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Chapter 336 - Different Goals

 Chapter 336 - Different Goals

Silence. Dead Silence.

Focus. Everyone's gaze was focused.

The person who had said this was just a nobody from one of the mercenary groups. Oathless Sword had been doing a headcount of his remaining men when he turned his head back to regard the man. He then calmly smiled. "Get your mercenary leader to come and speak to me!"

The man nodded his head. "My mercenary leader sent me to speak on his behalf. Our entire mercenary group agreed to withdraw from this mission."

Only then did Oathless Sword give this matter his attention. Slowly turning to properly face the man, his face oozed with anger. Backing out from the mission at this point in time was akin to adding fuel to the fire. Oathless Sword was almost done counting his guild members, and based on the number he had arrived at thus far, only about four hundred members were alive. This meant that he had lost nearly half of his men throughout this expedition. The losses on the mercenary groups' side were a lot worse, as the originally five hundred mercenaries that had accepted the mission were now down to just about two hundred.

The problem here was that the Traversing Four Seas' members that had lost their lives automatically 'failed' the guild quest when they respawned in Yunduan City. In contrast, the mercenaries' mission would not be marked as 'failed' as long as the Prisoner Todd remained alive. Furthermore, since they could respawn in Baishi City, it would only take them three hours or so to get back to Linyin City. Traversing Four Seas had hired many mercenary groups precisely in preparation for this sort of heavy losses that they might incur during the expedition, yet, at this very moment, these mercenaries actually wished to withdraw from their mission. Oathless Sword thought that he was not the one being unreasonable here.

However, before he could even speak, three more leaders or representatives from different mercenary groups came forward. "We wish to withdraw from this mission as well."

"You guys!" Oathless Sword was angered to the point of speechlessness. The tone of these men sounded resolute, as though they were merely informing him of their decision and were not looking to negotiate.

"Isn't it a little too much to back out at this moment?" Quite a lot of Traversing Four Seas' players felt dissatisfied with this, and one of them actually stepped out to say this.

In the end, someone from the four mercenaries stepped forward. "You're right. It's a little too much. That is why our group has decided to refund the deposit in full." With that, they saw the man return to his mercenary group and talk with his comrades for a moment. Everybody watched as they dug into their pockets to gather the appropriate amount into a money pouch. Following this, the man came back to Oathless Sword once more and handed over the money pouch to the latter.

When it came down to the deposit, different mercenary groups had different rules for it. Employers who were in a rush to hire mercenaries would often make use of this to lure people into aiding them. Take Traversing Four Seas as an example; almost all the mercenary groups were paid half of their total fees as a deposit upfront and were promised to be given the other half once the mission they had set was accomplished. No conditions were set about recovering the deposit if the mission ended in failure.

Right now, these mercenary groups were actually withdrawing from the mission that they had yet to fail of their volition - something which had never happened before. Oathless Sword felt pissed that he did not set a condition for annulling the contract like this; he did not reach out to accept the deposit that was being returned by the man. Behind him, Gale Force stepped forward and angrily said, "This is not a matter of coins; aren't you guys showing a sheer lack of integrity right now?"

The man obviously knew that he was doing something out of the norm, so his head hung low. He looked between Gale Force and Oathless Sword before eventually admitting, "Sorry, but we don't think we are the right people for this mission."

"Just admit you got cold feet and decided to back out," Gale Force taunted. Actually, anyone would assume that fear was the reason anyone would withdraw from this mission after reaching this point.

"Cold feet?" The man revealed his suppressed anger when he heard Gale Force's ridicule, yet he continued to talk to them in a moderate tone. "We are well aware of where we stand in this mission and know that we're just going to be used as cannon fodders before we even accepted this mission, so do you really think we would decide to back out due to getting cold feet?"

Gale Force was stunned.

"Guild Leader Oathless, I'm sure you remember what you said to entice us into accepting this mission. Did you honestly think we accepted this mission for the mercenary fee? He he... I'm afraid most of the mercenaries here don't really have the heart to say this, but this entire expedition will have us travel to five cities. So far, we've already been to Yueye, Baishi, and now Linyin - that's three cities out of the five needed for your guild quest. And by the looks of things, it seems that we are mistaken. There simply aren't any additional earnings as we have been led to believe. Now that we are even exposing ourselves to something as risky as a competitive quest, our returns are essentially zero. After discussing it among ourselves, we really can't find any justifiable reason to continue our participation in this mission. Thus, we have decided to withdraw from this. That's all we've got to say for this matter; we'll leave it to you to think of it however you want!"

After ending his speech and upon seeing that Oathless Sword still did not move to accept the money pouch, the man bent over, placed the money pouch on the ground, and walked off. "We're taking our leave now."

Many players left the crowd with him and returned into the jungle without glancing back even once.

The other three mercenaries, who also wanted to leave, felt that that man had already said everything needed to be said, so they quietly took out their money pouches and placed them on the ground before leading their men away as well.

Oathless Sword was about to say something when, unexpectedly, the men's move spread like the plague through the crowd. In a matter of seconds, five more mercenary groups came forward to leave their money pouches and silently took their leave.

"Hey! All of you-" Gale Force wanted to chase after them in a fit of rage, yet Oathless Sword held him back with a shake of his head. "Forget it; let them go!"

Looking around the crowd, Oathless Sword gravely asked, "Is there anyone else who wishes to leave?"

The other remaining mercenary groups exchanged glances; this included The Black Hand, the largest mercenary group in Yunduan City. Although their mercenary leader, Black Index Finger, died, The Black Hand did not see it fit to withdraw from this mission. As such, Drifting, who was acting as the temporary leader of The Black Hand, humbly stood among the crowd.

The Amethyst ladies did not withdraw, either. Besides Young Master's Elite, they were probably the only ones who did not suffer any casualties. It was quite the miracle considering how weak their mercenary group was.

There were the skeevy men of The Great Hunting, as well. They did not lose anyone during the confrontation in the jungle, and most of their losses were from that time they had been in Yueye City.

Two ordinary mercenary groups remained besides those already mentioned. Naturally, Young Master's Elite was still around.

Oathless Sword did not really care whether these six mercenary groups remained or not. Instead, his gaze was on the seventh mercenary group that had chosen to stay and he called out in an emotional voice, "Xiaoshang."

"Ouch..." Royal God Call showed a pained expression as though he had just been poisoned.

"Don't call me that! It's disgusting! Address me by my full name, Gu Xiaoshang!" Gu Xiaoshang spat.

"Thank you for staying," Oathless Sword continued tenderly. Even his guild members could not stand it, and Gale Force coughed up a storm right next to him.

Besides these seven mercenary groups, quite a handful of players remained where they were. These were the players from Silver Moon mercenary group. At the moment, they were essentially a leaderless group. The leaders of other mercenary groups might not be physically present, but they were at least still on the mercenary channel, so the final say with the group was still with them. In the case of these players, although Silver Moon was still their leader in name, all of them no longer bothered with him. His words fell on deaf ears, as everyone in the group discussed this matter animatedly on the mercenary channel. They had yet to come to a decision.

Oathless Sword recognized quite a few of these men, so he walked toward them. "Gentlemen, I'm afraid that the mercenary group you are in is all but dead in name. However, if you guys are willing to continue, the remaining half of the fee will be paid to you all in full when everything is done."

"You're handing it over to the five of us?" they asked. Silver Moon mercenary group originally had forty members. What was supposed to be paid out to forty players would be a huge sum if split between the five of them.

Oathless Sword nodded his head. "If any comrades of yours who have lost their lives recently wish to continue, they too can have a share of the payout."

"That's great!" the five men readily agreed. They did not hide this from the others. Quickly passing this along to the rest on the mercenary channel, some agreed to return while others refused. This settled the matter with this group of mercenaries.

Oathless Sword swept his gaze over the remaining mercenary groups as emotions welled up inside him. Just as he was about to say something, he saw Gu Fei step out from Young Master's Elite and strode toward him in a resolute manner just like those players who had left.

F*CK ME! Oathless Sword once more felt rage surge within him. He should have expected this gang to kick him while he was down in the gutter by choosing to call it quits at such a crucial moment.

Unexpectedly, Gu Fei's words were totally not what he had imagined. "Guild Leader Oathless, is there anything else? If not, then can I go and log off?"

"Ah?! Log off?!" Oathless Sword was shocked. He really did no expect Gu Fei to ask something very mundane, so he momentarily failed to register his words. Why would such an expert like this man talk about logging off at this time of the night?

"Yup. It's getting late." Gu Fei nodded earnestly, proving just how peculiar he was.

"Oh... Log off, then!" Oathless Sword returned to his senses and swiftly gave his permission. "We still have to store Todd back in the prison. We can all log out once that is done, so let's get to it!"

They all steeled their nerves to accomplish this task. It was clear that Deep Waters and his men would not give up just because they had managed to escape from the jungle. However, within the city, these players from Yunduan City no longer feared the enemies' assault. Somewhere over six hundred players were left in this army, and they had no lack of experts. If Deep Waters wished to fight with them to the death, they would gladly take them all on and see this matter through to the bitter end.

Adopting such a grim mentality that was willing to face death head on, Yunduan City's players officially stepped inside Linyin City.

The houses in Linyin City were mostly constructed with wood, which only made the city resemble a rustic village of sorts. Besides that, the streets were filled with players doing their businesses. Every local was curious and on guard at the sudden appearance of such a large horde of foreign players, which was no different from how any locals in other cities would react in such a situation.

Brother Assist, who was great at analyzing things, was the first to notice the distinct idiosyncrasy with the local players.

"Have you guys noticed?" Brother Assist asked, "The job-class composition among these local players is unbalanced? Warriors, Knights, Priests, and Fighters... Have any of you spotted any of these four job classes?"

"There sure aren't many of them!" everyone affirmed his observation.

"Seems like the whole street is just filled with Archers!" they exclaimed.

"And look; most of them appear to be Hunters," Brother Assist continued, saying, "Did this region's terrain skew the job-class balance of this city? No wonder many among us said that their friends who used to live in this city moved away soon after...."

"Hey, friends from Yunduan City, how are you guys doing?" The sound of a familiar voice made everyone turn around, only to see Deep Waters grinning and sitting cross-legged on the rooftop of a nearby house; one of his hands was on his knee, while another was waving toward them.