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Chapter 234 – Tuoba Family Head

    Chapter 234 - Tuoba Family Head

    Nie Yan stocked up on some consumables while still in Calore, taking whatever potions that he thought might come in handy from the Starry Night Potion Shop. Items that players couldn't bear to use under normal circumstances were all stuffed into his bags.

    Walking out of the Starry Night Potion, Nie Yan headed over to the Jewelcrafter, where he socketed the Skywalker Set with Defense Gems before upgrading it to +5.

    Nie Yan wrapped up his preparations and was about to set out for the transfer area when he received a call from Aqua Smoke Stub.「About today's matter, I'd like you to thank all the brothers in the guild on my behalf. If not for your help, Withered Leaf would've been wiped out in Twilight Forest, and it would've been even more difficult to give my boss an explanation.」

    Nie Yan chuckled lightly.「You've already thanked those who should be thanked.」

    「My withdrawing of Withered Leaf without giving any prior notice was indeed a bit rude as well as unprofessional. I still have some matters to sort out, so returning today is probably out of the question. But I can promise we'll be back in Asskickers United by tommorow at the latest.」

    「No problem. I'm sure everyone over here will be happy to welcome you guys back. The entrance to the guild headquarters is always open to you.」Nie Yan found Smoke Stub speaking in such a solemn tone a bit odd but nothing too concerning. Having weathered through this storm, he felt confident Withered Leaf would never betray Asskickers United.

    Nie Yan chatted with Smoke Stub for a while longer before hanging up. After arriving at the transfer area, he stepped onto the transfer point and teleported to Sonia Town where he departed from the north gate.

    A dim glow blanketed the Sonia Moonlit Woodland. It was the former homeland of the white elves which later became the territory of the humans. Although its original inhabitants had migrated long ago, traces of their civilization could still be found if one looked hard enough. It was now home to wild beasts, such as the Moon Bear, which were all Level 35 monsters.

    The magical energy enveloping the Moonlit Woodland was much denser than on the outside, so Mages levelling here would receive a 30% boost to their magic power. Of course, the creatures that inhabited such an environment would similarly possess formidable magic capabilities as well. Even at Level 35, those who could level here were limited to only the strong, top-class players.

    After going through several major battles, Nie Yan grew all the more aware of the importance of gear quality. Although his Skywalker Set and Splitting Edge were still passable, the rest of his equipment could only be plainly described as mediocre. With his status as the guild leader of Asskickers United, it was indeed a bit shameful if everything he wore wasn't the best.

    However, to piece together a full set of godly equipment which could be worn even at end-game was truly no simple task!

    One step at a time, I suppose... Nie Yan helplessly shook his head.

    Everything would start from completing the first volume of the Book of Order!

    Nie Yan entered the woodland where he spotted the silhouettes of several Moon Bears roaming between the trees. They were particularly tough to deal with when they were allowed to buff themselves. Even though he was strong enough to deal with several at once, he'd rather not waste his time.

    He activated Stealth before heading straight for the heart of the Moonlit Woodland.

    Nie Yan spotted all sorts of magical plants growing in his surroundings, but unfortunately, the rank of his Gatherer skill was nowhere near high enough to harvest them.

    He flitted past one Moon Bear after another. They were giant white bears with distinct blue moon and star patterns covering their chests. Possessing naturally robust, towering frames, they emanated an aura of unrivalled strength.

    Moon Bear: Level 35

    Health: 2,200/2,200

    The most powerful tool at a Moon Bear's disposal was Seismic Slam, a knockback skill which stunned the opponent. Very few Warriors would dare to confront them head-on without the support of a Priest.

    Nie Yan followed the ancient trails left behind by the white elves as he travelled further into the woodland. He could practically feel the Chapter of Virtue beckoning to him. Of course, this was simply all in his head, but he couldn't help but get excited with the final chapter from the Book of Order almost within reach.

    ...

    Holy Faith Cathedral, a place of worship where some residents of Calore would often go to pray.

    Aqua Smoke Stub, clad in the War God's Doctrine Set, arrived outside of the cathedral's entrance. Stepping through the doorway, his gaze swept over everyone in the hall before finally falling on a player seated among the dense rows. He was dressed in adorned white robes with the appearance of a middle-aged man in his 50s. Though he was somewhat getting on in his years, he was still healthy and full of vigor.

    "Boss," Smoke Stub greeted. Because of the contract between them, even someone as prideful as him had no choice but to lower his head in front of this person.

    This man was the head of the Tuoba household, a legendary figure. He alone brought the family to the peak by establishing the Tuoba Family Dynasty.

    "Good, you've arrived. I heard you took everyone in Withered Leaf with you to confront Azure Falling Sky. Do you know the consequences of your actions?" Tuoba Hongye's dignified voice carried a trace of anger.

    "I do."

    "Then, tell me, why did you still do it?"

    "I had to... for the sake of all the brothers in the guild! Although how this matter developed was outside of my expectations..." Smoke Stub wore a resolute expression as he stared at Tuoba Hongye.

    "You must remember that Withered Leaf is a business. And the sole purpose of a business is to earn money, not engaging in feuds left and right." Tuoba Hongye coldly stared at Smoke Stub. Out of all his subordinates, only Smoke Stub dared to show him such attitude. That proud, unyielding look really aggravated him.

    "You're right, the sole purpose of Withered Leaf is to earn a profit. But the people there aren't your money-making machines! Nor do I have to remind you of the fact that all the members of Withered Leaf are free after fulfilling their obligations!" Smoke Stub replied in a solemn tone.

    "Hmph! Your behaviour negatively influences the operations of Withered Leaf. I have the right to manage an organization I own. Also, since you've already withdrawn from Asskickers United, don't bother returning. I recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Cao Xu Century Financial Group. Withered Leaf will be entering Victorious Return for the contracted period of time," Tuoba Hongye informed. He had attempted countless times but always failed to rein in Smoke Stub's prideful nature.

    "Why? We've signed a contract with Asskickers United. We'll incur severe penalties if we violate it!" Smoke Stub asked in shock. Tuoba Hongye wanted Withered Leaf to betray Asskickers United for Victorious Return? He would never allow such a thing!

    "The Cao Xu Century Financial Group is willing to pay the penalty fee. Withered Leaf will be joining Victorious Return first thing tomorrow. This is related to the Tuoba Family's interests," Tuoba Hongye curtly replied, leaving no room for questions.

    "I will not withdraw from Asskickers United, nor will I join Victorious Return! Asskickers United saved the brothers of Withered Leaf today. I, Aqua Smoke Stub, will never let down a friend!" Smoke Stub stubbornly declared. Before arriving at this meeting, he mentally prepared himself to receive Tuoba Hongye's thundering fury, but he never expected that he would be ordered to join Victorious Return. This development caught him off guard.

    "You want to go against my orders? Don't forget your position!" Tuoba Hongye's eyes narrowed. Smoke Stub was nothing more than one of the countless employees under the Tuoba Family Financial Group. How dare he talk back in such a manner!?

    "I solemnly declare that even if it means quitting Withered Leaf, I will never let down a friend!" Smoke Stub said unwaveringly. If he abandoned Asskickers United to join Victorious Return right now, what kind of person would he be!?

    "According to our contract, if you quit Withered Leaf within a ten-year period, you'll have to pay an early termination fee of ¥50,000,000. I reckon all the money you've painstakingly earned over the last five or so years only amounts to that much. And don't forget. Without the protection of the Tuoba Family, do you think you can continue working as you are?" Tuoba Hongye sneered. Letting Withered Leaf join Victorious Return concerned a cooperative relationship between the Tuoba Family and the Cao Xu Century Financial Group. Smoke Stub couldn't refuse even if he wished to!

    "If that's the case, I can only choose to withdraw from Withered Leaf. From now on, I have nothing to do with the organization! The ¥50,000,000 fee I owe will be paid in full. Tuoba Hongye, even if you take away everything I have, I will never betray a friend's trust!" Smoke Stub's eyes flashed with a cold light as though he were a man-eating beast.

    "You ungrateful bastard! Scram from my sight!" Tuoba Hongye roared in anger. He refused to believe for a second that Smoke Stub could still get by after leaving Withered Leaf!

    Smoke Stub no longer paid attention to Tuoba Hongye who was hurling out an unending barrage of abuse. As he made his way to the door, he softly said, "No need to remind me. I'll be returning this War God's Doctrine Set to Withered Leaf!"

    Stepping out of the Holy Faith Cathedral, Smoke Stub raised his head to look up at the sky and revealed a genuine, childlike smile. It felt truly freeing to be unshackled from such a heavy burden. Even though he lost six years' worth of savings... good or bad, that was the price he paid for freedom. Besides, he felt the idea of operating as a free agent didn't sound so bad.

    Since he was going to be departing from Withered Leaf, Smoke Stub genuinely hoped that every single one of his brothers would go on to lead fruitful careers.

    Smoke Stub glanced at the Withered Leaf group chat. The brothers there were still excitedly discussing today's events. They were looking forward to returning to Asskickers United.

    He really didn't wish to rain on their parade by being the bearer of bad news, but he had no choice but to inform everyone of the latest development.「I'm sorry, guys... Withered Leaf won't be returning to Asskickers United. Tuoba Hongye just decided that the organization will be joining Victorious Return first thing tomorrow!」

    Smoke Stub's words was akin to a stone evoking a thousand waves, giving rise to the displeasure of these brothers.

    「Boss! Join Victorious Return? How can we do that!?」Cold Peak cried out.

    「Right! We'll really be letting down the brothers in Asskickers United by doing this!」Wood Grace chimed in.

    All the other Withered Leaf players immediately echoed Cold Peak and Wood Grace's words.

    「The Tuoba Family is working together with the Cao Xu Century Financial Group. One of the conditions is that Withered Leaf joins Victorious Return. I, Aqua Smoke Stub, will never let down any brother, including those in Asskickers United. Because of this, I've decided to quit Withered Leaf. So, everyone, this is goodbye. I wish you all the best as well as a bright future,」Smoke Stub said. Although he spoke in a calm tone, to the players of Withered Leaf, these words rang like thunder in their ears.

    「Boss! Have you gone mad!? Aren't you afraid of the penalty fee? You'll have to fork over ¥50,000,000. That's almost six years' worth of income!」Cold Peak asked in shock.

    「It's just money, that's all. What's there to be afraid of? As long as I have both my hands and feet, I'll never starve to death!」Smoke Stub let out a light-hearted laugh. He had come to accept that he could only keep moving forward.
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