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Chapter 463 - Number Nine
Three Sighs of Flowing Maple valued Drifting's input, so he immediately followed up with a question, “Is Brother Drifting able to perhaps give us further details regarding what would could specifically expect?”
“It would be similar to what we face from the usual compet.i.tive quests. At the same time that your guild is tasked with defending the Government City Hall, the system would perhaps detail out compet.i.tive quests at the Hall of Guild Creation, Hall of Mercenaries, or other locations to sic players on to you guys, making things difficult for all the parties involved,” Drifting explained.
“D*mn. This again!” one of the core members cursed. It was likely that this man had experienced compet.i.tive quests himself and suffered his fair share.
“Guild quest… or mercenary mission…” Three Sighs of Flowing Maple repeated once before immediately saying, “Quick. Send men over to the Hall of Mercenaries and Hall of Guild Creation to take a look. Check to see what sort of mission is available.” Members from Flowergazing in the Fog were recently focusing on how they could make progress to finish up their guild quest, so it had been quite some time since any of them picked up any new missions or quests from either hall. Hearing what Drifting had just said, Three Sighs of Flowing Maple instantly realized their mistake and could only hope that it was not too late to salvage the situation.
Meanwhile, Gu Fei, who had departed from the courtyard, took no more than a few steps away from the gates when he heard someone call out from behind him, “Bro!”
Darkness was all around him, and this voice was soft yet clear. Even though it was abrupt, Gu Fei was able to determine where the voice had sounded from. He turned his head to the left. If he was not mistaken, that voice came from somewhere near the base of the wall on his left.
There was no one there when he looked, however, and all he saw was fog. This was the magic that the Government City Hall's courtyard contained. Two different worlds existed within and beyond the wall without a break between the two. Players would suddenly step into a world of fog after the clarity they experienced within the compound.
“Who's there?” he casually asked, unsure if the other party was addressing him.
“Do you mind if we speak?” The voice sounded once more. Gu Fei could already clearly determine the direction it had come from this time, but he was still unable to see anyone. The person seemed to be purposefully hiding within the fog, not wishing to reveal himself or herself.
“Who are you? What's this about?” he asked.
“Why don't you follow me first!” this person suggested.
Gu Fei laughed bitterly. “If I can't see you, how am I gonna follow you?”
Fire immediately ignited and floated before him.
“Follow the flame from the torch!” the person said.
This was the correct usage of the torch in Xiawu City. He had no idea what this person was intending, but as the saying went: 'A person's skill matches his bravery', he had no qualms about following the glow in the distance. He even tried to quicken his pace in an effort to catch up and take a look at just who the person was, but the moment he could make out the faintest outline of a human figure, this person would immediately quicken his pace as well, maintaining the distance with him from start to finish. Even though Gu Fei did not succeed in catching a glimpse of this person's looks, he at least had an idea as to what his or her job cla.s.s was; it could either be an Archer or a Thief.
Let's see just what in the world this person is trying to do, Gu Fei thought to himself as his left hand dove into his dimensional pocket and gripped the handle of his Moonlit Nightfalls. Perhaps, this was how people in this city robbed others. Gu Fei could not help but feel a little excited when he thought of this possibility.
The person was leading the way the whole time, and Gu Fei followed without saying a word. Along the way, they came across many other players that were also following the flames of torches just like him. He found this to be rather strange even though other players did not seem to share the same sentiment.
Continuing along in this manner, it was not long before they left the city gates and continued onward. The voices of players conversing or merely just pa.s.sing by slowly faded.
“Watch your steps!” A voice broke the ongoing silence at this moment.
Gu Fei lowered his head and saw that the two of them were no longer walking on paved road and were, instead, traversing through ruins with plenty of vegetation and strewn rubble around them which served as impediments. Gu Fei followed along, turning and winding along, as he thought to himself that the robbers from Xiawu City were being overly cautious. Given the exceptional weather condition of this city, was there still a need to bring their victims all the way to somewhere so inaccessible?
Finally, the glowing flame before him stopped moving, so Gu Fei came to a stop as well. A trap could be lying in front of him, so he did not wish to blindly risk this possibility and jump right into it. Standing still, he silently sensed his surroundings. There was no one, or perhaps, they were all in the fog. The point was that, besides the ruins, nothing else was around him.
“This is the place,” the person said.
“Alright… So what's all this about?” Gu Fei asked.
“Bro, you're not from around here, are you?” this person asked back, instead.
“That's right!” he confirmed.
“Where you're from or where you're going is no concern to us, but you seem to have a quest in the Government City Hall as well, which means we have something in common,” this person continued.
“That's right; 'we',” someone repeated as human figures began to reveal themselves from the fog. One, two, three… A total of eight players began to come into view. Gu Fei was about to take a look and see who they were, when they came to a sudden halt.
“Bro, you don't seem to have cover on your face,” one of them stated.
“Cover?” Gu Fei was disappointed.
“That's right. We cover our faces because we don't wish for each of us to know the others' ident.i.ty. As an outsider, you may not to stay in Xiawu City for long, so you won't mind this, but I think it's still best if we remind you of this,” this man explained.
“Well, in that case… when in Rome!” Gu Fei reached into his dimensional pocket for a bandana and quickly covered his face with it. Following this, he saw one of the people raise his hand, and, in the next moment, a black bundle came flying toward Gu Fei. This bundle unfurled itself halfway through its sail to the air; it was actually a large black poncho.
Seeing that the wind was about to take it away, Gu Fei hurriedly extended his sword and hooked it back to him. “This is…” He was hesitating when the eight finally stepped forth from the fog. Sure enough, each of them had a similar poncho on their face, looking like octuplets as a result.
“So… I gotta wear this?” he asked.
“That's up to you. That poncho bears a number a.s.sociated with each of us,” one of them answered.
The person nodded. “Haven't I just mentioned that we don't personally know one another and only temporarily banded together due to having a quest of our own within the place? But because we're about to face Flowergazing in the Fog, the strongest guild in Xiawu City, none of us wishes to leave any possible traces that can cause us trouble in the future. As such, we have no choice but to shroud ourselves in mystery like this.” While explaining this, the person indicated the corner of his poncho where the number '4' was sewn to Gu Fei.
Gu Fei quickly looked at the same corner of his poncho and saw the number '9' sewn on it.
“We don't know one another's name, so we'll address each other by our number. You can call me Four, Ah Si1, or Lao Si2. It's your pick, but don't you ever call me Xiao Si3. I hate how it sounds,” said the player with the number '4'.
“Don't ever call me Lao Er,” said the player with the number '2'.
“Don't call me Xiao San,” said the player with the number '3'.
“You're all welcome to call me Lao Ba4,” said the player with the number '8'.
Gu Fei quietly donned that poncho as he nodded. “I don't mind. Call me whatever.”
“Since you've accepted this, can I take it that you are clear on why we are gathered here and called you to join us?” Four asked.
“While n.o.body has explicitly said it, I think I more or less got the gist of things,” Gu Fei replied. “You guys must be probably players that have gotten compet.i.tive quests against the Flowergazing in the Fog, and you all gathered here in hopes of accomplishing it; am I right?”
“Yes,” Four affirmed. “Too many players have given up their quests when they saw the need to go against the Flowergazing in the Fog, while there were plenty that have given up after failing. I'm afraid all that is left is just the nine of us,” Four continued.
“Then, surely you have to share what's the content of your quest, yeah? Spit it out so we can better work together on achieving it,” Gu Fei suggested.
“Of course,” Four said. As the eight men gave a brief overview of their quest description. When that is all over, they turned the question toward Gu Fei. “How about you?”
“Me? a.s.sa.s.sinate Giordano,” Gu Fei replied simply.
Even though they were wearing cover on their faces, he could still sense their expression of surprise. Prepared to go up against Flowergazing in the Fog's quest, these men had naturally done their due diligence and were well aware that the NPC Giordano was an important character to the guild quest. Killing off this NPC would likely result in the total failure of Flowergazing in the Fog's quest, right?
Of course, these men were not thinking for the sake of Flowergazing in the Fog. After their momentary astonishment, they immediately pressed on, “What have you gotten so far?”
“Uhm, Giordano is in the Vigilante Corps Chamber on the third floor, but at the same time, there are plenty of guards around, so it isn't easy to strike there. While it will leave the safety of the Government City Hall and patrol the grounds at daytime, there're still way too many guards within the courtyard. Including those players from Flowergazing in the Fog watching the area like hawks, I have yet to find a good opportunity at the moment,” Gu Fei shared.
The eight nodded their heads incessantly when Six suddenly called out, “Besides that, you seem to know something else?”
“Oh, what's that?”
“What method did you use to escape from the watchful gazes of all the players from that guild and suddenly appear right outside the entrance to the city hall?” asked Six.
“He he!” Gu Fei chuckled. “Talking about that, why don't you guys share what information you guys have gleaned thus far, too?” This gang did not talk about ident.i.ty or friendship and was merely freely exchanging information with one another. Since Gu Fei was now a part of this gang, he figured he should adhere to the rules. He could not possibly allow himself to be used and expect nothing in return, right? Thus, before he showed his hand, he naturally wanted to first get more information from them. This was to see if it was worth exchanging information with them.
In the end, Four sighed. “If we had already gotten enough information ourselves, we would have already completed our quest; why else would we still come here and discuss the matter like this? Perhaps, what you know is the last piece of the puzzle to the completion of our quests.”
“Well, in that case, show me what you've got!” Gu Fei said.
“Fine. Let me tell you in detail,” Four squatted, randomly picked up a twig, and began drawing on the ground. Gu Fei could tell that the man was drawing out a rough sketch of the city hall's courtyard. Forming a circle in the dirt, placing stones, and drawing arrows, he began to describe in great detail all the NPC activities within the courtyard.
 'Si' is the p.r.o.nunciation (Hanyu pinyin) for 四 (Four).
 'Lao', in this case, is for 老 (Old). People may casually affix it to the name of someone their senior.
 Conversely, 'Xiao' means small (小), which is often affixed to the name of a younger person to the speaker.
 The joke here is that 老八 (Old Eight) is the h.o.m.onym of the Chinese word for 'dad' or 'father'.