Chapter 178 - Kill
The Holy Priest class’s Glimmer Mark skill was the mortal weakness of any Thief. Once marked, a Thief could be easily spotted by the enemy, even during Stealth. Because of this, Holy Priests were often the prime targets for a Thief’s ambush. They were also extremely frail, being a class that wore cloth armor. On top of that, they had the lowest health pool of all the cloth-armored classes. Although they did possess a few attack skills, Holy Priests generally weren’t proficient in dueling like Arcane Mages, Elementalists, Holy Mages, or even Shadow Priests, all of whom were particularly thorny to deal with.
The group of players near Nie Yan were entirely oblivious to the imminent danger. Since he had erased all traces of himself, unless one of them had especially high Awareness or sharp reflexes, they were completely incapable of sensing his approach.
The higher a player’s Awareness, the faster they’d be able to react to danger. If a player’s Awareness was pitifully low, they’d only feel a fleeting sense of danger. It wouldn’t be enough for an ordinary person to notice. To counteract high Awareness, Thieves focused on raising their Stealth and Cloak. Nie Yan’s were already quite high. As long as he paid careful attention to his movements, save for the few players with exceptionally high Awareness, none would be able to detect his presence. Even if they did sense danger, they’d be incapable of pinpointing his position.
They’re trying to lure me out? The corner of Nie Yan’s mouth curved into a faint smile. They’re playing a dangerous game… Skinny Dog and the other players from Victorious Return hated him with a burning passion. It seemed they were determined to take his head regardless of the cost.
Nie Yan closely shadowed them, his movements extremely light.
He loved this type of feeling, sneaking in the shadows while observing the opponent's movements. As soon as they exposed the slightest flaw, he’d rush in for the kill.
The group consisted of a Warrior, Paladin, Thief, Arcane Mage, and Priest, a typical arrangement. It was mostly melee focused. While lacking in burst damage and offensive power, it held certain advantages over other group compositions, specifically endurance. Without expending any mana, the frontliners could keep hacking away at the enemy while simultaneously tanking attacks, allowing the group to preserve important cooldowns and deal consistent damage.
They were still chatting while searching for traces of Nie Yan. This forest was the spawn area of Black Bears. They’d occasionally encounter one or two, and they’d have to stop what they were doing to deal with them.
“I’ll go draw the monster’s aggro. You guys be careful. That Thief might be near!” said the Warrior as he charged toward a nearby Black Bear, opening with a Heroic Strike.
The Warrior would be under too much pressure tanking a Black Bear alone, so the Paladin followed to support him.
“Understood.” The remaining group members all showed somewhat nervous expressions. It was an extremely nerve-wracking situation whenever they encountered a Black Bear because they had to worry about Nie Yan lurking about. They had no idea whether he would take advantage of that opportunity to ambush them. Only when they saw other groups occasionally pass by did they feel a sense of security.
Seeing the Warrior and Paladin leave to deal with the Black Bear, Nie Yan slowly approached the Priest from behind.
The Priest was on high alert. Every time he finished healing the Warrior, he’d reposition himself by a few steps to confirm that he was safe. Unfortunately, his senses weren’t sharp enough because this trick didn’t deter Nie Yan at all.
The Priest was merely delaying the inevitable. His actions were more or less useless. His movements were too predictable. Nie Yan had long since figured them out. He moved to intercept the Priest on his path. As the Priest approached, he raised his dagger, preparing to stun him with a Smothering Strike!
The Thief and Arcane Mage stayed close by to guard the Priest. They were no more than two meters away. When they sensed the danger, it was already too late. A cold light flashed toward the Priest.
“Not good!” the Thief hoarsely cried out.
Before any of them could react, Nie Yan’s Smothering Strike struck the Priest on the back of the head, stunning him.
He stabbed the Priest in the back with his dagger, then followed with Eviscerate.
The Priest collapsed to the ground. His defense was pathetically fragile, with only cloth armour to protect him. So the damage Nie Yan dealt was frighteningly high.
Seeing the Priest fall, the Thief loudly cursed and rushed at Nie Yan with a Concussive Blow.
Nie Yan sidestepped the attack as the enemy’s dagger streaked past him. With another swift flash of his blade, he struck the Thief in the forehead with Concussive Blow. He followed up with a Vital Strike to the neck, circled around and finished with a Backstab.
Each of Nie Yan’s attacks dealt over two hundred damage. The previously full-health Thief collapsed to the ground, dead in only a few short seconds!
The nearby Arcane Mage stared in shock. The battle had barely just begun, yet he’d already lost two party members just like that.
Protect the Priest? He didn’t even get to do anything before he died! How the hell was he supposed to cast Glimmer Mark!? The Arcane Mage felt incredibly bitter. He buffed himself with Mage Armour. Just as he was about to cast Arcane Flame Burst, he suddenly felt his body go rigid, leaving him unable to move an inch.
This was the effect of Nie Yan’s Intimidate skill!
A look of despair appeared in the Arcane Mage’s face as Nie Yan closed in on him. After being struck by Assassinate and Lacerate, his health dropped from full to a little over ten points. By then the effects of Intimidate had worn off. He quickly retreated and drank a Health Potion.
Everything had happened way too quickly. There was barely any time to react at all. By the time the Warrior and Paladin turned around to see what was going on, only having heard some commotion, the Priest and Thief were already dead. The only person left alive was the Arcane Mage who was barely hanging on.
“He’s over here!”
The nearby Victorious Return players were alerted. They all came rushing over.
Nie Yan picked up the two pieces of equipment that fell from the Priest and Thief. He couldn’t be bothered to finish off the Arcane Mage. He turned around and disappeared among the trees.
The Arcane Mage blankly stared at his health bar; he had been inflicted with the bleed status. Despite drinking a Health Potion prior, his health was still gradually falling. A few ticks later, his health hit zero, and he collapsed to the ground.
Three players had fallen in the blink of an eye while Nie Yan vanished without a trace. No one even got a decent glimpse of what he looked like. The survivors felt a chill run down their backs. Skinny Dog had told them to chase down the culprit, but he never informed them that the Thief was so terrifying.
When Nie Yan’s cooldowns refreshed, he would proceed with the next ambush.
Nie Yan was like a specter of the forest. He mounted continuous sneak attacks on the groups from Victorious Return, taking two to three of their members each time before vanishing into thin air. Skinny Dog repeatedly warned everyone to protect their Priests. However, whenever Nie Yan materialized, they were always the first to die.
There wasn’t a single exception, nor did Nie Yan ever make a mistake.
Victorious Return lost thirteen players, six of which were Priests. To add insult to injury, Priests were the hardest of any class to level.
Skinny Dog was fuming with anger.
“Skinny Dog, we can’t keep going on like this. We should withdraw!” Tangerine was well-aware of the severity of the situation. Even top-elites like them had already died by Nie Yan’s hands. It would be strange if they weren’t suffering losses by sending ordinary members after him! Up until now, they hadn’t even caught sight of his coattails. If this kept going, they would surely suffer heavier losses.
“We have over five hundred players! He’s completely alone!”
“So what if we have over five hundred players!? Look how big this forest is! Do you honestly think we can catch him!?” Tangerine berated.
Skinny Dog was loath to admit it, but this was truly more difficult than he had originally imagined. If these five hundred or so players were chasing after him instead, he felt he’d have a thirty percent chance, maybe a little higher, of escaping. However, based on the information he received from his subordinates, it seemed that Nie Yan’s fleeing abilities were even greater than his own.
At that moment, Skinny Dog received yet another report that several more members had died by Nie Yan’s hand. He reluctantly gave out an order for everyone to assemble. They were abandoning the manhunt for Nie Yan.
Hidden among the trees, Nie Yan let slip a faint smile when he saw the Victorious Return players withdrawing. The dagger in his hand was soaked in blood, flickering with a dazzling crimson. After doing a little tallying in his head, from start to finish, he estimated that he had killed no less than seventeen players.
Nie Yan understood the principle of not prodding a cornered beast. Now that they had assembled, he would end up paying quite dearly if he tried biting off more than he could chew.
His thoughts happened to shift to the Slaughter Fiend Medallion. After hunting Scaled Frogs for so long, why did it still not drop? Could Tang Yao’s kill count really not be high enough?
Nie Yan suddenly recalled a certain NPC who happened to be a celebrity of sorts. He was a deserter of the Viridian Empire army. His name was Bordello, a Level 160 Elite as well as a Thief. He carried with him the Sub Legendary Thief weapon, Godo’s Dagger of Fleeing. Before his departure, he had killed over a hundred Calore city guards, and received the title Slaughter Fiend Bordello. Was there a connection? Was it possible that the Slaughter Fiend Medallion required a kill count of at least a hundred to drop from the Scaled Frogs?
Kill over a hundred players to become a Killing Demon?
Information regarding the Slaughter Fiend Medallion was too sparse. Nie Yan only knew that it dropped from Scaled Frogs. In his past life, players who had really red names would occasionally find one after killing a Sub-Elite or Elite. The redder the name the higher the drop chance. Both Sub-Elites and Elites had a chance of dropping it, but a Lord-class Scaled Frog had the highest drop rate.
On a typical day, Tang Yao killed three Elites and a whole bunch of Sub-Elites. However, even now, he hadn’t found a Slaughter Fiend Medallion. At this point, it probably wasn’t simply a matter of bad luck.
After some consideration, Nie Yan decided it was better to retrieve the Chapter of Justice first. He no longer paid attention to Victorious Return. He dashed through the forest, heading toward the Light Monastery.
On the side of Victorious Return, after receiving a report from Skinny Dog, Heaven Breaker ruthlessly chewed out Skinny Dog and Tangerine. The equipment they had expended so many resources to retrieve, with so many people present, had somehow been snatched away. Victorious Return had practically lost all face.
Meanwhile, on the side of Asskickers United, a certain video was being widely passed around between guild members. It showed Nie Yan snatching away the equipment of a named Lord-class monster from right under the noses of over five hundred Victorious Return players. He had even killed seventeen of their players afterwards. A glorious matter such as trampling all over Victorious Return was an enormous boost in morale for the players of Asskickers United.
Asskickers United had been oppressed for far too long. They faced constant harassment from the players of Victorious Return which dampened their spirits. Yet the higher-ups of the guild never took action. They even seemed somewhat indifferent. Naturally, this caused some unrest to spread amongst the ordinary guild members. But Nie Yan’s actions this time served as retribution for all the humiliation they had endured. It was a message to the guild members that the higher-ups weren’t apathetic, nor were they afraid of Victorious Return. They were simply biding their time, saving up strength as they awaited the right opportunity to strike.