Pretty soon the Innkeeper was walking, very carefully, over to our table with a couple of plates. Just as it was about to reach it the front door of the inn slammed open. The innkeeper spooked and would have dropped the plates had I not caught them out of the air.
Several heavily armored soldiers stepped through the front doors. They then quickly moved aside for the man behind them. An extremely well dressed man stepped forward. From his clothes to his sword everything seemed perfect and expensive.
Bordo, Level ??? Duke
His level was hidden, that was strange. Nobody I had fought before had been like they and it had three digits. Was that just an artifact of the hidden level or did it actually imply that he had a triple digit level.
The Innkeeper prostrated himself before the Duke. I however turned my attention back to Alice who was staring at the plate that I was holding. It was a grilled meat dish with a gravy on top. I handed her the plate and said, “Make sure you use the knife and fork like I taught you.”
She had been about to shovel everything into her mouth with her hands before that so she paused and pulled the required utensils from the cup in the center of the table.
The Duke seemed to be annoyed that I wasn’t paying attention to him. His guards and him stepped forward to loom over the table that I had been sitting on. As he got there I lazily turned to look at him.
“Is there a problem?”
“You are to surrender to the Dukedom or face execution.”
I just blinked a couple of times, “For what reason?”
“Your crime is the crime of existence. Demons are forbidden within the Grand Kingdom. No further questions will be accepted.”
“I’m afraid you are going to have to wait until me and my companion are done eating. Otherwise I will never head the end of it from her.”
She looked up from her food. She was still having trouble with the fork but she looked excitied, “Jack, this is really really good! You should have some too. Otherwise I’ll eat your food too.”
One of the soldiers stepped forward and placed his large glaive like weapon against my neck. “Did you not heard the Duke. Either surrender or die.”
“Your guards are rather brazen considering I am sixty levels above them.” I placed a finger on either side of the blade and pinched. I then pushed the blade backward slightly forcing the soldier back a few steps.
The Duke however seemed unperturbed, “We have already seen through your deception.”
“Deception, I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean. We are just simple travelers seeking to eat a meal as an inn. Nothing less nothing more. If there is a deception here then I expect you are the one initiating it.”
That seemed to insult the Duke too far and all his guards raised their weapons to attack. Then the weapons came crashing down around me. Alice had already escaped the area with her nearly empty plate of food and mine too.
I hadn’t really moved that much. Just enough to avoid the attacks and to push aside some of the weapons with my hand. When the assault was over the table was destroyed and only me and my chair were unarmed.
“If you want to pick a fight then I’m game but I would prefer not to have to fight weaklings. I’ve had enough experience doing that already.”
The Duke himself seemed furious, no, maybe frightened. Had he expected somebody who was level 87 to be weak? No that couldn’t be right.
“Jake, stop playing the man who is pretending to be strong and come eat with me. I really will eat your plate if you don’t finish soon.”
“Ha, you are exactly right Alice. That explains it. He thinks I must be faking my level. I guess that makes some sense. Two random level 87 people arrive in a town and nobody had ever heard of them before. Their level must be fake. What is what you are thinking right? I mean you have some means of hiding your level so it makes sense that there would also be ways of faking it.”
“If that is what you think then I will fight you myself.” Said the Duke as he drew his sword. Then in a fluid motion that was probably too fast for his soldiers to see he swung it at me.
I had already quick drawn a fork from the table and used it to parry his blow. The weak metal of the fork would have normally broken instantly but one of my skills provided increased resilience to damage and improved durability.
“Oh, not too bad.” I said, “Your sword skill is not that great. It probably puts you at level 40, no I shouldn’t judge you by that place. I’m going to guess 35 instead. Honestly it is a little disappointing. I have never fought somebody that is level 100 or higher.
He gritted his teeth. He must have been angry that I revealed his true level since he was trying to hide it.
“Also your sword is pretty good quality. It even looks enchanted. Are you disappointed that I can notice all these things? I have some pretty useful informational gather skills.”
The Duke was standing his ground, not yet believing that he would lose. That was a pain.
“Really, it looks like I will need to make a name for myself or boring people will never leave me alone.”
With one fluid motion I used my fork to disarm the Duke of his weapon, grabbing it in my other hand. Then I flash stepped behind him and pressed the sword against his neck. “Now to you realize that your are outmatched?”
There was finally terror that I could see out of the corner of his eye. Why did I keep encountering people like this. It felt like he was similar to the Demon King, although far less powerful.
“Now! Stab him!” Shouted the Duke and he soldiers quickly obeyed. I could have avoided the attacks but I needed to show my threat. So I just stood there. The swords wielded by people of that level were incapable of damaging me.
The swords hit my skin and stopped. Or bounced off. I had a Demonic Form skill which get me some natural armor but beyond that I didn’t have any real protection against weapons. All of my opponents that I had faced so far were at least strong enough to damage me. However such was the difference in level between me and these soldiers that they were completely unable to harm me.
I activated my Warrior’s Presence skill and spoke, “Now you have had your chance. Surrender and flee or face execution.” The intimidating aura pressed out against the soldiers and almost simultaneously they all dropped their weapons and fled through the door.”
Then I looked down at the man that I was still holding hostage with his own blade. “You too. If you ever bother me like this again. I will kill you.”
I then released him. Took his sword between my hands, and gently snapped it before dropping the pieces at his feet. He didn’t even pick up the pieces before fleeing out the door.
As they left the inn and muttered, “How annoying.” If I had to keep doing this in every town it would end up being really annoying. Hopefully building a reputation would restrict the interruptions to interesting ones.
I stepped over to the innkeeper who was still prostrated on the floor, “It seems that I am going to need another two plates since Alice is already finishing eating my plate. And sorry for the interruption.”
The man was almost pale from fear but he scurried into the kitchen.
When I returned the Alice I rapped her one the head, “Didn’t I tell you to use silverware?”
“I was, really, but then the table got knocked over and the silverware all went flying.” She was licking one of her fingers.
I motioned and we sat at a new table, “Yes, and this table also has silverware. You could have used that.”
“But I was busy watching you tease him.”
I snorted, “Yeah right, you were only looking at the plate weren’t you?” She was silent, partially because her mouth was full again.
Lots of new problems had presented themselves. My plan was going to be more annoying. Or maybe I could use it as publicity. Plus there was the problem with money, when I had started I had a small bag with some coins in it. Apparently my hero job provided that.
While contemplating the innkeeper brought another two plates. Alice got her third place and I finally got my first place. It was basically a steak with meat gravy and grilled potatoes. I took a bite. It was good. A relief after all the time I had spent in the dungeon.
Still my memories continued to betray me. The meat was overcooked and the gravy was poorly made. The potatoes were underseasoned. It was good but it could easily be a lot better.
“Hey, innkeeper, did you cook this?” I asked.
“Ye ye ye yes.” He stammered.
“Do you have a cooking skill?” He nodded and I continued, “What rank is it?”
“Ah, the explains things. Thank you.” I took out a gold piece and handed it to him, “You can go now.”
He stumbled backward and rushed to hide in the kitchen.
I did some private pondering while we ate. When we were finally done Alice stretched out on the chair looking satisfied.
She nodded, “Yup, it was worth living.”
“I’ve been trying to decide what we should do next.”
“Hamburgers! You said hamburgers were very delicious!”
I laughed, “Hamburgers huh? I don’t know if they even make them in this world. We will probably have to go to a big city to find the needed ingredients. Then cooking tools… Hmm, I wonder if I could make them using my Monster Smith job.”
“You are going to make them? Your food is the best!”
When my plate was empty it was time for us to leave. If we were going to do hamburgers then a larger city was one the menu.
Red Blossom failed to defeated Darkmaw. They had gathered the strongest force that had ever been seen in Dungeoncity but it had not been enough to defeat the dragon. However most of their team survived, their leader managed to hold off the dragon long enough for them to flee before escaping himself. His injuries were reported to be some of the worst people had ever seen but he had survived.
It was a terrible tragedy but the romance of dragon slaying survived. In fact it might have grown even stronger. The story of the fight spread but also exactly how difficult it was. One level 60 had stood against the dragon and managed to hold it off and survive. People whispered that maybe a full party of level 60s could have defeated Darkmaw.
My team was also slowly getting closer to that ideal. Lanette had hit level 25 while I was 24 and Sterling had reached 22. I had pushed him hard to level him up and it had shown great results. His skills had already been higher than his level suggested, probably because of his age, and the bonus skill points had done wonders to his build.
I had helped advise his build and with him as our tank our battle efficiency had increased dramatically. We had done our first expedition into the jungle recently and it was much easier than I had expected it to be. The entire team had the level requirement so there had been no complains from the Adventurer’s guild.
Then we started planing a larger expedition into the jungle.