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Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
“Guild leader, what do we do!?” It was as if an assortment of voices called out in all the guilds at the same time. After all, the entire guild couldn’t remain confuddled, not realizing how the situation on the battlefield had changed.
That’s right. What can they do? At this moment, all Oathless Sword, Brave Surge and the other guild leaders representing the large guilds could do was curse at the heavens. Most people only knew the glory that came with being such prominent leaders, but how would they know about the difficulties that came with making the necessary choice in such moments? Especially since if making a wrong move presently would leave a bad impression on all the guilds in Yunduan City. Both men were keeping quiet, hoping that the other party would his their mouth in his stead. They rather give this opportunity to issue orders to someone else than take the risk. Alternatively, they were also fine if some idiot were to appear and bark out a decision just like what had happened before and take this decision off their hands!
Nobody shouted. Actually, everything had a chance to happen coincidentally, and certain prerequisites had to be in place to make it inevitable. The situation before made it easy for some hot-blooded youth to jump out and take the driver’s seat, but there was a particular detail in the current scenario that stopped even these reckless people from taking charge: they were fine with continuing killing like this.
Oathless Sword and Brave Surge were in quite the pickle! It was a tough situation to make a decision!
“Guild leader, make a decision quick. We can not drag this on any further,” Players who clearly understood that the operation was heading toward an extremely disadvantageous state were all nervous, urging their guild leaders to take charge of the situation.
The guild leaders themselves were all flustered, so they then urged the bigger guild leaders for orders, which meant the responsibility ended up mainly on Oathless Sword and Brave Surge.
Thus, all the two men could do was cry even as they cursed the heavens.
This time, both men had made up their minds not to make a decision so casually and chose to hold a democratic conference in the party channel with all the major guild leaders. These guild leaders who had become the impromptu democratic representatives of the masses each had their own opinions on the matter, and this brought about a heated discussion. Oathless Sword and Brave Surge were two old foxes that quietly stood on the sidelines watching, looking forward to hearing a voice that would overwhelm everyone else. While it could be said that the two guild leaders lacked any sort of daring resolution of their own, it could not be denied that the two guild leaders were ready to take advantage of the situation to the best of their ability. Even if someone came up with a plan, Oathless Sword and Brave Surge would ultimately have a scapegoat to blame if the operation failed, while whatever influence that yielded for the person who came up with the successful idea might not hold up well with these two guild leaders. After all, both Brave Surge and Oathless Sword had true strength, and that was an all-important foundation in MMOs.
“Gentlemen, please stop your quarreling and listen to me!” That was when somebody’s shout cut across the party channel, asking for everyone to be quiet and let him be the only one speaking.
Oathless Sword and Brave Surge glanced at the IGN of the person who spoke up and their hearts began to thump in trepidation. It was Black Index Finger, a guild leader who was also from one of the five major guilds in Yunduan City. They did not expect that this person would be so bold as to dare to speak up at this time.
The channel slowly grew quiet and Oathless Sword and Brave Surge both waited for Black Index Finger to say his piece. This person would indeed have a bit of strength to rival the two men… Oathless Sword and Brave Surge were nowhere near each other, but their hearts shared the same climbing heart rate.
“We need to retreat!” Black Index Finger gave this simple comment after the channel was quiet. Oathless Sword and Brave Surge sighed with relief, so that was the idea he had . It was not enough just being able to offer a viable idea, but it was more important to offer a bold enough idea that would show sufficient mettle. Using the current situation as an example, even if Black Index Finger dared to suggest they continue to fight on, he would perhaps still need to provide steps they could take that would allow them to maintain the status quo. If they end up succeeding in becoming victorious, then the prestige he currently has would only increase. Unfortunately, what he had suggested now was a retreat, so no matter how accurate or logical this decision was, it was not about to do him any favors for suggesting it. Both Brave Surge and Oathless Sword could already tell that retreating would be the best option in their current predicament, but neither had said it precisely because they did not want to give the others an impression of being weak. The two were not just concerned about the strength of their guilds, but they were also looking out for their image.
After Black Index Finger made his comment, a cacophony of different voices sounded, and it was exactly as what Brave Surge and Oathless Sword had expected. Everyone was expressing their contempt toward Black Index Finger’s lack of courage.
Black Index Finger yelled for the crowd to settle down once more, before continuing, “I have no doubt that you gentlemen have the strength and power to continue on this fight for several hours more if we were to carefully organize our men, but the problem isn’t us. But those over there… I am almost certain they would not be able to hold out for much longer.”
‘Those over there…’ Everyone knew who and where was Black Index Finger referring to: the army that was comprised of cannon fodder. Everybody was silent. Nobody had any doubts that the cannon fodder army cannot be compared to the main force and were essentially just sending themselves to their deaths in this assault. Even though they had numbers on their side, the frequency of them dying was very high. Even though the effective organization of the teams allowed them to restrain the city guards after, the rate at which they were being slaughter was several times higher than that of the main force. If this were to continue unhindered, it was almost a guarantee that the cannon fodder frontline would collapse much sooner than the main force. When that time comes, once those city guards from the system had no opponent, they would then come over to support the rest of the defenders and break the original equilibrium that the main force had managed to maintain. Was there even a need to mention just what other outcomes would there be for everyone to that end?
“Should we throw some of our men over?” Someone suggested.
“I’m afraid that’s a little too late,” Black Index Finger said. “The current balance was something we’ve previously made preparations for, and we’ve only barely managed to maintain the status quo there afterward. Now that there has been such a sudden change, it’s very likely that the system would be able to defeat us in one fell swoop. I’m sure everyone here knows what’s the reason for this eventuality.”
“Thus, a retreat is our only option!” Black Index Finger concluded.
This time, those voices before that dissented no longer made a sound, but there was an unexpected cry from someone else.
“We can’t retreat!!” The person who said this was Brave Surge.
The more Brave Surge heard Black Index Finger’s words, the more he felt something was off. Black Index Finger was giving his analysis of the situation on the surface, but he was also secretly accusing the fact that the creation of the cannon fodder army was a misstep. It was all because of this particular arrangement that they had gone with that made it that much more difficult to enact any further adjustments. And it just so happened that the person who had suggested such an idea to form the cannon fodder army was Brave Surge.
Oathless Sword had come up with the idea for them to take turns rotating their men to whittle down the system. Then it was Black Index Finger who had proposed that they should only hand-pick the elites for this particular operation, drawing the line in the sand and excluding the players who were not up to par. Brave Surge originally had that vital quest in his hands, which was why he had not been too concerned with this direct confrontation with the city guards. In the end, now that the all-important quest was gone, and the only path to victory laid with this direct confrontation, how could Brave Surge be willing to be precluded from the planning of the fight? Thus, he added this idea of having the cannon fodder army draw a portion of the firepower away, thereby easing off the pressure that the main force will face. Everyone had felt that this was not a bad idea, so they naturally went along with the arrangement. But now that the cannon fodder army had become the main problem that affected their current predicament, if anyone was concerned with pursuing responsibility, Brave Surge would naturally find it all fell on him, seeing as how he was the one who came up with the idea in the first place.
Since Black Index Finger had presently laid out his analysis and had laid things out bare thusly, if they were to call for a retreat now, the players would, of course, argue, “Why?”
Then someone would answer, “Because the cannon fodder army can’t hold on anymore.”
This would lead to a follow-up question, “Whose d*mn*d idea was it to create the cannon fodder army?”
Which would then come to the answer: Brave Surge.
Brave Surge was essentially finished just from these two questions and the answers that came with it, which was why he suddenly realized they must not retreat! Especially since Black Index Finger had essentially outlined the matter to everyone. Is this guy purposely trying to throw me under the bus? Brave Surge felt a little antsy and in the heat of the moment, he could not care for anything else as he quickly blurted out to stop their men from withdrawing.
Sure enough, Brave Surge was also a major guild leader who had quite the prestige in Yunduan City. Similarly, as a guild leader for a level 6 guild, it was evident that his words were held in greater regard than Black Index Finger. When Black Index Finger was speaking, people who disagreed with his opinion would make themselves known, but when it was Brave Surge who partook in the discussion, the voices that followed were deferential, “Guild leader Surge, just what is your suggestion?”
“It wasn’t easy for us to progress the battle until this stage. We’ve also now seen this repeated death counter configuration the system has in place for us. If we were to withdraw our troops now, the hard work we had done before would basically be for naught, but I’m sure the system has kept a record of our death counts. So the next time we engage, we will directly face the five minutes of recuperation time, going up to ten and even 15 minutes, a penalty that prevents us from heading out to fight after death. Rather than dealing with that later, why don’t we strive to continue with the current foundation we’ve fought hard for!?” Brave Surge said.
“But… What will we do about the other side then?”
“Leave them to me, I’ll take over the command there! I’ll do my best to buy everyone sufficient time, so please do your best, brothers. We must win this City War in a single stroke!” Brave Surge had sounded plenty determined when he said this, even though he felt extremely dejected deep down. He was no more than forcing the cannon fodder army to do something that they could not achieve. Since he was going to be shouldering the blame if they were to retreat, he figured it was better to just go for a final gambit instead. Even if the battle still failed, at least people might remember his indefatigable spirit. Perhaps if there were any further revision in the state of the battle that ultimately resulted in their victory, then he would surely see a great rise in his prestige.
Quite a good number of people actually supported Brave Surge’s explanation, and even Black Index Finger, who had first suggested them to retreat, had not insisted on withdrawal either, merely saying over the channel, “Since Brave Surge have such confidence, why don’t we give this a shot? I too find it quite a waste if we are to retreat just like that.”
B*st*rd! Brave Surge cursed in his rage. That guy is clearly trying to mock me, actually mentioning the notion of confidence in our current plight. You’re just trying to remind everyone that this set up had been my idea from the start!
Oathless Sword had wanted to be treated as no more than air this entire time, but he had no one else to blame but himself for having usually built a strong presence. Someone actually remembered his existence, and called him out by name, “Guild leader Oathless, what are your thoughts? Why have you not said a word all this while?”
Oathless Sword chuckled a little before answering, “Everybody has analyzed this so thoroughly, I did not want to interrupt anyone. Since the discussion is more or less settled at this time, then we’ll just go ahead with this plan. I have no opinions.”
B*st*rd! Brave Surge raged to himself again. How could he not understand how Oathless Sword was as a person? The man loved having the limelight to himself, and the reason that he had not bothered to interrupt the discussion was entirely because he saw how huge a joke the whole thing was.
“In that case, guild leader Surge will have his work cut out for him over there. The rest of my comrades here, let’s give it our all and hold on here and efficiently dispatch our enemy. We should not squander all the effort that Brave Surge is putting in here!” Oathless Sword’s final exhortation was met with a resounding cry of agreement from all the other guild leaders. Brave Surge’s heart was thundering loudly in his chest the entire time. People can spend all their time protecting themselves from their enemies, but the hardest was to thwart an attempt from within! This time, Oathless Sword was evidently kicking him while he was down, intentionally looking to make his rival guild leader look bad. If Brave Surge failed to give it his all in this attempt here, he might very well find his own head on a plate. He could only hope that Oathless Sword was looking at the overall picture, and would not be treating this as child’s play during such a crucial stage of their assault.
Brave Surge left, his heart still uneasy, while Oathless Sword continued to take charge and conduct the battle here. As a commander for the war, the guild leaders would not let themselves die so easily, ensuring they had brought along plenty of Priests with them. However, this was not because the guild leader themselves were precious and must not die, but that it was hugely detrimental for them to be without a commander in such large-scale battles.
With the overall war strategy set once more, Brave Surge became the commander of the cannon fodder army, stepping up to the task with tears in his eyes. The forces that were on the system’s side continued to wage war and remained unchanged. In the meantime, the elusive duo, Gu Fei and Sword Demon, were currently engaged in their wonton activities behind enemy lines.
“We’ve arrived,” Brother Assist was the closest to his destination, and was the first to reach the middle encampment, sending his message to the two men.
“Alright. Thanks for your hard work, Brother Assist. At the same time, you can interview more people and gather more information, so you can write a battle report or something!” Gu Fei said.
“Is there any need for me to do that?” Brother Assist replied. He could see that there were plenty of reporters hailing from the various websites online here in the camp, accosting the players who respawned, rattling off a seemingly endless series of questions.
“I’m about to arrive as well,” Gu Fei messaged, he could already see an encampment in the distance in front of him. There were plenty of job classes in Parallel World, but it was apparent that the game’s setting was set during the cold weapons era. The encampments were very simple and sparse in terms of their construction, without even a wall in sight, and were no more than a mess of tents clustered together, making them look like simple camping grounds. Similarly, the spawn points on site were much larger than the spawn points that the seven job classes in the city possessed.
“I’m in!” The moment that Gu Fei took a step into the spawn point and messaged the two men, he suddenly felt a gust of wind coming straight for him. Gu Fei did not even have the time to look as he did a quick sidestep to dodge it, before turning his head back with a glance. He saw someone dressed as a soldier holding onto a sharp sword, and a second attack was already upon him.
The klaxon sounds of an alarm began to ring from within the encampment, leaving the players who respawned on the grounds stunned as Gu Fei heard the soldier yelling loudly, “A SPY HAS INFILTRATED THE ENCAMPMENT!!”
Tears streamed down Gu Fei’s cheeks. It turned out that this someone was actually an NPC. Players might not be able to identify Gu Fei as the enemy, but the NPCs would not have the same problem. Since Gu Fei had so openly walked right into the encampment, he was immediately exposed by the NPC guards patrolling the site.
The players were originally dumbfounded, but were soon excited as they exchanged questions with one another, “What spy? Is this a quest?”
“Yes, it must be a quest. Let’s go take a look!!”
“Where’s the spy? We gotta capture the spy!!”
Some of these players were all waiting for their recuperation timer to finish its countdown and could not leave the encampment, and others had merely spawned after dying and had not triggered the recuperation period imposed by the system yet. At this moment, all of them were invigorated and were running around the encampment, looking for the spy.
Many players had instantly appeared near where Gu Fei was at, who was bemoaning his fate deep down. This NPC had quite the combat strength, which made it difficult for him to escape easily. These players were all so eager to get a quest that they had very quickly sprinted their way over. Gu Fei kept his eyes peeled on his surroundings, the tip of his sword dipping slightly, ready to clear them all off in one rotation of his Twin Incineration when he heard that player closest to him tell, “That was really quick, bro!!!” With that, he saw this person activate with his Fleetfoot, ducking right behind the NPC and plant his Backstab mercilessly, yelling to everyone, “Quick, let’s all team up against it together. We can’t let it get away.”
The crowd echoed in agreement as spells, arrows, swords, and axes came raining down on the NPC. Gu Fei had no time to intervene before this happened, as he stood there frozen.
Empiricism was truly their downfall! Gu Fei shook his head repeatedly. Who told you guys the spy must be an NPC?
“D*mn, this NPC even dressed the part. Bro, how did you discover that he was the spy?” someone turned round to ask Gu Fei even as he continued to hit the NPC.
“Ahem, the system prompted,” Gu Fei said.
“Oh, keep at it!” This person shouted.
“Same to you!” Gu Fei nodded as he said this, as more and more players came running over toward them. Gu Fei did not dare to stick around and join in on the spectacle, as he guiltily backed away to the side.
It was not just players that came to catch the spy and that guard was not the only NPC here in the entire encampment. Soon, the other camp guards had gotten the news about the infiltration attempt and came dashing over. Gu Fei had already quietly backed out from the encampment by this time, so when these identical guards that came to the call for action, they saw so many players surrounding their own comrade and immediately went to assist it without another word of explanation. Players that attacked the guard were immediately attacked by the other guards as a result.
The players exclaimed loudly in their astonishment, “F*ck me, there are so many spies! Quick, everyone, come help!!”
In the beginning, several players were still hoping to pick up the quest solo and put on airs, but when they saw that they were unable to hold it by themselves any longer, they quickly began calling for assistance. Many players came rushing to their cries, the whole lot of them descending upon the guards in an effort to eliminate the ‘spies’ while Gu Fei hid in the nearby woods, dumbfounded by what he was witnessing.
“Crap, I can’t sneak into the encampment! There are NPC guards here, and I’m afraid they might pick us out and uncover our identity.” It was around this time when Gu Fei received this message from Sword Demon. The man was too genuine and careful, taking the effort to survey the terrain upon reaching the location. He spotted the guards during his reconnoiter of the encampment and the moment he saw them patrolling, he knew that they were not the same side as the NPCs they saw in the city. NPCs were all able to automatically detect their enemy, and no amount of make-up or covering of faces would prevent this. Sword Demon messaged Gu Fei even as he went into Stealth and searched around for any potential openings where there were no guards!
“Yeah, I know.” Gu Fei said.
“You got discovered?” Sword Demon asked.
“How was it?”
“Really hectic,” Gu Fei said.
“What do you mean?” Sword Demon did not understand.
Gu Fei gave a simple overview of what happened that left Sword Demon at a loss for words, “Did that really happen?”
“You can give it a try,” Gu Fei said.
“That’s a little bit too much, yeah?” Sword Demon said.
“I didn’t mean to intentionally do it,” Gu Fei protested.
“Then I shall do it intentionally, for the sake of successfully defending the city!” Sword Demon declared.
“You can do it!” Gu Fei said.
Sword Demon had always been someone who was quick at making decisions. When he spotted a guard right in front of him, he did not even go into Stealth again and immediately went charging in for the attack! Sure enough, the alarm rang, as the NPC guard bellowed, “A SPY HAS INFILTRATED THE ENCAMPMENT!!” The guard’s shout was like a MAP weapon. It did not matter how loud this shout was; it was like the players in the entire camp had heard it, and their reaction was exactly the same as what Gu Fei had experienced in the other encampment. Players all began to clamor, “What spy? What spy? Is this a quest?”
Of course, Sword Demon had made sure that nobody saw him initiating the attack, so when players soon noticed the fight he was engaged in, he was prepared. He shouted loudly, “Quick. It’s really strong, I can’t beat it alone!!”
“Hold on, buddy!!” Many players broke into a sprint as they came rushing over, spells, arrows, sword and axes, all these attacks came landing on the lone soldier.
“Fight for a bit, and slip away while others aren’t noticing you. There will soon be a huge pack of guards that would arrive, so be careful not to expose yourself,” Gu Fei was even giving him advice based on what he had just experienced!
Sword Demon digested what he implied, pretending to fight for just a while more before he found a perfect time to go into Stealth. It was very normal for Thieves to break away from the fight and go into Stealth to try for a Backstab, so none of the other players found it odd. Thus, Sword Demon had gotten himself the perfect opportunity to slip away undetected, even as more players and camp guards came rushing over. The players soon yelped “So many spies” and began fighting with all the guards.
“This is so silly. I wonder when will they realize what’s happening,” Sword Demon said to Gu Fei.
“I reckon it would not be too long, I gotta hurry,” Gu Fei said.
“What for?” Sword Demon asked.
“I’m heading over to Brother Assist’s location,” Gu Fei said.
“Truly, some people just want to watch the world burn!” Sword Demon sighed emotionally.
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