30 – Contact with Players

VR chat boards of the MMORPG, World of Yggdrasia. Here, discussions continued just as they always have been.

“Right, so have anyone else heard about how the beta test’s going to end earlier than scheduled?”

“Really? Man, that sucks. I just got to Rank 3 recently. Things were just getting good!”

“Come on OP, that’s ignoring a lot of the facts. To be more precise, the official release is coming out early.”

“Mmm? Aren’t they the same thing?”

“It’s not the end of the beta test, the test continues into the official release. Announcement said we can either keep our characters or make new ones when it’s out.”

“Shit, I can’t decide. It’s a waste to just delete this character after all my effort, but at the same time, I know how to spend stat points better now. And I wanted to fix up my looks a little bit, too.”

“LOL, y’all spend too much time in character creation. Why not petition the devs for a one-time appearance editor?”
“By the way, you think it’s a quest?”

“What is?”

“That super-extravagant bounty issued by Touze Empire. Limited to the central continent, though.”

“Oh yeah, that bounty in the adventurer’s guild board? That’s for real?”

“Guys, deets. I’ve been holing up on the mountain killing orcs these days, haven’t gone back to town.”

“Wait, you mean the bounty that has its own chatroom? The ‘Searching for the Bunny Girl’ room? It’s actually a thing? I heard rumors saying the bounty’s 5000 large golds or something?”

“Five fucking thousands?!!”

“Yeah, that. The quest where you’re supposed to find and capture the only living rabbit beastman girl left.”

“I just had a great idea!”

“Then don’t say it if you don’t want a police visit. Anyway, maybe it’ll turn out to be a choices-matter kind of quest? Like, by the end of the quest you can choose to either turn her in for the money, or you can get a cute bunny girl as a party member. That sort of thing?”

“First off, is she actually cute?”

“No idea. Supposedly, the magic stone that the European players got from the ‘Subdue the Berserkers’ event and then auctioned off was stolen by her. So there’s a high chance it’s actually a quest chain.”

“Aww crap, so that magic stone was actually that expensive…?”

“Apparently the high bounty’s not because the stone was valuable, it’s because the bunny girl’s super kawaii. I heard that the players who auctioned the stone off didn’t actually attend, and that they’re now kicking themselves over it.”

“They got some compensation from the auction host, though. A whole 10 gold coins. Wow.”

“I get your sarcasm, but honestly that’s still a lot of money.”
“...maybe we shouldn’t auction ours off?”

“Whoa, what? You have an event magic stone?”

“We got a [Red Magic Stone] from the toad in the trailer. Our clan’s been considering where to sell it. But maybe we can use it as bait for the bunny girl?”

“A big clan? Then I suppose it’s fine. Still, don’t talk about it here. You might get people trying to steal it.”

“It’s probably fine. Our clan only have around ten people, but half of us are Rank 4. The leader’s a decent guy, so we have pretty good relations with the other clans. The problem is… if getting the bunny girl to be a companion turns out to actually be possible, our group might fracture from a difference of opinions.”

“So which choice are you going for?”

“The recruiting option, obviously!”

“Seconded!” “Thirded!” “Fourthed!” (guy players)

“Yeah, I wanna dress her in a real bunnygirl outfit and set her to work at our clan hall!”

“...ewww…” “I hope I never get a boyfriend like you guys.” “So typical.” (girl players)

 

***

 

Eighteen days of borrowed time left.

I could see the corner that I was being pushed into getting closer and closer. Normally this would be the point where I would start to either panic, give up, or get reckless, but I didn’t come this far just to get a breakdown. Besides, I couldn’t let that corporation get off scot-free now. I’m going to show them.

I needed to survive first, though.

 

Anneuf was a nice-looking port town. White buildings ascended in steps along gently-sloping streets, all roofed with red bricks in a consistent theme. Despite the distance from the equator, this country was still comfortably warm, thanks to the Sapling.

There was a castle on the highest point of the town. At first, I thought it belonged to the lord of this area. After checking on the guide map board, it turned out it was the king’s.

Wow, so a small country was really small compared to a large one… Were the international trains only stopping at the capitals?

I walked around, checking on a few different bulletin boards. Looked like fishing was the main industry of this country, and their specialty was a type of fish similar to herrings. The streetside stalls mostly sold sandwiches, which were pickled raw herrings and potatoes between slices of rye bread. Even if I could actually eat, I wouldn’t buy those… or it might be surprisingly tasty. Who knows?

*bounce*

‘Eh…? Blobsy, you wanna eat that?’

 

My conclusion was that the adventurer’s guild was my best chance for information. Would I have to actually buy one of those pickled-herring-potato sandwiches just to get a chance to ask where the guild hall was?

A few moments into my deliberations, I heard a commotion starting up on the other side of the street. I saw about ten knights, or maybe soldiers, all using pommels of their spears to bludgeon two screaming persons in adventurer’s equipment. The pair were then arrested and taken away, toward the direction of the castle.

What happened…? I got curious. I decided to buy a herring-potato sandwich (three coppers) from a nearby stall and ask the owner about it. They scowled, looking toward the arrested pair, then sighed.

“They were making a fuss at another stall, demanding the owner to release the demihuman slaves that were working there. He refused, obviously. Then they started speaking gibberish. I think it was… let’s see… ‘Just a fucking en-pee-see’? Or something like that. After that, they pulled out their weapons and started threatening him, which got the guards coming.”

“I see…”

 

I supposed they meant ‘NPC’? So those two were beta players, then.

They looked young, enough so that I couldn’t determine whether they were kids in real life or if they were just idiots. Really, even if this was an actual game, which it wasn’t, that didn’t mean players would get an automatic pass to do anything they wanted. No wonder they got arrested.

 

“There’d been more and more of those weird adventurers recently. Apparently even the guild was having a headache. Like hiring a veteran adventurer to be their guide and then skipping out on the payment, or buying up all the young slave girls, etcetera. They caused a lot of trouble, I hear.”

“Huh, they did that…?”

“And this time, they’re even demanding freedom for the demihuman slaves. Is this some new sort of thievery? Honestly. The demihumans were getting more clever these days, it’s getting so much more difficult buying new replacements.”

“…”

Demihumans really were just considered possessions here…

 

I asked for the location of the guild hall and started walking there.

From the train station to the main street was a short walk, and from the main street to the guild hall took a bit longer. It was a four-story block of pure whiteness.

I didn’t enter the guild hall right away. Nearby was a shop selling adventurer’s equipment, which I visited first. I saw a few adventurers browsing around inside.

I went toward the corner selling cloaks and coats, trying not to draw any attention to myself. I started searching.

It needed to be tough and looked nice too, if possible. I did also want some clothes, but maybe I should wait until I passed another growth spurt? Deferred, then. Let’s get some sturdy boots instead. Honestly speaking, I was already nearly outgrowing the pair I currently had. With targets decided, I started looking.

I wasn’t left alone, however.

“Fashion in this country isn’t really all that good, don’t you think?”

A blue-haired adventurer, looking around twenty, just decided to talk to me out of nowhere.

“Terrible designs. And they don’t even have the variety in colors to make up for it. At least the large countries have more stores to…”

“Sally! She’s not a player!”

“Eh?!”

So-called Sally was interrupted by a new face. A man, halfway into his twenties. Sally stared at me.

“Oh, wow! She really doesn’t have the player’s mark!”

Apparently they were players, and only players could see who else were players.

That’s fine and all, but I really wished she’d stop it with the staring. I didn’t think the corporation was monitoring all ten thousand players, but it’d still be a lot of trouble if players were suspicious of my face.

I stayed quiet. I moved a few steps away, hiding my face with the hood. The man cut in between us.

“I told you, stop it. This game doesn’t use any ordinary AI. I’m not going to help if you get arrested and your character deleted, alright?” The man turned to me. “Sorry about that.” He said, sounding not particularly sincere.

“But-I mean, I thought she was a real person, wearing those clothes…”

They weren’t caring much about keeping meta talk away from NPCs, it seemed. I never expected my choice of clothing was what nearly gave me away.

I’d been wondering what would happen to arrested players. Apparently the corporation would just delete them. To the locals, the crime would go forever unsolved. I vaguely remembered this being explained to me in the very beginning, I think.

“No, I don’t mind,” I dismissed their concern with a light shake of my head. The man left the store, dragging Sally behind him. Nothing happened, thankfully.

I sighed in relief. Because really, that guy was actually quite strong.

[Warrior-ish Man] [Race: Human ♂] [Player]
[Magic Points (MP): 150/150] [Hit Points (HP): 260/260]
[Total Combat Power: 1110]

Tiz would eat his dust. I suspected that the System-governed players could grow more efficiently than the natives of this world. They had no areas they were weak in. They didn’t even need to worry about learning how to handle weapons, nor did they need to manually train up their skills like the natives. They just needed to absorb magic power.

Sure, I grew quite strong myself. But if the players could grow the same way, group battles might become the death of me… Still, I couldn’t stop here. I’d come too far.

I changed into a decent-enough coat and pair of boots, paid for them, and left. The guild hall was across the street.

 

No one bothered to make trouble for me in broad daylight, thankfully. Slipping inside the hall, I saw over a dozen idle, loitering adventurers. There were a few who looked like they might be players, too. Why were there so many of them now? There was barely any in the last country I was in.

Most of them were crowding around the bulletin board. I glanced at it. Looked like a bounty or something.

Wanted

A young white-colored rabbit beastman girl, who commands a magical mist.

Whosoever will apprehend and deliver the girl shall be handsomely rewarded.

The girl must not be harmed.

The Emperor of Touze swears upon his name: whosoever accomplishes this matter, shall be given Five Thousand Large Gold Coins as recompense.

…what in the name of all things holy was Tiz doing?! Five thousand large golds for my capture? Was this guy an idiot?

The crowding adventurers were all hyped. They weren’t even talking about where I could be or how to capture me, they were only chatting about the things they would do after they got the money.

Still, this was just a distraction. I needed to find No. 08’s magic stone.

I secured my hood, then approached one of the idle reception counters. Behind it was a man neck-deep in documents. He looked just like the quintessential public servant, in both appearance and impression.

 

“Can I buy information here?”

“Oh, yes. What would you like to know?”

The receptionist looked up. He looked nervous, despite his polite speech.

“I’m looking for a magic stone. It looks like a gem.”

“Aaah, apologies. We’re not aware of any such stone.”

He replied, then returned to his documents. He didn’t even bother to check the records. Was it because the guild didn’t deal in such information, or did he not want to bother with me because I looked like a kid? As I mulled over what to do next, I heard a frivolous voice calling at me from behind.

 

“Oh, you knew about the stone? Are you joining the event?”


Author’s Note: At this point, the corporation was still not putting much focus on the magic stones, and neither were they aware of our little bunny.

So this isn’t actually an official event. It’s just players merrymaking all by themselves.

 

Native people always have some stats they’re weak at, but not players. The System allocates harvested mana in the most efficient way, so players will grow stronger than natives. The higher the level, the more obvious the difference.


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12 thoughts on “30 – Contact with Players”

  1. This makes me wonder if there’s been a real MMO with an event with an NPC that’s actually controlled by a company-hired player, and the outcome of the quest does affect the world’s story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Elite: Dangerous did something like this with a novel character who was returning home, and there was a huge event around whether or not they would make it.

      They didn’t make it, one of the players decided to kill them despite all the people guarding that ship, and so what information the character was supposed to be bringing home was lost forever.

      Like

  2. In the sentence
    “Tiz could eat his dust.”
    I would replace “could” with “would”. “Could”, to me, implies choice, while “would” implies inevitability. I feel that Tiz is being forced to eat the figurative dust.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I heard something happened to the translators computer, so I hadn’t checked for updates in a while. Now I find three chapters.
    So happy!

    Like

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