Chapter 4: Friends from the Start, Opponents for Life (3)
It was a level 31-33 area, currently filled with the higher-level players, fighting monsters and entering the dungeon.
With Ye Xiu’s skill, if he wanted to fight wild monsters, he would go to higher level areas like Fire Forest or even Sin City. Aside from doing the daily three runs of the Line Canyon dungeon, he rarely came here anymore.
By the time Ye Xiu arrived, he saw that Su Muqiu had already managed to gather a whole team of people at the entrance of the dungeon, with one space left for him.
“You’re pretty fast!” Ye Xiu said to him.
“Of course, who doesn’t want to break a record?” For Glory’s dungeons, there were leaderboards ranking teams according to their clear time. Getting on the leaderboard for a dungeon was one of the most prestigious accomplishments in the PvE scene. Even without the awards that came with it, getting a record was solid proof of one’s skill.
“Even though it was just you here? People believed you?” Ye Xiu said, curious.
One Autumn Leaf’s equipment was considered quite extraordinary. Getting good equipment from dungeons relied on luck, but with all the points he had from his Arena victories, he’d been able to get two incredibly good Orange equipment pieces that anyone would be jealous of.
But Su Muqiu’s Autumn Tree was much worse off. Never mind Orange equipment, he didn’t even have any Purple equipment, and only half Blue equipment, the rest Green to fill up the slots. In front of the dungeon entrance, he looked like some newbie waiting for an expert to carry him.
Of course, Su Muqiu was no newbie, and his skill was absolutely top tier. He played the game for about the same amount of time as Ye Xiu. But he was only level 31, he had bad equipment, and his win record in the arena was 67.8% – not a bad score relative to the player base as a whole, but definitely a bad record in his eyes. The reason for this apparent paradox was simply that he focused on different aspects of this game when playing.
Unlike most other gamers that simply played games for enjoyment, Su Muqiu relied on playing games to earn enough money for himself and his sister to survive. So, the moment he entered a game, the first thing he looked for was some area in which there was money to be made.
Selling accounts, selling equipment and materials, powerleveling, even writing external scripts for exploits… In any game, if there had been a market for it, Su Muqiu had done it.
And in Glory, which had obtained an unprecedented level of popularity, Su Muqiu had found a new profitable area: the equipment editor.
As announced by the creators, this feature allowed players to create their own custom equipment for use in game. They summed up the value of self-made equipment in a phrase: self-made equipment isn’t always the best, but the best equipment is always self-made. And the Silver equipment that came out of the equipment editor did indeed seem to be a level above the Orange equipment, which themselves were already fairly rare.
Thus, from day one, Su Muqiu investigated the equipment editor.
It was quite a complex feature, and Su Muqiu had already filled two notebooks with handwritten notes, in addition to 477 documents on a hard disk. Even so, he had only barely scratched the surface.
The difficulty was high. But the greater the difficulty, the more excited Su Muqiu got. Difficult meant rare, which meant valuable.
“Small investment, huge profit!” he’d say.
And so, all the materials and equipment he earned in game became fodder for experimentation in the editor. Sometimes Ye Xiu would log on and find One Autumn Leaf missing a piece of equipment or two – without asking, he’d know that Su Muqiu had borrowed them for research.
However, investing everything into the equipment editor put a strain on his resources. He quickly realized that he needed a large supply of materials for his research to succeed.
“I can’t go on like this…” Over time, his tone changed from the “small investment, huge profit” attitude earlier. He had to find outside ways to fund his research, such as setting dungeon records.
“Join team.” Ye Xiu’s One Autumn Leaf was pulled into the dungeon team, and then he heard Su Muqiu talking to the other three players. “How about it? I wasn’t lying to you! This is One Autumn Leaf, right?”
So that’s how he gathered this team. Ye Xiu was speechless.
The other three players were also shocked. They all knew One Autumn Leaf was one of the highest-level players in the game, as evidenced by his 3685 – no, 3686, now – battles and victories in the arena.
The three players crowded around to pay their respects to the expert, but Su Muqiu announced, “Alright, let’s start.”
“What?” This statement surprised the three players out of their hero-worship.
“You’re coming too?” one player exclaimed.
“What about healer? MT?” said another.
“What’s the strategy?”
Su Muqiu responded with three words. “Overwhelm with skill.”
“…Even with an expert…” The three players glanced toward One Autumn Leaf. Was this one expert enough “skill” to get them a dungeon record?”
“Not just one expert,” Su Muqiu said, completely unashamed.
“Desert Dust?!” one of the players shouted, excited. A player that matched One Autumn Leaf in skill, who else but the other player with a perfect win record in the arena?
“When is he coming?” The third player reached the same conclusion.
“The other expert is right in front of you!” said Su Muqiu over the exclamations of the other players.
“Where? Where?” The three players looked around frantically, but didn’t see Desert Dust’s name anywhere.
“It’s me!” said Su Muqiu.
“Who said that?” The three players were acting as though Autumn Tree weren’t even there, and completely missed the fact that Su Muqiu was the one who had spoken. They were still looking around for an expert.
“Me!” Su Muqiu directed his character to jump in front of the players’ fields of vision.
“You?” The Glory game allowed players to directly talk to each other with voice chat, but in this moment, the three players needed to use emojis to show their expressions of shock. This Sharpshooter in front of them looked nothing like an expert at all.
“Don’t waste our dungeon run!” One of the players couldn’t help but speak up.
At this, Ye Xiu laughed. “His equipment isn’t great, but he’s extremely skilled.”
“What’s his win record in the arena?” This was the most direct method of measuring someone’s skill.
“97.8%.” Ye Xiu answered promptly, without even blinking. Su Muqiu’s win record was only in the 60s, but Ye Xiu just turned the 6 upside down into a 9. Arena records and statistics could only be accessed from within the arena, so here, out in the field, Ye Xiu felt safe in lying about this win record.
In any case, this wasn’t entirely a lie. Su Muqiu was always playing with the equipment editor and testing out crazy combinations of equipment that he cooked up. Often times, he’d stop in the middle of a battle to frantically write something down in his notebook – playing like that, it’d be a surprise if he didn’t lose. If Su Muqiu really cared about victory, Ye Xiu was certain that he’d easily maintain a win record above 97.8%.
“Okay, let’s not waste time, start now, hopefully it’ll only take one try,” said Su Muqiu.
“So what’s our strategy? How are we supposed to play!” One player was still freaking out. Everyone trusted One Autumn Leaf’s assurances that this Autumn Tree player was skilled. But getting a dungeon record required teamwork, right? If they just charged in without discussing plans beforehand, how would they get the record?”
“If you see a monster, kill it. Let’s go.” Su Muqiu’s reply was straightforward, and he entered the dungeon immediately after. Ye Xiu’s One Autumn Leaf followed suit, and the other three, after hesitating for a moment, entered as well.
As soon as they stepped foot in the dungeon, they found that the two players had already charged forward toward the monsters.
“Fuck, didn’t even say anything! This really is ‘if you see a monster kill it’!” someone shouted.
Line Canyon was a level 31-33 dungeon, and players at this level always did their daily three runs of this dungeon. These three players were level 32, and like Ye Xiu, were currently some of the highest-leveled players of the playerbase. They weren’t strangers to this dungeon. But they had never experienced a direct, explosive strategy like the one currently unfolding before them.
“Faster faster faster!” Su Muqiu urged. His Autumn Tree wielded two revolvers, firing bang bang bang without pause. In the blink of an eye, six small monsters were drawn toward the dungeon entrance.
“Damn…” The three players felt weak in their legs. Their arena win records were above 70%, which was fairly good. But pulling six monsters immediately? Normally, even with MT and healer, only two monsters would be pulled at a time, maybe three if the party had particularly good equipment. But now, this guy, dressed as ridiculously as a flower, was pulling six monsters from the start! They’d thought he was a beggar, but he was a legend. You really can’t judge power from appearance.
But how were they supposed to kill these six monsters?
The three players didn’t know where to start, and they weren’t given any directions. In the end, One Autumn Leaf charged over, the spear in his hand flashed, and the six monsters were gathered together. And then his sleeve swept out, Shadow Cloak – a low-level Witch skill – with this skill, the six little monsters were instantly bunched together.
“What are you all doing? Attack!” Su Muqiu yelled, and finally the three players woke from their daze. This is what “overwhelm with skill” meant. Before this, they just couldn’t even imagine what the summit of skill looked like.
“These experts with above 90% win record are terrifying,” one of them said.
“Not just above 90%, it’s 100%!” another reminded him.
“I wonder who’s stronger, him or Desert Dust?”
“I’ve seen Desert Dust’s arena battles before, he’s really fierce.”
The three players had been nervous at the beginning, but they gradually discovered that there was absolutely no pressure on them at all. Finding and pulling the monsters, the difficult part of this, One Autumn Leaf and Autumn Tree had that covered. The three of them only needed to output as much damage as they could. They still had to pay attention to some basic things, but the three of them weren’t newbies, so it was a straightforward matter for them.
So as they mindlessly outputted damage, the three of them started chatting. They now thoroughly understood Su Muqiu’s skill as well. His damage wasn’t amazing, but that was only because of his subpar equipment. But his skill was incredible. Of the interruptable skills that the monsters could use, had a single one appeared? No. This guy had managed to interrupt all of them.
Upon reaching the BOSS, Su Muqiu’s performance reached a new height. This BOSS was surrounded by twelve monsters, smaller than the BOSS but considered “elite” monsters. Normal players would cautiously approach, pulling one or two small monsters at a time to kill – this strategy had developed after countless player deaths. Even now, many teams would be wiped out here if they carelessly pulled too many at once.
But Su Muqiu.
Bang bang bang bang bang, rapid fire.
Twelve bullets delivered like candy to the twelve elite monsters.
“Are we killing these all at once too?” The three players had thought that nothing could shock them anymore, but they were wrong.
“Leaving it to you guys,” said Su Muqiu.
The three players felt their hands begin sweating. They expected One Autumn Leaf to gather the monsters, but instead saw him charging straight toward the BOSS.
“You’re trying to kill the BOSS together too?!” the players yelled.
“Are you guys cheating?” someone hollered.
They watched Autumn Tree fly past them like a train and continue to fire rapidly at the smaller monsters.
“Do we fight…?” one of the players said with a tremble in his voice.
“Come fight the BOSS!” Ye Xiu’s voice came from the side.
The three players paused, looked again, and realized that Autumn Tree had drawn the twelve small monsters away from the BOSS and was luring them in circles.
With that, they understood. They weren’t going to kill the smaller monsters at all. Autumn Tree would keep them distracted, and the four of them would kill the BOSS?
This was true skill! What use was good equipment? Would having good equipment allow you to pull this off? Keeping control of twelve elite monsters at once without losing any or getting killed?
“Incredible! Too incredible!” They marveled as they charged forward to meet the BOSS.
A short while after, an announcement in the Glory world channel: a new record set for the Line Canyon dungeon.
“One try, not bad!” praised Su Muqiu.
“Are we going again?” These three players were now thoroughly convinced of his prowess.
“Not now, I have something to do.” Su Muqiu dispersed the team. Before Ye Xiu had arrived, he had already discussed with the three players how to split the reward.
Thus, the three players bid a heartfelt farewell to these two experts. Ye Xiu and Su Muqiu began heading back to the city near Line Canyon, and Su Muqiu once again started talking earnestly about his plans for equipment-making.
All the way up until the two of them found their way blocked by another player.
“One Autumn Leaf, play a match?”
Standing in the middle of the road was the Striker, Desert Dust.