“Lockpicking skill?” Gu Fei repeated Sword Demon’s words.
“Yes. This is a skill that the Thief job class will have access to in most MMOs. It’s specifically used for locks without keys, where the higher the proficiency is, the more locks can be picked with it.” Sword Demon knew that Gu Fei had limited knowledge when it came to game-related stuff, so he made sure to explain it a little more thoroughly.
“And in Parallel World?” Gu Fei asked.
“It’s a skill that Thieves will have access to after advancing to a Rogue,” Sword Demon answered.
“A Rogue opening locks… That’s rather compatible!” commented Gu Fei.
“What?” Gu Fei could tell that Sword Demon wanted to say something.
“The Lockpicking skill is beyond the current skill tree players have access to. Players can have access to it either through equipment that specifically has this skill, or they can learn it from a skill scroll. I’ve seen the Lockpicking Scroll once before. That means it exists on the market, so I reckon Svelte Dancer may possess this skill,” Sword Demon said.
Gu Fei nodded vigorously. “Yes, that makes sense…” Svelte Dancer was so greedy to even attempt learning the Blink skill; He sincerely doubted she would let any skill scrolls belonging to her job class slip through her fingers.
“Let me ask her!” Gu Fei said even as he sent a message over to her. “Svelty, do you know how to lockpick?”
“Of course.” Gu Fei could feel a wave of pride from that two-word reply. He could even almost make out the complacent expression on her face when she said that.
“Come over and open a lock for me.” Gu Fei did not beat around the bush.
“Where?” Svelte Dancer was no less straightforward.
“What d*mn place is that?”
“Wait a minute.”
“Where are you?” Gu Fei asked.
“B*llsh*t. Where else could I be?”
Gu Fei could not bear it. Traveling for many hours from Yunduan City just to open a lock… For people that struggled to understand this, imagine someone living in Beijing was locked out of their home and the locksmith hired would have to come from Shanghai...
“Done.” Before he could consider things again, she sent this message to him.
“What’s ‘done’?” Gu Fei was perplexed.
“Head over to the mailbox and retrieve the scroll I sent,” Svelte Dancer said.
Gu Fei had indeed gotten a system prompt about him receiving a new mail, but he had not paid any heed to it. Now that he was a renowned name in Parallel World, strangers would send him letters from time to time, and the content of these letters was mostly boring and pointless, so Gu Fei had long since begun to ignore them.
“Scroll? Is it a Lockpicking Scroll?” Gu Fei knew that there were two types of skill scrolls in the game; one would allow a player to permanently learn the skill while the other was a consumable sort – a one-time use of the skill imprinted on it.
“There’s no such thing as a Lockpicking Scroll; that’s a Teleportation Scroll!” Svelte Dancer replied.
“Ah?” Gu Fei was confused.
“Take it, write down your coordinates, and then send it back to me. I can then use it to teleport over to you!” Svelte Dancer explained.
“That works, too?!” Gu Fei exclaimed in his amazement. Even Sword Demon reacted similarly when he learned of this. This was not because the two men had a superficial understanding of the world and game. Rather, it was because Teleportation Scrolls were considered as too high-end. It was similar to how an average citizen would regard a person owning or even using a private jet.
“Does that mean she’ll teleport over?” Gu Fei and Sword Demon started to change their route. Originally, the two were heading over to the tavern and discussing their next step, but who would have thought that this matter would have developments so soon?
“Does that mean we’re gonna return there now?” Sword Demon asked.
“That’s not good…” Gu Fei felt a little guilty over constantly interrupting the peaceful lives of the members from Flowergazing in the Fog.
“Let’s discuss this further when she gets over here!” Sword Demon proposed.
As the two were making their way to the mailbox to retrieve the scroll, a message arrived from Young Master Han. “You two strong men, have you guys gotten out yet?”
“Yup,” the two answered.
“What have you discovered so far?” Young Master Han asked.
After Sword Demon gave him a quick rundown of what they had learned and done, Young Master Han immediately said, “Then, what are you guys waiting for? Hurry! While everything is in shambles, take advantage of the chaos to take their lives!”
“Just what exactly did you do to them?” Gu Fei and Sword Demon shuddered, even though they were neither feeling cold to begin with.
“They are currently engaged in a large-scale guild battle; don’t either of you wish to use this opportunity?” Young Master Han asked.
“Didn’t you say you’re not using guilds this time?” Gu Fei asked.
“Ugh. I’m too lazy to explain the complex details to people with both your level of IQ,” Young Master Han replied.
“This sort of guild battles won’t be over too quickly, but it won’t drag on till the next day, either, so would the two of you please hurry it up?” Young Master Han said.
Gu Fei and Sword Demon that were originally strolling down the street broke into a run to quickly make their way over to the mailbox. Once they arrived at the mailbox, they quickly opened it and hurriedly retrieved the scroll within. The two had not used this before, but being the MMO veteran that Sword Demon was, it took him no more than three seconds to make sense of how it worked.
“Should we just write the coordinates for our current location or wait till we get into the firewood shed before writing down the set of coordinates?” Sword Demon asked.
Gu Fei peered at the man strangely. “There’s a mailbox in the shed?”
“Oh, right…” Sword Demon was embarrassed. Even a wise man would have a moment of blunder.
Hastily writing down the coordinates, Gu Fei mailed it back to Svelte Dancer.
“Quick!” Gu Fei sent a message to Svelte Dancer.
“What’s the rush?!” she asked back. But the moment that message appeared, countless beams of white light shot forth on the coordinates Sword Demon had written. A magic array appeared instantly on the ground; the light from it expanded and shot to the sky as their surroundings glowed brightly. Within this bright light, Svelte Dancer’s figure slowly materialized.
“Hi!” From the slowly dispersing light, Svelte Dancer stepped forth and greeted the two men casually.
“Let’s go to the lock!” Gu Fei said to her.
“What’s so urgent?” Svelte Dancer was far more composed. She first looked around the place before asking inquisitively, “What sort of place is this?”
Gu Fei naturally knew what had shocked her thusly. “The fog is heavy in this region. Let’s just quickly go; we don’t have much time.”
“Much time for what?” Svelte Dancer asked.
“I need to log off soon,” Gu Fei replied.
“You’re not gonna die logging off a little late occasionally,” Svelte Dancer chided, but she nevertheless hastened her strides to match the pace Sword Demon and Gu Fei had set.
“So, what lock do you need me to unlock? What’s the story behind all this, anyway?” Svelte Dancer asked as they made their way to the Government City Hall.
Hence, Gu Fei gave her a quick summary of all that had happened.
“Why didn’t you call me for something so interesting?!” Svelte Dancer knocked Gu Fei on his head. To this number one pay-to-win player, equipment, skills and other material goods could be bought, but the interest in them would quickly wane the faster she got her hands on them. Thus, in order to maintain her interest in the game, she was often in search of another source of enjoyment in a game, especially from things that could not be bought with money.
“Isn’t that why we contacted you once we ran into this kind of trouble?” Gu Fei countered.
“That’s much better. What do we do now?” Svelte Dancer asked.
“We just got out from there. The whole place is in chaos right now, so we shouldn’t have any problems sneaking in again,” answered Gu Fei.
“Is that the courtyard that you were talking about before?” Svelte Dancer asked.
Svelte Dancer was the type Gu Fei and Sword Demon rarely had the chance to meet – someone that they would not have to slow down for. In fact, they were the ones slowing down Svelte Dancer. The lady was constantly hurrying the two of them, which left Gu Fei uncertain if he should laugh or cry. “What are you running ahead for? Do you even know the way?”
The party of three quickly arrived at the base of the wall enclosing the city hall. Sword Demon specially Stealthed his way to the front gates and took a look, relaying excitedly upon his return, “The scale of the battle isn’t small, so the fight’s rather chaotic. No one is sure to take notice of us if we rush in right now.”
“Let’s go!” Gu Fei tossed out the grappling hooks.
“You know how to do this?” Gu Fei glanced over to Svelte Dancer. Seeing that nescient look in her eyes, he knew that he had a lesson on his hands once more.
Fortunately, Svelte Dancer was not a paper tiger¹ that solely depended on the equipment and skill she bought with real-world currency. With a good head on her shoulders and dexterous limbs, she grasped the skill she needed to learn faster than the other eight members he had brought days before. By the time the three successfully made it to the rampart, the sight within the courtyard was already enough to make them inhale sharply.
The courtyard had turned into a battlefield. They were no strangers to large-scale PvP battles, but the sort of battles would often be held in vast and open plains out in the wilds or the cramped streets and alleys found in the cities. In this flat but limited confines of the courtyard by the Government City Hall, it was like a huge arena with the sounds of weapons clashing and the hodge-podge of shouts, screams, and curses. The three could not tell one place from another, nor were they able to see which side was winning. The only word they could conclude from what they were seeing was... terrible!
Gu Fei, Sword Demon, and Svelte Dancer could not be bothered to look on any further as they made their way to the backyard by going along the rampart. They could not help but cry out bitterly when they looked down, however, as the original battle had actual extended all the way here. It even looked far more compact and fervent than what they had seen in the courtyard.
Gu Fei and the others were naturally unaware of the whole story. The guild battle initially began with a frontal assault; Flowergazing in the Fog took the initiative to defend actively, but the situation was not in their favor. Simply put, they had difficulty targeting their enemies while it was the opposite for their attackers!
With the gates to the courtyard as the boundary, the attackers from beyond were able to hide themselves in the fog by retreating a short distance. Conversely, those inside the courtyard were easily seen at a glance by the attackers. Essentially, the flow of the entire battle had the frontline of the attackers falling back to the safety of the fog when injured, while the members of Flowergazing in the Fog looking to do the same would instead be pinned down by the enemies’ long-range attacks, creating further devastation.
Helpless, Three Sighs of Flowing Maple ordered the frontline of the battle to pull back, forcing their enemies to lose the cover of the fog. However, since Flowergazing in the Fog was facing many guilds this time, the numerical superiority that the latter held over the former meant that the Flowergazing in the Fog lost control of the gates and did not manage to prevent the enemies from streaming in, making the situation far less promising for the guild.
However, staging a large-scale battle inside the courtyard had its limitations. The rigid guards, patrolling or stationary, were interspersed around the compound. Nobody knew what would make them move, so everybody was careful with their attacks around these NPCs. They were sure that it would be disastrous if anyone made a mistake of accidentally hitting a guard.
Furthermore, some of the players with greater awareness to their surroundings consciously drew the attacks from their enemies toward these NPCs, which only served to stir further complications in the battle.
Under such circumstances, everybody subconsciously did their best to avoid these guards and naturally began to move themselves toward areas without guards. This went on for quite some time, and without anyone realizing it, the backyard which practically had no guards around became the main battlefield with both sides attacking and killing one another to their hearts’ content.