“It’s really difficult to relay information like this. Why don’t we meet up?” Yan Xiaozhu asked.
Gu Fei thought that Yan Xiaozhu seemed to have an understanding of the situation and was about to ask if she had the time to meet up, so when she suggested it herself, he was naturally more than delighted to.
Since the matter of inquiry was related to the Government City Hall, the two of them decided to meet up right outside the entrance to that building for convenience’s sake.
The entrance he was pointing out was the gates right by the Government City Hall’s courtyard, where a single guard stood in place. Players were allowed to have access to this large courtyard, but permission was required to enter the Government City Hall itself. Gu Fei was the first to reach the gates of the courtyard, proceeding to stand right in the middle of them once he confirmed that Yan Xiaozhu was not there yet.
Before he could see someone appear from the fog, he first heard a sound nearby, but this sound was not a human sound made from the one he was waiting for. This sound was the soft yet distinct sound of clitter clatter, and as he was wondering what it could be, he spotted Yan Xiaozhu conscientiously kicking a piece of rock as she stepped out from the fog. The sound was from that rock rolling along the ground.
With her head lowered, Yan Xiaozhu continued to focus on what she was doing despite already reaching the entrance to the courtyard. A rock steadily rolled forward as she dribbled it between her feet, and only when that rock bumped into somebody’s foot and got stepped on did she finally raise her head and realized that Gu Fei was already there.
“Hey, you got here before me!” she greeted.
Gu Fei nodded his head. She’s got talent! he exclaimed in his heart. He had watched Yan Xiaozhu dribble that rock for 30 meters, and from a professional standpoint, he could say that she had a rather outstanding lower body coordination and would be a good candidate for studying kung fu. This was naturally just a thought he had as he had seen plenty of good candidates throughout his life.
“Tell me what you know!” Gu Fei immediately dove straight to the topic at hand.
“Come take a look.” Yan Xiaozhu brought Gu Fei into the courtyard and pointed over to a bunch of players at the southeast wing. “See those people over there?”
“I see them.” Gu Fei nodded his head at that group of seemingly bored players. This was the prime time in the game, yet these players were not grinding, questing, running errand to earn money, or even grinding for gear. Instead, all of them were squatting by the corner of the wall, looking bored to death. The expression etched on their faces clearly said, “I’m bored.”
“They are from the guild, Flowergazing in the Fog,” said Yan Xiaozhu.
Gu Fei had heard of this guild. Brother Assist briefly introduced it as the largest guild in the city when they first arrived at Xiawu City. He could not recall what the guild leader’s name was called, but if he was not mistaken, the man should be a Warrior. This information came to his mind even as he nodded his head.
“What do they have to do with Giordano?” Gu Fei asked.
“Well, it’s like this,” Yan Xiaozhu began. “Their guild was rewarded a quest for placing first in the PvP tournament. This quest required them to meet the NPC called Giordano in the Government City Hall, but because the quests and missions found in the game could randomly result in a battle, they were worried that speaking to Giordano would lead to some BOSS battle despite the quest prompt not explicitly stating this possibility. As such, they gathered a bunch of people from the start and gotten quite a number of high-level individuals to help. I happened to be one of those people they gathered,” Yan Xiaozhu explained.
“Oh. Then, what happened?”
“What happened? Well, we did find Giordano and heard it issue the Flowergazing in the Fog their quest. Apparently, there’s not enough manpower in the Government City Hall, so he was hoping that the Flowergazing in the Fog Guild could help supplement this and bear some of the work. That NPC left after saying that,” Yan Xiaozhu said.
“What sort of guild quest is that?” Gu Fei asked even as he wondered if this had any relation to his intention to assassinate Giordano. From the incident that had happened in Yueye City, there was no way Parallel World could simply be seen as just a game. In many ways, it would also develop along with the changes in the world, and Gu Fei’s interaction with the Werewolves in Yeguang Village was a good example of this. He soloed that chain quest, yet the fact that it happened to have something to do with the quest of Traversing Four Seas, a guild that was far from related to him in any sense, just went to show this problem.
“I’m not too sure of the specifics because those invited, including me, left at that moment, but what followed only required the participation of the Flowergazing in the Fog’s members. I heard that they have to make certain progress with that quest. Requiring them to complete chores every day to make any headway, at first, even simple tasks, such as cleaning the courtyard by cutting the grass, helped further their progress, but the things they could do dwindle with each passing day. Eventually, they could no longer make progress by repeatedly cutting the weeds. As such, they are unable to find anything to do to complete the mission 100% even to this day. That’s why those people are still wasting their time here.” Yan Xiaozhu pointed over to that bunch of people at the corner again.
“To think there would be such a thing!” Gu Fei wiped his sweat in his anxiety. He had initially thought that Traversing Four Seas’ guild quest was troublesome enough, but now he knew that there was an even more inhumane mission here. Traversing Four Seas’ guild quest at least had clear targets and goals for the players to work toward, yet this quest here in Xiawu City had a completion bar without a hint on what sort of general activities the players were expected to do to complete it. Seeing all these players while their time here with a listless look, Gu Fei asked, “So what are they trying to accomplish by squatting over there?”
“That’s not it! I heard that they originally expected to achieve a 100% completion rate for the quest, but some random noob came running around the place without knowing anything and even went as far as to attempt to enter the Government City Hall, ending up getting executed on the spot by the guards. Those Flowergazing in the Fog’s players that were in the courtyard at that time, even watched the spectacle unfold. In the end, when Giordano came out to announce the progress of their quest, it reprimanded them for being ineffectual and went ahead to dock 10% off their progress, pissing those guys off to no end,” Yan Xiaozhu explained what had happened next.
So I see, Gu Fei thought even as he swept his gaze over to those men at the corner of a wall. Suddenly realizing a huge problem, he asked, “Wait a minute. Why is it this courtyard of the Government City Hall doesn’t have fog?”
Gu Fei was carefully looking all over the place when he asked this. All was foggy beyond the gates, yet everything was visible to him in this courtyard, which lacked the ever-present moisture thickly pervading the air in Xiawu City.
Yan Xiaozhu nodded. Normally, realizing this fact only after a long time would elicit ridicule, yet she was different from others. This was because she had also made the same mistake the first time she visited the courtyard. She was used to the clear skies as she was a player who had immigrated to this city from another city, so it would often take her a while to realize the change after entering the premises.
“There’s an explanation for this, too,” she said. “Ever noticed how the fog is less heavy within Xiawu’s city walls? Apparently, the city has a device that reduces the density of the fog, and it is located within this courtyard, which is why the fog here is all but gone.”
“What sort of device is that?” He had never heard of such a device before and was asking this purely out of curiosity.
“Who knows? Perhaps, it's a huge energy crystal that four witches activated,” Yan Xiaozhu hypothesized.
Gu Fei curiosity quickly dissipated as he went back on topic. “I recall you saying that Giordano will announce to them the progress of their quest daily. Does that mean it will go to the Government City Hall’s courtyard every day?”
“Yup.” Yan Xiaozhu nodded. “Have you gotten some sort of quest for it?”
Gu Fei did not say a word. Honestly speaking, he had no idea if this was considered as a quest because his quest log did not list any prompts toward this end. Besides, he was not really too familiar with this lady beside him, so he had no intention of revealing his hand this early.
However, this lass Yan Xiaozhu was apparently still wet behind her ears. Her inexperience made her unable to grasp people’s intention through observation, so when Gu Fei refrained from answering her, she just assumed that the latter had not heard her, so she went ahead and repeated herself in a much higher volume, “What quest do you have?”
“Uhmm. Just to locate it. I’m still not certain if this is a quest or not,” Gu Fei answered vaguely.
“Oh, are you looking for Giordano to give you a quest? Just say hi to those guys from Flowergazing in the Fog first and then approach the NPC when he steps out,” Yan Xiaozhu said.
“Must I exchange words with them?” Gu Fei was perplexed. He had always thought that NPCs were public property.
“Remember that incident that I mentioned before? After that incident was made public, some of the Flowergazing in the Fog’s enemies began to cause trouble for them by sending people to barge into the Government City Hall. Flowergazing in the Fog could no longer afford to be careless, so they’ve been keeping a close watch over players entering the courtyard from then on. Haven’t you noticed that those guys over at that corner have their eyes on us this whole time despite them appearing lackadaisical?” Yan Xiaozhu asked.
“You’re right. And there’s even Thieves in Stealth mode outside the courtyard.” Gu Fei looked around properly. “There are even Archers trained on us right now.”
“This used to be one of the largest player trading locations in Xiawu City, but thanks to that quest of Flowergazing in the Fog, not one player besides its members is in sight!” Women enjoyed shopping; now, that the original shopping district in Xiawu City was gone, Yan Xiaozhu’s tone when she said this seemed to be filled with resentment.
“Oh!” Gu Fei casually answered. He was not at all concerned with such matters. He had simply discovered that there were plenty of obstacles in his way if he intended to go ahead and assassinate Giordano. Even without the players from Flowergazing in the Fog keeping a close eye on players that would enter the courtyard, there were still quite a number of NPC guards securing the premise. Even if he wished to do the deed here against Giordano, he would have to do so like Chow Yun-Fat1 going in with guns blazing; it would definitely be a far cry from being an assassination.
Gu Fei could totally emulate that style if he were merely going against players. The average player might be unaware, but how could he not have a clear idea of the NPC guards’ might? He had to be careful in front of those things, which meant he would have to properly plan this assassination out.
“Alright, I’ll take my leave first!” He felt that he had learned quite a bit from all this, so it could be considered as a worthwhile trip.
“Hey, I can help you find out what time Giordano comes out,” Yan Xiaozhu said.
“Oh, thanks for that!” Gu Fei said.
Just as the two of them were about to leave the courtyard, they saw another bunch of players entering the courtyard from the fog outside. Yan Xiaozhu immediately whispered, “Look; that’s the guild leader of the Flowergazing in the Fog, Three Sighs of Flowing Maple. Things can’t get any better if you are able to directly make contact with that man himself.”
“HEY!” Saying this, she found herself exclaiming in the next moment, “Isn’t that Big Brother Drifting?!”
Gu Fei had already spotted the top Mage in Parallel World presently, Drifting, heading toward the courtyard with Three Sighs of Flowing Maple. Of course, the man could be considered as number one only under the condition that Gu Fei excluded himself from the category.