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Chapter 442 - An Even Distribution of Force

 The circle of them nervously watched for changes in the surroundings. The air itself seemed to permeate that sense of power that came from a super powerful BOSS. Nobody spoke a word, as everything became silent all around them, except for a sound...

It was the sound of munching.

Everybody could not help but turn back and stare with disdain at Gu Fei, safely standing in the center of their formation as he earnestly ate his apple.

"It's just an apple; can't you be a little quieter?" Young Master Han expressed his derision.

"I'm not being loud; it's that everything around us is too quiet," Gu Fei replied.

It was a fully simulated game, after all, so the apples that were created would be the tastiest, crispiest, and sweetest. It was simply impossible to bite at it without producing any sound. At the moment, it was truly too quiet, so even the sound of Gu Fei swallowing the apple could be heard clearly.

Everybody could not hold themselves back any longer.

Royal God Call was the first to break; fishing out an apple, he loudly crunched down on it. Next was War Without Wounds, who somehow sounded even louder consuming his apple than the other two men. Nobody knew if the reason behind this was that the Warrior had more Strength than the two.

Young Master Han fished out a bottle of liquor, while Sword Demon maintained his stoic demeanor and soundlessly bit onto a piece of bread.

"Hey, what the heck are you all doing?!" Brother Assist was flustered. The enemy was upon them, yet these guys were not looking in the least bit serious. Finally, his eyes landed on Eternal Dominion, who was standing right next to him. At least, he was not eating anything, which Brother Assist found to be a little reassured in the least.

However, in just two seconds, even Eternal Dominion pulled out a stick of barbequed fish from his dimensional pocket... Gu Fei had recommended it to him after they got off the ferry at Linshui City, and he had only gotten a chance to purchase it before he left. Had it not been for him buying these two sticks of fish, he would not have been short of money for his trip over to Xiawu City. He was a little slower than the others to take it out purely because he was not as practiced as them when it came to picking out the items from his dimensional pocket.

Brother Assist envied Gu Fei. He too wished he could stand in the middle of this circle, for that would surely be the safest position.

However, five seconds after Brother Assist had this thought, he rejoiced that he was not the one that was in the circle.

Royal God Call suddenly exclaimed and everybody, except Eternal Dominion, immediately threw what they were holding in the direction where he had been looking at. He had stowed that fish away back into his pocket, but his hand was still inside for the longest time.

"Here it comes!" Brother Assist anxiously alerted him.

"Almost there. I haven't located the slot where I placed my food..." Eternal Dominion said.

With the enemy upon them, everybody gave him a side eye. This man had actually partitioned his inventory? What a character.

The Shadowmist Assassin had already lunged out from the fog and appeared before everyone. However, not one of them took the initiative to attack it first. Each of them had already made the decision to observe what the BOSS would do when the target of its aggro was being surrounded like this. They wondered if this was an exploitable flaw or perhaps a loophole the system had left.

They quickly got their answer.

The Shadowmist Assassin rushed up to the cluster of players till he was about five meters away and abruptly leaped vertically until it was above head level. What followed next was a very clear pause while it was still in mid-air, and with its head down and feet pointed to the sky, inverted in the air, the BOSS thrusted its dagger out with both hands.

"F*ck! Quickly dodge!" It was unknown who yelled this, but the originally cluster of players sticking around Gu Fei all dispersed from their position. Almost at the same time, the Shadowmist Assassin came plummeting down from the air at a speed much faster than the speed it displayed leaping up.

However, just the time the BOSS took to leap in the sky had allowed Gu Fei to sufficiently prepare himself for the attack. This was the rhythm issue Gu Fei had always disdained when it came to how these NPCs acted. While the game designer had probably thought that a sudden pause and sudden rush looked very rhythmic and cool, making anyone watching this sequence of actions feel moved and be in awe, it was not the case for a martial arts expert like Gu Fei. The Shadowmist Assassin's uniqueness lay in its extreme speed, so no one would be able to beat it if it had a quick tempo to boot. However, this ended up becoming the key exploitable flaw of the BOSS despite its adroitness. It was entirely unclear if this was the designer being blind to this fact or if it was a flaw that was intentionally left for players to utilize.

In any case, now that the Shadowmist Assassin was already plummeting at such high speed, and the others that had originally been protecting Gu Fei all dispersed, Gu Fei was once again left to face the Shadowmist Assassin alone, as the rest searched for any possible opportunity to attack like before.

Gu Fei shoved his sword forward with both hands and used the same method as before to block the Shadowmist Assassin's attack. Unexpectedly, its attack this time was stronger than any of its previous attacks. Gu Fei was originally thinking that if pushed upward while taking the attack from below, he could at least prevent himself from flying off, since he had his feet planted to the ground for support. He did not expect the momentum of the attack this time to be so immense that he actually had difficulty even holding on. His arms bended to the force from the dagger, even his sword and hilt involuntarily moving toward his head.

Gu Fei quickly bent his legs and leaned back, intending to collapse onto the ground to increase the area of contact. This way, he could distribute the force more evenly and relieve some of the pressure in hopes of resisting this diving kill move from the Shadowmist Assassin.

Sure enough, Gu Fei was able to hold this attack after collapsing onto the ground as he did, but it was an unpleasant ordeal. Right now, the force of the attack was being exerted across his entire body, making him feel as if he were about to cramp. Gu Fei's lips were trembling uncontrollably, and the apple that was originally jammed in his mouth fell off instantly.

In the end, this fallen apple acted like a signal, and the rest of the players that had scattered suddenly activated their attacks in concert. Swords, daggers, and fists all uniformly smashed onto the Shadowmist Assassin.

Everybody saw red, and it was literally the red from spilled blood, which turned into a hanging mist. What was really astonishing was that this blood mist had actually come from Gu Fei's body. The Shadowmist Assassin did not even land on the ground as it once more dodged past over the heads of everybody and flew right back into the fog.

These men did not pay attention to the BOSS any longer as they turned to regard the sprawled Gu Fei by their feet. Blood that looked as if he had been pricked by a needle all over stained his face. Young Master Han tossed a Heal his way and asked, "You alright?"

"I'm fine," Gu Fei clambered up his feet and replied.

Everybody was surprised. The man looked frighteningly injured yet seemed very alright.

Young Master Han saw the blood splatter on his face and commented, "Seeing as how you were able to spit out blood like that, you probably managed to distribute the force rather evenly!"

This plummeting aerial assault from the Shadowmist Assassin was truly too powerful, so much so that even though Gu Fei had tried to block it as best as he could, the force of the attack alone was already capable of dealing a near fatal damage to him as the force exerted from the attack steadily lowered his HP the entire time. Had it not been for Young Master Han's timely Heal, he might have truly lost his life there and then.

While the attack did not directly make contact with his body, the pressure itself from the attack was distributed throughout his frame, creating this peculiar scene where blood began to force its way out from his whole body so explosively. Even now, no one was convinced that Gu Fei was fine after taking such a blow.

"I'm really okay." Gu Fei maintained even as he wiped away a trickle of blood from a corner of his mouth.

"Wow, you're still insisting you're fine even though blood is already coming out of your mouth!" everyone exclaimed.

"We're in a MMO! This is but a sign for the game to show that I am losing HP; there's no need to make such a big fuss about it," Gu Fei said.

"F*ck! When is it your turn to lecture us about this?!" The experts were now all mocking this first-time gamer.

"However, I think that method of luring the enemy we just did is no good!" Gu Fei said. He might look fine on the outside, but that attack had truly been an agonizing experience for him; he was too embarrassed to express it to this lot, though.

The damage from this attack occurred all over his body, and while the lack of any wound meant it did not hurt, adding the fact that the simulation worked to dull the most extreme sensations, Gu Fei ended up feeling itchy all over instead of pain. It felt as if microscopic worms were trying to crawl out of his body from his every pore, with his blood attempting to force its way out. Gu Fei only managed not to scratch himself all over and bear with it thanks to his superior endurance. This was because he knew that as long as he recovered his HP, the symptom he was feeling was bound to end, so he endured it all and continued to exchange words with everyone in a calm manner.

Still, he had no intention of experiencing all that again, which was precisely why he was insisting on them to avoid recreating the scenario, which had caused the Shadowmist Assassin to do that plummeting aerial assault.

"Spread out, spread out; don't surround me like that!" Gu Fei shooed everybody away.

"So, we'll just continue using you to draw the BOSS out whenever he attacks, and we'll just use that chance to attack from the sidelines," Young Master Han said. This was the plan that they had come up with from the start.

"Will that really work?" Royal God Call asked.

"Try it for a few rounds and I can more or less affirm my conjecture," Young Master Han replied.

"What?"

All Young Master Han did was nod his head to Brother Assist and not say another word.

"It's back!" Sword Demon yelled out before Royal God Call could even continue to ask. While everybody did not gather and covered a uniform 360 degrees, they were still able to cover most, if not all, of their surroundings just by randomly standing around as they were now. It was Sword Demon, whose back was facing Gu Fei, who spotted the Shadowmist Assassin reveal itself from the fog this time. Its target was again the man whose back was facing the BOSS: Gu Fei.

"It's always the same; how frustrating!" Gu Fei had completely familiarized himself with how the Shadowmist Assassin attacked and its patterns by now. It was apparent that the system was unable to automatically come up with any new technique or approach, either. All the BOSS did was execute the few moves it had been programmed to do, which Gu Fei had already committed to heart. Placing his sword horizontally across his chest to block, the dagger and sword clashed.

The body of the Shadowmist Assassin would always pause slightly when the clash occurred, which was also the moment that all the others had been waiting for to strike. None of them cared if they would hit the target as they each unleashed their attacks without further ado.

In the end, this pause that the Shadowmist Assassin had done was truly too brief. Gu Fei was already sent flying off into the fog after taking this attack and the Shadowmist Assassin immediately chased after him accordingly. Everybody's attack missed, and this included Eternal Dominion's punch. He had been too far away from the BOSS's position this time, so he did not manage to close the gap. Royal God Call's Homing Projectile managed to find its way to the Shadowmist Assassin, but he was soon disappointed by a discovery: the speed of the Homing Projectile was not as fast as the BOSS.

In a situation where Gu Fei and the Shadowmist Assassin were fighting one on one, the positioning of either party would quickly move the moment the clash occurred. Everyone hurried over in the direction where the two had disappeared to, but the Shadowmist Assassin was already gone by then. All that was left was Gu Fei getting himself up from the ground once more, smiling to the others as he said, "It won't end up like this all the time."

There were plenty of attack patterns that the Shadowmist Assassin could employ, and there were some that they simply stood no chance of capitalizing on. Take the attack pattern from before; there were still quite a few times that would present a viable opportunity to exploit, and that was precisely what everybody was waiting for.

"Yeah!" Everybody nodded. The harder it was to deal with a BOSS, the more likely that it was a high-valued target, so they were all patiently waiting for that chance to occur.

At the same time, the scrupulous gaming employee Ye Xiaowu, who was lounging about with nothing to do, strolled over to the monitoring department. He was greeted with a scene where a bunch of people was crowding around a screen, with someone welcoming him the moment he got in. "Chief Ye, quickly come and take a look. There're some players attempting to kill a level 60 BOSS."

"Level 60 BOSS? Which one?" Ye Xiaowu perked up when he heard this.

"The Shadowmist Assassin!"

"Whoa! How many of them are fighting it? How many died?" Ye Xiaowu hurriedly came over and grabbed a seat.

"It's been a while, but it seems that not one of them is dead yet," a colleague from the monitoring team replied.

"How is that possible?!" Ye Xiaowu was in shock.