Chapter 304 - Yueye City’s Master Appraiser
Oathless Sword narrated Traversing Four Seas’ recent ordeal to Young Master's Elite in a plaintive tone. The six men felt pain inside as Oathless Sword was recounting the unfortunate incident to them, yet that pain was not because of sadness but because of having to prevent themselves from bursting into laughter.
As soon as Oathless Sword finished his narration, he asked the six men for their take on the matter. “What do you think has caused this?”
The six of them looked at one another. Young Master Han coughed before answering, “Maybe this is part of the quest?”
“That’s what we think, too. In fact, we are following them to find out what’s going to happen to them,” Oathless Sword said.
It was just as everyone had expected in the end; the bunch of players that the NPC guards had captured were marched straight into prison upon their return to Yueye City, and amid everyone’s watchful gazes, these players disappeared inside the prison entrance.
Although imprisonment would forcefully restrict all manners of communication, Parallel World had a feature that allowed others to visit prisoners. Naturally, money was required to do this. Provided that the fee was paid, any player could enter the cell and do anything with the convicted, except for bailing them out, that was. There was no time limit for this either, much to the delight of those couples who could not bear spending even a second away from their other halves.
Oathless Sword only crept over once he saw the NPC guards leave upon locking up his underlings in the prison. He approached the place with as much apprehension as he had when he was earlier knocking on Mr. Adrian’s door; while 30% of him was heading forward, 70% of him was already preparing to bolt out. He was worried that the system would identify him as the boss of the convicted players and detain him as well.
His worry turned out to be unfounded, though, as the prison guards merely continued on their usual tasks, unfazed by Oathless Sword’s presence. After paying the fee for this visit, Oathless Sword entered the cell to talk to his comrades.
The imprisoned players were as clueless about this as Oathless Sword. The only thing they knew more than him was that they had to spend four hours inside the cell. The system did not provide them any explanation for their imprisonment, though. All they heard was the NPCs referring to them as ‘felons’ whenever they conversed with one another, causing everyone to feel mortified at being labeled as such.
From their perspective, the only thing they were guilty of was surrounding Mr. Adrian… Such an action should not warrant them being sent to prison, though! When did NPCs have such rights, anyway? Those imprisoned were absolutely incensed by this.
Oathless Sword was already downcast when he entered the prison, yet he looked much worse when he finally exited it. He stared blankly at the members of Young Master's Elite that had been waiting for him just outside the prison. Eventually, he woke from his reverie and asked the six men, “Is there anything else?”
Young Master Han sighed, “Did you forget? We’re here for the note you wanted Miles to test out with Mr. Adrian.”
“Oh…” Oathless Sword was out of it at the moment, so he did not think deeply about this and just handed the note over to Gu Fei.
“How long are they inside for?” Gu Fei asked when he took the note from him.
“Four hours!” Oathless Sword answered.
“So I guess we can’t continue the quest today?” Gu Fei probed.
Oathless Sword nodded his head and turned his attention to Young Master Han. “Can you contact the other mercenary leaders?” As Young Master Han shook his head, Oathless Sword looked absolutely broken now. “G*dd*mn! I still have to inform all those people about this.” Evidently, it had always been Youthful Reflection’s responsibility to contact the mercenary leaders about anything. Guild Leader Oathless Sword did not seem to know how to handle such trivialities.
“Shall we continue this matter tomorrow, too?” Gu Fei was now waving the note to Oathless Sword.
“Of course,” Oathless Sword felt a slight twinge of annoyance at the sight of the note, wishing he could just get rid of it. After exchanging a few words with Young Master's Elite, he led his remaining men away from the place. The six men could hear him grumbling all the way and his words were littered with expletives.
“Should we…. Go and test it out now?” Gu Fei sought the five’s advice regarding the note.
“Of course. Otherwise, there’s no way I’m getting any sleep tonight,” Brother Assist answered.
“Do you guys even sleep at night?” Gu Fei asked, skeptical.
“What nonsense!” the five men chided Gu Fei for not viewing them as humans.
Inquiring to the locals along the way, the six men finally located the system-assigned Master Appraiser in Yueye City. She was a witch wearing a half mask and was in charge of teaching every player in the city about the Appraisal skill.
“Take out the ledger.” Gu Fei nudged Young Master Han.
“Wait a sec!” Brother Assist called out.
“What?” Everyone looked at him questioningly.
“Let me give this a shot first. To find out if this quest requires someone who has a pre-established relationship with the Werewolves like Miles to complete,” Brother Assist said. “Let’s find out what is the logic behind Parallel World’s d*mnable design.”
“By your words, you can’t be the one to test it out. You and Miles have come into contact with the Werewolves, so common sense dictates that you would most likely be included in Miles’ quest,” Sword Demon reasoned.
“That’s true,” Brother Assist nodded his head in agreement.
“I’ll test it, instead!” Sword Demon took the note and ledger from them.
Gu Fei watched this team of experts at work, slightly moved by their dedication to researching the game. How great would it be if there were more people like them that were equally passionate about kung fu!
Sword Demon presented the ledger and note to the Master Appraiser and requested for her to analyze if the handwriting in both items matched. Just as they were worrying about the NPC not understanding the instruction, the witch brought her two fingers upright, instead, “200 gold coins.”
“F*CK!” the six men cursed.
“That’s so shameless!”
“The system’s greed knows no bounds.”
“Is money the only thing the gaming company cares about?!”
They flung insults at the system for almost ten minutes before Sword Demon feebly interjected, “Hey… Are we still having these items analyzed or what?”
“Of course, we are. A sheep’s wool grows on a sheep1, after all,” Young Master Han replied.
Thus, Sword Demon forked out the fee of 200 gold coins and handed the sum over to the Master Appraiser along with the ledger and note.
The Master Appraiser glanced briefly at the note before flipping through the ledger noisily. Just as the six were starting to wonder which page she would stop at, the Master Appraiser returned the two items to Sword Demon and declared, “It’s the same handwriting.”
The entire process of analyzing the handwriting did not take longer than five seconds. The six men did not even get to experience the anxiety that came with not knowing what the final outcome would be. They spent 200 gold coins just like that, yet they did not even get to properly enjoy any bit of thrill from this. They could not help but feel that the system was being too cheap; the system should at least show them the process of analyzing the handwriting since it was charging such a high price. Such perfunctory action left them thoroughly unsatisfied.
Whatever the case might be, the system’s action clearly proved two things. First, Mr. Adrian was indeed the one pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Second, Gu Fei was not the only one who could complete the quest. Therefore, Young Master Han absconding with Mr. Adrian’s ledger had truly brought Traversing Four Seas unnecessary trouble.
“Have we completed this quest? Will we get Mr. Adrian’s confession if we head back now?” Sword Demon asked everyone.
These men were still suspicious. The logic behind Parallel World was hardly congruent with reality. Things would progress according to how reality worked at times, and matters would rigidly be constrained according to how MMO worked at other times. It was this unpredictability that tortured the players endlessly....
Choosing to play it safe, the six men requested the Master Appraiser to provide evidence to back her findings that the writer of the note and ledger was the same person. They believed that any proof she provided them would automatically cause Mr. Adrian to confess.
“Proof? My word is all the proof you need!” the Master Appraiser said haughtily.
The six men left the premise in great displeasure after being regarded so contemptuously by a NPC.
“Should we see Mr. Adrian now?”
“Let’s go; no way I’m getting any sleep if we don’t….”
Thus, the six men once more rushed toward Yeguang Village, meeting quite a few Yunduan City players along the way. After being informed that the quest could not continue today by Oathless Sword, these players felt very unhappy at essentially having wasted a whole night in-game doing nothing.
“Looks like Traversing Four Seas has offended quite a lot of players due to this quest,” Brother Assist commented as he looked at the disgruntled faces around them.
“They are lacking in the necessary qualities of professional mercenaries,” Young Master Han said. As the five men looked at him, he added, “Us included.”
“Tsk!” everyone scorned.
“There’s no way to inculcate unity into this mess of mercenary groups, anyway. The Traversing Four Seas’ players should thank their lucky stars if they do succeed in this guild quest; them failing would be entirely due to this very fact. Just you wait and see,” Young Master Han predicted.
“Why are you like this? You seem to actually be wishing for them to fail!” Gu Fei remarked.
“I’m just disappointed with this situation we’ve found ourselves in. They hired all these mercenaries for the quest, yet they don’t show enough trust in us. He he he… Did they really think money is enough to make everyone work for them? They just don’t have the right qualities to be the boss,” Young Master Han scoffed.
“I think you’re just overthinking things again…” Gu Fei said, adding, “It may not be the lack of trust, but rather your frequent extortion attempts that have caused them to be fearful, causing them to avoid us. This whole situation is whacked.”
“Extortion? You can hardly say that the meager sum we’ve gotten from them is that. They’re merely jealous of us being the ones to resolve their problems at crucial moments. This is exactly why they’ve refused our help time and time again. Honestly, we are just six men. Do you really think the fee that they are paying us is more than that of The Black Hand’s hundred men? Far from it, I say! We are only costing them probably just twenty of their men!”
“That’s ridiculous!” Gu Fei was now pissed. “Just I alone can take down twenty men of The Black Hand!”
“That’s what I’ve been telling you! We haven’t been extorting really. The price I’ve given them has been extremely reasonable!” Young Master Han justified himself.
Sword Demon, who had been standing beside him all this while, nudged him. “You did extort money from them, though. After all, you hid that ledger from them just then.”
Young Master Han eyed him with disdain. “That’s not extortion; that’s competition.”
Everyone was simply speechless.