Following the red-haired spearman's explanation, the crowd agreed to tell him what happened in exchange for the information given. Most of them only wanted the treasure at the end, and there was sure to be a video of the event online anyway—beginner events like this were as common as blades of grass in a field.
The crowd dispersed, looking for the boy described by the spearman. The red-haired spearman's party were the only ones who remained in Jante Clearing. The other two players with him were a ranger and a mage.
The mage, a tall, skinny character, looked around and asked, "Which way shall we go?"
"I can use tracking on him if you show me where you found him," the ranger added. The ranger was a short, cute girl. Small in stature and bust, freckles and dimples adorned her face. "You marked where you found him, right?"
When he read that, the spearman player smiled and pushed his glasses up before replying, "Of course I did. Who do you take me for? Only an idiot would…"
He paused for a moment before turning around and walking. "Ahem. Let's try this way. I have a good feeling."
The other two looked at each other and performed the [Facepalm] emote.
"He's always like this."
"Yet he's so lucky when it comes to random events."
Having played together for so long, the spearman's companions had long gotten used to his dopiness.
The three-man party travelled through the thick, incorporeal undergrowth, looking everywhere they could think of. Since the spearman had seen the NPC climbing down a tree earlier, they made sure to look up at the trees, especially thick ones that could support a human.
Whenever they saw other players, they would move away from them—partly because they did not want them to follow them, and partly because they trusted the players to not have missed any obvious spots. If that NPC was hiding in a less obvious spot, he would probably still be there if they were went back later.
After about ten minutes of searching, when they were thinking of changing the direction of their search, they heard a commotion.
As per their well-developed gamer habits, they ran straight to the source of the sound, and when they arrived, they saw a pack of wolves facing a cliff.
"Look at the back, that's him."
The other two looked where the spearman was pointing.
The target of the wolves' snarls seemed to be an unarmed NPC. He looked shorter and scrawnier than normal villagers—as the red-haired spearman had said, he was just a kid. Although the game did not normally show an NPC's expression, the players could see a hint of fear and dread on the kid's face. Well, as well as they could see, given that they were quite far away, so the NPC was quite pixelated.
"Should we kill the wolves?" the mage and ranger asked.
The spearman performed the [Thinking] emote before replying, "Let's wait a moment. He shouldn't die straight away, and there might be more story if we wait."
As the trio watched from the bushes, the wolves drew near. Suddenly, a blue staff appeared in his hand.
"A villager with a training staff?"
"I didn't even know villagers could use magic…"
From the side the three were commenting on the proceedings.
"Oh, he used [Wind Cleaver]. That's a pretty low-level spell. Not the lowest, though."
"I didn't know the villager class could use magic."
As the majority of the wolf pack was wiped out, the players saw the NPC try to execute the same spell again.
"Is this NPC an idiot? Does it not know about cooldowns?"
"He's really weird. He keeps shouting the skill names."
Unlike the other two, the red-haired spearman was getting excited by this. "That means he's a unique instance. He's either got the treasure, or he's part of a quest."
Seeing as the NPC had failed to cast the spell, the trio assumed that he was in trouble, but contrary to their expectations, the NPC cast aside his staff and summon a bow and quiver.
"A bow as well?"
"And how come he's summoning his weapons like that?"
As usual, it fell upon the red-haired spearman to come up with a theory. "He's a villager, so basic bow skills aren't uncommon. As for that weapon summoning, could it be a unique ability, or could he have… no, never mind, it's probably a unique ability."
Again, the trio assumed the NPC was in trouble. A bow was only useful at long range—if the wolves got close, he would be done for. So, the ranger began attacking the wolves at the back with the basic [Long Shot] auto-attack.
However, after only killing three of the wolves, the ranger glanced at the NPC and stopped firing. "Why is he using a sword and shield now? Wait, he's only got one wolf left. Am I seeing things right?"
"Once you started firing, he summoned more weapons, throwing aside the bow."
The NPC soon finished off the remaining wolves. He looked up at where the other wolves had been, and there was visible confusion on his face.
"Okay, I think we should approach him now," the red-haired spearman said.
"I hope it's a hidden quest."
"Ergh, please have the treasure. I already have too much to do."
Seeing the arrows lodge in the wolves' corpses, Wilbert looked into the distance and saw three people running towards him. They seemed an unusual mix. There was a tall, thin chap with a staff, a red-haired spearman, and… a really pretty girl.
Although he was stunned at first, an observation immediately sobered him up.
'They seem like them, the players.'
While holding his shield back up to defend against any surprise attacks, Wilber analysed what he knew. 'They killed the wolves with their arrows but didn't attack me. So, it seems they're not quite the same as the others, or maybe they want something from me. But… what would they want with me?'