Chapter 3 - The Instructor’s Request
Weed first walked to the fountain and filled his canteen with water, and then headed for the sculpture shop. It was Weed’s first trip down the streets of the Citadel, and it was crammed with users and NPCs.
“We need a cleric at level 17 or above!”
“Hey, guys! We’re going to raid 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 the four week game play needed 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 noblemen/women.
Weed entered the sculpture shop.
“Welcome to— oh, 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 this place. This store deserves this class of item. They have opened my humble eyes to a heavenly beauty that has 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?” Asked the shopkeeper.
“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 than comforting my poor soul that wishes 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.
(PR: Raison d’être: A French phrase meaning "reason for existence")
Weed felt that he 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.” he thought.
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 the sculpture mastery.
“This skill is worth a dime a dozen” Weed thought as he sat down across from the shopkeeper.
“Now, what are you looking for?” asked the shopkeeper.
“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.
Quest Completed: A Mystery Sculptor 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.
Return to the instructor to claim it.
Weed grinned broadly. This was, after all, a simple quest with the lowest difficulty level of E. Although at the same time it could've turned out tricky if he had failed becoming a 'friend' with the shopkeeper.
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?”
Quest: 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
If you are found to be investigating the rumor in question, you will be exposed to hostility from Royal Knights.
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 shoot up in the case of serial quests. The more stages you complete, the more difficult the quest gradually becomes, and so most serial quests are likely to be highly difficult to solve for Weed at his current level.
The only quests that Weed could complete are the ones that are inside the Citadel, asking around and gathering information from people.
“I'm afraid that I am still incompetent. I believe that I may not be worthy of your request.” Weed replied.
“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 extremely 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 discounted the bard users when he looked for the right man. It was a long shot that any user had even ever heard of such 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, experienced 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 thought to himself.
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 if the former Queen’s sacred name was ever mentioned in that scandalous matter, the Royal Knights would probably be willing to silence anyone at any cost to keep her honor intact.
The bard glanced around the pub and added cautiously “They were both born and raised in the same village, and grew up bearing each other dearly in mind. The boy’s name was Zahab. The girl was always carrying ornaments carved and given by him. When she was a child she held a dream that she would become his wife someday, but Destiny played a nasty trick on them, and the girl was chosen to be the Royal Maid. At which point the boy left her. But in the end, there was still the promise between them.”
“What promise, if I may ask?” Weed asked, now curious.
“Zahab had 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 at the request 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 statute, for Freya’s sake, did he present to Queen Evane? A Queen doesn’t easily cherish an ordinary piece.”
“True. Pay a visit to the lady’s maid who witnessed that day, and hear the rest of the story from her. 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've found the right person to ask. I personally served Her Highness. She at first resented Zahab-nim when he first visited the palace."
“Why so, if I may ask?”
“It was his promise. When they were young, they had made a promise, a promise that Zahab-nim would present Her Highness with the most beautiful statue under heaven. But when he appeared in the palace, he was carrying a sword, not an sculpting knife. To the eyes of everyone, he looked like a fine swordsman who was proficient in the sword. You should have seen how heartbroken Her Highness was. It was indescribable! Her Highness so believed in Zahab-nim that even if the world turned upside down, he would be the same eternally, and likewise, the promise between them was divine”
“On that day, Brent Kingdom, which bordered on Rosenheim, dispatched a band of assassins. They revealed their treacherous ambition to seize our Kingdom, and Freya only knows how shocked I was when assassins stormed in and assaulted Her and His Highness in the garden”
“Those wicked scoundrels!”
“Yes, young traveler, you can say that again. A couple of Royal Knights were trapped, thus incapable of holding them in check—and we were left to face death. At that very moment, Zahab-nim walked into the garden. As you can see, right in the middle of fighting, Her Highness warned him and ordered him to leave. But Zahab-nim only smiled—”
“He smiled in the middle of such a dangerous situation?”
“—and he said he would show her the most beautiful statue that he had ever carved under heaven. To everyone’s surprise, the moonlight shattered into pieces at Zahab-nim’s sword. Its beauty was really striking. He was singing a song while he carved the moonlight. I cannot remember the lyrics word by word, but the title was A Sculptor’s Heart. Listening to the song, Her Highness was overflowing with tears. It was really the most beautiful statue Milady had ever seen. Had Zahab-nim only inscribed his name on a crude plank, but Her Highness would have taken it for the most beautiful sculpture in the world, but I tell you, the sight he was carving with the moonlight was literally heavenly. The assassins scattered at the inconceivable sight, and Zahab-nim kept his promised. Many years have since gone, but I still cherish that moving memory.”
Then, a mysterious flashback flittered before Weed’s eyes.
A boy is holding a tiny sculpting knife in his hands.
As the sculpting knife slides up and down, a piece of wood is shaping into a form.
It seems he is carving a maiden.
A little, lovely maiden.
Through his craftsmanship, the piece of wood is endowed with life.
A girl, blushing up to her ears, is watching him.
The boy’s hand moving the sculpting knife, and his serious look.
The girl loves him, and everything about him.
Soon the boy hands her the complete statue. It looks so much like the girl.
“For now, all I can do is carve a piece of wood. But someday, I will give you the most beautiful statue in the world.”
“Thank you Zahab. I’m looking forward to that day!”
The boy and girl made a promise with each other, hand in hand.
As the girl grows up, she blossoms into a rare beauty.
She caught the eyes of the King and She eventually became Queen. But the girl is not happy at all.
Her Highness is still unhappy the day Zahab comes back to see her.
Zahab carried a sword, and not the sculpting knife.
Talking a walk alone in the garden, Her Highness gives way to fit of passion and clutches a thorny rose. Her palm bleeds with ruby red blood.
“Why did you forget our promise? Your promise was everything to me…”
Her Highness grieved over the broken promise.
That evening, the assassins raid the palace.
Brent Kingdom, a hostile neighbor as always, has sent assassins.
Knights of Rosenheim Kingdom collapse one after another.
She and His Highness are fearful of their imminent and inevitable death.
Zahab clutches his sword, and the moonlight begins to dance.
Quest Completed: The Sculptor’s Past:
The promise between the boy and the girl was honored. The bluish moonlight shattered into pieces, which in turn defeated the assassins. Moonlight Sculptor Zahab— His Sculpture mastery has reached the stage of a Master. Presenting the most beautiful statue to his childhood friend.
You have leveled up!
You have leveled up!
To Weed’ surprise, two levels went up for a single quest, and that wasn’t the end of it. A message window popped up. To his surprise once again, it was a class conversion window.
Class Change: Moonlight Sculptor (Hidden):
You can convert to a secret class Moonlight Sculptor. If you accept it, you can learn exclusive skills for the class that are withheld from the primary classes.
Do you want to convert to Moonlight Sculptor?
Yes | No
An infinite number of users are bustling about to discover secret classes in Royal Road, but fewer than one out of a thousand actually discovers one.
Weed answered, “I refuse.”
Please confirm your decision. You can convert to a secret class Moonlight Sculptor.
Do you want to convert to Moonlight Sculptor?
Yes | No
“I refuse,” Weed answered again.
To Weed, being stuck in the corner of a closet and making unwanted statues wasn’t even worth considering. He had to admit that being a sculptor could make quite an amusing class if properly trained. But he needed a financially lucrative class for his personal gain. When Weed came to his senses, the old lady’s maid was watching.
“It was a wonderful story. Thank you very much for sharing it with me ma’am.”
“You’re welcome. It was my pleasure to tell their story like this. So, young adventurer, I want to give you a small present. Will you please take it?”
Wouldn’t it be unkind to reject a present out of goodwill? Weed was not so cruel as to decline anything offered to him. A man should accept any present with gratitude.
“I will gladly take it, ma’am.”
The old maid took something bundled up from deep inside a drawer. It resembled an ancient scalpel.
“This sculpting knife used to belong to Zahab-nim. He left it to Her Highness, and I happened to keep it now. And this wooden statue is carved by Zahab-nim. Please take these” The lady’s maid said.
“I shall long treasure your present.” Weed said.
He received two items from her.
You have received:
Item: Sculpting Knife
Item: Zahab’s Legacy
Weed thought that these items were uncommon as they were left by one of the Masters of Sculptural Art. Even the wooden statue looked classy at a casual glance.
“Please keep Zahab-nim’s sculpting knife and handle with great care.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Weed dutiful replied.
Weed calculated that these might sell well and turn over a good profit.
“The wooden statue will show you where Zahab-nim’s resting place is located. I hope his sculpture mastery will not be buried forever.”
“I hope so too, ma’am”
“If only I could hear the song of that day again… Everything about sculpture mastery is concealed in that sculpting knife”
“In Zahab-nim’s sculpting knife.”
That moment Weed looked at the sculpting knife. He had a gut feeling that an irresistible destiny was drawing near.
Quest: Follow Zahab’s Last Wish:
Zahab did not die that day. He left for a faraway continent to test his Sculpture Mastery. Once you graduate in Sculpture Master, you should find Zahab to learn the song A Sculpture’s Heart from him. Then, you should come back here and sing it to this old lady’s maid. The tradition runs that Zahab’s was last seen heading for the Gray Pass Region.
You must complete this quest before the old maid passes away.
Cancellation is not permitted.
You can learn Item Identification Skill, Sculpture Mastery, Repair Skill, and Handicraft Skill.
A serial quest with a difficulty level of A, rewarding four skills. Weed couldn’t tell if he was lucky or not.
For one thing, he knew that it was extremely difficult to acquire skills unrelated to his own class. Those skills, such as Item Identification and Repair Skill, which he had learned without converting to the sculpture class, could come in handy in numerous ways, but an A level quest was far beyond his ability for a long time, possibly many years.
The average level for Royal Road users is currently a hundred or so. The highest currently on the level ladder is in the low 300s. The difficulty of a quest that requires a balanced party of power rankers of about level 300 to finish is known to be B-level.
That means Weed had just accepted a quest that requires him to be above level 400 to be able to cope with the quest, let alone finish it.
As if it were not bad enough, the Gray Pass region is the most perilous of the perilous areas, inhabited by the most forceful monsters. It is one of the top Ten Forbidden Areas on the continent, where you are absolutely guaranteed to be chopped to pieces the moment you stepped into the area.
‘Dammit!’ Weed thought bitterly.
The number of quests that a user can store at any given time is only three. Now that one of them was taken by the quest: ‘Zahab’s Last Wish’, Weed was left with only two spaces for new quests.
But in case of serial quest, it is unpredictable what rewards await the user in the end. This serial quest introduced a secret class at the second stage. Even after he refused to convert to the class, he was given four practical skills. Imagine what rewards in the final stage would be like.
Weed wasn’t stupid to say no to a good opportunity. Yet, it remained unknown when and how this would work out.
He bid farewell to the old lady’s maid, and went back to the sculpture stop.
“Oh Weed-nim, I deeply appreciate your hard work to bring me results so soon. I am once again assured that it was the right decision to entrust you with this quest” The shopkeeper said.
The shopkeeper paid Weed as a reward for the request.
Weed received 2 silver coins, recovering the silver coin that had been virtually robbed by the bard.
When he returned to the Training Hall, he received another silver coin, along with a word of commendation from the instructor. Therefore, it was a total of 5 silvers that Weed had earned so far.
He also leveled up twice, to level 3. He distributed those earned stat bonus points equally to Agility and Strength.
“Why aren’t you taking on another quest?” he asked himself.
Weed wrestled with a sudden temptation, but picked up the wooden sword again. A quest that was undisclosed to the public similar to the quest he just undertook, was rare. That was why Weed earned generous rewards for his level.