“Still, if it weren’t for your help, we would’ve never made it here,” Sleepy Fox said.
During the journey, many members started to view Nie Yan in a different light. Their gazes were still filled with a complicated emotion, but more than anything, they were feeling deep admiration. Now, they heeded his every word with almost absolute faith. His leadership had borne excellent results.
The fact he was able to bring them to this point alone was already ample proof of his ability to command.
People like Nie Yan were destined to become legends.
“Brother Nie, are you absolutely certain you don’t wish to join our guild? Even among the other guilds, our Holy Empire is ranked quite highly. If Brother Nie is willing to join, then our treatment would be just as good as, if not better than, the other guilds’. If that still isn’t enticing enough, then how about you enter our guild as an honorary member for now? You won’t even be obligated to do anything. All we’ll ask is that you keep in contact with us.” Sleepy Fox tried throwing out another one of his recruiting pitches. Nie Yan didn’t bear any sort of emblem on his body, which meant he shouldn’t be a member of any guild. This was rare for a player as skilled as Nie Yan, so he wasn’t willing to give up just yet.
“That won’t be necessary,” Nie Yan lightly chuckled as he politely declined the offer. He understood that Sleepy Fox was simply trying to rope him into becoming involved with the guild. Once he was an honorary member, Sleepy Fox would gradually attempt to change his mind until he became a full-fledged member of Holy Empire. Although honorary membership would grant him many benefits, he knew there was no such thing as a free lunch in this world. He didn’t want to spend his time being a dog for some guild.
“Eh… Alright, then so be it,” Sleepy Fox replied, clearly disappointed.
“However, if any opportunities arise in the future, we should look to cooperate again,” Nie Yan added. This virtual world would birth countless legends of financial windfalls. More than just being a second world in name, this game turning into one would become a reality. It would be viewed by numerous figures as a new land of growth and opportunity. In his previous life, when Cao Xu was at the peak of his power, he had five large guilds at his beck and call and owned various businesses spread across Calore, Nisode, and Radiant City. Not only that, but the industries under his control were quite diverse as well, covering over ten different markets. As a result, his assets in the virtual world were valued in the hundreds of billions. Nie Yan needed to become more powerful than Cao Xu, powerful enough to thoroughly crush him. He needed to become so powerful that Cao Xu would be forced to think twice before acting against him. Only then would his mind be at ease. Nie Yan wouldn’t allow the events of his past life to repeat themselves in this one. This, however, was impossible to achieve alone, which was why he needed to gradually build up a network of reliable contacts. The person who currently stood before him, Sleepy Fox, was one such person who was worthy of developing a relationship with.
“Of course, I’d be glad to.” Sleepy Fox believed Nie Yan was merely talking about running another dungeon together. Never did Sleepy Fox consider that he might’ve actually meant something else.
However, Nie Yan didn’t bother expanding upon this any further and instead turned his attention back to hunting down the Manticores.
“Seven Nights, I want you to expand our coverage by scouting out the southeast. Be wary of the traps, especially the quagmires,” Nie Yan said. Seven Nights Showstopper was the weakest Thief on the team, a handsome young man who had just turned twenty. Currently he didn’t amount to much in Sleepy Fox’s eyes, but his talent and potential weren’t bad. According to Nie Yan’s past life, this man was to mature into the guild’s number one Thief in the future. Though Seven Nights was very quiet and reserved, which made it hard to gauge his thoughts, he had a gentle personality, so Nie Yan had a good impression of him. Because of this, Nie Yan had subconsciously favoured Seven Nights a bit more than the other Thieves when issuing orders.
“Alright,” replied Seven Nights. It was finally his turn to show off. After receiving Nie Yan’s order, he quickly dashed toward the southeast without feeling even the slightest bit of hesitation.
As someone who played the same profession, Seven Nights felt nothing but admiration for Nie Yan, even to the point of prostrating before him. What made him extremely happy was the fact that Nie Yan treated him quite politely despite not paying any attention to his companions, the other two Thieves in the team. Once he began his designated task of scouting the southeast, a thought popped up in his head. When this run was over, he would definitely make sure to ask Nie Yan for some advice on playing a Thief.
Nie Yan was completely unaware this slight discrepancy in treatment had birthed great waves in Seven Nights’ heart.
Why scout the southeast? Sleepy Fox thought to himself, slightly puzzled. Logically speaking, since the King Manticore was right in front of them, shouldn’t they just directly head for it instead of creating extra work for themselves by scouting the southeast?
“You’ll find out why in a bit,” Nie Yan said, as if he knew what Sleepy Fox was thinking.
Several minutes later, Seven Nights spoke through the team intercom.「I discovered an old light house, but there are a few Manticores guarding the area around the entrance!」
「Good, climb the lighthouse and turn on the light at the very top. Use Stealth to circle to the back and enter through the entrance there. Make sure those Manticores don’t detect you!」Nie Yan ordered. Seven Nights was quite fast, and with his skills, avoiding those Manticores shouldn’t pose much of a challenge.
Then, after another several minutes, a shabby lighthouse in the distance began emitting a little light.
The light grew increasingly brighter until its radiance became so intense that it penetrated the dark fog of the marsh and arrived at Nie Yan and the team’s location.
Under the illumination of the lighthouse, the dark fog that shrouded the Agmota Muddy Wetlands surprisingly dispersed.
The dark fog that once stifled everyone’s mood had mostly cleared out right away.
Sleepy Fox finally understood. This lighthouse was quite possibly the essential factor required in order to beat the King Manticore!
「You did well!」Sleepy Fox praised Seven Nights.
Upon hearing this, Seven Nights felt quite happy since their captain rarely praised his subordinates, but he was also fairly pleased because Nie Yan had given him the chance to display his skills!
“Alright, since the lighthouse is lit, let’s proceed to the next step. There are three Elite-class Manticores roaming the area near the King Manticore. We’ll have to draw them out one at a time and then eliminate them,” Nie Yan explained. This was one of the more difficult steps in clearing the dungeon on Specialist. It required a lot from the players, but he had a simple solution.
Sleepy Fox felt as if his heart had skipped a beat. One had to know, even on Hard and Expert, only the final boss was an Elite. Yet, on Specialist, not only did they have to deal with the King Manticore, a Lord-class monster, they had to contend with three Elite Manticores as well!
It could be seen rather clearly just how difficult dungeons on Specialist were. Thinking about what they were about to face, Sleepy Fox felt somewhat nervous and apprehensive. Even if they were able to kill the three Elite Manticores, with what could be lying in wait for them, would it really be possible for them to beat the final boss?
The only thing that was of some comfort was the fact that, despite this being a dungeon on Specialist, they had still been able to arrive at this point. Even if they wiped here, the number of items and pieces of equipment they had obtained so far would be able to make up for their losses. Since their losses were no longer an issue, they could commit everything to the final battle without fear.
The entire team shared this resolve.
So with this attitude, many of the members were prepared to go all out!
These three Elite Manticores were the queens of this entire pride, so their strength also couldn’t be looked down upon.
Nie Yan and company proceeded to clear the area of all the common Manticores. Afterward, the only monsters that remained were the three Elite Manticores and the King Manticore. The only problem was that they were fairly close to one another. In this wide open patch of dry land in the center of the marsh, they would occasionally roam around in a leisurely manner, and at other times, they would lay on their stomachs and briefly rest.
Everyone in the team was currently sitting down and resting under the cover of shrubbery. They were replenishing their health and mana. Only after they all fully recovered would they dare to finally engage one of the Elite-class Manticores.
During this time period, Nie Yan was the only one who wasn’t recovering with the others. He was actually searching for a suitable spot.