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Chapter 201 – The Secret of Kiln Fire Woods

Travelling through the dark tunnels of the lava caverns, the group finally arrived at their exit.

“Boss, let’s take a photo!” Undying Scoundrel suggested. What they had just accomplished was a historic moment for the entire guild. Of course he’d want something to commemorate it with.

Nie Yan thought for a moment. “Sure, but only release the photo after all of this is over.” It was best if Victorious Return temporarily didn’t know that they had already left Kiln Fire Woods.

“The people from Victorious Return definitely won’t be happy when they see the photo. I can already see their ugly expressions! Victorious Return has twenty to thirty thousand players digging three feet deep into the ground across every inch of the map right now, searching for us. I bet they’re not expecting that we’re already gone!” Undying Scoundrel let out a wicked cackle.

“Heaven Breaker will be so furious! He’ll definitely vomit out blood!”

Blowhard Summer Bug and the others gleefully imagined Heaven Breaker’s reaction in their heads.

“Everybody, gather around! Let’s make sure our red names are in plain view!”

Everyone was in high spirits.

Ten people stood together, all of whom were branded red. It was a spectacular sight. Even the name of Leader Young Seven was tainted red, although his was the lightest shade out of the entire group. Everyone else was a deep, soul-tremoring crimson.

Undying Scoundrel, Sun, and the others made rude poses, as if to mock the people of Victorious Return.

「Snap!」A camera shutter sound rang out. The picture was taken. After this was all over, it would be uploaded to the web. They would invariably go down in history for the events of today, remembered by the players for a long time to come.

“Alright, everyone should run along now. Go clear your red names,” Nie Yan said. It was too dangerous to stay branded as a PKer for long.

“Big Brother, I’ll go scout the path ahead.” Sun set off to investigate the situation outside. He would immediately report back if he encountered enemy forces. The number of players patrolling the outer perimeter of the map definitely weren’t few. So when retreating, they would have to be extra cautious to avoid being discovered.

“Get in contact with Yao Yao. You guys should join up with her to clear your red names. When I’ve settled the matters over here, I’ll take you all levelling with me in Everlasting City,” Nie Yan said. With how high all their kill counts were, maybe one of them would get lucky and find a Slaughter Fiend Medallion.

“Alright, you be careful too,” Young Seven said.

“Boss, be safe.”

“We’ll be leaving. Take care, Boss.”

The members of the group said their farewells to Nie Yan one after another.

“Stay safe on your journey!” Nie Yan smiled. He felt more or less reassured about them. Even if they encountered a patrol group, as long as the number of players on the enemy side didn’t exceed a hundred, Victorious Return would be helpless to stop them.

While the group of nine players set out, Nie Yan turned around and returned to the lava caverns. Taking advantage of the remaining duration on Deterrence, he rushed back toward Kiln Fire Woods.

In the depths of the lava caverns, the scalding hot air churned and roiled and tongues of flame billowed upward from deep underground.

In the previous timeline, only after many players reached Level 40–50 did the first group of people dare to explore these lava caverns. With the Viper Flies no longer posing a threat, they travelled through the long and narrow tunnels to the deepest parts of the lava caverns, where they finally uncovered the secret of Kiln Fire Woods.

Nie Yan smirked. The next phase of his plan would bring disaster to Victorious Return. But to proceed, he would have to lure their forces to the center of the map.

Nie Yan left the lava caverns. He activated Stealth, then began investigating the surroundings where he found a group of players from Victorious Return. He slowly approached them.

The players were currently chatting. They consisted of five members, an Elementalist, a Berserker, a Paladin, a Holy Mage, and a Priest.

All of them wore decent gear, and were around Level 20.

“Say, how many strong players do you think Asskickers United has? Those guys in the video are really strong. I feel like they aren’t any weaker than Yu Long, Skinny Dog, and them!” the Berserker said in a slightly fearful tone. Such a terrifying group of players had a chance of appearing before them at any moment!

“Who knows? Maybe those ten are all they have,” the Elementalist replied. He found it almost inconceivable that a newly-emerged guild would have so many top-notch experts.

“Why do you think the guild leader keeps insisting on making trouble for Asskickers United? Isn’t that just asking for trouble?” the Berserker asked in a puzzled tone.

“Are you stupid? What do you know? Asskickers United has only been around for a few weeks at most, yet they’ve already grown so powerful! Can you imagine how strong they’ll get in the future if we don’t do anything about them now? It’s basic guild strategy!” said the Holy Mage who was the leader of the group.

“You’re saying Asskickers United will pose a threat to our guild in the future?” the Berserker asked in a startled manner.

Several members in the group sank into deep thought. Looking at the current momentum of Asskickers United, there really was such a possibility. If Asskickers United did surpass them to become the top guild in Calore, then they would lose all feeling of superiority. Currently, every time they set out, they would hold their heads up with pride. Some of them even loathed the fact they couldn’t scribble the words—We, Victorious Return, are the number one guild in Calore!—on their faces. However, if Asskickers United took away that position, the glory of Victorious Return would be all for naught. What else would they have left to take pride in? On that day, many members would definitely start having thoughts of departing the guild.

And so would begin the demise of Victorious Return

Nie Yan slowly crept up behind them. He was only a five meters away from the Priest. All of them were incognizant of the imminent danger to their lives.

By allowing a Thief to approach so closely, they had basically sealed the fate of their Priest. How a Thief ambushed a target was similar to the way a cheetah stalked its prey on a hunt. With a cheetah’s explosive sprinting power, as long as it could get within a certain distance of its prey, the prey would be taken down in a flash.

The Priest felt a cold breeze brush the back of his neck. However, the feeling was so faint and fleeting that he simply didn’t pay heed. He leisurely chatted with the others, oblivious to the nearing threat.

With only three meters separating them, Nie Yan leapt into action. Smothering Strike! His dagger struck out toward the back of the Priest’s head.

The Priest finally sensed the danger. Taking into account the abruptness of it all, he reacted pretty quickly. Just as he was about to dodge, Nie Yan’s blow landed and he was stunned.

No matter how much faster the Priest’s reaction speed got, it still couldn’t match the speed of Nie Yan’s dagger.

Nie Yan followed through with Backstab, then ruthlessly finished him off with Eviscerate. The Priest went limp, collapsing to the ground.

The four remaining players were momentarily dazed. The Elementalist was the first to snap out of the shock, firing off an Ice Shatter at the ambusher.

The Berserker rushed at Nie Yan with Charge. The Paladin cast Indomitable Will on the Berserker, bolstering his speed even further.

The Holy Mage activated Holy Judgement. An imposing radiance poured down from the sky.

Nie Yan could clearly sense this group was much more difficult to deal with than the players from Unhindered. They were probably some of the more highly skilled players in Victorious Return.

Nie Yan could kill two or three more of them and escape, but he didn’t linger. He activated Shadow Waltz and disappeared from sight.

The attacks of the Berserker, Holy Mage and Elementalist all missed. There wasn’t a single trace of Nie Yan in the surroundings. He was gone!

Nie Yan’s appearance was abrupt and short, so quick none of them were able to react. However, in that brief moment, he had left behind a corpse on the ground.

“I got a good look at him. It was that Thief from Asskickers United!” All four of them felt a cold chill running down their spines. They huddled close together with their backs facing each other, afraid that when Nie Yan emerged again, the next person to drop dead on the ground would be them!

A Thief could actually be so terrifying!

They reported the information back to Yu Long.

「Boss, we’ve discovered the group from Asskickers United…」The Berserker went on to explain the encounter with Nie Yan.

「Where? Give me the coordinates.」


Yu Long thought for a moment. He immediately instructed the first and second squadron which consisted of 6,000 players in total to move toward that area.

Nie Yan’s movement didn’t simply end there. Yu Long soon received reports of Nie Yan appearing at 279, 239, and 202. It was just like with the first group. Right as he emerged, he would kill a player, then disappear. No one could predict where he would pop up next.

“What is he planning…?” Yu Long muttered to himself. He was struck by an indescribable sense of foreboding. What was the meaning behind Nie Yan’s actions? Did he just want to kill the players of Victorious Return, or was there a different, more sinister and heinous purpose?

It would truly prove a bit difficult to lock down a top-tier Thief in such complex terrain.

Yu Long had no choice but to mobilize more of his forces to that general location, especially the Priests. He had them cast Illuminate to search for traces of Nie Yan.

Nie Yan could clearly feel the number of players in his vicinity gradually increasing. Several times he had been exposed by the light from a Priest’s Illuminate. Luckily, he was always able to get away in time before he was surrounded.

“Almost there…” Nie Yan’s mouth curved into a faint smile. He returned to the lava caverns. When he entered the area where Viper Flies spawned, he activated Deterrence, then dashed toward the deepest region unimpeded.

The ambient temperature grew increasingly hotter the deeper down he travelled. Nie Yan drank a Fire Resistance Potion as he darted through scorching blasts of torrid air, venturing even further into the depths.

He saw the glow of flames leaping up high into the air, and massive columns of smoke surging towards the ceiling from the magma flowing down below.

No Viper Flies wandered around this area due to the extreme heat of the environment. Even Nie Yan was losing ten health every second while staying here, as damage values floated up above his head.

The effects of the Fire Resistance Potion weren’t potent enough to completely nullify the heat damage. If a player didn’t have at least 30 Fire Resistance, they shouldn’t even think of exploring any further.

Nie Yan scoured through every rock in the area, periodically drinking an Intermediate Health Potion and Recovery Potion. It wasn’t easy for him to maintain his constantly falling health.

Three minutes later, he found what he was searching for. It was a dark gold treasure chest tucked away in a dark corner, embedded deeply among some large rocks. Were it not for him searching so carefully, there was no way he would’ve found it.

Finally! Nie Yan’s face glowed with excitement as he laid eyes on the chest. He dropped down on one knee and started opening it.

Opening treasure chest… Estimated Completion: 2%… 17%… 29%… 37%…

As seconds turned to minutes, the chest finally opened with a light click! Nie Yan glanced at his health bar—only 27% remaining. He stood up and applied a Combat Bandage to himself, whereupon his health gradually began recovering.

He bent down and started rummaging through the chest. He fished out two items. The first was a blood-red pearl, sparkling and limpid. It emitted a bright red glow in the darkness, resembling a ball of burning flame. The second item was a black skill book.

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