Chapter 16 - Meeting at Ray’s Bar (Part 1)
Gu Fei’s question made Sword Demon feel extremely aggrieved.
Why? It’s because of Gu Fei himself! He had caused his downfall. No one believed Sword Demon had the strength to lead, especially after a level 25 Thief like him lost to a mere level 10 Mage. Even though he was a pro player, the fact that he was defeated by a Mage fifteen levels below him made it impossible for him to win others’ trust by leveraging his past reputation and high level in-game. Therefore, it was no surprise that Sword Demon found himself being abandoned by his meager followers in less than two days, even breaking ties and friendships with him for good.
However, Sword Demon bore no grudges against Gu Fei, as he considered himself to have lost in that fight fair and square. It was only because Gu Fei had asked the question thoughtlessly that Sword Demon felt somewhat upset.
“Ahem. Don’t worry about that! Let’s talk about this mercenary group instead. Are you interested?” Sword Demon asked.
“Well, I’ve got nothing important going on at the moment, so I don’t mind taking a look,” Gu Fei said. Truthfully, he had no wish to take part in this sort of group activity. But after seeing the look on Sword Demon’s face, and adding Fireball’s tidbit about the situation Sword Demon had found himself a couple of days ago, he had an inkling of what had happened to this person’s guild. If that was truly the case, then he felt somewhat guilty for having caused it.
If Gu Fei had known that this would happen from the beginning, he would have allowed Sword Demon to unleash a few moves first before hinting to him about the gap between their fighting prowess and would not have aggressively went for the win. With Sword Demon’s personality, he would definitely not pursue the matter or make things difficult for Gu Fei or Fireball any further.
Gu Fei knew clearly how it felt to be ostracized by others. It was worse in Sword Demon’s case, since it was a matter of appearance. Reality was truly cruel! Plenty of people judged others based on their looks; it was a good thing Gu Fei himself hadn’t been born that ugly. It was a very human reaction, however, to sympathize with others while counting their blessings.
This mixture of guilt, understanding, and sympathy made Gu Fei feel that the least he could do was sacrifice a bit of his alone time and fulfill Sword Demon’s request as a form of compensation.
On the other hand, Sword Demon did not think Gu Fei’s response was such a huge favor. He merely nodded his head upon seeing Gu Fei’s acquiescence, “Great! Let’s meet later this afternoon. We’ll go together.”
“Afternoon? At what time?” Gu Fei asked.
“2 p.m.!” Sword Demon said.
“Got it,” Gu Fei affirmed.
“See you later, then!” Sword Demon nodded once more as he re-entered the forest and returned to his grinding spot.
Gu Fei stretched his neck and loosened up his shoulders before diving back into the monsters while brandishing his sword.
At 1:50 p.m., Sword Demon sent him a message, “Where are you now?”
“I’m on my way!” Gu Fei had been incessantly training his kung fu and grinding, only rushing back to the city when he supposed that it was almost time for the meeting. Parallel World did not provide any fast travel methods back and forth the city. Officials euphemistically explained that it was to maintain the game’s realistic atmosphere, but the players all believed it as a move by the game company to artificially lengthen the time players had to spend online. The best evidence to support this was the fact that the game would employ the use of a time-card instead of a monthly subscription in the future.
“Awesome,” Sword Demon replied.
“Where’s the meeting place? I’ll head there directly,” Gu Fei asked.
“Ray’s Bar,” Sword Demon answered.
“Okay! I’m headed there now,” Gu Fei responded.
Ray’s Bar was a legend as it had the status of being Parallel World’s first player-set-up shop. Players were required to reach level 20 before they could set up their private shops. Yet, the level requirement was not the issue; it was actually the amount needed to purchase a shop.
The system would not intervene or levy fees if players were to set up stalls by the streets. But if they wished to set up actual shops, they would have to buy them through the system with the in-game currency: coins.
Although the cities in the game were large, the buyable assets available were still limited and really expensive. Therefore, no one had considered the possibility of a player being able to purchase a shop just after reaching level 20, and one with quite a sizable floor space at that.
How in the world did he gather so many coins in just a week? There was only one probable explanation after much thought: He used real-world currency to purchase pieces of equipment through the Trade Exchange, and then sold these items for coins in the Auction House. A rich person!
No one could figure out why he chose to open a bar after accumulating so many gold coins, though. While the bar currently had a rather decent number of patrons, once the open beta ended and the time-cards started to be used, there was no guarantee that those players would still willingly waste their time there. Furthermore, the system’s NPC-operated bars had all sorts of alcoholic products already; in contrast, where would a player find all these liquors in his bar? Although players with the Brewmaster crafting profession could brew alcohol, the quantity they could make would not be that much considering their current levels. It would be far too ridiculous for him as well to purchase the drinks from the system-established bars just to resell them in his store.
Yet, Ray’s Bar did exactly that. He was buying and selling alcoholic beverages at their original prices while incurring the cost of the system’s shop transaction tax; it was basically a business built to lose money!
Losing money yet still persevering! What a passionate man! everyone thought.
But for a wealthy and passionate man, his name was rather plain: Ray.
His name was the first one to become well-known in Parallel World, although many people privately thought of him as a fool. In any case, given the countless cities in-game, players were randomly spawned into any of them on the first day of open beta. For this stubborn fool to be spawned in Yunduan City, players who spawned there as well considered it as a source of pride!
Gu Fei naturally knew about this famous person and his equally famous establishment; he had been there once with Fireball after all. He had even personally seen the much acclaimed Ray standing by the bar selling alcohol.
Despite continuously losing money every day, Ray still chose to man the bar and serve the customers himself. It seemed he was not even level 30 yet! He was a person who had truly shed materialistic pursuits. Half of the people visiting Ray’s Bar rushed to pay their respects to the man who had transcended beyond the mortal philistine ways.
As Gu Fei arrived just outside Ray’s Bar, he checked the time and saw that it was exactly two in the afternoon. He pushed the door and went inside after taking a deep breath.
He scanned the room but didn’t see Sword Demon’s group. As he was about to send Sword Demon a message, Comrade1 Ray called out, “Can I help you with anything?”
“I’m looking for someone,” Gu Fei described Sword Demon’s features.
His looks were definitely extraordinarily ugly. Gu Fei barely began describing Sword Demon’s appearance, yet Ray had already pointed to a particular direction, “Room 3.” As a bar opened by a player, the place did not look antiquated unlike the system-operated taverns. Ray had even used wooden poles to partition some parts of the bar into several private rooms, making the place looked just like a typical modern bar in reality.
“Thanks!” Gu Fei said.
“You’re welcome. Call me if you need anything,” Ray’s affable smile was truly worthy of his reputation.
“Ray!” Gu Fei wagged his finger and said, “I knew it! Your real name must be Ray Feng2, right?”
“Very funny,” Ray laughed.
Gu Fei smiled as he took his leave and made his way toward Room 3.
The wooden poles functioning as walls of the room did not have enough space for a door, so a piece of cloth was used as a doorway curtain instead. Gu Fei grabbed the cloth and shook it slightly, as if he was knocking on a door.
“Come in!” someone inside said.
As Gu Fei lifted the cloth to enter, he saw the person sitting right across the entrance.
One word: pretty.
Two words: very beautiful.
Three words: too f*cking attractive.
Four words: How was this possible?
Five words: That was actually a man?
The person was seated next to Sword Demon, facing the entrance. Gu Fei would not have believed he was a man if it wasn’t for that flat chest and prominent Adam’s apple.
The person had an arm around Sword Demon’s shoulders. He raised the other arm to point at Gu Fei when he entered, “That the guy?”
Sword Demon nodded as he rushed toward Gu Fei, “You’re here!”
Gu Fei nodded, “Yup.”
That Adonis pointed toward the empty seat across him and said, “Have a seat!”
Gu Fei only noticed the other three persons after he had sat down. Plain, simple, and common faces. Compared to the beauty-and-the-beast contrast between Sword Demon and that person, the three looked so ordinary that Gu Fei had difficulty identifying their uniqueness.
“Let me introduce everyone,” Sword Demon said to Gu Fei. Starting from the person beside Gu Fei, “War Without Wounds! He’s a Warrior.”
War Without Wounds was a middle-aged uncle who was very well-built, giving off a very mature and dependable aura. “Hello!” He extended his arm as he continued to introduce himself, “I love warriors, so I always choose to be a Warrior when I play online games.”
“And he would always be the game’s number 1 Warrior,” Sword Demon added.
“Hello!” Gu Fei removed his straw hat with his left hand as his right hand quickly shook the proffered hand at him. He immediately realized that the Warrior had quite a strong grip. It was expected, given how Warriors would put a majority of their stat points into Strength. Gu Fei was a pure-Agility Mage, so that handshake felt as if his bones had shattered. Thankfully he did not make things difficult for Gu Fei, loosening his grip after a while, as it was clearly done out of habit. Gu Fei could only smile wryly. This was the first time in his life that a handshake had left him in an unfavorable position.
“This is Brother Assist. His online games’ job class is always randomly chosen. This time he’s a Knight. Brother Assist excels in gathering information; he usually notices details that others may have overlooked,” Sword Demon introduced the second person.
“Brother Assist? You don’t look that old,” Gu Fei extended his hand once more.
“Sorry! My name’s actually You Ge. Sorry if you feel cheated,” Brother Assist scratched his head embarrassedly, before reaching over to shake Gu Fei’s hand. He had a friendly smile and was clearly a very easy-going person.
“I see,” Gu Fei smiled.
“This is Royal God Call. He excels as a Mage, yet he chose to be an Archer this time,” Sword Demon introduced the third person. The person was not too old and his face was unsmiling. He exuded the air of teenage arrogance and disdain. He was most likely a student.
“Hello!” Gu Fei extended his hand with a more serious attitude than he had with the previous two. Gu Fei knew that the best way to interact with kids was to not treat them as children; Gu Fei needed to make him feel regarded.
Royal God Call was apparently a petty person as he unexpectedly did not even bother to extend his hand. He merely snorted with disdain, “Hmph.”
This nasty piece of sh*t, disregarding his elders despite his youth! Gu Fei silently rebuked.
“This guy’s the last one! Young Master Han; he’s my old online gaming partner. His job class has always been a Priest,” Sword Demon finally introduced the one next to him.