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Glendel sat inside Regina’s RV, Regina’s brooding form and Alana’s pacing one making him extremely nervous.

The negotiations for food had gone relatively smoothly, but the classes didn’t come cheap. Everyone with a class was required to assist with the monster hordes for now. Once the Safe Zone for Newbies dropped in the area, they would likely have similar duties. But the lack of information made Donny unwilling to commit to anything specific in regards to what those might be, at least for now.

Taking a class was a path to power. One that progressed much more rapidly than the actual Paths. But it meant tying themselves to this place. And in a way, it meant that Regina would be subordinate to someone else, which didn’t sit well with Alana.

“We should try the other village again, before we commit,” Alana commented dryly, finally done pacing.

To Glendel’s surprise, Regina shook her head slowly.

“No, this is better than I had hoped for. I already planned on accepting their offer for now. Settling down will be good. The problem is the structure…”

Rubbing her head, Regina gestured at the notes she had Glendel take. “As far as we can tell, they don’t appear to really have any strict hierarchy. Warriors are rated on a 1 to 10 scale. Miranda Hamilton is in charge of the NCCs. Daniel is in charge of supplies and the village growth. They have their 3 leaders of the warriors, Donny, Dozer, and Decklan-”

“And why do they all have D names,” Alana muttered, but Regina ignored her and continued.

“And they have some mages, some healers, some archers… but right now, it’s all working. And the only reason is because of that man. The Ghosthound. The problem isn’t him, but...it also is.”

Glendel spoke up for the first time. “Do you think… he will abuse his power?”

Regina hesitated, but shook her head. “...I don’t think so. But like I said, it’s not him. The village is growing strong because he is the pillar that keeps them going. But that is also their weakness. If he weren’t there…”

Regina gestured. “It would all fall apart.”

Leaning back in her chair, Regina sighed. “In addition to that… the way they treat them...well, I suppose there was no other avenue. He is their savior.They revere him. Although he remains fine for now… attention like that can change a person.”

“You aren’t making me very excited to stay here,” Glendel said nervously. Alana continued to pace.

“It’s best to face the ugliest truths first,” Regina said grimly, her eyes narrowed. “That way, you aren’t surprised by what you wake up to find one morning. And you are ready for it when it happens.”

*****

After an extremely long day, Randidly finally had a moment alone to turn to his notifications. For now, he ignored the skill level notifications and focused on the unfamiliar ones.

Congratulations! Your Soul Seed has sprouted into a Soul Plant Lvl 1. Due to the circumstances, the Soul Plant grows by feasting on: Blood. The Soul Plant option has been added to your menu. The Soul Plant can only level when you choose it to. Based on the “blood” absorbed, the Soul Plant will have different options for growth.

Congratulations! Your Soul Plant Lvl 1 has absorbed enough blood to level.

Congratulations! Your Soul Plant Lvl 1 has absorbed enough blood to level.

You have slain the The Hungry Tribulation, Ep-Tal! Due to you not belonging to the Newbie Village that corresponds to the Tribulation, bonuses have been halved. All parties involved receive +5 to all stats. You have learned the skill Agony Lvl 1.

Agony: Spend health to inflict mental and physical damage on those around you. The ratio of health lost to damage dealt improves as skill level increases. Warning, you will experience the pain as well.

Randidly smiled bitterly. So that was the skill the sphinx had started using at the end, or at least a version of it. He was lucky that it hadn’t used it the entire time; it undoubtedly had more health than him. The sphinx could have simply ground him to nothing.

But Randidly set that train of thought to the side and considered the additional notifications.

Due to its Tribulation being defeated, all individuals within the Newbie Village receive +2 Levels. It’s pillar of light will now pulse blue, to warn of the impending collapse of the Newbie barrier, which will fall in exactly 24 hours.

Warning! A Newbie Barrier near you shall fall within 24 hours. This means several things. First, monsters over level 20 may periodically spawn. Specifically, Tier I Raid Bosses may now spawn in the area. These Raid Bosses are extremely powerful, and if not eliminated quickly, shall form a settlement and spawn additional high level monsters.

In addition, a wild dungeon will form near any Newbie Village that has survived its past the fall of its Newbie Barrier. The dungeon level with grow depending on time and the level density of monsters and individuals with classes in the nearby area.

Upon clearing a Wild Dungeon, a “time” will be recorded. The quickest time to clear the dungeon will receive SP for their village once a day, depending on the dungeon level. Wild Dungeons that have not been cleared in a week will periodically spawn monster hordes. As the time the dungeon hasn’t be cleared grows, so will the frequency of monster hordes.

In addition, new options for spending SP have appeared in the Newbie Village that has survived its Tribulation.

Congratulations! You are the first person to slay a Tribulation on your world. You have taken the first steps to joining the Nexus. More rewards to follow in 24 hours, when the Newbie Barrier falls.

Randidly frowned slightly. It wasn’t that the new changes were especially dangerous, especially if they kept up good scouting in the surrounding area. And what bothered him wasn’t that the rules were weirdly formulaic and gamelike.

Daniel would be excited about the new source of SP, by clearing the dungeons with the best “time”. The danger of monster hordes could also be controlled somewhat, due to frequent dungeon clears, and that would allow the village to relax.

Although that depended on what exactly a raid boss entailed, but Randidly felt that this change would shift the village. Mostly, he predicted that the non-combat classes, and the non Class Characters, now without the worry of a daily horde, would explode in number. Most of the growth would be in non-combat areas.

They still received a daily trickle of refugees from nearby areas. Those people would have the choice to either take a class, or take their time. It would be good for the town.

But the more Randidly thought about the changes coming for the town, the more he was bothered him was that none of the people of Donnyton seemed to be aware of these notifications. Shouldn’t they have gotten them, when he defeated the village’s tribulation…?

Brooding, Randidly looked up and towards the pillar of light.

Then the blood drained from his face.

Perhaps the villagers of Donnyton hadn’t gotten the notifications because they weren’t within an area where the Newbie Barrier would be falling ahead of schedule. But, admittedly, the barrier would fall in about 24 hours. It was now the 6th day, and a golden pillar of light stood tall over the village, luminous, even during the day.

Slowly turning, Randidly looked at the pillar over the neighboring village, where the “king” was likely sitting on his throne. The pillar pulsed blue.

It seems that their Newbie Barriers would drop at similar times. Randidly wondered if their neighbors would finally stop turtling and come out and help deal with the Raid bosses. He also wondered whether the buildings they received for defeating a tribulation were buildings that Donnyton would also receive when the Newbie Barrier fell.

The King hadn’t made a move since Randidly had went to his village, broken their gates, and had Pestilence eat through the king’s tongue and vocal cords. Non-interference policy, the police man had said. Hopefully that would continue.

Hopefully the new buildings wouldn’t give them any… ill advised ideas.

Although having more help for the hordes and raid bosses would be helpful… Especially since two dungeons would probably spawn, one for each village.

Then he shrugged. So what if they didn’t come help with the monsters. More experience for Donnyton.

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