Yuan Jianzhe was in a terrible mood.
Initially, he’d assumed that Cheng Yang was at most a High-Grade mage, but that was not the case. He had underestimated his opponent, and now his soldiers were paying the ultimate price. Yuan Jianzhe cursed himself for not being more on guard when he discovered Cheng Yang was alone.
If Cheng Yang’s killing ability were the only thing outside Yuan Jianzhe’s calculations, he would have been prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to destroy Cheng Yang. However, his defense was even stronger than his attack! It was as if he was immune to damage entirely.
As such, Yuan Jianzhe was in a dilemma. Should he call off the attack or not? If he did, would Cheng Yang let them go or hunt them down? His best option was to take Liu Wei as a hostage, but she was already a few hundred meters away.
“Commander, that girl with Cheng Yang looked like she was a civilian. She didn’t have any weapons even though she was covered in equipment.” Lao Wu, who was standing next to Yuan Jianzhe, said. “If you’ll let me, I’ll send out an elite team to capture her. She may have some items to boost her speed, but so do we.”
“Damn it.” Yuan Jianzhe swore. “Do it.”
Mere seconds later, a group of twenty soldiers split from the rest of the group and chased after Liu Wei.
Cheng Yang chuckled when he saw that. After holding a brief moment of silence in his heart for Yuan Jianzhe’s elite soldiers, Cheng Yang focused on the battle.
Although he was winning, the battle was currently in an odd equilibrium. The ranged attackers in the back were regularly cycling through who was in range, creating a constant barrage of projectiles. Additionally, the army had discovered that if they drank a potion right when Cheng Yang attacked, it was possible to survive his Petal Blizzard. Of course, that didn’t work for the ranged attackers, and most soldiers only had one or two potions. So, in the end, it only slowed Cheng Yang down.
As for the soldiers Cheng Yang had captured earlier. They had pressed themselves flat against the ground and started praying. Now and then, an arrow or Magic Missile would fly off course and hit one of them. It was a terrifyingly stressful situation.
As the casualties continued to increase, Yuan Jianzhe’s heart wept. Maybe he shouldn’t have attacked Cheng Yang?
How was he going to defeat this human that was more monstrous than any monster?
He’d already seen that a human wave tactic was useless, and he still didn’t know where Cheng Yang’s limit was? He knew a little bit about the leveling system of the gods from the forum, but he had no real way of knowing how much Mana Cheng Yang had. Even if he did, since his soldiers had potions, so would Cheng Yang.
There was also the possibility that Cheng Yang had an item that made his jaw drop: a Spacial Ring. Yuan Jianzhe wasn’t entirely sure if Cheng Yang had one, but Cheng Yang was wearing three rings right now, and Yuan Jianzhe doubted the extra one was decorative.
If he did, then, unless Yuan Jianzhe was willing to sacrifice everyone he brought with him, there was no chance of defeating Cheng Yang.
Should he just throw in the towel? If he did, either Cheng Yang would hunt them down until they reached the safe zone, or he’d have to agree to some very unreasonable conditions. Yuan Jianzhe was unwilling to let either of those things happen.
Even worse than that, his authority and prestige in the safe zone would plummet. Although Yuan Jianzhe wasn’t particularly concerned with his image, there were plenty of rabid dogs that would try and take his place if he gave them an opening.
However, if he didn’t order a retreat soon, his soldiers might desert him. He could already tell that the endless sacrifices with nothing to show for it was wearing his soldiers down.
Even worse was Cheng Yang’s attitude. With his strength, he could have easily walked over and killed Yuan Jianzhe. Instead, he stood in place as if he were waiting for them to surrender.
Yuan Jianzhe’s guess was actually spot on. Cheng Yang considered him more useful alive than dead. If Yuan Jianzhe were to die, he would be able to finish this battle quickly, but the safe zone would descend into chaos as different factions tried to fill the power vacuum. Cheng Yang much preferred Cloud City to hold a single docile tiger instead of a pack of rabid wolves.
One of those wolves was Lu Chenguang, the commander of the second militia. She was a businesswoman, and right now, she was like a shark that smelled blood.
Since her subordinates had discovered the instance dungeon, Lu Chenguang was allowed to join Yuan Jianzhe in clearing it. But, when she arrived, she saw that an enemy had captured those same subordinates. This put her in a tricky situation since the loss of a hundred soldiers would allow the other militia commanders to surpass her.
Now, however, the heavens were smiling down on her and turning her disasters into fortunes. It wasn’t hard to see the dilemma Yuan Jianzhe was in, and only she, Lu Chenguang, could help him resolve it.
“Commander Yuan, do you think you could listen to my humble request. If this battle drags on much longer, all of my captured subordinates will be killed by their allies. Since we cannot easily defeat Cheng Yang right now, I beg you to call for a cease-fire and negotiate for the release of my comrades!” Lu Chenguang pleaded. If Yuan Jianzhe accepted her request, she would be able to secure her militia members’ safety, and it would seem like her opinion was highly valued by the current leader of the safe zone.
It was a shrewd play, and even though Yuan Jianzhe saw right through it, there was no way he could refuse! At least this way, it wouldn’t seem like he was a coward but rather someone who listened to his advisors.
“Cease fire! All soldiers stand down.” Now that he was given an out, Yuan Jianzhe didn’t hesitate to take it.
To the soldiers fighting Cheng Yang, Yuan Jianzhe’s words were the sweetest music. They immediately retreated, and when they did, Cheng Yang didn’t pursue them. He just looked calmly into Yuan Jianzhe’s eyes.
“Cheng Yang, you’ve won this fight. I concede this instance dungeon to you on one condition: you must release the prisoners you captured. Otherwise, I will bring back the tens of thousands of soldiers in the safe zone and utterly annihilate you.” Yuan Jianzhe reluctantly called out.
In response, Cheng Yang just laughed. “The result won’t change whether it’s two thousand or twenty-thousand soldiers. I’ll win, and if I don’t, I can always retreat. In that case, I’ll harass your soldiers from afar and whittle your numbers down until they’re manageable. I wonder, after a few days of that, would your tens of thousands of soldiers even dare to leave the comfort of the safe zone?”
Yuan Jianzhe cursed Cheng Yang in his heart. There was nothing he could do about that bastard until his soldiers leveled up.
“What are your conditions?” Yuan Jianzhe asked through gritted teeth.
“Its very simple, you might become a threat in the future, so immediately kill yourself and disband your army. Then, I’ll release the prisoners.
“That’s not something I can do!” Yuan Jianzhe was barely able to maintain a straight face. If he did that, what would happen to all the civilians in the safe zone? He wasn’t the most charitable person, but he had read some horror stories on the forums and didn’t trust his militia commanders to act appropriately in his absence.
“It seems your not a sincere man Commander Yuan. First, you try to take away my instance dungeon, and then you try and kill me, do you really think you have the right to bargain with me?”
Then Cheng Yang pointed his stave at one of the prisoners and executed him with an Icicle Blast.
“You…” Yuan Jianzhe knew this was the worst day of his life. If Cheng Yang was deadset on the dissolution of the army, there was nothing he could do to stop him from killing all of the prisoners. If that happened, his authority would fall even further than it already had.
Cheng Yang, of course, had no intention to make Yuan Jianzhe accept his unreasonable demand. This was just a way to force the commander to his limits. That way, Cheng Yang could take everything he wanted from him.
“Are we clear now, Commander Yuan?” Cheng Yang asked.
“I simply can not accept that demand. If the army is disbanded, the hundred of thousands of civilians relying on me will be reduced to monster food.” Yuan Jianzhe said carefully. “Please, if possible, name any other condition for their release.”
Cheng Yang grinned. This was precisely what he was waiting for!