Aincrad, 75th-floor, Collinia, teleport plaza...
There are about 50 players wandering around the plaza. They were paired in groups of 5-6 players. They were chatting but their grim faces suggested that they weren't here to play. They were acting like soldiers who are about to enter the battlefield.
Nobody could blame them for behaving like that. They are all elites of elites who were assembled by Heathcliff for the purpose of taking down the floor boss of the 75th floor.
They more or less knew about the enhanced difficulty of the floor boss this time. It is going to be a boss like they have never seen before, the few that did are no longer around. Nobody joked or anything, a tense mood lingered around the plaza. It's like there is an invisible miasama clouding the hearts of eveyrone here.
As if to stay clear of the clearers on this monumental day, the average players chose to stay away from the teleport plaza, leaving it rather spacious for the frontliners to move about. On normal days, this place would be filled with foolhardy players who are here to make a killing, the riskier the hunting grounds, the better the rewards for farming it.
Today, however, none were present.
The players kept to themselves. Just when they are busy discussing about strategies or praying to their respective gods for protection, the teleport gate started flashing, catching everyone's attention.
There are only frontliners here. so the newcomers must be clearers too. They are going to be busy watching themselves in battle so they needed to make sure the newcomers can handle their own weight in battle, that's why they were looking at the gate to check the newcomers.
Imaigne the surprise in their eyes when the newcomers' identity were revealed.
Wu Yan and Kirito has arrived!
The two looked around as they descended the teleport platform. They walked towards an empty corner like proper solo players who rather hanged out with themselves than to mingle with others. If the two of them didn't come here together, they would probably take up two spots by themselves rather than one spot.
Dumbfounded, the players with a quicker wit regained their senses, the dead mood from before dissipated completely!
"Hey... My eyes must be playing a trick on me. Isn't that Wu Yan? The Fae Swordsman, Wu Yan?..."
"Yeah! That's him, alright! His black coat, black sword, I don't see the healing fairy anywhere but he has another sword strapped to his waist, he's Wu Yan the Dual Blade user!"
"The Fae Swordsman?! The strongest player is joining us on this raid?..."
The players started dancing in joy.
This is the legendary player who took down floors on his own!
If that's not assuring I don't know what is.
Kirito looked at the other players who needed to chill. He threw Wu Yan a bitter smile. He was shocked initially but he quickly recovered.
"See that? Look at the frontliners who are hyped just because you're here. This is how famous you are..."
Wu Yan pursed his lips.
"What's there to be excited about? Wait till they hear about me hogging the loot, I am pretty sure they are going to invent a thousand reasons why I shouldn't have participated, these calculating bungholes..."
"Isn't that just fine?"
"At least you can give them some much-needed morale, I am sure they are going to participate even more actively with you around. Heck, if you're not careful, someone might steal the last-hit from you..."
Wu Yan raised an eyebrow.
"You're not saying you're going to do something dirty like that, right?..."
Kirito shrugged. Just when Wu Yan thought he's going to follow-up with a statement of his non-intention to kill-steal, Kirito said...
"I am definitely going to throw a few of my fanciful attacks in when the boss is low on HP..."
A voice interrupted them. It was Souta, Klein, and Agil. They were grinning happily at the both of them.
"You guys came too?..."
"We are all frontliners here! Plus we are the guild masters of clearing guilds, how can we excuse ourselves from a fight like this?!"
"I didn't expect this..."
Souta grabbed Wu Yan's shoulder with starry eyes.
"With you here, the boss fight will be a cinch!"
Wu Yan wasn't sure whether he should laugh or cry.
You guys give me too much credit.
"I may not be a guild master but I would like to think of myself as a clearer..."
Agil stood with a straightened back.
"Plus, I reckon the floor boss has the best loot on this entire floor, I am not going give up a profitable venture like this."
"Oh? You better watch your back then..."
Kirito pointed at Wu Yan with a cheeky smile on his face.
"Yan is here for the last-hit loot. He promised to keep the loot so crying won't do you any good when he kills the boss!"
Agil gasped at Wu Yan who was smiling radiantly for some reason.
"How is that possible?..."
"Gosh, you have no idea..."
"He's technically not a part of the raid group, Heathcliff invited him here and he agreed to let him monopolize any loot he receives, your dissent will hardly change the pre-determined decision."
Agil gnashed his teeth and he angrily yelled.
"That Heathcliff, I know he's the leader and all but how can he decide on his own like this? What about our profit?!..."
"Well, who knows..."
Kirito said with a scahdenfraude-laden tone.
"Go ask Heathcliff yourself..."
Agil sucked back all his anger and frustration. He tried to cut a deal with Wu Yan by swiftly changing his scowl into a business smile.
"Look, Yan, let's talk about this. I am sure you're a big man, a big man can part way with 10% of his gains, right? Come on, it's not a huge ask, I just want a slight cut of the pie..."
Wu Yan, Kirito, Klein, and Souta rolled their eyes at him.
Heathcliff arrived with his lieutenants while the five were busy busting each other's balls. The frontliners all turned silent when the captain arrived.
Heathcliff took out a larger-than-normal crystal, it was a pillar shaped crystal.
That's a corridor crystal. It works just like a teleport crystal but it can set up waypoints and allow for multiple players to be teleported. However, it can only be used once just like other crystals. Otherwise, it would be on par if not better than the crystal Sachi obtained when she got her quest-exclusive group teleportation crystal.
The corridor crystal in Heathcliff's hand crumbled. A shimmering portal opened up, it stayed there as the portal opened up to the space before the boss room just like a corridor that crossed space.
The other players exchanged a look before they entered the portal after Heathcliff & co has gone into the portal.
Their vision wavered for a short while before they found themselves in a dimly-lit corridor. In front of them, a grand and heavy door stood towering above them.
Heathcliff slammed his shield into the ground as he addressed everyone.
"Everyone, are you done with your preparations?..."
All 50 players nodded with a grave expresssions. Heathcliff glanced at Wu Yan one last time before he turned towards the grand door.
"Then, let's do this!"
The boss room's door slowly opened...