Over a Barbecue

Rodriguez was afflicted by a serious disturbance.

Gripe

It was the sixth day. Weed was still sitting down right across from the manor. Rodriguez in his seclusion had been aware of the presence of the intruder from the first day. Rodriquez bet that Weed was busy selling his statues to customers.

‘I need to figure out this man and what he wants from me.’

In spite of his extreme laziness, on the sixth day Rodriguez finally gave in to his curiosity and moved his butt.

“Greetings, stranger. I am Rodriguez. What have you been waiting here to give me?”

“Wow! The Counselor’s out!”
“It’s really him!”
“Rodriguez, the Star of Wisdom!”

The crowd in the line waiting to buy Weed’s statues was astounded.

Sages have something in common—they want to be left alone. Especially so when a stranger claims that he has brought something to be dealt with urgently. Rodriguez finally showed up outside the gate.

Weed fished a handkerchief inscribed with a blue bird from his pocket and presented it to the counselor.

“This is why I bothered waiting for the last six days, Counselor.”

Rodriguez’s eyes immediately were filled with tears.

“Aye, this is Queen Evane’s handkerchief… There are too many eyes and ears here. Why don’t you come in, traveler?”

“Yes, sir. Sorry, guys! I’m closed for today!”

Beaming triumphantly, Weed folded his stall and stood up.

“No way!”
“Let me see, too!”

The crowd cried in protest, some of them even expressing grievance at being left out of the historical moment, but neither Weed nor Rodriguez could care less. Rodriguez then led his guest into the manor.

“Now it’s quiet. Anyone who brings this handkerchief is privileged to tell me one thing.”

“Yes, I know, sir.”

Counselor Rodriguez! He had publicly declared that a man who brought Queen Evane’s belonging be granted an audience. Weed had presented her handkerchief.

“Speak, traveler. I’m all ears for anything you say,”

Rodriguez’s sincere tone portrayed the Sage’s duty when dealing with a fellow man’s distress. But the counselor was only pretending.

While Queen Evane’s handkerchief was invaluable to Rodriguez, he didn’t have the slightest intention to help Weed. Didn’t that contradict his promise? Not really.

Rodriguez urged Weed to speak, and added that he would listen to anything from him. All that the counselor was obliged to do was learn what Weed was concerned about, in order to satisfy his intellectual desire and curiosity, that is all. He never considered actually presenting a solution to whatever problem Weed had.

A number of users had been cheated by Counselor Rodriguez in a similar manner. He had always played along with them, and evaded giving the answers that they had desperately sought.

Aside from his glorious title of The Star of Wisdom, the counselor was widely slandered as Dead End of Quests. Weed didn’t fall for such a childish, naive trick. To begin with, he didn’t trust Rodriguez.

A man is a very weak being. This was what Weed had felt earnestly throughout a year’s preparation ahead of Royal Road—a weakening will and a comfort-seeking body. Weed never trusted himself, so why should he trust Rodriguez who he had not seen before?

“Does it make any difference if I tell you my problem?”
“What do you mean by any difference, traveler?”
“Will you help me when you hear me speak, Counselor?”
“That’s…”
“Then, I refuse to say anything. Why bother? It will only get my tongue tired.”

Rodriguez knitted his brows. He pretended that his integrity was soiled by Weed’s paranoia.

“Aye, Weed-nim. Speak to me now! You may lake the liberty of telling me anything you have in your mind. You brought me Queen Evane’s handkerchief, and it is your right to speak your mind,”

Rodriguez said in his coaxing tone.

They were the words that Weed had been waiting for. ‘I will get him to talk.’

Unfortunately for the Counselor, Weed was shrewder than the bunch who Rodriguez had dealt with before. He demanded the final seal of confirmation. “Counselor, will you tell me what I want to know if I ask you?”

“…”
“I shall remain silent until you promise in your own words.”
“Eh… listen to me, Weed-nim.”

“It seems Queen Evane’s handkerchief is a priceless object, Counselor. In particular, to my eyes, it means something greater to you. Shall I take it back?”

“Keep it and leave now!”
“Sure. Godspeed, sir.”

When Weed actually took the handkerchief and turned around, Rodriguez held two hands up in the air like a white flag.

“Wait! I hereby promise you in person that I will give you guidance when I hear your request. I have already promised to answer anyone who brings Queen Evane’s belongings. So as long as it is within my capability, I am obliged to do so.”

“Will you make a man’s oath?”
“Of course… But you must do me a favor in return. Someday.”

Weed considered Rodriguez’s counter proposal, and nodded.

“Deal”

The counselor smirked. “What is it that troubles you, Weed-nim? A trifling question could not compel you to stay out there for the last six days.” Rodriguez had his own agenda, though, behind his question, which spoke of his curiosity.

‘Who cares about you? How dare you humiliate me into striking a deal with such a lowly creature as you! Answer you? I will, I will. But my answer shall be the trickiest one, terribly bent and crooked enough for you to pay the price.’

Rodriguez was confident in exacting revenge once he learned Weed’s request.

If Weed wanted to find someone, he would be told about a nephew of a cousin of a mother-in-law of a friend of a wife of the one in question, who he would have to trace back on his own. If Weed wanted to find a place, he would be told of a faraway land with a similar name.

Snicker

Whether he was suspicious of Rodriguez’s wily trick or not, Weed finally spoke his mind.

“I don’t know what class I should select.”
“Class? Now I see you don’t even have one yet.”
“No, Counselor.”

Rodriguez laughed lightly. That was far more trivial than what he had predicted.

He had in mind that Weed would ask for the whereabouts of a secret dungeon, or Rosenheim’s future policies.

A good dungeon yields a fortune to its discoverer, and a policy is valuable if you know how to take advantage of it.

Suppose you learn in advance that the royal court is planning to develop southern provinces next year, you can secure the commercial rights in the provinces preemptively and extract an enormous profit out of them.

A personal recommendation on what class to choose was indeed a piece of cake for Rodriguez.

“I can’t believe such a light question has troubled your soul so profoundly. You didn’t need to consult me in the first place. I advise you to visit an employment agency. Six days are wasted, Weed-nim.”

“I was advised that the Counselor was the one who could make the best judgment.”
“Good. I will recommend a perfect class for you! Show me your stats.”
“Yes, sir.”

Weed displayed the stat window for the first time since he had worked hard to improve his stats in the Training Hall.

“Stat window!”

Character Name

Weed

Alignment

Neutral

Level

13

Profession

None

Title

None

Reputation

0

Health

960

Mana

100

Strength

55

Agility

105

Vitality

50

Wisdom

10

Intellect

10

Stamina

89

Fighting Spirit

67

Luck

0

Leadership

0

Art

23

Attack

19

Defense

5

Magic Resistance

Fire

0%

Water

0%

Earth

0%

Black Magic

0%

Weed had played day and night, and the outcome was level thirteen. He could take care of a wolf in no time now.

“My Freya!”

Rodriguez was stunned.

“Level thirteen, and life of nine hundred and sixty? For your level, you have exceeded fifty in strength and vitality, and a hundred in agility! Training Hall. I can tell you drilled in the Training Hall. Your willpower is undoubtedly admirable.”

Rodriguez lived up to his reputation as the Star of Wisdom that he guessed right based solely on Weed’s attributes. But his surprise didn’t end there.

“You have level four in sculpture mastery, and level six in craftsmanship skill! It is incredible, simply unbelievable! What journey have you taken, I beg to hear.”

Weed told Rodriguez what had happened. One event after another, Rodriguez could not close his mouth in incredulity.

“You have taken most unusual quests thanks to your friendship with the instructor. And—what? Did you succeed Zahab’s will? But you have discarded the opportunity to become a Moonlight Sculptor?”

Wide-eyed, Rodriguez was taken aback. It should be noted that he had hardly flinched at the news of a neighboring kingdom suddenly invading Rosenheim without a preliminary declaration of war.

‘Zahab. Who was he?’

He was one of the absolute powers hidden behind the scenes in the Continent.

Rodriguez had met Zahab a few times through Queen Evane’s influence, and come to admire his sculptural art and sword technique—revering the sculptor’s respectable personality and talents. Rodriguez had made friends with him. It had taken place fifty years before, the companionship between a pair of callow youths. The Counselor had even counseled His Highness to hold Zahab in the court at any cost.

“Hmph, you rejected such a fine class. What sort of class do you want to have, then?”
“Anything lucrative suits me.”

Rodriguez fell into silence.

‘Perhaps this chap is the One. The one I have been waiting for. The Will of the Great Emperor might dwell in him’ — a mysterious class whose glorious traditions can be traced back to the Ancient Age.

Geihar von Arpen, the legendary emperor who had conquered the entire continent—his blood flowed in the sage.

‘He still needs to prove his worth through tribulations. Can he pass the ultimate test? Anyway, it is he who will be tested, not I,’ the sage said to himself.

Rodriguez said in a serious tone,

“Weed-nim.”
“Yes, sir.”

“I have a quest for you, though you must prove more patient than a caterpillar, more willing to survive than a cockroach, and more stubborn than a leech—or you will definitely fail. Are you qualified for this quest?”

“…”
“What’s with that look?”
“I don’t like the way you describe it. But I can tell you proudly that I am ready to do anything.”
“Your confidence touches my heart. You look as if you can even chew maggots to the last drop of juice.”
“…”

“Do as I say and the quest will give you a class. I warn you, however, that it will try your life. You are free to leave my advice on the table if you are af