While Thomas was breaking down his campsite and getting onto the road to continue his travels, the four Black's had revived from their defeat. All four of them looked gloomy as they stood around, especially Black One who had lost his shortsword. Defeat and death within a VRMMO was a completely common affair and players had probably totaled more than a few million deaths already. That didn't make it any less depressing though.
AoG had a rather unique death punishment system among VRMMO's. The first punishment was the revival location. The severity of this punishment really varied based on circumstances. Like most MMO's from antiquity, a dead player would revive in a graveyard. Only towns and cities above a certain size would contain a graveyard for players to revive in. If you were in Ulvstad and died within the dungeon or nearby forest you wouldn't be too far away from your death site. If you'd traveled several thousand kilometers into the wilds though... For the four Black's, they were now quite a distance away from where they had died.
The second punishment was also rather common, they would lose experience. Most VRMMO's would punish death with a level loss or something similar. Since AoG did not have levels players would instead lose experience points. The punishment started off pretty light with a loss of one hundred experience points. However, each subsequent death would double the experience points lost. Dying once wasn't so bad at one hundred experience, twice at two hundred experience, and three times at four hundred experience. It would start to quickly snowball though and could easily get out of hand. The only way to lower the punishment was to simply not die for an extended period of time. For every in-game day that a player didn't die the punishment would be lowered by one death.
The third and final punishment had only been suffered by Black One, dropping equipment. No one was entirely certain what all the factors were when it came to dropping equipment but a few things were known for certain. The first was that whenever someone died there was always a chance of dropping something. Even if the chance was minuscule. The second known factor was crime value. Whenever someone committed a crime a bounty would be placed on them. The higher the bounty the higher the odds of dropping items became. Any other factors were unknown at the moment. The good news was that players never dropped items from their inventory or their money. Players tended to equip their best items though, so anything dropped hurt.
Black Zero noted Black One's missing sword but didn't bring it up, there was no point in rubbing salt in the other man's wounds. Instead, he asked, "Black One, you were the last to revive. Tell us all what you learned after we died."
Black One nodded and recounted his fight to the other three Black's in as much detail as he could. Though their target had only used a single spell it had been rather painful and effective at creating distance. He also explained that the target was mediocre with the sword but was fast enough to make up the difference in skill between them. From Black One's point of view, the target didn't have any glaring weaknesses that could be exploited. The four Black's conversed for a while to put together a bit of a profile for the target. The odds of finding the target again were too small to be worth the effort, but the information on the target could easily be sold for a fair amount of money. Hopefully, enough money to replace Black One's lost sword with a new one.
The single most important piece of information, and most valuable, was the existence of the gun! The three who had died first had only heard the shots and seen the barrel. They were all surprised when Black One told them that it was a revolver. This information was exceedingly valuable to other players. The four Black's may not be able to hunt the target down personally but with a huge player base all trying to get that gun out of his hands someone would kill him before too much longer!
Back on the road, Thomas was swiftly making his way down the road in the dark. His eyes were glowing blue as he used his 'All Seeing Eyes' night vision to make his way as if it was as bright as noon. While he had handled the four attackers rather well, he knew that a huge part of it had been the element of surprise from his Peace Maker along with the warning from his dream. Without those two elements, it would be extremely easy for those sneaky bastards to kill him in his sleep!
Thomas held no delusions about his strength. He knew he wasn't a weakling but if he was to compare himself to someone who spent all their time fighting monsters, completing quests, and gaining experience, he knew he would fall a fair bit behind. His only saving grace was his Peace Maker and ability to craft anything he needed. He knew he needed to get stronger and increase the power of his weapons. The Pace Maker was an excellent first step, but as Hekrin had mentioned, it was not a real Magitech weapon.
Thomas worked on the design for his next pistol. It would only be a single shot weapon, but that would make it significantly less complex and allow him to reinforce it for more power to deal more damage. The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle had endured for centuries for good reason! The design he was going for was similar to a sawed-off shotgun, only instead of double barrels, it would be a single barrel with a smaller diameter. His goal was to have a round about the size of a .50 caliber bullet.
Even in the real world, to this day a .50 caliber bullet was feared. The damage it could deal to hardened targets, let alone personnel, was devastating. In a world where potential enemies could be wearing armor that turned them into literal tanks, a tank busting caliber of bullet was needed!
Thomas continued to refine his plans as he walked, even drawing out some garbage sketches and making notes within his blueprint system. In this way hours passed and the sun slowly started to peak above the horizon. As the sun rose, Thomas came to a stop and deactivated his 'All Seeing Eyes' to watch the sunrise with Snowlily. It was his first time seeing such a sight within AoG and it was breathtaking. The sky was bathed in a myriad of colors as the sun slowly rose and filled the world with bright light.
Thomas enjoyed the scenery for a while. The sunrise in AoG was far more beautiful than back in reality where smog and pollution had dampened the suns bright rays. Here in AoG the sun shone through the clouds and bathed the world in all the colors of the rainbow as it filtered through the mana floating in the atmosphere. Thomas let out a sigh of admiration before he continued on his journey.
Thomas had walked over a hundred kilometers between yesterday and the midnight march. He now found himself standing on a hill and looking down at a small village a little off in the distance, no more than ten or so kilometers away from him. The village was small and filled with shabby buildings that looked like they were made of mud bricks with thatch roofing. There was nothing in the village worthy of being compared to Ulvstad or the capital city. Still, it was a new place and if nothing else he did enjoy a bit of exploration.
Thomas took about an hour to walk the ten or so kilometers to the village. Even though he was just walking he still walked twice as fast as a normal human would. He glanced over his shoulder at Snowlily. If he didn't have to worry about the small wolf pup he could have easily moved several times faster. Though it would eat into his stamina. With his current attributes, he could easily run flat out for several kilometers, or even farther if he paced himself. The problem was Snowlily could never keep up with that pace and if he ran there was a chance it could hurt her. He couldn't risk something happening to the adorable little ball of floof.
As Thomas arrived at the little farming village the majority of the adult locals were already in the fields working on their various crops. One crop looked similar to wheat but he couldn't be certain. He'd never really been one for agriculture so he ignored the crops after a quick glance and focused more on the people and buildings. The village really didn't have a whole lot to it, just one shop and one blacksmith. Neither catered to adventurers and only sold the items people needed to live and farm. The closest thing to a weapon the blacksmith had on display was a kitchen knife.
As Thomas studied the villagers a few of them studied him in return. They wore simple clothing while he was decked out in impressive looking armor and weapons. It made for a rather striking contrast. While the adults went about their day the children ran around screaming, laughing, and playing with each other giving at least some warmth to the place. Thomas glanced around for a bit longer before he resumed his journey. There was nothing interesting in sight and he had no compelling reason to stay. To him, it was much more important to continue his journey and get his hands on an U.L.T.R.A. so he could journey and work with ease.
After making his way through the village without incident, Thomas resumed his journey on the road for a while longer. Once he was a couple of kilometers away from the village he came to a stop and started collecting things he could use to make a small fire. The sun had been up for a couple of hours and he was starting to get a little hungry, Snowlily probably wouldn't complain about food either. Once he released her from the sling on his back she bounced and pranced around to stretch her legs while Thomas made a campfire.
Once the fire was started with a flick of his wrist, Thomas looked across the road at the thinly treed forest. On the east side of the road there was the forest while the west side was rather flat grasslands. He recalled his promise of fresh meat for dinner and studied the forest for a bit. He would need to keep an eye out for something he could hunt and eat for dinner with Snowlily while he traveled.
Their breakfast was simple, some reheated food and trail rations. It wasn't extremely appetizing but it did the job of filling their bellies. Once the fire was doused with some water magic they continued their journey once again. It was going to probably take a couple of weeks to travel to where he needed to go. Thinking about not gaining much experience during the journey was starting to bum Thomas out. He would need to look at the adventurers guild or the dungeon in the next city he visited in order to earn himself some experience and increase his attributes.
The journey wasn't eventful at all and there were no signs of the people he'd killed last night trying to catch up to him for revenge. Thomas didn't really know that the punishment for death was but he suspected it wasn't light. While he contemplated and worked on his next weapon design he heard a small warning growl from Snowlily. He looked up and right on the road in front of him was a rather angry looking creature.
The monster looked similar to a large black bear but its entire body was covered in large sharp looking spikes. The spikes around its head were so numerous that they looked like a helmet made out of bones. The beast pushed up with its front legs and towered nearly five meters into the air while standing on its hind legs. It let out an earth-shaking roar while it glared at Thomas with glowing red eyes.
Thomas shuddered at the display. The feeling the beast gave off reminded him of the boss he fought in the Rheykhoten City dungeon. This was not a simple creature at all! While he did not fear his own death, he greatly feared that something could happen to Snowlily. He could come back from the dead easily, she only had a single life to live, maybe. Thomas kept a close eye on the monster as it postured threateningly. He had no idea why it hadn't attacked immediately but he used that time to remove the sling from his back. Once Snowlily was free he quickly whispered to her, "Find somewhere and hide!"
Snowlily took off and dove into the tall grass on the west side of the road. The bear-like monster glanced at her but made no move to pursue her. Why chase a snack when a full course meal was still standing in front of it? The monster dropped back onto all four legs and charged at Thomas while letting out another earth-shaking roar! Not one to just stand there and get mauled, Thomas immediately turned on his heels and sprinted away from the monster at full speed. At the same time, he pulled his Peace Maker out of its holster with his right hand and drew one of his throwing daggers with his left hand.
Once he was armed he glanced over his shoulder and nearly tripped from surprise. The huge bear monster had been left completely in the dust! Given the size of the beast, it was pretty quick and running at about fifty meters a second. Unfortunately for the monster, it was less than half as fast as Thomas at his top speed. Thomas found this to make some sense. It was common for bears to be more 'tank-like' monsters. Slow but durable and powerful. He could easily outrun it and kite the bastard to death!