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Chapter 377 - Judging the Situation

 That man sighed in relief upon hearing what Young Master Han had said. He did not bother to resist his fate no longer as he exposed his neck and shut his eyes, awaiting for death.

Royal God Call did not relent either, releasing the already prepped Homing Projectile in his hand. The glowing white arrow homed right into the man, turning him into a beam of light that sent him back to the city in an instant.

This group of experts could not help but feel delighted when they saw how expeditiously the battle had ended. War Without Wounds sheathed his claymore back into his dimensional pocket and was about to brag for a bit, but Young Master Han was a step ahead of him as he said with a solemnly, "Let's not waste time on words and hurry on our way!"

"To think they were not together with Eternal War mercenary group. Just what's going on?" Brother Assist wondered aloud as they continued on.

"What's so strange about that? Why would a mercenary group like Eternal War that had the ability to suppress a guild lessen themselves to work with others?" Young Master Han said plainly.

"You already expected this?" Brother Assist asked.

"Of course!" Young Master Han replied.

"If Eternal Dominion had seen through our plan and brought his men over..." Brother Assist could not help shiver despite the warmth around them. The fact that Eternal War had not collaborated with any other mercenary group meant that if they had been the ones who uncovered their plan, they would have rushed over and barricaded that valley with all their men.

Given that his entire mercenary group seemed to have learned kung fu, just dealing with the handful of them would have been difficult, let alone the whole lot he had with him. Even though they were all veterans and apex experts when it came to MMOs, they just might have suffered a loss if such a situation occurred.

However, Young Master Han had instead chuckled. "Intelligence and levels are two different matter altogether. I doubt they have the brains to comprehend our plan."

"Why's that?" Brother Assist was confused at his statement.

"Would any intelligent person send five men to block our advance, in an effort to 'let you guys experience our skill'? If they had the time to arrange that, wouldn't it have been better for them to immediately make their way over and finish the quest?" Young Master Han snorted with derision when he spoke of the method Eternal Dominion had employed.

"I wonder what that guy we killed will do now," Brother Assist began to worry.

"He'll be back," Young Master Han said with confidence.

"Now that he has suffered quite the loss in that exchange with us moments ago, I'm sure he'll bring along the rest of the mercenary groups along the next time!" Brother Assist stated.

"Don't worry about that, he won't do it."

"Why not?"

"It's precisely because he had suffered such a painful loss that he will not do this. He had planned to swallow the reward for this competitive Mission from the start. Now that he has paid such a high price, I have reasons to believe that it would simply fuel his wish to capitalize on this competitive mission himself. We may be powerful, but we are still just six men. He'd surely believe that as long as he brought more men the next round, eliminating us six experts should be more than achievable. Thus, he's sure to handle this matter only with his own men the next round," Young Master Han confidently explained.

"That makes a lot of sense," Brother Assist nodded.

"And more importantly, the fact that he intended to take the reward all for himself is sure to be something he could not share with his fellow buddies in the coalition," Young Master Han added.

"But how would the others know about what he did before?" War Without Wounds had been listening the whole time when he interjected, "He won't be dumb enough to tell them that he fought with us prior, which was why he went searching for them?"

Young Master Han stared at War Without Wounds. "He won't be dumb enough to say it, but those friends he brings along from the coalition, are you gonna be dumb enough to not tell them this?"

War Without Wounds was stunned for a second, recovering enough to say, "So he's actually afraid of what we would say..."

Young Master Han rolled his eyes, "Even if we are outsiders, given how sensitive this situation is, especially since they are nothing but a temporarily gathered alliance of men, there just might not be any trust between one another to speak of."

"In that case, that means that guy is really in a awkward position right now!" Brother Assist said.

"Things were bound to end poorly for wise guys like him. He wouldn't be in this much trouble had he already informed everyone of his discovery," Young Master Han commented coldly.

"So, what should we do now?" Honestly, none of them were truly worried about that man's situation. They had only been analyzing his plight so as to take the appropriate action.

"Now that he has an understanding of the strength we possess, we are sure to have difficulty dealing with the reinforcements the next time he comes. Thus, I suggest we change our route," Young Master Han said.

"Who are we changing it?" Royal God Call was a little touchy when he heard the route was changing, afraid that he might get lost in the process.

This river valley branches off somewhere ahead of us. One would lead directly to Luori City, while the other would bring us to a dead-end. We are taking the latter," Young Master Han took out that spyglass from his dimensional pocket and looked ahead to where they were going. "It's not too far now, let's quicken our pace!"

"It's inauspicious to walk towards a dead-end!" War Without Wounds grumbled.

"Then you can stay where you are. Let's see if you will be the one dying first, or us," Young Master Han replied.

War Without Wounds was speechless, taking the lead as he took big strides forward.

"Everything is really in the palm of your hands!" Brother Assist sighed in awe.

"Young Master Han laughed but he did not say another word as he matched the pace War Without Wounds had set.

"This brother here is a talent!" Drifting commended after hearing the careful analysis Young Master Han had given them.

As this team continued to sally forth to their new destination, they shortly found themselves at the fork Young Master Han had mentioned. Young Master Han pointed as everyone headed to the left and maintained their pace onwards.

Behind them, Southern Lone Blade and his squad of men had been walking along the ridge of the valley for quite some time, yet they had yet to find any traces of their targets. In terms of movement speed, both parties were composed of different job classes, so their movement speed as a group was about the same, which made it all the more difficult to chase from behind.

Southern Lone Blade figured that their target was bound to encounter their enemies along the way and expend some time taking them down, and was confident that they would be able to catch up due to such interruptions. He did not expect to not see even a shadow of them despite having walked for some time.

"Perhaps they did not leave anyone in the valley?" The Mage in the squad of seven was doubting Southern Lone Blade's analysis.

"They've left." The Archer called Glue extended his hand and pointed, "Look. There are tracks of people walking by the river valley."

The others did not have Eagle Eye, so they could not see the tracks he mentioned. Southern Lone Blade waved his arm as everyone followed suit and jumped down into the valley.

The ground within the valley was not filled with visible tracks, but Glue casually pointed to a few places and everyone could make out footprints left by others.

"Someone must have passed by recently!" The Mage squatted down and said this only after carefully examining the footprint, certain that it was not an imprint made by the system. The system would regularly refresh things like footprints and the ilk, so the fact that it was still visible meant someone must have passed by not too long ago.

"Have they not met the enemy yet?" Southern Lone Blade was skeptical. He felt that if their targets had encountered enemies, there was no way they would have yet to see even a lick of their shadows.

Everybody turned to look at Southern Lone Blade. If their target had not met any enemies en route, their plan to capitalize on picking them off after a battle would fall through.

"Let's keep on going forward and take a look. All conversation will be done across the mercenary channel from here onwards." Southern Lone Blade said. He was worried that the enemy would discover their presence if they heard them talking while nearby.

They nodded their heads in unison, continuing their way along the valley gingerly. The dried-up river meandered, so they were unable to see everything ahead of them in one go. All along the way, the seven men saw no one at the limits of their vision, making sure to take cover and peek ahead whenever they came across any sharp turn.

They continued to trail after their target, yet never caught sight of them. Even Southern Lone Blade himself began to doubt his own analysis, when their Mage suddenly sent a message on the channel. "Come over and take a look."

"What's the matter?" Everybody was using the channel to speak, but the expressions they had were livid as they exchanged glances with one another. The river valley was eerily quiet, creating quite a strange atmosphere.

"Somebody exchanged blows over here." The Mage was once more looking at the muddy ground.

Southern Lone Blade came by and patted him on his back, gesturing him to continue.

"This circle here!" The Mage fired off another message, pointing awkwardly even as he continued, "This is the blast mark of a Descending Wheel of Flames."

"Is that so..." The other six men furrowed their brows, as none of them could tell the difference.

"Trust my analysis!" The Mage was extremely confident of himself, "Parallel World is very particular when it comes to details like this. Not only can I tell this is the mark left by a Descending Wheel of Flames, but I can tell that the damage output this Mage had is very high."

"So it really is the Video Mage?" someone muttered.

"Yup, it looks like we are on the right track," Southern Lone Blade grabbed a handful of the muddy sand, yet he could not tell that it had been bombarded by a Descending Wheel of Flames. Was there a scorched smell? He thought of this, but he resisted the urge to take a whiff of it in front of everyone, standing up and patting the Mage. "Singed Clothes sure lives up to his name as a expert when it comes to fire spells."

"Hmph! To think there are only two path of advancement for Mages, Lightning Affinity and Water Affinity. What nonsense for the game company to actually abandon the Fire Affinity like this." That Mage's full name was called Flame Singed Clothes, he was a diehard fan of fire spells, and was extremely resentful towards the design for Mages to originally start with Fire spells that become either Lightning or Water after Advancement.

"Look at that rock!" The Thief called the rest of them over to his side. Everybody hurried over as the Thief fingered the slash mark left on that rock, "This looks like a mark left by someone's Cyclone, right?"

Southern Lone Blade was a Warrior himself, so naturally he was adept at the job class. He came over and examined it closely, yet he did not dare to make the same conclusion. However, when he lowered his head closer, he saw the rock debris that littered the ground. Picking it up to take a closer look, he nodded his head, "No matter what skill was used to create that mark, it most certainly must have been done not too long ago."

"So that means they've already crossed swords with the enemy?" someone said.

"And they've already eliminated them, as well!" another added.

"Isn't that perhaps a little too fast?!"

"And we've already been hurrying as fast as we could, too..." Southern Lone Blade began to calculate the distance between the two, "Considering that we heard nothing of this battle that occurred, they must have taken no more than three minutes to take care of the enemy!"

Everyone quietly considered this new information. If this was a 1v1 duel, three minutes to obtain a victory would be considered slow. But if it was a group PvP, with a proper job class composition on both parties that had Priests Healing and players supporting one another, ending the entire battle within three minutes meant it must have been an overwhelming massacre on one end; the enemy must have barely been able to put up any sort of resistance before they died.

"They truly are experts indeed," Glue sighed in awe.

"Or perhaps the enemy was too weak?" The Thief was still unconvinced.

"There's no point in wasting time talking. Let's just carry on the chase! Even though the team was victorious, their plan has essentially been exposed, so the mercenary groups from Luori City are sure to gather more men and try again! Our plan is not yet obsolete, boys!" Southern Lone Blade declared.