Chapter 180 - The Wheat within the Mud
Foe-herder steadily walked forward as his head became filled with covetous thoughts.
The covetous thoughts were not about the lady but the quest that she was doing. Is there really a quest here? Foe-herder had not heard anything about this before. We are both Warriors, so this quest might be beneficial to me as well, he continued to ponder on inside. Foe-herder felt that he should try to find out more about the quest here first. While successfully poaching Gu Fei would bolster his guild, successfully obtaining an important quest would bolster himself.
The choices were either to let his guild bask in potential glory or to let himself enjoy the limelight. Foe-herder did not even hesitate to choose the latter. “Ahem!” he coughed to get the lady’s attention when he got near her, “Babe, what are you doing here?”
“Quest,” the lady replied. With people being bolder inside a game, male players striking up a conversation with female players was actually a common occurrence, so most ladies were already used to such a situation.
“Oh. What quest is this?” Foe-herder continued to ask nonchalantly.
“It’s called ‘The Wheat within the Mud’,” the lady honestly replied.
Every quest had a unique name, and Foe-herder had never heard of such a quest before this lady mentioned it to him. Although the quest’s name sounded very plain, determining a quest’s quality by its name alone would be very foolish. It was like judging a book solely by its cover.
Foe-herder excitedly and carefully asked, “How did you obtain it?”
“Just talk to the NPC here,” the lady answered as she began to knock on the door before her.
A hunchbacked old man, with eyes reflecting his years of accumulated experience, opened the door. The sight of the elderly man caused Foe-herder to feel emotional. Old men would often leave behind a valuable inheritance. The game designers seemed to agree with this train of thought as they would often create mysterious old men that would hand out certain secret quests. With the old man being hidden in such a secluded part of the city, it gave off the vibe that this was a hidden quest that would only get triggered when the players coincidentally knocked on his door.
“Young one, do me a favor. I’ve scattered some wheat over by the marketplace. Can you please help me find it? Remember, you must find the wheat within five minutes; otherwise, it will be taken by someone else,” was what the old man said as he handed the quest to the lady Warrior.
The lady swiftly left after this. Foe-herder wanted to approach the old man next, yet the old codger completely ignored him and merely closed the door.
Foe-herder hurriedly knocked on that door, worried that the quest would no longer be available since the lady had already gotten a hold of it.
The door opened and the old man appeared once more, gazing at Foe-herder and repeating his instruction to the lady before. Foe-herder promptly agreed to his request and the quest ‘Wheat within the Mud’ appeared on his quest log.
Nothing out of the ordinary could be gleaned from the quest description, which made Foe-herder quite suspicious of it as he headed to the marketplace.
The marketplace that the NPC was talking about was not one of the Peddlers’ Streets that the players had established. Rather, it was the system-created marketplace where the NPC and player merchants gathered to sell products that the system had provided. The street was not as crowded or as boisterous as Peddlers’ Streets, but quite a lot of players were still passing through it. Foe-herder searched the entire marketplace, yet he still came up with nothing. Could it be that the lady has already picked up all the wheat, which resulted into me being unable to find any? Foe-herder saw the lady leave just as he arrived at the marketplace.
Very soon, Foe-herder’s five-minute deadline was up. A system prompt rang out and the quest was tagged as ‘failure’.
“This quest isn’t easy!” Foe-herder was visibly moved by this. At this moment in time, he saw the lady appear in the marketplace once more.
When she caught sight of Foe-herder, she smiled, “Did you grab the quest, too?”
Foe-herder nodded his head.
“Did you manage to find the wheat, then?”
Foe-herder shook his head.
“He he!” A strange smile appeared on the lady’s face as she unhurriedly told him, “Gotta use your head a bit more!”
Foe-herder tried to carefully decipher what the lady meant, yet he was still at a loss.
A minute later, the lady asked him, “Have you gotten it?”
Foe-herder shook his head to demonstrate his cluelessness.
“He he he! What’s the name of the quest?” the lady asked.
“‘Wheat within the Mud’,” Foe-herder answered.
“Correct!” The lady congratulated him, yet Foe-herder could still not make sense of it.
“That means that the wheat can be found inside the mud!” the lady explained in a voice that sounded as if she was saying something very obvious.
“Eh?!” Foe-herder exclaimed, stunned.
“Take a look!” the lady said as she walked to a corner where a ragged piece of cloth could be seen on top of a pile of mud. Exerting force on it, she pulled out the small bag from within. “This is the wheat from within the mud! Good luck!” The lady happily exclaimed to Foe-herder before leaving once more.
Foe-herder was dumbfounded. He realized that he had made a simple problem complex by overthinking things. This was basically a beginner quest that required players to ‘find an item’. This sort of quests that had items hidden in random places was often criticized by the players. And yet, the lady kept on repeating this quest. What would be the point in doing so if it truly was just a simple quest?
Foe-herder believed that there must be something to this, so he once more went to the old codger to retry the quest.
He might know how to achieve the goal now, but finding a ragged piece of cloth that indicated the presence of the wheat was not easy, causing him to fail the quest once more. Before long, Foe-herder had repeated the quest seven times. Rummaging through every inch of the mud in the whole marketplace, he finally managed to accomplish the quest in the allocated five minutes.
Foe-herder excitedly bellowed as he rushed back to where he had gotten the quest and handed the small bag of wheat to the old man.
“Thank you, young man! Your help has been invaluable!” the old man said as he handed the quest reward over. Foe-herder took it and gave it a look: 10 silver coins.
“What the…” Foe-herder mumbled to himself. He did all that just for this measly reward? Foe-herder felt indignant. If it was just this pittance, why would the lady do the quest repeatedly? Foe-herder looked around and realized that the lady was no longer around, so he quickly messaged the members in charge of tailing her. The members were even more at a loss as they asked, “Boss, didn’t you already make contact with her?”
“Uhm… That…” Foe-herder found it really awkward to admit that he had placed his personal interest above the guild’s future.
They had actually lost sight of the target on their third attempt. At the same time, Foe-herder remained deeply skeptical about what had happened. “It’s such a simple quest, why did she have to repeat it so many times?”
This question floated in Foe-herder’s mind. Sadly, the two members had not kept watch over the situation; otherwise, they would have enlightened him: “Guild Leader, you have repeated the same quest seven times as well....”
However, the real task at hand still had to be done. Someone reported seeing a lady of Amethyst Rebirth window shopping over by the Trade Exchange by herself. Foe-herder immediately headed over once he got this news. He stepped into the Trade Exchange platform for about five seconds before leaving. As the two members guarding the entrance felt perplexed, Foe-herder angrily chided, “Trying to bribe Svelte Dancer? Are you two brainless dolts?!”
Failure… Foe-herder’s monetary assault had been met with failure in the end, and it was an absolutely overwhelming defeat, too.
Foe-herder recalled what a certain lady had spat out at him: “Hmph! Getting someone’s name from us isn’t a big deal, but for you to actually attempt bribing us, what sort of people do you take us for?!”
Foe-herder was devastated! Had he found the lady from the start, he would not have to spend a cent to get the Mage’s name. Now that it had gotten to this point, he had ended up pissing off every Amethyst Rebirth’s lady to the point that they refused to reveal the OP Mage’s IGN. Foe-herder and his guild were now viewed with utmost contempt by the ladies. Moreover, he was unaware of something that would figuratively leave him in tears.
Gu Fei had also logged into the game that afternoon. Seeing the many little posters all over the city looking for him and feeling sympathetic at the colossal effort that those people had expended to find him, Gu Fei decided to get in touch with them. But due to Foe-herder’s deplorable actions, the ladies indirectly convinced Gu Fei to do otherwise.
“Hmph! Did he think he can do whatever he wants by just offering money as compensation?” was spat out by the number one pay-to-win player Svelte Dancer, which made the statement more impactful despite its irony. If even she thought of it this way, this meant that Foe-herder was indeed a dastardly individual.
“Money is not everything!” all the ladies cried out in unison, as they began to digress from the topic at hand.
“Just what are you all talking about?!” Gu Fei, who had been dragged into the discussion after getting online, perplexedly asked.
As the de facto spokesperson of the guild, July explained the general situation to him. “Quite a lot of guilds out there are trying to recruit you. Do give us a heads-up if you plan to leave the guild.” She would always pick up this professional tone whenever she spoke for the guild. Although July approved of Gu Fei’s presence in Amethyst Rebirth and did not wish to see him leave, she nevertheless showed an attitude that respected his wishes.
A guild where every member was happy was July’s biggest aspiration. If someone felt happier elsewhere, July would not stop him or her from leaving. She had previously asked Gu Fei to stay in the guild for a while since his departure would have disbanded the guild. Unknowingly, Amethyst Rebirth had gained a lot from his existence in it, especially in that incident with No Smile.
I do hope that he would not leave… was July’s thought deep down.