Chapter 361 - Professional Gamer
“Are these the friends you mentioned?” The man obviously did not want to talk about how he ended up in prison as he immediately changed the topic.
“Yes, let me introduce you to them.” Brother Assist first introduced his mercenary mates. Given how famous each of them was, any gamer would feel the need to express their shock when each of their names was mentioned, and this man was no exception. Even Oathless Sword learned something new from this introduction. He got to learn that Young Master Han was actually Drinking Addict, the legendary strategist that had always accompanied Sword Demon in many MMOs. Oathless Sword could not help but be surprised once more, since he was also a renowned expert by his right.
Brother Assist proceeded to introduce Oathless Sword and Gale Force after the four. In comparison, Gale Force and Oathless Sword were mere landlords of a small village. Compared to the identities of Sword Demon, Royal God Call, and the rest, who were the equivalent of famous martial arts families, such as Nangong, Ximen, Beigong, or Dongfang1, that were well-respected throughout the land, these two’s names were barely worth remembering.
Finally, Brother Assist introduced everyone to the man currently stuck in a cell without much fanfare. “This is my friend. All of you should’ve heard of his IGN, Southern Lone Blade.”
The ensuing reaction encapsulated the difference between the famed martial families and landlords.
When the four great experts heard that this man was one of the Five Unyielding Experts, all of them merely hummed, “Oh”, largely nonchalant of the fact that they were now able to put a face to the name.
Oathless Sword, on the other hand, looked so excited that he might just undress himself and jump into the dungeon to commiserate with the man over his misfortune. Career experts like him loved to rub shoulders with all sorts of MMO experts. Why else would he think of following Young Master’s Elite when he heard that they were off to visit someone?
Upon learning that this man was actually one of the esteemed Five Unyielding Experts, Oathless Sword had an even stronger wish to inveigle and befriend this person. Although he knew deep down that Southern Lone Blade might already have quite the substantial achievements here in Linshui City and inviting him to Yunduan City would be nigh impossible, he still thought that it was a good idea to make his acquaintance. Who knew if an opportunity to form a sort of 28 Guild Alliance might come one day? And even if they might not have any opportunities to cooperate with one another in the future, he could at least still brag to others over a couple of drinks that he was pretty chummy with an Unyielding Expert. There was plenty of value in that as well!
With that thought in his mind, Oathless Sword quickly squatted down and tried his best to reach his arm for a handshake with the man.
Southern Lone Blade was pretty gracious himself. Although he was in discomfort standing in the water like that, he did not snob his proffered hand. He even apologetically said, “Sorry about my wet hand.”
“It’ll dry after a shake of hands!” Oathless Sword gripped that hand tightly, almost lifting Southern Lone Blade up.
“There’s something that I need your help with this time,” Oathless Sword went straight to the point and was ready to let this man whom he just met know about his quest. This largely stemmed from his clear understanding on how to deal and interact with other people. Southern Lone Blade would find it somewhat difficult to reject his request when in front of Brother Assist and the others, who would naturally help him convince this expert to aid them. There was no guarantee that this man would lend a helping hand if Oathless Sword sought him privately later.
Southern Lone Blade was wondering why the man was so enthusiastic in greeting him, but he immediately understood the reason behind this when the man said that he had a request to make. Thus, without further questions, he promptly nodded his head. “Speak freely. Was your equipment stolen? We need to act quickly if that’s the case.”
“Uhm… What are you talking about?” Oathless Sword was starting to doubt his ears, as Southern Lone Blade’s words seemed entirely irrelevant to his plight.
“So your equipment wasn’t stolen? There’s no rush, then. How much money did they take from you? I’ll return you the sum if I have enough on me,” Southern Lone Blade said.
Oathless Sword floundered in his cluelessness. He turned to regard Brother Assist with a look of puzzlement even as his grip on Southern Lone Blade’s hand loosened slightly.
With furrowed brows, Brother Assist asked on Oathless Sword’s behalf, “What are you talking about?”
Southern Lone Blade froze up. Glancing at Oathless Sword, he gingerly asked, “So… You didn’t get robbed while you were being ferried over?”
“Robbed? No!” Oathless Sword shook his head vigorously.
“Ahem! In that case, let’s just forget what I just said.” Southern Lone Blade coughed.
The others already had an inkling of what he was talking about, though. Sword Demon knitted his brows and asked, “What do you do for a living?”
“I… I’m a professional gamer.” Southern Lone Blade lifted his head to look Sword Demon straight in the eye. Sword Demon was a famous MMO expert, so any player who bothered to research him would know about his personality. Southern Lone Blade was aware of Sword Demon being an upright and righteous leader in many MMOs in the past, which was rare among gamers. While he was not one to hate people who did despicable acts, Southern Lone Blade would not put it past this man to reject any association with players doing unscrupulous activities.
Everyone got clued in on the fact that Southern Lone Blade firmly fell into this grey area from his momentary loss of confidence in his words. He might be a professional gamer, but the business he was involved with was most likely a shady one.
Strictly speaking, this act of farming other players for equipment was not a foreign sight in MMOs. Now that the gaming industry had developed into the various aspects of profession, production, and organization, the lucrativity of these businesses had also allowed the dark side of gaming to flourish.
Most gamers did not really care much about this matter as long as they were not the victims themselves. Some might even seek to befriend such people so as to prevent themselves from becoming their targets.
MMOs were never breeding grounds for noble and righteous heroes. Even someone as upright as Sword Demon would probably not be too displeased meeting such scoundrels were he not a victim of their predation in Parallel World.
Figurative sparks had already come alive from that stare Southern Lone Blade and Sword Demon shared, but Brother Assist was quick to smooth things out. With a hand across Oathless Sword’s shoulder, he laughed loudly. “We’re passing by while on a mission. This friend right here is the guild leader who hired us. Since you’re familiar with the lay of the land here, he is hoping that you may be able to lend us a hand.” During his introduction before, Brother Assist only mentioned everyone’s name, so Southern Lone Blade did not know of the position Oathless Sword held.
“Oh, that’s why you’re here!” Southern Lone Blade was quick on the uptake and shifted his gaze from that staring contest as he once more looked straight at Oathless Sword. “That’s no problem. We’ll make contact once I’m out of here. Do not hesitate to ask for my help.”
“Thank you very much!” Oathless Sword was precisely the sort that cared not for the goodness of any player. As long as the said people were not having any designs on himself or his guild, they could easily become friends. Oathless Sword would even become sworn brothers with Southern Lone Blade now that he was willing to lend him a hand.
“Oh, yes. Didn’t you say that you have a juggernaut of a man to introduce me to? It’s not any of these guys, is it?” Brother Assist had only introduced the six men by their names. He knew who Young Master Han was the moment he mentioned the moniker ‘Drinking Addict’. Seeing how Brother Assist introduced everyone equally, it was clear that none of them was the special guest he was expecting.
“Heh...” Brother Assist laughed dryly. “You may have already met that person.”
“Eh?” Southern Lone Blade was confused.
“He’s the Video Mage,” Brother Assist confessed.
“That guy who caused me to be sent into prison?” Southern Lone Blade was very agitated. The sound of the stirring water was proof of this.
“I’m afraid so.” Brother Assist glanced at his companions, and everyone agreed with his assessment.
“Let’s put it behind us since we’re all friends.” Brother Assist began to appeal for Gu Fei.
“Mhm!” Southern Lone Blade hummed in the affirmative. Everyone was quite surprised to see him agree so easily.
“In that case, we’ll be leaving. We’ll discuss the matter further after you’re out. How long are you in for?” Brother Assist asked.
“Four hours,” Southern Lone Blade answered.
“Alright, we’ll take our leave first, then.” Brother Assist was prepared to lead everyone away. Sword Demon turned out to be the quickest to leave without a hint of hesitation. Brother Assist was actually worried something unpleasant might happen if they stayed any longer, so he hurriedly expressed his wish to leave. Oathless Sword was the only one who showed any sort of reluctance. Nevertheless, since everyone he knew was about to leave, it would be far too shameless for him to stay here with this man that he just met.
“Guild Leader Oathless, you don’t mind talking to him alone about your guild’s quest, right?” Brother Assist asked Oathless Sword the moment they stepped out of the prison.
“Yeah, no problem. Thanks!” Oathless Sword nodded his head with appreciation.
“Oh and… He’s a standard professional gamer, so if he thinks that the matter is somewhat difficult to accomplish, he may seek payment for his services. I can’t really help you on that end, either; after all, a man has to eat! I hope you won’t mind!” Brother Assist added.
“I understand perfectly. It’s no problem!” Oathless Sword did not seem to mind this in the least.
“That’s all for now, then!” Brother Assist bid Oathless Sword farewell for the other members of Young Master’s Elite.
Sword Demon’s expression was still somewhat conflicted, finally asking Brother Assist after the five of them walked quite a distance. “Just what exactly does your friend do, anyway?”
Brother Assist seemed to have already anticipated this question. “All I know is that he has always been a professional gamer. I have no idea this is the particular scope of work he is doing here in Parallel World.”
There were plenty of professional gamers out there; there were the hardworking gold farmers, the more capable sellswords, and the business-attuned individuals that focused on trades and resale… Some focused on one aspect of the business, while others did them all. These were considered to be the more honest forms of professional gaming. Besides these, there were also the professional gamers who dabbled in the darker side of things, such as farming equipment drops from players. There were other fraudulent activities that infiltrated all those above-mentioned, with even hackers in the early days; however, with the increased security awareness and subsequent measures set up, this particular brand of work no longer existed.
However, a new despicable way to make a living was actually born from this fully immersive VRMMO. According to the rumors through the grapevine, there was a very primitive service industry in some cities. It was a particularly undesirable line of work that plenty of people supported, especially the men. It was said that this industry alone was enough to create a tourism frenzy in-game.
Sword Demon found Southern Lone Blade’s profession to be abhorrent at the moment, but he was a friend of Brother Assist. It took erudition to know how to stand by their principles without damaging the interpersonal relationships forged. Sword Demon was at a loss over what he should do as the five men quietly continued on their way. This continued until they passed by a random tavern and saw the sudden disappearance of Young Master Han. When the other four realized it, they decided to attend to their businesses and bid one another goodbye.