“Aiyo!” the ground began to tremble following a loud rumble just as Absalom was happily sharing his news with Fleeting Time. Absalom could barely stand when the ground shook with the force of a magnitude 10 earthquake, and he found himself planting face first onto the ground.
Of course, his movements were mirrored by countless others who were on the streets of the Saint Light City.
The ground continued to tremble. Saint Light City was not the only map to be affected by the tremor. The dozen of map adjacent to the Bloody Wilderness was also suffering from the same fate.
Many of the players in Saint Light City lost their footing due to the sudden earthquake. Some even lost their lives just like that. The NPC’s shops fared no better. Broken flasks littered the floor of the potion shop, spilling their precious content onto the ground; the rows and rows of racks holding top quality weapons forged by the blacksmiths were in a state of disarray; the precious wares in the auction houses were all smashed to pieces. Many buildings within the city have collapsed, and Saint Light City was in a state of ruin.
The once-glorious Saint Light City was reduced to rubble in mere moments. The air was filled with wail of despairs of the NPCs and the cries of baffled players.
Absalom stood on unsteady feet as the tremors finally subsided, “F*ck me! Just what the hell happened?” he exclaimed as he laid eyes upon the current state of Saint Light City.
Absalom flipped his hair, shaking the thick dust off his head. His superior and glamorous equipment was now stained and covered with dirt. I look like a homeless man! thought Absalom to himself as he sneezed. He then wiped the dirt off his face and surveyed his surroundings.
What befell Absalom’s eyes came as a shock to the man, “Oh my goodness! Oh God! Jesus Christ! What the hell happened!?”
“Congratulations for completing the hidden dungeon: The Lost City with 100% completion rate. Your exploits shall forever be remembered in the history of Fate. Do you wish to display your ID?” a system notification appeared in the screens of Ye Ci and Fleeting Time when the explosion subsided.
Fleeting Time lifted his head, and with great effort, spotted the forms of Ciel and De’frei who were standing not far away. Even when the Goblins were coated in thick grey dust that gave them the appearance of two little statues, their expressions remained calm.
In contrast, the duo was left in a daze. Ye Ci herself had partially lost her hearing. Her ears were ringing when Fleeting Time pulled her up and spoke to her.
“Are you going to reveal your ID?” said Fleeting Time with a loud voice, after several attempts at talking to Ye Ci. “No! My presence in the Western Continent is supposed to be a secret. Wouldn’t that be asking for trouble?” came the reply.
“Heh, I thought you’d have no fear after your decision to journey into the Western Continent alone.” anticipating Ye Ci’s choice, Fleeting Time selected the option to keep his ID hidden as well.
Ye Ci pursed her lips, “I don’t need the trouble right now. The Black Iron Dwarves are exploring the Mithril ore vein when I left. What if someone else chanced upon them before I can get back?”
Fleeting Time nodded. He would do the same thing if he was in Ye Ci’s shoes.
After confirming their selection, a system announcement apeared in the World Channel, “After a thrilling journey full of surprises, players XXX and XXX have discovered Vo’sok, the kingdom of Goblins. They have completed the exploration of the dungeon “The Lost Kingdom” and earned the respect of the Goblins.”
“Exploration of the hidden dungeon, The Lost City has been completed (Completion: 100%). A new dungeon, ‘The Fallen Vo’sok’ is now available to players. Level: 60, Capacity: 100 players. Difficulty: Easy, Hard, Expert. Entries to the dungeon will be refreshed every week. Players are welcome to explore the dungeon.”
Ye Ci was shocked by the system announcement. A new dungeon will appear once we completed the exploration of a hidden dungeon? Why have I not heard of something like this in my last life? She could still remember the information released by the player who completed the same quest during her last life, but there was never a mention of the appearance of a new dungeon.
Was I mistaken?
After a brief moment of thought, Ye Ci was certain that it was not a mistake on her part. The dungeon “The Fallen Vo’sok” did not even exist in her past life. There was no way she would forget about a 100-players lvl60 dungeon. If that’s the case, just what the hell triggered the release of this dungeon?
She was quick to realise a tiny detail that was repeated in the system announcement: The completion status.
Her completion of the dungeon with Fleeting Time was at 100% while the completion rate of the player during her last life was not known. One thing, however, was certain. A player must complete the dungeon to a certain level of completion rate to unlock the new dungeon, and the player who completed the quest during Ye Ci’s last life must have left Ciel in the palace.
A smile appeared on Ye Ci’s face. It seems that my reincarnation is slowly bringing change to the world.
Just when Ye Ci began to breathe a sigh of relief, she was baffled by yet another system announcement.
“I am Ciel, king of the Goblins. Vo’sok was the home of the Goblins that have remained hidden for a very long time, forgotten by many and unknown to most.” the system continued the narrative with a soft and soothing voice, as if it was reciting a poem, “I’ve always thought that our home would remain hidden, but I was proven when two outsiders ventured into this forbidden place. That’s right, Vo’sok is a place that spells death for any who dared venture within. I’ve never expected these outsiders to leave this place alive, but their tenacity is beyond my wildest imagination. They were able to locate Vo’sok and made their way into my palace Ahh… It was a big magnificent palace that was buried deep underground. I’ve been staying in this place for centuries with my loved one and my loyal subjects, but their presence finally broke the tranquil of my palace. Perhaps some would claim that I’ve grown complacent… Perhaps I’m a tyrant who brought ruin to my subjects in the eyes of many…”
Absalom scratched his head in confusion, “F*ck me! Who the f*ck is Ciel? What the heck is the ‘King of Goblins’?”. The name “Vo’sok” immediately reminded him of Fleeting Time, and he wasted no time in contacting the man. However, his attempts were met only with failure.
“What is this? China Mobile?” Absalom was depressed for a brief moment before his curiosity was overwhelmed by his worry for his guild encampment, and he immediately hastened his pace back to the encampment. If this is what Saint Light City has become, I wonder what happened to the guild encampment?
“I fought against these outsiders, and I was woken from my selfish dreams by their sense of justice, their empathy, and their kindness. However, it was all too late… My homeland… My palace… It was all in ruins. ‘What should I do from now on?’ I asked myself, and these two outsiders showed me hope. I ended up destroying my home, Vo’sok with the scepter entrusted to the Goblins by the Gods. The ground trembled as the land blessed by the Gods was destroyed, and this land is now forever cursed. It is all my fault. I shall now lead my people in search of a new home.” and the narrative ended.
The system announcement then continued with the following message, “The exploration of the dungeon ‘The Hidden City’ resulted in a strong earthquake in the Western Continent, causing tremendous amounts of damage to Saint Light City. This plunged the citizens of the Western Continent into the abyss of suffering. The continent is now at Alert Level 1.”
Ye Ci chuckled at Fleeting Time, “Is the system’s excuse to cover up its flaws?”
“I’ve never expected the system to be so shameless.” nodded Fleeting Time who was equally baffled. Isn’t the system blaming us for what happened just now?
“So what should we do?”
“We can just plead ignorance. Our IDs were hidden anyways.” said Fleeting Time with a sly smile, “But with the continent going on Alert Level 1… I’m a victim as well!” his smile was then replaced with a sad expression.
Why do you not look like a victim? thought Ye Ci to herself after stealing a glance at Fleeting Time’s face.
An Alert Level 1 is declared in Fate when a main city of a continent or an entire continent as a whole suffered from large scale destruction. Once Alert Level 1 is active in a continent, the strength of defensive shields of cities in the continent would be boosted significantly, but the number of soldiers posted in cities would be reduced. Players in the continent would receive 25% more experience points and 15% more loot during battles, but their defense value against hostile players would be reduced by 35%.
Of course, this was merely an insignificant side effect.
The activation of an Alert Level 1 meant that a continent was suffering from a catastrophe. The earthquake that ravaged Saint Light City was one such example. Under such circumstances, the profits earned by Saint Light City would be reduced by 50%. This meant that players would receive 50% less reward from quests, and many of the NPCs would go missing, spelling disaster for players as they could not complete their quests. The only alternative would to spend a large quantity of gold to seek help from other NPCs to complete the quest.
Such a situation meant that players would suffer on the long run under an Alert Level 1. Fortunately for the players, however, the system would automatically any damage caused to the infrastructure of the city within a month, and the situation in the continent would return to normal. Despite receiving a higher amount of experience points and loot drops during the month, Western Continent players would still suffer.
With the exception of potions, weapons, gem merging and enchantments, many of the NPC shops are charging player at a significantly higher rate.
This was why an Alert Level 1 is something that players would not like to experience during their lifetime.
Ye Ci could still remember a expansion “Armageddon” that was released during her last life and the horrors she witnessed. That was when the Alert system was first made known to players. It was all thanks to the talent of Wang Jiangnan, who was able to portray a seemingly simple event as something that inspired fear in the hearts of players.
Come to think of it, that was when I truly grew as a player. The growth of a player from expert-tier into the top-tier is not through effort alone. The change in environment was also a major factor.
Ye Ci crossed her arms in front of her and drummed her fingers. She spoke up after a long moment of silence, “Well, since you’re on Alert Level 1, things will be hard from now on. I guess if life gets too difficult for you, I wouldn’t mind if you come over to the Eastern Continent. I’ll take care of you until things return to normal in the Western Continent.” even when she wanted to shirk such a responsibility, Ye Ci knew deep down that she was the one who caused the Alert Level 1 in the Western Continent. Something like this would not have happened if they did not reach a 100% completion rate.
In a way, Ye Ci had to take some form of responsibility.
Ye Ci would not have cared if it was any other person. After all, she was someone who would only sweep the snow away from her own doorstep. She was, however, slightly remorseful when it came to Fleeting Time. He was the person who took good care of her during her stay in the Western Continent, and owing favors was something that Ye Ci dislike. She wanted to clear her debt with Fleeting Time and have nothing to do with the man ever again.
Of course, Ye Ci’s invitation was not at all sincere. It was in Chinese culture to be polite while being indirect. She expected Fleeting Time to politely decline her invitation, which would then give her the chance to seal the deal. This would mean that she had done her best to repay the debt, and she would never have to see his face again.
Then again… Reality tends to deviate from one’s expectations.
Fleeting Time chuckled inwardly as he noticed Ye Ci’s conflicted expression. It was not an easy task to get Gongzi You to show some kindness while making such a face. He nodded, pretending to be deep in thought, “You’re right. Life will definitely be hard in the Western Continent in the coming days. I will definitely take you up on your offer if I ever find a way to get to the Eastern Continent.”
Ye Ci raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips. Oi, you’re quite a shameless one aren’t you? I was just trying to be courteous! Why are you taking my words literally? Can’t you just politely decline my invitation? Are you even a Chinese?
“Oh? You’re not willing to accomodate my stay? Was your invitation earlier half-hearted?” Fleeting Time batted his eyes at Ye Ci.
“Nope, I’ll definitely look after you if you come over to the Eastern Continent.” Ye Ci rolled her eyes as she recalled the personal details of Fleeting Time from the PVP tournament in her past life. Ahh… He’s from America. So that’s why he’s so shameless.
Fleeting Time nodded and offered her a smile, “I’m so touched.”
You’re touched? My ass! Why can’t I see a hint of gratitude from your despicable face? Ye Ci, was fuming at this point, turned away from Fleeting Time.
The duo continued to wait patiently as De’frei and Ciel stood motionlessly not far away from them. One must always face an Epic-tier quest with patience. A player must never assume that there would be no follow up quests from an NPC when a quest appeared to have been completed. Of course, the player was free to end the quest right there and then, but he or she would definitely pay for being impatient.
Even after Ciel’s grandiose show of power and even when Ye Ci and Fleeting Time became the scapegoats, she have not forgotten the main objective of her quest. Ye Ci’s quest target was never Ciel, nor was it Vo’sok. She was here for De’frei. Her quest was not completed before she brought him to Orthus. As long as De’frei remained silent, Ye Ci would continue waiting
Ye Ci had even attempted to initiate a conversation with De’frei, but the only response she received was in the form of a system notification, “De’frei seems to be deep in thought. It’s a good idea to wait patiently.”
Ye Ci decided to take a seat and patiently waited for an outcome because of such a hint.
Fleeting Time shared Ye Ci’s patience. He sat down on the ground and began browsing through a cookbook. He then began cooking a meal over a hastily erected bonfire. Ye Ci stared at Fleeting Time. This man seemed to be a natural gamer. He could find the tiniest little things to keep himself entertained even when he was bored, and he could perform what many consider to be a trivial task to the point of perfection. A genius like Fleeting Time must have felt lonely to have no equal.
As the duo was waiting patiently for the NPCs, Absalom had already made his way to the teleportation NPC that would bring him back to the guild encampment. He had spent a lot of time looking for this particular NPC as most of the NPCs were merely displaced instead of disappearing outright in the wake of the earthquake.
The state of Absalom’s guild encampment was a direct contrast of the situation in Saint Light City. As guild encampments of levels 1-5 were placed in special maps that were not directly linked to the map, they were under system protection. An outsider would have to insert the serial number of the guild encampment to enter the specially protected maps. However, a lvl 6 guild encampment will be moved out of the special maps and bound to a plot of land in the city that had to be purchased by the guild. In the event of such an earthquake, the guild encampment would not enjoy the protection of the system.
Absalom was overjoyed. He had originally planned to upgrade his guild encampment to level 6 on the day before, but was occupied with the search for the Mithril ore vein. As a result, an otherwise devastating disaster had been averted. The guild, however, was still in a state of disarray. With the lost of many teleportation points in the city, many of the guild’s players found their guild teleportation scrolls rendered useless, and a lot of the players were left stranded in different maps.
Despite the chaos, Absalom could still remember Fleeting Time’s words. He took a Hawkeye skillbook from the guild warehouse, but was unable to leave the guild encampment in such a situation. Even Silent Hymn was preoccupied with trying to keep things in order. Absalom had no choice but to think of an alternative.
Just then, he was reminded of his wife. Despite her close friendship White Fairytale, Sour Apple was a reliable person when important matters were involved. As long as he was able to convey the gravity of the situation, Sour Apple would definitely get the job done despite any dissatisfaction that she might harbour against the arrangement. “Dear, where are you?” Absalom immediately sent a message to his wife.
“I’m helping out with things in the workshop. The buildings of our guild encampment was not damaged by the earthquake, but many of our supplies stored in the workshops were destroyed. Head to the potion brewery quick. I think the losses are quite heavy over there.” Sour Apple knew that her husband had arrived at the guild encampment the moment she heard his voice. Their guild had suffered quite some losses from the earthquake, and she was worried that the loss of precious resources would affect the growth of Genesis.
“Head to the guild warehouse. I need you to help deliver something.” said Absalom to his wife once he had confirmed her location.
“What is it?”
“You’ll know when you get here.”
Sour Apple immediately realised that something was up when husband refused further explanations. After giving some quick instructions to her subordinates, Sour Apple immediately headed to the guild warehouse. “Say, which hole did you crawl out from?” Sour Apple broke into violent fits of laughter when she saw the state of her husband’s clothing.
Absalom cast a look full of sorrow at his wife, “I’ve just crawled back from the streets of Saint Light City.”
“So what is it?” Sour Apple walked up to Absalom and gently wiped away the dust from his face with a loving expression.
Absalom initiated a trade with her, and spoke in the private channel, “Get this book to Fleeting Time in the Bloody Wilderness.”
Sour Apple immediately understood the need for secrecy the moment her husband switched to the private channel and when Fleeting Time’s name was mentioned, “Hawkeye? I thought he learnt the skill a long time ago? Why would he want something like this?” she was baffled when she noticed the title of the skillbook.
“It’s not for Fleeting Time. It’s for the person who is with him right now.” replied Absalom after a moment of thought.
“Who is it?”
“EH!?” Sour Apple, who could not believe her ear, let out a yelp. Her voice would have attracted the attention of the guild members around her if she was not speaking in a private channel.
Sour Apple’s apparent surprise was something that was expected by Absalom, who continued calmly, “Send Fleeting Time a message when you get to the Bloody Wilderness. Make sure that you’re not followed. You can come back once you hand him a book.”
“Wait wait wait wait… I’m a little confused here.” Sour Apple who recovered from her shock shook her hand.
“Are you talking about the Gongzi You from the Eastern Continent, who is also a rival of Fleeting Time? The Huntress Gongzi You who was frequently made fun of by Fleeting Time in the World Channel?” Sour Apple was in total confusion. She even had the feeling that she was in a dream. Why would her husband hand a very expensive skillbook to an enemy? Has her husband gone mad?
“Duplicate names are not allowed in Fate.” Absalom indirectly confirmed her question.
“How did she even get here? And why are you guys not trying to kill her but are giving her freebies instead? Is she some sort of beauty who has stolen your hearts?”
Absalom furrowed his eyebrows and let out a long sigh after a moment of thought, “Alright, I’ll let you in on this, but you must never tell another living soul about this or Genesis is finished. Remember, not a single person, especially White Fairytale. If even a single word is leaked, Genesis is doomed.
Sour Apple’s nodded. Her heart rate had accelerated when she listened to the words of Absalom.
Absalom then proceeded to give Sour Apple a simple briefing of the situation. Of course, many of the finer details were left out in his explanation as such information was dangerous to Sour Apple. As a man, Absalom refused to place his wife in danger.
Sour Apple rolled her eyes and exclaimed, “My God, I don’t think that Gongzi You is a girl!”
“But she is!”
“There’s no way a girl can be so mentally resilience. I’ve always thought that I have a strong heart, but I am nowhere near her level.” said Sour Apple as she patted the Hawkeye skillbook and placed it in her inventory, “Alright then. I’ll go deliver this skillbook. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that I’m not followed.”
“Be careful.” nodded Absalom.
A sudden thought flashed across Sour Apple’s mind, “Hubby, has Fleeting Time really taken in interest in Gongzi You?”
Absalom shrugged. Women tend to view things differently from men when it came to gossiping. This was why Absalom was wise to never gossip with his wife to avoid any unwanted… Effects. “Why don’t you ask Fleeting Time himself when you see him later? I’m not a mind reader, how do I know what he’s thinking?”
Sour Apple snorted as she turned around and left, “You’re not going to fool me. You men are always covering for each other. You better not be hiding any secrets, or I’ll have your guts for garters.”
What did I even say? I did nothing wrong! Why am I suffering from this injustice? Absalom’s heart was filled with sorrow as he placed all the blame on Fleeting Time. I’m gonna make him pay when he comes back to China.
De’frei finally moved to face Ciel after a long moment of silence, “Your Majesty, where will you go after this?”
Ciel blinked, and cast a sideway glance at Llaesnyffan, “I will go to all corners of the world in search of more of our people and lead them to a new home. I will then pay a visit to the Dragonia and search of a way to resurrect Llaesnyffan. What about you, De’frei?”
“Orthus is waiting for me. I’m going to meet him.”
“Orthus?” confusion appeared in Ciel’s eyes before it was replaced with realization, “That youth who was the greatest Goblin Engineer of our kingdom? I believe that he’s a student of yours.”
“Yes, Your Majesty. You have a good memory.”
“I’ve done a lot of bad things to him.” Ciel was very apologetic. The king of Goblins was calm and collected compared to his maddened self in the palace, “Please deliver my apology to him when you meet. If he’s willing, I’d like to invite the both of you in my quest to search for a new home for our people.” Ciel then stood up, and with Llaesnyffan in his arms, bowed at Ye Ci and Fleeting Time. He then handed them a medal each with the words “Friend of the Goblins”.
“My dearest friends, no matter where you might be, you’ll receive help from Goblins as long as you’re wearing these badges.” and the king of Goblins left the dungeon with Llaesnyffan in his embrace.
De’frei walked up to Ye Ci, “Bring me to Orthus. I miss that child.”
A system notification appeared right after Ye Ci gave her reply, “De’frei is following you. Please keep him safe.”
It was an escort mission.
However, with the whistle given to Ye Ci by Orthus earlier on, there was no need to traverse through the Western Continent with De’frei in tow as they could meet with Orthus right away upon leaving the dungeon.
“Alright, let’s take our leave then.” said Fleeting Time after making sure that Ye Ci had accepted the quest.
Ye Ci nodded, and the duo left the dungeon.
Fleeting Time’s private message channel was flooded with messages the moment he left the dungeon. They were all from Sour Apple. Why would she come looking for me at a time like this? Despite his slight annoyance, Fleeting Time sent her a reply, “What is it?”
“Where the hell are you? I’ve been going in circles in the Bloody Wilderness for two freaking hours! I tried sending messages to you but the system told me that you’re out of reach! Do you think I have nothing better to do?” Sour Apple roared with anger. Then again, anybody else would have a bad temper after traversing through the landscape of the Bloody Wilderness that was ravaged by the earthquake for two full hours.
“Why are you looking for me?”
“To give you a damned skillbook. What do you think I’m here for? Saint Light City is in ruins after an earthquake, and my husband was so busy with managing stuff at the guild that he sent me in his stead.” snorted Sour Apple.
Fleeting Time’s eyebrows immediately furrowed. Sour Apple is delivering the skillbook? Just what is she trying to pull of? He then cast a glance at Gongzi You. She’s not able to enter Stealth with De’frei following her around. What if Sour Apple sees her?
Sour Apple spoke up after noticing the silence.
“Oh, come on! Stop your overthinking! I know about your secret. Even if I tend to mess around, I still am serious when it comes to the important things. What are your coordinates?”
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