Chapter 45 – Specialist Difficulty
“Featherfall Jewel? What kind of item is that? We’ve run this dungeon five or six times in the past and we’ve never once gotten any ‘Featherfall Jewel,’” Dusk exclaimed in surprise.
Dusk didn’t know what the Featherfall Jewel was because it was only a drop on the Specialist difficulty. Moreover, it’d only drop from the Treant King. The dungeon’s difficulty changed depending on the overall level of the team—if there were more high-level players in the team, the dungeon’s difficulty would increase to compensate.
If players wanted to clear the Specialist Treant Forest, it definitely wouldn’t be an easy task. Even the elite teams from large guilds would have quite a hard time in clearing the dungeon. With this fact in mind, the Featherfall Jewel’s value became even more apparent.
“You’ll know when the time comes,” Nie Yan replied in a dull tone.
Dusk felt slightly puzzled. However, after giving it some thought, he realized since Nie Yan wasn’t telling him now, he’d eventually find out with the rest of the team later!
“This Tang Yao’s equipment is a bit strange. He’s clearly an Arcane Mage, but why is he wearing the Fire Chaser set?” Dusk asked in a confused tone.
Normally, with the way equipment distribution was managed in teams, the Elementalists of the team would definitely have priority on drops such as the Fire Chaser set. So, it was quite strange for the set to be given to an Arcane Mage.
Nie Yan replied with a faint smile but didn’t bother explaining.
Tang Yao slightly reddened in embarrassment upon hearing their conversation. He really did have somewhat of a guilty conscious when wearing this Fire Chaser set. However, this made him even more determined. He definitely needed to get a hold of a first-rate equipment set for his profession with his own power. Only then could he gain some confidence and have some self-respect for himself.
“Nie Yan, how did you meet the Holy Empire’s guild leader?” Yao Yao asked. Her bright and curious gaze made her appear especially cute.
“In reality, it isn’t as amazing as you’re all thinking it to be.” Nie Yan then narrated yesterday’s events to Yao Yao. However, he left out the matter regarding the Chapter of Courage.
“I still can’t help but think you’re quite amazing,” Yao Yao earnestly said. However, if this matter wasn’t related to Sleepy Fox, she also wouldn’t have thought this highly of Nie Yan.
“I still feel the event was a little strange. Why would a dragon all of a sudden invade the town for no reason? Generally, Elite- and Lord-class monsters don’t leave their territories,” Dusk curiously remarked. He still remained quite puzzled over the whole situation. Calling this sort of event rare was quite an understatement.
Nie Yan glanced at the Chapter of Courage in his bag. He sincerely hoped no one connected the appearance of the Guardian of Order with him.
“What’s so strange about that? The game developers probably had the monster siege the town as an event for the players. You know, to spice things up and add some excitement. Something like this isn’t rare at all in these sort of games,” Tang Yao said in a matter-of-fact tone. His comment had unintentionally aided Nie Yan by explaining the matter away.
“Ah, you’re probably right.” Dusk nodded in agreement.
After the party of twenty players passed through a wide open prairie, they were met with a lush and verdant forest at the base of a faraway mountainside. There an eerie mist lingered, appearing as if it would encircle the dense forest eternally. This area was a well known twenty-player dungeon—Treant Forest. It took more than ten minutes of travel time to reach this destination from Tellak town.
Many players idled at the entrance of the forest. Most of them were other twenty-player teams who were here to run the dungeon as well.
“It seems Treant Forest is also pretty lively. There sure are many people here.”
“The average players have leveled up. If they want better equipment, they have no choice but to run the dungeons.”
Treant Forest was still relatively difficult for the average player. The equipment dropped were also much better than the ones dropped from common dungeons. Most teams were unable to clear the dungeon, but it was still worth the run for the experience and potential dropped items. After all, if a team was unable to advance any further, they could simply withdraw from the dungeon. Although the Honour points they’d be missing out on wasn’t few, the majority of teams running the dungeons weren’t elites from the large guilds, so they didn’t care much about gaining Honour. Therefore, whether Honour points were lost or not, it was fine as long the team wasn’t wiped.
Presently within Conviction, there were in total thirty-six Level 5 or below twenty-player dungeons scattered across the Viridian Empire’s domain. Their difficulties differed, but out of the thirty-six, six of these dungeons were particularly challenging. They even required teams to attain a certain amount of Honour before being allowed to enter. The rest of the dungeons had no such requirements.
“I’m a thirty-seven magic damage Holy Mage! Looking for a team to enter Treant Forest with!”
“I’m a thirty-five defense, one hundred seventy health, and sixty-seven attack Berserker! Looking for a team to enter Treant Forest with!”
The entrance of the dungeon was bustling with activity. Many of the players gathered there were seeking teams. When they saw Nie Yan’s group arriving, they ran towards him asking if there was any space.
“Boss, invite me to the team please.”
“Brother, is your team lacking any members?”
Bai Kaisui (Plain Boiled Water) walked forward to deal with the crowd. “We’re full. Everyone, go look somewhere else please.”
Upon hearing Bai Kaisui’s words, the surrounding players had no choice but to leave in low spirits.
“You guys wait here. I’m going to apply to enter the dungeon,” Nie Yan announced and began walking over to the glowing monolith near the dungeon’s entrance. When he neared it, he extended his hand and touched it whereupon he felt a bizarre sensation enter his mind.
「Before entering this lush forest, you happen upon a strange block of stone. The stone block is engraved with various eccentric writing, which read as follows: “Forest Walkers (Treants): they absorb dew under the light of the early morning sun. The sound of a caretaker’s flute floats between the leaves. The tree spirits that have slumbered since the times of antiquity, awaken!” You are reminded, an official from the Viridian Empire told you there were signs of activity from Dark Elves in this area. You mutter to yourself, “These damn Dark Elves! When will they stop?”」
「System: Do you wish to enter Treant Forest?」
Nie Yan hit confirm.
「System: Please select a difficulty. (Easy, Normal, Hard, Expert, Specialist)」
「System: Are you sure?」
In the moment Nie Yan confirmed his selection, a brilliant light flashed through the eyes of each and every team member. When they regained their vision, they noticed they had emerged on a thick patch of grass within the forest. Although the sunlight was still able to penetrate through the foliage of the trees, the atmosphere surrounding the area still remained somewhat sinister and eerie.
「System: You have entered Treant Forest! (Difficulty: Specialist)」
The other nineteen members of the team also received the same notification. Each and every one of them looked on in horror upon reading it.
“Why is it Specialist difficulty?”
“Captain Nie Yan, did you pick the wrong difficulty! Why is it Specialist?”
“Yeah, how can we possibly clear Specialist difficulty?” The surrounding team members were anxious and worried.
Yu Lan looked over at Nie Yan and noticed his expression was still unperturbed. From what she knew of his personality, how could he possibly make such a rudimentary mistake? Unless… he intentionally chose this difficulty! If she recalled correctly, no one had ever cleared—or more so, even dared to attempt—Treant Forest on Specialist so far. Let alone Treant Forest, even the lowest level dungeons would become unreasonably difficult on Specialist difficulty,
“Since I brought you guys in, I naturally have a method to bring you out,” Nie Yan calmly announced.
“What kind of bullshit are you spouting!? Up until now, there hasn’t been a single team who’s been able to clear Treant Forest on Specialist and you think we of all people can do it? Our team can’t even clear this f*cking dungeon on Easy! Don’t drag us into your mess just because you want to show off!” Chen Bo ridiculed in an extremely irritated tone.
“Is this guy really your friend?” Upon witnessing Chen Bo’s rude outburst, Dusk who was by Nie Yan’s side could no longer remain silent.
“No, he’s not.” Nie Yan shook his head.
“If a team member dared to speak so rudely to our captain in the team, he would’ve been kicked by the captain long ago. No one would allow such a person to speak so much rubbish in the first place!” Dusk sneered. However, he didn’t look at Chen Bo. He didn’t even bother acknowledging the existence his words were referencing to. He turned to face Nie Yan who was by his side, and said with a smile, “I must say, Brother Nie is quite a tolerant person.”
From Dusk’s perspective, Nie Yan chose the Specialist difficulty because he had the confidence to clear it. This run actually held some meaning to it now. Initially, he only came here to grind mobs to kill time. Who would have expected he’d meet a rare opportunity instead.
Chen Bo was infuriated, but what could he do? Dusk was invited to the run by Bai Kaisui, so offending him was the same as offending Bai Kaisui. If this were to occur, it would inevitably lead him to become ostracized on the team.
“Chen Bo… Nie Yan is a friend I personally invited to the run. If you have any complaints regarding my decision, be upfront about it and tell me instead,” Yao Yao sharply rebuked and knitted her brows. It was most likely for her sake that Nie Yan didn’t bother with Chen Bo, or lower himself to Chen Bo’s level. After all, Nie Yan didn’t want to Yao Yao to be shunned for inviting a friend who made trouble within their team. If she didn’t speak out for Nie Yan now, it would be too much of a disgrace.
“Yao Yao! It’s not like that…” Chen Bo hurriedly tried to explain when he saw Yao Yao was getting upset.
However, Yao Yao coldly snorted and turned her head away.
“I’m only someone who was invited to their team. I’ll be leaving after we clear this run. Everyone else is simply cooperating with me. After all, I’m not the captain of any team. The real team captain is this beauty over there,” Nie Yan explained to Dusk and glanced at Yu Lan by his side. Truthfully, Nie Yan wasn’t such a tolerant person. Chen Bo had already crossed the line and offended him long ago. Therefore Nie Yan would certainly teach him a proper lesson in the future. However, when handling a type of person like Chen Bo, Nie Yan would simply be degrading himself if he were to deal with him directly.
“Chen Bo, shut your mouth right now! Otherwise, don’t blame me for being impolite!” Yu Lan scolded. She then apologized to Nie Yan. “I’m really sorry. He just has this sort of unpleasant temper. I’d like to apologize to Brother Nie Yan on his behalf.”
Yu Lan also felt quite humiliated because of Chen Bo’s behavior. She and Chen Bo had been classmates for over ten years. Their parents were on good terms with each other, so she couldn’t afford to act too coldly towards Chen Bo.
Chen Bo never thought even Yu Lan would speak up against him for the sake of these strangers. He stared daggers at Nie Yan and Dusk, then resentfully turned his head away.
Dusk also felt bickering with Chen Bo would only be degrading himself, so he changed the topic. “I assume Brother Nie Yan has already made the necessary preparations? Otherwise, you wouldn’t have selected Specialist difficulty.” Since he was one of the people under Sleepy Fox’s command, he also wanted to examine how much ability Nie Yan had.
“Specialist isn’t actually that difficult. The mob health is only increased by thirty percent. It’s quite easy to handle if we have tanks with enough defense and Mages with high damage. However, the changes to the boss, Treant King, are quite distinct. I’ll let you guys know about them when the times comes,” Nie Yan reassured the rest of the team.
Nie Yan had spoken as if the whole matter was trivial, but Dusk understood the true significance of mobs gaining thirty percent extra health. What did it mean? It meant if the tank fell short by even one percent of health, or lacked even a single point of defense, their team would be wiped. It meant if the Mages were lacking by even a single point of damage, their team would be wiped! Just where did Nie Yan’s confidence come from?