Chapter 1 - Teacher Gu Fei
The sky was gloomy in Yunduan City, and it drizzled from time to time.
Somewhere near the spawn point1 of new players within the city's Mage Academy, two NPC2 merchants were being surrounded by a dense crowd. One exclusively sold brooms, while the other sold only black-rimmed glasses. The Harry Potter series popularized the medieval concept of magic so much that even the latest VRMMORPG3 masterpiece, Parallel World, could not escape from its influence.
By adopting the standard character designs from Harry Potter, the two NPCs were able to rip off the new players twice. New players would receive 50 copper coins from the system at the start of the game. However, the two useless pieces of equipment were being sold at the price of 125 copper coins each, totaling to 250 copper coins together. Despite this, the interest of the players for the items did not diminish. They would arduously work for an entire day just for this sum. The entire Mage Academy was filled with players who were roaming about, dragging their long robes, with black-rimmed glasses on their faces and brooms in their hands.
In this lively atmosphere, there was one person in a bad mood.
Gu Fei, in his long mage robe, stood in the center of the academy grounds. He found nothing to do other than to sigh as he watched these energetic people.
Mage was the last job class he wanted.
And yet he just had to become a Mage.
This was all 'thanks' to a student called Ah Fa. Gu Fei was a school teacher. He had accidentally overheard a few students discussing about this new online game that utilized virtual reality. When Gu Fei had inquired more about the game, Ah Fa gifted him a gaming account to get on his good side.
Who knew that matters would go wrong even when backed up by good intentions? Ah Fa carelessly gave Gu Fei an account that had already been set up with a name and job class. Gu Fei only noticed this fact after he had logged in and undergone a full-body scan, confirming his identity and other prerequisites for control. Because this was the first time that virtual reality technology was implemented for a MMORPG, it received unprecedented attention. The server could only handle so much at a time, so the developers resorted to limiting the distribution of accounts. Each person could only own a single account. That was why Gu Fei’s only choice was to be a Mage if he wanted to continue playing the game.
Gu Fei felt like it was a pity to not play the game as he eyed the entire set of the latest VR equipment he had bought specially for the game. Hence, he had still ended up logging in to the game. It was just a shame that his desire to play the game was now greatly reduced since he could not choose his dream job class. Currently, he stood at the center of the academy with no idea on what he should be doing.
As he was zoning off, he suddenly noticed a few Mages retreating back into the academy through the main entrance. Their robes were ripped and they seemed to have been beaten black and blue. Gu Fei saw a short, skinny figure among them and yelled out involuntarily, “Ah Fa!”
That was the student. Poor in grades, bad at sports, a plain appearance – he had no desirable traits other than his silver tongue. He was a nobody that nobody liked in school. It was him who provided Gu Fei with his Mage account. Encountering him inside the game, Gu Fei prevented himself from charging and beating him up after much restraint, as Ah Fa’s action was probably unintentional. Besides, he had to uphold his status of being a role model for others.
Ah Fa looked up and saw Gu Fei when he heard someone call him. He staggered toward Gu Fei and greeted, “Good day to you, sir!”
“Alright, enough. There’s no need to do that,” Gu Fei replied hurriedly. Being greeted by a student like that in a game was just too embarrassing. In fact, many players in the surroundings glanced at them out of curiosity after hearing Ah Fa’s greeting.
“What happened to you?” asked Gu Fei after dragging Ah Fa a little further away from the crowd.
Gasping for air, Ah Fa said, “Never – Never thought that this would happen to me… I got beaten up as soon as I started wandering around the city.”
“What’s your level right now?” Gu Fei was doubtful. He knew for a fact that there was nothing like a safe zone in the game besides the spawn point. However, the game still had a feature that prevented PvP4 among low-level players. It was impossible for any players to engage in PvP with those who were below level 5.
“I just spawned, so I haven’t even leveled up yet!” said Ah Fa.
“Then, how did the others PvP you?” Gu Fei could not understand.
“I didn’t get PvP-ed. I got beaten up,” said Ah Fa.
“Is there a difference?” Gu Fei was still puzzled.
“Sir, PvP uses in-game skills to reduce the HP of a player’s opponent. But we’re in a virtual reality game now. They just beat me up like in a regular street fight. Even though my HP remains the same, it still hurts a lot!” Ah Fa snarled as he rubbed the corner of his mouth.
“There’re even people like that in here?!”
“Yeah! I didn’t know before that this was possible in virtual reality,” said Ah Fa.
Virtual reality… Gu Fei thought. He blurted out, “Let me take a look at this!” He then suddenly began to make his way outside.
“Wait!” Ah Fa stopped Gu Fei, “Sir, you’re a Mage as well. Your base Strength and Vitality are just no match for Knights! You can’t win a fight like this!”
Gu Fei smacked Ah Fa’s head and said, “Have you forgotten? Your teacher here knows kung fu!” He turned around and left with that.
“Sir!” Ah Fa stared blankly at the sight of Gu Fei leaving. “Teacher Gu Fei knows kung fu!” This was a running joke in Yulin Middle School. Apparently, even the principal laughed about this in private, “What’s shameless? The fact that Teacher Gu Fei keeps insisting that he knows kung fu is the most shameless thing I’ve ever seen.”
It was true that Gu Fei was a little better at jumping, a little faster than others, a little more agile with his movement, and a little stronger than others. This was perfectly reasonable to them as he was a P.E. teacher. Yet, Gu Fei insisted that he had been learning martial arts since he was a child, which, according to him, was how he obtained his body of steel. He even claimed that he had defeated countless individuals since young.
Nobody believed that, of course.
This was because of a video that circulated on the school network of Yulin Middle School. It originated from a security camera near the school entrance, probably uploaded by someone who had nothing better to do. It was footage of a young man being beaten black and blue by an old man as he cowered on the ground without putting up a fight. “OLD MAN RAILS YOUNG GUY” was the title of the video. The main focus of the video was undoubtedly the old man, and as for the other person? He was identified as teacher Gu Fei, the same one who proclaimed that he had “defeated countless individuals in the past.”
Was there still anyone left who would believe that Gu Fei knew kung fu after an incident like this? Everyone just assumed that he had read too many wuxia novels, and that he had a few loose screws. Fortunately, Gu Fei had no violent tendencies even though he kept on insisting that he knew kung fu. He was also someone who seemed to take his job seriously, so nothing horrendous came out of it.
However, right now, Ah Fa was watching Gu Fei make his way out through the main entrance and turn his head to yell, “Which way?”
Ah Fa instinctively pointed to the right, and there went Gu Fei.
Ah Fa blanked out for a moment before snapping back to his senses. He chased after Gu Fei.
The game did an impressive job with the simulation undoubtedly. The pathway paved with stone was a little hard to walk on, but Gu Fei advanced at a fast pace. Ah Fa sweated profusely as he tried to catch up to Gu Fei. He saw Gu Fei stop at an intersection.
“Where are they?” Gu Fei turned over his head and asked as he saw Ah Fa catch up to him.
“They were there just now,” Ah Fa pointed at the fountain right in the center of the city square.
“No, sir, don’t go!” yelled Ah Fa when he saw Gu Fei walk off.
Gu Fei smiled back at him, “Don’t come. I’ll be right back.”
The back of someone in a mage robe always made players in-game feel that that player was weak; in contrast, Gu Fei’s back radiated with an unusual sense of strength and confidence.
Sh*t! It’s just another beating at most! Screw this! The real me won’t get hurt, anyway! Ah Fa thought to himself before giving Gu Fei another chase.
But Gu Fei was nowhere to be seen now. As Ah Fa looked around while he walked, he suddenly heard some miserable cries coming from an alley nearby. Ah Fa rushed there and stuck his head out to peek.
Inside the alley, four people in the light armor for Knights clutched a scrawny man as they pummeled him. Chilling sounds of punches striking flesh rang out. The person’s nose was already broken while blood covered his face and body. It was difficult to determine his job class from what he was wearing. But even if he was a Warrior who possessed the toughest physique, he would not be able to resist the encirclement of four grown men, since he was just a regular person who seemed to have no fighting experience. As of this moment, he had already lost the will to fight back, wincing and faltering in pain as he was knocked into a corner.
The four people beating him up had ugly and threatening appearance. It was possible to tell that they were always up to no good from a single glance. Right now, they stopped beating the person as Gu Fei appeared in front of them.
No one said a thing for a moment. But when the four saw that Gu Fei was in a mage robe, they smiled at one another knowingly.
“Let him go!” said Gu Fei.
“You mean him?” The bulkiest of the four lifted his leg and stamped the poor guy again. He signaled the other three with a glance. The four inched forward to surround Gu Fei. They all tried to prevent Gu Fei from turning around and running away, yet he remained where he was, allowing the four men to encircle him.
A gleam of surprise flashed through the eyes of the bulky man, who was obviously this group of thugs' leader. But after eyeing Gu Fei closely, he felt a small degree of relief. From what he saw, the fellow before him was not tall. The fitting mage robe in the game did not hide his well-proportioned body; he was in possession of a wide chest, a thin waist, and long legs, making it apparent that he was someone who usually paid attention to exercise. His body was in a fine condition, so he could obviously put up a good fight. However, they were bounded by the game's algorithm right now. No matter how great someone’s body was in reality, speed, strength, vitality, and so on were all determined by the data of the game. He was a Mage, a job class with the weakest Strength and Vitality. All it needed was a single punch before Gu Fei would end up screaming in pain for half of a day. As it seemed, he had forgotten about that fact that he was still in the game due to the well-simulated environment.
Without any speeches or taunting, the leader directly commanded, “Do it!”