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Chapter 285 – Sinkhole

“Nirvana Flame, it’s been a long time since we last played together,” Yao Yao remarked. She deeply cherished her time with him, but she understood he was a busy person. Apart from levelling, he had to constantly attend to guild affairs as well. How could he have the free time to adventure with her like the old days?

“Ah, yeah… It has been a while,” Nie Yan murmured, a hint of guilt in his voice. His mind trembled as he noticed the forlorn expression in her eyes. Could it be that despite his best efforts, he had left a mark in her heart?

Yao Yao was beautiful, kindhearted, and thoughtful. Maybe in another world, where his heart didn’t already belong to someone else, he would’ve fallen in love with her instead. However, it was best not to linger on these matters.

When they arrived in the wilderness, Nie Yan turned to Yao Yao and asked, “Do you have a mount?” They would have to run to Sinful Gorge if she didn’t.

“Yep!” Yao Yao replied. She called forth a gallant steed with a crimson red coat. It wasn’t as valiant or imposing as his Faulkner Warhorse, but it was still quite the sight to behold.

Kohls Horse! Nie Yan didn’t expect to see such a high-quality mount.

It had a movement speed bonus of 200%!

If it wasn’t obtained from a quest, it would cost at least several thousand gold!

Since this was her first time riding a mount, Yao Yao climbed on top of her Kohls Warhorse with an excited expression. When her grandfather decided to invest in Conviction, she became the representative of the Dragonsoar Financial Group inside the game. After slowly familiarizing herself with their network of contacts, collecting a few thousand gold was a trivial matter.

It was only after taking charge of Dragonsoar Financial Group’s affairs that Xie Yao learned there were many other organizations inside the game aside from the guilds, such as gold farmers. They ranged in size from a few dozen members to several thousand. These players generally didn’t join a guild. The game was work for them rather than entertainment. They would camp out in one area, endlessly grinding weak mobs for drops. They were even reluctant to part with consumables, gearing themselves up with the most basic equipment necessary for the job. At the end of the day, they would sell off any equipment and items they obtained, then head to the Credit Exchange to sell their gold or have a friend sell it for them.

This was all they did inside the game. The amount of money they earned from selling gold could at most be used to supplement some daily expenses. They were a bunch of low-class workers everybody looked down on. But it was precisely these players that generated a vast amount of gold every day. If you were to add it all up, it was enough to support several dozen guilds the size of Asskickers United!

Xie Yao ordered all her subordinates to go through various channels to purchase from these gold farmers. She had a kind heart. With their lack of skill, these gold farmers couldn’t be counted as professional players, and they generally lived difficult lives. She instructed her subordinates to buy their gold at a slightly higher rate. For a behemoth like the Dragonsoar Financial Group, this bit of money was like a drop in the ocean. However, this little act of kindness was greatly appreciated. In return, more and more gold farmers were willing to do business exclusively with the Dragonsoar Financial Group. Xie Yao quickly accumulated an inconceivable amount of gold, her funds even surpassing Nie Yan’s. So acquiring a high-quality mount was naturally no issue for her. But even with money, the vast majority of players still couldn’t purchase a royal mount like the Faulkner Warhorse.

Nie Yan was startled by Yao Yao’s mount, but he quickly regained his composure. If someone like him could get a Faulkner Warhorse, why couldn’t others obtain similarly high-quality mounts?

Nie Yan summoned his Faulkner Warhorse.

Xie Yao’s Kohls Horse immediately appeared a lot smaller while standing beside Nie Yan’s Faulkner Warhorse.

“Let’s go,” Nie Yan said.

The two steeds rose into the wilderness, kicking up a cloud of dust. Nie Yan lowered his speed to match Xie Yao’s.

From time to time, Nie Yan and Xie Yao would pass by a team or two in the middle of levelling and leave them dumbstruck. Even ordinary horses were a rare sight. So one could imagine their shock after spotting two high-quality mounts blazing through the wilderness.

Nie Yan and Xie Yao only felt the wind whistling past their ears as the scenery blurred around them. After galloping for about 6 minutes, they arrived inside the valley of Sinful Gorge.

The war from the other day was still fresh in Nie Yan’s mind.

“You’re back here again. Do you feel anything?” Yao Yao asked.

Nie Yan shook his head as a calm smile surfaced on his face. “No point lingering over the past. What’s most important is seizing the present.” This was mostly a reminder to himself that he should move on. In this life, he and Yao Yao were simply good friends.

“Where are we going?” Yao Yao asked. Nie Yan was guiding them away from the cave entrances she was familiar with.

“Just follow me. I know the terrain of this place better than anyone else,” Nie Yan replied. He had a special method to reach the region where the Black Sin Lotus grew.

Although Yao Yao had her doubts, she followed him anyway.

Several minutes later, Nie Yan and Yao Yao arrived at the base of a mountain. Before them was a pitch-black, bottomless sinkhole. It emitted a foul miasma that gave a sinister feeling.

Nie Yan jumped down from his Faulkner Warhorse with Yao Yao following suit.

“Right here.” Nie Yan looked down at the sinkhole, then turned to Yao Yao and asked, “Do you have an item with the Featherfall ability?”

“I do! I have a Featherfall Ring,” Yao Yao replied. All her equipment was top-notch. How could she not have an item with the Featherfall ability! It was an essential item for any high-level player!

“Good, that makes things easier. Let’s unsummon our mounts first,” Nie Yan said, recalling his Faulkner Warhorse. Only now did he notice that Yao Yao was wearing some really high-end gear!

Yao Yao unsummoned her Kohls Horse. She looked down at the sinkhole and couldn’t help feeling a tinge of dread. There’s nothing scary down there, right?

Even though she didn’t know what was exactly in the sinkhole, dark places like these usually reminded her of vipers and other creepy crawlies.

“Let’s jump together. We’ll activate Featherfall after about 10 minutes!” Nie Yan instructed. He had been down this sinkhole before. It led directly to the depths of Sinful Gorge!

Yao Yao nodded after some slight hesitation. But she couldn’t fully shake off her anxiety.

“Don’t worry. Nothing bad will happen while I’m here,” Nie Yan comforted. He extended out his hand.

Yao Yao grabbed ahold and felt a sense of warmth wash over her as her heart gradually settled.

“3, 2, 1, jump!” The two of them jumped down, disappearing into the abyss. All they could hear was the wind rushing past their ears as they rapidly descended.

Nie Yan started counting down the time. He turned to face Yao Yao. Looking through the darkness, he could see the hazy outline of her silhouette.

Their falling speed quickly reached terminal velocity.

All they could see around them was a pitch-black abyss.

Nie Yan suddenly felt someone hugging him tightly. It appeared Yao Yao had instinctively grabbed onto the first thing she could reach when they jumped down, and that happened to be him. He felt an explosion go off in his head as a delicate fragrance wafted up his nose. With his arm wrapped around her waist, he could feel the silken-smoothness of her skin through her robes, and he felt something akin to a pair of puffy clouds pressing against his chest. The sensations running through him were simultaneously familiar yet strange.

A seductive scene instantly flashed before Nie Yan’s eyes. It was of Yao Yao’s gorgeous body which was as delicate as a piece of china. On that passionate night, it was as though they had tried to meld their bodies together.

Nie Yan shook his head, calming his mind. It was simply a lingering memory of a world that no longer existed, like the captivating yet fleeting red clouds far out in the horizon during sunset.

While hugging onto Nie Yan, Yao Yao felt a sense of warmth and security even though her cheeks were burning hot with embarrassment. This was her first time being so intimate with a boy. She never planned for this to happen.

“Yao Yao, activate your Featherfall Ring,” Nie Yan said. He activated his Featherfall Jewel as his falling speed slowed to a crawl.

Hearing Nie Yan’s muffled voice in her ears, Yao Yao activated her Featherfall Ring in a fluster.

The two slowly floated down and gently landed on the ground.

Even though it had taken them roughly 15 minutes to reach the bottom of the sinkhole, it wasn’t all that dark down here. Their surroundings were illuminated by strange ores that emitted a faint glow.

“Let’s go down a little deeper. We’ll reach the Black Sin Lotus in no time,” Nie Yan said. After a moment of silence, he clenched his teeth and turned away, heading towards a tunnel.

Staring at his back, Yao Yao felt her heart turn sour. Whenever she felt they had gotten closer, he would push her away. This sort of feeling hurt her deeply.

Yao Yao took a deep breath. She could at least take comfort in the fact she knew why he was acting so coldly toward her. If he could restrain himself in these circumstances, it signified his character was trustworthy. It appeared what Xia Ling told her about him rejecting Jiang Yingyu’s advances was true.

Yao Yao silently followed.

The winding and twisting passageways were like a labyrinth. A bone-chilling gust would occasionally blow through them while the distant sound of monsters could be heard further in the depths. Nie Yan could detect the thick miasma in the air. If a Holy Mage, Priest, or Paladin were to cast magic in this place, its effects would be greatly reduced.

Nie Yan and Yao Yao reached the end of the tunnel and arrived at a large underground lake whose waters were as black as ink. Sitting at the center was a black lotus in full bloom. This was the item Yao Yao required for her quest, the Black Sin Lotus!

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