The players from Yunduan City that climbed out of the valley ran out in the directions they were assigned. Adding together the remaining members of Traversing Four Seas and the other players from the mercenary groups, they numbered about seven hundred, barely half what they had originally set forth from Yunduan City with. At the moment, they were split up into four parties of approximately two hundred, heading in every direction once they cleared the river valley.
Of course, they did not run perfectly in the four cardinal directions, as everybody was still advancing forward. It was just that each party were clearly splitting from one another, so it was no longer possible to gather them together again, meaning the enemy would also have to split up their men to stop them.
Following Oathless Sword’s orders, everybody hiked up the valley and began to vigilantly look around their surroundings, especially those Archers who had taken in the situation around the map. They could easily spot the changes around them this time.
In the short time they had all gone down the river valley, plenty of the players who had been scattered all over the map grinding on the monsters seemed to have begun to gather into clusters, and the direction they were headed was clearly towards the valley. However, all the players from Yunduan City had once more appeared not long after they set out towards the valley. The enemy had no idea how to react the moment they saw that the players from Yunduan City had split themselves into four parties.
These Yunduan City players disregarded them entirely as they headed in the directions they had been assigned to. Since their enemy’s movement was already made clear by this point, the players from Yunduan City were naturally able to do their utmost to avoid taking the fight head on. The longer and further they could lure these enemies away from Prisoner Todd, the better. His safety was the top priority; everything would surely end as long as he could safely reach the Prison! That was the directive for this engagement, clarified and made apparent in the clearest manner.
When all was said and done, their opponent this time round was a coalition of mercenaries that had been provisionally assembled for this mission. Their cohesiveness was a joke, so it was bound to take quite some time for them to gather themselves when met with a situation that required them to arrange an entirely new plan, even if they were decisive about it. Seeing Yunduan City’s four parties scatter across the arid land, these people were still unable to respond and act accordingly.
Southern Lone Blade shook his head when he saw this, “Look at them. Do they lack even an unified commander for this mobilization?”
But just as he said this, those players finally made a move of their own. It was just as Young Master Han had expected, these men had no choice but to split up their troops as well, looking to intercept all four parties that were fleeing the area. In that moment of bedlam, it was hard to tell if either party held numerical superiority over the other.
“Well, at least their response wasn’t too slow,” Southern Lone Blade sighed in relief.
“Why are you so concerned over this?” The Priest from his squad asked.
“There was no obvious reduction in number to the amount of players from Yunduan City coming out from the river valley, so that means there’s only a handful of them left within the valley itself. The less there are, the more outstanding those people will be. Do you know the elites that count themselves among their ranks?” Southern Lone Blade said.
“Who else would there be, aside from that Video Mage?” someone asked.
“The Dynamic Addict Duo! War Without Wounds! Brother Assist!” Southern Lone Blade gave a slight pause after each name, the severe expression etched upon his face lending gravitas to the situation.
The comrades he had brought along with each went agape when they heard the names.
“No way!” someone shouted, “All those experts are all from Yunduan City?”
“That’s right, I even met those guys when they first arrived at Linshui City,” Southern Lone Blade said.
“Oh, so those were the people your friend brought you to meet?”
“That’s right, Brother Assist is my friend,” Southern Lone Blade said.
“All those guys are renowned in the MMO community. But now that they are in a full immersion setting like this VRMMO, it is still up for debate how good they truly are. If they were truly so magnificent, why aren’t any of their names found in the ranks of Parallel World’s Five Unyielding Experts? That’s why I say, there’s no telling if we’re no match for them.” The Thief among Southern Lone Blade’s squad was a thickset man of great physique, who exuded much pride as he said this.
Southern Lone Blade smiled as he said, “It is indeed difficult to tell who’s the stronger individual. But we’ve only got a single target today, so it is best if we avoid having any conflict with these experts. Let us obtain the biggest profit with the lowest expenditure, that’s how you do business!”
“So, what do you intend to do?” that Thief asked.
“Hopefully there’s another expert from Luori City that can see through this plan of theirs. In that case, we’ll be able to watch closely from afar as the men from Luori City take the first strike. Even if they are able to take care of all the experts from Luori City, it is bound to take quite a toll on them. That would be the opportunity for us to attack…” Southern Lone Blade trailed off.
“This is indeed consistent with your style.” The other six comrades he brought along had worked with Southern Lone Blade for quite a long time, and sighed with admiration at this plan of his.
Although the seven men had been talking all this while, they had not stopped pushing forward. However, not a single one of them leapt into the river valley, merely walking along the ledge cautiously while they took in the situation across the map, checking again and again if they were nearing the people who were still within the valley.
Across the map, both parties had split into four parties and these eight parties played a short game of cops and robbers. And now, it looked as if the two parties were finally about to clash for the first time.
This clash was necessary. After all, the responsibility of the Yunduan City players was to escort Prisoner Todd into the city, hiding and evading pursuit outside the city without any intent of making it into Luori City would obviously betray their goal of buying time. Thus, in order to avoid quest failure, it was imperative for them to make an aggressive rush towards the city.
The first to engage with the enemy was the party led by Gu Xiaosiang. Gu Xiaosiang was not just a mercenary group leader, but a guild leader as well. Given how she was often the beauty Oathless Sword would fawn over, it was not particularly hard to understand why she would be the one shouldering a heavy responsibility like this. This was a lady who was proficient in taking command of group PvP. This woman remained undaunted despite facing such a huge task, firmly taking command of her troops with unwavering expertise.
This company of men from Yunduan City may have been a motley crew of players in the beginning, but after spending several days on this expedition, their experience wandering from city to city as foreigners, journeying and fighting together, spending what down time they had together over a drink or two had built a level of familiarity that was that bit better than any other temporary gathering of players of varying allegiances.
This was most evident in how accustomed they were to taking orders from a unified command; even if they did not agree with how Gu Xiaosiang had arranged the troops, each of them would at the very least follow the orders they were given, giving them that edge over the patchwork army rushing towards them right now.
The players they were facing did not seem to number any more than those on Yunduan City’s side, and their formation looked to be orderly, but the arrangements they used had rather obvious gaps between them. The reason was entirely due to the fact the players were unfamiliar with one another. Now that a battle was about to break out, every man would freely attack how they deemed fit, since they did not even have a commander in charge. It was clear which side held the advantage in this fight, as the players from Luori City were slaughtered like the rudderless army they were, the front two rows collapsing in the first exchange of fire alone.
That was the point when the players from Luori City realized they were not facing mere pushovers. They were in a pinch, so players began to step out voluntarily and took charge commanding everyone. Most players participated in both mercenary and guild activities; it was rare to find players who only did just one. Thus, quite a number of players that had participated in mercenary groups had experience waging large scale group PvP battles like this.
Now that they had someone taking charge of overall command, the situation was no longer as dire as when they first clashed. After all, those that joined in the coalition for this huge mission were the top players of Luori City, not any worse than those found in Yunduan City. It was almost impossible to tell which side held the upper hand at the moment.
On Yunduan City’s side, although they appeared to be rushing aggressively forward, deep down they were actually putting their survival foremost. Seeing that the enemy had managed to calm down and stand their ground, they instantly began to focus on their own defense.
The players from Luori City abruptly felt as if they had became a more formidable force, the one attack they mounted seemed to have immediately muted their enemy’s own assault, and their fighting spirit rose even as they began to call for blood.
There were even cries of “Give us what we want and we’ll show you mercy”. Naturally, what they meant was “Hand over Todd and we’ll spare your lives”.
The goal for Yunduan City’s players was to hide Todd’s position, so they could not let the enemy find out that Todd was not within their formation. The best method to achieve this was goal was to sow uncertainty in them. So when the enemy shouted such words, Gu Xiaosiang instantly shouted back her response, “Let’s see if the sword in my hand agrees!”
She raised her arm up with that roar as she released the cape she had on. The cape took to the wind and flew right into someone’s face, and she used that opening to swipe both her swords through and slay that man.
“WOAHHH! That woman’s despicable!” the enemy yelled madly, even as the battle between both sides crescendoed.
Leaders of different personality would often decide the temperament the troops would take in battle. The way Gu Xiaosiang led her men into battle head-on was a mirror image to the straightforwardness of that lady.
On another side of the battlefield, the men Black Forefinger were in charge of were quickly irked by his method of engaging the enemy.
“Please, my fellow brothers. I wonder if there’s anything I could help you with!” Black Forefinger had a big smile on his face, warmly greeting the enemy that came running straight towards him.
As the saying went: There was no reason to raise a hand against a man who owned up to his mistake. The enemy did not feel too good attacking given the action Black Forefinger had taken. They quickly stopped, with a representative coming forth to greet the players from Yunduan City with the line people would often give when two parties that picked up a Competitive Quest would meet. “Sorry, we’re doing a Competitive Quest.”
“Oh, what’s the content of your mission?”
“Assassinate Todd!” His opponent was honest.
“Todd’s not among us!” Black Forefinger matched this man in terms of honesty.
When that man heard his honest words, he instead smiled, “Is that so? Do you mind letting us have a look then?”
“Haha, he’s really not with us. Do you not believe us, bro!” Black Forefinger tried to laugh the matter off. A lie that could be true, meant it could truly be a lie. This was a military strategy depicted in the War of the Three Kingdoms that Black Forefinger had played perfectly. Oathless Sword had specifically instructed the parties to make the enemy suspect that Prisoner Todd could be within their midst. Black Forefinger was a man with quite a few tricks up his sleeves; his method of stalling for time involved wasting the enemy’s time with pointless banter and words
There were two other troops out there that were each fulfilling their responsibilities and tasks in their own manner. Back in that dried-up river valley, Young Master Han and his bunch of elite gamers had finally come across their enemy.
The murderous air that pervaded from them was palpable, their target clear from a single glance. Brother Assist and the lot were naturally astonished when they saw that Young Master Han’s ruse had been seen through. But what they found more surprising was the fact there were not too many players present blocking their way.
“There’s not too many of them, I think we can take them,” Royal God Call did not mince his words, showing his complete disregard for their opponents.
“Of course!” Young Master Han continued Royal God Call’s words, “Its rare to find such an opportunity like this. If I was this man I, too, would not tell the rest of the coalition members if I saw through the ruse. I would pretend to be equally clueless, before quietly gathering a few of my own comrades to make our way to this valley and quietly make our fortune. How wonderful that would be! Am I not right, big boss man?”