Chapter 666: Chapter 666 – The First Wave of Investigative Assault
Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
Most players were nothing more than civilians, and nobody had even dreamed about commanding all 170,000 of them to fight in such a large scale battlefield. Forget players, even if someone were to randomly select officers from the armed forces, how many of them would have taken command of so many people before? An entire corp would roughly have somewhere around 60,000 soldiers; 170,000 would mean there were almost three entire corps of troops! Just how were they going to fight this war? Anyone would be left dumbfounded when facing such a question in an MMO.
Oathless Sword had snatched such an undeserved title and knew how it was akin to him having a tiger by its tail. He could, of course, ask for everyone to discuss the matter together, but this discussion would no doubt require teamwork. But if everyone were to choose to not contribute a thing, would he not have to make the decision himself, since he was in charge? This was just a game if he failed to come up with any ideas, there was no way he could not coerce them to do so with the threat of death.
“Well… Let us first get a clear idea of the tactics that the system is employing before we come up with a targeted solution…” Oathless Sword saw that they were waiting for him to speak, and knew keeping mum was not the way to go either. He quickly waffled for a bit, before turning to regard Youthful Reflection once he finished. Youthful Reflection usually had plenty of ideas, but the responsibility of commanding 170,000 players was not something he dared to bear. He could also tell that this was a venomous move being played on Brave Surge’s part. By pushing Oathless Sword into such a position, he would have to coordinate 170,000 players to battle and that was surely something no one could achieve. This most likely meant Oathless Sword would end up as the one making all the decisions, right? But how much of the battle would Oathless Sword be even able to understand on his own? The ultimate idea that he would come up with would most likely be no different to having come up with would not be any better than what the rest could up with. Thus, when the players execute the plan, and everything fell apart, who would end up being the target for all their resentment and grievances? It would naturally be the overall commander Oathless Sword. And if everyone showed their disdain toward the guild leader, how much better would the guild fare? The failure Oathless Sword demonstrated in this operation would surely cause the image of Traversing Four Seas to plummet as a result!
Youthful Reflection had quite a good understanding of this, but he could not come up with any stratagem to counter this eventuality. Just as Oathless Sword had begun to speak, Brave Surge interrupted, “It is just as you’ve said, guild leader Oathless. You’re a great leader who had managed to secure Traversing Four Seas as the number one guild in Yunduan City. Isn’t going up against something as simple as the system just child’s play to you?”
Some of the more understanding guild leaders shook their heads when they heard this, thinking to themselves that he had gone too far by saying so. If the system was child’s play, they would not have been so thoroughly beaten in that first wave before. Conversely, those who were more inconsiderate could already tell that Brave Surge was beginning to set up the bonfire for the eventual burning, as they looked forward to the debacle with gleeful schadenfreude.
Oathless Sword had no choice but to admit that he was at a loss for what to do; Would he not just be causing more trouble for himself if he chose to stubbornly hold onto his pride? Thus, he simply replied, “We’re all smart people here, and we have 170,000 comrades for this assault now. We are all gamers by blood, who among us cand take command of such a huge force like this? If you really want me to come up with a plan, I’ll admit that I have none either. So we should all pitch in for the discussion!”
With Oathless Sword saying this, anybody could understand that he was admitting his inability to take command for this operation in a certain sense. Of course, there was no way he could explicitly say this. The situation he was rather eagerly looking forward to was where everyone would understand where he was coming from, so they would all come together and offering ideas in earnest, hoping that he would still be the overall in charge when they were assigning manpower, coordinating and scheduling the work.
Oathless Sword was being rather optimistic, but why would the others let him take such a huge advantage of them because of this? Brave Surge laughed, “Guild leader Oathless is being too humble, too courteous. If you’re gonna be so courteous, I’ll just take over!”
“Then you may go ahead!” Oathless Sword thought Brave Surge was trying to undermine him further, so he tried to flip the script on him.
In the end, Brave Surge nodded, “Fine, I’ll take over now!”
“Ah….” Oathless Sword was stunned. Why was Brave Surge taking this hot potato so willingly? It probably meant that he already had such intentions to begin with, but he still pushed the position over to Oathless Sword. Now that he appeared to be eagerly taking the position back, it was apparent he was just looking to peel Oathless Sword’s face!
I’ve given you the chance, but since you can’t do it, I’ll take over! Not only did Brave Surge managed to make himself look good, but he had also even taken the position of the overall commander, essentially killing two birds with one stone.
Oathless Sword glanced over to Youthful Reflection in his astonishment, receiving a private message from Youthful Reflection in return, “This guy… Could he have a plan in mind?”
Oathless Sword suddenly reacted, “M*th*rf*ck*r, could that rascal have gotten a hold of some quest that was critical to this event?”
Youthful Reflection felt that was a reasonable presumption when he heard this. These two men firmly believed that there was no gamer out there that could take command of a force that numbered 170,000. The only plausible reason Brave Surge had so confidently stepped up to the plate must be because he had gotten hold of some essential quest that was pivotal in deciding the outcome of this City War event. From the simple actions and the oath that the NPC had cried out from the start of this war, this assault on the city seemed to be part of a set of guild quests on a grander scale. So it was not impossible for someone to have gotten the underlying implication through the minute details.
“What about the men we’ve sent? Has any of those we’ve tasked with searching for quests gotten any leads?” Oathless Sword hurriedly asked.
“Nope. Everyone is still searching NPCs in the designated spawn points in the various camps. Most of what they had gotten are quests dealing with the supplementation of logistics or food and nourishment, none of which seem critical to the actual assault,” Youthful Reflection said.
“Brave Surge had started from the west, send some men over there to investigate,” Oathless Sword ordered.
“I’ll personally bring these men over!” Youthful Reflection volunteered.
“That’s fine too,” Oathless Sword nodded.
Youthful Reflection quietly departed from Oathless Sword’s side. He was not the guild leader, so nobody cared what he was doing. Now that Brave Surge had taken over as the new overall commander, this circle of guild leaders were currently gathered to hear him speak.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Since we’re set to be working together, we cannot be without a unified command. But because we are not a guild, and Parallel World does not have any public channel that we can use to communicate, I suggest we guild leaders first form a party together, then we use the party channel to exchange news and information. Afterward, each of us could use our guild channels to disseminate the instructions to our guildmates. All in favor?”
Everyone praised Brave Surge’s brilliant idea when they heard it. He had only just taken over, yet had already offered such a reliable solution to their communication issue, and quite a good number of men even casually threw a look of disdain toward Oathless Sword. Oathless Sword was in tears; what sort of brilliant idea was this!? This was a method they had come up with when they were on that expedition for his guild quest long ago, and back then, he had used this same method to take charge of the various mercenary leaders in a single party. There were quite a few mercenary leaders that had participated in that before that were here right now, but there was no reason for them to suddenly quip ‘Traversing Four Seas had used this method before’, so Oathless Sword had no choice but to suffer this injustice.
“Alright. Next, I think we need to gain a deeper understanding of what we are up against. We were defeated too quickly over by the west gate, so we were completely unable to grasp any sort of information regarding the system or those NPCs. How did you guys fare on your end?” Brave Surge asked.
“The same!” the players from the north gate answered. It was better if none of them mentioned how they had already been petrified into inaction from that first large rock crashing down onto the battlefield.
The people from the west gate were actually aware of this even if none of them had said a word; it was not as if they did not see what happened. At the moment, Brave Surge said, “That is why I say we need to organize a group to conduct an investigative assault. We need to at least understand what the system has going up against us, as well as how they would be attacking, etc.”
“Yes yes, that makes sense,” Everyone nodded.
Oathless Sword once more felt maligned. Just what sort of useless idea was this? Brave Surge had not even mentioned how he was going to command the 170,000 players in the attack.
Brave Surge continued, “Carouse will take up this task of sounding them out! Everyone can take a break for now.”
All the guild leaders were moved. What does it mean to sound out the enemy? It was no more than a suicide mission to probe and test the system’s response. Even though everybody knew that there were no penalties for death in this event, which was the reason why Brave Surge had been so magnanimous as to volunteer for the job, it was still an act of suicide, so why else would anyone protest against this? Of course, Oathless Sword would not be contented with letting Brave Surge steal all the limelight to himself, so he leaped out and declared, “Traversing Four Seas won’t be resting either, we’ll go as well!”
“I like that attitude,” Brave Surge chuckled. He was well aware of Oathless Sword’s intentions, but he did not say a word about it.
The other three large guilds were also level 6, but they were no match to the two guilds in terms of the quality of the guild members, which was why none of them made a sound as Oathless Sword and Brave Surge engaged in their brinkmanship.
“Guild leader Oathless, shall we work together and rush them together?” Brave Surge happily asked Oathless Sword.
Oathless Sword pursed his lips, looking as if he was not in the least bit interested in teaming up with Brave Surge, before waving his arm, “Let’s go!”
Gale Force was in an awkward position. Youthful Reflection had just left, and now he was the only one beside Oathless Sword. Now that Oathless Sword wanted to act as if he was commanding his posse to leave when it was just him alone, Gale Force could not help but feel rather depressed seeing as he was the only one that could heed this call.
Brave Surge was behind, addressing the crowd of guild leaders once more, “Then we shall go and probe the system with Traversing Four Seas. Everyone, please pay close attention.”
“Got it,” all the guild leaders nodded.
The two guild leaders left to gather their men for this assignment. Brave Surge messaged Oathless Sword, “Guild leader Oathless, how are we going to do this?”
Oathless Sword thought about this for a moment before answering, “We should take turns going up, each using what we are good at. We’ll mainly be using Archers, and you guys can send your Mages. Let’s see if the system would treat us differently.”
“Alright. That’s settled. Will you guys go first?”
“Okay,” Probing the system was but one of the reasons Oathless Sword had thought to take turns sending their men up. The other reason was his intention to compete against Brave Surge. Traversing Four Seas mainly used Snipers for their Arrow Formation, and they possessed far superior mobility compared to Carouse’s band of Mages. He believed that even if his men were to fail, they would look much cooler in their foray compared to Carouse.
This was not something best explicitly stated, but upon returning to his guild and after he gathered the Snipers, Oathless Sword gave them some rousing motivation.
This was not Oathless Sword’s grudge after all, and the rivalry between Traversing Four Seas and Carouse had already become the guild’s culture. The moment they heard they were going to be competing with Carouse, their morale surged. Oathless Sword nodded with satisfaction and arranged to have a team of Priests for support as well, forming a second team behind the Snipers.
“Everyone spread yourselves out, and be careful of that trebuchet throwing out those huge rocks. Stop advancing the moment you enter their attack range and prepare to attack.” Oathless Sword had formulated their directive for this assault.
“Move out!” After Oathless Sword had finished giving them instructions, he swung his sword forward and led the team out. He might not be an Archer, but there was no way he would stand behind and watch the spectacle as the guild leader. At the moment, he grouped up with the Priests, bellowing loudly as he stirred everyone’s morale.
The guild leader of every guild had already relayed the information that they had discussed to all their guildmates, and everyone was aware that Traversing Four Seas was attempting to probe the system’s attack. It was rare to catch sight of Traversing Four Seas’ troop of Snipers when there was nothing momentous happening, and it drew many player’s attention when they set off. These players all cast their Appraisal skills and were left sighing in awe when they saw the Snipers from Traversing Four Seas.
“That’s a large guild alright, look at their equipment!!” The envious exclamations belonged to the many players from the small and medium-sized guilds. As for those players that were not even level 41, they were not even able to be envious, since they could not even appraise their equipment.
“Take care! Watch your distance!” Oathless Sword kept reminding them through the guild channel. The first huge rock that crushed Black Rose was still there on the battlefield! Also, it was the rock that was farthest from the city walls, so the players viewed that to be the maximum range that the trebuchet could toss its payload. Seeing that they were about to get near its vicinity, the members of Traversing Four Seas became a lot more cautious.
“Spread out, spread out more!” Oathless Sword said. The Snipers began to scatter themselves more. Right now, there were only about this company of around 100 players attacking, and there was more than enough space for them to do so, as they each maintained a distance between each other wide enough for four or five huge rocks.
“Here it comes!” Someone suddenly yelled out loud. Sure enough, the sound of the trebuchets launching rocks thundered, and the sound of rushing air that accompanied the huge rocks could be heard as everyone saw them hurtling from the city walls. These rocks created perfect arcs as they flew toward the players from Traversing Four Seas. They were already prepared and adding to the fact they had plenty of space to dodge the rocks, it was completely different from when they did their reckless charge and froze up after the huge rock landed on Black Rose before. The hundred or so Snipers could see the trajectory of the rocks flying toward them, be it left or right, in front or behind them, and not one of them was struck by it.
“Great! That’s the way, continue onward!” Oathless Sword bellowed enthusiastically, even as the Snipers echoed a warcry loudly. The attack speed of these trebuchets was not too high, and the rocks themselves were huge moving targets, which meant avoiding them was not particularly difficult. Everyone could see that this sort of attack would be extremely powerful when used against a tightly packed army charging in, but calling it ineffective against the sort of scattered formation Traversing Four Seas’ Snipers had adopted was a gross understatement.
“Forward! Be careful, we’re about to enter the NPC’s Archers’ attack range. Everyone, take note and prepare to attack!” Oathless Sword directed his men forward in his excitement. Even a babyleg Warrior like him was capable of evading the huge rocks with ease, and he was thrilled. The trebuchets were the first layer of ranged attacks that they faced, and the next would be the NPC Archers up on the battlements, and then the Mages after. These NPC Archers shared the same range of attack as the players, so Oathless Sword arranged for his own Arrow Formation to go head to head with the Archers up upon the city walls.
They no longer had their minds on the trebuchet attacks, but at this moment, they heard the sound of another barrage of rocks coming from these machines. Some of the more careful players realized that the sound of the sailing rocks this time seemed to be slightly different. The Snipers from Traversing Four Seas looked up to the sky and were about to read the trajectory of the rocks and evade them like they did before, but were all left thunderstruck by what they saw. This time, the rocks coming their way were not the huge rocks like before, but an innumerable sum of stones the size of human brains that were flying their way.
With these being smaller stones, that did not mean they would fly faster, but now that the number of these projectiles increase, it was unknown just how many stones were fitted into the slings in these trebuchets. They created a torrential rain of stones, as the brain sized ‘raindrops’ blotted out the sky as they pelted down. Rather than these players not wanting to dodge, it was that the stones were too tightly packed together in such a way that made it impossible to dodge. It became less of an issue for them to be capable of dodging these stones, but if they were lucky.
This wave of stones that battered Traversing Four Seas left them falling left and right; but because the stones were now smaller, the damage they dealt was greatly reduced as well. The players managed to hold on despite these brain-sized rocks plummeting from such a height, as the Priests that Oathless Sword had preemptively arranged to support their assault were finally allowed to come into play, casting their Heals respectively on everyone. Even though the frequency of the attacks from these trebuchets was not particularly high, the Priests were able to recover everyone’s HP in time. By the time the second wave of attacks came down upon them, and it was using the smaller stones once more, players fell to the ground left and right again, as the Priests began their work once more.
“Guild Leader, this won’t do. Our mana will run out sooner or later!!!” A Priest hurriedly warned Oathless Sword.
Oathless Sword was not willing to admit defeat! Seeing another wave of stones flying toward them yet again, he looked around at his guildmates, as an idea came to him, “Everyone, hide behind the huge rocks!!!”
Everyone came to attention as some men crawled or squatted, making their way behind a huge rock. All they heard was the sound of the stones peppering off the huge rock. They rubbed the wounds on they got on their heads from the stones that battered them before, everyone feeling rather shell-shocked.
“Do we continue?” They asked Oathless Sword.
“What’s there to be afraid of!? There are no penalties imposed on us for dying in this event, so let’s continue to use the huge rocks as cover as we make our way forward!!” Oathless Sword gave the order, and everyone took the opportunity in between the trebuchet’s attack to leap out from cover and continue their push to the city, quickly taking cover behind a huge rock the moment they saw the stones in the air.
Finally, utilizing this method of advancement, Traversing Four Seas had gotten near the attack range of those Archers on the walls, and with the first flight of arrow let loose, Oathless Sword gave the order, “ATTACK!!!!”
The target of this attack was not the Archers up on the battlements, but the Warriors and Knights lined up below the city walls. These foot soldiers were already within the attack range of Traversing Four Seas’ Snipers, yet they remained stationary.
Traversing Four Seas’ goal this time was to probe the enemy, so they were not looking to execute the perfect Arrow Formation assault, each Archer took whatever chance they were given to fire at these NPCs. The foot soldiers were already on guard, with the front row stepping back as the back row reinforced forward, a row of tower shields about the height of grown men were lifted, rendering the arrows that showered them ineffective. Meanwhile, the Archers were hiding behind the battlements up on the walls, only revealing a portion of their bodies when they attacked. Oathless Sword tried to direct his men to fire a few rounds at these NPCs, but it was equally ineffective.
Just as they were stuck in making any sort of progress, a sudden cacophony of screams could be heard from their side. Oathless Sword rapidly turned to look, and he saw a team of black-clothed masked Assassins abruptly appear among Traversing Four Seas’ formation, mercilessly massacring the Snipers.
No matter how strong Snipers were, they were terrible in melee. Plenty of them habitually ran away, hoping to put some distance between these assailants and themselves, but they soon found themselves becoming the target of the Archers from the battlements. It was under such an assault that these Snipers slowly got wiped out one by one. Oathless Sword was feeling burning anxiety, but a Stealthed Assassin had also appeared beside him at this moment. Oathless Sword was naturally a grizzled veteran when it came to melee combat, so he could instantly tell that the strength these Assassins demonstrated was by no means simple from a single exchange. Most players might be no match for them on a 1v1 basis.
Oathless Sword managed to takedown his Assassin with much difficulty, but it required several Priests focusing their Heals on their guild leader. The other Snipers were not as fortunate, and each of them slowly got assassinated one by one. Some wanted to retreat, but they were soon subjected to the trebuchet’s shower of stones in their attempt. Oathless Sword heaved a long sigh. He knew that their investigative assault this time had come to an end.