Chapter 718 - Return of the King!
Glory and sorrow, renown and regret… all sorts of complicated emotions intertwined, reflected in the expressions of every person’s eyes.
None of them expected so many comrades to turn up.
A feeling of longing and nostalgia welled up in their hearts.
Everyone watched as Black Hell slowly walked up to the center of the square, their vision growing blurry with tears. Brother, what a familiar term of address. Even after such a long time, the word still remained deeply etched in their minds. At this moment, no one saw Black Hell; they saw their guild leader—Invincible!
Many races were gathered in the square. Humans, elves, orcs, giants, dwarves, they had all come together for one person.
Seeing all these passionate people, a thought surface in Nie Yan’s mind. If I were to disappear one day, only to show back up several years later, how many would heed my call? Could I just be like Black Hell?
Nie Yan didn’t know the answer. To be able to engrave yourself in the hearts of so many people, Black Hell—no, it was better to say Invincible—had a place he belonged.
Even more players came pouring in from all over after receiving word of Invincible’s return. Nie Yan roughly estimated there were at least 300,000 players here. Imagine if all these people were brought together under a single banner. It would be the inception of a powerful guild no weaker than the likes of God Executioner Sword and Divine Protectors. If Black Hell still had the heart of a conqueror, he would become one of Asskickers United’s greatest rivals.
However, Nie Yan knew Black Hell wouldn’t become his enemy. This sort of trust came from the bottom of his heart.
Black Hell, Black Heaven, and Nie Yan arrived at the center of the square.
“Brothers, long time no see,” Black Hell said, choking up with emotion. The memories of old resurfaced in his mind.
“B-boss… Invincible, is it really you?”
“Hehe, the boss changed his name,” a player said, wiping the tears from their eyes.
“Boss! It’s really great to have you back. Y-you don’t know half how much we missed you...!”
The crowd in the central square stirred with emotion.
The 20 players who’d kept an open space in the center of the square rushed over to Black Hell.
“Boss, i-it’s me, Requiem...!” Dark Requiem exclaimed. He tried to force back his urge to cry, but the trembling in his voice betrayed his emotions.
All of them were overwhelmed with joy. After Invincible disappeared, they had never stopped searching for him. Outsiders couldn’t possibly understand this feeling.
“Boss! It’s me, Street Vulture,” an elven Elementalist said, choked up with tears. He was the sole Magister here.
“Big Bro, it’s me, Netherluna!”
“Boss, do you remember me? I’m Canon.”
Black Hell swept his eyes over everyone. Even though their appearances were somewhat different, he still recognized every single one of them. All sorts of emotions welled up from the bottom of his heart, closeness and familiarity as well as sorrow and guilt.
Black Hell engraved the figures of every person here into his mind. “Have you all been well...?”
“Y-yeah. Same as always. Just living,” Dark Requiem replied. His light words carried a hint of bitterness and pain.
“Fire Dragon isn’t here? Sky Master too. Is that guy still pulling everyone into his tricks?” Black Hell noticed there were still a few people missing.
Everyone became silent.
“What’s wrong? Did something happen?” Black Hell noticed the strange atmosphere.
“The last time we heard from Fire Dragon was over three months ago. We haven’t been able to get in touch with him since,” Dark Requiem explained before breaking out into sobs.
Black Hell was dumbstruck. A figure slowly surfaced in his mind. Fire Dragon was a simple-minded fellow who liked to tease the girls in the guild. Yet he could also light up the darkest room with his big grin that was always plastered on his face. When they ran dungeons together, he would often charge ahead before the Mages were even ready, hollering Leeroy Jenkins with his greatshield raised. However, his recklessness was backed up by skill, not to mention his stupid luck, miraculously getting out more scared than hurt.
“Then what about Sky Master?”
“Sky Master doesn’t play Conviction. We haven’t been in touch since the game’s release…”
“Up until the very end, Fire Dragon always believed in you. He would always say you would come back, and we would rebuild Dark Hero together.”
Of those former brothers in arms, some had scattered to a faraway place, impossible to find ever again; others had moved to another planet; and still others had changed their names and could no longer be reached. Only about a quarter to a third of them still remained behind. It was to be expected. But because of his willfulness, he couldn’t be there with Fire Dragon in his final moments. Black Hell was wracked with remorse, the guilt stabbing at his heart like steak knives.
“Boss... let’s rebuild Dark Hero.”
“Yeah, Boss, we can all start over again!”
“Boss, it’ll just be like the good old days!”
Many excited shouts rang out. The voices of hundreds of thousands of players shook the entirety of Calore.
“If that’s you want, to rebuild Dark Hero, I won’t stop you. I can release both you and Black Heaven from your contracts,” Nie Yan said. He understood how powerful of a force could be created if all these people were gathered together. However, he didn’t have the heart to stand in the way of such a strong bond. Even if Dark Hero and Asskickers United became enemies in the end, he wouldn’t mind having a worthy opponent like this.
Black Hell turned to Nie Yan. He could tell Nie Yan was serious. He shook his head and said in a desolate tone, “Dark Hero is no more. Invincible is no more. I’m Black Hell, the Dark Archbishop of Asskickers United.”
Nie Yan could vaguely understand how Black Hell felt right now.
Dark Hero was a relic of history, and so it would remain.
Black Hell raised his hand. Over 300,000 voices silenced in an instant. They all stared at him in anticipation, their expressions blazing with fervor.
“Dark Hero is no more, personally destroyed by my own two hands. It is no longer the Dark Hero of the past, and I am no longer Invincible,” Black Hell said, dousing the flames of passion in their hearts, quenched with a murky forlorn. “However, if you wish, you can still call me Invincible. Right now, I belong to Asskickers United. Heaven is here too. If you’re still willing to follow me, I’ll say the same thing as I did in the past. As long as I’m here, I won’t allow any of you to suffer any injustices!”
What followed was a long period of silence.
After struggling with the complicated emotions in their hearts, many people were still willing to follow Black Hell. He was Invincible. Even if he now used a different name, he was still Invincible.
Invincible wasn’t merely a guild leader to these players. This was also one of the reasons why Dark Hero fell to ruin after he left. He was Invincible, no matter where he went. A Dark Hero without him was not the guild they knew.
However, many people still carried a bit of hope in their hearts. They would first follow Black Hell. Then later on, they would try to convince him to rebuild Dark Hero.
The commotion in the central square in Calore shook the hearts of the leaders of the various major guilds. They naturally knew of Invincible. He was the ruler of several large virtual reality video games, until his sudden disappearance. Who would’ve thought the return of the king would play out like this? A single call from him had rallied 300,000 players, and more were still heeding his summon! If you gave him a bit of time, he could erect a powerful new guild! However, it was rumoured he had no plans of reviving Dark Hero and instead would remain in Asskickers United. This caused everyone’s eyes to pop out in shock. The various guild leaders couldn’t help but envy Nie Yan. Being able to recruit a figure like Invincible was like falling upon a priceless treasure.
Nie Yan established a separate branch in Asskickers United. It was reserved to only former members of Dark Hero. For now, he didn’t dare to assimilate all these people into the guild, for fear of creating an unforeseen influence. Black Hell was naturally put in charge of them. There was no one else more suitable for the role.
Asskickers United grew substantially in size. In the future, he could slowly assimilate the players from Dark Hero.
Following these players joining the guild, Asskickers United’s army expanded to more than 1,000,000 troops. The number of Masters had also increased from 13 to 15.
Under Black Hell’s arrangements, these former players of Dark Hero were rapidly dispatched to the various strongholds of Asskickers United to aid in their defense.
Meanwhile, on the forums, posts started popping up discussing Invincible’s return.
Nie Yan browsed the forums.
「The King has Returned! Invincible is Back! Rallying All Former Brothers of Dark Hero!」
「Shocking News! Invincible Joins Asskickers United!」
All of these posts were plastered at the top of the front page. Only more people would see this news, including the former players of Dark Hero scattered all over Conviction.
With the addition of 300,000 new players, Asskickers United’s morale soared. They felt all the more confident in defeating the Monet Financial Group.
Qin Han’s skeleton army was like an ocean of white. As they pressed forward, they had swallowed up three strongholds along the way and were gradually approaching the Cripps Stronghold.
Nie Yan viewed the videos sent to him. God Executioner Sword’s 100 catapults were formidable. If they were allowed to all fire at once, the Cripps Stronghold would be overrun by the skeleton army.
「Guo Huai, how many catapults and trebuchets do we have?」Nie Yan asked. Asskickers United had never stopped producing siege engines this whole time.
「According to the latest update, 923 Armoured Ice Catapults and 623 trebuchets. We have about 100 siege engines stationed in the Cripps Stronghold. The rest are all stored away,」Guo Huai replied. Everything was carried out according to Nie Yan’s plan.
「What about the Magic Bombs?」
「All 800,000 have been distributed among trustworthy guild members.」
「Good, when Qin Han’s skeleton army arrives. We’ll give them a ruthless blow!」Nie Yan said confidently.
「Are all the preparations on your side complete?」Guo Huai asked in a worried tone.
「Everything is ready. All I need to do is hit confirm, and the guild headquarters will be moved to Okoron.」
What Qin Han didn’t know was that he had already failed his main objective before his skeleton army even arrived at the Cripps Stronghold. Nie Yan had already long since planted all his traps and was simply awaiting their attack these last couple of days.
Time ticked away. Everyone focused their attention on the Cripps Stronghold. This battle would decide the future layout of the Viridian Empire!