Chapter 22: A Precious Pearl
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
“Fine. Considering you’ve just made a transaction with me, I’ll reveal something useful to you.” The bartender took off her gloves. “Do you know why game items are so valuable?”
“Err… I think you’ve mentioned that there are very few of them.”
“Rarity does not equate to value. The term ‘game item’ is used to correspond with the theme, and it’s not accurate at all. In reality, this is a very magical item. It contains inconceivable supernatural forces. They work in both games and reality. If you use it well, it will be beneficial to you. But sometimes, it could create problems for you. No one can guarantee that this force will bring positive effects, so you have to be extra careful when handling game items. Just because it has not been identified yet does not mean that the results are not present. Speaking of which, did anything strange happen to you after you picked it up?”
“No.” Zhang Heng thought back to the time after the rabbit’s foot was given to him. His life went on without incident.
“Then, this is probably not the type with negative effects, or perhaps it could be triggered under specific conditions.” For some reason, the bartender’s tone was laced with pity. “When these negative effect game items are used well, they can do wonders. A wooden box made of tulewood can isolate its supernatural powers – the best option to store the items. If there’s a need, you can always buy them from me. Oh, and also, if you have any game items that you do not need, you can choose to leave it here so I can help you sell it. There’s always a large-scale auction at the end of every year. Keep an eye on your mailbox. An e-mail will be sent to you before the event. If there’s nothing else, we’ll meet again next time.”
The bartender’s service was terrible. That initial excitement after earning his five game-points had dwindled and suddenly lost all interest to explain anything else to her.
Zhang Heng asked her what services were available at the game site, and she said that she would send him a pdf to him through WeChat.
Upon exiting the metal room, Zhang Heng was bombarded with loud thumping music, which he no longer thought was raucous. After spending a year and a half on that island, hearing the symphonies of a civilized society made him feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.
Zhang Heng descended the iron ladder and quickly disappeared amongst the crowd of people.
Although it was already one in the morning, the number of cars parked outside the bar seemed to have increased.
Zhang Heng did not return to school because one, it was quite late already, and two, too much information had been dumped on him for the past two hours. He needed to go someplace quiet to sort through and digest them. Besides that, there was something else he needed to verify.
So, Zhang Heng checked into a room in the express hotel by the road and asked the receptionist for a pen and some paper. Tired as he was, he did not feel like sleeping right now. He turned on the table lamp and promptly listed down every important detail that had happened today and his theories.
When dawn broke, he reread the stack of lists he had written and rewritten, tore them up, and flushed them down the toilet.
After that, he checked out of the room before heading straight to the archery range across the road, the very place he’d been coming to train.
As soon as it opened at 8 am, Zhang Heng went in, took out the SF recurve bow he deposited there, and selected a 30-meter archery range.
He drew his bow and released an arrow.
Zhang Heng was not at all surprised. He had been using a primitive homemade bow and was not used to this modern bow yet. The first shot was just a test. Of course, it was not the least bit startling that the results weren’t satisfactory. Adjusting his angle, he released the bowstring once more.
The second one was much better.
That very moment, Zhang Heng’s coach walked in. He was just about to greet his student but decided not to bother him when he saw how absorbed Zhang Heng was. He stood silently at the back with his thermos cup, ready to correct Zhang Heng’s posture and movement.
Then the next arrow pierced the ninth ring.
Not bad. That was a good shot; the instructor thought to himself. Most of the time, when newcomers first started, they would have kinds of problems ranging from not holding the bow firmly enough to the wrong posture, thus deviating from their center of gravity.
Zhang Heng had only just begun to pick up the sport, but his posture was spot-on as if he had done it many times before. It was solid as a mountain.
If that was not talent, then what was that?
Zhang Heng’s coach was a former member of the city’s archery team. Alas, his talent was limited. No matter how hard he trained, he could not seem to improve. Soon after, he was defeated by an amateur who had only trained for less than half a year. Disappointed in himself, he left the professional circle and was invited by the archery range’s owner to coach there.
Seeing how well the sport had been doing these two years, he could not help but feel a stirring inside him. But he was too old for this – he had no more potential left to discover. Even if he returned to the game, he would end up nowhere.
Thus, he decided to focus his attention on the young people training in the range. He wanted to see if he could develop a keen eye for scouting able players and take talented apprentices under his wing.
Who would know that perhaps one day, one might be able to compete at the national level and fulfill his dream on his behalf?
With that thought, he began to keep an eye out for potential candidates. Initially, he focused mainly on eight to fourteen-year-olds, the best age for laying a foundation. Any older and it would be too late, which was why he never paid too much attention to Zhang Heng.
In the three previous sessions, this young man did not show any special skills and was no different from amateur hobbyists who played just for sport.
Zhang Heng’s progress gave him quite a shock.
He had not even started training but yet, he was surprisingly good. He had risen so quickly above his peers from the same batch.
At the same time, however, the instructor felt sorry for Zhang Heng. The boy had gotten in touch with the sport too late in the game. Even if he had the talent, without sufficient practice, it would be extremely challenging for him to go any further.
While these thoughts were running through the instructor’s mind, Zhang Heng drew in a deep breath. When he was done with the adjustment, he released five arrows in succession.
Each shot was less than 2 seconds apart.
Out of the five arrows, the 4th hit the 10th ring, and a slightly faulty one landed on the 9th ring.
Zhang Heng knew that this had to do with his coordination. He was used to that body back on the desert island. A year and a half ago, his strength and response had already deviated by a little. However, from these few shots, he had already found out what he needed to know.
The skills he had gained while training retained in his muscle memory. Now, he just needed two weeks of practice to return to his level back on the island.
In fact, with a more powerful and more accurate modern bow, his shots would have much higher accuracy and a greater range.
It appeared that the skills acquired in the game could be brought back to reality.
This was actually not too surprising since those skills did not fall from the sky – he had actually trained hard for them.
Zhang Heng also noticed that unlike traditional games, this game did not utilize the four attributes system. The body he ‘used’ in the game was his own. When he was in trouble, he had to use his knowledge and abilities to solve them. Therefore, the skills each person developed were essential. Thinking about it now, those extra 24 hours did not seem so bad after all.
This meant that he would have more game-time compared to the other players, and could better improve himself. The critical thing here was that these in-game improvements were just as applicable in reality.
Zhang Heng groaned, utterly unaware of how much his five shots had affected his instructor.
The latter nearly dropped his mug.
A hardworking amateur hobbyist could hit 49 points with five arrows. However, considering how recent Zhang Heng had started learning, which were only three sessions and that quick succession of shots – only a precious handful of hobbyists would be able to do that.
He was a prodigy! A prodigy for sure! What other explanations could there be? The coach was now seeing Zhang Heng in a completely different light. He looked at Zhang Heng as if he was looking at an inimitable jade. The longer he looked, the more he liked what he saw.
How could I not have noticed such a brilliant treasure?