15 Chapter 14: Finally the Party is Together, Sadly We“ve Got another Problem
Joshua had made his way back towards the mansion as he thought over his conversation with Madalyn. He realized he would have to be more careful around others from now on, especially when any random girl could have the power to kill him in some cruel and unusual way. He had convinced Madalyn to join him and his little crew in their effort to strengthen themselves for whatever task came their way. Now he just had to convince the others, but first it was time to meet them and get them geared up for fighting.
When he reached the Mansion he noticed that for the most part there wasn't very much activity going on around the building. Joshua thought it was probably because the Carsen brothers had already gotten them out and about scouting for supplies. He notice the group of three punks off to the side smoking cigarettes behind a store house. They were messing around and playing cards while not worried about a thing in the world as they joked around with each other.
Joshua ignored the useless idiots as he turned his attention to the group of three people sitting on the porch as two of them held idle conversation while the other just silently waited. He walked up to them and was greeted by an excited Nathan while the other two only acknowledged him in their own little ways. "So what are we doing today?" Nathan asked as he was tired of waiting around and doing nothing.
"Were going back towards town and seeing how far the haze has spread over night and most of the morning. Will also get to try to get these two another level while keeping things under control." Joshua replied as he looked around to make sure no one else was around to try to figure out what he was talking about.
"So we're going to grind their levels up then. Nice, we definitely need to try to find the rate of experience gain and how much their strengths increase and all sorts of things." Nathan said as he went back to walking back and forth as he was too excited to stay still.
"I'm starting to see what type of gamer you are man." Joshua said getting a questioning look from the other three.
"What do you mean, I play all sorts of games. There is no single designation for me in my love for games and programming." Nathan said while proudly puffing up his chest.
"Nope, your definitely the guy that not only would grind his way through a game to the point where it becomes too easy, but you also sit around and find every little detail in making grinding most efficient." Joshua said while shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders. "That's fine though I'll just leave all the details to you, but make sue to stay out of trouble while we're near town."
"That's fine. Are we going to head out now then?" Nathan asked.
"Not yet, let's first go check out the hunting gear room that they found yesterday. There might be some stuff there that could be a big help in a pinch." Joshua said before heading inside the mansion with the other three following behind. It didn't take long to find the room filled with equipment in a large storage room on the basement floor.
The first thing they noticed was the wide array of guns front and center, but unfortunately they were completely useless to them. The next best thing for long range use was an assortment of different sized bows with several racks full of metal tipped arrows nearby. "Anyone know how to use a bow and arrow?" Joshua asked as he looked at the two girls completely ignoring Nathans response already knowing his answer. Surprisingly Natalie walked over and picked up a mid-sized bow in comparison to the others before pulling its string back to test if it felt fine for her. She nodded and smiled happily before turning back towards everyone else.
"Well I was into archery in high school, mostly because my father and grandfather were big on hunting. They used guns most of the time, but used a bow and arrow on occasion. I fell in love with it ever since I was a kid, but after joining the police force I've been more used to using guns." Natalie explained as she put the bow around her shoulder while slinging a rack of arrows over onto her back as well. She found a pair of gloves that fit her that were designed to help steady her hands when pulling the string back as well.
Joshua looked around a bit more before finding a spear that was about a foot shorter in length than he was tall. He picked it up and hefted it to test the weight a bit before bringing it over to Laura. "This would be a good weapon for you. It will allow you to keep distance with your opponent's far better than that crowbar and if you heat up the tip of the spear when using it you should be able to cut or puncture straight through the creatures without resistance. Maybe you can even find a better way to use it in combinations with your powers while you're at it."
"Fine. This should do." Laura simply responded while feeling the weight of the spear in her hands. She thrust it forward into empty space as she adjusted to it a bit. Every now and then you could see the spear head glow a bit as it hissed through the air. Joshua noticed that even though her movements were amateurish at first he could tell she was learning how to handle it far faster than any normal human could.
Joshua took one more look around the side of the room filled with blades and other close range weapons and picked up a pair of hefty daggers to give to Madalyn later. She seemed to be using kitchen knives along with her poison for now so he thought this would be a good upgrade for her. Lastly he picked up a couple of curved blades which he assumed were machetes. They were often used for chopping through heavy forest growth, but the heft and length of them would work just as well when slicing through those creatures. They weren't swords but were close enough for him to use basic short range movements with them.
"What about me? Don't I get a badass weapon too?" Nathan said as he looked around the room like a child that didn't know what to pick. Joshua thought about it for a moment before walking over to a shelf out of sight of the rest of the group. He came back with a large shovel that had slightly sharpened edges to make it easier to chop through roots in the ground. "A shovel really? Are you kidding me Josh?"
"Nope, this is the best thing for you to use for now. You don't know how to use anything else in this room without hurting yourself. Besides if anything thing this will help you defend yourself far better than anything else in this room." Joshua said with a smile.
"How the hell is a shovel supposed to help me defend myself?" Nathan asked while frantically waving his arms in a flailing motion.
"Simple. If something jumps at you with its mouth open just put the shovel in its way and it won't be able to bite you." Joshua said with a laugh before shoving the shovel in to the boy's hands and walking out of the room. Everyone left the room ready for their little expedition in high spirits except for maybe Nathan who dragged his shovel behind him like a depressed farmer.
They made their way out of the entrance to the farm and started heading in the direction back towards town at a faster pace than the trip last night. After a few miles of walking and talking a silhouette could be seen alongside the road in the distance. At first it was hard to make out, but soon the figure came into clear view as everyone in the group outside of Joshua tensed up at the sight of Madalyn.
She started to walk towards them as she took notice of their approach and it became easier to make out her appearance. Unlike before she was no longer wearing a jacket or a long sleeved shirt which allowed everyone to be able to see some bruises on her arms that had started to heal. She still had the gauze on her face to cover the most current sign of her relationship with her recently killed husband. Although she seemed battered and bruised she still held herself in high regards as she confidently made her way over to the group.
"Why is she here?" Laura said coldly as she glared at the woman. Although she put up a calm and collective front Laura's body tensed up a bit and her hand was slowly drifting towards the spear on her back.
"What I'm not allowed to be here." Madalyn said with a teasing smirk that caused Laura's frown to deepen. Joshua could already tell within seconds of the two talking to each other that they did not like each other. Laura looked like an angered cat, her calm and cold personality seemed to be greatly irritated by the women in front of her. On the other hand Madalyn seemed like a playful fox that enjoyed teasing Laura with everything from her words to her disposition. "I was invited by the giant over there. He seems to want us to work together from our conversation."
"But…but you killed someone." Nathan meekly squeaked the words out. His stuttering coming back at the tense situation.
"If anything you should be locked up so you don't cause any more problems." Laura basically spat the words out only to get another aggravating smile from Madalyn in response. The two's heated staring contest continued for a moment while Joshua tried to think of a way to settle the confrontation. Luckily for him someone else started to fix the problem before he could do anything.
"I'm sorry!" Natalie nearly shouted as she bowed her head. Her shoulder length hair covered her face, but you could still tell how sincere she was by the desperation in her voice.
"It wasn't your fault. There was nothing you could do about it, you weren't even a police officer at the time." Madalyn responded mildly. She was taken off guard by the sincerity and didn't know what else to say.
"Still I should have been able to do something, or tried harder in figuring out why people seemed to act so strangely around you two." Natalie said as she looked up towards Madalyn. "Can you ever forgive me? I'm sure the Carsen brothers feel the same way, but I can't really speak for them."
"You're forgiven, just no more sappy apologies and no crying." Madalyn stated firmly as she could see the tears start to well up in her eyes. "I mean it."
"Alright guys although she may have killed George she had her reasons. Although I don't like to condone killing or any other crime you can see for yourself how he treated her." Joshua said as everyone seemed to cringe a little bit at the multiple bruises on Madalyn's arms and legs. "Out of everyone in town and around the area we're the only ones that have a clear picture of what's going on. Although I don't have a high opinion on the people back at the mansion aside from the Carsen brothers I still think we should be prepared to defend them and ourselves in the future. The only three people here that can get any stronger are you three ladies so were going to get you as strong as possible. Of course I'll fight as well, but I can't level for now so training you guys is our best option."
The four of them looked to one another before nodding in acceptance. The group then continued to make their way towards town. Along the way Madalyn and Natalie seemed to be getting along, it was like watching a restless puppy try to play with an older laid-back cat that would just listen to her stories. Laura on the other hand was still standoffish, but Joshua intervened and started to show her proper ways to use the spear he had recommended for her. He had to learn the basics on multiple weapons when training under Mr. Fujimoto before he chose which one to develop his skills in. The quick lesson wouldn't make her a master in spearmanship, but it could help her keep a better balance and stance when using it. Every now in then he would also plan out some grinding strategies with Nathan as he was way too excited to keep quiet on the hour long trip.
After a while they arrived within viewing range of the purple haze and the group became silent. The place looked much the same as yesterday, but as they approached Joshua noticed something that had changed. Not too far outside of the purple haze he could see a figure hunched over in a ditch on the side of the road. It had purple black tendrils spread all over its skin and still had some bite marks on its neck and legs. The group stopped just close enough to it to get a good view as it raised its head and turned its purple glowing eyes towards them. Joshua let out a gasp as he saw the face of the man he watched die back at the gas station. For a moment both sides were quiet before the man let out a scream before rushing towards them.