Chapter 15: Troublemaking Players

The weight of a human skeleton accounts for about 35-40% of the total body weight.
Therefore, when their controlled bodies suddenly became more than 60% lighter without affecting their mobility, the players, even those with poor motor skills, could become agile and light as a swallow.

While Hal was nervously recalling the possible consequences of deviating from his assigned task during work, the group of undead gamers had already surrounded him…

“Holy f*ck! This NPC modeling is so realistic!”

“Dayum, you can even see the pores clearly.
How did they achieve that?”

“Hey, hey, look y'all.
Is he actually sweating?”

“Are there any quests? How do we accept quests?”

“How did Boss Vanilla accept quests from NPCs?”

Completely bewildered Hal: “…”

“Stop being so rowdy! There's a need to engage in dialogue to accept quests.
How would the NPC know whom to respond to if all of you are shouting at once?” Tang Jia, who was the first to discover the advanced NPC and the first to approach Hal, became annoyed.
“Line up and follow the sequence!”

The fortunate players who managed to secure a spot in the inner circle remained silent, with no intention of voluntarily stepping back to join the queue…

“Never mind, let's do it one by one.
Don't forget that the advanced NPC can get angry if players behave improperly.
Those at the back can observe how the dialogue goes and that's a benefit too,” Tang Jia's best friend spoke up.

This girl player, with the name Unceasing Entropy, sounded much more reasonable, and her logic made sense.
Hearing these, players started to comply, saying, “Yeah, let the ones closer go first.
The rest of us should stay quiet.”

Without any hesitation, Tang Jia took the lead, regardless of whether others agreed or not.
Glancing at the green text floating above Hal's head, she engaged proactively.
“Hello, 'Razor' Hal Maxwell.
Do you have any quests for me?”

Hal, who was surrounded by a pack of undead and unable to move a step, glanced at the skeleton that had just spoken up.

At first glance, it was evident that this was an undead that had died on the Taranthan battlefield many years ago.
Black mud filled its eye sockets, gaps between the teeth, and bone joints.
Moreover, there was a fist-sized hole in its rib cage.

However, what came out of its boneless throat was a lively and energetic female voice… The dissonance was so great that it gave Hal goosebumps.

Unfortunately, the advanced NPCs had work regulations to follow, even if it felt extremely absurd and awkward.
Hal had no choice but to react with a forced smile and rigidly recite the scripted lines according to the regulations.

“Hey, undead friend, it seems like you've just awakened from eternal slumber.
Would you be willing to help me with something? I can offer you my friendship as a token of gratitude.”

Tang Jia became excited and nodded eagerly.
“Yes, yes! I'm willing!”

Perhaps because it had been so long since he had heard the voice of a young woman, Hal found this skeleton much more pleasing to the eye.
He quickly followed the stipulated guidelines and assigned the quest to the undead.
“Lord Yang has requested us to rebuild this Exile Town, but we lack manpower and are unable to carry out the work.
I don't know how to establish a hall for apprentice wanderers to hone their skills in this ruined area…”

“Hmm?” The skeleton in front of Hal no longer paid him any attention.
Instead, it lowered its head to look at something and then turned to her friend.
“The reputation reward for this NPC only includes providing a class transition path and class-specific equipment and weapons.
It seems like wanderers are a leather armor class similar to those in World of Warcraft.
Qing Yue, do you want to play as an adventurer?”

“Um… I would rather play a spellcaster class,” replied her friend.

“I don't want to play as a leather armor class either.
Let's go find the advanced NPCs who teach spellcaster and warrior classes,” Tang Jia said, pulling her friend along as they squeezed out of the crowd and headed out.

[Player Stuffed Gummy has declined the quest you assigned.]

Upon hearing the notification from the Mind Imprint Matrix, Hal was dumbfounded: “??”

“Hey, hey, can you see the reputation rewards of the NPC when you accept a quest?” a player nearby called out to Tang Jia, who was about to leave the area.

“Yeah, once you accept the quest, the reputation bar of the advanced NPC will appear in the interface,” said Tang Jia as she turned back to explain.
“This NPC's reputation can be increased to Friendly, and you can choose to become an apprentice wanderer and receive a dagger.
There are also rewards for leather armor and advancing to the Assassin class later on.”

“I don't want to play melee,” the inquiring player said and turned to leave too.

“Neither do I.
Which NPC should I find if I want to play a ranged character?”

“I think… a ranger named Joe or something?”

“I'm looking for the warrior NPC too, wait for me!”

“Isn't the Undead Resurrection Master the one who teaches magic? Where can we find that NPC?”

In just moments, nearly half of the undead surrounding Hal dispersed.

Hal: “?!”

The remaining ten or so undead were oblivious to the drastic change in Hal's state of mind as he fell from being the center of attention.
Another equally dirty and aged skeleton approached Hal and repeated Tang Jia's previous interaction word for word.
“Hello, 'Razor' Hal Maxwell.
Do you have any quests for me?”

Hal's facial muscles twitched violently.

But when he thought about that evil black mage monitoring their every word and action through the imprint matrix, Hal had to suppress his anger and said in frustration, “Hey, undead friend…”

Hal had the authority to assign quests to players, as well as provide simple tools such as shovels, pickaxes, and other tools for players to help him clear the several hundred square meters of ruins in front of the tents, to create space for building an official Wanderer Guild.

Two of his companions nearby, Ranger Tuttle and the Treasure Expert, who would take up “posts” in the Wanderer Guild later on, were given the duty of assigning quests as well.
One was to dispose of the cleared rubbish, while the other was to collect building materials.

In short, the idea was to use the reputation points provided by the advanced NPCs, along with the class transition and gear that came with the reputation, as carrots to manipulate these players into performing cheap labor…

Each advanced NPC had a limited number of quests they could offer at a given time, mainly due to the limited quantity of “quest items” such as shovels and pickaxes.
Hal, for example, only had 30 sets of tools in his tent.

Several players who were interested in transitioning to the wanderer class accepted the quest and received the tools.
They enthusiastically discussed and speculated on how to play the wanderer class in the game while eagerly starting to clean up the street, which was no different from the ruins.

A few other players, though, didn't step forward to accept the quest.

These players observed the process of others accepting quests, and after the few who accepted the quests began “working,” this bunch huddled to discuss something… Then, one of them left the group and approached Hal.

Hal, who was still holding back a whole lot of anger, stared expressionlessly at the skeleton, preparing to recite his lines once more…

However, this skeleton completely ignored him and simply passed by his side.

Then… in the presence of the owner next to him, this skeleton boldly strode into Hal's tent.

Hal: “?!”

“Gosh, there are so many things inside! And I'm able to interact with and even pick them up.
These aren't just images!”

The skeleton joyfully picked up the enchanted dagger that Hal had been sharpening earlier, which shone with a special red glow.
It then stuck its head out of the tent and called out to its companions, “Look at this! It's definitely a magic weapon! We can just take—”

“You filthy thief—!”

An enraged Hal drew out a sword and viciously lopped off the skeleton's skull.

“Oh sh*t—!” The skeleton whose head was chopped off let out a cry as the “damage” exceeded the threshold and he was determined to be dead.
The flying skull and the remaining skeleton disappeared in a flash of white light, and the enchanted dagger clattered to the ground.

“Whoa, f*ck!” The deceased player's companions were startled.

“Brother Three got kicked offline!”

“This advanced NPC really does attack players.
And its attack power is so ridiculously high that it's an instakill!”

“It's also intelligent enough to recognize when someone is trying to steal from it.”

Realizing that advanced NPCs were indeed dangerous, this group of players squatted down and openly discussed for a bit among themselves, not far from Hal… Then, another player among them stood up and approached the players diligently working on their quest.

And then… the guy simply picked up one of the pickaxes lying by the side of another player and took off.

The player whose quest item had been stolen was stunned.
“What the hell?!”

“Oi oi oi—! You filthy thief!”

The players who were diligently working on the quest and the players who were bored and pushing the limits of the game's interactions stared blankly as NPC Hal, who had been standing in front of the tent, suddenly chased after the teeth angrily.

Players with a 60% reduction in weight did indeed run fast, but Hal, a professional-level powerhouse under the rage buff, was even faster.

The player hadn't even managed to run out of the block of ruins when Hal caught up and stabbed the player, causing him to scream, be teleported back to the respawn point, and get kicked offline.

Having killed two undead consecutively, Hal suddenly found himself in a much better mood, and he felt refreshed and invigorated…

After picking up the pickaxe and returning to the bewildered player that originally had it, Hal returned to his “post” in front of the tent, standing firm with a piercing gaze directed at those who were clearly up to something.

The group of troublemaking players, now reduced to only three individuals, nervously held a discussion in front of him.
One of them stood up, walked over, and accepted a quest from Hal.

Under the pressure of being monitored by a certain black mage, Hal didn't dare his sword or go on strike.
Instead, he assigned the quest and provided the quest items.

And then… the player who received the quest items hurriedly ran off, carrying the pickaxe over his shoulder and dragging the shovel on the ground.

Veins were bulging on Hal's forehead, but he stood still as required.

When the skeleton, who wanted to deceive him and steal away the tools, which would cause him a deduction of salary, ran out of the range of the ruined street, Hal hastily drew his sword and exclaimed, “Stop right there! Filthy thief—!”

“Even bringing the quest item out of the range will get you chased and killed by the NPCs? Isn't this game too much?!” The two remaining troublemakers were dumbfounded as they watched their friend who was more than a hundred meters away get caught and slain in the blink of an eye…

The questing players were equally stunned.
“We can't go offline with the quest item if we don't complete the quest?”

“F*ck! That's too hardcore!”

“It's realistic enough.
I like it!”

Troublemakers and questing players alike stared at the player that had made an unpopular opinion.

“Realistic, my *ss! What if there's an emergency midway through the quest?”

“That's right.
Logging off on the spot would cause us to lose data.
That's just ridiculous!”

“What sort of sh*tty game is this!”

A player who had been engrossed in completing quests couldn't take the complaints anymore and voiced out, “Didn't you people read the quest description when you accept quests? It's clearly stated that quest items can only be used within the scope of the quest.
Moreover, you can return the quest items to the NPC during the quest and save the progress before going offline.
You can then just take them back from the NPC when you log on.”

This player, who was very serious about questing, waved his hand at the two troublemakers in disdain.
“If you don't want to do the mission, don't waste your time here.
The high-level NPCs in this game are too meticulous.
What if you harass him frequently and cause our efficiency in farming reputation to decrease?”

Other quest-type players followed suit when they heard this as well.
“Yeah, go away! Don't cause trouble here!”

With only the two of them left, the troublemakers felt very alone.
Moreover, the advanced NPC Hal was eyeing them ravenously… Thus, they had no choice but to leave dejectedly.

As the two left the ruined street and reached the main street, they were discussing whether to wait for their three dead friends to log back on before continuing their troublemaking ways…

But then, they witnessed a few players on the other end of the street pushing a sort of wheelbarrow used at construction sites and running over frantically.

“Whoa, f*ck! You guys have done something big!” The two troublemakers roared in surprise and envy.

“Get out of the way, get out of the way!” The player who had gotten the wheelbarrow seemed especially anxious.

Before the two troublemakers could ask about the situation, a couple of whooshes were heard, and the few players pushing the wheelbarrow and running rampantly let out curses like “Oh sh*t!” and “F*ck!” before disappearing into a white light.

An advanced NPC with a longbow strapped on his back with floating titles “Tuttle Joe” and “Ranger Instructor” appeared with visible veins all over his forehead.
He strode over in silence and grabbed the wheelbarrow handle to pull it away…

As they watched the murderous NPC disappear around the corner of the street, troublemaker player A shuddered.
“…H-how about we just do some quests? It's the first day of the open beta, after all…”

Troublemaker player B nodded silently.
“T-that's true… I want to play as a warrior.
What about you?”

“Me too.”

“Then, let's go find the Warrior Instructor?”

“I think we should complete the zombie NPC quests that give out clothes first…”

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