Chapter 731 – Comrades in a Past Life
Giving himself a hard pinch, Han Lei grimaced in pain. He wasn’t dreaming.
“You really remind me of an old friend of mine back in middle school. His name was Han Lei. I only came over here to ask,” Nie Yan said. He swept his eyes over Han Lei’s face. The overall impression this fellow gave was still the same. A big burly guy in Mage robes really did look a bit funny.
“Y-you’re right. My name is Han Lei. And you are…?” Han Lei asked with a stunned face. Did he really know Nirvana Flame?
“I’m Nie Yan.” Nie Yan chuckled.
“I know you’re Nirvana Fla-” Han Lei’s face flashed with a sudden realization. “W-wait, Nie Yan!?”
Nie Yan nodded with a smile.
Han Lei shot up to his feet with an overjoyed look and firmly patted Nie Yan’s shoulders. The more he looked, the more familiar he appeared. “Damn. What a small world! Nirvana Flame, huh…? You really made a name for yourself. You’re basically the overlord of the entire Viridian Empire! I can’t believe it’s you! My head is spinning! Back then, you…”
Han Lei compared their heights. He recalled Nie Yan was just a short, scrawny kid back then. Nothing like this tall and muscular man standing in front of him. Every little action he made carried the air of a peak master.
Or perhaps the reputation of Nirvana Flame was just too glorious, and it was influencing his perception. Han Lei couldn’t help but feel like he was gazing up at a towering mountain. However, the two of them were close childhood friends. This sort of bond transcended everything and melted away any feelings of awkwardness.
“What about Tang Yao? How’s that fella doing?” Han Lei asked.
“Tang Yao? He’s doing good. Ever heard of the name Young Sparrow Hawk?” Nie Yan replied.
“W-what!? Tang Yao is Young Sparrow Hawk?” Han Lei’s eyes widened in shock. “I always thought we were about the same when it came to skill. To think he’s actually the Young Sparrow Hawk who dominated the leaderboards for over half a year! Seriously, what is up with this world!?”
Young Sparrow Hawk was also an extremely famous player in the Viridian Empire.
His two best childhood friends, Tang Yao and Nie Yan, had become such awesome figures in the few years since he last saw them. Han Lei felt like his brain stopped working.
Nie Yan chuckled. Han Lei’s way of speaking was still the same.
“Say, how did you recognize me?” Han Lei asked. He still had a hard time wrapping his head around this situation.
“I don’t know… If I had to say, it would be one part gut feeling, one part the unique way you speak, and one part your appearance,” Nie Yan teased.
Han Lei ruminated for a while. Nie Yan’s explanation did seem plausible. He no longer thought about it.
“Interested in joining Asskickers United?”
“R-really? You mean it? I’d love to join! Man, is this what it’s like to have a childhood friend become famous?” Han Lei laughed. He gladly accepted Nie Yan’s invite.
“You’ll still have to pass the entrance test like everyone else, but I can provide you with some equipment,” Nie Yan said. He would start feeling uncomfortable if Han Lei was reserved with him.
“As long as I have some good gear, the test will be a breeze,” Han Lei said, beating his chest confidently. “Oh, right. I also have a group of close friends.”
“The more, the merrier. They’re invited to join as well,” Nie Yan said. The faces of those old teammates still remained fresh in his mind. Fatty, Hottie, and Doctor, he wondered how those guys were doing.
In the previous timeline, they had gone through thick and thin together as a team before going their separate ways. Nie Yan was left with many regrets. Finally in this life, he could make it up to them. Back when he was being hunted down by Victorious Return, he had ended up implicating the team and exposed them to danger. Even to this day, he was still wracked with guilt over this matter.
“You’ll really do that for me!? Awesome!” Han Lei said happily. With this, he had nothing to worry about.
While the two of them were chatting, five players walked over. They didn’t pay any attention to Nie Yan. A Priest in white robes approached Han Lei and greeted, “Lively, how’s it going? Did you sell those items yet?”
“Huh, don’t tell me you didn’t sell a single thing?” a fiery lass in crimson leather armour tutted while shaking her head.
“I told you setting up a stall won’t work. Just throw them up on the auction house. Even if the commission fee is a tad expensive, you’ll have a lot more eyes seeing them, not to mention you won’t have to haggle over the price.” The Priest happened to turn his head at this moment. His expression froze as he pointed his finger at Nie Yan. “W-wait…!? A-aren’t y- a-aren’t you Nirvana Flame!?” He stumbled over his words. Suddenly, his eyes fell on his finger. Realizing how rude he was being, he didn’t know half how fast he had to withdraw his hand.
The fiery lass was just about to say something to Han Lei. However, sensing something off with Doctor, she shot a glance at Nie Yan. Her eyes immediately went round in shock.
“A-asskickers United’s, Nirvana Flame…?” the lass muttered in disbelief.
The several other players in the group also turned their attention to Nie Yan. When they saw his face, their faces paled as if they had seen a ghost.
Seeing the reactions of his teammates, Han Lei’s lips curved into a faint smirk. Their reactions were even more extreme than his. Hehe… shocking, right?
“Alright, settle down guys. You’re embarrassing even me,” Han Lei said, feigning indifference.
“H-hah…!?” A pudgy-looking Warrior turned to Han Lei with a look of shock. “B-boss, you guys know each other?”
“Of course I do, he’s a close friend of mine,” Han Lei explained. He closely observed the expressions of his comrades.
“Nirvana Flame… Nirvana Flame is a close friend of the boss…?” Fatty felt his head spin. He glanced back at Hottie and Doctor. All of them shared the same look of disbelief.
When Hottie and Doctor looked at Han Lei, their eyes were sparkling with stars. Their original impression of Han Lei was that he was a thick skinned fellow but a loyal friend. Sometimes you really wanted to give him a beating, especially when he started showing off about the smallest of things. But this time, their view of him was completely turned on its head. He was friends with the Nirvana Flame, yet he never once boasted about it. Rather, he never even mentioned it. They were genuinely impressed.
“Boss, I have to admit. I misjudged you,” Hottie said. Her appearance was pretty good. Her collar slightly exposed her impressive cleavage. She was the type of alluring beauty that got your blood pumping. Her leather armour was cut short, exposing her flat stomach. However, if you treated her as just a pretty face, you would be in for a rude awakening. She was a tomboy through and through and was even crazier in battle than most men. She was like a little chilli pepper.
“Hehe… You praise me too much.” Han Lei chuckled. Standing by his side, Nie Yan couldn’t help but feel his face redden from embarrassment.
Nie Yan formed a wry smile on his face. He knew exactly what kind of personality Han Lei had. However, he was a loyal friend. This was one of the things Nie Yan appreciated most about him. So, he didn’t expose him.
Nie Yan inspected all six of them with Transcendent Insight. Their average level was over 110, but most of the equipment on their bodies was only Level 90, with only a few pieces of Level 100+ equipment. This was fairly normal, though. More and more players were reaching Level 100. However, the drop rate of Level 100+ equipment was fairly low. So, most Level 100+ players were still stuck wearing Level 90 equipment.
In the previous timeline, when Nie Yan reached Level 100, he didn’t have a single piece of Level 100 equipment. Han Lei, Hottie, Fatty, and Doctor had pooled together all their funds, even going into debt for him, to help him obtain some. Though the others had also helped, it was only a shallow gesture. So, Nie Yan felt a lot of attachment to these four especially.
“Better start preparing. In a few days, we’ll be taking the entrance test to join Asskickers United. Don’t embarrass me when you’re taking the test.” Han Lei laughed.
“I don’t think any of us are lacking in the skills department, but we don’t have any decent equipment. Even a clever housewife can’t cook without rice,” Fatty said in a pinch. The six of them weren’t even enough to form a team. So, they had no way of running dungeons. Simply farming mobs couldn’t net you any good equipment. As for the pieces of equipment on sale in the auction house, they were far too expensive.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll have someone come deliver some equipment to you guys,” Nie Yan said. Han Lei’s group would probably be more than satisfied with any of the equipment in the treasury.
“T-this… is that really alright?” Fatty didn’t feel too good about accepting Nie Yan’s offer.
Hottie and Doctor shared the same thoughts as Fatty. After all, they weren’t too close with Nie Yan. Receiving so much from him was a little…
This was the difference between strangers and friends. If it were the previous timeline, these three wouldn’t hesitate for a second and gladly accept it.
Thinking to this point, Nie Yan couldn’t help but sigh. That aspect of their relationship where they could freely crack jokes at each other and share in joy and sorrow was likely gone forever.
“Han Lei is my brother, a close childhood friend. We pretty much grew up together in diapers. No need to be courteous with me. If you really can’t accept it, just consider it me loaning you this equipment. You’ll still need to return it to me. Besides, when you join Asskickers United, you’ll also be considered one of us,” Nie Yan said.
Han Lei was deeply touched. Despite so many years passing and the differences in their position, Nie Yan still cherished their friendship. He inwardly vowed to himself that Nie Yan would be his brother for life.
Hottie, Doctor, Fatty, and the others glanced at each other, then sank into silence.
“Since you say it like that, I guess we have no choice but to take you up on your offer. If you need anything from us in the future, anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“Alright.” Nie Yan nodded. Having the same relationship with Hottie, Fatty, and the others as in his past life wasn’t possible for the time being. So, he could only drop the subject.
Before long, an Asskickers United player came over. They brought a large pile of Level 100+ Dark Gold-grade equipment. These items were nothing in Nie Yan’s eyes. The guild treasury was filled with them. But to Han Lei, Hottie, Doctor, Fatty, and the others, it was everything.
After changing into this new equipment, their levelling speed would increase by at least fivefold. Their damage, defense, and other stats would far surpass their peers. They could even attract players to join them in dungeon runs. If they wanted to join a team, they would be more than welcome given their equipment. No one in their right mind would turn them away.
Seeing this equipment, Hottie, Doctor, Fatty, and the others were incredibly excited. One had to know, these were items that before today they could only dream about.
Han Lei placed his hand on Nie Yan’s shoulder with a deeply moved look. “Brother, thank you.”