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140 You Have No Item, You Have No Life

 Unlike Ironfelt who seemed to feel bemused by his own work at first only to eventually achieve great enlightenment, the Players were all very obsessed with the 'welfare' that the God of Games bestowed with item strengthening.

It was not how to understand, however, since there were 'wallet warriors' that exist here in the truest sense of the term. After believers became Players, they were all basically pulled up to equal statuses-therefore, only three aspects could provide a sense of pride and accomplishment: items, players levels and the clearing progress of the explorable dungeons, which were the outskirts of the Valley of the Tragic Dead and the Grey Fjord Port.

The condition for the latter two was that everyone must be bored and had nothing else important to do, or it would be difficult for the Players to establish a clear difference.

Moreover, EXP needed to level up progressively increases, and as exploring dungeons becomes even more difficult as the game moves to the later stage, the Players who started late would slowly catch up to the veterans.

Therefore, a set of excellent and rare items became a passionate pursuit for most Players in the short term-and why the Black Hand was held with such disdain.

And now, Xi Wei would use this opportunity to implement the item strengthening function, pushing the Players obsession for high-grade items to new heights.

Still, unlike the online games back on Earth, 'NPCs' like Ironfelt could not receive every player at the same time. As such, there would be long queues in the Unnamed Town, the underground base in Lancaster and the strengthening house in the Frogmen Village as the Players all waited for their turn to strengthen their items.

Naturally, there were those who attempted jump queue since most had been ordinary refugees whose average manners left a lot to be desired. However, after those perpetrators were slapped with yellow-card warnings such as [Assured Item strengthening failure debuff (24 Hours)] or [Account Ban (24 hours)], everyone immediately recognized the necessity of manners, hence tamely understanding their place.


"Hey, aren't you Marni?" One particular Player could not help chatting up Marni Wilf, a legend amongst all Players when he found him queuing up in front of himself in front of Ironfelt's strengthening house.

"Oh, you know who I am?" Marni, who had been craning his head to look ahead to see when his turn would come asked in surprised.

Could it be that his handsome face had spread amongst the God of Games' believers that even the newbies knew him? Marni couldn't resist thinking so while stroking his chin proudly.

The Player then pointed over his head, and Marni's smile promptly stiffened.

Oh, right. Players could see another Player's name...

"You've been awesome lately!" The Player continued as if it was nobody's business without noticing Marni's stiff smile.

"Ahahaha, it's nothing to brag about."

Marni recovered and tried as hard as he could to control the proud look on his face.

Still, all he did was connect a trade route from the Unnamed Town to Wickidor, kickstarting several operations in Lancaster to exchange lacking resources for the Unnamed Town (such as meat which the Players could not get from their monster farming), and repel the tsunami to protect the Frogmen Village four days ago!

At that very thought, Marni puffed up his chest, feeling that the red title over his head that read 'The Valiant Heroes Who Fought the Ocean' had become much more vivid...

"Awesome! There actually hasn't been notifications in the System about you dying for three entire days too." The Player exclaimed in amazement. "At the betting house, those Players putting money on you dying in another three days lost so much..."

"Cough..." Marni choked on his spit, surprised by what he was being praised for. "Is that what all of you think of me? No, wait, what do you mean betting house? Why haven't I heard of it?"

That was when the Player noticed that he had let it slip, and promptly tried to change the conversation. "Ah, Mister Marni, your HP is quite low, is that really alright?"

"I've just been through a tough fight... I'll get a cleric to heal me after I strengthen my item. Moreover, this place is quite far from any fight so I don't have to fear any loose arrows, and if needed I still have a bottle of Coca Cola with me." Marni replied confidently. "Now, about the betting house..."

But before Marni could finish, the Players queuing behind them erupted in an uproar.

"Fishman! It slipped in past our brothers at the frontlines!"

"I see it! Be careful, everyone!"

"It's throwing its spear!"

Then, a long conch spear was streaking through the air as it shot towards Marni.

A sparkle flashed in Marni's eyes and he sneered. "Hmph. I knew something like this would happen."

With those words, he dived in a forward barrel roll, dodging the spear with inch-perfection!

The others could not help but be disappointed when they saw Marni's performance after cutting down the fishman in a chaotic flurry of slashes.

"Is that a skill like backleap?" The Player just now asked in surprise.

"Something like that. It's called Summer Consort's Eight Rolls, an evasion skill I learned from a person of that name when I was in Lancaster." Marni replied proudly. "The skill would appear in your skill page after learning it, and you could max it at Level 8!"

The Player was about to say something else when Ironfelt, who had merely been coolly watching from the start as he hammered away on various metals suddenly spoke out. "Next."

"My turn. We'll talk more next time."

Marni, unwilling to waste time since it was his turn, promptly handed his chest armor to Ironfelt.

"Hmmm. This has been strengthened before?" The gray dwarf immediately saw the signs when he received the armor.

"I had another dwarven craftsman called Ironrooster strengthen it to plus five when I was at the underground hideout in Lancaster. Here's a medium strengthening stone, please help me strengthen it to plus six." Marni said as he placed the gem on the table.

According to Xi Wei's setting, lesser strengthening stones were required to strengthen items from +1 up to +5, medium strengthening stones from +6 to +10, and strong strengthening stones for any level exceeding +10.

Moreover, failed lesser strengthening only decreases strengthening levels without blowing up the items, and success from +1 up to +3 was virtually assured. On the other hand, it was a 50-50 between the item breaking or decreased level in case of failed medium strengthening, whereas failed strong strengthening was a hundred percent guarantee of a broken item.

"I can't guarantee any chance of success..." Ironfelt mumbled after knocking on the chest armor and listening to the echo from it.

"It's fine, I have a few more strengthening stones prepared."

Marni said confidently. "Please go ahead."

At worst, it would be losing the item-back at the Rotton Bones event, he had exchanged a few sets of Avenger Armor, so he would only feel hurt about wasting strengthening stones even if this one breaks.

Ironfelt sighed and hence imbued the energy inside the strengthening stone into the equipment, before raising his hammer high above and smashing it heavily on the armor.

Sparks flared at once, and the chest armor hummed sharply.

In the next split second, the chest armor exploded with a loud bang, firing countless sharpness across every direction.

Caught off guard, Marni looked down at one large piece of the armor sticking out of his chest and blankly said, "So, failed strengthening has splash damage too..."

Before he could he finish, he dropped to the floor, sprawling as he slowly croaked.

All at once, the Players around them cheered deafeningly, all of them spouting things like 'Marni's dead, you bastards!' or 'Hurry up, get Miss Eleena'.

Ironfelt felt as guilty as he was curious. Could this dead human be their creditor? Or is this some sort of enjoyment the God of Game's believers had?

He stared blankly at his little beloved, considering whether he should tread the path of a bully who mouths off things like, 'You have no item, you have no life'...