After that terribly inadequate explanation the man had begun to walk away, giving Seth no choice but to follow after him.
"Then how do I bring it back?" Seth demanded.
"If I were you, I'd keep my voice down," the man said as he kept throwing glances at the people around them. Then, in nearly a whisper,"To think that a total novice would end up with something like that."
"How do I bring it back?" Seth insisted. Near impossible scenarios flooded Seth's thoughts, and while the sensible part of his brain could deny the accusations easily, some other part was arguing that tiny margin of possibility. Maybe the guy was some kind of pickpocket magician mix, trying to pull the wool over his eyes, ready to run off at a moments notice with Seth's prize. Which was, apparently, worth more than he'd first taken it for.
The guy made a sudden stop in front of a shop, giving the door a tug and holding it open. Reading the sign, Seth found it to be a the bakery that'd been leaking the sweet scent of baking bread into the air all morning. "We can speak privately in here," he said, motioning for Seth to enter.
Inside was a warm, cozy place, a few tables scattered around. It was deserted, save for the old man leisurely icing a cake behind the counter and a group of two guys talking about something on the other side of the bakery. The two didn't pay Seth any attention when he stepped in, but the conversation stopped abruptly when they noticed the guy behind him. "Eh, Allen," the shorter of the two called, a dark curly haired guy Seth guessed to be a year or two younger than himself.
"Took you long enough," the other complained behind a pair of thin framed glasses, his hair cropped so short Seth wondered why he didn't just get it shaved bald.
"I picked someone up along the way," the guy, apparently named Allen, explained.
Both of them turned their attention to Seth, scrutinizing him from head to toe.
"He's still in his starter set!" the taller argued.
"Does he even know how to fight?" the shorter asked.
"Doubt it," Allen answered nonchalant. "But you'll never guess what he does have."
The spotlight was once again thrust upon him, and it took Seth a moment to figure out what Allen could've been talking about.
"Why don't you show them?" Allen encouraged him. However, as soon as the words had left his lips, he seemed to understand the issue. "For now, just imagine it in your hand, and say it's name."
"This is stupid," Seth muttered under his breath. He felt like he was just moments away from being made a fool of, but if it meant having his reward back in his own hands again, he was willing to put up with it. "Red Rock," he spoke quietly. Nothing happened. "Red Rock!" he tried a little louder, but the only thing this got him was raised eyebrows.
"It's actual name," Allen spoke, pinching the bridge of his nose.
Seth had to think for a moment before the name came back to him. "Ruby... Teardrop!" In an instant, the weight of the rock had appeared in his palm.
Whether from surprise or shock the other two fell silent, simply staring at the stone in his hand.
"Somehow he managed to pull it out of a random event in town earlier today," Allen explained when the silence had stretched on for a few seconds too long. "The guy doesn't even know how to use his inventory system and pulls off something like that."
The taller of the two sighed, seeming none too pleased with this tidbit of information. "Beginners luck, huh?"
The shorter was more animated in his response. "Ahh! Why does this kind of stuff never happen to me? I mean come on! How is that-"
Allen and the taller of the two seemed to completely block the shorter's ranting out, so Seth tried to do the same.
"Is he coming with us?" the taller asked, having to raise his voice to be heard over his companion.
"That would be his choice," Allen said, though apparently not quite loud enough.
"That would be his choice!" Allen shouted.
That seemed to have snapped the shorter one out of his tirade, as he turned his attention back to present events.
"Well then, uh..." the taller seemed stuck on something.
He stumbled over his words for a few seconds, Allen smirking at his distress, before finally offering a little help. "Seth."
"Seth!" the taller called out as if he'd known it all along. "Where are you headed?"
Thinking for a moment, he shook his head. "I was just kind of wandering around. I wasn't really headed anywhere."
This seems to confuse all three of them, Allen asking "You must have somewhere you need to go. Didn't you get a starter quest?"
"A quest?" Seth muttered to himself. That was a strange way of putting it, but it did spark a memory. "Ah! I do have this letter to deliver, but I'd have to walk to another town through the woods. Besides, I never really agreed to the job in the first place, so I don't feel bad about blowing it off."
"Through the woods," Allen muttered. "Hethersbrooke?"
"I think that was it," Seth said, though uncertain enough to warrant digging the envelope out of his pocket for a second look. "Yeah, that's the place."
"I guess if we're already headed that way it wouldn't be any trouble," the taller of the two said in resignation, scratching the back of his head."But he's buying his own food."
"Hey, hey, hey!" Seth was quick to interject. "I said I wasn't going because I wasn't going. I can't ride a horse, and I'm not walking all the way there. Unless you guys have something with 4-wheel drive sitting around, I'm not going."
The shorter one simply stared at him for a moment. "You never even tried to ride a horse here, did you?"
The taller one sighed. "Apparently not."
"He wouldn't have been able to figure out the mounting system anyway," Allen joked, and while it left Seth feeling only perplexed, the other two found it funny enough.
"All right," Allen finally returned to a more series tone, and the others followed suit. "We'll buy enough food to last the four of us three days, get the noobie here some clothes that don't stand out like a bullsey for PKers, and rent out an extra horse for him. Everyone understand?"
"I'll take food duty," the shorter of the two volunteered.
"I guess I'll get the horses read," the taller said.
"All right, then me and Seth are going to go buy him something to wear. Meet at the sign outside of town in half an hour, I want to leave before dark."
The taller departed as the shorter went over to speak with the baker, then Seth and Allen were on their way quickly enough.
Seth kept sending glances at the side of Allen's head, something bothering him that he couldn't quite figure out how to bring up. Finally Allen seemed to get tired of it, giving him a gruff "What?"
"What did you mean back there about 'sticking out'?"
Allen didn't answer for a while, and Seth had nearly convinced himself that he was being ignored, when finally Allen gave the briefest, most to the point answer he could come up with.
"Everyone starts out in that starter set you're wearing. If a bandit or outlaw was looking for easy prey, anyone still in their starter set would be at the top of the list."
That day, Seth showed a little more enthusiasm in clothes shopping than usual.