It was not up to Gu Fei and Sword Demon where they would make the climb down, so the two ended up somewhere relatively near the backyard. Gu Fei took out his spyglass and carefully observed the place as Sword Demon quietly sat beside him waiting. After a while, Gu Fei lowered the spyglass and Sword Demon threw him a questioning look.
Gu Fei sighed. “Their defenses are mainly gathered right under the wall, so it’s impossible for us to sneak past. If I knew that this would be the case, I would just have us walking right in from the front gates.”
“What would happen if we head down directly?”
“We’ll be surrounded and likely drown in the surging mob,” Gu Fei answered.
“Then, what about that firewood storage shed you mentioned? Can we kill our way in there?” Sword Demon asked.
“We can definitely kill our way over, except we’ll die outside the door if we can’t get in. If we do make it inside, we’ll probably die inside, instead,” Gu Fei shrugged.
“I guess that explains why they didn’t bother securing the perimeter outside the wall too well. There’s no need to do that when they can be on guard for us by being alerted of our arrival,” Sword Demon said.
“Gu Fei nodded. “They don’t really care where we sneak in from up the wall.”
“We don’t have enough manpower...” Sword Demon was really regretful as he recalled his glorious days of leading the Heaven-defying Guild. Back then, all he had to do was raise his hand, and hordes of brothers and sisters would rush these men directly. Was there even a need for him to be all sneaky like this, worrying about his every move?
“I guess our only solution left is to create a diversion,” Gu Fei said. “But with just the two of us here, I don’t think we can lure anyone over to us if we leap down like this.”
“Brother Assist and the others… They are still over by Linyin City and have yet to even mention if they are returning.” Sword Demon began to run through the list of names that could provide help.
“Drifting and his companions are the enemies right now…” Gu Fei did the same.
“Slyris and Yan Xiaozhu?” Sword Demon asked.
“I don’t think we’re that close yet…” Gu Fei rejected.
“Is there anyone else?” Sword Demon wondered aloud.
“Well… There is just the one...” Gu Fei hedged.
“Young Master…” the two of them said in unison, becoming silent for quite a while after.
“What’s Young Master doing?” Gu Fei asked.
Sword Demon turned to regard him, telling him with his eyes that such a question was redundant.
Gu Fei went “Oh” as he sent a message over. “Let me ask him.”
“Are you doing anything? Ha ha ha ha!” Gu Fei sent this message over to the man in question.
“What?” Young Master Han replied immediately.
“There’s a really meaningful job that I feel you’re the most suited for,” Gu Fei began.
“Are you drunk? Coming to me for help?” Young Master Han said sarcastically.
“I’ll let Sword Demon do the talking!” Gu Fei directed the conversation over to the mercenary channel.
Sword Demon gave a brief overview of the entire matter, naturally making a point to mention the analysis Gu Fei had made from the contents of Andrew Su’s Diary. Young Master Han was drinking his liquor in a tavern as this went on. Taking a look at what was being typed, he eventually expressed his intrigue over the matter. “Hmm… That seems rather interesting.”
“Yeah, so what I’m thinking is, if that Sleeping Assassin and the Shadowmist Assassin came for the same purpose, the firewood storage shed that his feet were pointing to would be key to solving the quest,” Gu Fei said.
“Have you searched his body? Perhaps, there might be something there,” Young Master Han said.
“I have not… I didn’t really consider doing that when I was next to it,” Gu Fei said. This idea had only come to him after he had noted where the Sleeping Assassin’s feet were pointing from inside the Government City Hall. That was when he was watching Seven get killed by the members of Flowergazing in the Fog. If it had been possible then, he would of course have run over to check. Unfortunately, that was not doable at that time, so he could only start over from here.
“Can you really consider the quest in such a way?” Brother Assist was still having his doubts over this aspect.
“Why not? Look at the three of you traveling all the way over to Linyin City for nothing. Why not just stay with me and mess around with this?” Gu Fei reasoned.
The three got really quiet. Gu Fei was really insouciant when it came to poking and prodding their raw nerves.
“What you two need right now is to draw their attention over to another part of the courtyard so that the two of you can investigate the Sleeping Assassin and the firewood shed, right?” Young Master Han repeated the quandary that Gu Fei and Sword Demon were facing at this point.
“That’s right!” they confirmed.
“This isn’t something that can be done with just one person alone! We’ll need a group with a certain level of strength,” Young Master Han said.
“It’ll take some time for the three of us to make our way back. Miles will have already logged off by then. Why not tomorrow?” Brother Assist said on behalf of Royal God Call and War Without Wounds.
“The three of you might not be of use here,” Young Master Han was painfully honest.
The three men were very despondent when they heard this.
“Help me contact Slyris for a bit,” Young Master Han suddenly said.
“Oh? What do you want to do?” Gu Fei asked.
“Just ask her to meet me in this tavern. I’ll be sitting close to the entrance, waiting for her,” Young Master Han ordered. He once again assumed a bossy tone and did not deign to explain his thoughts or actions.
Gu Fei was helpless to this. Seeing that Slyris was online, he tried contacting her. Slyris said she had something on at the moment, so she would head over once she was done with her business. Gu Fei thanked her for cooperating as he wondered just what sort of plan Young Master Han had in store for her. Was he trying to use the wiles of a woman here? That seemed too unrealistic! Gu Fei knew that Young Master Han had a bad habit of never revealing his plan beforehand, so he figured it was better to wait until they met before asking Slyris what the entire matter was about.
“Do you know what that guy’s up to this time?” Gu Fei could only ask Sword Demon this as they whiled their time away.
“Nope.” Sword Demon shook his head.
Without any choice, the two men could only patiently wait. On the contrary, the members of Flowergazing in the Fog behind the wall were far more anxious. It was already established that the men past the walls had been attacked, so these people asked one another, “Are they here yet?” every few seconds or so. This reached a point where their mouths dried up from all the asking.
The reality of the matter was just that ephemeral. Gu Fei and Sword Demon did not originally plan to harass them like so, but simple men like them who relied on violence simply had no schemes to get past this sea of men guarding the compound. Cornered in such a manner, even temporarily taking a break from their operation like this became a sort of harassment. The two men atop the wall were sneezing constantly as these players from Flowergazing in the Fog hurled curses and foul languages at them.
After a duration, Young Master Han finally dropped a line over on the mercenary channel: “Alright. Take note of what will unfold and decide your actions accordingly!”
“What did you do?” Sword Demon asked.
“I got a few helpers,” Young Master Han answered.
Gu Fei wisely sent a private message to Slyris: “What did he speak to you about?”
“He asked about the situation with Xiawu City’s guilds and mercenary groups,” Slyris said.
Gu Fei immediately understood after hearing this. “This again!”
“What ‘this’?” Sword Demon was still kept in the dark.
“It’s the same thing as what you guys did in Linshui City, betraying Southern Lone Blade so thoroughly to the entire city; this time, I suppose he has clued in the other guilds and mercenary groups about Flowergazing in the Fog’s predicament!” Gu Fei explained.
“Mmmm… That might work…” Sword Demon was also knowledgeable about the complexities that came with competing with other guilds and agreed with this conclusion. Other guilds were bound to be unhappy if a rival guild was about to complete a quest that would raise its rank by an entire level. Actually, there was probably no need to egg them into plotting for the ruin of Flowergazing in the Fog; all Young Master Han had to do was lobby the idea that a good opportunity had presented itself.
“During the warring period, this method was known as ‘vertical integration’!” Young Master Han said.
“You’re truly a noble politician, diplomat, and strategist,” Gu Fei said sarcastically.
“I thought you already know this long ago,” was Young Master Han’s response.
“The rest is up to you two!”
“But of course!” Gu Fei and Sword Demon found renewed vigor as the two shifted their position somewhere to the backyard, taking up a position closest to where the Sleeping Assassin was.
“Look. That tree over there is where that Sleeping Assassin should be. Do you see it?” Gu Fei lifted the spyglass over to Sword Demon as he pointed in the said direction.
“Oh. I see it,” Sword Demon said.
“You’re gonna be in charge of rifling through his pockets. I’ll go to the firewood shed.” Gu Fei pointed over to a corner of the backyard where the shed was. In order to save time, they decided to split the task between the two of them.
Flowergazing in the Fog were naturally unaware that the shed was Gu Fei’s new target, so they did not make any special arrangement to guard it, treating it just like any other inch of the compound, and just ensured that it was within some players’ line of sight. Gu Fei patiently waited by the wall, waiting for that vertical integration ploy of Young Master Han to get into full swing.
In the blink of an eye, an hour had passed.
“What’s going on?” Gu Fei voiced his doubts over the mercenary channel.
“Patience. They need time as well,” said Young Master Han.
“True…” Sword Demon agreed. “Verifying the reliability of the information, gathering the manpower necessary, and coming up with a plan of attack… All these would require some time.”
“Speaking of which, how did you encourage these guilds to act?” Gu Fei asked.
“Guilds? Who said I was persuading the guilds to act?” Young Master Han posed the question back at Gu Fei.
“Didn’t you say you are doing vertical integration?” Gu Fei was astonished.
“I said vertical integration in reference to the method we used when dealing with Southern Lone Blade. I don’t think I said anything about doing the same thing here as well, or did I?” Young Master Han asked.
Gu Fei went through the chat logs and finally had to admit that, if he were to properly scrutinize what he had said, Young Master Han indeed did not mention that at all. However, Gu Fei and Sword Demon had merely assumed that it would be the same as last time, and the man did not refute them at all. It was evident that he had deliberately led them along. There’s no reason for this, so why does he take much pleasure in doing this? Gu Fei could once more feel the impulse to kill someone.
“So what do you plan to do?” asked Sword Demon.
“You’re a Mage and Thief duo. I only lack a number of players with the same job classes as you two to crazily harass them; that’s all,” answered Young Master Han.
“Will… Will that work?” The two had their doubts.
“It might not work anywhere else, but Xiawu City is perfect for this ploy.”
Of course, what made Xiawu City perfect was the impenetrable fog that was unique to it. Thieves had Stealth, so they could adopt a hit-and-run approach, never having to reveal their faces. Meanwhile, Mages could simply cast their AoE spells from the safety of the fog. It was certainly possible for people with the same job classes to pretend to be them, but Sword Demon and Gu Fei shared the same doubt in their minds that, while it was possible for the average player to pretend to be someone else with the same skill level, but for experts of their caliber, could those average players even imitate either of them convincingly?