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Chapter 373 - Treating the Trees as Enemies

 Svelte Dancer glared at that man with her arms by her side, lecturing him properly.

When another player came up hoping to ask something after that man retreated, Svelte Dancer treated his intention as misconduct that determined the person's poor character and directly deprived him of his right to learn kung fu for life. At the moment, it seemed like anyone who came forward looking to learn kung fu was bound to be someone with a poor character, making it seem she was the only one who qualified.

Pretty soon, no one dared to step forward and ask Svelte Dancer anything, and the fact quickly spread among almost every member of the company. Players who had been snubbed by Svelte Dancer snappily lashed out to anyone who looked to ask about the matter as well, instantly castigating them. "Learn kung fu? You wish to learn kung fu with the sort of character you got? Did you even pass your ideology and morals classes during your primary school days?"

That last bit really left everybody confused. Morality was a very vague concept in truth, so how could there be a measure for it? If it went by laws and regulations, then almost everyone was law-abiding citizen. But occasionally spitting on the street, or feigning being asleep when an old lady got onboard a bus, even immoral thoughts when someone caught sight of a beautiful woman; would such acts be considered having a poor character?

Everyone gave the matter a good think, reviewing the life they had led and everyone found that there was always something immoral that tainted it, causing everyone to bemoan their fate: It's over. I don't have the qualities to learn kung fu.

The whole group of players from Yunduan City slowly made their way onward with great introspection. Gu Fei, in the meantime was doing exactly what he had told Svelte Dancer, maintaining a good distance from the main body as he walked alone.

------

The landscape and scenery in Luori City was entirely different from the other capital cities. There was still an abundance of greenery when they were back at the pier, but as they walked further inland, the flowers looked more wilted, while the grass yellowed. Even the trees look withered, and large patches of greyish-yellow rocks could be seen more frequently.

The distinct style and palette of the location they were in allowed them all to realize that they had more or less stepped into the territory of Luori City. The landscape was akin to a desert, yet not, arid like the Gobi, yet not, looking entirely strange and nondescript.

The only advantage was the openness afforded by this landscape. A single glance and any player could make out the city in the distance. A dried-up river was not too far away from where they were, meandering towards Luori City.

"F*ck!" someone remarked loudly. "We were on an island surrounded by water mere moments ago, yet we now find ourselves in an arid plain in the blink of an eye. The system's really too much!"

"Stay alert, everyone. We'll talk about the rest when the quest ends," Oathless Sword exhorted them, stifling any further discussion. He was worried everyone would forget they were still on a quest if their attention was diverted to the conversation. Everyone nodded their heads and got back to the task at hand. Even the mercenary members who were not after the reward at the end of the mission were at least hoping to safeguard their own lives, so everyone was more or less working towards the same goal here.

"Take note of your surroundings!" With that, Oathless Sword quickly called on several Sharpshooters to use their Eagle Eye to do reconnaissance.

The Sharpshooters began to sweep all around, but the end result left much to be desired. It was mainly because these players did not recognize who their potential assailants were, so they had no idea who were the ones out there really grinding, and who were the ones pretending until their targets came into view.

Finally, those Sharpshooters had no choice but to report to Oathless Sword that they were unsure of any movement.

Oathless Sword gazed out towards the small packs of players all around them on the map and furrowed his brow. To him, all those players could very well be enemies. Those people could ignore them if they rushed forward, but it would be very bad if they waited until the core group passed them before they gathered their forces and surrounded them.

So despite seeing the very common sight of players grinding before them, Oathless Sword did not dare call his troop to advance.

"Let's kill them as we go along! Who cares what they are really doing, let's kill them all indiscriminately, we won't have to worry about where these people originate from!" someone said to Oathless Sword.

"Are you trying to rile up the whole of Luori City to stop us from completing our quest?" Oathless Sword barked. It was fine to kill a handful of players without making their intentions clear, but to start a massacre across the grinding map at such a large scale would surely draw the ire of everyone. By the time they arrived at the city, they would most likely be crushed like ants once everybody picked up that Limitless Competitive Quest in retaliation.

Oathless Sword could not decide at the moment, so the expedition army naturally came to a halt. Oathless Sword let loose a heavy sigh and waved, "Let's rest here. All the mercenary leaders make their way over for a meeting."

"G*dd*mn, why are we having another meeting!" one of the mercenary leaders moaned. This entire journey did not have much fighting, but there had been plenty of meetings which were bothersome to no end.

Gu Fei, who was a few hundred meters away from the main body, did not really inquire about what happened when the company of men came to an abrupt stop. Seeing that this was a grinding spot, he was far more carefree being by himself, casually grinding on the monsters as he waited for the expedition to resume.

The mercenary leader meeting for this expedition had begun with great exuberance and intensity. At the same time, somewhere behind where the Yunduan City players had halted their troops, seven men were huddled behind a huge rocky outcrop that had been battered by the sun and wind.

"Why have they stopped?" someone whispered.

"What are you whispering for? There's no way they can hear us with how far away we are, right?" someone beside that person said.

"We might as well converse over a private channel if we're whispering," another added.

"Alright, shut it with your nonsense," Southern Lone Blade finally said.

Even though they had departed a little after the departure of the players from Yunduan City, the wooden little boats they took were about as fast as the ship, and with how they were able to control the speed of the craft themselves, the little boats could naturally move much faster than the system-operated ferry if they rowed harder. However, they did not disembark anywhere near the designated pier, but had instead forcefully come ashore from another shore, all seven of them hurrying onwards until they caught up to the expedition.

At the moment they were all hiding behind the outcrop, observing the situation.

Except they were not at all concerned with TFS' quest, as they only had a single target in mind: Gu Fei. Or to be precisely, Gu Fei was not really their target, but rather the equipment he had on.

"We won't have a chance to strike at this rate! Looks like we may have jumped the gun a little," someone mumbled.

Southern Lone Blade did not seem to have heard this as he turned his head to the other person beside him. "Glue, do your best to find out what are they doing."

The player called Glue was the Archer of this seven-man group. The reason Southern Lone Blade had directed him to do the task showed that this person was someone who had advanced to a Sharpshooter and possessed Eagle Eye.

There were several hundred players from Yunduan City present. Aside from those mercenary leaders and a few key members of TFS discussing the matter at hand, the rest of them had nothing to do, so there was not much to go on to decipher what they were doing. Glue stared for quite a while before shaking his head. "I don't know what they are doing. It looks like they are resting?"

Resting? It was not as if they had just been ambushed by a large assault, why would they stop for a rest without any rhyme or reason? Southern Lone Blade was quick-witted and soon guessed that they must surely be afraid of meeting some sort of problem up ahead, resulting in the need for a discussion.

Just what sort of trouble could they have met?" Southern Lone Blade looked all around, and all he saw were the scattered players grinding monsters everywhere. Southern Lone Blade kept looking and immediately realized: The biggest problem these players from Yunduan City now faced was their inability to discern friend or foe.

As long as the enemy did not take the initiative to reveal themselves, they would have no idea who they should be attacking or staying their hand; any one of these people could be an enemy or someone unaffiliated... It was thanks to such thoughts that they had no idea if they should continue onwards.

"Oh, that's truly quite a quandary they have found themselves in," Southern Lone Blade could not help but ponder upon this problem, as well.

---

"What should we do?" At the moment, all the leaders along on this expedition had these four words upon their lips and in their minds.

"Hey!" At this time, Luo Luo had sent a message to Young Master Han, "Do you have an idea or something, just speak up already!"

From the start of this meeting, quite a few had contributed their suggestions, but it had all been rejected due to the plans' flimsiness. Yet, Young Master Han had not spoken a word throughout this entire process. Luo Luo had experienced the cunning of Young Master Han, and did not believe that he would not have a single idea to resolve this matter.

Oathless Sword was also looking expectantly at Young Master Han. He was the only one that had yet to say a thing, incidentally becoming the final miracle grass for Oathless Sword.

"Ahem..." Young Master Han coughed lightly.

Oathless Sword immediately was beside himself with joy, "Does Brother Han have a suggestion?"

"Ahem... I think that facing such a situation, the best solution is to disperse ourselves," Young Master Han said.

"Disperse ourselves?" Oathless Sword repeated what he had said, already wondering what sort of advantage this method would bring. The others were also trying to make sense of this proposition.

"Since we have no idea what the enemy is going to do, and we're even unsure who our potential enemies are, for that matter, let us split up and perhaps that will lure the enemy into acting. We'll adapt according to the situation," Young Master Han said.

"We are already numerically disadvantaged going up against a Limitless Competitive Mission. Aren't we placing ourselves in serious danger if we split ourselves up even further?" someone asked.

"Heh, even though there might be plenty of players participating in this mission, they are each working together within their own groups, it's impossible for them to be working as a whole unit. Everyone seated here are leaders of our own mercenary groups, I doubt there's a need for me to elaborate on this?"

Everyone was silent. Indeed, there was a need for groups to cooperate if they were to pick up such a mission, but this cooperation was an avenue of study in itself. First, it depended on the difficulty of the mission: their combined strength should at least be enough to accomplish the mission. But it was not ideal to have too many participants, since the more people participating meant the ensuing reward would be split in more ways, reducing the amount each individual would end up earning. Thus, the amount of people cooperating had to be perfectly balanced, and would depend on having a good grasp of the difficulty of the quest, and their own strength.

Furthermore, because it was still a Competitive Mission, it was often the case that players partnered with the stronger mercenary groups, forming a temporary collaboration. As such, the smaller mercenary groups might not even be able to complete the task when they attempted to compete, which would only result in them backing out from participating. Thus, even the act of forming up a temporary yet formidable party had a certain profoundness to pick up from.

"Even we won't be facing them all, there's no guarantee that any temporary collaboration between our enemies would be weaker than us, right? Against such an army, would we not still be in deep trouble?"