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Chapter 175 – Treasure Hunter

Nie Yan glanced at the name of the retreating figure, Hapless Frog. He knitted his brows, thinking it sounded vaguely familiar. If he remembered correctly, Hapless Frog was a professional gamer. He never stepped over the threshold to become a Shadow Dancer in the previous timeline, but that had nothing to do with his skill. It was because he poured all his energy into a different grand undertaking, opening treasure chests! He was a talented, albeit somewhat eccentric Thief. When it came to seeking treasure, however, very few people could match him; he was considered the undisputed champion of treasure-hunting.

There were actually quite a few who held the Shadow Dancer title in the previous timeline, though some of them chose to keep their identities private. On the other hand, very few players earned the Treasure Hunter title. In the entire Viridian Empire, there were maybe two or three—Hapless Frog was one of them!

Nie Yan knew just how difficult it was to earn the Treasure Hunter title. In his past life, he didn’t manage to get the title even after finding and opening close to 6,000 chests. He didn’t find many chests in normal maps back then, but he used to find three to five chests every day, on average, when he explored dungeons. Even so, he was still far from getting the title.

From the rumours he remembered from his past life, over sixty percent of Hapless Frog’s skills were dedicated to helping him escape from dangerous situations; he only had a small number of combat skills at hand. The number of skills available increased as the game progressed. A player might have around 20 to 30 skills on the lower range, or 30 to 40 skills on the higher range. Most players had more skills available than they could possibly use, so they focused on the few handy skills that suited their playstyle the most.

Hapless Frog was no exception, but most of his go-to skills were all meant for fleeing! His style revolved so much around escaping that he dared to explore Level 150–160 maps in search of treasure chests when he was only Level 80–90. He was certainly an oddball. He missed the opportunity to become a Shadow Dancer due to his lack of offensive skills, but by no means was he some unknown player. Many amazing figures, even the guild leaders of large guilds, would contact him with the hope of procuring some of the items he dug up.

Nie Yan received a message. He glanced at the identity of the sender in the chat window and was surprised to see that it was Hapless Frog.

「Hey, hey, not bad! You’re pretty amazing! I lost fair and square, so the gold treasure chest is all yours. Just a quick question. Are you the same Nirvana Flame from Asskickers United?」Hapless Frog could be considered a pretty open-minded individual. Then again, with things like treasure chests, if you missed out on one you could go somewhere else and find another one.

Nie Yan chuckled as he read the question. Hapless Frog probably saw his name before at some point. He didn’t reply to Hapless Frog but sent an invitation to the Union of Assassins instead. Hapless Frog operated as a solo player because he sold to everyone. His business would take a big hit if he chose a side, so an invite to Asskickers United would probably be met with refusal.

Nie Yan didn’t bother recruiting him as he was aware of this fact.

Hapless Frog felt Nie Yan wasn’t going to reply. Just as he was about to move on to the next area to search for treasure chests, a system notification popped up.

Nirvana Flame has invited you to join Union of Assassins (Special Server). Do you accept?

Hapless Frog felt like he’d heard of the name before from his peers in the gaming circle. It was an organization for professional players that was established a few days ago. It became a hot topic of discussion after a large amount of Battle Crazed Alliance joined.

The Union of Assassins was just a chat server. It didn’t have the restrictive nature of a guild, so Hapless Frog didn’t see any harm in checking out what all the fuss was about.

Hapless Frog hit accept and entered the server. He briefly scanned over the Union of Assassins’ introduction and instantly understood what it was about. The organization could become very helpful to his business in the future. Looking at the top of the server’s rankings, he saw five anonymous Princes. He wondered what position Nie Yan held.

Nie Yan confirmed that Hapless Frog had joined the Union of Assassins. He would have to complete several tasks and earn points in order to receive the title of Baron. Nie Yan expected that with his skills, Hapless Frog wouldn’t face any problems advancing in rank.

The combined efforts of Sleepy Fox, Kill Love, and Fa Lan helped the Union of Assassins grow to nearly 2,000 members. Their network of contacts extended far more deeply than the players that founded the Union of Assassins in the previous timeline. Sleepy Fox and Kill Love were influential figures who basically knew everyone of importance in the professional gaming circle. They invited over five hundred members from their respective organizations alone. They also attracted a great deal of clients.

Fa Lan, on the other hand, wasn’t a professional player. He was, however, a towering everwood in other large virtual reality games. The reputation he built up for himself during his time spent playing those games, allowed him to be in close contact with many professional players. Furthermore, he also knew many bosses from various large companies. It wasn’t long before he had invited several hundred people as well, all of whom were potential customers.

Once the Union of Assassins was acknowledged by more and more professional players, it would certainly experience an even more explosive growth in the future.

After adding Hapless Frog to the Union of Assassins, Nie Yan planned to search for more treasure chests while making his way to the Light Monastery.

「Do you mind me asking what you used to get over that cliff?」

Hapless Frog knew his question was rather intrusive, but he couldn’t help himself. As a player who devoted himself to searching for treasure chests, Nie Yan’s abilities truly possessed an irresistible attractive force.

Nie Yan pondered whether or not he wanted to share this information. He concluded that revealing it to Hapless Frog wouldn’t be of any harm to him.

「Crawler Ring, it’s a rare item.」

When Hapless Frog read the reply, he gave up any hope of acquiring one. Rare items were difficult to find; one could only come upon them by chance.

「Your guild is enemies with Victorious Return, right? Don’t head north. There’s around five to six hundred players from Victorious Return hunting the Warlock over there.」Hapless Frog warned.

「Alright, thanks for the tip.」

「No problem.」

Nie Yan bent down and opened the chest. After rummaging inside, he took out a pair of Level 25 Gold-grade boots. It was for a Paladin. Its properties weren’t bad, and it looked expensive.

He stood facing north at the top of the cliff. He saw a lush forest below. The Light Monastery wouldn’t be much farther after he passed through it. However, Hapless Frog had given him an interesting tidbit of information. Victorious Return players were hunting the Warlock over there. Should he go and take a look on the way?

As he looked toward the forest, he spotted a red mage tower poking out between the trees in the distance. There seemed to be quite a bit of player activity below it, with the ocassional spell exploding in the sky. Hapless Frog’s words didn’t seem to be false.

The Warlock was a Level 25 Lord-class monster that was especially ferocious among low-level bosses, possessing both single-target and area-of-effect spells. It was no wonder Victorious Return mobilized over five hundred players to hunt it. When the Warlock was killed for the first time, one of the items it would drop was a Dark Gold staff. It was one of the very best staffs that could be found early on in the game. If it fell into the hands of Victorious Return, they were likely to produce an extremely formidable Mage.

Nie Yan wasn’t sure he’d make it in time. If he hurried, it would take him at least ten minutes to get there. He didn’t dally any longer and leaped high off the edge of the cliff. As he rapidly approached the ground, he activated the Featherfall Jewel’s ability. With his falling speed greatly decreased, Nie Yan gently touched down on the branch of a large tree. He launched himself forward, flying more than six meters before making a graceful landing on the ground, where he shot out like an arrow and disappeared into the forest depths.

The area up ahead bustled with noise and activity. The sounds of magic exploding cut through the air. Flames rose high into the sky, and lightning danced across the treetops. It sounded like an intense fight was going on. Nie Yan worried about how much of the Warlock’s health they had already shaved away. He was pulled out of his thoughts when he spotted several Victorious Return players up ahead. Nie Yan quietly approached them and listened while they were chatting. Apparently, they were serving lookout duty for the other members of their guild while hunting some nearby monsters.

“I wonder how things are going over there,” one of the Victorious Return players said. They weren’t part of the guild’s main fighting force and were only deployed on menial tasks.

“Hard to say, it’s a Level 25 Lord-class monster after all. Let’s hope they don’t wipe out.”

“Skinny Dog said it’ll take at least two hours to kill that Warlock. There’s too many minions guarding around the tower. It’ll take them about an hour just to force their way in. I think they should be entering right about now actually.”

“No point in overthinking things, guys. We’ll still get our 100 merit points at the end of the day.”

The value of merit points was determined by the leader of the guild. In Victorious Return, 100 merit points was worth about 20 copper. A few weeks ago, it would be great if they got around 5 copper worth of merit points for participating in a guild activity. But following the rise in everyone’s level, they now got around 20 copper worth of merit points for participating in a guild activity.

As the playerbase progressed further into the game, the depreciation of in-game currency was inevitable. They would earn more and more money from killing monsters. Several weeks ago, killing a dozen monsters might produce a single copper. But now that they were killing higher level monsters, the drop rates were a lot better. Sometimes, several copper dropping from a mob was pretty normal.

Nie Yan entered stealth, vanishing as he snuck around these players.

An Arcane Mage in the group whose Awareness was slightly higher than the others felt a fleeting sense of danger, but it was so faint that he wasn’t consciously aware of it. The rest of the group was oblivious and happily chatted away.

Nie Yan passed these players and made his way deeper into the forest. He encountered one or two Victorious Return players on his path every now and then. They patrolled the forest around the Mage Tower to prevent any non-guild players from approaching, as well as hunting any monsters they encountered.

After passing through a break in the trees, Nie Yan spotted a seven-meter tall tower, painted a scarlet-red that greatly resembled blood. Near its base was a large group of players engaged in an intense battle.

“Pay attention to your damage, don’t take aggro!”

“Priests, keep up the heals! Shit! Faster!”

Most of the players in the group were around Level 20. Having them face off against a Level 25 Lord-class monster might be a bit difficult. The situation right now seemed a little chaotic. At the end of the day, however, they were the elites of Victorious Return. Their reactions were fast and they suffered very few casualties.

I wonder if Heaven Breaker is here… Nie Yan mused to himself. He picked up on several conversations on his way here, and confirmed Skinny Dog was here. He and Skinny Dog were destined to become eternal foes. When they last met outside the entrance of Blackflame Forest, their battle was cut short by a rain of meteors. Skinny Dog was obliterated into ashes, while he survived thanks to the healing from the Priests of Holy Empire.

Maybe I’ll bump into a few more faces I recognize here, Nie Yan thought while slowly approaching the tower.

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