Sterling nodded to the man and said, “Greetings. Sorry to inconvenience you but I needed to sign up to become an adventurer.”
“Sure, let me just deal with Lanette and Veronica and then I’ll get you all signed up.”
I pulled out from my satchel the pouch where I kept monster parts and handed it over before saying, “We were in the canyons when we ran into some ogres. There is still a bounty on those isn’t there.”
“More ogres in the canyons huh? Those have been getting more common. At this rate we will start having to recommend that new adventurers avoid the canyons.” He looked into the bag counting the ears before pulling out six silver. “Anything else?” He asked.
“Not unless the Adventurer’s guild is offering market value on Silverweed.”
“Unfortunately not. Demand for it has been high so prices are raising.” Silverweed was one of the ingredients in high quality healing potions. We typically didn’t need that because of my healing magic so it was good money to sell it. The Adventurer’s guild provided healing potions to new adventurers but they needed to keep the price low so they usually used cheaper ingrediants.
“Now about the advanced Adventurer’s license?”
“Sure.” He pulled out some papers and handed them over to Lanette to fill out. “While you meet the requirements can I provide some friendly advice?”
“There is a high death rate in new advanced adventurers. You have been gaining levels quickly so I recommend that you spend some time raising your skills before heading to the jungle. I would hate to have such promising new adventurers die on their first advanced expedition.”
“Your advice is appreciated. But you don’t need to worry too much. Sterling here said that we is going to join our party and we aren’t about to bring him into the jungle anytime soon.”
Jered nodded, “Already, just be careful. The jungle is far more dangerous than anything else so make sure you have all the preparations before going there. Don’t skimp on healing potions and I highly recommend saving up for some magical items as well.”
Jered then turned to Sterling while pulling out a form from underneath the counter. The form when then handed over to Sterling who quickly began to fill it out. While that was happening I put my elbow on the table and leaned to to ask Jered, “So, any interesting rumors floating about?”
“I hear Red Blossom is going to make an attempt against Darkmaw.”
“What? Really? Do you think that Red Blossom is going to be able to succeed? Isn’t that quest restricted to level 60?”
“Apparently their leader finally managed to hit level 60. There was a huge commotion but you must have been out in the canyons if you didn’t hear about it. Their whole guild is gathering.”
“Do you think that they stand a chance against Darkmaw?”
“Hard to really tell. There hasn’t been a level 60 in Dungeoncity before so nobody has made an attempt since Darkmaw was restricted to that level.”
“Um, excuse me.” It was Sterling who was looking up from his form, “What is this Darkmaw that you are talking about?”
“Ah, you might not have heard of it. Darkmaw is a dragon.” I pointed over toward one side of the room. There was a wall of posters. “Over there is the list of special bounties. And at the top” I rose by finger to the poster at the top. “Is Darkmaw. The largest bounty and has ever been issued and the oldest bounty. With that much money your entire guild could retire for the rest of your life. What is the bounty currently at?”
“Seven million gold assuming the body is in tact.” I whistled. It had gone up since I had last heard the number.
I looked wistfully at the bounty board, “I kind of hope they fail though. It is quite a goal to want to achieve. I would hate to have that taken from me.”
Lanette softly boxed me aside the head, “Please stop using that as the point you want to reach. It makes you look too greedy.”
“Ha! Well than the joke is on you. Darkmaw as supposed to be the first stepping stone. Level 60 is far too low for that to be my goal. I’m sure there is something out there is even more powerful than Darkmaw.”
Lanette and Jered basically rolled their eyes at me in unison. Both of them were used to make lofty goals.
“Do you really think you will get that high?” Said Sterling as he was finishing up the form. “Wouldn’t that be extremely dangerous?”
“He hasn’t been in Dungeoncity very long has he?” Asked Jered.
“Nope, I think he just got here.” I responded.
“What do you mean?”
“People here always aim high. You don’t come to Dungeoncity to be second best you know. And it isn’t just the adventurers either, the merchant and everybody are here seeking their greatest fortune. Those that find that too lofty either die or leave. It is difficult to keep up. Do your best.” I gave him my most encouraging smile, “After all you will have me and Lanette. We will make sure you are strong enough to keep up.”
“The best huh? And the bards will sing tales of you?” He was hesitating for a moment before he finally smiled and said, “Being the best is the only way of being good enough isn’t it?”
“Ha! The best is never good enough, if you think like that somebody is going to end up beating you.”
Jered shook his head and said, “Don’t discourage him too much.”
“No, that is fine. I think that is what I want.” Said Sterling.
“See, exactly what I said. He is perfect.”
And with that Sterling the Knight joined our party. It was a momentous occasion so we help a party to celebrate. Soon we would head out and we would need to tell Sterling about our secret.
“Today is your final challenge.” The voice came from the shadowed box. It seemed that the time had finally come. “Defeat your opponent today and you will join my army as the greatest general that has ever been made.”
It was appoint time. I was level 86 as was Alice. I had feared the battles would go on forever but the levels of my opponents had not be increasing the last couple of battles so I had expected the ending to be soon.
“Very well.” I called up to the person in the box. “Send out the opponent and I will show you how strong I am.”
I was already standing in the arena with Alice by my side. She was yawning, recently she had become bored of the battles since they had gotten easier.
Today my weapons was a pair of swords made from the sharp teeth of one of my previous opponents. However I had some spare weapons strapped on my back, it was never bad to be extra prepared. After all he wouldn’t do this final fight if he thought we were already worth.
The portcullis across from us opened and our opponent came out. It was larger than me or Alice but not by much. It was another fully humanoid demon just like us though. He wasn’t fully human-like though. His skin was almost like armor, a carapace. As he stepped into the arena his hand morphed and shaped in front of my eyes and became a long sharp sword.
He was also level 90, the highest level opponent that I had ever faced with a strange unique ability.
I smiled and laughed, “Is this all you have for me? I was hoping for a real challenge.”
I didn’t really expect the master to answer but surprisingly my opponent spoke, “And I though I would get a challenge. Two lower level enemies? This will be a slaughter.”
“Ahh, you speak, how nice. I don’t suppose you want to become my subordinate?” I asked him.
He instead laughed uproariously, “Your subordinate. What a joke. I only serve one master.”
“How disappointing. Alice, kill him.”
“No way. It looked boring. You kill him. I was going to take a nap.”
I sighed, she just wasn’t interested in fighting weak opponents. I couldn’t blame her though. Holding back was a bit dull.
“Fine, I’ll kill him them.” I drew my swords. Then I paused for a moment and said, “What if I let you go all out?”
She brightened up, “Really? I can do that? What about the plan?”
“This is the final battle right? No need to hold back any more.”
“Awesome! Then I’m totally into this. Sit back and let me handle everything.”
I stepped back and she passed me and began to make stretching motions.
“Are you weaklings done talking? If you think you can defeat me one on one you are deluded. Even together you will lose.”
“Really?” Said Alice as she walked forward, “You seem rather weak to me? I mean you haven’t even noticed that I activated my skills. I mean that armor looks so fragile.”
Then she flashed stepped in front of him and with a single blow his carapace armor shattered, torn ashred by her first blow. Blood splattered across her as his exposed fragile skin appeared beneath. “You should do better at dodging.” He barely managed to parry her next attack but that was what she had planned. Her shatter skill broke through his arm sword like it was butter, knocking him flying toward the wall.
“Is this really all?” She asked sounding bored once more, “I hope the next part is more interesting.”
I was already standing near the two of them, “It looks like I don’t actually need you poor challenger but I will still accept your surrender. I could use a manservant.
However the man roared and screamed, “You think this is all I have you are wrong. My shapeshifting is unmatched!” He screamed as he shifted and changed forms becoming large and groutesk.
“A pity.” I lifted one of my swords and with a single motion removed the giant head. Things really had become too easy.
I looked up at the master in the box and said, “We defeated it.”
There was laughter from the box, “Excellent, excellent. Both of you are extremely strong. However I only have need of one general. You two will fight and the winner will become my general!”
Alice broke free from her bored dazed and said, “I’ve been wondering this for a while, but are you an idiot?”
“What?” Came the voice in an outraged tone.
Alice continued, “I mean, you force us to fight each other gaining levels and then at the end just expect us to follow you? Who do you think I care more about, Jack or you?”
“I am your master and creator. You must obey me!”
“Really? Then come down here and force us? You were right. There is one more fight. You versus the two of us and the winner gets to leave this place. I wonder, what level are you?”
“I see. I made a mistake letting your will become too strong. I will do better next time. Unfortunately for you there is no way you want beat me.” The figure stepped out of the box and jumped to the ground.
Kreith, Level 97 Demon King.
“Oh?” I said smiling as I looked at him, “Level 97? That seems quite high. More than 10 levels higher than me. However I am not impressed. Let me ask you, do you have a skill which lets you tell what skill ranks other people have? Because my Gladiator job does have one of those skills.”
The broad shouldered man looked even more human than me or Alice. His skin tone was only slightly off tone, a strange silver. He did not hold a weapon but his hands were more like Alice’s with large claws that were growing bigger as the moments passed.