Chapter 262 – Strongest Champion
“How is that fair? We’re competing against people like Young Sparrow Hawk! We don’t stand a chance!” someone complained. Tang Yao, Undying Scoundrel, Summer Bug, and the others were simply too powerful. It was almost impossible for ordinary members to compete against them.
“That’s why all contracted guild members are excluded from this competition. The top 10 will receive a full set of Gold equipment while the top 100 will receive a full set of Silver equipment, all of which are Level 30. The rewards do not stack. All participants will receive 200 merit points,” Nie Yan replied. He didn’t bat an eyelid after promising so many rewards. His pockets were more than deep enough to bear the cost.
Asskickers United was no longer a fledgling guild. Its treasury had grown immensely after experiencing several guild wars. If Nie Yan didn’t dole out more merit points, the spoils of war would gather dust.
“Boss! You promised! Don’t go back on your word!” a guild member exclaimed, invoking the laughter of the surrounding players. Nie Yan chuckled lightly. He knew this player was only acting cheeky.
“Alright, let’s set out,” Nie Yan ordered. The 2,000 players from Asskickers United teleported from Calore to Soren Town, then headed for Sinful Gorge.
Nie Yan recalled the general topography of Sinful Gorge, a long passageway between two cliff walls about as wide as 30 players standing side by side that led into a wide open plain.
According to legend, Sinful Gorge was created during the Dark Era when the Dragon King Zennarde shattered the God of War Kelo’s divinity with a mighty blow from his sword, marking the first of mankind’s gods to fall in battle. The slash left behind a long gash on the land, unleashing a powerful explosion of dark power that carved out a deep basin. Even to this day the remnant energy lingering in the gorge prevented any vegetation from growing while nurturing countless creatures of darkness.
There was a cave in Sinful Gorge enshrouded in darkness where many powerful monsters resided. Even when the average player was over Level 100 during the previous timeline, It was labelled a forbidden zone no one dared to explore.
Nie Yan recalled a few other rumours, but he couldn’t verify their authenticity.
Dragon King Zennarde’s Sword was rumoured to be located in the deepest region of Sinful Gorge. Legends told that only a Paladin with a Holy Spirit Heart could pull this sword out, lest the wielder’s soul be devoured by the undying demon spirit sealed inside.
Stories like these weren’t verified on the official website. They were probably dug up from old lore books.
Sinful Gorge was a Level 20–25 map. It primarily gave habitat to undead, such as Bone Devils and Bone Beasts.
A Golden Dragon was undoubtedly a foreign existence to Sinful Gorge. This one had most likely undergone a demonic transformation. Why else would it relish in the dark energy permeating the area?
Golden Dragons were generally high level creatures at minimum in the 200 to 300 range. Players in the previous timeline could occasionally encounter them besieging a city or stronghold. Nie Yan had no idea why such a low level one appeared all of a sudden.
「What’s the situation like in Sinful Gorge right now?」Nie Yan asked Guo Huai who had been constantly gathering information.
「Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame’s forces number around 30,000 to Holy Empire and Sapphire Shrine’s 20,000. Both sides have already fought many times, with Holy Empire suffering the heaviest losses so far, losing over 5,000 players. The enemy is purposefully targeting them, and they’re pretty much getting steamrolled. Thank god for Sapphire Shrine’s support; otherwise, they would’ve been wiped out long ago,」Guo Huai replied.
「Any other movements from Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame?」Nie Yan asked. With the appearance of a Golden Dragon, he felt the enemy might have something up their sleeve.
「Not that I’m aware of. Just those 30,000 players I mentioned earlier are fighting. I haven’t received any reports of strange movements,」Guo Huai replied. He also felt apprehensive. Things were strangely calm over on the enemy side. Over a hundred moles were planted among enemy ranks, but none of them reported back on anything out of the ordinary.
「Keep a close eye on things. They’re probably biding their time for a big catch!」Nie Yan’s expression turned frosty. Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame would have definitely taken note of the special topography of Sinful Gorge. It would be foolish to believe they had no plans of sealing off the passageway.
Of course, Nie Yan had long since thought up a countermeasure. He wondered what sort of disappointed looks the higher-ups of Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame would have when they found out Asskickers United had only sent out 2,000 players.
「One other thing. I heard Bloodlust Blades, Alliance of Mages, and Divine Protectors along with several other guilds have dispatched people to Sinful Gorge. Be careful!」Guo Huai warned. These were all major guilds. They were in no way inferior to Victorious Return or Radiant Sacred Flame.
Both Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame’s growth had far outstripped that of Bloodlust Blades, Alliance of Mages, and Divine Protectors in the previous timeline. This was due to them starting out in Calore which had the highest player density out of all the cities in the Viridian Empire.
However, Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame’s growth was greatly hindered by Asskickers United this time around, to the extent it wasn’t even half of what it was in the previous timeline. This was why they were roughly on par with Bloodlust Blades, Alliance of Mages, and Divine Protectors.
More than half of the elites who were supposed to join Radiant Sacred Flame and Victorious Return were among the ranks of Asskickers United!
In this timeline, the most powerful of the five major guilds under Cao Xu’s control were no longer Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame but rather Bloodlust Blades, Alliance of Mages, and Divine Protectors.
This was precisely the butterfly effect brought about by Nie Yan’s reincarnation into the past!
Bloodlust Blade’s base of operations was Glory City, Alliance of Mage’s was Moonlight City, and Divine Protector’s was Kelond City. They had zero competition in their respective cities, so they grew virtually unimpeded. When more strongholds were released, their strength would rise by yet another level.
In this life, Bloodlust Blades, Alliance of Mages, and Divine Protectors would be far bigger threats than Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame.
Since these guilds operated so far away from Calore, they could only afford to send several hundred people at most. At a rate of 2 gold per round trip for a single player, they simply couldn’t bear the cost of sending a large force.
When land mounts were more universal later on, only then would these three guilds start posing any real danger to Asskickers United.
「How many players did Bloodlust Blades, Alliance of Mages, and Divine Protectors send over?」Nie Yan asked. He had no choice but to start paying attention to these three guilds. After all, with the addition of the Buried History expansion, land mounts were just around the corner.
Nie Yan estimated all the major guilds would control strongholds by then. That was when the most intense struggle for strongholds would commence!
「Bloodlust Blades dispatched around 20 players. According to reports, Bloodlust Mad Blade is personally leading them. As for Alliance of Mages and Divine Protectors, both of them also sent out small groups. But I’m not too sure on their exact numbers.」
Bloodlust Mad Blade was a player who had a master class title in the previous timeline. He was extremely famous, and was known as the Strongest Champion. Although many disagreed with this title, that didn’t matter because no one capable cared enough to challenge him anyway. Very few players with master class titles cared for the moniker of ‘strongest.’ They understood that at the top none of them could truly be titled the strongest. The vast majority of them were on the same plane of skill. Those who could absolutely dominate were practically nonexistent. This was why such a title was unsuitable on any of them.
Nie Yan felt it would be a little troublesome if he encountered a player like Bloodlust Mad Blade. However, after looking at his fellow guild members, he couldn’t help but think, Hmph! So what if he’s a Champion? There’s a ton of players with master class titles in Asskickers United. I could randomly pick out a whole bunch with my eyes closed! Champions, Sword Saints, Guardians, Archbishops… we don’t lack any of them! Even if you’re the Strongest Champion, all I have to do is send a bunch of other players with master class titles after you, and you’ll end up getting crushed just the same!
Using a group of players with master class titles to gang up on a single person was definitely more awesome than simply using ordinary players.
Thinking to this point, Nie Yan’s mood improved greatly.
Victorious Return and Radiant Sacred Flame had called these people over to help them. There was a good chance he would meet them again in the upcoming stronghold battle between Radiant Sacred Flame and Holy Empire.
「Nie Yan, remember when you told me to pay attention to the Cao Xu Century Financial Group? Well I received some information today. It’s related to Radiant Sacred Flame,」Guo Huai informed him after recalling this matter.
「What kind of information?」Nie Yan asked, his tone turning much more serious when he heard it was related to the Cao Xu Century Financial Group and Radiant Sacred Flame.
「I got a report that Century Financial Group wanted to acquire Radiant Sacred Flame. But after only three days, negotiations fell through and both sides parted on bad terms.」
This was an extremely shocking piece of news!
「Wait, what happened? Why did they fall through?」Nie Yan asked in surprise, especially since he knew Radiant Sacred Flame was successfully acquired by Century Financial Group in the previous timeline.
「I heard Nightbreak Trickster was given an insultingly low offer, the reason being that Century Financial Group judged Radiant Sacred Flame had no potential for further growth. With the existence of our guild, they felt Radiant Sacred Flame’s chances of victory in the upcoming stronghold battle were slim to none. There was also the possibility that Radiant Sacred Flame would end up getting crushed by our guild somewhere down the line. Since Century Financial Group failed to acquire Asskickers United, they’ve decided to abandon most of their business efforts in Calore.」
This was an unprecedented development!
Nie Yan never expected that his interference would lead to such a huge chain reaction. He had directly caused Century Financial Group to give up on acquiring Radiant Sacred Flame. In the previous timeline, they had acquired both Radiant Sacred Flame and Victorious Return. Didn’t this mean they had no plans of acquiring Victorious Return as well?
Nie Yan felt cold sweat drip down his forehead. He believed that crushing Radiant Sacred Flame and Victorious Return was simply the first step. He never expected his plans would go completely awry after completing it! Things had gone in an unknown direction. From now on, the future would be much more uncertain!