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Chapter 498 - Faction Intelligence Station

 "In the process of Cool Apple PKing and clearing his accumulated PK value, he inadvertently achieved the slaying of 300 unique players first and qualified to join this 'bounty faction'. However, he probably felt that such a faction is boring, so he rejected the offer outright. Continuing his PKing ways and accumulating more PK value as he did so, the man finally hit another milestone and completed the condition to join the League of Assassins. This faction was more in line with what he had in mind, so he decided to join this faction, becoming number 1 for the League of Assassins. How's that? Think that that's more or less what has happened?" Brother Assist summarized their inferences regarding Cool Apple as he conscientiously made a record of it.

"Sounds about right." Young Master Han nodded.

"Wait a minute! Something's not right," Gu Fei suddenly quipped.

"What now?" Brother Assist was aggrieved. He had been feeling so contented when he made this completely logical inference; Brother Assist had no wish to hear any more about that difficult question. This was as good as torture for him, and too much of it merely made him want to run away.

"It's this," Gu Fei said. "Slaying 300 unique players as bounty targets means a player should've at least completed the 'Bounty Mission' three hundred times. That means before this happened, Cool Apple probably first got the Windchaser's Emblem as a reward, and it should at least be at level 2 by now."

"Is that relevant to the example we have given?" Brother Assist asked.

"I don't think Cool Apple possesses a level 2 emblem," Gu Fei said. Naturally, the man had his reasoning for saying this, and it was all because Gu Fei had used the 100% appraisal feature that came with the level 2 Windchaser's Emblem to find out about the over-level skill Cool Apple had access through his dagger. That man's reaction on how Gu Fei had found out became the very basis with which he had made this inference. If Cool Apple possessed the Windchaser's Emblem, which had the same features, Gu Fei believed his reaction would be to assume that the opponent possessed the same emblem and not express disbelief at what had happened.

"This inference you just made don't really hold water," Young Master Han said. "That's just a reaction from the man in that moment, and there are plenty of explanations to this. Maybe he was just expressing his shock over how you possess a level 2 emblem, too. There's a limit to the application of that emblem's features, which coincidentally require you to pick up a 'Daily Bounty Mission' with him as the target. That's rather surprising by itself. Or perhaps he enjoys acting, and the surprise you saw is merely an act... Look; there're plenty of ways to interpret that, so why are you so certain that his reaction stemmed from the fact that he's unaware of such a feature?"

It was not that Gu Fei had not thought of other possibilities, and he simply did not know why he believed that Cool Apple was not in possession of an emblem. In this situation where he could not provide a reason for making such an inference, Gu Fei could only shamelessly answer, "My intuition."

"Intuition? Is there even such a thing in this world?" Young Master Han turned to ask the others.

"Ahem... Just how long are we going to spend talking about this matter?" War Without Wounds forcibly changed the topic, clearly showing how annoyed he had been with it.

Gu Fei shook his head, implying he neither agreed nor disagreed about the matter, even as he continued to mull over the matter himself.

Young Master Han did not say anything further and just opened a bottle of liquor and guzzled it.

Brother Assist was depressed. "Hey, you guys should at least come to a conclusion for this discussion..." He felt that either of them had logical claims to their inferences. Young Master Han had always been meticulous and careful when considering problems, while Gu Fei was the only one among them that had actually come face to face with Cool Apple. There was no way to disprove Gu Fei's reasoning given the subconscious hunch he might have gotten from his impression of and interaction with the man. Thus, seeing the two each insist on their views, Brother Assist was the one suffering as he struggled over who he found more believable.

When no one said another word, Sword Demon got up and spoke. "Is the matter resolved? If that is so, can I go do my mission now?" Having never experienced a faction's 'Daily Mission', how could Sword Demon not feel hard-pressed right now? Unlike Brother Assist, the man cared not for the discussion to reach any sort of conclusion, as all he wanted was for it to end as soon as possible.

"Oh, yeah. Sword Demon, you did say got a mission; what sort of 'Daily Mission' is it?" War Without Wounds and Royal God Call came over and asked.

"It's a PK mission," Sword Demon replied, "but the content of it is very similar to what Miles has mentioned before."

Gu Fei turned his gaze over and saw that Sword Demon was holding a slip of paper about the size of a name card. Brother Assist quickly took it and read it aloud to the crowd.

[Name: Broken Water Arrow

Location: Linyin City

Job Class: Unknown

Level: Unknown

Equipment: Unknown

Experience: Unknown]

...

"Why is everything unknown; how can you even call this information?" Brother Assist flipped the card over, but its other side was empty.

Sword Demon shrugged helplessly as he took back the card, shaking it in his hand as he addressed Gru, "Is there no other information?"

"A large amount of manpower is required to collect information. With the current manpower that the League possess..." Gru sighed.

"Ha ha ha! It's a given that they don't have a lot manpower. There are only two members, after all." War Without Wounds roared with laughter.

"Everyone has the rights and obligation to provide information to the League. If you feel that you are not up to the important task of cleansing evil from the land, it might not be a bad choice to start from here," Gru said as he lifted another name card. "Yaru is in charge of gathering intel on people and will pay for the information accordingly."

Sword Demon was stunned as he took the card from Gru, realizing a set of coordinates was in it.

"What does this mean?" Sword Demon turned to regard the rest of his companions.

"It seems that players can provide information on other players to the faction." Brother Assist made such a guess even as he radiated a look of excitement. This was his forte! His specialty was valued by the game system, after all!

"Quick; let's head over there and take a look!" Brother Assist gushed.

"Brother Assist, there's no way you can provide any information or such even if you head over. This is the rights and obligation the players from a particular faction have," Royal God Call said.

"Let's just head over there and find out more," Brother Assist only wished to make sense of what this entailed.

------------------------------

Hence, the whole lot of them left Gru's little log cabin and, with the set of coordinates in hand, traversed from the jungle to Linyin City. The coordinates led them to a building, something rarely seen in the rural setting of Linyin City.

"A library?" Everybody exchanged glances.

The library in the game was not there merely for aesthetic purposes. While playing the game, any player that wished to understand any sort of design or configuration in the game could opt to head to the library found in the various cities and check for the relevant information in-game, aside from logging off and heading to the website to search for more details on the subject. Of course, this information was contained inside books, and the library itself lacked any system for exchanging information between the players unlike the website's forums.

The lot of them was either old hands on the various aspects and rules of a game upon its release or a newbie like Gu Fei who could not be bothered to take note of the game's rules. To them, the library was a place that they had never stepped into before.

"The League of Assassins sure has quite the connection! Looks like they don't just hide in the forest!" Royal God Call remarked.

Sword Demon had a look of pride on him as he took the first step right into the library.

"Whoa. There are actually quite a lot of people here!" Walking through the library's corridors, they realized that quite a few players made use of this place to look for information.

Approaching a NPC to inquire further, Yaru's location was not a secret, and the NPC was the librarian in charge of reference room no. 5. Reaching the room, they saw an old man in its twilight years unsteadily wiping off the dirt in a book before it. Hearing the players call it, the old man turned around, a turbid look in its eyes, until its gaze swept over to Sword Demon...

"Did you guys see that?! Its eyes just twinkled!" Royal God Call cried out.

"That's a very useful detail; better write it down." Brother Assist took out his booklet and wrote thusly: 'The librarian from reference room no. 5 in Linyin City's library, Old Man Yaru. An intelligence collector for the League of Assassins. Its eyes twinkle the moment it sees someone from the League.'

When everyone came forward to speak to Yaru, it only told them where they could find the books for the information that they were looking for, but once Sword Demon came forward, everyone held their breath and closely watched the ensuing interaction.

"Come, young man; let me see what you've brought me." Even the line it used to open the conversation with was different.

Brother Assist seemed to have already written something on paper as he tore a page out from his booklet and passed it over to Sword Demon. He glanced at the paper and saw that it was Brother Assist's own character information, written in the same format as that card he had. Brother Assist indicated for him to pass it to Yaru.

Sword Demon did not think much of it and handed it over to the NPC. Yaru accepted it from him and even took out a prescription glasses from its chest pocket to pore over the information closely.

"Oh..." Old Yaru nodded. "Very good; continue your hard work!" With that, he stuffed that piece of paper into his pocket and produced a small pouch to Sword Demon.

"What are the rewards?" The others gazed at Sword Demon enviously.

"Experience, some money, and Faction Honor." Sword Demon opened that little pouch and said.

"WOW!" Everyone was jealous.

"Except the reward is paltry..." Sword Demon said.

Everyone became silent. They were all aware that Sword Demon was honest. If he said that it was paltry and did not even mention the amount, it meant the sum was so meagre it was not worth mentioning.

"Try again." Brother Assist tore off another piece of paper and passed it Sword Demon.

Sword Demon gave a quick glance and saw that it was still Brother Assist's information. However, compared to the one before, he purposely wrote down his level as 30, which was incorrect.

Sword Demon once more handed the paper over to Yaru. Once the NPC accepted it and pored through the information, it sighed softly and shook his head. Returning the paper to Sword Demon, it said, "Take note of the accuracy in the information you provide."

"In that case..." Brother Assist once more wrote down information on another piece of paper. "Try this one now."

Sword Demon looked at the new piece of paper and saw that every information was correct. Actually, the first he submitted before had errors, but this third slip was corrected accordingly.

"Oh, do you have new information you wish to update?" This time, after reading what was written on the paper, Yaru gave Sword Demon a small pouch.

"Sword Demon looked through its content. "It's less than before."

"So that's how it is..." Brother Assist nodded. "It looks like the system specifically checks the information that players provide. There's room for error the first time, so the player can make changes the next time around, but it will decide whether to reject or accept the information based on how much of the content is correct or wrong. We'll still have to test things out more if we hope to understand how the rules of reward work." With that, Brother Assist tore off a fourth piece of paper. "Try this."

Sword Demon glanced through it and exclaimed, "That... That's just too ridiculous!"

On that fourth piece, Brother Assist had written the name as 'M*th*rf*ck*r', which was an IGN that the system would not even accept during the character creation process, so such a person with that name could not possibly play the game. Furthermore, the job class was fake, the level provided was an outright lie and the equipment was all made up. This was a piece of information that could not be any more falsified.

Sword Demon passed it over to Yaru, only for it to express its anger after looking through the paper like before. "We want information, not jokes." Saying this, Yaru shredded the paper into pieces.

Everybody was stunned when they saw this; Sword Demon held Brother Assist's hand tightly as he began tearing up. "Brother Assist, don't use me to test things anymore. My Faction Honor got reduced."