, when he stepped out of the tavern, Gu Fei was still there, inquiring after the route, so he decided to join him and hurriedly called out to him.
Thus, the two men made their way to the nearest player-owned tavern. After making sure that it was the correct establishment, Gu Fei drew out his weapon and stepped through grandly. As long as he found Southern Lone Blade, combat would commence; was there even a need to exchange words?
This tavern was a lot smaller than the system-operated taverns or even Yunduan City’s Ray’s Bar, but the atmosphere within was great as a boisterous crowd was present, and the barkeeper by the counter chatting up a storm with some regular patrons. Gu Fei carefully scanned through the crowd twice but failed to find any traces of Southern Lone Blade. Despite the small size, the amenities and products it offered was all there; a hallway that led to small rooms was right next to the owner. Seeing that no one was in the main hall, Gu Fei strode over toward the rooms.
There was a total of four rooms; a heavy cloth acted as doors for each, similar to what was found at Ray’s Bar.
Gu Fei did not really think much as he pulled the curtain aside, revealing a man and a woman whispering sweet nothings to each other. The couple raised their heads in panic when they sensed someone pull the curtain, but it was Gu Fei who was more panicked than the two, hurriedly apologizing before pulling the curtain back.
“What’s the matter?” Royal God Call was behind Gu Fei and did not see the scene behind the curtain. He only saw Gu Fei show an anxious expression he had never seen before; in a moment of curiosity, he moved to pull the curtain aside, but his hand was slapped away by Gu Fei. “It’s real busy in there.”
“It’s a man and a woman,” Gu Fei informed.
“Whoa!” This only made him want to pull the curtain aside even more, but he decided against it upon seeing Gu Fei’s glare.
For the second room, Gu Fei did not dare to mess around any longer, so he knocked upon the boards.
“What’s that sound?” Hearing someone inside call out, Gu Fei pulled the curtain aside and saw four players inside gambling with a deck of cards that they had made themselves. Gold coins piled upon the table within.
“Sorry for the intrusion; we’ve got the wrong room.” He quickly backed out.
Gu Fei knocked on the third room as well but heard nothing in response. He knocked again yet heard nothing still. Could it be empty? Thinking of this, he pulled the curtain aside. It revealed a lady with a frigid expression and giving off the vibe of a beautiful ice queen. He blankly stared at this lady, for the black robe she was wearing was very similar to his. The lady did not say a word despite several seconds passing and merely stared at him silently before Gu Fei came back to his senses. Giving the same apology and excuse like before, he let the curtain fall back in place. Royal God Call was clutching him excitedly. “She’s a real babe.”
Gu Fei ignored him and made his way over to the final room. He casually knocked before reaching out for the curtains, only to be stunned. “Why are you guys here?”
Royal God Call peeked from behind Gu Fei and instantly leaped up. “F*ck, why are you here?!”
Behind Room 4 was the three-man team of Drifting, Left Hand of Love, and Right Hand of Cool. They had gone their separate ways after completing Traversing Four Seas’ guild quest, apparently even quitting The Black Hand mercenary group. Everybody reckoned that the three would be wandering once more and were probably never returning to Yunduan City, so they had not expected to chance upon them here now.
“Why are you guys here?!” Drifting was far more shocked than Gu Fei to find the two here. After all, he was used to wandering from city to city, but Young Master's Elite was a bunch of mercenaries that stuck to their home turf. It made far more sense for Gu Fei and the others to be somewhere in Yunduan City at this moment.
“It’s a long story. What are you guys doing here?” Gu Fei asked.
“Well… We’ll have to start from our gaming philosophy to answer that question,” Drifting replied.
Royal God Call spat, “Stop acting all deep!” and then sneered, “Come out and have a Duel with me if you have the guts!”
“I’d rather not!” Drifting chuckled. “The fog here is really heavy; I’m afraid I can’t find my way back once I leave. I think it’s safer to just hole up in this tavern, instead.”