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Chapter 277 - The Strategically Positioned Mountain Pass

 Chapter 277 - The Strategically Positioned Mountain Pass

No matter how skilled the mercenaries were, they had never seen such a large-scale surprise attack. How many among them had experienced being attacked by such a dense pack of Mountain Bandits and Robbers when grinding, anyway? When they saw the mob of monsters surging toward them like an avalanche, they could only gasp in trepidation.

The mountain path was not exactly wide, so it restricted the players from advancing forward in large numbers. The players that numbered over a thousand were currently forming a long line, with Traversing Four Seas at the very front and the mercenaries behind. However, while the sight of the large throng of Mountain Bandits and Robbers blitzing right into their midst caused the mercenaries to gasp, the Traversing Four Seas' players did not seem to be affected at all.

These players blocked the monsters' initial charge and uniformly retreated toward the mountain slope, instantly widening the area of the fight.

Young Master Han lifted a bottle of liquor and took a swig, "Look at how prepared they are! I knew they've done this before."

"But the formation..." Brother Assist looked at the scene unfolding before him. The tide of monsters was truly staggering, yet their combat strength was not too threatening. The monsters in Oolong Cave were only at level 30 after all, whereas the large number of players present was at least at level 40 on average. After widening the battlefield with their tactical retreat to the side, the Traversing Four Seas' Warriors positioned themselves to the front to tank the monsters' attacks, with their Mages casting spells, and the Archers uniformly firing off arrows in the exact way that they had done against Gu Fei and Svelte Dancer during the guild versus guild tournament. The corpses of the attacking monsters began to pile up quickly. From time to time, the monsters' corpses would expire, revealing all sorts of equipment, items, and coins scattered on the ground.

"Traversing Four Seas seems to have no problem dealing with these monsters after assuming that formation. They don't need our help at all!" Brother Assist concluded.

Young Master Han laughed derisively, "They are really prepared this time around; they probably suffered quite a loss when they encountered this ambush for the first time. While these monsters are not exactly strong by themselves, they do have the strength in numbers and the element of surprise. It's only natural for Traversing Four Seas to be at a loss on how to deal with them before! Defending against this sort of attack is easier now since they've made preparations for it."

Traversing Four Seas did indeed have an easy time defending against this ambush by assuming a pocket formation that easily funneled the monsters with simple A.I. deep inside the pocket. The Mages called forth fire as the Archers' arrows fell like torrential rain. The monsters could not even put up a fight before dying from the enfilade of attacks.

"Strength through numbers, I say!" The players, especially the mercenary groups with under a hundred members, sighed in admiration. These mercenaries had never seen an assault made by players numbering in the hundreds and were naturally in awe of it.

Once the monsters' surprising yet weak ambush was thinned considerably, Traversing Four Seas dispersed its pocket formation and the melee job classes rushed up the slope to counterattack. The mercenaries took this chance to participate in the fight, charging forward and joining the massacre. The surviving monsters looked severely wounded. The players were now the ones holding numerical superiority and ganged up on the monsters, with up to seven or eight melee players surrounding the small fries as four or five Archers fired off arrows to the leftover monsters.

The mercenaries tried their best to steal kills while they kept their eyes open for monster drops.

The system was truly impartial; although the level 30 monsters' surprise attack was part of the chain quest, they only dropped equipment and items that were not of much use to level 40 players.

Despite their poor quality, the number of monster drops was staggering. Many players that were grinding on the monsters nearby felt dumbfounded when they saw the unending trail of items.

These players happened to be at level 30, so while the items were seen as trash by the level 40 players, they were treasure in their eyes! Seeing the high level players' disinterest over picking the monster drops up, they could not help but salivate at the prospect of picking up the items themselves.

This was when the level 40 players' miserliness reared its ugly head. While they would normally allow low level players to pick up the random item drops at other times, they simply could not stand to let these lowbies take advantage of them and claim the whole mountain of items before their eyes right now.

Uncomfortable with letting these level 30 players freely take the many items, all the level 40 or so players began to pick the items up one by one without leaving even a piece of rag behind. They even smugly looked at the low-level players before taking their leave. The level 30 players were at a loss on how to react at this and wondered just what sin they had committed against the many players for them to be glared at like that.

The large group of players resumed their journey while Traversing Four Seas did a quick headcount of their men. Although they held the upper hand in that fight with the monsters, accidents, such as entering the pocket formation where death was certain, were unavoidable.

Traversing Four Seas only lost about a dozen or so of its men in that fight, while the mercenary groups lost several men in the ensuing counterattack. There were already few monsters by that time, so it was slightly hard to imagine how those people got killed. Eventually, they concluded that those players' Mountain Bandit getup had caused others to mistake them for the monsters... It was rather chaotic at that point, and everyone was fighting together for the first time; such accidents occurring were possible due to their unfamiliarity with one another.

The fight was surprising but manageable; still, it served as a wake up call to what they had signed themselves up for.

The sight of the mob of monsters was frightening, but the fighting itself was made easy by the players' level advantage as well as Traversing Four Seas' readiness to employ the most appropriate PvP formation.

Would it still be this easy if the system launched a surprise attack again in a different location and with higher level monsters?

Traversing Four Seas must have realized the potential difficulties ahead after that fight, which explained why they had decided to hire helpers for the quest. Losing some men despite their knowledge of the ambush, it was really hard to say how Traversing Four Seas would have fared if that had really been a surprise attack. This was truly a serious matter, as the further they were from Yunduan City, the less likely it was for them to be able to replenish their lost manpower.

Mercenaries were good at thinking, so they were able to ponder on stuff related to the mission at hand while steadily walking onward. Soon, this throng of players began the long trek through the Oolong Mountain Range.

This mountain road was unlike the one that they were on before, where the hill gently sloped; this one was literally a mountain pass, where they had a deep abyss one side and a cliff's rockface on the other. Leaving this path meant leaping off or backing themselves up against the wall. Either option would result in their deaths, which only served to show how dangerous this whole stretch was.

The players' line was stretched thinner, as those who had never taken this road before did not dare to get too close to either side of the mountain pass. What if a sudden gust of wind blew them off the edge? Would it not be embarrassing if future talks about them were of how they had been blown off a cliff? It was better to just keep to the center of this mountain road on their way forward.

Those with highly imaginative minds even began to think of what they would do if the system sprung an ambush on them in this location. Although the cliff's rockface did not seem to have any possible hiding location, the system had a flawed logic sometimes and could very possibly conjure monsters out of thin air; what could they do if the system suddenly chose to spawn a monster right beside themselves? What sort of logic could explain that? Did anyone even question this when that was precisely how monsters spawned in grinding maps?

Such alarmist thinking was Brother Assist's strong suit. Worry was etched deeply on his face when he asked Young Master Han, "Won't we all die if the system suddenly spawns many monsters on this mountain pass?"

"That question is a little difficult for me right now..." Young Master Han evasively said, reasoning, "I'm drunk."

"That's too illogical!" June's Rain actually butted in. "How would the monsters appear here? Crawl their way out of the rocks or something?" She then brushed her hand across the rockface. It was as if she was searching for a gap for monsters to crawl out.

"No need for that! The system only needs to spawn them," Brother Assist used 'spawning of monsters' in grinding maps as the basis of his argument.

Gu Fei was almost in tears. Assist, you've really lost it if you are speaking logic to Xiaoyu....

June's Rain began to consider Brother Assist's words and the situation at hand. By the time she made the connection, Brother Assist had already forgotten speaking to her about the matter....

"Hey! Why are we not moving?"

Their group's forward march came to a grinding halt, and players began asking the reason for it, but they very quickly quieted down.

This was the good thing about MMOs; talking on a channel was possible! As such, anything peculiar happening to the troops in front would be known immediately to the troops behind. The question of these men behind was quickly answered by the ones in front: "The pass got cut off!"

"Cut off? What do you mean?" Players like the men of Young Master's Elite that had walked through this mountain pass before were baffled by this fact.

Surprisingly, June's Rain came up with an explanation first. "Did the terrain change?"

"What's all this dawdling for?! Just when will we reach Yueye City at this rate?!" Svelte Dancer yelled! She was originally from another city, so she had also walked through this mountain pass before. Svelte Dancer could barely stand the speed that this mass of players was moving at before, and now this already slow pace actually came to a complete halt.

The people at the back did not know what it meant for the mountain pass to be 'cut off', but since it was hardly safe to squeeze to the front on this perilous mountain pass, they could only patiently wait for any sort of development ahead. The various mercenary group leaders sent Youthful Reflection inquiries regarding the matter, and he assured them that the issue would be resolved very quickly and requested for them to be patient.

Indeed, everyone soon started to slowly lurch forward once more. As they continued their trek through the mountain pass, they heard exclamations of surprise from those ahead.

Gu Fei and company finally understood what the exclamations were for when they got to the front themselves. The whole bunch of them gawked at what they saw, "D*mn! The terrain really did change!" June's Rain felt elated when her assumption was proven right.

About three meters of the road that lay before them seemed to have eroded away. A man-made bridge spanned over this gap at the moment. The bridge was made with two planks of lumber and was three meters long; the walkway it formed was simple and exhilarating. The players who saw it shook with fear. They all had ashen expression and dared not take one step on to the man-made bridge.

"Tsk! What's so scary about this?!" Svelte Dancer pouted. Getting on to the bridge, she quickly passed several players who were currently on the structure. Her careless walk across the bridge frightened the other players who were also on it.

June's Rain was the next to get on to the bridge. "This is such a fun mission!" She excitedly leaned over and lifted a piece of the wooden board to examine it closely.

The person in front of her felt his leg give way. Turning to look backward, he discovered that his other foot was stepping on thin air. He then caught sight of the endless abyss that lay beneath him. Upon discovering that there was no longer anything supporting his weight, the person's leg weakened and his body shook terribly. In the next instant, he dropped down screaming, "AHHHHH!"