Chapter 354 – Akeph’s Hand of Knowledge
“It’s a medium that allows Necromancers to summon one or two additional undead,” Plenty explained.
Nie Yan naturally understood how an item which bolstered the size of an undead army would be highly sought after by Necromancers, especially if its drop rate was abysmally low. Furthermore, the Conjuring Skull in his possession was one of the rarer kinds.
The price Plenty offered should be fair. However, Nie Yan felt it’d be a waste to sell an item like the Conjuring Skull for gold.
“How about we exchange for equipment instead?” Nie Yan suggested. “A large guild like Fallen Angel, I’m sure you have plenty of Sub Legendary-grade items…”
For guild leaders like Plenty and Nie Yan gold was simply a means to an end. What they required more was better equipment to strengthen the players under them.
“I have a decent pair of mage gloves without faction restrictions. Take a look,” Plenty said after a moment of consideration.
A short while later, a subordinate arrived with the gloves.Akeph’s Hand of Knowledge (Sub Legendary)
Description: Akeph was a Great Incantist that sought out the profound, learning every type of magic on the way.
Requirements: 529 Intelligence
Properties: Defense 336–369, Magic Power +32, Intelligence +58, Magic Amplification +10%
Cursing Light: Light magic additionally inflicts the enemy with 3 seconds of confusion and exhaustion. Cooldown: 3 hours.
Life Corrosion: Spells corrode 20% of the enemy’s defense and deal additional damage over time based on the player’s Intelligence. Cooldown: 3 hours.
Plenty supplemented Nie Yan with 13,000 gold on top of Akeph’s Hand of Knowledge for the Conjuring Skull. Like this, it was a fair trade.
“That about wraps things up. You’ll be back in five days?” Plenty asked.
“Yeah.” Nie Yan nodded.
Plenty set off to lead the Fallen Angel players in dealing with the Level 60 Variant Lord.
Nie Yan waited for the Dark Portal to come off cooldown in the tavern. He glanced at Empress Finas’ Fang in his bag, helpless to bring it out since it was coated in a highly corrosive toxin. He could only examine it from his inventory window.Empress Finas’ Fang (Quest Item): Psychic Object
Description: Converts 30% of the damage from regular attacks into poison damage.
The term Psychic Object was unfamiliar to Nie Yan. However, he could feel a dense aura of darkness radiating from the fang.
Nie Yan was blown away by the description. His regular attacks currently dealt around 1,600 damage. For 30% of that to be converted into poison damage, which ignored all defenses except for poison resistance, was astonishing to say the least. According to his experiences from the previous timeline, attacks with more varied damage compositions generally dealt more damage to bosses. An alteration to the properties of an attack was far more effective than a simple increase in attack power.
Nie Yan checked on the status of his quest.Quest Progress: Search for Empress Finas’ Eye, Psychic Objects (1/3).
It was nowhere close to being finished!
Nie Yan glanced at Bennett’s Soul floating beside him. He could only continue searching for the other Psychic Objects some other time.
As the minutes passed, Nie Yan received news that Fallen Angel had taken down Elder Arachne Kasil and obtained a piece of Sub Legendary-grade equipment from his corpse. The drops from a Variant Lord naturally wouldn’t be lacking.
It was finally time to leave. Nie Yan left Valitin Village, his silhouette disappearing into the darkness as he dashed east. He found a secluded area and opened up the Dark Portal.
A portal radiating ominous energy appeared before Nie Yan. He stepped forward and disappeared inside.
Just outside of Valitin Village, hundreds of Fallen Angel Players were cleaning up the battlefield. There were corpses strewn about everywhere. Everything within a hundred meter radius was devastated. One could imagine the sort of bitter battle that took place.
“Nirvana Flame returned to the surface?” Plenty asked Proud Warlance who stood beside him.
“I think so.” Warlance nodded. Truthfully, when Nie Yan stepped foot outside the village, they already had Thieves on standby to trail him. How he was going to return surface greatly intrigued them. However, they feared it would negatively impact their relationship with him if they were caught, so they dropped the matter in the end. Aside from this, none of the Thieves in Fallen Angel could realistically keep up with him anyway.
“He probably used some sort of teleportation item,” Plenty guessed.
“Do you think he can be trusted, that Nirvana Flame?”
“Who knows? In any case, we’ll have our answer in five days. A collaboration would be beneficial to both sides. Assuming he does return, make sure the players you dispatch to meet him are courteous. Remember he holds all the cards in his hand. He can always find other partners to cooperate with,” Plenty reminded. Nie Yan was probably the only player who could currently freely travel between the surface and Underworld.
“I understand.” Warlance nodded. Just a single successful trade would be immensely beneficial to Fallen Angel. But if Nie Yan chose to back out, there was no recourse since the in-game contract system was unavailable to them due to faction restrictions. They could only rely on good faith.
Nie Yan’s pupils sharply contracted as the scenery flashed around him. His vision was shrouded by a vast expanse of bright white.
After who knows how long, Nie Yan opened his eyes to be welcomed by a blue sky and white clouds. His mood immediately improved.
He was finally back in his own world!
Nie Yan checked his coordinates. He was actually in the wilderness surrounding Hilderlocke, the City of Jadeite! He teleported to the city with a Return Scroll, then took a transfer point to Calore.
The streets were even more bustling than before. Nie Yan walked to Asskickers United’s office in Calore.
When the Asskickers United players saw Nie Yan, they rubbed their eyes to make sure they weren’t seeing things.
“Boss, you’ve returned!”
The players all excitedly ran up to greet Nie Yan.
The last five days had been some of the roughest in Asskickers United’s short history. The conflict with Bloodlust Blades raged on, with both sides unwilling to back down. The players of Asskickers United could only patiently endure. Nie Yan’s absence during this time was a hard blow to morale. It was as if the guild had lost a supporting pillar. Fortunately, Guo Huai and the other higher-ups didn’t neglect their duties. Furthermore, Smoke Stub stepped up to help out where he could since he also had experience with administration. Thanks to this, everything was still running smoothly.
The guild chat immediately exploded in activity when word of Nie Yan’s return spread.
「Boss, welcome back!」
「The guild leader is finally back!」
「Welcome home! We missed you so much!」
News of Nie Yan’s return spread like wildfire. All of Asskickers United celeberated. The previous damp mood was nowhere left to be seen.
Nie Yan was deeply moved. He had spent what felt like a lifetime in the Underworld. He was glad to finally be back. Asskickers United was his home, and the Viridian Empire his sky!
「Where’s Watchful Snail. Tell him to get in touch with me,」Nie Yan said in guild chat.
Before long, Guo Huai, Zhao Li, Smoke Stub, and the others all rushed over to the Calore office.
“You’re finally back! A day later and we would’ve packed up our bags and left,” Smoke Stub jested as he patted Nie Yan’s chest.
“How are things?” Nie Yan asked. He estimated after so many days the guild’s financial situation was akin to a creek during a long drought.
“I’m not the one you should ask.” Smoke Stub forced a smile as he glanced over at Guo Huai.
“Grim would be the best description. We’re on the verge of collapse. Here’s a report of our financials. Take a look,” Guo Huai said with a helpless expression.
Nie Yan looked over the expenses. They had spent a total of 536,268 gold, of which 360,000 gold was bounty payouts while the rest was compensation for struggling guild members. This was a terrifying figure! Before he left for the Underworld, the guild had just barely 200,000 gold in the bank. They really were running on empty!
“How much gold do we have left?” Nie Yan asked.
“A little over 2,000.” Guo Huai bitterly smiled.
For a guild the size of Asskickers United to only have 2,000 gold in the bank, Nie Yan could imagine how severe things had gotten.
“What about the gold from the Starry Night Potion Shop and other businesses?” Nie Yan asked. He had given Guo Huai permission to withdraw gold from these places.
“I’ve withdrawn as much as I could.” Guo Huai shook his head helplessly. “We’ve received support from our allies, the War God Tribe, Holy Empire, and Sapphire Shrine as well. The Dragonsoar Financial Group has provided us with 170,000 gold in total. Our guild members have also donated 160,000 gold. However, it’s just not enough.
“Our only solace is that Bloodlust Blades aren’t fairing much better. They’ve burned through at least 700,000 gold. Their finances are teetering on the verge of collapse. If it wasn’t for the Century Financial Group, Alliance of Mages, and Divine Protectors helping them out from behind the scenes, they would’ve been finished long ago. I’ve also heard that Angel Corps has thrown themselves in the mix.”
Nie Yan nodded. He roughly understood the situation. Even a guild that had lost several wars in a row wouldn’t easily collapse. Victorious Return was a perfect example. Even though they had suffered so many setbacks, including a huge blow to their prestige, they were still continuing to operate. But an issue with finances was another matter altogether. All guild activity required expenses, not to mention members would require compensation for any damages they incurred. If something as basic as compensation couldn’t even be provided, who would be willing to stay!? It would be a wonder if a guild like this didn’t collapse! Both Asskickers United and Bloodlust Blades were currently on the edge of a deep abyss.