MMORPG: Rise of the Peerless Pumpkinmancer

Chapter 32: There Be Wolves...
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Chapter 32: There Be Wolves…

Once upon a time in a magical forest, there was….animal abuse?!

A group of players was violently beating a fox, expertly using their sticks to bash its skull. There would be a satisfying smacking sound with every hit, followed by a red -2 above the creature’s head.

Then, from time to time, a clucking sound would resound. It felt so out of place! It had confused them so much at first. Were there chickens so deep inside the fox territory? Nope, it was the Epic Cluckinator! The Cluck Cluck passive… made the peculiar sound with every hit!

Every time it resounded, they would smile while their eyes went searching for that bright red damage number: -5, -6, sometimes even -7! Jack was doing thrice their damage. How freaking impressive was it!

Jack and company were getting so used to hunting these creatures that they were pretty much a mobile fox processing factory. In went the lively fox, and out came the pelt and the meat! With every repetition, Jack’s grin would deepen.

As he looted it all, he didn’t just see materials. No, he saw quest items, rewards, and the progression of his plans. It was all so satisfying! He also enjoyed seeing his allies struggle and win after improving.

CPR dude’s voice resounded to mark the end of their current battle:

“We only lost 2 of us this time around. We’ve come a long way from the 16 deaths it initially took us.” He happily shared.

“You’re proud of that? You guys gotta dodge better! There shouldn’t be a single death with our numbers!” Seraphine chastised them.

“Yes, mom!” A player mischievously replied while “earnestly” nodding in agreement.

“You should behave, man. What if you get spanked?!” Another one playfully added.

“Jokes on you, I’m into that shit!” The troublemaker heroically declared.

“Now, now, children. Stop fighting!” One added to “pacify” them.

These guys were having so much fun killing foxes and chatting. Jack liked to think that every time they abused a fox, a PETA’ member was crying somewhere in this vast and beautiful virtual world.

Jack gave a wry smile before addressing his troops:

“All of you, we’ve been hunting foxes for a while. Now that you guys have attained some experience, it will be time to move on. Our true goal lies further into the forest!” He explained.

The players instantly jumped up as they realized what this meant. They could feel their blood boil, excited about what was to come. They would finally encounter the legendary wolves, right! Were they even ready to face them? Irrelevant!

This expedition was barely worth it in terms of XP, and Jack was monopolizing all the loot. Yet, they still felt it was so damn worth it! They would learn now and do the mindless grinding later. They would take a step back to progress even faster later!

“Alright, let’s move out! I’ll let you guys scout like you’ve been doing all this time!” Jack instructed.

They all nodded as they followed his directives. The journey was quite pleasant. From time to time, they would kill a fox. Sometimes they would stop to gather some flowers. At one point, they even passed a large ancient tree with a hole inside.

Jack took the opportunity to act like a touristic guide:

“This right here is the lair of the Fox Progenitor. It’s also the entrance to the Fox Garden, the easiest dungeon of Infinite so far.”

He was willingly sharing tidbits of information with them. Anyway, it would all very soon be common knowledge. Even then, they were taking it all in as they listened intently. His affirmation made them raise their brows in surprise.

“Wait, the easiest? That means the chicken dungeon in the plain will be harder?!”

“There are so many deadly plants right now that it might as well be a level 10 area! It would make sense for the dungeon to be higher level too.”

“We’re just lucky that the training instructor cleared a few of them, or we wouldn’t even be able to step foot on the New Leaf plain, needless to say here, haha!”

“I can’t wait to enter a dungeon. Well, exploring like this is really fun, but dungeons are the best part of an MMO for sure! I already have the feeling they’ll be… peculiar!”

They kept walking while lowly chatting. Jack barely had to do anything as they would avoid the fox ambushes and patrols by themselves. Just like that, they reached a new area. This was definitely a significant milestone!

“Whoa! This place looks really nice. The trees are more spaced out and bigger.”

“More importantly, there are no shrubs! No more monsters hiding in bushes!”

“Guys, we’re the first ones in New Leaf village to come so far, right? I’m gonna feel emotional!”

“We are henceforth in a new territory. That’s one small step for a player, one giant leap for gamers!”

Many were saying whatever they could think of at the moment. But, a few seconds later, they obediently turned toward Jack as they awaited his directives.

“In a few minutes, we’ll enter the depths of the land of the wolves. They’re way stronger than foxes, and they’re seldom alone since they are social animals. However, what makes them really frightening is how much they enjoy roaming! Do you all understand what it means?”

All the players sucked a cold breath as they could picture the monsters ganging up on them. This new land sounded so challenging: hell, they had trouble winning a 20 vs 1 fight in their favor! How could they win against many wolves? No way!

“This time around, our goal isn’t to kill the wolves. Our objective is to slip through undetected. There will be plenty of them, way too many! But, I believe we can come out victorious as long as we play this perfectly.” Jack added solemnly.

They could feel in his tone that this task would be extremely arduous. He expected them to be happy about this new challenge, but they instead stared at him anxiously. What was up with them all of a sudden?

“Boss, how about we practice heading in there alone for a bit? This way, we won’t drag you down if we fail…” CPR dude proposed.

What a ridiculous suggestion! But, for some reason, the others were all in agreement….even Bubblegum?! What did they take him for? It wasn’t like it would be the end of the world if he died either.

“No need. We’ll do this together. As long as you all follow my calls to the letter, we should be fine.” Jack reassured them. A great leader should never cower before his men!

They somehow seemed to find this incredibly inspiring as they chimed in.

“Yes, Boss!”

“We’ll do our best!”

“I’ll personally beat up anyone that messes up!”

Jack nodded at them with a smile, and then they began moving forward. He was now picturing a mental map of the forest and expertly navigating it. He knew all about the wolves’ movement patterns. It was just a matter of figuring out their exact position in real-time.

— Cautiously Walking —

Nothing seemed to be happening, and yet they all understood how crazily close to death they always were. The more they progressed and the truer this was.

— Cautiously Walking —

There were more and more traces of the wolves. This took many forms but was in plain sight: these creatures were the forest overlords and didn’t hide it. Sometimes it was paw prints on the ground, and at others claw imprints on the trees.

The players could only gulp as they noticed how profound the claw lacerations were. What kind of damage would such an attack cause to their soft flesh? Would it be an instant kill?! But, it didn’t stop their journey.

— Cautiously Walking —

Then they began hearing them, always nearby. It reached a point where they considered “Awoooo!” a regular background noise. At first, they thought the wolves were upon them and had been ready for battle. Nope, it was all perfect aggro control, more accurately barely staying out of it.

They kept going, trusting their leader.

— Cautiously Walking —

Finally, they saw wolves for the first time! No, it would have been more accurate that they saw gray streaks that were hurriedly leaving the area. They were big, and the players could instinctively feel deadliness oozing from them.

They all thought they were doomed but resisted the urge to scream and run away. Luckily for them, Jack hadn’t let them down that time either. They were baffled at first. How hadn’t the wolves realized they were there?!

They had been silent and walking contrary to the wind! Jack truly was a mastermind at aggro control! It was as if he knew everything about this place, down to every last of its creatures.

— Cautiously Walking —

At one point, Jack’s tactics reached a new level of horrifying. He had them shadow a wolf group to make their way even deeper inside! That’s how they managed to reach a peaceful-looking clearing without fighting a single time.

“Good job, you guys! You’ve survived part one.” Jack congratulated them.

They could only give wry smiles. All they had done was follow him and shut their traps. There was nothing particularly heroic about it. No, it was all thanks to him!

As they silently thanked Jack from the bottom of their heart, he gestured not to mind it. This guy was way too humble for his own good!

They could only observe their surroundings in awe. Why was there suddenly such a big open space in the forest? There was bound to be an explanation, right?

“Guys, look there. Isn’t that a boulder and a cave towards the back?!”

“Yes, you’re right. Why do I feel like this is familiar?”

“It gives the same vibe as the earlier hole in the tree!”

Jack interrupted them by chuckling: “You guys are perfectly right. It is also a Boss lair and incidentally our target. Are you all ready?”

They couldn’t help but begin panicking. Were they going to face a boss?! They felt that they weren’t ready at all! But that’s when a creature slowly exited from the cave. This one had to be their target!

< Happy Wolf Cub Level 6 >

They couldn’t help but feel their blood boiling as they were eager to fight. What kind of reward would this enemy give?!

It was time for some more animal abuse…

Creator’s Thought

Something as simple as walking around a forest actually requires a lot of skill. One needs to know a lot about each individual monster, then figure out how they will all interact with one another. Then again, it’s possible to accomplish a similar result using instinct, it just takes a LOT of experience.

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