Player with Maxed-out Talent chapter 58

Chapter 58: Elf in the Well

[‘The Shepherd of Las Vegas’ has made you an offer.]

I was already familiar with the Shepherd of Las Vegas. Besides being known as the ‘Gold Tower’s Guardian,’ which referred to his protectorate over Michelle, the Shepherd of Las Vegas also had a penchant for gambling.

‘They say he often makes capricious bets.’

It was the kind of tempting offer that players would find hard to resist.

‘But the only person to have survived and succeeded in those bets… is Michelle.’

That meant Michelle was the only ‘successful’ contractor.

‘He’s bound to make an irresistible, enticing offer.’

And so, the offer followed.

[Special Hidden Field. We propose a reward of 100,000 COINS for clearing the ‘Unknown Forest’ within three days.]

It was an eye-popping amount of coins. Though COINS sponsored by guardians usually amounted to 100, 200, or at most 300, this was a staggering 100,000 COINS. It might as well be considered the lottery of the player world.

[Quest. Will you accept the ‘Clear within 3 Days’?]

This seemed somewhat thuggish. While the sweet reward was announced in the notification, the penalty for failure was not mentioned. Getting distracted by the figure of 100,000 coins is a perfect set-up for bankruptcy.

“Senia, what happens if we fail this quest?”

“As requested by the player, quest information will be disclosed.”

Why did it seem like Senia was slightly relieved?

“If we do not clear it within 3 days…”

Senia’s wings quivered. They have been trembling rather often these days.

‘What’s going on?’

I didn’t understand why she suddenly hesitated.

“You must invariably set the ‘Shepherd of Las Vegas’ as your contract guardian when the time to choose guardians comes.”

I too was momentarily at a loss for words.

‘Is that all for a penalty?’

We were talking about a stake of 100,000 coins.

‘Is that supposed to be the penalty?’

It was an insanely generous reward for a beginner-level area, practically unheard of, or rather, it shouldn’t even exist at that level. Yet, the corresponding penalty was simply ‘choose me’.

‘Realistically, having the Shepherd of Las Vegas as a contract guardian isn’t so bad.’

That famous Gold Tower. Michelle’s guardian. The Shepherd of Las Vegas could lay the foundation for becoming a world tower ranker. Looking at the scale of the gamble alone, he is a reliable guardian who can furiously nurture a player once he sets his mind to it.

‘3 days, huh.’

Senia asked me.

“Player Kim Hyukjin, will you accept the quest?”

I had to think for a moment.

‘The Shepherd of Las Vegas.’

A guardian who does not skimp on supporting his favored player. I thought it over a bit more. The more I thought, the more my answer gravitated to one.

“No, I cannot accept this quest.”

[‘The Shepherd of Las Vegas’ is curious about your thoughts.]

The Shepherd of Las Vegas did not express disappointment in me. It was described as mere ‘curiosity’. Definitely not a swindler.

Senia asked with her usual expressionless face.

“Why is that?”

Well, it’s because the Shepherd of Las Vegas is a guardian who enjoys gambling too much. Sure, Michelle was lucky enough to succeed in her gamble, but I’m not the gambling type.

‘More importantly, I…’

do not need to gamble. There is room to ‘invest’ based on the knowledge of the future where the possibility is slim. There’s no need to gamble on something almost impossible, relying on slim chances.

‘Investment alone suffices.’

Why would I gamble with high risks in such a situation? I judged that to be unwise.

So, how should I put it? I needed to convey my intentions without offending a named guardian like ‘The Shepherd of Las Vegas’ as much as possible. Additionally, it was essential to convince other guardians who were undoubtedly watching the current situation.

“Betting is something I do when I have a winning chance.”

“The offer made by the Shepherd of Las Vegas was impossible to execute?”

“No, that’s not it.”

Clear within three days? It might be possible.

“But I can’t create that probability. Not with the current state of this field.”

I still lacked information.

“I want to create the odds, craft a situation where I can win. It would be foolish to bet rashly, blinded by sweet rewards without any information.”

It was a trait the Shepherd of Las Vegas enjoyed. Even Michelle had said so. Although gambling is a battle of probabilities, those probabilities are created by the player themselves, inching toward a greater chance of success. Anyone who bets without preparation is a fool.

“That’s why I refused. Blind gambling, relying solely on luck, is no different from throwing garbage.”

Whether it was a satisfactory answer, I was not sure, but notifications arrived.

[‘The Shepherd of Las Vegas’ is satisfied with your answer.]

[‘The Shepherd of Las Vegas’ respects your thinking.]

Other notifications followed.

[Unnamed multiple guardians admire your response.]

Despite experiencing the same situation and hearing the same content, the reactions among the guardians varied.

[Unnamed multiple guardians mock you.]

I understood their laughter. To them, I was a mere level 29, a being as fragile as a candle that could vanish with a mere breath. Yet, I, such a creature, have refused the offer of ‘The Shepherd of Las Vegas’ while making all sorts of grand postures.

‘Laugh all you want.’

Someday. There will come a day when the guardians can no longer mock me. I will make sure of it.

* * *

Eastern direction—my chosen path. The westernmost village, named ‘Dot’ as per the letter, was my starting point as I headed towards ‘Dante’ in the east.

In the meantime, I needed to procure food.

Thwack!

I climbed onto a wild boar as big as I was and drove my dagger down into it.

Kweeeek!

The wild boar, known as the ‘Tusked Wild Boar’, had a level of approximately 25 and was quite ferocious.

[You have hunted the Tusked Wild Boar.]

[Experience points gained.]

[+17 COINS]

It gave definitely fewer coins compared to other monsters of the same level, but this one was still worth catching.

[‘Fruit Bundle’ acquired.]

It was somewhat odd. I had never heard about a Tusked Wild Boar dropping a ‘Fruit Bundle’. This was not typical.

‘Perhaps it’s the hidden field that’s meant to ensure my survival?’

I kept that thought but still found it strange. I hunted a few more Tusked Wild Boars.

[‘Fruit Bundle’ acquired.]

Meanwhile, I managed to gather more information.

‘They’re not keeping watch.’

Typically, Tusked Wild Boars are vigilant creatures; this is especially true if there are ‘predatory-type monsters’ nearby.

‘Judging from the marks on the trees, there’s definitely the presence of a predatory-type monster here.’

Yet, these boars were not being cautious. Either there were weak predatory-type monsters in the vicinity, or predatory-type monsters didn’t attack Tusked Wild Boars.

‘Those marks are clearly… from Red Tigers. Red Tigers are here, and yet they’re not attacking the Wild Boars?’

That was also strange. The unsettling sensation of being watched persisted. Perhaps the so-called ‘Master of the Forest’ was observing me.

‘That’s…’

A trap. I had come upon a trap constructed with ropes, designed to catch animals using a basic ‘Capturing Magic’ spell.

‘Look at this?’

In this area, small enough to be considered a slash-and-burn village, artifacts exist?

Moreover, magical artifacts?

Is an artifact employed for hunting animals? Even if it’s basic magic, an item imbued with spells costs a lot. It’s absolutely not something a village of this scale could afford.

‘There’s something more.’

Indeed, there was something more at play. Although I couldn’t specifically say what it was, it was clear there was an oddity. It was likely I was missing something essential.

I stored it in my inventory and continued eastward, eventually arriving at the easternmost village, ‘Dante’.

I received the same announcement as in the westernmost village.

[You enter ‘The Burned Village of Shifters 2’.]

[You are in a ‘Safe Zone’.]

I searched every part of the village. There was one cabin still in reasonable condition, with a clickable drawer inside. Upon opening it, another paper with written words was found inside.

──────────

To. Dear Elder Dudiya.

I am sending this from the eastern village Dante to the western village Dot. Dudiya, Elder. We need a sacrifice. The Master of the Forest has demanded one from us. But as you know, there are restrictions to this forest. Hence my great concern. Oh, by the way, the sacrifice to be offered to the Master of the Forest is……

──────────

‘The forest’s restriction?’

I had no idea what that was.

‘Sacrifice to the Master of the Forest.’

It was evident that there were some form of ‘restriction’ and a ‘Master of the Forest’ here, and that a ‘sacrifice’ needed to be offered to this Master.

‘If a sacrifice is not presented to the Master of the Forest…’

Perhaps I might meet the same end as these people. So where exactly is this Master of the Forest? I stepped out of the cabin. I took another look around. Burned cabins. A village that had turned into ruins.

And there was a well in the center of the village.

‘Huh?’

My senses picked up something from within the well. I approached it. The well was so dark, I could not see inside.

‘There’s someone there.’

Someone was inside the well, barely clinging to life. It wouldn’t be strange if they died any moment now, given their faint traces of life force.

‘It can’t be a player.’

That meant it must be an NPC. Potentially, a vital clue to clearing this place.

‘I need to pull them out.’

Based on what I could sense, the person in the well was on the brink of death. There wasn’t much time.

‘I can do it.’

Inspecting the surroundings carefully as I moved was greatly beneficial. The rope trap equipped with Capturing Magic. It felt out of place in such a locale, suggesting it was essential for clearing this challenge. It was a good decision to explore thoroughly before proceeding.

[Will you use the ‘Rope’?]

The rope imbued with Capturing Magic. I threw it into the well.

[Successful capture.]

I pulled on the rope with strength. Through my senses, I could feel it—a person was definitely being pulled up. A person with extremely long hair, a woman wearing tattered clothes, had come to the surface. She looked emaciated, presumably from going without food for an extended period. I immediately made her consume a strength potion and a healing potion.

Then, something unexpected began to happen.



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