Chapter 602: Chapter 602 – Suspiciously Similar to Hacking
Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
That was when Xi Xiaotian realized that Gu Fei still intended to check and see if she had truly mastered the efficient monster grinding method and if she was really capable of teaching it to other players. The only reason he had covered for her earlier was to give her a chance to prove herself. If she failed, she would suffer a similar fate to being tossed out onto the angry mob before. Death was all that awaited her, except it would be Gu Fei himself doing the deed.
“Pass me the sword, then!” Xi Xiaotian extended her hand to receive the lousy sword Gu Fei was throwing her way.
The monster, which had easily clambered on the outcrop, received a blow to the head at once. The Campfire Patroller did not have much threat gained this time around, so a few more slashes was enough for her to leash its aggro. Taking two steps back, she turned to gaze at Gu Fei. ” Watch carefully now; I won’t be making any mistakes here.” With that, the lady turned around and began assaulting the monster. She was using precisely the same no-Agility, long-weapon routine Eternal Dominion had developed. Furthermore, it was obvious that her character had plenty of Agility allocated to it, just like him, but for the purpose of effectively demonstrating her grasp of this fighting routine, she had limited her attack speed.
Gu Fei’s hand was already grasping his sword at this point, for he had thought that, even if she had grasped the routine, there was no way that she could show a control her attack speed like how he could. It was easy to exert full strength, but reserving a huge portion of one’s power required a certain level of skill and practice. He had never expected her to achieve this, but by the looks of things, she had indeed done her homework. Just like how she had selected a bunch of players whose levels were below her, it appeared that she had similarly done plenty of practice with this particular fighting routine in order not to make any mistakes.
Despite being so detestable, Gu Fei could deny that the lady was very conscientious when it came to swindling people. However, it was this diligence of hers that made Gu Fei at a loss when it came to dealing with her, and it was all because of how her dedication to swindling was similar to his dedication to kung fu; Sometimes, Gu Fei could not help but resonate very strongly with her. Take this instance as an example; Gu Fei no longer cared how Xi Xiaotian fought the monster as there was no reason she would have any problems executing the fighting routine since she had the capability to control her speed thusly. By the time she defeated the monster, his hand had already retracted from the sword.
“This should be enough to teach those guys, right?” Xi Xiaotian asked.
“It’s enough.” Gu Fei could not help but admit this, even though he the expression he showed looked no better than before.
“However, since you’re here…” Her words hung in the air as she pulled out several bags of coins and lifted them to Gu Fei.
Gu Fei could tell at a glance that these were three bags with ten thousand gold coins each inside and four bags with thousand gold coins each inside.
“All here?” Gu Fei asked.
“Three hundred forty-two players, each paying 99 gold coins,” Xi Xiaotian answered.
“The beautiful lady here is far too courteous. Actually, you’ve worked hard.” Young Master Han suddenly interjected from below the rocky outcrop, quite surprised to find her taking the initiative to hand over such a lump sum. It was over 30,000 gold coins! Most people would rather die once than hand over all that money!
She revealed a helpless expression. “I’m afraid that I won’t be able to leave alive if I don’t hand it over!”
“Yes, I approve of this. This guy is really a total blockhead sometimes and completely ruthless,” Young Master Han commented.
“I don’t usually see you talk so much.” Gu Fei leaped right next to Young Master Han.
“That’s because if I were in her shoes, I might perhaps be willing to die once for over 30,000 gold coins.”
“That’s just you exploiting the loophole of MMOs.” Xi Xiaotian also leaped off the rocky outcrop.
Young Master Han was of course aware she was referring to the respawn mechanic in-game, causing the man to shake his head repeatedly. “Here I was admiring you at the start, but who would’ve thought that, not only do you refuse to utilize this rule, you even gave yourself a limitation regarding the use of that rule. How utterly boring.”
“It’s only interesting when playing a game with rules!” Xi Xiaotian declared.
“Isn’t respawning a rule of MMOs?”
“It’s merely the rule of MMOs. In my game rules, protecting my life is priority number one,” she answered.
Young Master Han shrugged and gave his usual condescending look, not even sparing her an ounce of courtesy for her beauty.
“I may leave now, right?” Xi Xiaotian turned to regard Gu Fei.
“If you’re looking to earn money, perhaps you can join us,” Gu Fei suddenly offered.
“No thanks. What you’re doing isn’t my cup of tea,” Xi Xiaotian nonchalantly replied.
“Will you die if you don’t swindle people?” Gu Fei wrinkled his brows.
“I won’t, but it will probably be similar to you not using kung fu,” Xi Xiaotian replied.
Gu Fei was despondent. He hated how this was precisely the one thing he could be deemed as Xi Xiaotian’s kindred spirit.
“Bye.” Xi Xiaotian waved as she walked off.
“That woman’s insane,” Young Master Han concluded.
“Evidently.” Gu Fei was in full agreement.
“You’re the same, too.” Young Master Han of course did not let the man off.
“It seems that you don’t want a cut of this money, huh?” Gu Fei lifted the sacks of coins amounting to over 30,000 right in front of Young Master Han’s eyes.
Young Master Han waved his hand dismissively, harrumphing coldly. “Do you think such a pithy sum is all it takes to corrode this young master?”
With the money kept into Gu Fei’s dimensional pocket, a sword, glistening in its dark purplish tint, appeared right before Young Master Han’s eyes.
“Alright. Time to go.” Young Master Han nodded.
“Where else are we going?” Gu Fei asked.
“We’re off to see if those rascals are seriously at work,” Young Master Han said.
None of those ‘rascals’, as Young Master Han referred to them, was skiving off on the job. After all, they were all very enthusiastic toward the prospect of making money, so aside from the issue Royal God Call had with discerning the route to his location, and the slightly lowered efficiency they provided, the other three men had already begun investigating the various maps that they had been tasked with.
It was late in the afternoon when Eternal Dominion finally popped online. He had stayed up all night with Brother Assist yesterday, so while the latter could hardly wait to get back online earlier today, the former managed to get a proper sleep. Just like Gu Fei, he placed huge importance to taking care of his body.
“DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH WE MADE LAST NIGHT?!” Eternal Dominion sent a private message to Gu Fei once he appeared online.
“I heard about it,” Gu Fei answered.
“There were 1841 players! With each of them paying 99 gold coins, tell me how much that was in total!” Excitement radiated from his words.
“Are you sick?” Gu Fei asked.
“That’s 182,259 gold coins! So how is it? Don’t you really like seeing that number? Very frightening, isn’t it? Did you get a fright?” These questions came from Eternal Dominion in rapid fire.
Gu Fei took a deep breath. Even though Eternal Dominion was acting a little like a maniac, the number was indeed a little hair-raising. Even that extremely OP beyond OP sword of his, Moonlit Nightfalls, had stunned the crowd to silence when Svelte Dancer belted out that sky-high bid of 20,000 gold coins. A huge sum of 180,000 coins was probably unheard of to the current players.
“Is all that money with you?” Gu Fei asked.
“Yeah. Brother Assist let me hold on to it all for now. He’s such a good guy.” The tone of satisfaction lingered in Eternal Dominion’s words.
Gu Fei chuckled bitterly for a bit. Brother Assist was of course not a bad person, but that did not necessarily mean that he was that much of a good person; he was simply aware of the important roles Eternal Dominion and Gu Fei played in this venture. There was no doubt that the two of them were at the very core of this fighting routine, and nothing would be remotely possible without the two of them there, which meant that it was necessary to give them the sweetest slice of the proverbial pie. Gu Fei did not wish to analyze his friends to this degree, but he simply could not help it. When everything solely hinged on profits, there was no choice but to do it like such.
“Ahem. So has he told you about his plan of working together with a few others?” Gu Fei asked.
“There’s a little change to our business strategy.” Gu Fei imparted the tyrannical strategy Young Master Han had improved on to Eternal Dominion.
“AWESOME!” Eternal Dominion was in absolute awe with the new plan, all the more experiencing just how crude that first ‘promotion’ attempt he had executed was.
“So what are we gonna do now?” Eternal Dominion was in high spirits right now, eager to dig straight into work.
“Head over to the Wilderness Camp and earn as much we can earn from here,” Gu Fei replied.
“Got it. I’m on my way.”
Gu Fei and Young Master Han found themselves back in the Wilderness Camp after they finished their visit to all the other grinding maps, now standing atop the 9527 rocky outcrop no one else dared to occupy. The impact these bootleggers had was indeed vicious, and countless self-proclaimed masters had already sprung up all over the Wilderness Camp, fighting for survival in the cutthroat market as they competed against one another with great intensity. Meanwhile, Gu Fei’s group continued to stick to their 99-gold-coin price tag – a tall tree that was standing shoulders above the rest. Nine out of ten players that came merely did so to check out the legendary Thousand Miles Drunk, while those that came to ask about the price hesitantly left when they saw how empty the venue was.
Young Master Han had nothing much to say as well, merely showing a mirthless smile in the face of such a scene. Instead, it was Eternal Dominion who felt uneasy the moment he arrived and saw how empty the place was compared to the crowd present yesterday. In his anxiety, Eternal Dominion asked, “Why is it like this? Why isn’t there anyone?”
“There’s even a lesson going for 20 gold coins out there now,” Gu Fei answered.
“Hmph. Which is why none of these people is worth any bit of salt. Essentially, none of them can come up with any other methods besides lowering their prices to compete with the others. Nothing but a bunch of idiots.” Young Master Han spat with scathing disdain.
“What other methods can they employ?” Gu Fei asked.
“Just like what that lady from before did: dress up to impersonate you. That alone is already an extremely effective method,” Young Master Han replied.
“So what do we do now? Lower our price as well?” Eternal Dominion hurriedly asked.
“Nope.” Young Master Han was calm. “Wilderness Camp is no more than a farce now. We’re only here for posturing. Rest at ease; our real market has yet to open!”
“It truly is quite farcical.” Gu Fei stood atop the 9527 rocky outcrop and got quite a view of the place, muttering to himself, “The Wilderness Camp is truly in too much of a mess.”
Compared to the impact these bootleggers had on Gu Fei and the lot, it was the ramifications of Gu Fei’s efficient fighting routine that was far more significant to the entire grinding map. After an entire day had passed, news of what had happened spread across all Baishi City. Players above level 40 all swarmed to the Wilderness Camp and flooded the entire map. As long as a player grasped the fighting routine, Campfire Patrollers would essentially be able to provide them with thrice the experience they could earn fighting other monsters; why would any player take issue with this? Even those players who were used to grinding in parties and would never deign to glance at this sort of solo grinding maps had all wised up and headed over as well.
Young Master Han was standing right beside Gu Fei at the moment. Using his spyglass to take the sight in this grinding map, his understanding of the phenomenon went deeper than Gu Fei’s. Many players right now were still in the learning stage; demonstrations and lessons only required a single monster, and a majority of the other players crowded around to see it. Once everybody had gotten a grasp of this particular routine, things would really get boisterous as each of them plunged right into it. At the moment, having about three or four monsters was enough for each player to grind on endlessly, but the moment they mastered the routine, their efficiency would increase, and each player might very well require seven, eight, or even more monsters before they would be sated. Adding the fact that the players doing this monster grind would increase…
“Seeing this scene perpetually buzzing with activity, perhaps we’ll have to pick up the pace regarding our business! There doesn’t seem to be anything more here; why don’t I hold out here and you two take this time to research the routine for other monsters!” Young Master Han decided.
“But what if someone comes by?” Eternal Dominion had yet to give up, unconvinced that the business surging with clients yesterday would become so empty and forlorn over a single night.
“Then, I’ll immediately inform you two to come back,” Young Master Han said.
“Sure.” Gu Fei nodded, and the two bolted off.
“How are things with you guys?” Young Master Han sent a message over to Sword Demon and the others.
“We’re almost there. Where are you?” Sword Demon asked.
Over by the 9527 outcrop,” Young Master Han responded.
Sometime soon, Young Master Han saw Sword Demon, War Without Wounds, and Royal God Call making their way to this landmark through his spyglass.
“Thanks for your hard work.” Seated atop the outcrop, Young Master Han expressed his sympathy as the three got closer.
None of the three men felt good when they heard his tone. Casually reciprocating his greeting, each of them began their climb atop the rocky outcrop and gazed out at the surrounding scenery before them. Not one man spoke a word, so everything was quiet for a good while.
“Don’t this sort of fighting routine Gu Fei came up with remind you guys of something?” Finally, it was Sword Demon who had opened his mouth.
War Without Wounds and Royal God Call exchanged glances. It was apparent they had their answer, or perhaps they shared Sword Demon’s sentiment, and the Thief had only beat them to voicing it out.
“What you mean to say is…” The two did not answer the query right away, letting Sword Demon express his thoughts first.
“Hacking.” Sword Demon was not courteous like the other two.
The two men were silent. Evidently, they shared the same thought.
“Of course, the fact is this isn’t hacking – most definitely not. I just don’t understand why I cannot help but think of hacking,” Sword Demon explained.
“That’s exactly it.” War Without Wounds and Royal God Call nodded in agreement. They were all gaming veterans, so they naturally had abundant knowledge in all things related to MMOs; thus, their line of thinking would all go in the same track.
“What do you think?” Sword Demon asked Young Master Han.
“It’s definitely not hacking,” Young Master Han said, “but it’s precisely more frightening because it’s not done through a cheating program and whatnot.”
“Indeed…” Sword Demon concurred, “so I have such a thought precisely because this isn’t hacking, yet its effect is very similar to hacking?”
“No. I mean that this is far more fearsome than hacking. The officials have many methods to counter and limit hacking, but against something like this, what can they do? Have an overhaul of all the monsters and redesign them from scratch? What a joke. Given the present technological capacities, creating monsters with this AI caliber is already the limit. Miles will still be able to come up with an efficient grinding routine no matter how they change things,” Young Master Han said.
“So when Fleeting Smile said that he wants to rectify Miles, it’s actually rather reasonable, no?” War Without Wounds asked.
Sword Demon and Royal God Call were silent for quite some time, as if they were ruminating on this question. This was when Young Master Han chuckled coldly. “What sh*tty reason is that? Miles is a human being and not a machine… It’s just this game being too g*d d*mn trash. If anything needs rectifying, it’s their game.”
The three men wiped sweat off their foreheads. Was he not saying one moments ago how the game-makers were already on the brink of their technological capacities? That meant that they were akin to clever spouses that could create meals sans rice, yet Young Master Han was now cursing the game for being too trashy…
“Brother Assist’s original plan here was quite simple, and it’s your intervention that raised the bar to the next level. Are you trying to openly challenge that guy?” Sword Demon asked.
“What nonsense. Can that fool be worth yours truly specifically challenging him? This is merely the legitimate path we have to riches, which happens to leave him dead without a grave,” Young Master Han said matter-of-factly.
The three were wiping their sweat off their foreheads yet again.
“Furthermore!” Young Master Han’s accusing gaze swiveled on to Sword Demon. “Is yours truly’s plan merely just raising the bar to the next level? Just one?”
“How are you not dead yet?” Sword Demon asked, his face black with anger.
“Miles isn’t be aware of all this, right?” Royal God Call asked.
Young Master Han nodded. “That guy doesn’t have that deep understanding of MMOs, so there’s certainly no way he’d realize all these many details so soon. You guys should be nice and not to mention it to him, either. There’s no telling what crazy things that guy’ll do once he gets all strange about things like what he usually does.”
“Aren’t you the one who often goes crazy?” The three said the same thing at once.
“D*mm*t. Are you guys done collecting all the information I requested?” Young Master Han changed the subject.
The three each produced their collected information regarding the level 40 grinding maps around Baishi City even as they described what they had seen. Because of the sudden rise of the Wilderness Camp, several of Baishi City’s major grinding maps became somewhat uninhabited to the point that even those players still grinding there felt that there were few people about that day. Of course, plenty of these players had no idea of what was happening at the Wilderness Camp, while all those in the know had already come rushing over without a moment’s hesitation.
“At the moment, everything is only affecting Baishi City’s region. Uhm… I reckon that the news will soon spread all over Parallel World. Brother Assist is now online,” Sword Demon said.
“Brothers, I’m back!” Brother Assist was in high spirits, a clear sign of his success advertising on the forums.
“Thanks for your hard work,” Young Master Han messaged. Brother Assist could already imagine the man’s temperament while saying those words and felt a rush of uneasiness. It would be a sort of tragedy if anyone had such a boss in real life, for he could easily brush off any semblance of achievement someone felt with his words alone, causing the person in question to feel regret for the effort they had put.
“How are things on everyone’s end?” Brother Assist asked.
“Everything is going as planned,” they replied. All of them tacitly did not mention anything regarding the topic of hacking on the mercenary channel as Gu Fei could read what was shown in the chat, too.
“What’s Miles up to?” Brother Assist asked.
“Development!” Gu Fei answered.
“Where at?” Brother Assist asked.
“The Sand Walls,” Gu Fei answered him. The Sand Walls was a major map right outside Baishi City where a host of Sand Bandits resided. These monsters differed from the Campfire Patrollers in that, although they shared the same name, there were various versions of them, consisting of all the job classes seen in Parallel World. These monsters were scattered all over the Sand Walls, sometimes alone and occasionally in packs. What made them all the more powerful was that these packs had job classes that complement one another, just like how a party of players would form themselves. It was a grinding map that players would often form parties to grind levels; people would have quite a hard time solo grinding there.
“That place, huh…” Brother Assist obviously knew what the situation was like there. “The monsters there have so many different occupations, which one are you going for?”
“Whatever I can get my hands on. I’ll research each of them at once!” Gu Fei replied.
“Look!” Young Master Han said to the three men beside him. “Such an intelligent cheating program.”
Brother Assist, for his part, began analyzing this from a business perspective. “We can actually put the research on hold when it comes to such party grinding maps. Instead, we should focus on solo grinding maps like the White Mill.”