Chapter 251 – Plasma Core Golem
Nie Yan asked Tang Yao to buy 200 gold’s worth of Basic Magic Bombs over at Tasoyi Village as a safety precaution. Although this was a bit wasteful, it couldn’t be helped. Not long after Tang Yao departed, a crowd of players in plain clothing walked into the Asskickers United guild headquarters. Leading them was Aqua Smoke Stub with several familiar figures closely in tow—Cold Peak Absolute Sword, Wood Grace, and Samsara Lord. There were over 200 people in the group, consisting of almost all the core elites of Withered Leaf.
In stark contrast to the swaggering manner these players displayed when they first showed up at the Asskickers United guild headquarters, they looked rather sullen.
Smoke Stub immediately walked up to Nie Yan.
“What happened?” Nie Yan asked, concerned by the bedraggled figures before him. Smoke Stub was noticeably different from his normal self. His powerful equipment was gone, but so were many of the crease lines on his forehead. He seemed to give off an air of carefreeness and self-confidence.
“The Tuoba Family head ordered Withered Leaf to merge into Victorious Return. That didn’t sit well with me, so I quit and my brothers decided to leave with me. We had to return our equipment to the organization,” Smoke Stub replied, the forced smile on his face failing to hide the bitterness underneath.
Tuoba Time walked up, flabbergasted by Smoke Stub’s disheveled state.
“What happened to you?” Tuoba Time asked as well. He had just missed the story behind their departure, so he was rather puzzled.
Smoke Stub recounted the entire sequence of events in detail.
When Tuoba Time heard about Tuoba Hongye forcing Smoke Stub to pay the full early termination fee—despite the latter only quitting due to the unwelcome merger of Withered Leaf into Victorious Return—he grew infuriated. “He’s really gone too far this time! Smoke Stub, I’ll see what I can do for you!” Even though Smoke Stub had worked day and night over the past six years to earn the Tuoba Family a great profit, Tuoba Hongye was perfectly fine booting him out the door with nothing to his name? This was too cold-hearted!
“Forget it. No point crying over spilled milk. I’ve already cut all ties with Withered Leaf anyway,” Smoke Stub dissuaded. In the entire Tuoba Family, the only person he got along with was Tuoba Time. He turned to Nie Yan and asked,”We had to give up our equipment. You won’t turn us all away, right?”
“How could I possibly? There’s plenty of equipment in the guild treasury. You guys can take your pick. The silver lining to this is that you’ve regained your freedom. Money lost can still be earned back. And you all still have your skill, right? So what’s there to be afraid of? Asskickers United will always have your backs. We never mistreat our own,” Nie Yan replied in a sincere tone. Smoke Stub and the others withdrawing from Withered Leaf was proof that their hearts stood with Asskickers United. How could he not accept them?
“You have my gratitude, brother!” Smoke Stub exclaimed, sounding a little emotional. Any more words would be superfluous.
“Tuoba, what’s your family’s situation like?” Nie Yan asked. He noticed Tuoba Time wasn’t particularly fond of the Tuoba Family head.
Tuoba Time pondered for a moment. “The Tuoba Family is divided into many factions. Each one owns shares of the family business. Tuoba Hongye controls 26% of the shares, and Tuoba Fengyuan controls 22%. The two factions are like oil and water. The remaining shares are scattered among the various members of the family. For example, I control 15% while most don’t control more than 10%. Tuoba Hongye’s faction holds a majority of the shares and sits firmly on the seat of family head. I belong to a neutral faction.” He gave a brief summary. The internal affairs of a large influential family like his couldn’t be fully explained in just a few lines.
Nie Yan nodded. No wonder Tuoba Time could maintain such an aloof position, unencumbered by the disputes within his family, where he could wander around inside the game, hunting mobs and levelling up at his leisure. Otherwise, there was no way he could be so carefree.
“In short, I have nothing to do with this matter. So you guys can’t go putting it on my head, alright?” Tuoba Time laughed. Aside from speaking out on Smoke Stub’s behalf, he would rather not get involved in the internal struggles of his family.
Nie Yan observed Tuoba Time closely. Was he really the unambitious sort? This was hard to believe. His inaction was probably only temporary. With 15% of the shares, though nowhere close enough to compete for the position of family head, he could easily deal a fatal blow to one faction by joining the other. By remaining neutral, neither faction dared to actively provoke him. Instead, they would offer all sorts of generous terms to rope him in. It was clear this was the wisest decision.
Nie Yan wasn’t too clear on the circumstances of the Tuoba Family. However, based on the information he just received and his understanding of Tuoba Time’s character, his intuition told him that the final victor of this struggle wouldn’t necessarily be Tuoba Hongye or Tuoba Fengyuan, but rather Tuoba Time who had been silently gathering strength.
Nie Yan decided he would have to conduct a proper investigation before making a judgment on the matter. The Tuoba Family allying with the Cao Xu Century Financial Group posed an immense threat to him. It was imperative he found a way to prevent this from happening.
The combined power of the Cao Xu Century Financial Group and the Tuoba Family would create a terrifying colossus the like of which has never been seen before.
With Withered Leaf splitting up, Smoke Stub led his most loyal brothers to join Asskickers United. These players were the former elites of Withered Leaf! So long as they were given decent gear, they would return to their former strength. They would be a huge boon to the guild.
“You guys can feel at ease staying in Asskickers United. If there’s anything you need, just speak up,” Nie Yan said. He promised Smoke Stub’s group that they could still operate as professional players like before.
Smoke Stub nodded. “In ten days at most, I’ll be able to get the gear quality of these brothers back to what it used to be!”
Nie Yan added Smoke Stub and the others back to the guild, then left Guo Huai to deal with the rest. All the best items in the treasury were made available for them to select from. After all, without decent gear, how could they run dungeons to grind out better equipment?
“We’re about to set off on an expedition. If anything comes up, just contact me,” Nie Yan said. The current gear quality of Smoke Stub and the others was lacking, leaving them unable to participate in the expedition. This could only be described as regrettable.
Smoke Stub nodded. His present goal was to regear the brothers that followed him out of Withered Leaf. Without decent equipment, they wouldn’t be able to progress, let alone participate in any guild activities.
Nie Yan bid farewell to Smoke Stub, Cold Peak, and the others, then led the crowd of players he had assembled to Everlasting City.
Even though Nie Yan’s group cleared the Mechanical Golems crowding the streets of Everlasting City during their previous visit, all of them had respawned following the daily reset.
The group of 600 players arrived in Everlasting City and started clearing out the mobs in an orderly fashion.
Resplendent Bladelight led a vanguard of Warriors forward to attract the aggro of the Mechanical Golems, while the Mages in the backline unleashed a storm of magic which rained down mercilessly on the mobs, causing a blanket of damage values to rise up into the air.
These Mages only dealt about 50–60 damage per hit to the Mechanical Golems. But with such concentrated firepower, the mobbing speed was still extremely quick.
The golems collapsed as their lifebars depleted. Before long, the street was piled high with mountains of scrap metal.
These ordinary Mechanical Golems weren’t Nie Yan’s goal. Instead, he was aiming for the inner district of Everlasting City!
“If anyone dies, just revive at your corpse. Our destination is 7,000 meters south of here. Running there will take about 15 minutes. Remember the coordinates, so you don’t end up getting lost trying to regroup with us,” Nie Yan said.
All the players nodded in assent.
Everyone here was part of Asskickers United, so there was no need to worry about equipment being stolen. But the experience penalty for dying was pretty harsh. Fortunately, there were many people to provide support. As long as there weren’t any large mishaps, they would be able to deal with Elite-class monsters or below without suffering any casualties.
Nie Yan led the crowd of players through twists and turns from street to street. This was a shortcut which would lead them directly to the inner district of the city. If they followed the regular path from main gate, it would take them at least five hours. However, with this shortcut, they could crawl to the inner district and still be there within 20 minutes.
Tang Yao fired out spells like a machine gun, clearing away the final group of mobs, then asked, “Where are we going?” His sense of direction was atrocious, so after all these twists and turns, he was completely lost.
“We’re going to the inner district of the city. There’s probably going to be a Lord there. I want everyone to prepare themselves. Be mindful of your coordination,” Nie Yan warned. If they weren’t careful when dealing with a Lord, they would very likely be wiped out.
Just at this moment, the Thieves with scouting the path ahead reported back with new information. They had encountered eight Elites!
Nie Yan arrived at the front of the group. Gazing into the distance, he saw eight enormous golems in a small plaza. They were over five meters tall, and were covered in thick azure metal plates. Each step they took shook the ground, as they lumbered around.
Nie Yan activated Transcendent Insight and inspected one of them.
Plasma Core Golem (Elite): Level 40
These were Plasma Core Golems. They were ranked relatively high among Machine-type monsters. They were pretty tough to deal with. Furthermore, Nie Yan remembered that the Plasma Core Golems in Everlasting City possessed a Quake skill which would stun all enemies around them. Combined with their frightening combat strength, they were fearful foes.
“Bladelight, you take care of the three on the right. Yi Yan, take the two on the left. The other Warriors will have your backs.” Nie Yan passed down commands one at a time. The 30 teams of 20 started advancing into the plaza, with the Mages moving to disperse all around while trying to finds suitable vantage points to attack from. The Warriors slowly encircled the Plasma Core Golems. Once Nie Yan gave the order, they would charge into battle.
Under Nie Yan’s instructions, the players moved to their assigned positions.
Even veterans like Bladelight and Young Seven couldn’t help but admire Nie Yan’s commanding ability.
This was the first guild expedition for these guild members, so they were a little disorderly. But they were still elites, after all, and were quick to adapt. They performed extremely well, all things considered. When they got more accustomed to working together after a few more guild expeditions, they would definitely be moving as a single unit.