Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Ding Si was a step too late. In fact, even he had shouted a little earlier, it would have still been pointless. In this exclusive auction transcript, players were not restricted and could leave at any time they wanted. Ding Si knew that it was useless to do that, merely reacting instinctively out of desperation.
The moment the woman in sunglasses disappeared before his eyes, Ding Si grabbed his hair in frustration.
He was not the only one regretting. Someone else on the other side yelled as well, and a young man fainted on his seat. Many disgruntled groans and boos from the crowd quickly ensued.
As Zhang Heng was sitting right next to Ding Si, he too saw very clearly when the woman was about to leave. The high-strung Ding Si opened his black briefcase and pulled out the three tule wood boxes.
To his dismay, all the game items inside were gone! Instead, in their place were three smiley faces made out of clay, mockingly grinning away as if laughing at his gullibility.
After the outburst, Ding Si deflated, drained of all energy, eventually slumping onto his seat. Tonight, Fu Lou wasn’t the only one deceived, for nearly all chambers of commerce who carried points with them had been swindled by that woman. One by one, tule boxes were opened, and within them, the mocking smiling piece of clay, a sight that stung the eyes of its bearer.
Zhang Heng’s stomach sank, and he was flummoxed. Logically, Ding Si’s keen eyes and years of experience should prevented him from falling for such a cheap trick. Moreover, since they were all in the transcript, the players should be have been able to access the information of the game items on their personal screens. Nonetheless, that woman managed to fool everyone’s eyes with a few pieces of cheap clay.
When all was said and done, she had managed to plunder the coveted Dreamland of Death from the three major guilds without having to pay a single point.
Surely, all this sounded as coming from a myth of legends, but here, it happened right before his eyes.
In the entire hall, the only person unaffected by the event was probably the auctioneer on the stage. After he had sold the last item, his job was done. He gave a simple closing speech, before taking off his gloves and leaving, completely ignoring the commotion brewing among the guests.
By the time they realized what had just happened, the representatives of the chambers of commerce had already left. The losses they had suffered this time had to be reported back to their respective handlers. At the same time, they would also launch a hunt for the woman back in the real world.
Ding Si disappeared without even saying goodbye. The other players, on the other hand, were either having heated discussion amongst themselves or had left with their companions. Zhang Heng collected the Paris Arrow and the unidentified key from the committee. When he saw that there was not much time left, he decided to leave.
And so, he returned to the lounge.
The light music had been replaced by classy jazz, and the bartender seemed to be a pretty good mood, humming along with the melody as she fussed over her new project – stirring durian pulp into rum.
“This is a night worth celebrating! You should have a drink – a small self-appreciation for entering the ranks of the rich.”
She was the one who sent the Moresby bones to the auction. She knew all too well of its value, of course. Zhang Heng looked at the durian flavored rum and was disheartened, politely refusing her offer of the pungent brew and handed her the unidentified key and necklace from Simone instead.
“Please help me identify these items,” he asked of her, then paused.
“Also, hand me another membership card and a Mission Failure Exemption Card.”
He had always wanted to buy the Mission Failure Exemption Card since a while ago but was a little hesitant about the membership card. But after considering the fact that he would be here for a while, and the possibility of anything going wrong at any moment, he decided it was best to purchase it as soon as possible.
“I admire guys who know how to splurge,” the bartender commended him as she took out a calculator. “The total for this item is 1,407 points.”
With the deal sealed, Zhang Heng’s game points were reduced from 2,292 to 785. After he had made the payment, he thought of a question and decided to ask while she was still in a good mood. “Did you know that the screen displays wrong information sometimes?”
The bartender raised her brows, clearly taken aback by the question.
Quickly, she blurted out something in response. “That’s impossible. The information displayed on the panels is more accurate than your nightly news.”
However, having said that, she seemed to be hesitant and added, “But there’s a catch. If you have a special game prop, the possibility of that happening can’t be compeltely ruled out. That said, I’m afraid only A-grade game props can pull off such a thing. Why? Did you encounter it or something?”
The incident at the auction tonight was no secret, where Zhang Heng believed that the news of the heist would have swiftly spread like wildfire within the circle of players. Having no need to hide anything, Zhang Heng directly told her, “Someone used clay to fool all the chambers of commerce present on the ship, then used that money to buy the final auction item, in turn snatching it away from the three major guilds.”
“This method… sounds very much like that guy’s modus operandi. Tsk! He finally showed his face. Guess he couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore,” the bartender lady muttered, evidently not intending to provide any further explanation. “From now onwards, you have to be very careful when dealing with other players. There have been more and more problems surfacing recently. It looks like another storm is brewing and I’m sure its coming soon.”
This time, Zhang Heng left Desire City much earlier than before. It was only 23:16 when he walked out of the gate. There was still some time left before time stopped, so he decided to take a look at Paris Arrow.
Although he had an arrow, he had been keeping his sf-recurve bow in school lately and so, he had to go back to retrieve it.
Zhang Heng hired a yellow bicycle and rode to the nearest station. At this hour, especially here in the industrial area, the bus stops were practically empty and deserted.
He parked the bicycle by the road, lowering his head and discreetly locking his ride. At that very moment, he heard a loud rustling coming from the green zone by the street. Zhang Heng immediately went into high alert. Quickly, he turned around, clutching the Paris Arrow in his hand as he took two steps backward.
Both Ding Si and the professor repetedly warned him that it was never safe being in the circle of players. That shocking scam at the end of the auction was like a vivid lesson to him. As a result, he now became a lot more cautious of his surroundings.
“Who is it?!”
The rustling stopped the moment he spoke. Whoever was behind the green zone must have been startled.
After 5 seconds, a shadow emerged from the bush – it was a black stray cat, fleeing into the darkness with its tail tucked between its legs!
Was it all a false alarm?
Before he could investigate, the bus arrived at the station. Zhang Heng put away his Paris Arrow and glanced at the bush one last time before boarding.