Although it was not difficult to return to the Eastern Continent from the Southern Continent, it did take quite some time. Just as Ye Ci was going around the cities on the Southern Continent, she received a message from an acquaintance.
It’s Fluttering Red Feather! He would never talk to someone unless he has an ulterior motive. Besides, that guy has been avoiding me like the plague ever since that incident in the dungeon. I’ve always been the one to initiate a things between us, so why is he looking for me on his own according?
“Oh look! It’s Fluttering Red Feather! Why are you contacting me all of a sudden? Has the sun risen from the west?!” Ye Ci could not resist the urge to tease the man when she answered his call.
Fluttering Red Feather was flustered, “I’ve been trying to contact you for several days but you’re out of reach. This is why I contacted immediately when I received the notification that you’re in the Southern Continent.”
“You need something from me?” Ye Ci refused to believe that Fluttering Red Feather would contact her at a time like this for the sake of small talks. Although they were relatively close, their relationship was one between two business person. There was no way Fluttering Red Feather would contact her if the matter was not urgent.
“Yeah.” Fluttering Red Feather did not beat around the bush, “I heard that one of the Engineering players in your guild are capable of producing Mobile Cat Claws.”
Mobile Cat Claws? Pea Cake still could not make something like that when I left the Eastern Continent! He was able to learn the skill in just a couple of days? thought Ye Ci herself before she responded with a sigh and a truthful answer: “I have no idea about that at all as I’ve been busy with some quests. I’ve never been to the guild encampment for a long time. What’s going on?”
“Oh, then are you planning to return to the Eastern Continent now?”
“Yes. I am.” Ye Ci stifled a yawn. She was not actually physically tired, but she missed her bed dearly after staying online for days.
“Why don’t you drop by our guild encampment if you have the time to spare?” Fluttering Red Feather did not make his intentions known, but he was still enthusiastically inviting Ye Ci over to his guild encampment. “We’re already a level six guild in Gale City. Come to the city, and I’ll lead you to my encampment.”
There’s definitely something going on. He won’t be so desperate in meeting me otherwise.. I wonder what could it be? Ye Ci did not have the answer to the question. Welp, I’m going to find out soon enough.. She then teleported into Gale City through the teleporter in a minor city.
Gale City was the capital of the Southern Continent, much like the Eastern Continent’s Champion City, the Western Continent’s Light Saint City, and the Northern Continent’s Warrior City. This was a huge map that could hold tens of thousands of players, but the player capacity of the map would be drastically reduced if war broke out.
It had been a full year since the launch of Fate and many of the guilds were still focusing on expanding themselves. Some, however, were already strong enough to stand out among the others. Of course, this did not necessarily mean that they would stay ahead forever. When Ye Ci arrived in Gale City, the first thing she saw was not Black Plum Family’s lvl 6 encampment, but the lvl7 guild encampment of Isle of Heroes’. This somewhat surprised Ye Ci.
If Ye Ci remembered correctly, she was able to acquaint herself with Fluttering Red Feather because of the guild Isle of Heroes. She knew that the Black Plum Family and Isle of Heroes were rivals, but she did not expect the relationship between the two guilds to deteriorate to the point where they became sworn enemies.. Why would they set up their guild encampment directly in front of each other? Just how bad can things go between these two?
Ye Ci heard a voice calling out to her as she stood in front of the guild encampment of the Isle of Heroes.. She turned around to see a Priestess in a white robe with gold embroidery. She was extremely eye catching and beautiful as she stood under the sunlight. That robe itself was probably worth a small fortune, not to mention any other equipment she might have.
The Priestess noticed the stare from Ye Ci, and immediately walked up to her,“Excuse me, are you Gongzi You?” asked the Priestess with a smile on her face.
“I am.” Ye Ci studied the Priestess calmly. She was a human with blonde hair, blue eyes and very distinct facial features. According to Fate’s appearance adjustment settings, a player would not be able to alter his or her appearance exceeding a certain margin., and defining features of a player such as age and race were fixed. Despite the Asian traits on the Priestess face, it was obvious that she was a foreign player.
There was quite a few foreign players in Fate. They were spread out evenly across all four continents just like the Chinese players, so it was not rare to run into one in-game. Fate also had a built-in translation system, which eliminated language language barriers between players. Then again, the language in Fate affected by the race of a player’s Character, and not nationality of players in real life. This means that as a player from the Eastern Continent, YeCi could speak three languages from “birth”: Elvish, the Eastern language, and the common tongue.
Elvish was only used amongst Elves, and was only understood by Elves or players who had learned the Elven language. The Eastern language was the language used by players from the Eastern continent, and the common tongue was used by players from all four continents. Normally, if players from different continents wanted to communicate, they had to use the common tongue. Apart from these commonly used languages, there were also a lot more other languages in Fate.
There were also other languages like Ancient Goblin, Ancient Orcish, Ancient Human and the language of the Dragons. These languages could either be learnt at the library by paying a fee or by chance.
“Hello, I’m Black Plum Family’s Priestess, Laura. Fluttering Red Feather told me to come pick you up.” Laura held her hand out to Ye Ci. She was originally very beautiful, and was even more stunning when she smiled. Even Ye Ci felt she was a top beauty.
Ye Ci politely shook Laura’s hand. Laura was probably a high ranking member of Black Plum Family as very few people knew of the relationship between Ye Ci and Fluttering Red Feather. The fact that Fluttering Red Feather had specially invited her over to the guild meant that there was something that he needed to talk about, and the presence of this beautiful girl who came to receive her meant that Laura was definitely not an ordinary person.
Laura’s identity, however, was not as important as the very important question: What is Fluttering Red Feather up to? Ye Ci smiled faintly at Laura and asked the question that truly mattered, “Where’s Fluttering Red Feather?”.
“Please follow me.” Laura nodded and led Ye Ci towards the Black Plum Family guild encampment. When guilds moved out of their specialized map, they would no longer enjoy the larger space provided by the map. The guild would have to establish their guild encampment in shopfronts in a city, which were purchased and owned by the guild. The number of shop fronts that could be owned by a guild, however, was limited by the level of the guild. A lvl6 guild could own three shop fronts while a lvl7 guild was able to purchase as many as five shop fronts.
However, leveling a guild was no easy task. Despite the great benefits of acquiring shop fronts, the initial investment was costly. A guild without the backing of financial groups in real life might find itself hard-pressed to ascend to lvl6 through their own efforts.
Even Upwards Ho!, with the aid of a reincarnator like Ye Ci, was cautious about the decision to level up their guild. There was only one logical explanation behind the growth spurt of Black Plum Family and Isle of Heroes: They had the back of financial groups.
Many of the players greeted Laura as she led Ye Ci into the guild encampment. This was a confirmation that Laura, whose name was faintly familiar to Ye Ci, was not a mere guild member.
The two of them quickly arrived at the entrance of the guild conference room and Laura knocked gently on the door: “Feather, your guest is here.”
Fluttering Red Feather, who was in the middle of a meeting with the officers of his guild, immediately signaled for a break when he heard Laura’s voice.
“Gongzi, it’s been a while.” Fluttering Red Feather beaed when he saw Ye Ci, “Did the wine I sent you last time work out?”
“Yeap! I wouldn’t have completed the quest if not for the wine.” Ye Ci did not specify the nature of her quest, but Fluttering Red Feather knew exactly what kind of person Ye Ci was. It did not take a genius to guess that the quest was something special. Then again, noone would ever have thought that it was actually related to a Mithril ore vein.
“Welp, I’m glad that I was able to help. Let’s head to my guild’s tavern, they serve some pretty good wine.” intending to avoid any potential eavesdroppers, Fluttering Red Feather began leading Ye Ci to the tavern of his guild.
Laura followed closely as the two made their way to the building.
Fluttering Red Feather ordered some good food and good quality wine after taking a seat in a secluded corner of the tavern with Ye Ci and Laura. During her long days in the dungeon, Ye Ci had only eaten nothing but roasted meat. There was no way she would pass up a chance to be treated to some good food.
The trio raised their glass and toasted each other.
“Gongzi, your equipment is probably at least lvl50 right?” the vast majority of the players were in a rush to level up, and the average level of players was already at lvl 45. Of course, there were some exceptions that were already at lvl 50. From what Fluttering Red Feather could see from Gongzi You’s equipment, he could easily deduce that she had a rather high level.
Ye Ci smiled at Fluttering Red Feather, neither confirming nor denying his words, “Red Feather, we’ve known each other for a while now, so stop beating around the bush and just tell me what you have to say. I have more important things to do than engaging in small talks with you in the Eastern Continent.”
After his many interactions with Ye Ci, Fluttering Red Feather was fairly familiar with her behavior. The same, however, could not be said about Laura, who despite her anger remained silent when she noticed that Fluttering Red Feather was paying no heed to Ye Ci’s outburst, “I’m sure you’ve seen the guild encampment of the Isle of Heroes.”
“Yeah, it’s a level seven guild encampment, it’s very beautiful.” nodded Ye Ci, “they must have a financial group backing them. You need a large amount of real world currency to build such a large guild encampment.”
“Yes, you’re correct.” Fluttering Red Feather nodded, “But this is not why I want to talk to you.”
“Then what is it?” Ye Ci was slightly confused. If it was not about Isle of Heroes, then what?
“According to reliable sources, one of the Engineers in your guild is able to produce Mobile Cat Claws.” Fluttering Red Feather directly spoke about the heart of the matter: “Although Engineers not rare, your member is the only one who has the capabilities to produce Mobile Cat Claws.”
“And? Do you want to buy some?” Ye Ci had already confirmed the news with Timely rain. Icy Cold Little Hands had actually gotten a blueprint for Mobile Cat Claw while Ye Ci was in the Western Continent. As the chief Engineer of Upwards Ho!, Pea Cake was naturally the person to receive the recipe..
The Mobile Cat Claw was similar to a normal Cat Claw, but was more advanced. It was highly flexible, was automated. Players no longer had to scale a vertical surface with their own strength, and could achieve such a feat with the press of a button. This contraption was highly favored by players in siege battles before the introduction of siege engines.
Fluttering Red Feather must be planning to attack an abandoned city or fortress. thought Ye Ci to herself, he wouldn't be so desperate in contacting me otherwise.
“Yes, I want to buy them, and I want them in large quantities…” Fluttering Red Feather continued after a pause, “and I need your cooperation. I want to be the only guild in the Southern Continent to be able to monopolize this gadget.”
Ye Ci narrowed her eyes and began pondering the man’s proposal. Fluttering Red Feather and Black Plum Family must be prepared to pay a high prize to monopolize the Mobile Cat Claw in the Southern Continent. It was definitely very profitable in the short term, but was nothing good in the longer term. Upwards Ho! would definitely be able to prosper from the sales of equipment with the two Engineering skillbooks in Ye Ci’s possession. The guild would lose a lot of potential customers in the Southern Continent if Ye Ci accepted the proposal from Fluttering Red Feather.
It was not a problem if Black Plum Family was the sole major guild in the Southern Continent as Ye Ci would not have collaborated with Golden Era. The situation, however, was different. There were many powerful guilds in the Southern Continent, and even the Black Plum Family would not have the confidence to claim to be the strongest in that continent. Ye Ci would definitely lose a lot of opportunities if she accepted Fluttering Red Feather’s proposal.
Ye Ci was able to enjoy the luxury of making multiple choices, while Fluttering Red Feather had only one choice. It was clear that Ye Ci had the absolute advantage in this situation. Despite Fluttering Red Feather’s best attempts to project a calm appearance, his eyes were two swirling pools of anxiety, which was a direct contrast to Ye Ci who was calmly sipping her wine.
This was a gambit between two individuals, and their future benefit was the stake. As the person holding the high ground, Ye Ci was aiming to maximize the profit she would get out of a deal with Fluttering Red Feather.
The tavern was bustling with activity. Patrons were drinking and gambling by the gambling tables that were opened up in a corner. Gambling in the game was strictly regulated by the system. A player could only place a bet that was deemed affordable to him or her by the system. Unbeknownst to most, the gambling system in the game would be one of the top money makers in the game.
Ye Ci was staring absent mindedly at the gambling table, as if she was not at all interested in the deal.
As the they sat in silence, it was obvious that Ye Ci’s behavior was a direct contrast to Fluttering Red Feather. Unlike the lively atmosphere of the bar, the table was deathly quiet. Laura, who was sitting between the two, was not familiar with Ye Ci. She knew that Ye Ci was a top-tier player, but as long as a she had the courage to cross the Black Plum Family, then she was an enemy.
Laura’s anger flared as Ye Ci’s silence continued, “Gongzi You, are you going to give us an answer? Do you think we invited you over just to enjoy the wine?”
Despite her beauty, Laura was a very blunt person with a fiery temper. As a high ranking member in her guild as well as a decent player, Laura was never tactful in her conduct, and her brash nature was always a source of trouble. Due to his good relationship with Ye Ci, Fluttering Red Feather brought Laura along, but not without warnings to be mindful of her words. He had never expected that Laura would explode into rage due to Ye Ci’s silence.
Ye Ci was slightly taken aback by Laura’s work. She then stared at Laura, who was apparently displeased that she was stopped by Fluttering Red Feather. The girl’s facial features became even more beautiful due to her anger. At that moment, Ye Ci finally realised who Laura was. Isn’t she the top Priest player in my last life, Laura? Laura was known for her skills as a player, her beauty, and her bad temper. She was known as the Raging Priest by players in Fate, and her actual name was rarely used. This was why Ye Ci herself had forgotten the name of such a famous player.
Ye Ci had even had the opportunity of facing off against Laura. Neither of them was able to gain the upper hand in a long and protracted fight. Laura was a skillful player, and her character class meant that she could constantly heal herself up, which made her a difficult opponent for Ye Ci. As a top player, however, Ye Ci did not lose the fight. Despite her fiery temper, Laura had a good character. She did not hold a grudge against Ye Ci, but this did not stop her suitors from pouring their hatred on Ye Ci.
Based on this fact alone, it could be say that Laura was an opponent worthy of respect.
However, the two of them did not have many interactions and were not close. At the time of Ye Ci’s reincarnation, Laura was already a famous player in the Southern Continent.
Who would’ve thought that we would meet in this life under such circumstances? Ye Ci was not angry at all despite Laura’s outburst. She wouldn’t be known as the Raging Priest if she’s polite.
Ye Ci laughed and glanced at Laura before shifting her gaze to Fluttering Red Feather, “Let me guess, you found an abandoned city or a stronghold, which was also discovered by the Isle of Heroes at the same time, am I right?”
Fluttering Red Feather raised his eyebrows, but he was not at all astonished. Gongzi You was a top-tier player in Fate, and she was very intelligent. It was certainly not difficult for her to make such an accurate guess.
The silence from Fluttering Red Feather confirmed Ye Ci’s words, and she continued, “Both of you faced a difficulty in your fight to capture this city or fortress. If I’m not mistaken, there is huge number of monsters in the place, and its walls are very sturdy. The only way you can make your way in is to scale the walls with the use of grappling hooks. A common Cat Claw is too slow, which is why you need the Mobile Cat Claw that my guild makes. This is why… You’re looking for me.”
This elicited a slow clap from Fluttering Red Feather, “That’s right. It’s exactly as you say. So what do you think of our cooperation, Gongzi?”
Ye Ci set her wine on the table and stared at Fluttering Red Feather calmly, “Red Feather, despite our close relationship, we’re still leaders of two different guilds, and we must act in the best interest our guilds.”
Her words rang through. Their friendship should not be taken into account when the benefits of their respective guilds were involved.
“You’re saying that…” Ye Ci’s answer did not surprise Fluttering Red Feather. After all, it was not a good deal in the long run. Of course, Fluttering Red Feather knew nothing of the Goblin Engineering books that were in Ye Ci’s possession, and was only taking the Mobile Cat Claw into account. He knew that Ye Ci would lose a lot of customers in the Southern Continent if she agreed to the deal, but his opinions were based on the fact that Upwards Ho! had nothing better to offer other than the Mobile Cat Claw. This was why he arrived at the conclusion that their deal would not affect Upwards Ho! even on the long run.
“I’m sorry, Feather. I can’t agree to your proposal.” Ye Ci refused Fluttering Red Feather’s proposal without even the slightest hesitation.
Of course, such a response was also expected by Fluttering Red Feather, “Gongzi, don’t you think you being a little too rash?”
“Why is that?” Ye Ci raised her eyebrows.
Fluttering Red Feather immediately pointed out Ye Ci’s predicament, “You refuse to cooperate because you’re afraid of losing the wider market in the Southern Continent, am I right?”
“That’s right.” Ye Ci did not deny his statement.
“But Gongzi, have you ever thought about the future? What if you’re unable to get good recipes from dungeons?” Fluttering Red Feather smiled faintly. He was no pushover when it came to scheming for the sake of benefits. “You might say that there was no way that you will be that unlucky, and even if there are no drops, you can always buy them from somebody else.” he continued with a chuckle “That might be the case, but if I’m not mistaken… Upwards Ho! do not have the backing of any financial groups…. And how do you think such a guild can complete with the other guilds? Don’t you think that it’s a wise choice to earn as much as you can now? The future is important, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying ‘changes always go beyond plans’?”
A smile formed on Ye Ci’s face. Fluttering Red Feathers is indeed no pushover. He’s right about Upwards Ho! She had, however, no intentions of dragging out the conversation, “Feather, you are not necessarily wrong, but are you certain that I do not have anything else that I can bring onto the table?”
Fluttering Red Feather was stunned when he noticed Ye Ci’s smile. Is there something that I’ve missed?
Ye Ci spoke while Fluttering Red Feather was still confused, “If I’m correct, you wanted to see me so badly because the Isle of Heroes have made preparations to begin talks with Timely Rain and the others.”
This matter was of a very secretive nature that was known only to a selected few in the Southern Continent. Fluttering Red Feather’s plan was to form a deal with Upwards Ho! before the talk between Isle of Heroes and Timely Rain could even begin. If Timely Rain knew nothing about this, then Gongzi You should logically not have known about it as well, but due to reasons unknown, she was able to make her guess correctly.
“You plan to form an agreement between our guilds before Isle of Heroes could conclude their talks with Timely Rain, and you hope to accomplish this through our relationship. You can then take over the empty city or fort and raise the level of your guild, am I right?” Ye Ci stared down at Fluttering Red Feather
The darkened expression of Fluttering Red Feather was a sign to Ye Ci that her guess was correct. “I’m impressed. I would’ve done the same if I were you. But I’ll have to remind you that the benefits of our guilds had nothing to do with our friendship. Upwards Ho! has nothing to do with whatever that’s going on between Black Plum Family and the Isle of Heroes. We’re friends, but we’re not allies. Don’t you think that it’s not fair for me to sacrifice the benefits of Upwards Ho! for the sake of Black Plum Family?”
Fluttering Red Feather spoke after taking in a deep breath, “Think about it, Gongzi… I will definitely offer you a good price. This is a one in a million chance for Upwards Ho!.” he was quick to realize that benefits was the best method of persuasion in a business talk with Gongzi You, “With the money, Upwards Ho! can definitely expand itself…”
Ye Ci cut Fluttering Red Feather off with a wave of her hand before he could even finish his sentence, “Feather, I’m sure you know that Golden Era is coming in the near future. The last thing you want is a collaboration with Golden Era. My guild is small, but a small guild like us has a better chance of surviving their onslaught. The Black Plum Family was not the largest guild in the Southern Continent, and if you refuse to compromise, things will be bad for you when Golden Era arrives.”
Fluttering Red Feather’s expression darkened even further. He needed Ye Ci’s help to acquire the abandoned city so that his guild would be the top guild in the Southern Continent. With that, he would have the strength to fight against Golden Era when they eventually arrived.
“You do not have a say in this at all. I am the one with the high ground. Of course, our relationship is not bad so I will not be ripping you off this time, but it does not mean that I would sacrifice my profit and benefit for your sake, do you get me?” Ye Ci’s voice was quiet, calm, and emotionless. Even Laura herself could feel a chill creeping down her spine as she observed the conversation between the two This girl is a rather intimidating person.
Fluttering Red Feather spoke up after a long moment of thought, “Then what do you want?”
“I will definitely not agree to your plan to monopolize on the Mobile Cat Claws. The best I can do is to sell 500 of them to you, and make them available to the rest of the Southern Continent guilds at a later date. Of course, the 500 units I will be selling you won’t be cheap. They’ll cost you just as much as the price you intend to pay to enjoy a monopoly.”
“That’s too expensive.” Laura, who was the treasurer of the Black Plum Family, was the first to respond. If they could not gain a market monopolisation, the price that they were prepared to pay would be no different from daylight robbery.
“Think about future profit. This shouldn’t be much.” Ye Ci continued with a faint smile, “You’re not wrong when you said that Upwards Ho! need the money. But… I don’t have to get it from you, am I right?”
Fluttering Red Feather’s heart clenched, but he knew that Ye Ci was right. His bid to become the number one guild in the Southern Continent would fail if he did not seize the opportunity. “Gongzi, you’re ruthless as ever.” he said with a grimace.
Ye Ci responded with a smile, “Well, wouldn’t it be a waste if I don’t bite down on the meat that you send my way when I’m starving?”
“Feather, are you going to agree to this? This price... Is just too high…” Laura frowned. She was not able to stop a decision made by Fluttering Red Feather, but she was still a fairly influential person in the guild.
Fluttering Red Feather shook his head as an indicator for Laura to remain silent, “I hope that you wait for 15 days before you start selling the Mobile Cat Claws to the rest of the Southern Continent guilds.”
Ye Ci shook her head, “I can only give you 10 days at most.”
“Why are you being so difficult, Gongzi?”
“I can’t hold back my own growth as well, Feather. Don’t you think I should build up a strong customer base before Golden Era arrives?” said Ye Ci with a smile, “Ten days. I believe that the Black Plum Family can take that abandoned city in ten days.”
“It’s not as easy as that. We have to attack the city and fend off attacks from other guilds at the same time as well.” Fluttering Red Feather furrowed his eyebrows.
“How do you plan to be the number one guild in the Southern Continent if you can’t do even that?” Ye Ci smiled at the man, “The price you have to pay should be as big as your imbition.” and she raise her glass after filling it up with wine, “To a pleasant partnership.”
Despite the discontent in his heart, Fluttering Red Feather knew that the Black Plum Family was already backed into a corner. He was forced to accept Ye Ci’s proposal, and toasted her unwillingly, “I hope that we’ll have a pleasant partnership.”
With her mood greatly improved, Ye Ci finished her wine, set the glass on the table, and headed out of the bar, “I’ll leave the drafting of the contract to you. Send it over to Timely Rain once you’re done with it. I’ll make sure that my people get you what you need.”
She then walked out of the bar and disappeared into the night.
“That girl…” Laura gritted her teeth. Gongzi You had taken a huge bite out of their coffers, and thinking of it only served to fuel the flames of Laura’s anger, “Feather, why did you agree to her proposal? You could’ve tried to stall and we might get a better deal out of it.”
“Time is something that she has in abundant, but not for us.” Fluttering Red Feather took in a deep breath, his eyebrows furrowing as he gazed at the lightings hanging from the ceiling of the tavern, “Golden Era is coming. If a guild like ours don’t grow strong fast, we’ll definitely fall prey to Golden Era. Laura, we do not have much time…”
Laura sighed as well. She patted Fluttering Red Feather and offered him a consoling smile, “All shall be well, Feather. All shall be well.”
“I hope so.” a sudden sense of fatigue washed over Fluttering Red Feather. He was very, very tired.
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