Chapter 135 – Smoke Powder
Domineering and covered in black scales, these huge Scaled Frogs appeared particularly terrifying as they lumbered across the forest floor. Tang Yao, upon spotting them, nearly received a heart attack from fright. Are you serious? Are these supposed to be the mobs we could handle!?
“Your Arcane Fairy’s Ignore Level Difference is at +7 now, right?” Nie Yan asked. Ignore Level Difference was a fairly useful property, especially when engaging higher level mobs—while in PvP, its advantages were obvious. With it, Tang Yao would be able to inflict effective damage against opponents up to 12 levels higher than him. When facing opponents above that, there was a chance of ignoring the level difference.
“Yeah.” Tang Yao nodded.
“Good, we can hunt these Scaled Frogs then. As long as one in five of your spells procs the Ignore Level Difference effect, you’ll be able to whittle their health down. Also, with the Arcane Fairy around, you won’t have to worry about conserving your mana because you’ll never run out in the first place!” Only after factoring in this minor detail did Nie Yan realize that it would be beneficial to bring Tang Yao along. After all, who knew what sort of goodies these mobs would drop while hunting them at their current level? Not only that, but they gave plenty of experience as well. Hence, this was the perfect opportunity for the pair of best friends to do some levelling together!
Nie Yan glanced at the leaderboards. At present, the highest ranked player in the entire Viridian Empire was Victorious Return’s guild leader, Heaven Breaker, who had already reached Level 15. After the opening of Sosil Valley and Medusa’s Lair, he had soared to the top of the leaderboards. As a testament to his guild’s power, the third and sixth positions belonged to Victorious Return as well. Second place was occupied by a Level 14 member of Holy Judgement, while Sleepy Fox, who was already Level 13, was ranked fourth. Fifth place belonged to a member of Radiant Sacred Flame, and seventh place belonged to Battle Crazed Alliance’s very own Kill Love.
As for the top-ranked guild of the Righteous Faction in his previous timeline, Angel Corp, their scope of influence was limited to the Satreen Empire, which had their own leaderboards separate from the Viridian Empire’s.
Five formidable powers had risen to prominence in the Viridian Empire: Victorious Return, Radiant Sacred Flame, Holy Judgement, Holy Empire, and Battle Crazed Alliance. The other guilds struggling for power were relegated to second-rate positions.
Naturally, many more formidable powers would emerge in the future; however, in the initial stages of the game, there were only these five. Their influence was still relatively minimal for the time being—not yet enough to shake the empire as a whole—but when they started partitioning the empire’s strongholds and receiving its respective taxes, they would grow immensely in power to the extent of obtaining seats in the empire’s parliament. From then on, they would truly be able to reshape the policies of the empire.
If forthcoming events proceeded as they had in the previous timeline, then Cao Xu would bring Victorious Return, Radiant Sacred Flame, and three other major guilds under his control, gaining a vast number of strongholds and ascending to the position powerful overlord. Afterward, he would secure seven seats in the empire’s parliament and become such a domineering existence that the other three powers—Holy Judgement, Battle Crazed Alliance, and Holy Empire—would go to great lengths to avoid his crosshairs. If such events were to recur, then Nie Yan would be unable to live his days in peace.
If he wanted to avert this worst-case scenario, it wouldn’t do to remain forever complacent in the shadows, unwilling to step into the spotlight. As a single person, no matter how many players he could take on by himself because of his growth in level or the gear he obtained, there was no way he could match the might of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of men.
As he anticipated the possibilities of the future, Nie Yan sank into deep thought. Even though he had collected several items that would greatly aid his growth in the future, these still weren’t nearly enough to achieve his ambitions. He needed to quicken his pace!
“I might not run out of mana, but these things are Level 30! They’re way faster than I am. As soon as I aggro one of them, I’m dead…” Tang Yao wryly pointed out.
“No worries, that’s why we brought this powder along.” Nie Yan retrieved a pouch of Smoke Powder from his bag.
“What’s that supposed to do?” Even though he had seen its description, he was never able to figure out how it could prove useful.Smoke Powder: Covers everything in a thirty-meter range in a dense cloud of smoke and reduces the Sight of both enemies and allies by 15. Effective against all living beings Level 50 and lower. Duration: 2 hours.
“You’ll see in just a moment,” Nie Yan replied in a mysterious manner.
“If this Smoke Powder only affects enemies and not allies, then I could see how it would be somewhat useful. But it doesn’t, so it’s pretty much useless, right? Are you sure you didn’t misread the description? What about in PvP? It’s useless as well! Losing 15 points of Sight is nothing! Does this even work on monsters?” Tang Yao rattled on in bewilderment. In a daylight setting, an average player at this stage of the game had 50–60 points of Sight. In a dark setting like an underground dungeon or cave where vision was reduced by 90%, only then would something like Smoke Powder prove useful. However, who in their right mind would deliberately PvP in such areas?
“Why wouldn’t it affect monsters? They have stats too, right? Everyone starts out with a base Sight of 30. After raising awareness, it might rise to 60 or higher. As for me, I have 57 points of Sight. Every monster has a weakness, and for these Scaled Frogs, it’s their low Sight. At 40 points, it means they won’t be able to see you so long as you stay over 40 meters away from them, but I know your attacks don’t reach that far. That’s why I brought the Smoke Powder. It can reduce their range of vision to only 25 meters. As long as you keep your distance while firing spells, they’ll never be able to catch you,” Nie Yan explained.
“Is that really how it works?” Tang Yao was dumbfounded. He didn’t really feel that it would be so simple, yet Nie Yan’s explanation seemed so clear and logical. Maybe, just maybe, this crazy idea of his might actually work…
“Alright, get ready. We’re going to head deeper into the forest.”
”W-wait, what? We’re still going in deeper? Why can’t we just hunt them from here?”
“Because we’d be wasting the Smoke Powder on ordinary Scaled Frogs… We’re heading deeper to hunt Elites and Sub-Elites.” In this vast zone that covered two entire mountains, Nie Yan knew of three locations, set up similarly to Gato the Lion King’s, where elites would respawn daily. As for Sub-Elites, they were even more plentiful.
Tang Yao stared blankly for a moment before coming back to reality. He already felt that killing ordinary Level 30 mobs was going to be an impossible task. Yet, at this point, Nie Yan pointed out that his interests actually lied with the Elites rather than the ordinary mobs. This was simply too ridiculous! Did Nie Yan suddenly go crazy? Most Level 30 Elites had frightening amounts of health. Would he really be able to even leave so much as a scratch?
“Stop daydreaming already and let’s go,” Nie Yan said.
The pair penetrated deeper into the forest, avoiding any Scaled Frogs they encountered along the way.
In a certain guild’s headquarters in Calore, the elite members of Victorious Return were all assembled in a meeting hall, an accommodation that the game provided to every guild upon their creation. Theirs in particular was quite large and spacious, capable of fitting over several hundred people.
Their guild leader, Heaven Breaker, was a man in his forties with a tall, robust build and suntanned skin. His appearance, as well as his vicious tendencies in the game, struck fear into the hearts of many players. He was Cao Xu’s business partner in reality and a well-known figure in the criminal underworld. Were it not for the fact that he’d exhausted all other available means, Cao Xu wouldn’t have been able accumulate such massive wealth. Conversely, without Cao Xu’s support, his influence wouldn’t have risen at such an astronomical rate and he wouldn’t be in the position he was in now. He had over 50,000 subordinates under his control, including quite a few miscreants and criminals. Since he had heard some murmurings behind the scenes, he had entered Conviction early in hopes of taking advantage of its economy to gradually wipe away the records of his criminal past. With the backing of his powerful network, Victorious Return would rapidly expand!
At this moment, Heaven Breaker was akin to a raging lion. The other elite members stayed quiet out of fear; it had been quite a while since their guild leader was this mad.
“Thanks to you three, our dungeon running schedule has been delayed yet again by at least another day! Tangerine, explain what the hell happened out there! How did the three of you end up being killed by a single Thief!? You useless idiots! Is it because things have become too relaxed these past few days? Is that why you decided to screw things up!?” Heaven Breaker furiously cursed.
Tangerine and the other two didn’t dare to utter even a single word. Eventually, they could only obediently explain what had happened during their encounter with Nie Yan.
“I’m also not sure what happened… I just remember us clashing daggers during the fight, and then, before I knew it, he suddenly stunned me with Concussive Blow…” Night Shadow explained in a flustered and confused manner. Their exchange was simply too short, and Nie Yan was too quick. From start to finish, he had been clueless.
After hearing the three recount their details of the event, Heaven Breaker pressed no further and began contemplating with a dark expression.
“Alright, you three can leave now. Go run Medusa’s Lair a few times to replace the gear you lost. We’re heading to Misty Forest tomorrow,” Heaven Breaker calmly instructed, not allowing anyone to see what was going on in the back of his mind.
As if they had just been pardoned of a terrible crime, Tangerine’s, Night Shadow’s, and Hidden Blade’s expressions immediately brightened as they excused themselves before fleeing the hall.
This was the second time such an event had occurred. The first could be chalked up to coincidence since Violet Flames might have died due to carelessness. However, this time, the same player had single-handedly taken down three of his elite members—including Tangerine, who ranked third in the entire guild. In that case, this Nirvana Flame definitely wasn’t simple. An expert Thief with unbelievable skill… this did drum up some interest inside of him.
While the pair of friends traversed deeper into the forest, Nie Yan suddenly received a voice call. He checked the Caller ID; it was actually no other than Victorious Return’s guild leader, Heaven Breaker!
Heaven Breaker surely wasn’t contacting him with kind intentions, but Nie Yan answered the call anyway. Although Victorious Return’s association with Cao Xu was kept tightly under wraps, he understood that he would have to confront his enemies eventually, so it might as well be now.
「Nirvana Flame, I presume?」Heaven Breaker’s somewhat hoarse voice rang out from the other end.
「Right, that’s me.」
「You’ve killed four of my members so far: Violet Flames, Night Shadow, Tangerine, and Hidden Blade. I’m now giving you two options: one, you can join my guild, and I’ll be willing to forgive all of your past transgressions. As for number two, I’m sure we’re both very clear on what it is. Victorious Return will never let its enemies off. I’m quite a busy man, so I’ll give you three minutes to consider things over.」Heaven Breaker’s tone carried over his arrogant and menacing nature.
「Well, since the first option seems impossible, I guess I have no choice but to pick option number two. If you have what it takes, then bring it on. I’ll welcome your wrath at any time,」Nie Yan replied coarsely. Considering the interactions he’d had with them in the previous timeline, what could this little enmity between them now possibly count as? He wasn’t the least bit afraid of Victorious Return, whether it be in this life or the previous!
「Then that makes things easier for the both of us, doesn’t it? I do truly appreciate your candidness.」Heaven Breaker grimly laughed before hanging up.
Tang Yao noticed the change in Nie Yan’s expression and asked, “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“It’s nothing,” Nie Yan waved his hands before changing the subject. “Hey, Tang Yao. Have you ever thought about creating our own guild?”
“Wait, what?! Starting a guild?” Tang Yao asked in shock. This sudden question caught him completely off guard.
“Yeah, a guild that’s even more powerful than Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame combined!”