Chapter 11 — A Bet is A Bet!
The Game’s Number 1 Dangerous Man! He has appeared!
Edited by Planetes
Ling Xiaolu arrived at a safe spot, but above his head appeared a golden and shiny “Reward”.
He tilted his head to the right, and the word tilted to the right. He tilted his head to the left, and the word too tilted to the left. He reached out to grab at it, only to grasp air.
“Quick, look!” He nudged Ling Long. “I’m also a gold name now!”
Ling Long was stoic. “Which benefactor would call themselves ‘reward’? It just means that someone has placed a bounty on you.”
“A bounty?” Someone who had a grudge against him, as well as having money with nowhere to spend it, Ling Xiaolu could only think of that person. “Papa Dou did this?”
“Probably,” Ling Long used his GM rights to check the records. “There’s a total of ten bounties, each bounty is worth a hundred thousand gold. Seems like you’ve really riled him up.”
Ling Xiaolu lamented deeply. “That’s so much money. He could have just given it directly to me, I wouldn’t mind killing myself on the spot.”
“A hundred thousand is not a small sum. With such a huge reward, it’s more than enough to attract all sorts of assassins.”
“You even have assassins in this game?”
“According to the stats, the total amount of money offered as rewards for bounties last quarter reached as high as one billion. From this, you can imagine how many would work as a bounty hunter. No matter how many characters the company design to be a big boss in the game, the biggest resentments in the game are always between players.”
“This actually sounds rather logical.”
“I’m afraid the assassins are already trying to track you down now. People who dare to take up this bounty of a hundred thousand gold won’t be easy to handle. What do you plan to do?”
“What can I do? I only have one life, and who knows how many people there are out there. Of course I’ll just walk down the path of death myself.”
“Walking down the path of death means…?”
【Global】Lu Bi: A large bounty has been placed on me, and I’m right here waiting for you to take my life. There’s only going to be ten chances, first come first served. [Location]
【Global】Dandan: Isn’t this the Lu Bi who has something going on with both Adonis and Hubby? Why, after having a bounty placed on him, he decided to give up fighting?
【Global】Tian Shi: It must be Papa Dou who did this. We all saw the livestream just now, look at how angry Papa is!
【Global】Cao Sanxin1: I was planning on looking for you, and didn’t expect that you would take such initiative. It’s really searching high and low only to find it when you least expect it.”
【Global】Lu Bi: A friendly warning: If you don’t have the ability, don’t come seeking your death.
【Global】Cao Sanxin: Ho! Such brash words from a newbie. May I ask if you even have the ability to fight me?
【Global】Lu Bi: I personally don’t, but why don’t you guess if the others do?
【Global】Cao Sanxin: … That seems to make sense. Then I won’t go anymore, have fun!
Ling Xiaolu’s words managed to persuade most of the restless people. However, there were always confident people abound in the world, and this also included the temptation of a one hundred thousand gold reward. Taking a look, Ling Xiaolu saw that there were at least a hundred over people.
It felt that most people who wanted to come had arrived. Ling Xiaolu raised a loudspeaker — he got Ling Long to make it appear — to maintain the public order.
“Thank you everyone for your support. There are so many people here. For me, I sincerely wish that each one of you would be able to make your fortune. But as you can see, there are only ten bounties available, and there’s no way every single one of you can be satisfied. As such, we can only go along with a first come first served basis. Friends who were late, I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait for future opportunities.”
He glanced around, and randomly pointed at the closest person. “Here, we’ll just start from you, you’ll be the first one!”
Just as the first one revealed a smug look, he was immediately attacked by over ten different skills. The first one swayed, falling down onto one knee, and his spirit floated out from his body.
Spirits could not speak, and could only hold up a card. The first one… No, he should be called the ex-first one indignantly raised a card: You bunch of beasts!
This was the first time Ling Xiaolu saw someone died in the game, and he even died in a second. He should be frightened, but instead, he was so amused by the card-raising of the spirit that a laugh burst out from him.
The spirit flipped the card: The hell you laughing at!
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t manage to hold it back.” Ling Xiaolu forcefully suppressed his laughter. Pointing at the “dead body”, he reproached the crowd. “What are you guys doing? Is anyone going to revive him?”
There clearly was not. The ex-first one too understood this point, and in a fury, he released his spirit, leaving a small gravestone on the ground.
“The first one has left, then what should we do? I guess we can only move on to the next person.” Ling Xiaolu pointed at the person next to where the ex-first one was standing. “It’s your turn now.”
Before that person could even express that he did not want this honour, he was killed immediately. After all, there were so many people on site, no one would be able to withstand the combination of random attacks.
The second first one who was killed indignantly raised his card: Damn you!
Next to the first gravestone appeared another gravestone. Primly, Ling Xiaolu put on a straight face. “What you guys are doing is wrong, how am I going to proceed with my work like this? How will I maintain the order of society? How am I going to successfully distribute these bounties? Do you guys still want to earn this money?”
“You can’t do this again!” Ling Xiaolu raised a pointed finger again. “Then we’ll start from…”
The person who was pointed out shook his head, terrified. “Not me, not me! I’m just here to watch the show!”
Ling Xiaolu shifted his finger, and the next person retreated desperately, “I’m also only here as a spectator, don’t point at me!”
Wherever Ling Xiaolu pointed, the crowd would retreated. As such, the first row had now moved two metres back.
Resigned, Ling Xiaolu put his hand down. “If you’re just here to watch the show, don’t stand right in front, it’s very easy to get hurt accidentally. How about this, I’ll give you time to leave now, and the ones who really want the rewards will stay, ok?”
In a twinkling, the size of the crowd was reduced by two-thirds.
“I believe all of you standing here are the elites of the industry. If you all have any opinions about first come first served, then you can vote and decide amongst each other. You’re all peers and colleagues, don’t destroy your harmony, we’re all civilised people here!”
The crowd descended into silence for a few seconds. Everyone attacked simultaneously, wanting to catch each other off guard.
The ones left behind were all top-tier assassins. For the moment, they were all unable to get rid of anyone, and all sorts of attacks and items were flying about the place.
Ling Xiaolu took a few steps back from the chaos for fear of turning into collateral damage.
Right now, only he could see his chatbox furiously vibrating away.
Ling Long: There’s someone on the tree diagonally ahead of you!!! It’s a Cat 5 danger!!!
Ling Long: Don’t look up deliberately!!!!!!!
Who was this person that could make Ling Long, a GM, enter so many exclamation points? Ling Xiaolu remembered that Ling Long had been very composed even when meeting benefactors like Ji Meng and Dou Kou.
Ling Xiaolu controlled his impulse to look up, secretly wondering if he could be as lucky this time to escape without harm from a group of assassins and someone dangerous.
The chaos ended, and the survivors stopped. A dozen more gravestones appeared on the ground.
“You’re done?” Ling Xiaolu’s concentration returned to them, and he counted. “One, two, three… ten, eleven… Eh? There’s still one additional.”
“What should we do now there’s one extra?” Ling Xiaolu picked a big and bulky man. “You can go now, you’ve been eliminated.”
“On what basis?”
“You’re too ugly, I don’t want to be killed by you.”
“Oh.” The big, bulky man bowed his head dejectedly, turning around and leaving.
After a few steps, he suddenly turned around, rushing towards Ling Xiaolu maliciously. “I’m going to kill you!”
Like an unparalleled expert, Ling Xiaolu stood his ground expressionlessly. He did not dodge or hide, as though he had full confidence that he could withstand his iron fist.
The fist of the big, bulky man froze one cm away from Ling Xiaolu. His tense expression revealed that he had already used his utmost strength, but it did nothing in helping him take a step further.
Two weapons crossed in front of his chest, and two assassins that had appeared in a flash protected their prey like bodyguards.
The eyes of the big, bulky man were filled with disbelief and unreconciled feelings. With a hundred thousand gold so close within grasp, he fell heavily to his knee. Only then did Ling Xiaolu see a poker card on his back with 6 spiders drawn on it.
When he fell, the person behind him was exposed. That person was still in the position of throwing the card, and seeing the success of his action, he made a small gesture. The poke card turned into a tiny spider, crawling back to him and up into his sleeve. Chills ran down Ling Xiaolu’s spines watching that.
Everyone else all looked rather disdainful, but they did not dare to be too obvious about their feelings. Ling Xiaolu speculated that the strength of this person was definitely amongst the top of these people.
The card that the bulky man’s spirit raised was aimed towards that person: Spider, you just wait and see!
Seeing that the person’s ID was not Spider, it seemed to be a very famous nickname of his. Most people standing right there were probably quite famous in the game, but unfortunately, Ling Xiaolu was only a newly arrived player, and there was no guidebook to assassins where he could take a look and recognise them.
Spider ignored the man’s threat, turning to urge Ling Xiaolu. “Now the count is perfect.”
Ling Xiaolu pursed his lips. So what if the count was perfect? Even if it was, he did not want to be bitten to death by a spider!
He cleared his throat. “Now that there’s ten of you left, each will get one hundred thousand. I only have one request…”
Spider, “Go ahead.”
“I’m a newbie, and my Hp is low. Please, when you attack, be gentle.”
“Sure.” Spider answered on everyone’s behalf. He raised his chin at someone, “You go first.”
That person looked warily at Spider. “Why am I going first? What do you want to do?”
“In any case, someone has to go first. Why not you?”
Ling Xiaolu tried to mediate the situation. “Everyone’s taking their turn, it doesn’t matter who’s going first or last.”
“No way!” The person who had been singled out refused staunchly. “He should go first. I guarantee I won’t interrupt, and I’ll make my move after he leaves.”
“Then, this Mr. Spider, why don’t we…”
Spider cut him off, snorting, “What are you afraid of?”
“I’m afraid someone’s too greedy, and wants to eat more than his fair share.”
“I agree!” Another person concurred. “Spider should go first. We can temporarily take a few steps back.”
“No way!” Someone else objected. “What if when we retreat, he runs off with him? Can anyone of you even catch up?”
These people all had something to say, completely infuriating Spider. A murderous look gathered in his eyes.
“Thanks everyone for your reminder. I suddenly remembered, a hundred thousand each is a way worse bargain that a million just for one person.”
Ling Xiaolu already noticed the spider poker card he was secretly holding between his fingers. The rest of the nine people were all set for a showdown, and the next round of the battle was about to break out.
“Hold on! Wait!” Ling Xiaolu stopped them loudly. “If you guys continue being at a stalemate like this, no one would be able to collect this money. Mr. Spider, I know you’re very strong. However, if all 9 of them were to combine their strength to deal with you, you also won’t be able to beat them. Why don’t I think of some method that everyone can settle this amicably?”
Spider clearly did not believe his words. “As a prey, why are you so enthusiastic?”
“As a prey, my time is also very precious. As you’re fighting between yourself, what if someone passes by and just take my life? Won’t I have died in a very dodgy manner?”
“Don’t worry, other than us here, no twelfth person would dare come close.”
“Really?” Ling Xiaolu pretended to look around, observing his surroundings. He suddenly pointed diagonally ahead. “Eh? Isn’t there someone right there?”
Everyone looked in the direction he was pointing at. The branch shook, and someone really jumped down from above.
Ling Xiaolu’s intention was to get that person down, and he had not seen how that person looked like. Only when that person landed, revealing his appearance to the crowd, did Ling Xiaolu pull his hand away, startled.
This person was dressed in tight, black clothes, combining a vintage and futuristic style together perfectly. His visual impact was strong, but not incongruous. Seeing his outfit, Ling Xiaolu wanted to give the game’s design department a Paris fashion design award.
And the most eye-catching thing on this person had to be that mechanical, metal black helmet in the shape of a bird that covered his entire face. A few incisive lines made up a sharp beak, and over his eyes, there were slightly protruding protective lenses that gave off a red gleam.
“So, so cool…” Ling Xiaolu whispered unknowingly. That helmet was basically his dream god-tier item.
Realising that something felt wrong, Ling Xiaolu turned back to take a look. He discovered Ling Long hiding behind his back, curled up while shivering.
It was not only Ling Long. Other than Ling Xiaolu, after seeing who that person was, it was evident that everyone was on extreme vigilance. Even Spider’s face had changed subtly.
Ling Xiaolu then noticed the name above the man’s head. It was not a gentle and harmless green, or a PVP red, and it also was not a gold that signified his status, but a spine-chilling black.
The person who Spider had pointed at unconsciously took a step back. Z-Zhen Jiu2… I didn’t know you had your eyes on this bounty. I’ll take my leave now…”
“Me too…” Other people too had the same opinions at him. However, a sentence from this Zhen Jiu glued all their feet to the ground.
“Don’t go,” He spoke through his mask. “I’m not here to hunt, but to watch a show.”
He turned to Ling Xiaolu. “Continue talking about what you’ve come up with. I’m very curious.”
Ling Xiaolu could not see his face, and did not know what sort of expression he had. Despite speaking very lightly, the command in his voice was very irresistible.
“What I want to say is, since everyone is unwilling to give in, let’s just play a game. The losers will be eliminated, and the last one standing will get that one million gold reward. How about this?”
The ten people looked at each other, as though they were calculating if the temptation of that one million was bigger, or if Zhen Jiu was scarier.
“What sort of game? If it’s to answer maths questions, I’m not going to do that.”
“Not idioms-sequencing too.”
“I object to Seven Up.”
Everyone chimed in, objecting to games they were not good at.
Standing by the side, Zhen Jiu spoke up again. “When you guys want to take people’s lives to gain a reward, you also never asked if they agree. Now, asking you to play a game, you’re all being picky and selective.”
Everyone fell silent, not daring to object anymore.
Ling Xiaolu looked at him, his eyes full of gratitude. He explained the rules of the game, “Don’t worry, it’s not about maths or idioms. Everyone here is an assassin, so let’s just play a murder game that everyone is good at. Now, all ten of you are killers, and I’m the only prey. Think, ten wolves chasing a sheep, how is there enough for everyone? Why don’t we reverse this instead.”
With a toss of his right hand, a silver gleam spun in the air before he grabbed it again. The blade of the dagger pointed down, and Ling Xiaolu stood in a battle-ready position. “I’ll be the killer, while you’re all the prey. The damage this dagger can do is only one Hp, and once you’re injured by it, you’re out. You can hide and run any way you like, but you can’t attack me. You also can’t use your skills or your pets too. So, do you dare to play this game?”
After hearing the rules, all ten of them had no objections. If not for their fear of Zhen Jiu, they really would not have shown any respect to Ling Xiaolu this newbie.
“I’m fine with this.” Spider was the first to express his thoughts, and the others all followed.
“Then, we’ll all agree, and no one is allowed to go back on their words when they lose. This older brother who wants to watch the show, I won’t collect a ticket price from you, but could you be the judge?”
“No problem.” Zhen Jiu found a tree, casually leaning against it. He folded his arms, and really looked as though he was here to watch a good show. A simple game, now with Zhen Jiu watching it, was now laced with an oppressive feeling. Every participant felt the pressure coming over them.
“Then,” Ling Xiaolu crouched down a little. “I’m going to start.”
Before his voice even faded away, Ling Xiaolu had rushed ahead. Everyone thought that he would go for the person closest to him, and no one had expected that he would attack Spider, the person furthest away from him. Spider was careless, and he was the least prepared amongst the crowd. Ling Xiaolu’s sneak attack nearly succeeded. Fortunately for him, he reacted very quickly, leaning backwards deftly. Ling Xiaolu’s dagger swung past his nose, and he managed to avoid this blow.
The flash of the dagger seemed to travel in slow motion in front of Spider’s eyes. Widening his eyes in astonishment, he thought, that’s very fast!
He realised that putting himself on guard against Zhen Jiu and underestimating Ling Xiaolu was a grave mistake. This newbie was not as easy to handle as he thought he would be. In an instant, he sharpened his focus on Ling Xiaolu. Seeing that his attack did not land, Ling Xiaolu immediately leapt up. He spun towards a strange direction mid air, only landing on the ground after a couple of turns, right in front of Spider.
Spider’s attention was fully on him, ready to take on his next attack. However, Ling Xiaolu pulled himself together, straightening up, and swung his dagger behind him. He shot Spider a smile, making him completely muddled.
Not far away, Zhen Jiu who had seen everything unconsciously straightened.
Ling Xiaolu smiled and turned around. The person standing closest to Spider was still staring at his own injured arm in disbelief.
“W-when did you…” Ling Xiaolu’s speed when he landed was too fast, and that person had not seen anything. “When you were feinting, did you already…”
The person who was eliminated three seconds into the game was so stunned that his sentences were incomplete. He was, after all, one of the top assassins in this game.
“It wasn’t a feint,” Ling Xiaolu explained earnestly. “I only took a gamble. If it worked, it was to my advantage, and if it didn’t… I wouldn’t have made any gains or losses either way.”
Hearing that Ling Xiaolu had treated him like a bet, Spider’s expression could be described as “what did you just say?”.
And the one who was treated like a side extra nearly vomited out blood.
But after replaying Ling Xiaolu’s performance a few times in his head, he had to admit that even if he had paid attention, he might not have been able to avoid that swing of Ling Xiaolu’s dagger.
Thinking about this, he felt relieved.
“I’m the one who underestimated you,” That person relaxed, giving Ling Xiaolu an affirmative smile. “This time, I accept my… loss in this gamble…”
In that moment, ten people on the ground all looked alarmed. The ten people did not include this one who had surrendered, as he was falling down slowly, struck dumb. Behind him was a cold, mechanical head of a bird.
Looking at this mask from a close distance, the aggressiveness of the sharp pointed beak left one breathless.
Ling Xiaolu swiftly searched for the tree Zhen Jiu was just leaning on, then looked back, confirming that this was not someone else wearing the same helmet.
That was such a long distance. Ling Xiaolu did not manage to catch how he had made his way over.
Zhen Jiu’s voice that was filtered through the mechanical mask sounded faint.
“A murder game needs to be real to be fun, isn’t it?”