Chapter 162 – Shrine
Some time after disconnecting from the game, Nie Yan contacted Guo Huai, Hao Cheng, and Zhao Li. He learned from them that the matter regarding Resplendent Bladelight joining the guild had already been settled. Furthermore, Asskickers United had grown to a staggering 16,000 members before the number of players applying slowed to a trickle. Even so, a guild of that size was rarely seen in the present day. No longer completely preoccupied with adding new players, Guo Huai and the others began dividing up the task of investigating the backgrounds of each individual who had already joined. Anyone they found suspicious would be booted from the guild. Although they wouldn’t be completely mole-free, it would at least ensure their ranks were a little purer.
After tallying up the guild members, the proportion of players above Level 9 reached just under 20%. It was a little on the low side, but it still wasn’t bad.
When Bladelight, Leader Young Seven, and the others formed the elite team, according to standard convention, they were all required to sign a contract. It stated that if they wanted to leave the team, they would have to return everything given to them as well as pay a huge penalty fee. An elite team wasn’t something you could just join or withdraw from as you pleased. Every guild would invest heavily into them, so each member was quintessential. If any of them were to suddenly resign, it would be an immense loss for the guild, so that was why it was necessary that they were all bound by contracts.
Naturally, there were benefits as well. Joining the elite team meant that the player would receive much more resources from the guild, letting them grow considerably faster than ordinary players. So given the opportunity, many would still sign the contract.
After the elite team was established, the guild’s sole Revive skill book1 was given to Young Seven.
At this point in time, a Revive skill book was almost priceless. Even if someone offered several dozen gold, they still wouldn’t necessarily be able to obtain one because it was just so rare. Right now, nearly none of the major guilds had it, as it was only starting to become more prevalent when the player base neared Level 20.
Revive could only resurrect a fallen teammate outside of combat. When running a dungeon, sometimes, before even clearing half of it, a team would suffer too many casualties to proceed forward. But with Revive, they could be brought back to life. Furthermore, when facing the final boss, it would be very difficult for a team to get through unscathed. Often times, many team members would be sacrificed before it could finally be killed. With revive, however, these losses could be averted.
As such, for Bladelight, Young Seven, and the other members of the elite team, Revive would significantly reduce the stress of doing dungeon runs.
So far, everything was going according to plan. Even though there might be a few snags along the way, Nie Yan was convinced that with their skills, when everyone got more familiar with one another, they would definitely display incredible ability.
Finished chatting with Guo Huai and the others, Nie Yan proceeded to go through his usual routine of working out, practicing martial arts, and studying. Recently, he felt his body was brimming with strength. His reflexes had also become even sharper than before. Moreover, he had grown about three centimeters taller while his physique also turned more muscular.
As the day when his parents would return home drew near, he grew increasingly eager as an intense sense of yearning welled up inside him.
Around noon, his aunts and uncles had come for another visit. After discovering his parents still weren’t back, they could only leave in disappointment. Ever since becoming aware of him being a very good candidate of passing the entrance exam for the top-ranked military school in the country, even if they were rather reluctant to treat him with courtesy, even to the point of smiling and fawning over him, they had no choice but to do so. But in their minds, they were still resentfully mulling over the money his parents owed them.
Nie Yan really didn’t want to utilize his in-game gold since every coin held incredible value before the real world currency exchange opened. Sadly, the black market conversion rate for in-game gold was far below its actual worth. Furthermore, some powerful figures could lower the conversation rate more by manipulating the market, so selling his in-game gold was tantamount to letting himself be swindled. Besides, each copper coin in his pocket would represent a slight advantage over Cao Xu in the future.
Nie Yan gave Tang Yao a phone call.「Hey, Tang Yao. Do you have some money right now? Lend me some, I’ll pay you back later.」
「How much do you need?」Tang Yao asked in a confused manner. Very rarely did Nie Yan ever ask to borrow money.
「Probably ¥500,000 or so,」Nie Yan answered after giving it some thought. This was the first time he had outright asked Tang Yao to borrow money. However, when his parents returned in a few days, he would be able to pay it back it in full.
「So much!? Alright, just give me your bank info. I’ll wire the money over.」
「You’re not going to ask why I’m borrowing so much money?」
「You almost never ask me for money, so when you do, not to mention so much at once, I know it’s something important. You definitely have a good reason for asking. But if you don’t wish to say it, I won’t try to pry. No matter how much you need, I’ll still help you get it even if I have to go around begging others; otherwise, how could I possibly call myself your brother!? Did you forget? We’ve known each other since we were both in diapers!」Tang Yao replied. When his family became well-off, he had an increasing number of people trying to curry favour with him as the number that treated him sincerely quickly declined. The overwhelming majority of people that approached him had underlying motives which caused him to treasure the relationship he had with Nie Yan even more. From his perspective, friendship was priceless. He was in no shortage of money, but true friends were hard to come by!
「Before my dad left, he borrowed some money from a few people. Well, they’ve been hounding me recently, trying to collect the debt. I don’t want to convert my in-game gold to pay it back, so I can only go to you,」Nie Yan explained.
「Oh, you mean those snobby relatives of yours? Don’t worry, sooner or later, there’ll come a day when they regret how they treated you!」Tang Yao sneered. Knowing how well Nie Yan was expanding in Conviction, when the real world currency exchange opened, his personal wealth would definitely skyrocket to frightening levels. Then, he’d have no reason to mind such trivial pocket change.
A while later, he received a text message from Tang Yao.「Alright, the money should be in your account now. I’ve wired it over.」
Nie Yan headed to the bank to withdraw the money before walking over to the homes of his relatives. They didn’t live all that far from his house. They were actually all in the same district, close enough to meet on a daily basis, but he had never felt the slightest hint of affection from any of them to the extent that he felt more familial love from his next door neighbours.
He banged on the metal gates of his Uncle Luo Ming’s home.
“Who’s there?” A loathsome voice that resembled a duck being strangled answered the knocks. It belonged to his uncle’s wife.
“It’s me.” Nie Yan’s cold voice echoed out without the slightest trace of anger. He couldn’t be bothered wasting his emotions on people he planned to have nothing to do with in the future.
Upon seeing him after opening the gate, his uncle’s wife revealed a repulsed expression, but after recalling a certain something, her face turned rigid. In a stiff tone, she asked, “Oh… W-why if it isn’t Little Yan? Do you need something? Would you like to come in…?” However, she made no effort to move out of the way to let him in.
“No thanks. I have a question. How much money do my parents owe you?”
“¥170,000. Adding interest, it’s about ¥220,000. Why, something the matter?” Luo Ming’s wife glanced at him and asked.
“I have the money. Go fetch the loan agreement my parents signed.” Nie Yan’s tone became even icier. What was this interest rate!? They were practically loan sharks! He could only imagine how much humiliation his parents endured when they asked to borrow money. For his relatives to only agree to the loan with such a high interest rate… his parents would have been better off asking strangers! If his father’s business had failed, what then? Not even in a lifetime would they have been able to recover from this debt!
He lost himself in deep thought. Back when he was naive, not only had he been unaware of the pressure his parents were under, but he even resented them for abandoning him! He had even constantly reminded them of it, leading them to feel guilt and self-loathing. They couldn’t even live a single day of their lives in happiness. In this life, however, he wouldn’t allow such tragedy to repeat itself. He would grow strong enough to protect his friends and loved ones!
“Brat, where did you get this money…?” Luo Ming’s wife couldn’t help but ask in a daze after seeing Nie Yan take out so much cash.
“Cut the crap! Bring out the damn loan agreement!” Nie Yan’s expression turned glacial.
Seeing him flare out in anger, Luo Ming’s wife immediately reigned in any of her attitude. With how things had changed now, if he really did get angered, then it’d be very hard to predict what sorts of troubles might arise in the future! She hastily ran back into the house and returned to him with the loan agreement.
After Nie Yan confirmed that the handwriting on the agreement was indeed his father’s, he couldn’t be bothered to converse with his aunt any further and directly turned to leave.
“Really strange… just how did that brat get so much money? Could it be…?” As Luo Ming’s wife got to this point in her line of thought, she felt a chill run down her spine before quickly shutting the metal gate.
Nie Yan went from house to house, knocking on his relatives’ doors to pay back the money his parents owed. He was finally done with the matter by the time it was afternoon.
「You paid them all back?」Tang Yao asked on the phone.
「Yeah, the matter is settled. Thanks again. Wait a few days for me to pay you back the money I borrowed,」Nie Yan replied. As he compared Tang Yao with those relatives of his, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of warmth in his heart.
「No need to rush. It’s nothing.」Tang Yao waved his hands. It wasn’t as if he was in urgent need of money. Then, he was suddenly reminded of something.「You might as well pay me back in-game.」
「That’s fine too.」Nie Yan nodded. Even though the current black market conversion rate was terrible, in-game gold was still pretty valuable. After all, gold was still very scarce right now.
「I’ll probably be busy when I get back online. You guys should go ahead without me.」
After hanging up the call with Tang Yao, he worked out for the rest of the day. When evening arrived, he returned to the world of Conviction.
For the sake of finding the key to the dark gold chest, he began scouring every inch of the isle, not leaving the slightest rock unturned. His search eventually led him near the ruins of a shrine, more than a dozen meters away from the shore, where he reaped an unexpected harvest. Tucked away in the corner of a ruin, he found a silver treasure chest which contained two recipes.
He examined both—Dark Elf’s Borer Toxin Recipe and Dark Elf’s Arrow Poison Recipe. The former was the recipe of a poison used to coat blades, swords, daggers, and other sharp-edged weaponry. The latter was the recipe of a poison specifically for bolt tips and arrowheads to be dipped into. Both were Intermediate-rank. The Borer Toxin dealt 30 damage per second for 20 seconds, and its ingredients included a certain type of larvae that was very difficult to obtain. At least a Level 30 player was required to gather it. As for the Dark Elf Arrow Poison, it dealt 50 additional on-hit poison damage. Its ingredients, on the other hand, were relatively easy to acquire, consisting of over seven different types of common plants. The manufacturing cost for each vial was at least 10 silver, and it could be used three times. Arrow poisons generally sold the worst out of all stocked goods, so there wasn’t much financial benefit to putting them up for sale in the shop. But to Nie Yan, it was actually very useful. When he returned, he definitely had to make the Alchemists back at the Starry Night Potion Shop produce some.
Weeds grew all over the ruins, leaving him barely able to make out the silhouette of the shrine. Could the key for the dark gold chest really be found over there? Nie Yan couldn’t help but hold some doubts.