Chapter 155 - Ceasefire
A lot of unnecessary conflict could be avoided if Holy Empire were able to simply escort Nie Yan and Tang Yao out of the map, lest their presence be the fuse to ignite a feud with Victorious Return, but that just wasn’t possible with so many enemy scouts lurking around. It was quite likely that as soon as they attempted to bring the pair out, they’d be intercepted mid-way since their bright red names made them too conspicuous in this barren, rocky landscape.
“Boss, we’ve collected over 80 pieces of equipment. Most of them are pretty good quality,” a Holy Empire player approached Sleepy Fox and informed. There should’ve been 300 pieces dropped, but he figured the Victorious Return players had managed to recover quite a few, hence why only 80 or so pieces remained.
In fact, there had actually been more equipment with even better properties left on the ground, but they were all collected by Guo Huai and the others. Shortly after their group returned to Calore, Nie Yan had received a system message that Guo Huai had deposited 30 or so pieces of equipment into the guild treasury. They had acted covertly, so the players from Holy Empire were probably wholly unaware.
After a moment of silence, Sleepy Fox looked to Nie Yan and asked, “How do you think we should handle these drops?” This equipment, all of which had once belonged to Victorious Return’s elites, was akin to a big slab of tantalizing, juicy meat. A pity that his guild hadn’t done enough to justify taking it all for themselves, since Holy Empire only arrived in time to finish off the stragglers which amounted to about ten percent of Victorious Return’s total force. Of course, his guild could simply choose to swallow everything, but when all was said and done, they’d still be slighting the other party, an act that could damage the cooperation of both sides down the line. Unable to come to a decision, Sleepy Fox threw the ball in Nie Yan’s court.
“Let’s take half each. We’ll divide it up according to properties. A portion of the equipment came from my team members, so I have to do my best to help them get it back,” Nie Yan replied. If Holy Empire received the short end of the stick, then Sleepy Fox probably wouldn’t be satisfied. After all, he had saved their lives. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the equipment was indeed obtained through their efforts, so if it was divided up evenly, Sleepy Fox wouldn't have any grounds to object, and that was ignoring the almost certain possibility that he had taken advantage of the situation to fill his own pockets first. As for whether they truly did only find 80 pieces of equipment lying on the ground, Nie Yan had no way of knowing.
Sleepy Fox nodded his head and said, “Then, we’ll do as you suggested.” After which, he had his subordinate hand over 40 pieces of equipment to Nie Yan.
Dividing equipment was the easiest time for disputes to arise. Fortunately, Nie Yan and Sleepy Fox were players who didn’t lack money. The former was the owner of the Starry Night Potion Shop while the latter was the guild leader of a major guild. Neither of them could be bothered to fuss over a few pieces of equipment.
Nie Yan planned to pad the guild treasury with this equipment. It required constant investment for them to truly succeed. Take, for example, a major guild like Holy Empire, their treasury was still far from being enough even after putting at least 100 gold into it. He still had a long road ahead of him since Asskickers United’s treasury had only recently started being built up.
“Heaven Breaker won’t do anything too rash,” Sleepy Fox said after thinking for a bit. Both guilds would come into conflict sooner or later, but it was still too early right now. If they did clash, it would only end up benefiting others.
Soon, the five thousand troops from Victorious Return arrived. The dense crowd of players headed by their guild leader, Heaven Breaker, formed a crescent formation, then gradually began surrounding Sleepy Fox’s group.
Tang Yao stared in shock as this vast crowd closed in on them, appearing as if they could topple mountains and overturn the seas. Now this was truly a guild. When thousands of players gathered together, just how much power would they be able to burst out with? He suddenly recalled Nie Yan’s previous words. A single player really was insignificant in the face of a guild!
“Nie Yan, tell me, will our guild be like them in the future, gathering tens of thousands of players with just a single call?” Tang Yao’s eyes flashed with a strange light.
“Definitely, sooner or later, there’ll be a day when we’re even more powerful than them,” Nie Yan seriously replied.
“When that day comes, I’ll be able to step on whoever I want to! If an eyesore appears, I can just call over ten thousand little brothers to directly crush them! Then, we’ll see if they still dare to act arrogant again.”
“... You really need to grow up a little.” Nie Yan was momentarily left speechless before breaking into laughter.
“Heaven Breaker, I trust you’ve been well since we last met,” Sleepy Fox greeted with a smile, acting as if the tension between the two groups didn’t exist.
On the other hand, Heaven Breaker was in no mood to engage in idle banter with Sleepy Fox. He swept his gaze over Holy Empire’s ranks and spotted Nie Yan and Tang Yao among them, then said in a cold voice, “Those two killed too many of my subordinates. Hand them over, and there’ll be no trouble. If not, I don’t mind getting into a full-blown guild war with you.”
Sleepy Fox still wore a smiling expression, but his eyes flashed with an almost undetectable glimmer.
“Sorry, but no. They’re under my protection. So I won’t be handing them over. Heaven Breaker, you’re welcome to do whatever you like. Just know that my Holy Empire isn’t afraid of going to war with you. Even though we aren’t as big as Victorious Return, we’re not so easily trifled with,” Sleepy Fox replied with a calm smile.
Heaven Breaker felt puzzled. Was Sleepy Fox actually going out of his way to protect Nie Yan and Tang Yao? It seemed this matter wasn’t simply about face. Just what did those two have that would even move him?
If they belonged to Holy Empire, then that would explain things, but clearly they didn’t.
“Boss, forget it! Let’s just get rid of them! Who cares about Sleepy Fox?”
“We’ll slaughter all of them!”
The Victorious Return players behind Heaven Breaker began clamoring and making outbursts. Due to their superior numbers, their self-confidence swelled like a balloon. Only a few Victorious Return players, who were more level-headed, understood that even though the other side merely had around five hundred players, they were all Holy Empire’s elites. Wiping them all out in a short period of time would be too difficult, and their reinforcements were definitely rushing over.
Heaven Breaker also understood the consequences of starting an all out war with Holy Empire. His main purpose for coming here was to intimidate and force them to hand over Nie Yan and Tang Yao. An added benefit was that he’d also get to trample Holy Empire’s honour and show them who the real top dog was around Calore.
“I told you… I only want those two, and the rest of you are free to go. Right now, there’s still time to change your mind before you regret it,” Heaven Breaker threatened.
As soon as Heaven Breaker gave the signal, the five thousand troops began gradually closing in on Sleepy Fox and his group. All of a sudden, the atmosphere became extremely hostile.
Sleepy Fox calmly ordered his subordinates to get into a defensive formation. If a fight really broke out, they would be able to hold out at least until reinforcements arrive. As a few Victorious Return players entered the attack range of the Holy Empire casters, the smell of gunpowder rapidly disseminated through the air.
However, neither side had taken the initiative to attack.
They were all waiting for their respective guild leaders to give out their commands. As soon as either group attacked, a chaotic battle of a rarely-seen scale would occur.
“Are they really going to start a fight?” Tang Yao asked.
“Right now it’s still too hard to tell,” Nie Yan replied. He knew Victorious Return was simply putting up a bold front in the hopes of intimidating Sleepy Fox to hand him and Tang Yao over. He didn’t believe Heaven Breaker would rashly start a war with Holy Empire, but the human mind was hard to anticipate.
“I’m giving you this final warning. Hand those two over, and I can let everything pass.” Heaven Breaker’s expression was dark. His eyes were sharp like a hawk’s, and he emitted an icy, murderous aura.
Sleepy Fox faintly smiled, then said, “That won't be possible. Holy Empire is a guild of honour. We’ll never abandon our friends.”
“Since it’s like so, don’t blame me for what happens next.” Heaven Breaker gave the signal to attack. Immediately, Victorious Return’s troops began to act. Leading the vanguard were Warriors in full sets of battle armour. Formed in a line, they encroached on Holy Empire’s players.
A conflict was about to occur at any time.
Nie Yan saw the determined look in Heaven Breaker’s eyes. If he were to retreat now after giving all those threats, then it would be tantamount to slapping himself in the face. Who knows, a prideful man like him might not back down.
“If a fight really does break out, then we won’t be able to guard you, so you guys will have to fend for yourselves. If you find an opportunity to escape, then take it. If not, help us kill as many of them as possible,” Sleepy Fox said to Nie Yan and Tang Yao.
“Don’t worry about us,” Nie Yan replied with a light smile. Today he would kill to his heart’s content. Even if his name became a little redder, what did it matter to him?
Five thousand versus five hundred, Sleepy Fox’s group was outnumbered ten to one, so they were feeling a lot of pressure.
Just as everyone thought the fight was about to start, a player rushed to Heaven Breaker’s side and whispered into his ear. “Boss, Holy Empire’s reinforcements are approaching fast.”
“How many are there?” Heaven Breaker asked with furrowed brows.
“We’re not too sure at the moment, but they shouldn’t be any smaller than us.”
Heaven Breaker never expected them to be so quick. Sleepy Fox had managed to mobilize all of Holy Empire’s members, who were out levelling in different places, here in such a short period of time. If he were to call the rest of his players to this battle, then this conflict would evolve into a full-scale guild war.
A company of a hundred Holy Empire players came rushing over from behind Victorious Return’s troops. The player leading the group shouted toward Sleepy Fox, “Guild Leader, we’ve arrived!”
Subsequently, more and more Holy Empire players emerged. Some groups were only several dozen players in size while others were several hundred.
“Boss, we made it in time!”
“Our other brothers are about to arrive here soon too!
“Good!” Sleepy Fox nodded. His troops had actually arrived in quite a timely manner.
As more players arrived to merge into Sleepy Fox’s troops, his ranks rapidly expanded. Soon, their numbers broke through to a thousand, two thousand, three thousand, and so forth.
“Hey, Fox, been a while. You seem to have stirred up quite some trouble.” A youth wearing the Iron Storm Set approached Sleepy Fox with a smile. Shockingly, Nie Yan had met this very same player in Hiderlocke before.
“I’ve really poked the hornet’s nest this time around. I suppose I won’t be having it easy these coming days,” Sleepy Fox replied with a bitter smile. Then, he looked to the player and asked, “So, Kill Love, what made you decide to spend so much money to come all the way to Calore?” As fellow owners who ran gaming orgs, they were at least somewhat friendly with each other in private.
“I’m in Calore to do a quest. I heard things were quite lively over on your side, so I came here to take a look.” As Kill Love happened to spot Nie Yan standing beside Sleepy Fox, a look of astonishment spread across his face, and he blurted, “It’s you...?”
“Huh? Do you two know each other?” Sleepy Fox asked in surprise.
“We happened to encounter each other in Hilderlocke.” Kill Love smiled mysteriously, declining to explain in detail the exact circumstances of their meeting.
Sleepy Fox glanced at Nie Yan, then turned back to Kill Love with a pensive look on his face.