Chapter 48 - Not a Zero-Sum Game
The four ladies immediately thought of retreating, but they saw another bunch of people blocking the other side of the street. July quickly posted a message on the guild channel, “Everyone, stay put inside the guild house for now.”
When the ladies asked why, July only replied, “Listen to me.” When July and the three ladies looked back, they saw that the people blocking the other side of the street had moved forward. The ladies did not know whether they just happened to stop in front of Amethyst Rebirth’s headquarters or purposely stopped there. July could hear her heart thumping loudly as she reemphasized her message to the ladies inside the guild house. July sighed in relief when everyone followed, huddling together within and making no more rash movement.
One side of the street had been completely blocked off. Although the road over here was spacious, No Smile had brought along quite a number of people. The resulting gaps got filled up quickly by the onlookers as well, making passing through them impossible. Furthermore, the combined strength of the four of them was not enough to breakout from this airtight human net.
“What do you want?” July could only confront the person whom she had always been trying to avoid meeting.
“What do I want?” No Smile spat back, cackling for a while before he replied, “I know you sent those people my way to f*ck with me. But I’m not blaming you. Just tell me who they are and we’ll call it even.”
July laughed coldly, “Once bitten, twice shy. Do you really think I’ll fall for your words a second time?”
No Smile’s grin no longer looked natural, “I’m being honest this time.”
July shook her head and sighed, “Smiling like this after being killed for four times; you’re really quite the actor.”
No Smile’s expression became rigid, as if July’s words had struck a nerve. No Smile momentarily lost his cool as he menacingly threatened, “If you’re not going to reveal their identity, then I’ll just hold you responsible for everything!”
“Fine! How are you going to do it, then? Drop me by four levels as well?” July smiled broadly.
No Smile felt even more aggrieved. Before he could speak, July already added, “I’m not at level 30 yet. So even if my level drops, it won’t be that great of a loss.”
No Smile’s face blanched. What she said was true. Since the amount of experience points needed to level up after reaching level 30 largely increased, No Smile’s drop from 30 to 29 had lost him a substantial amount of experience points. He was among the top-ranked Thieves on the experience efficiency leaderboard, having accumulated quite a lot of experience points at level 30. Now that his level had fallen from 30 to 26, these four levels alone already accounted for almost half the effort he had placed in this game so far! How could he not feel enraged?
No Smile’s entire being was endlessly devastated. He needed someone to vent his pent-up frustration, so he grinded his teeth and said, “Alright! It’s as you said. We’ll talk after I drop your levels! All four of you! One level each!”
Someone among the onlookers tried to rush toward the confrontation, but was stopped by another beside that person.
“What are you doing?” Gu Fei asked Young Master Han.
Just as July and No Smile were about to verbally cross swords, Luo Luo had already sent a message to Young Master Han. Since Ray’s Bar was near this street, the six had quickly arrived over and squeezed into the crowd to watch the spectacle. Seeing that both parties were not reaching an agreement and No Smile was about to kill July, Gu Fei rushed to interfere, only to be stopped by Young Master Han.
“Your interference won’t do any good,” Young Master Han told Gu Fei on the mercenary channel, “They have more people here. Going in now would be suicide. What’s the point of doing so?”
“What do you mean?” Gu Fei asked.
“Just like what that lady said; it’s not a big loss for them to die—”
“To hell with that!” Gu Fei shrugged Young Master Han’s hand off him, “This isn’t a zero-sum game,” With that, Gu Fei squeezed his way past the crowd.
No Smile waved his hand and many players of Traversing Four Seas moved to surround July and the three ladies as they awaited the next order to start the massacre.
“I’m giving you one last chance to think this through. Surely, you don’t wish to see your sisters get killed together with you, right?” No Smile asked mockingly, as if he had anticipated everything. July might know him well, but No Smile had an even better understanding of her.
“Go to hell, you low-life!” someone refused his condition before July could even speak. Lie Lie, who had a feisty personality, found No Smile’s actions absolutely deplorable. Using that moment to interject, she quickly slammed her foot forward and executed the level 24 Fighter skill Spurring Meteor, the one she had used on Gu Fei before.
With her speed and damage boosted, she used Spurring Meteor to head straight to No Smile.
“Lie Lie!” July shouted from behind, as Luo Luo hastily bestowed Heal on Lie Lie. When Lie Lie rushed out with her attack, a person beside No Smile also sprinted out with a similar pose and unleashed the same skill.
Since the two Fighters collided with the same skill, only their Strength and Agility stats would decide whose skill would gain priority1. Lie Lie’s opponent was clearly above her, resulting into her being hit by Spurring Meteor instead. Spurring Meteor had the additional Pierce effect; this caused Lie Lie to be hurled backward, as well as dealt damage to July, Luo Luo and Xiaoyu who had tried to catch her.
No Smile sneered haughtily at their sorry sight. He was about to issue the “kill” order when someone squeezed out among the onlookers and asked, “What’s going on? What’s with the crowd?”
“What happened? Why did Miles rush in?” Young Master’s Elite’s group chat erupted, as everyone queried on their private channel.
“Because this isn’t a zero-sum game,” Young Master Han replied bemusedly, much to the puzzlement of the rest.
“Get ready to fight, everyone. Royal, find a good hiding spot and prepare to Snipe; Sword Demon, activate your Stealth once you’ve covered your face; Wounds, check how long your Cyclone lasts with your remaining Rage; and Brother Assist, tell us the detail of that Traversing Four Seas’ Fighter,” Young Master Han rapidly fired off these commands.
“That Fighter is Gale Force. He’s one of the four core members of Traversing Four Seas,” Brother Assist answered.
“Looks like it’s about to become rowdier! Ready yourselves. Assist Miles once he creates an opportunity for us,” Young Master Han asked.
“What if no opportunity appears?” Royal God Call questioned.
“Guess we’ll just have to go back and keep drinking,” Young Master Han shrugged.
Everyone else had no better suggestions.
The haggard Gu Fei, who had finally managed to barge through the crowd, attracted everyone’s attention. July and the three ladies stared at him in shock. Just as Xiaoyu was about to call him, July covered her mouth and shook her head at Xiaoyu. Although Xiaoyu had no idea what was going on, she still obediently shut her mouth.
“What’s going on? Why’re there so many people here. How am I going to get through?” Gu Fei feigned ignorance as he dramatically looked across to the other side.
“Buddy, please step aside,” No Smile said.
“But I want to get over there,” Gu Fei pointed to the other end of the road.
“Look for another way. We’re currently busy with something over here,” No Smile said.
“What is it?” Gu Fei looked on curiously. No Smile did not know how to explain the situation. Should he fill him in on the grudge from years back that had spanned across games? He naturally was not that patient, so No Smile instead asked imposingly, “Have you not heard of our guild, Traversing Four Seas? We’re busy with something here, so go take a hike or stay and wait.”
“Oh. I guess I’ll wait then,” Gu Fei stepped back and folded his arms, standing beside No Smile.
Everyone immediately gazed at him once more.
“The show’s about to begin!” Sword Demon commented on the mercenary group channel.
“What show?! At most, he’ll just cut down No Smile again. How’s that going to help in the current situation?” Young Master Han could not see any way out of this.
“Quiet. Miles can see what you’re typing on this channel. He might just come up and cut you up instead,” Royal God Call said.
“I’m not afraid of him!” Young Master Han said, although his heart thumped in trepidation. If Gu Fei really wished to send the Flames of Baptism his way, even Young Master Han would not know how to fight back.
No Smile glanced at the stoic Gu Fei standing beside him. He could not help but laughed as he grandly waved his arm once more, “Ignore this guy. Do it!”
“Yes, do it,” Gu Fei raised his hand as well, but his hand suddenly changed direction and went straight toward No Smile’s eyes.
Most people would feel terrified if someone shoved a hand toward their faces. No Smile’s situation was scarier since Gu Fei was poking his fingers to his eyes. A wave of dread came over him and he instinctively lowered his head, raising his arms to cover his face. Gu Fei felt a slight trace of sympathy for him as he grabbed one of No Smile’s wrists and gave it a twist. No Smile’s fingers went lax and the dagger he was holding dropped to the ground. Gu Fei used his free hand to catch the falling weapon, quickly releasing No Smile and retreating at the base of a wall.
Everything happened too fast, and even No Smile only realized that his dagger was gone after five whole seconds. Gu Fei leaned against the wall as he admired No Smile’s dagger in his hand, “Zephyr’s Whisper. That’s some decent Attack you got there! +18 Agility, +10% attack speed – it even comes with the additional usable Thief skill Vanish with a 15-minute cool-down time! This dagger is nice! Let me try….”
“...Oh. It says here ‘Skill unavailable due to incompatible job class.’ So it’s a skill only Thieves can use!” Gu Fei voiced his regret openly.
Young Master Han, who was still within the crowd, had a sudden realization. Back then, No Smile had actually used the skill in that dagger, and almost escaped their first ambush. It was not a skill scroll like they had originally thought. This dagger was extremely valuable since none of the players was at the level to learn Vanish. When one considered the difficulty of leveling up in Parallel World, the dagger’s usefulness and value would definitely last for quite a while.
No Smile could hardly believe how easily Gu Fei stole the high-grade dagger from him.
“Do you want this back? Better tell your men to stop if you do,” Gu Fei looked at the sorry state of the ladies who were currently being attacked.
“Stop! Stop! STOP!” No Smile anxiously shouted.
The men immediately stopped and turned toward No Smile in confusion. They had darted forward to fight after hearing No Smile’s command, so they did not notice that No Smile’s dagger was snatched by the person who had yelled “Do it” together with him.
No Smile’s face was as pale as a ghost.
Gu Fei continued to play with the dagger in his hand, looking extremely pleased, “Disperse your men and I’ll return this dagger to you immediately.”
No Smile hesitated. Would someone really give up such a high-grade weapon once they had obtained it? Although it was hard to believe, he had no other choice. Dropping a player’s level would certainly damage his spirit, yet losing equipment was undoubtedly the real incalculable loss. After all, a player’s in-game item was the foundation of their gaming spirit.
 Priority - is a gaming concept of dominance. Certain action may take priority in the sense that it will overwhelm any others made, resolving the action with preference toward one of the two opposing players.