4 -A New Merit Quest-

Long Jun entered through the gate and ventured inside. The city was a mix of ancient and modern infrastructure, though there were no skyscrapers. The building was very well made with many sculptor and painting done to increase the artistic value. People of all size, color, and even ethnicity filled the streets, as they went on with their daily activities. It was his first time coming to a town after transmigrated to this strange world, Long Jun was a little excited at the prospect.

He was very curious about all the stuff of this new world. He was also interested in foods and beverages of this strange new world. Suddenly his nose caught a very fragrant smell, reminding of a certain fried chicken restaurant back on his homeworld. He instantly gravitated towards the source of the smell. After a few twists and turns, he arrived at a dilapidated small thatched hut with an old man sitting in front. There were fried meats decorated in a plate, which were very fragrant and appetizing. Strangely though, no one was going to that shop to consume.

'Is there something wrong with that shop's product? The smell is so appetizing! How come no one going in?' Even though his thoughts were such, he steps never stopped going towards the shop. Finally, after arriving there, he went near the old man and asked: "How much for one of these?"

Wehne he asked, the old man, instead of answering instead stared at him as if he was some new species of a human being. His eyes were wide, and his mouth hung wide. The old man mimicked a fish out of the water at that moment.

"What?" Long Jun felt awkward being stared like this.

"Do you…do you really want to buy my fried chicken legs?" the old man asked with a shaky voice. This startled Long Jun very much.

'What the hell? Just from me asking about buying already made this old man happy? How bad is the business here?' Long Jun thought when he saw a close to crying old man with shaky hands inching at him. He shuddered involuntarily and took a step back.

"Just give me one of these, old man!!" Long Jun asked once again and thought 'maybe this old man's behavior was the reason for no customers.'

"Yes. Certainly." The old man smiled happily and packed a piece of the chicken leg for him. He also added a few condiments that although looked different, smelled like a few familiar products from the earth. Long Jun grabbed a leg and licked it. A burst of fragrance accompanied by juicy taste exploded in his mouth, instantly reminding him of a certain popular product from earth.

"This is tasty!" he said that aloud unconsciously. He had never thought of tasting such a familiar thing after coming to this world.

"You have acquired 'Foodie Lv 1'"

"Your taste buds are boosted to a certain degree. You can now easily distinguish between various flavors."

"Proficiency: 20/1000"

"Ohh! Something like this can happen too? I knew the system is the best bonus that one could receive. Nice." Long Jun muttered under his breath after reading the notification. Then he continued eating the Jade Chicken leg fry. This Jade chicken was a very commonly used animal for meat consumption. Not only it tasted good, but it also had fewer impurities in its meat. The most important thing was that it was extremely cheap and easy to rear. There was no need for any special environment for them to grow up.

"Thank you for liking my cooking." The old man sighed happily and even went as far as giving Long Jun an extra serving of add-ins for him to better enjoy the chicken leg.

Thanking him, Long Jun finished the leg in a few more bites and went to pay for it. After paying him the amount, which was only 3 copper shillings, Long Jun asked what was bugging him for this long. "Old man, your chicken leg is so delicious…how come you have no customers?"

"Ah! Haha…about that. I have unknowingly offended someone I shouldn't have, and that person is taking revenge on me. Sigh! Leave it. You are not from this place. Obviously, I can't drag you to this mess." The old man shook his head and turned around. Long Jun also shrugged and decided to leave the old man to his own devices.

But, fate had different plans for him.

"Ding! Merit Mission Triggered."

"- help the old man with his problem."

"Rewards: 50 merit points."

"Time: 3 days."

"Eh! Are you kidding me?" Long Jun sighed helplessly when he saw it. It seems he would have to become a nosey person here. He had a feeling that this was going to occur recurringly in future.

Clearing his throat, Long Jun inched a little closer to the old man and asked, "Tell me, old man. What is troubling you. I might be able to help you."

"Huh! You will? Haha…young man, I appreciate that you want to help an old man like me…but you shouldn't stick your nose where it didn't belong. You shouldn't bother with this matter anymore." The old man denied revealing anything to him. Long Jun sighed once again while thinking, 'Damn it! How is it so hard to accept a mission?'

There was no prompt of the mission's acceptance after he talked with the old man. Obviously, the mission didn't get accepted at all. This system was a little different than what he had read or known earlier. Here, unless you know something about the quest, you can't accept it. It's because there was no quest giver in this system…at least for now. Long Jun was yet to delve deeper into the system, so he only concluded this point, which might not be totally correct. But it was obvious that for him to accept the mission, he had to first know about the situation.

Since the old man wasn't willing to reveal anything, he had to ask others. Long Jun headed for the nearest shop to the old man's thatched hut.

"Welcome to Xiong's breweries. How can I help you?" a married lady came out with a smile holding a small baby in her arms. Long Jun was a little absentminded when he saw the lady, she was very beautiful. It's not just the lady, he noticed that every woman in the street, and there was one thing he concluded. The appearances of men and women in this new world was a bit better than back on earth. Long Jun concluded that it might be because of the presence of this so-called qi in the air that nourishes them since their birth.

"Ah! Hello madam. I am new to this town…can I ask you about something?" as Long Jun asked this, he placed a silver coin on the table. The woman stealthily glanced at the silver coin and smiled even more passionately than before.

"Ask me anything. If I know the answer, I can give'em immediately." After saying that she slowly pulled the coin to her hand and placed it somewhere in her body that Long Jun had no idea about.

"What's wrong with that old man? His chicken legs are so tasty, but still, he had no customers?" Long Jun asked, acting like he wasn't interested in finding out.

"Ohh, Him! It was because he refused to serve Hao Teng a serving for free when he had brought guests over. Angered by him, Hao Ting had spread the word that whoever buys from that old man, he would make their life a living hell. You do not look like a local, so you don't know, but this Hao Ting is a local tyrant. He is the son of Hao Xiaogang, a famed official under the city lord's service. Poor old man! He had a diseased grandson to take care of back in his home, and now this…" the lady sighed in pity while shaking her head.

"Ding! Mission accepted."

"Time remaining: 3 days."

'Finally!' Long Jun muttered under his breath and then fished out another coin from his pocket. Placing it on the table, he leaned further and asked: "So, where do I find this Hao Xiaogang? Don't think of anything weird, I am actually an inspector sent from the sect to check on everyone here if they were doing their job properly or not." Seeing the lady was frowning and even having the intention of not accepting the coin, Long Jun fabricated a lie on the spot based on everything he knew from this world.

As expected, the woman shivered when she heard he was from a sect. She paled in fright and even backed away a few steps as if Long Jun had a transmittable disease. With a shaky voice, she asked, "Are you really from sect? I…I am very sorry for my attitude earlier…" she was hysterical and even proceeded to kneel on the ground.

'What the hell is this? Why is she like this? Just how badly did they fear sects?' Long Jun frowned under his mask when he saw the lady's attitude. It showed just how much these guys were afraid of sects in general.

"Don't be like that. And don't worry, I won't harm you, I promise. Now please tell me, where can I find this Hao Xiaogang?"

"He…he usually comes to the Fantasy Bar towards the west of the town to spend his night…you can find him there." the lady answered shakily.

"Thank you. Please don't spread the word that I was here, or else trouble will come your way. Have a good day, lady." After that, Long Jun left the shop and went for the south part of the town. Coincidentally, to go to the forest, which was his target initially, he would also have to pass through the south gate.

"Hao Xiaogang, I am coming for your head…"

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