A new day had arrived. Zhang Yang went online at 8.30 am and did a Hardcore Mode Bangar Crypt run with Crimson Fire and his party as per yesterday’s arrangement and went straight to Tranquil Lake after that to resume his endless farming of [Python Gall]s.
It was around 3 pm when Zhang Yang’s body flashed a golden ray after he killed yet another Gold Venomous Python.
‘Ding! Congratulations! You have achieved Level 13. All attributes +1. Obtained 5 SP!’
‘Ding! Your level has fulfilled the conditions to enter the Player Level Ranking. Would you like to be enlisted in the ranking?’
Zhang Yang had not expected that there was an additional option other than the usual level up system notification.
“I can be enlisted?” Zhang Yang was stumped, he did not realize that he had been gaining experience so quickly as he had been focused on killing the pythons! Then again, it was expected. Zhang Yang’s high attack power was undeniable and nothing else was on his mind as he had been grinding the whole day, thus his level had risen so quickly!
He checked the Player Level Ranking and saw that all top 9 places were Level 13 while the tenth spot was a Level 12. If he had selected to be enlisted, he would then replace Folk Stories, a Templar.
In his previous life, Zhang Yang had entered the game 2 years too late, consequently he had never gotten the chance to be enlisted on the Player Level Ranking. That was why he did not know he had a choice in being enlisted on the ranking.
He contemplated and eventually selected ‘Reject’. Right now, it would be better for him to stay out of the limelight while he accumulated his wealth!
After Level 10, Zhang Yang had changed his way of assigning his AP, investing all of them into Vitality. Before this, he had been completely equipped with White-Wood equipment which had then required him to assign his AP to increase his attack and maintain aggro. Now that he had Green-Copper gear, his damage output had significantly increased which subsequently required him to invest into his HP instead as monsters and bosses in Level 20 dungeons were all ferocious beasts. Furthermore, some of the bosses were magic-based and their skills would have been unavoidable with evasion or <Block>! If he had not invested in his Vitality, he would be in a tight spot!
Since he had gained a level, his farming speed had also increased. Just in a single day, he had submitted [Python Gall]s for the Repeatable Quest 15 times.
On the third day, Zhang Yang made it to Level 14 and completed the [Python Gall] quest 14 times.
On the fourth day, just as he entered the dungeon, Zhang Yang had heard Crimson Fire say, “Zhan Yu, you’ve gotta slow down your leveling speed. We still want to break the dungeon speed record. If you zoom your way to Level 16 then our results won’t qualify!”
Zhang Yang took a glance, noticing that everyone in the party was either Level 12 or 13. In comparison, his leveling speed was indeed a little fast.
“Right now, leveling is the most important aspect of the game. Don’t put all your efforts into dungeon raids!” said Zhang Yang. He had suffered enough in his previous life for leveling slower than everyone else. Moreover, the reward for obtaining the Hardcore Mode’s first clearance was SP while rewards for Hardcore Mode’s fastest clearance ranking were only runes and gems. The difference between these two rewards was too much!
However valuable runes and gems were, there were just as many ways to obtain them. Zhang Yang did not value them as much! If he had delayed his leveling for these gems and missed the following first dungeon clearance, that would be his biggest loss!
“Ahh! Please don’t!” Crimson Fire tried to persuade him. Although Absolute Defense’s equipment had been beefed up in the past two days and had the capabilities to tank Hardcore Mode now, ultimately he was still thousands of miles away from Zhang Yang’s survivability, offense, and aggro control! Plus, they key to speed clearing Hardcore Mode was time and a tank’s capabilities would directly affect the efficiency in clearing the dungeon. It was only understandable that Crimson Fire did not want to let such a strong player like Zhang Yang off his grasp as he hurriedly turned to Silky Snow and signaled her to persuade him as well.
Silky Snow laughed depreciatingly. For the past few days, even though she had become closer to Zhang Yang, their relationship was not any different from the others, what difference could she make in persuading him?
Crimson Fire persuaded Zhang Yang once more but seeing that he had steeled his desire to maintain his current leveling speed, he could only give up. As a guildmaster, it was naturally his duty to prioritize the advertising effect of the red server announcement spam! As of now, Lost Paradise was the only guild that has cleared Hardcore Mode Bangar Crypt. He had to maintain this status quo and take it a step further by ranking in the Fastest Hardcore Clearance Ranking!
Now that Zhang Yang could not be depended upon anymore, Crimson Fire had to find another solution!
After clearing the current Hardcore Mode, Crimson Fire had stopped asking Zhang Yang to reserve his dungeon entrance count for the next day but had assigned Absolute Defense to be the main tank, training the teamwork of the new party.
Even though Zhang Yang felt that losing the 1,000 gold coins of income each day was a pity, he did however earn 4,000 gold coins in the past 4 days and with the 10,000 gold coins that Crimson Fire had owed him earlier, he almost had enough funds to initiate his plans!
Returning to Tranquil Lake, he resumed his endless farming of [Python Gall]s. Once again, he had managed to unlock another chest but he had only obtained another [Treasure Map Piece] with no [Beginner Anti-Shadow Potion] recipe in sight. He would have to wait for another three days.
From the fifth day onwards, there were an increasing number of players present for the quest. While there were still not that many players around, Zhang Yang’s crisis awareness had still rang. He was not afraid that they would take up all the monsters, but it was them stumbling upon the Gray-Silver Chest and looting it that he was afraid of!
Moreover, this chest would spawn at random places. The only thing quelling his worries was the fact that there would always be 4 Gold Venomous Pythons guarding the chest when it had spawned so random players could never take on the monsters alone!
It was lucky that the poison effect of these pythons was utterly annoying and underwater maneuverability was tough, so most players would just leave the place once they had completed the quest unlike Zhang Yang who had already made the lake his second home!
The fifth day had passed and Zhang Yang had reached Level 16. He had submitted [Python Gall]s for the 73rd time. Since Fatty Han’s equipment had ‘graduated’ because of the Hardcore Mode runs, Zhang Yang did not raid dungeons anymore and had instead spent his entire day farming at Tranquil Lake.
On the sixth day, Zhang Yang reached Level 17 and submitted [Python Gall]s for the 88th time.
The seventh day. Around 2pm.
Zhang Yang brought the last 20 [Python Gall]s to Deckard and completed the 99th ‘Collect [Python Gall]’ quest. As of now, he had reached Level 18 and if he wanted to, he could have been in the top 3 of the Player Level Ranking! Of course, that was excluding the fact that there could be others like him who did not wish to be ranked.
“Young adventurer, your bravery impresses me, your persistence awes me!” Deckard was finally moved, looking at Zhang Yang with admiration, “Your kindness is akin to Buddha’s! Oh, bless you young adventurer. you must lend me your aid for one last time!”
Zhang Yang cleared his throat and said, “I will do my best!”
‘Ding! You have accepted the quest: The Last Python Gall!’
[The Last Python Gall] (Quest Difficulty: S)
Quest Description: Deckard wants you to head over to the Python King’s Nest, west of Tranquil Lake. Slay the Golden Venomous Python King and obtain its python gall! Adventurer, please be cautious! Golden Venomous Python King is extremely strong, it would be better if you could bring your companions!
Progress: Obtained [Golden Venomous Python King’s Python Gall] 0/1
Quest Reward: <Specialist First Aid>, Title “Physician’s Friend”
[Physician’s Friend]: Increases Bandage healing effect by 100%!
Awesome, the quest had directly rewarded <Specialist First Aid> skill! Zhang Yang was delighted. To increase <First Aid>’s skill level, he must continuously make bandages, from [Beginner Linen Bandage] to [Coarse Cloth Bandage], [Cotton Bandage] and [Silk Bandage]… Each level would require at least 1000 of its respective bandages and above to level up!
This quest had rewarded Zhang Yang with <Specialist First Aid>, saving him the trouble of going through Beginner, Amateur, Advanced and Professional – a total of 4 levels and time to make more than 4,000 bandages!
Since the reward had been revealed, the quest score would be irrelevant! Regardless of an ‘Average’ or ‘Perfect’ score, the final reward would remain the same.
Exactly what level would this Golden Venomous Python King be?!
Zhang Yang went to his Friend List and was about to invite Fatty Han to slay this boss together when to his surprise, found that the guy was not online!
“Oh well, let’s try it once. If I fail, then I’ll find someone for help!” Zhang Yang thought and headed west.
A few players were killing pythons by the bank. When Zhang Yang traveled passed them, they did not pay him any attention.
The west of Tranquil Lake was a thick bush. At first glance, it did not look anything like a King’s Nest.
Zhang Yang dived into the water to examine the bush closer. After 10 minutes or so, he finally found a hidden cave.
Was this the Python King’s Nest? It looked nothing like one!
Zhang Yang went into the cave and slowly swam inwards. The cave was very narrow and after several meters deep, it was completely dark. Even with his eyes wide open, he could not see anything and all he could do was follow his gut feeling and continued swimming forward.
After a while, Zhang Yang could obviously tell that the water level was decreasing from his head to his chest, then to his stomach and knees. Finally he had stepped on land. Since it was a game, once his character left the water, his clothes and equipment dried immediately.
Turning around the corner, a wide swathe of plains greeted his eyes. Zhang Yang found himself exiting a hollow trunk of a huge fallen old tree!
He checked the mini-map and found that he was still in Tranquil Lake but this place clearly did not resemble anything like the lake. How did the game developers design this place?
Not far away, a huge python was coiling its body. Its girth was thick as a bucket but its length could not be determined since it was coiled. A rough guess would estimate the length of the python to be at least 10 meters long! Resting peacefully beside the python was a Gray-Silver Chest.
“The chest!” Zhang Yang’s eyes glinted. No wonder he could not find the chest after a whole day today. It seems like it had spawned hidden in such a secluded place!
Highlighting the python, the huge beast’s information window hovered in front of Zhang Yang.
[Golden Venomous Python King] (Green-Copper Boss)
Zhang Yang was filled with anticipation. He knew that he would get a handsome reward if he could beat this boss. However, high returns meant high risks! Even though this boss’ HP was not as dreadful as a Hardcore Mode’s boss, he did have a party of 10 players in Hardcore Mode!
“Let’s just try it first!” Zhang Yang decided and unsheathed his sword, using <Charge> on the boss.
Such strong defense! Zhang Yang was surprised. His current attack power could have dealt 143 – 151 damage but he had only managed to deal around 100 damage on the boss. It was evident that the boss had a strong defense – probably 40 points or so!
The higher a monster’s level, the shorter it would take to recover from being stunned. The Python King had recovered in no more than 1 second and shot towards Zhang Yang with a hiss.
‘-58!’ <Block> reflect damage.
‘-156!’ <Shield Bash>.
The Python King did not manage to land any of its attacks so it had quickly whipped its tail about in an attempt to coil Zhang Yang.
Zhang Yang hurriedly withdrew, evading the attack while simultaneously brandishing his sword to counterattack.