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142 All the Other Players are Drooling

 Many little boats were slowly advancing out of the Grey Fjord Port towards the Fishmen Island that descended from the skies.

Rushing ahead was Edward's five-person party, long since gaining infamy amongst the players as the quest-crazy demons.

Still, their little boat wasn't in a good condition.

"Urgh. More and more cracks are breaking over the hull-we aren't making it to Fishmen Island if this continues!" Jessica yelled in panic even as she hurriedly buffed the others with her spells.

"It's a miscalculation there-we didn't expect that many seals around here..." Joe replied even as he used his massive chest armor as a bucket to scoop the water off the boat. "That said, isn't this boat too weak? It's breaking just from a seal knocking it."

"This has to be a test the God of Games has given us. He must be warning us not to let down our guard at any moment!" Edward was reflecting seriously as one who would make the top three amongst the Players as a God of Games' prophet. "We would be weak if we didn't think of this situation from the name 'simple boat'. We would have used ice or some other material to strengthen the hull if we knew, to stop this from happening."

"I'm splitting some heads if I see those damned seals again!" Helpless, Joe mumbled unhappily.

After all, both Joe and Gou Dan were left flustered and threw away their oars when the boat started leaking. That was why the boat's only means of propulsion now was Eleena's familiar Croakatoa, who had a rope tied to him as he swam ahead.

Meanwhile, the girl was sitting at the bow of the boat and encouraging her own familiar with her adorable voice.

"I say..." Gou Dan, who was at the boat stern and scooping water with his helm (his chest armor is leather and can't hold water) turned to Edward who was using frost spells at the holes leaking water. "We don't actually have to take the lead every single time, right? Wouldn't it be enough to have the other Players to... what was the term used in the forums? Frontlining? To scout out the place first?"

As a matter of fact, their party were definitely the ones leading the way whenever the System has a version update, new quests, new dungeons or events such as the unlocking of the boat quest item.

Meanwhile, other Players would stay behind and refer to their tactics and walkthrough, thereby avoiding much detours.

To put it simply, Edward and his party were wading through the river while touching the stones beneath, just as the other Players crossed the same river by touching them...

Naturally, the touching would earn them respect, value and considerable reputation in the eyes of other Players. Still, being the most active rangers amongst the party who had often been the victim of many first encounters, Gou Dan felt rather upset-damn it, they were going bald the way people were touching them to cross the river.

"Even if it is dangerous, we pave the way because our rewards are always the greatest."

Edward replied, but soon sighed. "You definitely wouldn't be convinced even if I say that."

Gou Dan did not reply, but 'You're not wrong there!' was written all over his face.

"My reasoning is simple: If we don't count the mysterious old man Xi Wei, we might be the earliest acknowledged believers of the God of Games." Edward mildly said.

"Eh? Wasn't Princess Leah a believer of the God of Games since she was a child?" Gou Dan asked in surprise.

"In theory, yes, and I believed that as well until a few days ago. When I was doing some quests with some of her guards, I unwittingly found out that she didn't have the System from the very beginning... she, too, got it when winter was arriving, a little later than we did!"

Edward spoke very confidently. "Moreover, we have the Saintess with us."

Eleena, who was letting her feet dangle while continuing to cheer Croakatoa on, felt as if someone was calling her, and turned around in curiosity.

Edward made a hand gesture of 'nothing' at her, and she turned back to the bow, humming a song while twiddling her twin ponytails.

On the other hand, Gou Dan was not quite convinced, but he wasn't protesting against paving the way now.

"I wouldn't stop you guys from talking, but can't you help? Don't stop scooping water or the boat will sink!"

Joe was almost tearing up, having been scooping out water from the very start.

***

Regrettably, the boat could not be saved.

Just ten meters away from the shores of Fishmen Island, the little boat knocked into a coconut, which sturdy shell had broken a gaping hole on the boat like a torpedo, leaving everyone's struggles to waste.

As the boat slowly sinks into the sea, it proved fortunate that everyone had cleared the dungeon in the Grey Fjord-they could swim even if they did not swim well, and as such the waves did not sweep them away on a wonderful journey adrift as they succeeded in climbing up the shores of Fishmen Island.

Compared to the Warty Tidal Flats where the Frogmen Village was located, Fishmen Island was much more dangerous: Edward and his party ran into their first group of enemies the moment they reached the beach-it was not fishmen, but Killer Fiddler Crabs the size of a small elephant that ruled the beaches!

These crabs were natural enemies of the fishfolk since they fed on them. Most fishmen would not survive a single clamming of their massive pincers, promptly cut in two and reduced to food.

Their shells were not composed entirely of chitin either, but were mixed with some metals that resembled the thick plates of steel armor. The weapons and equipment which the fishfolk fashioned out of seashells and corals simply wouldn't survive, and all of them would end up as crab food no matter how they tried to gank the crabs, and it was little wonder that not a single fishman was in sight on the beach...

Still, the specialization of the fishmen's organs for killing was not that useful against humans-especially Players.

After all, wasn't that just like the plating of an armor? The Players never would have taken even full-body armor seriously: come, experience some physically weakening debuffs, armor-piercing arrows and steamed king crabs...

Hence, the second group of Players went through great lengths to land on the most suitable beach on Fishmen Island only to find that the first group of players were unable to pull themselves out of their newfound obsession with the gastronomic banquet of steamed crabs. In his astounding compassion, the God of Games had only withdrawn some crab meat and shell, and allowed the Players to keep most of the other parts they could eat.

Crab meat was fresh and sweet, crab eggs smooth but not too greasy and crab paste sticky but fragrant. It was heavenly delicious when matched with the bread they were using as rations, leaving the other Players drooling...