Chapter 41:

Vol. 3, Chapter 41: Rest and Reflection (Part Two)

Dungeons of the Abyss and the Unchosen Heroes

"Have you heard?"Bookmark here

"I can certainly hear, yes, thanks for your concern."Bookmark here

"No, that's not what I mean!"Bookmark here

"Yeah? Then be more specific!"Bookmark here

"It's about the Dungeon, the one under the stone circle. The Stone Circle Tombs? Was that what they're calling it now?"Bookmark here

"Damn, I was pretty miffed about being too slow to get in on this new Dungeon but right now I'm feeling pretty lucky. Like, worms that crawl inside of you, lay eggs all over, and take over your body? No thanks! I've seen some awful things in the Dungeons but by the gods, this has to be some of the worst. I sure hope the investigators they sent in didn't bring any of them Mimics back to town. You know what, I think it would have been better if they didn't come back at all."Bookmark here

"That's cold, even for you, my friend."Bookmark here

"Hey, I just don't like them creepy crawlies near me, alright."Bookmark here

"Anyways, I heard that by the time the investigators got there, the Dungeon was already cleaned out."Bookmark here

"Oh really? Well just because the Dungeon's cleared out doesn't mean every single one of those creatures are dead."Bookmark here

"Maybe, but that wasn't my point."Bookmark here

"Then get to the point then!"Bookmark here

"I would have if you'd just let me!"Bookmark here

"Alright, sure go ahead, tell it to me."Bookmark here

"The thing is, it was all apparently done by a single person."Bookmark here

"One person? Not a party but a person? The whole Dungeon?"Bookmark here

"That's right! Crazy isn't it?"Bookmark here

"Is it one of the Lightbringers?"Bookmark here

"I don't know, but I have heard that she's an S-ranker."Bookmark here

"S rank? That's impossible! That's just a tall tale!"Bookmark here

"I don't know. I heard that Albert guy from the Lightbringers is S ranked too."Bookmark here

"Yeah, alright, that I'll believe."Bookmark here

"Oh? I didn't know you're such an admirer."Bookmark here

"Oh, shut up! If you've seen him in action you'd believe it too."Bookmark here

"Wait! You've seen Albert in action!"Bookmark here

"Damn right I did, and maybe I'll tell you all about it too."Bookmark here

"Alright, next round's on me. Now tell me the story."Bookmark here

"Okay, so it was a little before you joined up with us. That time we..."Bookmark here

As the two Dungeoneers chatted away, on the table across theirs, there were those who had involuntarily caught their rambunctious conversation.Bookmark here

"S rank? What's that all about? The ranking stuff, I mean," Auguste directed his question towards Gladiolus who was seated beside him.Bookmark here

"It's something unique to the Arithmi Theocracy," Gladiolus replied easily. "Using the blessing of Arithmi, his servants are able to quantify a person's abilities and rate them accordingly from ranks 'E' to 'S' for comprehension's sake. The S-ranker they spoke of was likely someone who has one or perhaps more of their abilities evaluated as S ranked."Bookmark here

"I guess that's supposed to be impressive?"Bookmark here

Gladiolus gave a small laugh, finding something amusing in Auguste's ready dismissal.Bookmark here

"I suppose. That being said, the Dungeoneers' Guild here makes use of this system as well. If you're rated high enough in certain abilities, you might be requested for a job or two, especially those from the Scholars of the Abyss, considering that this is the town where they're based at."Bookmark here

"Is that so?" Finn was getting somewhat excited. It would seem that he's the sort that gets excited whenever he's getting his height measured. Looking at him, he must have gotten some satisfying results. "Maybe we should go find out what our ranks are too?"Bookmark here

"Not interested."Bookmark here

"No way!"Bookmark here

For once, Auguste and Henrietta appeared to be on the same wavelength.Bookmark here

"Huh? Why not?" Finn was confounded by the strong rejection.Bookmark here

"I just don't care for numbers and ranks," Auguste replied, his eyes looking elsewhere.Bookmark here

"Aye, that's right! The Henrietta Company doesn't need no numbers to tell them what's what!"Bookmark here

"We're not going get any good numbers anyways," Auguste added.Bookmark here

"Yeah, we- Wait, hold on a minute, don't just give up like that! Who knows, we might have some hidden potential or something."Bookmark here

"Sure, in your dreams."Bookmark here

"Yer know what? It's that self-deprecating nature of yers that I really hate. How'd ya expect to get anywhere with that attitude?"Bookmark here

"Talk all you want, but a gung-ho attitude isn't going to make you any taller."Bookmark here

"That's it!" Henrietta slammed the table, spilling the drinks and nearly flipping it, as she leaped up on top of her chair. "Yer wanna go!? Yer wanna go right now!?"Bookmark here

"Oh please, you can't even reach me with those arms of yours."Bookmark here

"Yeah!? Yer wanna put yer money where yer mouth is?"Bookmark here

"G-guys, please stop. Just forget I mentioned anything, alright? Come on, everyone's staring and it's getting embarrassing."Bookmark here

Despite Finn's plea, the two were already onto each other like a pair of angry dogs, barking at one another ferociously without a care for their surroundings. Finn eventually had to get in between them to get them to stop.Bookmark here

For the rest of the night, the two did not talk to one another and it continued on to the next morning.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

"Well no, that wouldn't work," said Morganna in a conversation she had with Auguste after lunch.Bookmark here

"Wait, why not?"Bookmark here

"Because Ether isn't as active in nonliving things as they are in living things. You can't just expect me to be able to make more salt with salt as a catalyst. If I could have done that, I would have just grabbed some dirt off the ground and started doing earth magic or make more gold with the gold coins we've got."Bookmark here

"Wouldn't the gold disappear after a while though?"Bookmark here

"It won't matter if we run fast enough."Bookmark here

"Hmm..."Bookmark here

"Don't actually put thought into it. I said it doesn't work like that, didn't I?"Bookmark here

"Right. There goes the salt idea. And here I thought I was actually brilliant."Bookmark here

"Well, if you've thought of it, I'm sure other witches had thought up the same at some point in the past."Bookmark here

"True... Anyways, I think it's about time I pay Tobias a visit at his workshop. He promised that he'd deliver before noon."Bookmark here

"I thought you went there this morning?"Bookmark here

"And he told me that it wasn't done yet and come back at noon."Bookmark here

"What did you order anyways?"Bookmark here

"Oh, you'll find out."Bookmark here

"If you say so."Bookmark here

Morganna's interest in this little thing went away about as quickly as it came. It made Auguste actually somewhat nervous about showing it to her later.Bookmark here

I certainly hope she likes it, thought Auguste, it's going to be awkward if she doesn't.Bookmark here

After picking up his order from Tobias' workshop, Auguste ran into Finn on his way back, at the front door to be specific.Bookmark here

"Going out for a walk?"Bookmark here

"Well... kind of?"Bookmark here

"Heading to the guild office, maybe?"Bookmark here

"Huh, how did you-"Bookmark here

"You looked like you were interested in finding out about your rank or whatever it was the other day, so I thought you might want to go."Bookmark here

"S-sorry..."Bookmark here

"What are you even on about? Just because I don't care for it doesn't mean I'm going to stop you from doing it. Not sure what Henrietta thinks about it though."Bookmark here

"I would prefer it if she doesn't find out."Bookmark here

"Sure, I'm not going to tell."Bookmark here

"Thanks."Bookmark here

With that, Finn headed off, or so Auguste thought he would, but he was still standing there, his eyes swirling about and his lips went open and shut without letting a word out.Bookmark here

"You want me to go with you?"Bookmark here

"You would?"Bookmark here

"Yeah, it's not like I have anything to do anyways."Bookmark here

In fact, Auguste had trouble thinking up ways to spend the rest of the day.Bookmark here

"Thanks, I kind of feel nervous going alone."Bookmark here

"Why'd you want to go there so badly anyway?"Bookmark here

"I just thought that if I know my capabilities better, I could find better ways to improve. I... I don't want what happened to my sister back in the forest to happen again."Bookmark here

Auguste remembered it well, the look on Finn's face looked frantically about for Elaine after she fell into that pit. He remembered how he gritted his teeth and balled up his fists. He had never seen someone so painfully regretful in his life up to that point.Bookmark here

"I see... So what are we waiting for? Let's go. If we don't hurry, the sun is going to set and the office is going to close on us."Bookmark here

Arriving at the guild office, a sizable wooden building comprising of two stories, Auguste and Finn approached the front desk with Auguste in the lead.Bookmark here

"We'd like to take a, uh, what did they call it? A parameter evaluation?"Bookmark here

"Second floor, last room to the right," replied the lady at the front desk, barely looking at them.Bookmark here

If Elaine was here, she'd make a big fuss about the lady's attitude or whatnot but Auguste and Finn weren't ones to care. As far as they're concerned, they've got what they wanted.Bookmark here

Heading up the second floor, the two quickly found a door hung with a sign on it that said 'Parameter Evaluation' and proceeded to enter. Pushing open the door, they found the room beyond to be quite different than the rest of the guild. From the aromatic candles lit and giving off a calming scent in each corner of the room to the white and blue silken fabrics decorating the walls and counter, there was a sense of ceremony to this place, much unlike the pragmatic setup found in the rest of the building.Bookmark here

Standing behind the counter, there was a young woman in a white dress with strips of blue. Auguste had seen these clothing before while he was out wandering around town and they were worn by the clerics in service of Arithmi.Bookmark here

"Are you here for the evaluation?" the cleric asked with a friendly smile, a huge contrast with the receptionist downstairs.Bookmark here

"This guy here is," Auguste gestured to Finn.Bookmark here

"W-well met," said the larger man, feeling somewhat nervous being in what seemed to be a rather fancy room in his eyes.Bookmark here

"In that case, please wait a moment. Our Augur will be with you shortly."Bookmark here

"Augur?" Finn tilted his head.Bookmark here

"They're probably like Oracles or something along the lines, right?" said Auguste.Bookmark here

"More or less," the cleric replied. "Are you from Vestal perhaps?"Bookmark here

"That's right. Both of us are, in fact."Bookmark here

"I see. The do you perhaps worship Ceratias by any chance?"Bookmark here

"I do, sort of. Is there a problem?"Bookmark here

"Oh no, of course not. I was just being curious. Please, don't take it to heart."Bookmark here

In the midst of their chat, a sudden 'thud' was heard from another room. It was the room to the right side of the counter, behind a set of blue curtains. Judging from the sound, Auguste guessed that it was a person that had fallen. Seemingly having arrived at the same conclusion as Auguste, the cleric hurriedly rushed towards the curtains, practically tearing them open to reveal the room beyond.Bookmark here

There, on the wooden floor, lied a woman similarly dress in a dress of white and blue. As she lay there, blood dripped from her nose and ears. Her eyes, bloodshot, were wide open and unblinking.Bookmark here

"What happened!?" cried Auguste as he rushed after the cleric. Finn was right behind him.Bookmark here

As he entered the room, he caught sight of someone else, a young man with jet-black hair worn in a ponytail. On his face, there was a pair of glasses, and on his person, he wore a black long coat. Beneath the coat, a curved longsword could be seen hanging by the man's waist.Bookmark here

"Unbelievable," said the young man, "don't you have someone less useless?"Bookmark here

It had to be the worst first impression Auguste had with any person till this point, perhaps the worst in his entire life, but that was his first meeting with the man they call the 'Dragon Slayer', Lucien.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

End of Chapter 41Bookmark here

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