Ultimately, Randidly decided to skirt the edges of the boundary, and head towards the area he knew was controlled by the lizardmen. Although they were strong and resilient, they didn’t possess the oppressive speed of the cats.
Randidly spared his followers a glance. Hopefully that would keep the mortality rate to under 33%. He gave them both a max strength antidote too, in case they encountered one of the scorpions. But Randidly wondered if either of them would have time to drink it, if it was a strong enough poison to paralyze him for several minutes.
But then some of Shal’s callous acceptance settled over him, and he stopped fussing; they would either grow stronger or die. He wasn’t so capable that he could afford to worry overmuch about anyone other than himself.
“We are out here looking for lizardmen. The couple I encountered used scimitars, which we should gather and carry back. Mostly, we want their scales. Incredibly hard to penetrate, great for cushioning blows too. Other than that, we might see scorpions, which we should avoid. I was stung once, and it isn’t fun. The other monster I’ve encountered here are hyper quick cats. They are fast. Way too fast. Honestly…”
Randidly hesitated, then said. “If we encounter them, just run.”
Then he narrowed his eyes, activating Eyes of the Spear Phantom, and began to search.
They found a pair of lizardmen rather quickly. Randidly rushed forward and distracted them while Decklan danced around and slashed at them with two small knives made from the claws of cats Randidly had killed. Even with Decklan’s low strength, they were enough to leave shallow cuts, which was a testament to the sharpness of the claws.
Perhaps he would have to come back later and harvest more cats for that reason.
Lyra was also surprising in her usefulness. She created realistic bird of mana that flitted around the heads of the lizardmen, distracting them.
Randidly kept them mostly at bay with spear movements, but when the would lapse there guard, he would blast them in the face with a fireball, leaving them snarling.
After 5 minutes of tussle, they had managed to kill them both. Randidly had even let Decklan finish one off, which let him gain stats from killing the stronger enemy. The growth rates weren’t that much higher than the lowered leveled enemies, but they were still something.
“So now what? Head back with the bodies?” Decklan asked, panting.
Randidly snorted and gathered the bodies into his satchel. Then he began walking.
“Mana potion~” Lyra said, holding out her hand. Randidly gave her an annoyed look but handed several over.
Decklan gritted his teeth, wiped the sweat from his brow, and followed.
“Such a well mannered delivery service,” Lyra said, wiping her mouth and returning the empty vial with a smile.
Randidly sighed. He could already tell that it was going to be a very long day.
Daniel considered his options. Donny spent most of his time training with the recruits, and left all of the decisions up to him. Nul somehow sensed this, and let Daniel have access to all of the Village Chieftain functions without having to receive constant permission.
They currently were at a staggering 2400 Spirit Points, which were gained whenever a person who had received a class leveled, whenever they killed a monster, or when they brought back certain items to trade.
It didn’t really seem like items were dropping that they could trade in, but Nul assured Daniel they existed. He also informed him that stronger enemies gave more points, but your average enemy at this level was only 1.
The problem was how to spend the Spirit Points. 10,000 would upgrade them to a Trainee Village, but Daniel was the type to build a solid foundation, rather than rushing up towards the upgrade.
The most attractive choice were the Mentor Stones, which would cost 100 SP a pop, but they would allow more people to inherit Donny’s class of Knight. There were other valuable options, like Ptolemy’s Disciple or Clarissa’s Weather Witch, but most of the men clamoring for classes wanted to take a more physical role.
Nodding to himself, he walked over to the Shop and purchased 4 before he could second guess himself, they needed the bulk at the front lines. He had already talked to Donny about it, and he had identified likely candidates, 3 men and 1 woman, tall and grim, steadfast even in the face of danger. They had been some of the first to move their families up from Franksburg, to the South.
Which left 2000. Sam had spoken with Daniel earlier, recommending they finally purchase the weapon shop. Although he was getting pretty confident shaping armor, making weapons required a forge, which they weren’t currently equipped for. The Basic Weapon Shop would cost 500 SP.
Sighing, Daniel wandered around, looking at their bustling village. The Outer wall had been raised to 2 meters, giving additional protection to those within the village. They even had several places where there was a mini rampart, that defenders could stand on to attack invaders.
An archery range had been set up in the far side, at the urging of Sam, and those who were willing to wait a bit and level skill before getting a class attempted to gain archery skills. Even if they didn’t end up having a class related to archery, having the skill would still mean they would keep that and continue growing.
Daniel really wanted someone to unlock and finish the Archery I path, based on his talks with Randidly about what paths did, but it was a little much to ask for absolute beginners. It would be much easier if someone with experience arrived.
Most of the NCCs had moved down to the farming area, lower in the valley, but groups of them were walking around with One Shoulder Pad Warriors, as work groups. It was how the NCCs could earn themselves food while staying here.
Daniel made a mental note to talk with the man they put in charge of farming, to see their yields. Sure, the crops grew fast, but Daniel wanted to save up some food for when the Newbie Zone dropped around them, in case monsters wouldn’t just attack the village. He already had consulted a few people about where to set up a defensible perimeter around the NCC area.
A group of Two Shoulder Pad warriors walked past, heaving huge logs like it was nothing, laughing all the while. The current class system in the village was simple, but he already spoke with Dozer and Donny about raising the criteria, now that there were so many people showing up. There was effectively a two day waiting period, provided you were seen participating in the nightly defense.
If you lived through your first night, you got the first shoulder pad. You lived through the second, and either Dozer, Decklan, Donny, or Daniel himself noticed you, you received a 2nd shoulder pad. Above that there was the tooth necklace level group, that was currently only Decklan, Donny, Dozer, and Sam. But there were plans in the works to make that the level of the squad leaders.
So one shoulder pads could be trusted, two shoulder pads were as close as they had to veterans, Necklace wearers had some authority and…. Daniel sighed.
Randidly didn’t really fit into any of the typical classification systems.
It was a rather loose hierarchy, but it worked. Daniel couldn’t help but wonder how long that would last. He already voiced his worries to Sam that someone would start stealing the items to signify higher status, but Sam just snorted.
“Maybe that would have worked a week ago, but now… without the strength to back it up, they would get seen through instantly. And it’s a mark of pride, earning it. Don’t treat it like just an item.”
There had been a growing number of thefts, but the community reacted strangely to it; rather than getting angry, they just shrugged and stole whatever else they found unattended. It was an open secret that basically everyone would take something of yours if you left it alone. And it worked currently because no one really had anything worth getting upset over.
But that would change. Daniel rubbed his eyes. They currently just exchanged things by bartering, which was another vote for getting the Basic Weapon Shop; most people had traded excess bodies into the Accessory shop, earning small amounts of bronze and silver coins that they were currently casual about. But once they could be used to purchase weapons…
The economy would come alive. Which would drive up crime, which is why they should really create a firmer hierarchy…
Looking up at the glowing pillar of light that broadcast their position to the world, Daniel sighed again.
Daniel went over to Nul and bought the Basic Weapon Shop, and then wandered past the group training area to a jutting pillar of stone that had sprung up next to the statue of Donny. In it was a large wooden door, covered in runes.
Their ‘kept’ dungeon.
Time was so accelerated for the people within that it basically didn’t pass. 10 people could go in at a time, however they would get kicked out after 24 hours if they didn’t complete the dungeon before that time. Completing the dungeon would earn a number of points equal to the level of the dungeon for the town. It was currently level 1, and Randidly had recommended raising it to 12 before leaving.
Daniel grimaced. Raising it to Lvl 2 cost 200 Sp, then Lvl 3 would be 300 Sp…
But Daniel supposed he wasn’t doing anything else with the SP. He directly raised the dungeon Lvl to 5, spending 1400 SP. Then Daniel went over to Dozer, who was throwing large boulders gathered by his crew, to raise the skill Herculean Strength.
“The Dungeon is up. Level 5. Don’t take anyone near that level in with you, alright? No casualties. If there is danger, just wait out the 24 hours.”
Dozer snorted and gestured, and 8 of his subordinates swaggered forward, heading towards the dungeon. Surprisingly, the 10th was Clarissa, the Weather Witch. Daniel supposed that Dozer wasn’t as dumb as he looked.
The whole party disappeared, walking through the door into a glowing portal of light.
But as soon as the door closed, it opened back up, the group trotting smartly out. They were all there, the only difference that Daniel could see was that Dozer was holding a large wooden club. Caressing it even.
“Loot?” Daniel asked excitedly, and Dozer nodded.
“Pah,” Clarissa spat. “God it smelled in there. Got some silver coins too. No wands though. Or Staffs. Or crystal balls…”
“I’ve got a pair of meaty balls right here, if you need them,” A man muttered, and the rest guffawed. Clarissa pointed at the speaker’s feet, freezing them to the ground, then walked coolly away. The men around the guy laughed even louder as he struggled to break the ice.
“We have the weapon shop now, so the money has its uses. Although the cheapest weapons looked to be 30 silver…” Daniel said, but Dozer just grunted and went back to the dungeon pillar, touching the door.
“Bah. 24 hour cooldown. Alright, rest up you lot. Next big thing is the horde.” Dozer said, wandering away. His men dispersed, a few wandering towards the weapon shop, but most heading out to gather wood and build themselves some sort of houses. Sam had a few assistants with Architecture and construction background, and they were getting pretty effective at throwing shacks up.
But it would cost you something, whether it was labor, or money, or monsters.
Daniel looked down at the NCC village, which was mostly tents, and looked like it could blow over any moment. He wondered whether in a month, there would be something like an aristocracy here. Technically based on merit, Daniel supposed, but still. The world was changing.
But that didn’t mean there wasn’t work to do. Donny had informed him earlier that they had two interesting classes come up earlier, Brawler and Ranger, and Daniel wanted to ask them about their stat gains and skills.