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Chapter 487 - Upsetting the Balance

 "So, where are we going?" Svelte Dancer asked as she took in the sight of the raging firefight below them.

"Uhm... Over there!" Gu Fei pointed over to the firewood shed over at one corner of the backyard. As it was over at one of the rare few high grounds available in the compound, everyone was very interested in it and the competition for control was particularly pronounced.

"Can we make it?" Svelte Dancer sternly repeated the statement Gu Fei had emphasized to her earlier.

Gu Fei showed a tragic look, speechless.

"Should we wait?" Sword Demon consulted the two for their opinion. With how chaotic the battle below was, diving right into it was tantamount to seeking death, and no amount of skill would save them. With Sword Demon's wealth of experience in MMOs, he surmised that if the three of them suddenly appeared in this situation without anything to identify them on which side they belonged, it was entirely possible for both parties to take them as enemies and turn on them to reduce the number of potential threats.

"How long will we wait?" Gu Fei muttered as he watched the battle. In a duel, several exchanges were all it took to reach the resolution of the fight, but a group battle at such a grand scale would not end so quickly. With the collaboration, support, and heals of players to their sides, group battles would often be a test of endurance and willpower; whichever side first lost their patience and messed up the tempo would end up as the loser of this battle. The entire battlefield may look like a huge mess, but it was actually an organized attack and an organized defense, as well as a very organized avoidance of the NPC guards spread everywhere in the backyard which was the center stage for this battle. Everything was conducted orderly and was not as chaotic as things appear to be.

The veteran Sword Demon could quickly see the nuances. He shook his head and sighed. "I'm afraid it won't be any time soon."

Gu Fei took a look at the time, but before he could say anything, Svelte Dancer yelled, "Say you're logging off, and I'll push you down there! Yours truly came all the way here just to help you with your quest; I dare you to log off on me!"

Gu Fei heard this and thought it made sense. He specially got help for this quest, so he simply could not reconcile to leave now that they were at such a crucial moment. Even though he was usually a very principled person, his insistence on logging off on time had slackened time and again during the escort quest he did for Traversing Four Seas. Gu Fei was so used to it that he figured it was fine to just let go of it one more time. Thus, he abandoned all thoughts of logging off for now.

"Mmm. Let me see if there's any way we can make it." Gu Fei began to observe the situation. Even though everybody below looked to be very focused on their fight, the three of them did not dare overtly draw everyone's attention. They were currently all hunkering down on the rampart, each taking turns to poke their heads over and look about.

However, Gu Fei was not really well-versed when it came to such group battles. A good time had passed, yet he was still not able to find any way through. Meanwhile, Svelte Dancer, who typically took on the mantle of a hero in whatever battle she participated in, did not have the slightest clue on what she should be looking for or about teamwork. Thus, the two were merely acting the part of observing and studying the battle for show. In the end, it was still Sword Demon who managed to find a breakthrough.

"We've got a shot at this!" Sword Demon suddenly said.

"How so?" the two quickly turned to regard the man.

Sword Demon pointed in the direction of the firewood shed. "Take that shed as the natural topographical advantage in this place. Ranged job classes and Priests will be far more efficient if they take that vantage point as they can exert an immeasurable influence towards the battle right here."

"So, where's our chance?" Svelte Dancer was no slowpoke.

"Look. The fight for control over that shed has already ended. The Mages, Archers, and Priests from the winning side are already on top of that roof, and they have essentially snatched the offensive within the area. If the other side doesn't react to this, they will then have to watch their men within that space become nothing more than fodder. As such, they'll first have to increase their assault to this place before they come up with a solution to snatch the high ground, in order to maintain the balance between the forces."

Sword Demon explained analysis as clearly and logically as he could. Svelte Dancer heard all this in her confusion before repeating her question once more, "So where's our chance?"

Sword Demon helplessly explained it in detail. "While the battle is in a state of delicate equilibrium, any unexpected variable will break this balance. A short period of disarray is bound to affect the side that's unprepared for this, and that is the precise moment that we should take advantage of."

Svelte Dancer looked as if she was on the verge of crumbling as she turned to look at Gu Fei. "Is he even speaking Chinese?"

Gu Fei looked at where Sword Demon was pointing and nodded. "I understand what you're trying to suggest. There's a distinct advantage in holding the vantage point that the shed affords, so if the people atop the roof are suddenly eliminated, the tenuous equilibrium will be forcefully destabilized, right?"

Sword Demon nodded his head repeatedly. "Those forces relying upon this advantage to suppress the enemies will fall apart in that instant."

Svelte Dancer, who was starting to understand Sword Demon's plan, asked, "Then, what about the opposing forces? Reaping in this serendipitous benefit from our involvement, there's no way they'll cave in to themselves once they gain the upper hand, right?"

Sword Demon chuckled. "They won't... But once we strike, they'll be beside themselves with joy. Do you really think they will seek to harm us? Not even men from Flowergazing in the Fog will."

"You're right!" Gu Fei responded. "Then, let's make our move and sunder this stalemate!"

"We should be able to leap over onto the roof of the shed from the ramparts," Sword Demon said as he glanced toward Svelte Dancer. He was uncertain if this lady had the spunk to leap off from such a high elevation.

"Heh. That's easy!" Sure enough, Svelte Dancer was not the average woman. Not only was she clueless about teamwork, she had no idea what fear meant as well.

"Will we die from the fall?" Gu Fei asked.

"It'll be dangerous if we land on the ground, but if we make it to the roof of the shed, we'll only lose a portion of our HP - not enough to be fatal." Sword Demon had done his research regarding every aspect of the game. Only a MMO maniac like him would bother to carefully research about how much HP players would lose at what height. While the different job classes had varying degrees of resilience toward fall damage due to their final stats distribution, Sword Demon and Svelte Dancer essentially had the same job class, so Sword Demon's judgement would apply to her as well. As for Gu Fei, Sword Demon made sure to remind the man that it was better to err on the side of caution and use his Blink before he landed.

"Alright. I got it." Gu Fei nodded.

"Okay. Miles will head down first to clear the monsters. Svelte Dancer and I will follow after," Sword Demon said.

"Clear the monsters?" Gu Fei looked quizzically at the man.

"Sorry." Sword Demon realized he had accidentally said the wrong thing, so he corrected himself. "We're leaving it to you to break the stalemate."

Gu Fei laughed as he patted him on the back. The three then began to use the wall to creep in the direction of the shed.

"Descending Wheel of Flames! Descend!" As they were getting near the shed, Gu Fei suddenly extended his sword and completed his incantation before facing the two Thieves. "I'm going."

The two nodded. Gu Fei took two steps as that astoundingly slow spell of his began to form in the sky above. Those players beneath the spell reacted quickly enough, immediately noticing the appearance of the spell from above the roof. They were constantly on the lookout for such a phenomenon since they were expecting their enemies to use this method to take them all out. That was why they had made sure to remain vigilant toward any Mages or Archers within the area, ready to preemptively eliminate these hidden dangers as they appeared. Who would have thought that someone would sneak through, though? They had no idea where that person had managed to quietly cast the spell.

They had no idea that this spell was unleashed by Gu Fei from an even higher ground, much less of the frightening power behind it. These men calmly smirked when they saw the Descending Wheel of Flames manifest in the sky above. It was in this moment that those men atop the roof heard voices yelp way up above them. "That's far too unrestrained!"

These voices belonged to Sword Demon and Svelte Dancer. Originally, neither of them should really be making any sound during Gu Fei's assault, but they could not prevent themselves from expressing their overwhelming emotions. The moment Gu Fei unleashed the spell, he leaped off right after it. The people below had no idea about this, because the spell had perfectly obstructed their view of the man descending right behind it. Gu Fei had actually managed to hide himself with the fiery glare of the Descending Wheel of Flames.

That spell was essentially an attack from Gu Fei and a cover for him. Sword Demon and Svelte Dancer could not help but marvel at his boldness and ingenuity.

Part of the flame wheel struck the ground, while another connected to the roof. The players could already tell that things were far from good the moment the spell scored a hit on them; its fiery embrace wracked their body and caused their HP to plunge quickly like an open tap. These players' HP was not supplied by a water company, and each only contained a limited amount, just like the cistern of a toilet bowl, so it was already amazing for anyone to survive this one flush. In fact, some were done in by this one blow.

Following this, a figure was seen appearing from within the fading flames. A black-robed Mage stepped forth, a sword in hand, who abruptly sent forth another circle of flames around him.

How big of a roof would a shed have? A single rotating Twin Incineration was more than enough to cover the whole area. Those that died did so instantly; those that survived had their HP drop so dangerously low they ended up losing their footing and fell off the roof in panic. Everybody was staring up in the sky like idiots as they watched a black and a red figure each shot off like cannonfire from the nearby wall, landing perfectly on the roof of the shed.

Just as Sword Demon had envisioned, those players that originally held the upper hand were the ones staring to the sky like idiots with that surprise attack, while the force that was originally at a disadvantage was elated with this opportunity bestowed on them. These men did not even have the time to be left in a daze as they quickly pressed on to take control of the ensuing imbalance.

Gu Fei and the two Thieves no longer cared about the details of this large-scale battle. He nimbly leaped down the roof, slid the key in his hand into the keyhole, and opened the door.

"Quick!" Gu Fei shouted above him as he dashed inside. Sword Demon and Svelte Dancer possessed impressive movement speed as well, but Svelte Dancer had no idea where the door was located, so she was a little lost after making the jump. Fortunately, Sword Demon was able to tug on her arm before she went the wrong way. As the two squeezed through the door almost shoulder to shoulder, Gu Fei shut it behind them with a swift wave of his arm.

"Success!" The three man punched the air in celebration.

"I'll check the situation outside." Sword Demon adroitly ran over to that hole in the wall, hoping to see what sort of impact their actions had caused to the ongoing battle between the two sides outside.

"What's happening?" Gu Fei stood behind him and asked.

They heard two consecutive banging sounds above their heads. Apparently, one of the players had leaped up the roof. Their hearts all stopped momentarily, for the roof of that dilapidated shed did not look to be sturdy.

The roof thankfully did not give way, so Sword Demon faced him and said, "Wonder which side holds the roof right now..."

Soon after, the uninterrupted sound of other players landing on the roof continued, causing dust to rain on the three from the ceiling. None of them could take cover for this, and Svelte Dancer's aversion toward dirtying herself was rather lady-like as she railed fitfully, "How many people can actually fit on that roof anyway?! Is it over yet?!"

"I think that they are fighting up there right now." Sword Demon glanced up above.

"Forget about them; let's just quickly unlock the cellar!" Gu Fei cried out even as he strode over and began moving the pile of firewood.