Chapter 5 - Fireball
A large-scale patching was carried out for the game, and the developers kept everyone updated with their progress on a daily basis. The issue of cute monsters was resolved on the very first day. The kittens, bunnies, and puppies were replaced completely with nasty-looking feral animals like boars and wolves.
The second day passed by...
And the third day went on....
Every player followed the updates eagerly. Even though the previous beta testing only went on for half a day, all had a gaming experience like nothing they had had before. The anticipation for the game was stronger than ever. Gu Fei was no exception. The first thing he did as soon as he got home every day was to check the latest developments regarding the patching. Gu Fei often found himself smiling as he woke up, since he had finally found a place where he could unleash his kung fu.
The wait for the game’s reopening lasted for an entire month as there were simply too many things to patch. The idea from Xiaowu was given the green light, but refining every single aspect of it would have taken even more work. In the end, the gaming company decided to make the game playable first before gradually refining it further with future updates.
Gu Fei unfortunately had classes on the day the game went back up, so he logged into the game eagerly as soon as he got home after school. It had been quite a while since he felt so eager about something.
He was on a hill when he was disconnected before, yet he was now back to the spawn point inside the Mage Academy. Did he have to start all over again? Gu Fei checked his level and found no change; he remained at level 6. The coins from that day also remained with him, as well as the two small, rusty carving knives that hung by his waist.
Looking around, he noticed other Mages gathering around a NPC in a long queue. Gu Fei lined up as well out of curiosity after confirming that it was neither of the NPCs that sold glasses and brooms.
“What’s going on here?” asked Gu Fei.
“Spells!” answered the person in the front as he glanced back at Gu Fei.
As it turned out, the patch had purposefully lowered the required level for learning skills and spells so that the players could fend for themselves as soon as possible. Players could learn a skill or a spell as soon as they entered the game, and they could learn more job-class-specific abilities for every six levels they reached. So besides buying glasses and brooms, the neophyte Mages of the academy had this to do as well.
The queue moved very fast, so it reached Gu Fei before he even knew it. He learned the first spell for Mages after speaking with the NPC. The spell was nothing original as Fireball was something that Mages seemed to learn first in every game all the time. However, as Gu Fei had reached level 6, he learned a second spell besides Fireball called Ring of Fire as well. If Fireball was the main offensive spell for new Mages, Ring of Fire would be the main defensive spell to protect the Mages’ fragile bodies.
But of course, the usage of spells was a little more special in a virtual-reality game.
In the center of the vast academy grounds, over a thousand players had gathered together, yelling out in unison, “Fireball!”
Fireballs formed swiftly in front of everyone. This created quite a spectacular sight as numerous fireballs floated mid-air. All the Mages were thrilled, but Gu Fei noticed a player beside him to be pale white. He seemed to be fairly shocked.
“Fire!” someone shouted out, and the rest immediately followed suit. The whole area echoed with sounds of “fire”. However, the Mage Academy was a safe zone, so offensive spells like Fireball was prohibited. When everyone had declared “Fire!” the fireballs remained suspended mid-air. The player beside Gu Fei grew even paler. Gu Fei could not help but ask, “Are you alright?”
“F*ck!” the guy swore. He asked for Gu Fei's in-game name and nonchalantly added him as a friend, “Look at my name.”
[System notification: Fireball added you as a friend.]
Gu Fei immediately broke into laughter. This person’s name was Fireball. That would explain why he was startled when over a thousand players shouted the spell in unison.
As there were a constant number of people practicing casting their first spell, there was also a constant shouting of “Fireball!” The player called Fireball could no longer bear with it and decided to leave after bidding farewell to Gu Fei.
“He he he... It’s noisy in here. I’ll leave as well,” Gu Fei followed him.
The two left the Mage Academy and headed to a map outside Yunduan City. Along the way, Fireball grumbled to Gu Fei about his misery. As it turned out, he too had obtained the gaming account from another person, where the name and job class were already chosen. Gu Fei immediately felt sympathetic. Fireball did not actually mind it at first, but he began to feel a little annoyed with the name after his experience earlier. His focus would definitely be drastically affected when friends and enemies alike yelled “Fireball” in future battles. Right now, all he could hope for was that this beginner spell would soon be forgotten by all as they proceeded further in the game.
Gu Fei could not help but sympathize with Fireball, grumbling back at him about his tragic story of being forced to become a Mage. Not knowing the full story, Fireball assumed that Gu Fei just disliked the Mage job class, so he started going on and on about the advantages of being a Mage.
In any case, Gu Fei formed a rather good impression of Fireball, as he was one of the few Mages who did not wear glasses or carry a broom.
They arrived outside the city in the blink of an eye as they conversed.
The results from the first patch were evident. The map outside the city was filled with feral wolves and boars, and by listening to the players’ complaints, they were all hideous, encouraging everyone to eliminate these monsters from just a single glance. This greatly increased many players’ desire to level up. All the maps outside the city were filled with people hunting the feral wolves and boars. Although the monsters looked tough and ferocious, they were actually very weak. They could only resist feebly under the assaults of the players. The spawn rate of the monsters did not match up to the demands, so dozens of players would encircle a monster as soon as it had spawned.
Fireball’s blood began pumping as he watched on. He took a few steps forward and yelled, “Fireball!”
A fireball was formed slowly in front of him.
“Fire!” hollered Fireball.
And with that, the fireball was unleashed.
With a boom, the fireball landed accurately on a boar that was being pummeled by a group of players. The boar collapsed as flames splayed out with the aroma of barbecued meat.
“Nice!” Fireball clenched his fist, applauding himself for his accuracy in his first attack ever. However, the group of players who fought the boar all turned toward Fireball. The way they gazed at him was as if they were looking at something more loathsome than the boar.
“What’s up, everyone?” Fireball waved at them.
“Kill-stealing! How rude!” Fireball’s greeting was met with scorn.
“What? You mean this? Isn’t this just a normal battle?” Fireball was dumbfounded. There were clearly around a dozen players encircling the boar, so how was it considered kill-stealing when he attacked it? Didn’t the loot and EXP just belong to whoever killed the monster first?
“Are you blind? Can’t you tell we’re all from the same guild?” lamented one of them.
“Guild?” Fireball glanced at Gu Fei, puzzled. Gu Fei was dumbfounded as well. The game had just begun; who had the power to create a guild?
They all nodded together, and one of them shouted, “Do you still want to play the game after kill-stealing from the Heaven-Defying Guild?”
There was definitely no guild more oppressive than this one, but Fireball showed no fear as he faced the group of menacing, oppressive players. Gu Fei was rather surprised by this. Fireball stared at them straight in the eyes and stated calmly, “So what if I kill-steal? I’m only level 1! You can’t do anything to me!”
Gu Fei laughed at this. No wonder this guy was so dauntless! Gu Fei also knew about this change as he had followed the updates daily. It was something that directly targeted the incidents of violence that even he had personally experienced before. The PvP protection originally prevented players from being targeted by skills, so even if low-level players were hit, they would feel no pain. The current patch had also classified the players’ assault methods as a part of PvP, so if something similar to before happened again, it was impossible for Gu Fei to blind his opponent. Even if the rock struck the opponents accurately, they would feel no pain. Fireball ignored how threatening the other players were right now as he was protected by the system.
Still, these people possessed a defiant mentality since they even dared to call their guild “Heaven-Defying.” They showed no signs of backing down and charged up even as Fireball flaunted the fact that there was nothing they could do to him.
“What are you all doing? I’m level 1! Level 1! Level 1!” While Fireball repeatedly stressed his level, he was grabbed by his arms and legs and lifted into the air. One person yelled at the top of his lungs, “Tie him up onto that tree!” However, his suggestion was rejected promptly by someone else, “Just toss him into the river!”
The developers did not mention that the PvP protection covered a player being thrown into a river. Fireball became desperate and he struggled frantically. Everything seemed hopeless. Even if he was a Fighter and not a Mage, he would not be able to do anything about the situation. Hoisted high up in the air, Fireball was akin to an offering from an ancient tribe to their deity. Fireball looked around from above and as soon as he spotted Gu Fei, he shouted out, “Hey, you! What’s your name again? Save me!”
Gu Fei nodded and dashed swiftly toward the crowd. He blocked their way, “Why don’t we all calm down and talk over this? Let’s put the man down first.”
“Who the hell are you? Scram!” No one treated Gu Fei seriously after glancing briefly at him. The game had only been online for less than a day, so it was impossible for him to be able to repel so many people just by himself even if he was a professional player. Not to mention that the person was just as a Mage.
“He’s my friend. Now put me down!” Fireball continued to yell.
“A friend? Let’s toss him into the river as well!” A guy waved his arm and many people began to charge at Gu Fei.
Gu Fei was startled. Fireball was not the only one protected from PvP. These people clearly were nowhere close to level 10 as they were still hunting the low-level monsters just outside the city. Fights occurring under the protection of PvP were painless, so Gu Fei would definitely be forcibly carried away with no way of escaping if he let them get close to him. Gu Fei hastily took a step forward and quickly leaped up. Turning and rotating his body, his left leg swept through the air from right to left, forming an arc.
Thud! Thud! Thud! The first three people were knocked down by Gu Fei’s sweeping kick.
The three people stared at each other blankly after collapsing on the ground in a row. They were clueless as to what they should do. While it did not hurt, there was still the sensation of being attacked physically. It felt like someone had swept past their faces, but the force behind it was overwhelmingly strong. They found it to be even more perplexing than the paranormal-like absence of the pain they usually would have felt due to the recent game patch. The three of them sat on the ground stupidly, not even moving a muscle.
The others witnessed it much more clearly than the three. They were caught off guard by Gu Fei’s clean sweeping kick.
“What skill is that?” the people asked one another.
“Do you have a skill like that?” someone asked a Mage in the guild.
“No, I don’t. There’s no such skill!”
“I don’t have it either!” The group of people, comprised of different job classes, all looked through their skill sets, but no one found anything along the lines of Spinning Kick or Whirlwind Kick.
“Just what is his job class?” All began to doubt the mage robe they were looking at. This was a virtual reality game where equipment was not restricted by job classes, so it was probable for Gu Fei to be hiding his job class by wearing a mage robe.
“A hidden job class?” someone began to assume.
All had their eyes fixed on Gu Fei. Fireball had missed seeing Gu Fei’s kick as he was still hoisted in the air. All he felt was that the surroundings had grown quiet, and that the people carrying him seemed to have become statues, holding him steadily in the air.
“What’re you lot doing? Put me down already!” Fireball bellowed.
His voice snapped all the people back to their senses, and they let go without even thinking twice. Fireball regained his freedom and fell flat on his face, managing to sneak in a “F*ck!”
Ignoring the others, Gu Fei walked through the crowd and pulled Fireball to his feet.
Everyone looked at one another helplessly, but no one dared to stop Gu Fei.