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Chapter 170 - Endlessly Searching for Him through the Night

People had long known that talent was the most valuable commodity in the twenty-first century. There were three types of talent necessary in establishing a guild: a natural-born leader, a smart adviser, and an indomitable fighter.

Only one player needed to possess the talent for leadership in a guild; the number of players that had to possess the talent for strategizing was dependent on the guild's size; lastly, many players that had the talent for fighting were necessary in a guild. Fortunately, a majority of the players in MMOs could be considered as possessing the talent for fighting.

Still, finding a Mage like Gu Fei who was akin to a Terminator with his ability to easily instkill anyone among the people with talent for fighting was difficult even in a large guild.

Terminator-like individuals possessed fighting prowess far beyond others. When one such person became the core of a mercenary group, that group could rally around him or her and easily dominate a PvP.

Many players could be slayers, yet only a few could become Terminator-like.

This sort of definitive expert had the strong backing of real-world currency, luckily acquired some kind of hidden quest, or was helped build a strong character by a well-bonded and close-knitted group. 

Using some of the current Five Unyielding Experts as examples, Svelte Dancer belonged to the type that was backed by real-world currency, while Southern Lone Blade and Deep Waters were two professional gamers that could probably belong to the type that was supported by a group of like-minded individuals.

As for Gu Fei, he belonged to the type that had gotten lucky and obtained a hidden quest. In fact, he would easily step into the Five Unyielding Experts' domain if his full set of kung fu skills was included into the equation. Therefore, it was easy to understand why all those guild leaders could not forget him after witnessing his high Spell Damage.

As the Mage Gu Fei went to sleep that night, the two large guilds, Carouse and Cloud Herder, held an emergency meeting for finding out his ident.i.ty.

Carouse's players had tried doing this yesterday, yet Amethyst Rebirth had not given them any answer even now. Brave Surge, the guild leader, was hesitant on pursuing the matter further with Amethyst Rebirth, as he felt that it would be far too awkward to do so when everyone could see that he was trying to poach the male Mage of Amethyst Rebirth to his guild. Amethyst Rebirth's refusal to give any information about the male Mage was therefore expected.

When Brave Surge heard the news of Cloud Herder Guild's defeat today to Amethyst Rebirth, he knew that he could no longer slowly probe about the OP Mage, as the Cloud Herder's men would surely be doing all they could to inquire about the Mage as well. This was why he had gathered his men tonight to discuss how they could uncover the Mage's ident.i.ty more quickly.

In the two large guilds' respective headquarters, the guild leaders gave an identical message: "We need to move faster than Carouse/Cloud Herder in uncovering information about the Amethyst Rebirth's male Mage. Go make contact!"

Even the plan they had come up with was similar: "Plan A: Contacting Amethyst Rebirth directly is the most efficient method, so find a way to do this. Plan B: Contact Amethyst Rebirth's previous PvP tournament opponents; someone among them might know something about the Mage. Plan C: Talk to everyone in Yunduan City; perhaps, someone knows this Mage."

Both parties even emphasized on the same thing: "Do not tell others of this Mage's fighting prowess. Utmost discretion is needed when looking for information about him to prevent other guilds like Carouse/Cloud Herder from getting wind of it."

Still, the two guilds' way of doing things had some differences.

Carouse lived up to its name as a large guild filled with  players with all sorts of different talents. Once Plan A of 'making contact with Amethyst Rebirth directly' was suggested, several studs priding themselves as expert pick-up artists promptly volunteered for this job. They confidently claimed that the Amethyst Rebirth's ladies would be thoroughly smitten by them that they would willingly provide them the required information.
Upon hearing this, Brave Surge swiftly agreed to the studs' proposed reverse honey-pot approach. He even promised these studs that if their wooing attempts turned out to be successful, all the expenses that they had incurred while wooing the girls would be fully compensated by the guild.

Meanwhile, Cloud Herder, the other guild which was also interested in poaching Gu Fei was carrying out their Plan A in a different way. Owing to the fact that the members of Cloud Herder considered women to be on par with men when it came to playing games, they had decided to send female players of their own to infiltrate Amethyst Rebirth. Once these 'spies' managed to join Amethyst Rebirth as new members, all they had to do was look through the guild's members list to find out the ident.i.ty and IGN of the mystery Mage - a very simple plan, indeed. Foe-herder was very agreeable to this simple idea and told the female players that he would find a way to repay the losses that they would incur for quitting Cloud Herder Guild.

As for their Plan B of 'contacting Amethyst Rebirth's previous PvP tournament opponents', both sides' actions were almost identical. The two guilds searched Parallel World's official website for the guilds Amethyst Rebirth had faced in the first and second rounds of the guild versus guild tournament.

Those two guilds were small guilds at level 1 that Brave Surge and Foe-herder barely paid attention to, so finding out the members' names in both guilds was bound to be difficult. Fortunately, the ident.i.ties of the two small guilds' leaders could be learned from the Main Hall of Guilds.

Brave Surge and Foe-herder seemed to enter the Main Hall of Guilds simultaneously. As leaders of large guilds in Yunduan City, they might not be close with each other, but they at least knew of each other's existence. Seeing how they were heading toward the same direction, the two could easily tell that the other had the same goal for going there. Merely exchanging polite smiles without one another, they busied themselves with the task at hand.  

The two started to look up information on Amethyst Rebirth's first round opponent in the guild versus guild tournament, the Unbeatable under the Heavens Guild, and tried adding its guild leader as a friend, but sadly the guild leader was currently offline. As for the guild going up against Amethyst Rebirth in the second round of the tournament … Brave Surge and Foe-herder's hearts thumped when they saw the name of its guild leader.

Sakurazaka Moony. This guild leader was actually a powerful expert that was ranked pretty high on the Archer leaderboard. Even if he was online, he would unlikely be reachable.

Nevertheless, the two guild leaders still gave adding Sakurazaka Moony on their friends list a try and subsequently failed. Downtrodden, the two encountered each other once more on their way out of the Main Hall of Guilds. Thinking that the other must have met the same fate, each of them felt a little better about what they had just experienced.

Actually, the two only had to find a woman to add Sakurazaka Moony on her friends list and they would succeed in contacting him, yet they were unfortunately unaware of this fact. This could not be blamed on them, though. Who would even think that the setting of Sakurazaka Moony's friends list was set in a way that only a female could add him as a friend?

Time was needed before they could advance further in this part of their plan, so the two guild leaders proceeded to execute Plan C and promptly rallied a large number of their men to roam Yunduan City's streets and randomly ask players about the OP Mage.

"Did you know that Amethyst Rebirth has a male player?" was the theme of the two guilds' players' questions, which would usually earn them two kinds of reaction. The first: "Ah?! Amethyst Rebirth is now accepting male players?!" The second: "F*ck! Why are you people repeatedly asking me this question? Who are you guys?!"

Given how this particular operation lacked thorough preparation and that players would constantly move around in the city, quite a lot of them had ended up being asked this question many times. Some of the weak-willed players could no longer stand this repeated inquiry and ran off to the nearest log-off points to escape.

That night, these two large guilds' questioning had caused Yunduan City to hold the lowest amount of online players ever since the official release of Parallel World.

However, the more irritating thing here was that the two guilds had not gotten any results despite such a large-scale deployment of manpower. During their search, some were fortunate enough to meet the players who had clashed with Amethyst Rebirth in the first two rounds. The resulting conversation was as follows:

"Have you guys fought with Amethyst Rebirth before?"

"Yeah!"

Both guilds' members would get excited whenever they met players who gave out this reply, as this meant that they had finally found the right individuals to ask! In such cases, the follow-up question would come almost immediately, "Do you know that Amethyst Rebirth has a male Mage?"

"Of course."

The guild men's eyes overflowed with tears as they hugged one another, thinking that the matter was finally about to end. "What's the Mage's name?" They p.r.i.c.ked their ears attentively, just in case they missed what was being said.

"How would I know?" was the reply that they got.

The resulting outpouring of words would make even a sailor blush.

The two large guilds spent the whole night asking questions as if they were hosting a quiz game. They wore themselves out so much that they had actually forgotten that despite their respective guilds' large sizes, no one actually knew the OP Mage's name.

"A man of Jianghu, filled with legends, yet none knows his name…" Many of the two guilds' players started visualizing a blurry, black clothed man before them whenever they talked about him.

Encountering each other in a certain tavern while taking a rest, this was already the forty-seventh time Brave Surge and Foe-herder had crossed paths. Prior to this, they had met for forty-six times in forty-six different locations all over Yunduan City. Being guild leaders, they naturally had to partic.i.p.ate in the 'quiz game' to set an example for their respective guild members.

Meeting at this moment, the original feeling of rivalry between them was long gone and was replaced by mutual sympathy for each other.

"Take a seat!" Brave Surge spiritedly said to Foe-herder, yet his voice betrayed his exhaustion.

Foe-herder sat down across Brave Surge; his face haggard as he waved a hand to the bartender, "One, please."

"How are things on your end?" Brave Surge asked.

"What are you asking me for? It's the same situation over here," Foe-herder replied. Asking this sort of question was redundant since the answer was already written on the two guild leaders' faces.

Both men sighed deeply, just as Foe-herder's liquor was brought over. "Cheers to your hard work!" Foe-herder raised his gla.s.s toward Brave Surge.

"You, too," Brave Surge gave a wry smile as their gla.s.ses clinked and drained their liquor in one go.

"I'm baffled. How can such a powerful player not even have a bit of prestige to him?" Foe-herder wondered aloud.

Brave Surge shook his head, "Maybe, it's because few people are playing at night. Perhaps, the chatter in the morning will bring more result."

"Hmm... Perhaps!" Foe-herder agreed to his hypothesis, as his plan to have a few female players infiltrate Amethyst Rebirth had been stalled due to this. The Amethyst Rebirth's ladies were not online in the wee hours.

The pick-up artist team that Carouse had sent walked about the city, hoping to create a chance encounter with the ladies. They asked every woman they met if they were of Amethyst Rebirth, turning their heads and leaving once they heard them say no.

Very quickly, many ladies in Yunduan City were angered by this, "What was that all about?! So what if I am not from Amethyst Rebirth? Must I be looked down upon just because I am not from that guild?"

Just this act alone had offended almost all the ladies in Yunduan City, yet these flirts did not know of this. From here onward, they would no longer be able to pick up any ladies within Yunduan City.

As for those ladies Cloud Herder had sent as spies, they found no one in the Amethyst Rebirth's headquarters. The female guild leader was not online as well, so these spies sat by the door like idiots to show their sincerity of joining the guild! These spies were later mistaken for members of Amethyst Rebirth by those pick-up artists that Carouse had sent, who tried their best to pander and cajole the good senses of these ladies. In the end, these flirts almost got into a fight with the spies when they found out what was really going on.

Both guild leaders kept shaking their heads and sighing upon the mention of this incident. It had happened during their fortieth encounter, with both hurriedly resolving the situation before it escalated. At the same time, both parties learned of the method that their rival was attempting, resulting in either side enacting the same plan as well.

The only difference was that Carouse had quickly managed to find female spies on their end, while no men from Cloud Herder were willing to attempt the reverse honey-pot approach after seeing how the local ladies were treating those 'studs' despite Foe-herder promising great rewards for those who would succeed. Even now Foe-herder was feeling quite indignant about how things had unfolded.

"So, what are you gonna do next?" Brave Surge asked.

"Well…" Foe-herder hesitated.

"What's there not to say? Even if we withhold information here, I guarantee that it will just be a matter of time before either of us find out about the other's plan. And I a.s.sure you neither of us will have an edge in recruiting that person if this goes on."

"That's not it. I'm actually still thinking of what to do next," Foe-herder admitted.

"Randomly asking around isn't the way, either. How many players are there in Yunduan City?"

"Ten thousand? Twenty thousand? Or is it thirty thousand?" Foe-herder offered.

"All can be!" Brave Surge nodded his head gravely. "How long are we gonna keep quizzing people? The total manpower of our guilds combined is just over one thousand people, so there's no guarantee that we will obtain information from doing this."

"You have a point. I even feel that we might get chased out of the city by the ma.s.ses if we end up irking them so much with all our questioning," Foe-herder added morosely.

Brave Surge leaked out a sly smile, "Hey, I'm not gonna keep this from you. Whenever anything happened and people asked what guild we came from, I've been instructing my men to say that we are from Cloud Herder."

Foe-herder felt stunned for a moment when he heard this before abruptly bursting into laughter.

"What's the matter?" Brave Surge asked, perplexed.

Foe-herder was laughing so much that he could not even say a word. He raised his hand to point at Brave Surge before pointing at himself.

Brave Surge immediately understood what he meant, "You mean to say that your guild has also been doing the same and was putting the blame on us, Carouse?"

Foe-herder was still laughing uncontrollably as he nodded his head.

"F*ck!" Brave Surge cursed, recalling how many times they had encountered each other in this one night. It was about forty-seven times if he included this meeting.

Forty-seven times… G.o.dd*mn! Why am I so bored that I actually keep track of our chance encounters... With this thought in mind, Brave Surge asked Foe-herder, "How many times have we met just tonight alone?"

Foe-herder slowly stopped laughing as he replied, "Forty-eight times."

"Eh? Forty-eight, not forty-seven? Did I miss one?" Brave Surge asked aloud.

"You didn't," Foe-herder answered, explaining, "There's a time I saw you, but you didn't see me. I doubt you would include that."

"You can't count that if I actually missed you," Brave Surge chastised lightly.

"Mhm-mhm. I'm counting the number of times I saw you not met you," Foe-herder retorted.

"Ha ha ha…" Both men shared a moment together.

As they chatted on, the door to the tavern suddenly burst open as someone rushed over to Brave Surge's side, "Guild Leader, I thought of a method! Why don't we put up posters all over Yunduan City, so that people will come to us instead? Perhaps, the Mage himself may contact us if he sees it!"

Brave Surge's expression changed when he heard the suggestion, "You could just message me, so why did you have to run over?"

"Eh? I happen to be pa.s.sing by and saw that you are drinking here. What's the matter?"

Brave Surge did not say another word as the person sitting across him slowly turned over and happily faced the newcomer, "That's a pretty good idea you've got there!"

"Foe-herder?!" The player almost fainted, finally realizing why Brave Surge had admonished him. How would he have guessed that these two guild leaders would be drinking together?

"D*mn! You managed to acquire such a great idea from us," Brave Surge felt disgruntled.

"Don't worry. I won't waste this tip-off," Foe-herder replied.

"That's more like it. Hit me up when you receive information!" Brave Surge promptly said.

"What?" Foe-Herder asked, looking at him with an incredulous look on his face.

"Eh? What—"

"What I meant is that this round is on me! Why would I tell you anything if I receive any information?" Foe-herder asked, laughing.

Brave Surge had a.s.sumed that Foe-herder was planning to share information to them in return for the great tip-off, yet he had been wholly wrong. This caused his expression to darken, "Don't feel so pleased with yourself, as if you would receive a word on this matter before us. Don't forget that I have more men in my guild than you."

"That's right. You have WAY more men than my guild," Foe-herder said sarcastically.

"F*ck! Let's go!" Brave Surge brought the player of his along and left in a huff.

With this another chance to headhunt the black clothed Mage, the sympathetic att.i.tude they had for each other swiftly disappeared, once more standing on opposite sides for this struggle for talent.

Foe-herder did not hurry to leave and stayed at where he was seated. In no time at all, several men walked up to him.

"What's the matter, boss?" these men asked.

Foe-herder chuckled, "I was sitting and chatting with Brave Surge here moments ago when a guild member of his blurted out an idea, and I happened to hear what it is."

"What is it?" these men pressed on.

"Posters!" Foe-herder eagerly replied.

"Oh!" The men's eyes immediately lit up.

"Not a bad idea, huh? Quickly get this done as soon as you can. Write a few more, as well. We won't just be posting posters; we'll even hand out flyers on the streets. No matter where it flies to, someone will surely read it and find us. Remember to mention about a substantial remuneration for information!" Foe-herder ordered.

"How much should it be?" someone asked.

"Hmm… This…" Foe-herder hesitated. It was not an issue with currency, but that Carouse would also be doing the same thing. No matter how much amount was stated, both guilds might end up trying to one-up each other, resulting into the person selling the information to profit from this matter.

It seemed that he would have to discuss this matter with Brave Surge. Just as Foe-herder was thinking of this, Brave Surge burst through the tavern double doors and approached Foe-herder, "I need to discuss something with you."

How coincidental! Foe-herder muttered to himself. Could we have thought of the same thing? 

"You guys won't be stupid enough to put the remuneration right on the posters, right?" Brave Surge asked.

They were indeed on the same page. Foe-herder was very impressed as he shook his head with a smile, "Of course, not. I know what you're worried about."

"Oh, that's good. We should corroborate on matters that can be worked together!" Brave Surge smilingly recommended.

"I agree," Foe-herder nodded his head.

"We shall see what you guys write, then," Brave Surge stood by the side sternly.

Those men of Cloud Herder were already making a poster to put its content on the guild channel once it was done so that the other members could copy it word-for-word. With their compet.i.tor standing right beside them, these people writing up the content of the poster felt somewhat uncomfortable and stared blankly at Brave Surge.

"F*ck off! Stop messing us up!" Foe-herder shoved Brave Surge to the side.

"Do you two big bosses really not intend to include the remuneration on the posters?" a sudden voice came over.

When Brave Surge and Foe-herder looked at the voice's origin, they saw a beautiful lady stand up from a table and make her way to them.

The two exchanged looks before asking the lady, "What do you mean?"

"If you don't mention the remuneration, how would I know who to sell this information I have on me?!" the beauty explained.

"What information?" the two asked.

"That level 39 Mage of Amethyst Rebirth!" the beauty smirked.

The two looked at each other once more and asked, "Are you from Amethyst Rebirth?"

"No." The beauty shook her head, saying, "I just happen to have the information you two are seeking."

"Oh? How did that happen?"

"Because I know the man that you two are looking for," she replied.

"What's his name?" The two said at the same time, the only difference being their tone.

The beauty smiled, not saying another word.

"Uhh…" The two men realized what was happening. Brave Surge thought for a bit before saying, "Lady, please don't leave just yet!" With that, he grabbed Foe-herder and pulled him to the side.

Chapter 171 - A Rare Commodity Presides Within

The beauty stood on one spot as Brave Surge pulled Foe-herder to the side.

"That woman has been here all along, so she knows our intention. We can't let her lead us on," Brave Surge said, adding, "Since we're here together, we should not compete for this and instead split the price to buy this information from her."

Foe-herder nodded his head, "That's a good idea. It spares one of us from not knowing this way, as well as from getting hustled."

"Worse is if she sells this information to one and sells it again to another; that just means everyone gets hustled," Brave Surge added.

"That makes a lot of sense," Foe-herder agreed.

"So we must work together right now," Brave Surge said earnestly.

"We should, indeed."

After discussing the matter, the two headed back to the beauty's side.

The beauty gave them a faint smile, "How did the discussion between the two big bosses go?"

"State your price!" Since they were no longer fighting over the remuneration, it was naturally better to let the seller state her price. It was a very safe method in negotiations.

"Oh? I want to hear the price you guys have set for your remuneration first!" the beauty said instead.

The two looked at each other first before saying, "Darling, don't waste our time. Everyone here knows what's going on so we won't be bidding for it. Just tell us your price and we'll buy it together."

The beauty helplessly sighed, "If that's the case, the price will be 1000 gold coins!"

"D*mn, girl! You're quite vicious!" the two exclaimed, dumbfounded.

Although many people had joined Parallel World after its official release and invigorated the market by causing the prices of goods to increase as well as the amount of gold coins being spent, the surge had only been for a few months and the market had since settled back down. Thus, 1000 gold coins was still not a small amount.

Using the current market price for in-game equipment, weapons with skills, especially the ones with unique skills, were priced the highest. This type of weapons could be considered to be of the highest tier among top-grade items. Even if the additional traits on the items were bad, no one would consider them as trash. These items were usually at purple tier with a few that were at gold tier. It was just impossible for blue-tier items to have unique skills. This sort of equipment had no market value to speak of, so it could only be transacted based on the buyer and the seller's agreed upon price. Out of all the officially released transactions to date, 5000 gold coins was the highest price that a buyer and a seller had agreed on. It was unknown, though, if private deals with even higher prices had occurred among players.

Below this equipment with skills would be equipment without skills in the order of purple, gold, blue, and white tiers. The difference between the four tiers lay in the traits that the weapons had. White-tier weapons had no additional traits, blue-tier weapons had two traits, gold-tier weapons had three or four traits, and purple tier had five or more traits. The price would be determined by what traits these items had and the value of each trait. Most items cost hundreds, while the rarely seen and thus termed as top-grade equipment cost thousands.

As for the rumored green-tier equipment that came in a set, it might be as good as a myth. Green-tier equipment had yet to be sighted on the current market, so it naturally had no market price as well.

According to the information that the officials had leaked thus far, the advantage of green-tier equipment lay in the hidden traits that it had once the set entire was collected. Individually, green-tier equipment was no better than blue-tier or gold-tier equipment and could not even compare to the purple-tier equipment.

Hearing that this beauty's opening price was the price for top-grade equipment, the two guild leaders immediately thought that she was insane.

The two had every intention of expanding their respective guilds' influence and might, so they were of course willing to pay thousands of gold coins, provided that the Mage was guaranteed to join their guild. With just his IGN, neither of them felt that the price the lady had quoted them was worth it.

The beauty smiled, "Is it too pricey? Then, I guess we can forget about it!"

"Yeah, we'll forget about it. It's better off just putting out those posters," Brave Surge politely declined, tugging Foe-herder along with him.

Foe-herder was a bit reluctant to let go of this source of information, so he used his job cla.s.s as a Warrior to resist Brave Surge's pull. Brave Surge threw him a backward glance before hurriedly sending him a message: "Don't be hasty. I'm sure she'll call us back. It's only a name. How is she going to earn anything from that if we pa.s.s on this offer?"

These two men did not waste a whole night together for naught and, at the very least, had added each other on their friends list.

Foe-herder saw the logic in Brave Surge's thinking, so he quickly followed Brave Surge outside of the tavern.

"Are we leaving, guild leader?" Foe-herder's men were still on the table, chasing after them once they saw the two guild leaders leaving the premise.

"Let's go! We'll sticking to our plan of making posters!" Foe-herder cried out intentionally.

"Okay!" the men answered as they began to follow the two men outside.

"Still not calling us back?"  Foe-herder became quite anxious now that they were almost out of the double doors.

Guess we can't turn back, either. F*cking h.e.l.l. 1000 gold coins. If you're gonna spend that much, go do it yourself. I would rather stick to the posters. I refuse to believe that she's the only one who knows this Mage in Yunduan City, Brave Surge comforted himself.

The two men really ended up leaving the tavern as the beauty quietly watched them.

"Oh, well. Guess we really gotta put up those posters now," Foe-herder sighed.

Brave Surge shrugged to show his helplessness. Just as Foe-herder was about to speak further, he saw two members of Carouse walk past him. Calling for Brave Surge's attention, they proceeded to tear two pages off the notepads that they were carrying and pasted them on the wall outside the tavern.

"F*ck, you're really wily. Your boys have already started posting," Foe-herder yelped as he read the content of Carouse's poster.

[Search notice: Looking for a certain male player who has managed to join Amethyst Rebirth Guild. Please contact me if anyone has information about him.]

What followed after were these words in large font: 'HUGE CASH REWARD AWAITING YOU!' The contact listed below was actually a player's name instead of a guild.

"Mhm!" Foe-herder nodded his head, knocking on the poster and saying to his men, "Write something like this. Don't reveal our guild's ident.i.ty since that will be too conspicuous."

The two guilds had not mentioned even once this black-clothed Mage's prowess in this whole night of questioning and merely described him as deplorable man who had managed to get into an all-female guild, not once indicating that he was a powerful character.

"Quickly get everyone in the guild to get on this!" Foe-herder grew anxious once he saw that Carouse had already begun pasting their posters. While saying this, he took out his notepad and personally wrote out a copy by the tavern entrance. He then instructed everyone on the guild channel: "We need to move fast. Put posters up everywhere that Carouse has pasted and to the places that their guild hasn't done so."

"That's pretty good!" Brave Surge commented upon seeing Foe-herder's beautiful penmanship on the two posters the latter had hastily made.

"Hmph! We're having a friendly compet.i.tion right now, so we can paste wherever we want. But! Don't even think about tearing off the posters from our side!" Foe-herder warned.

"Of course. We need to agree on matters when the need arises," Brave Surge said as he put forth similar instructions to his guild, "We have an accord with Cloud Herder. n.o.body is allowed tear off each other's posters."

"We won't tear them off, but we can just paste ours over theirs!" Carouse truly did not lack for cunning schemers.

"Hmm. Everyone should do what they deem as appropriate!" Brave Surge's words implied that he was neither against nor for the suggestion that the member had given. It was important for a guild leader to master the art of ambiguity to give members freedom to do what was necessary. Credit would be given when results were shown, while responsibility could be pushed away if needed be; it was the best of both worlds.

Both guilds became busy from this point onward. The entire Yunduan City - the walls on the streets, the doors of business establishments, the roads of often used streets, and so on - was filled with those little posters.

Foe-herder even instructed his men to climb up the Bell Tower and the City Hall and throw a stack of posters off of them. "We'll let the wind be the bearer of our message!" was what Foe-herder said when he made them execute it.

In that moment, papers flew all over Yunduan City. Wherever players walked to, there would be posters of this black-clothed Mage. There were so many of these posters that people could now recite their content word-for-word without looking.

The contacts that the two large guilds had a.s.signed quickly received many inquiries about the remuneration issue and the information required. 

"h.e.l.lo, player! Appropriate reward will be given based on the information you have provided. If you have any information regarding the person in question, we hope to speak with you personally" was the contacts' generic response to the public's general inquiries.

Many players quickly began to ask for a face-to-face meeting. Foe-herder and Brave Surge were elated at first and promptly set up rendezvous points, awaiting the informants to come to them. However, these two guild leaders soon felt that something was off, given the quick response that they were getting. With more and more people asking for a meet-up and each saying that they had information regarding the OP Mage, the two realized that they themselves did not know anything about the black-clothed Mage. Therefore, they had no way of verifying the validity of any information. Given how abuzz the whole city was regarding this matter, both were positive that some swindlers would be present in these meet-ups.

This was the drawback of acquiring information through such method. If they had stated a guild was behind this, most of the swindlers would think twice before doing the deed. After all, offending a whole guild was a lot more serious than just one player. Since this was just an individual, the swindlers would not even bat an eye as they cheated their mark, quickly taking off after.

In the blink of an eye, the two guilds' respective rendezvous points had already ama.s.sed thirty-seven different names for the Mage. The contacts in charge were no fools either and also realized that things had not gone according to plan upon seeing the situation at hand.

These contacts also did not know if the information that they were getting held some truth, so they were truly stumped on whether to accept it or not.

Some of those who had come to make a quick buck somewhat felt guilty upon seeing the situation and opted to just leave. The remaining players were those who had placed money over their morality and insisted that the information that they had provided was factual, demanding to receive the expected reward. They even tried to discredit their fellow swindlers by calling one another as liars. This was precisely how Carouse and Cloud Herder ended up with thirty-seven different IGNs. 

Seeing that the matter was about to escalate into a PvP when these swindlers did not get their reward, Brave Surge and Foe-herder each brought their men to their respective rendezvous points. 

The two were wringing their hands regarding their plight when they saw the listed names that their contacts had collected. Society was truly in a decline. This situation was a visible representation of the death of morality! The general etiquette that the people practiced in-game was no longer like before. Brave Surge attempted to add these IGNs, yet none of them were online. There was even someone called 'b.u.t.terfly Blue' that the system had stated did not exist in-game.

"Who gave me this name?!" Brave Surge asked genially.

Someone's eyes flashed, as he hurriedly bounded over, "Me! Me!"

"You g*dd*mn idiot! You don't even know how to swindle properly, providing a name that does not exist in the game at all! I'll show you what 'does not exist' mean!" Brave Surge casted a series of spells in his anger and bombarded the man to his death right there and then. He then slammed the b.u.t.t of his magic staff on the ground as he shook the list of names in his other hand: "Who else claims that the IGN he or she has given is real?"

No one dared to say a word. The swindlers stuck their tongues out as if this was all a prank and quickly made their escape.

"Looks like this method isn't working," Brave Surge sighed as he furrowed his brows.

"I think we need them to provide us some concrete evidence," someone suggested.

Brave Surge nodded his head. Evidently, those who had just left were swindlers. Had he the heart, he would give them all a good tongue lashing for their lack of morals.

Not all the players had scheduled to meet up this time. When that bunch of swindlers was chased off, others tried to muddle their way through this. Learning that they were swindlers as well, Brave Surge only awarded them his brutal threats.

Furthermore, the posters' content was revised, such that players could not attempt to bluff their way through. In half an hour's time, the rendezvous point that Brave Surge had set became crisp and quiet.

"How are things on your end?" Brave Surge messaged Foe-herder.

"I'm super busy!" Foe-herder hurriedly replied.

"Ah? You've received news?" Brave Surge asked, stunned.

"I'm erasing my points! I currently have 28 PK points!" Foe-herder choked back his sob, adding, "I thought the patrolling soldiers would arrest me just now!"

Brave Surge could not stifle his laughter. It seemed that Foe-herder had a shorter fuse than him, killing all those who had attempted to bluff their way to get the reward.

Could it be that no one in Yunduan City knows this person? Brave Surge thought to himself, That's just not possible. Those who know him must be offline right now… Or the ones online are all good friends of his… Sigh!

Brave Surge immediately realized that their approach was a double-edged sword. Because they did not want other guilds to get a wind of such a powerful Mage, they refrained from mentioning the Mage's fighting prowess and only identified him as the sole male player of Amethyst Rebirth. Anyone who saw the posters would immediately a.s.sume that a bunch of players was looking for the Mage to get revenge. In such a scenario, any friend of the Mage would not betray him. Who would even think that a large guild was looking to recruit him?!

Brave Surge felt frustrated. He had originally thought that this method was rather comprehensive, yet it was actually filled with pros and cons. In the end, there were hardly any pros in this method, while all the cons were blatantly revealed.

With the contact person not having anything to do for over half an hour and the lateness of the hour in-game, he continued to nod off like a chick pecking on rice and could not hold himself back from yawning. He was soon sprawled on the table, fast asleep. Even Brave Surge felt lethargic as well. He had done nothing of value this whole night and wasted his time on a fruitless approach. Perhaps, this method would be best employed at daytime when more people were online.

Someone slipped into the room for their rendezvous point just as he was about to call it a night. Brave Surge turned his head and felt surprised, "It's you." It was the beautiful lady at the tavern.

The beauty still had a mischievous grin on her face as she regarded Brave Surge, "How's the result of your posters?!"

Brave Surge stayed silent. This woman at least had the confidence to mention that the Mage they were looking for was at level 39, which made her more trustworthy than those players who had come to him today. It was quite possible that she indeed knew who the Mage was.

However, Brave Surge was adamant on admitting that his poster plan had failed, knowing that this woman would seize the opportunity to raise the price once more.

Am I willing to spend 1000 gold coins or not?! Brave Surge asked this question to himself. The positive thing here was that Foe-herder was not present. Although the two now had a rather cordial relationship, Brave Surge would still rather find the Mage while Foe-Herder failed on his search for him. It was a grand opportunity to have this woman before him and not Foe-herder's!

Brave Surge was quite tempted to spend 1000 gold coins for this exclusive information, but after tonight's experience, it could be said that his trust for everyone in-game was at the lowest.

Even if this woman accepted his 1000 gold coins and promised to not leak the information to Foe-herder, how would he know that she kept her word? This lady who was trying to earn a fortune from her information was very likely to look for Foe-herder once she had earned a tidy profit from him. For this greedy woman, it was not past her to do something so unscrupulous.

"Big Boss Surge, what are you deeply thinking about?" The beauty's gaze on Brave Surge was unreadable.

"Darling, your price is just too high," Brave Surge admitted.

"Is that so?" The beauty laughed daintily, "I thought that after all that you have experienced, you two would understand the value of the information I have on me."

"So you've already guessed the outcome," Brave Surge's expression changed. This woman is pretty farsighted if she has already foreseen this result that neither Foe-herder nor I thought of while executing this plan! 

The beauty remained smiling.

"So what do you want to do?" Brave Surge asked.

"Continue selling the information I have on me, of course!" the beauty replied frankly.

"All we want to know is a name, darling. Your price is far too high," Brave Surge did not back down.

The beauty slowly shook her head, "Looks like you don't do business a lot. You've at least heard of the story behind 'A rare commodity presides within', right? Although some things appear to be superficial at the start, there will come a time when they rise in value. The only question is that are you able to seize this opportunity in time?"

Brave Surge mirthlessly laughed, "And you think that his IGN is a rare commodity?"

"You've wasted two days and yet you could not even learn his name; would you not call it a rare commodity as well?"

"I've only busied myself with this matter in this one night. There are fewer people online at night. I'm certain that I will hear something this morning," Brave Surge justified.

The beauty smiled, "I think I have a better understanding of his circ.u.mstance, so I can safely a.s.sure you that the situation in the day will be just the same as tonight. Because no one will even know who you're talking about."

Brave Surge froze before he suddenly laughed, "The Amethyst Rebirth's ladies are not online at night. Why would I be afraid to wait and see what happens at daytime? Do you mean to tell me that even the Amethyst Rebirth's ladies don't know him?"

"They do know him." The beauty chuckled slightly, "Do you think that I can't tell them to not reveal his ident.i.ty because someone is trying to poach him? And that the men and women who wish to get to know them will all have ill-intentions…."

"You!" Brave Surge could not believe that their plan was easily uncovered by this woman, "Just how long have you got your eyes on us?"

"Oh… Not very long. It's only after people kept on asking me if I am a member of Amethyst Rebirth and knowing that the matter pertains to a certain male player in that guild," the beauty admitted, adding, "From that moment onward, I realized that I know something of great value. When it comes to such things, it's important to properly manage it. Don't worry, besides me, I guarantee that you won't find another person who will tell you information about him."

"Are you trying to dupe me? Hmph! I'll have you know that I am not afraid to test whether you are the only one who has that piece of information!" Brave Surge challenged.

"He he! Try it if you wish, but let me tell you; if you have yet to find out anything by the end of the PvP tournament the next night, the price for this information will increase. You should be aware that most guilds that are still in the running are no longer small guilds. They will most likely have the same intentions as you do and will love to poach him away to their guilds. Hmm… Wonder which guild is Amethyst Rebirth matched up with this time? I haven't checked it out yet! He he… No matter. Given the strength he possesses, he is bound to attract attention no matter the match's outcome. I do hope that Amethyst Rebirth wins, though. The more rounds he gets through, the more attention he will get. Can you even imagine how much more I could earn once all the big guilds wish to know about his name?" When the beauty finished her soliloquy, she gave Brave Surge a wink that was full of expectation.

Without waiting for Brave Surge to say another word, she had already waved her sleeves gracefully and turned away. Walking a few steps, she turned back and smiled, "I'll take my leave first. You better think carefully, Big Boss Surge. The price I have set will still be 1000 gold coins before the upcoming match. You can send me a message to my personal e-mail; my name is Xi Xiaotian."

Xi Xiaotian then drifted off, leaving Brave Surge and the other members with him rooted to the spot.

One piece of information for 1000 gold coins… To buy or not to buy, that was the question!

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Virtual World: Close Combat Mage Chapter 170-171 summary

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