Chapter 22 - Issue
Everyone was dumbfounded. They barely had time to pay attention to the two stragglers as they were busy killing the monsters. All Gu Fei and the employer had to do was follow the path they had cleared, so there was no need to protect Gu Fei even if he was a weak Mage.
“Where is he?” Young Master Han stared at the employer.
“He went ahead and engaged the monster we accidentally attracted to let me escape,” he replied.
That was to be expected. Although considering how long it was, it was abnormal for him to not have caught up to them by now. Gu Fei would be in no way slower than their group who had to keep clearing the monsters in front.
“Perhaps the monsters along the way had respawned by the time he finished fending off the initial aggressor?” Brother Assist suggested.
The path, which required the concerted effort of five pros to clear, was not something a single Mage could handle alone.
“I’ll send him a message!” Seeing that the exquisite face of Young Master Han had turned ashen, Sword Demon immediately sent a message to Gu Fei. If what Brother Assist said was true, the five had no choice but to turn back to get him. The experience they had thus far was already exhausting; turning back right now would only leave the team annoyed and filled with grievances. It would also make teaming up in the upcoming battles awkward and tense.
Everyone stared at Sword Demon disparagingly. They suddenly saw his eyes widened as he sent a series of messages before finally walking over to the lever on his accord and activating the stone door.
The stone door slowly lifted up with a grinding sound.
And there stood Gu Fei, slowly being revealed to everyone behind the door.
Gu Fei held on to a longsword not fit for a Mage in his left hand and a sack in his right hand. A light smile hung across his face as looked at the rest of the group and delightedly exclaimed, “Took you guys long enough!”
They were speechless as they stared at him stupidly. Gu Fei walked out from the door as he threw the sack he was holding toward the employer’s arms while saying, ”Here’s what you wanted.”
The employer caught it and was taken aback as he looked into the sack.
Young Master Han and the rest were very surprised and speechless before Sword Demon broke the silence, “What happened?”
“I found a secret passageway a while back. All of you had left without a trace, so I took that path which led me to the lair. I ended up killing Sooto, and now I brought his head here,” Gu Fei said.
“How did you kill him?” Young Master Han’s face was still frozen in disbelief.
Gu Fei flourished his blade and pointed it at Young Master Han.
“How is that possible?!” Young Master Han said as he raised his hand and flicked the blade aside, heading inside as the rest of them followed closely.
The body of the now headless Sooto lay on the ground. Young Master Han had encountered Sooto once, so he asked, “Why is Sooto topless?”
Everyone looked at him oddly. To be honest, anyone would suspect Young Master Han’s sexual orientation given how he looked.
Young Master Han did not bother addressing the group as he simply continued to mutter, “He wasn’t like this when I was here last time!”
Gu Fei shrugged to indicate he did not know the answer as well, only saying, “Well, all I know is that he wasn’t wearing any armor.”
“Oh… So that’s it!” Everyone gained some sort of understanding.
The way they saw it, a Mage’s damage would be astonishingly high if the opponent had no armor of any sort. Mages excelled in long-ranged attacks and Sooto only possessed close-combat capabilities besides his special attack. Gu Fei must have used some unknown method to immobilize Sooto without him getting close and slowly whittled his health away.
Although they could see Sooto’s body marred with slashes, they just assumed that Gu Fei might have inflicted all those wounds after Sooto had died. He even carried that longsword in order to maintain the charade and prevent others from learning his unique fighting style as a Mage.
They all had such thoughts except for Sword Demon who stared at Sooto’s corpse in a trance.
“Where’s the secret passage you mentioned?” Young Master Han asked. Since they thought Gu Fei was trying to hide his fighting style, these pros were polite enough to brush the matter aside.
“Over here,” Gu Fei beckoned them to a corner.
Fortunately, the stone door could be pushed aside by combining the strength of everyone. Gu Fei happily said, “We should leave this way. We won’t have to fight any monsters on the way again!”
These pros were a little morose at the moment, quietly following Gu Fei and using the secret passageway.
The Henchman with the key to the secret path from before did not respawn when they got to the exit and pushed open the iron plate covering the surface. They were not far from the cave entrance so they exited the cave in no time.
“Quest complete!” Young Master Han declared.
The employer nodded his head and proceeded to retrieve the money pouch from his pocket without another word.
Young Master Han received it and took a peek before nodding his head, “It’s the right amount. As for what you promised before, I hope you will honor the agreement.”
The employer nodded as his face expressed immense excitement, “Of course, I will. Your mercenary group’s strength is truly remarkable! It wasn’t till now that I made sense of the entire situation.”
“What do you mean?” Young Master Han asked.
The employer laughed, “You don’t have to keep me out of the loop anymore. The plan was to feign an attack on the front while striking for real in the back right? You used the rest of the group to control the influx of bandits while you let Miles bro here use the secret passageway to solo the boss. You previously mentioned how Sooto would summon his fellow bandits. But since all of you were engaging the enemies by the main entrance, the summoned monsters had no way to enter, which gave Miles bro the perfect setting to solo-kill the boss! He he he! To think you would even act like you’re clueless about the secret passageway… There’s no need for that; I won’t reveal your strategy. Even if I reveal it, how many of them out there can solo-kill a boss like Miles bro here?” as he said all this, the employer showed a face of immense admiration toward Gu Fei.
“What are you saying?” Gu Fei was at a loss.
“Heh! Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If I have any other issues in the future, I’ll definitely look for you guys. I’ll take my leave first!” The employer flashed a thumbs-up toward Gu Fei as he turned to descend the mountain.
“What’s he talking about?” Gu Fei asked the crowd of pros before him.
They were all left rather embarrassed. Young Master Han cleared his throat, “Ahem. Did you manage to get anything good from taking down Sooto?”
“Nothing at all!” Gu Fei said, “I did find two money pouches from his hut though,” Gu Fei took them out and handed it over to Young Master Han.
Young Master Han was stunned for a bit before he finally took it and waved his arms at the rest, “Let’s go back and split the reward.”
They all replied in agreement, yet they sounded listless. This was not the usual reaction people would have when talking about splitting rewards.
Ray’s Bar had seemed to become this bunch’s rendezvous point. All were subdued as they got back to Yunduan City and made their way over.
Ray was already accustomed to their presence and he pointed them toward an empty room.
They entered and got seated. Young Master Han reached into his pocket and the three money pouches with the gold coins were emptied on the table. This pile of gold coins could be viewed as an enormous fortune already, considering that most players were still barely making a few dozen silver coins.
“Let’s hear it from everyone how we should split all these,” Young Master Han said.
Nobody said a thing. If it was up to Gu Fei, he would have wanted to have it distributed equally and be done with. However, he had no idea if there were any unspoken rules of sort among online gaming pros so he decided to keep his mouth shut. As for the rest of them, they were hesitating on whether they should take the coins or not since Gu Fei’s actions of sneaking in through a secret pathway and soloing Sooto had rendered what they did worthless in comparison.
“Say something! Why are you all so quiet?!” Young Master Han had no idea as well, pushing the difficult conundrum to everyone.
“Let’s split these equally!” Brother Assist spoke. Young Master Han was surprised. While some of them seemed as if they did not contribute much, they nevertheless expended quite a bit of effort and time. No one would be willing to just hand over all the gold to Gu Fei, but it was somewhat shameless to ask for an equal distribution. He had not expected anyone here to be thick-skinned enough to actually suggest it in this case. They were all renowned online gaming pros after all! While they were all skilled, it was necessary to be gracious with everyone.
Upon hearing Brother Assist’s suggestion, Gu Fei sighed in relief. In the end, it was an equal distribution! He immediately agreed, “Yes, let’s do that!”
Everyone could see that Gu Fei’s words and actions were not done in mockery and immediately livened up. This was a huge reward in any case.
In the end, it still fell on to Young Master Han to divide the pile into six portions before finally grabbing a few coins from each portion and creating a somewhat bigger pile that he pushed toward Gu Fei, “You should get more since you put in the most effort with that solo kill.”
“Is that so? I’ll take it!” Gu Fei was not being modest at all and extended his hand to collect the pile into his dimensional pocket. Once he was done, he patted his robe and got up, “Alright, I’m leaving!”
“Leaving? Where to?” They were shocked.
“Offline, of course! I’ve still got work tomorrow!” Gu Fei said.
“Oh! Go ahead then!” They had no idea what else to say.
“See you later!” Gu Fei waved to the group, and coolly turned away. He was really logging off, only it was not for work tomorrow. Gu Fei was definitely not like the average player who spent his whole day in the game. Every morning, afternoon, and night, he would practice his kung fu, never once missing a session. It was just about the time for him to go practice and limber up his body.
Gu Fei left as the five pros stared blankly. None of them made the first move to take their respective share of coins off the table.
Once again, it was Young Master Han who first made a move, smiling toward Brother Assist as he played with a gold coin, “Brother Assist, you’re really something else!”
“I found it somewhat awkward to suggest an equal distribution. That was so unlike you,” Young Master Han’s words had a hint of ridicule in them.
Brother Assist returned his smile, “Are you teasing me? I honestly thought it wasn’t that overboard to ask for equal distribution!”
“It’s like what that guy said earlier. I think it was really because we were clearing the monsters by the entrance that resulted in Sooto having no additional bandits to support him, giving Gu Fei the opportunity to solo the Mountain Bandit Leader.”
Young Master Han thought about it for a while and nodded, “You’re right. That fight was quite hectic. I even thought it was the system respawning additional monsters. In retrospect, it was actually the additional bandits that Sooto called for that we ended up blocking as they tried to make their way over. How fortunate that I healed so perfectly, or else we would have been wiped out! Ha ha ha ha!”
Everyone’s expression changed. They all regarded Sword Demon with great respect, seeing how difficult it was to be partnered with this sort of person.
“Yeah, so I didn’t think equal distribution is too much. It’s just a little bit more… You gave him a little extra at the end right?” Brother Assist immediately said.
“Indeed, that makes sense! Let’s all take our reward!” Young Master Han called out. All took their portion into their pockets, yet the atmosphere was still the same as before.
The money issue was nothing more than a trifle to these pros. What left them contemplative was that there existed a player who did something none of them could accomplish.
They were all thinking of the same thing and could only come away with a forced smile, Soloing a boss? Even if the boss was naked and without any armor at all, let alone just topless, there’s no way I could do that!