Chapter 493 – Coup de Grâce
“Oi, quickly kill it already. What else are you waiting for?” The players within the encirclement began to experience hesitation when he saw how Giordano had let loose a bloodcurdling cry in response to the excruciating pain it was feeling, causing doubt to surface in Gu Fei’s heart as well and he became motionless. Even Svelte Dancer looked at it with pity in her eyes. This left only Gu Xian not feeling moved by the entire scene as he called out to Gu Fei upon seeing them hesitate.
“It’s so pitiful,” Svelte Dancer said.
“We’re about to run out of time.” Gu Fei said this for his benefit. If he were going to do it, he had better make the decision soon. The fog was about to dissipate, and the horde of NPC guards would descend in no time. Even a celestial being would have difficulty escaping that.
“Go, go, go!” At this moment, someone from within the crowd shouted this. This was followed by Sword Demon showing his masked face from the crowd as he squeezed his way to them. It was not particularly weird to find someone wearing a mask in this day and age, and a mask was a common headgear for Assassins. Still, it was wise of Sword Demon not to reveal his particularly striking face right now. Apparently, he was aware of just how unforgettable his face was.
Sword Demon was naturally privy to where the agreed-on kill zone would be. Using the trick that Gu Fei had taught him to mix right into the crowd, he managed to make his way to the rendezvous point and catch the ending.
Sword Demon gazed at the anguish look Giordano was showing while kneeling on the ground, and while no one could see his face behind the mask, everybody could tell from that he was surprised from his tone. “Success!”
“Yup!” Gu Fei nodded.
“Now what?” Sword Demon did not understand why Gu Fei and Svelte Dancer were just standing stationary on either side of Giordano, looking like bodyguards. Hey, isn’t that Miles’ elder cousin? Why is he back… Sword Demon at least observed polite etiquette even at such a crucial moment and did not forget to greet the other man.
“It’s so pitiful…” Svelte Dancer said this to Sword Demon even as she gestured Giordano.
“Eh?” Sword Demon was perplexed. As a veteran MMO gamer, he was far more psychologically hardened regarding such matters. He did not regard Giordano as a human being, and in his eyes, it was nothing more than a treasure box that dropped loot, gold, and experience; he did not have a shred of sympathy toward system-created characters. Svelte Dancer was a woman, so Sword Demon sort of understood why she would have such a mentality toward this. She belonged to the fairer sex that was more empathetic when playing MMOs. As for Gu Fei… This man would not even bat an eyelid when killing players, yet he would hesitate when killing a NPC? Sword Demon suddenly felt that a person’s character was truly far too complex to fathom…
“We don’t have much time.” Sword Demon reminded Gu Fei of this.
“I’ll leave it to you!” Gu Fei patted Sword Demon.
Sword Demon did not even pause as he immediately came forward. Anyone could tell that Giordano absolutely had no intention of retaliating, so if this was a cutscene in a normal game, the NPC would most likely have only a sliver of HP left. The scene would end once it uttered some parting words as the player casually dealt the coup de grâce.
This was precisely what Sword Demon did. With a stab right into Giordano’s body, the NPC collapsed to the ground with a thud. He then emotionally turned his head over. “I got it. There’s indeed a quest; you are absolutely correct.”
“What did you get?” Gu Fei asked.
Sword Demon lifted a bloody package. Giordano’s Head. It looked exactly like the one they got when they slew the Mountain Bandit Leader Sooto and the body dropped to the ground. Back then, the system had also automatically severed the head and packaged it for the quest. After all, it would be far too violent and bloody to have the players saw it off themselves.
“Quick; let’s skedaddle!” Sword Demon said. He found it strange that these people’s faces did not reveal any sort of happiness despite completing the quest so successfully.
“We do gotta leave.” Gu Fei looked at the time before sweeping his gaze around them. The fog began to lift. It appeared that the dehumidifier was starting to work again. The players from Flowergazing in the Fog were tired as the fighting dragged on. They looked over when they found the chance, only to discover that their quest-giver Giordano, the key character that they had to protect, was already without a head on its shoulders, collapsed all alone on the yellow sand…
“AHHHHH!” These men from Flowergazing in the Fog believed that this was indubitably the sign of the most failed quest if they had ever seen one. Each of them became frantic in their anger; plenty of them threw caution to the wind and sought to forsake their lives just to kill the murderer, but their enemies soon got in their way. That murderer was a hero in their eyes – a knight that served as the savior to this guild battle.
“Oi, are you leaving? How long are you gonna continue digging your nose there?” Gu Fei and his two friends were about to leave, yet Gu Xian was still sitting on the ground, motionless.
“No need. I have to draw a line and sever my link with you now. Otherwise, I’ll be in deep trouble,” Gu Xian replied.
Thus, Gu Fei no longer bothered with the man as he brought the other two with him to dive right into the battlefield.
The three were treated like heroes as they made their way out, and players from the various guilds worked hard to provide cover, which was an outcome that Gu Fei had not expected. However, they had already done their due diligence on the route they would take to leave the place. Ever since he began on this quest of his, Gu Fei only considered the NPC guards to be the biggest threat, so he had chosen a path that they could avoid getting near them as much as possible while they made their way out of the courtyard under the cover of the fog.
With the members from the various guilds’ protection, a perfectly planned escape route, and the uncanny movement speed that the three possessed, they managed to slip away without much of a fuss, leaving by the front gates even as sounds of the massacre behind them reverberated in their wake.
“It’s over…” Gu Fei turned his head back with a glance. He had wasted plenty of time and effort over these past few days on this quest, and now that he had finally made it to this end point and everything had come to pass, he could not help feeling a little despondent.
Sword Demon, on the other hand, was not in the least bit depressed. He was not at all disgusted with holding the severed head in the bloody package as a veteran MMO gamer like him considered the issuing of the reward as the highlight of the entire quest.
“Oh, is it over?” After taking no more than a few steps out of the gates, they saw a figure appear right before them through the fog, greeting the three the moment they met.
“Why are you here?” Young Master Han was actually right before them at this moment.
“Minus the series of arrangement yours truly had made on your behalf, would you people be able to complete this quest of yours without so much as a hitch?” Young Master Han asked.
“What did you arrange?” Gu Fei asked.
“Go and think about it on your own!”
Giordano might be dead, yet people remained the same. This detestable man was still as detestable as always. Gu Fei could feel the melancholy wane in his heart – most likely because it got replaced by the dislike he had for this person standing right before him.
“Let’s take our leave first!” Sword Demon suggested. He was afraid that the people from Flowergazing in the Fog would catch up and surround them any time.
“Yes, let’s leave. It’s about to finish.” Young Master Han agreed as he peered at the courtyard. With the fog inside the premise once more dissipating, the experienced players could tell at a glance that the forces from one side were beginning to depart in an organized fashion.
“Just what exactly have you done?” Gu Fei asked Young Master Han. Gu Fei could tell that the actions of the guilds that had assaulted the members of Flowergazing in the Fog were all well within the calculation of Young Master Han. Of course, the man could not have possibly just been guessing, and it was most likely that he had orchestrated all this in the dark himself, such that their actions ended up running in congruent with those of Gu Fei’s.
Suddenly, Gu Fei thought of the most critical moment of the whole operation. Back in the kill zone that they had set for Giordano, when he was beset by men from Flowergazing in the Fog, those enemy guilds had come rushing over out of nowhere. Was that really a lucky coincidence?
It was not particularly difficult to have made such an arrangement; all it would take was to hint these guilds beforehand and tell them that Giordano was the key character. Revealing the most logical set of coordinates to these men, that final act of ‘coincidence’ would be easily predicted.
Gu Fei quickly thought back to when he and Sword Demon were researching about the quest. Having been given the diary, Young Master Han absentmindedly flipped through the pages. The man truly was capable of picking out the important information after a simple examination.
Gu Fei made sense of Young Master Han’s thoughts after. All the things that he had missed in his planning, this man in the periphery had actually been able to consider them all. He could not help but admit that this man was truly a head above the rest when it came to the understanding and formulation of such overarching strategies. He calculated every minute detail to the situation and managed to factor in every possible deviation and plan accordingly.
“So, are you satisfied?!” Young Master Han did not bother answering Gu Fei’s question, but seeing that Gu Fei looked as if he had stumbled on a revelation, the man figured that he had more or less figured it out by now.
“You seem to have a good grasp as to how we would go about our operation!” Gu Fei found some parts of this to be beyond logic and above reason. This man could not have possibly been so accurate in his guesses!
“Of course, I asked Sword Demon…” The truth to the matter was apparently just that simple.
“Brother Assist, where’s that oak tree forest with that little log cabin you located in Linyin City?” Sword Demon could not wait to complete the mission, so he sent a message over to Brother Assist to find out more.
Given Brother Assist’s habit, it was only natural for him to record down the coordinates wherever he went, so he soon answered and followed up with a question of his own. “Have you guys gotten any new leads?”
“Not just that. We’ve already finished the quest,” Sword Demon replied.
“Giordano. We already completed the assassination quest of that NPC!” Sword Demon announced.
“What… To think it is possible to make progress on the quest without any sort of prompts from the quest logs.” Brother Assist’s rigid line of thinking toward MMOs had been subverted.
“D*mm*t. We miscalculated…” War Without Wounds sighed.
“We should’ve followed Miles, instead…” Royal God Call was also feeling remorseful of his choice.
“Brother Assist, dogmatically adhering to your experiences is intolerable; A fall in a pit, a gain in your wit!” War Without Wounds waxed.
“Yes, it’s important to be creative. Look at Miles! Best that you learn more from him!” Royal God Call concurred.
“Hey… The two of you don’t have to voice out your irresponsible sarcasm over the mercenary channel for all to see!” Brother Assist was depressed. The two were clearly right beside him all this while, yet they still spouted all that on the mercenary channel. What sort of intentions did the two of them have?
Their intentions were quickly revealed as they both practically cried out over the channel at the same time. “Miles big bro, bring us along to pick up the rewards!”
“How shameless!” Everyone could not help but exhort.
“Speaking of which, who does this quest really belong to anyway?” Sword Demon had his doubts. After all, his quest logs showed nothing.
“We can all go and get the reward! Let’s try it and find out!” The two shameless men continued to squawk.
“If even the two of you would be rewarded for this, this world would truly be void of heavenly justice,” Young Master Han commented. Even though those men had run to Linyin City, they had absolutely nothing to do with the assassination of Giordano. Even if a connection was to be forced, their only contribution would be the fact that they had come into physical contact with the diary at the very start.
“So, shall we head over to Linyin City to find out right now?” Sword Demon was energetic.
“Let’s do that tomorrow. It’s about time to log out,” Gu Fei replied.
“Oh, that’s fine.” Sword Demon would surely find it hard to survive through this entire day, but no one really had any qualms regarding this seeing that it was Gu Fei who had said that.
“So, we don’t have to return there?” The three men who were already making their way to Xiawu City asked.
“Nope.” Young Master Han replied.
“Then what about that guy, Southern Lone Blade? Are we not continuing our hunt for that man? Don’t they still have that staff in their possession?” The two greedy men seemed hell-bent on eating everything they surveyed.
“You trashbags. We would be doomed if you guys were tasked with remembering these things,” Young Master Han mocked.