Time trickled by, and in the blink of an eye, Gu Fei and Yan Xiaozhu had spent a full hour hunkered down up the wall. However, that did not seem to affect Gu Fei’s concentration in the least, as he continued to observe through his spyglass with one hand and make notes on his booklet with the other using a quill. The lass, who was overwhelmed with boredom at the side, only had the diary to kill time. Evidently, she was just a very ordinary gamer, so she found such an endeavor to be extremely pointless. If she wanted to read a novel, it would be a lot more comfortable for her to do so while lying in her bed instead of crouching atop a wall.
“Hey, are we really gonna stay here for six hours?” She regarded Gu Fei with lingering fear, for the man next to her was truly too frightening, be it in terms of his skill or his mental fortitude. Yan Xiaozhu could not imagine herself staying put in a place for over an hour with someone and not speaking a word, yet that was exactly what she found herself to be doing today. She had wanted to strike up a conversation with him several times in this one hour, but she had ultimately managed to curb her urge each time. Seeing how focused he was only made her feel that any attempts on her part to converse with him could end up jeopardizing the very atmosphere present. However, after a full hour had passed by, she was already at her very limits and felt that she would go mad if she did not break the silence.
“I did say six hours might not even be enough.” Gu Fei did not even glance at her when he answered and just continued to maintain his eyes on the NPCs in the courtyard. The stationary guards were a done deal, but there were still a few patrolling guards he had yet to fully note the routes of. After all, the courtyard was rather large, and the field of view covered by the spyglass was limited, which meant it would take quite some time for him to catalogue everything.
“Do I have to stay here that long, too?” she whined.
Gu Fei finally tore his eyes off the spyglass to look at her. “I don’t recall anyone begging you to stay, and it’s entirely your decision to tag along.”
Yan Xiaozhu was speechless. She truly regretted her choice. Curiosity truly killed the cat, but how was she to know that she would chance upon such a boring task with such a boring person?
“This is so boring!” She wanted to get up and stretch her back, but before she could reach full height, he stopped her with a suppressed bark, “Don’t move unnecessarily; squat down!”
Yan Xiaozhu was in tears; she could not even stretch her body!
“You can leave first!” He took out a coil of rope and passed it over to her. “Secure it properly before you slide down.”
Yan Xiaozhu did not take it. It was not that she had not thought of leaving, but at the end of the day, she was still really curious and wanted to see just what this weirdo would do eventually.
No longer daring to stand up, she could only crawl over to his side and crooked her neck over to read what he had recorded in that booklet of his. That was when she suddenly asked, “While the NPCs would strictly adhere to their patrol routes without fail, what about those players from Flowergazing in the Fog? They have men patrolling the premises twenty-four seven as well, and they don’t stick to their patrol routes like those NPCs.” Rather than languishing in her boredom, she might as well join in. This was what Yan Xiaozhu was thinking when she voiced out her rather fundamental opinion.
“Isn’t that why I’m observing them right now?” he asked rhetorically.
“Has Giordano appeared?” she asked instead.
“Nope.” Gu Fei looked at the horizon and saw that it was nearing evening in-game. The sky was gradually darkening, and even though it would not be entirely dark, the players’ vision would still see a significant impact to the change. While there might be benefits to acting in the dark of night, he still needed to see if the activities of these NPCs would be affected by the descent of night.
“You know; I can help you find out what time Giordano comes out,” Yan Xiaozhu offered.
“I don’t think there’s a need for that! We’ll see for ourselves in the end,” Gu Fei rejected. Since this was something he could find out by himself, he did not wish to raise any suspicion on the matter by asking others unnecessarily.
“Hey, it’s out; that looks to be the NPC!” Speaking of the devil, a figure was spotted exiting the doors of the Government City Hall just as they were discussing about Giordano.
“I see it,” Gu Fei said. The position he had chosen allowed him to have a clear view of the entrance to that building without the use of the spyglass. While taking note of the other NPCs, he had never once eased his attention to the doors. He had already registered the presence of this figure the moment it stepped out of the doors; was there even a need for Yan Xiaozhu to call his attention to this new arrival?
“Is that Giordano?” He had no idea if that was the new arrival’s identity.
“It seems like it.” Yan Xiaozhu did not dare to confirm it as a fact as well, for she had only casually glanced at that NPC back when she was mixing with the crowd.
Gu Fei focused his spyglass on to that figure whom they suspected as Giordano. The least he could do was take note of how this figure looked since there was a high chance of it being his assassination target.
This figure stepped out of the Government City Hall and slowly went down each step of the stairs. A stir went around those players from Flowergazing in the Fog that had been milling about doing nothing, which confirmed the two’s suspicion. Gu Fei began to take note of Giordano’s looks; the tall and stocky NPC was a rather handsome and mature-looking male with a short moustache right above its mouth. A greatsword hung by its waist, with its left hand resting on the hilt; each step it took was measured and forceful.
Gu Fei was a little worried at this moment. If the players from Flowergazing in the Fog were to take the initiative to ask Giordano for the progress of the mission, would that mean that Giordano would immediately head back into the Government City Hall once it finished relaying the relevant information? He hoped that Giordano would demonstrate the staunch hardiness found in NPCs and would strictly stick to protocol and its programming, unaffected by the actions of the players around it.
Fortunately, the scene unfolded more or less as how Gu Fei had hoped. When Giordano appeared, the members from Flowergazing in the Fog did react to it, yet none of them stepped forward. Their eyes followed Giordano as he took each step and began to wander in the courtyard.
Gu Fei’s gaze followed accordingly, his hand moving constantly as he made a quick record of things. Meanwhile, there were quite a few changes to the movement of all the NPCs the moment Giordano appeared. Gu Fei moaned inwardly when he saw this, for that meant all the notes he had taken before were for naught. Since the NPC guards would act differently when Giordano was present, he would need to take note of the new changes that occurred once his target NPC was present, and that meant he would have to spend even more time...
The only good news from this was that players were unable to affect Giordano’s movement. Gu Fei swept his gaze over the whole courtyard once and discovered that several members from Flowergazing in the Fog were moving toward a certain spot within the courtyard. A thought sprang into his mind as he shifted his spyglass over to these men; he saw that the guild leader, Three Sighs of Flowing Maple, and Drifting were also among these people.
“This guy, must he always be hanging around in a group wherever he goes?” Gu Fei instantly recalled how Drifting had joined The Black Hand mercenary group in Yunduan City. Considering how powerful this man was, it was only natural for him to be able to casually join whatever guild or mercenary group he wished to be part of. In fact, there was probably a whole host of people who would seize this chance. So this guy is actually a Job-hopping King! Gu Fei thought to himself.
Just as he had suspected, the position where Three Sighs of Flowing Maple and the others ended up in was the exact same spot where Giordano was making its way to. Giordano had stopped twice during this stroll and interacted with the other NPCs in both instances. The third time it came to a halt was in this very position, where it began to engage with the players, probably to announce the current progress of their current quest.
Following this, the attention of the players faded as Giordano continued along his stroll, stopping for the fourth time to interact with another NPC.
After this, Giordano turned round and headed back directly into the Government City Hall.
“Is… Is there any chance to strike?” Yan Xiaozhu had also been watching the activities below this whole time and saw clearly that the NPC completed the entire lap under many’s watchful gazes; a chance to assassinate Giordano simply did not exist.
“It’s still early too early to throw in the towel,” Gu Fei said. From his rough observation moments before, the route that Giordano chose did not have any obvious spots for concealment, so it seemed impossible for him to complete deed without alerting anyone.
Perhaps, it is not that it doesn’t exist, but that I have yet to find it! Gu Fei thought to himself as he made the decision to come and observe the whole sequence again. With that, he began to keep all the items he took out into his dimensional pocket. Yan Xiaozhu was elated when she saw this, “Are we leaving?”
“Yeah... I’ll come and observe everything again when he next appears. There’s no point in continuing my stake-out now,” Gu Fei said.
He fished out a hook and secured it to the top part of the wall. “Slide down!”
“You first!” She still wanted to watch a demonstration.
The next moment, she saw Gu Fei turn around and jump down.
“Hey! You—” Yan Xiaozhu cried out in surprise. It was possible for players to fall to their deaths in-game, and their ability to survive this differed for every job class. Currently, Mage was definitely not a job class that could survive falling from a height above ten meters. Yan Xiaozhu poked her head out hoping to catch this tragedy, yet all she witnessed was Gu Fei reaching out his hand right before he came crashing down to the ground, Blinking mid-descent, and appearing on the ground safe and sound in the next moment. Gu Fei glanced up at her and asked, “What?”
Yan Xiaozhu was speechless. Rumors had it that Mages would have to depend on the usage of their spells, like the ones that could slow their descent or make them weightless, to survive a fall from such heights, and using a spell like Blink while falling would indeed be grand enough a gesture!
She did not dare leap off from such height herself, so she clutched on to the rope and carefully slid down uneventfully.
Gu Fei retrieved the hook and stowed it away, as Yan Xiaozhu asked, “Now what?”
“I’ll return the next time and continue my observation,” he answered.
“Just like today?” she asked.
“Just like today,” he confirmed.
“Perhaps, there might be other methods,” she said.
“That would still require the gathering of information.”
“Do you need me to inquire after anything else?”
“No need for that; temporarily… I’ll inform you accordingly if I think of anything,” he said.
“You want me to seek my big sis for help? She knows more stuff that I do,” she suggested.
Gu Fei thought back on how Slyris had deduced his identity, evidently showing how clear-minded the lady was. And compared to this immigrant Yan Xiaozhu, she should have a more comprehensive knowledge of Xiawu City and might be able to lend a hand.
“Well, in that case, I’ll look for you two sisters if anything else crops up!” Gu Fei said.
The two bid each other farewell as Gu Fei began to think of Giordano’s movements from before, hoping to find something he could exploit from it. That was when Brother Assist suddenly sent him over a message: “I got something!”
“What?” Gu Fei replied.
“There are plenty of cities nearby with an oak forest, but considering that the Shadowmist Assassin passed by Linshui City before reaching Xiawu City from that diary entry, this could only mean that there is only one city,” Brother Assist said.
“Linyin City, I presume?” Gu Fei guessed.
“How did you know?” Brother Assist was shocked.
“Because there are plenty of trees there,” he replied.
“Such a conjecture is just too crude; if you must know—”
Gu Fei immediately interrupted Brother Assist from further typing out that message as he sent another message immediately: “I’ve gotten something as well.”
Gu Fei relayed to the man the whole story once more, as Brother Assist asked at the first moment he got: “This quest doesn’t show up in your quest log?”
“Tsk!” Brother Assist was another person that had a gamer’s mindset...