Chapter 117 - The Loneliness of an Expert
Gu Fei unassumingly stepped forward. Clasping his fist with his other hand, he said to the Thief, “Please!”
This was a dated martial arts salute that only kung fu practitioners like Gu Fei would perform before a sparring session, so why would an online gamer perform such traditional gesture as well? As expected, the Thief merely snorted at Gu Fei’s saluting gesture and stepped forward to face him.
The Thief’s weapon was not a dagger but a wooden baton. For Thieves, they would be able to learn a new skill called Bludgeon upon reaching level 36 and, as the name implied, it was a skill that could only be activated using a blunt object. Frankly speaking, Bludgeon was the Thief skill that had no actual value in PvP.
Bludgeon, like Backstab, must be executed when a Thief was standing behind an opponent. Even if Bludgeon was successfully performed, it should still be followed up by Backstab, which had the highest damage output among the current skill sets of Thieves. Who would not consider Bludgeon as an unnecessary move after this? If a Thief had the time to use Bludgeon, why should he or she not just use Backstab right from the start? Would that not be an even more straightforward manner of attacking?
This was why examining the mentality of the players was sorely needed.
Those who would attack with Bludgeon instead of Backstab most likely possessed the mentality of taking the enemies lightly or wanting to show off. A Thief hitting an opponent with Bludgeon to inflict the five-second Dizzy status effect and then calmly brushing dust off his or her boots before taking out a dagger to Backstab the opponent… How gratifying the sight would be! This action was similar to treating PvP as child’s play. Even if the opponent failed to comprehend the condescension behind it, the act would still be very pleasurable to the Thief who had done it.
Currently, the Thief fully assumed that Gu Fei was looking down on him. This fueled his desire to deal with Gu Fei with that redundant method, as he wanted to treat the latter in the same belittling way.
On the contrary, Gu Fei was actually treating this matter very seriously as he solemnly loosened the strapped Moonlit Nightfalls on his back.
“A sword?” The Thief tried to make sense of what he was seeing. Moonlit Nightfalls’ black luster was truly eye-catching to the Thief, yet he could not uncover its traits even after appraising twice. Thus, he was left wondering about the high-grade sword’s features. Gu Fei was no longer a newbie like when he first started playing Parallel World, as he had finally learned the Appraisal skill and reached rank 8 of it after using the skill repeatedly for a month. Although it was at a mediocre rank among all the players, he could at least safeguard himself against the Appraisal of others. Presently, others would no longer be able to fully check his equipment from head to toe like before.
Appraising a higher grade or tier item was harder than a lower tier item; this was the basic rule in-game. Therefore, it was no mere coincidence that the Thief failed to appraise Gu Fei’s clothing and sword despite numerous attempts.
“Can we start now?” Gu Fei asked when the Thief remained stationary for quite a while.
“Coming!” as the Thief answered, he deceitfully dashed toward Gu Fei. Eliminating a Mage in a PvP was actually very easy for a Thief, as the Thief only had to get close to the Mage and furiously stab him or her. Provided that the Thief was at close range and the Mage was unable to increase the distance between them, even normal attacks would suffice to do the job.
Nonetheless, the present Thief was still carrying the wooden baton firmly, as he fully resolved to execute Bludgeon on to Gu Fei no matter what, even if he had to take that extra step of getting to Gu Fei’s rear. The Thief resolutely strode forward before he made a sudden turn, agilely appearing behind Gu Fei. What a slow response! the Thief merrily thought to himself, truly believing that this fight was going to be an easy one.
Gu Fei indeed did not respond... at all. He merely maintained his stance of holding the sword, which was firmly planted to the ground, with his two hands. At the moment that the Thief arrived behind him, he moved his mouth to chant, “Ring of Fire! Release!”
Too late! the Thief thought to himself, completely disregarding the defensive spell Gu Fei had just casted as he continued to carry out his plan of bludgeoning Gu Fei.
A puff was heard; it was the sound of the Ring of Fire’s flaming orb burning the Thief. Gu Fei took two steps to his side and extricated himself from the enemy’s range of attack.
The Thief’s Bludgeon missed. In the next instant, he began to feel the lethargy that players would feel whenever they lost too much HP. Upon glancing at his bar of HP, he received the shock of his life. He raised his head again, just in time to see Gu Fei take two steps backward while smiling brightly at him, “We are done now, right?” The Thief opened his mouth wide, yet not a word left it.
The spectators were even more confused as they could not understand why the two had suddenly stopped fighting.
The Thief stood rooted to the spot for a while before quietly walking back to his comrades. Gu Fei dismissed his Ring of Fire and went back to where the ladies were as well.
Both parties gawked at the two who had just returned to them, asking, “What happened?”
The Thief was too ashamed to speak, while Gu Fei lightly answered with: “We’re done!”
“Done?!” everyone exclaimed, astonished.
“Who won?” This was what everyone was truly wondering about. The Thief frowned, while Gu Fei smiled. The answer was obvious.
“When did the fight even start?” everyone tried to make sense of what had just happened.
“Exactly when did you hit him?” the clique of sisters asked Gu Fei.
“Exactly when did you get hit?” the bunch of brothers asked the Thief.
The answers were the same on both sides, “Didn’t you all see the burning fire just now?”
“Burning fire? That Ring of Fire? You call that ‘burning’?!” All reacted in the same way.
“My HP bar turned red already!” The Thief’s expression turned grim. In Parallel World, HP bar was normally displayed in green, turning yellow if it got depleted past the halfway mark and red if it dropped to the final 10% and below.
“With Ring of Fire? No way that that little burning fire could turn your HP bar red! You must be mistaken,” someone skeptically commented.
“Why don’t you give it a try and get burned by him yourself!” The Thief was still mulling over the issue himself! He did not feel good since he could not figure out how he had just lost.
The gang of men started to size up the crowd of women, “Is someone pulling tricks from their side?”
“Hey! Stop making things up just because you guys have lost!” the ladies exclaimed indignantly. Although they were equally bewildered by what had just transpired, they were still the winners in this duel since Gu Fei was on their side. Getting Gu Fei’s explanation as to how he had achieved victory in this PvP could wait at a later time.
“For Ring of Fire to burn someone till his HP turned red… Do you all believe that?” someone from the opposing side asked the ladies.
Although the ladies internally did not believe that it was possible as well, they still said externally, “Yes, we do!” Women sure were scary when trying to cover up a flaw.
The group of men was instantly tongue-tied. Men usually emerged victorious when it came to PvP, but when it came to bickering—well, even if the men were to win over the women in that aspect, they would still be accused of being rude. In conclusion, there was simply no way that they could get the upper hand in this matter.
At this moment, a hotshot Warrior stepped forward and issued a challenge to Gu Fei, “Try setting me on fire. I wanna see how much of my HP will get depleted.”
All the ladies encouraged Gu Fei, “Burn him! Burn him!”
Gu Fei swept his eyes over to the guy and said, “Wait a moment.”
“What’s wrong? Dare not do it anymore? Or are you looking for another way to keep up this charade?” the hotshot asked knowingly, thinking that he had caught Gu Fei red-handed.
“Cool-down period for my spell,” Gu Fei looked at him pitifully. He had never thought that someone would have worse knowledge about the game’s mechanics than him.
The hotshot hung his head down in embarrassment.
When the cool-down period of Ring of Fire ended, Gu Fei stepped forward once more. The hotshot straightened his back and bellowed, “Come on! I’ll see just how much HP you can burn off of me.” At the same time, he vigilantly eyed the ladies, “Don’t even think of pulling some tricks again! I can see your every move from here!”
The ladies expressed their disdain toward him.
“If I win this duel, you’re not allowed to pester them again starting tomorrow,” Gu Fei resolved to not demonstrate his ability for nothing.
The hotshot was momentarily stunned, turning his head back to his comrades to seek their opinions.
Some of the men briefly conferred and willingly nodded their heads in agreement.
“Ring of Fire! Release!” Gu Fei went straight to the point, casting out a flame ring and charging toward his opponent. The hotshot had yet to come to his senses when Gu Fei finished burning him, dismissed his Ring of Fire, and retreated away. This spell drained mana continuously, so it was burdensome for Gu Fei.
“How is it?” the others nervously inquired.
The hotshot glanced over at his HP bar and was overjoyed, “It didn’t turn red at all! Just a little close to turning yellow. This punk is playing tricks, after all!”
The others’ expressions turned pale upon hearing this. Gu Fei mildly said, “You have high HP. If you have resistance to magic, your HP bar would of course not turn red.” Deep down, he was thinking, This fellow’s gaming knowledge is indeed much worse than me.
Actually, the hotshot Warrior was not lacking in gaming knowledge; he was simply too absorbed on the matter at hand that he forgot to consider other factors. Now that he had regained his senses, he felt quite shock as well. As was stated by Gu Fei, he indeed had an Endurance-based build and was geared up with magic resistant equipment. A spell that could burn a Thief’s HP bar until it turned red could only inflict so much damage when it came to a magic-resistant Warrior like him. In that case, the damage output of Gu Fei’s Ring of Fire was truly staggering to the point of making others speechless. The hotshot silently retreated to his party of men and talked in hushed tone with them.
Over at the corner where Amethyst Rebirth stood, the members were all rejoicing. As they prepared to start grinding, they noticed that the opposing side did not make a move to leave at all. Luo Luo asked loudly, “Is it not time for you people to leave?”
“Leave? Why would we leave?” someone said on the other side.
“Shameless! A bunch of shameless people! How can you be so shameless!” the ladies angrily blurted out.
However, the group of men remained unnerved, “Babes, that bro just stated that this is a duel. Since it’s a duel, then there should clearly be a winner and a loser. Do you think we will simply give up when our representative’s HP bar has yet to turn yellow?”
“Stop twisting the facts!”
“You’re all being unreasonable!”
The ladies were all in uproar, causing Gu Fei to feel stressed out as well. He hurriedly stepped out and said, “Alright, come out. Let’s get this over with.”
“No problem,” the other side replied; the hotshot Warrior came out again.
After a brief analytical discussion, the group of men maintained their views that the Ring of Fire spell did not have that kind of damage output. The more they thought about it, the surer they were that the source of the problem was that top-grade sword of Gu Fei. The sword’s traits could not be appraised after several attempts, making them even more certain of their analysis.
None of them had heard of a sword with ‘Spell Damage’ trait, so it was natural for them to not consider the possibility of the player before their eyes wielding a level 70 weapon leagues beyond everybody else right now. In the end, they all came to this conclusion: “His sword must have a trait that boosts Ring of Fire’s damage output by leaps and bounds, which is why his spell appears to be a little over the top.”
“I should’ve bolted toward him when he dismissed his Ring on Fire… It would’ve been a sure win!” The hotshot Warrior slapped his thigh regretfully.
“It’s still not too late to do that now!” someone in the group grinned wickedly. In every group out there, one member always assumed the role of an incompetent tactician.
“How so?” the others asked while looking at him.
“The range of Ring of Fire and Cyclone, which one do you guys think covers a wider range?” the ‘tactician’ asked.
Everyone instantly got what he meant. The Cyclone skill was not bounded to any weapon, so it actually had a very flexible range. The longer the weapon a Warrior wielded, the wider the range that Cyclone could cover. As long as Cyclone was unleashed using a long weapon, such as a one-handed sword, and not a short weapon, like a dagger, the tornado formed by this attack could cover a wide area that was larger than Ring of Fire’s AOE.
“But will he still be alive if I use Cyclone?” the hotshot Warrior asked.
“Who cares?! When skills are activated, mishaps, like someone dying, can occasionally happen. It’s not like they forbade us from using skills,” the tactician justified.
“You’ve got a point!” the others agreed.
That discussion naturally resulted into the men refusing to leave. With the excuse that they had yet to admit defeat, they suggested for the duel’s continuation.
“It’s okay. It’s just dueling again; it’ll be quick,” Gu Fei comforted the ladies.
The same Warrior came out once more; he was trying his best to keep a firm grip on to a heavy sword while only holding the very end of its hilt. Rumors had it that this little trick would expand Cyclone’s range of attack.
Gu Fei’s strategy was still the same: He summoned Ring of Fire first and then darted toward the Warrior. The others presumed that this was the only trick up Gu Fei’s sleeves. Where else could they find a Mage’s fighting style that involved casting Ring of Fire and then hurling himself or herself at an opponent?
The Warrior was calm and ready, yet Gu Fei’s darting speed toward him still caught him off-guard, causing him to activate Cyclone in a frenzied haste.
Gu Fei had long anticipated Cyclone upon seeing that signature hand movement. He was a little taken aback at first as he did not expect his current opponent to actually unleash Cyclone. With this attack, a Mage would probably be insta-killed, violating the two parties’ agreement of stopping the duel when one dueler’s HP became low.
Gu Fei hesitated for a moment, as he tried to analyze the situation from a martial arts expert’s perspective, trying to find out if his opponent was merely feigning the attack to intimidate him. While Gu Fei was still pondering about this, the Warrior had already spinned himself into a whirlwind. Screams could be heard from the party of ladies as they saw this.
He’s serious! Gu Fei hurriedly raised his sword and stabbed into the Cyclone’s center once he saw an opening, hurling himself outward by borrowing the attack’s force. He was getting riled up inside upon seeing that his opponent did not intend to hold back. Thankfully, Gu Fei was able to add points to his Agility with his every level up until he got to level 39. If he still had his level 30 speed, his moment of hesitation just then would result into his death by the Cyclone skill. He was actually being kind with this bunch of guys by repeatedly casting Ring of Fire to make them retreat on their own.
“Fireball! Shoot!” Gu Fei casted, flinging the ball of fire that that had formed.
While the Warrior was shocked that Gu Fei could slip out of his Cyclone, he did not think much of Gu Fei’s casted Fireball.
In Parallel World, there was a special term called ‘Verdict’. When the same or different skills were activated simultaneously and clashed with each other, Verdict would determine how much damage both sides could inflict. For example, a normal sword slash could cleave a ball of fire apart. This meant that Verdict for a normal sword slash was higher compared to the Fireball spell. When these two different attacks clashed with each other, the attack of the Fireball spell would be close to being useless.
Of course, the rules for Verdict were not that simple. Besides the algorithm related to the different skills and spells, all sorts of factors, such as the character stats, attack speed, and damage output, could affect the outcome of the clashing attacks.
Still, based on the above-mentioned factors, the Warrior’s Cyclone undoubtedly had a high chance of winning Verdict.
Gu Fei’s Fireball was not something he had randomly casted out, though. He actually casted it with the same approach that he had utilized to defend himself against Cyclone by stabbing into it when he saw an opening: precise timing. Gu Fei casted Fireball only after he was done with his calculation, as he intended for the spell to hit the opponent by slipping through the tiny gap found in the spinning Cyclone. Judging from the rules, Gu Fei’s method would allow the Fireball spell to avoid colliding with the Cyclone skill. If it worked, Verdict would not be necessary.
In the end, Gu Fei’s ball of fire still failed to escape the fate of being eradicated by Cyclone. He was unable to bypass Verdict even with his precise timing because the air flow caused by the spinning Cyclone was within Verdict’s jurisdiction. The weak ball of fire was no match for the squall that Cyclone had created and it dissipated the moment it came into contact with the spinning attack.
Gu Fei was not discouraged by this outcome though, as another idea just flashed through his mind. Just as he was about to cast Fireball again, the Warrior’s spinning stopped.
Seeing that Gu Fei was outside of Cyclone’s attack range, the Warrior would of course not continue spinning around mindlessly. He figured that this was an excellent chance to close in on Gu Fei since the latter had dismissed his Ring of Fire after being thrown outward by the Cyclone skill. With this thought in mind, he stopped his Cyclone and sprinted toward Gu Fei. In his eyes, Gu Fei without his Ring of Fire was just a vulnerable Mage that was at his mercy.
Actually, Gu Fei was about to do some more experimenting! He felt somewhat regretful that the Warrior had stopped his Cyclone, but the opponent advancing closer to him was what Gu Fei wished for as well. With no intention of retreating, Gu Fei also dashed toward the opponent.
The Warrior had initially been worrying that Gu Fei would attempt to buy time for the cool-down period of Ring of Fire to end by running in circles, so he was very delighted when he saw Gu Fei running toward him instead.
The two were about to clash headlong with intense emotions running amok inside them. Seeing that Gu Fei was still three steps away from him, the Warrior promptly activated his Charge skill with a roar.
Warriors themselves had very slow movement speed, but it was the other way around for the attacking speed of their skills. However, in the eyes of Gu Fei, Charge could not pose a threat to him no matter how fast it was. This was because the signs of someone who was about to unleash the skill were simply too obvious. After a month of pursuing a PvP lifestyle through bounty hunting, Gu Fei now possessed an in-depth understanding of the various in-game skills. When it came to understanding the game’s algorithm, he was still inferior to Brother Assist, Sword Demon, and the rest. But when it came to his judgment in actual combat, he was on a whole other level compared to the rest of them.
At present, the Warrior was bending over and clenching his glutes, so Gu Fei immediately deduced what he was about to do. Gu Fei dodged to the side as the Warrior frantically charged ahead, naturally failing to hit Gu Fei. Gu Fei swiftly reacted and pushed with his leg the opponent’s buttocks to help increase the momentum of the Warrior’s Charge by two more meters. With Gu Fei’s assisting kick, the Warrior uncontrollably stabbed his sword into a tree that was behind Gu Fei previously.
No one knew how the system calculated the damage inflicted upon the tree, but it seemed that its defense was very weak; that single stab managed to pierce through it with the tip of the blade coming out from the tree’s other side. The Warrior screamed inside his mind, Oh, sh*t! There were simply too many similar scenarios like this in wuxia novels: If a sword stabbed too deeply inside a tree, pulling it out would be very difficult.
Sure enough, the sword did not even budge despite him concentrating all his strength into his hands to free it from the tree. This was when Gu Fei came upon him. He casted no spell; choosing to make his way beside the Warrior, he proceeded to cleave downward with his two hands on Moonlit Nightfalls.
Such a scenario was hard to come by in a PvP setting, so the Warrior did not know the proper way to react if someone domineeringly tried to cleave his arms off during a PvP. Since it was something he had never thought of before, he could only rely on the conditioned reflex of his body and act accordingly. The realistic presentation of the game made the Warrior think that he was in real danger. Quickly pulling his hands back, he retreated.
If Gu Fei really wanted to chop his hands off, he would have no chance to escape at all; fortunately, Gu Fei was merely trying to instill fear in him. He could not help but chuckle inwardly as he saw how quickly the Warrior had let go of his sword’s hilt and retreated from him.
A Warrior without a weapon was of course inferior to a Mage. An empty-handed Mage could still cast spells, after all! Meanwhile, a barehanded Warrior could not perform Charge, Cyclone, or any of his or her skills. As for the current Warrior, his sword was stuck on a tree! If I don’t hurry and recover it… What if others take it? What if the system removes it? What if it is treated as part of the tree from now on?
The Warrior was getting anxious, yet Gu Fei had no regards for his feelings as he chased after him with the sword in his hand.
The Warrior lost his sense of PvP now that he was weaponless. He did not know how to defend against the lustrous weapon that was fast heading his way, so he continued to flee like a frightened rat, yelling, “Sword! My sword! Hurry up and help me get my sword back!” A few comrades of his absentmindedly went to retrieve his sword for him.
Meanwhile, Gu Fei continued to chase after the fleeing Warrior all over the grinding spot. Gu Fei was an all-Agility Mage equipped with high-grade boots right now, so there was simply no suspense in the sight of him chasing after the Warrior. Gu Fei jabbed at his back again and again, asking, “Is it turning red yet?! Is it turning red yet?!”
“What are you talking about?! What is turning red?!” the Warrior asked hysterically.
“Is your HP bar turning red yet?!” Gu Fei clarified, as he continued to poke at him.
“Very soon!” the Warrior hollered.
“Tell me when it’s turning red,” Gu Fei said while he kept on stabbing the Warrior’s back.
“It’s turning red!” the Warrior said immediately.
Gu Fei’s sword remained leveled upon the Warrior’s back, but he did not continue stabbing. He asked, “Do you yield?”
“I yield! I yield!” the Warrior put his hands up.
“Mhm!” Gu Fei acknowledged, putting his sword away.
“My sword!” the Warrior did not seem to care about his HP bar that had turned red, as he immediately went to recover his sword that was still stuck on the tree instead of approaching a Priest to heal him after getting freed by Gu Fei.
“Just what is the meaning of all this?” the spectators were on the verge of breaking down, especially the group of men who was at a loss.
“He yielded,” Gu Fei answered, shrugging his shoulders.
“This...This...” The group of men had a dreadful expression on their faces. They waited until the Warrior recovered his sword before someone stomped his feet, saying angrily, “We’ll be back the day after.” For them, there were just too many coincidences that led to their losses in that second duel. The Charge skill that ended up causing a Warrior’s sword to get stuck into a tree... Could things be even more ridiculous? A Warrior that lost his weapon and was stabbed until he forcibly yielded to the opposing Mage… It was simply too humiliating. They all left while feeling resentful.
“Have a safe trip back!” Gu Fei waved at their departing figures.
The ladies were laughing among themselves. Luo Luo made her way to where Gu Fei was and praised, “You’ve got some moves.”
“It’s nothing special,” Gu Fei laughed. Countless players wished that they could attain such an OP state of being able to settle a brutal PvP in a relaxed manner, yet it seemed that Gu Fei’s attainment in melees might be a little too high. Making good use of the terrain, evading at the right moment, and retaliating at every opportune moment… Regular players would never think that all these were done on purpose. The sword-getting-stuck-into-a-tree incident was the only thing that he had not accounted for; still, it served as a nice cover-up that led to the others thinking that everything that had happened was merely coincidences stacking together.
Nobody managed to appreciate the brilliance of the scenes that were perfectly orchestrated by Gu Fei... Such was the loneliness of an expert; who could actually understand it?