MMORPG: Rise of the Peerless Pumpkinmancer

The Mighty Wolves....?!

The Mighty Wolves....?!

0━━━━━━ POV ━━━━━━━      3

As Dom escaped the wolf clearing, his heart felt incredibly heavy. The one they all called Boss had remained behind to save him.     

Ever since realizing that the man was an NPC, he considered him an ally. Of course, he would refuse to join their guild! Now, he had grown to enjoy having a mentor so much that he didn't even care if the guy was a human being or not!     

As Dom abandoned him, he had wanted to shout, scream and protest with every fiber of his being. This didn't make any sense! He, as a player, should be the one sacrificing himself for the NPC! After all, Dom could always revive afterward.     

But he had understood the issue. Even if he did sacrifice himself, it wouldn't do shit! He was far too weak. The best he could do was to buy a few seconds. It wasn't enough for the others to leave the danger zone.     

Only Jack had the required damage potential to infuriate the beasts. Only he could make the wolves give up on hunting the others. He was a goddamn hero!     

The first thing he did while running was to send the same message to all the players of the Mighty Wolves guild.     

- Mighty Dom: Assemble and make your way toward the Fox territory. Hurry the fuck up. We need to save him!     

As Dom reached Seraphine, she turned toward him:     

"What happened to Teacher?" She asked, puzzled.     

"He's staying behind to buy us time. He wants us to bring the loot to safety….But, the others are already coming back. Once they're here, let's save him first!" Dom exclaimed while wiping his tears.     

"No. We won't do that." She instantly denied.     

"What?! Why! We can always retry the expedition any time, but if we lose him, who knows if he'll even respawn?!" Dom instantly protested.     

"First, we aren't 100% sure that he's an NPC. Second, you underestimate him. He said to complete the mission, so we'll complete the mission. I'm sure he has his plans." Seraphine affirmed with certitude.     

"That—" Dom wanted to object, but did he have the right to?     

He knew for a fact that Jack truly was part of Infinite. He wasn't a foreign entity like the players. He couldn't prove it, but he just knew that he was an NPC. He hadn't known him for long, so perhaps she was right...     

Either way, he didn't care much about the loot. For him, gaming had always been about family, about creating worthwhile bonds with amazing people. He couldn't accept permanently losing a friend, not another!     

What should he do?! Disregard everything and focus on saving him? Get the loot to safety instead? What about — A clear voice interrupted his spiraling thoughts.     

"Just have faith. He's very scheming. I'm sure he'll be fine." Seraphine reassured him, with her voice so very calm and soothing. She wasn't worried at all.     

Faith, was it? Dom had always disliked the word. No, he hated people throwing it around willy-nilly. To many, it was nothing but a comforting but otherwise empty and meaningless word. It raised your hopes high up only to crush them.     

Just have faith, they said. Have faith, he'll get better. Have faith, everything will work out. Have faith until he's gone, and regret comes too fucking late! Have faith again? Would it be nothing more than a hollow illusion this time too?     

The pink-haired girl nearby seemed so sure that faith would be rewarded. Could he truly trust in this new mentor? He had a plan, right? For an instant, he remained silent, but then he chose to believe.     

"Fine, let's go. I hope you're right. We get the loot to safety, and then we go right back to get him with reinforcements!" Dom growled reluctantly.     

"Of course! We'll have to ask him about the next step on his world domination agenda anyway!" Seraphine playfully remarked.     

World domination? It wasn't a bad idea. It sounded like fun, plus it was bound to give a lot of loot and XP!     

"Sounds like a plan!" Dom replied energetically.     

"You look so serious! I was joking, you know!" Seraphine chuckled softly.     

Joking? It truly was a great plan. It must be hell for an NPC to be self-aware. It meant having knowledge of the IRL world without ever being able to experience it. The least they could do was to accompany him on his journey to world domination, right?     

That's when they saw a large group of players approach. Dom couldn't help but smile. They were here!     

"Chief, we're back! Quick let's save him!"     

"It's too risky. There are three wolves there, enough to potentially wipe us all. We need to keep going and—" Seraphine began to object, but she was interrupted.     

"You, shut up." Solemnly growled one of the players.     

"The Mighty Wolves never abandon our people." Another added.     

She frowned, taken aback. What was wrong with them?! If they thought they could treat her like that, they were dead wrong! She grabbed her stick, ready to bash the impertinent as she confronted him, almost shouting in anger:     

"That's what he requested himself! If you're too brain-dead to fathom such a simple concept, then frankly there's something wrong with—"     

"Enough. We won't fight between ourselves!" Dom interrupted before sighing.     

"But boss—" One weakly complained.     

"No, she's right. That's what he asked for himself. I'm sure he knows what he's doing we…." Dom forced himself to utter.     

Even then, he couldn't finish this simple sentence. It brought too many memories. He could almost taste the ash once again. His brother had also told him to go on ahead back then…     

That's when he noticed the way his brothers all looked at him, with so much warmth. They knew what leaving someone behind felt for him. They understood him way too well. They were the ones that had helped him in his darkest moments.     

That's when they began speaking. They looked like petulant children that wouldn't take no for an answer.     

"Nope. The Mighty Wolves never leave anyone behind! We're saving him first! What do you all say?"     

"Abandoning friends isn't mighty at all! We can't do that for sure!"     

"I say, why are you asking when you know the answer?!"     

"What do you say, Boss?"     

They all looked at him with such kindness. That's when it clicked for him. So what if they ended up losing the loot? So what if they all died again? So what if the man himself got mad at them?     

Dom felt a smile blossom on his face. He was so damn lucky to have found them! So very lucky! He then shook his head apologetically toward the pink-haired girl:     

"Sorry, miss, but the Mighty Wolves never leave anyone behind." Even then, Dom didn't regret this decision. He said it with so much relief in his voice that it was almost palpable.     

Seraphine stopped frowning and gave an understanding nod. This decision wasn't based on logic, gain, or a mission, and it transcended the game. As she observed the CPR dude, she couldn't help but be taken aback.     

What hid behind his seemingly stern facade? She could discern a man who had been on the verge of breaking down, one who had been repressing his emotions. What was this about? She had no clue, but she wouldn't ask either.     

Instead, she exaggeratedly sighed. She made it so comical that the others couldn't help but chuckle:     

"Aaaaahhhhh, It can't be helped then. So, who's ready to go screw up some wolves? I think we have someone to save..." She was finally on board with their plan, even if it didn't make any sense.     

That's how a merry group of tenwy-ish players charged back toward wolf territory. They did it akin to a moth throwing itself in a flame. It was dumb on all accounts!     

They had lots of pep in their steps, with their legs trembling from the fear, stress, and excitement. No matter how courageous they were, this was a land of death for players their levels!     

Many times, they almost got noticed by a wolf. This would have been disastrous as a single one was enough to wipe them out! They felt that adventuring in the beginner forest was even more intense than some raids!     

They kept going... all until they finally reached Jack.     

Whether it was dumb luck, divine providence, or even a miracle, they weren't sure. But they found him!     

Jack was still atop of his branch, but the wolves had stopped leaping at him. They were now on the ground, growling at him menacingly.     

— :wolf: ゴゴゴゴ!!—     

But all they got as a reaction was:     

"What? Do you only know how to growl? Are you trying to scare me? God, you're worse than a hyperactive chihuahua when the mailman arrives!" Jack scoffed.     

The wolves understood that the strange creature was insulting them, but they couldn't do anything about it. This thing had a really long and sharp feather! Every time they tried to climb or leap at him, he'd use it to hurt them.     

They hated being reduced to only growling, but what could they do?! Being a wolf didn't come with a manual on how to deal with such a pesky bully!     

That's when the wolves heard shouts coming from a distance. As they turned around, they saw plenty of similar creatures to the one on the tree.     

Their first instinct was that these were all food, all of them! They began salivating, opening their maw wide and licking their fangs in expectation. But suddenly, they heard that one nightmarish creature's voice.     

It was a voice they were becoming attuned to recently. It was one that drove rage and fear into their bones! It was a voice they couldn't drive out no matter what. It would invade their brains along with that damn high-pitched sound attack, something called whistling.     

"Oh? Why are they back? Ah, whatever. I somehow managed to lower their HP enough: might as well go for the kill! I need wolf pelt and meat anyway. Now come here, little ones!" Jack chuckled.     

The wolves felt the greed in his voice and saw his predatory gaze. They were mighty wolves, and they were at the top of the food chain... but what if the newcomers were as strong as this perverse bastard?!     

That's when Jack jumped to the ground, his Cluckinator ready to taste their blood. It was an incredibly risky move, considering the monsters' damage.     

— Thud—     

As the players came over, they couldn't help but gawk in astonishment. What the fuck was going on?! No, seriously, what the hell had happened?!     

Their eyes were glued to the bloodthirsty wolves who were fleeing for their lives. Behind, Jack was hacking their way with his trusty Cluckinator while shouting insults.     

They had come to save a life. But who were they supposed to help, the wolves?! So much for a rescue operation....     

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