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Chapter 2 - A Legendary Quest.



Merlin ran towards a large stone monolith that looked as though it was undamaged, unlike the structures that surrounded it.

"So after figuring out the direction by looking at rocks, walking in a straight line for over half an hour, we've come to the destination only to discover more rocks." Merire whined, slumping down on piece of rubble near the monolith. She looked over at Merlin, who was staring intently at the monolith, seemingly able to understand the weird symbols engraved on the structure's surface. The only thing she was capable of making out was the image of a dragon. "Actually no, this one's different, it's a rock covered in squiggles." She received another whack from Warren's staff.

"This is a story about how the eternal forest came to be, it's written in the language of the ancients, so you can't read it without the ancient language knowledge." Merlin explained, "According to this monolith, there should be 3 others, one for each direction from the portal."

"It's still using the Chinese lore, then why do the surrounding structures look Mayan." Merlin mumbled loudly while still reading, before stopping and turning towards his companions, "Looks like this piece of lore was taken from Chinese myth."

"So… now what? Do you get some super power up now that you've uncovered the secret?" Merire asked curiously, wondering if that was it. She expected a third hit from Warren, but he was surprisingly also waiting for an answer.

"Nope, no power ups, however I suspect that it's a clue towards a legendary hidden quest." Merlin replied as he pointed at the deep recess in the monolith, "The Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West and the Black Turtle of the North. In Chinese legend these four beasts represent the four cardinal directions."

He paused, and then traced over a lower section of the monolith, "While this section down here talks about a fifth beast, sealed away with the power of the four other beasts, a beast that represents the centre." Merlin turned towards the location of the ruin he came from, and stared at the bright yellow light that shot up into the sky.

"The yellow dragon, or sometimes a chimera-like creature, I believe this entire area is a quest to unseal the fifth beast." Merlin began talking out loud, still staring at the light. "A yellow serpent-like dragon, a Mayan, or perhaps Aztec temple... that may be it..."

"What?" Merire blurted out, snapping Merlin out of his daydream.

"Actually, I'm thinking it may not just be a beast... It's probably a god." Merlin exclaimed, leaving the other two confused.

"A legendary hidden quest, to unseal a god? How can you be sure about that, all you did was come to the ruins and read a stone tablet thingy. Sure, it was a pain to find, but if anybody can come here, it's not so hidden…" Merire complained, clearly not seeing the sense behind it.

An ordinary legendary quest was already rare and often extremely challenging, let alone a hidden one.

"Do remember that you need the ancient language knowledge to actually read this" Merlin retorted, "It's a rare reward that sometimes appears in legendary hidden quest, but as of now there are only seven people who are known to have it, so it's not easy to obtain in the first place."

Merlin continued reading the rest of the monolith while taking notes, he made sure to note that several places of the text seemed out of place, confirming Merlin's previous suspicions.

Any mention of what should have been a yellow dragon within the monolith's text referenced a creature that was better described as a large feathered serpent, with rainbow feathers and golden scales, and once he finished reading, a pop-up notification box appeared within his vision, followed by a similar mechanical jingle.

「Due to your vast understanding of the world, you easily uncover the truth behind the eternal forest. By uncovering a legendary secret, you have solidified your place as a legendary Loremaster! +5,000 Loremaster Reputation.」

┌───────────────────

[Hidden Legendary Quest]

Quetzalcoatl's Seal.

Unseal the feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl, from his eternal imprisonment. The four ruins seem to hold the key to destroying the seal.

A seal capable of imprisoning a god would require someone with incredible power to destroy.

• Warning: Depending on your actions, this quest may have dire consequences on the world.

• Reward: ???


• Requirement: You must be within top 500 on the leader board to start this quest.

└───────────────────

A wave of panic and sadness washed over Merlin, as his eyes flicked back and forth over the last sentence, hoping he had misread it.

「Requirement: You must be within top 500 on the ranker's leaderboard to start this quest.」

Letting out a pained laugh, Merlin slammed his fist against the monolith before falling to his knees. "Even you, Gaia?" His voice was brittle, as if he were on the verge of tears.

"I've dedicated fifteen years of my life... fifteen years dedicated to uncovering the secrets that everyone else disregards as useless backdrops, filler of no importance, nothing more than stupid extra lore." Merlin slammed his fist against the ground, tears formed in his eyes, and his two companions just noticing the sudden change in his behaviour, and feeling awkward at his sudden outburst, had stopped moving, and didn't dare make any noise.

"I've been mocked relentlessly for abandoning the contracts, all the money, just money, that's all I hear, money money money." He began spiralling into a rant, directed at nobody in particular. "Oh you play a game to look at rocks, read books and climb mountains, what a waste of time."

"Well I'm sorry for not wanting to endlessly murder monsters every waking out of my life for 30 years, how dare I not want to endlessly grind." Merlin took another look at the notification that was still in his peripheral vision. "I'm the only one who appreciates your world, but even you mock me for quitting as a ranker..."

"Open leaderboard." Merlin spoke out in a course voice, and a pop-up information box appeared in front of him, followed by a mechanical jingle. Unlike the notification boxes, this one contained a long list of player names, rankings, and guilds. Merlin quickly scrolled down from the top until he reached position 500.

┌───────────────────

[Leaderboard]

[Rank] - [Username] - [Level] - [Soul Slots] - [Guild]

#1 - Typhoeus - 2105 - 4 - Hell's Benefit

#2 - TurkeyBandit - 2100 - 3 - GobbleGobbleGobble

#3 - AwfulPrince - 2099 - 4 - Devotion

#4 - 333Repeating - 2098 - 3 - Devotion

#5 - Bambooccaneer - 2098 - 3 - The Black Sea

...

#498 - Snowbunny - 2089 - 2 - Clouds

#499 - SmugPaladin - 2084 - 3 - Hell's Benefit

#500 - WrongApple - 2084 - 3 - Nirvana

└───────────────────


"I'm fifteen years behind, it wants me to catch up to level 2084." Merlin reached out and swiped at the information box, causing it to vanish.

"Open status." An information box appeared in front of him yet again, this time containing his basic character information.

┌───────────────────

Name: Merlin

Level: 894

Guild: Hell's Benefit

Origin Soul: Angel of Vengeance

Soul Slots: 5

1: ★★★★★ Hybrid Soul: Angel of Vengeance

2: ★★★★ Class Soul: Umbral Agent

3: ★★★ Class Soul: Bloodseeker

4: ★★★★ Job Soul: Loremaster

5: ★★★★ Skill Soul: Eyes of Thoth

└───────────────────

"1190 levels, that's impossible..." Merlin broke down again, feeling helpless in this scenario.

From what could be regarded as his life's work, suddenly discovering what could possibly be the rarest quest currently within the game, 30 years after the game came out, located in an unpopular farming location rated for level 1000's. Only to find that he will never be able to start the quest.

"Merlin, what happened?" Merire spoke with caution, she was still startled by his sudden outburst, but she moved closer and attempted to comfort him.

"Well... I was right at least..." Merlin turned to her with a disappointed expression on his face, but with sadness in his voice. "This might have lead to the first six star soul... But you can only start the quest if you're a top 500 ranker."

"A... Six star soul!" Both Merire and Warren blurted out in surprise.

"The most commonly known five star souls all involve legendary quests with arch angels, demon kings and lesser deities, a hidden quest related to a creator god would surely have to be a step above those." Merlin explained, "This quest involves unsealing the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the reward is hidden though, which usually means it's a soul or extremely high tier knowledge, and I doubt this would give out knowledge of the ancient language considering you need it to get the quest."

"Damn, well you can always sell the information to a ranker, or give it to people in your guild." Merire tried to comfort him, but it seemed to only make him feel worse.

Merlin let out an awkward chuckle, before laying back on the stone rubble floor, looking up at the sky. "It's a quest hidden in an area a thousand levels behind the current rankers, designed for rankers to find, but nobody found it, or if they did, nobody bothered to research the ruins... An unexpected oversight on Gaia's part."

"Ohohoho, you hear that boys? A god he says." a disembodied gruff sounding voice could be heard from within the dense shrubbery on the edge of the clearing.

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