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Chapter 256 – Plot

“I don’t have enough points.” Moon Child shook her head. It was still a bit too early to be thinking about Level 40 equipment. After all, she wasn’t even Level 30 yet, and Priests were generally much slower at levelling up compared to other classes.

“How about we leave it in the treasury for now? It can go to whoever gets to Level 40 first,” Ten Li Painted Muslin suggested.

Only now did Nie Yan get a chance to examine this recent recruit. She wore light blue Priest robes, and had a graceful and gentle bearing. In terms of appearance, she didn’t lose out in the slightest to beauties like Yao Yao, Yu Lan, and Moon Child.

“I suppose we’ll keep it in the treasury then. If any of you want it, just let me know.” Nie Yan nodded. Top quality Dark Gold–grade equipment such as the Divine Right Set definitely couldn’t be treated like regular items in the treasury. They were obtained through the combined efforts of the expedition team members who braved all sorts of dangers with potentially disastrous outcomes, after all. It would be a great loss if an enemy spy managed to smuggle one out of the guild, so such equipment would be restricted to contracted elites only.

In the previous timeline, a Lord dropping two pieces of Dark Gold-grade equipment was very rare. If not a single piece of equipment dropped, then you could only blame your bad luck. However, as the first group to explore this map, Nie Yan’s expedition team got to reap greater rewards. They had really lucked out, obtaining five pieces of Dark Gold-grade equipment from a single Lord!

Nie Yan led the group deeper into Everlasting City, clearing away all Mechanical and Plasma Core Golems in their path. Besides six members dying in combat, no other mishaps worth mentioning occurred. Two were revived by the Priests, while the remaining few didn’t get to enjoy such luxury. But on the whole, everything was going pretty smoothly.

During this time, they managed to complete the Everlasting Gold Set. Bladelight put on the new set, improving his stats significantly, then handed down his old set to Yi Yan. They also obtained another Everlasting Silver Set, which Nie Yan planned to hand over to Sleepy Fox as per their previous agreement.

They were having a tremendous harvest on this trip to Everlasting City, obtaining all sorts of high-quality equipment. Nie Yan had rewarded everyone with at least 500 merit points each so far. Some even earned up to a thousand. The average level of the team also went up by one from when they first arrived.

Nie Yan quickly set about making his preparations for taking on the next Lord—the Goblin Flame Manipulator, a Machine-type monster that could employ Fire Magic. Its combat power was extremely formidable. However, with the Everlasting Gold Set, Bladelight was ready to take up the challenge.

There was also a unique way or defeating the Goblin Flame Manipulator. Its damage was extremely high, and there was a chance that the whole expedition team would be wiped out if they were hit by one of its area-of-effect spells. So, when it started casting large-scale magic, it was imperative that the players get out of its range in time. As for predicting when it was going to cast an area-of-effect spell, Nie Yan had a special method. It was something which the players on the forums of the previous timeline had come up with. On top of this, he also had some prior experience with this boss, since he had taken part in expeditions to defeat it before.

The team was still not perfectly in sync, so they couldn’t perform group dodges very quickly yet. They wiped twice before managing to finish off the Goblin Flame Manipulator on their third attempt. It dropped three pieces of Dark Gold-grade equipment.

Greatly relieved, everyone sat down scattered across the square and began to heal up from the fight.

“Compared to that Goblin Eviscerator, this one was way too hard!” Bladelight wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead. Killing the Goblin Flame Manipulator had barely given them enough experience to make up for what they had lost by dying twice.

“The next few will be much easier,” Nie Yan assured. The Goblin Flame Manipulator was a special case, since there were very few bosses with the ability to cast area-of-effect spells at long range. It was just too hard to deal with!

“That’s good,” Bladelight said. It would be extremely depressing if they had to die twice every time they faced off against a Lord-class monster.

“It’s a pity. Aside from a few pieces of Dark Gold-grade equipment, nothing else good dropped.” Undying Scoundrel sighed.

“You’ve really been spoiled, huh? Just look at Victorious Return and Holy Empire. Do you think those guys can get their hands on Level 40 Dark Gold-grade equipment?” Bladelight rebuked. Without Nie Yan’s strategies there would be no way to defeat these bosses. No matter how large of a force arrived, the end result would still be a complete wipe.

“The next Lord we’re going after is the Goblin Disintegrator. There’s a good chance it’ll drop an advanced magic skill book, so everybody liven up!” Nie Yan announced.

After resting up back to full health, the team stood up and began to reorganize themselves.

Their clearing speed was pretty fast. At their current pace, Nie Yan estimated that they could be out of Everlasting City before the start of Holy Empire’s stronghold battle with Radiant Sacred Flame. If their luck wasn’t too bad, they might be able to complete the Everlasting Dark Gold Set. Like this, Bladelight’s combat power would be upgraded by another step.

If Bladelight were to go into the stronghold battle wearing that kind of equipment, he would be able to effortlessly crush ordinary players like bugs. He would have an enormous influence on the final outcome.

One of the reasons Nie Yan chose this place for Asskickers United’s first guild activity was also to improve the quality of Bladelight’s gear. This goal could be considered accomplished when they got him the Everlasting Gold Set. However, if they could fit him with the Everlasting Dark Gold Set, then it would be even better! Thus far, they had gathered three pieces of the set—gauntlets, chest plate, and leg armour—so they were a long shot from completing the full set. They might even have to revisit this place three days later for a second run.

While Asskickers United was rushing to clear Everlasting City, several battles broke out between Holy Empire and Radiant Sacred Flame. This time, Radiant Sacred was really under a lot of pressure. They were initially confident in their success thanks to the support of Victorious Return. However, a certain incident caught them completely off-guard. Almost all the Victorious Return elites slated to appear were thrown in the Calore jail cellars! Suddenly having the rug pulled out from under them, on the eve of the battle no less! They were thrown into utter panic and disarray.

Radiant Sacred Flame began to ambush Holy Empire’s elites anywhere they could, trying to weaken them before the battle. Additionally, they mobilized forces from other cities to reinforce their lineup. Although it pained them to pay 1 gold per player for the transfers, they had no choice but to do so.

Holy Empire lost quite a few elites to Radiant Sacred Flame’s attacks, but they immediately began to fight back once the first reports came in. Since neither side was willing to yield, another large battle began between the two guilds.

Aside from their attacks on Holy Empire, Radiant Sacred Flame also sent out forces to various popular levelling spots to search for traces of Asskickers United’s elites. However, what left them depressed was that they found no traces of their target, almost as if they had vanished into thin air. Radiant Sacred Flame’s scouts were extremely confused. Was Asskickers United not going to do any last-minute levelling? Little did they know that Nie Yan’s group was currently clearing a Level 40 map!

Victorious Return also wanted to avenge themselves, so they too sought out Asskickers United players to slaughter. With their involvement, the four major guilds once more became embroiled in chaotic warfare. The war continued to exponentially expand in scope. More and more guilds were dragged into the mess as both sides called for allies and attacked their enemies.

Not long after the fighting erupted, Sleepy Fox and Nie Yan jointly carried out a devious plot. They had 25 players from both their guilds invite 15 relatively famous Sapphire Shrine players to go out levelling together. Afterwards, Asskickers United secretly leaked this group’s location to Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame. The two guilds quickly surrounded them with hundreds of assailants. The result was obvious: all 40 players were promptly sent to their graves.

Asskickers United and Holy Empire began mobilizing people to hunt down the forces of Radiant Sacred Flame, but Sapphire Shrine stayed completely silent. The people from Holy Empire and Asskickers United mocked the players from Sapphire Shrine for being cowards with no guts. Although those 15 Sapphire Shrine players who died had been quelled by Fa Lan, they really could endure no longer. They each led over a hundred players to massacre the players of Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame.

Before long, Sapphire Shrine was also pulled into the fray. As the casualties on both sides increased, the players from Sapphire Shrine grew enraged. Although they had remained neutral all this time, Victorious Return’s rampant nature had long since left them dissatisfied. Those 15 players dying was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Fa Lan could no longer continue holding his people back. If he insisted on forcing them to stay their hand, then it could very well culminate into a mass exodus.

Fa Lan looked closely at the entire affair, noticing that there was something fishy about the whole thing. It was really odd, how Asskickers United and Holy Empire had suddenly invited his players to level together. What’s more, the players that had been invited were all pretty popular within the guild. Less than an hour after they began, they were completely surrounded by Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame. After the party with the 15 players from Sapphire Shrine were killed, Asskickers United and Holy Empire took the lead in a furious vengeance. As they fought, they also barraged Sapphire Shrine with unceasing taunts about their cowardice in quietly swallowing this insult. There were even a bunch of players within the guild who fanned the flames and clamored for action. Each of the fallen 15 were popular enough to have a sizeable following within the guild, so how could they swallow this insult? They brought their friends to avenge themselves, thoroughly entrenching Sapphire Shrine’s involvement in the chaos.

By the end, the people under Fa Lan had mobilized without his approval. He had lost control of them, so he could only turn a blind eye. With no choice but to accept this fact, he endlessly cursed in his heart. This time, he had fallen for Nie Yan and Sleepy Fox’s plot. These two sly bastards were far too despicable!

With the forces of Sapphire Shine fighting them so fiercely, how could Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame not believe they had joined sides with Holy Empire and Asskickers United? There was no way to step out of these muddy waters. Sapphire Shrine was effectively forced aboard the same ship as Holy Empire and Asskickers United. If those two collapsed later on, Sapphire Shrine would be going down with them as well.

Fa Lan secretly cursed Nie Yan and Sleepy Fox to hell and back again, but he could only reluctantly accept this fact.

From today onwards, how could Sapphire Shrine still remain neutral? They could only grit their teeth and join Asskickers United and Holy Empire’s alliance.

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