With an extremely venomous gaze, Xue FengLang looked upon the seventy-six men kneeling before him. These men were the ferocious few who left the base to capture the fleeing intruder. However, at the moment, every trace of their former ferociousness had already disappeared. The group of men had their heads lowered as none of them were brave enough to meet their chief’s eyes.
They didn’t dare to refute the insult directed towards them, instead they could only drop their heads lower towards the ground. The apparent anger that dripped from their boss’s mouth quickly caused an uncontrollable shudder to ripple through each of them.
“Trash! All of you are trash!!”
“How… does this… look… like a demon!!?”
Xue FengLang ended his question with a loud roar and stabbed his finger towards a large pile of stones to his left. With one look, it was easy to see that these stones weren’t ordinary. Each one of the reddish-brown stones had a fiery red glow that pulsed out from its cracks. Upon closer inspection, one would notice the stones trembling ever so slightly.
It wasn’t a pile of unordinary rocks, but a collapsed stone monster.
The FireRock Golem.
It was a FireRock Golem that took too much damage and could only lay harmlessly upon the ground.
Suddenly, the air around Xue FengLang changed. The area around him instantly became suppressively quiet. It was quiet to the point where one’s breathing could be loudly heard, yet there was no sound at all.
As if an invisible hand was now clutching their hearts, thirty-two of the kneeling bandits felt an immense amount of fear towards their boss. Immediately, the men were no longer able to suppress their bodies from shivering as each one broke out in a layer of cold sweat. Their breathing became rapid as they felt it harder to breath. Soon, some of the weaker bandits collapsed onto the ground with their hands placed over their chest. It was a hopeless attempt to stop the phantom hand that held their beating heart.
This was killing intent.
As the Chief of the Blood-Axe Bandits and a former captain of Leydin Kingdom’s army, Xue FengLang was a man who was bathed in blood. Naturally, this caused him to possess an extremely overwhelming amount of killing intent. Simply standing within his vicinity was enough to send shivers down one’s spine.
Previously, Ace and the other six players had suffered a drastic effect from Xue FengLang’s killing intent. However, at that time, his intent was emitted out in a widespread manner. But now, although the amount of intent was the same, it was focused completely on the thirty-two bandits. None of them were capable of withstanding the condensed form of this fear-inducing weapon.
Finally, a weak voice sounded out from one of the bandits on the ground.
With a rough scowl, Xue FengLang released the hold he held on his men and looked straight towards the one who spoke.
After taking a full breath of air, the man quickly told the complete story from the moment he discovered the intruder to the moment he returned to base. He didn’t dare to alter the details in any way or form. He simply narrated the full story with complete honesty.
“Why… do I even keep you around?!”
In one fluid move, the bandit leader pulled out a large fearsome axe from the embroidered pouch on his waist.
At the sight of this, Guo Hai, one of the captains in the base, quickly jumped in front of Xue Feng Lang. From the faces of the kneeling men, it was clear that the relationship between this captain and them wasn’t bad.
“Wait. Please give them one more chance. Right now, we’ve lost quite a few men to those six Revivers. We should be bolstering our defences rather than reducing them.”
Guo Hai wasn’t simply a captain within the Blood-Axe Bandits. He was also the man in charge of strategic planning. Although he didn’t have much of an education nor did he read any books on battle tactics, he was still entrusted with this task because he was a man who would often look at the big picture. Unlike the other bandits, he didn’t act rashly. As such, he held a large amount of prestige within the base and even Xue FengLang would often take his words into consideration.
Once again, he was right. Guo Hai raised a good point. Even Xue FengLang couldn’t refute his argument.
However, this didn’t mean his anger had subsided. With a loud angry roar, he viciously swung his axe and released his hold on the sharp weapon. In the blink of an eye, the axe was embedded in the chest of the helpless golem. Soon, a flash of light brought away the lifeless pile of stones leaving only the murder weapon behind.
“A pet. It appears that that kid isn’t simple. Not everyone could tame a golem. Though… this golem looks much weaker than normal.”
Tang QiuFeng, another one of the captains, quickly grumbled his opinion at the familiar sight of a defeated pet.
To his knowledge, golems were extremely terrifying monsters that were near impossible to tame. He wasn’t wrong though, after all, Tang QiuFeng was most familiar with the monsters in the Inner Circle. Within the Inner Circle, golems were highly destructive creatures that definitely deserved their reputation.
“No, I have a different opinion. This monster is simply too weak to compare to a golem. Although it has the appearance of a golem, it’s severely lacking in size, power, and speed. In my opinion, this golem must be one of the weaker variants that appears in the Outer Borders.”
At the sound of Guo Hai’s analysis, Xue FengLang gently nodded his head. He also held the same conclusion.
“But still… the stupidity of thinking this monster was a Demon from the Southern Continent… and daring to flee…”
Xue FengLang’s eyes grew violent once more as he looked towards the thirty-two men. Finally, after a short moment that felt like an eternity, his gaze softened as he spoke with a slightly softer voice.
“Very well, this time, I’ll let this incident go. However, there won’t be a second time. We Blood-Axe Bandits have no need for useless cowards!”
Immediately afterwards, Xue FengLang turned his attention towards the remaining forty-four bandits.
“As for the rest of you… which of you… gave the signal to retreat!?”
“Boss, it wasn’t us. We saw the retreat signal and followed the orders.”
“It was the same for us!”
A string of similar replies quickly erupted from the rest of the group. None of them wished to be implicated by the one who foolishly sent out the signal. In their minds, they didn’t do anything wrong. After all, they were only dutifully following orders. Yet, none of them dared to openly say this.
“So, none of you are going to confess?”
“Boss! I think… I think the ones who released the signal are already dead!”
At the signs of their chief’s face changing once more, one brave man quickly spoke up. Truth to be told, he, like every other bandit around him, were deathly afraid of their boss.
“The forty-four of us here… we all met up with each other while retreating. But none of them came from the direction where I saw the signal! Originally, I thought they were simply traveling slower than us, but because they’re not here… Boss! I’m not sure why they would send the signal, but I believe that they were most likely ambushed while retreating.”
This wasn’t a satisfying answer. However, unlike the earlier thirty-two bandits, Xue FengLang had no reason to punish these forty-four men. Obeying the smoke signals was a rule he strictly enforced.
“Your theory… is plausible. Very well, stand up.”
At those words, even though their legs were still weak from the pressure emitted by Xue FengLang, they were still quick to get on their feet and silently face him. They would only leave at his command.
“Enough, leave! All of you!!”
Once the area was clear of all lower-leveled bandits, only Xue FengLang and his four captains remained inside.
“Such useless trash. If we didn’t lose too much of our men earlier, I would execute them all!”
“Captain, there’s no need to be so angry. Men needs tempering before they can be someone great. The five of us… didn’t we also go through that process? All those years in the army… These men, they only need more experience.”
“Guo Hai, you seem to be speaking up for them a bit too much lately.”
At the curiosity in Xue FengLang’s voice, Guo Hai quickly kneeled down on one knee and clasped his hands together in a salute.
“No, Captain! I only wish for what’s best for our Blood-Axe Bandits. We’ve lost close to a hundred men today. If we lose seventy-six more… that’s almost a third of our forces! Finding more people to join us isn’t easy and it’s even harder to train them. If possible… their deaths should only come from our enemies.”
“Hmph, so be it. Enough, stand up. FeiLi, how’s your injuries?”
“Very good! Almost a full recovery, I should be completely healed in one more day. Captain, your medicine is simply amazing!”
“Heh, of course. Even in the inner circle, the Jade Lotus Pill is considered a rare lifesaving treasure. If it wasn’t for the Revivers, you wouldn’t have the honor to eat one in your entire life.”
At the mention of the pill’s name, both Tie FeiLi and Gu ChangFeng coughed out in surprise.
“What!? The pill Brother Tie ate was the Jade Lotus Pill?! How do we even have that pill!?”
Gu ChangFeng was a natural fanatic for rare treasures. Naturally, he knew about the Jade Lotus Pill and instantly grew immensely jealous of Tie FeiLi for his fortune of eating such a coveted rarity. At the same time, his mind yearned for the treasures that were stored in the Treasure Vault. He knew there had to be even more treasures stored within.
However, Gu ChangFeng’s question only received a faint smile as a response. Xue FengLang had no intention of telling him the item’s origin. Instead, he took out a yellow bottle and handed it to Guo Hai.
“Captain, what is this?”
“A small little treasure I received when we killed those two from the Heavenly Sword Sect. Sprinkle that powder all over the entrance to the base. Heh, judging by how I almost didn’t detect him… that kid should be an expert of the invisibility techniques. Since he knows where the treasure room is, he’ll definitely return. But it doesn’t matter, as soon as he steps on that powder…”
Xue FengLang didn’t bother to finish his sentence.
|Assassin’s Eye||Active Skill
|The assassin’s eyes can spot the weakpoints of their targets. Nothing escapes from their sight.
Every monster has weaknesses, but it takes a trained eye to notice them.
Be able to see the target’s weakpoints for 10 minutes.
|Mana Cost: 100
Drains 10 mana per minute.
Assassin’s Eye will turn off if mana is empty.
|Each skill level up grants:
+30 seconds to duration
Ace’s face bursted into a wide smile when the system window showed up. For the past few weeks, this skill was stuck at the 9th level of the Beginner’s stage and had refused to advance any further.
From previous experience, he had already noticed that the skill would level up faster when used on newly discovered enemies. However, after it reached level 9, viewing new enemies appeared to have no effect. But this time, it had leveled up simply from him constantly casting the skill while traveling in near pitch darkness.
‘Could it be that because night vision is one of its basic effects, it required me to use it a lot during nighttime?’
“Well, I should be right, but I’ll think about that later. For now, I need to pull that XiaoFan out of the well.”
“Well? What well? Boss, why is that guy at the bottom of a well?”
“Hahaha, it’s a long story. I thought you were sleeping.”
“I’m awake now!”
With a quick chuckle, Ace could only shake his head as he briefly explained the previous events.
By the time he was done with the story, Ace found himself facing the barren well.
“XiaoFan! Hey, XiaoFan! Are you there?”
“Brother SkyBlade!? Is that you?”
‘Who else would it be?’
“Yep, I’m back!”
“Are they all gone?”
“Yep, want to come up?”
Immediately, the circular wooden board that masqueraded as the bottom of the well tilted at a ninety degree angle.
At the sight of XiaoFan’s desperate face, Ace abandoned his initial plans of messing around with the NPC. He quickly dropped a rope down and pulled XiaoFan up from the well.
“Thank Heavens you came back. If I stay down there for a second longer, I’ll definitely go insane… Hey, don’t laugh, you don’t know how scary it is down there. It was so dark and quiet… I didn’t even know how many days passed since I was down there!”
“Less than a day. I was only gone for a few hours.”
At those words, XiaoFan’s eyes widened immensely as he was stunned by disbelief. To him, each second under the well lasted at least five seconds long. Due to the wooden board covering most of the light and the dirt obscuring the board’s edges, there wasn’t much light that could penetrate to the bottom. Without the aid of light, it became extra difficult to calculate time and he had easily assumed that multiple days had gone past. This misconception was further enhanced due to the amount of rations he kept eating. But he couldn’t be blamed for that, after all, what else was there to do but eat?
The two men quickly walked back to the inn and continued their conversation under the aid of a candle’s light.
“Actually, shouldn’t we leave? When they can’t find you, won’t they return here?”
Due to their numbers and their menacing appearance, XiaoFan easily assumed that Ace had only led them away from the town before sneakily returning. However, Ace couldn’t blame him for thinking that, after all, that was his original plan.
However, to XiaoFan’s surprise, Ace shook his head with a laugh.
“Nope, they’re dead. They won’t be back for at least a few days.”
“What!? D-dead? How…? How did you do it? There were six of them! They all looked so strong too.”
“Hahaha, of course it wasn’t me who killed them.”
Ace quickly described his plan and then gave a very detailed narration of the events that happened at the Bandit Base.
“Brilliant! Heavens, brother… I completely respect you now!”
“Well, that was the good news. Now for the bad news…”
“Even though I found where your items are stored, it won’t be easy to retrieve them. That bandit chief is too strong!”
“If I want to take back your merchandise, I’ll have to make sure he is gone from the building, otherwise, once he hears the trick door opening… It’s over!”
Ace had been carefully thinking over this issue while was traveling back. However, he still wasn’t able to formulate a good strategy.
“At the moment… I do have one plan. But, it’s extremely risky.”
“What is it?”
“In a few days, when those six Revivers return, they’ll be leading more people to attack the base. At that time, the bandit chief will definitely have to come out to fight. This would give me the best opportunity to enter his house and retrieve the items.”
“Isn’t that good? It sounds like a wonderful plan!”
“It’s a bit risky… What if they bring really strong friends? If they kill the chief too fast, then they’ll definitely take all the treasure. Besides that, there’s also some other concerns…”
Ace released a deep sigh as he doubted the success rate of the plan.
“Is there a chance you can kill them in these few days before the Revivers return?”
“No, that part I’m certain. No chance at all.”
“Well, let’s think about this some more later. Since it’s nighttime, you should go get some rest. I also have to return to my world for a few hours.”
Era quickly set a timer for one hour on his phone.
That was his limit. He had only one hour to get everything done before he needed to rush back into the game. Due to the limited amount of hours he had left to do for his quest, he couldn’t waste too much time in the real world.
‘Okay, let’s boil some water first.’
Ace had two primary goals for returning back to the real world. The first was naturally because of food.
Due to the limited time, he had already decided to pull an all-nighter. He didn’t plan to sleep for the night. Of course, he knew how strained he’ll be after enduring the lack of sleep, but he didn’t have too many concerns about that. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time he pushed off sleep.
Food. This was his primary concern. Last time, when fighting the Sword Tomb Guardian, he didn’t eat enough to properly sustain himself. Thus, he was absolutely famished after he logged out from the game.
This time, he wouldn’t make the same mistake. He’ll cook an extra large portion of various instant food. It should be enough to last him through the night and well into the next day.
Finally, his second reason to come back was to find information. Unlike in the game, the real world had the internet. He had a wealth of information at his disposal. Previously, horse riding, weapon throwing techniques, and various other topics were all solved due to him searching for online help.
Perhaps, this time, he’ll be able to find a link that will offer a good solution. After all, there were many many wars in history.
There had to be something that he could use!
Thus, Era quickly started up a search on his computer.
‘Search terms… Successful infiltrating missions. Successful rescue missions. How to invade an enemy base and successfully win.’
Although he knew his primary objective was to retrieve XiaoFan’s merchandise, he didn’t want to abandon the possibility of taking down the bandits too. They were a wealth of experience.
“Hmm… Two or three bags of instant noodles? Two should be enough. I’ll throw in some dumplings too.”
As he ate, he browsed the results on his search engine and soon came to the conclusion that there was simply too much information to read through.
The links brought up great stories, but they were either lacking in details or plain unusable. There were a few hopeful websites, but they usually involved citing strategy techniques that he knew nothing about.
In the end, he gave up. He was only further confusing his already confused mind.
In the end, Ace wasn’t able to find an alternative solution.
‘Should I really just wait for those guys to return?’
‘No… wait! Maybe I can lure the boss out. But how?’
“Hey XiaoFan, if you were a bandit boss… what things would make you come out of your house?”
“I guess… when people are attacking…?”
‘I don’t know why I bothered asking…’
He gave a quick sigh and decided to think of the solution himself.
“Well, if I was him… maybe… maybe… if there was… rare treasure?”
Could it be?
“Right… right! If there’s a rare item, he would definitely come out!”
‘It makes sense! The base’s treasure trove is stored in a place that only he could access! Furthermore, he didn’t even give any of the six player’s items to the rest of the bandits. He just took them all the the treasure room.’
‘Logically speaking, Xue FengLang should be a man who is very possessive and doesn’t trust others.’
“If my guess is correct, then that person isn’t the type who would allow items to fall into other people’s hands.”
As Ace nodded at this possibility, he suddenly froze when another thought occurred to him.
“But how long would it take to collect an item? This plan could get him out of the house, but it won’t give me enough time! Damn. Damn!!”
There was no need to think about placing the items further away. After all, if it was placed too far, how would he get the boss to notice it. Furthermore, what if one of the other bandits decides to pocket the item?
‘But what if the amount of items was a lot? If it takes him a long time to collect the items… no… stupid idea…’
“Brother SkyBlade? I have a suggestion…”
“Hmm? What is it?”
Curiously, unlike before, XiaoFan’s voice had become shy and embarrassed.
“This is very dishonorable, so you’ll most likely reject the idea, but… do you want to use this?”
XiaoFan quickly brought out a small familiar white bottle.
‘The sleep powder!’
“Actually, forget I said anything. I feel really ashamed of myself for suggesting this… If you were to use such dishonorable methods…”
However, before XiaoFan could store away the bottle, Ace quickly snatched it away and held it tenderly in his hands.
“No, no, no. I don’t mind! Seriously, I don’t mind!”
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