Chapter 233 A Deal
Fleeting Time was never someone who would play by the rules, and Absalom was already used to such a fact after their many years of friendship. Even that, it did not necessarily mean that Absalom knew what Fleeting Time was up to. Unlike Fleeting Time who was overly carefree, Absalom preferred to follow a prescribed routine. If they were not best friends who know each other well, Absalom would definitely have been driven mad by Fleeting Time.
“I’m in a 100-player Elite difficulty dungeon right now! Just what the heck are you up two? How can you expect me to go to a random set of coordinates just like that? I’m the one in command!” Absalom refused to follow the instruction of Fleeting Time. The party had just entered the dungeon, and he knew that it was raining in the Bloody Wilderness. A Sorcerer like him would definitely suffer from the discomfort of being soaked by the rain if he went to the map.
“Are you the only capable commander in Genesis?” Absalom’s justification of his decision was not even an excuse to Fleeting Time.
“No! No way! It’s raining over there! I’m not going!” Absalom shook his head.
“Are you not curious at all about this sudden request?” Absalom had a fatal weakness: His curiosity. He was able to hide it well from outsiders, but it was a fact that was known by the people who were close to him. A person with a strong sense of curiosity could easily be lured, which was why Absalom easily fell for Fleeting Time’s trick.
Absalom’s curiosity that was originally well hidden was amplified by Fleeting Time, “Will you tell me even if I don’t go there?” asked Absalom despite knowing that it was very unlikely that he would receive and answer from Fleeting Time.
Fleeting Time’s reaction was something that Absalom did not expect. He answered Absalom’s question without beating around the bush.
“Somebody wants to see you.”
“Who is that?”
There were times when Absalom was afraid of Fleeting Time. He was a person who could shock someone to death with words alone, and had never taken a person’s capacity to cope with his words into consideration when he spoke. That was how he rejected the advances from White Fairytale. He had never thought that his words might be hurtful to the girl. The same thing could be said when he delivered the shocking news about Gongzi You to Absalom.
Absalom almost choked when he heard the name, “Who?”
“Gongzi You.” repeated Fleeting Time. He was in a good mood at that moment.
“You mean the Gongzi You of the Eastern Continent? The Gongzi You who you’re always teasing? The Gongzi You who killed a lot our guys during our invasion of the Eastern Continent?” Absalom was alarmed.
“Is there any other Gongzi You in the game?” Fleeting Time could imagine Absalom’s shocked face. His mental fortitude is so weak! It’s just Gongzi You, not the end of the world…
“H-how did she even get here? Is she in the Bloody Wilderness?” despite his surprise, Absalom was the leader of a million-player guild. He was able to quickly readjust his state of mine, “Is she here as a scout? I’ll contact the leaders of the other guilds…”
“It’s not as complicated as you think. She’s just here to see you.” Fleeting Time cast a sideway glance at Ye Ci and smiled. His calm voice was a reassurance to Absalom.
“It’s not an invasion by the Eastern Continent?”
“Why is she looking for me? You should be the one that she wants to talk to. I’m a married man!” Absalom began cracking a joke after making sure that the Western Continent was safe, “I’m not as hardcore as you. I can’t handle queens.”
With Fleeting Time at a place far, far way, Absalom finally found the courage to make fun of the man without fear of repercussions.
Fleeting Time narrowed his eyes and spoke with warning clear in his tone, “You seem to have a bad memory. I think you need some help with that.”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Absalom immediately offered his apology, “I’m just curious alright! You’re the one who had a lot of interaction with her! I’ve only met her once during the Dragon Dance Competition last year! What does she, a solo player from a hostile continent, want from me? Is she here for sightseeing? Is she in need for a tour guide? Aren’t you the better choice for that? Why is she looking for me?”
“Mithril.” said Fleeting Time in a soft voice.
Absalom was stunned into silence by the word. The only thing in his mind was the word “mithril”.
“Did she tell you something about Mithril?” Absalom was able to calm his emotions after a long moment.
Fleeting Time remained silent. It was apparent that anybody who knew about the true value of Mithril would be interested in it. Absalom understood the meaning behind Fleeting Time’s words, “How many does she have with her?” he asked with a sigh.
“I don’t know.” said Fleeting Time after casting a glance at Ye Ci.
“What? You don’t know?”
“Yup, I really don’t.” Fleeting Time shrugged. He knew nothing about the mithril. He was merely a messenger, and had nothing to do with the business between Ye Ci and Absalom.
“You’re not even sure if she’s bullshitting you!” Absalom was almost driven mad by Fleeting Time, “How could you trust her just like that? What if she’s just trying to keep us distracted?”
“Fine, don’t come then.” Fleeting Time knew that Absalom had a point, but he was still being too petty. Before Absalom could even react, Fleeting Time cut off their voice connection and blocked him from his friend list. He knew that Absalom would be anxious when he was not able to contact Fleeting Time.
As Fleeting Time had expected, Absalom became restless after their contact was severed. He was as agitated as a cat on a hot tin roof. Mithril… Mithril… Even when the situation in the Bloody Wilderness remained unknown, Absalom was almost driven mad by the word “Mithril”.
There were players who might not know about the wonders Mithril, but Absalom was definitely not one of them. The reason was simple: Absalom had a Mithril Shirt which increased his magical damage significantly when equipped. He had always thought that the Mithril Shirt was an extremely rare item despite its Green quality. However, his perspective was entirely changed when his guild acquired its first piece of Mithril ore.
Absalom’s instinct as a veteran professional player told him that his Mithril Shirt would not be the only one in the game. The appearance of a Mithril ore meant that recipes for Mithril items would soon appear. If we can equip every player in Genesis with a Mithril Shirt…
Reality, however, did not go according to Absalom’s expectations. Mithril ores had a very low drop rate, which means that even when the guild could acquire recipes for Mithril equipment, the supply of Mithril would not be enough to equip every member of the guild. Even a million-player guild like Genesis was able to acquire not more than 40 pieces of Mithril since the launching of the game. Many of the Mithril acquired by the guild were of low quality, which was not suitable for the production of high grade equipment.
In a situation like this, Absalom would of course be excited when Mithril was mentioned despite the uncertainties. The excitement distracted Absalom from effectively commanding the dungeon clearing party. Even if Gongzi You was a player from a hostile continent, even if her intentions were unknown, and even he did not know what Fleeting Time was up to… Absalom decided to head to the Bloody Wilderness.
Absalom was not worried about Gongzi You. He was the one who was in advantage in the Western Continent. However, he was worried about Fleeting Time’s reaction. Which side will he pick? From appearances alone, it’s impossible for him to be standing on Gongzi You’s side, but what if she’s able to trick him into helping her out?
He knew nothing about Gongzi You, and had only met the girl once. It was normal for him to harbor doubts against her character. Besides, as the leader of the large guild, Absalom had a responsibility towards the members of his guild. He would not jeopardize the benefit of his guild.
Not even a tiny bit.
“Daybreak Advent.” Absalom called out to the vice commander of the Elite Squadron.
“What is it, boss?” as a Priest, Daybreak Advent was not involved in clearing away the mobs. He was able to respond immediately when his name was called out by Absalom.
“Take over as the commander for today’s dungeon clearing.” said Absalom.
“Eh? I’ve not made any preparations for this.”even when the dungeon was already cleared multiple times by the guild, Daybreak Advent was still uncomfortable with taking command without prior preparations.
“Can’t you just improvise?” Absalom rolled his eyes, this guy’s OCD can be real annoying sometimes, “Get a Sorcerer to take my spot.”
“Where are you going?” As a person who knew Absalom for a long time, Daybreak Advent knew that he was not someone who would leave a dungeon without reason. Absalom would not abandon his party unless he had to deal with something very important. Daybreak Advent was nervous, did something happened? “What is it boss? Did something bad happened?”
“It’s nothing. Just take over from here, I’m going on a trip.” Absalom was someone who could keep a secret when it mattered the most. With Mithril involved, he was more careful than ever. He left the party before Daybreak Advent could respond.
The members of the Elite Squadron resumed their task at hand without making much of a fuss. Sour Apple, on the other hand, immediately sent a message to Absalom, “Honey, what is it? Why did you leave the dungeon? Did something big happened?”
“I’m not sure. This is why I’m going to find out. Carry on with clearing the dungeon, and keep this a secret.”
Even when Sour Apple could be said to be a troublemaker when it came to the matter between Fleeting Time and White Fairytale, she took affairs of the guild very seriously, “Alright, I understand.”
Absalom received another message from Fleeting Time just as he was about to leave for the Bloody Wilderness, “Say, I need you to get some arrows from the guild warehouse for me.”
“How many do you need?”
“About forty stacks of Black Feather Arrows.”
“Can you even hold that many in your inventory?” Absalom was puzzled. Hunters can only carry 20 stacks of arrow in their quiver at the current stage of the game, why is he asking for 40 stacks of them? Is he lighting a fire with them?
“Well, some of them are for Gongzi You.”
“W-what? Gongzi You is a player from a hostile continent…” Absalom almost coughed up blood.
“Aiya, we must have indiscriminate love in this peaceful society. Why must we be fighting each other all the time? Haven’t you heard of the saying ‘be courteous to the one who visits’? Don’t be so stingy!” the fires of anger raged in Absalom’s heart when he heard Fleeting Time’s words. That bastard! Has he been away from the presence of women for that long? Why is he having such a huge change in behavior because of a washboard? What does he mean by indiscriminate love? What peaceful society? What courtesy? Why have I never heard something like this from him before?
Doesn’t he always see Eastern Continent players as Kill Glory dispensers? What’s with him today?
“Fleeting Time, are you not feeling well?”
“Oh, by the way, bring along some Health Potions and Stamina Potions as well.” Fleeting Time continued on with his list of items, using Absalom as a delivery service.
“Are they for Gongzi You as well?”
“Hurry up, we’re waiting.” Fleeting Time ignored his question, and disconnected from the voice chat. Absalom coughed up more blood, just what the heck is this?
“You seem to be in a good mood.” observed Ye Ci.
“Indeed.” Fleeting Time could imagine Absalom’s expression. It was a shame that I can’t record it. He then cast a glance at Ye Ci, “What is it? Is Little Gongzi in a bad mood?”
“Nobody will be in a good mood if they’re caught.” Ye Ci was telling the truth. She was extremely upset for getting caught, especially by Fleeting Time.
“It’s debatable.” Fleeting Time shifted into a more comfortable position.
Ye Ci rolled her eyes at Fleeting Time. She felt that she did not have a common topic with this man. Their behaviors were simply too different. There was no way they could hold a conversation. Ye Ci’s clothing was starting to dry up, and the bonfire was a source of warmth in the chilly weather. She was even beginning to feel drowsy from the alcohol she had drank earlier on.
She leaned back against a boulder and slowly closed her eyes.
Fleeting Time was in an extremely good mood when he saw the calm expression on Ye Ci’s face. He sat up slowly and inched closer to Gongzi You. However, an icy cold short sword was pressed against his throat in the next second.
Fleeting Time raised his eyebrows as he stared at the short sword, and then at Gongzi You who still had her eyes closed, “Heh, what are you doing?” he asked with a chuckle.
“You’re 4 yards away from my dominant hand. I’m currently a lvl60 player, and a fatal blow from me can cause 200% damage on you. In other words… If you move, you die.” Ye Ci then opened her eyes slowly and smiled at Fleeting Time, “Do you want to try your luck?”
Fleeting Time shrugged, and returned to his original position, “I thought that you picked that spot at random… I’ve never actually expected that you’d be thinking so many steps ahead…”
“Well, it depends on who I am with at the moment.” Ye Ci sheathed her sword.
The smile remained on Fleeting Time’s face as he stared at Gongzi You.
The atmosphere slowly quieted down, and the two eventually drifted into sleep. There was not a single ounce of noise other than the occasional crackling of the bonfire. The storm raged on, but the cave was filled with warmth.
Ye Ci awakened to the sounds of incoming footsteps after an untold moment of time. She opened her eyes and glanced at Fleeting Time, who was still leaning lazily with his eyes closed, as if he was fast asleep. She then shifted her gaze to the mouth of the cave.
The visibility in the Bloody Wilderness was low due to the storm. Ye Ci could see an approaching silhouette through the raging rain.
Is it Absalom? Or is it somebody else?
“The person you want to see is here?” sighed Fleeting Time. It was as if he could see what was going on in Ye Ci’s mind.
Ye Ci remained silent as she stared at Fleeting Time.
Absalom’s footsteps drew closer, and he finally rushed into the cave.
As a character with cloth armor, Absalom suffered from all sorts of misery before he finally made his way into the cave. The man was drenched from head to toe, and his hair was completely disheveled. Water was dripping from Absalom as he stood in the cave.
No matter who he was, Absalom looked like a sorry figure.
“What the f*ck is wrong with this weather? Fleeting Time, don’t you know that a bad weather like this is not favourable for travel?” was the first thing he said when he entered the cave.
Fleeting Time narrowed his eyes at Absalom. He nodded with satisfaction after studying the appearance of Absalom, “Not bad. It’s slightly worse that what I expected.”
“Heh, you asshole…” before Absalom could finish his sentence, his eyes caught the form of a girl sitting in front of him.
Judging from the appearance of her character, the girl was no older than 20 years old. Her silvery long hair, pointed ears, amber eyes, and pale white skin gave her the appearance of a standard Elf. Despite her race, the girl retained an average look. However, the girl was surrounded by a brilliant aura that made her average-looking form intimidating. Her amber eyes were like two pools of water frozen by eyes, not showing fear nor interest.
Absalom could see the red glow surrounding the girl, an indicator that she was from a hostile continent. Even that, the could not detect even a hint of killing intent from the girl. She was giving off an air of calmness and serenity. With Fleeting Time showing no intention of introducing him to the girl, and the girl looking at him up and down, Absalom was slightly embarrassed. But as a born socializer, Absalom was unfazed. He took a seat and smiled at the girl, exposing his snow white teeht.
“Hello, I’m Absalom.”
Ye Ci stared at Absalom’s extended hand for a brief moment before shaking his hand lightly and spoke in a calm voice, “Gongzi You.”
“I’ve heard a lot about you.” Absalom inched closer to the bonfire and began drying his clothes. Fortunately for the man, players were not required to remove to their clothing to dry their clothes, “Are you here for sightseeing? If you are, I can arrange for a tour guide to show you around. I have to fulfill my responsibility as the host, you know?”
Ye Ci paid no heed to Absalom’s words, and responded with a smile. She was not a person with patience for superfluous words. “How many Mithril ores does Genesis have?” asked Ye Ci in a soft voice.
Absalom did not expect the straightforwardness from Ye Ci. He pursed his lips, and answered her question indirectly, “Oh, I have a bad memory. I’ll have to have a look at the guild warehouse when I get back.”
Ye Ci knew that Absalom would never expose such a vital information. Even if he might not have knowledge about the impact of Mithril to the game, there was no way the leader of the guild would offer up information about his guild to an outsider from a hostile continent. “Upwards Ho! has less than 10 pieces of Mithril. I think a million-player guild like Genesis will have at least dozens of them. But… I’m sure you won’t have more than 100 pieces of those ores.”
She’s not far off the mark. Despite his surprise, Absalom was able to maintain a neutral expression, Ahh.. I’ve forgot… Gongzi You is the Vice Leader of Upwards Ho!.” he said with a smile, “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll expose your secret?”
“That’s right, Little Gongzi. Absalom is an absolute loudmouth. He’s like a walking news channel. Whatever you say to him will be known to everybody.”
Ye Ci leaned forward and said with a smile, “I did it… Because I’m sure that you wouldn’t dare to another living soul about this.” confidence was written all over her face.
“Hah!” Absalom sneered coldly, is this girl crazy? What gave her the courage to act so arrogantly in front of me?, “Heh, Upwards Ho! is just a small, insignificant guild. What makes you think that I’m afraid of you?”
The response by Absalom was something that Ye Ci had expected. She paid no no heed to the provocation, and spoke up slowly, “What if I tell you that I have control over a Mithril ore vein?”
The smile immediately vanished from Absalom’s face. Try as he might to remain calm, Ye Ci could see the surprise in his eyes. Even Fleeting Time was beginning to take Gongzi You seriously. He stared at the girl, and narrowed his eyes, just how many secrets is she keeping?
“Do you think I’ll believe that?”
“It doesn’t matter.” Ye Ci raised her eyebrows, “Just imagine the possibilities… With the Mithril ore vein in our hands… We might be able to take Light Saint City in the near future.”
“Bah! Nonsense! So what if you have a Mithril ore vein? Do you think that we the Western Continent players are pushovers…”
Ye Ci spoke up before Absalom could finish his sentence, “Even without that shirt of yours?”
Absalom was stunned into silence. He had always thought that Gongzi You was just a naive little girl who was good in PVP and slightly arrogant due to her youth. He realised that he was wrong. She was, in truth, cunning and intelligent. So that was why she was staring at me when I first entered this cave.
This girl… Is someone who is hard to deal with…
Ye Ci then spoke in a soft voice, “Of course, I don’t have the capabilities to arm the entire Eastern Continent with the resources mined from my ore vein. So you’re actually right. The Eastern Continent still has a long way to go before we can invade the Light Saint City. We won’t have the strength to launch an invasion in the near future.” a bone-chilling smile then appeared on Ye Ci’s face, “But… I know a secret.”
Absalom was in a dilemma. He would fall for Gongzi You’s trap if he inquired about the secret, but he was curious about Ye Ci’s true intention at the same time.
“What sort of secret are you talking about?”
Ye Ci spoke in an even softer voice, “The Mithril ore vein in the Western Continent… I know where it is.”
Absalom’s heart clenched when. He found it hard to breath, and his face was a dark shade of red. It was apparent that he was deep in shock. Absalom took in a deep breath and cast a glance at Fleeting Time, but the man remained unfazed by Ye Ci’s words.
Absalom took in a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself down, “D-do you t-think that I’ll believe what you said? I can say the same thing as well!”
“You have the choice to doubt my words. But how do you think Golden Era will handle this news?”
“You’re threatening me.” Absalom glared at the girl in front of him.
“Indeed, I am.” Ye Ci was not even courteous with her reply. She knew that Upwards Ho! was not the only guild that would be affected by the arrival of Golden Era. It would have a more profound effect on a major guild like Genesis. A tall tree attracts the wind. Genesis was a large guild, and it was impossible for Golden Era to take them on right after they entered the game. However… Absalom knew that if Golden Era set its sights on Genesis, his guild would be in deep trouble nonetheless.
If Gongzi You is telling the truth.. If there’s also a Mithril ore vein in the Western Continent… If I’m able to control that ore vein… Doesn’t it mean that I’ll have an edge against Golden Era?
But… Why is Gongzi You telling me all that?
“So you’re here in the Western Continent to look for the ore vein?” Absalom found that he was not able to read Gongzi You’s intention. He was wary of how cunning she could actually be.
“Do you think that I’m dumb? Why would I come here alone to look for an ore vein? Even if I can find the ore vein, how do you expect me to mine the Mithril? Even if I somehow managed to do it, how am I going to transport them back?” Ye Ci rolled her eyes at Absalom’s question.
Fleeting Time, who was silent throughout the conversion, spoke up “Come on, Little Gongzi. Stop beating around the bush… Tell us what you’re really up to.” Absalom could see the gleeful smile on Fleeting Time’s face, and the burning passion in his eyes that he had never seen before.
“Let’s make a deal.” Ye Ci turned around to face Fleeting Time, but her words were meant for Absalom. A bright and beautiful smile lit up her face.
“What sort of deal?”
“What do you think of forming an alliance after Golden Era enters the game?” said Ye Ci with a smile, and a captivating confidence in her expression, “We’ll sign the agreement at the Middle Continent. I’ll wait for you people there. And as a show of good faith, I will tell you the location of the Mithril ore vein in the Western Continent.”
Even when Absalom knew that Gongzi You would never answer his question, he could not hold back his urge to ask out loud, “How do you know about the ore vein’s location?”
“It has nothing to do with you. You’re only here to make a choice. You can agree to an alliance, or you can reject my proposal. I’m fine with whatever choice you make.”
Absalom remained silent for a long moment before finally letting out a long breath, “Gongzi You, why are you forming an alliance with us? We’re not even from the same continent. If I’m not mistaken, you have a rather good relationship with Wolf Pack. Why don’t you talk to Sir Ditty instead?”
“That is exactly why I did not approach them. Besides, even if we’re allies with Wolf Pack, we’ll still be expanding our own resources and existing manpower. But you.. You can grant us access to the resources available in the Western Continent. This means that we’ll have more manpower…” and the smile disappeared from Ye Ci’s face, “Which grants us more strength in our fight against Golden Era.”
Ye Ci was sincere when she offered her logical answer, and Absalom knew that he would make the same choice if he was in her position, “Do you have something against Golden Era?”
“Then why are you…”
“We all know why Golden Era is coming to Fate.” Ye Ci sighed, “To be frank with you, I’m a professional player, and I’ve invested everything I have into this game.Golden Era is here to bring Fate down. Even if Upwards Ho! is a small guild, do you think that we won’t be affected by their actions? If Excellent Era have their way, my efforts will be in vain. This is something I want to avoid. And since I happen to know the secret about the Mithril ore vein, I’m going to put it to good use. I plan to control those ore veins before the arrival of Golden Era. If we’re able to contain their influence and buy enough time, I’m sure the Glory Corporation will think of something to put a stop to the fiasco. This is why I’m looking for you.”
“So you’re dragging us onto the same boat for your own survival?” Absalom laughed. This girl is not as simple as I think she is, “I’m impressed.”
“Are you not interested? Let me tell you something, Absalom. A deal can only be made when both parties involved can gain something out of it. If it benefits only me, there’s no way you’ll agree to it. You’re not an idiot.” Ye Ci narrowed her eyes. She knew that she was very close in successfully persuading the man.
A bright grin appeared on Fleeting Time’s face as he stared at Ye Ci.
This girl… She’s exactly the type of girl I like..