Chapter 640: Chapter 640 – An Unsettled Conclusion
Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
Sword Demon and the others were all veteran gamers, while Southern Lone Blade and his crew were larcenists who caused pain and resentment upon their victims. Why would lodging a complaint to the GM scare them? Everyone had felt this disgusting chill pass them when Ye Xiaowu threatened to report the matter to the GM, it was as if the adult disagreement they were having was suddenly interrupted when someone childishly spat, “I’m going home to tell my mother!”
Everyone continued to look at the man with a goading expression. War Without Wounds had even more brashly called out, “Go on then! Lodge a complaint! I haven’t seen a real GM after playing for so long; I can’t wait to meet one. I just happen to be thinking of asking them why a game employee can create an account in Parallel World and appear in-game. I wonder if that complies with the rules.”
Brother Assist had already reported his suspicion of Ye Xiaowu being a game employee through the appropriate channel long ago, but there had not been any response all this time. There was even an article by the prominent e-sport reporters, Dommumudou, which caused widespread backlash among the player base. Even now, the buzz about this post on the forums had yet to die down, yet the game company never made a statement to clarify the allegations made pertaining to this matter.
Ye Xiaowu simply gave a polite laugh when he heard War Without Wounds’ words. “Why can’t a game employee play the game? That’s actually not a regulation; only, a game employee’s daily work revolves around the game, so their view of it is entirely different from the average players’. They get no joy in playing the game, especially if it’s a game they had created themselves. Just entering it makes them feel nauseous, which is why game employees won’t play the games they work on. Over time, this became an unspoken rule in the industry when, in fact, I’ve never heard of any game company out there stipulating that their employees aren’t allowed to play a game they make. Do you really think that game employees can just do as they please when they enter the game? A company naturally has their own established laws and practices their employees were expected to adhere. What? Did you really think any person can just make changes to a game however they like? That’ll be far too much of a whimsical view.”
Ye Xiaowu’s words were full of half-truths and half-lies. In the early years of MMOs, that was indeed how most game companies operated, but the increased development in the industry naturally allowed for more and more benefits and potential profits to surface in games. This was especially true for VRMMOs like Parallel World that had plenty of profitable businesses operating in their game world, which were actively developed by external organizations. Thus, it was no longer just an unspoken rule among the companies of the industry to restrict their game employees from playing the game they were working on. After all, to those profit-based organizations, even having knowledge of a very minor detail would allow them to gain huge advantages.
For example, before the players were even aware that Baishi City’s white dust could disrupt a Thief’s Stealth, if someone caught wind of it through internal channels, there would be a huge possibility for this person to earn a tidy sum before the players caught on about its uses. There was no skill or equipment to counter Stealth during the early stages of the game, so something like this would be greatly favored by all. Nowadays, there were workshops in Baishi City that exported it. Packing the white dust directly into envelopes and mailing them all to workshop offices in other cities before they sold them in the local markets. This was a common item to those in Baishi City and the neighboring cities, but it was not the same for players in far-off cities. After all, there was no way the average players would be willing to spend tens of hours traveling to Baishi City just to grab some of this dirt.
Even though Sword Demon and the others were veteran gamers, their understanding of the internal workings of a game company could not compare to Ye Xiaowu’s, so they were unable to pick out the lies within the half-truths and were unable to refute any of his claims. Seeing that there had not been any reply after making the report many days ago, they were even more inclined to believe his words. It was at this moment when Young Master Han nodded in agreement, “He’s right. Having an internal game employee playing the game isn’t a big deal; didn’t he still end up losing five levels to us in a single day?”
Everyone burst into peals of laughter when they heard this, feeling rather happy with themselves. Young Master Han’s sharp wit and sarcasm was such a wondrous thing when it was not turned toward his comrades! Everyone turned to him with an encouraging gaze, hoping that he would continue to maintain this style.
Ye Xiaowu could not help but feel a little dispirited as well. Originally, he indeed thought that he would not have any problems dealing with Gu Fei’s bunch given his wealth of in-game knowledge. But who would have thought that, after entering this game and seeing the martial arts prowess all these kung fu practitioners like Gu Fei possessed, his knowledge would not be enough to contend with them? The kung fu they possessed was an entirely different sort of knowledge – something he was completely foreign to. In the end, with the game as the foundation, they managed to develop a third avenue of knowledge utilizing kung fu, leaving Ye Xiaowu all the more annoyed and exasperated.
Ye Xiaowu was very much restricted as well, and just the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) alone had him considering the consequences of his actions before he acted to see if it would result in him breaking his NDA. He did not have any intentions of hiding his identity from these people before him, and upon hearing what they had said, it seemed that they had indeed reported his existence to the game company. The fact that no one had contacted him till date only showed that he had not spoiled anything from everything he had done thus far. It was just that restricting himself to such an extent made it difficult for him to deal with this group of experts. After all, they were the apex elites inside this game!
Everybody was delighted when they saw that look of distraught on Ye Xiaowu’s face. Had the Priest shown a look of nonchalance after being cornered like this, just like when Southern Lone Blade had pulled out a novel and looked pleased with himself despite his predicament back in the Auction House before, then these experts would have really experienced a scene that they would have found absolutely infuriating.
Looks like Fleeting Smile’s fighting experience isn’t sufficient yet! He actually becomes panicky after getting surrounded! everyone thought to themselves. They knew that surrounding him like this was not an issue. If everyone were to accompany him and stand around here like this, that would be treating him too much like someone important. They all still had their lives to live, after all, so there was no way that they could keep him trapped here for too long, but the fact that just crowding up to him to trap him there was enough to cause such a reaction from Ye Xiaowu made everyone feel that it had been well worth the effort!
As they surrounded Ye Xiaowu, the ex-soldiers outside the Priest Academy flocked to them; they were all brimming with murderous intent as they stood directly opposite them. Royal God Call stared at the impatient expression on these ex-soldiers’ faces and quizzically asked, “Uncles, this is a safe zone; PK isn’t allowed. You guys can’t be so noob to the point that you haven’t figured that out, right?”
It was evident that these ex-soldiers were noobs when it came to gaming, but it was apparent Royal God Call’s ability to scorn others had not reached a good level of attainment. When these ex-soldiers saw that the one who had spoken was just a brat, they simply ignored him as they continued to glare down at everyone. “Gentlemen, there’s nothing to be gained by doing this!”
Even though these ex-soldiers had employed some rather crafty tactics this time, their goal in the end was still to destroy the enemies. Take for example how they had traversed to the back of the Priest Academy; they had no intention of using that same method to rescue the three Priests. Their aim was to join up with Ye Xiaowu and their comrades and proceed to pincer attack their enemies, wiping all of them out properly. In the end, these experts did not take the confrontation head-on and simply sought shelter inside the safe zone. They even trapped Ye Xiaowu in their midst to prevent him from leaving. How could these experts have any intention of fighting if that was what they ended up doing? At the end of the day, they are just a bunch of people playing games. Childish. Simply childish.
Young Master Han’s gang was also aware that they could, at most, piss off Ye Xiaowu with this move. What else could they achieve? Still, since those ex-soldiers had rushed over, none of them were willing to let Ye Xiaowu go just like this. Hence, everyone just stayed around to squander each other’s time for the time being.
Gu Fei, who had been watching the entire spectacle inside the Priest Academy from above for quite some time, saw that no fight had broken out. In fact, things seemed to have reached an impasse. Gu Fei carefully looked to his left and right to ascertain that no one would take this chance to cut his rope before he pulled out his grappling hook and secured it onto this building ledge, sliding down it thereafter.
Everyone watched this; even as Royal God Call cried out in dismay over the party channel. “Oh, no! How could Miles be so bold? Won’t he fall down if the ex-soldiers go over and start shaking the other end of the rope wildly?”
However, all these ex-soldiers merely watched him slide down blankly, not one moving an inch. Everyone teased Royal God Call, “Those guys aren’t as petty as you.”
Gu Fei safely landed on the ground, slowly walking over as he greeted, “Everyone’s all here!”
The crowd stared at him, expressionless.
“We can’t continue like this.” Gu Fei offered his opinion. Everyone looked at him to see what he had to say.
“Always swarming the other party back and forth like this, it’s just too messy and lacks refinement. Why don’t we just have a duel!” Gu Fei suggested.
The moment he said this, both parties rioted.
Even though the members of Young Master’s Elite each believed themselves to be exceptional gamers, none of them really thought that they could take on the ex-soldiers in a one-versus-one duel. The barbaric method of using their equipment advantage and ignoring the enemies’ attacks also required a Priest to constantly heal them, otherwise there was no telling who would end up victorious if they kept roughing it out like hooligans to the end. No one felt that they had a snowball’s chance in hell in winning a one-versus-one duel. None of them could figure out why Gu Fei would suggest a solution that was detrimental to them.
Meanwhile, the ex-soldiers were finding this to be strange as well. They could tell that, aside from Gu Fei, the rest of these experts were no match for them, so aside from Gu Fei, how else could they win if they were to do this one on one like what he had suggested? It was strange for this man to suggest such a foolish idea that would practically be gifting them the win.
Gu Fei did not seem like such an idiot. Both parties gazed at him strangely, as if they were seeing some unknown, third new force. They were all very confused.
That was when Gu Fei asked again, “So how about it? Any objections?” Gu Fei directed this question to the ex-soldiers; he was essentially representing his party to negotiate this agreement.
“This… This isn’t a great idea!” Royal God Call finally could not hold back his words. He did not dare to directly call out the stupidity of Gu Fei’s suggestion, but he still felt he had to somehow convey his disapproval of it.
“What?” Gu Fei was actually astonished, as if he had never once considered that anyone from his side would object to his idea.
“Well… It’s gonna be quite taxing for us to duel…” It was truly too difficult for Royal God Call to do such one-versus-one duel as he was personally no match for any of the opponents. This brat had struggled to find the right words, and only managed to express his thoughts about the matter in such a vague fashion.
Gu Fei instantly realized what he meant when he heard this, and so he smiled, gazing back at all of his comrades. “Are you guys all daft? I’ll be the first one out; why would you guys even need to do anything?”
That was when everyone understood why he had suggested such a solution. This would be an arena-style duel, and Gu Fei would not be tagged out if he remained undefeated. Was he really so confident in beating each of their enemies in such a manner?
The ex-soldiers also realized what he was planning to do. They had their fair share of this sort of arena-style duel themselves; it was just that, in the real world, everybody would have their own physical limitations, and even the most powerful expert could not survive challenging so many opponents when they numbered well into the tens. They had once more momentarily forgotten that they were in a game, and there were no such physical limitations on the players.
What came across as Gu Fei’s confidence to his comrades appeared to be disdain in the eyes of the enemies. However… These ex-soldiers glanced at Mountain Breaker Axe, and all of them lowered their heads in shame.
Mountain Breaker Axe had experienced dueling against Thousand Miles Drunk, Eternal Dominion, and Gu Xian respectively, and he happened to be the most adept at close combat among them. What the man had said after being defeated by the three was extremely convincing. “We are really no match to these kung fu practitioners when it comes to close combat. This is true when the fight plays out in this game, at the very least.” Mountain Breaker Axe had added that last part because he believed that Parallel World simply did not properly reflect the true physical qualities humans possessed. If this were the real world, strength could only be unleashed based on the constitution of someone’s body. Take that most ruthless kung fu practitioner, Gu Xian, as an example; the man’s uneven physical constitution clearly showed his lack of any sort of training, yet such a person was capable of taking down ten able men just through his consummate grasp of kung fu moves. As for Thousand Miles Drunk and Eternal Dominion, the two men appeared to be of average build, and it hardly seemed like they possessed any sort of explosive strength to speak of.
Mountain Breaker Axe had really lost so much to the extent that he was now resorting to finding other excuses which he presumed these enemies lacked, in order to save his own face. The man never put any thought to the fact that he was nearly a grandfather in reality, whereas the three kung fu practitioners were still in the prime of their youths, shining bright like the mid-noon sun. Of course, his assumption toward Gu Xian was correct. That person had indeed done no training in the real world, and was significantly physically weaker in comparison, but Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion merely did not possess a tall and big frame that easily translated into strength, when those two men were in fact far stouter than Mountain Breaker Axe in reality.
Mountain Breaker Axe had plenty of thoughts toward this end, but he admitted that he was no match for the three in this game. In a one-on-one duel, all the ex-soldiers discussed if they had the chance of attaining victory on their party channel, and there was only one conclusion they all agreed on: zero.
“Unless he makes a severe mistake which we can take advantage of,” Mountain Breaker Axe somberly said, “can anyone bet on that?”
“Old Broken, what do you think are the chances for that man to make a mistake?” someone asked.
“That man is very practiced when it comes to melee combat, and he is always calm and collected when he makes his move. Honestly, I don’t believe that he’ll ever make a mistake, especially in-game when strength would never be an issue at all.” Mountain Breaker Axe answered.
“Then, what about his concentration? Fighting ten plus men at one go, he’ll surely make a mistake if he is even momentarily distracted,” someone pointed out.
“First, it still goes back to that physical strength issue. Without any sense of fatigue setting in, there’s no way he’ll lose his concentration because of it. Aside from that, all that’s left is for him to perhaps lose interest after getting irritated fighting us, but comrades, look at that burning passion in his eyes; I doubt he’s ever going to get tired fighting us even if we send a hundred men his way. There’s simply no way we can hope to make him lose concentration with just our numbers,” Mountain Breaker Axe reasoned.
“So by your words, there’s no way we can beat him?”
“Yup. I don’t think we can fight him like this,” Mountain Breaker Axe expressed.
After discussing it among themselves, the ex-soldiers rejected Gu Fei’s suggestion. The man was very disappointed, helplessly looking at all of them. “Then how do you guys think we should settle this?”
“Just let our man go, and we can find a spot to duke it out!” these ex-soldiers answered.
When the experts heard this, they all shook their heads discourteously. “You guys know that you’re all no match for Miles in a one-on-one duel, so you refused to fight as he suggested. Conversely, we know that facing off against all of you together won’t be easy for us. Do you guys think that we’ll agree to a fight like that?”
Everyone had their areas of expertise, so neither party wanted to face the other head-on when they were unable to leverage on their respective advantages, and no one cared to mock the other for refusing either. They had once more entered a stalemate.
This was when Young Master Han finally spoke. “Seeing that you are all the sort that would keep your word, we’re not afraid to tell you guys that we would be no match for your squad if we were to have a direct confrontation and can only rely on ruses and ploys to deal with you people. Wasting everyone’s breath and time here like this isn’t the solution, and we don’t intend to drag this out any longer than we have to either. As such, I suggest that you guys log out, and we’ll let your Priest go. Let’s all fight at another time using our own means and methods. We shall call it a tie for today.”
“Tie…” These ex-soldiers nearly suffered a mental collapse right then and there when they heard this. Aside from Sniper God, Old Lightning, and Thunder, the rest of these ex-soldiers had all been defeated before, and Ye Xiaowu alone lost five levels, whereas their enemies had not even lost a single soul. To call this a tie, it was unknown if this person was letting them keep a little face so they could back off, or if he was snidely mocking them to their faces.
Still, it was true that there would be no end to hostilities if they kept this up. Should these ex-soldiers attempt to block the spawn point? That was hardly realistic, either. They had limited manpower. They would need everyone to be present in order to pull such a plan off, as a smaller detachment might not survive going up against these experts. They were not like the large guilds, capable of organizing groups their size to take shifts every half an hour. This was actually a little like what was said in the Art of War: ‘When in possession of an army ten times the forces of your opponents, surround them.’ This actually meant that it was better to surround and massacre the enemies when able to to leverage on numerical superiority over them. But since both sides were close to the 1:1 ratio, it made it really difficult to utilize such a tactic.
After another round of short discussion with one another, the ex-soldiers finally nodded. “Okay, we’ll take our leave first. We’ll continue our fight again at another time.”
“Great! Clear cut!” Young Master Han flashed a big thumbs-up to the opposing party.
Each of the ex-soldiers disappeared in a flash of light as they logged off one by one. Young Master Han glanced at the petrified Ye Xiaowu who was still in their midst. “You should go and take a rest as well!”
Ye Xiaowu could more or less guess that Young Master Han had no wish of revealing where he and the rest would go, so he quietly logged out without another word.
“Disperse!” Young Master Han waved his hand and led everyone out of the spawn point. This ending was very underwhelming for all, especially Gu Fei. The conclusion to this skirmish had left this battle maniac feeling utterly unsatisfied!
“No good; this feels terrible!” Royal God Call, who was easily agitated emotionally, shouted this.
Young Master Han cast a side-glance at him. “Everyone in the enemy party died aside from the three, and their de facto leader Fleeting Smile even dropped five levels after today’s events. They should be the one feeling terrible, right?”
“That…” Royal God Call was at a loss for words for a while. The fact was precisely that, so where did this feeling of discontentment come from? It’s strange. Royal God Call was in a daze, unable to make sense of it before he ultimately said a few vague words, “Well, you know it, anyway.”
“That’s true. I know that we would be long dead if I were as much of an idiot as you are.” Young Master Han verbally ridiculed him, though he knew clearly what he meant deep down. He knew. He really knew. Just like what Young Master Han had said before; they had only achieve victory thus far by being sneaky and underhanded. This was no different from the mercenary PvP tournament; Back then, their opponents were often ten times above their number, and everyone thought highly of themselves after winning it through tricks and ruses. However, at this moment, they were facing against opponents with roughly the same number as them, yet even though they had won, that feeling of having been at a disadvantage did not leave them at all. This was especially when everything came to such an unsettled conclusion; there was an air of uneasiness that they just could get off their chests.
It was like watching a movie that was intense and gripping throughout, and just as it was about to hit the climax, the power suddenly went out, and there was nothing. All the emotions that they devoted into it was all held back. How could anyone feel good about that?
“I feel that we should’ve stayed and had a go at them all again…” Sword Demon, who had not said a word this whole time, finally spoke.
“That’s right!” Royal God Call tugged at the three bows slung on his back and firmly agreed.
Gaming was about hot-bloodedness and pride. Meanwhile, everything that Young Master Han had set up would always run contrary to this. His plan would always stand on the grounds of reason, eliminating the enemies and preserving themselves. It was a mentality that placed emphasis on victory, and coming out on top mattered far more than anything else. Such a fighting strategy would indeed give them the best result, but that might not create satisfaction in people. It was just a game; was winning that important? Only by pursuing something sufficiently happy, sufficiently exciting, would players then be able to get a sense of satisfaction.
That was why the guild leader of the Heaven-defying Guild back then, the one everybody supported and depended on, was Sword Demon and not Young Master Han.