The people at the gate were shocked when they saw the backstage passes, and directed them around the side of the stadium to another, quieter entrance. A man with a clipboard took their passes and checked them off.
“Oh, so you are Cassie’s guests,” The man said, his face warming immediately, looking them up and down. After a few seconds of scrutiny, he extended his hand to Tessa. “And you must be the gifted seamstress that sewed the costumes. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. If you ever have some spare time, please consider making a gown for my daughter. I’ll pay very handsomely.”
Tessa just gave the man a blank stare. Randidly politely disengaged the conversation and walked into the stadium, dragging a dazed Tessa.
“How…. how did you say you got these?”
Randidly frowned. “Sewing, I told you.”
“Sewing gowns?” Tessa asked, incredulously.
Randidly’s frown deepened, but he did not reply. He couldn’t decide whether it was more embarrassing to acknowledge it, or to simply stay silent..
Daniel peered through the newly available options for the village, excited even after the exacting interview he just sat through with Regina.
Most of the new items available for purchase with SP were simply higher tiered versions of the shops they already owned. Weapons, Armor, Miscellaneous, Accessories, etc.
There were however, some notable, and expensive, exceptions.
One was the purchase of Gold Nexus coins, which could be used to found another Newbie Village. Although this didn’t seem a very practical way to handle things, it would allow them some way of making outposts, should the need arise.
In addition, Nul informed Daniel that the golden Nexus coins had two other uses. The first was they could be consumed by individuals with Classes to allow them to have another, extra skill, above the normal skill cap. This could be used as many times as they wanted, but at 5k SP, it was too expensive to be feasible for general use. And even concentrating a few on one person was bound to have a low level of return…
After all, they would need to first position themselves to learn a useful skill, and then take several weeks to level it up to a level where it could impact battle.
The second use was to bribe a random monster to act as your companion. In the case of rare monsters, you needed to be a higher level and have beaten it until it is near death, but then it would serve the user for the rest of its life. It would continue to level.
This option was mostly attractive due to the currently unused Ride skill that Donny and his knight mentees had. If they could gather a cavalry squad…
Aside from the coins, Daniel now had the option to purchase what he could only guess were higher leveled buildings. Production focused buildings, which Sam was already very interested in: pre-made smithies and workshops. Watchtowers. A shop for rare crafting materials. A very expensive cathedral. Something referred to as a Nexus Array
And also, most intriguingly to Daniel, was the Adventurer’s Guild building. The rest of the counsel were less impressed, and insisted on first purchasing several Watchtowers to help with the immediate threat of monsters, and a Smithy in order to advance the weapon and armor crafting past the basic stages.
But, almost unwillingly, they agreed that the Adventurer’s Guild could be the next building. Eyes sparkling, Daniel looked at the 8k SP option, and to him, it only meant one thing.
After thinking about it for a long time he was sure that it could only be for acquiring quests. Or bounties. Or…. something else game related.
Always the downer, Mrs. Hamilton had suggested that it might be possible that it allowed more individuals into their world, like the strange portal that had sprung up, and would open in several days. But Daniel didn’t think it was that likely. At this tier, their strange, and confusing bond with another Trainee Village would probably be their only contact with other forces in the Nexus.
Still, even that contact posed interesting questions…
Daniel was very much looking forward to that portal opening.
After a long walk down a deserted hallway, Randidly and Tessa emerged into a large, cluttered space, full of people with glassy eyes drinking straight from liquor bottles. At the far side of the space was a small opening in the curtains, from which flashing lights and noises echoed.
“Oh my god! Raina is on already!” Tessa hurried forward, barely seeing the bodies sprawled around, grasping and laughing drunkenly in the dimly lit room.
A bouncer blocked her before she could rush out onto the stage, and pointed her to a side door, which would lead her to the general admission area. Heedless of Randidly, she rushed out, leaving him frowning.
There was something strange-
Then his eyes narrowed as he realized what it was. It was the same, albeit more subtle and slight, feeling that he had gotten around the village chieftain of Turtletown, as the people of Donnyton had taken to calling it. An insidious influence. But while the other had been a harsh order, this was a gentle cajoling.
Have fun, be happy. Be free, live, enjoy yourself, everything is fine….
So this was why such a large town could continue on simply based upon inertia. This voice could periodically wipe away their concerns. Luring them towards staying.
This town was home to a siren.
Randidly gave the bouncer a short glance. Although he seemed to be maintaining his cool much better than Tessa had, he too was grinning stupidly and bobbing his head to the music. Sighing, Randidly sat down to meditate. Once he identified the influence, it was rather easy to resist. But it took a lot of the enjoyment out of the concert. Instead, he focused on understanding the way it affected him, and the other people backstage.
An hour and a half later, when the concert came to what sounded like a stunning conclusion, Randidly opened his eyes, inwardly torn.
This singer, Raina, possessed a dangerous power. Even though he knew what it was, and his Willpower was undoubtedly significantly higher than hers, he felt a slight, unnatural lift in his mood after prolonged exposure. Randidly wondered how specific the messages she sent with her songs could be.
But at the same time…
The positive, uplifting portion of the song had side effects; Randidly had gained 3 Lvls in meditation while he sat through the concert. It was quite similar to that strange golden potion that came from the origin banana in that way. It was an effect that, if harvested-
Randidly blinked. He had been so focused on trying to learn mana manipulation recently that he had completely neglected to improve his potion making skills. Finding the uses beyond a short term boost for that serum would be excellent.
Now was obviously a poor time to realize that, but…later, if he could find the right equipment here...
The people around Randidly were still slightly dozing and sophomoric. Even the bouncer was slumped in his seat by the stage. Only the tech people remained lucid, hurrying around with noise canceling headphones over their ears. But as Randidly watched, several sweat soaked people, removing their ear pieces, walked off the stage while talking excitedly.
Last of the people to leave the stage was a slim, buxom figure. Her body curved gracefully, almost impossibly proportioned. But what drew Randidly’s eye was her face; although she would never be called unattractive, she would also never be called beautiful. Her face, currently set into a tired expression, was perhaps only pretty. But it was a striking face, with large eyes and a mouth that seemed in constant motion.
Then, across the dark room, they made eye contact, and she smiled reflexively, a tired smile of victory, of a job well done. Randidly had to resist the urge to smile back, looking at her contemplatively.
He immediately received a level in Mental Strength, which made him chuckle, and he stepped backwards, deeper into the shadows of the musical equipment boxes. So even her smile contained a skill. Although she would likely be an asset to Donnyton, it would be better not to interact overmuch with her.
Then their gaze parted, and Randidly felt the direct beam of positivity she shot towards him fade, along with her smile.
A second later, a cloud of confusion seemed to come over her face, and she turned back, her gaze searching, scanning across the position that Randidly had just vacated. Almost unwillingly, after several long seconds, she turned to face a man who emerged from another back room, wearing a suit.
The man brought along a gaggle of other people, who Randidly recognized; it was the “Freedom Fighters”. Most of them had dumb, glazed expressions, especially Alex, who seemed to be drooling that he was so close Raina, but the extremely tall man with orange hair still had a serious expression.
If he was simply wearing headphones to block the noise, that was one thing. But if he wasn’t…
Then apparently there was some strength in this town after all.
Raina and the orange haired man walked up onto the stage, and Randidly slipped away, heading out through the passage to the area Tessa had gone.
He found her almost immediately, smiling and leaning against the side of the arena, seemingly at peace with the world. She didn’t even notice his arrival, lost as she was in the after effects of the euphoria Raina provided.
“One more thing! One last surprise for my fans tonight!” Raina said, strutting back out onto the stage, arms held high. It was strange. That smile of hers… her entire face changed, shifted. Suddenly it was the only thing you wanted to look at.
Randidly’s frown deepened. This woman… was incredibly dangerous. Every day, he thought deeply about his decision to forgo killing that man with a similar ability. At the time, the temptation of the Black Nexus Coin had been too much. But now…
Sure, the kept dungeon had been invaluable for quickly exposing the freshly raised classers to danger. But still….
“Tomorrow is finally the day we have been dreaming of!” Raina announced. “Tomorrow… the Freedom Fighters will finally be wiping out the ant colony. And afterwards.... With your help, the Freedom Fighters will found a newbie village and vanquish the monsters!”
The crowd was practically frothing at the mouth, screaming. Even Tessa looked up with fanatical eyes. Randidly supposed there would no longer be a shortage of volunteers for the mission.