Chapter 313 - Leave it to us
The squabble between the two leaders was finally resolved with a game of rock-paper-scissors. Although it was a game played by children, at least Blue Ease was willing to accept the outcome of the match. He returned to his seat and just sat there without speaking another word, stewing in his anger.
“Brother Han, quickly tell us about your plan!” Dusky Cloud urged Young Master Han.
“You see, Silver Moon is just one man; it’s simply not worth it to muster such a large force for him alone. Getting so many men to dedicate their time to hunt down that man is thoroughly unsatisfying for everyone involved,” Young Master Han began.
“That’s true. Do you have a better plan, perhaps?” Dusky Cloud nodded his head in agreement as he asked on.
“Essentially, you should assign some men to guard the Knights’ Barracks. Let my mercenary group, Young Master's Elite, be the one to kill Silver Moon instead and deliver him straight into your arms when we travel later tonight,” Young Master Han proposed.
“Uh… Will that be appropriate?” Dusky Cloud was shocked. His question did not stem from his doubt on the capabilities of Young Master's Elite but from the situation that the six men would be putting themselves into. After all, they were temporary comrades with Silver Moon for this guild quest that Traversing Four Seas had hired them for. How would the over one thousand players treat these six men if they were found attacking Silver Moon? Did Young Master Han not understand how serious this problem was?
“Heh…” Young Master Han knew exactly what Dusky Cloud was thinking and he coolly replied, “Don’t worry. This will be done in secret.”
“Would that… work?” Dusky Cloud was a little apprehensive about their capabilities this time. With how wily and shrewd Silver Moon was, he would surely be on his guard toward his past enemies. All of them had also considered employing the backstabbing approach on Silver Moon. But since this was Silver Moon, who was adept at backstabbing when it suited him, that they were dealing with, while it might sound easy to strike him when he least expected it, they were not sure if he would grant them a chance to put him in such a spot.
“Don’t worry about this. If you can trust us, pay us our fee,” Young Master Han said.
“Pay? Fee?” Dusky Cloud was nonplussed.
“Bro, we’re a mercenary group. Don’t you know the rules to this?!” Young Master Han listlessly stared at him.
“F*ck!” Dusky Cloud stood up abruptly. He was naturally aware of the rule, but he simply did not expect Young Master Han to actually discuss this matter from a business standpoint. In his mind, it was only natural for friends to help one another, and talking about money only cheapened this relationship. For straightforward and pure men like themselves, money and assets were nothing in the face of the bonds they forged.
The newfound goodwill he had for Young Master Han evaporated in an instant, and as he glared at the latter’s smiling face, all Dusky Cloud could feel was utter contempt for the man. Dusky Cloud was convinced that he had not been mistaken from the start; this man was truly detestable – the very opposite of everything he stood for and believed.
“But on account of the friendship we have, we won’t charge you exorbitantly,” Young Master Han said.
“No.” Dusky Cloud’s expression soured. “Since this is strictly business, let’s not drag our friendship into this. Charge us as you will.”
“Boss Cloud is truly a forthright person.” Young Master Han took a swig of his liquor and got up. “You’ll receive our bill after the deed is done.”
“Don’t you want a deposit? Isn’t this against the usual procedure here?” Dusky Cloud said rather evenly. While it was rare to find an employer who would mention the issue of a deposit first, Dusky Cloud only said it to mock Young Master Han about his ways.
“No need for that. Boss Cloud is someone who’s passably trustworthy,” Young Master Han replied.
Passably trustworthy… Dusky Cloud clenched his fists.
Young Master Han was laughing now. “Alright, that’s everything to it. Wash up and head to sleep! I’ll take my leave first.” Young Master Han bought several more bottles of liquor before leaving the tavern with an obvious pep in his step. In fact, he even glanced over to Blue Ease and asked, “That skill you were using just then... It’s like psychic teleportation, right?”
Blue Ease was momentarily stunned, but before he could answer, Young Master Han exited the tavern. Dusky Cloud glared at him, “Kid, did you trick me just then?”
“What nonsense; it’s a skill in the game. Are you trying to weasel out of your loss?” Blue Ease retorted.
“Who lost?! Just who the f*ck has lost?!” Dusky Cloud bellowed.
“Let’s go at it again if you’re unsatisfied!”
Their swearing grew louder as the tavern descended into chaos once more....
Young Master Han no longer gave much thought about their matter once he left the establishment, as there were not many arrangements needed to be made for this plan. Young Master Han was also not really bothered whether Dusky Cloud’s team wished to continue searching for Silver Moon in the day or rotate their men to keep watch outside the Knights’ Barracks until nighttime. Neither move really affected what Young Master's Elite had to do on their end, anyway.
When 6 P.M. came, the players from Yunduan City trickled online and gathered by the north gate of Baishi City. A long string of players coming from the prison headed over to this rendezvous point, as well. These players were the members of Traversing Four Seas, having just retrieved the corrupt official, Todd, who was their escort target.
Prisoner Todd was in the custody of Guild Leader Oathless Sword, who swaggered in front of this contingent of men. This was already their second city, which meant that Traversing Four Seas’ guild quest was already 40% completed, without meeting much trouble on the road. The deaths they had incurred thus far were largely negligible, while the largest amount of ‘casualties’ they had had was due to those cowards not daring to cross the crevasses in the Oolong Mountain Range.
The six men of Young Master's Elite, who were mixed within the crowd of mercenaries, carefully searched for someone. All of them were shaking their heads as they looked everywhere.
“Anyone spotted Silver Moon yet?” these men asked one another on the mercenary channel.
Their answers were all negative.
Young Master Han had already informed the other five about him picking up a request from Dusky Cloud to send Silver Moon back to Baishi City, and each of them was more than happy to oblige. With Gu Fei’s indomitable fighting prowess as well as the others’ seamless teamwork, it would possibly take no more than a few seconds to finish off Silver Moon and not even a divine intervention could save him from the fate of dying. It was only the issue of public opinion that had them exercising discretion over this particular deed.
They all asked Young Master Han what plan he had, yet the only answer he gave was: “Strike when the opportunity presents itself.”
However, that opportunity itself had yet to surface, as they were unable to locate Silver Moon at all.
“Relax; he’s bound to be somewhere in this army. He’ll truly be courting death if he doesn’t use this chance to leave Baishi City,” Young Master Han said confidently.
Silver Moon had indeed mixed himself into the midst of Traversing Four Seas’ troops. He had a really tough day thus far, staying awake from the morning until now as he wandered around the city, feeling alarmed by the slightest breeze and the rustling of leaves. He stayed up all the way until the resumption of the quest this night, and then he and his men sneaked their way to the prison and waited. Just as he had expected, the men from Traversing Four Seas gathered outside the prison building. Silver Moon greeted Oathless Sword before mixing himself with the latter’s troops that were leaving the city.
Silver Moon did not say a word to Oathless Sword about his current predicament because he was certain that, given their relationship with one another, Oathless Sword would not consider his needs above that of the guild. If Silver Moon’s opponents were just a few unruly ruffians, Oathless Sword would surely help extricate him from the mess. Since the enemies after his head this time were from the Ten Guild Alliance, Silver Moon was certain that Oathless Sword would instantly toss him out like a hot potato.
Therefore, Silver Moon settled with mixing himself into the midst of Traversing Four Seas to sneak out of the city. It was difficult to locate one person in a horde of hundreds, after all. The only worry he had was that the Ten Guild Alliance’s men might take a heavy-handed approach and figuratively burn all the boats – willing to take on the thousand-man army of Traversing Four Seas for the sake of killing Silver Moon.
Since the Ten Guild Alliance’s ‘m*th*rf*ck*rs’ were more than capable of demonstrating this level of ‘largesse’, Silver Moon was exceptionally worried. If they were willing to make such a play, he reckoned Oathless Sword would not throw down the gauntlet for his sake and might betray him, instead. Thus, Silver Moon was prepared for both outcomes. He would hide among the crowd, but once he spotted the Ten Guild Alliance, he would promptly cry out, “Brothers, to arms!” like before and slip away.
This was why Silver Moon’s anxiety was at its peak as they got closer to the city gate. He vigilantly looked all around him, but besides the men from Yunduan City that were waiting for Traversing Four Seas to continue the expedition, he did not see any other troops waiting by the city gate. Silver Moon made it quite a distance out from the city gate, but the men he was certain would appear to ambush him had yet to reveal themselves.
“That’s it?” Silver Moon was extremely astonished. Dusky Cloud had especially traveled all the way to Baishi City just to kill him; he did not believe that the latter would just give up on him so easily. However, where were they right now? Even if they were currently not revealing themselves, they might secretly be monitoring his every move.
Thinking of this, Silver Moon consciously stooped lower as he did his best to meld into the crowd. This was not a long term solution, though; he knew it was necessary for him to confirm that no one was trailing after him. Although it had been hours since he last slept, his mind was still as agile as ever. He originally wanted to entrust his one of his brothers-in-arms to straggle from the main body by feigning grinding in a nearby map so as to observe and find out if there were players still pursuing him. However, he thought of the possibility of his pursuers being Thieves in Stealth mode. This meant that his brothers-in-arms would still have no idea if the said assailants were right beside him.
This was no trouble to the shrewd, or in other words, the cunning Silver Moon, though. Pondering on this for a moment, he immediately went to the front to look for Guild Leader Oathless Sword of Traversing Four Seas.
“Oathless Sword, it seems that there are people secretly following us!” Silver Moon solemnly said.
“Oh? People? How do you know?” Oathless Sword quickly asked.
“I have a comrade who has something urgent and can’t play tonight.” Silver Moon began to fabricate smoothly. “On his way back to the city to log out, he saw some men inquiring after those players grinding about the direction we are going to before heading toward where we’re going as well.”
“Is that so? So where are those people now?” Oathless Sword asked.
“I don’t really know. That comrade of mine has urgent matters to attend to, so he only said this much and did not investigate about it any further as he was in a hurry to head back to the city,” Silver Moon replied regretfully.
“This can’t be a good thing!” Oathless Sword said as he quickly gestured for his fellow core members, Gale Force and Youthful Reflection, to come over to him.
When Youthful Reflection heard this news, he instantly asked, “Are you certain that these are players and not NPCs?”
“NPCs? Would NPCs even need to ask players about what we are doing?” Silver Moon asked.
“They are players, then… What would players be secretly following us for?” Youthful Reflection began to contemplate about this matter, as well.
“Perhaps, they are curious as to why many of us are traveling together like this?” Gale Force guessed.
“It’s best to pull out a few of these men and ask,” Silver Moon said.
“Mhm! Let’s not spread this news just yet. Our troops should continue their march onward; I’ll make the necessary arrangements,” Youthful Reflection said.
“Let’s do just that! Thanks Silver Moon bro for your help.” Oathless Sword gave Silver Moon a friendly pat.
“You’re welcome; I’m always here to help!” Silver Moon rubbed his bloodshot eyes as he grinned from ear to ear.