Chapter 55: Inexplicable Warmth

Blue Maple and White Cherry roamed through the graveyard amid the heavy snow, one in front of the other, an inexplicable eeriness about everything.

They didn’t appear like they were a couple, nor did they seem like servant and master, or friends. They were just sauntering through the graveyard. More accurately put, they were walking through a mass grave.

Tiny snowflakes that resembled catkins drifted down as crows cried out sharply and unpleasantly between the graves, while occasional gusts of chilly wind blew at the corners of their clothes. They left two rows of clear footprints through the snowy ground, which were gradually covered by the light but endless snow…

Blue Maple had just dealt with a Skeleton, and realized that triggering Heavenly Fire’s Fire Explosion dealt enormously high damage. It was probably because Heavenly Fire was a great counter, as Blue Maple’s formidable and radiant flames suppressed the monster’s sinister chills.

Blue Maple didn’t cover his blade with Heavenly Fire, so that he could attack with a one hundred percent chance of triggering Fire Explosion. First, Blue Maple didn’t mind that he had to train a little slower. Secondly, attaching Heavenly Fire to his blade consumed Heavenly Fire in the process, and he still intended to use Heavenly Fire for other purposes.

“Uh, Blue… Blue Maple… Can I not call you by your full name?” They were still slowly trudging forward when White Cherry suddenly spoke to Blue Maple from behind him.

“Eh?” Blue Maple suddenly paused as he turned to look back at White Cherry.

White Cherry was so nervous when Blue Maple glanced back at her that she immediately lowered her head. Blue Maple couldn’t tell whether she was afraid or shy because he couldn’t see her expression.

“Oh, as you wish.” Blue Maple also recalled that Japanese people didn’t call each other by their full names, unless important occasions such as announcements or calling out to others required full names. Blue Maple thought that White Cherry probably wasn’t used to calling him by his full name.

“Ah…” White Cherry looked up at Blue Maple, but only uttered a single syllable before she lowered her head again. She acted like she didn’t dare to speak to Blue Maple, and she fiddled with her fingers continuously.

White Cherry took a deep breath with her head still lowered, and clenched her tender white fists tightly, like she was trying to encourage herself.

“Then, can I just call you Maple?” White Cherry looked up again as she spoke. Her beautiful and almond-like eyes flowed with hope, nervousness, and she also seemed a little afraid.

Japanese people addressing others with their surname represented a difference in seniority and generation, while addressing others with their given names represented a good relationship between individuals of the same seniority or generation. If a guy and a girl addressed each other with just their given names, it meant they were relatively close.

Blue Maple stared at White Cherry’s eyes, which were still gazing into his with some hope and a little bit of fright. He held her gaze for but a single moment before he turned around and continued walking.

White Cherry’s expression turned into disappointment and despair as she watched Blue Maple turn away. She remained at the same spot, like she didn’t know what to do. Faint winds fluttered her hair, and even those strands seemed to radiate a little bit of sadness.

“Whatever, Cherry,” Blue Maple’s plain voice came back from in front of her.

The sentence was almost like a gift from heaven for White Cherry, and she felt like the dreary and snowy day suddenly became so much brighter.

“Yes!” White Cherry’s sadness vanished from her beautiful face as a charming smile appeared. However, Blue Maple was still strolling ahead and didn’t turn back to look.

“Take this.” White Cherry caught up to Blue Maple again, and his back was still to her as he handed her a cup. He sealed the cup and placed a straw inside, and White Cherry could see faint steam emanating from the straw.

“Thanks.” White Cherry held onto her lukewarm drink as she felt warmth course through her palm.

Perhaps, she wasn’t just feeling warmth coursing through her palm…

They continued walking, one in front of the other, and didn’t seem like they were farming or killing monsters anymore…

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Two hours later...

“Do you need this item, Maple?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

White Cherry actually knew that Blue Maple didn’t really want these things, but she still picked up some of the relatively better items so that she could give them all to Blue Maple at the end.

“I don’t need these things.” Blue Maple reminded White Cherry that she didn’t have to hand these items to him, and she could keep them if she wanted to.

“But…” White Cherry looked up with her pale and pretty face and wanted to say something, but Blue Maple interrupted her.

“You can just help me collect coins.” Blue Maple was too lazy to sell those items in the market.

“Alright.” White Cherry knew that Blue Maple truly didn’t need these items, but she had other intentions even though she agreed. She still wanted to give everything to him at the end.

Blue Maple had already completed his quest of exterminating jiangshi and skeletons, and was only left with the Jiangshi King. Blue Maple and White Cherry had arrived at their destination, where his map had marked the Jiangshi King’s location.

Blue Maple and White Cherry still continued walking one in front of the other, except the distance between them was a lot closer than before.

Blue Maple suddenly stopped in his tracks; White Cherry followed suit in confusion.

“Cherry,” Blue Maple suddenly called out to her. She was a little confused, because Blue Maple had never taken the initiative to call out to her.

“Yes?” Of course, White Cherry didn’t think like an infatuated girl, that Blue Maple was about to say something weird.

Heavenly Fire suddenly burned over hiss body as the flames gradually spread onto the ground. The flames slowly spread in a circle around them, and they eventually formed a blue circle of fire. Crackling and searing sounds could be heard as the fire vaporized the thick snow on the ground.

“Stand here.” Blue Maple said before he stepped out of the circle of fire.

Heavenly Fire evaporated the accumulated snow, and the foggy steam blurred White Cherry’s vision. She couldn’t see Blue Maple when he stepped out of the circle of fire.

“Be careful, Maple.” White Cherry’s beautiful eyes flowed with worry. She could guess what was happening: the Jiangshi King had appeared!

“Yes.” Blue Maple’s response was very soft, but White Cherry still managed to hear it.

White Cherry glanced around at the bluish circle of fire surrounding her. She knew that Blue Maple was trying to protect her, as the skeletons and Jiangshi were afraid of these blue flames.

“These flames are so warm…” White Cherry muttered under her breath, and she seemed intoxicated as she stared at the blue fire around her.

Blue Maple’s blade was already in his hands as he gazed calmly into the distance. He slowly walked towards his quest’s final target: the Jiangshi King!

Blue Maple’s gradual steps revealed immense self-confidence. The sinister, ugly, and enormous Jiangshi King before him didn’t give him any pressure at all. Perhaps Blue Maple’s only worry was that the Jiangshi King would attack indiscriminately towards the end, but White Cherry should be safe with the circle of Heavenly Fire around her.

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[Jiangshi King] (Rank 56 Boss)

Attack: 554-691

Defense: 465-582

Magic Defense: 278-401

HP: 400,000

Skills: Decay, Devour, Strengthened Gnaw, Howl of Fear.

Introduction: Large amounts of Yin qi collecting around a corpse has caused it to mutate, transforming into the Jiangshi King, because the corpse was powerful when it was still alive. The Jiangshi King is extremely aggressive, and it possesses formidable Attack and Defense. It is not as clumsy and slow as others of its kind, and one should beware of its Howl of Fear.

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The Jiangshi King’s attributes were similar to the Icy Snow Wolf King’s, but almost seemed a little stronger. However, the Jiangshi King was probably not nearly as agile, and the Icy Snow Wolf King had one more Skill.

Howl of Terror is probably considered one of those fear-type Skills. I wonder if that’s going to be a neutral sonic attack? If so, then I’m going to be in trouble. Blue Maple frowned as he thought to himself.

The Jiangshi King’s build was like the Icy Snow Wolf King. It had a Skill for controlling its opponents, except the Icy Snow Wolf King’s Skill was instant and targeted individuals. The Jiangshi King’s Skill could affect more than a single target, so it shouldn’t be instantly usable.

Blue Maple suddenly jerked like he had recalled something.

Shit, am I an idiot? Isn’t there a Priest behind me?, Blue Maple mocked himself as he continued thinking.

Priests had a Skill called Purify, which dispelled all negative statuses and effects the target was suffering from.

Priests could dispel fear as a status with Purify; Blue Maple would have no more problems if he assigned this responsibility to White Cherry. White Cherry knew that Howl of Fear was a neutral control-type Skill, and if Blue Maple couldn’t dodge it in time and was immobilized, she could just use Purify to dispel Blue Maple’s status, as Purify was an instant Skill.

Blue Maple casually showed the Jiangshi King’s attributes to White Cherry, and didn’t do anything else. He didn’t know if White Cherry could use Purify on him in time, but he knew that his chances of being immobilized weren't high.

Perhaps, I am going to have a more relaxed fight this time…, Blue Maple thought to himself lazily.

White Cherry’s little mouth opened slightly when she saw the Jiangshi King’s attributes, and her almond-like eyes flowed with shock and surprise. The Jiangshi King’s attributes were far too powerful for her!

However, White Cherry immediately understood what Blue Maple was thinking when she saw the Jiangshi King’s Skills. She clenched her tender fists tightly, and her pretty eyes grew determined, like she was making some kind of resolution as she stared at Blue Maple in front of her.

I will help you remove your negative statuses, White Cherry thought to herself firmly. Even though it was possible that Blue Maple wouldn’t be immobilized at all, she would keep this determination until the battle was over!

Blue Maple darted forward with a quick step as the Jiangshi King pounced toward him from the other side. The fight had begun!

Blue Maple seemed like he was playing casually with the Jiangshi King during his fight, and there wasn’t any of the intimidating pressure that facing a formidable boss should lead to. It was unimaginable, because a Level 38 player was having a showdown against a Rank 56 Boss.

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The battle continued for a long time…

Strengthened Pounce!

This Skill again…

Strengthened Gnaw meant that this Skill was a stronger version of gnaw, and it wasn’t like the close-range Skill in its normal form. The Jiangshi King could pounce from a relatively far distance to use Gnaw, and it was a very cool and intimidating Skill.

But Blue Maple felt the Jiangshi King was taking too long to reach him, and evaded the Jiangshi King’s attack easily.

Bam! The Jiangshi King slammed into the snow somehow.

Blue Maple was also a little suspicious. He didn’t know why the Jiangshi King would suddenly fall over into the snow, because it should be supporting itself with its hands, at the very least. Could this be…

Shit! Blue Maple’s revelation was too late!

Howl of Fear!

The Jiangshi King’s jaw movement when he was using Howl of Fear was very conspicuous, and Blue Maple had easily avoided every instance with Airborne Somersault.

This time, the Jiangshi King buried its head into the snow, and Blue Maple couldn’t see the Jiangshi King opening its mouth to use Howl of Fear. He was immobilized!

The Jiangshi King immediately used Decay after Blue Maple was immobilized. A single attack wasn’t a big deal, but Howl of Fear’s immobilizing effect lasted for two and a half seconds, while the sufferer would run around blindly when he was under the influence of Fear, and his movement speed would be cut by 50%.

The Jiangshi King might be able to slap Blue Maple to his death in that period of time, because they were very near to one another.

Blue Maple suddenly felt warmth course over his body moment. His Fear effect had been dispelled!

Purify!

Airborne Somersault!

Blue Maple’s reactions were incredibly quick; he used Airborne Somersault to dodge the Jiangshi King’s attack, and increased the distance between the Jiangshi King and himself.

The Jiangshi King missed his swipe as it roared furiously, exasperated. However, the Jiangshi King didn’t target White Cherry, the cause of this outcome, and directed all its hatred firmly at Blue Maple. The circle of Heavenly Fire around White Cherry made the Jiangshi King afraid, and it didn’t dare go any closer.

That’s close. Fortunately, it was dispelled. Blue Maple felt his heart skip a beat.

I shouldn’t be too relaxed. Blue Maple knew that he had been too casual. Howl of Terror’s cooldown was almost finished before this, yet he didn’t remember to put some distance between the Jiangshi King and himself to defend against its attack.

Blue Maple glanced at White Cherry nearby. She was still standing in the circle of flames, raising her staff as she gestured happily to Blue Maple. He could see the elated expression on her beautiful face, and even a tinge of excitement.

Blue Maple nodded slightly in White Cherry’s direction in response, probably trying to tell her that she did fine.

Blue Maple turned back to the Jiangshi King. He started to treat this battle seriously, or more accurately put, he was indignant. I was caught off guard by this brainless jiangshi. That can’t be forgiven!

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White Cherry saw Blue Maple nod his head to her, and heaved a sigh of relief in her heart.

I’ve finally given him some help!

White Cherry revealed a slight but pretty smile. She was extremely alluring and exquisite in her pristine robe, bathed in the light of the bluish Heavenly Fire around her. She almost resembled a holy angel from heaven…

Just because she managed to help him…

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