"Ah, that statue depicts the founder of Hope. Lucius Goldenmane. A very rare Golden Lionkin, quite like you in his golden heritage, but he was a very powerful SS-Ranker and an excellent leader. Unfortunately, most of his party members died during their clearing of the floors up to this point, which affected Lucius' confidence in clearing the rest of the dungeon. So he decided to create a village here to live out the last two years of life with his remaining party members. Eventually, more adventurer's appeared in this waiting area and just before Lucius' two years of time he was allowed to stay in this waiting area for expired, Clicker contacted him. From my understanding, the two played a game and Lucius managed to win. His prize was the changing of this waiting area's stay duration from two years to being infinite. Truly, Lucius is the Hero of all of us here," Alfonse explained with a light of reverence in his eyes.
Lone was more than surprised by this tale. An SS-Ranker gave up and managed to beat Clicker in a game? Lone didn't believe that for one second, but the fact that people could stay in this waiting area for more than two years was somewhat obvious, or else how could Lone explain why children were in this floor's waiting area? The fact that this 'Lucius' was also of a golden variation was of interest to Lone as well, but his thoughts were cut short by Alfonse's voice once again.
"We've arrived, welcome to the Lord's residence," Alfonse said before he gestured to an enormous and very decorative building made entirely out of stone and marble to Lone. This building was situated on the end of the large market square they were still standing in, and if anything, it certainly looked like the place the Lord a city would reside in.
After passing through an elegant looking garden and being greeted by several maids and servants, Alfonse led them up to a study of sorts. Apparently, it was a waiting area, and Alfonse had told the three of them to stay here until he had informed the Lord of their arrival.
Both Sophie and Breena began playing with and inspecting all of the oddities that littered the room. Lone smiled at this while he was examining the books that adorned several shelves. He had noticed recently that Breena had been copying Sophie to some regard in a few things and he assumed this was due to the lack of parents while she was growing up. She had explained to Lone and Sophie how she had been a slave for quite a few years, so now that she had regained her freedom, to some extent, she was now imprinting herself on Sophie and Lone. Sophie for regular things and Lone during battle, or so it would seem.
Lone soon found himself to be immersed in the books that he was reading. Most of them held records of what had happened in the City of Hope over the last several thousand years. This city was far older than Lone had assumed it was.
While using his passive skill, Good Memory, Lone had managed to skim through several books in the short space of twenty minutes, and he had discovered that creating things out of your imagination in this dungeon's waiting area was now impossible. However, several races lived here that had the ability to create items such as stone and earth, which made building a possibility as well as farming.
A few other things of note was the number of citizens in this city. There was roughly forty thousand. Which may not sound like a lot, but if you excluded the elderly and children, there was still approximately thirty thousand people whose average strength was that of a C-Ranker which was nothing to scoff at.
Lone continued to read and soak in the knowledge of Hope even when he heard the door Alfonse had previously entered being opened; he didn't put the book he was reading down and instead took a seat on a nearby sofa and got himself comfortable. Sophie immediately occupied his lap while Breena merely sat next to him.
"Indeed, as you said, Alfonse. Very arrogant, HAHAHAHAHA!" a boisterous laugh sounded out. Lone tore his eyes from the book he was reading for a brief second to look at its owner.
Standing before him was a very well dressed Lionkin with a long Golden flowing mane and an extremely chiselled body. Lone assumed this Lionkin to be a descendant of Lucius Goldenmane due to the fact that he looked different from the statue of Lucius and that in the books Lone had read, it had mentioned how Lucius had passed away roughly two thousand years ago and his descendants successively became the Lords of the city.
"Should I not be arrogant? I feel like I've earned the right to be arrogant, don't you think so too, girls?" Lone asked with complete seriousness to his group. He was right too, it would take an extraordinary set of circumstances for Lone to ever be defeated in combat and he was not only strong but also rather smart. So Lone felt like his arrogance was well placed. Lone never looked down on other people, but he felt like he was allowed to be proud of what advantages he had over others.
"I feel like you have, M-Master," Breena timidly replied to which both Alfonse and the city Lord made expressions of shock. Their shock stemmed from the fact that Breena, an awakened Foxkin from the Crimson variation had referred to Lone as 'Master'. To their knowledge, all Foxkin viewed each other as family and equals, as most beastkin did, and rarely, if ever, had a master-servant relationship between themselves. However, they didn't say anything about this because it wasn't any of their business and Breena seemed more than willing to serve Lone in whatever way she did.
Sophie response to Lone's question was simple. She had cocked her head back and leant up to kiss Lone on his stubbled chin which elicited a grin from him.
"Seems my party is in agreeance, so care to explain why I shouldn't be arrogant?" Lone asked the Lionkin standing before him.
"Listen, kid, I don't know who died in this dungeon to make you go into denial like this, but you need to realise that not only are you weak, but it's a darned miracle that you survived up to this point. So honour your fallen comrade's memories with a humble attitude, not the false bravado you're displaying now," the Lord of the city said to Lone in a very stern tone with disdain clear in his voice.
Lone remained silent and merely gave him a fierce glare. It would seem that Lone was thinking about how to react to the false assumptions of Alfonse and his Lord.
Taking Lone's silence as agreement, the Lord continued, "Now, let me introduce myself. I'm Greyfus Goldenmane, the Lord of Hope. I'd like to offer you all permanent residence here in my humble city. I can see that despite your current strengths, all of you hold a lot of talent and you may even become strong enough one day to continue down the tower, assuming you don't stay here for more than five-hundred years, at which point you can't leave this waiting area due to having exceeded the clear time set by Clicker for this place. So, what do you say, care to join us?" Greyfus expressed in a way that implied Lone, and the girls had no other choice, which was true if his assumptions were correct.
Lone had looked into Greyfus' golden, unawakened eyes for a moment before he sighed. "You really won't believe me if I say that I, Sophie and Breena here have been clearing this dungeon by ourselves and have gotten from floor one to floor forty in the space of twenty-three days, will you?" Lone said and waited for a second to see Greyfus' and Alfonse's reactions. Neither of them seemed to believe him, so he sighed once again.
"Fine, if I show you this, would you believe me?" Lone asked. He then created a flame of pure mana using his legendary skill, Kindling Of Mana. Half of Lone's mana was immediately consumed to create the small mote of light, but everyone present could feel the suffocating pressure coming from the seemingly harmless flame.
Both Greyfus and Alfonse took in a sharp breath of air and reconsidered Lone's words. Perhaps his arrogance wasn't caused by denial but was there due to genuinely defeating all forty floors with his small party? Such a thought made the two men shiver.
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