“Equipment grade: Normal.”
“Upgrade level: +10.”
“Additional defense: 10.”
“+10 Additional effect: Weaken presence by 10%.”
“Upgrade requirement: 9 Soulpoints.”
Bai Yunfei’s heart skipped a beat—it was a success!
“Eh? Presence? What stat is this?” He was at a loss for words when it came to looking at this newfound effect. Bai Yunfei had never seen it before.
“A completely new effect!” He nearly cried out in joy. To have a new type of effect pop up meant that he had discovered a new layer of mystery to the Upgrade Technique.
“Presence…? I can understand what it does based on its name, but—can something like that really be weakened?” Bai Yunfei placed the straw hat on his head.
“Then… does it work against other people?” Bai Yunfei thought. “If I wear it, will people be 10% less aware of my ‘presence?’ What an odd effect… but the Upgrade Technique doesn’t lie. That means… I can become someone no one notices!”
Feeling as if he managed to grab hold of an idea, Bai Yunfei began to grow more and more curious at the thought.
“Weakening the presence means to not be noticed so that people will overlook me. That means… stealth!”
“Good stuff! Super good!” Bai Yunfei eyed the hat with bright eyes, “Who would’ve thought that such an ordinary-looking hat would gain such a powerful effect! That was super worth it! But still… 10% is a little too…”
“Ugh… I’m getting too greedy. Something like this is already pretty good!” Bai Yunfei realized that whenever he upgraded something into something even better, his ‘greedy’ nature came out. This wouldn’t do…
Just slightly beating himself up for these thoughts, Bai Yunfei thought, “Weakening my presence means to have other people overlook me. Wouldn’t that mean I’d become a walk-on character then? Haha, fine then! I’ll call this hat the ‘Walk-on Strawhat!’”
Satisfied, Bai Yunfei stored away the hat and lay back on his bed to rest. Tomorrow he would experiment with the strawhat’s effect and see just how good a 10% decrease of his presence would be.
The entire night continued in a heavy rainfall, leaving the next morning fresh but clear. The trees and grass were filled with crystalline droplets of water—morning dew that glistened in the first rays of the sun.
In this peaceful, quiet village, plumes of smoke rose up from the chimneys and into the sky. Here and there, the crowing of roosters and the baying of dogs could be heard breaking the silence, ushering the village into another lively day.
To the leftmost side of the village, there was a rather excited and exuberant voice coming from one of the rooms.
On his bed, Shao Ling’s eyes were focused entirely on the sight in front of him. His face was red from excitement as he counted off a number one after another.
Right in front of him, Bai Yunfei was on the ground with his left arm behind his back and the fingers of his right arm pressed against the ground as he did his push ups. With each rise, Shao Ling would spout out a number as a clear indication of how many push ups Bai Yunfei had completed so far.
There was a good reason for this. Just half an hour before, Shao Ling begged Bai Yunfei to teach him how to fight incessantly, spouting something about how he wanted to beat brother Zhu Zi as the strongest person in the village. Bai Yunfei didn’t know how to teach someone though. Soul Cultivators were capable of cultivation. Ordinary people were not. Unable to take it any longer, Bai Yunfei relented.
The very first step to learning how to fight was to temper the body.
Who would’ve thought that Shao Ling would then drop down to the floor and do a hundred consecutive push ups without batting an eye?
It would seem that life as a village boy was tenacious enough for his body to undergo a lot of physical development.
In the end, Bai Yunfei added on another stipulation, “If you can do half as many as I can, I’ll teach you then.”
And so, the result here and today was what developed from that.
By the time he got to two thousand push ups, Bai Yunfei lost all interest in it and stood up. Dusting himself off, he said, “That’s all to it. Whenever you can do half of that, I’ll teach you.”
Up until now, Shao Ling had been red with excitement, but Bai Yunfei’s words deflated his mood immediately. “Half?! That’s a thousand push ups! How could I do—even brother Zhu Zi wouldn’t be able to do that much! How could I do that!?”
“Haha. As long as you hone yourself everyday, you’ll become strong one day. That’s how I became strong.” Bai Yunfei consoled him.
“Really.” For the sake of disengaging from this troublesome request, Bai Yunfei had ever so shamelessly lied to this poor fellow, but in his mind, he thought, “Training the body isn’t wrong by any means, so this means I shouldn’t be lying to him either, right?”
It was right at that moment when the doors behind Bai Yunfei were suddenly pushed open to reveal Xiao Fang. Striding into the room, she said, “Shao Ling, what in the world are you doing so early in the mo—eep!!”
The rest of Xiao Fang’s words died in her mouth. She ran back out of the room like a frightened hare with a face bright-red full of embarrassment. When she entered the room, the very first thing that met her eyes was the rugged body of Bai Yunfei.
“Uh…” The two males in the room were speechless. Awkwardly, Bai Yunfei put on his clothes and turned sheepishly to Shao Ling, “Well, we should go eat breakfast then…”
When afternoon came, Bai Yunfei decided that now would be the best time to test out the effects of the Walk-on Strawhat. As soon as Shao Ling wore the hat, Bai Yunfei could feel with his soulsense that Shao Ling’s aura made a sudden dip.
Naturally, only a soul cultivator would be able to able to properly sense this distinct change. A regular person would practically overlook him.
He saw the effects first-hand when both Shao Ling and him delivered several things to Shao Ling’s next door neighbor, uncle Li. The very first thing that Bai Yunfei was asked was, “Where’s Shao Ling?”
Then uncle Li noticed Shao Ling a moment later. Uncle Li complained right after, saying that Shao Ling shouldn’t have been hiding in the corner and that he didn’t even notice him.
Pleased as punch with the effects of the Walk-on Strawhat, Bai Yunfei stored it away. Of course, he also decided to keep secret the fact that he pulled the wool over uncle Li’s eyes by pretending to deliver things to him.
Xiao Fang on the other hand went scarlet whenever she saw Bai Yunfei; most likely because of the fact that catching sight of Bai Yunfei that morning still made her extremely embarrassed.
What was completely astounding to Bai Yunfei was just how embarrassed she could be!
“I was the one that you saw. The one that should be embarrassed should be me! I didn’t give you permission to look. What’s your excuse!?”
Yet Bai Yunfei had to admit that Xiao Fang was an extremely hardworking and traditional girl. In the morning she could be seen sweeping the floors, washing the clothes, feeding the chickens, and other completing other housework without a complaint or misstep in her stride. Even to the neighbors, she was a courteous young woman. A sight like that was rare to come by.
“The guy she marries will be a lucky one.”
Of course—this compliment was made from a completely objective perspective. He didn’t have any improper feelings whatsoever.
In the afternoon, another incident occurred.
It came to Xiao Fang’s attention that there was a shortage of firewood, so she prepared herself to chop some more wood, but just as she was about to start working, Bai Yunfei stopped her so that he could help out.
Reddening in the face, she tried to decline Bai Yunfei’s offer, but he took the axe from her anyways, “No worries, just leave it to me!” He said.
When he took the axe, his hand brushed against Xiao Fang’s supple arm by mere accident, causing her to blush again. Smiling awkwardly, he muttered out an apology and paid no more attention to it.
Shao Ling assisted Bai Yunfei by replacing the firewood each time he chopped. Bai Yunfei was completely unaware that not too far away in the forest, a pair of eyes was watching him.
From the start of when Bai Yunfei and Xiao Fang started their little quibble, the owner of these eyes had been carefully watching, and when the young woman left the place with a bashful expression thanks to Bai Yunfei’s ‘frivolous’ attitude, the eyes of the watcher immediately glowered with a spark of indignation and hostility.