Victor let out a moan of pleasure, as he sank in the warm, hot bath. So good!
Lynette’s inn was a top-notch establishment, a stone mansion renovated into a resort for adventurers and merchants; he had his own room with a king-sized bed and full access to a private bath in the back.
Victor had left his clothes and weapons nearby, just in case. He had had a nasty experience with a naked ambush in the past, and it didn’t hurt to be paranoid.
Victor glanced at the copper plate around his neck. Following Ogron’s ‘last meal,’ the adventurer guild had upgraded him and Vainqueur to copper-rank adventurers. Of course, from what he had gathered, the guild itself still had no idea how to handle the dragon and simply decided to follow due process until King Gardemagne or the Shining Crusade ‘settled’ the matter.
Victor had no idea what to make of the dead cyclops’ axe however. It didn’t have any magical powers, and it was too heavy for anything but a giant to use. He figured he would let Vainqueur toy with it, then sell it behind the dragon’s back.
The former outlaw had a more important problem to deal with. Namely, the love letters, and the maiden blushing at him when he walked through the street. Now Vainqueur had agreed to settle in Haudemer for a few days after Victor conned him into fighting the Scorchers, he could fool around again. Lynette was also quite easy on the eyes…
The bath’s door opened behind him, Victor’s hand moving to grab his daggers on impulse. Was it Lynette, bold enough to join him in the bath? Damn, this just kept getting better and better.
Except it wasn’t a maiden, but a disheveled Henry, and fully clothed at that. “Sir Victor!” he smiled at him with enthusiasm, ignoring or uncaring about Victor’s weapon. “Here you are!”
“Henry, why are you in my bath?” Victor asked the obvious question. Especially since he must have gone through the bedroom to get here.
“I couldn’t wait! I’ve been studying your case since yesterday, and it has been bugging me since—“
The Class Scholar suddenly noticed the black sword tattoo on Victor’s left shoulder and paled. “That’s the mark of the Nightblades.” He knew what the mark meant, and the organization which issued them.
Damn, the outlaw thought. He would rather keep that little secret to himself.
“Let’s call them legitimate repossessors of private goods, and I left them when I became an adventurer.” A lie. No one ever truly left the Nightblades. “And if you’re smart you will hold your tongue about it.”
Henry wisely dropped the matter, more interested in class discussions anyway. “I’m sorry, but it has been bothering me for a while,” he said. “Why not Crusader?”
“The class! With his immense strength, the dragon would reap the best benefits of its stats’ growth, and the self-healing would make him nigh impossible to put down! Think of the optimization potential!”
“You’re seriously considering making that dragon impossible to kill,” Victor said.
“Y-Yes, isn’t it your job?”
Yes, but he wasn’t going to do it well! “Look, all he cares about is money,” Victor replied. “He’s probably strong enough to handle anything short of legendary adventurers, so unless you propose a class that can farm gold without doing ‘minion work’, I’m not interested.”
Congratulations! For being perfectly in tune with your master’s desires, you gained a level in [Monster Squire]! +10 SP, +1 STR, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 LCK!
You gained the [Minion Trainer] Class Perk!
Minion Trainer: you and your minions gain fifty percent more experience when fighting side by side.
“How is it that I just leveled up in Monster Squire?”
“Ah, you probably gain experience doing tasks for the dragon,” Henry guessed. “You gained your class by serving him right? So, of course, the system will reward you if you protect his interests.”
Great, Victor got levels by being a good, loyal henchman. Somebody up above laughed at him. Minion Trainer though? Did the Class expect him to go befriend more dragons? One was already enough trouble!
“That just proves my point,” Victor said. “The way I see it, Vainqueur will level in the Noble class until he gets that stipend perk, and then he will delve into a new class better for moneymaking.” One which hopefully will not make him even more invincible.
“Gambler then. They have an excellent luck growth to complement the [Old Money] perk, and multiple abilities that can multiply money gained from bets.”
“I just can’t imagine Vainqueur ever betting anything though,” Victor said. “He’s a dragon, a miser.”
Henry thought about it, before having a eureka moment. “The Gladiator fighter class then! They gain lots of Perks that can provide tangible rewards if they impress crowds. Dragons have high strength and charisma, perfect to make full use of that class.”
Victor guessed it would appeal to that dragon show-off. “Do you have documents on it?”
“Yes, of course! Do I have your permission to take notes on its evolution? I have no idea how it will synergize with a dragon.” Henry lost himself in calculations. “You yourself have the [Claimed by Dice] perk, right? That means you get ten percent more chance to increase your intelligence and luck. You would make a good Spellcaster.”
“I would rather not spend all my time reading scrolls and grimoires,” Victor replied. “Don’t get me wrong, I won’t mind shooting lightning bolts, but I prefer to stick to daggers. All kinds of them, if you catch my drift.”
Henry didn’t get the dirty joke, making Victor sigh in disappointment. “Why not Gambler, then?”
He would have tried, if Vainqueur paid him. “Henry…”
“That’s a bit dirty, but… is there a class that helps getting laid?”
“For men or women? Most are gender-exclusive, except the Red Mage class.”
That wasn’t the answer Victor had expected. “There’s more than one?” he asked, puzzled.
“Of course, there are dozens of seduction-oriented classes, and many of them have useful perks for it, like the Dark Knight’s [Sinful Aura]. It’s a very common question.”
Damn, Henry made it sound like a respectable academic subject. And here Victor thought it was a stupid question! “I have a friend who has been… inactive… for a while, and he wants to stop up his game. Level ten, mostly rogue-like classes.”
“He? Ah, too bad, the best class for seduction is the female-only Black Widow. Does he have a high charisma score?”
“As good as mine.”
“Average then,” Henry said, Victor sulking. “Then I would suggest the Fiendish Rake class, discovered by Ludvic Van. It has very high entry conditions though, including charisma, vitality, and agility scores of fifty each, and surviving a special demonic ritual. If he doesn’t that score yet, he should build his charisma and grab a few perks in the Red Mage class. I can give you a book on it if you want.”
Was everybody in this world a munchkin?
For studiously learning about the Class System and how to improve your dating life, you receive the [Observer] personal perk.
Observer: you can instantly divine the class levels of someone you look at, as long as they are the same total level as you or lower. If the target is higher leveled than you, you can only see the total class level.
Yes, even Victor himself. “Henry?”
“Yes, Sir?” he asked, his eyes full of hope.
“Thank you,” Victor said. “Now get out of my bathroom, please.”
The unfortunate implications of their current situation suddenly dawned on Henry, who hurriedly left while apologizing all the way to the door.
Victor sank back in the bath, leaving his dagger aside, and letting himself drown in pleasure.
His moment of respite lasted one minute before someone knocked.
“What?!” Victor complained as the person opened the door without his authorization.
Lynette walked in, wearing a summer, golden dress showcasing her assets. Victor instantly sank deeper in the water, only his head rising above the waters.
The innkeeper laughed at the sight. “Such modesty,” she said. “Am I interrupting, Sir Victor?”
“Not at all,” Victor replied, having a very nice view with the current sight angle. “What can I do for you?”
“I have a very pressing problem in my basement, which I think only you alone could solve.”
Alone in the basement…
Ahah! Finally! “I’m all ears,” Victor grinned with a smile, Lynette smiling in response.
Victor sighed, as he walked into the inn’s dark basement, a torch in hands. It smelled of cheese, meat, and brewery, and the bitter scent of disappointment.
Instead of a basement tryst, Lynette had sent him on a giant rat extermination mission.
Seriously? He knew he had technically just started his career, but this was adventurer hazing number one! And unpaid labor at that! The things he did for dragons and pretty faces…
Yet, Victor had been scouring the underground without finding any rat and started to wonder if Lynette had overreacted. She said food had been missing lately, but it could have been the cook or a staff member stealing…
“Remember, everything is in the heart!” a high-pitched voice said, coming from behind a crate, “We need to say it with the heart, the heart! And practice the pose!”
Or maybe not. Grabbing a dagger with his free hand and holding the torch with the other, Victor looked behind the crate and found himself facing five pairs of eyes.
There were monsters in the basement! Except they weren’t rats. They were…
Small, lizard-like humanoids the size of human children, and just as smart, kobolds had sharp claws, stunted horns, and long, slithering tails. Victor counted five of them, each with scales of different colors, namely red, blue, yellow, black, and pink. Quite the rainbow.
Victor noticed a small tunnel, dug in a wall nearby. The creatures must have dug all the way from the countryside to steal the basement’s food.
“Oh my gosh, a human!” the pink kobold said upon seeing him, cowering at the sight of the much bigger Victor.
“Everyone, time for the choreography!” said the red one, bigger than the rest and seemingly the leader, “Remember, say it with the heart! He will cower before us!”
Much to Victor’s amazement, each kobolds adopted a strange, ridiculous pose.
“We fight for injustice!” the red Kobold started.
“We live for mayhem!” the black one continued.
“We strike at night!” the blue added.
“We strive in discord!” the pink one shouted.
“We are…” the yellow reptile finished, before shouting in unison with his gang, “The Kobold Rangers!”
Victor stood there, too confused to respond.
“Yeah, we finally mastered the choreography,” the red one chuckled happily, congratulating his team. “We floored him!”
“I still think we should add ‘chaos’ somewhere in the motto,” the pink pointed out, “I mean, it has such a zing!”
What the hell was Victor watching right now? “I felt that blue’s timing was off,” the adventurer admitted. “Also, if you want to go all the way, you need a team pet, like a white alligator.”
“What?” the blue kobold glared at him, “How dare you insult my talent! A human can’t understand true art!”
“I never understood abstract art, no,” Victor replied, not that impressed. Kobolds were no more dangerous than rats, and these ones looked like a bunch of utter idiots.
“Foolish mammal, the Apple of Knowledge showed us the truth!” the yellow one added.
“Wait,” the red one said, giving a blank look at Victor, “How did he…”
“You humans are out of style!” the black one snarled, showing his tiny claws and leaping at him. “It’s killin’ time!”
Kobolds being as small as human children, Victor stopped him by wordlessly putting his foot on the creature’s face. The monster struggled, its tiny hands unable to reach him, before calling to his teammates, “Help!”
“Wait!” the red kobold said, preventing the others from joining the ‘battle’ by moving in between the two groups. “He understood!”
“He understands?” the blue one repeated. “Absurd!”
“Yes, I understand what you said,” Victor shrugged, before realizing that he probably shouldn’t. The [Monster Kin] perk worked!
“And the smell,” the red said. “Do you smell his scent?”
The black one stopped trying to reach Victor and backed down, sniffing the human’s boot. “He smells like a reptile! A super reptile!”
“Ultra Reptile!” the yellow one exclaimed, sniffing Victor with such intensity the adventurer felt deeply embarrassed.
Even after a warm bath, spending days with Vainqueur had rubbed his awful smell off on him. And the dragon had complained his chief of staff stinked?
Victor instantly cursed himself for internalizing that stupid job. But then again, maybe he could make use of it… “Listen to me, kobolds,” the human declared with a broad gesture, “I am His Majesty King Vainqueur the Dragon’s chief of staff, guide, and class manager! Cower before me!”
“A dragon’s chief of staff!” Much to the human’s amazement, they seemed to recognize its meaning. “A real minion chief of staff!”
“Such raw charisma…” ‘Pink’—Victor decided to mentally nickname them after their scale color—had tears in her eyes. “I can almost feel it!”
“We have no choice!” Blue said, “We must sue for peace!”
“Peace!” Red repeated.
“Then, bring me this Apple of Knowledge, and I shall let you go,” Victor ordered them, although he suddenly felt guilty for some reason. Like he was bullying guillible children.
“Quick!” Red ordered, the others running into the tunnels, and quickly coming back with a black and white tablet computer with a familiar logo on its back. Victor lowered himself slightly to look closer, as they showed it to him.
Sweet! He could never afford one! Victor had heard items from Earth sometimes found their way to Outremonde, mostly brought by people abducted there. Where did the critters find it?
The adventurer lit the Ipad up, the screen loading with a delay, maybe due to aging. A quick glance at the desktop told him the previous owner had been one huge fan of downloading ebooks and videos; while most were hidden behind passwords, a few could be freely accessed.
Victor loaded one of the videos, showing old, silent footage of one of these ridiculous Japanese Super Sentai series. It was cheesy enough to make him cringe, but the kobolds watched with rapturous interest.
“He knows how to unleash the Apple’s power,” Blue muttered.
“Take us!” Pink implored Victor.
“Wait, what?” Victor asked, “Where?”
“Oh mighty chief of staff, please accept us as minions,” Red asked, bowing to Victor and soon imitated by the others. “We do not have the experience, and it would be our very first minion work, but… but we are hardworking and polyvalent and… please!”
The human found them strangely cute, monstrous critters aside. After seeing their big, adorable eyes looking at him with candid hope, the adventurer couldn’t help himself. “I’m willing to take you as interns,” Victor said. “Unpaid interns.”
Urgh, Vainqueur had rubbed off him.
“Interns! We’re interns!” the black one jumped on place, before stopping in confusion, “What’s an intern?”
“It’s a great opportunity towards potential future career advancements,” Victor deadpanned, repeating the words from his first summer internship.
“Such responsibility,” the blue one said with big bright eyes, much less cynical than Victor had been in his place.
For recruiting your first group of expendable minions, you have gained two levels in [Monster Squire]! +10 SP, +1 STR, +2 VIT, + 2 SKI, +2 AGI, +1 INT!
You gained the [Monster Student] Class Perk!
Monster Student: you can now learn monster-exclusive Perks after you are taught or targeted by them. You also count as a monster for the purpose of class access criterias.
Now, how would Victor word that to Lynette?