The Instructor’s Request
Weed first walked to the fountain and filled his canteen with water, and then he headed for the sculpture shop. It was Weed’s first trip down the street, and it was crammed with users and NPCs.
“We need a cleric at level 17 or above”
“Hey, guy! We’re going to raid on Cave Lasok. Anyone want to join us?”
Plenty of users were on the street, but none of them gave a passing glance at Weed. He didn’t mind it though. Wandering around in a traveler’s outfit, deprived of even a breastplate, revealed that he has yet to meet the minimum requirement of four week’ game play before he could leave the Citadel.
Among the innumerable stores that operate in the capital of Rosenheim Kingdom, the sculpture shop holds a special position.
Most ordinary adventurers can barely recall where the sculpture shop is located because if was meaningless to them. Only an extremely small number of users who learned the Sculpture Art visit periodically. But the sculpture shop stands right next to the jewelry store on Central Avenue, and is one of the few frequently visited shops by the noblewomen.
Weed entered the sculpture shop.
“Welcome to—what brings you here, stranger?”
The shopkeeper was receiving a new customer with a gentle smile, until he saw Weed’s outfit at that point, he suddenly changed the tone of his voice.
Weed looked around the shop, only to find that there was no other customer except for him. A blacksmith’s workshop or a grocery store is always full to the limit of occupancy, but the sculpture shop only entertains a few customers a day, if any.
If comparing daily revenues, however, the sculpture shop does lag behind the blacksmith’s workshop. In other words, the sculpture shop sells pretty expensive merchandises.
Weed adjusted his collar and asked politely,
“I have come here to find an answer to the question which troubles me so dearly, sir.”
“So you want to ask me a question, stranger?”
“Yes, sir. If you could spare me a second”
“I am busy right now, please leave”
The shopkeeper rejected him right away, sounding very annoyed. As Weed’s fame was zero, and they were unacquainted, the shopkeeper had every right to chase him out of the shop.
“Yes, sir. I will see you later”
“Goodbye” said the shopkeeper.
Weed was taking his time to retreat to the doorway. Then, he casually shot a glance at the statues that were on display.
“The grandeur of this statue fascinates my soul. Do you supply this to the Rosenheim Court?”
The shopkeeper could not help but lend an ear to Weed.
“Which one are you talking about, stranger?”
“This two-headed eagle made of pure gold. I dare not guess which master carved this, but I can sense the excellence of his workmanship. It is dignified beyond dispute. It is so full of life that I almost mistook it for a real eagle, and I am blessed in visiting the place. This store deserves this class of item. They have opened my humble eyes to a heavenly beauty descended to Earth”
Whether or not the shopkeeper realizes, his mouth was forming a horizontal crescent. “Are you interested in sculptural art, traveler?”
“I daresay I am—I am only wishing to feel peace of mind at the sight of outstanding statues, and my soul craves to be even a small part of the magnificent spirit embodied in them”
“Come over and sit down. You may be good company to arouse me from boredom”
“Thank you, sir”
“Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Only if you’re kind enough of offer me cold honeyed water. I will be satisfied with a cup of cold water”
“Sure! Of course I have it”
Weed drank the honeyed water blended by the shopkeeper, which soothed the exhaustion that he had accumulated over the last three weeks.
“Now tell me what has been troubling you so much.” The shopkeeper said.
“Yes, sir. But can you please forgive me for asking for a brief tour of these statues on display before everything else? I have business that demands your guidance, yet it is less urgent that comforting my poor soul that wants to have a good look at these masterpieces of art” Weed said.
“You may look at them for as long as you wish. Isn’t it the raison d’être of fine statues to please those who appreciate their value?” The shopkeeper consented with a content smile.
Weed felt that it had won his goodwill, one scarcely disturbed by visitors and away from public attention. Suppose that you asked to look at various items in a grocery store—the next second you would be kicked out.
Weed relished the statues on display at leisure. But he had his own agenda. “I doubt sculpture mastery will make a pile of money.” The most expensive statue that is currently present is worth 30 silvers. The quality statues are made of stones or rare wood, and in spite of the impressive workmanship, the materials themselves were not costly in the first place. They were nothing more than wooden carvings, or engraved stones.
Weed knew that there would be money if he could create a gigantic lion statue or bronze status, but he wasn’t fooled by the possibility that was so far off. What kind of nobleman with so much money would order a new statue every year? He needed to reach the top of the ladder in order to do really well as a sculptor. Little competition guaranteed that it wouldn’t need too much effort to become the best in the industry.
Still, it was a niche market, too small to count on. The guaranteed way to make a fortune was to target other users as potential consumers. They were always leveling up and demanding better equipment, so on and so forth.
Fire weapons, strong equipment enchanted bracelets and rings were popular among users, but statues were valueless to them except in rare instances.
“Waste of time, waste of money”
Weed’s primary purpose for starting this game was to make money, with a capital M. He looked around the display for the last time and passed his verdict on sculpture mastery.
“The skill is worth a dime in a dozen” Weed sat down across from the shopkeeper.
“Now, what are you looking for?” The shopkeeper asked
“I am interested in a past event. I was told that someone had carved the moonlight in the Royal Palace fifty years ago. I would like to know if there’s any truth of that event” Weed said.
“Oh that event! It is legendary tale that has been passed down among the sculptors. I also heard it from some trustworthy patrons from the Royal Court”
Weed had thought that carving the moonlight was impossible, another urban legend, but the owner of the sculptor shop also knew the rumor that the instructor at the Training Hall had claimed to have heard.
A Mystery Sculptor who is rumored to have visited the Royal Palace.
The rumor that had reached the instructor’s ear really took place. A sculptor carved the moonlight, and it was widely, yet secretly, known amongst the Serebourgians, though it remained an enigma how he carved the moonlight.
Reward: Return to the instructor to claim it.
Weed grinned broadly. This was, after all, a simple quest with the lowest difficulty level E. At the same time, unless he had succeeded in making friends with the shopkeeper, it could have turned out tricky.
How that he was done with the quest, the next move was to return to the Training Hall and earn a reward from the instructor. As Weed was looking for the right moment to say his farewells and leave, the shopkeeper, absorbed in thought, finally spoke out.
“I have not heard how he carved the moonlight”
“Did the patrons from the Royal Court not tell you about it?”
“Hmm, they always omitted it in their tale. They refused to tell me about it. They said Queen Evane of Rosenheim, O may her soul rest in peace, was involve in the event. Can you do me a favor and look into this, so that my curiosity shall be gratified?”
The Sculptor’s Past
The rumor has it that Queen Evane was involved in the event when the sculptor presented himself in the Royal Palace and carved the moonlight. The shopkeeper of the sculpture shop wondered what link existed between the two of them.
Difficulty Level: E
Weed’s clenched fists were shaking in excitement. “This, it’s a serial quest”
Even when the difficulty level of a quest is awfully low, the level of rewards shoots up in case of serial quests. The more stages you complete, the more difficult the quest becomes, and so most serial quests are likely to make it highly difficult for Weed at his current level to solve.
The only quests that Weed could complete are the ones that are inside the Citadel, asking around and gathering information from people.
“I am still incompetent. I am afraid I may not be worthy of your request” Weed said.
“I am certain you are up to this task. You prudence shall lead the way to safety” The shopkeeper replied
“If you say so, I will take it willingly” Weed said.
You have accepted the quest.
“Thank you traveler. A bard with knowledge in ancient tales and street gossip is the one whom you should ask about Queen Evane. Beware! This matter is very sensitive, so you should not cause trouble that might lead to any defamation of the Royal Family”
* * *
Keeping down a sudden impulse to hum a tune, Weed headed straight to a pub across the street.
“Good afternoon” Returning the greeting from a waitress, Weed looked around in search of a bard. There were a few conditions to meet. First, he counted the bard users out when he looked for the right man. It was a long shot that any user had ever heard of an event that had happened in the Royal Palace half a century before. Weed would be better off to find a Serabourgian native, possibly an elderly.
Whether he could sing ballads favorably or not, an old bard was reliable when it comes to worldly gossip. Weed stopped by several pubs until he found a bard who lived up to his expectations. It was a middle-aged bard in his forties, experience buy with both charm and youth. Clapping both hands, Weed approached the bard.
“Thank you for a fine ballad, sir. Forgive me for interrupting you, but I want to ask you a few questions… Do you know what happened fifty years ago in the Royal Court of Rosenheim?”
The bard’s thrust his palm out and Weed could not miss what this gesture implied. He frowned immediately, his mouth twitching with a grave sense of responsibility that he would not waste a penny.
“You sure have a charming voice. I appreciate your talent in writing both the lyrics and the music for that ballad. Also your skills in the instrument were more than impressive…”
“I bet you broke the hearts of many Serabourgian ladies back when you were a young ray of sunshine at the peak of your career. Of course, I do not doubt that you are still stealing ladies’ hearts… For a bard, adventure and romance is everything. I also love romance”
The palm didn’t go away, and the bard snapped, “I’m sick and tired of cheap compliments from the likes of you, foreigner. Show me the money, or get lost”
Weed was momentarily lost.
“Do I just give up the quest in the middle? Anyway, the quest doesn’t penalize me even if I decide to drop out. But maybe it would give me sweet rewards later, and I would hate to miss out on them”
Weed’s hand slipped into his pocket and fished out a coin before he realized his mistake. Two silvers! There were two silver coins in his pocket. That was everything that the instructor had given him as a retaining fee for the previous quest.
The bard seized the silver coin from Weed’s palm.
It was a basic mistake that he had forgotten to exchange his money into smaller coins in advance.
“I can’t believe I made such a silly mistake!” Weed’s body shook in distress and grief.
“Hmph, this is a secret, so you must keep it to yourself” The bard said under his breath “Queen Evan and the sculptor had been on intimate terms since they were children”
“What do you mean by intimate terms…?” Weed asked
“You fool! I know nothing else for intimate terms between a man and a woman—they loved each other”
“Point taken” Weed now realized why poking his nose into the rumor had to remain a secret from the Royal Court.
Given that the former Queen’s sacred name was mentioned in that scandalous matter. Royal Knights would be willing to silence anyone at any cost to keep her honor intact.
The bard glanced around the pub and added cautiously “They were born in the same village, and grew up bearing each other dearly in mind. They boy’s name was Zahab. The girl was always carrying ornaments carved and given by him when she was a child, with a dream that she would become his wife someday. But Destiny played tricks on them! The girl was chosen to be the Royal Maid and the boy left her. But in the end, there was a promise between them”
“What promise, if I may ask?” Weed asked, now curious.
“Zahab promised to show the girl the most beautiful statue under heaven”
“I guess it was not kept, then. The Queen must have a great number of beautiful, magnificent statues in her place”
“No, he kept it. Many years later, Zahab presented himself as a quest to the Royal Court. It was said that, at the sight of his work, she was most touched, saying it was the most beautiful creature under heaven”
“Then, what statue, for Freya’s sake, did he present to Queen Evane? A Queen doesn’t easily cherish an ordinary piece”
“True. Pay a visit to a lady’s maid who witness the day, and hear the rest of the story. This is as far as I can tell you because I also heard it from someone else”
“Is she still alive?”
“Yes” The bard told Weed the way to the house of the lady’s maid.
Weed went to visit her. She had retired, and when he mentioned Queen Evane and the sculptor, she gave him a joyous welcome.
“Her Highness was very virtuous and gracious lady. So do you want to hear about what happened back then?
“You have found the right person to ask. I personally served Her Highness. She first resented Zahab-nim when he visited the palace.
“Why so, if I may ask?”
“It was his promise. When they were young, they made a promise, a promise that Za