Virtual World: Close Combat Mage

Chapter 41 - Preparations before the Battle

Chapter 41 - Preparations before the Battle

The six left the bar and went about their ways. Sword Demon and War Without Wounds had to get their equipment repaired, Royal God Call had to replenish his quiver of arrows, Brother Assist went straight toward Yunxia Valley, and Young Master Han expressed, “I should find another piece of cloth. These two I have really aren’t enough to hide my beauty.”

As for Gu Fei, he headed to the Auction House. He still had dozens of gold coins on himself, so he decided to purchase a more useful weapon.

The common-grade sword he originally had suited him perfectly, although it was an unremarkable piece of weaponry in the eyes of many. It was so mediocre that no one would consider selling it in the Auction House. Gu Fei spent quite some time searching for something similar, yet he still left empty-handed.

Gu Fei had specific criteria that were distinct from other players when it came to his weapon. He was very particular about the weapon’s length, weight, and specifications. Gu Fei felt that these requirements were far more important than the stated Physical Attack of the weapon as they would greatly affect his ability to display his combat prowess fully. The in-game search engine lacked the advanced parameters to sort through those aspects, so Gu Fei could only inspect each item individually in the Exhibition Hall.

This made Gu Fei’s search more intensive and time-consuming. By the time the others from the mercenary team indicated their arrival at Yunxia Valley in the private group channel, Gu Fei had just found a suitable Chinese broadsword.

Flames of Baptism. It had a much higher Physical Attack than Gu Fei’s previous common-grade sword, and it even had a 30% chance of inflicting an additional fire attack to opponents.

Other players would consider such a weapon as barely acceptable. In Parallel World, additional Spell Damage from equipment was affected by the character’s own stat distribution. This meant that characters with higher magic affinity could naturally inflict stronger Spell Damage by using magic weapons. Hence, job classes, such as Warriors, that had poor magic affinity preferred weapons that could cause status effect in lieu of Spell Damage. Examples of these status effects were the Slow effect that Ice Damage could cause, Paralysis from Electric Damage, and so on. Weapons like Flames of Baptism, which could inflict additional Fire Damage without causing status effect, were considered only tolerable.

This was why everyone ignored this weapon, which cost about 60 gold coins, even though it had an additional magic attack proc rate1 of 30%. Compared to Flames of Baptism, many players would probably prefer something like Sword Demon’s Frost Memories, which boosted 10% chance of causing a freezing effect.

Gu Fei did not know about all this basic gaming knowledge, though. He simply saw that Flames of Baptism had a high enough Physical attack and an additional high fire attack proc rate that could supplement his low damage, so he went ahead and bought it without hesitation.

“Miles, what’s your status?” Now that the others had reached the valley and Gu Fei had yet to reply, Young Master Han chose to single him out and specifically asked him.

“Mmm. I’ll be there soon…” Gu Fei took the Flames of Baptism from the display case. The blade was dark red and had a slight scorching sensation when held – as expected of a fire-based weapon. Gu Fei only regretted that the sword had no scabbard, so he had to stuff it into his dimensional pocket. He quickly made his way to the destination after everything was done.

Gu Fei was bombarded by Young Master Han’s criticisms and urgings all the way to Yunxia Valley’s baked soil. Having spent countless days in this region before, Gu Fei felt somewhat emotional now that he was back. He directed his question toward the mercenary group’s conversation window, “I’m here. Where are you guys?”

“Use the large stone by the lake as your axis of reference. The dilapidated wooden house should be at your twelve o’clock. I’m now at the one o’clock direction, Sword Demon’s at four, Royal’s at six, Wounds’ at nine, and Brother Assist has arrived at ten. You… Just hide somewhere and cover your face,” Young Master Han instructed.

Gu Fei took out his cloth strip and tied it to his face. Gu Fei was quite familiar with this area as it was the level-40 map he had been grinding. Most players were currently at level 30, but not many of them could grind monsters 10 levels higher than themselves. Seeing that no one was around him, Gu Fei chose to conceal himself within the nearby forest.

“Don’t attack arbitrarily. Let’s wait for our targets to appear, use Appraisal on them to confirm our battle strategy, and then deal with them all at once,” Young Master Han said.

Everyone agreed.

The valley was silent as everyone patiently waited. Gu Fei had to stop himself from rushing into the monsters nearby to try out his newly bought Chinese broadsword.

The wait lasted for half an hour, and then some started to become restless. Each began to inquire on the conversation window, “Brother Assist, are you sure your intel is correct? Are you certain he trains here?”

“Very sure!” Brother Assist trusted fully his information network.

Everyone endured for another ten minutes due to how confident he had sounded, yet there was still no one in sight. Even Brother Assist himself began to waiver a little and became somewhat restless.

“Why don’t we grind here a little?” Gu Fei was keen to try out his new weapon.

“I see someone! Someone’s coming!” Sword Demon sent out a message. Everyone’s eyes darted toward the valley entrance and spotted a group of people swaggering in.

“Oh, there’re quite a few people!” Royal God Call felt shocked.

“There’re ten of them,” Brother Assist quickly passed on the information, “Based on their equipment, there’re two Warriors, one Mage, one Archer, three Thieves, and three Priests.”

“Is anyone close enough to use Appraisal on them?” Young Master Han asked.

The four answered in negatives, which made Gu Fei’s response stand out, “I haven’t learned Appraisal yet.”

Everyone was dumbfounded at this revelation.

The ten people entered the valley, got into their grinding formation, and began engaging the monsters.

“Is there nobody able to get within range to appraise them?” Young Master Han asked once more.

“I’ll give it a shot,” Sword Demon said.

“That’s what I wanted to hear,” Young Master Han smirked.

Sword Demon activated his Stealth skill and made his way toward the target group from the mountain side. There was no skill that could counter Stealth at the moment, so every Thief had become very good at concealing themselves and lurking about.

However, Stealth would get canceled easily once a player attacked or was attacked. Using Appraisal while on Stealth would cancel out its effect as well. Hence, Sword Demon’s only choice was to move closer to the ten-man group and keep himself hidden while he used Appraisal on each of them.

The position he chose was the huge rock beside the lake that Young Master Han had used as the axis of reference. The others’ hearts thumped loudly when they saw his invisibility came off behind that rock. He was barely two meters away from one of the group’s members; the person only had to take two huge steps toward the rock and Sword Demon would be discovered. With how Stealth normally worked, players could no longer activate the skill once they entered combat mode. It was easy for an experienced player to prevent a Thief from re-entering Stealth.

More importantly, players had to use their eyes to appraise their target. Sword Demon was presently hiding behind the huge rock, which obstructed his view of the grinding party. He would have to stick his head out of the rock to appraise the targets. Unfortunately, he did not know when would be the appropriate instance to do so, since he could not see what their targets were currently doing. How would Sword Demon know when to peek out and appraise them?

It was in this moment that Gu Fei finally had the chance to witness the legendary partnership of the Dynamic Addiction Duo (D.A.D.) of the online gaming community.

Young Master Han had already positioned himself on a distant elevated plane, acting as Sword Demon’s eyes. He noted the ten players’ line of sight and gave Sword Demon a signal. Sword Demon’s moved perfectly in sync with Young Master Han, as if the latter was the one controlling the former. Sword Demon’s head poked out from behind the rock for ten times without anyone noticing, appraising the ten-man group one by one and posting the result of his Appraisal onto the mercenary group’s conversation window.

Traversing Four Seas was indeed the best major guild in Yunduan City. Eight of the ten players had already reached level 30. Naturally, Young Master’s Elite’s members were all at level 30 as well, and the distance between these top experts of their job classes and those eight players in terms of experience points earned was substantial. However, the experience earned by players had no direct impact to their combat capabilities; this was once again something that Parallel World’s officials had cooked up to bridge the gap between new and old players.

“Their levels aren’t low, but their equipment is so-so,” Brother Assist already had a good estimate of their abilities after watching the ten players grind and reading the information from Sword Demon’s Appraisal report. He shared his analysis, “The two Warriors will be difficult to insta-kill; they seem to have focused on their Endurance stat while leveling up. The Mage’s weapon isn’t bad; he has a high Magic Attack but terrible defense rating. The Archer is a leecher so he can be ignored. The three Priests are of average skill but will become problematic if they focus their healing on the two Warriors. As for the three Thieves, two are average while the third is No Smile. Sword Demon’s Appraisal skill failed on him, which means that his Appraisal proficiency is higher than Sword Demon’s.”

“Alright. Sword Demon, get into Stealth first,” Young Master Han ordered.

Sword Demon showed a thumbs-up toward the one o’clock direction and disappeared once more as he activated his Stealth.

“Let’s take the three Priests out first. What do you think, Brother Assist?” Young Master Han spoke on the conversation window to discuss their battle plan.

“Agree. Or else, the two Warriors will pose too much danger to us,” Brother Assist said, “But the two Priests among the three have focused their points toward Endurance, so it might be hard to deal with them. Wounds’ Cyclone can insta-kill one of them, but Sword Demon’s Backstab and Royal’s Snipe won’t be enough for the other two. If they’re quick enough, they’ll be able to bestow Heal on one another and prolong the battle, which will only complicate things again.”

“Looks like it’s not possible to kill off all ten of them in one go,” Young Master Han said.

“I don’t think that’s possible,” Brother Assist sighed.

“How about you guys? Any ideas?” Young Master Han asked.

“Since we can’t kill them in one go, then let’s break them instead!” Gu Fei said.

“Oh?” Everyone waited for Gu Fei to continue.

“Their group composition has a huge flaw,” Gu Fei explained.

“What is it?” Everyone began to take note of the group’s composition almost immediately.

“The Mage has low defense and HP, and that Archer is weak,” Gu Fei continued.

“So if we finish that Mage off, their team will lose the ability to deal long range attacks,” Young Master Han had caught on to Gu Fei’s intentions.

“That’s right. With Royal’s Attack Power, he’ll be able to insta-kill that Mage,” Gu Fei still clearly remembered Royal God Call’s Snipe from the day before.

Brother Assist quickly calculated the Mage’s character composition and wholeheartedly agreed with the assessment, “A guaranteed insta-kill! Unless Royal misses, of course.”

“Very funny,” Royal God Call showed his disdain.

“Once they realize they are being sniped by an Archer, I’m guessing they’ll instinctively spread out and find cover,” Gu Fei said, “Using this opportunity, Sword Demon can attack right away from Stealth and finish off one of the Priests.”

“Not necessarily,” Sword Demon corrected Gu Fei, “I could perhaps take care of two.”

“But that’ll reveal Sword Demon,” Royal God Call interjected.

“Just run away, then. Is anyone among them capable of catching up to Sword Demon?” Gu Fei said.

“There’s still an Archer,” Royal God Call said. An arrow from an Archer would most definitely be faster than Sword Demon.

“Your second Snipe is ready by then, right?” Gu Fei said.

“So,” Gu Fei concluded, “Effectively using Sword Demon’s Stealth and Royal’s Snipe should be enough to take care of this group.”

“The idea is sound,” Young Master Han said, “Our goal is to massacre them all. So once Sword Demon and Royal cause enough mayhem, we will all join in the assault.”

“Got it!” everyone answered.

“Royal, get ready,” Young Master Han gave out the attack order.

[1] Proc rate - is a common term used in programming to refer to an event triggered under particular circumstances. In games, it usually means the percentage of chance an effect will be applied upon use. In this case, Flames of Baptism has a 30% chance to deal additional fire attack.

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