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Chapter 376 - Two Minute Battle

 That person who came to lead this assault was astonished when he heard what Young Master Han had said. He did not expect them to have seen through his intention so cleanly.

Indeed, upon seeing the Yunduan City Players head down into the river valley and depart from it in four parties, he had instantly guessed that the enemy was creating a diversion to the east and attacking in the west¹, realizing that the four parties that were running amuck on the map right now were simply to attract people's attention. The team that was truly in charge of escorting Prisoner Todd was sure to still be in that valley.

He was a citizen of Luori City, so he knew where the dried up river valley would lead to. He was well aware that it would wind through Luori City, and its location within the city had already been transformed into a trade street. Even though there was a iron gate that barred any players from entering the city just by moving through this valley, the actual city gate itself was mere steps away upon climbing out. Advancing through the valley was definitely the safest and efficient option.

After making that judgement, he had indeed decided to keep it private, just as Young Master Han had said. All the other mercenary group leaders did not seem to suspect such a possibility, so the moment it was decided they would split into four parties to hunt for Todd, this man immediately got his own mercenary group members to split into these four parties, before quietly taking a dozen or so men and sneakily leading them to this valley, making their way over and lie in wait for their opponent to appear.

From the fact their numbers looked to be about as numerous after the enemy re-emerged from the valley, this man was certain that there would not be many people left behind. However, the men he had brought were not exactly exceptionally skilled, but it was the best he could do. His mercenary group only had a hundred men, and the dozen men he brought were already conspicuous, especially since the guild leader himself was not even in the fray; there was no telling if someone else might have noticed his disappearance.

But for the sake of profit, he had nevertheless decided to go with the riskier option and brought his dozen men over here.

And it was as he had guessed! This man was delighted when he saw the enemy had about as many men as he had! But after hearing Royal God Call's complete disregard for them, and Young Master Han perfectly intuiting his intentions, he could not help but feel astonished.

Since they had thought of such a step, it was most likely that this man had anticipated the current situation by extension!

There was a total of seven players on the opposing side, and one was dressed in ragged clothes, looking extremely languid. While he was following everyone else without missing a step, he did not react even a little to this blockade of ill intent. Without a doubt, that must be the NPC Todd that they were tasked to escort.

At this point, there was no need for any more words as the handful of players from Luori City began to initiate their attack on Todd. This mercenary group leader came to the decision that it was best for them to take the initiative and kill the target. Their mission was to assassinate Todd, anyway; everything else could be discussed at a later time.

"Attacking without wasting any time to talk things through; you've got a future ahead of you, kid!" Young Master Han praised, but he had stepped in front of Todd ahead of their attack, using his own body to shield their escort. He raised the staff in his hand as a timely Heal landed on himself.

Sword Demon, War Without Wounds, Royal God Call, and Drifting were veterans with hundreds of battles under their belts. They were already prepared for battle at any time the very moment they came face to face with their enemy. The instant they saw the mercenary leader raise his hand to attack, it was akin to them all hearing a command, and they unleashed their own attacks a step quicker than the enemy.

An arrow whistled; Royal God Call's arrow was the quickest on the release. Not even someone with extremely deft skill could dodge a Snipe at such a close range. The Mage that had tossed out a spell when the mercenary leader ordered was struck right on his temple, disappearing in a flash of white light.

Oh no! that mercenary leader thought in despair.

"The skill of an expert becomes apparent once he or she acts", was an oft-used saying in MMOs. To insta-kill someone with a single shot of his bow, just this powerful display of damage output alone was enough to show his standard when it came to his skill and equipment. But the Archer was not yet done with his performance. The leader watched as that Archer stow away the bow in his hand and swap it out with another in a single swift motion.

Completing the shot cycle, the sound of two arrows piercing through the air could be heard. This time it was a Double Shot that was unleashed. The two arrows streaked out at a speed far quicker than a double shot from the average Archer. Since Royal God Call had targeted another Mage to bully, how would that player have a chance to dodge this attack either? By the time those two arrows plunged into his chest consecutively, the Mage that had already completed his spellcasting ended up changing the activation word to "Crap!" as he was sent away in another flash of white light.

That mercenary leader could not help but tremble when he witnessed this. He had thought it was possible that even though the players escorting Todd would be few in number, they were sure to be elites; Yet he never thought they would be so powerful to such an extreme degree. Two of the Mages he had brought over were eliminated in the blink of an eye!

And that was not the end, either. A Warrior on his side had Charged forward, looking to hurtle himself right into that Priest before transiting into a Cyclone to kill off Todd. In the end, the enemy's Warrior took a step forward and matched him with a Charge of his own.

The outcome of that collision was truly a cruel sight to behold. When the Verdict between the two Warriors came through, the leader turned his head to follow his comrade as the Warrior was flung far off into the distance. He turned back to face the enemy's Warrior, who was standing firmly, calm and composed, raising his hand while snapping his fingers as he called out without even turning his head, "Heal!"

In response, Young Master Han's magic staff stretched out and poked at War Without Wounds's waist. "Make way, don't block my line of sight!"

To think they have the time to joke around with one another during battle... Looks like we are nothing more than a snack to them... That mercenary leader was already dejected by this point. Meanwhile, the Archers he had on his end, who had originally been prepared to target the enemy Mage just like Royal God Call did, failed to fire off a single shot this whole time as they watched the enemy Mage cast a spell that left each and everyone of them rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

Were they seeing this correctly? Why are there suddenly four of that man, each identical to the other?

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu?" a Naruto fan cried out.

"Blazing Trees of a Thousand Inferno!" They saw four identical Mages raised their staves simultaneously and unleashed the spell. All of them were at a loss for what to do; while they were certain that the spells cast by the fakes would surely be weaker in terms of damage, the problem was that none of them knew how to differentiate the true Mage from the fakes. This lack of information itself made it difficult for them to evade the incoming attack.

The four Mages before them each pointed in the same direction, covering a huge area that putting them all at risk of being engulfed in the fire. Thus, each one of them began to run for their lives in hopes of escaping the huge area that was soon to be a sea of flames.

The mercenary leader had tears streaming down his cheeks as he ran. What sort of situation had he gotten himself in? He was the one that had took the initiative to attack, yet aside from that Warrior of his that got sent flying when his Charge crashed into the enemy's Charge, none of them had even managed to unleash a single attack!

The inferno that ensued sprouted forth from the heart of the valley, burning plenty of those players as a result. However, because the mirages of Drifting were actually unable to deal any damage, only two of their men were unlucky enough to be damaged in this cast.

One of them had low HP and had already perished in the flames. The other had more HP, so he was still able to persist and survive despite being caught in the flames. Yet, why would these interlopers be given a chance to catch their breath during a pitched battle? War Without Wounds had already rushed up towards this man like a crashing meteor, swinging his claymore out with both his hands like he was hitting a baseball, and smacked that man back into the flames.

Over by the other side, Drifting had already raised his magic staff and called forth a Descending Wheel of Flames to follow-up. While the Blazing Tree of a Thousand Inferno would appear without a warning, Descending Wheel of Flames would instantly and ominously create out four huge wheels of flame in the sky after the cast was complete. Ignoring the huge psychological stress it created, these men had no choice but to resume running for their lives before they could even stop.

"That's the real body!" The enemy proved themselves to have the skill to be part of the foremost large mercenary groups in Luori City when someone managed to determine which was the real Drifting from the four Mages after considering where the Four Blazing Trees of a Thousand Infernos came from.

That Thief activated his Fleetfoot and sprinted out of the AOE of the Descending Wheel of Flames as he dove straight towards Drifting. This man did not expect to be ambushed by Sword Demon, who had used Stealth when battle begun, and hurried over swiftly to intercept. Flitting past the man, Sword Demon's dagger had already created a gash on his side with a reverse grip, and in the time that Thief tried to come to a stop, Sword Demon had already thrown in two more lacerations that killed him off outright.

Young Master Han and Brother Assist calmly remained where they were, with the former taking care to protect Todd while the latter granted stat buffs to everybody.

"Brother Assist, do you wanna come up and play for a bit?" War Without Wounds called out after his Cyclone sent off two more players, inviting him to join in the fun.

But Brother Assist was a good companion that was always cautious and careful. Even though it was apparent their side held the upper hand, he nevertheless stayed in his position, not at all tempted by War Without Wounds' proposition.

The players from Luori City had their attack initiative stolen despite originally holding numeric superiority, and their numbers were even more reduced now that a good number of them had been culled after that wave of deadly assaults. The small party formed by an average mercenary group was no match for this elite team of highly skilled experts before them. After the next wave of attacks ended, the mercenary leader was all that was left of the interlopers, now left standing alone in that river valley.

He was the mercenary leader, so he was slightly stronger than his men, after all. The others had already fallen, yet he stubbornly held on all this while. But against this group of apex experts before him, he did not had much confidence in his continued survival. Both his hands gripped his sword tightly, yet he could feel his legs weakening, feeling he could hardly take another step out.

These guys are just too fearsome! the man thought to himself. Only two minutes had passed from his first command to attack until now, yet the men he had brought with him had already been slain. Now that it was just him alone, would his own death not take a mere two seconds, at most? But what made him all the more pained was the message his comrades had sent after dying, telling him how they had each lost an entire level. Just what was going on? Were not the players supposed to only lose a portion of their experience if they died during competitive missions and quests?

This mercenary leader had already realized that the risk factor this time had truly been too great.

"How are we dealing with this guy?" Seeing how pallid the man had become, he looked no more like a flickering candle in the wind that a single Homing Projectile would slay, Royal God Call did not hurry to do the deed as he turned his head to consult Young Master Han on this matter, wondering if he had any sly plan in mind.

"Let me ask you something," Young Master Han approached that mercenary leader.

That man gazed at Young Master Han, his expression placid. It was just a VRMMO after all. Even though his life was in the clutches of the enemy, he could still respawn upon death. Plenty of players would still have backbone to them and would hardly succumb to beg for their lives.

"Is the Eternal War mercenary group with you guys?" Young Master Han asked.

"Them? Why would they partner up with us?" that man answered.

"Ah. Got it," Young Master Han nodded.

"How are we dealing with them?" Royal God Call asked again. In most movies, asking such a question would often lead to the main character letting the victim go as a show of nobility!

"Kill him. His buddies are still waiting for him in the spawn point; letting him go now might adversely affect him instead!" Young Master Han waved his hand dismissively.