Chapter 39: Rage Gauge
When speaking with Luqiu Duanyi, Yue Qiang always had that feeling that he was kept in the dark. Every time he took the initiative to ask a question, she would often answer it with yet another question. This question was often very important as well, one that he would slip into without knowing until he forgot what he wanted to ask in the first place.
Therefore this time, he seized the initiative decisively.
“Answer my question first.” He said loudly, “Is this game a ‘Single Player’ game?”
“I need to know how much is your progress now…”
Yue Qiang was not moved by her question. He continued to question closely, “Is this game a single player game or not, or should I say, are there any other players in it?”
The voice on the other side turned silent for a while. In the end she answered Yue Qiang’s question.
“This is a single player game.” Luqiu Duanyi’s voice slowed down, “This is an absolute single player game that only belongs to you.”
A game that only belongs to me… Yue Qiang seemed to sense something from these words. However, he swiftly refuted her loudly, “But…”
“There are not buts.” Luqiu Duanyi’s tone picked up her usual pace once more, “This is a single player game. That’s all. Why, have you seen an online multi-player game that comes with a ‘Game Manual’?”
“Have you seen an online multi-player game that comes with a ‘Cutscene’? One that includes you, the player?”
She let out a cold humph and asked again with a somewhat ridiculing tone, “Then, have you seen an online multi-player game that is free of charge?”
When Yue Qiang heard this, he answered very straightforwardly, “I’ve never seen an online multi-player game that is free of charge.”
“Therefore, you are playing a single player game.” Luqiu Duanyi concluded, “Alright, now tell me quickly what is the rate of your blue progress bar.”
The woman’s arguments were complete sophistry, but he was no longer able to question anything else out of her right now. He looked at the bottom corner of the screen and said, “It’s over 70%, but not by too much. It’s about 73 or 74 percent.”
He had mentioned the changes of the progress bar earlier during his last call with her. Time hadn’t passed too much since then, but for some reason the woman had stressed about this matter repeatedly. He was about to say something more when she took the lead and said, “Dangerous, it’s too dangerous… this progress is already too much.”
Luqiu Duanyi stressed with the utmost gravity she could muster, “Yue Qiang, for the next period of time, you must absolutely follow the plot development to the letter. Try your best not to change any plot or trigger any hidden quest whatsoever. Moreover, the most important thing is that you must reach the School of Mo’s Great Camp and learn that skill before the blue progress bar hits 100%. Otherwise, you will never have the chance again when it reaches 100%!”
These were the words that contained the largest amount of information Yue Qiang had ever heard from her.
At the same time, the blue progress bar had progressed tremendously along with several keywords – especially the two keywords ‘School of Mo’s Great Camp’ and ‘Skill’ – and reached 78%!
What came after those words was long silence. But Yue Qiang’s head was in a complete turmoil.
He recalled the past where every time he tried throwing a question at Luqiu Duanyi, she would either respond with silence or switch to another topic. The one time she spoke the most was the time she had sent him the game manual through an inexplicable method. At that time, the blue progress bar had increased tremendously because he spoke words that were relevant to the game first. This time, the blue progress bar had increased by a lot again after Luqiu Duanyi had spoken the words that were related to the game.
Was she trying her best to suppress my blue progress bar all this time?
“I can’t say anything else. We’ll talk more after you got out of that place.” Luqiu Duanyi said.
“Wait, where do I go to learn whatever skill that is?”
A series of noise came from the other side of the phone. It seemed like she was working as a saleswoman at a mall. At any rate, it sounded like an incredibly chaotic environment. After a while, the environmental noise grew even louder, and a series of static noise rang out of the earpiece. Then it was followed by a ‘du – du – du –’ disconnect tone.
Yue Qiang hung up.
So, he needed to suppress the blue progress bar’s elevation and reach the School of Mo’s Great Camp before it reaches 100%, was it?
It was convenient then that the main quest coincided with what she said just now.
Yue Qiang returned to the NPC’s house inside Yue Village. The moment he walked through the door, the village elder Chen Zi Han had already hurried over to him with a worried look, “Are you safe, young sir? You were gone for quite a while? This old man was seriously worried.”
“That’s good. Now, please listen to my plan to escape the village and head to the School of Mo’s Great Camp, young sir. The village are ready to create a commotion when it is deep at night so you may use to confusion to escape. We may lose four or five people during the process, but young sir must absolutely not come back to save us. All you need to do is to run away from this place. The exit at the northern side is the easiest to walk out of.”
The village elder Chen Zi Han finished explaining his plan, and was ready to take one step further and explain it in better detail. Yue Qiang hurriedly typed, “I helped a strange trader in the Zhao army camp to complete a quest, and he said that he can help me to escape.”
Chen Zi Han’s expression was serious as he asked in a low voice, “Can this person be trusted? In my opinion, it may still be a better idea for the village to go out and cause a commotion in order to aid your escape. Even if we lose several people…”
Yue Qiang said, “There’s no need. This man may be a little strange, but his status in the Zhao army camp is rather high, and he does have some capabilities as well. The village simply needs to wait here at ease for me to return with reinforcements.”
The village elder Chen Zi Han still wore a hesitant expression.
Yue Qiang knew that this NPC did not dare to answer him because he was cowardly and someone who valued his face greatly. Therefore he typed again, “Teacher, you still have a lot of strength in your command, and a rich wealth of knowledge and experience. If you are to perish under the Zhao Soldiers’ halberds because you caused a commotion, it may be a difficult thing to pass away in peace.”
The village elder Chen Zi Han let out a sigh pretentiously and agreed to Yue Qiang’s suggestion. He took out an oilskin bag from his lap. There was a small bag sewn with a layer of special grass knots inside it. He tore open that bag and took out a roll of bamboo slips inside it with a solemn look and said,
“This old man had studied over ten thousand books for the past couple of decades, and acquired some insights of my own. I have recorded all of them onto this book. If I cannot assist young sir in the escape plan, then this old man shall present this book to young sir in hopes that you may learn something after you have studied it completely.”
The teacher Chen Zi Han’s demeanor was incredibly serious. Yue Qian too accepted the book with a solemn face.
He now knew that these book types item were incredibly important in this game. He clicked the book and discovered that it wasn’t converted automatically by the system into navigable book pages like the time he was filling in the missing blanks of the ‘Analect’ at the start of the game. Instead, the roll of bamboo slips unfolded slowly to display many clear ink writing.
The first word on the bamboo slip was the word ‘Shi*’. The font of the word was huge and full.
*In this context, you may interpret ‘Shi’ as ‘Warrior’.
The first line of the text was, ‘The commander of the forces of a large state may be carried off, but the will of even a common man cannot be taken from him’. It was exactly a line that he once filled in the blanks in the Analect.
He read line after line of words on the bamboo slip. At the beginning, he was still feeling pretty normal. But gradually, he began to feel a tremendous energy that emanated from every word. They arrived in front of his character, and even pierced through the computer monitor and entered his heart.
The contents of this bamboo slip was very normal. It talked about the spirit of literati officialdom, some famous quotes from the Analect, and some of Chen Zi Han’s own insights. However, as he continued to read, Yue Qiang actually became fascinated by the text. It was as if he could read between the lines literally and saw Chen Zi Han’s great efforts in building the village and caring for his farmland; readily throwing himself into combat in the face of powerful enemies. This book was like a picture that displayed that spirit of his to absolute vividness.
The Chen Zi Han displayed inside the book was no longer that little old man who overly valued his face and wielded a scholarly pride. Instead he had become a warrior; a warrior who does not fear death.
After finishing reading the entire text, Yue Qiang’s gaze fell once more on the large ‘Shi’ word at the beginning of the book.
It was a vigor and forcefulness that penetrated through its own medium.
Was this what you call ‘the spirit of literati officialdom’? He remembered that the ‘the spirit of literati officialdom’ his teacher had talked about in class was different from the one presented in this bamboo slip, and yet he could feel it in his very bones that feeling of walking bravely into one’s death.
Suddenly, he recalled the time he first entered the game. At the time the NPCs in the village had long since learned that the news that the Zhao State would invade Yue Village, and yet not a single one of them had thought to escape. They were all of the same mentality where they thought it would be worth it they took an enemy down with their own; profit a life if they took down two. He thought he could understand them better now.
“Have you learned something, young sir?” Chen Zi Han asked, “Originally, young sir should not be able to read this book with your current abilities. However, this old man can feel that the distance between us is slowly shortening and disappearing completely. Therefore if I may ask young sir boldly: Have you… learned something?”
Yue Qiang quietly looked at a line of text that had appeared on the screen: Observe ‘Shi’, and know ‘Rage’.
System Message [Green]: You have learned ‘Shi’. Through Chen Zi Han’s explanation and your own inspiration through self-reflection, you have successfully activated the Rage Gauge.
He murmured to himself: I knew that Gauges need to be unlocked with books…
The system message slowly faded away. Without hesitation, he typed inside the dialog box and replied to Chen Zi Han, “Yes!”