Chapter 35 – Pay-to-win
“It would make sense if he was a bug in the system like you.”
“I’ve been thinking about this. Why would he choose me, out of everyone? Am I special in any way? Was I a bug in the system in the first place, or did he create a bug by choosing me?”
“I’d think that you were a bug in Heaven’s Laws in the first place. It would be nearly impossible to create a bug out of nothing, even for Mr. Kong. But why and how?” Bai Ze shook her head in frustration at her lack of insight, despite being a mythical beast reputed for wisdom and knowledge.
“Speaking of which, there are two Mr. Kongs.” Li Yiming threw out the doubt that lingered in his mind ever since his encounter with Li Huaibei.
“Two?” This revelation once again came to the shock of Bai Ze.
“Yeah, Li Huaibei pulled me into his own memory. I saw it in Eden…” Li Yiming retold the details to Bai Ze.
“Eden… Mr. Kong…” The mention of what Li Huaibei experienced brought a terrible feeling to Bai Ze. She had never heard of Eden before, but Li Yiming’s tale did remind her of something else she knew about, a place she did not even dare to think about…
“Give me some time for this, okay?” Bai Ze answered rather spiritlessly.
“Oh yeah, I see something called ‘immunity to thunder’, is that my talent?” Li Yiming changed the topic of the conversation after noticing Bai Ze’s low mood. If things were so complicated as to confuse a mythical beast like her, then there was no point for someone that joined the party halfway to worry about that.
“No, it’s not. That’s just a passive skill you obtained after the Source of Thunder merged with your body. Your talent is still empty, I can see it clearly. Oh! I know why your spell improved, it’s because you took in the Source of Thunder.” Bai Ze answered him in a voice that suggested at her still being distracted by Li Yiming’s story.
“Source of Thunder? Passive skill?” Li Yiming could also see how he reached level four in spell now, but he was dumbfounded by Bai Ze’s explanation.
“You don’t know about the Source of Thunder? It’s inside you, how’s that even possible?” Li Yiming’s diversion tactic worked; Bai Ze was now too busy being frustrated by his naiveness to think about Eden.
“I told you, I don’t know. I’ve been kind of dragged forcefully to where I am today, you know. Didn’t really have a chance to learn much on the way” Li Yiming was speechless.
“You know, I’ll never cease to be impressed by the amount of surprises I get when I talk to you. The Source of Thunder is something produced by Heaven’s Laws. Sources exist for all elements, but no one knows where they are, or how to obtain them. It can improve your Heavenly Vein and even the talents that have to do with its element of origin. Well, lucky you, I guess there are at least a few benefits to being a bug. For the passive talent thing, it’s hard to explain… I’m sure that you wouldn’t understand even if I told you. At least you don’t have to worry about being struck by lightning now.”
“So, you’re saying that I’m immune to Heaven’s Punishment?” A thought suddenly occurred to Li Yiming.
“Yes, that is correct.” Bai Ze said in a discouraged voice. ‘I really don’t know if it’s a good thing to be stuck with him.’
“If guardians do anything out of the ordinary in the real world, Heaven’s Punishment would befall them, right?”
“Didn’t you experience that yourself?” Something in the way Li Yiming asked the question alerted Bai Ze. ‘What is he thinking about again?’
“If I can survive through a punishment, I’ll get some kind of reward, right?”
“Yes, what are you trying to say?” Bai Ze stared at Li Yiming and tried to guess what he was up to.
“I’m immune to thunder, so what if I just go find myself a spot with no one and abuse my power? It doesn’t use any life marks anyways, so I’ll just keep triggering the punishments and I’ll become invincible in no time!” Li Yiming finally revealed his master plan. ‘Ha! Using Heaven’s Punishment to become stronger, that’ll be way faster than obtaining Progression Path points!’
“There are other ways to die you know? Who told you that it would be lightning every single time?” Bai Ze answered, not very impressed by Li Yiming’s proposal. ‘Oh, no… This guy, this newbie is a deadweight… I’ll have to keep an eye on him so he doesn’t do something stupid from now on.’
“There are other kinds of punishments?” Li Yiming was clueless.
“Yes, whirlwinds, skyfire, blackwater, inner demon…. All kinds, really. How can you be sure that it’ll be lightning every single time?” Bai Ze explained in a dispirited voice. “You know, what happened earlier was already beyond lucky. You’re greedy for wanting to replicate that.”
“Okay, okay. I was just thinking about it, okay? By the way, is level three considered strong? Aside from the people I’ve seen in Eden, it seems like level three is already quite impressive.” Li Yiming remembered his Thunderous Strike that resulted in one dead and three grievously injured guardians not so long ago.
“Let me explain. If you don’t find other ways to strengthen your Heavenly Vein, and all you do is add points to it, then you’ll need seven times more points to for each level. From level one to level two, you’ll need fifty, three hundred fifty for level two to level three, and so forth. Beyond level seven, it becomes something more complicated than just using points. But that’s not going to happen in a long while, so there’s no use talking about it now.”
“Your level three in every category is all thanks to Heaven’s Punishment. Normally, guardians would have to go through many domains to achieve what you did. You’re still weak compared to the people you saw in Eden, but by the standards of a normal domain, you’re already like a minor boss figure. Your friends outside probably achieved level three in one category at most,” Bai Ze explained patiently.
‘Seems like I still have a long path in front of me, especially since I have no way to improve my Heavenly Vein. But at least I know why my Thunderous Strike was so strong now.’ Li Yiming decided to try something else to impress Bai Ze. “Hey, look at this!” He said as he took out that old bronze coin from his bracelet.
“A Dao Treasure? Where did you get that?” Bai Ze asked, very surprised.
“I bought it for four yuan.” Li Yiming bragged about his achievement, and this time it was an achievement indeed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you. Can you repeat what you just said?” Bai Ze said with an unamused expression.
“I bought it for four yuan at the entrance of the antique market, from a stall.” Li Yiming had to try very to hard to repress a smug smile.
Bai Ze gave a long sigh. ‘Wait a second, is this guy some kind of pay-to-win player?’ “I’m calling this a Dao Treasure because it’s different from normal guardian equipment. There’s something special about these items that make them even more valuable than Sage Artifacts.
“Sage Artifact?” Li Yiming stared at the rust marks on the bronze coin.
“Guardian equipment can also be classified into levels. It’s pretty simple actually, use your focus to check the object, and you’ll see a runic glyph with a certain color. The colors correspond to the levels, white for level one, green for two, blue for three, purple for four, red for five, black for six and rainbow for seven. Level sevens are called Sage Artifacts.”
“Really? So this thing is even better than level seven?” Li Yiming eyes lit up with hope.
“Oh please.” Bai Ze rolled her eyes. “Dao Treasures fall into their own category. They’re special in a way, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that their levels are high. The coin you have here is level four at most. If it did exceed that level, I doubt that you’d even be able to use it. Forget about obtaining a powerful weapon and slaying enemies that are stronger than you; that won’t happen; you won’t even be able to unleash the item’s full power. The special thing about Dao Treasures is that they can merge with their owner, or rather, their essence is extractable.”
Li Yiming nodded and listened carefully.
“By extraction, I mean that you can use a certain method to extract the technique sealed within this item and make it become yours. Get it?”
“So I can learn Thunderous Strike from this coin, and I’ll be able to use it even without it?” Li Yiming’s mental acuity improved after the recent events, and he was quick to grasp the gist of Bai Ze’s teaching.
“Exactly.” Bai Ze looked at him like a teacher proud of her pupil.
“Can you teach me how?” Li Yiming could not wait. He thought from the beginning that having a bronze coin between his fingers at the start of every fight would not only hinder his image, but also his performance. Especially since people would eventually learn to prepare for the attack that was going to come once they saw the bronze coin. If he could learn the technique sealed within the object, however, it would be the same as learning a spell, so it would aid him greatly.
“Sure, it’s pretty simple. Just focus on the glyph sealed within the item, and think about writing that pattern down inside your head.” Bai Ze threw the coin into Li Yiming’s hand and sat down right beside him.
Li Yiming held the coin and listened to Bai Ze’s instructions. It was not long before he could feel the appearance of a glyph representing Thunderous Strike inside of his mind. As the edges of the light glyph finished forming inside of his mind, the bronze coin turned into dust that fell onto the bed. Li Yiming closed and his eyes and was overjoyed when he realized that he had learned the technique and could use it whenever he wanted. ‘Yes, finally, a real spell!’
“Does this only work with Dao Treasures?” Li Yiming was overflowing with enthusiasm.
“Of course, that’s exactly why Dao Treasures are considered to be as precious as sage-level items.” Bai Ze looked at Li Yiming, who took out an worn-out leather armor from his storage bracelet. This was a level two green item he had obtained earlier.
“You know what… Have fun, I’ll go rest for a bit.” Bai Ze knew exactly what Li Yiming was up to this time and did not even bother stopping him.
“You…” Bai Ze suddenly opened her eyes wide. Her breath quickened and she trembled, not believing what she saw just as she was going to transform into a ray of white light once more.
The leather armor in Li Yiming’s hand turned into a thin dust and spread out onto the ground. “Wait, my stamina increased by a bit?” Li Yiming was dumb with astonishment. He did not anticipate success at all, and simply did it for the sake of trying.
“How did you do that?” Bai Ze leaped at Li Yiming and exhorted. She picked up some of the dust from the ground. It was grey, and so thin that it slipped through her fingers and coated the bedsheets with a layer of dirt.
“I… just did what you told me…” Li Yiming himself was unsure of what had just happened.
“Do you have other items? We have to try again.” Bai Ze’s interest was piqued. If Li Yiming could repeat what he did with the leather armor, then she would not need to worry a single bit about him not having a talent or not being able to strengthen his Heavenly Vein: this would be an ability beyond the level of pay-to-win, and most likely a fatal mistake from Heaven’s Law.
Li Yiming dropped a pile of equipments on the bed.
“Don’t tell me you got all of this stuff at the antique market?” Bai Ze jumped when she saw the pile of items.
“Of course not. We took these from other guardians. I gave away a few items out to the team and kept the rest.” Li Yiming did not wait further and picked up a leather belt. A beam of light ran down the object, and it turned into dust just like the armor before.
“So?” Bai Ze looked at Li Yiming with bright eyes.
“Extraction failed?” Li Yiming closed his eyes. The runic glyph he had tried to capture from the item faded out slowly in his mind.
“There’s a success rate? Was it a coincidence earlier then? Try again!” Bai Ze urged Li Yiming. She was even more eager than him to know the final outcome.
As the mountain of items shrank, Li Yiming and Bai Ze finally figured out the “rules” that governed the process of extracting an item. Aside from pills, Li Yiming was able to extract any kind of guardian equipment. The only catch was that the success rate would be dependent on the equipment’s level, and, regardless of whether the extraction was successful or not, the equipment would be destroyed. The ability obtained from an equipment would also differ, depending on the equipment in question, but it was usually the strongest ability that the object had to offer. For example, from the bronze coin, Li Yiming obtained the Thunderous Strike technique, whereas from the armor, he obtained stamina that was worth about five points.
By the time he exhausted his stock of guardian equipments, Li Yiming had successfully extracted eleven equipments. One of his best results was the extractions of two storage items, which allowed him to have his own, personal storage space. Li Yiming was overjoyed when he realized that his storage space could be expanded indefinitely as long as he found more storage items to extract from. Another fruitful result was from a jade pendant, from which he obtained a level-three purification technique. From the rest of the items, he obtained mostly small improvements to his general abilities.
“So you’re a bug that can use hacks? Do I get a reward for reporting you?” Bai Ze asked when all was done.
The gaming-ish system seems a little odd for the settings of the novel, but I guess they help clearly define levels of strength in a systematic way. Hopefully, with these you’ll understand better the strength of the characters. Also, I love the interactions between Bai Ze and Li Yiming :3