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Chapter 489 - Carefully Planned

 "Calculate? What are we calculating?" Svelte Dancer asked.

"The route of Giordano's courtyard inspection must coincide with the releasing of the fog by turning this dehumidifier off. That is to ensure that we will have enough time to accomplish the assassination. How can we succeed if we don't calculate?" Gu Fei explained.

"Then, hurry up and do it," Svelte Dancer urged.

"This isn't my strong suit... It's not like I'm an arithmetic teacher," Gu Fei muttered even as he took out his few days' worth of notes. He had made a note of Giordano's route and of the locations that would draw less attention. At a glance, he could tell that these few positions he had singled out would all be useful, as these were the spots Giordano would be alone after the fog obscured the courtyard.

However, the dehumidifier would automatically switch on after 3 minutes and would complete its task in 1 minute and 22 seconds, which meant that Gu Fei would only have 4 minutes and 22 seconds to complete this assassination. No, there might not even be 4 minutes and 22 seconds! Gu Fei thought. The dehumidification should be an ongoing process, so 1 minute and 22 seconds is the time it will take to completely clear out the fog, and in the process of clearing it, the fog itself will thin out and the visibility afforded will subsequently increase. The enemy might discover my presence earlier than the allocated time, so even an estimation of 4 minutes might be a little generous.

Four minutes... This should not be a problem if this was a normal PvP fight, but the opponent he was facing would be a BOSS-level NPC. All the BOSSES Gu Fei had challenged from the beginning of the game up to now; be it Sooto, the trashy Mr. Adrian that had lost its ability to transform into a Werewolf, or the strongest out of the three, Shadowmist Assassin; not one of these battles were completed within 4 minutes. Every BOSS he had faced shared the common quality of having an obscene amount of HP. After all, no matter how high of an attack or how outrageous its skills were, it was entirely unbecoming of a BOSS if it could be defeated with a single stroke; A BOSS that could not last in combat was not a good BOSS at all.

"Slaying a BOSS in 4 minutes?" Sword Demon had quite the scare when he received this news from Gu Fei. "That's impossible. Getting wiped in 4 minutes by a BOSS sounds more likely." Even though Sword Demon did not have any experience engaging in any large-scale siege of a BOSS in Parallel World, he was nevertheless someone who had his fair share of such experiences in other MMOs. As long as it was a MMO, various aspects of a game's design would remain the same. Beating a BOSS in 4 minutes was only possible if it was a high-level player bullying a low-level BOSS. Meanwhile, it would be too much of a waste if players were able to easily and efficiently take down a BOSS on the same level within that timeframe. Still, considering the fact that this diary belonged to the Shadowmist Assassin, a well-known overleveled BOSS, it only made sense that its target Giordano would at least be of the same standard, if not even higher, than itself. Four minutes to slay a BOSS was far too preposterous."

"No matter what, we gotta at least give it a shot, right?" Gu Fei said.

"No. This is an entirely impossible task. Even if you are highly skilled, your damage output is another matter entirely; there's no way you'd be able to kill a BOSS in 4 minutes even if it were to stand there and take your every hit. If this is truly how the quest is designed, then the assassination of Giordano must still have something else to it." Sword Demon was a veteran gamer after all, so his analysis of this matter was sensible and methodical.

"Okay, that makes sense. Could he have perhaps some sort of hidden weakness?" Gu Fei asked.

"Is there any other clue in the diary that says this?" Sword Demon asked back.

"Diary..." Gu Fei wondered out loud as he flipped through the pages hastily, finding all the portions of the diary that mentioned Giordano. The first time it spoke of Giordano, the Shadowmist Assassin was already experiencing a little mental collapse; it had recorded all that it could remember in an effort to maintain clarity of its mind. As for this quest that it had yet to accomplish, it made sure to mention it many times, possibly to stimulate his willpower. Gu Fei looked through all the contents about Giordano and finally realized that there were plenty of clues hidden between those lines.

'Everybody has a unique habit. When doing something of habit, people often find themselves to be at their least alert. Giordano, what's your habit? I will surely discover it!' Gu Fei noted this line and immediately said to the other two. "Looks like it's advising us to capitalize on Giordano's habit. Odd; why didn't I notice this line the first time around..."

"Least alert when doing something of habit... Did it mean that the BOSS has a lower defense when doing its patrol and can be killed in one blow?" Svelte Dancer guessed.

"It can't be that simple!" Sword Demon refuted. "What else is there?"

Using the glow from the dehumidifier, Gu Fei continued to look through the diary even as he tried to recall what he had read. He had a vague impression that there was some information that would be useful for the fight in the parts where Giordano was mentioned, yet he was uncertain if it was because he was feeling a little flustered right now or something else, but he simply could not recall everything clearly. All he could do was continuously flip through the diary, stopping whenever Giordano was mentioned.

Finally, Gu Fei found the information he needed.

"Right here!" he shouted triumphantly.

"What?" the two hurriedly asked.

"'Giordano? Famed for his swordsmanship? Do you know what it feels like to lose your confidence? Ha ha ha ha! Let me help you with that. I will let your physical body recollect what it is like to suffer grievous injuries by utterly getting rid of any self-confidence you possess before I viciously wipe you from the face of this world!'" Gu Fei read this passage - the very line he had been searching for all this while. This was already near the end of the diary, where the collapse of the Shadowmist Assassin's state of mind was far more apparent. The Assassin's sangfroid was almost gone and only madness remained.

"'Famed for his swordsmanship'... Yeah; that's surely not easy to deal with. That's the line you're looking for?" Svelte Dancer asked.

"No, it's this other line! 'Let your physical body recollect what it is like to suffer grievous injuries'!" Gu Fei explained. "You can tell from the choice of words used that Giordano has been heavily injured previously, so perhaps that's where his weakness lies."

"Heavy injury? What injury? Where? Is it written down somewhere?" Sword Demon asked.

"No..." Gu Fei shook his head. If that were the case, it would be obvious information, which Gu Fei would have long taken note of.

"Isn't that as good as not knowing anything, then?" Sword Demon asked.

"Well... Perhaps I'll be able to find out when I exchange blows with it," Gu Fei answered.

The two Thieves hung their mouths agape. "You can do that?"

"Of course. We've already established that this game's creation is extremely life-like, so this heavy injury Giordano previous sustained should not just be a flippant remark," Gu Fei answered confidently.

"Or perhaps you've drawn the wrong conclusion? This diary might simply just be the ramblings of a mad man," Svelte Dancer said.

"But there's nothing else we can draw from what we've discovered. That's all there is about Giordano in this diary here. You've both seen it as well; did you find anything else?" Gu Fei asked.

The two shook their heads.

"Thus, this is the only conclusion we can draw," Gu Fei affirmed.

"When would Giordano come out?" Sword Demon asked.

"Gu Fei took a look at his own records. "He leaves the Vigilante Corps Chamber at 10:22 AM, and after 5 minutes and 57 seconds, he steps out of the Government City Hall's entrance; that's at 10:27:57 PM. He'll reach the first possible spot for assassination at 10:35:22 PM. It's now 10:10 PM, so we have about 25 minutes to prepare for our strike at the earliest time."

"But the players outside are still in a state of disarray; wouldn't that be inconvenient? I doubt the battle will be over in 25 minutes," Sword Demon said.

"We don't have to worry too much about the players. I've noted from before that the route that Giordano takes by the courtyard will have fewer combatants. Perhaps the players from Flowergazing in the Fog are worried that this PvP battle will affect their quest with Giordano, so they purposefully cleared those areas," Gu Fei deduced. In truth, the path that Giordano took would pass by several areas with NPCs about. Since both sides engaged in the PvP were actively avoiding NPC guards and were fighting in areas where none of them was present, it coincidentally avoided the route Giordano would be taking.

"Let's not talk about the assassination for now. Just getting to the location you've pointed out will already be fairly difficult," Sword Demon said.

"We can use the dehumidifier! It'll be easy if we turn it off and use the fog to move to where we need to be, right? When it's time to strike, we'll make sure we get the time down and turn it off again," Gu Fei said.

"Uh... Using the dehumidifier back to back, wouldn't it draw the NPC's attention?" Sword Demon voiced out his trepidation.

"Aren't you perhaps thinking too much about this... Would it really be so authentic?" Gu Fei countered.

"Hey. You're the one who wants to depend on authenticity to find a BOSS's old injury..." Sword Demon said.

"In that case, we can't just disregard this consideration! Let's just assume we can only use this trick once, so we'll have to find another way to get into position!" Gu Fei said.

"Oi. If we are gonna think like that, wouldn't it be possible that this NPC Giordano would abandon his usual route to the courtyard the moment the fog appears and make his way over to the shed, instead?" Svelte Dancer posited.

Gu Fei was stumped now. "Why do I feel like we've overanalyzed this problem till it has gotten far too complicated?"

"What Svelte Dancer said makes sense. If we go down this road of thinking, we can't forget to consider such a potentiality," Sword Demon agreed.

"Fine. Let's conclude and see just what we should end up doing..." Gu Fei could feel his head hurting.

"If everything goes ahead as per normal, you simply need to leave me here to turn off the machine. I'll make sure to immediately leave the shed once this is done in case I get blocked by NPCs as I make my escape," Sword Demon said. "As for Giordano, I feel it might not immediately realize what happens over here with the dehumidifier. It'll take time for the fog to fully set in, and by the time it realizes what is happening, Giordano shouldn't be too far from where you want him to be, so you two will just have to seize that chance to leash it."

"Leashing it... Seriously, Sword Demon. The choice of word you use really spoils the mood..." Gu Fei said.

"Sorry; it's a habit. I'll take note of that next time," Sword Demon said.

"Why must you be the one that remains here? I can make a quick escape; let me turn off the dehumidifier!" Svelte Dancer suggested.

"No; it's better if you go with Miles. We don't have much time, so in order to complete this quest, we will need an even higher damage output, and you're more suitable," Sword Demon rejected.

"Watch your choice of words!"

"Choice of words? Oh. Damage output. Sorry... I'll be careful next time."

"Alright. Let's go with that plan, then." Gu Fei confirmed the final details.

"So how are we going to resolve the issue of getting near the spot where we will stage our assassination attempt while the fight is still ongoing?" Svelte Dancer asked.

"Since we don't have any options, we'll just have to slay our way through." Gu Fei cruelly wiped his blade.

Svelte Dancer was depressed. "Why is it that I feel this plan we've spent so long concocting seems to be so unrefined?"

"What do you mean 'unrefined'? It's gone through such careful planning! It is so exquisite that we haven't failed to account for a minute or a single second of this. You'd better get your head in the game lady, or you'd be too much of a failure if you die while we're making our way out of here!" Gu Fei said.

"Hmph! I think you're the one who's gonna die!" Svelte Dancer also ruthlessly drew out her dagger.