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Chapter 411 - Professional and Amateur

 These players were split into two different groups, which was unlike any party that headed out to grind. Players that left to grind would usually be in set teams, numbering at most ten per team, yet there were way more than ten in the two groups, with no two groups having more than a single player more than the other.

These two groups noted the presence of one another, but did not bother to think too much about it as both parties went about their own business and headed straight towards the city to sell off their loot.

One of the two groups had returned to attempt to rob Gu Fei, while the other consisted of members from Tanzanite Shade's Blue Umbra Guild. These men had all returned to Linshui City at the orders of their leader.

They had not dared to make a move since Eternal Dominion was present, but they had finally gathered over seventy players for this. Eternal Dominion was rumored to be able to take on twenty people at once, but surely he was helpless against over seventy players, right? This was quite possibly the first time these people had to gather over 70 players just for one target. After investing so many of their men for this, the leader of this group of bandits had already sworn to obtain every single item off both Eternal Dominion and Gu Fei until they were naked.

"Search the entire city for the two of them. Inform everyone once you catch sight of them, and proceed to corner them!" the leader commanded, and everyone sprang into action.

------

Over by Blue Umbra, they had a total of 750 players as a level 5 guild. It was a weekend afternoon, which was also one of the peak periods for users in the game, so there were almost five hundred players online currently. Tanzanite Shade had every intention to acquire that Staff of Resurrection by any means necessary, so he decided to go all in and mobilize everyone for this task. There were already nearly four hundred members of Blue Umbra making their way back to Linshui City; if the seventy-man party led by that team of robbers could be called a criminal gang, Blue Umbra could be called a terrorist organization, instead!

However, they were nevertheless still a guild, not a team of professional larcenists. Thus, Tanzanite Shade did not dare to directly order his men to target those men to drop their equipment, but instead told them how they were players who caused trouble in their bar and told everybody to search and slay those individuals in the city. Tanzanite Shade made sure to only inform those whom he trusted about picking up their dropped equipment.

Nobody expected there would be players out there that would dare to act wildly by the bar, everybody in Blue Umbra was riled up by Tanzanite Shade's inciting words as they began to form up in groups of threes and fives and search through the city.

"Southern Lone Blade is the leader of our target, and they have plenty of powerful players on their side. Everybody, do not jump the gun and attack them, make sure to inform me first," Tanzanite Shade exhorted them.

They all knew their own limits. Upon hearing that their targets were experts, they knew that they would be no match for them, so everyone nodded in agreement.

As for Tanzanite Shade himself? He had brought the trusted core members of his guild and formed a formidable team. The main force had already left to blockade the Priest Academy, and those left were prepared to drown Southern Lone Blade and his squad in their numerical superiority.

The target was a Priest. Tanzanite Shade was certain that said Priest would not have any PK points on him, so the chance for them to obtain that Staff of Resurrection on drop was really low, so the real work would be done over by the Priest Academy. Tanzanite Shade carefully thought through his plan once again, and felt that he had covered most of what he could think of..

Even if those guys want to snatch this kill from me, what can they do against the whole sea of men from my guild? Since I'm already doing this, I may as well go the full distance and just target you guys as well, Tanzanite Shade thought to himself gleefully. He suddenly realized just how exciting it was to target someone for their dropped loot. He was even a little addicted to this thrill, despite not having looted a single thing, and he could barely even hold himself back from wanting to target more.

------

The seven man squad Southern Lone Blade led was currently strolling through the city, as he had yet to come up with a plan. The Video Mage and Eternal Dominion were both incredibly frightening targets to confront directly, and Southern Lone Blade was not confident just the seven of them were enough to take them down.

Having been the recipient of a Seismic Toss and a Twin Incineration from the duo, Southern Lone Blade had discovered that the damage from Eternal Dominion's Seismic Toss was not exactly disconcerting by itself, but that Twin Incineration was tremendously powerful. Fire Singed Clothes was ashamed when Southern Lone Blade asked Fire Singed Clothes his own damage, since the maximum damage he could deal with his Twin Incineration was entirely incomparable to that of Video Mage's.

Everybody shuddered at the thought of this. It was the mistake that everybody succumbed to when they first came into contact with Gu Fei: if his Twin Incineration was so strong, would his other spells be even more powerful? They had no idea that Twin Incineration was the strongest spell he had in his arsenal, and the other spells he had were much worse.

"It's difficult to deal with the two of them if they are working together. Our best option is to find some way to split them up," Southern Lone Blade said.

The seven continued to walk around as they considered a possible solution to achieve this, unknowingly walking two whole streets as a result.

They truly lived up to their name as the elites when it came to larceny. Having frequently done this job of theirs that drew the ire of others, their caution had already pervaded into every aspect of their lives, while a normal guild like Tanzanite Shade's were totally amateurs when it came to spying upon their targets. As such, the seven men actually became aware of their act.

"There's a Thief behind us, possibly following us all this time," Blackwater said in the mercenary channel.

All of them stopped in their tracks and turned back.

There was no need to search, as that Thief behind had immediately revealed himself when so flustered. He was far too unskilled when it came to the act of spying, so he was actually at a loss at what to do the moment he saw his targets were aware of his presence.

The seven looked at one another. Just from this blunder alone, they could tell that the opponent they were now facing must surely not be anybody threatening.

Southern Lone Blade wanted to step forward to find out more, but the moment he took that first step, the man immediately turned tail and ran. Glue arched his bow and was going to fire, but because there were simply too many other players walking along the street, he found it difficult to get a bead on the Thief and could only watch as he slipped away.

"Who was that?" The seven knitted their eyebrows.

Southern Lone Blade's gaze fell onto Paddy Scent Pastures. Everybody immediately understood what this look meant. They were robbers themselves, after all, so they were quick to realize what was happening upon adopting a professional perspective. It was not that Southern Lone Blade had not considered there would be others that coveted the Staff of Resurrection, he had simply not expected that they would be so quick to strike. He had thought that this information would at least have to spread before requests to acquire it would come in. How could he have guessed that there was someone who fanned the flames of desire in Tanzanite Shade's heart, inducing the idea to pursue Southern Lone Blade so soon?

"But that guy doesn't really seem like a professional," Blackwater commented.

Southern Lone Blade nodded. The real professional, Southern Lone Blade, would truly worry about the future of this line of work from the standard that Thief had shown when stalking them.

The seven quickly came to the same conclusion from this. Things would be a lot more troublesome if they are not professionals! There were specialists in every line of work, each with their own tricks of their trade. Professionals like Southern Lone Blade doing this work would often remember to keep a low profile; the more elite they were, the more low profile they would be. But for a bunch of amateurs attempting this job, would they even understand why there was a need to keep a low profile, or even how to keep a low profile at all?

The opposite of being low profile would naturally be swaggering. And in MMOs, the only factor that qualified swaggering... was having plenty of people!

The seven men all lifted their heads and sure enough, spotted a huge crowd of players appearing in the street entrance ahead of them. That crowd's eyes were all trained on them, numbering over a hundred of them.

"Quick, flee!" The seven turned and bolted.

"Palatial Balefire!" Fire Singed Clothes bellowed and activated his spell, and flames sprouted from the ground that blocked off the entire street. When the players on the street saw that a PvP battle was about to begin, many fled, while others stood by the side to watch the show.

Fire Singed Clothes was chasing after the other six men after completing his cast. The members of Blue Umbra rushed right up to the flames of Palatial Balefire, unsure of the spell before them. A Thief daringly attempted to charge through, but he actually disappeared with the sound of sputtering flames the moment he stepped into that wall of flames. Everybody was shocked, since none of them had expected the damage of this spell to be so huge. Beyond that wall and past the numerous players, there was no way for them to know where the seven-man squad had run off to.

"Keep watch over here. Wait for this fire wall to disappear before continuing! The rest, follow me!" The leader of this pack of players assigned the slowest players to stay behind and keep watch as he personally led the faster players to circle around the other side.

Southern Lone Blade and his comrades were rather experienced when it came to fleeing: Seal the road and dive into the crowd, take the turn the moment they came to an intersection and they would easily lose their tail. But it was hard to tell if there would be players blocking their way up ahead.

"Which guild was that?" Blackwater barked spitefully. Only a guild would be able to raise a hundred players like this so easily.

"It seems to be Blue Umbra guild." Glue had spotted the emblem those players were wearing upon their chests before everything turned chaotic.

Southern Lone Blade was surprised. "Wasn't that the same guild that owned that bar we caused a scene at?"

"It must be!" Fire Singed Clothes said. "So it's those guys. Looks like they are gonna take this chance to target us for our equipment."

"So what do we do now?" Everybody turned their gaze towards Southern Lone Blade.

Perhaps most people would have thought that the safest method would be to log out, but from the perspective of larcenists, logging off would actually be the most dangerous choice here. There were probably players guarding the designated log off points at the moment, and while the seven of them might not have much trouble breaking through, that would nevertheless thoroughly reveal their tracks to their opponents. Southern Lone Blade and his men had staked out many log off points throughout their career, lying in wait for their targets to show. Because too many players believed that logging off would be the safest move, they did not know that the moment they logged on again, a more intricately woven entanglement and subsequent hunt would be what awaited them.

Of course, forcefully logging off where they were was almost foolproof, except that the game officials had already mentioned to the players that any such attempts would only result in the players going up against the system themselves. That was possibly the most dangerous situation for players to find themselves in, so none of the seven even considered such an option.

At the moment, what they had to do was escape the pursuit of Blue Umbra, as well as ensure their pursuers had no idea where they ended up.

"Let's leave Linshui City!" After thinking for a bit, Southern Lone Blade finally grit his teeth and came to a decision. After the existence of their Staff of Resurrection was exposed, Southern Lone Blade had already contemplated fast tracking his plan to leave Linshui City, yet had not expected he would have to do it so soon.

"About that Video Mage..."

"Let's leave it for now. When there is life, there is hope!" Southern Lone Blade said.

The six men all nodded in agreement.

"Let's go!" The seven made the decision and began to make their way through the streets and alleys. They opted for the narrow streets that were just wide enough for Fire Singed Clothes's Palatial Balefire to cordon off the way if the need arose...

------

"Drunk bro!" Gu Fei had received the message on his end.

"Did you discover anything?" Gu Fei replied.

"That Southern Lone Blade person, it looks like you're not the only one on the hunt for him. There's a lot of other players chasing after him as well."

"How many are there?"

"I think I saw over a hundred of them, at least."

"Oh. Well, putting that aside, where is he currently?"

"I'm on their tail, I'll send you their coordinates right now."

The players from Blue Umbra were not adept when it came to stalking their target, but the men from Forever in Flowers could be considered experts themselves. Even though they were not a group of larcenists, they would often trail after ladies and chase after babes, and so this was a skill they excelled at, far more so than the larcenists. That was why the saying "all roads lead to Rome" rang true; be it chasing after skirts or engaging in larceny, it was useful to be skilled at stalking someone.

Right now, this Hunter from Sakurazaka Moony's mercenary group was very consummately shadowing the seven-man squad.