Donny swirled the wine in his cup, staring out the window into the darkness, looking extremely thoughtful. He was in his full armor, a carefully shaped bone creation, with golden accents, giving him the look of a powerful and honorable knight. His helmet and shield were on the table, but still, with the armor, he felt that he looked profoundly capable.
Daniel snorted, slamming his papers down on the desk in front of him. “You look like a constipated idiot, you know that right?”
“I look refined and thoughtful, like the leader of the free world.” Donny said, never even flinching at Daniel’s tirade or the noise. Instead, his gaze focused studiously on the darkness outside of his window. His Stats were just high enough to pierce the veil of darkness that would have prevented most people from seeing, and he could watch the small movements of people who worked through the night.
One big plus of the System was the increased productivity. This varied, based upon Endurance and Vitality, but for the strongest of them, sleep was only a rarely indulged treat. Still, Mrs. Hamilton had wondered on the long term psychological effect of this, so a lot of people continued to sleep, if only for the reset factor. It still did wonders with shifting your mood, if you were stuck somewhere you didn’t want to be.
“He might not come tonight.” Daniel said, sighing and returning to his paperwork.
Donny nodded slowly. “...Yea, he probably won’t.”
“Then why are you doing this? We should just do some real work, not this… theatrical farce.” Daniel said sourly.
Shrugging, Donny turned back to the desk and looked at the papers there. Although they hadn’t quite worked up the nerve to get a computer back online and working, with access to printers, they had gathered the parts, and were discussing the scope they wanted to adopt. For now, most reports were handwritten by some of Mrs. Hamilton’s NCCs. Thank god for the Handwriting Proficiency Skill, that had through repetition turned scrawls into elaborate calligraphy. Looking at one particularly flourish filled example, Donny grimaced.
If anything, they were getting too good at their job… And the best of them had even earned the Class Elegant Calligrapher. She retired from menial work and now was hired for party invitations, signs, and the like. The way the System moved was… certainly interesting, and they had yet to see the end of it.
That was most of what was laying on Donny’s desk. Questions, which had long ago been posed as theoreticals by Mrs. Hamilton and Regina Northwind, were now arriving as practicals, demanding his attention. The most pressing, of course, was whether the Village of Donnyton should adopt a currency, whether it be the coins gotten from the System shops, or a merit system, for access to their resources.
Originally, Donnyton was small enough and food and labor were so freely given that this hadn’t been a problem. But as people specialized, they wanted to be able to extract more for their services, and needed a way to be rewarded. At the same time, those with better clout in the town wanted more of the finer things. Certain areas of town were swiftly becoming split by power, or Level, and it would only accelerate, now that they had achieved some measure of peace.
Annie was the first, and her daughter had already been born, but the wake of the System had apparently been an aphrodisiac for people, for there were 20 more women already who reported being 3 months or more along in their pregnancy. Regina said this was the lizard brain kicking in, pushing people faced with adversity towards procreation, so the species could continue.
Donny’s hand gripped tightly. Even his own girlfriend was late on her period. He… he might end up being a father, before the year was out. Which was exhilarating, and also scary.
Which is all to say that society was snapping back, and Mrs. Hamilton was adamant they have systems in place before that happens. Which brought Donny’s focus back to the currency issue.
Using System money was an easy solution, but they didn’t control access to the supply, so there could be inflation spikes. It could also be used as a weapon, however, against Villages less advanced than them, but no one wanted to think of that as a benefit.
The merit point system came from Clarissa, and was also a possibility, but there was a much larger issue of setting up an administration for that to run. Mrs. Hamilton seemed to think she was capable of handling it, but Donny wasn’t so sure. Besides, now that they had found the mine, they might have access to materials that would allow them to mint their own currency, which was the ideal solution.
Mrs. Hamilton had been carefully cultivating “Buds” as they were called, and hoped these would help with making Donnyton’s currency. These Buds were individuals who stayed as NCCs, but received evenly general training, ready for a specific need to arise in Donnyton. Then, they would be sent somewhere and specialize, eventually returning to Donnyton and obtaining a Class that was in their new area of expertise.
Already, three Buds had been committed to learning Cartography, Geology, and Mining in preparation for the excavation that would happen of their new treasure trove.
But all these things took time, and the clock was running out on that.
Donny looked at the rest of his desk. Along with currency, came the issue of private/public ownership. Right now, you owned basically whatever you worked or lived on, without anymore legal ability. You traded goods or services for other goods and services, and relied on friends if you couldn’t find the right thing to trade for what you wanted.
But if there was a currency, suddenly ownership became important. You could provide an object of concrete, durable value. Whereas a bushel of corn could be traded for a lot of things, it had to be consumed eventually; it didn’t save well. Being able to transform that into currency would put that issue to rest. That way, the farmer could save to purchase a larger tract of land, a bigger home, a better weapon, more help for the farm…
Which led to another stack of papers. Grimacing, Donny took a drink and sat down. What to do with the land…? The obvious answer was to either sell it very cheaply to the people who were living on it now, give it to them for free, or to auction everything off, but all of these had problems. Problems that set precedents for the future…
Now they were firmly in the realm of governance, and Donny was way over his head. What was shocking to him, is that even though everyone knew that, they insisted that he make the decisions. Mrs. Hamilton provided several tutors for him, so most of his mornings were spent reading history books, but it still didn’t feel like enough.
When he had insisted she just make the decision, she gave him a pointed look.
“I can do a lot of things...one of them is to try and protect people from you, if you were to go mad with power.” She said primly. “But the one thing that I can’t do… that no one can do… is protect people from myself.”
Donny thought about that for a long time. Although he found himself disagreeing with putting the decision in his inexperienced hands, he could understand her fear. It was a fear he faced everyday in the mirror. And perhaps… his own lack of knowledge was helpful in that regard, in that it injected humility and reflection into every decision.
Not that this benefit meant he skipped his lessons, far from it. But Donny did begrudgingly accept that someone had to take the fall for bad decisions, and everyone had nominated him.
After a long hesitation, he pulled the packet of papers regarding what they would need to make their own currency towards him. He began to carefully read through, analyzing every word.
“Do you ever wonder why he picked you?”
Donny looked up sharply, giving Daniel a level glare. But his friend’s face was guileless, and his gaze was back on his own work. Daniel focused mostly on Skills, Classes, and Paths, and the exhausting journey to chronicle the inputs and outputs of each. Even just thinking about it, Donny was exhausted. It just involved so much interviewing, and conjecture. He would grow frustrated with it in a second.
But Daniel loved it.
He considered Daniel’s question. “...Because I was there, probably.”
“Ha!” Daniel guffawed, his round face twisting. “Is the world ever so simple, especially in regards to the Ghosthound?”
Donny shook his head, smiling, but saying nothing. In his mind, yes, sometimes things really just were that easy. Being there, next to Randidly, when he needed help… that was the impetus for all of this. And now, a small thought, such as the image of Donny’s own face, stamped upon a gold coin, carried and traded across all of their Zone… of course he had other, more positive and practical reasons for choosing the currency option, but…
That image wasn’t one that Donny could get off his mind. It gave him a wide grin that he had to bury his head in paperwork to hide from Daniel. Sometimes, things really were just that simple.