The militia’s hunters dragged Jim through the cold, wet mud. He didn’t much like the impromptu spa treatment he received, but the mud did soothe his burned body. Jim’s health regenerated agonisingly slowly until they returned to the group and the earth mages tended to him. Jim recovered without lasting side effects, except for pain. Lots of pain.
Even though the character interface that lurked in his peripheral vision informed Jim that he had 148/148 health, his skin cracked and flaked away. He spent the late afternoon hike back to camp scrubbing the sore, blackened patches. The fresh, red-raw skin stretched uncomfortably at the joints. Langdon led the tired and overburdened group back into Andrew’s Refugee Camp. Most of the escaped refugees had their hands full with massive, hastily skinned river beast hide. The hunters had dealt with the dead on both sides while Jim had recovered.
Once the group crossed through the town’s threshold, the improvised pack mules gratefully accepted help from the people that had been milling about the village. The villagers stored the rare quality materials in with the rest of Jim’s loot collection in one of the wagons that had first arrived with the refugee convoy. Breaking his usual habit, Andrew was nowhere to be seen.
Jim ate with the rest of the militia undisturbed but then had to go looking for the absent alderman to update him on the quest’s progress. He hadn’t really looked around the town until now, he’d still been preoccupied by settling his group. The town had transformed quite drastically with the buildings that Jim had queued up before they’d left. Even though the militia had really only been gone for a dozen hours, the many hands of the players looking to earn experience and reputation with the town had built Rome in a day.
Jim found Andrew guiding players and villagers alike in putting the finishing touches to the upgraded Town Hall. The small, messy building of uncut logs and salvaged wooden planks had been utterly transformed. Compared to the glorified hut the refugees had called their village hall, the new town hall stood in magnificent even-cut stone. As Jim approached the older lizardman, a prompt appeared before him.
Construction complete: Town Hall
The Town Hall is now complete, and a tax can be levied on all occupants of (Town Name Pending). The current taxation rate is 1 copper per person, per week.
The Town Hall can be upgraded into a Borough Administration Office.
“Mr. Cartwright, James, you have excellent timing,” Andrew said. “We’ve completed all of the buildings in but a single day; it’s miraculous what so many even unskilled builders can do.” He gestured around. Sure enough, to the west and north the stone Recruitment Office and Workshop buildings bustled with activity. Players walked into the recruitment office with pouches of coin, and walked out with ten or twenty-five unarmoured, unequipped peasant militia, depending on their leadership skill. Jim realised that the players must have ignored his building priority in favour of getting access to a magically-created, endless supply of computer-generated companions.
The sheer number of bodies that exited the building defied belief. There must have been nearly a thousand of the new faces, though Jim could immediately tell that they weren’t the same as the townsfolk he’d recruited for his party.
Peasant Militia, level 4 Lizardman.
The Peasant Militia, in addition to having half of the strength of even his unspecialised troops, moved and acted like drones. Every single man or woman wore the same blank expression and held their bodies in the exact same posture. No exceptions could be found among the herds of fake-people that might as well have been the distractions in a Where’s Wally? book.
“They’re strange, aren’t they?” Andrew remarked. “We had a hard time accepting the immortal souls into our town, but I do not think any of the refugees will ever accept these empty souled counterfeits.” Jim watched on, but he didn’t reply. These empty people were obviously a necessity in a game, but System handled the blanks with care so as to not upset the balance of the game.
The players with the most wealth guided their recruits to the workshop that had been completed on the north side of town. The town’s workshop swarmed with players. The largely open space that provided waist-high partitions and storage cupboards, rather than enclosed workspaces, churned out work products of mostly inferior quality. Players dominated these areas and they happily sold chipped and defective products at bottom-dollar prices to the cardboard militias.
“Well, James, even so, at least the town will be safe from minor threats. Thank you. For helping create this town from nothing in only a short two weeks, the other town elders and I have decided to honour your contributions.”
“Andrew, I…” Jim started to reply.
Quest completed: Town Planned.
All buildings required for the village ‘Andrew’s Refugee Camp’ to become a town have been constructed.
Rewards: 3000 experience points; 2000 reputation with Andrew’s Refugee Camp.
Bonus rewards: An additional vote on the Town Council of Elders (Currently 4: Andrew, Anne, Samouel, James Cartwright); In honour of your contribution, the town has been named Jamestown.
“You can’t name the town after me!” Jim began to object.
Congratulations to the player James Cartwright for constructing the first town in the Australian region of Platinum Online, Jamestown.
Rewards: 2500 experience points; 100 Renown; ‘First Town’ title.
Congratulations, you have reached level 6. Your attributes have increased. You have 1 talent point to spend.
Congratulations, you have reached a reputation of Local Hero (0/10000) with Jamestown. You have access to unique local quests.
“I…” Jim felt lost between two emotions. First, a small, but swelling, elation at the prestige he received for his efforts. Second, pants-wetting, underwear soiling terror at having the spotlight shone upon him. Jim wasn’t supposed to draw attention to himself. System had heavily implied that putting Jim into the game world was a way for her to hide him away while she worked on a greater scheme.
“Congratulations, James—” Andrew started to say.
“—I have to go! Sorry!”
A small prompt, in unassuming white letters, overrode the centre of Jim’s vision.
We need to talk.
Support "The Forgotten Man -- Platinum Online"
My name's Tim and I'm writing Forgotten Man Online, a game-literature light novel web-series that I plan to release here, on Royal Road, and eventually hopefully through Amazon's Kindle platform.
I studied writing at university for three years and then became a high-school English teacher in Australia (6 years in). Hopefully, that means you will find my content to be of a high standard and that you will enjoy it, provided you can stand the British spelling of words :).