Chapter 56: Here We Go
“I’m afraid I’ll have to stand.” Bronson spoke. He was surprised with this ravishing blonde village chief. When he used Identify, it came back as a level 50 warrior. Sure, seeing level 50s and better was normal in Torith, but in a village such as this one, he had not expected. In fact, he was still reeling from the oddly dressed, cocky man with haunting purple eyes that smiled at him earlier.
His level 12 Identify had failed when he tried it on the man. There were only three possibilities. Either the man had Identify, and it was at a higher level than his, his combined Identify and level was higher than his, or he had an extremely high level. All that he knew was that the man was strong.
“I… See.” The woman said. “Well, my name is Rayna, and I am the chief of this village. How can I help you today?” She asked.
Bronson cut right to the chase. “A group of adventurers should have made their way here not too long ago. They were on a task from the guild to find and clear a possibly newly found dungeon around here.”
Rayna nodded. “Yes, the group stopped by here. They did not stay long before they left though.” The woman said.
Bronson frowned. “They left right away?”
“Yes. They came here and stol… borrowed Richard’s map of the village and surrounding dungeons.” She nodded at Richard, who winced ever slow slightly.
Bronson noted the slight disgust in the woman’s voice and the emotion from the man when she mentioned the map. Well, that sure sounds like the boy. The map is probably a very valuable thing out here, and Wallace must have swiped it. He shook his head. He looked directly at Rayna. “One of those adventurers was a noble from house Gracefall. I am both the head butler and guard of the house. I have come here because the boy is… missing.”
He was watching the woman’s expressions as he spoke. She frowned slightly when he mentioned that the boy was a noble. Bronson squinted his eyes and continued. “I find it strange that the team wouldn’t stop for a break after traveling all the way here.”
The woman visibly held her breath. She seemed to be thinking of what to say. She let out a long sigh. “They probably would have stayed.” She said. Bronson motioned for her to continue speaking. “They were creating a… ruckus… It disturbed Derek. He… ‘asked’ them to be on their way.”
When she finished speaking, Bronson immediately thought of the man he passed in the street. “Who is this Derek?” He asked.
“We don’t know much about him. He’s been here for a little while now, seems to have taken a liking to Richard’s grandson. All I know about him is that he’s strong and sometimes he gets in a mood.” The woman said.
Bronson looked at Richard. “Your grandson?”
The older man nodded and shook his head. “I don’t know what’s gotten into the boy. He keeps talking about becoming the man’s apprentice. He goes off and trains with him sometimes. The boy is already a higher level than me.”
Bronson got the feeling that the man did not approve of this ‘apprenticeship.’ If this man is as strong as he feels, the boy should thank the Great System that he took an interest in him, unless the man is… unsavory. “This man, deep black hair, weirdly dressed, and purple irises?” He asked.
They both nodded.
I guess I have to go talk to this ‘Derek.’ Bronson began to turn around. “Thank you for the information. If you think of anything else before I leave, please let me know.” He finished speaking and walked to the door, then out.
Derek was still leaning against the wall of the inn when he saw the man coming back from Rayna’s residence. Right on time. He thought.
Soon, the man stopped about five meters away from him and just stared. Derek was unable to Identify the man, but he could guess that the man could not use the skill on him either by the way he looked at him in the beginning. His badge showed him as a gold adventurer, so his level should still be under 150. Derek was not worried about having to face someone around that level. Plus, Torith was not a full city, and he doubted there was anyone even close to the platinum adventurer’s badge. Derek would put this man at level 130 at most.
Derek pushed himself off the wall and walked to the middle of the street. We’re going to have ourselves a good ‘ol fashioned standoff. He stopped and stared at the man. He pointed at the sword on the man’s back. “Can you use that?” He asked.
“Do you want to find out?” The man asked.
Derek chuckled. “You compensating for something?” He asked, seeing if he could rile the man up. The man just looked at him quizzically. Dammit! He didn’t get the dick joke… “Well, come on then, I don’t have all day. That inn has some of the worst ale you’ll ever drink and I want another.”
The warrior furrowed his brow and reached for his sword. “Fine, it’s your fault if you die.” The man rushed forward with his drawn greatsword. Within range, he slashed down with both hands.
This can’t be all he’s got. Derek thought as he casually raised his hand and grabbed on to the moving blade. The sword stopped in its tracks, like it had hit an immovable wall. The man stared at Derek, dumbfounded.
Derek let go of the sword and turned back to the inn. He started walking. “Put that butter knife away and come join me for a drink.”
Inside, Derek shook his hand and looked at his palm. The slight cut, not enough to draw blood, was almost healed. Decent Strength, too bad the greatsword doesn’t have much of an edge to it. It would be a good weapon if it was sharper. He walked to the bar and sat on a stool. “Two ales.” He said to Bart.
Soon, the man walked in, his greatsword nowhere to be found. Derek turned his head to look. “So, you wear that dull knife on your back as what, intimidation? Don’t you know it’s better to hide your weapons until you need them.” He said as he turned back and picked up the mug.
The man sat beside him, surprise still in his eyes. “Who… Who are you?”
“Hmm? Me? I’m Derek. Who are you?”
The man opened his mouth to speak, but closed it right after. Finally. “I’m Bronson.” He said.
“Hello Bronson, have a drink.” Derek slid the other mug over to the man. Bronson picked it up and took a swig. The face he made was priceless. “Told you it was bad.”
“What is someone of your strength doing in a village like this?” Bronson asked after setting the mug down… far, far away.
“Found a boy running from a wolf. Brought him home. Liked the peacefulness, decided to stay for a bit before heading to Torith.” Derek answered like he had nothing to hide.
Bronson frowned. “Did you see a group of adventurers come through here?”
There it is. Derek thought. “Yup. A bunch of assholes and a spoiled noble. Shouting noble this, noble that. If someone doesn’t teach that kid how to act when daddy isn’t around to protect him, he’s going to get himself killed.” He said and took another drink.
Bronson looked at Derek, surprised. “So you didn’t kill him?”
“Kill him? He’s dead?” Derek asked and Bronson nodded. “That’s odd.”
“Why would that be odd?” Bronson asked, confused.
“Well, he had to have completed the dungeon. The disease has lessened greatly this past couple weeks. I would have done it, but it was only level 100, you know how it is.” Derek replied.
“He completed the dungeon?”
“Yeah, surprised me too. Didn’t think the prissy noble had it in him.”
Bronson did not seem to get hung up on how Derek addressed Wallace. “You’ve seen the dungeon?”
“Of course, I thought the disease was interesting, so I followed it. Turned out to be a low leveled dungeon, disappointing.”
Bronson scoffed. “Low level... “He shook his head. “I guess I need to go to the dungeon and take a look.”
“Good luck with that. That asshole kid took the only map, and the disease isn’t as easy to follow anymore. I took a look earlier and was surprised by how quickly the plants were recovering.” Derek paused and acted like he was thinking for a moment. “I guess I could take you, but you have to do me a favor.”
“Yeah, I’m leaving for Torith soon. You can show me around when I get there. Nothing like having a local guide.”
“That’s easy enough, though, I don’t know how long this is going to take.”
Shouldn’t take too long, buddy. “That’s fine. Let’s go before it gets late.” Derek looked down at Bronson’s legs. “Can you move fast, or did you pump all your points into your muscles?”
At this point it seemed that Bronson was used to Derek’s rude remarks. “I can move fast enough.”
“Good, come on.” Derek walked out of the inn and towards the gate. Bronson followed.
After passing through the front gate, Derek took off to the edge of the forest at about three quarters of his fastest speed. Once at the treeline, he paused to wait. Finally, Bronson arrived beside him. “So, fast enough means slow, I guess.” Derek shook his head.
The other man glared at Derek with his mouth opened, not saying anything.
“Well, let’s go then. We should still be able to make it back by dark. Even at your speed.” Derek took off, this time slower than before. Derek was right. Without a team, and with someone who had high Endurance and decent speed, they were at the dungeon within hours.
“Here it is.” Derek stopped. The dungeon orb was about ten meters away, inside the clearing. Derek looked around. “Even this area has already healed quite a bit.” Derek walked to the orb while Bronson looked around.
Derek put his hand on the orb and pulled up the dungeon description, ‘Enter Dungeon’ was still there, as he was under level 100. “Whoa, would you look at that?” Derek said, catching Bronson’s attention. “It’s definitely been cleared, but the reward is quite good.” He looked at the man and smiled. “It gives storage rings.”
The man rushed over, and Derek removed his hand from the orb. Soon, the man put his hand on it. “This is going to be big.” Bronson removed his hand and continued to look around.
It was not long before he saw the tree with a decaying body underneath. He quickly rushed over. Derek slowly walked behind him. Here we go.