34. Side Quest
If you had to mention something exciting about this generation other than its advanced technology, then the one thing that had everyone jealous was the flexible work and study hours. If there’s something that needs to be done, you did it. If not, you relax.
Thus, this beautiful Monday morning was not spent hurriedly rushing for the bus with a slice of bread in the mouth. A group of humans spent it continuing their carefree adventure.
They’d actually departed bright and early that morning. They were hoping to find somewhere to hide from the wind and sand before 8 am.
“The game must be bored to death to make us go through two rounds of hurricanes each day,” CopperPlate commented with a pout.
“It’s so you all know the importance of protecting the environment. It’s better than it being random.”
“True.” CopperPlate didn’t want to be buried in the sands in the middle of nowhere without any warning.
“Once we reach the rocky area, there’ll be caves galore for us to hide in. Haha.” Below_The_Moon gave the still-unhappy CopperPlate a pat.
As they chatted, the sands below their feet turned harder and harder. They were approaching the rocky and equally-barren region.
“The hint’s changed.” Ever since the first change to the mission’s description, I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s duties were analyse the map, hand out directions, plus an additional duty – paying attention to the mission’s description and hints. Hence, when the golden sands were all replaced by yellow mounds of rocks, the game stopped making the party despair. The quest’s hint finally changed.
[In a cave not far away to the west.]
“It went from farther off to not far away. Looks like victory’s right ahead of us.”
“Don’t celebrate just yet. It might not end with just that.” Chrysanthemum solemnly splashed a bucket of cold water over everyone. She didn’t think she’d be the jinx this time.
The party looked at the time. It’s nearly 8 am. Upon finding a large and rather secure-looking cave, the party settled in and prepared themselves for a break.
“Let’s all log off for breakfast. Deal with your personal issues. We’ll meet here before 10. Chief, you’re still in charge of protecting LuckyCat…Yup, that’s all,” I_Am_A_Poor_Man said.
As the other party members logged off one by one, XiaoYu took out his carrots. He was about to continue his career of imitating a rabbit crunching down on carrots, when a hand suddenly appeared before his eyes and pressed the hand with his carrot down.
“It’s not healthy just eating carrots all the time. Eat this.” It was the third time Mr HereticKing saw those carrots. He couldn’t resist stretching out the hand of justice. The other hand plucked the scorpion feast from yesterday out of his Inventory. (When Poor_Man observed Chief liking them, he cooked a few more to stock up.)
“No need. It’s all the same…”
“Behave. Put those carrots away.” XiaoYu was about to continue saying they’re just numbers. Nutrition and health weren’t involved at all. However, he was quickly interrupted by HereticKing. While the other sounded like he was coaxing a child, XiaoYu somehow felt an unseen vibe he couldn’t really put a name to.
“Okay.” In the end, XiaoYu decided to give in.
“Is it tasty?”
“Aark?” The gentle and tranquil meal was interrupted by a jarring voice.
They looked up to find a Peco Peco standing at the cave’s entrance. While its feathers were being thrown about by the hurricane winds into a mess, it tilted its head and stared at XiaoYu…the scorpion dish in XiaoYu’s hands.
HereticKing swiftly took up his sword and moved XiaoYu behind him. While he stood before XiaoYu, protecting him, he was curious as to where this Peco Peco came from. It shouldn’t spawn here. The Peco Peco region was far away from them.
“Ark! Aark! Arrk! Ark…” The Peco Peco didn’t attack. All it did was flap its wings about and squawked nonstop at them.
[Peco Peco Guard Leader: Brave humans, you have taught those despicable scorpions a good lesson. The Peco Peco tribe thanks you for your help.]
A dialogue box appeared before XiaoYu and HereticKing. It was most likely a translation of the Peco Peco’s words.
“Ding. Congratulations, Players LuckyCat, HereticKing, for completing the mission ‘Teach the despicable scorpions a lesson’ from the quest Escort the brave Peco Peco egg back to its village. EXP +30,000. Crystal Coins +3.”
Right after the game notification rang out, the Level Up aura appeared several times on XiaoYu. The 30,000 experience points might just be a minor jump in the percentages, but to the low-levelled XiaoYu, it was levelling up after levelling up. His original Level 33 transformed into Level 36.
The two looked at each other. They completed a side quest just like that? Also…just where did this “mission” come from?
“Aark! Arrk! Ark!…”
[Peco Peco Guard Leader: Brave humans, you have obtained the Peco Peco tribe’s approval. The Elders wish to meet with you.]
“Ding. Players LuckyCat, HereticKing, do you accept the mission: ‘Meet the Elders’ of Escort the brave Peco Peco egg back to its village?
“Accept it.” While HereticKing didn’t know where this side quest came from, but it was certainly related to the main questline and the rewards are quite nice. He didn’t hesitate at all and selected “Accept”.
When the Peco Peco in the cave saw both humans accepted the mission, it squawked at them again before stumbling through the sand hurricanes.
“What now?” XiaoYu looked down at the half-eaten scorpion dish and looked back at HereticKing. It was obvious he’d yet to completely digest the sudden development.
“Continue eating.” There was no time limit anyway. They didn’t need to follow that Peco Peco away. The current session of hurricanes looked worse than the hurricanes in the sandy regions. The smart thing to do would be to not leave.
“What? You guys completed a side quest just by eating a meal?” When the rest of the party logged on, everyone was curious as to why the game told them of a side quest being shared with them. Once they heard XiaoYu’s explanation, the shock they felt was greater.
“Aargh! How can you be so lucky? With a simple trip, you discover a S-rank quest. A simple meal and you’ve completed a side quest,” said CopperPlate as he knelt in a corner, depressed and drawing circles.
“Ah. What a pity we were offline. We didn’t get any of the quest’s rewards.”
“It shouldn’t affect the main questline. Alright. Everyone’s here. Let’s go.” Chrysanthemum gave the dejected CopperPlate a pat and buffed everyone.
“The description changed.” A mere five minutes after they left the cave, I_Am_A_Poor_Man spoke up, reminding everyone to look at their Quest tabs.
[In a nearby cave to the west.]
“Looks like we’re getting closer to our goal.” Even without I_Am_A_Poor_Man’s reminder, everyone could feel it. That’s because groups of Peco Peco began to appear within their sight.
“These should be the guards. Do we need to kill them?” Below_The_Moon prepared his bow and arrows, then turned to look at HereticKing for his opinion.
“No. We’ve got their approval. They shouldn’t attack us.” Even the Peco Peco Guard Leader didn’t attack them. These guards shouldn’t be hostile to them.
Reality proved that HereticKing’s deduction was correct. When the Peco Peco Guards first noticed the group of players, they were very aggressive. They fiercely flapped their wings and charged at them. However, when they were 20 meters away from them, they suddenly stopped, turned away and continued waddling by.
The gang continued on without any issues. The Peco Peco Guards even moved away and left them a path ahead. The party was even more certain that victory was right ahead.
At the entrance of a huge cave was a group of Peco Pecos who stopped the party in their tracks. The Peco Peco standing at the front of the formation took a few steps forward and started squawking at the humans.
[Peco Peco Guard Leader: Brave humans, we’ve been waiting for your arrival. Please come in.]
“Ding. Party Pilgrimage West has obtained the right to enter the Peco Peco Cave.”
“I’m guessing if Chief and Lucky hadn’t accidentally completed that side quest, this Guard Leader would likely make us to go back and teach those despicable scorpions to gain their approval,” slowly said I_Am_A_Poor_Man as he rubbed his chin in thought. Don’t be fooled by his usual tomfoolery. He’s very serious when it came to collecting and analysing information.
“Thank the heavens. We don’t need to walk any more for no reason. But if we didn’t complete that quest, can’t we just force our way through?” CopperPlate asked.
“Ice. Look at their stats.” An idea suddenly popped into HereticKing’s mind.
“Sense Monster.” This was a special analysing skill all Wizards have. Based on how proficient they were, this skill could help the caster understand the basic details of a monster like its level, health, experience and so on (it might not reveal everything), without the monster noticing. However, it cannot analyse monsters which have a higher level than the caster.
“Ding. Peco Peco Guard. Level 80. HP: 20,000. EXP: ???.”
“Ding. Peco Peco Guard Leader. Level 90 (Elite). HP: ???. EXP: ???.”
Two types of monsters were analysed in one go and two notifications popped up in every party member’s U.I. Except for XiaoYu wo didn’t really understand the average stats of the desert zone, everyone was shocked to say the least.
“Gods. Aren’t Peco Pecos usually Levels 35 to 45? It’s a Level 90 Elite. That’s the equivalent of a Level 100 mob.” CopperPlate was glad they didn’t force their way in. He might not be able to break through a Level 90 Elite’s defences.
“We were careless. They looked exactly like the Peco Pecos from before, but we didn’t think there’d be a huge level difference. No wonder this hidden quest’s requirements were so vague. It meant this quest could be easy or hard. If we were too lazy to run back and help them teach the scorpions a lesson, the one who’d be taught a lesson might be us,” I_Am_A_Poor_Man deducted.
“But I’d never heard of Peco Pecos being Level 80 or higher.” The curious kitty CopperPlate’s question time had arrived.
“All along this journey, we’ve disproven a lot of the information we had. First, there were the Mukas who’d pretend to be the average cacti. Then, the scorpions who’d bury themselves in sand and ambush players. A Peco Peco being above Level 80’s rather normal really.”
“Anyways, let’s head in first and see what’s going on.” HereticKing waited and listened before concluding everything at the appropriate time. The group of Peco Pecos before them had opened up a path for them some time now. If they didn’t go in, things might change.
No matter how much they discuss, nothing would really be concluded. Investigating and exploring all new and strange phenomenon was the specialty of Asgard Online.
It wasn’t a difficult or harsh path inside the cave. Just one path going straight down to the end. In the deepest cavern sat two Peco Pecos. These must be the Elders.
“Ding. Party Pilgrimage West has completed the mission: ‘Meet the Elders’ of Escort the brave Peco Peco egg back to its village. EXP +50,000. Crystal Coins +20.”
“Tsk-tsk. As expected of a S-rank. Even a side quest’s reward has crystal coins.” It must be known that most quest rewards only give out 1-digit amounts of gold coins. Only the server-wide Level 100 Quest gave out crystal coins. Even then, they were only in single digits.
“Aark. Arrk. Ark…Arrk! Ark. Aark…”
[Peco Peco Elder: Brave humans, we’ve waited a long time for you. Ever since our king passed away two years ago, the Peco Peco tribe has been on a downhill path…]
The Elder blabbed on for ten whole minutes about the history of the Peco Peco tribe. Only then did the humans realise there was a Boss Peco Peco, but their king died two years ago. The game had only been out for over a year, so players all didn’t know. Species without a king would have their status and power drastically reduced. Slowly, the scorpions snatched away all their territory and they were forced to move to this place where the winds were fiercer than before. The weak citizens could not survive in such horrendous situations, so the low-levelled Peco Pecos would roam about in the area players recognised as the Peco Peco region. The Peco Pecos there risk being stung to death time after time.
“No wonder. I always felt there were too few Peco Peco spawns. I thought it was because the game didn’t want players to obtain mounts so easily, so the developers tuned the spawns down.”
“But that’s very strange. No one’s ever seen a scorpion in the Peco Peco zone before.”
“Probably because the game never placed players between the two tribes’ war before. Think. The tiniest scorpion is already Level 60. Players aiming to catch Peco Pecos are all before their Second Job. If scorpions did spawn there, let’s all forget about trying to catch a mount.”
[Peco Peco Elder: …Now, our new king has returned. But we don’t have the strength to take back our territory. Humans, I have a favour to ask of you. Please help us kill the Scorpion King. The Peco Pecos would never forget the deeds you’ve done for us.]
“Ding. Party Pilgrimage West, do you accept the mission: ‘Retaking the Hometown’ of Escort the brave Peco Peco egg back to its village?”
“What else? We’re already here. Of course we’d accept.”
“Scorpion King. If I’m not wrong, that’s a Level 90 Boss. There are about 30 Level 60 tiny scorpions around it.” I_Am_A_Poor_Man understood all monsters, especially the bosses, as well as the back of his hand.
“This boss existed before. There shouldn’t be anything weird or strange going on with it.” Everyone felt like the constant subversion of previous experiences have reached an uncontrollable level.
“If there’s anything strange, it’s where we’d find it. I remember it being deep within the desert. It’s a few days’ journey away from the Peco Peco region. Now, the location we’re given is just north of the Peco Peco zone. It’s at the border between the Ant region and the Stone Giants.”
“I didn’t think this escort quest would be that complicated. But we’ve really just went through an entire chain of events. Then, there should just be the last Elite or Boss fight and it’ll end.”
“Let’s go.” Once the discussion was over, the party turned and prepared to leave the cave. Ice_For_Miles glanced at the two Peco Peco Elders who didn’t look any different from the Peco Pecos outside. After some hesitation, he decided to throw out a Sense at them.
“Ding. Peco Peco Elder. Level ???. HP: ???. EXP: ???.”
Everyone stumbled. Mommy, they’re monsters higher than Level 97. And they’re elites! No one can defeat them!
Talking? Who’s talking?: The author has a bad habit of not writing down who’s replying most of the time. Sometimes, it can be deduced. Sometimes, it’s so generic it could be anyone else in the party. If you start wondering why it’s hard to follow some conversations closely, you know why.