The situation that I had seemed to find myself in was not a favorable one. Not only did Central tell me that the lvl of the dragon was 20 but the 4 other mercenaries were also lvl 5. As a newly minted lvl 2, I was understandably worried. I asked Central for more information on the leveling in Yggdrasil and was greeted with comforting information.
A person's level is an indicator of the experience that they have gained. It is the culmination of all the XP points that you have earned from the various things in Yggdrasil. A great example was the Orc farmer in Englacia being a lvl 25 but only having a combat prowess of a lvl 10. XP is similar to your seniority in your class and subclass. You tend to gain more XP points doing things associated with your class and significantly less if you do things unassociated. If the Orc was to try his hand at being an adventurer, he would be significantly disadvantaged since his rate of leveling would be slower. In contrast, the Orc could quickly level up in farming if he has the farming class. Apparently, this was done by the Goddess in order to encourage the best and brightest to pursue their respective professions. Central stated that the 4 nations rewarded the highest levels in the population and usually attempted to ignore the lowest ones. In contrast to earth, hard work in your class and subclass was actually rewarded with higher wages, additional respect, and the ability to do your work more efficiently. You could essentially work your way out of poverty in Yggdrasil. This was the primary reason that the peacetime before the Demon Lords' arrival was for such a long time.
The levels in this world have been recorded as going to an average max of 1000, but it has been recorded that demi-gods can reach 5,000 and Gods can reach 10,000. Certain races tend to have different max levels that they can reach on average. Other than gifted humans, regular humans tend to have a max lvl of 100. Gifted humans have been cited as reaching lvl 1,000, which essentially makes them 10x better in whatever class and subclass they obtain. Central said that summoned heroes usually have different max levels depending on their classes so I have yet to know what my max is. I decided that I had to be cautious in the face of every enemy since the leveling system was so unreliable. I disregarded the confusing nature of levels and began to prep for battle. By prepping for battle, I obviously meant turning on autopilot since I had no fighting experience whatsoever.
After turning on autopilot, I walked over to the mercenaries. I told Central to attack once he sensed killing intent. Arcana and I began walking towards the mercenaries until we were both around 20 meters away from them. The dragon mercenary leader spoke.
"Hello, Paladin. I see that you have been summoned by our Dragon Queen. If you are done talking to her, we would like to take her back to the castle of dragons. You don't need to worry about her anymore." he stated, while licking his lips.
Essentially, I realized that this dude was not a good dragon, despite being under Arcana's rule. For one, I can tell by his dark wings that he must be a different type of dragon. He looked like the human version of an average asshole. He had the cliche scar over his right eye. He had a moderate build and was around my height at 6'2. I noticed that he had no markings on his wings compared to Arcana. It led me to believe that those markings indicate the class level among the dragons but I can just ask Arcana about it later.
I was going to speak but I didn't really see the point in negotiating with mercenaries. I mean, why would I hold a conversation with these guys? Ignoring the mercenary, I went to the OP Store and looked around. The store had many categories but the one that caught my eye was the lesser soul crystal. Apparently, it was a Calamity Paladin specific item that could store the soul of most beings under level 50 for 10 points. I had gained 10 OP points from those slimes so I went ahead and bought it.
"Hey! Did you hear me? I said you can go!" the dragon said, as he starting to walk towards me.
I put my hands behind my back and reached into void storage. Upon pulling out the soul crystal, Central told me how to use it. Apparently, all I have to do is touch him with the crystal and the process will take care of itself. I kept the crystal behind my back until the dragon mercenary was 10 meters in front of me. I could see that his class was a dragon knight and his subclass was Mercenary. It seemed like I had no real need to speak to him.
"If you are going to ignore me then..." the dragon Mercenary said, as he took out his sword. He began to lunge toward me.
As he closed the distance, Central sensed killing intent and activated AP. I readied my shield and took a defensive stance. The Dragon knight proceeded to do a downward slash but was parried by my shield. He quickly recovered. He began to tell me that I wasn't half bad but I wasn't really paying attention to his monologue. Central and I knew that the other mercenaries wouldn't let us fight alone. 2 mercenaries tried to run around to the back and flank me. 1 of them began to ready their magic albeit slowly and another began to confront the queen.
"Hello, Queen Arcana. I believe that I will be your opponent." the demon mercenary said.
I ignored the last mercenary because I figured that the problem would take care of itself. I decided to use magic to end this fight. I used ice magic to send projectiles towards the dragon but it dodged to the right. He sprinted forward to attack me and was met with an additional parry. With his sword against my shield, I saw an opportunity.
"This is good and all but I think its time to end this!" I stated, blocking the additional 5 attacks with my shield.
"How do you expect to end this Paladin? You may be able to block my attacks now but how much longer can you do it I won..."
While he was gloating about his strength, I took the opportunity to throw the crystal at his face. The crystal began to hover and glow. The mercenary began to slowly fade away into the crystal. The particles began from his feet and made its way up his body.
"What the hell is this? What did you do to me?" he shouted, dropping his sword and unable to move.
Obviously, I didn't answer since I would be an idiot to give away my cards this early. For some reason, people have a tendency to do that. It took about 10 seconds for him to be fully absorbed into the crystal. The 2 mercenaries, who were initially ready to flank me, were in disbelief as to what happened to there leader. I assumed they thought that I give a monologue so I took this opportunity to cast ice magic and freeze them. Apparently, beings in this world actually do chants in order to cast magic but that's literally giving up your cards before you play. I casted the magic and watched as the ice magic moved up their bodies. I assumed it was effective since they eventually became giant ice shards. I went ahead and broke the shards, with the mercenaries being absorbed by Holy Devour. With 3 down, I was left to deal with the mage who was now trembling 30 meters away from me. I'm guessing this guy was still new since he seemed like a nice kid. If I had to guess, he was probably only 16. He seemed like the type of person who would help an old lady cross the road and less like a person who would kill an old lady.
"Y-Y-You won't get away with this! I'll b-b-beat you and save my colleagues!" he said, unconfident in his words.
I decided that he was more useful alive than dead. He also called them colleagues instead of friends which began pique my interest. To be honest, I didn't really want to kill this kid. Especially since his class was Demonic Mage with a subclass of Holy Healer. I found it strange that he was a demon but still had a holy healing ability. I eventually introduced the concept of RPS to him.
"Look here Demonic Mage. I say we play a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. If you win, I'll let you have the queen and join your team. If I win, you'll have to become my bag carrier." I said, while turning off autopilot.
I explained the rules to him, with the mage nodding to the complete terms of the agreement. He proceeded to apply a servant spell to the contract that we made. He seemed like a good and honest kid. I wondered how he got into partying up with these mercenaries though. Of course, that wouldn't stop me from cheating again. This is me we are talking about after all. Logically speaking, you shouldn't trust a Paladin you just met. It seems pretty effective so I don't see why I wouldn't honestly.
"Ok! Let's play! Rock-Paper-Scissors-Shoo..."
And just like that, in the Ameran Great Forest, a healer had joined the team...