“Why are there burn marks in this place?” Ye Ci lifted her head once again and stared at the scorched surface of the wall.
“There must be some sort of trap somewhere, but with how things are looking, it’s been here for for a long time.”
“That doesn’t mean that it’s not functioning.” said Ye Ci as she studied the stairways intently. Her gaze landed on some of the paintings at the stairways that appeared to be out of place, and appeared to be newer compared to the rest of the palace.
“The trap is hidden behind the paintings.” said the duo simultaneously, and they shared a smile.
“Well, since we’ve figured out where the trap is, how are we going to get past it?” asked Fleeting Time. Although Hunters had the ability to lay traps, the did not have the skill to detect the triggering mechanism of a trap and dismantle the trap. Rogues were usually the ones who were tasked in disarming traps.
The Rogue class had the highest Perception in the game, which allowed them to receive hints from the system, and locate any triggering mechanism in the vicinity. However, if a Rogue was not careful in his or her attempt to disarm a trap, the Rogue might risk triggering the trap and taking damage as a result. This was not a task that could be performed by the Hunter class.
Making their way past the traps without disarming them was not an easy task.
The stairway was at least 16 yards in length, and there were 6 paintings along the length of the walls. This meant that the duo had to move past 6 traps on their way to safety. Judging from the scorch marks on the wall, the hidden traps must have the ability to shoot flames.
Vo’sok was a lvl60 dungeon. There was no way Ye Ci and Fleeting Time could evade the traps that were carefully placed in a stairway that was only five yards wive. As a Western Continent player, Fleeting Time could easily respawn and return to the dungeon after his death. The same thing, however, could not be said for Ye Ci. An Eastern Continent player like her would have trouble if she was killed.
After a brief moment of thought, Ye Ci produced some Cat Claws from her inventory and handed one of them to Fleeting Time, “We can try using this.”
Fleeting Time took the Cat Claw from Ye Ci and began studying it with apparent interest, “Is this a product of an Engineer in the Eastern Continent?”
“Yup.” Ye Ci estimated the distance between her and the railing at the end of the stairway and then looked at her Cat Claw. She then took aim and threw the Cat Claw at the railing.
The hook of the Cat Claw flew straight and true, clinging onto the railing as it landed. Just then, six massive jets of flames erupted from behind the paintings, burning them to crisp. If Ye Ci and Fleeting Time were hit by the flames, neither of them would be able to survive.
Ye Ci tugged at the end of the Cat Claw. She could feel the heat from the flames even when she was beyond the range of the traps. Before she could shield her face from the wave of heat, a figure stepped out in front of her.
“Stand back, I’ll go first.” said Fleeting Time as he stood with his back to Ye Ci and began swinging the Cat Claw.
“I’ll go first. You’ve not used the Cat Claw before…” said Ye Ci as she stared at Fleeting Time’s back. He does not have the experience of using the Cat Claw! This is suicide!
Fleeting Time glanced at Ye Ci, and nudged her aside. Before she could protest, he flung his Cat Claw at the railing. He then took two steps back, and stared at the flames.
The traps would discharge flames following a certain pattern. Flames would be spout from the traps for as long as 8 seconds, and after 2 seconds, the traps would continue spewing flames. With the absence of a Rogue in the party, Ye Ci and Fleeting Time could only think of a way to make their was past the traps.
It was an impossible to cover 16 yards in 2 seconds by foot. However, with the help of the Cat Claws, things were different.
Fleeting Time bent his body forward and extended on of his legs to the back, making ready to spring forward. A Hunter could only perform high agility maneuvers after gathering enough momentum. The terrain of a certain area would always be a limiting factor for the movements of a Hunter. This was why Hunters had to rely on quick movements that require short bursts of energy as they perform certain maneuvers.
With his eyes laid on the flame-spewing traps, Fleeting Time’s muscles began to tense. He was like a cheetah that was burst into action. Ye Ci, who was standing at the side, stared silently at Fleeting Time. The glowing flames bathed the two Elves with its bright light, painting their fair skin with a shade of red.
Fleeting Time was waiting for the right moment to spring into action.
Although the traps shut down at almost the same time, there was still a miniscule time difference between the operation of each trap. In the short span of 2 seconds, even the time difference of 0.5 second could mean life and death, and decide the outcome of a quest. This was why an experienced player would never based on the assumption that the timing of the traps were in perfect synchronization.
Based on Fleeting Time’s observation, the flame traps would activate for as long as 7 seconds before shutting down for 1.7 second. This slight difference would normally not mean anything, but it was the deciding factor for his success in this situation.
There was no time to waste. Fleeting Time had to gather enough momentum to ensure that he could launch himself across the stairway within the short timeframe. His movements had to be precise, and he must not harbor any hesitations in his actions.
Fleeting Time’s silence would soon be replace with a surge of energy as he sprung forward. He was still waiting for the correct timing.
With a sudden movement, Fleeting Time sprung forward like an arrow let loose by kicking against the railing behind him. He increased his momentum by kicking against the wall at the entrance of the staircase, and then at the spot right above the first trap. Just then, the flames of the traps sputtered out, and Fleeting Time flew onward and landed safely at the other side of the stairway in the blink of an eye.
The traps once again began to spew flames the moment Fleeting Time landed.
The duo looked at each other through the flames. They were so close from each other, yet so far apart.
Ye Ci could barely hold back the urge to cheer for Fleeting Time after witnessing his amazing movements. This guy sure is something. He’s able to time his jump perfectly, as if he’s been practicing for this moment his entire life. It feels like it’s not his first time doing something like this.
Fleeting Time looked up from the bottom of the stairway and said to Ye Ci, “I took around 2.3 seconds to take off, and needed 3 spots to I have longer limbs than you. I think you might need four platforms to help in your acceleration, which will make the process of taking off longer for you. The flames will last for 7 seconds before the traps reset for 1.7 second. Take your time and make your move when you’re ready.”
Ye Ci nodded in agreement. She was shorter than Fleeting Time, which meant that she would have to recalculate her timing for the jump. With the calculations provided to her by Fleeting Time, the entire process was easier for Ye Ci.
She assumed the same pose at the same position as Fleeting Time. With her body shorter and softer than Fleeting Time, Ye Ci was able to press herself closer to the ground, and prepared for the jump. She carefully selected the points that could be used as her launching spot. Other than the three spots used by Fleeting Time, Ye Ci found the marble pillar beside her to be a good spot.
After carefully studying her surroundings, Ye Ci resumed her pose, and stared intently at the flame-spewing traps.
One by one, the flames began to die down
It was as if time was frozen at that very moment. As Ye Ci stared at the traps, she could hear her own breath and the beating of her heart.
Thump, thump, thump.
Her heartbeat was even and strong, and her breathing was calm.
Ye Ci’s success depended on one tiny moment. She leaned forward, and sprung out 15 degrees to her left like an uncoiled spring as she kicked against the railing. She then kicked hard against the pillar and propelled herself towards the wall near the entrance of the stairway, and launched herself forward.
Her movements were natural and smooth, just like a gently flowing stream.
When the flames stopped, Ye Ci soared past the traps like a swallow, heading straight to the end of the stairway. She then flipped her body midair, and landed on the ground smoothly.
Fleeting Time was stunned. It was just too beautiful. He could not think of a person who could pull it off better than Gongzi You, “That was amazing!” said Fleeting Time as he clapped loudly for Ye Ci.
Ye Ci was slightly embarrassed by the praise. It was rare for a Chinese person to be so straightforward with his or her praise. “You did very well too.” she nodded at Fleeting Time.
It was the truth, but was also a reciprocation by Ye Ci. She had to do something after receiving the praise. Fleeing Time, on the other hand, showed more confidence than Ye Ci, “Indeed. I’ll make sure to do better the next time.”
He then handed the Cat Claw back to Ye Ci.
Ye Ci shook her head, “Keep it. You might need it later.” She then put her own Cat Claw away into her inventory. Just then, Ye Ci spotted at item in a secluded corner of her bag. She took the item out from the bag, and handed it to Fleeting Time, “You dropped this last time.”
Fleeting TIme stared at the ring held out by Ye Ci. It was the Ring of Accuracy made by Clasped Sunlight, and item that allows its user to take on monsters that were at a higher level. The normal-looking ring rested silent in Ye Ci’s palm, emitting a soft glow.
“I’ve always wanted to return it to you, but I can’t send a mail to the Western Continent from the Eastern Continent. I did not get the chance to return it to you because… You know… We were busy killing each other the moment we met, and I forgot about it as time passes. I happened to spot it in one of my inventory slots just now, so let me return it to you before I forget about it again.” explained Ye Ci as he noticed the stare from Fleeting Time.
It was the first time she spoke so many words to Fleeting Time. He narrowed his eyes at Ye Ci, and a smile appeared on his lips as he spoke in a soft voice, “I sort of hope that you’d forget about it.”
“What did you say?” Ye Ci could not hear Fleeting Time’s words clearly due to his soft voice.
“It’s nothing” sighed Fleeting Time as he took the ring from Ye Ci, “I’m just saying that this ring can help a player out a lot in fights. Was it able to help when you had it around”
Ye Ci immediately thought of her fight with Werebeast Shaman Buru. However, she was too embarrassed to admit that she was able to defeat the BOSS with the help of Fleeting Time’s ring. She shifted her gaze and replied with a rigid voice, “I leveled up pretty fast, so I did not run into a situation that requires me to fight an opponent that has a higher level than me.”
“Oh?” Fleeting Time’s eyes narrowed even further. He then nodded an said with a smile, “Yeah, Little Gongzi is the Queen of Solo in the Eastern Continent. I’m sure you have your own way of dealing with a high level opponent. I’ve even thought that my ring was able to help out in your fight against Werebeast Shaman Buru. Looks like I’ve thought too much.”
Ye Ci turned her back to Fleeting Time, and immediately diverted the topic, “Urmm.. It’s quite late now, don’t you think we should begin exploring the second level?” she was uneasy to hear Fleeting Time’s words. Why must he see through my lie?
Damn it, Fleeting Time! Can’t you just be slightly dumber? Or at least act the part? Is something like this really meaningful? Is it?
Fleeting Time smiled as he stared at Ye Ci’s back. He was unaware of the details of Ye Ci’s fight with Buru, and was merely making fun of her. However, Ye Ci’s reaction was proof that his guess was correct. Fleeting Time rubbed the bridge of his nose, Aiya… Why did I say something like that? Gongzi You is a shy person after all. It might not matter if it’s something else, but a right though…
He then stared at the ring he was holding in his hand. The name of the player who crafted the ring that was engraved on the ring was so unpleasant to look at. If only I’m the one who crafted this ring. thought Fleeting Time as he planted a gentle kiss on the ring and stored it into his inventory quickly before Ye Ci could turn around.
Unlike the first level, the second level of the Goblin Palace was full of monsters, with Undeads, Orcs, and groups of enslaved Goblin roaming the area. Despite the numbers of their enemies, the duo was able to easily clear away the monsters with the help of their pet. They encountered a Goblin slave operating the flame traps that were set up at the stairway, and slew it before it could react. When Ye Ci and Fleeting Time returned to the stairway that connected the first and second levels, the flame had already died down.
Ye Ci found an item with the name “Energy Core” on one of the enslaved Goblins when she looted the corpses of fallen monsters. The energy core shared a similar appearance to the ones handed to the duo by Nicky, but had a dimmer color. This meant that there was barely any energy left in the core. The only description on the energy core indicated that it was a limitea use item unique to Vo’sok, and could not be used in any other dungeons.
“What’s this?” Fleeting Time, who did not take part in looting the corpses, was curious when he saw the energy core, “An energy core?”
“Yup. The only thing written in its description is that it’s a limited usage item, and that we can’t take bring it out of the dungeon. Just how are we going to use this thing?” said Ye Ci as she studied the energy core, “Is this thing used by tanks as well?”
Fleeting Time took the energy core from Ye Ci, and examined the item, “I don’t think this thing is used by Goblink tanks. The energy cores that Nicky handed to us were larger in size and brighter in color. This thing right here has a dimmer color. I don’t think it can be used to power a tank.”
“Then what could it be?” Ye Ci began a search in the areas near the corpse of the enslaved Goblin, “I don’t see any sort of machines around here. Do you think this core can be exchanged for items?”
“Heh! That’ll be nice.” said Fleeting Time as he tossed the energy core at Ye Ci, “Why don’t we continue with our exploration and see what we find?”
The duo began exploring the rest of the second level. The Orcs and Undeads that they encountered during their exploration yielded no loot drops.
“There don’t seem to be any machines around.” Ye Ci searched through the second level inch by inch but to no avail.
“Relax, take your time. Since there’s a power core drop, there must be something that requires the core to work.” Fleeting Time calmness was a contrast to Ye Ci’s impatience. In truth, it was rare for Ye Ci to be so restless, but her heart was filled with unease since her conversation with Fleeting Time about the ring. She was even beginning to regret her action. Why did I do that? He looks like someone who has a lot of good equipment, so there’s really no need to return the ring to him. It’s a spoil of war that I’ve obtained by defeating him!
Ye Ci grew more and more restless when the thoughts repeated themselves in her mind. She could feel the flames of anger rising in her heart, igniting her emotion. The monsters encountered by the duo became the unfortunate victims of Ye Ci’s wrath when she vented her anger through combat.
Fleeting Time could only smile as he witnessed the fury unleashed upon the monsters by Ye Ci. There was no way he would be teasing Gongzi You at a time like this. Even though it was fun for him, he immediately decided against it when he saw her darkening expression.
Some things cannot be rushed. Before he could make any progress, he was content with being a good teammate for Gongzi You.
Just then, Fleeting Time spotted a light, and he immediately pulled Ye Ci back.
Ye Ci shot Fleeting Time an inquisitive look as he shove Ye Ci behind a pillar. “There might be an ambush ahead.” said Fleeting Time with a low voice.
A Goblin was sitting on a wooden crate 20 yards away from the duo. There was a bonfire in front of the goblin where a rabbit was being slowly roasted. Ye Ci could smell the fragrance of the roasted meat even from her position.
Ol’ Four and Little Five could smell the meat as well. They waited impatiently behind their owners, wishing that they could kill the Goblin and claim the rabbit meat. However, with Fleeting Time and Ye Ci holding the two beats back, they could only protest with their low grumbling.
Before Ye Ci could take a better look at the situation ahead, a pair of monsters were attracted by the grumbling of Ol’ Four and Little. The monsters, which were an Orcish archer and an Undead mage was significantly tougher than the monsters roaming in the second level. The ranged monsters that could deal both physical and magical damage were tough opponents to deal with.
Ye Ci and Fleeting Time did not have the attention to spare on the lone Goblin. They had to take care of the imminent threat posed by the pair of monsters. The duo rolled and ducked in an attempt to avoid incoming attacks while firing off arrows of their own, and was able to defeat their opponents after a protracted battle. However, before its death, the Undead mage was able to make its way to the Goblin that was sitting not far away. Despite Fleeting Time’s attempt to slay the monster, it was still able to attract the attention of the Goblin with a shrill cry.
“Oh no, we’ve been spotted.” Ye Ci’s heart sunk. She immediately directed Ol’ Four at the Goblin. She was able to remain calm. It’s just a Goblin. Fleeting Time and I can deal with it easily, especially with the help of our pets. Fleeting Time, who was following close behind Ye Ci, cast Detection on the lone Goblin. His heart sunk when he saw the name of the Goblin.
“Damn it! We have to kill this Goblin fast, or he’ll warn his allies!” shouted Fleeting Time as he fired his high damage abilities on the Goblin while directing Little Five to launch its attack.
Ye Ci immediately cast Detection on the Goblin as well when she heard the words of Fleeting Time.
A Goblin Lookout was an ordinary monster, but it had a very unique ability, which was to send out an alarm that would attract the attention of a large horde of monsters. The Goblin Lookout was one of the most annoying enemies. Players would find themselves surrounded at all sides by monsters summoned by the Goblin Lookout. A party with a lack of teamwork would easily be wiped out by their superior numbers.
When it was alerted by the dying whail of the Undead, the Goblin Lookout immediately sprung into action. It jumped down from the wooden crate and ran up to a gigantic machine not far away. The Goblin then pressed on a red button on the machine. Just then, Ye Ci noticed a well-hidden bell beside the Goblin Lookout.
“F*ck!” Ye Ci gritted her teeth when the Goblin Lookout extended its hand towards the red button. She immediately launched a flurry of attacks on the Goblin. The Hunter class was able to deal high amounts of critical damage on their opponents, and the amount of damage that could be dished out by two top-tier Hunters was something that should not be underestimated. However, the Goblin Lookout was able to activate the alarm before its death despite the duo’s best efforts.
If the monsters are sentient beings, thought Ye Ci to herself, I could’ve sworn that I saw a smile on the Goblin Lookout’s face before it died. It’s as if the Goblin Lookout is telling me that “Even if I die, there’s still a million of us out there!”
A swarm of robots appeared when the shrill tone of the alarm reverberated in the second level of the Goblin Palace. Despite the thick smoke rising from their mechanical bodies, the robots movements remained agile as they attacked Ye Ci and Fleeting Time from two sides.
“Deploy some traps, don’t let them box us in.” said Fleeting Time as he dashed out to meet his opponents in combat. Ye Ci had also sprung into action before Fleeting Time could finish his sentence. As Hunters that excel in solo play, and were expert in handling sudden events, the duo was able to make their judgement in the shortest amount of time, and immediately took the course of action that would ensure their survival.
NPerhaps due to the similarities in their thought process, Ye Ci and Fleeting Time mirrored the movement of each other perfectly. If there was a bystander who was recording a video of the duo in action, he or she would discover that the duo’s trap placement and attack pattern was exactly the same. Even Ye Ci and Fleeting Time themselves would be shocked by the spectacle. They were like mirror images of one another, displaying similar movements and sharing the same thought process. They wasted no time in taking control of the tempo of the battle, and was able to pick the robots off one by one.
The entire process was so perfect and smooth that any bystanders would be stunned into silence.
Such was the difference between top players and the average players. A gameplay by normal players would not be able to bring awe to their audience. It might even appear boring to any onlookers as it was how everybody would play. The gameplay of a top player, however, was on an entirely different level. Their movements were so clean and their mechanical skills so perfect that one might even have the feeling that the players were playing the game with the aid of hacks. This would never fail to amaze the audience.
Despite the vast number of their enemies, the duo was already used to such dangerous situations. They did not even require any form of communication as they stood with their backs against one another, smiting down one enemy after another.
These two were enemies. One of them was from the Eastern Continent, while the other was from the Western Continents. As a top player, neither of them would expose their back to their enemy. This was a common knowledge of players in the game. On this day, however, the two players from opposing continents were depending on each other in the dungeon.They had only once choice: to trust in each other.
Trusting one’s back to one’s teammates was one of the first thing a player would learn in the game.
Fate is such a wonderful thing. thought Ye Ci as she engaged the robots in front of her in combat. She had never imagined that she would ever entrust her back to a player from an opposing faction, especially someone like Fleeting Time.
She could still remember what Tan Polang said to her in a night a long time ago.
Trust is not a talent. It’s a skill that you must acquire. So am I learning that skill right now, or am I being forced into it by fate? Ye Ci did not have the answer to the question. However, for reasons unknown, her heart was filled with calmness. This was a feeling that she had never had for a long time.
When was the last time I felt calm? Even Ye Ci herself could not remember.
Ahh… Fate always like playing tricks on people..
Ye Ci could not help but laugh at herself. The first person she had learned to trust was actually her rival. Is there something more ridiculous than this?
With slightly lesser monsters on his side, Fleeting Time was able to defeat his opponents faster than Ye Ci. He immediately turned around to aid Ye Ci in taking down her opponents. Fleeting Time took up a position beside Ye Ci, nocked an arrow, took aim at a target, and let the arrow loose. His movements were so smooth and practiced, and even Ye Ci who was standing beside him could hear the low humming of his bowstring as he fired his arrow at the enemies.
Silence finally fell upon the second level of the Goblin Palace when the final enemy was dispatched with a Black Feather Arrow. Fleeting Time slung his bow, and smiled at Ye Ci, “Little Gongzi, go collect the loots.”
Ye Ci’s mood improved when she saw the the beaming smile on Fleeting Time’s face. Despite their past conflicts, the man standing in front of her at that moment was a trustworthy ally.
At that very moment, Ye Ci was grateful that Absalom decided to assign Fleeting Time as her escort.
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