Chapter 15 – Viewed in a New Light
Shi Feng brushed Nie Yan’s side. Though, unexpectedly, he had moved past without noticing his opponent.
“Dammit… Where is that brat?” Shi Feng muttered under his breath. He had yet to realize that he had already been exposed.
Nie Yan trailed behind Shi Feng, following him closely. His gaze was focused on the area around Shi Feng’s back.
The dagger in Nie Yan’s right hand resembled lightning as it swiftly stabbed towards the back of his unsuspecting victim.
By the time Shi Feng felt something wasn’t right, it was too late. Nie Yan’s dagger had already arrived, penetrating deeply into Shi Feng’s back.
「Shlink! Splurt!」The dagger easily cut into him, dealing thirty-one points of damage to Shi Feng. Evidently, his defense stat wasn’t very high.
One attacked, and the other was being attacked. Immediately, the effects of Stealth for both players disappeared simultaneously.
Having finally discovered his assailant, Shi Feng turned around and retaliated. He slashed back at Nie Yan, sweeping his dagger in a wide arc.
Shi Feng’s dagger seemed to be just a bit short in length. However, that lack in blade length signified a miss as his dagger passed by Nie Yan.
Nie Yan’s dagger seemed to carry a cold glint as it streaked through the air, slitting Shi Feng’s throat.
「System: Vital Strike successful! Attack +5%, resulting in additional damage dealt!」
In one fell swoop, the seventy-nine health Shi Feng had remaining was instantly depleted. His eyes were filled with disbelief as if he had seen a ghost.「Thud.」His body collapsed onto the jungle floor.
The entire course of events had taken place in merely a few seconds. Nie Yan still had full health remaining.
The corner of Nie Yan’s mouth faintly curved into a sneer. He wasn’t required to showcase even the least of his abilities to deal with this novice Level 2 Knight-errant.
Both of them were returned to the auditorium at the same time.
“Shi Feng, what the hell happened?”
“Just how… how did it end so quickly…?”
The several youths encircled Shi Feng and began asking questions. On the video screen, they saw the figures of both Nie Yan and Shi Feng in combat after they had come out of stealth. In that fleeting moment, they were basically unable to clearly see, nor understand, what had occurred near the end. Within the blink of an eye—in simply a few exchanges—Shi Feng had already collapsed on the ground.
“His movements were really fast.” Shi Feng recalled their earlier exchange. Nie Yan had only made a few simple movements, yet his speed was simply unbelievable. Moreover, Nie Yan had killed him in two strikes; one of them hitting him in the vitals. Inside the game, the system would assist a player’s movements when executing skills. However, when it came to reaction speed, judgement, sense of attack and so on, all of them relied on the player’s own capabilities. Shi Feng had a hard time imagining what sort of disastrous outcome would occur if the two of them were to end up fighting in real life, especially if Nie Yan had a blade in his hand.
As he stared at that person’s figure, Shi Feng recalled all the times they went to him looking for trouble. He remembered how that person would always grin and bear through their humiliation without a hint of resistance. If that same person from the past had always been faking it… now that would be truly too terrifying. As he thought back to that dagger in Nie Yan’s hand, Shi Feng felt a cold chill run through his heart.
“I lost.” At that moment, Shi Feng didn’t dare to refute his defeat. The facts were arranged right before everyone’s eyes. Furthermore, he had also lost to Nie Yan’s boldness during the fight.
There was no need to fear those who acted arrogant and tyrannical. In reality, their tough appearances were merely poor disguises; Shi Feng was one such person. What people like him feared the most were those who possessed great strength and could endure without ever wavering.
Shi Feng began to think of Fourth Elder Lei who opened a restaurant in Gatehead Village. He truly was an amiable and gentle person. In the past, this area used to have a bunch of gangsters who would frequently go to his place. There they would freeload food and vandalize the restaurant. Fourth Elder Lei had always let them do what they wanted, bearing through their humiliation. There was a time when Shi Feng had gone to his restaurant in order to freeload food with ten or so other people. By chance, they ended up meeting his daughter who had just returned. Fourth Elder Lei had grown into a hunchback, but that daughter of his was actually fairly lively and beautiful. Several of them couldn’t resist trying to get their hands on his daughter.
Fourth Elder Lei begged for mercy, but those gangsters wouldn’t have it. They started to tear off his daughter’s clothes which enraged Fourth Elder Lei. He grabbed his kitchen knife and cut down three of those gangsters—they were instantly killed on the spot. Then, with his knife, he chopped off Boss Yin’s arm. Fourth Elder Lei’s whole body was covered in blood, yet he remained calm and unperturbed, allowing the customers on the side to call the police. At that time, Shi Feng was so frightened he nearly urinated in his pants.
Since Fourth Elder Lei had acted in self-defense, he was only sentenced to half a year in jail. After that, no one dared to cause trouble at his restaurant, nor lay a hand on his daughter again.
People who could endure silently were the most terrifying. It was because if they were to snap one day, they would reveal their full ferocity—becoming fiercer than anyone else. Remembering the scene of that day, Shi Feng felt his body break out in a cold sweat.
After experiencing something like that, Shi Feng had honestly and properly behaved himself for a while. Afterward, however, he began following Wei Kai’s group. After experiencing the fight today, his whole body began to quiver. If they were to bully Nie Yan and push him to the brink one day, would he snap just as Fourth Elder Lei had? Would Nie Yan grab a blade and ruthlessly slash their throats akin to what Shi Feng had just experienced in the game?
“In the future, it’ll be better if we don’t provoke that guy anymore. He’s definitely hard to deal with.” Shi Feng warned the several people beside him in a solemn manner.
“Shi Feng! You can’t be terrified after losing just one match, can you? From now on, we don’t know each other.” One of the youths by his side cursed at him. The others around him had also exposed expressions of disdain.
“I’ll still pay you guys back the money. As for the loss, it’s no big deal anyway,” Shi Feng said. He suddenly understood. Although people like them felt good when they often bullied others, there would come a day when all their debts are repaid in full—just like that matter with Fourth Elder Lei. On that day, Boss Yin lost both his arm and his position as the boss. Now he could only make a living by scavenging for trash. As for those three gangsters who were cut down, they couldn’t even make a living as they had lost their lives.
“Get out. Scram.”
Nie Yan no longer paid attention to Shi Feng and the others. He continued looking at the scene of the match. The competition between Tang Yao and Wei Kai was still in the second round. Since it was on an open field, this time, Tang Yao had lost his advantage. Eventually, he was killed by the slash of Wei Kai wielding his sword.
One after another, the matches continued. After they had finished ten matches, Tang Yao had won two, while Wei Kai had won eight. As a result, Tang Yao lost a thousand and two hundred credits.
“F*ck, Wei Kai that bastard also learned a new skill. This time, it’s the Berserker skill, Resist Magic Aura. This beating is truly depressing,” Tang Yao said while he fumed with anger. Resist Magic Aura increased the player’s magic resistance. A Berserker with this skill was practically the bane of all Mages.
“You know, Resist Magic Aura only decreases your damage by a little bit. When you’re PvPing as an Arcane Mage, your movements need to be quick. Secondly, you need to keep your mana expenditure at a stable rate. Third, your reactions have to be fast as well. Furthermore, when you were fighting, your timing for casting spells was incorrect,” Nie Yan advised. In terms of strength, Tang Yao’s Arcane Mage was stronger than Wei Kai’s Berserker by a lot. The reason Tang Yao lost wasn’t because Wei Kai was more skilled than him by any means. Rather, it was because Arcane Mages had a higher skill cap. A skilled Arcane Mage could effortlessly toy a Berserker of the same level to death. However, an unskilled Arcane Mage would easily be hacked to death by a Berserker of the same level. Simple professions like Berserkers, which were tanky hack and slashers, didn’t require much skill to play at all.
“You brat! I didn’t expect that you knew so much,” Tang Yao said in admiration. In retrospect, Nie Yan’s words made quite some sense.
After pushing open the door, Wei Kai and his group came over from the other side with Shi Feng following from behind. The latter glanced at Nie Yan with a somewhat complicated expression on his face.
“Young Master Tang, it seems that your brother here is growing up more and more. Surprisingly, he even defeated Shi Feng.” Wei Kai’s narrow and slender eyes glanced over towards Nie Yan. In the past, Nie Yan had always been a well-behaved punching bag. Indeed, it appeared the Nie Yan of today and the Nie Yan from the past just weren’t the same. Be it expression or temperament, there was quite a large change in both.
Wei Kai switched the video on the screen over to the time when Nie Yan defeated Shi Feng in their fight. Afterward, he played it back in slow motion. The entire fight had concluded within three seconds. Looking at the screen, Nie Yan’s movements and attacks were flawless and watertight.
After watching the video, Tang Yao stared at Nie Yan with an astonished gaze, as if what he had seen was unimaginable. This brother of his, just when had he become so courageous and powerful?
“Just a few moments ago, you had a match with Shi Feng?” Tang Yao was a little dazed. He still didn’t dare to believe that person in the video was Nie Yan.
“Just a small match. He was too weak, though,” Nie Yan replied in an unrestrained manner, not minding the people near him at all.
Wei Kai gave a meaningful glance, signaling the youth who wore a flower pattern shirtnext to him.
This action caught Nie Yan’s eye. That person was called Li Yang—Wei Kai’s right-hand man.
“Brat! Don’t get too conceited. Do you believe I can’t beat you down?” Li Yang approached Nie Yan and came at him with a kick. His age was one or two years younger than Nie Yan, however, he was taller and more robust in comparison.
Nie Yan was a little short. Combined with his poor nutrition, he was also very thin and weak.
Nie Yan coldly smiled, then dodged Li Yang’s attack. He followed up by kicking Li Yang’s supporting leg, stamping on the knee joint. He was no longer the same youth who had been so easily bullied in the past.
His current strength was not one bit inferior to a second grade mixed martial artist. It was just that his body was still weak. However, when it came to dealing with wannabe gangsters like them, he had more than enough energy to spare.
“Ahhhh!” Li Yang let out a miserable shriek as he reeled back, stumbled, and then fell.
That blood-curdling scream sent chills through the hearts of everyone who witnessed this scene.
With this show of force, Shi Feng was reminded of Fourth Elder Lei. At that moment, he felt becoming an obedient student at school would be quite a wonderful and fortunate idea.
“You’re courting death!” The several youths behind Wei Kai wanted to charge in and give Nie Yan a painful and thorough beating. However, they were all pulled back by Wei Kai.
Li Yang’s prior actions were simply Wei Kai’s way of probing Nie Yan. Though admittedly, he was also greatly surprised. Unexpectedly, the timid and cowardly Nie Yan—who was always grinning and bearing through humiliation—actually had this kind of skill. From his experience, he had only seen those kinds of quick movements from a few people. Martial arts wasn’t something one could quickly improve in only two or three days. It required long periods of training. Only then would one be able to slowly improve. Could it be…? Nie Yan’s cowardice in the past, was it all just an act?
Why is it that no matter how I look at him, Nie Yan seems completely different today?
Ignoring Li Yang who was still clutching his leg and screaming on the floor, Wei Kai walked up to Nie Yan and said, “Young Master Nie, are you interested in playing a match?” He had even changed the way he addressed Nie Yan. After drifting through society for so long, he knew which kinds of people he could touch, and which he could not. Nie Yan had just revealed his skill, and completely put Wei Kai in awe.
“There’s no harm in playing one or two matches. However, I won’t play if the stakes are too small.” Inwardly, Nie Yan felt unavoidably shocked—this Wei Kai was quite a character. The criminal bosses of the underworld acted outwardly kind in appearance, but commit evil deeds in secret. In addition, many of them would reveal astonishing talents when they were at a very young age, fostering them as they grew older. In his past life, he heard Wei Kai had actually become pretty well regarded. It was only until later on when he invaded another criminal organization’s territory and caused a major event, did he disappear without a trace.
“A thousand a match. I have three thousand,” Wei Kai said. He had brought out all the money he had.
“That’s too unfair. A Level 3 Berserker facing a Level 2 Tempest Thief, don’t you think you’re bullying people too much?” Tang Yao said in a dissatisfied manner. There was a difference in level, and it was a heavily armoured Warrior versus a lightly armored Thief. It was obvious which side was superior.
“—Three thousand a match.” Nie Yan interrupted Tang Yao’s complaints and spoke to Wei Kai.
“Fine. I’ll keep you company then,” Wei Kai replied. He didn’t believe a Level 2 Tempest Thief was capable of turning the tables on him.
“Nie Yan, Have you gone mad!?” Tang Yao anxiously said. A Level 2 Tempest Thief versus a Level 3 Berserker; unless he was a Heaven-defying expert who could bypass the level gap, he would definitely lose this match.
“I only have fourteen hundred on me. Lend me sixteen hundred,” Nie Yan said to Tang Yao while laughing.
“God dammit. If you lose, it’s whatever. You still have to pay me back, though!” Tang Yao angrily muttered back.
“I’ll pay you back,” Nie Yan said. Although Tang Yao’s old man was wealthy, he still didn’t get a lot of pocket money. Not to mention, it would all be earned through working for his dad. In this era, all high-class elites would educate their children in this way, making them earn their own living and become self-reliant.
“Bullshit. If you want to lose, just lose. Who wants you to pay them back anyways.” Tang Yao swiped his card, transferring over sixteen hundred credits to Nie Yan.
“Thanks,” Nie Yan said. Tang Yao was the type of person who had a sharp tongue, but a soft heart. If Nie Yan lost, Tang Yao definitely wouldn’t allow Nie Yan to pay him back those thousand six hundred credits.
In his past life, Nie Yan had received too much of Tang Yao’s grace. He had never once thought of letting Nie Yan pay him back. This is what a true brother should be like.
“Pull Li Yang up, we’re leaving,” Wei Kai said. The group of people headed back to their respective area in the room.
“Nie Yan, that brat! How did he suddenly become capable of fighting? God dammit… it hurts like hell. Next time I’ll definitely find some people to beat that shitty brat to death.” Li Yang walked over to the sofa and rolled up his pant leg. A large area on his knee was bruised completely black and blue.
“Don’t waste your breath, he didn’t even use any strength. Otherwise, your leg would’ve been broken. I want you guys to remember this from now on. No one is to provoke Nie Yan. If you meet him, I want you to hide far away. If any one of you stirs up trouble for me, don’t blame me for not being polite!” Wei Kai warned. Their school taught Taekwondo, boxing, and mixed martial arts as academic programs. He was able to make out that the movements Nie Yan had made were standard in mixed martial arts. However, in comparison to the mixed martial arts that was taught in school, his movements were much more fierce and violent. When he took action, every movement would either cause serious, or even fatal, damage. Just what kind of person is this brat?
He began to recall Nie Yan’s former cowardly and timid manner. That guy’s thoughts are really deep and mysterious. He was actually able to conceal himself for this long. Wei Kai felt a wave of coldness pour over his heart.
“How can we just let it pass?” Li Yang unwillingly asked.
“So…? What about it? You ask yourself, are you capable of beating him? In the future, properly go to your Taekwondo classes, and you won’t lose so miserably next time!” Wei Kai replied.
“Boss, it’s about to start.” A youth next to him spoke.
Wei Kai put on his helmet.
In the adjacent area, Tang Yao was carefully observing Nie Yan. After a long while, he finally spoke. “Just a moment ago, I was being stupid and forgot to ask. Brat, you’re actually not too bad! When did you become so strong!? One move and you had Li Yang knocked down and rolling on the floor!”
“I’ve been training at home for a while now. It’s more than enough to deal with those guys,” Nie Yan said. His body’s strength really was too weak, otherwise, his power wouldn’t be this little. Li Yang and those good for nothings were like a bunch of pillows. Only Wei Kai would be a bit difficult to deal with. Even then, he still wasn’t much of an opponent.
“You brat. You’ve certainly made me look at you in a new light. I’m still suspicious of whether or not you’re the same Nie Yan I’ve known since childhood!” Tang Yao said in quite a good mood.
“It doesn’t matter how much I change, you’re still going to be my brother!” Nie Yan proclaimed. In his past life, even when he was at the lowest point of his life, Tang Yao still viewed him as a brother. Just as distance would determine the stamina of a horse, time would eventually reveal a person’s true nature.
“For the sake of those words, let’s properly have a toast when we get back!” Tang Yao said while patting Nie Yan on the shoulder.
“Wei Kai’s already waiting inside the game.”
“Are you sure you can win?” Tan Yao anxiously asked.
“No worries, just watch and see. What? Could it be you don’t believe I’ll pay you back that thousand six hundred…?” Nie Yan laughed, joking around with Tang Yao.
“Go have your match. As for money, that kind of thing is useless to me. Even if you lose, it’s not like it’s the end of the world. Besides, you don’t get much of an allowance every month anyways… If you end up losing that fourteen hundred, you’ll be eating boiled rice for a whole month, isn’t that right?”¹
“Watch as I toy this Level 3 Berserker to death!” Nie Yan said with a confident smile.
“Good man! You’re getting wilder and wilder!” Tang Yao laughed.
Two people wore their helmets and entered the game.
When he reemerged, the stage Nie Yan appeared in was an open prairie. There was an endless field of lush green grass. The dense underbrush was tall—roughly reaching up to a person’s knees.
My luck is pretty bad. Turns out it’s a grassland stage, thought Nie Yan as he knitted his brows. However, even if he were in the open fields, he still had his tactics. The green background of the grassland served as good camouflage for a Thief to conceal themselves with. The only flaw was that the dense undergrowth on the ground could possibly expose his whereabouts.
“The current stage is an open field. If you think it’s unfair, we can switch stages,” Wei Kai suggested. There would be a large amount of luck involved if they were only playing a single match. Different terrains suited different professions, and the open prairie suited Warrior professions such as the Berserker—who could freely charge around swinging their swords.
Although Wei Kai was a bully, he surprisingly acted in a magnanimous manner.
“Doesn’t matter. If it’s an open field, it’s an open field.” Nie Yan grasped his dagger and entered stealth. His opinion of Wei Kai had actually changed by quite a bit.
A gentle breeze blew past the open prairie, causing the tall grasses to bend in its direction. Gradually, Nie Yan’s silhouette faded into the background.
He has this much ability? Wei Kai felt his heart sink; his expression becoming solemn. He was observing carefully, yet he couldn’t find any traces of Nie Yan’s whereabouts. He wasn’t even able to find any peculiarities with the thick grass on the ground either.
Nie Yan did indeed have some skill. Wei Kai grasped onto his greatsword and gradually drew closer. The shorter the distance between them, the easier it would be for him to find his opponent.
Nie Yan walked alongside the wind, continuously changing direction in accordance with it. Even if he were to step on the grass, it would slant in the same direction the wind was blowing
¹ Boiled rice is sort of like rice gruel. Putting already cooked rice in hot water and eating it like that. Pretty bland and tasteless. It’s usually eaten by the poor.