It was just after four in the afternoon according to the clocks that were still working, mostly analog watches and a couple of hardened cellphones.
All twelve survivors were now official players. They’d all visited the vending machine and had a weapon to protect themselves.
There was still one major thing keeping the apartment building from feeling secure.
The third floor, and the troll monster that lived on it.
Mike figured the troll was the boss monster of the apartment building. Until they cleared him, no one would feel safe. He almost said as much when the group inevitably had a meeting about it. He held it in though, since he didn’t actually want to fight the troll.
The group had way too many meetings in his opinion. Mike was fairly certain if he stepped up and started giving orders people would listen and the meetings would stop.
He didn’t want the responsibility.
The whole democracy thing was bad for quick decision making though. Everybody had to get their say and no one was ever completely happy anyway. A chief for their little clan would make things so much easier in a lot of ways.
In a small society where danger lurked around every corner, letting the strong rule the weak just made more sense then letting the majority vote decide.
It was easy to forget that monarchies had made sense once upon a time. Globalization and education of the masses made people less likely to accept one man’s decision influencing everyone’s lives. There had been a time when one man dictating his will to a nation was thought to be not only right, but heaven’s will.
Once a group grew beyond a certain size, a single person making all the decision did become a bit impractical as well. There were only twelve survivors including him at the moment. That was far from “too many for a king to be effective.”
Without being willing to come forward and take control, Mike didn’t feel he had the right to lecture anyone on the best way to do things. It was too hypocritical. “You guys are doing it wrong, but I don’t want to help I just want to point it out,” was worse than not saying anything at all. When he did have an opinion to share, nobody would listen to it, if he acted like that.
Somewhere in the back of his mind a voice shouted at him that he would regret being so laid back and reactive to things. The world was different. He could feel it, more than that he’d already accepted it and moved on. Not everyone had yet. Things were moving way too fast for a lot of people.
Mike suspected he’d be one of them, second guessing everything, if he didn’t have his bloodline.
He still wasn’t sure that being half orc had actually changed him, not definitively.
The world itself was just as likely to be responsible for his change. It felt like he’d been liberated, to a certain extent. He’d always felt a bit stifled in the old world.
His dreams had always been of leading a charge of viking raiders, or standing his ground against an enemy knight.
He’d considered himself a romantic, making war into some sort of game in his head, a game where the winner was proven strong, and his actions just.
Life wasn’t like that, not even in this new world.
But the part of his delusions where being strong mattered, where swords and guts ruled the day, that part was now reality.
It really was a liberating feeling.
At the same time it appalled him that he felt that way. Just in his building alone more than forty people were dead or missing. How could he be happy about a situation like that?
“Mike, are you listening? I asked what you think our chances are against the troll?” Jessica asked, breaking into his reflections.
Put on the spot Mike answered honestly, maybe more honestly than he should have.
“I think we should leave it alone. If it really killed people with a single hit then we probably haven’t made up the gap in levels yet.”
“We have guns now though,” one of the four cowards, Mike still hadn’t learned his name, scoffed at his caution. He raised his pistol to accentuate his point, like Mike had never seen a gun before.
Mike didn’t respond to his baiting. He knew that if everyone was going to live in the apartment building then they needed to clear the troll out. But that was one of the reasons he thought they shouldn’t face it. He didn’t think they should plan on living in the apartment building for any length of time. It was hardly a fort, and if there were trolls and zombies who was to say there wouldn’t be intelligent enemies too?
If they kept on the move scavenging, or buying supplies as needed from vending machines, then it would be easier to convince people to stay alert. A guard would be kept and kept seriously.
Mike found it hard to believe that anyone would be too serious about keeping a guard if they stayed on the sixth floor of the apartment building.
He’d cleared floors to grind his level not to make the building livable. He’d never planned on staying in it for more than a night, maybe two if he had been forced to clear the building of zombies on his own.
The troll was a risk nobody needed to take. Killing zombies was still raising their levels. There was no need to hunt for stronger prey just yet. Once he could wade through twenty zombies without batting an eye, then maybe he’d be okay with testing a troll out.
His opinion didn’t seem to matter.
Just before Jessica called the vote, Mike seriously considered trying to take charge. The timing was wrong though. He’d just voiced an unpopular opinion and everyone felt safe, meaning they also felt contentious. There was no crisis going on where everyone was naturally looking for a leader.
If he stood forward he’d be met with hostility despite the fact they’d have welcomed him less than an hour before. People were complex, and fickle.
If he’d stood up and said I’m in charge this is what we’re doing he would have almost certainly received the support of the group. Then he could have laid out his plans, including ignoring the troll, and they would have been far more likely to go over.
He’d done it out of order though, and that kind of thing, meant everything, in politics.
It was too late.
Once the fighting started he’d be right back in a position where what he said was listened to, but of course the only reason he wanted them to listen to him was to get out of the fight in the first place. That’s just how life worked sometimes. It didn’t matter if it was the new world or the old.
The votes were tallied, and Mike could only roll his eyes. It was 9:3 in favor of taking out the troll. Mike could see it written on Troy’s face that he was one of the other three against the idea, but whoever the third dissenter was, they were harder to spot. A handwriting test might have given him an answer, but he wasn’t an expert in handwriting and he didn’t have writing samples from everyone anyway.
They were going to have to fight the troll. It was happening whether he liked it or not. A second vote determined the fight needed to happen before dark. With only a couple hours for a window, everyone started making ready.
Mike grabbed his ax, slapped himself on the face, and tried to psych himself up.
Maybe he was worrying for nothing. Maybe the guns would bring down the troll and he wouldn’t even need to fight.
Author : The Steve