Chapter 558 - Conspiracy!
Nie Yan knew it was impossible to compete with the Century Financial Group in terms of capital. Seeing which side was wealthier? What a joke!
Given the financial resources of Asskickers United, at about ¥20,000 a month the salaries of second-rate players like Sesame Cake was already fairly generous. Any higher, and the guild would go under. For the Century Financial Group to offer sixfold, that was basically brute forcing their way to victory with money. Even first-rate players could barely command such a salary. For Cao Xu to spend this on Sesame Cake and the others, would it be a good return on investment?
In other words, the Century Financial Group would be taking a loss for every member poached from Asskickers United.
Imagine how many experts Nie Yan could pull to his side with that kind money!
The Century Financial Group was purposefully doing this to Asskickers United, knowing full well they were taking a loss. However, they didn't care. The one thing they weren't short on was money!
"The Century Financial Group wants to dig at our walls? Fine, I'll let them dig to their heart's content!" Nie Yan turned to Guo Huai. "Using my name, release this announcement throughout all of Calore: Asskickers United will be opening up recruitment for 40,000 new members, expanding from 60,000 to 100,000 players! Loosen some of our requirements. We'll begin selections immediately!"
After hearing Nie Yan's words, Guo Huai pondered for a moment before cracking a faint smile, "Not a bad idea. If the Century Financial Group is poaching our players, we'll just replenish them back. Let's see how long they can keep this going for."
Nie Yan understood the new recruits wouldn't necessarily match Asskickers United's old members in quality. However, there were bound to be some good seedlings among them. If he found them within the herd, he could replenish the guild's lost talent.
At the same time, Nie Yan increased the benefits of Asskickers United's players once more. Their profits saw a good boost after the acquisition of Alliance of Mages' strongholds.
After Sesame Cake and the others left, Asskickers United quickly settled back down.
Asskickers United's army was making steady progress under Paladin of the Elegy's command. After taking down two strongholds in a row without much trouble, they continued on to the third.
Crazy Magic could only look on helplessly as Asskickers United razed stronghold after stronghold to the ground, having no choice to but give them up. He gathered all their strength in the Edgarton Stronghold, preparing for a final showdown.
On the other hand, Nie Yan appeared to be in no rush to end the war. They took their time demolishing Alliance of Mages' strongholds, one by one. Moonlight City was home to at least a dozen second-rate guilds. With Asskickers United and Alliance of Mages at war with each other, they took their spots on the sidelines and simply observed. However, if Asskickers United showed the slightest inkling of wanting to expand permanently into Moonlight City, they would immediately band together to resist. Asskickers United currently lacked the manpower, resources, as well as logistical strength required to take over Moonlight City. So, Nie Yan felt they would be better off razing the extra strongholds they conquered to the ground first. Then, when they grew powerful enough to take over Moonlight City, he would rebuild them.
Every stronghold Asskickers United's army passed through would be left in ruins.
As the war progressed, the number of Armoured Ice Catapults on the side of Asskickers United continously increased, going from 15 to 19. Furthermore, another five were on their way thanks to the hard work of their Engineers.
Alliance of Mages' fate was destined to be tragic. The longer the war dragged out, the more they were forced on the defensive. However, having a final showdown with Asskickers United on an open battlefield was practically suicide. The enemy had a total of 19 Armoured Ice Catapults. This was no joking matter! No matter how large of a force you threw at that, they would only be cannon fodder.
Witnessing the military power of Asskickers United in action, every guild in the Viridian Empire frantically started researching various ways to deal with Armoured Ice Catapults. Alliance of Mages was naturally no exception. However, in this kind of situation, they were merely grasping at straws.
It would take another two or three days to finish razing Alliance of Mages' remaining strongholds. As long as nothing unexpected occured during this time, victory was assured. Nie Yan could even spare time to go out and level.
The Century Financial Group was becoming a lot more active in Calore. They repeatedly made contact with players from Asskickers United, enticing them with offers of bountiful riches.
Few could resist the temptation of money and quietly withdrew from the guild one by one. By now, over 100 players had left. Thankfully, none of them were first-rate players. They didn't have that deep of a bond with the guild in the first place, their positions were quite low, nor were their salaries high. If they went over to the Century Financial Group, they would receive even better benefits. They had no reason to refuse.
Nie Yan wasn't too bothered with these nobodies who didn't contribute much to the guild leaving.
Nie Yan tried his best to keep this information suppressed since it would lead to unnecessary panic. On the other hand, the Century Financial Group was continuously going around bragging about their poaching. The players of Asskickers United were of course skeptical. However, since Guo Huai and the other higher ups never gave confirmation, they simply chose to treat it as fake news.
During this time, Nie Yan received word from Guo Huai that Li Rui had made contact with people from the Century Financial Group.
「I think Li Rui is unreliable. Last time when he was looking for you, I tried asking him what it was about, but he acted all dodgy. Recently, he's been meeting up with people from the Century Financial Group on more than one occasion,」Guo Huai voiced his misgivings. His impression of Li Rui wasn't that good. Li Rui, Zhai Hao, and Liu Xuchen had all joined Asskickers United at the same time. Zhai Hao and Liu Xuchen quickly rose up the ranks while Li Rui was still stuck as a junior captain. He surely felt some dissatisfaction with the way he was treated in the guild.
Hearing Guo Huai's words, Nie Yan simply chuckled.「I believe in Li Rui. He isn't that kind of person. He wouldn't betray Asskickers United.」Li Rui was his brother in two lifetimes. He was quite familiar with Li Rui's personality.
「If it was really like that, he would've directly refused the Century Financial Group. Why would he keep making contact with their people? Als—」
「Enough. If Li Rui really betrayed us, I'm afraid only a handful of people in the entire guild can be trusted.」Nie Yan declared.
「Fine… I only hope you're right,」Guo Huai helplessly said.
The Enross Tavern in the central plaza of Calore, this place contained many private booths which provided players a way to chat in secret.
Li Rui was one of the few Asskickers United players tasked with staying behind in Calore. Things over at Moonlight City were hectic, but his life was as easy-going as ever, to the extent that he could come to a teahouse to chat and drink. He was a nobody in the guild anyway. Zhai Hao and Liu Xuchen had risen to high-ranking positions while he was still the same as before, muddling around aimlessly and passing his days in boredom.
Li Rui stepped into the Enross Tavern and scanned around. A few players were chatting around and having a few drinks. After confirming there was no one suspicious, he entered a private booth.
"You're here! Welcome! Welcome!" Several players in the room stood up and warmly greeted Li Rui. They were all people of the Century Financial Group. Based on their casual attire and lack of identifying emblem, though, no one would be the wiser.
"Hello," Li Rui greeted in a humble tone, sweeping his gaze over the faces of these people.
"So, have you thought over what we talked about last time? If you're willing to become an informant for the Century Financial Group and provide intelligence on Nirvana Flame, even offering you tenfold won't be an issue, maybe more depending on the value of the information," a Mage in gray robes said.
"We've already worked together a couple of times now. You've also received quite a bit of money from us. So, why not make things official. I trust you don't want this whole affair being announced to the public, right?" a small-headed, rat-eyed looking Priest said.
"Are you threatening me?" Li Rui glared at the Priest.
The Priest chuckled. "I'm just joking around. We won't sell you out. In any case, if you become our informant, everyone wins. We get the intelligence we want, and you get to earn big. What more could you want?"
"Right! Think about it carefully," the Mage chimed in.
Li Rui hesitated for a moment, then gazed at the two players, "You guys will guarantee my safety?"
The Priest and Mage glanced at each other before turning back to Li Rui with faces full of smiles. "Of course, no problem! If worst comes to worst, just leave Asskickers United."
Seeing their expressions, Li Rui inwardly snorted. Their replies might sound straightforward now, sure. But the moment he left Asskickers United, the Century Financial Group wouldn't hesitate to throw him aside like a used rag.
"Fine. If I provide useful information, you'll have to pay me extra," Li Rui said.
"Of course, of course! That won't be a problem!"
Li Rui had previously provided them quite a bit of useful information, some of which had a hand in the Century Financial Group successfully poaching Sesame Cake. That's why they trusted him. After going back and forth a few more times, he signed a contract with them. They chatted for another 10 minutes before he put his cloak back on and left. The people from the Century Financial Group also quietly left. It was almost as if this meeting never took place.
After leaving the Enross Tavern, Li Rui contacted Guo Huai again.
「What is it?」Guo Huai asked in an annoyed tone. He just received a report that Li Rui was seen meeting with people from the Century Financial Group in the Enross Tavern a moment ago.
「Executive Guild Leader, is Nirvana Flame free? I want to meet him,」Li Rui asked in a sincere tone.
「He—」Guo Huai was just about to say Nie Yan was too busy. However, he changed his mind and said,「He's at the Central Auction House in Calore. I'll have him get in touch with you.」
「Thank you very much,」Li Rui said in a grateful tone.