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Chapter 799 - Discussions With Royalty
I mean… he's fat. Like. Really fat. I probably shouldn't focus on that too much, considering that this demon is almost certainly seventh tier, the first that I've ever seen. But still, he's like… a mega-chonker.
Atop that bulbous ma.s.s of flesh, split through the middle with a grotesque mouth that even now is stuffing itself full of Bioma.s.s from trays heaped with the stuff on either side of the figure of the city lord, the shockingly humanoid upper body looks down on us with thinly veiled contempt.
"Why have you entered my city, Insect?" he demands, staring hard at me.
Why is he singling me out? Is it my carapace? The precious diamond that I carry? You can't have it! This carapace belongs to me, certainly, but also to the world! I am merely it's caretaker, shepherding this glorious form through the Dungeon so that uncultured swine might gaze upon my magnificence and achieve enlightenment!
"This is one seriously pompous fatty," I complain to Brilliant, "not to mention rude. The least he could do is offer some of that Bioma.s.s to us."
When I don't scent a reply from the little ant, I focus a little more in her direction and only then do I realise that the poor thing is frozen in place, totally overwhelmed by the dominant aura of malevolence rolling off the powerful demon in front of us. A tier three monster standing in front of a tier seven, it's to be expected. I myself haven't experienced that sort of disparity since the first time I laid eyes on Garralosh.
I really need to ask Granin about this strange manifestation of power as I understand very little about it. Is it simply the difference of intensity in the core that causes this effect? Is it a biological sense that's inborn in monsters so that we can tell the more powerful specimens when we come across them? A curious thought. I reach out to the grotesque mound of flesh in front of us with my mind.
[Mind retracting your aura a bit? My sibling here is still young.]
High above the heaving flesh, the demon's eyes glitter with malice.
"I will not," he replies.
I shrug my antennae.
[Suit yourself. Be warned that this might be construed as an insult to the Colony though.]
Those eyes narrow.
"Are you threatening me? In my own city?"
[I mean, in a way? I suppose if you wanted to interpret it that way, then I am. Yes.]
"I could have you shredded to gobbets with the wave of a hand, Insect."
[You'd have to put your food down first.]
The two of us stare at each other for a long moment before I decide to try and extend a claw in peace.
[Look. It seems as if we've gotten off on the wrong mandible. My sibling and my friends here have climbed down from above to take a look at your lovely city and experience the delights of the third stratum. Are visitors welcome in the city of Roklu? That's the name right? If they aren't, we can just as easily leave back up the pillar the way we came.]
Gotta lay on the charm when you're dealing with these types. Although it's taking all my willpower not to reference the demon's vast bulk. It's not like I can even avert my eyes from that heaving gut, I have near three-sixty degree vision! My change in tone seems to have taken this ruler by surprise and he regards us in silence for a moment. I'm hoping this is a good sign. Spirit of adventure is all well and good, but I'd much rather I didn't plunge the Colony into a war on this trip. I'm due for an outing that ends without starting a major conflict.
"I am the city lord of Roklu, Grokus," he finally speaks and introduces himself. "Generally speaking, visitors are welcome, albeit rare, in my city. Visitors from above are even more rare, there are few who would brave the dangers of the descent. I would have you know, that I am already aware of your… colony…"
I could distinctly hear the lack of a capital when he referred to my family. Disgraceful.
"… and I must warn you that any attempt to encroach on my territory will be met with extreme force. I have struggled long to gain my position and I will not surrender it."
[In the end we're just a group of ants,] I gesture towards Brilliant besides me, still frozen in place by the presence of the large demon, [I can't imagine that a city full of big bad demons has much to fear from us, surely?]
Grokus looks at me with one eye cast askance.
"That doesn't seem to be what you were suggesting earlier when you threatened me…"
I clack my mandibles and wave away the suggestion.
[A little bl.u.s.ter in a conversation is to be expected, is it not? We are strangers in a new place, it's normal for us to be somewhat cautious. I for one, have never set claw in a demon city and had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn't realise that I'd be dropping down into the city lord's compound. So I take it we might have your leave to explore the city?]
The giant demon looked down at me and my group a little longer and I take the opportunity to examine his core a little more closely. It's clear that his core holds more energy than mine, but not by that much. Clearly he hasn't benefited from a maxed core at each stage of his development. That doesn't mean I'm equal to him, a gap in tier represents a doubling of potential after all, but he isn't that much stronger than I am. With all my allies present, I'm confident we could make a mess of the place, though I expect that's why I detect so many strong demons nearby. Grokus isn't taking any chances with us.
Judging by the way he's looking at me, he doesn't think I'm taking any chances either. A correct a.s.sumption.
I sense he doesn't want a confrontation here and now, not in the seat of his power when he doesn't have a clear advantage over us. The tension seems to dissipate from his frame as he waves a magnanimous hand in our direction.
"Provided you mean no harm to me and mine, you are free to roam the city. Be warned however, a demon city is not like your Colony, we tend to not play as nice with each other. I will ask that you stop by again before you leave, I do like to keep track of the comings and goings of those who are within my walls."
I give a friendly wave with my antenna.
[We'll take our leave then. Any chance I can get someone to guide us to the gate? I a.s.sume you wouldn't want us wandering around your estate on our own…]
"I would not."
With an unheard mental command, Grokus appoints one of his guards as our guide, the whip-thin demon with far too many teeth flexes its claws around us a little too many times for me to feel comfortable, but it does its job and deposits us in front of a gate which will take us out of the city lord's compound and into the city itself. With the confrontation over with I breathe a slight sigh of relief, releasing the tension that had crept through my carapace. As blasé as I'd wanted to appear, I had known things could go very badly for us there.
Not that they couldn't go badly for Chubs McFattrolls.
I slowly begin to dissipate the Gravity Bomb I had constructed, breaking the mana off one tiny piece at a time from the roiling ball of condensed power inside me. I'd done my best to conceal it, but there's not really any way to hide such a concentrated ma.s.s of power. If things had gone badly, Grokus would have copped the blast right in the face, and he could sense it. Being tier seven, I can't imagine he doesn't have any tricks up his sleeve, but surely even he would have a nasty headache after going a round with the unlimited power of gravity.
He certainly has plenty of ma.s.s…
Never mind. We've made it this far, infiltration successful! Now it's time to see what we came here for! Demon society thrives on the other side of this gate! Let's go see!