A couple of seconds later, Lin Yixin finally replied, “My… my second match opponent was a party of your guild, and I took them out…”
“Fuck. Who was in that party?”
“Amazing Expert, Yamete, Wolf Fang, Moonlight Stone, and Moon Dew…”
I couldn’t say anything for a time. Sigh, Thirteen and Mamate had got to be some of the most unfortunate players in the game. It took some amazingly bad luck to run into Lin Yixin’s party during the second match of the preliminaries. Everyone in the party was a pretty good player, but there was just no way they could beat Lin Yixin.
I sucked in a deep breath before replying, “It’s fine, Yiyi, don’t worry about it. Do your best so we can meet up at the offline finals, okay?”
“Mn, you too!”
After closing the communicator, I tried searching for Lin Yixin’s party by keying in the ID “Wind Fantasy” under the criteria “Party Leader”. The full party list quickly entered my view—
Wind Fantasy LV-107 Light Wanderer
Purple Marquis LV-106 Warrior
Shadow Chanel LV-106 Dark Tongue Mage
Clear Perfume LV-105 Archer
Beauty At First Sight LV-105 Holy Bard
I was slightly caught off-guard. What happened? When did Snowy Cathaya update their first seed?
Just two days ago when I saw Shadow Chanel, she was still a normal mage. This meant that she had probably changed her class to Dark Tongue Mage between that time and the time the tournament began. Moreover, Snowy Cathaya’s party had a new Level 105 Holy Bard called "Beauty At First Sight”. It was yet another hidden class I had never heard of before.
Now I understood why Lin Yixin hadn’t sent me a single message in the past couple days. She was busy recruiting powerful party members to prepare for Who Will Rise. Snowy Cathaya’s first seed was now a lot stronger than before, and I doubted that even we had a high chance of winning if we ran into them. The problem here was that Lin Yixin knew all our classes intimately, but we knew next to nothing about their new secret classes, Dark Tongue Mage and Holy Bard. Moreover, Lin Yixin and Purple Marquis themselves were super-tier experts with the equipment to match their skills. There was no way anyone was going to beat their party easily, if at all!
I prayed that we wouldn’t run into them before we entered the Top 32. Otherwise, it would be like rehearsing for the semifinals...
After that, I looked at my companions to see what they were doing. He Yi and Murong Mingyue were chatting with each other—
"Eve, what did you do during your around-the-globe business trip?" Murong Mingyue asked.
"Well, for starters, I transferred 150 core employees from the India branch to the Suzhou branch. Our new building at the technology park is already complete, so they’ll be flying over in a couple days’ time. My plan is to develop the Suzhou branch into the core of GGS technology in Southeast Asia."
"Oh? You are… literally the only person in the entire company who would do such a thing. Now confess, what were you plotting when you transferred the core of GGS all the way from India to China; to Suzhou to be exact?"
He Yi turned slightly red. "I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just don’t want to spend one-third of a year flying on a plane, that’s all…"
"Hmph hmph~ You can lie, but we all know the truth, don’t we?"
Unable to stand Murong Mingyue’s teasing any longer, I said, "Hey, why are you, the assistant, bullying your boss like that? Do you want to quit your job or something?"
"Fuck!" Murong Mingyue rolled her eyes before complaining in a grudgeful tone, "The dog’s starting to protect its food. My life just lost a bit of entertainment…"
Beiming Xue giggled. "Alright, alright, stop arguing. We need to be united! Li Chengfeng will laugh at you three, you know!"
Li Chengfeng hurriedly waved his hands in denial. "Oh, I’m fine, I heard nothing at all. I’m just here to fill the numbers, so just do whatever you want, guild leaders. As a law enforcement professional, I would never record any conversation without requesting the involved party’s permission, especially a lover’s quarrel that has no judicial value whatsoever. So please, continue."
He Yi and I exchanged a smile with each other before falling silent, waiting for the third match to begin. Everyone had a feeling that our path of conquest wouldn’t be the smooth sailing we expected it to be, especially after encountering the high-level party Iron Mercenaries on our first match and the powerful Blazing Hot Lips on the second, so we were prepared to give every match everything we got. Only a fool would continue underestimating their opponents, especially after the baptism that was Blazing Hot Lips.
When the third match began, and our opponent’s formation was displayed on the screen, we all suddenly burst out in laughter all of a sudden. It was because the highest-leveled player in the opposing party was only Level 92. Considering who we had to fight during the previous two rounds, it was unthinkable how this party managed to come this far. Still, this was as far as their luck could carry them.
Li Chengfeng raised his sword and declared, "You guys stay back. I’ll handle this party myself!"
"Sure. Run forward, youngster!"
I hugged the Heaven-stealing Sword and sat against the railings like I was a spectator and not a participant. He Yi also sat down next to me and leaned against my shoulder. Unwilling to be left behind, Murong Mingyue and Beiming Xue joined us as we sat together and waited for Li Chengfeng’s one-man show to begin.
Not far away from us, Li Chengfeng held his sword in front of himself and smiled at the opponents. "Please forgive this one’s impudence, but this one wishes to challenge you all by myself!"
The Level 92 warrior on the other side of the ring waved his axe angrily. "You think you can 1v5 us? Dream on! We didn’t come this far through sheer luck, you know?"
"Actually, you did survive till the third match through sheer luck. You absolutely don’t deserve to be on this stage…" Li Chengfeng replied honestly.
His blunt honesty provoked the opponents to a flying rage, and all five of them shouted on top of their lungs and charged him. They looked like they wanted nothing more but to turn the dragon warrior’s head into a pig head.
Unfortunately, they had underestimated Li Chengfeng way too much.
Li Chengfeng ran in an S-shaped pattern and swung his sword only at the most opportune moment. It wasn’t the coolest moves he could use, but it was certainly the most effective. Three stabs later, two archers and one mage fell to his sword. Naturally, the remaining bard and warrior couldn’t escape their fates as well.
It was 1-0 in just half a minute!
The opponents looked like a fully-deflated balloon when the second round began. After showing off his skill during the first round, Li Chengfeng proceeded to show off his class and equipment superiority. He ignored all the attacks landing on his dragon armor and simply plowed through them with sheer brute force. Again, the battle was over in 30 seconds, and we moved on to the next match with a perfect 2-0 score!
The third match went surprisingly smooth for us, although I supposed it was only to be expected. This was just the third match, and millions of parties were participating in this tournament. Realistically speaking, Li Chengfeng was powerful enough to 1v5 at least 80% of the participating parties, although of course the remaining 20%—parties like Blazing Hot Lips—could just as easily wipe the floor with him.
The next few matches went the same way. Li Chengfeng and I took turns to solo our opponents while He Yi, Murong Mingyue, and Beiming Xue simply watched from the sidelines and relaxed. Long story short, we took it easy unless the enemy’s average Level was above 100.
In fact, when we encountered a 5-man archer party who were all around Level 100 or so during the seventh match, I suggested that He Yi should challenge them 1v5. The beautiful guild leader looked apprehensive, but not even stage fright could change the fact that she had almost 2000 Defense. Just as I predicted, none of the opponents were able to hit He Yi for more than 100 damage.
"Big bro, why did you ask sister He Yi to fight this match herself?"
I replied while watching He Yi chasing after a middle-aged archer, "Don’t you think that skill is the most important factor in a melee versus ranged battle? If your positioning, timing, or strategy are off, you won’t be able to even touch the enemy, let alone kill them. Therefore, the reason I asked Eve to fight this solo is so that she could polish her skill and ascend to new heights."
"Mn, makes sense…"
We resumed watching after I explained my reasoning. He Yi looked afraid at first, but a while later she calmed down completely and started turning the tables. Multiple times she was able to herd the enemies into themselves and kill them while they were busy disentangling themselves from each other, playing them like a fiddle. When the match ended with a perfect 2-0, we all saw a bit of confidence peeking out of our beautiful guild leader’s features. After putting her skills to the test and coming out on top, I was sure she had become better than ever before!
Before you master a skill, you must first master your own confidence. You must stay calm enough to think, and be arrogant enough to believe that everything was under your control.
The Who Will Rise preliminaries tested a player’s stamina more than anything, and the further one progressed, the stronger one’s opponent became. A party who tried to conserve their strength might find themselves disqualified the next second, so even we stopped fooling around and treated the matches seriously. Starting the tenth match, we fought as a party, no matter how weak or strong our opponents were.
The pressure started growing after the fifteenth match.
Murong Mingyue died both rounds of the sixteenth match, but it was a clean 2-0 victory for us.
Li Chengfeng died tragically again during the seventeenth match, but again, it was a 2-0 victory.
The eighteenth match was easier than the previous two matches, so we were able to knock out our opponents without losing anyone.
"We’re finally at the second last match…" Beiming Xue beamed at the large display above the orchard, but couldn’t stop herself from rubbing her stomach. "I’m so hungry…"
I looked at the time and noted that it was 6:50 pm. By now, everyone was tired and hungry after fighting so many stressful matches in a row. At least we only had two more matches to go before we were finally free.
Only 128 parties were left in the tournament now. A veteran would know that the battle to enter the Top 64 was a critical one, and basically no one who made it this far was a slouch. Moreover, experts from other major cities should show up as opponents any time now. Only the best of the best would be able to qualify for the offline segment of the tournament!
The big screen shuddered for a moment before displaying our next opponent. The party’s name and formation entered our view—
Candle Dragon Second Seed
Fighting On All Fronts LV-105 Warrior
Gao Jianli LV-106 Assassin
Red Dust LV-104 Magic Knight
Purple Dawn LV-106 Phantom Archer
Zero Degree Rain LV-105 Assassin
"Fuck…" Li Chengfeng gasped a little before saying seriously, "This battle is going to be harder than all the battles we fought earlier. I’ve seen almost all the names in this party in the forums before. These people are incredibly famous in Wind City!"
He Yi nodded in agreement. "Purple Dawn, the Phantom Archer, is one of the few talents Candlelight Shadow had taught personally. From what I heard, he was planning to make him a Candle Dragon seeded player in the CGL Hall of Fame. There was a time Peach Garden and Candle Dragon clashed against one another in the desert, and Purple Dawn hid in the desert for an entire hour just to wait for the perfect opportunity to ambush Indigo Collar’s general, Wheel Shadow, and kill him. As a result, Peach Garden lost that battle. He is a player of incredible fortitude."
I raised my sword and declared confidently, "That’s great. Eliminating a party like this from the tournament will hurt Candlelight Shadow for sure!"
Beiming Xue giggled in agreement. "Mn, big bro is right. This is exactly the kind of party we should fight!"
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