“Nie Yan, are you really sure we can do it?” Yao Yao said, gently nudging Nie Yan with her arm. The expression in her eyes was filled with worry.
“Rest assured, there won’t be any problems.”
Yao Yao’s actions couldn’t be considered excessively intimate; however, Chen Bo thought otherwise. He believed Nie Yan was stepping out of line by being too overly close with Yao Yao. As a consequence, the resentment and hatred in his eyes only grew all the more extreme as he covertly gazed at the two.
The team of twenty slowly advanced deeper into the forest. The Warriors and Paladins were on the frontline, and the Mages were in the back. Under Nie Yan’s repeated warnings, no players were more than two meters apart from each other.
“Brother Chen, how about you come in front and scout the path ahead?” Nie Yan suggested. The corner of his eyes flashed with a cold, peculiar light. Chen Bo had a hypocritical and petty personality. Therefore, he would firmly hold onto a grudge if even the slightest enmity occurred between the two of them. By making him lose face, Nie Yan had already thoroughly offended him. Despite this, Nie Yan wasn’t the slightest bit fearful. Chen Bo, you’re just a useless brat who’s barely capable of the simplest tasks. Do you really think you can stir up any trouble with me leading the team?
“You’re a Thief too! Why the hell are you making me go!?” Chen Bo coldly replied.
“I’m the team captain, so I have to lead the team. Would you rather have me scout ahead and have you lead the entire team instead, Brother Chen Bo?” Nie Yan countered.
“Hmph, no need! I want to see how exactly you plan to lead us through this dungeon on Specialist difficulty!” Chen Bo coldly snorted and walked to the front of the team. Utilizing his profession’s nimbleness, he then began scouting the path ahead.
From Chen Bo’s movements, Nie Yan could tell he was barely decent for an average Thief. If Chen Bo ever tried to compare with him, he would find that Nie Yan was of an entirely different caliber.
A cold breeze from the depths of the forest occasionally blew past, leaving the team with a strange sensation, almost as if they were being watched by some other entity. Nie Yan’s mind was on constant alert. With his keen sense, he caught glimpses of shadows hiding in the distance. They were Dark Elves, experts of camouflage and hiding in the darkness to mount ambushes. They were impossible to perceive unless the player had an Awareness of above ten.
Chen Bo moved forward and began scouting ahead for the rest of the team. On either side were thick branches with lush foliage which blocked his path. Beneath his feet were jungle vines and tree roots which resembled thick serpents as they lay strewn across the path ahead. They were tripping hazards and made advancing forward quite difficult.
“Ugh! Damn these things to hell!” Chen Bo tried kicking away one of the vines lying on the path. However, it seemed to have to mind of its own. As if it were an actual snake, the vine coiled around his legs, whipped upwards, and left him dangling in midair with his head facing the ground. “Save me!” Chen Bo miserably shrieked.
The towering tree beside him suddenly came alive, whereupon vines stretched as far as the eye could see. Chen Bo saw the tree grow a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Even the vines surrounding the trunk grew into what seemed like a beard. Chen Bo had been caught off guard by a Treant!
“It’s a Treant! Bai Kaisui (Plain Boiled Water), Dumpling, attack from the right. Paladins, form a wall. Mages, start casting spells,” Nie Yan calmly ordered. He had actually noticed the Treant in disguise earlier when Chen Bo was scouting the area. However, he intentionally chose not to warn Chen Bo in order to give him a good lesson. You impolite brat, I’ll have this Treant teach you in my place.
Dumpling rushed forward from the right side as he held a wooden shield in his hand. “Shield Bash!”「Bang!」A loud sound echoed out as the wooden shield collided with the Treant.
The crowd of frontliners firmly stood in place, surrounding the monster, while the Mages in the back fired off volley after volley of spells. A shower of magic flew up into the air and went streaking towards the Treant.「Boom! Boom! Boom!」Several explosions rang out in quick succession as they bombarded their target. The Treant issued a painful roar whereupon it transformed into a lump of wood debris that lay collapsed on the ground. The one they encountered was merely an ordinary mob. Therefore, it was impossible for the Treant to withstand such a concentrated assault.
The vine’s grip on Chen Bo loosened and he was sent hurtling towards the ground.「Thud!」He fell flat on his face.
Seeing his sorry figure, everyone on the team couldn’t help but laugh.
“What did it drop?”
Chen Bo felt embarrassed. He cast an angry gaze at Nie Yan and said, “You did that intentionally, didn’t you!?” He knew Nie Yan noticed the Treant earlier but still chose not to warn him. Otherwise, how could Nie Yan have reacted so calmly in such a sudden and urgent situation?
“Brother Morning Wood, you’ll have to speak a bit more clearly. I’m finding your reasoning a little strange. It was you who wasn’t careful and ended up getting caught by the Treant. What does that have to do with me?” Nie Yan gave a barely discernible smile as he gazed at Chen Bo, his expression telling otherwise. I did notice the Treant earlier, and I did intentionally not warn you. What can you do about it?
“Chen Bo, stop causing trouble,” Yu Lan interrupted. She was also unclear about whether Nie Yan had noticed the Treant earlier or not.
“Peh! I guess it’s just my bad luck.” Chen Bo spit out some of the dirt in his mouth. He turned around and continued moving forward.
“Brother Morning Wood, take care of what you step on.” When Nie Yan spoke, he deliberately slowed down his speech as he watched Chen Bo accidentally step on a trap. The moment Chen Bo turned around to look at Nie Yan, a large wooden beam came swinging over and struck him in the stomach. Chen Bo was sent flying into the air.「Thud!」He once again fell flat on his face. Fortunately for him, Thieves had higher Reflex compared to other professions. Therefore, even if they stepped on a trap, they’d receive much less damage compared to other professions. Despite this, the trap had still taken more than half of Chen Bo’s health away. To add insult to injury, Nie Yan continued to taunt him. “I did tell you to be careful, yet unfortunately… you still didn’t listen to me. You’re playing the Thief profession. Don’t tell me you don’t know how to avoid traps? I really don’t know how you could act as the team’s Thief. A good Thief can increase a team’s survival rate by over fifty percent, but with a Thief like you—Ah, never mind. Forget it. I won’t say any more. I don’t want to hurt your pride or anything.”
It was already bad enough that he had fallen for another trap. However, when Nie Yan deliberately taunted him in such a manner, Chen Bo looked as if he could spit fire as he stared daggers at Nie Yan.
Nie Yan didn’t care in the least how Chen Bo stared at him. He wasn’t some sort of kind and benevolent person. As soon as he entered their team, Chen Bo had always been mocking and ridiculing him. If he still continued to tolerate such behavior without acting, his name wouldn’t be Nie Yan.
“Why are you still trying to show off if you’re so unskilled? You got yourself in such a sorry state, and you’re still trying to blame others?” Tang Yao added in a mocking and drawn-out tone.
“Your equipment’s wasted on you. We’d probably find a better Thief than you by randomly pulling one off the streets.” Dusk also joined in while standing by Nie Yan’s side. Chen Bo’s current reputation within the team wasn’t great. At the moment, no one was willing to speak out and help him.
“Nie Yan, you really didn’t notice earlier?” Yao Yao’s beautiful face was full of doubt. Chen Bo stepping into another trap right after being caught by the Treant did seem like more than just a coincidence. However, when she looked back on those incidents, it still seemed that it was his own fault for being inattentive.
“What does his carelessness have to do with me?” Nie Yan innocently replied.
“You’re just full of evil tricks, aren’t you? No one can tell whether you purposefully baited him into those traps or not,” Yao Yao teasingly whispered into Nie Yan’s ear. The faint fragrance of her perfume paired with her soft and gentle voice left him feeling slightly refreshed.
“If I were Captain Yu Lan, I wouldn’t be so lenient in keeping such an unskilled Thief. I bet if I were to meet a hundred Thieves, ninety-nine of them wouldn’t be as weak as you. Do you want me to teach you how to play this profession?” The provocative tone in Nie Yan’s words was even clearer.
If the opposite party was determined to make an enemy out of him, he’d make sure to give them a few more kicks when he had them beneath his feet. Such was Nie Yan’s true character.
Nie Yan played with his dagger. His fingers were nimble as it twirled around his hand.
“My teammate lacks ability. Please just see this incident as nothing more than a joke. Chen Bo stepping in those traps while scouting ahead was due to his own carelessness.” As the team captain, Yu Lan also felt embarrassed when Chen Bo was ridiculed like so. Therefore she helped speak in his place.
“I guess it’s up to me then. It seems this task is something Brother Morning Wood is unable to accomplish,” Nie Yan announced. Since Yu Lan had spoken, it wouldn’t be quite appropriate for him to continue taunting Chen Bo. Besides, the only person he couldn’t bear was Chen Bo. He could get along fine with everyone else in Yu Lan’s team.
“I’ll have to trouble Brother Nie then,” Yu Lan replied. The change in topic eased the tension in the atmosphere.
Nie Yan rapidly inspected for traps as he scouted the path ahead. His eyes swept through the entire forest and he was extremely attentive as he examined every area where traps could potentially be placed. He noticed a peculiarly placed branch lying across the path ahead and instantly knew what it was upon examining it.
He extended his hand and lightly tapped the branch before quickly taking a few steps back.「Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!」Several dozen arrows were set flying across his previous position.「Put! Put! Put!」A short moment later, all of the arrows could be seen embedded in a nearby tree.
He had long since ducked out of their path, so these arrows were unable to harm him in any way.
Nie Yan disarmed trap after trap as they travelled deeper into the forest. Yu Lan, Yao Yao, and Dusk could only see his figure continuously travelling back and forth between the trees. They were inwardly frightened by his astonishing efficiency in discovering and disarming traps. During this whole time, their team had never once stepped into another trap.
Disarming traps was a Thief’s responsibility because of the unique characteristics of the profession. Moreover, the profession also gained an additional bonus in the Reflex stat, which allowed them to have a fifty percent higher survival rate compared to other professions.
Since Chen Bo was a Thief as well, he felt if he stayed idle with the rest of the team, he’d be losing too much face when compared to Nie Yan. With no other choice, he forced himself to look busy and traveled through the forest while pretending to look for traps. Only now did he realize the disparity between himself and Nie Yan. However, he was unwilling to admit it due to his pride. He inwardly sneered and muttered sourly, “He’s only good at playing a video game. What’s so amazing about that?”