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130 A Day of Rest: Part III

 The Unnamed Town of Anurad.

Although the liege Angora was away for a few days, the old mayor (Vela's father) had kept things under control so that the town did not fall to unruly chaos.

The Players were left slightly idling since there was no building construction in Angora's absence, but they could still accept daily quests from the announcement board. The dungeon key to the Living Dead Cellar could also be claimed from Leah Yakaran the Warrior Princess, which meant the daily life of Players were basically unaffected.

Naturally, the idling part was limited to lifestyle-the Players were not actually too loafing in mind and action.

In fact, it would be appropriate to say that the appearance of the forum and various posts that were written in the fashion of [I'm a newbie and I just had a level 20 Purple Rare item drop, is this item any good] to put on airs, a competitive trend appeared in the forums.

Being the believers of the God of Games, the Players naturally were not competing with luxury items such as wristwatch or sneakers, but higher players levels or better items.

Quite a number of Players were therefore fired up to level up and challenge dungeons so that they could get that golden godlike item drops and show it off on the forums, blinding all the players in the process.

Xi Wei certainly encouraged that attitude-even though he was clearly aware that his pool of items had no Golden Legendary items anymore.

Either way, the players were now much more efficient than before they were idling around.

Moreover, with the increase of their player levels, they could finally be able to stand their ground even if they ran into Black-Robed Bishops in the Living Dead Cellar.

Some Players had even come up with 'Black-Robed Bishops quick-farming guide' or 'Evil Bones Archbishop fast strategy'.

It meant easier farming for the former, and a quick death for the latter.

After all, most Players could avoid the fate of teamwide wipeout whenever they ran into the Rotten Bones Archbishop. It would hence be better to just dash headlong into their deaths, and save their time so that they could explore the Valley of the Tragic Dead and the Grey Fjord Port.

That also left the player missing the bygone days when Marni still held dreams about clearing dungeons. He used to challenge them twice every day, and would run into the Rotten Bones Archbishop at least once. Given that the Rotten Bones Archbishop shows up twice each day, he was basically paving a safe route for the other Players with his life.

Be that as it may, Marni had given up on his dreams after realizing that his dungeon escapades were incurring losses rather than raking profits. Instead, he became engrossed with trade and exploring the less dangerous Grey Fjord Port, which left many players lamenting...

***

At the moment, Joey Arbiter (That middle-aged hunter who wanted Terry and Jom as his children) were walking on the streets of the small town with his fellow village hunters. They were keeping up behind a rather famous veteran Player amongst the newbies, who often kindly led less capable players to help them clear the Living Dead Cellar.

"That's why positioning is very important. When you see the chance to flank the dungeon boss, hit it in the ass directly would work." He warmly shared his ideas with Joey and the others. "Do you remember the chocobo that was attacking your village back then? I did tons of damage by striking it in the ass with a single hit from my blade and saved your village!"

"Huh. But if I recall correctly, you were kicked in the head by that bird, Brother Vulcan..." One of the hunters hesitantly said.

The hunter was assaulted even before he could finish. "What are you talking about!? Brother Vulcan is kind enough to share his experience with us, why are you spouting nonsense? Quick, say 'thank you Brother Vulcan'!"

Hence, the hunters all called out in one voice. "Thank you, Brother Vulcan!"

Suddenly, another Player was yelling by the road. "The Black Hand is here!"

The bustling street turned quiet immediately. After a moment, the Players were scampering like a flock of startled birds as if they could not wait to run away from the Black Hand.

Between breaths, only Joey and his newbie group were left on the street, along with a single cabbage rolling on the ground.

Joey hence turned worriedly to Vulcan, who had put on a serious face. "Is the Black Hand some troublesome character we shouldn't cross?"

Vulcan nodded. "To a certain extent, yes."

As such, Joey couldn't help remembering those children of bishops or other influential people, who strutted and threw their weight around in the city when Joey went to the city to sell his pelts.

Recently, however, Joey and the others came to like their lives with the God of Game's church thanks to their experiences as Players.

But that was also why Joey could not help being even more disappointed with situations like these.

To think that such people exist in the God of Game's church too...

"Who are you calling Black Hand?! I'm Zonyan Grayclaw!"

A man who was dressed no different from the other Players appeared by the road, complaining unhappily at the other fleeing Players.

"He doesn't really look like a bad person, though?" Joey whispered to Vulcan.

"Bad? No, I don't mean that when I say he shouldn't be crossed. Zonyan is actually a nice guy with good skill, but his hands are just... black." Vulcan shook his head. "You are aware of corpse touching, right? That is to say, directly extracting item drops from the dead monsters in a dungeon before their bodies vanish."

Joey and the others nodded-they were naturally acquainted with such knowledge regarding dungeons.

"The so-called Black Hand simply refers to him getting bad item drops even if he did corpse touching." Vulcan explained.

"Isn't that just bad luck? Is there a need to be so afraid?" One of the hunters asked.

"You're still too young." Vulcan shook his head. "I believe you must have heard of the Bone-Colored Thorns equipment set, correct? It's one of the best equipment sets that could be found in the Living Dead Cellar, and supposedly one would get at least one part in every dungeon clearing. However, if you have the Black Hand in your party, for one whole month..."

"There would be no item drops?" Joey guessed.

"No, but the only dropped item for one whole month is the Right Gauntlet of the Bone-colored Thorns and nothing else."

The face of every new Player dropped in sheer horror.

No wonder the Right Gauntlet of the Bone-colored Thorns were sold so ridiculously cheaply at the trade post in the forums, and even newcomers like them could afford one.

"Why do you know about that, Vulcan? And so specifically." Joey asked in curiosity.

Vulcan, who had been excitedly talking about that dark part of history immediately froze. There was a pained look over his face, as if he had remembered some dark history with the Black Hand that he would rather not recall...

"Yo, ain't that Vulcan? Is your dungeon party still needing people?" Zonyan smiled as he greeted Vulcan on approach, finally finding him as he blended himself amongst the novice players.

Vulcan then gravely placed both hands over Zonyan's shoulders, and spoke seriously to his former party member.

"Reset your skill points and retrain."

Zonyan: ???