Chapter 181 – Withered Leaf
The guild emblem for Asskickers United had been personally selected by Nie Yan. He was fond of flavourful things that were rich with cultural references.
“I’ve already heard of the bad blood between your guild and Victorious Return. From what I know, it’s only a matter of time before you guys get swallowed up,” Tuoba said. The professional players from Withered Leaf had all been puzzled over something. Granted the recent expansion of Asskickers United was indeed worthy of praise, but it was still a fledgling guild, yet to establish a firm foundation. To dare to confront an esteemed behemoth like a Victorious Return? This was clearly a case of the newborn calf not fearing the tiger.1
Nie Yan felt a slight hint of anger at Tuoba’s words, but he couldn’t deny that his concerns were quite reasonable. Any player would naturally have to consider these things before joining a guild. Siding with his guild meant becoming enemies with Victorious Return, so why would Tuoba willingly enter into such a disadvantageous situation?
But Nie Yan disagreed with Tuoba’s assessment. Just as he was about to refute, Tuoba continued, “However, I’m still willing to join your guild. I just want to let you know, though. My matters don’t reflect the stance of Withered Leaf. Although my family owns the gaming org, I’m still removed from them.” Even though he could get Withered Leaf players to party up with him, he wasn’t a member of the organization. So he had no jurisdiction over anyone there. Withered Leaf’s sole purpose was to generate a profit, whether through in-game businesses, selling merch, or other venues for revenue, while he simply played for leisure.
“You guys are the only ones crazy enough to duke it out with them to the death, but what I admire most is precisely that sort of foolhardy bravery,” said Tuoba with a faint smile.
“Well since Tuoba’s joining, you can count me in as well,” Forthright said. He knew Tuoba’s personality pretty well, but even he was baffled as to why his friend had agreed to join.
Truthfully, Tuoba didn’t much care for the fame of Asskickers United. He’d accepted the invite simply because he found Nie Yan to be a person worth befriending, with a very agreeable temperament. What he treasured most was a person that he could sincerely interact with.
Nie Yan was a little astonished. He didn’t expect the sudden shift in attitude from Tuoba. After a second thought though, he began to understand Tuoba’s intentions.
“It seems I was small-minded,” Nie Yan said with an apologetic smile. “But I still have to disagree with your judgement. Sooner or later, the guild that’s going to be wiped from Calore will be Victorious Return, not mine.”
Tuoba’s expression flickered with a hint of surprise. Just where was this self-confidence coming from?
“Alright, let’s drop the subject. I’m getting a headache listening to you guys. As far as I’m concerned, joining a guild isn’t a bad thing. Hey, do you think I’ll be the top Berserker in the guild?” Forthright interjected. To him, this matter was far more interesting.
“Yeah, I’d say so. As for being the top Warrior though, I think you still fall a little short,” Nie Yan replied. If he had to compare Forthright and Bladelight, he felt the latter was a bit stronger. Bladelight had recently obtained the best armour set from the Sorens Dungeon on Specialist, and although he was slightly behind Forthright in level, he could overcome that difference with skill.
“Damn, there’s actually a Warrior who’s stronger than me? I want to meet him when we get back!” Forthright boiled with competitive spirit.
Tuoba pondered in silence. Maybe Asskickers United really did have quite a few strong players; otherwise, Nie Yan wouldn’t have such confidence.
Tuoba had met the top-ranking players in Victorious Return before. Most of them weren’t that impressive, but he couldn’t help but feel dispirited when he thought of Heaven Breaker. That guy’s precise control was simply too formidable. Even he didn’t feel confident going against him.
There was a commonly held belief among players that an individual’s strength didn’t matter in front of the absolute might of a guild. But in the stronghold sieges not too long from now—which would determine the future prosperity of a guild—any powerful individual could greatly influence the tide of battle.
Victorious Return might be powerful, but Asskickers United was rapidly catching up. Nie Yan felt confident that they would overtake them, sooner or later. He had already tasked Guo Huai with sending out invitations to various players who would become Magisters, Guardians, Shadow Dancers, and so on in the future. Although many of them might disdain joining his guild, there were others who just started playing, so their potential still remained untapped. Since they were still nobodies, once they received a gracious invite from Asskickers United, they would almost certainly wholheartedly devote themselves to the guild.
Taotie2 and Undying Scoundrel, for example—both players with the capacity to become a Guardian and a Magister respectively—though confused as to why Asskickers United would seek them out, they quickly fell to temptation under the lure of superior benefits.
Nie Yan had handed Guo Huai a recruitment list of all of the famous players that he remembered in his past life. Although only a small portion of the people on that list would agree to join, it was still quite impressive. There were already five individuals in the guild that had high chances of becoming Shadow Dancers, Guardians, Magisters, and so on. As for players just a rank lower, there were over several dozen. There were also many players who Guo Huai was still in the midst of negotiations with, hoping to entice them with many favourable conditions. He even spared no effort in trying to headhunt the players who had already joined other guilds.
With the support of Nie Yan’s enormous capital, Asskickers United would eventually become a mecca for godly players.
After that, the guild would not just be full of asskickers in name but also reality.
There were actually many strong players in the previous timeline that didn’t reveal themselves to the public. Forthright and Tuoba were such players, not only in terms of level and gear but also skill. With their addition to the guild, Asskickers United would undoubtedly gain two more top-ranking experts.
Nie Yan could clearly sense that as Asskickers United slowly developed under his control, the guild would inevitably grow into a mighty oak, towering over all below the heavens.
Tuoba Time has joined your guild.
Very Forthright has joined your guild.
“I have a full set of Thief equipment you can have, but it belongs to Withered Leaf. If you can take out a few items to exchange for it, I can call up some people up,” Tuoba offered. He actually felt a bit awkward. Even though the organization belonged to his family, he had no authority over it. So he had no right to just give away their equipment unless he returned with something of equal value.
“What level?” Nie Yan asked. He didn’t expect them to have any extra sets of high-level equipment lying around.
After thinking it over, it didn’t seem so strange. Withered Leaf was just like Battle Crazed, a well-established gaming organization. Out of the top one hundred professional players domestically, over ten were from Withered Leaf. There were also around forty or fifty in the top five hundred. Such a powerful gaming organization was highly efficient in gathering resources.
Nie Yan was suddenly reminded of the past. The War God Tribe gaming organization backed by his father had once surpassed Withered Leaf and Battle Crazed for a time. It seemed his thinking was still too small-scale.
“Level 20, one of the members from their elite team hit Level 25 recently, so they’re switching their old set out. Right now, who it goes to hasn’t been decided. So if I want it, they’ll definitely give it to me, but I’ll also have to hand over some things in exchange; they won’t be able to make up for the loss otherwise,” Tuoba explained. Since his family owned Withered Leaf, the higher-ups there didn’t dare to ignore him if he wanted equipment from them. “Aside from my gear, I’m actually quite poor.” Tuoba wryly smiled.
“Ah, I see…” Nie Yan nodded. After considering the offer, he said, “I can take out a full set of Level 30 Gold-grade equipment to trade, but I want to check out the properties of the Thief equipment first.” After grinding Scaled Frogs for so long, Tang Yao had collected over several dozen pieces of Level 30 Gold-grade equipment with decent properties. It was absolutely worth Nie Yan exchanging a few pieces for a full set of Level 20 Thief equipment.
“Level 30 equipment…” Tuoba was in shock. Even Withered Leaf didn’t have a full set of Level 30 equipment, only a few odd parts lying here and there. He suddenly recalled, “Right! I nearly forgot! Your guild leader is Level 26. I’ve heard he trains on Level 30 mobs, so it’s not strange for you guys to have a complete set of Level 30 equipment. If you’re willing to exchange a full set of Level 30 Gold-grade equipment, Withered Leaf will give you some money to make it a fair trade.”
“Can I ask you a question? What’s the highest level player at Withered Leaf?” Nie Yan wondered why he hadn’t seen any signs of Withered Leaf on the leaderboards all this time.
“The highest is Level 25. They’re different from us. They spend all day running the main dungeons, but they’re not as high of a level as they could be since they’ve wiped plenty of times trying to clear dungeons on Specialist. It’s fine though. If they level too quickly, their gear won’t be able to keep up, so they’ll eventually slow down anyway. Don’t be mistaken, though, their levelling speed is still pretty fast. It’ll probably take only two or three days for most of them to hit Level 26. They’d rather focus on finding out how to clear certain dungeons on Specialist, so they don’t attach any importance to levelling. I bet the top people on the leaderboards like Kill Love and Sleepy Fox are the same. Even Heaven Breaker probably isn’t focusing everything into levelling,” Tuoba explained. Based on his own ability, he’d probably only rank around the top three at Withered Leaf.
These gaming organizations focused on reaping a profit. Since their goals were different from players like Nie Yan, there was no conflict of interest. They were professional players. That meant if he was willing to spend the money, he could even hire them to do work for him.
Speaking truthfully, all of the Specialist dungeons guides from his past life had come from the efforts of the top gaming organizations. Only these keen-sighted players, who were fully dedicated to the game, could research all the various, meticulous ways to clear a dungeon. If he recalled correctly, it was a Withered Leaf player that had shown everyone it was possible to clear Sosil Valley at only Level 5 in his past life. The video released as proof on the official website had made many people sigh with admiration.
Tuoba gave a call to someone from Withered Leaf. When he finished talking, he turned to Nie Yan and said, “It’s called the Eternal Night of Silence Set. I’ve already asked them to send it over. I told them you wanted to trade with a set of Level 30 Gold-grade equipment. They said that’s fine, and they’ll cover the rest with money.”
The Eternal Night of Silence Set? Nie Yan’s mind trembled. It was a top-notch Level 20 Thief set that could only be found by running the Sorens Dungeon on Expert. If he put it on, his levelling speed would improve by a considerable amount. After retrieving the Chapter of Justice, it was about time he started focusing on raising his level again anyway.
“One more thing, the guy I’m talking to also said he wants to meet you. He’s the head of Withered Leaf,” Tuoba said, taking Nie Yan by surprise. What did the head of Withered Leaf want to do with him?
1. There’s actually a pun here that’s hard to translate into English. The characters for Asskickers United, 牛人部落, are literally translated as Cow People Tribe. So fledgling Cow People Tribe… newborn calf not fearing the tiger.
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