Chapter 237 – True Illusion
Nie Yan recalled the list of people Shadow Killer assassinated in the previous timeline. Who among them wasn’t an extraordinary figure? He didn’t expect that Shadow Killer’s first assassination target in Conviction was very likely himself! This was a testament to the fact that he as well as Asskickers United were starting to shine on this stage, and were now the subject of much attention. Although he faced a certain degree of danger with this target on his back, the threat remained solely on him. Even if he was assassinated, Asskickers United would still remain standing strong!
「You’re still in the mood to laugh?」Guo Huai asked in a dejected tone.
「You should be happy. Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame hiring the services of Shadow Killer just to deal with me is a reflection of the fear in their hearts. They’re afraid Asskickers United will shake their positions. What should we be anxious about? The ones who should be worried are them!」Nie Yan replied.
「Alright. I admit your words do make sense,」Guo Huai said helplessly. How did Nie Yan always somehow spin every troubling new development into a good piece of news?
Nie Yan chuckled.
「Let’s not linger on the bad for too long. I have some good news to report as well. Firstly, the players on the forums recently created a ranking of the top guilds based on battle strength, and Asskickers United placed in front of Radiant Sacred Flame, Victorious Return, and Holy Empire. They’re calling Asskickers United a mecca of experts. Thanks to this exposure, a lot of strong players are starting to flock to our side. Secondly, both our branch guilds—Mages United and Warriors United—due to the joining requirements being relatively more lax, have reached the maximum capacity for Level 1 guilds, 20,000 players. I’ve also taken the liberty of establishing three more branch guilds, Paladins United, Thieves United, and Priests United. I plan to have the elite members of these branches rank up their guilds to Level 2.」Guo Huai was shocked by the expansion speed of the branch guilds which far exceeded his expectations.
「Mhmmm… things are developing at a good pace. We should transfer the strongest members of the branch guilds to the main guild,」Nie Yan said. The creation of branch guilds was an inevitability. Even though weak players couldn’t join Asskickers United, it was a waste to squander free manpower.
「Lastly, we’ve been approached by several guilds about merging into Asskickers United,」Guo Huai said.
「Make sure to take the necessary precautions before letting any of them join,」Nie Yan reminded. It was very possible they harboured malicious motives.
「This, I understand. I’ll do a thorough investigation. I won’t be letting them in the guild any time soon anyway.」Guo Huai nodded. He was extremely prudent in handling this matter.
Even though Radiant Sacred Flame and Victorious Return were rapidly expanding, Asskickers United wasn’t sitting still either; it was thriving—developing at breakneck speed. After winning several major battles, their reputation benefited tremendously and the morale of their players skyrocketed. And their closest ally, Holy Empire, also got to share in some of the glory. Radiant Sacred Flame and Victorious Return suffered a huge blow to their prestige after their recent defeat. With this shift in the balance of power, Asskickers United no longer had to fear them.
Nie Yan could now take a laissez faire approach to managing the guild. Asskickers United’s rise to the top was a foregone conclusion. So long as enough time was given, they would crush Radiant Sacred Flame and Victorious Return beneath their feet.
The players of Asskickers United were starting to enjoy the glory brought along by the rise of the guild. This sort of feeling would unite them even further. An undivided force was an impregnable stronghold that could never be destroyed!
「Is that everything?」Nie Yan asked.
「Yeah, that’s everything,」Guo Huai replied. He understood Nie Yan was probably doing something important right now, so he didn’t want to disturb him too much.
Nie Yan hung up the call before continuing to explore the heart of the Sonia Moonlit Woodland. He still hadn’t found anything even after an hour of search.
He had only heard the Chapter of Virtue was found in the Moonlit Woodland. He didn’t actually know its exact location, so he could only go bumbling around the area like a housefly.
In the previous timeline, countless players came here to retrieve the Chapter of Virtue only to wind up dying. In the end, a Mage who possessed very powerful control magic cleared all the monsters in the Moonlit Woodland, and took away the Chapter of Virtue. As for the name of this player, Nie Yan had already forgotten since they lost the chapter shortly after obtaining it.
Nie Yan evaded numerous Moon Bears before reaching a heavily forested region. The dense canopy blocked out most of the sky, leaving only a few rays of sunlight to penetrate the foliage and touch the ground.
These rays were gentle like the moonlight, releasing a faint purifying glow.
Nie Yan’s eyes locked onto a certain object up ahead.
At the center of the clearing up ahead, a pure white beam of light shined down on a delicately carved round stone platform covered in exotic elven runes. Floating above the platform was a crescent moon-shaped stone which emitted a faint white glow.
「You’ve discovered a bizarre stone while exploring in the heart of the Moonlit Woodland. According to the old Mage living in the slums of Calore, the stone is called the Stone of Moonlight. Capable of transforming the stars and changing night to day, it was this stone that allowed the white elves to have such long lifespans. A relic like this can supply a Mage with boundless magical power.」
Nie Yan’s mind trembled when he read through the narration dialogue. Is this a quest related to the Chapter of Virtue? I’ve searched around this area for so long without any success. Maybe this Stone of Moonlight is the key to finding what I’m looking for?
Nie Yan approached the Stone of Moonlight which seemed to emit a mysterious attractive force. Slowly, he reached out his hand and touched the stone. A gentle energy permeated his entire body.
With his hand still pressed on the stone, Nie Yan saw his surroundings undergo endless transformations. The trees quickly withered before disappearing altogether. The sun and moon raced across the sky at an astonishing speed, chasing after each other faster and faster. As light and shadow intertwined, it was like he was travelling through time.
It was as though several thousand years was passing by in front of his eyes; all that remained was an endless wilderness that stretched out into the horizon. A full moon hovered in the dark sky above, illuminating the land in its light.
Nie Yan lowered his head, only to discover that the stone platform in front of him had disappeared. Oddly shaped boulders towered above the dark wilderness. His vision was limited, but he could spot the flickering of flames in the far distance.You’ve entered the Hidden Realm of Moonlight.
Just what kind of place was this Hidden Realm of Moonlight? Nie Yan guessed that he was probably transported into a quest map. After carrying out a self-inspection, he confirmed that he couldn’t activate any teleportation items, including the Random Transfer Scroll.
This meant a life-saving trump card of his was sealed!
The far away flames appeared to be a guide marker. Nie Yan entered the pitch-black wilderness, advancing in that direction.
The surroundings were deathly silent. Not even the sound of insects could be heard.
Afraid there might be unknown danger lurking in the darkness around him, Nie Yan slowed his pace; every step he took was exceedingly cautious.
Just at this moment, a peculiar sensation arose in the back of his mind, as though he was being watched by something. He searched for the source of this feeling.
Nie Yan closed his eyes, sharpening his other senses to the utmost limit as he felt for movement. A brief moment later, he abruptly turned to face a certain direction. Eye of Truth! His eyes turned bloodshot, while the veins around his eyes bulged out, emitting a light which pierced through the veil of darkness. All he saw was a shadowy silhouette blur by.
He discovered the enemy!
Upon being spotted, the shadow melted into the darkness and vanished without a trace. No matter how hard he tried, he could no longer detect its presence.
However, the split-second before the shadow disappeared, Nie Yan had activated Transcendent Insight.
He examined the information from the inspection.True Illusion (Nirvana Flame): Level 35
Nie Yan’s heart shook. Just what was that? His own shadow?
He finally had a vague understanding of the gimmick of this hidden realm. It was using a copy of his character to test him! The goal was to prevail over his AI-controlled fake, with the main catch being that the stats of his fake were higher than his own!
“Fighting myself? Bring it on!” Nie Yan tightly grasped his dagger before going into stealth.
His eyes pierced through the darkness, searching for traces of the opponent, while he slowly made his advance
Nie Yan suddenly sensed danger from behind him. His heart tightened. Shit! It can see through my stealth!
The stats of the True Illusion eclipsed his own. His position was completely exposed, allowing the enemy to mount an exceptionally fierce sneak attack.
The True Illusion aimed his dagger at the back of Nie Yan’s head with a Smothering Strike. Its blade flickered with a sharp light, edging ever closer.
Sensing the danger in advance, Nie Yan whipped back and struck at the True Illusion’s forehead, but he didn’t activate any stunning skills.
The True Illusion retreated several steps before melting into the darkness again, vanishing right in front of Nie Yan’s eyes.
It was just as he imagined. The True Illusion was feeling him out, searching for a weakness while trying to bait him into wasting his skills!
The combat AI of the True Illusion was in no way inferior to a human!
After fending off the ambush, Nie Yan was just about to enter stealth when the True Illusion suddenly materialized beside him and launched another sneak attack. Its dagger stabbed toward his back like a lightning bolt.
This speed clearly exceeded his own by quite some!
Just as the True Illusion’s attack was about to reach him, Nie Yan turned around, parrying it with his off-hand dagger which was held in a reverse grip.「Ding!」The two daggers briefly clashed, causing sparks to fly. At the same instant, his other dagger struck out toward the True Illusion’s forehead like a viper.
The True Illusion disappeared.
Nie Yan slightly trembled when his attack struck air. The True Illusion had clearly used Shadow Waltz to dodge!
He tried to look for the True Illusion, but it had already gotten away.
Nie Yan had heard about quests with similar gimmicks in his past life. When players encountered these sorts of quests, they would recount them on the forums. Although he never paid careful attention to these posts, he had seen enough to know that less than 1% of the players who received these quests were able to beat them. However, those who cleared them would always receive astonishing rewards! Some received a great deal of additional stat points. Others received powerful skills. And still others received Sub-Legendary equipment.
Nie Yan wondered what kind of reward he would receive for clearing it. Let’s see just how wily my AI controlled copy is. He revealed a hint of an expectant smile.
At the end of the day, the True Illusion was still controlled by an AI. Although a computer could handle an enormous flow of data, it was still incapable of matching the deviousness of the human mind.