Chapter 47: Go Inside
Outside the Mo Family’s Great Cave.
There were a few corpses at this place. They were all Zhao bodies.
A dark figure gradually appeared on the flat lands. He wore a Zhao Army uniform, but his attire was different from a common soldier or a sergeant. Three black feathers decorated the shoulder area of his uniform.
He crouched on the ground and counted the number of corpses carefully.
“One, two, three, three of them had bled to death. Two of them were actually frightened to death, and we even lost a sergeant… did something unexpected happen?” the figure muttered to himself, “It’s good that I came. Master Zhao Yan truly has prodigious foresight…”
The dark figure no longer bothered with the corpses on the ground as his figure slowly faded, blurred, and finally vanished. The direction at which he vanished was exactly Mo Family’s Great Cave.
A new message had appeared on Yue Qiang’s monitor:
System Message [Blue]: First stage of Quest ‘Request Aid’ is complete.
The content of the quest ‘Request Aid’ was to reach Mo Family’s Great Camp and seek help. Just moments ago Yue Qiang had killed a boss by a hair’s breadth, and the message he got indicated that he had just finished the first stage. Unless he was mistaken, this seemed to mean that a more powerful enemy would be coming after him very soon?
Wait… what’s with this blue color?
Right now, he was incredibly sensitive towards colored system messages; this colored messages were usually much more important than the normal messages. Green color meant the activation of a new system, stats or skills, and red meant the decryption rate, which was still at a very basic level. However, the color blue was different.
The blue progress bar represented the conversion rate, and this thing was incredibly deadly. His blue progress bar was already seventy percent at this point. He remembered that Luqiu Duanyi once reminded him that, from now on, he must suppress the progression of the blue progress bar as much as possible and thus acquire more time from it. Obviously, this meant that to him, the slower the blue progress bar rose, the better.
He looked at the corner of the monitor and found that the blue progress bar sat at exactly 80% right now. Obviously, this quest had caused the progress bar to grow a little more and reached 80%. This time, the system had even made an exception to warn him after the progress bar had reached 80%. This probably meant that something important was about to happen.
Yue Qiang surveyed his surroundings and quickly noticed a change.
There were no HP bars.
Everyone’s HP bars were gone.
When he hovered his mouse over the tiger’s corpse earlier, it had showed a dark grey and empty health bar. The rest of the Zhao Soldiers’ corpses also had empty health bars, whereas the girls with her eyes closed wrapped in bed sheets had more than half of her health left. But after this system message had appeared, all of the HP bar had vanished from the screen.
When Yue Qiang noticed this change, he very naturally recalled the time he first played the Game. At that time, he was astonished by the weird combination of the game’s ridiculously realistic graphics and ridiculously simplistic UI. He had tapped every key on the keyboard but found only the character and item windows. Options such as resolution or save/load or shadow or background depth etc were completely missing, much less the on off button of a health bar indicator.
Health bar was something that was on by default from the moment he played the Game until now.
However, when the blue progress bar had reached 80% right now, the health bar indicator had suddenly turned off by itself.
The result of missing health bar was of course, a more realistic game.
When he first played this game, he simply felt that it was very realistic. But as his game time increased, he could clearly feel that the level of realism was gradually increasing. The first indicator was the NPCs’ growing intelligence. From the beginning where he could repeatedly converse with Chen Zi Han a dozen of times, to the point where the NPCs could make independent decisions of their own, before finally arriving at characters such as the righteous and heroic Hunter Tu Xu and the perverted and cowardly doctor Ming Que. The NPCs’ behaviors and character had grown vivid and defined over time. They weren’t this realistic from the beginning.
This was a gradually changing process.
The more prominent evidence was when the progress bar had reached 50%.
After the cutscene had begun, an incredibly unforgettable character had appeared before Yue Qiang – Ai Qian. His incredibly high charm and incredibly weak libido was a combination that very few people could forget, and this person did not look like an NPC at all. Moreover, Ai Qian also had an attribute that was different from other NPCs – Memory Unlock Rate 3%.
While recalling the memories, Yue Qiang’s eyes could not help but stare at the ridiculously beautiful girl before him. Yue Qiang refused to believe that she was just an NPC even if he was to be beaten to death. Forget that she shared the same attribute with Ai Qian ‘Memory Unlock Rate 0%’, just based on her deductive skills and ability to distinguish all kinds of details to make out the truth, and the cool-headedness she displayed such as the miniscule detail where she tore the bed sheets to create a noise alone, there were probably no more than a few people in real life who could pull off such a thing, much less an NPC.
These changes hadn’t appeared abruptly. They had gradually become prominent as the blue progress bar increased.
When the two characters, Ai Qian and Yin appeared before him, these changes had reached a point where he absolutely could ignore them no longer.
If he wanted to try discovering the cause behind these changes, there was a question he could ask first.
This question was also a very easy question to ask.
Ai Qian and Yin. Were they players?
Or in other words, was this game truly a single player game? Could there be other players in the world who encountered similar circumstances like Yue Qiang? Did they start playing the Game for baffling and unaccountable reasons, discovered the tri-colored progress bar, and as they continued playing the real world grew more and more fake and the game world grew more and more real?
Would there be someone else who experienced the same thing?
Was the girl in front of him this ‘someone’?
It wasn’t difficult at all either if he wanted to know the answer.
He just needed to ask her.
And so Yue Qiang typed, “I have a lot of things to ask you.”
Coincidentally, Yin had also chosen this moment to speak. Her voice was very nice, “I have forgotten everything, so I have a lot of things to ask you too.”
“Me first.” Yue Qiang typed swiftly, “Who are you, where did you come from and, how did…”
Before Yue Qiang could finish typing the sentence, he was interrupted by Yin. After all, typing was in no way faster than speaking.
“Let me speak first, because I am sure that what I’m about to say is more important than yours.” Yin said flatly. Her voice was nice but her tone gave no room for doubt, “Maybe what I’m saying is a little hard to bear, and my tone may be a little harsh, but the most important thing right now was to solve our problems. On this point, I believe that we are of the same goal.”
“I am able to analyse you very easily during the short few minutes of our contact. You are well-versed in combat, and the fact that you were able to overturn an absolutely disadvantageous situation and kill the tiger proved that you are of great prowess. As a man, your great prowess will make you very popular.”
Hearing Yin’s praising him at the beginning, Yue Qiang knew that none of these were the important points. Yin would definitely be talking about his flaws now, and she would definitely follow up with a ‘But’.
“But.” Yin continued, “You are incredibly stupid.”
“You obviously had the chance to use me as bait just now and attack the tiger while it was killing and tearing me apart. It would definitely have a much higher chances of success than your blind attack of yours before.” There was no change in Yin’s intonation whatsoever. It was as if the act of using her as bait was but a most normal idea, “Let me tell you this. If you used me as bait and seek out an opportunity to attack the tiger, then you have at least fifty percent chance of survival. But the chances of your deluded attempt to save me and keep the both of us alive was definite lower than 10%!”
“50% versus 10%. You have made a most unprofitable decision. If it wasn’t because a ridiculously good luck where all kinds of coincidences just happen to fall into place, we would both be dead just now!” Yin concluded, “You are a person whose mind would grow hot and become unable to see through a situation when in combat. Therefore you are a very stupid person.”
Yue Qiang wanted to retort at being called stupid for saving her life, but he was interrupted yet again.
“Since your strength is commendable, but your brain isn’t too bright, you just need to listen to what I say from now on. Time is of the essence, and I have no time to answer your questions one by one right now. I can see that you are very surprised to see me, and in truth I am just as doubtful about this place, you, and even myself. But these aren’t urgent questions right now; they are questions that can be postponed and processed later. Right now, we must first take care of the most urgent problem. Then we can sit down and have a slow and nice discussion about the things you wanted to ask me.”
Yue Qiang subconsciously looked at the screen, and he suddenly noticed that system message that hadn’t yet faded away completely.
The first stage of boss… That’s right. This was just the first stage of the boss fight! There was probably another boss beyond the first! The boss at the back was the truly urgent matter right now!
“All kinds of signs points towards the fact that there is another tiger in this place! Moreover, this tiger is probably even more powerful than the one you killed!”
“Another tiger? But how did you know…”
“That’s because you do not know how to observe.” Yin said swiftly, “First, the tiger you killed is a female. This can be observed from the hair around its face, eyes, forehead and other traits. A female tiger normally had a lot less hair around their facial area than male tigers, and the distance between their eyes are also narrower. Most people would think that it’s about the same, but close observation allows one to very easily differentiate it. Not only that, this was a female tiger whose heat period isn’t completely over yet! This is a most critical intelligence.”
“Tigers are solitary animals, but when they are in heat, a female tiger would temporarily undergo a period of ‘marriage’, and right now, these two tigers are in pairs. This is just the first point. The second point to note is time: Have you noticed? The sun is about to fall, and a tiger’s hunting time normally starts at the evening. We really are very lucky… Both you and I had arrived around evening, and at this time the female tiger is the only one at home while the male tiger had gone out to hunt for food!”
“If we let down our guards now, when the male tiger comes back we will truly be dead!”
Yue Qiang quietly praised Yin’s observation skills. He himself had known about the boss only after receiving the system message, whereas this girl had confirmed this through observation and deduction alone. She even confirmed that the boss was probably a male tiger.
“I have one more tiny question.” He said with a hint of hopefulness, “What if this male tiger is a heartless bastard, and the two tigers are already divorced?”
The girl did not answer. What answered Yue Qiang was another voice.
It was a very low, very deep, very uncomfortable voice that sounded a little like the rumble of thunder, or the sound of someone hitting a drum.
Yue Qiang had heard this voice once when he was outside. It was very low, but a very loud voice.
This voice was the voice that had frightened the Zhao Soldiers to death just now. At the time he only thought that the owner of this voice must be very scary, but now, he knew exactly what it had made this sound.
A tiger’s roar.
“A male tiger would only let out such a roar during its mating season. The furthest range of this roar is more than two kilometers! Judging from this tiger roar, I’m afraid that the source of this roar is more than two kilometers away… this is an incredibly powerful male tiger!” Yin said.
Yue Qiang might lack in common sense, but he had watched a few episodes of Animal World. In Animal World, a male tiger’s body was often much bigger than a female’s, and if they barely escaped death fighting this female tiger alone, if an even stronger tiger came after them… there was zero chance of victory, man.
The difficulty and reward of this battle isn’t proportional. Is there really a need to fight this battle?
Wait… why don’t we check and see if this female tiger can give out some rewards.
“Give me a moment to loot the body.” Yue Qiang said and quickly headed towards the tiger’s corpse.
“Loot the body? What do you mean?”
Yue Qiang did not answer and touched a hand on the tiger’s body. There were no equipment drops, and he obtained only 4 progress points. The system had not given any explanation about progress points, and anyway after a cutscene they just dropped whenever a monster was killed. It’s just that the amount was few little. Even a tiger like this had only dropped 4 progress points.
The reward of this loot was questionable.
Logically speaking, the harder a quest was, the richer the reward for completing it would be. Either this 4 progress points was a lot already, or it was the other more probable possibility: When this quest was completed in full, there would be a special reward!
A super reward that would make up for its difficulty!
Yue Qiang recalled the past closely when he played the game, and suddenly he remembered that the system had given him a message before.
Moreover, this type of message had happened twice.
It was during the quest to ‘Defend Yue Village’. When he killed the two Zhao Soldiers, the soldier seemed to resent greatly the fact that he was sent to attack Yue Village. It was as if Mo Family’s Great Camp had some great treasure he could obtain, if he was sent to attack that place. After killing off the Zhao Sergeant, the Sergeant had said even more directly that ‘if we are to attack the Mo Family’s Great Camp, then perhaps we may have had a chance to avoid death.’ This wasn’t a hint but a straight answer already.
Yue Qiang had a guess about this game’s death penalty, and this guess was already doubly verified by Luqiu Duanyi and the Game Manual she sent to him. Therefore, if the reward for this quest was something that could ‘avoid death’, then it would definitely be something that could make up for this difficulty. After all, no matter how big a reward, he must first have the life to use it.
Although looting the tiger’s body only gave him progress points, this possibility was still very real. When he completely finished this quest, the system would give him through a certain method the reward to ‘avoid death’.
This was a very probable assumption!
Therefore what he needed to consider how was whether it was worth gambling his life on a quest with an infinitely close to zero chances of success, for a reward that allowed him to ‘avoid death’.
Yue Qiang had been silent for a while after looting the female tiger’s corpse.
Sitting at the side, Yin gave him a short moment before asking, “What are you thinking?”
“I am weighing whether it is better to escape now, or stay here and wait for the bigger prey.” Mentally speaking, Yue Qiang wanted to make the gamble. The game’s combat and sense of control was something that he had enjoyed all this time. It’s just that the game’s risk was just too high that he must give everything serious and careful consideration.
“In fact, you do not have too much choices to begin with. I know what you’re thinking: Before the tiger is back, leave this tiger den immediately, and if you can’t beat it just avoid it is all.” Yin analysed coolly, “But in truth, a tiger’s activity radius reaches between 20 to 30 kilometers. A more powerful tiger’s hunting radius can reach even further, and combining that fact with the tiger’s speed and hunting ability, there’s absolutely no way you can avoid the tiger’s pursuance.”
“Then your plan is…?”
“I do have a better plan that can raise this nearly 0% chance of victory to 50%.” Yin said confidently, “The way to survive isn’t to run out of the cave, but to go deeper inside it!”