Despite the trouble they caused, the robots yielded very little rewards for the duo. With the exception of some blueprints with high drop rate, there was nothing of value among the loot drops. Ye Ci and Fleeting Time collected the blueprints, which would then be mailed to the Engineers of their respective guild through Nicky. The Goblin Lookout, however, yielded 2 energy cores.
Ye Ci stared at the energy cores. She was upset that she knew nothing about the uses of the energy cores.
Fleeting Time knelf on the ground, and rummaged through the pile of scrap metals on the ground. He then turned around and spoke to Ye Ci, “This thing seems to be rather intact. Why don’t you get over here and see if we can activate it?”
Ye Ci cast a glance at Fleeting Time’s direction and saw a robot that was almost intact beside the man. She then stared at the energy cores in her hands, walked up to him, and knelt beside him. The duo began a short discussion about the disabled machine.
“Are you saying that I can place an energy core on it?”
“Yup. It’s worth a shot.”
“Don’t you think that it’s too damaged by now? Smoke was coming out from that thing earlier! Will it fall apart…” said Ye Ci as she stared at the fallen robot.
“Who knows. Life is all about taking risks. We have 3 energy cores with us anyways. Why don’t we try one out on this thing since we can’t find a new machine?” there were times when a male would be more adventurous than a female. What appeared as a necessary risk to Fleeting Time was a waste to ye Ci.
“Alright then.” Even if it might be a waste, this is the only solution we have for now. But… thought Ye Ci as she studied the robot intently, “Where do I plug the energy core in?”
“About that…” Fleeting Time scratched his head. He was not an Engineer, which meant that he did not have the answer to Ye Ci’s question.”
“Forget about it. I’ll just as the Engineers in my guild.” Ye Ci could tell from Fleeting Time’s expression that he knew nothing about a topic like this. She then sent a private message to Pea Cake. She was infuriated by the response that came immediately, “The player is currently in a area with no reception and is not able to receive your message. Please try again later.”
F*ck! What do you think is this? China Mobile? What do you mean by ‘the player is in an area with no reception’?
Ye Ci sighed and said to Fleeting Time, “My call is restricted by the system. I’m sure that there’s a few Engineers in your guild. Can you get in touch with them?”
Fleeting Time nodded, and began contacting the Engineers in his guild.
After the long time spent by the duo in the dungeon, it was already 4am in the morning in real life. Most of the players in Genesis had already logged out of the game, especially those who practice a healthy living habits. The few Engineers that Fleeting Time have managed to contact knew nothing about Goblin Engineering.
“What is it? You can’t get hold of anyone?” observed Ye Ci. Even when she could not hear the conversation between Fleeting Time and his guildmates, she could tell that things were not going well by his expression.
“Yup.” Fleeting Time was still sifting through the member list of his guild, “It’s already 4am in real life. Most of the life players are asleep. The ones that I managed to contact have not learnt Goblin Engineering yet.”
Goblin Engineering was one of the branches of Engineering available in Fate. Due to the quest that players were required to complete before they were able to learn Goblin Engineering, it was not something that could be learned by every Engineer. The Goblin Engineering that was available to players at the current stage of the game was nothing compared to the marvels of true Goblin Engineering, but its product was still able to fetch a good price in the market.
An example of one such product was the Goblin Mobile Workbench that could be used to repair weapons and equipment in a dungeon. The workbench could only be used for a total of five times, but the price of one of the items could reach as high as millions in the market. It was apparent that the products of Goblin Engineering was very popular among players, and this led the the bloom in numbers of Engineers among the player population.
However, Life Skills in Fate was very hard to level up, and it was almost impossible for a player to reach the rank of Master in Goblin Engineering without the financial backing of large guilds.
Ye Ci finally realised that she had lost track of the time in real life. Her heart immediately sunk. Even if she was no longer in a restricted area, Pea Cake would have went to bed. He was a person with a very precise schedule who would log into the game 8am in the morning, go offline for lunch at 12pm, and would log back into the game an hour after lunch. Pea Cake would then log out from the game at 6pm from dinner, log back in by 8pm, and would go to bed when 11pm at night. It was a daily routine that he would carry out without fail.
Bai Mo had once discussed the behavior of Pea Cake with Ye Ci, and they arrived at the conclusion that he was someone with OCD. Why else would he do that? It’s scary!
It was not an easy task to get the right person at a time like this. With the exception of people like Ye Ci and Fleeting Time who were forced to stay online, most of the players were very conscious about the need to strike balance between work and rest. It had been years since VR games were introduced to the world, and the players knew that even when the nutrient pack was able to provide the human body with the necessary nutrients, and the fact that the human body was allowed to rest in the gaming cabin, they were still not as good as real food and a natural sleep cycle. Many of the players would make the choice to log out of the game for meals and for sleep when they were free of any quests that required them to stay online for long periods of time.
“Forget about it. Let’s just head down to the lower levels and continue our exploration. The answer can wait.” said Ye Ci despite the unwillingness in her heart. Then again, she had no other choice but to give up. A sudden thought flashed across Ye Ci mind, “Don’t you have to go offline and sleep?”
“Nope. I’ll keep you company.”
“You have very limited time, and we don’t know just how big this dungeon is. Having two person exploring the dungeon is better than doing it solo. I’ve already connected a nutrient pack to my gaming cabin when I went offline for dinner earlier on.” and he continued with a smile, “Of course, I’m not doing it because of you. I myself am curious about this dungeon. There’s no way I’m going to leave before we complete our exploration.”
A dumbfounded Ye Ci stared at Fleeting Time.
Knowing that his words would cause discomfort to Ye Ci, Fleeting Time immediately shifted the conversation, “Actually… I think there’s somebody who knows about Goblin Engineering.”
“Oh?” Fleeting Time’s words attracted the attention of Ye Ci, who immediately focused all of her attention on him, “And you know that person?”
“I don’t really know him, but a player in my guild knows him, and she seems to be online. I’ll go ask her then.” Fleeting Time replied calmly.
“It’s so late now. You shouldn’t trouble her.” Ye Ci was filled with hope when she heard Fleeting Time’s words, but the rational side of her mind kicked suggested otherwise, “Let’s just wait until next morning.”
Fleeting Time smiled when he heard Ye Ci’s words, “I have a feeling that you’ll be restless if you can’t obtain an answer today.”
“Well, maybe a little. But it’s alright. Patience is a virtue.” Ye Ci was shocked when Fleeting Time was able to guess her thoughts correctly. She was not angry. It did not matter in a place and at a time like this.
She would only have to get along with Fleeting Time for a few days. They would then go on their separate ways when the quest was completed. They would never be able to cross paths like this in the future. They would once again become rivals.
There might not be much of a change.
How lucky it is for a person to have the chance to turn his or her rival into a friend. It was a luck that Ye Ci would always cherish, and with that thought in mind, Ye Ci’s anger towards Fleeting Time died down.
The reason behind the ability of Ye Ci and Fleeting Time to see through each other’s thoughts was simple: Your rival is the one that knows you the best.
It was not easy for a person to have a rival that knows him or her so well in life.
Fleeting Time was slightly shocked when he heard Ye Ci’s words. He could tell from Gongzi You’s appearance that she was very young. A player was allowed to change his or her appearance in Fate, but age was something that was fixed by the system. Gongzi You had the appearance of a 20 years old girl, but the words that she spoke were from a person who was way matured than her age, and maturity was something that could not be faked.
Fleeting Time was always confused by the Gongzi You’s young appearance and the maturity displayed by the girl.
A smile formed on his lips as he notice the grin on Ye Ci’s face, “I don’t want to leave you with any regrets.”
It was a smile that Ye Ci would remember for a very long time. Fleeting Time’s smile was so charming and so enticing at the moment. A person would collect bits of pieces of good memories during the course of their life, and Fleeting Time’s smile on that day was one of her most profound memories.
Fleeting Time began contacting the player when Ye Ci was still in a daze. It was a person that he had always wanted to avoid, as he knew that getting into contact with that person was no different from inviting trouble upon himself. He hated dealing with such a troublesome person, and would normally avoid such a stupid act. However, it was all so different at that moment. Despite the short time they spent with each other, Fleeting Time felt a sense of familiarity with Gongzi You, and he could not bear to see even the slightest hint of sadness in her.
That was why he did not even hesitate to contact the person despite the troubles his action would bring. There was no other reason behind his action. He was doing it for the person in front of him. He was doing it for Gongzi You.
“Are you there?”
White Fairytale was sitting by the beach in the map Silvery Coast. It was her favourite map in the entire Western Continent. The beauty of the silvery beach, the soft sand, the calm sea and the glistening starlight… It felt like they belong to her and her alone.
In White Fairytale’s heart, the beauty of this scenery belonged to two person. She was one of the two, and the other one was definitely not Sour Apple who was sitting beside her at the moment.
She immediately fell in love with the beach when she visited the place for the first time for a quest. She had always dreamt of the day a certain someone would sit shoulder to shoulder beside her, enjoying the beauty of the scenery. But… But.. It’s all impossible at this point, isn’t it?
Sour Apple was not in the mood to appreciate the scenery. Why is the breeze so damned cold? Despite Absalom’s warnings, Sour Apple spoke up when she noticed the depressed look on White Fairytale’s face, “Fairytale, don’t mind Absalom. You know that he’s an idiot who never thought things through whenever he speaks.”
Screw it! We can handle whatever problems that may arise in the future, but she needs some comfort now.
It was a habit of Absalom and his wife to go offline and head to bed at 12am. But with Absalom busy with locating the Mithril ore vein, and Sour Apple occupied with consoling White Fairytale, the couple remained online way past their bedtime.
Despite Sour Apple’s efforts, White Fairytale remained silent.
Sour Apple was tired. She no longer wanted to waste her time on White Fairytale, who ignored her as she blabbered on for hours. Nobody could bear with such an attitude. If her heart was not filled with guilt, White Fairytale would have bursted in anger. She regretted her conversation with Absalom earlier on as she stared out at the sea. I should’ve listened to Absalom. It’s stupid of me to try and play matchmaker. I’ve ended up placing myself in an awkward position.
White Fairytale finally spoke up after a long moment of silence, as if she was a phantom that suddenly appeared before Sour Apple.
“Apple, do you know why I love this map?”
“Because it’s beautiful?” replied Sour Apple with a bored tone. In her tired and sleepy state, she no longer had the patience for White Fairytale.
“Nope.” replied White Fairytale with a smile.
“Why do you like this map then?”
“Do you remember that time we all filled in our alumni during our highschool days?”
“Yup, yup.” answered Sour Apple. It was a distant memory for her. The only thing she remembered during her high school days was when Absalom gave her a kissed in public.
“Do you know what he wrote in his alumni about his favourite place?”
“Who is he?” Sour Apple let out a yawn. She was sleepy and her thoughts were sluggish, “You mean Fleeting Time?”
“Yes! His alumni said that he loved beaches with white sand.”
“This is why you love this map so much?” Sour Apple was shocked.
“Yup.” White Fairytale smiled sweetly at Sour Apple.
Sour Apple immediately rested her hand against White Fairytale’s forehead to make sure that her friend was not having a fever.
“Fairytale, he wrote that a long time ago! He was still a wimpy kid back then! Do you think that the things he wrote back then still counts?” Sour Apple’s shrieked at White Fairytale. She could feel her sanity falling apart.
“Of course.” White Fairytale remained calm despite Sour Apple’s question, “As long as he was the one who said it.”
“That’s not the point! People change! You can’t just take the words of a 16 year old kid as some sort of holy edict! You’re saying that Fleeting Time loves beaches? Funny, I can remember Absalom telling me that Fleeting Time likes lofty mountains and flowing waters! Your way is thinking is just not right!” Sour Apple could not comprehend the words of her friend. She had even begun to suspect that there was something wrong with White Fairytale. A normal person would never be so obsessed with something a little kid said more than ten years ago!
White Fairytale shook her head, and a serious expression formed on her face. She looked at Sour Apple and spoke with a firm voice, “People do change, but the innocence they have will not. Even if he likes the mountains and the rivers now, and the desert in the future, I believe that deep down, Fleeting Time loved the beach. As long as I wait… As long as I don’t give up on him… He’ll definitely see the good within me.”
“You…” Sour Apple pointed at White Fairytale. She was lost for words. She then tugged at White Fairytale’s hand and headed to the teleportation crystal that would bring them back to the guild encampment, “That’s enough for today. You need some rest. Everything will be better after a good night’s sleep.”
“Apple, I know what you’re thinking, but this is how I feel. Even if you put me to sleep for 10 years, I’ll still think the same way when I wake up.” White Fairytale allowed her friend to drag her along without much of a stuggle.
“You’re crazy! You must be.” Sour Apple shook her head. If White Fairytale is not the one who’s being crazy right now, then I must be the one losing my mind! This is scary!
“Apple, you must believe in me! Believe in my when I say that Fleeting Time will return to me in the end.” said White Fairytale with a smile.
Sour Apple stopped dead in her tracks. There was a volcano in her heart that was ready to erupt. Her last shred of rationality was rapidly burned away by the anger that was surging forward like a torrent of lava.
“Apple, please help me, just like you’ve always been. Give me the chance to get along with him. I know that I’m making things difficult for you, and that Absalom will never agree to it, but don’t you know what I’m thinking after so many years? Isn’t it great if I can end up as a couple with Fleeting Time just like you and Absalom? Our love will be able to last as long as our friendship…” said White Fairytale as she walked up to Sour Apple and caressed her face. She was so soft and gentle with her demure voice and the smile on her face.
Sour Apple did not agree with her friend like how she always would, “Stop it, Fairytale.” she sighed as she looked away.
“What’s wrong? I’ve always been well. We all have our own goals, and being together Fleeting Time is mine.”
“Fairytale, stop it!” shouted Sour Apple. She slapped White Fairytale’s hand away and took two steps back. Her anger had finally erupted, devouring all her rationality. “I did not help you for all these years because I think that you two are suitable for each other! I helped because I don’t want you to be sad! As a bystander, and I can tell that Fleeting Time does not look at you the same way you’re looking at him! Why have I always been helping you? Because I can’t stand to refuse you pleas for help after all the sad stories you’ve told me! Wake up! Do you really think that you can win him over like this? You wouldn’t even have to waste so many years if that’s the case!”
“Apple, you just don’t understand men. Fleeting Time is like a child. He’s having fun out there right now, but he’ll eventually grow tired of it one day. When that day comes, he’ll return to me.” White Fairytale shook her head.
“You’re telling me that you’re willing to be his fallback girl? And that you’ll wait for him your entire life?” Sour Apple was shocked deeply by her words.
“As long as he’s willing, why not?”
“White Fairytale can you not sink so low? Please do not throw away your dignity as a woman! How could you say something like that? What happened to all the education you had?” Sour Apple’s eyes were two fiery orbs that were red with anger. She gripped down on White Fairtytale’s shoulders and shook her hard, “Wake up! Even if you’re willing, you have to know that he’s a bastard who doesn’t need something like that!”
“You’re talking nonsense!”
“I’m not! We’ve all known each other for years, and I can tell that Fleeting Time is selfish! He’s a selfish bastard who does not care about somebody else! He doesn’t care about your feelings! They mean nothing to him!”
“Stop it!” White Fairytale screamed at the top of her lungs, “He knows what I did for him! He just haven’t made up his mind yet!”
“His mind was made the moment you confessed to him! He made his mind when he first rejected you! You’re not the one he wants! You don’t have to keep on waiting for you!”
“You’re lying!” White Fairytale screamed once again as her vision blurred.
Sour Apple’s heart ache as she stared at her friend. The most cruel thing to do in this world was to build up hope for a person, and destroy that hope in front him or her. Sour Apple did just that. She was overwhelmed by guilt. I’m such an asshole! I kept her hopes up, but now I’m destroying it myself. Why am I doing this? Have I lost my mind?
Just when White Fairytale began to weep, a private message notification rang out in her ears. She might not pay it any heed if the it was just a normal notification. This call, however, was different.
Players in Fate had the option of customizing specialized ringtones for each of their friends, just like how people would assign a ringtone to a specific number in real life. Of course, such ringtone could only be assigned to a friend. Fleeting Time was the first person who was added into White Fairytale’s friend list when she strated playing the game. Fleeting Time, however, did not return the gesture. While Fleeting Time was displayed as a friend in the friend list of White Fairytale, her name did not even exist his friend list.
Despite knowing such a fact, White Fairytale assigned a special ringtone to Fleeting Time so that she would be able to immediately be notified when Fleeting Time attempted to contact her.
Unfortunately for White Fairytale, Fleeting Time had never made any attempts at contacting her from the first day of Fate, just like how his name would never light up the screen of her cellphone.
On this day, the special ringtone that White Fairytale did not expect to hear was ringing out in her ears. The flow of her tears immediately stopped as she listened intently to the ringtone. Is it him? Is it really him? She opened her private message channel and saw the name that had always haunted her dreams. She could not believe her eyes, but the pain she felt when she pinched herself told her that it was real.
She fumbled with the console to connect to the voice call.
“Are you there?”
“Yes, I am. I’m always here.” White Fairytale answered with clear desperation in her voice, as if Fleeting Time would disappear if she was slow with her reply.
Fleeting Time furrowed his eyebrows when he heard the desperation in White Fairytale’s voice. He had even begun to regret his decision. I shouldn’t have contacted her! The urgency in her reply and the desperation he could hear in her voice gave him a feeling that he would be eaten alive by that woman. However, when Fleeting Time laid his eyes on Gongzi You who was standing not far away, he forced himself to carry on with the conversation.
“Is your friend who learnt Goblin Engineering online?”
“Yes, he is!” White Fairytale was overjoyed. This is the first time Fleeting Time took the initiative to talk to her.
“Can you please ask him where is the power core usually installed in a Goblin Robot?” Fleeting Time went straight to the point with the intention of ending the conversation as soon as possible.
“Alright, wait up, I’ll get to it.” White Fairytale immediately contacted her friend with such haste that one might think that she was doing the most important thing to her in this world. She was, however, reluctant to immediately pass the answer on to Fleeting Time. She knew that he would immediately end the call once he received the answer, “Fleeting Time, he told me that there are different types of robots, with varying design. Why don’t you take that robot over and I’ll take you to my friend.”
“Forget about it, I’ll ask someone else.” Fleeting Time pursed his lips. He saw through White Fairytale like an open book. Even if I can’t find the answer, I’ll just ask around in the World Channel. I’m sure that many of the players would be very willing to provide me with an answer.
“No, wait. Let me ask my friend again…” said White Fairytale, fearing that Fleeting Time would immediately end the call.
“So where do I place the core?” asked Fleeting Time after a slight pause.
“Why are you asking about this? I-is it for a quest? Are you in a dungeon?” asked White Fairytale with a voice full of concern, “Do you need me to heal…”
Fleeting Time ended the call before she could finish her sentence. White Fairytale was taken aback by his gesture, and tears started to flow down her cheeks. Just then, a message by Fleeting Time appeared in the World Channel.
[Fleeting Time]: Are there any Engineers who have learnt Goblin Engineering online? Can you tell me where the power core is placed in a Goblin Robot? I’ll give you 10,000 gold coins if you can answer my question.”
“Wow! Am I dreaming? I just saw Fleeting Time in the World Channel!”
“Fleeting Time is so rich! 10,000 gold coins for an answer? My God…”
“Noooo!!! Why have I not learnt Goblin Engineering? That’s 10,000 gold coins!”
Fleeting Time’s message would always cause an uproar among the Western Continent players. Many of the Engineer players among them squealed in delight when the saw the reward offered by Fleeting Time.
“I have the answer, let me slide you a DM.”
“I have the answer as well!”
“There’s a hidden notch at the middle of the robots throat. You can then open the casing with that notch and place the energy core into the slot within.”
Fleeting Time walked up to the robot when he received the answer, and found the well-hidden notch at the back of its neck. “Hand me the energy core.” Fleeting Time extended a hand towards Gongzi You.
Ye Ci immediately handed Fleeting Time the energy core, which was then placed into the slot. Life immediately returned to the inanimate machine and it began to stand up with shaky legs. Despite its rusting body, the machine was able to walk with firm steps.
The machine, which was significantly taller than Fleeting Time, was surprisingly agile. Even with the screeching of rusted metal with each of its movement, the machine was still an awe-inspiring presence. Ye Ci discovered that the robot was renamed to “Captured Goblin Robot”, and that its HP and damage values was 20% lower than the robots that they encountered earlier on. There was also a small timer that was displayed alongside the name of the machine, indicating that the energy core would last for 3 hours.
“Ah, it seems that we have to kill more Goblins for more energy cores.” observed Fleeting Time.
“Yup, but it seems that the Goblin population in the Goblin Palace is somewhat scarce.”
Fleeting Time then sent a friend request to the player who gave him the answer and told him that someone would deliver the promised 10,000 gold coins by the next day. The player was excited by the fact that he was able to earn 10,000 gold coins just by answering a very simple question.
Absalom then received a message from Fleeting Time, who instructed him to hand a certain amount of money to a certain player. Despite his grumblings, Absalom was forced to comply with the request. After all, the presence of Gongzi You in the Western Continent was not known to many. With Fleeting Time occupied with keeping and eye out on Gongzi You, he was forced to run errands for the man. 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2018 So Far