Xie Chengyan’s face turned blank.
With the condition for triggering the Hidden Plot announced, people stopped leveling and ran, one after another, to Glazed Light River.
The mission chain on Jiang Chen’s side had been completed.
In his story world, Ling Huai accompanied the little gremlin to treat his illness. Thus, it would be useless if he threw anything into the river. However, other players could still trigger this plot and could still summon the NPC.
The first mission obtained from Ling Huai was to go to the main city to find someone. Broken Star City was packed with people.
But when Jiang Chen had hit the final point of the plot, there had been many players at the bridge, watching. Several people seemed to have taken screenshots and could make out that the NPC was wearing the city guard militia uniform. They thus specifically initiated dialogues with the city guard militia.
There was only one party with good eyes; they discovered that he looked similar to the gate-watching uncle of As One Wishes and ran over.
The logic of the game was very strict.
Judging from the feedback given by the other nine servers, after engaging with the gate-watching uncle, he would climb up the roof of the city guard militia’s dormitory.
Due to him being hired by Jiang Chen’s gang, he would climb up the roof of the gang headquarters. To visitors, he would climb to the roof of the guest hall.
When King Flying Bird came back online, he saw his family’s gate-watching uncle sitting atop the roof, crying. To the side were four players, watching silently.
He glanced at the uncle with sympathy and distress before heading out to hit an instance with friends. When he came back, he saw that the uncle was still crying.
He then went to buy some things from the stores in the main city. When he came back, he saw that the uncle was still crying. He couldn’t bear to watch it for even a second and left to wander around. He saw Escape Empath say that he wanted to hold a meeting and returned. When he entered through the gate, he saw the players and uncle bawling together.
“When will you be fucking done?!”
“This crying’s been going on since noon. Do you think he will be crying for three days and three nights like when Lady Meng Jiang caused the Great Wall to collapse?”
“Real men do not cry easily, not easily at all. It should almost be done.”
“You’re drinking more wine. Quickly finish drinking the wine and talk to us!”
King Flying Bird: “……”
The four players saw him in the courtyard and immediately began howling even more miserably.
“The situation’s like this; did I trigger it wrong?”
“Saving a life is more meritorious than building a seven-floor pagoda. Can’t you give us a tip. Did I buy fake wine?”
King Flying Bird said, quite honestly, “My deputy leader called people over to hold a meeting. It might be because of this uncle. You hold on.”
He was afraid he would become softhearted and entered the meeting room after he finished speaking. The abandoned players continued sitting on the roof, howling.
When Jiang Chen and Fang Jingxing came back, they saw this scene.
His heart was much harder than King Flying Bird’s, so he completely ignored the request for help and headed directly through the courtyard without looking back.
Escape Empath had long arrived and indicated for him to sit wherever he liked.
When practically all gang members that were online had arrived, he broached today’s main topic. He asked, “You all saw the uncle by the gate, right?”
The gang nodded.
Careless Magnificence said, “If it were like the shadow clone mechanism, how come he isn’t staying by the gate?”
This so-called shadow clone mechanism was where a clone would split off from the NPC and establish the plot with the player.
In Wandering Dream, some plot missions required NPCs to provide assistance for completion.
If the NPC followed the players, then when other players came to receive the mission, wouldn’t they be rushing through thin air?
Therefore, to prevent this kind of thing from happening, there was the shadow clone mechanism. The NPC that accompanied the player for the mission would have a temporary ID, like XX Party Member.
For example, countless players had gone to the river and thrown shoes in. They would thus summon “XX Party Member” Ling Huai’s.
The gate-watching uncle also couldn’t serve just one person and make the other parties line up to wait for him to finish crying. Thus, this mechanism was activated here as well.
That was, when the party of four received the mission to buy wine, the team’s uncle could not be seen at the gate when they returned because a shadow clone of his had already climbed up the roof since the plot was triggered. But after the team arrived and delivered the wine, the gang members could still see an NPC at the gate.
When the two bosses were hitting the plot, even though the gate-watching uncle could shadow clone, the gang members could not see him at the gate.
Escape Empath reasoned, “I think it is because we hired him.”
He spent money to hire a guard from the city guard militia to serve the gang.
If a member looked for the gate-watching uncle and took him to the courtyard, the other members would naturally not be able to see someone at the gate. Therefore, when Fang Jingxing initiated the mission, it fell under the purview of serving the gang.
In other words, when outsiders received this mission, an NPC was always visible at the gate.
Meanwhile, if a party from the gang took the mission, the other parties from the gang could only line up and wait for the uncle to stop crying.
King Flying Bird said, “This is a bit cruel.”
Squeezing Purple commented, “There are advantages and disadvantages. How can we be allowed to receive only advantages?”
Fang Jingxing teased, “Then when future players receive the mission, would the roof be entirely covered with shadow clones?”
Everyone reacted a second later, all horrified.
This XX Party Member NPC — although they had no means of talking to him, they could still see him. Like this, when news spread of gate-watching uncle’s location, countless parties would initiate dialogue with uncle, and the roof would have countless shadow clones. These shadows would all be crying together……five hundred ducks probably could not match this.
Xie Chengyan visualized this scene and felt it would be noisy. He asked, “What do you think we should do?”
Escape Empath said, “I have two proposals. The first proposal: I fire him, and he can thus cry wherever he likes to cry in the future. The second proposal……” Escape Empath smiled back at him. “I transfer him to guard the warehouse instead. Afterward, I will announce this matter.”
A necessary fact that needed to be known: people could not enter without his consent.
Unable to enter, unable to talk to the NPC. The mission would be stuck at this link in the chain.
Fang Jingxing asked with a laugh, “You’re thinking about collecting tickets?”
Escape Empath responded, “I wouldn’t charge much, just 5 gold coins. The collected money would be added to the gang funds.”
He looked around at everyone. “Vote, which option?”
Everyone spoke in unison, “2!”
The server with the highest levels of activity when the servers first launched was Dawnstar Reflecting Fate, due to the two bosses’ existences. At present, this server had the most players.
With so many people triggering the plot, even if it was challenged in parties — 5 gold coins per party equaled an insanely large sum of money!
“Just let him cry!”
“Using my dad’s words: it’s not a sin for a man to cry.”
“At worst, I just won’t come back for a while, no noise.”
He fell silent after saying this, immediately realizing a serious problem.
“Wait a minute, if no one will come back, who will collect the money?”
“Not only that, if we encounter something that requires the entire gang to be mobilized, and there happens to be players who arrive to receive the mission — won’t they curse at us when they discover someone collecting money? We can’t always leave someone at headquarters to keep watch.”
“Right, if night owls come to receive the mission between midnight and three o’clock, what should we do?”
Escape Empath said, “That’s an issue for the future. I’ll first take advantage of this wave of heat to collect money. After our people finish this plot, and once most of the money has been collected, I will fire him.”
Everyone felt this was reasonable and promptly gave the deputy leader a huge round of applause.
Escape Empath smiled and said, “Then let’s arrange shifts. There aren’t many, so each person can keep watch for an hour each.”
No one had any objections.
The crying of five hundred ducks — for money, nothing couldn’t be endured.
If one really couldn’t endure it, he could block the game sound effects until it was over. Besides, he was guarding the door and probably didn’t need to know what was happening inside.
After everyone finished discussing, they cheerfully dispersed.
Escape Empath went to transfer the gate-watching uncle and then sent out an announcement.
[Loudspeaker] Escape Empath: The first link of Ling Huai’s mission has you searching for a guard from the city guard militia. The NPC’s name is Kirk. The dialogue requires you to buy wine. When you come back, kick him off the roof to smoothly continue to the next chain mission. [screenshot][screenshot][screenshot]
Players in the main city trying to find this NPC had nearly collapsed in their search. Upon seeing this, they hastily opened the screenshot. They discovered that four people had already received the mission and were sitting on the roof, accompanying the NPC. Immediately, their eyes brimmed with tears of excitement.
[World] Fire Beacon: WTF!
[World] Lacking Overflow: Fuck, what a good guy!
[World] Nine-Nine: Thanks, boss [weeping]
[World] Liking Summer: People from Wishes are really great!
[World] Mirror Intermediary: How come I don’t trust this?
[World] Liquid Annoyance: Are you blind? Can’t see the screenshots?
[World] Library Collection: I was previously told that As One Wishes was a group of weirdos and salted fish. Now I can see that it is not like what was reported at all. It is hard to be a good person in this world. I am certain it is you and those big gangs that are discrediting him!
[World] Mirror Intermediary: ……Didn’t you see some big gangs come out and cry?
[World] For Words Of Love: [tears]
[World] Hamster Ball: Boss, ignore these villains. Look at me, asking for this NPC’s location [starry eyes]
[Loudspeaker] Escape Empath: This is a good question asked. I had hired this NPC a long time ago; he is a guard of my gang. I have now transferred him to watch over the warehouse, however, so if you want to enter, you need my approval. Ticket, 5 gold coins.
Players throughout the server: “……”
[World] Mirror Intermediary: [Vicissitudes of Life – Smoking]
[World] Library Collection: I was wrong. The rumors are indeed true [sob]
[World] Clear Weather: Aren’t you extorting all the players on this server?!
[World] Until The End Of Time: Shameless, I’m reporting you!
[World] Careless Magnificence: I really used gold and silver to hire the gate-watching uncle. Since he can be hired, he follows my arrangements.
[World] Old Wutong Germinating: Even so, aren’t you violating the rules of society?
[World] Lacking One Rice: Does Scholar Origin know you’re doing this?
[Loudspeaker] Escape Empath: He knows. He said to collect 15 gold coins, but I thought that was too much. If you are thinking of him, how about I call him over and let him set the price?
[World] Nine-Nine: !
[World] Squeezing Purple: What you’re talking about, you should’ve said it earlier.
[World] Passion Deepening Eternally: Break it in half, 10 gold.
[World] Liking Summer: Shameless [sob]
[World] Mirror Intermediary: You have proved yourself [thumb]
Jiang Chen observed the haggling on the channel and then swept a gaze at the member information.
Scholar Escape was established by two people.
Gang Leader: Scholar Origin.
Deputy Leader: Escape Empath.
But whenever he came online these days, he saw that the gang leader was offline.
Scholar Origin’s level was still at Level 35, as if he simply leveled up high enough to be allowed to leave the domain, established a gang, completed the mission, and then stopped caring.
He asked, “The gang leader’s situation, do you know?”
Fang Jingxing said, “He’s been busy recently. After a couple of days, you should be able to meet him.”
He explained in detail, “He’s honestly more powerful than Ah Escape but doesn’t take care of many things. Even when online, the majority of situations are handled by Ah Escape.”
Jiang Chen voiced an “Oh,” and followed him into an instance.
At this time, the ticket price had already been fixed; it was still 5 gold coins.
Escape Empath had stepped on the players’ bottom line. Anyone could fish out 5 gold coins, so it was very easy to accept.
The seven big gangs watched, beating their chests and stamping their feet.
Such a large sum of money, how could they let it go?!
They had obviously established their gangs earlier than As One Wishes. If they could callously buy guards from the city guard militia and not ordinary guards, this money might belong to him instead!
“Isn’t this treading on other people’s dumb luck?”
“Not only that, he recruited those two bosses, too.”
“We already know what the first link is. Deputy leader, why don’t we trigger the plot?”
Those taunts from World Annihilation caused quite a lot of bubbling. It meant this hidden plot was definitely full of pits.
He naturally should wait first and see; let other players step on the mines for him. In any case, this server’s first kill was already taken, and there was a time factor. He must cut down the clearance time as much as possible to maximize the rewards.
The amount of people thinking like this was not small.
At present, members of the Old But Vigorous gang were also discussing this matter.
“Tsk tsk tsk, youngsters these days, terrific.”
“These money-making brains, terrible.”
“The rich can only get richer. I just checked. It isn’t cheap to hire a city guard militia.”
“That party of four should have opened the first link. So is that where the pit is?”
“God knows…right, Old Du, didn’t you say that Master of Darkness might be Fang Jingxing? You ask him.”
Old Du said, “I’m not sure.”
He evaluated simply, “This child Fang Jingxing has many wretched ideas. He might not be telling the truth.”
“You are the magnificent chairman of the Wandering Dream Alliance. He can’t sell you some face?”
“Exactly, you ask him. What if he answers?”
“We are dragged down by having families to feed. How can we have so much time to waste on a hidden plot?”
“Yes, go ask.”
Alliance Chairman Du Feizhou nodded and sent Fang Jingxing a message: Are you on Dawnstar Reflecting Fate?
At this moment, Fang Jinxing had just defeated the first boss of the instance. When he saw the message, he was stunned.
He didn’t conceal it: En, the chairman saw the hot search?
The other party responded very quickly: I’m also on this server.
Fang Jingxing’s mind whirred. He asked: Really? Has the chairman joined a gang? Do you want to join As One Wishes?
Du Feizhou was not someone who liked to talk in circles and directly said: I established a gang with some old friends from back then. I want to hit the hidden plot and have come to ask you where the pits are.
Fang Jingxing knew this was 80% of the matter at hand and gave a temporary reply.
He exited the chat box and indicated for the party to brush the mobs before pulling the Seal Master to the back to paddle water. He whispered, “I have a friend who’s also on this server. He wants to hit the hidden plot and is asking for the strategy.”
Jiang Chen said, “Up to you.”
Fang Jingxing smiled and said, “His character is pretty good. I can confirm that he won’t spread it out.”
Jiang Chen nodded.
Fang Jingxing sent the strategy to Du Feizhou, but at the same time, he did not forget to give credit to the Seal Master: I asked my friend. He said there is no problem, just don’t tell others for the time being.
Du Feizhou said thanks and posted the strategy to the party channel.
The retired veterans gathered close to read together, all becoming speechless once they finished.
“Start by choosing to not help, who would think of this?”
“Then beating up the NPC, my god……”
“As it turns out, the Lion King can be beaten like this, with a summoning token.”
Du Feizhou was in Wandering Dream Alliance; how could he escape this pit since joining all those years ago? He had naturally challenged the Lion King back then.
He recalled the map and knew that according to Fang Jingxing,’s level at that time, there had to be at least two people pulling the Lion King over to the river bank. He contacted Fang Jingxing again: Who pulled the aggro with you?
Fang Jingxing replied: Seal Master.
Du Feizhou: Just him?
Fang Jingxing: En, is high level.
Du Feizhou: Professional?
Fang Jingxing: Had previous contact.
Du Feizhou then understood.
If one had previous contact, he most likely had training for pulling the aggro.
Pulling the lion was just using fundamentals. These two were indeed sufficient.
Just as this thought flashed through his mind, he recalled the gossip on this server. He inwardly thought, was Fang Jingxing finally about to settle down?
Although he contemplated this, he considered Fang Jingxing’s mode of operandi and still asked: How strong?
Fang Jingxing: Secret [smile]
Du Feizhou understood clearly.
It seemed that Seal Master should be very gifted to make Fang Jingxing want to sign him to his club.
He didn’t ask anything else and went to challenge the hidden plot with friends.
Those on the sidelines waited until nearly noon, at which the first pit was seen.
[Loudspeaker] Wine And Meat Penetrating The Intestines: How the fuck do you hit these aaahhh [screenshot][screenshot][screenshot][screenshot][screenshot][screenshot][screenshot][screenshot][screenshot][screenshot]
These ten photos shocked all the players.
He opened them one by one and discovered lists, lists of long names and short names — all densely packed. In short……all the field monsters that could be ranked in Wandering Dream.
[Loudspeaker] Wine And Meat Penetrating The Intestines: Five lists altogether; I screenshotted both the front and back. All of it must be found, you take a look [sob]
Players throughout the server: “……”
Was this a game that people could play?
Wouldn’t it take them a fucking month or two to find it all?!
[Loudspeaker] Loquat Tree Tangerine: That……I think World Annihilation must have only challenged the Lion King; that is on just one of the lists.
[Loudspeaker] Wine And Meat Penetrating The Intestines: I know, but I don’t know which step was wrong [collapse][sob]
The backbones of the seven big gangs wiped their sweat at the same time.
“Didn’t I say, there really were pits!”
“Too frightening, just looking at these things makes me want to go crazy.”
“Yes, but how do we avoid it?”
The gang leaders looked at the lists again. They really didn’t want to run into this pit, so they gathered for a meeting, brainstorming ways to buy the strategies from the two bosses or to talk to World Annihilation.
At this time, Jiang Chen had already gone offline for his lunch break and was entirely unaware of the players’ misery.
Even if he knew, he would still remain unmoved and go on as usual to hit instances and level up. The day passed quickly. The next day at lunch, he punctually opened the broadcasting software and became nearly blinded with a screen full of gifts.
Fang Jingxing had given advance notice, so fans had been waiting for a long time. Seeing their male god appear at last, they immediately began frantically screaming.
Jiang Chen was faced with Fang Jingxing’s popularity for the first time and inwardly thought, the Alliance’s male god was indeed not just an empty boast.
Fang Jingxing, having made an agreement when he went offline in a hurry last time, showed his face. Smiling, he said, “With great difficulty, I trained to Level 50. Everyone, don’t grill me. Even if you do, you should know better. Otherwise, let’s chat.”
Having been separated for a year, fans could finally see their male god’s immortal attractiveness and became even more excited.
“Hubby, hubby, hubby!”
“I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead!”
“Ah, ah, ah, husband, I love you!”
“Husband, can you not play the game and just chat?!”
“It’s fine if you insist on playing the game, please use your voice.”
“Right, right, right!”
Fang Jingxing looked at the messages brushing up on his screen and chuckled softly. “Can’t do.”
Jiang Chen felt as if this chuckle flowed directly into his ears.
He touched his earlobes in discomfort and saw that a certain thing had put on eyeglasses, saying, “Okay, I showed my face. Time to begin playing the game.”
After he finished speaking, he logged into his account, ignoring the crying and wailing fans. When he completely entered the game, he switched over the live broadcast.
He had an assistant help level up this account, and as the newcomers from the club were also on this server, the account’s friend list was full of club members.
For the time being, he didn’t call a team together and instead headed to the banks of Glazed Light River. He fished out a pair of shoes. “So the plot is triggered like this; let’s challenge it today and take a look.”
He paused and then flashed a smile, saying, “If you don’t need the equipment, players usually sell to the store. The person who discovered this plot at that time must truly be a genius. What do you think caused him to throw shoes into the river?”
Jiang Chen: “……”
Not wanting to be a part of the Blank Patron Party, Captain Jiang was just thinking about brushing some gifts for him, only to silently withdraw. He didn’t want to send the gifts.
The barrage guessed all kinds of things.
Fang Jingxing swept a cursory glance and smiled noncommittally.
Ling Huai appeared before him. Seeing her ask him for help and then the choices, he laughed and commented, “This…there can’t be players who would chose “not help,” right?”
Jiang Chen, with the cool eyes of a bystander, saw him choose “help”.
He watched Ling Huai become happy and hand him her keepsake before diving into the river.
There was no summoning token.
Jiang Chen reflected on this point.
Seems like choosing to help caused the difficulty of hitting the Lion King to increase, but it might not make him appear to be like the devil when the blackening stage of the plot happened and lead to a single slap freezing a player.
Choosing to not help, on the other hand, provided a summoning token, which made hitting the Lion King easier. But if the means of stripping had not been thought of, the blackening stage would create a three-day long freezing period. This route was more advantageous when not at max level, because after reaching max level, a team of eight would not find it impossibly difficult to hit the Lion King. A summoning token would seem like chicken ribs.
Curiosity satisfied, he watched Fang Jingxing search the main city for the city guard militia. Not feeling inclined to watch this long-winded task, he returned to the game.
Xie Chengyan had just come online and went to hit an instance with him. Xie Chengyan accompanied him in the game all the way until dinner time, after which they continued playing together till it was half past nine in the evening. Feeling that their interactions were harmonious, Xie Chengyan decided to continue trying. With the airs of an older brother, he warmly said, “Good night, sweet dreams. See you tomorrow.”
Jiang Chen glanced at him. “I have something to do tomorrow afternoon.”
Xie Chengyan replied, “No problem, I’ll wait online for you.”
Jiang Chen agreed, and feeling that his nephew was very talkative today, he patted the other’s head and went offline.
He rested for the night, and when he woke up the next morning, he waited for Jiang Shilan to pick him up. They took the car and left the research institute.
After thirty years, the city’s changes were immense.
He looked out the window quietly, until the trip came to an end at the western cemetery. He put on a mask and walked to his family’s plot of three, of which his mother’s grave was up front.
He turned slightly and caught sight of his own grave to the side of his mother’s gravestone.
During that time, his popularity was the highest. After receiving news that he had passed away, his friends from the alliance, his teammates, and his fans had wanted to visit and give him offerings. Therefore, Jiang Kangle had made him a grave.
But time was the cure to all wounds.
Thirty years had passed. There was probably no one who came to see him now.
Elder brother Jiang Hui glimpsed his line of sight and stated, “Do you still remember that Du Feizhou? Every year, he comes to see you.”
Jiang Chen was a bit surprised at first, but then understood.
Du Feizhou was also from Wencheng. Back then, their relationship was pretty good, so he probably saw him in passing when he came to sweep his own family’s graves.
He had looked up those from his past, but the majority had unknown whereabouts. Contrariwise, Du Feizhou was very successful and was now the chairman of Wandering Dream Alliance.
Jiang Hui said, “After you leave the hospital, remember to treat him for a meal.”
Jiang Chen nodded. After paying respects to his mother’s grave, he went back to see his old home instead of returning to the research institute for the time being. He intended to have lunch with his family again.
Jiang Hui asked, “Has Chengyan returned? He won’t suddenly come over?”
Jiang Shilan said, “No, he said he was going to share a meal with Jingxing at noon.”
Jiang Hui felt relieved and personally went to the kitchen to cook for his younger brother. As soon as he reached the end of the table, he suddenly heard a door open, and a familiar person entered.
Xie Chengyan’s fingerprints had long been entered for his home’s security, so there was no need to knock. He could just enter directly. He said, “You just ate? I came to grab some……”
He suddenly caught sight of someone on the couch, the rest of his words grinding to a halt.
Jiang Chen: “……”
The three Jiang family members: “……”
Xie Chengyan’s face turned blank.
The four people in the room did not speak for a while.
Two seconds later, Xie Chengyan’s expression stiffened. He looked at the three elders.
The three elders stared back at him.
Xie Chengyan pointed at Jiang Chen’s body with a trembling finger, his tongue became uncooperative. “Can you……you see……see him? My, my, my little uncle’s ghost followed, followed you back, back from……from……from the cemetery.”
Jiang Chen: “……”
The three Jiang family members: “……”
 five hundred ducks: a reference to the (highly sexist) saying — a woman is as noisy as five hundred ducks
 blank patron party: to enjoy the fan welfare provided by an idol but not spend any money on them at all
 chicken ribs: trash, of little value or interest