Chapter 219 The Calm Before the Storm
Of course, there was no point worrying about it. The best solution Ye Ci had was try and head back into the dungeon. After making an inventory of all the consumables she had, Ye Ci decided to resupply in Red Lake City before trying to re-enter the dungeon.
However, once she arrived in Red Lake City, it was a long while before Ye Ci could leave. First of all, Ye Nantian’s shop was doing badly. Due to their lack of special recipes and their low level, Ye Nantian and Zuo Xiaolan were not able to produce any high quality consumables. Even with the strategic location of their shop, business did not go well.
This situation was a far cry’s away from what Ye Nantian and Zuo Xiaolan had expected when they first started their business. After some careful consideration, the couple made the decision to quit the game. They decided to hand the shop back to Ye Ci so that she could rent it out to avoid further losses.
Ye Ci was having a taste of one of the broth sold by Ye Nantian as the words came tumbling out of the couple’s mouth.
“Little Ci, we’ve decided to not continue our business. Why don’t you rent this shop out to someone else?”
“Pffffftttt…..” perhaps it was the shock of listening to her parents words, or perhaps it was because of the unpalatable taste of the broth, Ye Ci spurted the broth onto the faces of her parents.
“Ah… Sorry! I’m so sorry!” Ye Ci immediately apologized to her parents.
Although such actions will not cause damage to her parents in game, it did made some changes to their appearance. Ye Nantian immediately cleaned the face of his wife with a cloth, and said jokingly “Little Ci, we’ve already washed our faces this morning.”
Ye Ci was embarrassed. After letting out a chuckle, she immediately seized the opportunity to change the topic, “What were you talking about just now?”
“We’re saying that we don’t want to continue our business in this shop anymore. Why don’t you rent it out?” Zuo Xiaolan repeated her statement.
The corners of Ye Ci’s mouth twitched. Instead of answering their question, Ye Ci responded with a question of their own, “Why?”
If the question was asked by someone else, Ye Nantian and Zuo Xiaolan would have responded with a load of nonsense to save face. However, the question came from their daughter, who they had no intention of lying to her. “LIttle Ci, we’re a family, so we’ll be honest with you.” Zuo Xiaolan sighed, and shared a look with Ye Nantian, “This shop is indeed in a good location, and we have had a lot of visitors everyday. Even then, our shop is not doing as well as the other shops nearby, and we don’t even know why. We thought that it would be a good idea to close down the business so that you can rent this shop out to someone else. At least you can earn something out of it.”
“Rent it to someone else?” Ye Ci smiled, “Mom, although the game is said to 100% realistic, we don’t have all the facilities that exist in real life available to us. I can’t sublease the shop to somebody else. A function like this does not exist in the game.” and she thought to herself, of course, it will be added into the game in the near future.
“T-then what do we do? Do you want us to continue suffering losses from this?” said Zuo Xiaolan, who was a very frugal person, “No way! There’s no way I’m going to continue a business that will only cause losses for me!”
“Mom, don’t forget that we’ve signed a contract. You will have to pay a penalty for breaking the terms of the contract.” a mother knows her daughter well, and the daughter would also naturally would know the thoughts of her mother. As the daughter of Zuo Xiaolan for two lifetimes, Ye Ci knew what was going on in her mother’s mind. She ignored Zuo Xiaolan’s objection, and began exerting pressure on her through the contract.
“Penalty? What penalty?” Zuo Xiaolan and her husband have always dismissed Fate as a mere online game. This was why they did not even to read the contract up.
“What? Mom, didn’t you read the contract that we’ve signed?” Ye Ci pretended to be surprised. She, of course, knew that her mother would never read the contract.
“The contract?” the corners of Zuo Xiaolan’s mouth twitched. She slowly shifted her glance to Ye Nantian. Her husband, who did not read the contract as well immediately shook his head, indicating that he had no knowledge about the contract.
“It’s that thing that you insisted to sign despite my objection.” Ye Ci narrowed her eyes, and a calculative smile formed on her lips. She even reminded her parents that they were the ones who insisted upon signing the contract. She stared at her confused parents, “It’s those documents that we signed in the town hall, you’ve even commented about the mayor’s body figure…”
“Alright, alright! I remember now!” Zuo Xiaolan was embarrassed when she was reminded of their mistake. How could she forget about that incident? The couple was full of curiosity when they entered the game. They did not take their surroundings seriously as it was all just a game. When they were greeted by the mayor of Red Lake City, the couple began to have an open discussion about the mayor’s body figure.
Ye Ci’s expression darkened when she overheard the conversation between her parents. She let out several coughs in an attempt to get her parents to stop. Zuo Xiaolan and Ye Nantian who was oblivious about the impact of their actions, however, stopped only when the mayor spoke up with a darkened expression, “Are you here to sign the contract, or are you here to insult me?” At that moment, Ye Nantian and Zuo Xiaolan finally realized that even the NPCs would react to their conversation. They were both surprised and embarrassed by the revelation.
Because of that, they did not even paid much attention to the contract, and hid it in the darkest corner of their warehouse. They were eager to forget the incident.
They were caught off guard when Ye Ci reminded them of that incident. Zuo Xiaolan silently hoped that Ye Ci would have forgotten about the contents of the contract. Although the chances were slim, she wanted to try her luck, “So what if we signed a contract? I don’t remember anything about it!”
“It’s okay if you don’t remember, mom. I have a copy with me, and I can read it out for you if you want.” replied Ye Ci with a smile.
Zuo Xiaolan stared at Ye Ci with a face devoid of expression, “How can you remember something that I’ve long forgotten? Are you still my daughter?”
Ye Ci raised her eyebrows, and began reading out the contents of the contract. The contract was filled with special terms and conditions, unable to be processed by normal means. Before long, she received a complaint from Zuo Xiaolan, “Stop! Stop it! I can’t understand any of it.”
Of course, Ye Ci had her own way to deal with Zuo Xiaolan. She nodded at her mother, and kept away the contract, “Alright, mom. Let me explain it to you. It’s actually very simple. Since the contract was signed with mutual consent, if either party wishes to forcefully breach the contract, the party would have to pay the other party an amount of ten times the monthly rent.”
“Ten times…” the corners of Zuo Xiaolan’s mouth twitched, “How much is the rent again?”
“By the way, the rent for this shop is collected in a one-off payment. Even if I did not collect any rent from you, it was already registered in the system. Mom, if you insist upon breaching the contract, I’m afraid that you’d have to pay me 10 years worth of rent, at 10 times the price.”
“The question that I asked is ‘How much is the rent?’.” asked Zuo Xiaolan in a loud voice. She had the urge to beat her daughter up when she noticed the smirk on Ye Ci’s face.
“Ahh, it’s nothing much. You’ll only have to pay me a small sum of 20 million gold coins.” said Ye Ci as she shook two of her fingers in front of her parents.
Zuo Xiaolan’s eyes widened. She stared at Ye Ci with disbelief and then pointed at herself and loudly ranted. “You brat! Are you telling me that you want me to pay you 20 million gold coins for this virtual shop? Do you think that I’m stupid? I will not spend real money for a bunch of data in game…”
Ye Ci was not angry at all. Her mother’s reaction was something that she anticipated. It was the exact reaction she was waiting for. Zuo Xiaolan and her husband had never taken the game seriously. They were casual gamers. She would have to tie them down if she wanted them to take Fate seriously. If she was able to tie Zuo Xiaolan down, Ye Nantian would automatically be involved as well. There was an easy way to bind Zuo Xiaolan: through a huge sum of debt.
“Mom, if someone overhear this, they might beat you up.” Ye Ci reminded her.
The words were able to shut Zuo Xiaolan up. She walked up to Ye Ci, with anger still boiling within her, “You damned brat! Stop trying to fool me! I will definitely get tricked if I don’t play this darn game! But I now know that everything here is just a bunch of data! Everything is fake! Even that contract that you signed with us is fake! I’m telling you this: I quit! I don’t want to play this game anymore! I quit!”
Ye Ci nodded and clapped. “I’m impressed, mom. You’ve managed to learn so much in such a short amount of time.”
“Hmph! Don’t you dare mistake me for an idiot! I’m not that gullible!” Zuo Xiaolan, who could almost taste victory, shot Ye Ci a glare.
“If memory serves, I’m sure you’ve received a legal document from the Bank of China some times ago. Of course, I received a copy as well.” Ye Ci narrowed her eyes and stared at Zuo Xiaolan with clear mischief.
“Yeah, what about it?” Zuo Xiaolan snorted. In her eyes, she was just like Buddha, while Ye Ci was Sun Wukong. Sun Wukong will never be able to escape the Buddha’s palm .
“That was an official document recognizing the legality of our contract signed within the game, which means that… Even if your shop is just a clump of data… The contract is legal.” Ye Ci smiled at Zuo Xiaolan, “If you break the contract, the legal department will be notified, and the money you own in the game will be automatically deducted.”
“Well, I’ll just stay offline.” Zuo Xiaolan lost her fighting spirit as soon as legal documents in real life were involved. As an ordinary citizen, Zuo Xiaolan would of course be afraid of being involved in legal proceedings.
“Sure. When the money in your game account dries up, they will begin deducting funds from your real world bank account instead. And when that is not enough to pay the penalty…” said Ye Ci after a short pause, “Mom… Even I don’t know what will happen.”
“You unfilial daughter! How could you do this to your own mother!” Zuo Xiaolan exploded into a fit of rage, and began landing blows on Ye Ci. The system identified Zuo Xiaolan’s actions as an assault on another player. Due to their level differences, however, the only punishment she received was the restriction of her actions.
Zuo Xiaolan could do nothing but sitting back onto her chair, and began employing less forceful methods, “Little Ci, I’m just afraid of the losses we might suffer.”
“Mom, even I am not afraid. So what are you afraid of?” Ye Ci was unmoved.
“But can’t you see that nobody is buying our stuff? I’m worried!” Zuo Xiaolan voiced out her concern.
“There’s nothing to worry about. You can take it slowly.” Ye Ci took another sip of the broth and smiled at her mother, “It’s not that I’m asking for rental payments from you two.”
“Take it slowly…” Zuo Xiaolan mumbled, “I do want to take it slowly, but I don’t think that I have what it takes to run a business. It’ll be a waste of money. Little Ci, we’re not rich at all. We don’t have the money to waste. Can’t you think of something?”
“Mom, I know what you’re thinking, but running a business in Fate is not as hard as you think. Your business is bad because your Life Skills are at a lower level, while the average player level is at lvl35-lvl40. The items that you sell are all for players who are at lvl10. Even if they have a need of lower level items, they would usually acquire them from the Auction House at a cheaper price. This is why your business is bad.” Ye Ci immediately began analyzing the situation to her parents.
Zuo Xiaolan and Ye Nantian came to a sudden realization, “So, you’re telling me that if I want to have a good business, I must work hard to level up my Life Skills?”
“Of course. The higher the level of your Life Skills, the more popular your items will be. If you can get your hands on some unique recipe, you can even monopolize on the market. This is why high level Life Players are able to earn huge amounts of cash.”
“But…” Ye Nantian immediately pointed out a problem, “Leveling Life Skills takes up a lot of our time. We can’t even get the materials to level our skills, and could only head out to collect scraps that were discarded by the other players. This is going to take a lot of time.”
“Why do you even need to risk it? You’re not like the rest of the players. It’s impossible for your current level. Why do you have to resort to such a method?” Ye Ci was confused by her parents’ words, “Don’t you know that you can acquire the materials that you need from the Auction House?”
Of course, not everybody shared Ye Ci’s common sense. Ye Nantian and Zuo Xiaolan immediately directed a question to Ye Ci, “Won’t that be expensive?”
Ye Ci rolled her eyes, “It’s not as if you’re going to pay for if out of your own coffers! Didn’t I give you guys a large sum of money? Why don’t you spend them?” she was sure that her parents did not spend even a single gold coin from the funds she entrusted to them.
“We’re keeping it in case of emergencies,” replied Zuo Xiaolan, “If we spend them now, what do we do if there’s a disaster or something?”
“It’s a game! Nothing of that sort will happen!” Ye Ci had the urge to slam her head onto the table.
“If we spend the money, it’ll be gone forever,” Zuo Xiaolan continued her argument, “I’d rather store them away safely in the bank…”
“Mom! You will not receive interests from the in-game bank!” Ye Ci was almost driven mad by her mother.
“I don’t care! I do what I like!”
“Are you telling me that you would rather suffer more losses?” Ye Ci’s temper finally flared, “You told me that you wish to avoid losses, but you’re not willing to level up your Life Skills! So, tell me! How long do you want this situation to continue?”
 In the story Journey To The West, Sun Wukong (The Monkey King) was trapped by Buddha on his palms after he wreaked havoc in the Heavenly Court. The incident was known as Havoc in Heaven.
“I-I-I did not say that I don’t want to level up my skills…” Zuo Xiaolan was briefly startled by her daughter’s anger before her courage returned. In her mind, she was not in the wrong, “I just don’t want to waste that money.”
“Is there a difference to that?” Ye Ci barely held back the urge to slam her hand down onto the table, “You’re only lvl10! Do you think that you’ll be able to survive a trip to the lvl20 or lvl30 areas scouring for leftovers? Even if you could, do you think you’ll be the only ones who thought of that?”
“It will work out somehow…” despite knowing the truth in Ye Ci’s words, Zuo Xiaolan could not resist the urge to talk back to her.
“Yeah, by the time things work out for you, the world would’ve ended.” Ye Ci slammed her fist onto the table, “Are you trying to make a fool out of me? You’re telling me that you’re trying your best to level up and avoid losses with that attitude of yours?”
Zuo Xiaolan and Ye Nantian remained silent. They sat quietly on their seats, listening to Ye Ci’s words like obedient school children.
“It’s normal for you to not be able to earn money at this time, but surely you’re capable of spending the money! Any Life Player in our guild would’ve been overjoyed to have such a benefit, but you’re telling me that you’re not willing to spend the money!” Ye Ci’s demeanor was like that of a veteran, passing down her experience to the newbies who were also her parents.
Players who walked past the shop were stunned. Were their eyes playing tricks on them? Wasn’t Gongzi You a person of few words? Wasn’t Gongzi You an arrogant person? So who was the Elven Huntress who was having an animated conversation with the newbies in the shop?
“But.. It’s your money… We wanted to save it up for you… For your dowry…” even after she was chided by Ye Ci, Zuo Xiaolan would still defend her standing when the need arose.
A pang of guilt gripped Ye Ci’s heart. She stared at her parents as tears blurred away her vision. Have I gone overboard? Thought Ye Ci to herself as she blinked away the tears. Ahh… Such is the love of parents. They would always place their children as their top priority in any situation. Ye Ci came to a realization that she was wrong to snap at her parents. She took a deep breath and sat beside her parents, “Dad, mom, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at you.” Ye Ci apologized to her parents while taking hold of their hands.
Zuo Xiaolan and Ye Nantian were baffled by Ye Ci’s action. They have always seen her as a person with strong personality. They did not know how to react to such a rare occurrence. “Aiya, Little Ci, it’s nothing. You know that I’m a stingy person. I don’t really like the idea of spending away the money, but if this is what you ask of me… I-I am still able to complete this mission.”
With the determined expression on Zuo Xiaolan’s face, one would have thought that she was asked to eat her own meat and drink her own blood.
Ye Nantian expressed his support to the words of his wife, who was the center of his world.
Ye Ci grimaced, and patted her parents’ hands, “If you’re worrying about my dowry, why don’t you start earning money now? I’m looking forward to the dowry.”
“But… The money…”
“Mom, everything has a price. There’s no free lunch in this world. You must learn to spend your money before you start earning them. If you’re trying to be successful just by saving up, it’s impossible.” Ye Ci smiled at her mother. She then bade her farewell, and left the shop. The final decision laid with her parents, and they needed time to think things through. If Ye Ci decided to stay in the shop, the argument will definitely continue.
Ye Ci immediately spotted Bai Mo upon leaving her parents’ shop. He was leaning on the wall of one of the shops, staring at the players who were passing by. “What’re you doing here?” asked Ye Ci as she walked up to Bai Mo.
“I came with the intention of showing some support, and overheard the lecture you were giving your parents before entering the shop.” said Bai Mo with a smile, “Say, are you finally extending your filthy claws to your family members now?”
“Pfftttt… What are you talking about?” Ye Ci paid no heed to Bai Mo’s words, “I’m done with my lecture. You can go show them your support now.”
“On second thoughts, maybe not. Your dad can cook very well in real life. But in game… I don’t even dare to think about it.” Bai Mo shook his head. He was not there to torture himself. Since the opportunity presented itself, Bai Mo would definitely grasp the chance to save himself the trouble.
“I’m growing to enjoy the second stage rewards of my Epic-tier quest.” said Ye Ci, who was very honest about her in-game progress with Bai Mo.
“And what’s the reward?” Bai Mo made a wild guess based on Ye Ci’s expression, “It must be very overpowered.”
“I’m not entirely sure yet.” said Ye Ci as she began filling Bai mo in on the details of her exploits. “My God! That’s insane! You can get loads of those items as long as you’re able to keep earning Spirit Emblems!” Bai Mo was shocked.
Ye Ci nodded. She was uncertain if she could exploit the special item shop. After all, it was very unlikely for the devs to overlook such a game breaking loophole.
After a brief conversation with Ye Ci, Bai Mo slapped himself on the forehead, “Oh yes, there’s something that I’ve almost forgot to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“Have you heard of a guild with the name ‘Golden Age’?”
“Golden Age?” Ye Ci furrowed her eyebrows. It was a name that she knew well. The Golden Age guild was one of the largest and strongest guild in the online gaming world that was backed by several large corporations. The guild would enter a game, and disrupt the in-game economy in a short period of time. The guild would then try its best to ruin the gaming experience of the game’s players and quit when they have made enough money off the game.
The guild was seen as locusts by players and developers alike, and was often employed by companies to sabotage the games of their competitors.
“What? They’re moving into Fate?” Ye Ci narrowed her eyes. She knew that the coming of Golden Age is inevitable. After all, Fate suffered from the arrival of the guild as well in her past life. Even a game as popular as Fate was almost brought down by Golden Age. This led to the resignation of some Fate’s main developers, paving the way for Wang Jiangnan to rise as the main developer of Fate. He was able to revive the dying game and brought Fate to a new height. This was why Wang Jiangnan was crowned as the Father of Fate.
This incident was not written into the history of Fate, and remained unknown to the players who joined the game later. However, as a player who has been playing the game since its beginning, Ye Ci not ignorant of such an incident.
Ye Ci was so used to her peaceful days that she had even forgotten about the coming of Golden Age guild. If she was unable to prepare for such a situation, disaster would surely follow.
Bai Mo, of course, did not know of that particular incident was he was not a reincarnator. Despite that, he knew that Golden Age would bring trouble to Fate.
“Yup. Rumors had it that they’re moving into Fate.” Bai Mo furrowed his eyebrows, “I wonder what will happen to Fate when those locusts arrive.”
Ye Ci pursed her lips and remained silent. If she did not change how things progress in Fate, things would still turn out as they did in her past life.
“By the way, do you know how many members does Golden Age have?”
“I don’t know their exact numbers, but I can tell you that there’s a lot of them. They’ve brought down quite a number of VRMMORPGs with their sheer numbers.” Ye Ci was telling the truth. She could not even remember the exact number of Golden Age’s members, but their numbers were vast.
“There’s about 10 million of them.” Bai Mo visibly gulped, “That’s like 1% of the current player population of Fate.”
“Wow… That’s quite a lot of them.”
“I wonder which continent will they join,” Bai Mo creased his eyebrows, “I sure hope they don’t come to the Eastern Continent. If they do, we’re screwed.”
Ye Ci narrowed her eyes and smiled, “If I have 10 million members, I’ll divide into four separate groups, which will join all four continents at once. With that, I can take all the continents out in one go.”
Bai Mo paled at the thought, “Hey, don’t jinx it!”
Ye Ci grimaced at Bai Mo. She was telling the truth. It was what Golden Age did to Fate in her past life. The guild sent its members to all four continents, and began destroying the economy and order in all the continents. Before long, the game began to collapse. She could still how the storm swept away the weaker groups, and many small investors went bankrupt, leading to many cases of suicide.
“Bai Mo, from now on, we have to divide a larger share of the earnings from our sponsored dungeon clearing to the guild.” said Ye Ci in a low voice.
“Huh?” Bai Mo was momentarily stunned, “A lot of our members will be dissatisfied with this arrangement.”
“They’ll have to bear with it. We need to be prepared for Golden Age.” Ye Ci’s heart sank. She was one of the victims of the incident stirred up by Golden Age. It was a painful memory that left a lasting mark in her heart even after her reincarnation.
Of course, it was impossible for her to take Golden Age on alone. However, she was confident in her strength to take care of the people the dearest to her. But… What can I do to to protect them?
Bai Mo’s heart sank when he heard Ye Ci’s words, “Are you telling me that they will definitely come to the Eastern Continent?”
“That’s what I said. If I’m the leader of Golden Age, I will never do something as stupid as pouring in all my manpower into a single continent. That will make me the enemy of the entire player population of Fate.” Ye Ci stared at Bai Mo. She was certain that Bai Mo could understand the meaning behind her words.
Bai Mo took in a sharp breath, “You’re telling me that…”
“I’m sure that all the major guilds have realised such a problem as well, and I’m sure that they’ve begun to prepare for the worst as well.” Ye Ci grimaced.
“But saving up on in-game currency will not help in this situation,” Bai Mo shook his head, “Golden Age will definitely bring in huge amounts of money when they enter the game. Our in-game currency will be rendered worthless.”
“Of course! We can’t rely on the in-game currency in this situation! Everybody knows that. However…” Ye Ci took in a deep breath, “We can stock up on items.”
“What sort of items?”
“We’ll just have to take our chances. There’s a lot of items and materials in the game. One of us would get lucky.” Ye Ci smiled at Bai Mo. It was not the time to reveal the key to weather the storm that was Golden Age, as doing so would reveal her identity as a reincarnator. Besides, Bai Mo was someone who was very close to her, and she did not wish to place him in danger.
Bai Mo’s worries were washed away by Ye Ci’s smile. Ever since they were young, as long as such a smile appeared on Ye Ci’s face, it meant that everything was under control.
Despite his occasional doubts, Bai Mo would still choose to trust in Ye Ci. This was his way of showing his support and understanding to Ye Ci.