“You could also have done that if you had some kind of status hiding skill.” I said still trying to deny it. That had been pretty hard evidence. But a hero? Impossible..
“Oh, you will see. After all Improved Level Up applies to party members as well. Once you get to your next level you will know for certain that I am telling the truth.”
A hero from another world. That was impossible… wasn’t it? A hero, how could this be the person that I had been waiting for.
Chapter Break — Level 5 Demon
Jack, Level 5 Demon.
It was the first thing that I noticed when my eyes began to flicker open. My head hurt and even though I was sitting down the world was spinning. Had I been drinking too much again. That was the only possible explanation.
I blurily remember buying some new video game and stumbling home. Then nothing else. Now I was somewhere damp. I rubbed my eyes. There was still that strange text, was I still partially asleep. It was my name, maybe this was a dream, Jack. It wasn’t my full name but what few friends I had called me that and I had always used it when I played games.
Then there was a bright light and I had to cover my face. That was strange, my arm looked different than I remembered it looking, of right, the dream. It said demon so I must be a demon. I had always liked playing edgy characters like that.
Then I heard heavy footsteps. A big form appeared in front of me but I could barely make it out because my eyes were still adjusting to the new light. It grabbed me with a big hand and pulled me to my feet. Its grip hurt a little bit. Were dreams supposed to hurt, I couldn’t remember.
Once I was on my feet the enormous figure pushed me toward the light and I heard a gruff voice say, “Go, it is your turn.”
I stumbled a few steps before finally catching myself. After that I was able to make the rest of the way myself. It was rough stone walls. I passed by a portcullis and it slammed shut behind me. Then I stepped out into what I could only call an arena.
The place was only lit with torches but it seemed extraordinarily bright. It looked like a picture I had seen of the old roman colosseums except there was a stone roof. There were also not really a place for the audience. Just one box up high where I could barely make out the figure of somebody watching.
A thought was beginning to struggle at the back of my mind, a fearful whisper. But that was impossible so I continued to ignore it. There was a rumbling and I noticed another portcullis open up. There were more than a dozen of them along the edge of the colosseum.
A beast like shape emerged from the new opening. It would have probably been twice as tall as me if it hadn’t been hunched over. It had giant thick hands. It bellowed as it became free of the confining passageway and its red eyes immediately locked onto me.
That little thought in the back of my head was now beginning to scream loudly. It was saying, ‘This is not a dream.’ As the beast began to charge me I began to heed the voice. I jumped out of the way as fast as I could.
The beast barreled past me crashing into the wall that was behind me. I looked up at the box where the person watching was and shouted, “You need to stop this. I’m not supposed to be here.”
A cool, calm, voice spoke from up in the box, “Oh, it retained an ego and memories, how novel. I have high hopes for this one.” The voice wasn’t speaking to me, more like it was vocally commenting its own amusement.
I didn’t have time to ponder more. The person was clearly not going to help me. I was on my own. The beast had righted itself and turned once more to face me. It watched me carefully this time stepping forward slowly. It wasn’t going to be avoided the same way twice.
It would be impossible for me to defeat such a big thing with only my hands. I kept most of my attention on the beast while I scanned the colosseum for a weapon. Nothing… unless….
I backed away from the beast until my finally bumped my back against the colosseum wall. I did my best impression of being surprised and startled. Sensing weakness and distraction the creature charged me. This time instead of dodging to the side I placed my hands upon it and pulled myself up onto its back.
The maneuver was something I had expected to be risky and dangerous but when it actually came to pulling it off it was surprisingly easy. Then from my new vantage point atop the beast I leap up the wall and grabbed the torch.
I yanked it out of the sconce before beginning my fall back to the ground. How the beast was already waiting for me. I could possibly dodge off of it but that would certainly hurt me. The other option was to use the current advantage I had.
I fell with the burning part of the torch pointed down. I aimed deliberately and with one sickening thump we impacted each other. I flew a few yards onto the painful ground but it howled in pain. I had managed to crash the torch into its eye socket.
It had knocked be to one side before it had gone all the way in but the fire and wood had caused it considerable pain and it was howling to horrible pain. I wanted to use that moment to run, to escape, but I knew there was no place to run to.
My only exits were blocked and the person watching did not care at all about me. It was either me or this beast. So I pulled myself to my feet and walked toward it. I had tried to forget this part of me, to leave it behind, but here it was what was going to keep me alive.
The beast was pulling the shard of wood out of its bloody eye when I had gotten in front of it. I raised its arm to swat me aside once more but I was already inside its guard. My hand reached up and crushed its windpipe. It was remarkably fragile.
With that down I jumped out of the way of its last desperate swing. It gargled before collapsing as its blood began to pour across the ground.
I looked up at the figure up in the box and I could hear it laughing. A dark creepy laugh, “Amazing! Excellent! Fight, survive, become the strongest. Only then can you go free.”
Then a portcullis began to rise. I returned to a fighting position fearing what might come out of this one. But there was nothing. I realized that this was the one that I can come from. Whatever was up in the box was done with me. At least for now.
I passed through the portcullis and into the dungeon cell that was apparently mine. The big person who had shoved me out was gone. Instead there was a small chunk of meat and a bowl of foul looking liquid.
It was a reward, a reward for surviving. But it looked disgusting and I had standards.
Those standards lasted six hours. Eventually hunger and thirst overwhelmed common human pride. It was the most disgusting thing that I had ever eaten in my life. More than the fighting, more then being torn away from my previous home, more then being treated as just a weapon, this made me angry.
I would kill that man in the box. I would be free. Then I would eat something worth eating.
The portcullis opened again. I scratched another mark on the wall. It was beginning to get quite full.
I picked up the spear that was besides me. It was fashioned by me using the broken teeth and claws of some of my bigger opponents. Each time it had broken I had made a new weapon with whatever that opponent had provided.
I stepped through the portcullis the torchlight once again.
My warning senses began to tingle. Today was different then the previous fights. Today each of the portcullises were opening. A battle royal was the challenge of the day.
My opponents were also no slouches this time. They were all above level thirty just like me. Large creatures of gnashing teeth and racking claws. Their bulk strength made them difficult opponents. However I was almost disappointed, each battle seemed easier than the last. Not that I wanted to complain too much. The less I had to show to the master the better.
The other demons immediately turned on their closest rival. This included the one closest to me. A strange snake monstrosity. Fangs as long as my arms. New weapon material. It coiled before it leap through the air at me. Didn’t the creature know that airborne movement like that made it extremely hard to maneuver.
I braced my spear and at the last moment dodged to once side, cutting through its side and long its length. The skin was extremely tough but the tooth my current spear was made out of lasted the impact. The bulk of the monster crashed into the ground.
However it was not dead yet. The demons that I was fighting now were creatures that had also survived many battles. It wouldn’t be defeated by just a cut like that. It spun almost too fast for a creature of its size. It opened its mouth widely trying to swallow me whole.
Poor thing, it must have only fought creatures its size. I on the other hand had constantly been fighting creatures like it. I let its mouth begin to envelop me before I thrust my spear into the roof of its mouth.
It almost completely swallowed me at that point but I was no longer in any danger from it. It was already dead. The only thing remaining was its momentum.
I crawled out of its mouth and pulled my spear from it before I surveyed the battleground. Combat was raging. I could have waited until it was down to only a couple before intervening but I would lose valuable experience by doing that.
Now I was trying to find the highest level ones among them to choose as my next target. Instead however I saw something that took my breath away. Atop a bulky carapaced demon was smaller form. A small humanoid demon like me. She had her arm elbow deep in her opponent’s chest.
Another demon with a giant beak took a snapping bite at her but she neatly jumped out of the way instead causing the bite to hit her previous opponent.
I smiled for what was probably the first time since I had come to this world. An opportunity. One I had not considered until that moment.
I approached slowly while watching her fight. She was nimble, that much was required to fight opponents of the size she was but she was also strong. Unlike me she did not use a weapon instead punching through her opponents with her razor sharp claws.
She was also clever. Leading her opponents into battles with other demons before moving in to claim the kills.
After I had watched her enough I interrupted her. She had weakened one of her prey and was about to claim the killed when my spear appeared in the chest of the victim. I had thrown it to make the kill myself.
She turned to survey me for the first time. Those eyes. All the demon had red eyes, probably including me, however hers were a deep crimson. I pulled out my second weapon, a knife, and with my second hand made a motion. Come and get me.
It was pleasing to me that she didn’t immediately rush in. She first pulled the spear out of the creature next to her and broke the shaft near the tip making the weapon completely unusable. She was getting better and better.