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89 Jom and Terry

 Jom and Terry were walking in a snow-covered forest.

They were friends formed during difficult times. Later in the refugee camp on the outskirts of Wickidor, the two were chosen by Marni to become believers of the God of Games in the Unnamed Town.

"Jom, why are we going this far away..."

The warrior-dressed Terry looked about twelve or thirteen years of age, due to previous malnourishment he hadn't gotten to hit puberty yet, his thin body looked like a clumsy little kitten.

He waddled uncomfortably through the ankle-high snow and couldn't help but complain, "Couldn't we just stay in the town?"

"Of course not!" Wearing a white robe with a crossbow strapped to his back, Jom looked even smaller than Terry, but his eyes gleamed brightly, he reminded people of a mischievous mouse. He said his words boldly and without hesitation, "Right now, the first half of the Valley of the Tragic Dead is always filled with people, it's a complete mess, we can't get any exploring done! And we can't beat the Living Dead Cellar yet, if we keep going on like this, we're never gonna get to re-class!"

"We could go to the Grey Fjord Point, the Frogmen there make amazing fish soup." Terry thought back to the taste of the warm fish soup, drooling at the memory.

"Even though the Grey Fjord Point is big and full of fish, the problem is we couldn't catch any!" Jom let out a sigh. "We might as well go join the crowd at the Valley of the Tragic Dead."

"I'm seeing a lot of players going to the Underground Hideout of Lancaster, there might be something good there!"

Terry tightened his leather vest around his small torso, but his metal armor was still leeching away his body heat. If not for the couple of warm beverages he packed in his backpack, he would rather die than go out in this sort of weather.

"Those people are going there to complete the 'The Lord's Light Illuminates the Land' quest, it's that weekly quest to help recruit new followers, people who have completed it say the quest rewards are pretty good," Jom answered simply, more focused on his surroundings than on the conversation.

Terry's eyes lit up. "Then how about we..."

"Apparently a lot of players have been reported as cultists by their new recruits, some seven or eight players are already hung outside of Lancaster's city walls. If you'd like to become a wall decoration too, be my guest," Jom said with a blank expression.

"I was just joking." Terry gave a small laugh hoping to gloss over the topic. "But you haven't told me yet why we're coming all this way."

"Previously when I went to get a daily quest from the temporary Overlord Hall, I snuck a look at a map of somewhere near here on the overlord's desk. If I'm right, straight ahead is the Trinia Forest, also known as the 'Forest of Monsters'." This was when Jom finally explained his motives for their trek. "There's definitely going to be monsters for us to hunt there, we won't have to worry about promoting anymore!"

"Ohh, nice going!" Terry gave a weak applause.

Suddenly, the two of them felt a chill run down their spines.

The scent of wild beasts permeated through the air, a split second later, a giant beast emerged from among the snowy woods, leaping towards Terry!

The daze had long left Terry's eyes, rolling away from the beast's attack with lightning-fast reactions!

If Edward or Eleena were there, they would know that the beast that suddenly appeared before them was the same species as the Dragonfang that attacked their village!

The food shortage of winter had an obvious effect on the apex predator among non-monster creatures like the Dragonfang. Its movements and attacks were noticeably more sporadic than the Dragonfang that attacked their village.

The two young players looked at the Level 10 hovering above their enemies head, as well as its half-emptied health bar. After confirming that the Dragonfang wasn't a boss or elite enemy, they dropped all worries and decided to get rid of it on the spot.

The moment the Dragonfang went for its second tackle and Jom and Terry unsheathed their weapons, a feathered arrow lodged itself in the Dragonfang's left eye, affecting its path of attack. A man wearing a thick fur coat leapt out from behind the two boys, knocking them both to the ground as they were channeling their abilities. He canceled their abilities, but also helped them avoid the Dragonfang's attack.

Following the man were many more people dressed warmly for the cold winter, all using simple weapons like bows and pitchforks to overpower the already half-blind Dragonfang. The Dragonfang looked like a pin cushion with how many arrows were sticking out of its body, and its rage knocked down two trees before breathing its last breath, fighting and struggling all the way.

The men in fur coats cheered in joy and the sight.

Until now did Jom and Terry only regain their bearings, they didn't know whether to celebrate or to cry... Were they raided by a group of regular hunters? No, looking at their weapons, these men might not even be hunters.

The men seemed like they had been staking out the sight for quite some time, their exposed eyes and faces were already a frostbitten shade of purple, Jom didn't have the heart to voice his frustration.

"Which village are you from, children?" The middle-aged man who tackled them pulled them up from the snowy ground.

"We're from near the Valley of the Tragic Dead..." Jom signaled to Terry to stay quiet, giving the man a vague answer.

The man wasn't suspicious of them, but he made his thoughts on the matter quite apparent, "Do your grown-ups not care for you? Running all the way here, don't you know how dangerous the forest is during winter?!"

'I wouldn't have come here if it wasn't,' Jom thought to himself.

If the man had continued to lecture them Jom might have fought back. Luckily the man let the topic go, going back to his gentle self.

"Whatever, after all we've finally hunted down a beast, you two should come to our village from some stew. After you've warmed up a bit I'll send you back home," the middle-aged man asked for their opinion.

Terry looked at Jom, the latter nodded their head.

The men seemed to be doing this out of kindness, they didn't need to decline.

To be completely honest, it didn't matter even if the men had some nefarious plan, Jom was confident that a player of his level had nothing to fear! They had trekked for a whole day and had their only kill stolen from them, if the men betrayed them later, he would let them know what was a true gamer's rage!

The other villagers had tied up the Dragonfang on a wooden frame from god knows where, some ten to twenty people working together to lift the beast back home.

Jom couldn't help but question their intelligence slightly, couldn't they use that frame as a makeshift sleigh and save their energy...?

But the villagers all seemed to be in high spirits, they must have been proud of their successful hunt, so Jom didn't dampen their mood.

Not long later, the group reached a nearby settlement. The village was hidden in a cave and had thirty to forty houses and families, their headcount might have even exceeded the Unnamed Town.