Chapter 23 – Coming and Going Unobstructed
The Fighter shouted with a booming voice then rushed forward and cleaved down with the sword in his right hand.「Slash!」The sword left a large wound after it struck the Deer Chief’s body.
The Deer Chief took one step forward and swept its sharp antlers at the Fighter.
The Fighter pulled back a bit and raised his shield to defend against the incoming blow.「Bang!」A heavy sound reverberated as a pair of antlers collided with a round wooden shield.
The Berserker and Paladin took this opportunity to flank the Deer Chief on both sides in a pincer attack.
“Guys, pay attention to your aggro,” the Fighter urged with a worried tone. Due to their ability to wield a shield, Fighters had a much higher defense when compared to other professions. Because of this, the Deer Chief was only able to deal ten or so damage to the Fighter when it attacked. However, if the Deer Chief were to switch aggro onto the Berserker or Paladin… they would at most be able to survive five attacks.
Monsters would initially focus their aggro on whoever attacked them first. However, in the event that there was someone who dealt too much damage to a monster, or a player’s level or power was exceedingly low, the monster’s aggro would switch onto them.
“We know. You can relax,” replied the Berserker and Paladin.
The Holy Mage and Elementalist at the back began casting spells and dealing damage.
Their coordination would be considered about average. It seemed that killing the Deer Chief within the next few moments wouldn’t be a problem for them. Only, they weren’t aware of the danger that was quietly approaching from behind.
Nie Yan stealthily made his way behind the Holy Mage and Elementalist. Only a few steps more and he would close the distance between them. The two Mages were standing quite close to each other, and their attention was focused entirely on the Deer Chief.
It appeared that the Deer Chief would be dead within the next thirty seconds. The party members were filled with an endless amount of excitement when they thought about all the loot they would receive.
Before Nie Yan’s eyes, the heads of the Holy Mage and Elementalist were completely exposed.
Nie Yan’s pacing slowed as he drew closer, as he needed to be more cautious when he neared his target. Otherwise, there was a possibility that the prey within his grasp would slip away.
Patience was another major quality that defined a Thief’s competence. After all, the outcome of their battles often depended on whether their first strike was a success or not. Of course, there was also an endless amount of sneaking and preparation which led up to that first strike. If a Thief lacked patience, it would be very easy for others to find flaws and catch them.
The battle between this group of players and the Deer Chief was about to reach its climax. The Deer Chief had been unceasingly ramming its antlers against the Fighter, causing the latter’s health to rapidly fall. When his health fell to around twenty, the Fighter took out a Basic Health Potion and drank it.
“Keep it up, everyone! The Deer Chief only has half its health remaining!” the Fighter shouted as he raised his shield and slashed forward with his sword again.
The Berserker and Paladin followed suit, increasing their attack speed. While in combat with the Deer Chief, their health had fallen to about half. The only ones who hadn’t received any damage were the two Mages in the back.
“Lei Zi, fall back a bit. Why are you so far forward?” the Fighter admonished to the Berserker.
“I know, I know.” The Berserker hurriedly pulled back.
Evidently, out of the five people in this group, it appeared that this Fighter had the most combat experience.
“When we’re running a dungeon in the future, you guys absolutely cannot go too far forward. Otherwise, you’re looking to get yourself killed. Realize your mistakes today, and tomorrow we’ll run a small five-man dungeon together. Once you guys get more familiarized with team-based combat, then we can start running larger dungeons with a full team,” the Fighter said. He then took a few steps back, luring the Deer Chief in between two large trees.
“What activities has the guild been doing lately?” The Berserker’s eyes lit up as he asked.
“There have always been guild activities. The Guild Leader and some of the others have been running the Treant Forest and Dark Wetlands for awhile now. You think you’re good enough to accompany them?” the Fighter asked rhetorically.
The people running the Treant Forest and Dark Wetlands were all elites in the Radiant Sacred Flame guild. In terms of a player’s defense, attack, health, etc… their guild had harsh requirements. So unless a player’s equipment reached a certain level, or they had good skills, there was basically no chance that they would be allowed to run a dungeon with the elites. In other words, this group of five shouldn’t even dream of going.
“There’s no Level 2 dungeons? You know, like the Moose Rat Cavern or Skeleton Cave?” the Berserker asked. These dungeons were also twenty-person instances. They were easier and the equipment that could be looted wasn’t bad either. Which was why running one of these dungeons would help them upgrade their equipment in preparation for the higher ranked ones.
“The Guild Leader will be organizing something in a few days, so let’s focus on raising our levels for now. Be careful and don’t let your attention wane. But for now, let’s get rid of this Deer Chief. Who knows? It might drop some decent equipment.” The Fighter took two more steps back. His retreat was firm and stable.
The Holy Mage and Elementalist copied him and retreated a few steps back as well.
Nie Yan noticed the opposing Fighter was rather decent. His ability to pull aggro was quite good. As soon as he noticed the Deer Chief was about to switch its aggro, he would strike it with his shield and attract its attention again.
With its aggro constantly being attracted and pulled, the Deer Chief was unable to display its full fighting strength.
Were it not for this Fighter, this team wouldn’t have stood a chance against this Level 3 Deer Chief.
Nie Yan’s movements were extremely cautious in order to prevent being detected by the Holy Mage and Elementalist. However, they unexpectedly started retreating back towards him.
For fucks sake… Nie Yan thought. The Holy Mage had already retreated back to where he was hiding.
Nie Yan raised his dagger and struck down, aiming at the back of the Holy Mage’s head.
His dagger hit the Holy Mage and put him under a dazed state.
“Someone’s trying to steal our kill!” the Elementalist beside them noticed the commotion and turned his head, immediately discovering Nie Yan. Yet before even half of these words could come out of his mouth, Nie Yan dashed over and used the handle of his dagger to strike the Elementalist in the forehead.
After successfully stunning his target, Nie Yan followed up with Assassinate, Lacerate, and finished it off with a Vital Strike aimed at his opponent’s throat.
Nie Yan’s actions were quite fast. In just a short amount of time, he managed to inflict a massive amount of damage.
Four damage values floated above the Elementalist’s head. By the time the Elementalist came out of his dazed state, he was left with only eighteen health remaining.
The Mage had gone into a state of panic—Nie Yan’s damage was just too terrifying.
Two more damage values floated above the Elementalist’s head in succession.
The Elementalist hurriedly took out a Basic Health Potion. Just as the bottle touched his lips… Nie Yan’s dagger flashed into view and lightly slashed across his chest. −8 A damage value floated atop his head.
The Elementalist staggered back and reached out as if to grasp something, but his hand found only empty air. Soon after, he collapsed on the ground as his health bar fell to zero.
“That’s one down,” Nie Yan whispered to himself as he picked up the piece of equipment that the Elementalist dropped.
By this time the Holy Mage had come out of his daze. But, unluckily for him, Nie Yan had already finished off the Elementalist. The Holy Mage turned tail and attempted to escape, but how could Nie Yan possibly give him such an opportunity?
Nie Yan brandished his dagger and gave chase to the fleeing Mage. After catching up, he unleashed a barrage of attacks on the Holy Mage’s back.
Without exception, every single one of his skills was on cooldown. Therefore Nie Yan could only use a normal attack. However, due to a Thief’s attack speed being innately fast, the damage dealt was still quite considerable.
The Holy Mage wasn’t about to go down without a fight, though. He turned around and hit Nie Yan with Holy Strike, then followed up with Holy Smite—dealing a total of fifty-three damage.
During all this, the Fighter, Berserker, and Paladin had continued fighting with the Deer Chief. They became aware of the situation after noticing that, all of a sudden, the constant damage from their Mages in the rear had suddenly disappeared.
“Someone mounted a sneak attack! It’s that Thief, Nie Yan (Nirvana Flame)!” the Fighter anxiously shouted. Why did this scoundrel have to suddenly appear during such a crucial moment in their fight against the Leader class monster?
In addition, Nie Yan still had over twenty minutes of Retaliation Time left!
“What are we gonna do!?” Little by little, the Berserker slowly retreated. Their current circumstances were quite unfavourable. They were suffering from a pincer attack, with the Deer Chief attacking from the front and Nie Yan attacking from the rear. The three frontline had been constantly dealing with the Deer Chief, which was why each of them had a little under half their health remaining. If they were even a little careless, it was very likely that all five of them would die here today. In the blink of an eye, Nie Yan had taken out their Elementalist. Their other Mage was still alive, but he barely had any health left. The way things were looking, the situation was about to become even more worrisome!
“First, kill the Deer Chief; we’ll deal with the rest later!” the Fighter instructed. The Deer Chief’s aggro was completely focused on them. If they ignored the Deer Chief and went after Nie Yan instead, it would definitely cause them trouble later on.
The Deer Chief doesn’t have much health left!
The Fighter cleaved down with his sword. The Berserker and Paladin also quickened their pace as they unceasingly hacked at the Deer Chief.
The Berserker and Paladin each used their most powerful skills, with the intent of causing high amounts of damage. One after another, damage values drifted up from the Deer Chief’s head.
It was a race against time for both sides.
The battle between Nie Yan and the Holy Mage was also nearing its climax. The two continued to battle as they ran, with one fleeing from the other. Nie Yan constantly maneuvered his way around the Holy Mage and repeatedly slashed at his exposed back. Wherever the dagger struck, blood would spurt out.
The Holy Mage continuously unloaded magic spells as he attempted to break away from Nie Yan.
Gradually, both their health bars fell. However, it was clear that the Holy Mage’s health was falling faster. He hurriedly took out both a Basic Health Potion and a Basic Recovery Potion, then drank them.
Before even a few seconds had passed, Nie Yan struck out and interrupted the healing from the Basic Recovery Potion.
“Run over here!” The Fighter was burning with anxiety as he yelled out. He was fighting the Deer Chief while also keeping a close eye on the battle between Nie Yan and the Holy Mage. It was clear to him that his teammate wasn’t much of a match for this Thief.
The Holy Mage was down to only thirty-six health.
“Damn that bastard. Isn’t he targeting us on purpose?” the Fighter cursed as he continuously slashed at the Deer Chief. After taking out Dian Cang and his group, Nie Yan suddenly appeared here. This definitely wasn’t a coincidence. Don’t tell me… this Thief is friends with that Arcane Mage and his group?
“Nie Yan, I’ll remember you! Our Radiant Sacred Flame guild definitely won’t let you off easily!” the Berserker furiously shouted.
“I’m extremely honoured. I’ll gladly await you maggots at any time,” Nie Yan replied with an indifferent expression. At this point in time, Radiant Sacred Flame was but a small guild. Even if you were to add up all their members, they still wouldn’t surpass a thousand. They certainly didn’t have the time or energy to search everywhere for Nie Yan and Tang Yao. Granted, even if they were able to find Tang Yao and Nie Yan, they still couldn’t possibly dispatch the entire guild after them. Besides, if they were to send everyone over and he decided that he couldn’t afford to take them on, then couldn’t he just hide instead?
In the past, Nie Yan had single-handedly caused the five guilds under the Cao Xu Financial Group to scramble after him. Even their several hundred thousand people were incapable of dealing with him, so why would Nie Yan fear a small fry like Radiant Sacred Flame guild?
Not to mention that the reincarnated Nie Yan was definitely much more difficult to deal with than the Nie Yan from the past.
So what was there for him to be afraid of?
“Even if your backup arrives, they’ll simply be sending side dishes!”¹ Nie Yan said with contempt. He stabbed his dagger into the Holy Mage’s chest, finishing him off. Glancing at his own health bar, he saw that he still had a little over fifty remaining. This number was within his expectations.
Nie Yan dashed over to where the Warriors were. The Deer Chief’s health had been whittled down to where it had only around ten percent remaining. Nie Yan was preparing to snatch whatever equipment dropped from the Deer Chief.
“Kill!” the Fighter furiously yelled while using Shield Strike to push the Deer Chief back.
Suddenly, the Deer Chief started to waver.
“Linear Slash!” the Berserker tightly gripped his greatsword and slashed at the Deer Chief.
A damage value floated above the Deer Chief’s head. It was a critical strike!
The Deer Chief let out a miserable whine and then collapsed.
The Fighter quickly bent down, picked up the item that the Deer Chief dropped, and threw it into his bag.
“I was just a step too late.” Nie Yan halted his movements upon seeing the Fighter pick up the loot, and then began retreating back.
The Fighter only had a quarter of his health remaining, the Berserker had about forty percent, and the Paladin had thirty-five percent. Although they had low health, facing these three close combat professions together certainly wasn’t as simple as it seemed. Not to mention his dagger wouldn’t do much damage against professions with thick armour—such as the Fighter. I can’t deal with the three of them. I’ll be better off not taking this risk, Nie Yan thought to himself.
The Fighter and the two others weren’t willing to take such risks to block off Nie Yan either, as they didn’t have much health remaining. Thus they just stood and waited as their health slowly recovered. Having only gained a single piece of Bronze grade equipment after losing two people in the fight against the Deer Chief, they certainly weren’t looking at a profitable outcome.
“Two more were killed,” the Fighter whispered under his breath as he stared daggers at Nie Yan. If they were to calculate their losses now, a total of five members from the Radiant Sacred Flame guild had been killed by Nie Yan’s hands today.
Nie Yan wasn’t very far from his enemies. Both sides stood still, simply staring at each other. Neither party dared to attack rashly. Although they all had low health, the three of them together could definitely take on Nie Yan. However, if they were separated, then who could say what the outcome might be.
A single Thief had frightened these three Warriors to the point where they didn’t dare to take action. This was simply a huge loss of face. Their expressions showed a hint of anger and humiliation.
Nie Yan extended his right hand forward, raised a certain finger, and made an amusing yet disdainful gesture.
“The three of you aren’t going to come? If you’re not coming, I might as well leave then.” Nie Yan glanced at the three and laughed mockingly. His eyes seemed to be focused on something deeper within the thickets. Movement and activity could be seen to the south, east, and west of his current position. He reckoned that the other Radiant Sacred Flame members were moving closer in an attempt to encircle him.
Nie Yan didn’t dare to be careless, and so hastily started retreating back. He moved like a hare as he dashed through the gaps between trees.
“Reinforcements have arrived! Block him and don’t let him escape!” The Fighter ordered as he gave chase to Nie Yan.
The Berserker and Paladin followed closely from behind.
「Why did it take you guys so long to get here?」 the Fighter said gloomily in voice chat.
「We found out where that Arcane Mage was hiding and almost managed to catch him. If you guys hadn’t gotten in trouble, that bastard would already be dead. What happened over on your side?」
「Dao Zi and Huang Ni were killed,」the Fighter replied.
「What happened? Weren’t they together with you guys?」
「It was the work of that thief called Nie Yan (Nirvana Flame) again. He mounted a sneak attack against us and killed Dao Zi and Huang Ni,」the Fighter explained. He hid the fact that he and his party members had been fighting a Deer Chief at the time.
「Fuck, it’s that damn Thief again!」
They had never met such a powerful Thief before. Moreover, this scoundrel had been specifically targeting them this whole time.
「I reckon he’s friends with that group of people we killed earlier. He escaped north! Let’s chase him!」
Several figures made their way through the gaps in the thicket.
Nie Yan was quite fast. In the blink of an eye, he had already put a large distance between himself and his pursuers. Up ahead, several silhouettes emerged from the trees and flanked him on both sides. He couldn’t go any further forward, and the Fighter and the others were pursuing him from behind. No matter where he ran, he would definitely end up surrounded.
Seeing no escape route, Nie Yan hid behind a tree and entered Stealth.
The Fighter, Berserker, and Paladin, who were pursuing from behind, met up with the several figures who appeared up ahead.
“What happened? Where is he?” asked the Fighter. He scanned the surroundings and found naught but trees and empty space. Where had Nie Yan disappeared to?
“Did he run off?”
“I think he went into Stealth. Let’s stay here and search.”
The players spread out and began searching every nook and cranny in the surrounding area.
Nie Yan maintained his breathing and made his way out while still under the effects of Stealth.
However, people from the Radiant Sacred Flame guild were everywhere, which meant that the crisis was still unabated.
「Where are you? What’s the situation?」Tang Yao asked through the voice call.
「I killed another two,」replied Nie Yan as he glanced at his knapsack. Although there were two new pieces of equipment inside, they weren’t anything special. Even if he put it up for auction, it would only sell for a few coppers at most.
「Awesome! Brat, I’m impressed!」Tang Yao exclaimed in admiration. The Radiant Sacred Flame members usually operated in groups of three or four. Tang Yao couldn’t help but wonder how Nie Yan managed to accomplish such a feat.
「Where are you right now?」asked Nie Yan.
「I encountered a group of Radiant Sacred Flame members just a moment ago. I almost ended up being caught by them, so I fled deeper into the cave. In the end, they left the cave and went back outside. But now I can’t get out; there’re Level 5 monsters everywhere and they’ve got me trapped,」replied Tang Yao. He guessed the reason why those Radiant Sacred Flame members left was to deal with Nie Yan. This meant Nie Yan had indirectly saved his life. However, the problem was… he was currently in an even more dangerous predicament. The deeper parts of the cave were filled with Level 5 Rock Spiders. If he was even a bit careless, he would most likely lose his life.
「Just stay put. I’ll give you a Return Scroll when I get there.」
「Having a Return Scroll would make things a lot easier, but can you even get here? The passage is completely blocked by Rock Spiders now.」
「We’ll deal with that later. There’s a bit of a problem over on my side, so I’m gonna hang up first.」
¹So the side dishes part is a pun because the Chinese slang for “noob” is the same character as vegetable/side dish. Nie Yan is basically saying that, even if they send more people, they’re all noobs and are going to be food (equipment dropped) for him.