If all the maps in Fate were said to have different beautiful sceneries, then the sunset in Hidden Treasure Gulf would be the most beautiful sunset in the entire game.
The azure sky, the sea, the lush green plants, and the bustling town by the seaside proclaimed the beauty of the map to any visitors. It was serene and beautiful, which was a perfect place to settle down. Ye Ci loved the scenery in the Hidden Treasure Gulf.
This beautiful place, however, was destined to be the place of sorrow for some. Purity Essence was one such unfortunate individual. Perhaps, even after a long while, he would refuse to set foot in Hidden Treasure Gulf despite its scenery.
Although Ye Ci was not looking at Purity Essence, she could feel his sorrowful gaze on her. His stare made her uncomfortable. Slowly turning her head, Ye Ci looked right into the deep, dark eyes of Purity Essence. He was smiling slightly, but it was a smile full of sorrow.
The entire ordeal was perhaps very painful for Purity Essence, but Ye Ci did not regret her actions. Human life was short, and nobody had the time to worry about somebody else’s joy or sorrow. Ye Ci merely had to do what needed to be done, and what she did, she would not regret.
Ye Ci, who raised her eyebrows, appearing to be calm. In reality, she was indeed calm. At least, she was way calmer than Purity Essence.
She spoke in a soft voice, “What? Is there something weird on my face? Don’t you think it’s rude for you to keep staring at me like that?”
Purity Essence snapped out of his swirling emotions upon hearing Ye Ci’s words. Had he not been sitting on the rock, he might’ve stumbled and fallen onto the ground. Panicking, he shifted his gaze somewhere else.
With Purity Essence remaining silent after retracting his gaze, Ye Ci shifted her attention back to fishing. The tense atmosphere between them had to be broken and Ye Ci had taken the first step, but she did not want to be too meddlesome as well. This was why she opted to wait and observe Purity Essence quietly.
After all, Purity Essence was no machine. He was a human being. Despite Ye Ci’s desire to acquire such a talented commander, she still needed to secure his loyalty. She did not wish for the person she spent so much effort in recruiting to be a walking corpse, it would be a huge loss for her.
Purity Essence was very anxious as the silence continued, his thoughts were in a mess. He finally made a decision after a long while, and spoke up slowly, “Gongzi You.”
Ye Ci snorted as an indication that she has heard his words. She was not overly enthusiastic, but not overly cold. It was as if she was a stranger waiting for an answer from another stranger.
It was fortunate that she had put up such a demeanor.
Purity Essence was able to calm himself down when Ye Ci showed an indifferent behavior. If Gongzi You was overly cordial, he would probably feel that he was in trouble.
“I lost.” These two words were so common that even a third grader would be able to read and write them. Those same two words, however, were also very rare. For someone to sincerely voice out those two words… It had to be harder than walking to the moon.
Such case was especially true for Purity Essence. With his arrogance, his pride, and his firm belief in his ideals crushed mere moments ago, saying those two words to Gongzi You was harder than killing himself.
But… Purity Essence squeezed those words out in the end.
Ye Ci was surprised. She did not expect Purity Essence to concede the result of this bet that seemed so insignificant to her. His willingness to admit his mistake also came as a surprise to her. Ye Ci was impressed. After all, not everyone could look squarely at their mistakes and admit their wrongdoings. Even Ye Ci herself… Even if she was a reincarnator… She might not be able to bring herself to achieve such a feat.
Especially when it was done in front of somebody else. A huge amount of courage was required.
However, despite her own thoughts, Ye Ci did not betray any hint of emotion. She maintained a calm and detached voice, “Oh. I see.”
Ye Ci’s indifference, however, infuriated Purity Essence. His voice was laced with grief and some resentment, “What? You have nothing else to say? Look at how correct you are! You’ve won the bet! Aren’t you going to say anything?”
Another fish was fished up by Ye Ci. She hung a bait on the hook and absent-mindedly cast the line out. “Then what do you want me to say?”
Purity Essence was lost for words. In truth, even he did not know what sort of answer he was expecting from Gongzi You. After calming himself down, he realized that Gongzi You was actually innocent. She did nothing wrong but was dragged into this controversy. When he put himself in her shoes, he realized that even if Gongzi You did not mind the incident, having her name always mentioned in the forums was vexing.
“To be frank with you, I don’t really care much about winning or losing,” Ye Ci remained indifferent, “So… I think there’s no need for you to be angry.”
“You don’t really care? I’ve left my guild because of this bet! And now you’re telling me that you don’t care?” Purity Essence was just like a bomb ready to explode at the slightest spark.
“What? Do you still think that you’ll never leave the guild, or that your friendship with your brothers in the guild would not be ruined if you did not bet with me?” Ye Ci laughed coldly, her narrowed eyes emanating cold rage as she stared at Purity Essence, and her sharp gaze stabbed into him like a sharpened knife.
Purity Essence, who wanted to reluctantly admit to this cold harsh truth suddenly could not bring himself to speak up. It was as if all his words were stuck in his throat. Even after a long while, he did not utter a single word. He knew that Ye Ci was correct. Even without the bet, he would have a fall out with his friends sooner or later and be forced out of Drunken Melancholy anyways if the situation continued.
“I said nothing wrong when I told you that I don’t care about the result of the bet. I admit that I’m interested in recruiting you, as you’re a very capable commander. ‘Upwards Ho!’ needs a battle commander like you. However, I don’t care whether you want to join ‘Upwards Ho!’ or not. After all, if you joined us because of a mere bet, you are of no use to us.” Ye Ci narrowed her eyes at Purity Essence. There were things that she needed to make clear to Purity Essence. She hated to be threatened by anyone, which was why she couldn’t show her weakness, even if it was to Purity Essence, who she looked up to.
“Besides, there are a lot of players in Fate. The Eastern Continent alone is home to a huge number of players. Even if I have my eye on you today, it doesn’t mean that somebody better than you will not appear tomorrow. So…” she continued after a short pause, her gaze growing colder, “Don’t blame your decision of leaving the guild on me. It’s not in my nature to carry somebody else’s burden for them.”
Is this the real Gongzi You?
Purity Essence shivered. So this is Gongzi You? Callous, relentless, and calculative. That was why people like her were said to be people who would place benefit above all else. It could be said to be her nature, or perhaps there was really not even a sliver of warmth in her heart?
Purity Essence felt that he was the exact opposite of Gongzi You. The thing he held dear the most was like garbage to Ye Ci, while he could not bring himself to accept her views. When the two very different ideologies clashed, it ended with the crumbling of his belief. Was he too naive? Or was Gongzi You too pragmatic?
He did not have an answer, nor did he have the desire for an answer.
It had always been like this. People who were sentimental would tend to be more ambiguous, to give themselves a semblance of warmth. People who were pragmatic on the other hand, tend to be calculative and tactful. They were also known by another name: businessmen.
“What do you mean?” Purity Essence was exhausted. He had simply wanted to play this game… But why did it cause so much trouble for him?
“I’ll always welcome you into ‘Upwards Ho!’, but the decision to join my guild is yours.” Ye Ci casually cast another bait into the water, “You’re right. I am different from you. I place benefits above all else. I am willing to go to any lengths to do something if it brings me benefit. You, however, are a sentimental person. I will never be able to understand your way of thinking. This is why I’ll leave the decision to you.”
Purity Essence appeared distracted as if he was thinking about something.
“But there’s something I need to make clear.” Ye Ci turned her head around and looked at Purity Essence with a piercing gaze, “As someone who places benefit above all else, I do not like a bargain that will place me in a disadvantage. If you join ‘Upwards Ho!’ while retaining loyalty towards your old guild, then it’s better for you to not join my guild.
Purity Essence still looked distracted, as if he had not heard her words.continued appearing distracted as if he had not heard Ye Ci. However, Ye Ci knew that he had, in fact, heard everything.
Ye Ci could not predict the thoughts of someone like Purity Essence. If she forced a decision upon him, it might induce his anger and this might spell disaster for her in the future. If she left the decision-making in his hands, however, the outcome would definitely be different.
Of course, Ye Ci did this under several conditions.
Firstly, Purity Essence already had a fallout with the members of Drunk Melancholy, which meant that he would never be able to rejoin the guild. Secondly, once he was associated with Gongzi You, no small guild would want Purity Essence to join them, while the large guilds would not have an interest in a nobody like him. Even if he was lucky enough to join one of the major guilds, it was almost impossible for him to distinguish himself. And most importantly, Purity Essence was a career gamer. As a career gamer, his priority was to earn money. He was able to earn just enough to sustain himself during his time in Drunk Melancholy. Without the support of a guild, his income would be badly affected. It would be impossible for him to survive without a team.
No matter how sentimental a person was, emotions and affection would not fill his belly.
Career gamers were individuals who played a game professionally, they relied on gaming to feed themselves. People like this could not afford to say no to money.
Purity Essence’s only option at this point was to join ‘Upwards Ho!’. Despite leaving the decision making to Purity Essence, Ye Ci had already left him no real option.
There was no detour, there was only one route that led to his final destination.
The only thing Ye Ci needed to do was to wait. When Purity Essence realized that the only real option he had was to join ‘Upwards Ho!’, he would willingly join the guild on his own accord.
With her goal obtained and a bountiful haul of fish, Ye Ci no longer had a need to stay in Hidden Treasure Gulf. She stood up, dusted her shoes and said sincerely to Purity Essence, “I hope we’ll meet again someday.” With that, she jumped into the water and swam away.
Before she could get too far, Ye Ci heard a shout, “Hey! Gongzi You!’
Ye Ci stopped. She turned around and faced Purity Essence, who had become tiny because of the distance. He stood on the rock, waving his hand excitedly at Ye Ci.
“I’ve thought it through!”
Purity Essence cupped his hands against his mouth and shouted out loud.
Ye Ci would never do something as idiotic as Purity Essence and shout back at him. Even if Fate was a highly realistic VRMMORPG, there was still something that could be done in the game that was impossible to pull off in real life. The private messaging system was one such example.
“What are you trying to say?” Ye Ci remained calm. She already knew the outcome of the situation, and therefore was not as excited as Purity Essence. She sent a private message to the man, hinting that they could employ such a means of communication.
“……” Purity Essence did not take the hint. He continued shouting at Ye Ci on the rock. But with the bellowing wind and their distance, Ye Ci could not hear a single word.
A confounded Ye Ci stared silently at Purity Essence. She realized how idiotic of a person he could be, his intelligence level would drop to an unprecedented low if he was excited. Is poaching him the right choice?
Unable to hear a single word, Ye Ci sent another message to Purity Essence, “Just talk to me via the private message channel. I can’t hear a damn thing you said over here!”
The shouting stopped, and Ye Ci received a private message from Purity Essence, “I’ve thought it through! I’ll join ‘Upwards Ho!’.”
“Oh..” Ye Ci replied calmly and sent a guild invitation to Purity Essence.
Purity Essence immediately joined Upwards Ho!. The officers of Upwards Ho! were surprised and confused by his appearance. “Eh? I thought those rumors on the forums were fake… So Purity Essence does have something going on with our leader!”
“So what?” was Gongzi You’s response to the questions she received. The entire guild that was bustling with conspiracy theories immediately quieted down.
Bai Mo who had prior knowledge of Purity Essence’s arrival immediately sent a message to Ye Ci, “So, it’s done?”
“Yup.” Ye Ci let out a sigh, “I’ll leave him to you. Don’t let anything slip.”
“Of course. Who do you think I am?” Bai Mo chuckled, “So he’ll be the battle commander?”
“Yup. I’m not that close with him, but I noticed that he has exceptional skills as a commander. Train him well.”
“Leave it to me.” Bai Mo always liked to show any new recruits the ropes, he would pay extra attention to players who were especially recruited by Gongzi You. After all, it was rare for Ye Ci to recruit a player. Those who caught her eye would definitely be someone special no matter how miserable their appearance was.
Purity Essence was slightly nervous when he saw the conversations going on in the guild chat. He realized that his action of joining Upwards Ho! so abruptly was inappropriate. Just as doubt began to surface in his thoughts, he received a private message from Gongzi You, “The guild encampment is in Red Lake City. You can bind your City-recalling Stone to that place. Of course, it’s up to you. But you should head to the guild encampment. Remote Depths is waiting for you.”
“Remote Depths?” Purity Essence was momentarily stunned. That man was the first Warrior to obtain the Swordback Hold in the entire Eastern Continent, and one of the best tanks in the continent. A person like that is waiting for me? His worry immediately dissipated. Someone who was very close with Gongzi You would of course be an outstanding individual. He, who was a nobody, felt overwhelmed.
“Alright.” Purity Essence sent a message to Ye Ci and immediately made preparations to head to the guild encampment. Ye Ci on the other hand, no longer focused her attention on Purity Essence. After all, her energy was not unlimited. Investing her energy on the most worthy things would be the wisest choice.
When Ye Ci swam ashore, Green Hill’s Moon was waiting not far away with a coy smile at the docks. She rolled her eyes, and walked towards the man. Patting her wet hand on his hair, Ye Ci spoke up, “Don’t tell me… You’ve been waiting for me here?”
“Of course. Not many in the Eastern Continent would have the chance of waiting for Gongzi You. How could I let go of such an opportunity?” Green Hill’s Mind paid no heed to the seawater that was dripping down from his hair. He was still smiling at Ye Ci.
“If you’re here… It means that you’ve found a good resting spot.”
“Exactly! It’s a tavern called the One-Eyed Pirate. I’ve gotten a room.” Green Hill’s Moon chuckled, “You go first. Let me know when you’re done cleaning up yourself. I’ll be right away.” Despite his mischievous nature, Green Hill’s Moon was still a gentleman. He was also a very attentive person, he knew that Ye Ci would definitely need to tidy herself up after travelling such a vast distance, and had already gotten her a room.
The One-eyed Pirate Inn.
The room was the best room in the entire tavern. The soft warm bed gave off a nice smell, and there was even a fireplace with crackling wood as the warm flames burned. A huge cask filled with warm water was placed in the middle of the bathroom. There were even petals floating on the water. Ye Ci let out a smile as she removed her clothing. Green Hill’s Moon was such a good flirt. If she did not know that the wool comes from the sheep’s back, she might have even praised the man. With the knowledge that she would be indirectly paying for the expenses of renting this room, there was not a shred of appreciation in Ye Ci’s hearts towards Green Hill’s Moon.
After her bath, Ye Ci’s equipment was already cleaned by the tavern’s NPC. Ye Ci felt fresh and relaxed. Cleanliness and Fatigue were both mechanics that would affect a player in Fate, and any negative effect from these stats could be removed by having a bath. Players would flock to public bathhouses with their meagre income because of that. The over-realistic game might not be a good thing.
As Green Hill’s Moon entered the room, Gongzi You having a meal. She was not modest at all, and had order the best food with the best wine. She was enjoying the meal. After mourning for his wallet for a short moment, Green Hill’s Moon decided to put the tabs on Gongzi You, his wealthy benefactor.
Indeed, the wool comes from the sheep’s back.
“So, how did your investigation go?”
“Heh! I didn’t know you’re interested in gossip as well.” Green Hill’s Moon let out a cunning smile. It was apparent that he was satisfied with the news he received from the investigation he had been tasked with.
“Such is the way of the world. There’s nothing to gossip about.” Ye Ci wiped the sauce from the corner of her mouth with her napkin. She set her cutlery down, and leaned back onto the chair. Narrowing her eyes, she looked straight at Green Hill’s Moon, “Besides, I’m sure you know that the things that I’ve wanted you to investigate are never gossippy in nature.”
“I know, I know. I’m simply lamenting about it.” Green Hill’s Moon let out a sigh….
Ye Ci snorted, indicating that Green Hill’s Moon should get to the point, and not waste her precious time.
“NightAndDay is already on guard against Wandering Cloud. Despite keeping up appearances, he has slowly begun to dismantle Wandering Cloud’s influence within the Tang Dynasty. He was very secretive about it, and even I didn’t take notice of it for long time t.” Green Hill’s Moon shrugged. He was impressed by NightAndDay. After having a big green hat  placed on his head by his best friend, he was able to keep his calm.
“Of course, despite not being visible to outsiders, I’m sure Wandering Cloud has already noticed something. He had ceased almost all contacts with Into The Sunsets, not to mention continuing their affair.” Green Hill’s Moon narrowed his eyes, “With my analysis of Wandering Cloud, he will definitely fight back. And will need outside help to do it.”
Ye Ci stared silently at Green Hill’s Moon.
“Do you happen the be the help he’s looking for?” Green Hill’s Moon made his guess. He believed that there was less than 5 people in this world that knew about this. Who else knew about this other than the 3 individuals directly involved in the incident and he himself? It would be Gongzi You who commissioned him to carry on the investigation. But… Why would Gongzi You know about this? At this point, however, no matter how Gongzi You found out about the affair, Wandering Cloud’s only chance was to seek help from her. Gongzi You was the only one with the capabilities to go up against NightAndDay and was not afraid to do so.
Ye Ci stared silently at Green Hill’s Moon. She placed 100,000 gold coins on the table and spoke up, “You’ve worked hard. Is there anything else that NightAndDay’s been up to?”
“I’ll assume that your silence is a confirmation to my question?” Green Hill’s Moon smiled, “For this piece of information you gave me, I’m willing to (something like “waive the payment for his job”)”
Ye Ci raised her eyebrow, stood up, and headed for the door. She then turned around and spoke up, “What’s Thousand Sunsets up to these days?”
“He’s been trying to buy any BOSS-clearing video lately. He seems quite desperate. Unbridled Willow seems quite relaxed about it. They’re almost ready to challenge the fourth BOSS.” knowing what Ye Ci wanted, Green Hill’s Moon gave Ye Ci the answer she seek.
Green Hill’s Moon was indeed dependable. Despite his calculative and stingy nature, he was very sincere, and would cherish kindness shown to him. In Ye Ci’s last life, Green Hill’s Moon did not even regard Ye Ci, who was his biggest customer as high as Thousand Sunsets who was his benefactor. In this life however, she has become his patron and benefactor.
Ye Ci felt that fate was such a despicable thing. If Green Hill’s Moon was somehow able to find out that Thousand Sunsets was actually the person who rescued him from poverty in his last life, what would he feel? Ye Ci let out a smile that lit up her pretty face. She casted a last glance at Green Hill’s Moon and began walking downstairs. “Oh, by the way, I’ve put the rent of this room under your tabs.” said Ye Ci.
“Gongzi You!” Green Hill’s Moon stood up abruptly. This girl…. How despicable… She would really go to great lengths to ensure that she was not at the end of the short straw. He could hear her footsteps as she ran down the stairs. It was as if she was delighted. Green Hill’s Moon was depressed.
With everything finally settled, Ye Ci could finally resume her journey to complete the Epic Tier quest. Without any pause, she headed to the Swamp of Sorrows from the Hidden Treasure Gulf.
As a neutral territory, players were unable to teleport to Dark Clay City without reaching a certain prestige points threshold. Ye Ci had to gallop all the way to Dark Clay City from the edge of Swamp of Sorrows. The landscape has totally changed since her last visit. Every inch of the land has been scorched black by Altera’s Dragon Breath. Even with the auto recovery function of the system, it would take more than a month for the map to return to its former glory.
After Altera’s visit to the Swamp of Sorrows and the huge battle between the Eastern and the Northern continent had transpired in the map, it was then followed by the scandal between Gongzi You and Purity Essence, the once unfrequented Swamp of Sorrows became a bustling place. This time however, nobody paid attention to Ye Ci as she traversed through the map on Ol’ Four’s back, or rather, they avoided her out of fear.
Ye Ci arrived at Dark Clay City without any trouble, and was quick to arrive in the city hall to state her business to the officer on duty, who then went away to inform the major.
Lord Sha’gar of the Red Lake City was one of the top 10 most mysterious NPC in Fate. Very few of the players have actually seen the lord of Red Lake City despite playing the game for nearly 10 years. A person like him who hid in his castle all day long however, was one of the mightiest warriors in Fate, and was friends with the lord of Oasis City and the lord of the Dark Clay City, Lord Moore.
How could someone who stayed in solitude in his castle maintain his friendships with the other lords?
Of course, such matters were none of Ye Ci’s concern. As a player, she was a lifeform that was beneath the high-tier NPC. The only thing she needed to concern herself with was to complete the quest handed to her by the NPCs.
After waiting for a short moment in the city hall, Ye Ci heard a flurry of footsteps. She turned around, and saw an NPC in a scholar’s tunic with well-kept hair walking towards her with hastened pace. The badge on his chest was an indicator of his identity: The mayor of Dark Clay City.
The mayor walked up to Ye Ci and greeted her politely, “Ah, I see you’re a friend from far, far away. My apologies for not welcoming you. Come, have a seat in my office.”
“There’s no need, sir.” Ye Ci greeted him politely as well, “I’m here to deliver a letter from Lord Sha’gar to Lord Moore. When can I see Lord Moore?”
“Oh? A letter? Our lord is feeling unwell at the moment. You can hand me the letter, and I’ll pass it on to my lord.” the mayor of Dark Clay City extended an arm towards Ye Ci.
It was a trap designed by the system. If Ye Ci handed the letter over to the mayor, she could complete the quest. The grade of the quest would however drop from an Epic Tier quest to an Elite Tier quest. If such a thing happened, Ye Ci would receive significantly lesser rewards for completing the quest. As someone who possessed knowledge from her past life, Ye Ci would of course not fall for such trap.
She offered the mayor a smile and shook her head, “I’m afraid I can’t do that, sir mayor. Lord Sha’gar has specifically instructed me to hand the letter to Lord Moore in person. I can’t hand it to anybody else. I hope you understand that, sir mayor.”
The mayor was momentarily stunned, and his expression was full of awkwardness. He was quick to regain his composure, “Of course, of course. Our lord however, is not feeling well. I’m afraid he can’t see you right now.” With that, he quickly changed the topic, “Of course, it’s not impossible for you to meet the city lord.”
Ye Ci knew that she the quest is slowly progressing into the difficulty of an Epic-tier quest. She would soon receive the second stage of the quest from the mayor. Hence, she answered with enthusiasm, “Sir mayor, are you facing any difficulties at the moment? If there’s something troubling you, you can leave it to me. I’ll do my best to solve the problem.”
The mayor of Dark Clay City was overjoyed to hear Ye Ci’s words, “Are you serious? Can I really leave this matter to you?”
“Lord Moore is ill. A famous healer has given us a prescription. We’ve gathered most of the herbs needed to brew the medicine, but there’s one last herb that we’re unable to locate. Since you’re here… If you can find that herb, I’m sure you’ll be able to meet with Lord Moore soon.”
A system notification rang right after the mayor of Dark Clay City finished his sentence, “Do you want to accept the quest “Medicine for the City Lord”?” Ye Ci accepted the quest. She noticed that the quest objective had changed, but the color of the quest remained. It meant that the quest was not downgraded.
The mayor began stating out the details of the quest after receiving confirmation from Ye Ci. It sounded like a simple quest, requiring Ye Ci to search for a herb known as the Spirit Soothing Grass in the Abandoned Altar deep within the Swamp of Sorrows .
 戴绿帽 (literal TL: wearing a green hat): Chinese slang for “getting cucked”. If someone is said to have put a green hat on you, it means that you’ve been cucked by said person.
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