At the moment, a huge mob of players was bustling their way towards the North Gate in Luori City. Among them were mercenaries from Luori City looking to assassinate their target, and also Yunduan City players rushing to assist. Both parties clashed all the way to the city, creating quite the boisterous scene.
But the first to reach the North Gate were still the players from Luori City.
This was entirely because they had a huge advantage over those from Yunduan City: Their players that had lost their lives would all respawn in Luori City. As for those from Yunduan City, their accounts were still registered back in Linshui City, so any mercenary members that were slain all revived back in Linshui City, while the members from Traversing Four Seas were sent all the way back to Yunduan City upon their deaths.
Those Luori City mercenaries that had respawned somewhere near the North Gate were naturally the first to arrive. These men hurried over to the North Gate and looked all around. Their suspicion rose, thinking that everyone around them could be Todd. They used their Appraisal skill on all the players passing by, yet they discovered nothing.
“We don’t see Todd anywhere! Where has he gone!?” these players hollered across the various guild channels.
“Search every street that leads out of the the North Gate, split into groups and find them!” The order was passed down. The mercenaries formed up into groups of twos and threes and each began searching through the streets.
At the same time, these mercenaries could feel the urgency of the situation and no longer cared about the principles of a mercenary that they often spoke about, as they began calling for their friends to inquire after more information, mobilizing everything they could for this mission!
This raised the bar and made things a lot more lively. After all, even if the strongest mercenary group and the largest guild were not one and the same in most cities, the difference would not be that far off. Eternal War mercenary group was naturally the strongest mercenary group in Luori City, but the second strongest belonged to Fallen Leaves Returning to Roots, and the third strongest mercenary group was also from Fallen Leaves Returning to Roots. The guild had managed to create two strong mercenary groups under its banner!
Furthermore, the other mercenary leaders were mostly in close contact with large guilds. This single call to arms made it that much easier to call for their help as a result, so plenty of players actually came to heed the call. While those rushing in from the various grinding spots might not make it in time, those that were already in the city easily volunteered to help out with this task.
“There should not be too many of them, and there will undoubtedly be unfamiliar faces acting all secretive and looking real shifty. Take note that they will be an NPC among them!” This was the unique feature that the mercenaries of Luori City had determined about Oathless Sword, but it was entirely inaccurate to the situation at hand, since right outside the Prison at the moment, both parties were actually locked in a heated battle, and were far from being secretive!
When Deep Waters noted that his men were no match for the indomitable Mage and Thief before them, he sighed as he called out loudly, “Alright, hold your fire!”
But this order to hold their fire was essentially useless, since it was his men that were actually being chased and hounded at the moment. Gu Fei and Svelte Dancer had devoted their attention to slaying these men, so neither heard his cry. Oathless Sword however, heard it, but he was also worried this was a some dastardly scheme the enemy had cooked up; Vast Lushness was someone who had been baptized through a veritable nest of PvP and had seen plenty of such schemes, where a cry to cease fire would instead be exploited for an opportunity to counterattack, so she did not say a word, either.
Deep Waters was pissed after shouting himself hoarse and had half a heart to fight to the bitter end. But, Coco held him back as she stood beside him, yelling out once more, “Stop fighting, we admit defeat.”
Only Svelte Dancer was still focused on the hunt at this point while Gu Fei immediately stopped his attack. This was all thanks to the habits he had formed all these years training kung fu, where he would often spar with someone. These sessions would only last until a certain point, so no matter how absorbed they were in the match, they were very sensitive to the words ‘admit defeat’. While Coco was not any louder than Deep Waters, her usage of the correct term allowed Gu Fei to halt the slash that he was about to deal towards his current target, a conditioned reflex that had became a habit after years of training.
He turned back and saw the wry smile on Deep Waters, who was pointing over to Svelte Dancer. “Please, stop her.”
Gu Fei nodded as he took out two apples from his pocket, taking a bite out of one first before throwing the other in a swift motion, striking Svelte Dancer on the back of her head.
Svelte Dancer grab a hold onto her head as she turned back smartly, hearing the crunch of the apple Gu Fei was biting on as he pointed to Deep Waters and said, “That’s enough. That guy’s admitted defeat.”
“Eh?” Svelte Dancer turned to stare at Deep Waters.
Deep Waters’s bitter smile was still hanging upon his face, “We give up.” With that, he waved his hand to his comrades that remained and said, “Remove the traps!”
These Hunters went forward to remove the traps that they had set, but Deep Waters could tell in a glance that there were still plenty of traps that remained because their owners had died. Since they could not safely remove those traps set by others, he waved his hand and commanded, “Trigger those other traps, as well.”
These men all nodded as they began to search for the other traps and triggered them one by one, rendering them all immobile in that instant.
“Brother Deep Waters, there’s no need to go to such extent!” Oathless Sword had once more opened his mouth to speak at this point. Both parties had only clashed due to the competitive quest they were on. Now that they had already admitted defeat and the Prison was right before them, of course Oathless Sword was feeling magnanimous and thought there was no need for them to embarrass themselves so far as to even step onto their own traps… So he quickly interrupted them in hopes of preventing them from troubling themselves.
“Oi Oi, aren’t you being thinking a bit too much here!” Before Deep Waters could even speak, it was Vast Lushness who interjected as she regarded him with scorn, “This is a rule with the trap skill. If they do not step on them themselves, does that mean those guys who have died would have to return to do so themselves? What if they respawned back in Linyin City? How troublesome would that be?”
Oathless Sword had a modicum of understanding towards this rule, but he had not thought of it at the moment. Actually, Vast Lushness only understood why they were doing this because she had spent so much time hanging out with that bunch of ruffians from Forever in Flowers.
Deep Waters gazed at Vast Lushness and said, “This beauty sure is clever!”
Vast Lushness, however, nudged her head towards the person beside him. Deep Waters’s face contorted as he saw Coco staring at him.
“Ahem! Of course, that is only in comparison to that guild leader over there,” Deep Waters hurriedly added in order to avoid Coco misunderstanding. He was not afraid to deride someone like Oathless Sword, whom he was barely acquainted with.
If Oathless Sword had been feeling magnanimous before, and was hoping to assuage any potential bitterness with Deep Waters, the comment he just made had essentially eliminated it all. He turned towards Gu Fei with a blackened face and said, “I’m off to finish the quest!”
“Mmm!” Gu Fei nodded as he munched on that apple.
Oathless Sword was excited! He could feel each step he took up the stairs tremble ever so slightly as he did so. The long nights and times he had spent busying about for this mission, the sacrifice of his many comrades and brothers alike, all of it was about to pay off in a major way! What sort of rewards awaited him? Just as Oathless Sword was fantasizing, Gu Fei suddenly interrupted, “Wait!”
“What?” Oathless Sword felt his heart lurch.
“The trap Todd was caught on isn’t over yet,” Gu Fei pointed out.
Oathless Sword turned around and saw that Todd was still helplessly standing there like a block of wood, the trap that ensnared him clamping him down. There was nothing Oathless Sword could do but wait for that trap to disappear.
Deep Waters’s underlings were also waiting for thee traps they had triggered to finish as well. Gu Fei and the others stood by the side together, with Deep Waters and Coco standing a short distance away. These men all looked at one another, not a single word exchanged between anyone. It was all quiet.
And not too far away, there were already players checking them all out.
They were near the West Gate, and the mercenaries from Luori City were currently paying special attention to the area around all the four city gates. Why would they believe YMH when he told them the target would be at the North Gate? The Luori City mercenaries were not so gullible as to take it at face value, especially since those at the North Gate had already reported that they saw no trace of Todd or the players escorting him, which only made the others focus their efforts on the areas around the other gates.
By now, the battle outside the Prison had already ended, but a bunch of players to standing there without moving in that deserted street created a very strange scene for any onlookers.
Even though the scene before them was quite disparate from the original description of “Not too many people and secretive”, the natives realized the lot of them were undoubtedly “unfamiliar faces” upon closer inspection.
Thus, the leader in charge of staking out the East gate personally led a few men and began to act as if they were passing by.
Everybody split the job among themselves as they carefully applied their Appraisal Skill on those players standing around. After walking a certain distance, an expression of astonishment was visible on one of the players in that group as he excitedly shouted across the party channel, “TODD!”
This was a mercenary who had the mission on hand. The moment he got close, Todd’s name appeared above his head, just like how the serial number of a bounty target would appear above their head. As the other players in that party were people who came to help afterwards and did not have the mercenary mission, none of them could see this change.
The message quickly spread like wildfire, informing everybody of the situation, the number of players, their position etc.
Seeing that the enemy had yet to become suspicious of them, these men carried on using their Appraisal on everybody. All they saw were question marks when they attempted to Appraise the top tier experts like Gu Fei, much less someone of Svelte Dancer’s equipment standard. Those men that Deep Waters had brought along were all elites that he had handpicked for this operation, so their standard was naturally better than that of the average player. After Appraising these men, the party immediately put aside their thought of engaging immediately, believing that hiding their intentions this way was a pretty good option by itself.
Unfortunately, they had underestimated the enemy’s observation skills.
Svelte Dancer, Gu Fei, Vast Lushness, Deep Waters and even Oathless Sword were all experts that had seen plenty. It was not necessarily suspicious to find this group of players passing by like this, neither was it too suspicious for players to toss out Appraisal skills casually like this. It was a very common sight in MMOs.
What made them suspicious however, was the manner in which they passed by. These men were calm and confident, yet they looked a little too eager. This was especially obvious after their expressions were particularly exaggerated the moment they discovered that the people here were not the usual experts with their Appraisal.
“Who are you people?” Oathless Sword was the first to call them out, since he was naturally the one most concerned with the mission. He was unwilling to let go once even a sliver of doubt that crossed his mind.
But the first to act was actually Gu Fei, who darted straight towards them. If a fight broke out, he would be able to attack at the first sign of trouble.
These men’s expression looked strange the moment Oathless Sword asked them that question, but the man in the lead calmly replied, “We’re just passing through.”
Deep Waters could also tell something was fishy with these men, as his originally defeated expression reignited with hope once more. If there was a chance, he would surely make use of the opportunity to fish in troubled waters!