Chapter 148 - Ambush
The news of the treasury opening soon spread like wildfire, sparking another massive surge in new players wishing to join their ranks.
Guo Huai, Zhao Li, and Hao Cheng's hands were practically going limp with exhaustion from accepting all the join requests. Even though they were letting anyone who fit the level requirements in, they would have to carefully comb through every one of them in the coming several days to ensure that the entire guild could function smoothly. As such, they still had plenty of work ahead of them.
With Guo Huai and the others at the helm, Nie Yan felt he could safely leave guild management to them. As for himself, it would be fine for him to simply focus on levelling and improving his gear.
「Nie Yan, where are you right now? We’re already by the entrance of Black Flame Forest. Yao Zi (Young Sparrow Hawk) is here too. Do you remember Moon Child from last time? She came as well. Everyone’s just waiting for you now,」Yao Yao sent Nie Yan a message. They were all eagerly looking forward to running a dungeon with him.
“Hmmm, there’s no harm in running it with them. Besides, it’ll only take an hour at most, and if we do it on Specialist, I can get my hands on some treasure…” Nie Yan muttered to himself.
「Alright, I’ll be there in a moment.」
Nie Yan walked over to the transfer point and teleported over to Tanbeto Town.
Located somewhere east of Calore, the town had an ancientness to it with many of its features dating back to the Era of Shared Governance. The carvings on the town wall, after centuries of corrosion from wind and rain, could barely be made out. With dilapidated building and age-old streets that had somehow persisted through the ages, it left players with a feeling that could only be experienced from visiting a historical site.
The clothing of the NPC guards here was also quite strange. They had a somewhat ancient air about them too. Wearing short, robed armour and horned metal helmets, they resembled the barbarian warriors of old.
As he walked along the main street, he came across a group of around seventeen players walking in his direction. Their gear was excellent. He recognized many pieces that could only be found from running Sosil Valley. He was flabbergasted. If they were already capable of clearing Sosil Valley, why would they be hanging around here?
Some were tall and sturdy while others were slightly built. There were players of every class. However, one trait they all shared was the same air of domineering arrogance that caused Nie Yan to furrow his brows. Just who were these people?
“Skinny Dog, your blade needs to be a bit faster when PKing,” a tall Elementalist in an ash gray robe said with a cold smile. His eyes fell on Nie Yan, but it was only a quick glance.
“No need to worry. At the very least, my dagger is much faster than your staff,” a short, scrawny Thief replied as he skillfully played with the dagger in his hand. His face was covered with a black cloak that made it hard to make out his appearance.
The group of players were chatting and laughing loudly as they walked. When they approached Nie Yan, they sized him up with a quick glance before brushing past.
This group of players seemed a little familiar, but their names were all hidden. His memory wasn’t so great that he could remember every player that had crossed paths with him in his past. If they didn’t possess any particularly notable features, he wouldn’t be able to recall their name.
He probably didn’t have many interactions with these players in his past life.
Nie Yan walked out of the town gates. Black Flame Forest was located north of Tanbeto Town. That place was a scorched ruin. Everything there was burned as black as soot. Legends told that during the Dark Era, the Black Flame Phoenix, Soros, fell over this place and transformed it into a region of endless black fire that would never be extinguished. After entering the dungeon, players would even be able to spot the massive skeleton belonging to Soros located inside the forest.
After burning non-stop for centuries, the place attracted a great number of fire elementals who took up residence there, becoming an important dungeon for players in the early levels.
Surrounding Black Flame Forest was a vast, rocky wasteland where very few plants could grow. The monsters that inhabited this zone were Level 3 Kobolds. Just outside the entrance of Black Flame Forest was a vacant piece of land that served as a gathering spot for players to form teams. However, today the place seemed a little desolate. Almost no players were there. It was a little strange.
However, Yu Lan (Blue Feather) and the others were there waiting by the entrance.
Nie Yan walked up to them and greeted them with a smile. “Long time no see, everyone.”
“You’re finally here. We’ve been waiting forever. You sure are busy these days, huh?” Yao Yao’s pursed lips relaxed into a smile. It so beautiful that it would always brighten the mood wherever she went.
“Boss Nirvana Flame, everyone’s been waiting a long time for you to arrive.”
Nie Yan faintly smiled as he acknowledged them with a slight nod. He also greeted Moon Child, who was standing by Yao Yao’s side.
Having not seen them for several days, their gear was much improved and their levels were also a lot higher, averaging around Level 10. The sole reason they had waited for so long was because they hoped Nie Yan would lead them through this dungeon on Specialist.
“We’ll be troubling you to guide us again,” Yu Lan stared at Nie Yan and said in a somewhat troubled tone. She felt guilty for inconveniencing him again.
“You guys are already part of our guild. So taking you all on a dungeon run should be expected.” Nie Yan nodded his head before scanning over the group. Aside from him, there were nineteen other players, many of their faces he still recognized. Surprisingly, among them was also Dusk.
“Your guild isn’t doing anything today?”
Dusk let out an awkward laugh. “No, nothing for today. We do have plans for tomorrow though. I’m just here to mooch for equipment.”
Since Dusk was currently wearing the Guilt Domain Set, and with Medusa’s Lair already open, his true intention probably wasn’t so simple as merely obtaining gear. The most likely scenario was that Sleepy Fox had figured out that Nie Yan was behind Tang Yao establishing a guild. And so, he sent Dusk here with the special purpose of investigating. However, he and Nie Yan could be regarded as having some friendship. He was a sensible fellow and knew better than to start a pointless conflict. After all, compared to the other major guilds, he knew a bit more about the cards in Nie Yan’s hands. There was the Starry Night Potion Shop and Nie Yan’s mysterious background. He wouldn’t rashly ruin their relationship. If anything, there was a chance of seeing a possible alliance between Asskickers United and Holy Empire in the future.
“I disbanded the team. You can create a new one now,” Yu Lan said.
Nie Yan nodded and began sending invites to everyone.
Yao Yao has joined your team.
Young Sparrow Hawk has joined your team.
“Nie Yan, you’re already Level 16!? So fast!” Yao Yao said after receiving quite a shock. Without his consent, Tang Yao didn’t dare to tell others, so Yao Yao and the rest had remained completely unaware of Nie Yan’s current level. Even though everyone figured it was pretty high by now, they never expected him to be Level 16.
“Why aren’t you on the leaderboards?” Moon Child slightly knitted her brows as she asked in a puzzled manner.
“He hid it. That’s why he isn’t on the leaderboards,” Guo Huai answered. Thanks to this, he confirmed his guild leader’s suspicions which were the same as his own. It appeared Nie Yan wished to keep a low-profile.
A thought suddenly popped into the minds of almost everyone present. What if first and second place on the leaderboards were both occupied by members of Asskickers United? What kind of shock would this give to the other guilds? They could hardly imagine.
Soon, everyone entered Nie Yan’s team.
“Just like last time, I want everyone to report their relevant stats,” Nie Yan ordered. He already knew that Yu Lan’s team met the requirements to enter the dungeon, but just to be on the safe side, he needed to know the individual stats of each team member as well. If it turned out one of them failed to reach the bar, then they definitely couldn’t go forward with the run.
Everyone would have to be serious when running a dungeon. Otherwise, even the smallest lapse in judgement could lead to their team being wiped. Wiping once might not be a serious setback for a team, but losing 20% of your experience bar was enough to cause any player to feel pain in their heart.
Yu Lan, Bai Kaishui (Plain Boiled Water), and the rest all began announcing their stats one after the other, defense, magic power, health, etc…
“520 health, 180 defense…”
“320 health, 158 magic power…”
After everyone finished, Nie Yan nodded his head. It seemed Yu Lan and her team had spent a lot of effort in improving their gear, especially Bai Kaishui. Having 520 health and 180 defense at this stage of the game was pretty good.
Just as Nie Yan and company were about to set off on their run, a huge group of players emerged from the nearby boulders and began quickly surrounding them from all directions.
There were roughly three hundred of them. They had completely sealed off any routes that Nie Yan and his team could escape from.
Nie Yan’s expression turned cold. These players obviously weren’t coming with good intentions.
What’s going on? Nie Yan sank into deep thought after glancing at the group of approaching players. They certainly came well-prepared. Their equipment was excellent, and all of them looked to be around Level 10.
“Who are these players?” Tang Yao tightly clenched his staff. He sensed that they were hostile.
Yu Lan and her team quickly assumed a battle formation with all the frontliners forming a circular wall.
“I’ve met a few of the players over there. They’re part of Victorious Return,” Dusk whispered as he stood by Nie Yan’s side.
Nie Yan’s gaze fell on the two players taking the lead, a tall Elementalist and a slim Thief that resembled a monkey. Among them was surprisingly the group of players he had seen earlier in Tanbeto Town.
“We’re completely surrounded. They have at least three hundred players on their side!” Bai Kaishui nervously said. Their team only consisted of twenty players while the other side had over three hundred, and the equipment they wore wasn’t the least bit lacking compared to theirs!
The difference in manpower was too large. As soon as the other side acted, their entire team was guaranteed to be wiped out!
Worst of all, they weren’t inside a dungeon. If they died in a dungeon, they would only lose 20% of their experience bar, plus they wouldn’t drop any equipment. However, if they died here, they would drop an entire level and lose a piece of equipment!
Who could stay calm in a situation like this!?
At this moment, Nie Yan suddenly realized that dropping a level and a piece of equipment wasn’t the main issue. It was him losing the two chapters from the Book of Order in his bag and Tang Yao losing his Arcane Fairy!
Before he was even able to achieve his goal, could it be that everything he worked so painstakingly hard for would come crashing down at this very moment?
It was already too late to use a Return Scroll to escape. These players had already gotten too close. They would be able to cancel it as soon as they began chanting!
“Hey, Skinny Dog. There’s a saying called, ‘like shooting fish in a barrel.’ I think this perfectly describes the situation right now!” The tall Elementalist began laughing wildly. “No matter how strong that Nirvana Flame is, it won’t matter. They’re all as good as dead!”
The Thief called Skinny Dog licked the blade of his dagger as he eyed Nie Yan and the others like lambs to the slaughter.
“They’re acting like cornered rats. Kekeke… with only twenty of them, do they really think they stand a chance against us?” Skinny Dog mocked.
“Remember, don’t let your subordinates attack first. Just send a couple of people up. We gotta make Nirvana Flame get a red name first. The boss made it clear that he wants that guy to lose all his equipment. Just one piece won’t do!”
“No worries, I understand!” Skinny Dog began playing with the dagger in his hand. What he loved to do the most was to make others bleed. The feeling of stabbing flesh and blood gushing out was simply the best.
These players were aiming for him. Nie Yan stared at the scrawny Thief, who was only about one and a half meters tall, and seemingly recalled there being such a person in his past. Despite not being a Shadow Dancer himself, that guy had actually managed to kill one. Ranked number six in all of Victorious Return, his reputation definitely preceded him.
1. Moon Child is one of Yao Yao’s classmates in real life. She makes her first appearance in Chapter 102.
2. Dusk is Sleepy Fox's subordinate. He first appears in Chapter 44.