A Race to (Be) The Top

 
 

A Race to (Be) The Top Chapter 14



Chapter 14 — The Pet Maniac!
The Secret about Ji Meng's Timeline!


Edited by Planetes

The Windmill County next door did not lose to Yuanting County in the importance of its geographical location. It was also where people gathered for well-developed commerce. Over here, Ling Xiaolu saw for the first time a huge pet market. Just like what Ling Long said, the size was comparable to several parking lots put together, and all seven classes of pets were widely available.

Hearing that Ji Meng was here, all the market vendors got ready to welcome a big spender. After knowing that Ji Meng's purpose in coming was to purchase a steed to ride on the ground, they all put their signature steeds on display for Ji Meng to choose, and Ling Xiaolu had the illusion that he was at a vehicle dealership with a CEO.

"We focus on selling the beast-class steeds, and have everything from tigers, lions to panthers, with various natures and levels. When you ride on them, you'll look extremely cool."

"The beast-class is too common-place. Hubby, take a look at our plant-class pets. Wouldn't it be cool if you ride on a rafflesia? We also have a pumpkin carriage that can seat four people."

"Come take a look at the undead-class horse spectre. It's different from the rest, and show off your individuality."

The picky Ji Meng did not like any of them. "These are all you have?"

"These are not enough?" Ling Xiaolu was shocked. "Look at this tiger, it's so handsome!"

"You'll find it difficult to get off a tiger once you're on it — that you'll have no way of backing down. It looks good, but sounds inauspicious."

"That pumpkin carriage over there is also pretty cute."

"Sitting on a pumpkin carriage, do you think you're a little princess?"

"The hooves of that horse spectre emit blue flames, cool cool cool."

"It's all bones, don't you think it's going to be extremely uncomfortable?"

Ling Xiaolu could not take it anymore. "This and that, you don't like them all. Then, why are you even here to buy a steed? You might as well just ride me instead."

Ji Meng finally had no rebuttals, but strangely, his face reddened.

"What the hell, why is your face getting red?!"

As they were squabbling, a clever little shopkeeper nearby got a clue. "Are the two of you interested in a shadow deer? It's very compatible with your temperament."

This reasoning actually managed to arouse Ji Meng's interest. "Oh? Take it out and we'll have a look."

The shadow deer was a dark-class spotted deer. It was entirely black, with fluorescent white spots across its body. It had a pretty pair of antlers,  glowing dimly, and as its head moved, the antlers would leave tiny star trails in the air.

Ji Meng stroked its antlers lightly, and it seemed like he finally found something that he was satisfied with.

"What do you think?" He asked Ling Xiaolu.

"I feel as if we've been scammed, how is my temperament good enough for it?"

Not only was this deer very good-looking, it was also great at garnering people's favours. It took the opportunity and nuzzled intimately into Ji Meng's palm, and looking at it doing so, Ling Xiaolu too wanted to touch it."

"I'll take it. Do you have spirit deers here?" Ji Meng asked the shopkeeper.

The party looked troubled. "Umm… Spirit deers are too rare, as well as being hard to catch. We're temporarily out of stock. If not, I'll keep an eye out for you?"

"No need, I'll catch it myself."

Seated in front, Ling Xiaolu was entirely absorbed in the antlers of the deer, and did not notice that their sitting positions seemed as though he was being embraced by Ji Meng.

The shopkeeper realised that this might be breaking news, and quickly took a shot before asking, "Can I use the photo as publicity for my shop?"

"Photo?" Ling Xiaolu turned around and nudged Ji Meng. "Mate, Papa Dou knows how to materialise photos, do you know how to do that too?"

Ji Meng held his palm out to the shopkeeper. The other party immediately understood, and handed his screen to him. Ji Meng pinched the edges of the screen, drawing his finger sideways lightly, and the photo materialised.

He passed the photo to Ling Xiaolu. While doing so, his gaze swept past the image, and changed his mind, keeping the photo for himself.

Ling Xiaolu reached out to empty air. "Eh? Wasn't it for me?"

Ji Meng created another copy for him, and Ling Xiaolu happily stored it together with his previous photo. Ever since he discovered that the game had a dedicated album to store the actualised images, his addiction to such social media increased a little.

"What photo is that?" Ji Meng caught sight of Ling Xiaolu's album.

"It's nothing." Ling Xiaolu guiltily blocked his view with his body. However, he was entirely within Ji Meng's arms, and Ji Meng needed no effort to snatch the album from him.

"I'm going to catch a kid now to go into an instance?" Ji Meng narrowed his eyes at him. "You wrote this?"

Ling Xiaolu's eyes looked around wildly. "Umm, I just edited it randomly for fun."

Seeing his evasive gaze, Ji Meng knew he was definitely still hiding something. In front of Ling Xiaolu, he went to Ling Xiaolu's main page, and saw his own image being shared over hundreds of thousands of times by excited viewers.

Now that Ling Xiaolu's smearing of Ji Meng's name had been revealed, Ling Xiaolu wanted to run away. However, Ji Meng's arms were like bars of steel, and there was no need to even consider doing a backflip, as he could not even get down from the deer.

"You, just wait." Ji Meng shot him a warning look. Steering the shadow deer, they arrived a "wild countryside".

Ji Meng carried him down, putting him down on a pile of gravel.

"Squat."

Ling Xiaolu had no choice, and could only squat down obediently.

"Look at the camera. Put on an aggrieved expression."

Ling Xiaolu looked aggrieved.

"Look more aggrieved."

Ling Xiaolu looked even more aggrieved. His grievance was not an act, it was real.

Ji Meng finally blinked. "I'm done."

On the screen which Ling Xiaolu could not see, Ji Meng made a few movements. "Now, we're equal."

Ling Xiaolu really wanted to know what exactly he did, but he dared not act rashly.

"Wait for me for a moment, don't run around recklessly."

"Wait here? Where are you going?"

"I'm going to buy something."

The place Ji Meng had brought Ling Xiaolu to was Deer Lake, reputed as one of the top ten most beautiful sites in the game. This was where the spirit deer, the opposite class to the shadow deer, would appear.

Ji Meng now had a shadow deer, and wanted to collect a spirit deer as a pair. Spirit deers were very cautious and timid, and to catch them, one needed to use deer wine as bait to get them drunk first. However, deer wine had a time limit to them. They could only be kept for twenty-four hours after harvesting, and so could only be collected when needed.

Once Ji Meng left, Ling Xiaolu immediately opened his page to discover that two minutes ago, Ji Meng had followed suit and uploaded Ling Xiaolu's image of him squatting aggrievedly.

Its caption:

— and I'm that kid.

Ling Xiaolu: … Childish.

Compared to Ling Xiaolu, Ji Meng's fan count was clearly in a different league. This childish image, having just been posted, was immediately shared like crazy, and the top comment was even an advertisement.

@WuFeng: Your hubby today brought a kid to my shop and bought a luxury two-seater shadow deer [image]. Hubby is definitely Hubby, he really has a good eye, and is extremely liberal with his money. Most importantly, if you want to buy a pet, you must come to WuFeng's Pet Shop in Windmill County, we have all the pets you want!

— A shadow deer! My dream steed!

— I also wish I could be so fortunate to be caught by Hubby and dragged to do an instance then forced to go buy a steed.

— Please reserve the phoenix in your shop, my hubby will bring me to go collect it later.

— I'm late, may I ask where can I collect a number?

Ling Xiaolu: … Childish!

Just as Ling Xiaolu was about to exit the window, he suddenly remembered that after adding Ji Meng as a friend, he had never checked out his timeline.

However, that fellow without any friends, there should not be… anything… inside… right…

Ling Xiaolu stared at the page in front of him, struck dumb. He wanted to apologise for his previous assumption. This Ji Meng, not only did he post on his timeline, he was actually a very active user. On days where he posted less, there would still be three to five posts, and on days where there were more, there was at least a dozen. The contents were a sea of sameness, all consisting of collages of his pets. There were some collages that even Ling Xiaolu was too embarrassed to critique, as it was the same image reused nine times!

Did Ji Meng come online every day to play with his pets, feed his pets, take photos of his pets, show off his pets… The legendary solo player who did nothing but focused on completing quests in games was most likely him.

Ling Xiaolu's understanding about Ji Meng was once again renewed.

Spamming Maniac – Ji Meng

Screenshot Maniac – Ji Meng

Pet Maniac – Ji Meng

In comparison, the first two childish behaviours no longer seem as childish anymore.

Ling Xiaolu scrolled down the timeline for a while, yet Ji Meng still had yet to return. He stood up, searching around, and only then did he discover that the location he was in was extremely picturesque. With rolling green hills and a deep blue lake, they contrasted against each other with great splendour. Amidst the fragrance of the flowers, there was a vague sweetness in the air that could not be put to words, wafting around Ling Xiaolu indistinctly.

"Strange, what scent is this? It smells really sweet."

Following the aroma, Ling Xiaolu gradually approached the edges of the lake. The scent was thicker there, increasing until he reached the source.

That was a white marble low altar that did not belong to nature, but entirely man-made. From its appearance, it looked very similar to the sort of bird baths found in parks for birds to drink from. Right now, there were a few small birds straightening their feathers on the edge of the altar.

Ling Xiaolu did not want to disrupt the birds' rest, but he could not resist his curiosity about the fragrance. He sneakily made his way closer, breathing in deeply about a metre away. How sweet—

It was the fruit produced by a plant that had been nurtured by the sun and rain, and the fruit had fermented, bringing about a richness together with its original freshness and sweetness. It was a natural fragrance of wine that needed four seasons to brew, attracting and intoxicating passing creatures.

The reactions of the birds were much slower than usual. Only when the unexpected visitor came near did they think about flying away. Giving a few drunken flaps of their wings, they tumbled onto the soft grass below before struggling to get up, swaying as they hopped a few steps away.

Ling Xiaolu was too busy to notice the birds. After tentatively scooping up a handful of the clear liquid and drinking it, he was instantly conquered by that sweetness that spread through his limbs.

When Li Zheng hurried over, this was what he saw. On the ground were a few birds sprawled ungainly, the deer wine he had left there as bait was now empty, and there was a golden haired youth lying by the wine pool, his cheeks flushed and his eyes closed, yet there was no sign of a deer to be found.

He frowned slightly, stepping forward to investigate. That seemingly deeply asleep youth now wobbled as he sat up, studying him with a squint.

"Oh, it's you." Ling Xiaolu laughed quietly. "I remember you, you're that… plastic surgery monster."

Li Zheng's expression did not change. He too, of course, recognised who this person was.

"How did you end up here?"

"Me? I… rode a deer here."

"Were you the one who drank my wine?"

Ling Xiaolu sat there foolishly for a moment, then foolishly turned his head to look at the pool. It seemed as though he had to take quite some time to consider what he would do next before performing the action.

"Yes, it was delicious." He paused, "Is there any more?"

Li Zheng's inner doubts deepened. He could not recall that the deer wine had the ability to get people drunk.

However, Ling Xiaolu was now a perfect example of a drunk person, and not able to understand it, Li Zheng summoned his own customer service agent.

"I'll like to ask, what reaction would a player have after drinking deer wine?"

"Hello, the deer wine is an in-game item to catch pets. Normal players would not have an extraordinary reaction after drinking it."

Only when the agent finished speaking did she realise Ling Xiaolu's presence. She was alerted to what may have happened, and her brain spun. "However!!"

Li Zheng was slightly startled by the sudden increase in her pitch. "However?"

"There are some players with unique physiques and extreme sensitivity to alcohol, after accidentally drinking deer wine, may exhibit signs of drunkenness. Hence, we do not suggest that players drink the wine."

"What if a player accidentally drank it, and got drunk?"

"It isn't a big issue as well. Just like in real life, they'll be fine after sleeping."

After routing her player's suspicious, the agent quickly contacted her colleague. "Something's wrong! Your Lu Bi is about to be caught by my client!"

"What?!"

Li Zheng crouched down. "Who brought you here? Is there anyone that can come pick you up?"

The drunk Ling Xiaolu still continued smiling unconsciously. "You… you're like a character in xianxia novels. Can you fly on a sword?"

"Can you go offline yourself? Or do you have a place to stay?"

"Be my master, and teach… me how to fly on a sword, alright?"

Ling Xiaolu's answers were still irrelevant. Li Zheng was at a loss on what to do, and when he wanted to stand up, he discovered that Ling Xiaolu was gripping his clothes.

"If you don't teach me, I won't… won't let you leave…"

Li Zheng could actually just teleport away, but it did not seem like a good idea to leave a drunk person here.

After much consideration, he lifted Ling Xiaolu up in a princess carry. Although Ling Xiaolu was drunkenly speaking nonsense, his body was limp, and he did not struggle a single bit.

This was not the first time Ling Xiaolu was so close to Li Zheng's face, but this time, he was drunk, and so dared to say anything that came to his mind.

"How much money did you spend… to edit your face. I want to earn money too… and change my face. It's so good-looking…"

"However, I think… I prefer… the bird head, with a bird head, I don't have to do plastic surgery, heehee…"

Ling Long came online right at this moment. Hearing the word "bird", he nearly got scared offline.

He was already prepared to kick Ling Xiaolu offline if there was no other choice. However, he was still one step too late. Ling Long's view changed, and was transported to Li Zheng's place along with Ling Xiaolu.

Finally managing to harvest enough deer wine, Ji Meng returned, only for Ling Xiaolu to have disappeared.

Opening his friend panel, he saw that Lu Bi was still online, but it showed that his current location was in Beimang.

Beimang was poles apart from Deer Lake, and normal players would require at least half a day to travel there. It was pretty much impossible for Ling Xiaolu who had no steeds nor knew how to teleport.

Ji Meng kicked off a maniac messaging mode.

Ji Meng: Where are you?

Ji Meng: Didn't I say not to run around recklessly?

Ji Meng: Why are you in Beimang???

Ji Meng: How did you end up there?

Ji Meng: Has someone kidnapped you? Is it for the reward?

Ji Meng: Hurry up and reply!!!

Li Xiaolu was currently enjoying deer wine in his dreams as he mumbled, "How delicious."

Not getting a response, Ji Meng used his teleport-to-a-friend ability, only to be told "You do not have the rights to enquire about your friend's current location."

He thought that it was a system error, and so tried it a few more times. However, he always received the same response.

The anxious Ji Meng too summoned his customer service agent.

"Why can't my teleport-to-a-friend ability be used? The system tells me that I don't have the inquiry rights?"

"Hello, this situation may have occurred because your friend is currently in a location inaccessible to the public."

"A location inaccessible to the public? As a newbie, where can he go?"

"There are quite a few of such locations. For example, there are instances, the prison, the interactive map, private lodgings etc."

Ji Meng could not think of any reason why Ling Xiaolu could be in such places. It was already very suspicious for him to be thousands of miles away.

"If I give you his name, can you help me check his coordinates?"

"I'm sorry. This has to do with the account's privacy, I'll like to help but there's nothing I can do about it."

"What if it's a special circumstance? My friend is not replying, and I suspect he's in danger."

"If a situation that violates the game's stipulations occur, an emergency button will appear on the player's screen. You don't have to worry."

"So it means you won't be doing anything?" This was the first time Ji Meng hated that his "privileges" that everyone talked about brought him no special rights.

In the end, Ji Meng's agent was still rather biased towards him. "Perhaps you can find some clues from your friend's location. To be able to travel such a large distance, in ordinary circumstances, this can only be done by benefactors."

"Benefactors? In Beimang…?" Ji Meng had definitely heard about it before, just like how it was not a secret that he lived in Dongye. "… It's Li Zheng?"


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