Chapter 127 – Krusch’s Scam
“Hey, I don’t know when you plan to start developing your property in Hilderlocke, but I’m hoping when that time comes we can meet as friends rather than enemies.”
Kill Love noted down the name Nirvana Flame in his mind. He planned to do a little investigating on this new friend of his from Calore and find out what powers he was affiliated with. If Nie Yan was an enemy, then he would abandon all pretense at politeness and do everything in his power to prevent him from establishing a presence here. For instance, if Nie Yan only planned to resell the property once it appreciated in value, then he would have nothing to say nor would he interfere. However, if Nie Yan wished to open up a business, he would guarantee that establishment would receive no customers. A strong dragon would not be able to suppress a snake in its burrow. Even if Nie Yan was a powerful and ferocious dragon, Kill Love had nothing to fear because Hilderlocke was his home turf.
Nie Yan understood that every city had its big shots, and without the appropriate strength or backing, it would be nearly impossible for him to gain any influence. He would find it very difficult to do business here if Kill Love were to become his enemy. However, since it was only a single plot of land, even if he didn’t start a business, he would at least be able to make a fruitful return on his investment when the property’s value appreciated in the future.
“I also hope we don’t become enemies.” Nie Yan faintly smiled. Although he and Kill Love had no reason to come into conflict nor were they likely to become enemies, no one knew for certain what fate would have in store for them.
“I still need to bring my team for a dungeon run, so let’s chat again some other time. Hopefully our next conversation can be as friendly as this one.” Kill Love wasn’t willing to forge any sort of deep friendship. After all, if they were to get along now but became enemies in the future, it would complicate matters more than necessary.
“Alright, I’ll see you later.”
A thought popped into Nie Yan’s mind as he gazed at Kill Love’s departing figure. Perhaps I should stroll around Hilderlocke first, maybe visit that Master Blacksmith Krusch and see if there’s any good gear I can buy. Then, I should probably go off and level again. He had spent more than two days exploring Hems. Given the levelling speed in Sosil Valley, those elites probably rose quite a bit in level as well.
There’s already a player with the Metal Storm Set… It seems my actions so far still aren’t enough. I’m still too slow… The Metal Storm Set wasn’t actually just one set but rather a line of Warrior equipment sets that shared the same label. They were the Iron Storm Set, Black Iron Storm Set, Gold Storm Set, Black Gold Storm Set, Lumidium Storm Set, and Black Lumidium Storm Set. Each of these sets had Strength prerequisites, and the lowest ranked, the Iron Storm Set Kill Love wore, already required the player to have 120 Strength.
Nie Yan had only been able to reach 130 Strength because of the Chapter of Freedom, five passive skills, and Strength Gems.
Yet Kill Love, on the other hand, was able to attain 120 Strength without the added benefit from socketing his equipment. Moreover, when he equipped the Iron Storm Set, his Strength was increased by another thirty percent. That was a little too terrifying.
Kill Love had the best gear out of all the players he had encountered so far. He was a player capable of being placed at the very top of the leaderboards, and Nie Yan couldn’t help but wonder how many others out there were just as monstrous as him.
It seems I’ll have to speed up the pace on both levelling and gathering better equipment! Nie Yan no longer dallied as he bid farewell to Administrator Kallan before heading off toward the northern region of Hilderlocke. Returning to Calore would cost him another gold. Besides, since he was already here, he might as well give Master Blacksmith Krusch’s place a visit. There was no harm in doing so, and today just happened to be Wednesday!
The buildings in Hilderlocke were magnificent as ever as he walked along the emerald green streets paved with jadeite. While observing the sights, he distinctly noticed that the city seemed to be identical to the one in his memories. As he looked up toward the sky, he saw a bright halo formed by magical energy revolving over the city. Its presence added to the enchanting nature of this place that seemed to come out of a storybook.
After walking around for ten or so minutes, Nie Yan eventually came across a forked road. He glanced at the directions Administrator Kallan gave him before taking the road on the left. He made twists and turns, and as he got farther, the streets became progressively more narrow. If not for having the exact coordinates, he would have believed himself to be lost.
Yet truthfully, he really had no idea where he was. All he knew was that he had arrived at the outer reaches of the northern district and that without Administrator Kallan’s aid, it would have been impossible for him to come here.
As he proceeded forward, he strolled past several mage towers into a narrow alleyway that was only wide enough to fit a single person. Three minutes later, he walked out from the other side and entered a wide clearing. There, he was greeted by an exquisite garden filled with various kinds of wildflowers in full bloom, many of which he didn’t even know the names of. Even when being surrounded by numerous buildings, rays of sunlight still managed to reach them. The garden’s location did not detract from its beauty, and on the contrary, it actually further added to the mystery of this place.
At last, the long, narrow, and winding path led him here.
Just past the garden, he saw an odd little cabin with a distinctive appearance.
This should be the place. It really is hidden quite well… Nie Yan thought before walking over to the cabin.
As he drew close, the door gently opened and a silhouette emerged from the cabin, following which an intoxicating fragrance invaded his nose.
Nie Yan paused to stare at the figure. It was a female NPC. She wore a splendid dress with her hair coiled up into a tall fanciful bun. Her footsteps were graceful and elegant, and she radiated the airs of a person belonging to the higher class. This NPC should be a noble…
This is Master Blacksmith Krusch…? She doesn’t really fit the appearance though.
Then again, Administrator Kallan had never actually informed him of Master Blacksmith Krusch’s gender.
With Transcendent Insight, Nie Yan inspected the NPC’s information.
Delina: Countess of Hilderlocke
A Countess of Hilderlocke…! Nie Yan immediately stood off to the side to let her pass. Nobles enjoyed a high degree of privilege in their respective city. If a player were to offend them, then they would have no hope of living comfortably there.
A player would only be able to enter the ranks of nobility, and thereby enjoy its associated privileges, by accumulating a great deal of Honour and Influence in a city. Even then, there was a strict system of hierarchy from Lords, Barons, Marquises, and so on. For those who weren’t, provoking a noble was basically a death wish since the city guards would not hesitate to do their dirty work.
In passing, the Countess gave him a sideways glance.
A brief moment later, two more nobles exited the cabin in succession, brushing past Nie Yan as they walked by.
This place is more lively than I thought… Nie Yan thought as he set foot inside. In the very center of the room, he saw a round table with several dozen of the same pieces of equipment on display.
There were also a dozen NPC nobles, both young and old, inside the cabin, all of whom wore extravagant clothing. One of them in particular stood out. It was an old man in an ash gray robe standing beside the round table. With a tall and thin stature and a long flowing white beard, he very much resembled a wise old mage. If not for his careless slips, revealing his true wretched nature, then a person might not have noticed he was only keeping up a facade. This guy, he can’t be a swindler can he…?
Nie Yan raised his guard. Swindlers didn’t only exist among players but NPCs as well. There wasn’t always a reward for a quest. In some of them, if a player was careless and failed to see the main objective, they would end up falling into a false ending set up by the system. When that happened, the player would have no choice but to resign themselves to their bad luck. Putting aside that they accomplished nothing, they had also carelessly walked into a trap.
“Ladies and gentlemen, today’s sale will be the same as the last. The first batch consists of twenty items, all with the exact same appearance. None of them have been appraised. Each one will cost sixty silver, but only one is real. The rest are counterfeits I created. If the genuine item is bought, then we’ll move onto the next batch. There are only three batches remaining. Customers are limited to three purchases each. The best pieces of equipment are on the verge of being born. Among them, there’s no lack of Legendary-grade equipment fragments. Are we all ready to begin?” After the old man named Krusch finished speaking, his eyes narrowed and he began tapping on the table with his fingers.
The crowd of nobles stirred with excitement as each and every one of them was eager to give their luck a try.
Krusch shot a glance at three middle-aged nobles in the crowd, then continued, “Alright, let’s begin. Ladies and gentlemen, I wonder… who among you will obtain the favour of Lady Luck?”
Nie Yan sneered. Such a low level trick, yet so many people are falling for it… He swept his gaze over these pampered and gullible nobles. This event was probably a trigger for a hidden quest where a player’s critical thinking was tested. If a player were actually stupid enough to spend sixty silver to play an obviously rigged game, the quest would not trigger and the player would be guaranteed to lose their money.
One noble took out a gray pouch from his pockets that was filled with silver coins. After giving the money to Krusch, he said, “I want this, this, and that!” His expression seemed delirious as sweat dripped down his forehead.
The crowd of nobles followed in succession, taking out their pouches of silver coins to buy the pieces of equipment.
Afterwards, the crowd began appraising the items they selected. Nie Yan fixed his gaze on the three middle-aged nobles in the crowd. Under the cover of the first two, the third middle-aged noble threw a piece of equipment into his bag before taking out another piece of equipment that looked identical to the first. Then, he became shifty-eyed as he ran his gaze over the crowd to assure that the other nobles hadn’t noticed. Nie Yan coldly smiled. So, these three are his accomplices.
“Damn, mine’s fake.”
“Mine’s also fake.”
Many sighs of disappointment could be heard from the crowd of nobles.
After a moment, the middle-aged noble that had exchanged his piece of equipment with another yelled in a pleasantly surprised tone, “Oh my God! Lady Luck is on my side! I actually got the real one, Kars’ Golden Necklace! Bless the heavens!”
The nobles all glowed with admiration and rubbed their palms together, anticipating and preparing for the next round of purchases.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen, let’s proceed with the remaining two batches. The next item is very precious, the Radiant Gem of Acass! Is everyone ready?!”
Now knowing it was all a scam, Nie Yan considered his next step of action. Should he leave discreetly, or should he rip apart their lies?
If he chose the latter option and exposed the truth now, he would be offending all of the nobles who were present by revealing their foolishness. That was tantamount to trying to be clever only to end up with egg on one’s face.