Erika caught up to the hyperactive pixie and blocked Vivi’s path.
“Hmph, I’m bored hanging around an idiot all the time. Like, I wanna have some personal space, you know.”
Vivi crossed her arms and lifted her chin. She was bent on exploring the village herself, without Erika.
Why would she insist on that...?
It was unclear from the game’s point of view. Escorted NPCs were bound to the player, they didn’t have a life outside the escort quest. Yet, Vivi clearly insisted to do “her own thing”.
Erika heard that NPCs in VR games were often more vivid than usual. However, it felt too weird to her as an RPG veteran; she was used to obedient NPCs, who sheeped on her lead.
It was unthinkable to let Vivi wander around by herself, but Erika failed to change the pixie’s mind. At the very least, she forced Vivi to agree on a rendezvous point.
Erika tilted her head as she examined all of the village’s exits.
Murph Village bordered with a lake on the east, but the other three directions led to unpaved roads. One such road led back to the Water Temple, but the remaining two were completely unknown.
“Do you know which road we need to take to Zelin City?”
“H-hmph! Like, of course I know!”
Vivi puffed her cheeks, feeling challenged by the question. She tried to look confident, but a sweating emote popped near her head, exposing her inner turmoil.
“Then, which way is it?”
“I-it’s... that way! I think... like, I’m sure it’s there!”
Vivi pointed to the west with shaky confidence.
“Hm~ Are you sure?”
“O-of course! Hmph! If you insist on being such an doubtful idiot, then figure it out yourself!”
Vivi flapped her glittering wings and fled in embarrassment. She mixed in the crowd and vanished from sight.
【NOTIFICATION】【The quest Vivi’s Escort is put on hold until you reunite with Vivi (Velver Pixie)】
The notification made Erika frown. She didn’t like the idea of letting Vivi wander alone, and the message only fueled her worries.
Her sole source of comfort was Vivi’s solid AI. When Erika was trashed to death by a Windflora, Vivi loyally waited for her mommy’s respawn. Back then, Erika also felt uneasy, but everything worked out fine in the end. Hopefully, this time it’d be the same.
Oh... I should turn this off.
Erika started feeling hazy, due to the active [Communication] rune in her forehead. She enjoyed spying on others’ emotions, to the point she completely forgot to turn off her rune.
Interestingly, the rune’s toll was much lower than at the beginning. She kept [Communication] active for quite a while, but she only started feeling a little dizzy just now. When she just activated [Communication] the first time, it almost knocked her out after half of this duration.
Either Erika’s stamina increased thanks to her battles, or the [Communication] rune became less costly after leveling up. Perhaps even both.
The rune retracted its powers and fell asleep inside Erika’s head. Her mind cleared up and she was ready to go.
Before anything else, Erika decided to investigate the right path toward their future destination: Zelin City Per Vivi’s advice, Erika approached the western end of the village to confirm where it led.
“I wouldn’t go there if I were ya, girl.”
An old woman warned Erika.
“My, is there something dangerous up ahead?”
“It ain’t no place for little girls, that much I know fo sure.”
The old woman kindly explained that Zelin City was to the south of Murph Village; Vivi dun goofed. The region to the west sounded like a more advanced area, which a beginner like Erika wasn’t prepared for.
My, this village is nothing at all.
As Erika continued to stroll, it became apparent that the village was small and didn’t offer much of anything. There weren't many named NPCs around, and there even fewer players.
Pedestrian NPCs didn’t even deserve a name tag, as they existed solely to fill up the scenery. Erika tried talking to a few, but they all dismissed her with robotic responses.
“I’m busy, kid!”
“Please don’t badger me.”
It was impossible to strike a conversation with these lifeless villagers. Even though the AI in God Vessel Online was impressive, the developers cut ends where they could.
Compared to these nameless bots, players were honored with not one, but TWO name tags above their heads. This made it easy to distinguish players from other named NPCs.
The first tag was the player’s nickname, whereas the second tag was his username. One player even had a third tag, indicating the guild he belonged to.
All other players in the village had avatars of teenagers or young adults. They were clearly more advanced players than Erika, who had a child avatar. Murph Village wasn’t a popular gathering area, but it must have offered something “special” to appeal to “advanced players.”
I should learn what uses this village has, for future reference.
Erika questioned the players she passed by. They were all busy running around, fetching and delivering items. They didn’t spare much time to idle chat, but Erika understood the gist of it from their brief responses.
“I’m selling fruits for a neat price. ”
“I have a time-limited fetch quest! Move!”
“I own a field here... so, like, I need to tend to it and stuff.”
There didn’t seem to be anything special about Murph Village per se. The village revolved around “farming” and offered simple services related to its theme. This included quests for delivering food, exchanging fruits or vegetables for a decent price and even owning a field.
Based on the RPG veteran’s experience, most of these services appealed to players from a higher level of play. It must have been gibberish to an uneducated beastie like Mina, who only cared about beating the shit outta stuff. Unlike that light-brained warrior, Erika definitely hoped to capitalize on all these aspects of the village in the future.
With these schemes in mind, Erika began interacting with the named NPCs in the village.