Chapter 332 - A Battle without Sound
This was how Youthful Reflection followed Young Master's Elite’s hunt for kills and slowly discovered that their overt engagement was not done without reason. Gu Fei’s skill did not simply counter Stealth, and he was always the first to spot enemies attempting to hide or snoop from behind trees. The sneak-attack tactic of Linyin City’s players that left others quaking in their boots was rendered ineffectual with the Mage Gu Fei around.
It was simply undeniable how powerful Gu Fei was. There was an instance when four out of their squad of seven accidentally stepped on traps. Just as the enemy team of ten thought that they had gotten the drop on them and leaped out from behind their hiding places to exterminate Young Master's Elite, Gu Fei single-handedly killed seven of them off and caused the remaining three players to flee in panic. Even his friends felt envious over his stunning display of indomitable strength.
“This makes 24 kills for a total of 720 gold coins.” Young Master Han smiled sweetly at Youthful Reflection as he said this. He was among those who had stepped into traps, yet his demeanor was as composed as ever.
Indeed, ever since the start of their sweep of the jungle, this team alone killed twenty-four players. The battle itself no longer held any suspense for Youthful Reflection, only ever feeling concerned as to when they would meet new enemies. It was really as though Youthful Reflection were just leisurely playing the classic game of Minesweeper.
Besides Young Master's Elite, the other mercenary groups have their respective fighting styles and kill counts as well.
Drifting’s Spell Damage was definitely not below Gu Fei’s, and what made him scarier than the latter was how liberal he was with the number of spells he could dish out at once. Once his team sniffed out the enemies’ position, two AOE spells would begin their interaction, eliminating half of their enemies. The bizarre Icy Mirage that followed frustrated the opponents to no end, as fighting those false images wasted precious time that they really could not afford, given that that was all it took for Drifting’s spell cooldown to finish. As for those lucky fools that managed to target his real body, one Blossoming Crimson Lotus was all it took to give them a quicker death than those confused by Drifting’s copies. The occasional, unexpected situations that cropped up were easily handled by his two long-time companions, Left Hand of Love and Right Hand of Cool. This allowed them to quickly end every fight they got into. In the time it took Young Master's Elite to exterminate twenty-four players, this three-man team also managed to eliminate seventeen players.
Among those conducting this ‘gold farming’ assignment, Svelte Dancer was probably the only other person who had achieved a spectacular result.
Although Svelte Dancer had to take special care not to fall victim to the traps, her topnotch equipment made it so that she could ignore any types of sneak attacks, be they the Thieves’ stabs or the Mages’ spells. Leveraging on this, she turned it into a method to lure out her opponents before effortlessly dispatching them. However, her worry of getting ensnared restricted her from roaming about in her top speed, which subsequently reduced her efficiency by a lot since it was possibly one of her biggest advantages as the apex Rogue. So far, she had killed seven players. Nonetheless, given that this was earned while working alone, besides Gu Fei, it was quite impossible to find another solo player who could be this successful in this assignment.
The others were not as outstanding as those three mentioned above. Although the average experts were able to eke out a victory against their enemies, most of them were no match for their Linyin City’s counterparts here in the jungle and were sent respawning to a city with every clash. Naturally, those from Traversing Four Seas that were there to report the kills also got dragged to death with them. These players must be feeling remorseful for placing their greed above their survival, but it was already too late for that now that they were back in their respective spawn points.
The most outlandish result actually came from Sakurazaka Moony and his men. This lot of skeevy men thought of fighting their enemies using the same method of setting up an area of traps for Linyin City’s players to step on. It was unknown whether they had terrible luck or something, but not one enemy stumbled on their laid traps. After an indefinite amount of time, these Hunters, who had almost become one with nature with the way they plastered themselves to the trees, finally heard the sound of rustling of bush – the known signal for the arrival of players. All of them held their breaths as they excitedly watched a player foolishly walk into their area of traps. The clanking of a trap being sprung signified that their prey had fallen victim to it.
“We’ve finally got one!” All of them cheered as they rushed out to surround the man. Bows with nocked arrows were raised, spells were readied, and even staves were brandished rather menacingly. The player, who had stumbled on the trap, was so frightened that tears almost leaked out of his eyes as he squealed, “Who are you people?!”
This was a rather strange question. Two parties were currently embroiled in battle, so why would someone from one side ask those from the other side who they were? Sakurazaka Moony suspiciously appraised this player’s equipment and his heart shook from what he found out. After a short pause, he asked, “Who are you?”
“I - I’m just passing by; what are you guys doing?! I’m just a newbie, so I don’t have any equipment or coin. PLEASE DON’T KILL ME!” The man was flustered.
“Newbie?” Everyone appraised this man and discovered that he was indeed what he had said – a newbie at level 12. They were all speechless.
“The trap will automatically disappear when its duration ends,” Sakurazaka Moony said glumly as he waved his hand offhandedly. Everyone exchanged glances.
Fireball suddenly slapped his thigh. “D*mm*t! The main body of our expedition is advancing onward, so our enemies are naturally closely following behind them. Since we’re so far behind, these traps we’ve laid won’t even catch the enemies’ farts!”
Sakurazaka Moony thought that his words made a lot of sense and felt somewhat embarrassed for not realizing this sooner. His embarrassment was not due to him and his brothers wasting time on this fruitless endeavor but due to Vast Lushness lying in the dirt with them this whole time for nothing. Feeling pained at this, Sakurazaka Moony quickly owned up. “Seems I’ve made a mistake with this fighting strategy.”
Vast Lushness merely chuckled at this. “We’re actually not in a bad spot! We have essentially evaded the enemies’ surveillance, giving us the freedom to find Linyin City. Once we locate the city, we just have to inform the others of its exact coordinates. Using our intel, they’ll be able to map out the quickest route toward the city and extricate themselves from the enemies’ traps and ambushes.”
All of them thought that this was a great idea, and just as they were about to head off, Vast Lushness once more demonstrated her high level of intelligence by approaching the newbie, whom they had mistakenly ensnared, and asking, “Brother, which direction should we go to reach Linyin City?”
This question was akin to the break of the clouds that revealed the clear skies beyond. Given the type of terrain Linyin City had, even the locals could not just rely on the cardinal directions to know which route they should take or where the city gates lay once they entered the jungle; they needed actual coordinates to find their way around. This was especially true for the newbies, and to prevent themselves from getting lost, many would note down the city’s coordinates. This man took out his booklet and showed it to Vast Lushness.
“Just how many gates does your city have?!” All these men surrounding the pair exclaimed when they saw a whole page worth of coordinates in the man’s booklet.
“Linyin City is different from most in-game cities. You’ll understand when you get there,” the newbie replied.
“Thank you very much. Let me just copy all these down.” Vast Lushness took out her booklet and jotted down all the listed coordinates. By the time she was done, the trap that the newbie had stepped on deactivated.
“Sorry for all the trouble!” Receiving his booklet, the newbie left while feeling puzzled.
“Alright. According to these coordinates, the nearest route to the city… should be this way.” Vast Lushness clutched on to her booklet and led the way.
“Be wary of traps!” Sakurazaka Moony expressed his concern. Darting right in front of her, he began to sweep around the ground for traps.
“We should inform the rest, then!” someone suggested.
“Don’t.” Vast Lushness shook her head. “We’ll take a look first before informing them.”
“The enemies are keeping an eye on our expedition’s heading direction and movement. They don’t know about the existence of our team; if we manage to get to Linyin City first, we can find out whether the enemies have laid other traps and inform the others about those,” Vast Lushness explained.
“That makes a lot of sense.” The rest nodded their heads in agreement. Shortly after this conversation, they proceeded to head toward the indicated coordinates for the city.
At the same time that this was happening, Deep Waters received reports about Yunduan City’s small teams retaliating to their ambush teams. In the big picture, Yunduan City’s players were actually the ones suffering greater losses. Although three routes were efficiently cleared off by Young Master's Elite, Drifting and his two companions, and Svelte Dancer, it was evident that absolute dominance could not make up for the advantage that Linyin City’s players held in this forest battle. Still, Deep Waters had no plans to entangle with those top experts, so he ordered everyone to note the unique methods that these three teams employed and to disengage and flee at the first sign of their presence.
After Young Master's Elite eliminated twenty-four players, they only managed to grab two more enemies, bringing their total kill count to 26. They did not meet any enemies after, and the last two that they had caught were actually alone. Not one comrade came out to assist either of those two, which was drastically different from their previous encounters with the enemies. Because of this, they realized that the enemies were intentionally avoiding them.
“Looks like that’s our final kill count!” They helplessly reported this to Youthful Reflection, indicating their readiness to end the foray.
Youthful Reflection had an ugly expression on his face. Every man Gu Fei and the others killed caused his eyelids to twitch, but what made it worse was the losses they had sustained outside of the three teams. Although Youthful Reflection did not care for these mercenaries’ survival, he was still very perturbed over their huge losses.
After handling the Yunduan City’s players that were impeding their harassment, the ten-man teams of Linyin City managed to rendezvous with their other members and to begin their relentless harassment of the enemies.
A little spell here, an arrow there, a trap below, or a Thief appearing behind the advancing army... There were plenty of variations to how they harassed Yunduan City’s players. While those were not enough to kill the players outright, it nevertheless tested their endurance.
Some players even lost their cool and broke off from the main body to chase after their attackers. If many dove to retaliate, they would not find a trace of the Linyin City’s players; if few went, the Yunduan City’s players would find themselves disappearing without a trace.
While the archer formation’s fearsomeness remained, it simply could not put up with the enemies’ ability to harass them from every angle. After all, the number of Archers needed to reach a certain threshold before they could be powerful. Too few and the arrows would be no more than a smattering of disorganized projectiles, which was no different from the arrows of the average Archers.
Oathless Sword was on the verge of a mental breakdown. If he were to ignore the enemies’ harassment, the enemies would most likely gather their force and push in a single, powerful wave. If he minded their harassment, the Yunduan City’s force would most likely scatter and lose themselves in this dense jungle.
The two sides went back and forth a few more rounds. Neither side had a significant lead when it came to the losses, but Linyin City’s players held the upper hand in this situation, and they were currently more mentally assured as well. Linyin City’s players had actually achieved their goal of slowing Yunduan City players’ progress through this jungle, so their side was technically victorious in this extended skirmish.
All of Yunduan City’s players shared the same miserable feeling. If possible, they would surely raze this entire jungle to the ground. This was when Young Master's Elite, Drifting, and every surviving mercenary came strolling back to the battalion. Not one of them showed concern about their current predicament, and the first thing they did on their return was to accost Oathless Sword for their payment.
“26 kills; 780 gold coins,” Young Master Han reported.
“18 deaths; 540 gold coins, please,” Drifting reported his result as well.
“I’ve got 9 players, so that’s 270 gold coins,” was Svelte Dancer’s tally.
The lucky survivors also reported 1 to 3 kills, shamelessly asking for their earnings. Oathless Sword could no longer hold it in and he sternly denounced them, “Gentlemen and ladies, please. We’re in a critical situation right now. Can’t we all just set aside petty profits and focus on coming together to tide over this hardship?”
“What do you mean hardship? This is nothing but a minor speed bump on the road. Block any incoming troops, and buttress any flowing water1; don’t you know what that saying means?” Young Master Han asked.