“Southern Lone Blade, YOU’D BETTER GET YOUR BUTT OUT HERE FOR YOURS TRULY!” Royal God Call and War Without Wounds continued to shout and holler as they stomped about in the fog. They had never once revealed their figures as they continued to harass that squad with their voices alone. The Thief Sword Demon was able to keep them updated with coordinates, since he was Stealthed right by the side of Southern Lone Blade’s squad during this whole ordeal.
Southern Lone Blade, who had also not forgotten about this, immediately ordered Flame Singed Clothes to blanket the area with his AoE spells.
At this moment, Southern Lone Blade’s squad had a different goal as to when they started, so how they dealt with Sword Demon would also be different. Before, they had hoped to find out where he was hiding and directly kill him with a concerted strike, but now their goal was simply to make him retreat, so that he could no longer have vision of them.
However, Sword Demon was actually far bolder than they thought. The moment he saw the spells began to sequentially be cast on him, the only option he had to maintain Stealth would be to retreat as soon as he could, but he decisively canceled his Stealth instead and grandly revealed himself right before the whole enemy squad.
Glue and Flame Singed Clothes instantly aimed at the enemy and attacked, but Sword Demon easily evaded these attacks.
In terms of movement speed, he was faster than Gu Fei; in terms of his ability to discern the attacks from the opponents he was facing, he too possessed a skilled judgement honed through gaming that Gu Fei lacked. Take Flame Singed Clothes lifting his arm as an example; Sword Demon was able to instantly tell where the center of his spell was, how wide the ensuing AoE, and when he needed to begin running to avoid it entirely. The man was more than capable of achieving the level of analysis that Royal God Call, Drifting, or any other Mage experts had.
War Without Wounds and Royal God Call were the number one Warrior and Mage across MMOs respectively, but that was only when Sword Demon did not coincidentally choose the same job class as either of the two. The indomitability of Sword Demon in MMOs had already transcended the limit of job classes. It did not matter what job class he chose; he would simply be number one in any. Even though he had chosen to be a Thief, he did not neglect to do his research on the other job classes as well. This was work that Gu Fei would never do. In fact, there was a high chance that the man did not even have a good grasp of his Mage job class.
Glue and Flame Singed Clothes were better off forgetting about scoring an easy hit against such an opponent. Compared to Gu Fei, Sword Demon simply lacked the prowess to directly hit his targets with every move he made, yet he too would still leave the two men helpless.
Furthermore, Sword Demon mimicked what the BOSS did; he would retreat into the fog to rest up from time to time and would soon dive back into their midst to continue his harassment to the seven men.
The seven-man squad was left feeling vexed when they saw how flagrant the Thief was at keeping an eye on them.
“That BOSS’s aggro should still be on Thousand Miles Drunk right now; is there really a need to maintain this formation?” Blackwater was miserable when he saw how cool this Assassin was looking while harassing them. After being pushed toward his death by Gu Fei before, he was now back at level 39. He was no longer an Assassin but merely a Thief.
The difference in strength between level 38 and 39 or 40 and 42 might only be one or two levels, and the impact it had on a character’s Strength was nothing particularly huge. However, there was a distinct qualitative improvement from level 39 to 40 – all thanks to the existence of the Job Class Advancement available at level 40. Not only would their job class be further refined, they would also gain traits that served to amplify their job class features. Even their stats would become stronger as a result of this change. This was precisely why there was no possibility for a level 40 player to lose to a level 39 player unless they were in a state where they had literally no salvation.
Dropping from level 40 to 39 essentially gave off the same feeling anybody had riding a bicycle when they had previously been driving a car. It was truly too huge a fall.
“Calm down!” Southern Lone Blade understood what Blackwater was feeling, but he knew that rashness was the last thing they needed. “Beware; he just might lead us into a trap.”
Southern Lone Blade was simply overly cautious here; Sword Demon was merely toying with them casually. How was it even possible for Young Master's Elite to set up a trap for them? Their strongest DPSer was busy engaging with the BOSS right now, while Royal God Call and War Without Wounds had been relegated to the duty of a bugler, running all over and making an empty show of strength. Only Sword Demon, who was advancing and retreating before their eyes, was capable of mounting any sort of assault. What sort of trap could the Priest Young Master Han and the Knight Brother Assist set up for them, anyway?
Instead, it was precisely this mental state he was now in that was the real trap. The thick fog all around him had clouded his judgement. Doubts began to fill him, and his uncertainty was spreading to those around him.
Actually, they no longer needed to calm down now. Instead, what they needed was a bit of impulsiveness to daringly ignore the ravings of War Without Wounds and Royal God Call, as well as the harassment of Sword Demon, and make a run for it in one direction. After all, Young Master's Elites did not have any big move that could do anything to them.
Unfortunately, Young Master Han had managed to get a firm grasp of their psychology, and was now using the foggy weather to unsettle them in such a way that they somehow believed that there were thousands of reinforcements hiding in the fog, waiting for them to walk into the lion’s den of their accord.
As this feeling of anxiety continued to mount, the seven began to become more and more paranoid. Since each of them have a different psychological threshold, the symptoms they presented differ. While Southern Lone Blade was able to calmly think of a plan, Blackwater’s mental state was now in total chaos. When he saw that Glue and Flame Singed Clothes’ attacks continued to be ineffectual, he bellowed, “I’M GONNA KILL YOU!” He then left the safety of the circle and dashed right toward Sword Demon.
“Blackwater!” Southern Lone Blade yelled to stop the man, but the two others beside the Thief never expected Blackwater to react like this, so they were unable to prevent him from lunging at Sword Demon.
Even though Southern Lone Blade and his crew needed a level of impulsiveness and hot-bloodedness, they did not need the rashness from just one man, for that was no better than the seven of them continuing to paranoidly hold on like what they had been doing.
Sword Demon conscientiously retreated the moment he saw Blackwater dash toward him. Blackwater, who had abandoned his companions behind by charging ahead, activated his Fleetfoot to chase after Sword Demon the moment he disappeared into the fog.
“M*th*rf*ck*r!” Southern Lone Blade cursed as the now six-man circle hurried to move themselves in the same direction. The sound of Blackwater’s roar could still be heard from the fog, but it was nothing like the clear and crisp sound of weapons intermittently clashing between Gu Fei and the Shadowmist Assassin. The six of them hurried to get close when that roar of his suddenly ceased. There remained just a lone figure in the fog when Southern Lone Blade and the others got close. Sword Demon was standing there as if nothing had happened as he passively stated, “He’s now at level 38.”
A Thief below level 40 was definitely no match for an enemy that had taken the advancement to be an Assassin. This was even more since Blackwater went against an apex MMO expert. He had already lost his cool and depended on nothing more than his sheer passion. If that was useful in any sense, then this would be a shonen manga, but this was regrettably a MMO, so it took Sword Demon less than five seconds to handily defeat Blackwater in this head-to-head.
That’s still too slow! Sword Demon thought to himself. Miles needs no more than a second to slay that man. This was what it meant to be an expert; they were the sort that would never be contented with their accomplishment, forever pursuing the next realm they could transcend toward, although... What Sword Demon was currently pursuing was a little too much.
“Don’t let go of that rascal!” Flame Singed Clothes was angered. He was already feeling guilty over Blackwater’s previous death, and while he was not at fault this time around, he was nevertheless emotionally affected by it. His bellow carried that twinge of madness as he raised his magic staff.
Everything went quiet.
Everybody was waiting for Flame Singed Clothes' incantation, but who would have expected that the man would not utter a word even with his raised staff? It was just deafening silence.
Flame Singed Clothes realized with fright that he had somehow forgotten what the incantation for the spell was!
Some psychological studies had shown that a person’s memory could be adversely affected when experiencing anxiety. Oft-seen examples of this would be during an exam when people found it difficult to recall what they had previously reviewed and during a job interview when they had difficulty answering the interviewer’s questions as a result of mental pressure or anxiety. There were even exaggerated cases of people forgetting their names when put on the hotseat. At the moment, Flame Singed Clothes forgot the spell incantations he had chanted countless times in the past. The entire squad was under an insurmountable pressure right now; not wanting to lose their lives was only a small contributor to this. A large part was due to them feeling cornered and their frustration toward what they thought was a helpless situation. What sort of human would be entirely unaffected when facing all these negative emotions at once?
Blackwater was already tilted and paid for it; Flame Singed Clothes really wanted to mount an attack, but cat suddenly got his tongue; right now, Southern Lone Blade was not looking too good, either, as he quickly reminded the others, “Everyone, don’t panic!”
“What should we do, then?” Another reason why everybody was panicking was that Southern Lone Blade had not been able to come up with any bright plan all this time.
“F*ck it! CHARGE!” Southern Lone Blade finally bit the bullet. There really was no other choice now, and no one was in control of their emotional state. Their psychological state was really important. Most athletes participating in various sports competitions would split this into three aspects: mind, body, and skill. It would be impossible to accomplish anything if any one of these failed to function properly.
At this time, rather than everyone continuing to panic, it was better for them to just charge over. Southern Lone Blade had really been far too tilted, as his current cry for everyone to charge did not stem from him wishing to attempt a final gambit but from him wanting to make matters worse for everyone involved.
They are about to charge! Sword Demon could clearly discern what the squad was intending to do and immediately retreated. No matter how much of an expert he was, he knew he was nowhere as heaven-defying as Gu Fei, capable of defeating six or seven of these top experts.
“They’re acting faster than I thought they would!” Young Master Han said. He had been looking forward for the squad to lose control and fall apart one by one, but they instead broke down together as a group after one of them had died, a total collapse as everyone lost control and became no more like a swarm of bees.
A direct confrontation right now would be a six-versus-six scenario. Limp Hands was a noob who would not be of any help, so he could be ignored even if he decided to participate. The members were all experts on both sides, so there was no way Young Master's Elite could ensure that they would be victorious if such a fight broke out. They would have long attacked had this not been the case. Why else would they bother to instigate this mental breakdown in their enemies, otherwise?
This was a sudden change that left even Young Master Han a little at a loss on what they should do. War Without Wounds and Royal God Call were still making a ruckus in the periphery under his instructions! There was no way War Without Wounds would be able to make it to intercept their enemies given what little time they had, while Royal God Call… He would have to match War Without Wounds' speed if he needed to follow him. His speed would be in the negative if he left the proximity of War Without Wounds, given the current environment they were in.
In the end, this was more of a three-versus-six fight, and Sword Demon was the only expert that could deal anything significant. This was definitely not an advantageous situation they had found themselves in.
“Try your best to stall for time! The two of you will have to hurry over!” Young Master Han gave these two instructions to the rest accordingly. Whatever tactics, strategies, or ruses that were currently being enacted would have to end here, and what ensued would be a melee brawl that came down to close combat. It would now be a match of bravery and resoluteness between either side.
Young Master Han felt the slightest sense of foreboding regarding this. A battle of bravery and resolution? The enemy clearly had the upper hand on this level.
The enemy squad had already changed their formation; Southern Lone Blade was at the helm of the charge with his shield placed before him. Glue and Flame Singed Clothes were each on the left and right, while the two Priests and the Knight were wedged in the center of these three points as they all made a beeline for Sword Demon.
Brother Assist sent a Blessing over to Sword Demon, as Young Master Han sighed when he saw how the enemies were rushing toward them, “Let them go if you can’t handle them. We’re not in a rush at the moment.”
Sword Demon did not reply, his grip tightening around his daggers.