As Randidly had expected, the police officer returned. What he hadn’t really anticipated was that the group of them would drive over in a police van, and hop out in full swat gear. They strutted forward, heading once more towards the main building, where Donny stood, his arms crossed and looking petulant.
Slipping closer, Randidly wondered idly how much health a bullet would deplete. Probably not a large amount, especially if you had some endurance to toughen you up. A human started with something like 20 health, and were pretty easily killed by bullets. But it wasn’t even the impact, it was the internal damage, the bleeding.
So maybe vitality would be more useful for surviving a bullet…?
Decklan lounged on one of the wooden chairs that Sam would trade for a certain number of wolverine or lizard carcasses, considering the approaching police force. Based on their stature and stance, the first 3 or so were well trained, but the rest…
Well, they were likely newly deputized. Their hands kept jumping to their guns, and their helmeted heads flicked back and forth, scanning the rather sizable crowd.
Decklan was extremely disappointed that he had missed the chance to be trained by Randidly like Donny had, but he had made himself useful in other ways. Him, Tera, and some of the other survivors from last night had made rounds through some of the nearby valleys, looking for small hamlets that used to be there. Some were there, some weren’t.
Sometimes the ones that were there were covered in gore, but others had survivors, either looking up at the pillar of light from the Newbie Village with suspicious eyes or cowering in their cellars. Either way, when Decklan arrived he gave them a greasy smile and gave them something they hadn’t had in a while; the chance for human interaction.
They managed to gather 20 odd people during the day, and about the same amount had drifted in, seeking the light.
What was most pleasing was that their group now numbered 8 women, not including Tera. More disappointing was the fact that none were as young and fresh as Tera looked, except for one, that was firmly under the arm of a rather special individual who called himself Dozer.
Dozer was built like a linebacker and had a forehead that could crack granite. What was more annoying was that he obtained the class “Brute”, which apparently gave +2 Str per level, +1 Stat, and +4 health/mana/stamina.
The flat strength bonus was a lot less useful than Donny’s split among three stats, but even if Dozer wouldn’t grow up to be tough, he could hit hard.
Right now Decklan, Dozer, and about a dozen other sat in chairs, watching the police approach, lounging lazily like the group that knew they were effectively the strongest of people who were here currently.
Decklan and the other survivors hadn’t joined in the sparring, but Dozer had. Decklan had no doubt that he had put everything he could into strength, with the way he had thrown another man like a rag doll, taking his chair as “spoils”, and joining Decklan’s circle, his raven haired female friend under his arm.
But that event did have a positive consequence; one of the newer individuals who wandered up, a thin man with glasses, revealed himself to have the class Disciple, and possess the skill healing palm, mending the wound, making a recovery that should take weeks only take hours.
That man, Ptolemy, also sat in the circle of chairs, albeit nervously.
One of the newcomers shifted uneasily as the police stopped in front of Donny, who stood alone by the Village Chieftain’s House.
“Think… uh, think we should… go help?” The man asked uncertainly.
“They have guns, just sit down, it will sort itself out.” Another hissed.
Decklan just chuckled. “It’s fine. Nothing will happen as long as the Ghosthound is watching.”
The four individuals who had taken classes to fight, and survived last night, nodded fervently, having witnessed his strength.
Dozer grunted and tilted his head.
“Who is The Ghosthound?” The girl under his arm asked, her voice slightly petulant.
Closing his eyes, Decklan ignored the question, and the talking ceased as the head police officer removed his helmet, revealing, his dark skin and serious face.
“Kid, I’m only going to ask you once-”
“And I’m going to say this once,” Donny interrupted, his voice nasally, but lower and more controlled than Decklan had been expecting. “If you refuse to come under my flag, why should I help you? The more people who take classes from here, the more monsters assault us every night.”
The group around Decklan started muttering, shocked at this news, but Decklan saw Dozer open his mouth in a tiny little tooth-smile. To Decklan’s surprise, Donny continued to speak, wiping away any positive goodwill he had built for his calm demeanor.
“We could barely make it through last night alive! It’s too much of a risk to allow more people to get classes.”
“The answer is simple,” The policeman responded. “Move into the city. We have set up a defensive perimeter. The monsters will be easily slaughtered.”
But Donny was shaking his head already. “The Village needs to be defended. If the monsters make it to the center and destroy it, it becomes-”
“Then we will give you that protection. Police Officers will be stationed out here. You might have classes, but we have guns. Why are you being so stubborn? We are trying to help.”
Donny just stared him down. “You might have guns, but you are not strong. If you were, you would just kill a blue monster yourself, and obtain a coin to found your own Newbie Village. Do you think you can hide and still benefit from those of us who risk our lives?”
“You fucking little-” The head policeman stepped forward, but his instincts stopped him dead.
“There is another option.” The voice was mild, but the fact that the 20-something man in front of him had appeared there without any warning cooled the police officer's temper.
‘...was this….?’ He wondered. ‘The power of a class?’
Decklan leaned forward and waved his hand lazily, his eyes glued onto the action. “...enters the Ghosthound.”
Dozer frowned and squinted at the figure. Decklan admitted he wasn’t anything much. Tall, but not too tall. Athletic looking, but in a wiry way, with the long arms of a swimmer. Short, dark hair. Cold eyes the color sunlight on grass, a vivid, warm green that strangely filled you with a deep fear.
His trademark spear was nowhere to be seen, but Decklan had seen it appear from thin air before. He was wearing tan shorts and a brown shirt, with a satchel over his shoulder. His feet were bare and dirty, and it looked like he had been bleeding, because his left shoulder was stained red.
“Another…. Way….?” The policeman repeated, eyeing the figure in front of him. His initial instincts, from 10 years on the force, told him that he wasn’t a threat, but something deeper, more primal, made him cautious. And the possibility of a class gave him pause.
But then the man did something the policeman hadn’t expected. He flourished his hand and produced a golden coin.
Most of the watcher’s eyes went wide as saucers.
“I was worried that you would press, so I had insurance. There should be 4 blue bosses in the area. I’ve taken the goblin and the wolverines. The imps possess magic, and you are too fearful of the lizards underground dens to challenge them right? You were at a loss, right?”
The police officer’s fist tightened. Randidly tilted his head to the side and looked at them. “You can have it. All I want in exchange is…. glassware.”
“Glassware?” The policeman repeated in a disbelieving tone. Randidly nodded.
“Beakers, vials, jars…. That sort of thing. Anything glass and sealable. Plastic will not work. Deal?”
The police officer stood still, towering a good 5 inches above Randidly. But Decklan had watched people all his life, and the police man was the one who stank of fear.
“...what is your name?” The policeman finally asked.
“...Ghosthound.” The word was soft, but Decklan felt himself and several others mimic the word, saying it silently, feeling it out with their mouth, echoing it so it hit the Police officer again, in a soundless wave.
“...Fine, Ghosthound, you have a deal.”
And with that, Randidly flipped the coin to the police officer and walked away, heading towards Donny. After an unwilling few seconds as the Police Officer struggled over the fact he had been clearly dismissed, he turned and walked away, the rest of his group following.
Decklan watched it all with sparkling eyes. Humans were complex and simple at the same time.
They had 1000 motivations, 1000 justifications, 1000 reasons. They struggled and fought for all of them or none of them.
But sometimes, it only took one powerful ideal, one object, one symbol, for all the complexity to fall into line. It didn’t seem likely that anyone in the village would act out too much, with this powerful figure lurking in the shadows.
Decklan found his lips moving again, almost against his will.