“Deek, is it? You have the feel of a hero about you as well. What are you the hero of?” We were just finishing with our meals when Calypso spoke up.
“Ah? You’re a hero? I didn’t think you were that strong,” Roxford said, and then waved his hands. “Not that I’m saying you’re weak or anything!”
“I’m the hero of a city called Chalm. Nothing special.” I responded simply.
“Chalm… chalm… I’ve never heard of it!” Roxford shrugged.
“Most towns usually elect a hero of the town. They’re not so amazing when you think of it.” I responded.
Although I had never officially met any other heroes, there had to be at least a few hundred in Aberis alone. The prince had once mentioned that there was a yearly gathering of heroes, which was coincidently where a lot of heroes gained their more unique names, but I didn’t know when that was and I didn’t have much interest in going to it anyway. As a lord, my status already exceeded a hero anyway.
“Don’t try to be modest.” Her red lips moved up in a smirk once again. “You have to be quite powerful to make it this far. It is a warzone out there, after all, and you’re a human.”
“Well, aren’t you?”
“I am!” Roxford declared. “Although, my bandits are a mixture of humans and demons.”
“What about you?” I asked Calypso.
“Don’t you know not to ask a girl such personal questions?” She gasped mockingly. “I’ll just say I’m not a demon.”
Well, they both looked human, and without using god eye on them, there was no surefire way to find out. I decided to take them at their word for it, but I was curious about what they had said.
“Demons and humans? How do the demons feel about you going after their demon lord?”
“Demons aren’t much different than humans.” He shrugged. “Some are bad, some are good. Some resent the oppression of an overbearing lord and are willing to break the rules to upheave them. Our troop has always taken from the wealthy and given to the poor. Demons, humans, it doesn’t matter to us. This particular Demon Lord has exploited his people, and thus we must destroy him. To accomplish that, we need a weapon.”
I had already thought such thoughts. After all, how could I have Shao next to me without thinking that perhaps demons weren’t as evil as we let on? That didn’t mean they weren’t the enemy, and this so-called demon lands to the north is supposedly a blight where they allow the curses of dungeons to run wild. I couldn’t allow the dungeons to continue to sprout up. We had to destroy them. Looking around the bandits here, another product of the dungeon, I just had to harden my heart. They didn’t make the choice easy, but if I didn’t fight, then our world would be destroyed. I was certain of that, at least.
Calypso gave me some bad vibes. The Bandit Hero I had met outside Calypso’s Tower was a feeble old man, while this was a young lad in his youth. Even so, there was no guarantee that they would look exactly alike. This was just an approximation of a captured memory. Just like the giant who didn’t look anything like the real Xin, there was no saying the replica was identical. Still, I did not doubt that they were the same man. If that was true, then Calypso was the dark priest who betrayed him. Calypso’s Tower was named after his betrayer, not something related to the sea. While the faces were different, the names were the same.
It was odd dealing with the man at this point in his life. I quite literally knew his future and had even been the one to help him pass on his trapped and cursed soul from another dungeon. To now see him at a younger point in his life in this dungeon, it had a strange feeling to it. What if I told him what had happened to him? Was there some way to convince someone from a dungeon that they were in fact from a dungeon?
The very first skeleton I had encountered in this world seemed to be aware he wasn’t a human, but he also was nearing death. Was that what it took? Had I still had Calypso’s Blessing, I wondered what effect it would have had on the pair of them. Would my more direct knowledge update the dungeon, making them more accurate representations of themselves?
Naturally, I had far more questions than I was getting answers for, and I wasn’t going to ask it from either of the two bandits who were treating us as guests. I didn’t trust Calypso at all. From the beginning of the meal until the end, she skillfully asked questions trying to probe information out of me. She wanted to know everything from where I came from to how powerful I was. She never flatly asked though, always chose to word things in coy ways. She was very clever, probably smarter than me or the Bandit Hero.
As for the Bandit Hero, he was just as naïve and idealistic as Calypso’s lore had suggested. However, I had thought he had lost most of that childishness after the Capital. I guess it took a few more betrayals before he became the embittered old ghost I had met those months ago.
Once we finished eating, Calypso was the first to excuse herself, saying something about doing some kind of invocations. As for the Bandit Hero, he seemed to like to talk and was charismatic in many ways, but he also knew that there was a purpose that we were there. He decided we needed some time to rest before the forging started. He left us in a room to rest until the ovens were heated. Once the door closed, I glanced at the single bed in the room and then raised an eyebrow.
“I think they think we’re lovers.” Garnet chuckled.
I prayed to whatever god sent me here that no matter what happened, I didn’t go down in history as the loli hero.
“I didn’t want to ask this while the two of them were around, but do you have the ability to make this weapon they want?”
“I’ve forged many swords before. Haven’t you used some of my equipment?”
“If I recall, it was all destroyed…”
“That’s not my fault! Who said you could use it so roughly!” Garnet cried out.
“It’s fine. I understood from the moment you made it that the items were just disposable for someone like me.”
“I know what you mean, but the way you say it still hurts,” she pouted.
“This isn’t steel though. This is Master Blacksmith level work.”
She nodded. “You’re right, I might not have the ability to do it. I think I should have Master here. Do you think the bandits will let me invite him?”
“I doubt it.” I shrugged. “Besides, he had his chance.”
“Chance?” She blinked.
I hadn’t told her my thoughts on the matter. She was there to break a thousand cycle round of failure. Now, there is no saying that having him present wouldn’t increase the chances of success, but that’s only if he let her take the lead. I had a feeling he wouldn’t allow his apprentice to craft with the most important metal. However, if he took the lead, I already knew the outcome. I think that the Bandit Hero, or more likely Calypso, also had thoughts about this.
“Who will be using the weapon once I make it?” Garnet asked.
“I’m sure the Bandit Hero is planning on you crafting the weapon for himself,” I said. “However, I will be the one to use it.”
“So, you will be going after the Demon Lord and destroying this dungeon anyway.” She seemed to feel slightly sad.
“Don’t you see? The Dungeon is trying to destroy itself.” I explained. “Why do you think it’s trying so hard to craft that weapon? No one here has the strength to defeat Aberon without it. This world has to come to an end eventually.”
“You said yourself, it’s no longer attached to the world. That means, it’s no longer corrupting the world.”
“It also means it has no source of mana to corrupt. It’ll slowly fall apart. It already has been falling apart for years. It’s like a dying star.”
“It’s my home!” she cried out, causing me to grow startled as I looked to see tears in her eyes. “I’ve never had a home before, but this place has accepted me for who I am,”
As a Deep Dwarf, she had left her home a long time ago. Perhaps, the low-level miasma of this place made it feel more like a home than anywhere else, not to mention the welcoming and friendly people from that village.
“I’m sorry…” I didn’t know what else to say.
She looked off distantly for a minute, but then her eyes locked on me. “I will set three conditions toward making this sword.”
“The first condition, you will complete the lore, not destroy it.”
“What? I can’t…”
“You’ve saved every other dungeon you’ve been in…”
“The blessings, they’re the lore. They are the core of the dungeon, its story. When you accept it, you preserve that lore for all time. If you complete this lore, then this world… the people in it… they will be in you. You become their legacy!”
“Promise!” She demanded angrily.
“I-I promise!” I straightened up.
“Condition two, only you will be able to wield the sword! It will go to no other!”
“I agree with that, but if they take it…”
“When I create the sword, I will have you work as my helper. I will bind the sword to you. Only you, and those linked to you, will be able to wield the sword. The Bandit Hero will have to depend on you because the sword won’t work for him!”
“Okay, I agree then.”
“Finally, I don’t have the strength, the stamina, or the skill to be able to make the sword.”
“You don’t? Then…”
“However, I’ve been drinking with your women before. I know what you are!”
“You’re a Slave Master!”
“I need those stat boosts, so condition three, I must become your slave!”