Two guards go flying in opposite directions and smash into two marble columns at the exact same second.
There’s two dings and a pop-up notification, but I’m far too angry to care.
That’s just how it goes in this world. This world where someone pissed off Eryk Solbourne, (apparently) the strongest [Demigod] to ever live. But for now, he’s just a lowly D-Rank [Adventurer] and one who’s going to make sure these nasty surfer pirates pay for holding him back.
[12,001/15,000 LP.] If I am ambushed too heavily by soldiers, I probably won’t survive. The level-up process takes a bit of time, up to a minute under certain circumstances, and I’d likely perish before I could manage to complete one. Even if I have 83 Destiny Points and can level up more than three times as well as class up, it won’t be enough to heal my way out.
But I don’t expect to be ambushed, because King Bodhi sits on the throne in front of me, as calm as ever.
“You can’t leave Santa Barbara,” is the first thing out of her mouth when she sees me.
Then, another three guards make their leap, each from a different direction—
I guess I was ambushed, albeit in the weakest possible way.
“We are not your slaves,” I say. “We are passers by on an adventure much more important than the life here.”
Francis and Delta are not here with me. They were stopped at the gate by soldiers (I jumped over them, of course, and then pummeled my way through the crowds of others). So I am all alone in this.
“You must realize what it means to have such heroes like yourselves on the side of Santa Barbara,” she says. “We have a culture, and we have an economy. But we do not have the military might to defend ourselves against the United States of America if it sends the full force of its armies towards us. We need a symbol to help our strength, and you can be that symbol.”
She ignores me. “And Francis Bacall... our very first celebrity video game streamer! I can’t wait. You are our guests of honor, and you will bring more glory than even the Great Barbara Games.”
I’m simmering with fury.
But I am not sure what I can do. All the power in my body wants to simply dash up to her with [Kaio Blast] and evaporate her from existence. I’ve probably done it before, ending the lives countless willing leaders who fought against the hordes of the Slayers. But I know I cannot do it without facing tremendous consequences.
Then, I guess, the best I can do is use my honorable side.
At this same moment, Francis and Delta, both in handcuffs and escorted by many guards, are brought into the throne room behind me.
“Eryk, what the hell’s getting into you?” Delta asks.
“I’ll explain later. Or not. I don’t care.”
She scoffs, but I make no attempt to correct myself.
“Listen, King Bodhi,” I say. “Francis is not going to become your streamer, Delta is not going to become your wife, and I am not going to become your warlord. I’ve done it before, and I’m not planning to do it again.”
“Who said anything about... what?” Delta starts to say, but she shakes her head and decides not to talk any further.
King Bodhi shakes her head as well. “You have been welcomed into my city as heroes, and that is what you shall be. Even if I have to beat and torture loyalty into you, you WILL be Santa Barbarans.”
“So then, you are no better than the cultists at Paso Robles,” I say.
“Why you—! We are revolutionaries!” she exclaims. “Paso Robles was elitists who want to keep the status quo and oppress radicals! We in Santa Barbara are the very notion of rad!”
“Am I really alive right now?” Francis asks. “Is this all just a dream?”
“This is far from a dream,” King Bodhi says, “except that you will soon be granted the greatest accomodations possible. You will become the most popular streamer on the planet.”
“No!” I shout.
“I won’t let it happen... because I challenge you!”
“I, Eryk Solbourne, D-Rank [Adventurer,] challenge you, King Bodhi of the Kingdom of Santa Barbara, to a contest of skill and gusto. Right here at the peak of the Great Barbara Games. I will defeat you in a surf-off.”
She giggles. “Oh, really? And what is the wager?”
“The Kingdom. The entire Kingdom.”
“And for your side?”
“And for my side, I will wager our freedom. I will be a permanent slave of the Kingdom. Francis can become your valuable streamer for life, as well. I only ask that you leave Delta and her little one to return to San Francisco in peace.”
“Hardly a wager,” King Bodhi says. “You are already here, with no realistic option of escape. And while this Delta woman is useless to me, she can help provide valuable labor to help meet our first five-year mission.”
Now, I laugh. “You cannot truly rule, little girl, if you live in fear of your power being contested. Forefeiting my challenge means admitting that I am much stronger than you ever could be. Because I am.”
At this moment, I activate my ultimate gambit—
Kaio Blast: Rank 3. Doubles combat stats for 2 minutes. Cost: 500 LP. Holographic.
A giant sparkling, glittering light surrounds me, and so does a burst of energy.
Faster than the human eye can process, I systematically assault and beat to the ground every single guard in the room, all sixteen of them. These shirtless surfboard-carrying men are now littered on the floor, unconscious.
Dings echo through the room relentlessly as I make my way up to [122 DP.]
King Bodhi looks at me with far more trepidation than earlier.
And I smile.
She accepts my challenge; we will begin our surf-off tomorrow at dawn.