Chapter 392: Iron Mercenaries

I complained at the loss of gold, but it was a necessary sacrifice I had to make for He Yi’s sake, so I paid the blacksmith 100k gold and left the materials with him. While he was working, Shadow Dancer Xue Wei and I sat together at a nearby stone bench and waited for him to finish.

……

Ding ding…

The Master Blacksmith sweated like it was raining as he smashed his hammer against the melted Ice Soul Steel and Soulstones again and again. He also tempered the gemstones before fitting them onto the molten metal.

The good news was that the forging process didn’t take long at all. It was finished in just ten minutes or so!

Ding~!

System Notice: Congratulations, your "Ice Soul Barrier" (Spirit-grade, Outstanding★★★) has been forged!

……

The next moment, the blacksmith passed me the exquisite shield with ice flying around it with a smile. "Are you satisfied with my work, my lord?"

I accepted the shield and examined it closely. The refined shield was well designed and beautiful-looking, and I was sure that He Yi would fall in love with it at first sight. Feeling pretty overjoyed myself, I replied to the blacksmith "I love it" repeatedly while checking the shield’s stats. It was astonishingly good—

 

Ice Soul Barrier (Spirit Grade, Outstanding★★★)

Defense: 760

Magic Resist: 520

Strength: +95

Stamina: +90

Passive: Increases user’s Defense by 15%

Passive: Increases user’s physical Attack by 20%

Slots: 3

Outstanding Property: Summon “Ice Soul Shield” to slow down the attacker’s speed drastically.

Introduction: The Ice Soul Steel is the culmination of the Ice Soul Giant’s soul essence, and when infused with Soulstones they create the alloy used to create the Ice Soul Barrier. The shield is capable of forming Ice Soul Shield capable of protecting its user with magic as mysterious as it is profound.

Level Requirement: 125

……

I hurriedly teleported back to Sky City and used a Convenience Gem to lower its level requirement. Murong Mingyue was the one who spent considerable effort to buy it off the hands of a seller by the roadside. At first, the seller refused to part with the gem no matter what she offered him, so she changed to a robe with a low-cut and tried again. The little virgin’s defenses easily fell to the unstoppable tsunami that was Murong Mingyue’s voluptuous chest.

Finally, everything was ready to go. The Ice Soul Barrier had lower Defense and HP than Gui Guzi’s Spirit-grade shield, but its outstanding property, Ice Soul Shield, more than made up for it. From now on, anyone who wished to harm our ice beauty would have to first consider if the risk of being slowed was worth the reward!

I messaged He Yi immediately: "Eve, come to the eastern gate plaza as soon as you can!"

"Okay!"

He Yi agreed without even asking what my business was about. A few seconds later, my beautiful guild leader appeared not far away from me. I immediately walked up to her, brought up the trade window and gave her the Ice Soul Barrier. He Yi’s mouth jaw hit the floor when she saw the stats of the shield, "Lu Chen, is… is this why you’ve been busy for the past few days?"

I nodded with a smile. "Yep. This shield’s amazing, isn’t it? Still think you’ll drag us down when Who Will Rise begins?"

He Yi me stared at me with teary eyes before she finally let go of her modesty and hugged me tightly. She said quietly beside my ears, "You… Why do you always make me cry…"

I felt my embarrassment creeping up to my face as nearby players started pointing fingers at us—

"Look, the guild leader of Ancient Sword Dreaming Souls, From Water, just hugged the vice leader, Broken Halberd Sinks Into Sand! I knew there was something going on between them!"

"Yeah yeah! Just two days ago, that bastard held Wind Fantasy’s hand right here…"

"Really?"

"Really. I’ll eat a shoe if I lied to you!"

"Shit, what a lucky man. I could die happy if I could have From Water and Wind Fantasy for my own one day…"

"You’re despicable!"

……

My veins bulged with killing intent for a moment. The gall of these liars! I might have held Lin Yixin’s hand in real life, but never inside the game, okay!? I hope Eve didn’t catch what they’re saying...

"Eve, how much is your Defense right now?" I asked.

He Yi checked her stats and replied, "I have over 1900 Defense right now, hehe…"

"WTF!"

It was a bit astonishing, to be honest. Magic knights were natural tanks because they got access to mounts way sooner than other classes, and they could equip shields. Gui Guzi’s Titan Barrier gave even more Defense than He Yi’s Ice Soul Barrier, so he had to have over 2000 Defense right now. Dang, his Defense completely outstrips mine now!

He Yi didn’t seem to mind the bystanders’ gossip because she simply released my hand and smiled. "Alright. It’s time to log out and eat lunch, Lu Chen. Let’s do our best in the upcoming matches!"

"Yeah!"

I checked the rules of the Who Will Rise preliminaries before I logged out for lunch. It was as simple as it was cruel: Lose one match, and you’re out of the tournament. Here’s another example: over 17 million parties or nearly 100 million Chinese players were participating in this tournament, and all parties would have to win 20 BO3s in a row to make it to the Top 32, the offline segment of the tournament. Moreover, our opponents would only grow stronger the more victories we accumulated. This was going to be a fierce competition for sure!

Each round lasted 5 minutes, so every 20 minutes or so, one party would be disqualified. It would take at least until midnight before our matches were done.

A daunting ordeal lay ahead of me, but I was brimming with excitement nonetheless. Right now I was Level 108, and I had the Heaven-stealing Sword and a full set of high-rank equipment. Unfortunately, pets were disallowed in the tournament, or I would be even stronger with the Sky Obsidian Greedy Wolf by my side. Of course, this requirement didn’t apply to tamers, whose prowess depended entirely on the quantity and quality of the pets they brought. Still, acquiring pets was such a daunting task in this game that there were barely any noteworthy tamers in China at all.

……

When it was noon, I contacted Xu Yang, Gui Guzi, Du Thirteen, and the others and had our lunch outside. Everyone’s plates were cleaned out in just two hours, and no one drank a drop of alcohol to ensure that they were in their best form. In fact, I asked them out precisely so that He Yi could speak with them and raise their morale even further. This was one of the natural responsibilities of a guild leader.

Some time after 12 pm, we went back to our respective residences and got ready for the tournament!

……

I logged into the game when it was exactly 12:45 pm!

It was like a festival was happening in Sky City. Considering the sheer number of players who were roaming the streets, I bet that a lot of students had skipped school to attend this tournament. According to the statistics, the penetration rate of Heavenblessed in all the high schools in China was around 50% to 70%, and among them, only 10% of male students chose not to play Heavenblessed despite knowing about the game. The percentage of female students who played Heavenblessed was pretty high as well. Knowing that, it would be a miracle if the afternoon classes for today were even at 10% capacity. I could already imagine the looks on the professors’ faces!

Ding~!

System Notice: Your party is participating in "Who Will Rise”. Would you like to teleport to the match lobby now?

……

I looked over myself before clicking “Yes”. I had a ton of Rank 8 Health Potions, and my Magic Consumables were aplenty. All my equipment was at max durability, and all of my skills were ready to be used. I was literally as ready as I could be. Teleport!

Swhoosh!

A flash later, I disappeared from Sky City and appeared in a new map, an apple orchard to be exact. There was a tall platform at the center of the orchard, and above the platform, a huge screen where players could select and choose which match they wished to spectate. This was the spectator area, also the place where participants rested and waited for their turn to take part in their matches.

I checked the map interface, and the map was titled "Who Will Rise Waiting Area No. 118747”. This clearly wasn’t the only waiting area in the entire server, and it was likely that each party was put in an independent instance until further notice. This prevented despicable tactics such as spying, provoking, social engineering and so on from being used before the start of the match. Eternal Moon Corporation sure had come a long way since the release of their first game.

Swhoosh swhoosh swhoosh…

A couple of players appeared beside me, and they were none other than the three girls of the Frost Cloud workshop. A fully armored He Yi was carrying the Soul Stealing Spear behind her back, and carrying the translucent image of her new shield, the Ice Soul Barrier, on her hand. By default, the shield didn’t manifest its physical form until the player entered combat state. This way, the players’—especially the girls’—image wouldn’t be marred by the heavy equipment they were carrying. People would complain that the system was intentionally humiliating their players otherwise, like forcing a girl to carry around a giant shield or something.

The bow in Beiming Xue’s hands was the Milky Way Bow as usual, but her armor was brand new. It was of course the new 2-star Outstanding Purple Gold–grade equipment she had gotten, the Dream Chest Armor!

Murong Mingyue was wearing a white priest robe that gave her a pure and holy outlook, but I knew better than anyone that it was just a lie.

The girls walked up to me while checking out their surroundings. He Yi couldn’t help but smile a little. "This scenery is quite pretty, tsk tsk…"

I nodded before complaining. "Legendary Brave is the only one who isn’t online yet. What the heck is he doing?"

"I don’t know…"

……

A few minutes later, Li Chengfeng finally teleported into the orchard.

"Haha, sorry I’m late!" Li Chengfeng greeted us with a smile.

I looked at him before asking, "What took you so long? Weren’t you afraid that you’d miss the first match?"

"Not at all, hahaha!" Li Chengfeng laughed. "In fact, I have absolute confidence that the four of you would have made it through all 20 rounds of the preliminaries even if I wasn’t around…"

I didn’t know what to say. "Should I thank you or diss you for the vote of confidence?"

"Hah!" Li Chengfeng chuckled once before finally explaining himself. "I was attending a meeting that was going to last until 4 pm. But I’m here now precisely because I care about the tournament, right?"

"Er, won’t that affect your career?"

Li Chengfeng looked surprised for a moment before he assured me, "Don’t worry, I have my connections…"

"..."

The balls on this guy. To this day I had no idea what his position in the Public Security Bureau was, but on the second thought, I didn't need to know. A normal person like me could never understand his position anyway.

……

A while later, Li Chengfeng asked, "Should we come up with a strategy or something before the fight?"

He Yi answered, "It's fine. There will be a party reveal two minutes before the start of the match, so we can decide our strategy after we check out the enemy's information. It would suck if we came up with a fixed strategy, and the opponent was its direct counter."

"Okay, the guild leader is wise!"

Finally, it was almost time for the match to begin. The looped CGL advertisements on the screen came to a stop, and the formation of both sides appeared on the screen—

Ancient Sword Dreaming Souls VS Iron Mercenaries

……

As He Yi mentioned earlier, the IDs and information of Iron Mercenaries appeared on the screen—

 

Iron War Tiger LV-101 Warrior

Iron Mad Dragon LV-102 Warrior

Iron Hunt Cheetah LV-102 Warrior

Iron Silver Fox LV-101 Warrior

Iron Mad Wolf LV-101 Warrior

……

I couldn't help but laugh. "Wow, all their levels are pretty high. Looks like this is a full-warrior brute-force party."

Li Chengfeng also smiled in amusement. "These people are clearly suicidal, but I bet they never expected to run into us during their first match. They must be crying their hearts out right now…"

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