~ Chapter 5: The Heroes (Part 1) ~
This was going to be the first time since teleporting to Yandrea's dungeon when I was going to see how the inhabitants of the surface world looked like. I was thinking of humans at first when I heard the word 'Adventurers' from the automaton, but thinking about it, this wouldn't have made any sense seeing how Yandrea reacted when she saw me. She quite literally behaved like I was some strange creature she quickly became fascinated with.
What I still hadn't managed to figure out was why she proposed to me?
I was a stranger. I was an unknown old geezer with no actual value if I were to be compared with her Guardians...
Something told me, however, that she didn't even try to compare me with anyone or anything. She just saved me out of sheer curiosity or... maybe I sparked something inside of her even I was unaware off?
Or maybe I was just her pet... husband?
It was kind of hard to figure out the exact reason, and I didn't know how much I was going to find out by simply asking her. Chances were even she was unsure of why she did it.
Finding out why she made me her husband and saved me was just my own curiosity at play. Right now, I was looking forward with a smile on my lips to the idea of starting my life anew, to understanding what my relationship with Yandrea meant and how it could flourish. After all, there was no need for me to head back to Fellyore. Tuberculus, the old principle was now dead, and I was just the weakly human husband of this Godlike Dungeon.
If I wanted my life to be peaceful, I had to accept this truth and learn to coexist with her and all the monsters here who more or less worshiped her. Who knew? Maybe I actually fell in love with Yandrea as well and didn't even know it myself?
Not even once have I asked myself if maybe, just maybe, I was giving up too fast on Fellyore and my old life?
No, I wasn't...
I was an old man by human standards, past his prime in life and with enough accomplishments to die with a smile on my lips. I lived my life as I desired. I did all I could back at Fellyore and probably my only regret was the fact that I never got married.
In a way, a feeling of happiness popped up in my heart whenever I thought that Yandrea was my wife. Chances were she didn't feel the same way, but for now, I didn't mind striving to obtain a place at her side.
I wonder if this Temple of Heroes will grant me a little bit of insight on Yandrea? I thought as I looked at the big entrance.
The moment I stepped in, the light cast down from the Power Crystals lit up the whole place. At a first glance, my first impression was that rather than a Temple, this place looked more like a museum. The exponents here were impressive: granite statues of the fallen heroes who fought and lost against Yandrea. Their armors and weapons decorated the statues, which were placed on tall pedestals. It made those who gazed upon them feel small, weak, and insignificant.
If this sensation I was getting from them was a natural one or if it was because of a hidden enchantment, I had no idea. Seeing these statues presented like this also made me wonder if maybe Yandrea was holding these fallen souls in high regard.
“Imposing looking fellows, aren't they?” I asked.
“From your point of view, yes.” the automaton replied.
“What do you mean?” I asked surprised.
The reply wasn't instant. It was almost as of if he was hesitating to answer.
“Judging by ability alone, these heroes could have been easily defeated by the current generation of Guardians of the Core. They appear strong in order to force those who weren't able to see the actual fight overestimate them and their kind in general.” he replied in the end.
“Make the weak look strong so that when you battle them, this side will achieve a crushing victory by using its full might from the start.” I said as I remembered the scheme a Shorayan general once used against his enemy.
In that war story, the enemy army of weakly trained peasants highly outnumbered that of the general's force by 20 to 1. However, in regard to actual combat power, the enemy had at most a couple of Master Ranks leading his force. Right after them were the Advanced Ranks, while most of his soldiers Beginners scrapping the bottom of Intermediary. The general's force, however, had only Master Ranks with Emperor Rank commanders, and the general himself being a Godlike. However, the sheer number of his enemy dropped the morale of the general's troops and many were wondering if they will be able to win.
Seeing this, the general ordered several of his men to spread rumors of how the enemy force was of unparalleled power. Then, when the time for battle came, half of the general's men were tempted to flee in fear of their unknown enemy, while the other already made peace with the idea of dying on this battlefield.
From an ordinary person's point of view, what the general did was one of the most foolish things possible, however, before they set out to battle, he gave them a speech. With his words, he was able to touch their hearts and gather their courage. The troops regained their morale and became determined to crush their foes with everything they had. Thus, when the horns of battle sounded, the well trained soldiers of the general used all of their might to completely destroy their foes. The battle was won by the cunning general.
Although, many historians do claim that if his soldiers began to flee from the battlefield, no speech would have been able to bring them back. There was also the chance that they wouldn't listen or understand the general's speech.
I for one was of the belief that training your soldiers with the idea of one day facing a strong enemy would result in them performing better and not slacking off. What the general did right before the battle could be called both foolish and excessive, but in the end, he succeeded in stirring up his soldiers and having them be more aware of their foes.
“Indeed, that is the purpose of these temples. Rather than a way to brag about her victories, it is a means through which our Master forces all those living within this dungeon to see her as the most powerful undefeated being here. It also forces them indirectly to battle all incoming adventurers with all of their might.” the automaton explained.
“Hm? What species is this? I haven't seen it before.” I asked as I pointed at one of the said heroes.
“This one is called Maskea. She was a Reiss who used the spear and bow. Her armor is made out of woven iron thread enchanted to resist against magic. The tip of her weapon was enchanted with a spell capable of ignoring up to 36.5% of an enemy's Magic Armor.” he explained as he pointed at the items the statue wore.
“What about that one?” I asked pointing at another statue.
“That one is called Boruq. He was a Forglore who wore heavy armor covered with enchanted steel plates capable of repelling attacks from foes with a level up to 400. His weapon of choice was the mace, which just like Maskea's spear could ignore up to 34.3% of the enemy's Magic Armor. He also carried a shield, but during his battle with our Master, it was shattered to pieces. What you see there is an exact replica.” he explained.
“Hm. Is that so?” I said absentminded as I looked at the two.
Reiss and Forglores were the two native species most commonly found on the surface. The first looked like an oversized humanoid rodent with large pointy ears, a snout, and a row of sharp fangs designed to rip and rend the meat off an animal's body. They had a long hairless tail and four fingers on each hand.
When I went around the statue of a Reiss, I saw that it had spikes coming out of its back. They were small and popped up only around the spine.
The Forglores, on the other hand, looked like massive bears who walked on their back feet, but unlike those I knew from Allasn or Sorone, this species had four jaws that opened diagonally and a reptilian tail. Their eyes were big and three in number, with one right in the middle of their foreheads.
The armors and weapons of these Reiss and Forglore adventurers were impressive. They weren't the type you would expect to find on an ordinary adventurer. I would even dare to be bold enough to say that some of them were looking good enough to find them on Emperor, Godlike, and Supreme Rank Adventurers back on the Allasn Continent. However, it was a shame I couldn't use any of their equipment. They were simply far too big for a scrawny human like me to use.
Letting out a sigh, I began to walk among these statues and see what else piqued my interest.
At one point, I stopped and turned to look back at the automaton.
“Why do these adventurers keep attacking Yandrea to the point where their entire party is wiped out? Why don't they retreat?” I asked.
By nature, those who lived by the laws of quest and adventure were a cowardly bunch. If they deemed there was no profit to be made from an expedition, the big majority of them would refuse to venture further inside, no matter how powerful they were when compared to the nearby monsters.
Even I had my moments of adventure when instead of going deeper inside a dungeon or some monster infested forest, I turned around as soon as I achieved my objective.
For this reason, there were even some people who claimed we were far worse than mercenaries. We couldn't blame them, but we were adventurers not knights or heroes appointed by the kingdom to solve an unprecedented crisis. We had to pay for our bills from the money we earned while completing quests. There was no reason to increase our repair bill for our gear if we had nothing to gain.
As I said... Adventurers weren't heroes.
“Mistress Yandrea made sure to bait them with treasure and then she would block their way back. If they wanted to leave this dungeon, they had to reach the core, which was at this level.” the automaton replied.
“So she baited them inside and then marked them as invaders to kill them when they got too close...” I said and looked down for a second.
That's rather deceptive and sadistic of her, but I can't say unexpected. She is a Dungeon... For her, Adventurers are both her enemies and food source... I thought and then scratched the back of my head.
I may have been an old geezer on the inside, but it still felt rather weird to be married with my own predator. Then again, Nanya was a demoness, and I found her to be rather attractive.
“Sigh... Maybe I am the crazy one?” I wondered as I looked up at one of the hero statues.
“I apologize, but I do not have any reliable information based on which I can either approve or deny your statement.” said the automaton.
I looked back at him and showed him a soft smile.
“Let's hope that when you do, all the data will point at the fact that I am sane.”
“Currently, it's inconclusive.” stated the automaton.
Scratching the back of my head, I decided to end this subject here and speak no further of it.
There were other heroes around here who looked pretty similar to the el'doraw. Actually, there was a chance they were elves. When looking at them like this, it was a bit hard to tell. Their physical appearance was quite similar to each other in the idea that they were both quite beautiful and appealing to humans. The only difference between me and these statues was the pointy ears they had.
“What's the species called?” I asked just to be sure.
“Negvar Elf or Elf from the Negvar Forest.” replied the automaton.
“Negvar Elf? I never heard of them, but they look remarkably similar to the el'doraw and elves I am aware off. Is there a connection between them, I wonder?” I said as I looked a the statue and analyzed its features.
The hero in question was quite handsome even from my point of view. The women, however, of both el'doraw and the elf species were a good sight to behold. Even the ones considered by them to be ugly or unappealing could easily charm the average human man. It was for this reason why some nobles from Thorya Continent preferred to sleep with them instead of human ones. Their life expectancy was also in the hundreds of years, which for a brothel, it would mean that they could use the same prostitutes for several generations without worry of them loosing their charm to old age.
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