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Chapter 457 - Observers

 Gu Fei Blinked over to the top of the wall. The top plate of the wall was thick enough for him to stand firmly on. At a glance, a heavy fog was behind him while a large courtyard, which was as clear as a day, lay before him. He quickly lowered his body, for he did not wish to be spotted by others. He then heard Yan Xiaozhu, who was still hanging on the rope, angrily shout from below, "Quickly pull me up!"

"I'm a Mage! I don't have the Strength." He sighed.

"You're sure to have the Strength to pull one person up. It's not like I'm heavy," she said through clenched teeth. She was possibly the first person in this game to have used up all her strength. At the moment she was no longer moving as she hung there in mid-air. She refused to slide down and call it quits, wishing that she could just pounce up and bite that man when she heard how free and leisure he sounded after Blinking up the wall. Why bite? That was because, aside from her mouth, no other parts of Yan Xiaozhu had any fight left in them.

"Let me give it a shot! Don't struggle wildly," he said as his two hands went to grab the rope.

Actually, he knew in his heart that, while he might not have much Strength as a Mage, it was still enough to pull this lass up. That was exactly why he had Blinked to clear the final five meters. It was to save what little stamina and Strength he had left so he could pull the lady up. Gu Fei had no intention of laughing at the plight of someone stuck in mid-air like this; such a despicable act would be more in line with Young Master Han than him.

With both hands, he really managed to pull her up. The lass immediately sprawled on the wall's small walkway the moment she reached it, panting heavily. Experiencing such lethargy in game was not easy for players.

Gu Fei was no better himself, for his was strength was currently at its pits, but he was not at least not indecently lying there sprawled out like her. He was just quietly sitting at one side, yet his labored breathing showed how exhausted he was.

When Yan Xiaozhu's breathing returned to normal, she turned her gaze on to Gu Fei and saw that he was carefully keeping the two sets of hook. Curious on how he had come across such items, she asked, "Where did you get those things from?"

"I made them myself," he answered.

"You made them yourself? How'd you do that?" she pressed on.

He looked at her and raised one of the hooks before her. "Find something like this, then get a lengthy rope, and tie them together. Logically speaking, the more durable the rope is and the heavier the claw hook is, the better it will be."

"I'll go make one myself when I get back," she decided.

"What would you make one for?"

"For fun." Her answer was uninspiring.

He no longer paid heed to the lady. Stowing away both hooks into his dimensional pocket, he took out a quill and a booklet; he then placed the booklet on his lap. Following this, Gu Fei rummaged through his pocket with his left hand for quite some time before managing to retrieve the spy glass. Noting the time, he began his observation.

"What... What are you doing?" She was perplexed by his series of actions and his possession of so many weird things.

"I'm making a note of the activity patterns of the NPC," he explained.

"NPC? Activity patterns?" She confusedly looked down at a place not too far away, which required no spyglass to have a clear view of. There were two kinds of NPCs found in the courtyard of the Government City Hall: first was the guards standing stationary at their posts and second was the guards patrolling the area.

"You mentioned that Giordano comes out daily to tell the Flowergazing in the Fog of their guild quest's progress. By day, do you mean the day in game or the day in reality?" Gu Fei asked. Naturally, these two were separate timeframe altogether. A day in reality had a cycle of 24 hours, but a day and night in Parallel World was only on a 6-hour cycle.

"I'm... I'm not too sure about that!" she responded.

"Well, it doesn't matter. We'll find out real soon," he said.

"What exactly is your quest about, for it to require you to locate Giordano?" She found this entire business becoming more and more fishy by the minute.

"Assassinate him," he answered matter-of-factly.

Her mouth hung agape for quite a while. Eventually, she asked, "Where did you get this quest from? What's the reward?"

Normal quests found in the game would often list the sort of rewards players would get upon completion to help the players make a decision on whether to do them or not. For instance, a Thief would naturally not bother to do a quest if the reward shown was a magic staff.

Gu Fei did not say a word and merely fished out Andrew Su's Diary and tossed it toward Yan Xiaozhu.

"Andrew Su's Diary," she pronounced the item's name aloud. "What is this? Who is Andrew Su?"

"It's that BOSS that has been making the headline on the game's official website these two days," Gu Fei informed.

"The Shadowmist Assassin!" she exclaimed. The Shadowmist Assassin had been the top news all throughout Parallel World for two days now. Of course, she was paying close attention to this as she was a player from Xiawu City, where the incident had happened. Two of Yan Xiaozhu's friends happened to be among the victims of the Shadowmist Assassin's massacre yesterday, and she personally heard from them about that encounter with the BOSS. They told her that they had not even caught a glimpse of the BOSS's shadow; all they felt was a gust of wind, and the next thing they knew, they were dead.

It was unavoidable that the accounts would be a little overly embellished, but it only emphasized just how frightening the Shadowmist Assassin was. Thus, after the officials' announcement regarding this BUG involving a BOSS, plenty of players were curious on what had become of the Shadowmist Assassin. Unfortunately, the game officials did not deign to share details regarding that, so everybody just assumed that the BOSS was deleted from the system after the discovery of the BUG.

The rumors about the outcome of the BOSS had only started spreading like the tendrils of a grapevine, yet she was actually seeing a drop from the BOSS presently, which astonished her greatly. She could not voice her doubts, however, as upon flipping the diary open, she immediately read the self-introduction of the Shadowmist Assassin. Naturally, she had all the reasons to believe that this was the work of the system; would there really be any player out there who would be bored enough to write a diary about a BOSS's life just to mess with others?

"How did you get your hands on this thing here?" This was a point that she was bound to feel suspicious of.

"It dropped upon the Shadowmist Assassin's death," was his answer.

"How did it die?" she probed.

"I killed it," Gu Fei replied simply.

"I don't believe you! How could you possibly manage to slay the Shadowmist Assassin with its high level?" She was cynical about the factuality of his claim.

"Of course, it wasn't just me alone. I had the help of a friend in killing it," he supplied.

"Friend? Who's that?" Recalling those she had seen with him, she thought that it might be the flippant odd couple she had met before. Even though the two men were famous experts, the impression she got of the real Royal God Call and War Without Wounds was largely a disappointment.

"Eternal Dominion." He did not bother to say anything else past the man's name. This was because there was really no need to do so. As one of the Five Unyielding Experts, only a noob who had just entered the game would be unaware of Eternal Dominion's name.

Sure enough, Yan Xiaozhu was aware of the person's background. She was now staring at Gu Fei as the line from a famous Tang poem, 'When great scholars gather to talk in good spirits, the guests will all be far from ordinary', surfaced in her mind. Applying this to the man before her, it naturally meant that he was constantly surrounded by peak experts from the two men, Drifting, and now this Eternal Dominion. That person he was chasing after to slay was also...

It was unknown who had uncovered the fact about Southern Lone Blade losing yet another level yesterday. He was already no longer among the Five Unyielding Experts, and now he was also not even near the levels of the Ten Great Adepts and the Seven Bottlenecks. Southern Lone Blade was really at a loss on how he should react to the fact that someone was keeping tabs of his progress. In short, the news that he had lost yet another level already spread wide across the entire Parallel World. The moment Slyris and Yan Xiaozhu caught wind of this, they immediately knew that this was Gu Fei's handiwork.

Yan Xiaozhu had more or less verified this diary's origin, so she asked a follow-up question, "What's the point of showing me this for?"

"Look here." He reached out his hand and flipped the diary to the part that the Shadowmist Assassin had written about its 187th assignment, which was also the part it talked about the NPC Giordano.

"Oh!" She quickly got it. "This is where you got your quest from, huh."

"What's the reward?" she immediately asked. To players, the reason why they would be compelled to do quests was ultimately to receive the rewards for completing the quests.

Gu Fei was different, though. His only reason for coming all this way to do the quest was his personal fascination to it.

"What? No reward? It's also not shown on the quest log?" She was extremely surprised the moment she heard about this. "Then, why are you even doing it?"

He mulled it over for a bit before he answered, "For fun."

Yan Xiaozhu admitted her defeat. It was truly an answer she was unable to rebut.

"So what you're doing now..." She finally had a little understanding of what he was currently doing. "You're checking out the movement patterns of those NPCs below to find an opportunity to make an attempt on Giordano's life?"

"You're spot on!" He nodded. "The movement of the NPCs is all programmed, and they'll follow their route to the letter. It's really simple."

"Then, there's really no room for error in what you're doing, as even miscalculating it by a second can result in failure!" she exclaimed.

It was now Gu Fei's turn to be shocked upon hearing this, for he had not too long ago heard a similar statement. He could not help but think of that one line in Andrew Su's Diary: 'To the Shadowmist Assassin, forgetting a minute or even a second is already enough to result in death.'

That line resonated well with the current situation he was in. Could that diary actually have some hints to his current quest squirrelled within its text?

"Would it really be so clever..." he muttered to himself. He had read the diary not too long ago, so his memory of it was still fresh in his mind. Besides that line, he could not really think of any other part from its content that would be serve as a hint. Could there be hints further into the book? he wondered. There were still pages after that which he had not read through yet.

I think it's best that I finish the task at hand first! Halting his train of thoughts, he proceeded to continue his observation of the NPC guards' movements. With the entire courtyard visible before him, he was able to memorize each and every position of the stationary NPC guards. Similarly, he made sure to carefully note down the route that the patrolling guards were taking, including their movement speed while doing so.

All these were still considered to be his preparatory work. Aside from making a record of things, Gu Fei had no idea what else he could analyze. After all, he needed to know when Giordano would appear before he could refer to the NPC guards' situation at that moment to find a possible chance to spring his attack. As such, he kept his eyes trained on the entrance to the Government City Hall where Giordano was bound to appear. Once he appeared, the pathing it chose, as well as the other position of the NPCs about, would be taken into account; only then would he have a full grasp of the situation. Everything that he could take in at the moment was simply the foundation that his attack would be based off from.

"Hey!" Yan Xiaozhu suddenly realized something. "We're not gonna be camping out here for almost six hours, right?"

"That depends; six hours might not even be enough." He was also rather distressed by this fact. He might have the day off from work today, but he was certain that this quest would not be accomplished any time soon. Did he have that much time in-game for this?