After ending the call, Chen Xiaolian sighed softly. There was a slightly despondent look on his face.
“What? Are you still feeling worried for your guild members?” There was an ambiguous smile on Miao Yan’s face as she looked at Chen Xiaolian.
The two of them were within a small Arab-styled bar. Middle East music rang out from the speakers there. Looking through the windows, they could see that it was dark outside and there were not many people inside the bar. The two of them occupied a corner within the bar, a glass of freshly-squeezed fruit juice before each of them. A big hookah was placed beside their table.
“There is nothing to worry about. Regardless if I am there or not, Meteor Rock Guild is still Meteor Rock Guild.” Chen Xiaolian shook his head and smiled. “I know my guild members well enough.”
“Then, why the sigh?” Miao Yan raised her eyebrows. “Is it because… … you have to separate with your girlfriend?”
“Yes. Is there a problem?” Chen Xiaolian’s expression seemed to be saying: That’s to be expected. Then, he said, “If you have to leave your boyfriend for a long time, will you not sigh at all? Oh… I forgot. You are someone from the Upper Plane. Maybe… … in the Upper Plane, you are a coarse-looking guy.”
Chen Xiaolian snickered and he regarded Miao Yan from head to toe. “You know? When I am playing online games, the characters I create are always females. At any rate, the one on screen is someone that I have to look at all the time. Looking at a beautiful female beats looking at an old guy. Surely, you…”
“If you ever get the chance to go to the Upper Plane, you will know.” Miao Yan smiled, seemingly unperturbed by Chen Xiaolian’s words. She took a sip of her fruit juice and said, “Not bad. A pity, there is no wine.”
“Alcohol is prohibited in every part of this country. It might be possible to secretly buy it from the black market, but if you want to find a wine bar here, forget it.” Chen Xiaolian smiled and he picked up a mouthpiece – connected to the hookah’s hose – and handed it to Miao Yan. “Although there is no wine, you can try this. It is the famous Arab hookah.”
“I don’t smoke.” Miao Yan furrowed her brows. Looking at the mouthpiece that Chen Xiaolian was handing over, she shook her head.
“This is different from tobacco.” Chen Xiaolian shook his head. “Trust me, try it. This pot is cardamom-flavoured. It should suit you well.”
Miao Yan looked at Chen Xiaolian. Dubious, she reached out to accept the mouthpiece and took a drag. Next, she closed her eyes before slowly blowing out a ring of smoke.
“The taste is… … not bad.” Miao Yan considered it for a while. Then, she opened her eyes and smiled. “All right, let’s move on to the main topic. After we went our separate ways last time, what happened to you? I am very curious to know.”
“Must I answer you?” Chen Xiaolian waggled his eyebrows.
“Of course. You still owe me one question.” Miao Yan held the mouthpiece with two slender fingers as she fiddled with it. “Last time, when we got out from Zero City, we agreed that the both of us can ask the other person three questions. I only used two.”
“You have a very good memory.” Chen Xiaolian smiled. “However, answering the question will take a very long time.”
“It’s not an issue. I have plenty of time.” Miao Yan smiled back.
“After we went our separate ways, a great deal of things happened. A great, great deal.” Chen Xiaolian pondered before continuing, “I went to World’s End, found Qiao Qiao and…”
“You went to World’s End?” Before Chen Xiaolian could continue, Miao Yan’s eyes widened all of a sudden and she turned to stare at Chen Xiaolian. “How did you get there? You do not possess the seeds of the World Tree! At the very least… not all of them!”
“Entering World’s End has nothing to do with the seeds of the World Tree.” Chen Xiaolian shook his head. “Every Awakened will end up there after their deaths. However… … in order to return from the place, some preparations needed to be made beforehand. That is all. As for the seeds of the World Tree that you mentioned, they are actually something else.”
“What?” Miao Yan leaned forward to stare at Chen Xiaolian, a somewhat anxious look on her face.
“Why are you so interested about them?” Chen Xiaolian smiled. “You… … want them?”
“Can I not?”
“Naturally, you can.” Chen Xiaolian shrugged. “I am just curious. How did you know that I do not have all the seeds of the World Tree?”
“I guessed.” Miao Yan answered without hesitating in the slightest. “After we escaped from Zero City, you don’t even know what the seeds of the World Tree are. It hasn’t been too long since then. I do not believe that you can collect all seven of them in such a short time. Is there a problem with this rationale?”
“It sounds very reasonable. However, I prefer another explanation…” Chen Xiaolian placed both his elbows on the table and leaned closer to look at Miao Yan. “You have at least one seed of the World Tree with you!”
The two of them stared at each other, seemingly engaging in a confrontation within the air. A few moments later, Miao Yan suddenly revealed a bright smile. “Yes, I possess one of them. However, it is not something I need to hide from you.”
“Tell me, why are you collecting them?” Chen Xiaolian retracted his arms and leaned back against the soft cushion behind him.
“You should talk first.” Miao Yan revealed a wry smile. “You haven’t answered my earlier question.”
“Very well.” Chen Xiaolian rolled his eyes. “After leaving World’s End, I… … hmm, I had to spend some more effort to save Qiao Qiao. And after that, I was forcibly brought to Zero City where I joined a conference. Hmm, it is a conference between true big shots.”
“The first batch of Irregularities in this world. Shen is also one of them. There, I came to know the truth of this world, part of it anyways. I also obtained… … mm, a power that the past me could never have imagined.
“Right now, though, there is a problem. Shen wants to do something, something that would utterly wipe us Irregularities out of existence. In order to stop him, those old monstrous characters joined forces to fight Shen.
“In the end, all of them were sealed inside a collapsing Zero City. The problem with this situation is that, Shen is just too strong. Even the collapsing Zero City cannot trap him for long. Before he escapes, I need to make some preparations, preparations that would allow me to stop him!
“I escaped from Zero City just before it collapsed. However, I was temporarily incapable of controlling my newly found power. Due to that… … if I had simply left Zero City and returned to this world, the Development Team would surely and swiftly find me. “
“So, you hid yourself in an instance dungeon first?” Miao Yan thought about it. “However, the system had still found you in the end. The instance dungeon’s abnormal [Red] class danger alert happened after it detected you, right?”
“Yes.” Chen Xiaolian nodded. “When I left Zero City, I chose an ongoing instance dungeon and inserted myself into it. Additionally, I created a copy of my personality to control my body while I focused on merging together with the Oddity.”
“Oddity?” Miao Yan repeated the word.
“It is the core foundation of Zero City. Or rather… … it is part of this world’s template.” Chen Xiaolian smiled. “Merging with it takes time. During that time, the system could discover the Oddity’s existence at any moment. However, if I am inside an instance dungeon, I will have another layer of obstruction. That way, it will be slightly more difficult for the system to detect me. Even so, the probability of the system finding me is still there. Thus, the purpose of the copied personality was to let me die once.
“Naturally, I could not allow myself to die too quickly as I needed some time to merge with the Oddity. Thus, I… … kept all of my powers and most of my offensive props, leaving only one defensive equipment. Hmm, it is the armour that you saw me wear just now.
“Even though he did not have the memories of what happened in between, the other ‘me’ did his job very well. He bought enough time. It just so happened that he was killed the same moment I succeeded in merging with the Oddity.”
“Go on.” Miao Yan listened intently to Chen Xiaolian. “And now?”
“Everyone in this world, be it ordinary humans or Awakened ones, would have a unique tag on each of them. You can… …” Chen Xiaolian considered it for a moment before continuing, “You can consider it as a person’s ID number. Even we, the Irregularities, are within the system’s records.”
“Even Irregularities?” There was a slight frown on Miao Yan’s face. “If the system has already tagged you fellows, how can it still not find you fellows?”
“If everyone is like the former me, the system would have quite a difficult time finding us.” Chen Xiaolian pondered some more. “Let’s make an example. You, a human, are standing within a vast and endless plaza. There on the surface of the plaza, on the ground that you are standing on, hundreds of millions of ants are crawling about. Even if you’ve already made a record about a few special ants, even if you have already painted them with a different colour, once those ants crawl about, mixing in with the other ants, you will still have a very hard time finding those special ants. All you can see is an unending black swarm of ants on the ground.
“However, what if one of the ants suddenly grow much bigger compared to the other ants? An ant the size of a dragonfly might still be hard to notice, but what if it continues to grow until it is the size of a cat or a dog? In fact, what if it grows to the size of a cow? Even if you deliberately tried to ignore it, it will be hard not to notice it, no?”
“In other words… … after you obtained that power, you have grown to the size of a cow?” Miao Yan smiled.
“More or less. It is just an analogy, no need to go into the details.” Chen Xiaolian shrugged. “That is why I needed to make some preparations so that my massive ant does not get discovered.”
“You said earlier that you had died once in the instance dungeon. Is it… similar to you tearing up your ID?”
“Yes.” Seeing the smile on Miao Yan’s face, Chen Xiaolian smiled as well. “I have been crossed out. Correspondingly though, while it is harder for the system to detect me, once they do find me… … the consequences will be even worse. That is why I cannot be together with my former guild mates for now.”
“It is really fragrant.” Miao Yan brought up the mouthpiece and took another drag. She nodded, a smile on her face. “So… … what exactly is this power you obtained? How powerful is it?”
“This counts as the second question, right?” Chen Xiaolian waggled his eyebrows.
“Don’t be sly.” Miao Yan gave Chen Xiaolian a glare. “My question to you is, what happened to you since then. This is part of the question.”
“All right.” Chen Xiaolian shrugged. He then pondered for a moment before answering, “Actually… … I am uncertain how to answer this question.”
Miao Yan did not respond. She simply cast a serious look at Chen Xiaolian.
Chen Xiaolian knitted his brows as he considered the question for a moment. “Technically speaking, my body’s strength is only around [A] class. I’m not finished…”
Seeing Miao Yan glare at him again, Chen Xiaolian smiled and waved his hand. “I am not finished. When I say my body’s strength, I am referring to the power I obtained from the system. That includes skills, basic attributes and equipment. However, there are other factors besides that.
“Back in Zero City, I acquired two equipment. Although the one who gave me the two equipment did not give me a detailed explanation, I speculate that the system did not produce these two items. Rather, he had utilized his own power to create them. Just by relying on these two items, I can already be considered an [S] class existence.”
“Equipment?” A look of shock appeared on Miao Yan’s face. “Just by relying on equipment?”
There was a basic consensus between Players and Awakened ones. In order to be recognized as an [S] class character, at least two of the person’s basic attributes must be [S] class. Additionally, their equipment would not be counted.
According to Chen Xiaolian, however, just by relying on the two equipment, his strength could overtake the [A+] class, to rise from [A] class to the [S] class?
“Additionally, I also acquired a portion of this world’s inceptive template, and…” Chen Xiaolian entered a pondering state again, uncertain how to describe the ability to read the world’s source code that he had obtained from the angel wings. “All in all, I now have a much deeper understanding of how this world operates. The present me can already utilize the laws. Additionally, it gave me a deeper understanding of what pure ‘power’ is. Thus, even if I am not using the two equipment, ordinary [S] class characters will be no match for me.”
“Utilize… … the laws?” Miao Yan digested the words that Chen Xiaolian had just mentioned. “Back when we were inside the instance dungeon, you caused all the Electronic Guardians to stop working by using this power?”
“Yes.” Chen Xiaolian nodded. “In a genuine ‘battle’, I am not afraid of those Electronic Guardians. However, given their numbers, it will be difficult for me to kill all of them. Even so, despite being the creation of the Development Team, the Electronic Guardians need to conform to this world’s governing laws. Thus, finishing them off is very easy.”
“Then, let us… … get straight to it.” Miao Yan blinked twice and said, “Is there anyone who can qualify as a threat to you right now?”
Chen Xiaolian contemplated for a while before slowly replying, “Firstly, Shen. I am definitely no match for him. The current Shen can already modify the laws. As for the other old monstrous characters like Mr San, they are likely strong enough as well. Although they are also on the same level as me, the utilization of laws level, the difference in proficiency between us is too big. However…”
Chen Xiaolian paused. “If it is just a matter of preserving my life, I should be able to escape if I want to.”
“So, what about instance dungeons?”
A nonchalant expression appeared on Chen Xiaolian’s face. “Be it the monsters in instance dungeons or Electronic Guardians, they are all toys created by the Development Team. They are no longer a threat to me.”
Miao Yan stared intently at Chen Xiaolian and she slowly said, “In other words… … you can also be considered as a monster now. A small monster.”
There should be another chapter tomorrow.