Volume 1: Chapter 5 – The Mysterious Merchant
[Mysterious Merchant] (Neutral Party), Level: ??, Attributes: ??, Skills: ??. Description: A merchant that can appear randomly within a town or field, also known as the continent’s most mysterious smuggler, selling equipment that cannot be bought at ordinary stores, with a low probability of selling rare equipment, as well as stocking some specific equipment, skill books and skill scrolls.
From obtaining the A rank skill to travelling to the bus station to meet the Mysterious Merchant, these were all part of Zhang Mu’s plan to facilitate the creation of a larger advantage.
The Mysterious Merchant’s appearance was a very important aspect of his plan. No matter where he appeared, he would not linger for more than six hours, and the probability of encountering him was less than winning the lottery. However, in the past, the first place he had appeared was the bus station.
Zhang Mu dragged the trembling Fatty over, walking up to face the Mysterious Merchant. The merchant sat on a black coloured van. The van was four metres high, completely made of metal, with its entire body pitch black, giving off a very foreboding feeling.
“Otherworldly warriors, to have met me, you are extremely lucky.” The merchant’s voice was hoarse and deep, and he jumped from the top of the van before continuing, “Welcome to the mystery shop, our products are of extremely good value, and will definitely satisfy you.”
Zhang Mu nodded his head. “Let me first take take a look at your goods.”
The Mysterious Merchant turned and kicked the van with his foot, loudly shouting, “Hey, assistant, we have customers!”. The van opened, and a long shelf was pushed out. More than 20 different items were hanging on it, each one having varying properties.
[F grade Monster Dictionary] (Dawn Camp), a record of the level 1 – 10 common monsters, boss monster information and data. The price is 10 gold coins. One left in stock.
[Area Map] (Dawn Camp), a record of the terrain of the local region, monster spawn points for various areas, as well as a copy of the current location. The price is 100 gold coins. One left in stock.
[Post Announcement] (duration of six hours), E grade item, lowest level of Post, can be used to post a thread in the [Forum] to areas in the region, it will expire after the duration of six hours. The price is 50 gold coins. Two left in stock.
[F+ rank skill book, Fierce Strike], class restricted: Berserker, Shieldbearer and Knight. The price is 300 gold coins.
[F+ rank skill book, Assassinate], class restricted: Thief, Assassin, Hitman and Ranger. The price is 300 gold coins.
[F rank skill book, Backstab], class restricted: Thief, Assassin and Hitman. The price is 200 gold coins.
[F rank skill book, Quick Step], class restricted: Assassin and Ranger. The price is 200 gold coins.
Within the twenty plus goods, there was information, equipment, skill upgrade scrolls, and skill books. The only problem was that the price of these goods mostly surpassed that of a few hundred gold coins, completely unaffordable to players at the moment.
After inspecting the goods, Zhang Mu spoke, “I want to strike a deal with you.”
The Mysterious Merchant replied, “You have made a choice?”
Zhang Mu shook his head, replying: “Obviously you know that we cannot afford your goods at the moment.”
The Mysterious Merchant laughed, “Oh? Then what kind of a deal do you want?”
Zhang Mu replied, “Lend me 50 gold coins, and within 2 hours, I will return you twice the amount.”
“Within the many years that I have wandered the continent, this is the first time someone has tried to borrow money from me.”
Zhang Mu unhurriedly spoke, “You are a businessman. In regards to your interests, this deal will be extremely lucrative.”
“An interesting person.” The Mysterious Merchant eyed Zhang Mu from head to toe. “Although my principles don’t permit it, you seem to be different from the masses, so I will make this one exception. However, I require a change in the conditions. I will lend you 50 gold coins, and after 2 hours, you will return 200 gold coins.”
[Prompt: Debt quest triggered, quest difficulty rank F, do you accept the quest?]
Quest: [The Debt].
Nature: Miscellaneous tasks.
Difficulty: F rank.
Quest contest: Return 200 gold coins to the Mysterious Merchant in 120 minutes.
Completion reward: +20 goodwill with the Mysterious Merchant.
Failure penalty: permanent negative goodwill with the Mysterious Merchant, permanent denial of access to a skill.
Zhang Mu received 50 gold coins, and sold the Dog-man machete for another 15 gold coins for a total of 69 gold coins.
Spent 10 gold coins to buy a copy of the [Rank F Monster Dictionary].
Spent 50 gold coins to buy a [Post (six hours)].
Zhang Mu focused all of his energy and found a smaller version of himself within his consciousness. His attributes and character status also appeared next to the miniature Zhang Mu, with several options next to it: [Backpack] [Quests], [Guild], [Party] and [Forum]. Upon entering the forum, one would be greeted with blank emptiness, without anything there.
In the forum, Zhang Mu used the post that he had bought from the Mysterious Merchant.
Zhang Mu pondered for a moment, and then immediately wrote in the post:
“Regardless of whether you are a wealthy high and mighty government official, or a brilliant highly anticipated celebrity, from the moment this game started, all of this no longer means anything! Therefore, abandon your past glories and sins, and set aside your former pride and inferiorities! From this moment onwards, all beings stand on the same starting line. Only the strong will have the right to survive, while the weak will be subject to a fate of slavery and extinction. Life or death, strong or weak, it lies in your hands… Please firmly believe, this is truly the end of the world as we know it, but it is definitely not the end of mankind.
In addition, I want to inform everyone of one unfortunate thing, we are already no longer on our home planet. It is absurd, but these are the facts. Beyond the edges of Jiang City lies a forest. Correct, we are in a completely different world. We are isolated. There will be no rescue. There will be no military, nor will there be any government. Jiang City is considered the most inferior region on this map, and the monsters within, range from level 1 to 3. In all honesty, as long as you are able to conquer your fears and wisely use your intelligence, these lower grade monsters will not be invincible.
Of course, what if you decide to hide in a place with adequate food? It is impossible, as the system the will soon issue mandatory tasks, and those who fail to accomplish those tasks, will be exterminated by the system.”
“This is the information for monsters with levels lower than 10, and included is the monster’s habits and weaknesses, attribute information, skills and other information. It is information that is extremely crucial for survival, please be sure to pay attention!”
“Reading the information below will cost 1 gold as a fee.”
Zhang Mu copied the information from the Monster Dictionary into the post, setting it up to require a fee to read, costing each person 1 gold coin. The Monster Dictionary described in detail monsters below level 10, the total number of monsters reaching an astounding figure, exceeding 1000 species.
Jiang City had a population of approximately four million people, the majority of which would have died within the first 24 hours of the Heavenly Calamity. About one person out of ten people would survive, and of these survivors, one out of five people would obtain player qualifications within the first 12 hours. In other words, within 12 hours there would be about 80,000 people that would be qualified as players.
This piece of information would be extremely important, and would definitely rewrite the course of history.
According to Zhang Mu’s memories, the reason for humanity’s final downfall was a result of the death toll being extremely high in the early stages followed by in-fighting and unrest between different ethnic groups, forcing parties to group up to fight against each other and preventing humans from concentrating their forces. This eventually led to humanity’s extinction.
Since it was a new start, the same mistakes could not be repeated, and the knowledge already possessed could be exploited for maximum benefit. However, this was not a one man game, and for Zhang Mu, it was necessary to ensure that as many people as possible could survive, thus increasing the overall humanity faction’s collective strength.
Important information in regards to all monsters in the region can be considered vital to the survival of people in the earlier days. In addition, the announcement helped Zhang Mu establish a solid reputation, making him a celebrity in the whole area of the map.
Zhang Mu used Mu Tou as an ID in his post on the forum.
“Prompt: Post successfully established, it will expire after six hours!”
“Prompt: First poster in this map, awarded 300 prestige points!”
“Prompt: First post has been delivered, the whole map will be notified!”
Upon hearing the system announcement, Fatty displayed a surprised expression. “There is even a forum function, this post by Mu Tou should be your doing, right boss?”
Zhang Mu quietly sat down, the monsters remained outside roaring repeatedly. However, as long as one was within 100m of the Mysterious Merchant, none of the monsters could get any closer. Before the Mysterious Merchant left, the two men would remain unscathed. In regards to the announcement by the system, it was the first time players knew about this system, therefore the views quickly passed 1000, and the head count of players within the city evidently surpassed the expected number by quite a bit.
After two minutes, the first paying customer appeared, and 1 gold coin was earned.
After five minutes time, the number of paying customers increased explosively, and revenue instantly reached 160.
After 10 minutes, the number of paying customers gradually stabilised, reaching 180.
After 30 minutes from the start, it broke through 200 people.
Zhang Mu shook his fist happily, the outcome had been very good, and his income had been much faster than expect. He passed 200 gold coins to the Mysterious Merchant.
“Goodwill with the Mysterious Merchant increased by 20 points, causing favorability to rise by 20 points. Relationship changed: Neutral -> Normal.”
From this point onwards, every gold coin earned would count as Zhang Mu’s personal wealth.
The amount paid by the viewers gradually increased as the amount of players in the region increased. As a result of the number of players winning gold coins from killing monsters, this increased the rate of growth.
One hour, 150 gold coins.
Two hours, 400 gold coins.
Three hours, 590 gold coins
Four hours, 950 gold coins.
After a whole five hours passed, 1200 gold coins had accumulated in his backpack.
Even if it were one or two months later, 1200 would still be an extremely exorbitant sum. When taking into account the 200 initial earnings, 1400 people had paid to read the post. As people do not usually act alone, in a group of people only one person needed to pay and then share the information with the rest, at least skipping out on paying five times.
The Mysterious Merchant was about 20 minutes away from leaving,
[Hand-drawn Area Map], 100 gold coins!
[F rank skill book: Assassinate], 300 gold coins!
[F rank skill book: Quick Step], 200 gold coins!]
First, the most important skills books and maps were bought, for a total of 500 gold coins.
[Level 1 skill upgrade scroll]. 400 gold coins!
The skill upgrade scroll was able to upgrade skills. This was an extremely important item and was priced at 500 gold coins.
There were a lot of good items in the shop, unfortunately the remaining browsing time was too limited, and he had no way of collecting more gold coins. Therefore, he could only buy the most useful items. After buying the skill books, skill scrolls, and maps, Zhang Mu also bought the remaining post in the store. He then used the same technique as before to earn a large sum of gold coins.
Zhang Mu used the last 203 gold coins on equipment.
[Fine iron dagger] (Ordinary grade Black Iron weapon, Attack +8, Speed +1, Durability: 20/20. Price, 80 gold coins.
[Fine two handed-axe] (Ordinary grade Black Iron weapon] Attack +14, 10% reduction in wielder’s speed, Durability: 20/20. Price, 110 gold coins.
Although the two weapons were both Black Iron grade equipment, an ordinary Black Iron item was still much better than an inferior quality Black Iron item. Zhang Mu decided to equip the dagger, while the two-handed axe was passed to Fatty.