Chapter 300 - The Search for the Blackmailer
The three core players of Traversing Four Seas were naturally far more concerned about their guild quest than anyone else, and once their intense discussion ended, Youthful Reflection promptly picked a few members with fast movement speed to join him in scouting the area ahead.
All of them truly had amazingly fast movement speed, leaving like the wind and returning just as quickly. Except… A team of four men left, yet only a pair returned. Youthful Reflection’s complexion was deathly pale and Oathless Sword hurriedly asked, “What happened?!”
“We did see the Werewolves,” Youthful Reflection said, “But they only trust Thousand Miles Drunk….”
Oathless Sword was dumbfounded. “So he’s telling the truth… How is this even possible? Does this mean that we were doomed to fail the guild quest if we did not happen to hire him?”
Youthful Reflection maintained his silence. Was that not the basis of his argument when he questioned the legitimacy of Gu Fei’s claim before?
“Where are Xiaosi and Xiaoha?” Oathless Sword asked, after not spotting the other two.
“They’re dead,” Youthful Reflection answered.
“What happened?!” Oathless Sword was shocked.
“The Werewolves attacked us the moment they saw us, killing the two right off the bat. It’s fortunate that I managed to tell them that we were there to help, so they stopped their attacks at the last minute and we avoided suffering the same fate.” Youthful Reflection felt really embarrassed inside. The player beside him shuddered as he was saying all this, his gaze somewhat catatonic. Clearly, the Werewolves’ display of ferociousness had traumatized the two.
“I was thinking,” Youthful Reflection started speaking again after staying silent for quite some time. “It is still quite improbable for a non-guild member to hold such an important role in completing our quest. I think it’s just coincidental that Thousand Miles Drunk stumbled on this role due to his history with those Werewolves, allowing him to be connected to our current guild quest. Surely, there’s a way for us to gain the trust of those Werewolves as well; all we have to do is identify that method.”
“Why do we have to do all those unnecessary things when we can just follow Thousand Miles Drunk’s instruction about locating the blackmailer and killing the person? Even if we won the Werewolves’ trust, the goal would still be the same, anyway,” Gale Force reasoned.
“I’m just worried that the quest Miles has obtained may have perhaps missed out essential details.” Youthful Reflection replied, “Or he may have even withheld important information just so he can extort more gold coins from us.”
“That is highly possible!” Oathless Sword’s fists shook with emotion as he recalled the devious smile permanently affixed on the face of Young Master’s Elite mercenary group’s leader. The man was forever trying to extort more money from him at every opportunity ever since they commissioned his mercenary group for this mission. “The fact that the Werewolves only trust Thousand Miles Drunk must not be revealed,” Oathless Sword quickly instructed. He was sure that if Young Master Han learned of this fact, the man would use it to extort every coin he had!
“So what do we do now?” Gale Force asked.
Everyone was at a loss. Although they decided to uncover the person manipulating the strings behind the scene, they just did not know where to begin their search, making them feel somewhat frustrated.
“Looks like it’ll be difficult to continue our journey today,” Youthful Reflection sighed.
Given that they had no leads regarding this particular quest, they could only resort to the most basic method of interacting with the NPCs until they exhausted all possible conversation options. Thus, Traversing Four Seas headed back to Yeguang Village. Forming three- to five-player teams, each team surrounded every NPC villager and engaged them in a conversation.
The mercenaries naturally did not wish to just wait on one place; a few well-intentioned mercenaries even lent Traversing Four Seas a hand, while the rest wandered about in search of monsters that they could fight to stave off boredom. Almost instantly, all the players from Yunduan City were doing something inside or outside Yeguang Village.
Meanwhile, Oathless Sword, Gale Force, and Youthful Reflection went back to Yueye City’s Hall of Mercenaries. They figured that since Gu Fei had come into contact with Yeguang Village’s Werewolves due to a quest he had done in the past, loads of Yueye City players must have done a similar quest. Rather than allowing Gu Fei to give Young Master Han a chance to extort more money from them, it was better to seek out the help of a mercenary group in Yueye City.
Unfortunately, the quest Gu Fei had completed was too high level. Just the main NPC for the quest was a level 70 Werewolf; it could be said that the quest was not something that the current quality of players could trigger, let alone accomplish. In fact, there was not one player in Yueye City who was aware that half of Yeguang Village’s residents were Werewolves. Not one mercenary group contacted Oathless Sword regarding it after he had submitted his recruitment request in the Hall of Mercenaries.
Furthermore, the players inquiring about the quest in Yeguang Village were getting nowhere. The story these villagers had regarding the Werewolves was actually a summary of Gu Fei’s actions during his quest; a villager got killed by a Werewolf, and a passing hero discovered the truth of the matter, foiling the plan of that Werewolf....
Some players even directly revealed to these villagers about the existence of Werewolves in their midst, yet they did not receive any sort of response from the NPCs. This was a game, after all, and everything in it was bounded by its encoding and A.I. If the quest-taker, Gu Fei, had been the one to reveal that particular information, his words would have most likely elicit a strong reaction from the NPC villagers. As for these players who had merely obtained the information from Gu Fei, the NPCs only treated their words as nothing but gibberish.
The ‘half of the villagers are actually Werewolves’ line might trigger a further storyline if Gu Fei were to say it himself, but other players who said it would just be spouting nonsense, otherwise.
None of Young Master's Elite men participated in all the activities happening around them; the five of them were currently seated in Yeguang Village’s Tavern, watching everything with indifferent eyes. Brother Assist had gone around the village and just returned to the Tavern. He looked at the five men and shook his head. “This method won’t do. No one seems to be getting any sort of information at all.”
“Perhaps it is not an issue of the method used but of the person involved. Since the quest is triggered by Miles, maybe only he can extract information from those NPCs,” Sword Demon deduced.
“Shall I give it a shot, then?” Gu Fei fielded this question to the group.
“It’s fine if you do, but don’t be in a hurry to act on it if you do get a lead,” Young Master Han ordered.
“Ugh. You’re so evil.” Gu Fei shook his head disapprovingly before heading outside. He naturally knew what Young Master Han was getting at. If this matter was truly something only Gu Fei could resolve, Oathless Sword would most likely be coughing up blood.
As soon as he stepped outside the Tavern, Gu Fei ran toward Chief Edwin’s abode. With how this village worked, he was certain that its residents would just send him over to Chief Edwin eventually. In any case, Chief Edwin was also the first NPC he could think of if he wanted to get information about his quest.
Unfortunately, such an important NPC was not someone the villagers would only reveal to Gu Fei. Those players who had continuously inquired around the village were eventually redirected by the NPCs to Chief Edwin who was living in a three-story house by the edge of the woods. Just outside the village chief’s house, plenty of players were packed like canned sardines, and with everyone clamoring for a chance to speak with him, it was as if Chief Edwin were a superstar and his place were a venue for a fan meeting.
Is there a need for this? Gu Fei was baffled. Everyone could have just chosen a representative to talk with the village chief; why was there a need for all of them to talk to Chief Edwin?
This way of thinking was bred by Gu Fei’s lack of motivation. Just like Young Master's Elite, many mercenary groups and guilds used the point system to distribute equipment and coins to their members. Group missions and quests like this were the best opportunities for the members to obtain contribution points, so they would naturally not want to miss such a wondrous chance and would even willingly compete with others for it.
Gu Fei was already blocked from entering the premise, and if that was not enough, two Traversing Four Seas players who spotted Gu Fei in the crowd rushed over, “Apologies, Brother Miles. Our guild leader has instructed us to tell you that you don’t need to busy yourself with this matter anymore given how hard you’ve worked thus far.”
“Oh.” This was Gu Fei’s only response before he backed off. He was quite happy deep down, though, as Young Master Han’s intention to earn a quick buck off of Traversing Four Seas had already been seen through by them that Oathless Sword himself was doing his best to prevent Gu Fei from helping.
Just Traversing Four Seas’ words were not enough to stop Gu Fei from helping, though. Still, the underlying meaning behind their statement was rather clear: Since we did not invite you this time, you could lend us a hand, but you would not get paid for it.
Gu Fei did not really care about that, and he simply wanted to do something. However, his desire to help flagged at the sight of the many people surrounding Chief Edwin’s house, as it meant that it would take ages before he could talk to the NPC. In the end, he turned to leave.
The other five men felt shocked when they saw him return to the Tavern, “So soon? What did you manage to find out?”
“Nothing,” Gu Fei answered, explaining, “Traversing Four Seas said that they don’t need my help.”
Everyone turned to look at Young Master Han, “Just how much money did you make off of them that they actually sent men to guard the place – as if they were afraid of getting robbed – and gave up such an easy solution for hard labor?”
Young Master Han muttered, “It’s not how ‘much money’… but how ‘many times’, instead. I hardly think I’m to blame for that, though; the truth is we are just too outstanding.”
Young Master Han’s narcissistic statement this time finally included the others, so instead of contradicting him, they actually nodded their heads in agreement. “That sounds about right. We really are just too d*mn amazing.”
“The more Oathless Sword doesn’t want us to extort from him, the more I want to make a huge killing off of him,” Young Master Han rubbed his hands together.
“Extort every penny off of him!” Royal God Call did not hesitate to betray his guild leader now that he had spied an opportunity for him to earn a tidy sum off of the latter.
“Miles, who do you think is the NPC pulling the strings?” Young Master Han asked.
“How would I know?” Gu Fei asked back.
“Who was the final boss of your chain quest back then?” Young Master Han rephrased his question.
“Mr. Adrian…” Gu Fei said as shock overcame him, “Could it be the same NPC again?”
“Why would that be the case?” everyone asked.
“Today, I specifically inquired about this. I’ve previously killed Mr. Adrian for my quest, so the current Mr. Adrian, although he bears the same name and look of the man before, is actually a brand-new NPC. But…” Gu Fei recalled Fleeting Smile’s words, “Even a newly spawned NPC will still bear the same task as before, replacing the previous one to continue the same job.”
“What does that mean?” The others did not understand what he meant.
“The previous Mr. Adrian is a villain, so the newly spawned Mr. Adrian will naturally not walk the straight and narrow path. He’s most likely the only NPC around who would blackmail the Werewolves like this,” Young Master Han hypothesized.
Gu Fei nodded his head, “That’s what I think, too.”
“Let’s go find him!” Royal God Call excitedly said.
The six men stood up as Brother Assist walked abreast with Gu Fei, “Where did you hear that from?”
“That… might be a little difficult to answer,” Gu Fei replied as he looked at Fleeting Smile’s name on his friends list. You would be giving me a huge help once more if this quest really did fall onto Mr. Adrian’s lap again.