“My power core’s almost drained.” said Fleeting Time. An indicator on his tank was flashing red, a sign that it was close to running out of power.
Ye Ci stole a glance at the energy indicator of her tank, “I don’t have much energy left as well. I have enough for one more shot.”
“Launch your attacks on the largest concentration of enemies. We’ll take care of the rest of them with our weapons.”
As time passed, the duo was able to cultivate their teamwork. They were able to communicate their meaning with simple sentences. As Hunters, they were able to work seamlessly in taking out the monsters as they knew each other’s skills and abilities very well.
The tanks finally sputtered to a final halt after the duo cleared away a large groups of monsters. Ye Ci and Fleeting Time then dismounted from their disabled tanks.
Fleeting Time eyed the remaining Undeads and Orcs left in the courtyard. A rough estimation placed their numbers to be nearly 300. “Why don’t we have a contest right now? Let’s see who gets the most kill in 10 seconds.”
Ye Ci raised her eyebrows, it’s a nice idea in this boring place, “Sure. Start the timer.”
“Alright. Our current position will be the starting point.” said Fleeting Time as he surveyed his surroundings. The duo’s position was the perfect spot as a starting point.
“Sure.” Ye Ci immediately summoned Ol’ Four. She was ready to spring into action at Fleeting Time’s signal. The man, however, was silent, “What? Is the timer not ready yet?”
“Of course not.” Fleeting Time was standing still with a smile on his face, “Little Gongzi, since we’re having a contest… There’s bound to be a winner and a loser right? So what do you think about the rewards and penalties?”
“Rewards and penalties?” Ye Ci stared at Fleeting Time. Is this asshole up to something again?
“What? Don’t you know what ‘rewards and penalties’ mean?” Fleeting Time inched closer to Ye Ci with a charming smile, “Do you need me to explain it to you?”
“If you win, I’ll allow you free entry to the Eastern Continent once. If I win…” Ye Ci appeared to be deep in thought. There’s really nothing that I want from him.
“And what if you win?” there was a glint in Fleeting Time’s eyes as he leaned closer to Ye Ci.
Ye Ci could feel an unknown feeling deep in her heart as she felt Fleeting Time’s warm breath on her face. She raised her hand, and pushed him away, “If I win, I want you to stay away from me.” she snorted.
Fleeting Time was not angry when he was pushed away by Ye Ci, “Little Gongzi, I don’t like your proposal. Do you want to hear mine?” he said with a smile.
“Get lost!” Ye Ci turned around to face another direction.
“Aiya, Little Gongzi, you’re such a killjoy.” the corners of Fleeting Time’s mouth rose as he stared at Ye Ci, “Why must you spoil the fun? You set up such a boring stake, but refused to my opinion.”
Ye Ci’s patience was at its limit, “I’ll sew your mouth shut if you don’t shut up right now!” said Ye Ci as she glared at Fleeting Time.
“Fine, fine. Since you insist, I’ll just go along with your suggestion.” Despite his defeated look, there was glee in Fleeting Time’s eyes.
“You…” Ye Ci glared at him. This asshole.. What the hell is he talking about?
“Begin!” before Ye Ci could explode into rage, Fleeting Time started the timer, and dashed out to his right. Little Five appeared with a loud whoosh! and dove at the enemies.
Ye Ci could not even react when the timer started. She was already slower than Fleeting Time when she finally sprung into action. She directed Ol’ Four against the closest concentration of Undeads and Orcs, and began firing arrows at the closest enemy.
Someday… Someday… I’ll severe all of his tendons and skin him alive!
As Ye Ci and Fleeting Time busied themselves with monster slaying in the dungeon, Absalom was not idling as well.
He received the coordinates of the Mithril ore vein from Gongzi You, and was told that the mountain containing the ore vein would remain as an ordinary mountain before he was able to trigger a certain quest. The nature of the quest, however, was kept a secret from him. His attempts to contact Fleeting Time to ask for a clue was thwarted by system messages notifying that he was busy, and was unreachable at the moment.
Absalom was depressed, and his imagination began running wild.
Busy? What is he up to? The system would not block any incoming private messages during a fight unless they’re in a dungeon… Or… Doing that thing…
So just what are they up to?
A single man and woman spending time together… And he has feelings towards her as well… What if he gave in to his desires and did that thing…
Of course, it was all an imagination of Absalom. As players from opposing continents, there was no Intimacy level between Gongzi You and Fleeting Time. The system would not allow intimate interactions between players who did not possess certain amount of Intimacy points. Besides, with the rapid development of VRMMORPGs, developers would of course take note of the safety of their female players. A male player who forced himself upon a female players would receive severe penalties from the system, and his name would be announced in the World Chat in the form of a system announcement.
Despite knowing such a fact, Absalom was still engrossed in his own imagination.
He sat by the table of the guild conference room with a hand supporting his chin as he drummed his other hand against the surface of the table. His mind, however, was running wild with fantasies. Gongzi You is a tough nut to crack, it’s definitely going to be hard for Fleeting Time. Then again, didn’t he just overpowered her in the Bloody Wilderness? It might not be as hard as I think… thought Absalom as he stared at the World Channel in anticipation. Fleeting Time’s name might just appear as a system announcement.
Aiya… Just what are those two up to right now? It’s a shame I did not insist to stay with them.
“ABSALOM!” the roar of a lioness pulled Absalom back into reality.
“Ah, honey!” Absalom immediately sat up straight when he noticed Sour Apple standing at the entrance of the guild conference room with her hands on her hips.
“Didn’t you say that you have something important to deal with? Is this the so-called ‘important stuff’ that you’re dealing with? Why are you daydreaming in the guild conference room?” Sour Apple rolled the lowest point for a ring dropped in a dungeon, and was in a very bad mood. As a result, Absalom became the victim of her wrath.
“I just got back!” Absalom could tell that his wife was frustrated by her inability to have a good roll with a single glance.
“So what was so important?” Sour Apple was curious.
Absalom sighed and shook his head, “This is not something that you should know at the moment.” he said with a serious expression.
Despite her occasional childish behavior, Sour Apple was very serious when it came to affairs of the guild. She could tell from Absalom’s expression that he was handling something that would benefit from the guild, and it was not settled yet. There was no way Absalom would let her and the other officers of the guild in on the secret under such circumstances. She blinked, and asked inquisitively, “Is it really that important?”
“If the information I received is real… It’s very important.” Absalom’s heart was beating fast when he thought of the Mithril ore vein.
Sour Apple nodded and hugged her husband with a smile, “Honey, you don’t have to worry. I know that nothing is too hard for you.”
Absalom could feel tears welling in his eyes. My wife is the best! She’s nothing like Gongzi You! She was only taking advantage of him and was even bullying him, “Oh honey…”
“By the way, where’s that bastard Fleeting Time?” Sour Apple’s expression immediately darkened when a sudden thought flashed across her mind, “Isn’t he supposed to help out with clearing the dungeon today? Why did he not show up?”
As Sour Apple was having her conversation with Absalom, White Fairytale was trying to seek her friend out. She noticed that Sour Apple was in the conference room just as she was about to send her a message, and decided to head to the conference room instead. She overheard the conversation between Sour Apple and Absalom just before entering the room, and decided to eavesdrop on the couple. She knew that her action was immoral, but when Fleeting Time was involved, moral was the last thing in her mind.”
“How the hell do I know? He’s a free man, and he’s free to do whatever he wants.” Absalom sighed. It was not the first time Sour Apple had asked such a question.
“White Fairytale was waiting for him all night long! I don’t even have the heart to tell him what’s in that bastard’s mind! Why would he ignore a nice girl like White Fairytale?” Sour Apple was infuriated, “Wait… Is he not interested in women….”
Absalom almost coughed up blood. He’s not interested in women? So are you telling me that Gongzi You is a man? I don’t think so! Even if Gongzi You is very thin, and a washboard as well… The looks that Fleeting Time was giving her… Is that the look of a guy who is not interested in women?
Absalom did not have the courage to voice out his thoughts to Fleeting Time. He could only speak his mind in a more indirect way, “Say, can you stop bugging into the matter between White Fairytale and Fleeting Time? She would’ve even have to wait for him for so many years if they’re really fated together. You don’t know Fleeting Time that well. If he’s really interested in a person, he would shamelessly get close to her no matter what it cost. If it’s someone that he has no interest in…” and he continued after a slight pause, “Just stop trying to play matchmaker between the two. You’re just placing yourself in a peculiar position.”
“What do you mean?” Sour Apple furrowed her eyebrows, “Isn’t Fleeting Time single at the moment? So there’s nothing wrong with me trying to play matchmaker! We’re all fellow classmate who’ve known each other for so many years! Don’t you think that it’s a wonderful thing for those two desk-mates to get together?”
“Well, aren’t you and I desk-mates? I think one desk-mate couple is enough! Do you really want the whole world to be filled with desk-mate couples?” Absalom creased his eyebrows as well. He was reminded to the interaction between Fleeting Time and Gongzi You. Fleeting Time would definitely make a mincemeat out of him if his wife continued to play matchmaker. For the sake of his life, Absalom tried his best to change the mind of his wife.
“Why are you like this? Why do I feel like you don’t wish to see White Fairytale becoming a couple with Fleeting Time?” Sour Apple was not an idiot. She could tell the meaning behind Absalom’s word.
“It’s not about me, alright?” Absalom grabbed at his hair, “I’m just an audience! It’s not up to me! It’s up to Fleeting Time himself!”
“And have he expressed his unwillingness?” Sour Apple snorted.
“Why not?” Absalom was sure of that, “I can still remember what he did when White Fairytale proposed to him during our highschool year! Have you forgotten about it? You even chewed Fleeting Time out for refusing her advances, and when that guy ignore you, you vented your frustration on me!” when it came to telling stories of the past, Absalom was as good as, if not better than his wife.
“That’s like ten years ago! He’s still a wimpy kid back then! What does he know about love? He’s still running around in the basketball court! What does he know about having a girlfriend? So what if he rejected her back then! It’s been ten years since then! Things have changed! He’s matured now, and is full of testosterone! I’m sure he knows a thing or two about romance by now! I have confidence in getting them together!” Sour Apple refused to listen to Absalom’s words, “Besides, he didn’t exactly say no back then!”
“That’s because he’s giving us face! But it’s very, very obvious!’ Absalom was almost driven mad by Sour Apple, “We’ve been playing Fate for almost a year now, and you’ve always been playing matchmaker. Have you ever succeeded? You always forget about past pains once you wounds have healed. Have you forgotten about what he said to you? Why must you make it hard for everyone?” Absalom finally raised his voice.
“Why are you raising your voice? I’m just worried about them! Do you think I’ll be doing something so strenuous and unrewarding if they’re not my friends?” shouted Sour Apple. She knew that Absalom was right, but she was not willing to accept the truth.
Fortunately for the couple, the members of the guild would stay away from the conference room whenever the couple was in the room. If that was not the case, videos of the couple’s fight would definitely have flooded the internet.
“If you really want to help out, then stop trying to play matchmaker! Stop being such a busybody!” Absalom was fed up with the topic.
“Then what do you want Fairytale to do? She has feelings for Fleeting Time since she was 12! She’s liked him for thirteen years! thirteen f*cking years!”
“That’s her problem.” Absalom creased his eyebrows, “It has nothing to do with you!”
“Don’t you think that Fleeting Time is too heartless?” perhaps due to the differences in the thought process of a man and a woman, Sour Apple could not understand the logic behind Absalom’s words.
“Heartless?” Absalom’s temples began to ache. He grabbed hold of Sour Apple’s shoulders and took in a deep breath, “Honey, this is the last time I’ll ever talk to you about this, so I want you to listen carefully. If you’re still going to get involved in this, don’t drag me along with you. I know that White Fairytale is a good friend of yours, but Fleeting Time is like a brother to me. I don’t want to see my friendship with Fleeting Time ruined because of this.” said Absalom with a serious face.
Absalom’s expression was something that Sour Apple had never seen before. He would never speak to her with such an expression unless guild affairs were involved. He was always someone who was cheerful and boisterous, and would always tolerate her mischief. He was the type of person who would face everything with a smile on his face.
Sour Apple could feel the pressure weighing down on her, “Okay, okay. I’m listening..”
“Alright, even I have to admit that it’s not easy for White Fairytale to like Fleeting Time for thirteen years. It’s an impressive feat considering that fact that he had never once reciprocated her feelings. It’s really rare.” Absalom took in a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself down.
“Yup, yup.” Sour Apple nodded happily when she heard the words of Absalom.
“But… Does it mean that Fleeting Time must repay her affection just because she has fallen in love with him for thirteen years? Must he accept her feelings just because of that? Even if he does not have any feelings for her?”
“Shouldn’t he do that? Shouldn’t he at least acknowledge her thirteen years worth of effort?”
“Nonsense! If a pig loved you for thirteen years, will you marry the pig as a sign of gratitude for loving you for thirteen years?” Absalom furrowed his eyebrows as he quoted the statement from Fleeting Time.
What are you talking about? H-how can this be the same?”
“How is it any different?” Absalom took in a deep breath, “No, shut up and listen to me! Stop trying to cut me off!”
Sour Apple who was about to speak up immediately quieted down when she noticed Absalom’s darkened expression.
“White Fairytale’s feelings for Fleeting Time is her own business. The decision to reciprocate her feelings is entirely up to Fleeting Time. It has nothing to do with you, Absalom sighed, “I will not judge White Fairytale for her actions, but to me, it’s nothing good. I know that her affection for Fleeting Time might not be something that she can control, but when she must bear the responsibility of being overly obsessed with Fleeting Time even after she was rejected. It might end well for her, but it might also bring her endless suffering. But she still has to pay for the choices she made in the end. Let me get this straight… If I’m rejected by a woman I like, and she has made it clear that she has no interest in me at all, I’ll definitely back off. I’ll at least try to hide my feelings for her, because I don’t want to be a d*ck!”
“How can you say that…” Sour Apple was saddened. She was not even sure if the sadness she felt was for White Fairytale, or herself.
“Then what do you want me to say? It’s the truth! Fleeting Time grew up with us, and I know him very well! If he really has even the tiniest bit of interest in her, she won’t have to wait for him for so many years! He might not look like he cares, and he might have given you the impression that he does not give a damn, but I know him. Deep down, he knows what he wants, and he knows it better than anybody else. White Fairytale is a kind, gentle, beautiful, and loving person. She can even cook very well! She’s a person with the qualities of a perfect wife! But why do you think that Fleeting Time does not even care about all that? It’s because she’s not the type of girl he likes!”
Absalom’s words pounded on Sour Apple’s heart like a hammer. She knew that his words were true, but she could not bring herself to face the truth. She had always been with White Fairytale for the thirteen long years. It was part of her life. But when reality came knocking on her heart, she found herself unwilling to accept the truth.
“Love can be cultivated.” her voice was soft and weak.
“It depends on what type of person we’re talking about.” Absalom shook his head, “Fleeting Time is not that sort of person. He’s locked his feelings up like a safe. The correct combination of password will open the safe, and all his feelings will come pouring out. If you try to crack the safe open with the wrong password, he will never budge. You will never reach his heart even if you shower him with love and affection. His heart is tightly shut, and nobody can force their way in.”
“If that the case, isn’t the thirteen years White Fairytale spent on wooing him a wasted effort?”
“Isn’t it better if she walks away right now? Must she continue this farce until he’s married with a family? How old will she be by then? Youth is like a blossoming flower. Once it’s missed, there’s no going back. Nobody will be able to share her suffering with her by then. Not even you.” Absalom was straightforward with his wife, “Honey, if you really want Fairytale to be happy, you must make her understand that Fleeting Time is not the right person for her.” Absalom patted Sour Apple on the shoulders.
“Fleeting Time and I are both professional players. You know how much responsibilities I have. I was able to found Genesis with the help of Fleeting Time, and I don’t want this to cause a ridge between me and him. I don’t want Genesis to suffer because of this. Especially when…” Absalom continued after a pause, “Especially when Golden Era is arriving soon.”
Even when Sour Apple was not a professional player, she knew about Golden Era after her years of gaming with Absalom. She shrugged when she heard Absalom’s words, “Aren’t things like this insignificant?”
“It is, but it’s also very annoying.” Absalom stared at Sour Apple, and spoke out his true feelings, “What do you think Fleeting Time is feeling when eve I am annoyed by this?”
“But… Fleeting Time is single.. I just want to give them a chance to be together…” Sour Apple sighed.
“Even if he is single, I don’t think White Fairytale stands a chance. How do you know that he doesn’t have someone he likes?”
“There’s someone that he likes?” Sour Apple immediately replayed Fleeting Time’s behavior in the past few years in her mind, but could remember nothing special. But… There was this thing in the game… “Are you talking about Gongzi You?”
Sour Apple had never paid attention to the scandal between Fleeting Time as Gongzi You. After all, they were rivals from opposing continents, and did not know each other in real life. There was no way a relationship would develop between the two. That was why Sour Apple refused to believe the rumors since the day it started. But when she heard the words of Absalom, her heart was filled with doubts.
“I don’t know, it’s his business.” Absalom shook his head, and refused to answer her question. Despite his love of gossipping, he can still keep a secret.
White Fairytale, who was standing silently at the doorway could feel the pain of a thousand blades stabbing into her heart as she listened in on the conversation between Absalom and Sour Apple. Their words were like salt that was poured on the already gaping wound in her heart.
She knew that her love for Fleeting Time will never be repaid. She had been trying her best to be better, and silently hope that he would one day gaze upon her and acknowledge her presence. She had never thought that her attempts would leave not even a single mark in Fleeting Time’s heart, and was causing nothing but annoyance to the man she loved. Is this… Is this what I get for my thirteen years of love?
Is there anyone who is more pathetic that I am?
She wanted to leave, but when she heard the words, her body would not move, as if there were roots that were holding her still. She felt as if her world was collapsing when she heard the name of another girl.
Even when such a worst case scenario was within White Fairytale’s expectation, she still loved Fleeting Time deeply. She never thought that such a day would come. The mere thought of Fleeting Time having a love interest who is not her caused her much sorrow. He never accepted her love, but he never accepted anybody else as well. That was why White Fairytale was able to cling on to the hope that he might eventually change his mind and fall in love with her. But now… What about now?
White Fairytale refused to resign to such a fate!
White Fairytale leaned against the outer wall of the conference. She was biting down hard on her lips, but she did not feel the pain.
Silent Hymn was worried when Absalom was absent from the Elite difficulty dungeon clearing. This was not how Absalom would usually handle things. He immediately headed to the guild conference room after the dungeon was cleared.
However, for reasons unknown, his eyes were twitching. Is it a sign of good fortune, or something bad’s happening?
Silent Hymn ran into White Fairytale who was standing near the entrance. He was curious when he noticed the tear stains on her pale face, “Fairytale, what happened? Why are you standing here all by yourself?”
White Fairytale who was immersed in her own sorrows immediately panicked. She recoiled from Silent Hymn like a scared rabbit and ran away.
Sour Apple and Absalom were shocked as well when they heard the voice of Silent Hymn. The color drained from Sour Apple’s face when she noticed the presence of White Fairytale, “Oh no…”
“Why are you still standing here? Hurry! Go after her!” Absalom pinched his temples. His intention of advising his wife to not meddle in somebody else’s business seemed to have backfired.
“Oh, okay.” responded Sour Apple as she dashed out of the conference room.
Silent Hymn, who was already baffled by White Fairytale’s behavior ran into Sour Apple who panickedly rushed out of the conference room, “Where’s Fairytale?”
“There…” SIlent Hymn pointed at the the direction of White Fairytale, and Sour Apple immediately sprinted after her friend, leaving a puzzled Silent Hymn behind, “What’s going on?”
Absalom took in a deep breath. He knew that is was cruel to break the secret to White Fairytale, but it was better to get the pain over with, rather than to prolong the agony. If she lets go because of this, it’s not a bad thing after all. He walked to the entranced of the guild conference room, and spotted Silent Hymn, “Ahh… Hymn, you’re here.”
“Yup. What’s going on?”
Silent Hymn did not pursue the topic. Even he could guess that if Sour Apple and Fairytale was involved, it must be something about Fleeting Time, “What happened? Why did you leave the dungeon before we even cleared it?”
“You came at a good time. There’s something I want to talk to you.” Absalom scanned his surroundings carefully, and entered the hidden chamber within the conference room with Silent Hymn.
Ye Ci stood glaring at Fleeting Time in the palace courtyard. How did he do it? He does not have something as powerful as Rain of Arrows, how did he managed to get more kills than me? She was infuriated by the fact that Fleeting Time was able to secure three kills more than hers despite her hard work.
Fleeting Time sighed at Ye Ci, “Little Gongzi, I expect your hospitality when I visit the Eastern Continent~”
Ye Ci gritted her teeth. She secretly wished that she was armed with a sniper rifle so that she could blow Fleeting Time’s head of. She wanted nothing to do with him anymore.
“Don’t be so angry. I don’t feel like winning as well. But when I was reminded of the fact that I’ll have to stay away from you if I lose… I got so sad that I accidentally killed a few more monsters…” said Fleeting Time with a mischievous grin, “Well… You know…”
“Fleeting Time…” Ye Ci’s expression darkened. She then gulped down a bottle of Stamina Potion to replenish her ever dwindling Stamina during her stay in the Western Continent.
“What is it?” the smile did not leave Fleeting Time’s face.
“Has anybody told you that you’re an annoyance?” Ye Ci sighed. What sort of sin have I committed in the past? Why do I have to get stuck with someone like this?
Fleeting Time was not provoked into anger by Ye Ci’s words. He patted Ye Ci on the head and retracted his hand before she could react, “Well, you just did.”
“You…” Ye Ci was speechless. Just what is this guy’s brain made of? Why is he not making sense at all most of the time?
The smile on Fleeting Time’s face widened when he noticed Ye Ci’s expression.
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