“I use 'Drowning in Pleasure'!”
“I counter with 'Invulnerability'!”
“I use 'Dodge'!”
Gui Guzi and Du Thirteen were neck-deep in Legends of the Three Kingdoms when I woke up and walked into the living room.
“Go prepare yourselves, you two. Beiming Xue and Mamate will arrive at Suzhou around 3 pm. We should welcome them personally to show our sincerity!”
Du Thirteen put down his cards with a smile. “Oh right, what level are you right now, Lu Chen?”
“52. What about you guys?”
“We’re more or less the same. We can grind about a level and a half a day.”
I checked the time and said, “It’s almost time. I’m going to take a bath first. Let’s head out in half an hour!”
“That’s sooner than I expected.”
“You kidding me? Our workshop can’t afford a car. Calling a cab is our only option.”
When I entered the bathroom and took off my clothes, I felt a chill swirling at the bottom of my heart. I didn’t know when it appeared, but a bruise had formed around my arm. It looked like my body was starting to show new symptoms.
I pulled open the curtain and allowed the sunlight to shine on my arm. A moment of piercing pain later, the bruise quickly faded into nothing.
I let out a sigh of relief and leaned against the icy walls of the bathroom. As cold water washed over my body, I started recalling everything that had happened since the day I started Heavenblessed. Laughter suddenly escaped my throat. So what if I only have a few years, months, or even days left to live? I will make this virtual world tremble beneath my feet, and carry Ancient Sword Dreaming Souls to the top no matter what!
The three of us reunited downstairs after we were done with our business. We then called a taxi, headed straight for the railway station. The trains Beiming Xue and Mamate took should arrive at Suzhou within the same hour, so greeting both of them at the same time wasn’t a problem.
At the passenger exit, Gui Guzi, Du Thirteen, and I stretched our necks and looked around.
“The next train should be Beiming Xue’s. She should be arriving any time now.” I checked the time of my received message and nodded. “Yep, this is definitely the one!”
Thirteen asked, “What should we do if Lil Beiming doesn’t recognize us?”
“It’s fine, she met you in the game, hasn’t she?”
A sea of passengers was pouring out of the train. Summer break had arrived, so a lot of students were returning home or paying their friends and relatives a visit. Unfortunately for us, it made it a lot harder to spot our target.
Suddenly, a beautiful girl wearing a plaid shirt and a black mini skirt walked out of the train. She was holding a huge bag and dragging a suitcase the size of a container. She was full of smiles and brimming with excitement when she walked to the passenger exit. Then, to everyone’s surprise, she stopped at the public square, faced toward outside and shouted, “Here I come, Suzhou! Here I come, Bloody Mercenaries!”
Du Thirteen and I exchanged a glance with each other. The girl in black stockings is our Lil Beiming?
Gui Guzi walked up to her and asked in a low tone, “Hey there, pretty. Do you need a guide?”
Beiming Xue turned around to face him. “How much will it cost to go to the New District?”
“Just 5 RMB!” Gui Guzi opened his palm.
Beiming Xue nodded carefully. “Okay. Speaking of which, are you a bad person?”
“No, I’m not!”
“Oh, I see…”
Beiming Xue shot me a glance as I walked up to them. She asked, “And who is this guy? Do you guys know each other?”
Gui Guzi grinned at her. “Oh, he’s one of our company’s employees. It’s his job to carry the customer’s bags. Just treat him like an assistant.”
Beiming Xue immediately passed all her bags to me.
I was tempted to roll my eyes, but I simply accepted the bags and said, “Lil Beiming, you should wear a longer skirt…”
Beiming Xue’s mouth fell open. Her eyes suddenly glowed in high spirits as she smiled at me. “Are… are you... boss?”
I pointed at Gui Guzi and said, “This here is our meatshield, Gui Guzi, the undead knight!”
Du Thirteen also joined us with a smile. “I’m Amazing Expert, one of Bloody Mercenaries’ warriors.”
“Really?” Beiming Xue stared at him with wide, innocent eyes. “But I thought the boss is our only warrior?”
Du Thirteen: “...”
Gui Guzi laughed loudly. “What were you expecting to happen? It’s your own fault for chasing skirts instead of contributing every time we have a mission!”
I checked the time and asked, “Beiming, Mamate will be arriving in half an hour. Let’s wait for him to join us and return to the workshop together, alright?”
“Sure, you’re the boss!”
Beiming Xue was obviously a fashionable girl, but that didn’t mean she was irresponsible. I was glad. It would be troublesome if she was an irresponsible girl who brought boyfriends back to the workshop every day or two.
I leaned against the handrail and started chatting with Beiming Xue. Of course, I didn’t forget to keep a firm grip over her belongings.
“Boss!” Beiming Xue stared at me with a bright expression. “You look surprisingly okay for someone who always hides his face in the game!”
Her comment put an awkward smile on my face. The thing with the word “okay” was that it was cunning in nature. It could be good or bad.
“How old are you, Lil Beiming?” I asked.
“19. What’s wrong?”
“Oh nothing, just making small talk.”
Beiming Xue giggled at my reply. “Why didn’t you ask me if I have a boyfriend, boss?”
I spread my arms. “That doesn’t matter, Bloody Mercenaries don’t discriminate between girls and women. Also, I’m not Du Thirteen. I would never ask something like that.”
Beiming Xue pursed her lips and made a noise to show her displeasure.
It was at this moment Du Thirteen walked over with a bag of ice creams and asked, “So, do you have a boyfriend, Lil Beiming?”
The only girl in our workshop froze like a statue. Some time later, she whispered to me, “Boss, you really are his brother…”
I snickered. Du Thirteen and I knew each other since the day we wore open-crotch pants. I could guess the exact number of hair he has on his body, to say nothing of his behavior.
A while later, a huge man with a curly beard all over his face appeared at Suzhou railway station. He had a lazy and harmless smile on his face. It was none other than Yamete, the healer we were all waiting for!
His real name was Ma Dai. It was a very courageous name.
“Welcome to Suzhou, Mamate!”
I walked up to him, extended my hand and introduced myself. “My name is Lu Chen, and my ID in Heavenblessed is Broken Halberd Sinks Into Sand. In Bloody Mercenaries, I am the Chief of Rooms, Head of Trash Management, and Assistant Head of the Sub-District. You may address me as Head Lu from here on.”
Yamete laughed loudly and shook my hand. “Please take good care of me, Head Lu. I’m a 25-year-old shut-in, and this is the first time I’ve ever traveled this far to live in a city. I’m sure I’ll be troubling you lots from here on.”
I gave him a nod. “Don’t mention it. We are brothers, aren’t we?”
It was at this moment a smiling Beiming Xue walked up to us and asked, “Mamate, are you really only 25 years old? You look old enough to be Lu Chen’s uncle even though he’s only a year younger than you.”
Yamete’s face twitched once before he forced out a smile. “You’re Beiming Xue, right? Here’s a sweet from your uncle. Be a good girl, will you?”
His smile was so vulgar that Beiming Xue actually took a few steps back. She nervously clung to my arm and said, “Boss…”
I consoled her. “It’s a joke, all members of Bloody Mercenaries are upstanding gentlemen. Alright, we’ve dilly-dallied long enough. Let’s head back and get you both settled in first. Once the rooms are assigned and the luggages are in place, we’ll go for dinner and celebrate your arrival. No one is allowed to go home without getting drunk tonight!”
I relaxed when we finally arrived at the workshop and set down Beiming Xue’s luggage. I was sweating like a dog, to be honest. The amount of stuff a girl could bring with her on her travels was unreal.
Yamete exclaimed in pleasant surprise when he walked into the workshop, “Wow, it’s so vast!”
I nodded. “It’s a house with four rooms and a living room. The rent will be deducted from our operation funds.”
“Okay. How should we assign the rooms?” Yamete asked.
The hearts of every man in the room skipped a beat as they turned to look at Beiming Xue. It was obvious that everyone was concerned with the only girl in the workshop, a beautiful one no less.
I cut off their delusions before they could take form and declared, “Beiming Xue will stay in the eastmost room, and I will sleep in the room next to hers. Thirteen and Mamate will share a room in the westmost room, and Gui Guzi, the room next to theirs. An extra bed should do the work.”
Beiming Xue smiled sweetly. “Okay!”
Gui Guzi looked perfectly calm. He was more concerned about ways to improve himself in the game rather than room distribution.
Du Thirteen was disgruntled, complaining and objecting to the split of course, while Mamate looked at him with a kindly, fatherly expression on his face. I knew then that there would be no problems with our room distribution.
I helped Beiming Xue set up her gaming equipment such as installing the wires while she hung her clothes inside the wardrobe. It only took her a moment to fill it up completely. I could almost mistake her room for a dress shop.
I looked up and called out to her. “Beiming, you are connected to the internet now.”
“Okay. Thanks boss!” Beiming Xue smiled in reply. She was currently folding a pink bra.
I froze for three full seconds before I smiled in return and ran out of the door. Behind me, Beiming Xue giggled like a silver bell.
It was past 7 pm in the evening when we headed out. Our destination was Happy House, Qin Lan Hall.
The table was covered in delicious food, and I even ordered two bottles of high-quality white spirit. Beiming Xue got a glass of fruit juice, of course.
Beiming Xue’s appetite rose as she stared at the food. She said while holding her chopsticks, “It’s been a long while since I ate outside. There’s nothing like a restaurant’s food!”
I shot a look at her thin arms and smiled kindly. “Don’t hold back. You need to add some meat to your bones…”
Mamate laughed loudly at our exchange before holding up his glass. “Alright, should we drink one to Bloody Mercenaries and our bright future?”
We clinked our glasses together and downed the contents in one gulp. Alcohol was an amazing thing that could get people drunk and loosen the mask a human normally wore to hide their true self. It was no wonder that the saying “in vino veritas” existed.
About three rounds later, everyone’s face was more or less red. Clearly, everyone except Beiming Xue was a little drunk.
Mamate wrapped his arm around Du Thirteen’s shoulders and said, “I’ve always been alone before this, so I’m really glad that I got to make a sister and brothers like you all! Would you like to go for another round, Lu Chen?”
My stomach was positively burning after downing another glass of alcohol. Man, this thing is seriously strong!
I suddenly decided that now was the time and got up to my feet. Gripping my glass tightly, I declared with a serious expression, “Brothers and sisters, there is something I must tell you all before we continue!”
Du Thirteen, Gui Guzi, and Mamate all looked at me with surprise. Beiming Xue also looked at me and asked, “What is this about, Lu Chen?”
“I want to tell you all the reason I founded our workshop in the first place!”
“I see. What is it?” Yamete asked with a wide-eyed look.
I answered, “If you played Spirit of Grief before, you probably remember a player named Falling Dust…”
“Falling Dust?” Yamete’s eyes turned serious. “Are you talking about that forgotten genius? The player who was given high praise by Lonely Grave?”
Beiming Xue also blinked her eyes knowingly. “I’ve heard of him too. If I remember correctly, the alliance leader of Time Is Water said this prior to his retirement: ‘If anyone is able to command Candlelight Shadow or Falling Dust, the virtual world is theirs to take!’ Am I right?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter