In a quaint little village at the foot of a mountain, the NPC villagers were milling about. Peddlers were hawking their goods at stalls in the village square, the local baker brought out a fresh batch of bread, and the sound of hammering could be heard from the blacksmiths at the edge of the village.
Two players, a gnome and a cyrmex, stood on a hill to the western side of the village.
"Why are we here again?" Pu55yDestr0y3r typed, the text appearing above his character's head.
Pu55yDestr0y3r's words appeared about about head height for his friend. The cyrmex, a species of ice cyborgs, answered, "I want to try a challenge I saw a streamer try the other day."
"What challenge? This had better get me a tonne of XP."
"Na, bro. It's not like that. It's just something streamers have been doing to test their skill."
"Eeehhhhh?" The gnome sent an unamused emoji. "What's the point then?"
"Trust me, it'll be fun. At worst, we'll waste about five minutes."
The gnome pointed at the cyrmex threateningly before moving the finger across his throat. "I swear… This better not be a waste of time, I have dinner soon."
Seeing the reluctant acceptance, the cyrmex player tapped on his keyboard as he explained the challenge. "The challenge is called 'A Village'…"
In essence, the challenge was to kill an entire village of NPCs as fast as possible. That was a simple task for moderately skilled players; what made it challenging was that they could not wear any equipment or heal themselves. Additionally, they could only use pre-advancement skills and spells.
Furthermore, the village had to at least be tier two so that the NPCs fought back, rather than simply cowering and waiting to be slaughtered.
"Ehh? Sounds dumb."
At this point, the cyrmex seemed to have had enough. "Go do something else then. It's not like I'm your only friend in New Dawn."
"… I'll just watch. Be quick though. I wanna farm black unicorn horns before dinner."
After reading the response, the cyrmex sent an angry emoji and walked toward the village, removing each piece of his equipment as he moved.
Even without his equipment, the cyrmex looked intimidating. Apart from the pale skin on his head, neck, and hands, the surface of the character was coated in a black, flexible metal with a haze of frost.
Possibly to himself, his gnome friend, or his stream's ten viewers, the cyrmex said, "The stream I watched did it in four minutes. I'm not that good, but I hope to at least do it in five."
After saying that the cyrmex picked up his pace, galloping into the village.
With the press of a button, the character swung his fist at a nearby villager, thus beginning the battle.
The villager reeled backward with the damage, but a moment later, she stood up straight and started swinging at the player. The surrounding NPCs just watched the commotion.
Although the villager was weak, by the time the cyrmex killed her with his bare hands, she had taken off 1% of his health.
Looking at his screen, the player frowned. 'A normal village has around a hundred villagers… This could be close.'
He pushed up his glasses on his nose and got to work, his fingers moving faster than ever. This was perhaps the most exercise this nerd had done in quite some time.
To the side, Pu55yDestr0y3r was keeping track of the progress.
"30 seconds, 11 dead."
The cyrmex lashed out with his foot, landing on a tall child's temple, killing him instantly.
"1m15s, 26 dead."
His fist lashed out, crumbling the skull of another small boy.
"3 minutes, 68 dead."
With each update from Pu55yDestr0y3r, the cyrmex's health decreased.
'14% health with approximately 15 left…'
The more NPCs a player killed, the higher their aggro would become, inducing NPCs to attack him without direct provocation. This put the cyrmex under even greater pressure.
"… 95 dead."
What looked like one of those children's fathers rushed toward the cyrmex with a sword in hand, but the cyrmex's racial ability [Frost Field] aided him in quickly dispatching this trickier foe.
"… 98 dead."
"100 dead! In 4:38! You smashed it!" Pu55yDestr0y3r spammed the applause emoji.
A grin broke out of the cyrmex player's face as he leaned back in his chair. Then he spammed, "YYYYEEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!"
The 'yeah' was so big that it did not all fit on the screen.
However, as he span around in his chair in celebration, he did not notice that one remaining NPC was coming toward him.
"Boohoo!" appeared above the child's head, the sound of tears.
The child steadily advanced, holding up a wooden sword.
With those two words lingering in the air, the child lunged toward the cyrmex's neck.
Swinging their toy swords, three young boys were running through the streets of that little mountain village.
"Wilbert, you're the demon! You've got to let us kill you."
"Yeah, Willy, you've got to die. That's how this game works."
The smallest of the three looked downcast. "I wanna be the hero for once."
With a chuckle, the tallest of the other two said, "Do you think you could beat us? It wouldn't work if you were the hero. Now just die already."
The two boys lunged at Wilbert with their wooden swords, knocking Wilbert to the ground.
"Fine, I quit!" With that, Wilbert stormed off back home.
The two boys sneered before going to look for another kid to play the demon.
With a grimace on his face, the boy stormed off in the opposite direction, intending to find someone else to play with or perhaps nip home for lunch.
However, before he even turned onto the main street, the clanging of hammers in the forge stopped, and the hawkers' cries turned from advertisement to pain.
A strange, sickly scent filled the air, and Wilbert and the other villagers instantly noticed that something was amiss. While the villagers were standing around with confused looks on their faces, Wilbert quickly ran to hide behind one of the huts, peeking around the side to observe the situation.
With every minute that passed, screams of despair tore through the usually peaceful village before being silenced not long after. Each scream pierced through Wilbert's will, making him inch further behind the hunt until he could barely see the main street.
Eventually, after what felt like hours, Wilbert saw it, the monster that was going through their village, killing each person one by one.
The monster did not discriminate—age, sex, race, none of that seemed to matter. With each blow from this monster, a person would suffer.
The perpetrator seemed to be human dressed in black at first glance, but when Wilbert peeked further around to get a better look, he realised that it was not human at all! The black, metal surface was not armour or clothing but its body.
The usually pure white dusting of ice on its body was now red, dyed by the blood of Wilbert's friends and kin. In the black joints of its fingers, chunks of human flesh were stuck. Perhaps when this monster finished killing them all, they would reunite in his knuckles.
Quickly hiding back behind the wall, Wilbert shivered in fear. Some monster was killing everyone he knew, but he was powerless.
At that moment, Wilbert heard a shriek that sounded vaguely familiar. After taking a moment to catch his breath, he peeked around the wall to see the monster stomping on a woman's head.
Tears flooded down the boy's dirty, snot-covered face as the boot descended on his mother's head, sending blood and brain matter alike spraying into the air.
From a side street, a middle-aged man covered in soot charged at the monster. With a sword in hand, he sought to kill the monster that had slain his wife so cruelly.
'Father, no!' Too afraid to even breath loudly, Wilbert could only scream internally.
When Wilbert's father was a metre away from the murderer, a cloud of ice dispersed from the monster, slowing down the movements of all around him.
Like a pig waiting to be slaughtered, Wilbert's father could only watch as the incarnation of evil sent two punches to his face, thus ending his life.
Pain, horror, anger, confusion, grief… a plethora of emotions pervaded Wilbert's soul as he collapsed to the ground, no longer bothering to hide.
As the question of whether to run or join his parents entered his mind, the monster completely broke character. Until now, it had been silent, merely murdering, slaughtering, butchering. Out of nowhere, the first sound to come out of its mouth was a large cheer. The bastard's cheering filled the town, and to the traumatised Wilbert, it felt like it would never end.
'This bastard killed everyone, and he has the audacity to cheer?'
Staggering to his feet, Wilbert slowly but steadily walked toward the monster.
Although it was anger that had prompted him to take the first step, it was grief and a longing to reunite with his family that made him keep walking.
Following it's bizarre cheer, the monster had not moved. Like the solidest oak tree, it stood firmly in the middle of the street.
Wilbert approached from behind and gripped his wooden sword. If he could leave even a bruise on this bastard, it was better than nothing.
The monster fell to the ground.
[You have killed OldestAndWisest - Cyrmex (Level 33).]
"Huh? What the…"
[Non-combat villager killed moderate level player.]
[Error log updated.]
[Rebooting NPC instance.]
Wilbert collapsed onto the corpse of the murderer, his head spinning, and his heart bursting.
After a moment, the corpse underneath him vanished, and his body dropped to the ground, lying in the pooling blood of his parents, writhing in agony.