[You have applied to join [Peddling Quest I].]

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[Your request was approved.]

[Teleporting to the Party Leader's channel.]

My request was approved in a heartbeat, and I was whisked away to where the leader was located.
Everything spiraled around me until I saw I was back in the same place I'd been before.
RL had a colossal number of people playing.
You could bounce from channel to another as you pleased, but when you were requesting to join a quest, you would be forcibly transported to the channel of the person who petitioned for help.

It had been a while since I'd had to do this.
I'd always been shot down straight away just because I was a trader.

[You have teleported to Town of Beginnings.]

Once I got there, the first thing I saw was this girl running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Her avatar had long, beautiful silver hair and a nice, cute face.
She was a bit shorter and slimmer than I was, but her slenderness gave off a sickly kind of vibe.

Still, she seemed cute enough, and dare I say beautiful, and it seemed as if she was looking around for me.
The map showed where party members were located, but since she was probably a newbie, I doubted that she knew to look there.

“Ah!”

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The second she laid eyes on me, she let out a shout.
Her name was “Silver”, which I guess took after her hair color.

Even in the guild, there haven't been that many women out there who were actually good at the game.
Something about this girl made me feel like I could see right through her.
Hah, there weren't any people like that in the guild, that was for sure.
Give them an inch, and they'd snatch my money away at the first chance…

“Y-you're Nishiki, right?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, that's me.
Sorry about that.”

I had to restrain myself from saying anything at the thought of my previous guild members.
Keeping my cool was my first priority here.
That, and the ever-important trader in front of me and the quest that I was currently on.

“Oh, thank god.
This is actually my first quest, and well, actually, this is the first time I've ever played a game in my life.”

She blurted out a string of words, almost like she hadn't been able to say anything up until this point, and let it out all in a huge whoosh.
It was hardly surprising, considering how much of outcasts traders were.
It wasn't like anyone would accept them into their parties.
I hadn't had to worry about back then during the golden days though, when we hadn't quite yet been considered a problem.
Hell, the fact that she's got an avatar like this and was a trader was unlucky enough as it was.
We lived in a difficult world.

“It probably won't be a big deal.”

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That…was a complete and utter lie, obviously.
It was a peddler's quest, and not just that, but a quest tailored for traders.
It typically consisted of a trader pairing together with an escort and taking a loaded cart from an NPC to whatever its destination to clear the quest, otherwise known as a delivery quest.

It sounded simple enough on paper, but in all reality, was an absolute pain in the ass.
Why, you ask? Because there were assholes out there called PKers.

“PK” referred to Player Killers.
Their whole goal was to kill normal players like us.
Those who killed people like that had the exclusive class of “PKer”, a hidden class that extensively specialized in combat against other people.
They gained experience through killing other players and taking everything from others by force.
You could almost say PKers and traders were natural enemies to one another.
They were an existence that would steal a trader's gold with any mercy whatsoever.

So, you could bet that any quest a trader had to take on would have a ton of those fuckers lying in wait.
And, if there were a party with the trader, the PKers would match their numbers and show up to strike.

Obviously, a trader that had limited to zero combat ability had no chance at all of winning against a PKer that specializes in combat against other people.
The traders could always employ people in different classes, but then those other people would have to take on the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the traders and their objects, and the outcome of that was just as obvious.

The quest had an amazing reward, and gave plenty of time to fulfill the requirements, but the probability of failure was far too high.
As a result, that quest lost popularity really quickly, leaving traders forever looking for bodyguards to help assist them.
It was a sad situation overall.

This girl was going through the same problem…
It's just that I was the one lending a hand as a bodyguard this time around.

“Thank you so much!”

She sounded so respectful to me that it hurt.

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I knew I should've just been honest with her, but I had to say that just for the sake of appearances, at least.

“Let's get going then!”

“W-wait for me!” I shouted at her, stopping her in her tracks as she was about to start the quest straight away.
“I've still got some things I've got to get ready.”

“Oh, okay! I'll be here until you're ready!” she said, bowing.

She sure had some energy to her.

What a waste for her to be a trader of all things.

Okay, now it was time to do all I could to ready myself for a fight against those pricks.

This was the last time I'd be playing RL, after all.
It was a miracle that I'd met another trader at the very end of it all.
I had to go all out for this.
I had practically no chance of winning, but if I could do something that might raise those odds just the slightest…

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“Sorry about that.
I'm good now,” I said when I got back.

“No problem at all! I'll start the quest for us.”

“Sounds good.”

She and I started walking towards the quest's NPC.

…This was it.

For her, it was the very first trader quest of her life.

For me, it was my very last.

 

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