46. Gold Rank
I stared at the Human man as he vehemently refused me; he stamped his foot to the ground, not budging even as I gave him a pleading look.
“The last time we went to the Dungeon, I almost died— multiple times. And then again with Lucerna.”
I stared at him, blank faced. Daniel sighed, rubbing his temples.
“I need a break. I can’t deal with fighting and almost dying on a daily basis. Besides, you had already gotten your evolution, but I still haven’t got my Class advancement. I just have a little bit more to go— I was thinking of doing simple, easy jobs around Hazelbury until I become Gold Ranked.”
I narrowed my eyes, trying to identify him. Nope, only Level 30 to me. He was still hiding his levels— although I had no idea why he would even do that at this point. Most people knew he was one of the ones involved in saving Silvergrove. So why pretend he was weaker than he actually was?
“Well if you have only a little bit more to go, let’s go to the Silkfall’s Crevice Dungeon then! You’ll hit 40 in no time!”
“I just told you—”
He shook his head.
“Listen, Salvos, if I go with you to the Dungeon, I won’t be able to research more about Demons and the Netherworld. I know you’re excited to fight and level, but if you and I are both out there, how will you ever go back?”
I tilted my head back.
“I’ll… summon Haec here instead?”
“He doesn’t have a summoning collar.”
Daniel spoke simply. I grimaced. Right, I told him that, didn’t I? I threw my hands up in the air.
“Then I’ll summon another Demon here and steal their collar!”
I nodded affirmatively to myself. That’ll work. I can just take two of those collars and put one on. Then I’ll go back and give Haec the other collar. We’ll be able to come and go from the Mortal Realm whenever we want together! I thought it was a good plan. Daniel however, wasn’t as enthused about it as me.
“That’s not a bad idea, but the problem remains: how are you going to do that if you don’t even know how a Demon summoning ritual works?”
I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
I scowled, crossing my arms.
“If you don’t want to go with me, then stay here! But you better not be gone when I come back, alright?”
“I’m not going anywhere— I did promise you I’ll help you, remember?”
“First Haec, then Edithe. And now you too. All my companions keep leaving me!”
I murmured under my breath as I turned to leave. Daniel watched me go. Just as I reached the door however, he called out.
“It’s something you’ll have to learn, Salvos. People come and go— even if you don’t want them to leave.”
I turned around, eyeing the Human man standing there. His gaze was longing— facing something that wasn’t there. I jabbed a finger in his direction.
“Well too bad for you, I’ll be leaving you behind! I’ll be Level 100 when I come back next month!”
“...that’s not going to happen.”
I grinned and threw the door to our room open. I was staying with him once again ever since Edithe left; although she made sure to tell me a list of things I should and shouldn’t do in front of him. And for whatever reason, Daniel profusely begged me to listen to her instructions with utmost care.
But now, I didn’t have to worry about that any longer. Because I was not going to see him as well— for a little bit. It was only until I returned from the Dungeon, satisfied with whatever gains I could get from it. That was one of two reasons for my insistence to go.
The other reason was… well, it was what impelled me to want to go now.
[Available Skill Points: 4]
[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 5
[Fire Strike] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Flame Coat] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Scorching Wave] - Lvl. 2
[Self Haste] - Lvl. 3
[Passive - Blue Flames] - Lvl. 5
[Passive - Weapon Mastery] - Lvl. 1
[Unused Skill Slot] x2
[Charge of Embers]. [Fiery Hail]. [Ignition]. [Passive - Deadly Instincts].
Let’s test out my new Skills!
I ran down the streets of Hazelbury, dodging and weaving through the crowd of Humans that filled it. There were gasps, there were curses, and there were shouts. But I ignored them, and eventually reached the gates of the city. Too bad for you! I need to get used to moving in these clothes!
I dashed past the group of onlooking guards stationed there; a few of them called out to me, recognizing me from when I fought alongside them to protect the city from the hordes of monsters that came after Lucerna attacked. Well, they recognized my cloak billowing behind me. It was dark— black. Not that notable. However, I was certain my speed and level was.
“Ho, Salvos! Good luck on your journey!”
“Off to save another town in danger, eh?”
I simply nodded back at them, feeling my boots impact the ground with a thudding sound. It was uncomfortable— restrictive. But I would get used to it. Like I got used to wading through the ocean of rocks in the Netherworld.
I continued speeding past travelers, [Traders], and other Humans on horseback as they came for or left the city of Hazelbury. I was supposed to be heading to Silkfall’s Crevice, which was… from what Daniel told me, in the mountain right next to Bouldergarde. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where Bouldergarde was.
I stopped right in front of a family of three.
The father jumped as the mother stepped protectively in front of the child.
“What do you want?”
“Wait, don’t I know you?”
I squinted, forgetting my question for a moment. Then I shrugged.
“Actually, nevermind. Do you know the way to Bouldergarde?”
The father blinked.
“Uh, yes. It’s on the other side of Falisfield. About… 50 miles?”
He pointed in a vague direction. I nodded.
“Wait, before you go you’re a Gold Ranked adventurer, aren’t you?”
I paused mid step and turned back to them, brightening.
“How did you know?”
“Oh, uh, because you’re Level 40. So I just assumed you were.”
I grinned at them and pointed a finger back at myself.
“Well, I am Gold Rank. My name is Salvos, nice to meet you!”
“Salvos— as in one of the three adventurers who defeated that ghastly fiend rampaging through the country?”
I nodded excitedly. The child’s eyes widened, staring at me in amazement. I felt my lips curl up as she pulled away from her mother and up to me.
“You’re the one that saved us!”
“Yes! That scary Demon was attacking our city, and you defeated it!”
The mother walked up to the child, pulling her back slightly away from me.
“Now, don’t be rude. But yes, we couldn’t evacuate in time because it was all so sudden. And we heard you fighting. We weren’t there when you beat it, but we were close. We only came out when we heard the cheers— then we knew it was over.”
The father nodded, bowing his head slightly.
“Thank you, for saving us.”
I wanted him to continue praising me, however his face turned serious.
“I’m sorry to ask you for so much, even after all you’ve done for us, but we spotted another Demon— a Greater Demon, just like the last one— somewhere between Silvergrove and Hazelbury. We went back to Silvergrove to report it, and they sent out an alert. If you see it, please, don’t let another disaster happen again.”
“Please, Miss Salvos.”
The girl tugged at my arm. I cocked my head. Another Greater Demon? Why would I attack one for no reason? But… since they’re asking me to.
Then maybe I could steal his or her collar and use it to go back. It would save me some time. I stood there, chatting with the family for a while longer, until I noticed that the sun was now high up in the sky.
“Oh! It’s noon! I have to go now. I’d like to get to Bouldergarde before it’s dark.”
I started to leave. Don’t want to get lost. Everything looks the same when there’s no light! I thought to myself. The father smiled and waved at me.
“Thank you, again. And for spending the time to talk with us. Stay safe, and good luck on your journey!”
I waved back, now resuming my run to Bouldergarde. A while later, I realized I forgot where the father said the city was and that I was lost.
“Hey, is that Bouldergarde?”
I called out to a group of [Traders] as they passed me on the road. I pointed at the city in the distance, and they turned to face it.
“Nope, sorry Miss. This is Silvergrove.”
I stared at him, aghast. Isn’t that on the other side of Falisfield?! I sighed, looking over at the sun as it made its way down the sky, on its way to the horizon.
“Do you know which road takes me to Bouldergarde?”
I looked at the [Traders] pleadingly. One of them nodded and handed me a map.
“You just got to follow these lines here. It’ll take you straight to the city.”
“I see… thanks!”
I was about to continue on my way when another [Trader] spoke out.
“Actually Miss, you’re a Gold Rank adventurer, aren’t you?”
“Yep! I’m Salvos.”
“Salvos? Oh, you’re the one who killed that [Djinn] that attacked Silvergrove. We just heard a lot about you, you see.”
“Really? People are talking about me?”
I perked up, thinking about what they could be saying. The [Trader] however, interrupted my imagination.
“They were. You know, it’s still kind of dangerous around these parts. We hear talks about more Demons. Tell you what— you don’t need to pay for the map if you just help escort us to Cliffglen.”
I wrinkled a brow.
“...pay you? Escort you?”
“The map would’ve cost 8 silver. It’s quite detailed. But if you just come with us for a little bit, we’ll give it to you for free.”
I hesitated, glancing down at where Bouldergarde was marked on the map. Then I looked back up at the [Traders]. I can just run away. They won’t be able to catch me. But no— Edithe told me that stealing should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. It would make me get in trouble, which could cascade into me getting in trouble for being a Demon and dying to a lot of angry Humans.
The [Trader] continued.
“It’s not that far, just to the next town over. Promise!”
“Is this Bouldergarde?!”
I came to a stop right in front of a man dressed in armor. He looked like a city guard, although they weren’t as well equipped as the ones in Hazelbury were. He jerked, straightening when I appeared and rubbing his eyes.
“Hu— what? Oh this? Yeah, this is Bouldergarde. What do you want? Passing through or looking to stay in the city?”
“Oh, finally! And neither of those. I just want to go to the Dungeon.”
“The Dungeon— you mean the new one? Silkfall’s Crevice? It’s right up that hill over there.”
The guard pointed at the lumbering mountain in the distance, plastered over the dark sky. A road went up the slope, leading to a small crest before it continued further up.
“But are you sure you want to go there? It’s a Gold Rank Dungeon, Miss. It’s not a place for someone like you—”
His eyes widened as he pointed at me.
“Wait, Level 40? You’re a Gold Rank adventurer?!”
I looked at him— then at the direction of the Dungeon. I smiled back his way.
“But you’re Level 40, aren’t you? And you’re going to the Dungeon! If you could—”
I spoke over the man, still smiling. The man blinked, slowly lowering his arm.
“I… uh, see. I must be mistaken.”
I helpfully added. The man shyly scratched the back of his head.
“Well, uh, good luck with the Dungeon, I guess.”
I waved at him once, then spun around and dashed up the road. I found myself standing on flat ground quickly enough, and broke off from the road in the direction of where I remembered the Dungeon to be. But it was night now. The sun had set. And I realized… I was lost again.
That was, until I saw the smoke rising in the distance. Bright light shone and illuminated the night sky from below. I felt relief was through me as I saw what it was. A camp— a large one, with a few dozen Humans. But it was not just located at any random part of the hill.
It was right next to Silkfall’s Crevice.
Finally, I’m here.