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Chapter 177 – Snatching Treasure

Watching those players who ran to pick up the drops, Skinny Dog and the other survivors of the battle all had the same thought. Since they were the first players to ever slay the Warlock, a named Lord-class monster, shouldn’t they be rewarded with higher quality drops?

Warlock Hall was a named monster. These types of monsters had their own unique histories and lore. They were more difficult to deal with than the average, unnamed monsters, but they gave better experience and drops.

Victorious Return was willing to expend so much manpower and resources to take down Warlock Hall because they were confident the reward would be well worth it.

To them, sacrificing the lives of a few ordinary members for the sake of helping an elite member grow stronger was absolutely worth the trade-off. Besides, experience could be recuperated, but drops from a Lord-class monster were hard to come by.

Anticipation filled the hearts of every Victorious Return member who took part in the Warlock battle. The higher the quality of the equipment, the happier Heaven Breaker would be. There was a chance they’d be rewarded very generously with merit points.

As the group of players tasked with collecting the drops approached Warlock Hall’s corpse, they felt a gust of wind blow past them, and before they could even comprehend what was going on, they stared in shock as a shadow suddenly emerged beside the corpse, bending down to pick up all of their drops.

Nie Yan activated a game mechanic that had always ticked him off. Whenever a Thief attempted to pick up drops while in stealth, they were instantly revealed as a blurry silhouette. It was meant to balance the game, but at the moment it only did one thing, reveal him to everyone in the surrounding area.

So it was that he exposed himself the moment that he stooped down to collect the drops.

However, the Victorious Return players didn’t immediately recognize him. All they could tell was that he was a red name player from the bloody glow outlining his body. His face was hidden by the black garb, as was his guild emblem, and considering how well-secured the entire forest was, they naturally believed him to be a member of their guild.

Nie Yan nonchalantly picked up the drops beside Warlock Hall’s corpse. He felt ecstatic but kept his composure. Flashing the OK hand sign with his left hand, he casually made his way out of the ring of players from Victorious Return.

They believed his gesture was a signal that the drop was secured. They parted, allowing him to freely leave.

“Do you know who he is?”

“Why does he look a bit unfamiliar?”

Skinny Dog shot a glance at Nie Yan. With the drops retrieved, he thought they could call it a day. Gazing at the retreating figure, he found it somewhat familiar, as though he had seen it somewhere before. He happened to glance at the chat log at that moment, only to discover that it didn’t display any notifications of anything being picked up! A sudden realization dawned on him, as if he was struck by lightning. He urgently cried out, “Fuck! He’s not part of our guild! Stop him!”

Every single one of the Victorious Return players were taken aback.

“It’s Nirvana Flame! It’s that bastard!” Skinny Dog anxiously cursed, finally realizing why the silhouette seemed so familiar.

Hearing that name brought the rest of his guild to their senses. The player who had collected the drops just then wasn’t one of them. The Mages quickly chanted their magic, desperately firing a salvo of spells in Nie Yan’s direction.

Nie Yan was still casually taking his leave, as all of the Warriors around him still hadn’t reacted. Only after hearing Skinny Dog’s call did they finally understand what was going on. They all activated Charge and rushed toward the offender.

Nie Yan was surrounded on all sides, with a deadly hail of several hundred spells fast approaching from behind him.

“Drop dead!” A Warrior hacked down on him with a Flame Slash.

With nowhere left to run, they all believed Nie Yan was done for.

Unexpectedly, Nie Yan shot out a line of silk from his left hand which stuck to the branch of a tree five meters away. With a sudden jerk of the web line, he pulled himself up into the air and swung right over their heads.

The hail of spells bombarded the area where Nie Yan had previously been, creating a massive explosion that sent dirt flying everywhere and forced back all the surrounding Warriors who had failed to apprehend him.

Nie Yan had such an ability?! Underestimating him was a critical error on their part. When the smoke and dust finally cleared, they saw that he had already escaped out of their encirclement and was bolting away.

“Stop him! Don’t let him get away!”

The Warriors all turned around and frantically charged after him.

Another hail of spells came raining down on Nie Yan. He activated Swift Retreat and zig-zagged between the trees, quickly shaking off the Warriors following right behind him.「Bang! Bang! Bang!」Several dozen spells struck the trees around him, leaving black scorch marks on the bark as they exploded.

Nie Yan was hit a few times, but it was nothing serious.

He evaded the lines of sight of the players following behind him and activated Disappear, fading away into the lush forest background.

When Skinny Dog, Tangerine, and a few others caught up, they discovered the area was completely empty without even a single trace of Nie Yan!

“Where did he go?” Skinny Dog sternly asked.

“We couldn’t stop him him. He got away!”

“You idiots! How did so many of you fail to catch one person!?” Skinny Dog cursed. He always had a short temper to begin with. But after sacrificing over thirty players to take down a boss, only to have the drops they worked so painstakingly hard for snatched away, how could he be anything less than furious?

Several of the Warriors beside him felt aggrieved and tried to defend themselves, “He can fly! Many others saw it too! There was no way we could stop him!”

Tangerine quickly tried to mollify the situation. Playing peacemaker, she said, “Skinny Dog, it’s not their fault. Forget it.”

There was nothing to gain from wrongly placing the blame on others. In fact, it would only make things worse.

“Argh! He couldn’t have gotten far! Everyone, spread out and search! I refuse to believe he can keep slipping away!” Skinny Dog angrily ordered. Every nearby member of Victorious Return began searching for traces of Nie Yan. Even the members levelling around the forest were recruited to join in on the search. Their blood boiled with the desire to murder him.

“Skinny Dog, calm down. How do you think he knew we were hunting the Warlock over here?” Tangerine asked. She was angry as well but managed to retain a cool head.

“Who the hell knows… He probably bumped into one of our players while levelling around here. He wouldn’t have come alone otherwise, and we’d have already been completely surrounded by Asskickers United players,” Skinny Dog replied. By now, his anger had faded. All that remained was a feeling of dejection. Even if they did find and kill Nie Yan, what did it matter? It was still impossible for them to retrieve the equipment that they worked so hard for. With a sigh, he said, “Let’s figure out how we’re going to explain ourselves to the boss.”

“All we can do is clearly explain what happened,” Tangerine replied. Knowing Heaven Breaker’s temper, she couldn’t help but feel her scalp go numb. ”By the way, just now they said Nirvana Flame had flown. What did they mean by that?” She couldn’t see things clearly since she was all the way in the back with the other Mages and Priests. Otherwise, even if Nie Yan grew wings, they could’ve put a marking sigil on him to ensure he’d never get away.

“I’m not sure either. I’ll ask a player to send a recording,” Skinny Dog answered. A moment later, he received a video from the perspective of one of the players who was close to Nie Yan. After watching it, he stared in shock. “What was that line of silk?”

“I’ve seen it from a friend before. It’s the Silk Spinner Ring!” Tangerine answered. She never considered Nie Yan even had an item like that.

Nie Yan had hidden among some thickets. He knew he wasn’t out of danger yet. There were Victorious Return players searching for him everywhere. He’d have to expend quite a bit of effort if he wanted to run. However, for a Thief as skilled as him, he was basically safe.

He had escaped despite being surrounded by all those players. Now that he was hidden among the trees, he was basically a fish in the water. Even if Victorious Return mobilized all of their forces to search for him, they’d still come up short.

He had come here wanting to teach Victorious Return a lesson on behalf of his guild. After all, several hundred Asskickers United players had died by their hands.

Asskickers United and Victorious Return had already reached the point where coexistence wasn’t an option. For the time being, Holy Empire and Sapphire Shrine definitely weren’t willing to enter this conflict. Asskickers United had no choice but to confront Victorious Return alone. Although they were a fledgling guild, they couldn’t show any weakness. Besides, since strongholds had yet to release, they didn’t have to worry about contesting for territory. With their guild headquarters still being in the city, what kind of tricks could Victorious Return possibly pull?

If he sent Guo Huai a video of him killing several members of Victorious Return, it would act as a huge morale boost for the players of his guild.

The Victorious Return players searched the forest for traces of Nie Yan in groups of four or five. The distance between each group wasn’t very far. With this, if one group was attacked, another group would be able to immediately react and provide assistance. Because of this, the players from Victorious Return felt absolutely safe.

However, from Nie Yan’s point of view, they were simply moving prey.

Nie Yan took out the equipment that he had snatched to examine. There were three pieces in total, among which was the Soulfire Staff, the Dark Gold weapon he had been looking for!

Soulfire Staff (Dark Gold)

Properties: Magic Power 106–119, Intelligence +12, Ignore Level +2, 10% Soulfire Piercing Damage

Weight: 5 lb
Restrictions: Elementalist, Arcane Mage; can only be equipped by members of the Righteous Faction.

Nie Yan marveled over the staff’s properties. At this stage of the game, they were practically the best, especially the Ignore Level +2 and 10% Soulfire Piercing Damage. It was an amazing staff for Arcane Mages and Elementalists. Previously, when he and Tang Yao had taken down a Lord-class Scaled Frog, Tang Yao hadn’t received a single piece of equipment that he could use. This time around, Tang Yao was extremely blessed. With this staff, Tang Yao could hunt monsters above his level much more easily.

As for the other two pieces of equipment, both were Gold-grade. One was for a Warrior while the other was for a Paladin. Their properties were quite good. Nie Yan stuffed the equipment back into his bag. Victorious Return really did suffer a huge loss this time around. The Soulfire Staff alone was worth at least 6 gold, while the other two pieces of equipment were worth about 1 gold. If that money was divided up between the Victorious Return players who participated in killing the Warlock, they would all receive a little over a silver each.

Yet these items fell into the hands of a hated enemy, Nie Yan. It could even be said that they suffered double the losses.

A group of five players walked past where Nie Yan was hidden. The Priest among them raised their right hand and sent an orb of light into the sky as a bright radiance illuminated everything beneath it, making the area especially clear.

Nie Yan was hidden behind a tree, so the Priest’s Illuminate had absolutely no effect.

“How long do you think we’re gonna keep searching like this?” said a Thief in the group as he frowned. He understood that as long as there were trees for cover a Priest’s Illuminate was completely useless!

“It would be so much easier if one of us had learned Eye of Truth. Illuminate is practically useless in a dense forested area like this,” a Paladin in the group complained.

“Do you really think Skinny Dog actually expects us to find Nirvana Flame? He’s obviously waiting for Nirvana Flame to show himself!” rebuked the Priest as he gazed at the two players with contempt.

“As long as he takes cover somewhere and stays hidden, no one will be able to find him. What’s the point of searching around like this?” The two players shot the Priest a puzzled look. An ordinary player would never understand an expert’s train of thought.

“The reason we’re only in groups of four or five is because we’re acting as bait. Generally, experts have a lot of self-confidence. Who knows if he’ll ambush one of our groups. Even if we die, we have to protect the Priest. At the very least, we have to give them enough time to put a marking sigil on him. After that, he’ll be toast!” the captain of the group, a Warrior, said sternly. This was the key to catching the hated Nie Yan, at least as Skinny Dog had explained it.

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