Despite the fact that Randidly overwhelmed the strange plant goliath spell, the Obyrn Ironfist insisted in continually reiterating his own Level superiority at every chance he got. It made for tiresome negotiations. Often, the discussions about the treatment of ogres would stall out for several minutes after he blurted out extraordinarily unreasonable with his demands and refused to back down.
During those time, Randidly just stared at the larger ogre and focused on the image of Frigid Ash Extinguishing Storm. Despite the fact that the ogre was an impossible sculpted physical specimen, Obyrn seemed rather shy and embarrassed when he was exposed to the prolonged chill.
Not that Randidly blamed him. The cold was biting. There were patches of grass underneath the wooden table by Randidly’s bare feet that were visibly browning from overexposure. And once Obyrn was cold, he seemed lost and unsure how to proceed. The discomfort literally froze him. Honestly, the fellow seemed rather socially awkward for someone who claimed to lead a large area of land.
But Randidly wouldn’t waste such meaningful seconds. While he was staring blankly at Obyrn and waiting for him to break, Randidly was considering what to do about his arm.
There was an obvious choice: either use a Soulseed and grow a plant to replace his arm or design and build a mechanical arm. Of the two, Randidly was leaning more toward designing and building his own arm.
The real drawback of the Soulseed Skill was that he had very little direct control over what the final plant would look like. Well, perhaps that wasn’t the correct way of looking at it.
A better way to phrase it would be to say the plants he could grow were bound by his Skills. And although there were some Skills that were related to his arms via physical body enhancements, there was a chance that he would swing and miss several times with Soulseed. And based on how childlike his plants were, Randidly didn’t want to risk not giving them a use.
Besides, simply using engravings to interact directly with the Aether of his body for control the arm seemed possible. And it sure as hell beat trying to figure out how to connect the machinery to his senses. Plus, if he managed to figure out how to successfully complete his new Mana Engraving, Randidly could add a growing Skill to his mechanical arm.
Hopefully, it wouldn’t blow up. In the middle of a fight.
Like he always did, Obyrn eventually made a grudging admittance that the two parties at the table were equals and perhaps they both needed to reconsider their stances. Randidly eased up on the image. Some part of him felt bad at the subtle pressure, but he wanted this settled as soon as possible. There were more things he needed to address before he could hole up and train.
Without the image, the talks were able to continue as if the previous demands hadn’t occurred. Which, to Obyrn, was an admittance that he knew his requests were unreasonable.
Honestly, as long as the other wasn’t a fool, Randidly wouldn’t be too hard on him for his pride.
Randidly and Alana had only a few scant seconds before the meeting started to communicate, but they had plenty of time during Obyrn’s stall outs to discuss the situation on Earth, and what had changed while Randidly was gone.
As such, Randidly’s message to Obyrn was rather simple: his group of ogres could come through the portal and settle in some of the unexplored areas North of the Ogre Gorge. The different Zones had known about this area for some time and hadn’t expended much manpower to map out the area.
It was a mountainous area, but Alana informed Randidly that Mrs. Hamilton recommended gathering some sort of allies in the area because she suspected it to be extremely mineral rich. However, this was made difficult by both the long distance from Donnyton, the marauding Monsters that were over Level 65 in the area, and some of the other new arrivals to New Earth. Basically, no amount of minerals was worth the cost.
But Mrs. Hamilton’s economic decisions weren’t the news that held Randidly’s attention.
During the five and a half months that Randidly had been on Tellus, two more Zones had been able to complete their Raid Dungeon and connect: Zone Seven and Zone Eleven. Zone Seven was some populous prefecture of China’s that had been forewarned about the arrival of the System. They had currently allowed few people to enter into their lands and were rather firm about it.
But trade was beginning to flow freely outwards, which seemed to be met with muted optimism.
What the merchants allowed into the countryside had seen were strange mega-cities, constructed more like bug nests than human habitations. They were given sliding drawers to crawl into for sleeping. Rations were distributed as a jello-y, calorie dense superfood.
Alana assured Randidly that it seemed like everyone within was happy, but there was another problem; Zone Seven also considered itself as something of a production-centric Zone and was currently in very aggressive talks with both material manufacturers and production facilities on New Earth. They clearly wanted to dominate the new market and had prepared quite a bit to do just that.
Coming back to Earth, Randidly didn’t know much about the prices about commodities on the market. But some of the numbers Zone Seven was offering seemed ridiculous.
Mrs. Hamilton suspects that they deliberately delayed their entrance into New Earth in order to stockpile resources to flood the market. Alana informed Randidly. The only problem was that both Zone One and Donnyton are pretty firmly established as both producers and distributors of weapons. And the populations of the Zones were rather unimpressed by Zone Seven’s products. They give a lot of stats for cheap, but no warrior worth his salt is willing to skimp on what he spends on a sword.
So they are being blocked out of the market? Randidly had asked.
Alana responded in the negative. No. Sam said, and I quote, “If they want to inform the market that they use cheap materials, why stop ‘em?” East End was interested in higher-end versions of the swords and armor they offered, but it seems like the lack of response really threw the government of Zone Seven for a loop. They’ve been quiet for a week.
Zone Seven connected to the world directly North of Zone Thirty-Two, so this was another Zone that was a near neighbor. Meanwhile, Zone Eleven connected to the growing world at a spot to the Northwest of Zone One.
And Zone Eleven is fucking weird. Alana said, keeping her face passive during one of the sessions where Obyrn continued to sweat across the wooden table from them. The small drops slowly froze on his face. They speak in a weird faux-British accent and seem more like they are roleplayers than real people. Clarissa is ecstatic; apparently, all of their Classes and Skills are based upon Dungeons and Dragons. Not as much population as any of the other Zones seem to have, but almost all of them immediately joined an Order once they heard about them. They jump at quest opportunities.
It was hard to tell the depth of Zone Eleven’s commitment to roleplay from Alana; she was simply too no-nonsense to give them very much attention at all. But Randidly wanted to determine whether they were dangerously committed, or simply enthusiastically trying to make the best of a bad situation.
Randidly wasn’t sure what to think about Zone Seven. But he did know that assuming that Obyrn Ironfist managed to settle in those tumultuous mountains, it would place this capable enough force of ogres at the flank of these two unknown Zones. And it would also act as a stopper to prevent other ogres from slipping through.
Because that was the true danger of the Ogre world, Randidly knew. It wasn’t this first wave that lucked upon the portal. It was the old things that waited within, capable of giving him a run for his money when they moved. Likely, these foes would be near one hundred and have images a damn sight better than Obyrn.
“Well…” Obyrn finally grunted. He turned to exchange a meaningful glance with Duual, whose central and right head remained impassive. The left head was clearly gleeful, as though they had pulled a fast one on Randidly and his group. “In exchange for you cedeing these mountains to I, Obyrn Myyr Ironfist, for seven generations, we will consider ourselves an ally of the city-state Donnyton and allow their traders safe passage. In addition, we will maintain control over the portal to our world and control movement between the worlds.”
It showed some of Obyrn’s own worry about other forces from his world that it was he, not Randidly, that insisted he control and have responsibility for that duty. Perhaps he didn’t trust the humans enough to do the job, but Randidly didn’t mind. That was a rather large commitment of Donnyton’s forces that they would no longer need.
There was a small chance of Obyrn betraying this world for his own, but even if Donnyton had guarded the portal, that could have happened. It was a risk, but one Randidly was willing to take, considering Obyrn’s rather direct personality.
The two shook hands. Randidly was honestly somewhat amused by how small his own hand appeared in the ogres large and calloused paw. Afterward, Obyrn took a sharp step backward and looked down at Randidly. “It is clear you have fought in many battles. That woman Alana, too.”
When the ogre didn’t say any more, Randidly nodded sadly. “It is true. It seems like… no matter what I do I cannot find peace. Perhaps… the same is true for you?”
A dark look passed across Obyrn’s face. “I fear the trials that I face differ from yours. Well met, Ghosthound. I hope that this agreement means that we will share a long and beneficial friendship.”
Then he turned and left.
Helen, who had been rather silent for the whole of the meeting, finally spoke up. “When he says it like that… doesn’t it almost seem like the opposite is going to happen?”