Chapter 9 - Method of the Pros
The Heaven-Defying Guild members were filled with much chagrin as they witnessed the utter defeat of their leader. They all glared scornfully at Gu Fei and Fireball before taking their leave.
Fireball showed no mercy by whistling and sneering at them now that the tides had changed. In his mind, the glorious online gaming expert that he used to look up to was now reduced to just a single word – Pftttttt!
“Drunk bro!” Fireball had already decided on his new idol as the Heaven-Defying Guild’s members left.
“How did you know he was behind you?” Fireball asked.
“Because of his killing intent,” Gu Fei laughed.
“Killing intent… Does something like that really exist?” Fireball asked softly.
“Of course,” Gu Fei nodded, “My ability at detecting killing intent is nowhere near perfect. My fourth uncle is the best at it. For instance, he can sleep very soundly when you make any noise near him, but he would wake up immediately as soon as you focus all your attention on him!”
“Do you really know wushu?!” Fireball said.
“It’s not wushu; it’s kung fu!” Gu Fei corrected.
“What’s the difference?”
“Wushu is for strengthening your body. Kung fu, on the other hand, is about vanquishing your enemies and protecting your homeland!” Gu Fei sighed as he said that. This was where his father’s viewpoint clashed with his. His father repeatedly insisted that they learned wushu, but Gu Fei felt that it was definitely kung fu.
“Protecting the homeland – is there still a need for that in the current times?” Fireball said.
“No,” Gu Fei laughed, “Which is why I’m playing this game!”
“Oh… Can I learn it too?” Fireball had developed an interest.
“You’re…” Gu Fei hesitated.
“Am I too old for it?” Fireball was slightly disappointed as he was in his twenties already. Judging from the tropes of some wuxia novels, a protagonist at Fireball’s age would have long ago become a prominent figure in the Jianghu. If Fireball just started learning martial arts at his current age, all the ladies would have hooked up with others by the time he finished.
Surprisingly, Gu Fei shook his head, “Kung fu is intended to be learned after puberty, at least at the age of fifteen or sixteen. Your age is close to mine, so how can you be too old? It’s just that learning kung fu is very time-consuming. I think you’d need to spend at least eight to twelve hours every day. Do you have that much free time?”
“No,” Fireball replied without even thinking twice.
“Or you could use the time you spend in-game—”
“No no, that’s fine. I’ll not learn it. Let’s just continue with the game!” Fireball interrupted Gu Fei abruptly.
Gu Fei could only smile bitterly at this.
The six Vagabonds by the pond had respawned at the moment. Gu Fei was about to charge at the enemies after picking up the meat-carving knife that had been dropped during the battle when Fireball said from his side, “Drunk bro, the monsters here are too high-level. I’m not as skilled as you, so I’m gonna go to another map to grind.”
“I don’t mind you tagging along!” Gu Fei said.
“I am not here to tag along with others! I am here to play the game!” Fireball proclaimed firmly.
“Alright then, see you later!” Gu Fei laughed.
“Drunk bro, take it easy with all that grinding! Don’t leave me too far behind with the levels, okay?!” Fireball said while he ran and waved, “Let’s go for a drink later in the city if you’re still online.”
“Sure!” Gu Fei replied.
They both went their separate ways. Gu Fei continued grinding in the current map. He had a fantastic time during his battle with Sword Demon as it had been quite a while since he had the chance to engage in an intensive fight like that. Gu Fei relished the very instant when victory and defeat would be decided. Even though his previous opponent was rather amateurish in terms of combat, it would only be a matter of time before everyone would become competent with battle since Parallel Word was a game filled with simulations of real fights. That would be when the real fun started.
As for the monsters in front of him right now, Gu Fei made quick work of them. Artificial intelligence was just artificial intelligence in the end; their single-minded attacks with predictable patterns were completely useless against Gu Fei. There would be a day when all players figured out the attack patterns of every monster in this game. For instance, the person called Sword Demon from before would be capable of such. He would eventually become a formidable player with his brains and reflexes.
Gu Fei grinded for two whole hours near the pond at the bottom of the hill. In Gu Fei’s eyes, he was not fighting the monsters but actually honing his kung fu forms and routines. He enjoyed the feeling of sweat soaking his robe. He never found the repetitive kung fu moves to be dull either. The reason Gu Fei could persevere in practicing kung fu while his other family members gave up one by one was because he was filled with a genuine love for the martial art, hence never getting bored.
Gu Fei reached level 16 after dispatching six more Vagabonds. He scooped up some water from the pond to wash his face. He felt really refreshed when the cold water splashed on his burning, sweaty face. Gu Fei was impressed from the bottom of his heart for the first time with the game’s simulation. The sweaty feeling and the icy sensation from the cold water were simply fantastic.
Gu Fei received a message notification at this moment. He checked his inbox and as he expected, it was from Fireball, “Drunk bro, what’s your current level?”
“I am level 16 right now,” Gu Fei answered.
“Whaaaaat! So fast! I just reached level 10 myself,” Gu Fei could feel how gloomy Fireball was just from his message. Fireball took two hours to reach level 10, and yet Gu Fei had reached the same level just by engaging in two battles near the pond. It seemed that challenging high-level monsters was an effective way to level up.
“Drunk bro, are you done yet? I saved up on some coins, so come back to the city and let me buy you a drink!” Fireball sent him another message.
“Okay!” Gu Fei replied and began to loot the six monsters he had defeated. He managed to obtain from them a small amount of coins, some pieces of vegetation of unknown uses, and a few more meat-carving knives. Gu Fei had already acquired more than ten of these knives and he had run out of places to store them.
Even though it was supposed to be completely realistic, the players still required an inventory system to store their items as this was still a game. A 'pocket' was the design for the inventory system in Parallel World. After picking up an item, a player only needed to put it inside the right-side pocket by his waist and that item would be stored in the inventory. It would never drop once stored inside. When a player wanted to retrieve an item, he just had to put his hand inside the pocket. The player would sense the neatly arranged boxes and by extending his hand in a box, the item within would naturally fall into his hand. A player could take any item out by removing his hand carrying it from the pocket. It worked amazingly, just like Doraemon’s dimensional pocket.
Gu Fei climbed up a hill after he finished sorting out his stuff. Looking around the vicinity, he tried to identify the way back to Yunduan City.
Gu Fei saw someone else by chance, grinding at another pond at the bottom of a hill. The person used Stealth to sneak behind a Vagabond, unleashed a Backstab upon it, before stabbing wildly at the encirclement of monsters around him. He would retreat hastily to regenerate after killing a monster, and repeat the same fighting strategy once his HP recovered.
The dagger in the person’s hand shone with a faint blue light. Gu Fei smiled as he recognized the person as Sword Demon. Sword Demon’s level seemed to be in the 20s, so it was suitable for him to grind here. However, the Vagabond monsters that moved in groups of six were rather inappropriate opponents for independent players. Aside from Gu Fei who possessed deviant prowess in physical combat, probably only a player like Sword Demon, who was an excellent tactician, could handle the fight.
Only three Vagabonds were left from the usual six that gathered around the campfire. When the fourth Vagabond spawned again, Sword Demon charged forward immediately and unleashed a sequence of moves: Stealth, approach the monster, Backstab, normal attacks, retreat, regenerate HP, wait for the respawn, and then repeat.
The way Sword Demon attacked was actually the same as Gu Fei’s method – a specific and repetitive fighting pattern developed to counter the monsters’ characteristics. Gu Fei could not help but feel impressed by him.
But in the ensuing moment, Gu Fei noticed that there was another person observing Sword Demon from a nearby hill.
The person was dressed in a form-fitting, purple robe, exhibiting her body shape perfectly. She was clearly a female. It was difficult to get a good view of her face from the side. All Gu Fei could see was how she held onto her left arm with her right, and two of her fingers from her left arm tapped lightly on her lips. She closely observed Sword Demon below.
Gu Fei had never thought that even a woman could tell that he was something else. Gu Fei chuckled good-naturedly at this. Sword Demon had just retreated to his resting spot after finishing off a Vagabond. He seemed to notice that his inventory was full when he touched his pocket and let out a long sigh as he lifted his head high. He soon noticed the two people observing him from atop the hills. He turned around and left after a brief pause.
I wonder if he could recognize me from this distance, Gu Fei thought to himself, seeing as he had no special equipment on him that was striking like Sword Demon’s Frost Memories.
He and the woman immediately went their way now that the target they observed was gone. Gu Fei snickered in his mind as he noticed that the lady was heading in the same direction as Sword Demon, Is Sword Demon getting an admirer? The gossiper in him had awakened, but he gave up on going after them as he recalled Fireball was still waiting for him at the tavern in the city.