“There’s a Machine Trap 27 degrees to your left with the radius of 7 yards, go around it.” Fleeting Time advanced carefully while relaying vital information to Ye Ci, who was following after him.
With Fleeting Time’s instructions, Ye Ci was able to avoid the trap.
“There’s another one 15 degrees to your left with a 10 yards radius. There’s also a trap with a 10 yards radius 17 degrees to your right. You can avoid those traps by going between them, but you have to be careful, the soil is loose and you risk triggering the trap.” Fleeting Time was able to analyse the situation clearly and relayed it to Ye Ci as he scouted ahead.
Even if Fleeting Time was a Western Continent player, Ye Ci had no choice but to trust the man unconditionally due to their circumstances. It was not an easy task, but after spending four hours with Fleeting Time, Ye Ci realised that it was not hard to work with the man. He was a nuisance to her most of the time, but he was a trustworthy teammate in exploring a dungeon.
“There’s a mechanical dog in front of us. Let’s wait until it passes.” the duo encountered a mechanical dog right when they entered Vo’sok after traversing through roads that were filled with traps.
After untold years of wear and tear, the dog’s metal body was covered with rust, and every movement made by the mechanical dog was accompanied by the shrill sound of grinding metal parts. However, the red glow in the dog’s eyes was a sign that it still retained its function.
Goblin Engineering was superior to the Engineering techniques that could be learned by players. It was rare for players to be able to produce machines that could simulate living animals. Of course, creating machines such as mechanical dogs and machines in humanoid form was impossible for players. Despite its appearance, the mechanical dog was as nimble as a regular hound. It roamed the streets in an irregular pattern, occasionally sniffing the scent in the air. Ye Ci might have mistaken the mechanical dog for a real dog if not for the metallic noises being released as a result of lack of maintenance.
The name of the dog was not red in color, but yellow instead. This meant that the mechanical dog was neutral, and would not attack Ye Ci and Fleeting Time unless it was attacked first.
However, humans would always overlook tiny details due to what they perceive as common sense, and therefore met with unexpected failures. When Ye Ci and Fleeting Time walked past the mechanical dog, thinking that it was a mere neutral monster, the dog pounced on the duo.
The dog’s attack posed not much of the threat to Ye Ci and Fleeting Time, but it’s sharp and loud bark attracted the attention of the Goblins and other mechanical dogs that were in the vicinity.
“Goddamnit! So these dogs are the trigger for those neutral monsters!” Ye Ci gritted her teeth. The mechanical dog was able to get within 8 yards of the duo with its high speed, which meant that Ye Ci and Fleeting Time were unable to engage their foes with ranged attacks. They were forced to summon their pets in an attempt to defeat the mechanical dog.
When the mechanical dog had only 10% of its HP left, Ye Ci backed away and dashed at the direction of the incoming enemies, planting Frost and Icy traps in their path. Fleeting Time was able to take out the mechanical dog with the help of Ol’ Four and Little Five by the time Ye Ci was done setting up the traps. The advancing Goblins and mechanical dogs were frozen solid when they stepped on Ye Ci’s traps.
Fleeting Time was already on the move before his foes were even frozen. He cast Hunter’s Mark on one of the enemies, marking it as the target of the duo. As Ye Ci attracted the aggro of the marked Goblin, Fleeting Time charged ahead and placed his traps as well.
The duo shared a similar combat style even if they had never been part of the same party before.. They were able to cooperate well with each other before long, which improved their effectiveness in clearing the monsters. Only 8 of the 20 enemies remained. “Let’s just take them all out with Multi Arrows. There’s only 8 of them left, and they’re only Elite monsters. There shouldn’t be a problem.”
Ye Ci had the same thought as well. She directed Ol’ Four forward to attract the aggro of the monsters and cast Rain of Arrows on the enemies before firing Multi Arrows with Fleeting Time.
The Rain of Arrows, which was followed up by two Multi Arrows released by two high leveled Hunters were enough to defeat a huge number of Elite monsters. With their combined firepower and strong pets, Ye Ci and Fleeting Time were able to dispatch their opponents before they could even get within attack range.
The battle lasted for 3 minutes and 47 seconds, which resulted in complete annihilation of 22 lvl60 Elite monsters.
Fleeting Time sat on the ground to replenish his mana after the battle. Due to her Strength Conservation, Ye Ci had no need of replenishing her mana, but being in the Western Continent meant that her stamina drain was significantly higher. This was why she had to take frequent rests during her stay in the Western Continent. Ol’ Four walked up to Ye Ci, wacking its tail as it began pestering Ye Ci for food. When Ye Ci threw a piece of roasted meat at Ol’ Four, the beast snatched the meat from midair and stared at Little Five provocatively.
Little Five creaked as it flew in circles around Fleeting Time. It was apparent that the bat was enraged, and that it would definitely attack Ol’ Four if they were not part of the same party. Little Five could only complain his grievances to its master, hoping that its master would do it justice. Fleeting Time patted Little Five on its head and threw it a piece of roasted meat as well.
This was the first time Ye Ci had the opportunity to observe Fleeting Time’s pet at such a close distance. Little Five was a huge bat with dark red fur. With an eight yards long wingspan, a pair of gleaming eyes, and strang claws, the bat was something that should not be trifled with. However, at that moment, the bat was like a child that was throwing a tantrum.
“Your bat doesn’t seem like an ordinary bat.” observed Ye Ci. Even an Elite bat would not be as fearsome as Fleeting Time’s bat. It was very obvious that Little Five was an Epic-tier life form, “Is it an Epic-tier pet?”
“Yup. I ran into it in the Togo Canyon, and was almost killed by it.” said Fleeting Time as he cast a sideways glance at Ol’ Four, “Your T-rex is no ordinary T-rex as well. Is it an Epic-tier monster too?”
“Yup. I almost died as well in the process of capturing him.” Ye Ci nodded with a smile. There was a lot of things that two Hunters could talk about, including their combat strategy, skill combos, equipment, weapons, and pets.
“I can imagine that.” Fleeting Time could understand the hardship suffered by Ye Ci. It was not easy to acquire an Epic-tier pet, and every Hunter who had managed to acquire one would usually suffer a lot of hardships, “What’s the name of your pet.”
“Ol’ Four.” Ye Ci was no longer as guarded against Fleeting Time. She was even in a good mood, “How about yours?”
“Why such a name?” Ye Ci was curious.
“I’m the boss, so I should be number one, and ‘Little Two’ was just awful, and ‘Little Three’ is just too immoral, so the name of my pets started with ‘Little Four’, and ‘Little Five’ is my second pet, which is why he got the name.” Fleeting Time was very proud of his pet’s naming system, “How about you? Why did you name your pet ‘Ol’ Four’?”
Ye Ci pursed her lips. She was reluctant to answer the question. So someone who is as bad at naming as I am exists in this word.
“How many pets do you have?” Fleeting Time stared at Ye Ci with a smile on his face.
“Don’t tell me that.. Your first pet is called ‘Ol’ Three’?”
“How do you know?” Ye Ci was surprised. Is the name that easy to guess?
“Because you’re the boss, which places you as ‘one’, and Ol’ Two is a certain male organ, which meant that your only viable choice is to start with Ol’ Three, and this dinosaur right here is Ol’ Four.” Fleeting Time chuckled, “Little Gongzi, I’ve never expected you to use a similar naming system. You can say that it’s just like different tunes played with equal skill!”
“You mean we’re both bad at naming our pets…” Ye Ci mumbled. This guy is so shameless… How can he describe something as embarrassing like that into something dignified? I don’t think there’s somebody as shameless as he is.
After a moment’s of rest and making sure that Ol’ Four and Little Five were fed, the duo continued their exploration.
They no longer needed to go into stealth as they had already discovered the trigger to the neutral monsters. Vo’sok was once a beautiful city full of plants and life, but the only things remaining in the city were dead trees and wilted flowers. Even the river had dried up, and the bone remains of fishes that had once inhabited the river could be seen on the cracked riverbed. One could easily imagine the former glory of Vo’sok. Ye Ci and Fleeting Time were free to walk around the Goblins when there were no mechanical dogs around. The Goblins in the city were dull and sluggish. There was not even a sign of vigor in their eyes.
The duo advanced ahead carefully, constantly taking note of their surroundings. They would take out any mechanical dogs that appeared, before their barks could attract any monsters nearby. When the two finally stopped for a short rest, it was time for dinner.
“What? You’re not logging off to have dinner?” asked Fleeting Time when he noticed that Ye Ci showed no intention of logging out of the game.
“Nope.” Ye Ci shook her head, “This quest is too time sensitive. I’ve even connected nutrient packs to my gaming cabin. I won’t be logging off before I complete this quest unless something serious happens.” she stared at Fleeting Time, even if I’m not going to go offline for the sake of completing this quest, I can’t expect him to stay online with me, can I? My supplies were replenished anyways, “Why don’t you go have you meal? I promise I’ll remain in the dungeon.”
Fleeting Time was about to voice his mind, but decided against it. “Alright. I’ll go offline. Be careful and take note of your surroundings when you’re in the dungeon alone.”
“I will.” even if they were enemies, Ye Ci accepted Fleeting Time’s parting advice. After all, she would definitely suffer from a heavy penalty if she died in the dungeon. Even respawning would be a problem for her.
Fleeting Time logged out of the game after Ye Ci nodded her affirmation.
Ye Ci decided to head deeper into the city of Vo’sok after replenishing her Stamina. Despite the significant number of Goblin roaming aimlessly at the outskirts of the Vo’sok, Ye Ci did not encounter any Goblins within the city itself while walking around the streets with the Goblin Compass in hand. The city was filled with the stench of rotting plants and corrupted soil, but Ye Ci could still see the occasional wild flowers in secluded corners of the city.
This made the atmosphere of Vo’sok even more sorrowful to Ye Ci. Despite her lack of knowledge in the Ancient Goblin language, Ye Ci was able to discern the different shops in the city through the symbols drawn on their signs, which were used in every continents.
Since Vo’sok used to be a bustling city, these shops must be filled with goods.
With that thought in mind, Ye Ci walked into one of the shops. The shop was in a state of mess. Ye Ci could find no valuables after making her round through the shop. Most of the objects in the shop had already fallen into disrepair since the fall of Vo’sok. Despite the situation, Ye Ci refused to give up hope.
She was able to find some flawless gems in one of the shops, which were very valuable in the market. This shall be the payment for my hard work in the last few days. She continued her exploration after placing the gems into her inventory.
Right at that moment, the Goblin Compass announced in a sharp voice, “Danger ahead! Danger ahead, 45 degrees to the left!”
Ye Ci immediately dismissed Ol’ Four and entered stealth. She snuck into an abandoned house through an open window. She peeked at the direction indicated by the Goblin Compass. Her sights laid on a small alley, but there was no enemies in sight.
After a short minute of waiting in silence, Ye Ci could hear of footsteps approaching her position. The footsteps were muffled, but Ye Ci could tell that there was her enemies were travelling in a large group.
“Little Gongzi, where are you right now?” Ye Ci received a message from Fleeting Time just as she hid back into the house.
 Little two (小二) is literally “waiter” in mandarin, so… It doesn’t really sound nice. Imagine people calling your pet “Waiter!!!” while “Little three” (小三) means homewrecker in mandarin. Like the third person in a relationship.
“Look at the map.” Since when did he come online? I didn’t even notice his presence.
“I’m on the rooftop across the street. The map says that you’re supposed to be nearby, but why can’t I see you?” Fleeting Time was baffled. His map indicated that Ye Ci was in a house just across the street, but she was nowhere in sight.
Ye Ci adjusted a gaze to the houses in front of her, and was quick to spot Fleeting Time hiding in one of the houses that were in ruins, “I’m hiding underneath a window. The Goblin Compass warned me of an incoming danger 45 degrees to my left, and I heard the footsteps as well, but I can’t see anything. Can you have a look around?”
Fleeting Time spotted Ye Ci, and cast his glance at the direction she provided. He spotted a large groups of Orcs marching down the streets.
“What do you see?”
“A group of Orcish soldiers.” Fleeting Time was already in stealthas well, “There’s around 50 of them. They’re all Elite monsters that are above lvl60, and it seems that their aggro is linked. If we alerted even one of them, the entire group will surely come after us.”
“Are there any mechanical dogs around?” Ye Ci was very mindful about the mechanical dogs after their first encounter. A mechanical dog had the senses of a real hound, and could spot their presence easily. If we’re spotted by one of the mechanical dogs, only certain death awaits.
“There’s none of them in sight yet,” observed Fleeting Time, “Don’t move, and don’t make a sound. We should be safe as long as there are no Bloodthirsty Undeads around.”
Every race in Fate had their own specialty. Elves were masters of stealth, while Humans had high levels of Intelligence. Undeads, on the other hand, had very high levels of Perception.
Even if they were classified as monsters, the Bloodthirsty Undead were still part of the Undead race. They shared the same high Perception possessed by the Undead race, and could easily detect the scent of intruders… Especially that of the living…
Ye Ci hid herself below the window as the Corrupted Orcs approached her position and held her breath in an attempt to conceal her presence.
Fleeting Time, on the other hand, hid himself behind the vines and growths surrounding the house and observed the Orcish troops. Unlike the monsters that roamed the Bloody WIlderness in tattered hide clothing, the Orcs wore shining armor and were armed with gleaming weapons. They marched forward, presenting an awe-inspiring sight to any onlookers. It was apparent that the Orcs were way superior than the Orcs in the Bloody Wilderness.
An Orcish soldier with even higher level followed behind his kinsmen, riding on the back of a blue Kodo Beast. The Orc’s helm was decorated by two long feathers, and it was armed to the teeth. Fleeting Time cast Detection on the Orc to have a clear read on its stats.
Orcish Captain (Elite): lvl63, HP: 500,000/500,000
Fleeting Time analysed the situation for Ye Ci as he knew that she could not spot the orcs from her position, “There’s a captain at the back of the group. He’s a lvl63 Elite monster with 500,000 HP.”
“That’s insane.” Ye Ci rolled her eyes. Even when the Orc’s hitpoints was a small matter to them, it was still a lvl63 Elite monster. It was not easy to deal with the Orcish Captain especially so many of its subordinates around.
“There’s no way we can take them on. Let’s wait for them to pass.” said Fleeting Time.
The Orcish troops stopped abruptly when they passed between the Duo. The Orcs at the front of the formation began sniffing the air, and spoke in the Orcish language that was not known by Fleeting Time, “What are they talking about? Have they discovered our presence?”
Ye Ci, who understood Orcish, listened in on the conversation. What was being discussed by the Orcs was not favourable to the duo.
“It’s bad. They’ve discovered the scent of wild beasts on the streets. It must’ve been left by Ol’ Four.”
Orcs were natural born hunters. Unlike Elves, the Orcs were very good in tracking down their preys, which was why they were very sensitive to the scent of beasts.
“You’ve not entered combat yet. Log out of the game now.” said Fleeting Time. A player could go offline in-game as long as he or she was not engaged in combat. And if the party was not disbanded, the player would still remain in his or her original position when he or she log back into the game, “Log back in 30 minutes later.”
“Okay.” Ye Ci was out of ideas. The scent of Ol’ Four was lingering on her body. If the situation dragged on, the Orcish Soldiers would definitely discover her location. The only way for her to overcome the situation was to log out of the game.
Fleeting Time continued to hide as Ye Ci’s icon turned grey. He did not summon Little Five after logging out of the game moments ago, which meant that he was safe from detection. He would be safe as long as he remained hidden.
With Ye Ci offline, the Orcs immediately lost the source of the scent. This caused the confusion among their ranks. After spending some moments sniffing the air, the orcs reported back to their captain, who did not appear to be interested in the matter. After waving his hand dismissively and speaking in a language that Fleeting Time could not understand, the Orcish captain ordered his men to continue their march.
*clack clack clack*
The Orcish soldiers immediately returned into formation after receiving the order from their captain, and the entire group of Orcs resumed their march down the streets.
Fleeting Time let out a sigh of relief after the Orcs were a safe distance away. That was too close! If Gongzi You did not go offline in time, they would’ve discovered the both of us.
With the Orcs troops gone, the street was once again quiet and devoid of life. After making sure that there was no signs of enemies, Fleeting Time emerged from his hiding spot and headed over to Ye Ci’s last location.
He heard a raspy voice just as he entered the house, “Hey, outsider, what are you doing here?”
Ye Ci took the opportunity to find some food in the kitchen after logging off the game. Even when the nutrient pack connected to the cabins could provide Ye Ci with what her body needed, it did little to satiate her desire for good food.
When Ye Ci logged back into the game exactly 30 minutes later, the first thing she saw was a huge green face that was staring right at her. A startled Ye Ci then jumped backwards and drew her sword.
“Wah! Why did someone appear out of nowhere? You almost scared me to death!” shouted a voice.
It was a Goblin. A normal looking Goblin (judging by Goblin standards, of course). The Goblin’s face appeared to huge as he was standing right in front of Ye Ci’s spawn point.
“She’s a friend of mine.” said Fleeting Time, who was standing behind the Goblin, with a smile. He then sent a message to Ye Ci through the party chat, “I ran into him just now. Unlike the other NPCs, this little guy is actually friendly, and his mental state is quite normal compared to the other Goblins.”
“Ahh, you’re an Elf as well.” the Goblin began studying Ye Ci with a wide grin on his face, “Hello there, I’m Nikky!”
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Gongzi You.” Ye Ci sheathed her sword after listening to Fleeting Time’s explanation and bowed to Nikky as a sign of respect.
“Hah! So this is the companion that you’ve been talking about, right? So does it mean that you can help me out now?” Nikky nodded at Ye Ci, and began talking with Fleeting Time.
“Of course. It’s not a problem at all.” replied Fleeting Time and he began his explanation to Ye Ci through the party channel, “I ran into him just now, and he gave me a quest. He wanted me to go to the Goblin Palace Courtyard and retrieve a parcel for him. I accepted the quest as we’re headed to that place. Do you have any problems with it?”
“None at all. We’re heading to the palace anyways.” Ye Ci nodded. She was determined to complete any side quests offered by the dungeon.
Nikky happily handed the duo two red stones when he received the reply from Fleeting Time, “These are power cores used by Goblin Tanks. I’m sure you know that we Goblins are good in Engineering, and this is also why Vo’sok ended up like this. My parcel is in the palace courtyard, but it is occupied by a large number of Orcs and Undeads. Take these power cores to the building at the northwest of the palace courtyard. There’s a lot of Goblin Tanks parked in that place. Those dumb Orcs and Undeads don’t know how to operate the tanks, so they were left unused for a long time. They don’t know that power cores are needed to activate the tanks.”
Nikky was a talkative Goblin. After pestering Ye Ci and Fleeting Time with a bunch of nonsense, he finally went to the main point, “There are several types of Goblin Tanks. Some can be used for defence, some have high firepower, while some are used for repairs. Make your choice wisely and you’ll be able to defeat the Orcs and the Undead in the Goblin Palace Courtyard.”
When Ye Ci and Fleeting Time saw the row of tanks, they started a discussion about which ones to pick.
“The defensive models will definitely have higher defence values and HP. We will be sacrificing on firepower. Then again, if we don’t have one that is capable of defence, we won’t last long.” said Ye Ci as she stood between an offensive tank and a defensive tank.
“Grab an offensive one. I’ll go repair yours with a repair tank.” said Fleeting Time as he inserted his power core into one of the repair tanks.
Ye Ci sighed, having one less member in a party is really putting us in a disadvantage. But if I go with the defensive model, we won’t have much of a damage output. I guess I’ll go with the offensive tank. She boarded her tank after inserting the power core.
Machines of war were fairly rare in Fate during the early stages of the game. However, in the later stages of the game, machines such as tanks, catapults, cannons and even planes would be introduced into the game. Players were able to enjoy themselves by operating such machines, but the learning curve of operating the machines was considered high. Machines found during Fate’s earlier stages were easier to operate in comparison. With the experiences she had in her past life, Ye Ci had no problem operating her tank. Fleeting Time, on the other hand, was a first timer. Despite that, he was able to familiarize himself with his repair tank quickly after a few tries.
The duo then charged into the heart of the Goblin Palace Courtyard
An awe-inspiring sight awaited Ye Ci and Fleeting Time as they entered the courtyard. The courtyard was filled with a vast number of Undeads and Orcs. The duo was able to their opponent by casting Detection. Even when the Undeads and Orcs were not Elite monsters and were at a lower level, they could still overwhelm Ye Ci and Fleeting Time with sheer numbers.
“Heh, this is exciting.” said Fleeting Time as he narrowed his eyes. There was a slight smile on his lips. It was the expression usually worn by Fleeting Time when his interest was piqued.
Ye Ci took in a deep breath, “I’ll start with a corner to avoid attracting the attention of the entire horde. Let’s pick some of them off first.”
Fleeting Time nodded his agreement. Being careful was the right choice when the capabilities of their enemies remained unknown.
Ye Ci began clearing away the monsters from one corner of the courtyard. The offensive tank had three skills which included a single target attack, a medium AOE attack, and a large AOE attack. The large AOE attack dealed the highest amount of damage in a very large area, but it also had the longest cooldown. While having a lower damage value, the single target attack cooldown was almost instantaneous. Ye Ci began sniping at the odd stragglers with the single target ability, which was able to terminate her Undead and Orcish opponent with one hit despite its lower damage.
When Ye Ci’s single target attacks attracted the attention of a larger group, she began firing the AOE abilities of the tank at the approaching targets. Despite its awesome firepower, the offensive tank had a low defence value. Ye Ci’s tank would have been destroyed if not for Fleeting Time’s repair tank.
Ye Ci came to a sudden realisation 5 minutes into the battle. She was able to stack the tank’s attacks into hit combos, and a high combo rating would be able to reduce the cooldown of her tank’s AOE attacks. Other than that, her tank was also able to charge up a certain amount of energy when the hit combo was stacked up. When the energy gauge was fully charged, Ye Ci’s tank would release an energy wave that stuns enemies within a 50 yards radius of her tank for 10 seconds.
Ye Ci was overjoyed by her discovery. She was able to operate her tank better with each passing moment, dishing out damage to her enemies with ruthless efficiency. Before long, the entire courtyard was filled with the corpses of Undead and Orcs. 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2018 So Far