"You bastards! How are you still alive? Where's the other one?"
The rage that had been suppressed bubbled up, consuming Wilbert's rationality. He charged out of the woods and toward the two monsters wreathed in a blue glow. They seemed to notice him shouting as they turned around toward him.
However, before he even entered the village again, the blue glow surrounding the men abruptly brightened, and with a flash, the players disappeared.
'Was that… teleportation?'
While Wilbert did not know what those murderers were, as a resident of that world, he at least had a rudimentary understanding of magic and some of the more famous spells and abilities.
'They could be court magicians, so why are they doing this?'
Caught in the throws of despair, Wilbert started laughing manically again.
A few minutes later, however, his laughing was interrupted by the slamming of doors—more villagers had emerged from the surrounding buildings.
Having taken one blow after another, Wilbert finally, completely snapped. He dropped to the floor, sitting in the middle of the street, hugged his knees up to his chest, and started rocking back and forth.
[Slight Madness has progressed to Moderate Madness.]
During his episode, a kind village draped a blanket over him, and another left him half a loaf of bread—it seemed they thought he was some sort of beggar or war orphan. But it was a shame—their kindness went unnoticed by Wilbert.
"Was that that NPC?"
"Yeah, I wonder why it appeared so late?"
"Maybe I was too fast."
"Could be that. You are a far higher level after all."
"I guess the devs are still tweaking it. This is the first hidden boss of its kind."
"We should report this on the forums, right?"
"I think we ought to. I'll post it tomorrow after school."
When Wilbert awoke from his slumber, it was night, but it seemed dawn was not far away.
'Looks like I passed out…'
As he sat up, he realised that he had moved to one of the stalls, which offered him some protection from the elements. After getting to his feet, he neatly folded up the blanket and placed it on the stall before gobbling down the bread.
"What should I do now?" Wilbert mumbled to himself. As he said that, that oh so familiar box appeared in his vision. He was of half a mind to close it immediately when he read the heading.
[Beginning Your Adventure]
['What should I do now?' is a common question for beginners who skip the tutorial. The starting villages should give you a grasp of the game's mechanics, but you won't find any quests there. It is recommended that players head to their nearest low-tier city. There you will find beginner quests and beginner class missions.]
[Note: Low-tier does not mean worse; it's merely meant as an indicator for the minimum level required for access.]
[The low-tier cities include: Babybel, Fluebridge, Uxloam…]
[If you wish to replay the tutorial, click here.]
[For more information on quests, click here.]
'A game? This dumb box thinks this is all a game? He.' Wilbert did not even have the energy to laugh anymore, just putting the ridiculousness of the situation aside for the time being. 'The strange terms and wording aside, it seems this wants me to go to one of those cities.
'I don't recognise many of them, but I know Fluebridge—it's only a day's walk from here. I've visited the market there with Mom and Dad…'
A wave of melancholy washed over him, but the next second a glint flashed in his eyes.
'Now's not the time to be sad. I've been sad long enough. There's a chance their murder is still out there, so I should be focusing on that.'
After finishing off the bread, he patted off the dry dirt covering his clothes and headed straight for the village entrance, a steely determination emanating from his stern expression.
'I'll go to Fluebridge for now. Whether these boxes are real or just figments of my imagination, heading to Fluebridge is as good a place as any.'
The previous time that he'd travelled to Fluebridge, he had been with his parents. They had set off at daybreak and reach the city at dusk, and that was including breaks for rests and lunch. They had camped just outside the city and then attended the market the following day—not an uncommon practice for residents of the surrounding villages as accommodation was so expensive in the city.
However, when Wilbert went this time, he did not need to stop for breaks, and he arrived before lunch.
'Was the city always this close? I know I left earlier, but still…'
With a confused look on his face, Wilbert entered the city under the watchful eye of the guards.
The colossal, white stone walls towered high above Wilbert. The finish on the pristine stone blocks alone was smooth, evidence that they were the work a master craftsman. Either side of the gate fluttered a blue flag with the coat of arms of the ruling family embroidered in gold.
The south gate, which Wilbert had entered through, fed into the lower market. Similar to his village at home, there were hawkers trying to sell their goods, but the level here was vastly different. The scents of the street food assaulted anyone who passed, as if tempting them to just have a little nibble. The clothing on sale fluttered gently where they hung, like soft little clouds; one could tell in an instant how comfortable they would be to wear.
However, as if impervious to such stimuli, Wilbert marched straight through the market, heading for centre of city—Central Square. The choice of destination was for no particular reason other than it was in the middle. He planned to decide where to go from there.
'Now what am I supposed to do? The box said something about quests and classes—are those things that those bastards will come here for? Maybe if I listen out for those words, I can stake out certain areas and look for them.'