Virtual World: Close Combat Mage

Chapter 69

Chapter 69 - Gu Family’s Sword Style

Gu Fei passed through the walkway and got on to the street. The designated log-off point was just ahead. As he was proceeding to it at a leisure pace, he sensed movement from the side. He swept his gaze over that area and saw a shadowy figure brushing past him. The figure got into an alleyway just in front and peeked out half of his head from behind a column of a wall. Gu Fei noticed that the figure was looking directly at… him.

Where did this person come from? Gu Fei looked back at the way he had come from and saw in time two heads swiftly ducking behind a wall corner. Gu Fei faced forward for a bit, and then he abruptly faced backward again. Once more, he spotted the two heads swiftly ducking behind that wall corner.

Gu Fei felt miserable. Was it too much to ask for peace? He simply could not have peace wherever he went! This phrase really held truth: “As long as there are men, there will be a Jianghu.” Gu Fei pulled out his newly acquired sword, the Moonlit Nightfalls while mulling over these words.

Saber1 and sword were often associated with each other. There was an adage: “Whereas a saber is a ferocious tiger, a sword is a soaring phoenix.” Although the saying sounded nice, it actually inferred that a sword was the more elegant weapon between the two as it focused on skill and technique utilization. At the same time, this adage emphasized that a sword’s pragmatic use and destructive power were inferior to a saber’s in a combat.  

A saber relied on slashes and chops to attack, whereas a sword depended on thrusts. It went without saying which of these two weapons had the greater offense and was more wielder-friendly.

Slashing and chopping were usually done with the sharp edge of a blade, regardless if it was a saber or a sword. But since a sword had two edges, forging it was much more complex and delicate. The process itself could lower the blade’s resistance to impact. Hence, the swords’ popularity on the battlefields was soon eclipsed by the sabers’. Eventually, swords were reduced to mere decorative items, which served as a symbol of status. The adage: “A scholar carries a sword, a warrior wields a saber” originated from this.

Naturally, Gu Fei’s purpose for learning kung fu was not to fight on a battlefield. He had dabbled in a variety of kung fu fields for the sake of mastering it. Gu Fei had of course learned basic sword techniques ever since he was a child. There was a famous line among martial arts practitioners: “Changing a style is easy, but changing the strength required for different styles is not.” A man who specialized in offensive, ferocious kung fu moves would find it hard to adapt to a kung fu like Tai chi, which utilized gentle, defensive moves. The same principle applied to alternating between a saber and a sword.

Actually, Gu Fei was seen by his family as a gifted individual precisely because of his adaptability to the different styles of martial arts. Gu Fei had shown outstanding aptitude toward all sorts of kung fu fields since he was young. This had caused his family to obsessively nurture him into a walking kung fu encyclopedia. They had drilled into his head all types of knowledge pertaining to kung fu. So while Gu Fei might not be proficient in their use, he was at least knowledgeable about them by the time he had reached the age of twenty-two.

Gu Family’s sword style was fairly well known in the kung fu community. The old fogeys in Gu Fei’s family even mentioned multiple times how it had been passed down for generations, with quite a few of their talented ancestors expanding and improving it over time. In any case, the original sword style manual, which was rumored to be in the form of a bamboo scroll, had been preserved well at their ancestral house. Sadly, Gu Fei did not get the chance to lay eyes on it, as his father had just given him a disc by the time it was his turn to learn the sword style. His father said that it was time to do things the twenty-first-century way since it was already the twenty-first century. As for that legendary bamboo scroll, his father told him to wait until he was at the helm of the family. He would have the right to see it by then.

Laying eyes on that mysterious bamboo scroll had been his ultimate goal when he was young. But as he grew older, the curiosity in him ebbed away and transformed into indifference toward it. Realistically speaking, learning from the bamboo scroll was not comparable to learning from a disc. Could humanity still be considered progressing, otherwise?

The ambushers did not reveal themselves even when he took out Moonlit Nightfalls from his dimensional pocket. Nevertheless, Gu Fei met a fist holding the hilt of the sword pointing downward with his other open hand2 and bowed. He called out, “Come on out. I can see all of you.”

Two masked men flashed out from behind the wall upon hearing his words. But before Gu Fei could speak a word to them, a pair of hands swiftly pulled the two back inside. At the same time, Gu Fei could hear a voice berating the two, “You gullible fools! He’s only bluffing!”

Gu Fei did not know whether to laugh or cry at that. At the same time, he felt that this bunch was much cuter than No Smile.

The group of highwaymen collectively held their breath as they looked all around them. Not one of them revealed themselves anymore.

The players walking on the street suddenly disappeared as well. Even those who had intended to take the route swiftly gave it a wide berth after seeing what was about to happen from afar. One quality that the players of Yueye City bested the players of Yunduan City was their professional attitude. While Yunduan City’s players would crowd around a fight like a litter of curious kindergarten children, Yueye City’s players would do the opposite for their life-preservation.

The whole street abruptly became quiet. A gentle breeze whisked away a few dried leaves that lay by Gu Fei’s feet. The spiraling leaves had a sort of dramatic effect to the scene. It was just too bad that this somber atmosphere got ruined by the people’s somewhat comical dialogues. Feeling exasperated, Gu Fei repeated, “I can really see all of you.”

“If you’re not coming out, I’m leaving.”

“...I’m off.”

Since he was aware of the masked men’s hiding places, he naturally knew which way would be deserted. Gu Fei strode toward an alley by his side that had no one lying in wait. The group of masked men was dumbfounded. Their target was a few steps away from entering their entrapment! He’s just walking away! That’s too shameless! Everyone was awash with grief and indignation.

A good leader was able to adapt to any unexpected situation and welcome a challenge. The Black Hand mercenary group’s leader did exactly that. He revealed himself without a care in the world and hollered, “WAIT!”

Gu Fei turned his head and saw that all the masked men hiding behind the nearby wall corners, atop ledges, and behind doors had come out. It was a rather awkward sight to behold. What was originally an encirclement had now turned into a direct confrontation, with Gu Fei at one side and the group at the other.

“Who are you people?” Gu Fei asked as he took a step back.

“The Black Hand merc—ugh!” The person who answered Gu Fei’s question was heavily slapped by another person beside him. The leader stared at the speaker sternly as well. The group would look pathetic if he was to kick this idiot out of the group straight away, so he restrained himself from doing so.

“What’s up?” Gu Fei asked.

No one dared reply to Gu Fei this time. The boss simply waved his hand and everyone lunged toward Gu Fei.

The game had different job classes with different fortes, after all. Right now, the ones rushing toward Gu Fei possessed melee job classes. He swept his eyes over the surging tide of players and saw many Warriors among them. Warrior was the job class Gu Fei was most wary of. Firstly, a Warrior’s heavy attack was not something Gu Fei dared to block forcefully. Secondly, Gu Fei’s attack was significantly ineffective against a Warrior since he or she wore heavy armor.

Alongside the rushing Warriors were the Thieves. These players craftily hid using Stealth behind the Warriors, thinking that Gu Fei was not aware of their ploy. Gu Fei of course had a fairly good estimate of where they were, he just could not sense their exact positions or numbers due to the chaotic environment. While the Warriors and Thieves were rushing toward Gu Fei, the Mages and Archers from afar unleashed their attacks on him.

Their teamwork is amazing! Gu Fei could tell at least this based on his accumulated melee combat experiences in-game so far.

The Archers’ arrows, some on Snipe and the rest on Double Shot, arrived first…

The Archers’ arrows on Snipe would have posed a serious challenge to Gu Fei had this ambush been staged an hour earlier. Right now, however, he had Moonlit Nightfalls and a higher level. Gu Fei’s recent level up had allowed him to add more stat points into Agility, which corollary improved his speed by leaps and bounds. So by tilting his body sideways, Gu Fei was able to dodge the arrows whizzing by effortlessly. As for the Mages’ fireballs, he could not dodge those with a simple twist of his body as they were able to slightly track his movements. Thus, he ran across the PvP field and caused the fireballs to lose their target.

This won’t do! Gu Fei anxiously thought to himself. The situation unfolding before his eyes was different from what had happened in Yunduan City. The Warriors in front were acting as meat shields for their teammates, and Gu Fei stood no chance against them when it came to frontal assault. Unfortunately, he must break through their defenses to eliminate the Mages and Archers in the rear. Aside from this bunch of attackers, there were still the Thieves on Stealth to consider; those guys were definitely waiting for an opportunity to strike at him.

Gu Fei suddenly recalled the ragged cloth tied to a bamboo pole that he had seen in one of Yueye City’s grinding maps. The players currently attacking him were definitely tempered by group battles, as their solid formation showed the meaning of strength in numbers.

I can’t face them head on, Gu Fei thought as he sprinted toward that alleyway he had chosen earlier.

“Ah! He’s fleeing again!” someone from the mercenary group yelled. Earlier, everyone had assumed that Gu Fei was trying to get away when he headed to that alleyway. However, against their expectation, he readily returned when their leader shouted, “WAIT!”. And right now, when he seemed to be taking on their group, he suddenly bolted away again. Why is he so unpredictable?! He’s so shameless! everyone thought.

“Quickly pursue him!” the boss ordered and everyone rushed to the alley.

Gu Fei madly dashed forward for a bit. After a while, he faced backward and revealed a victorious smile.

Gu Fei observed the group’s formation slowly changing. This change was due to the opponents’ varied speed in accordance to their stat point allocation. While the formation was still orderly, the composition itself had changed.

The ones running ahead of the pack were now the Thieves on Fleetfoot. If the job classes were to be ranked based on speed, an Archer would be first, a Thief would be second, a Knight would be third, and a Mage would be fourth. The Knight job class in Parallel World had a very balanced stat point distribution, with nothing exceptionally good or bad. This resulted into a situation where the ideal stat allocation for Knights to be undetermined. Some Knights had focused on Agility, which allowed them to run faster than Mages. As for the Mages, they were obviously not crazy enough to allocate most of their stat points into Agility unlike a certain guy.

At the moment, the Warriors were the slowest among the bunch of players chasing after Gu Fei. These meat shields had basically been demoted to rear guards along the way.

Gu Fei kept looking back as he ran. The Thieves on Fleetfoot were indeed amazing, gradually managing to catch up to him. The Thieves chasing after Gu Fei saw him as a trapped mouse; naturally, they never expected him to turn back and confront them.

Gu Fei roughly measured the pace of the Thieves behind him while silently counting, One, two, three... Turn!

Gu Fei suddenly stopped running away and turned around. He then wielded his sword and unleashed a horizontal chop – the first move in Gu Fei’s inherited sword style, the Fuyun Chop.

Chopping was not up the alley of a sword, yet Gu Fei’s move actually brought the blade’s specialty into play: its two sharp edges.

Some said that the move should be executed while resembling a drifting cloud. This was to make the attack’s trajectory be unpredictable to an opponent. Gu Fei as a young child did not understand this concept and simply thought that it sounded cool. Now that he was quite proficient at kung fu, he felt that this statement was somewhat nonsensical. If one wanted to chop an opponent, then one should just do so. Why should one waste energy coming up with a way to instill doubt about the cut’s trajectory? The statement might still serve a purpose if a sword’s two edges possessed a slight incongruity. And yet, a sword would be considered as defective if that were to be the case. Gu Fei reckoned that the move’s creator must have been bullied a lot by saber wielders, prompting him to create a move that could not be executed using sabers.

Whatever the case might be, Gu Fei’s sword attack right now was like a drifting cloud, formless and unpredictable. The two Thieves did not even have time to defend against that single chop and were swiftly cut quite deeply by it.

The two cried as they retreated. Gu Fei followed his chop with a stab as he rushed toward them. Suddenly, the stab slowed down halfway and pierced a Thief somewhere inconsequential instead.

I still have some PK points left from before! If I go on a killing spree, I’ll never be able to clear them off! Gu Fei suddenly thought.

[1] The saber and sword mentioned here look like this.

[2] To have a clearer idea of how this traditional Chinese martial arts salute is done, you can check this picture. Gu Fei did the one on the bottom left.