Dungeons of the Abyss and the Unchosen Heroes
"Lady Isabelle! Lady Isabelle! W-what happened!?"
The cleric kneeled by the Augur who had fallen to the ground. Her hand reached out but was hesitant to touch the fallen Augur, unsure of what was the best course of action.
"Nothing happened," the man with the jet-black hair and long coat answered. "She was giving me an evaluation before she suddenly collapsed. Don't you have someone who can do a proper reading here?"
"I-I'm sorry, but our lady here is the only Augur sent to aid the guild" the cleric answered, intimidated by the man's fierce glare. "I-if you would like, p-perhaps you may head for the temple? You should be able to find the rest of our Augurs there."
The man clicked his tongue at the cleric's answer but said nothing more before leaving. As he left, the young woman behind him, barely noticeable due to the strong presence of the man, followed after him.
"I'm so sorry for the inconvenience," the young woman apologized as she exited the room, "but it's true, we didn't do anything."
The young woman's words fell mostly on deaf ears, however, as the attention was focused mostly on the collapsed Augur in the room.
"What should we do? Do we call a doctor?" Finn suggested.
"Or maybe a cleric from the temple? Is there any who can use 'miracles'?" asked Auguste, remembering those under Ceratias' service who could borrow the strength of the goddess they serve.
"There is... No such need..."
Suddenly, the Augur spoke, her stiff body now relaxed and her eyes could move and blink.
"I have... merely... exerted myself... far, far too much..."
"I wouldn't call that 'merely exerting myself'," Auguste commented. "You should get looked at."
"I shall... Once I return to the temple..."
"Then let me help. I can carry you," Finn offered.
The Augur turned to look at Finn, noting his strong body.
"Very well... I'll be in your care..."
They waited a while for the Augur to recover somewhat before starting to move her. With Auguste's and the cleric's help, they got the Augur onto Finn's back.
With the Augur out of commission, there was no point in staying at the counter and as such, the cleric went with them to guide the way to the temple.
The town of Iotas Tria was divided into two sections, the 'old town' and the 'new town'. The old town was the part of the town that was built when people first started settling here and the new town was the part of the town built around the old town by the settlers that came after. Due to it coming first, most of the important facilities were located in the old town, including the temple of Arithmi as well a university currently under the Scholars' of the Abyss, built to honor the scholars of the mystic arts who had lent their aid to the first settlers of Iotas Tria during the early days of the town.
Passing through the gates diving the old and new towns, Auguste and Finn found themselves walking into an area that had a different feel to the new town. First and foremost, the old town was much more orderly than the new town. That was not to say that the new town was messy, but the old town had a calculated orderliness to it, with each bloc dedicated to their respective facilities. It was difficult to get lost here with straight and clear-cut streets that had few winding paths as well as signs at each corner pointing you towards what you're looking for.
"It's this way," said the cleric. Not that she had to, as anyone who was able to read would be able to find their way with the street signs. Then again, perhaps she was concerned that neither of the two could read. Illiteracy was not exactly uncommon amongst Dungeoneers.
The building they were shown to was a modest one, at least, in comparison to the temples in Fortuna and Lars. It was a north-facing, two-story building of stone divided into the main hall, the east wing, and the west wing. The east wing had the living area, a place to do laundry, and a kitchen, while the west wing was a place for ritual and ceremonies. Finally, there was the main hall which was the place of worship and where Auguste and Finn set foot in upon entering the front door.
The main hall was decorated with cloth of white and blue, hanging off of the ceiling and pillars. At the very end of the hall, there hung a banner depicting an abstract eye amidst a palm. That was the symbol of Arithmi, for it was by one's sight and touch do they observe and measure their surroundings.
The cleric explained the situation to the others and promptly, they took the Augur from Finn's back and helped her to her room.
"Will she be alright?" Finn asked.
"She will be fine. She was merely 'overworked', you could say."
The one who answered him was a woman with auburn hair tied into an intricate bun at the back of her head. She was dressed in white and blue, though instead of using white as the base, it used blue instead, blue with stripes of white around the hem of the sleeves, the skirt, on the shoulders, and down the middle of the dress. The inversion of color was curious, but what drew the most of Auguste's attention were her eyes, as they seemingly shone in brilliant gold.
"I-is that so. That's good," Finn replied the woman.
"Yes, bless your gentle soul. Ah, but you're not here for blessings, are you? I believe you have some unfinished businesses with us, correct?"
"Oh, right, I was looking to get a parameter evaluation, wasn't I?" said Finn, scratching the back of his head. "I can get one here too, right?"
"That's right. The Augur at the guild office was only there for the convenience of the Dungeoneers. The townsfolk actually come here for the evaluation. It's quite useful you know, for determining what trade best suites you, getting hired, and even marriage, though some understandably reject such a system. Fortunately for them, such a thing does not matter as much in the Iotas region, where all might find equal opportunity, or so it was said."
"Oh, my bad. I'm sure you're not here for a history lesson," said the woman before waving over someone who was presumably an Augur. "This is Eleanor, one of our Augurs. Follow her and she'll give you a reading."
Following the one called Eleanor, Finn was taken to the west wing, leaving Auguste behind with the auburn-haired woman. Perhaps due to it being in the middle of the afternoon, there was barely any soul in the main hall.
Seated down on one of the many chairs in the main hall, there for the worshipers during a sermon perhaps, Auguste could not help but steal glances at the auburn-haired woman as she attentively swept the hall that was clearly too large to be cleaned by just a single person.
"Something the matter?" the woman asked with a friendly smile.
"I, uh, was just thinking whether to start a conversation or not," replied Auguste, internally praising himself with his quick-witted excuse.
The truth of that matter was, the eyes drew his curiosity, the golden eyes. They reminded him of Cera, his ever so 'kindly' mentor.
"It *is* somewhat dull to just wait," said the woman while keeping her broom moving. "Would you like me to give you a reading as well?"
"I'm not here for that," Auguste readily rejected her. "But I see you're an Augur too."
"Not really, but I do sometimes perform the duties of an Augur."
"So what are your duties, if you don't mind me asking?"
"It's hard to describe. You can say that I fulfill my duties just be being here."
"It doesn't have anything to do with this sweeping you're doing then?"
"This? Well, it does get boring to just loiter around."
From speaking with her, Auguste felt that she was a friendly sort, nothing like his master.
From the western side of the hall, Auguste caught the sound of footsteps, and following that, the door to the west wing swung open. Thinking that Finn was done with his evaluation, he stood up and began to walk over, only to find himself stared down by scrutinizing eyes behind a pair of rimless glasses. The eyes belonged to a young man with jet-black hair, wearing a black long coat on his person and a curved longsword on his hip. He was the man from before, from the guild office.
"Did our Augur serve you well?" asked the auburn-haired woman.
"Hmph," the black-haired man scoffed, "she did better than the last one."
And with that, he just strode out of the front door. Trailing behind him was the young woman with a small presence.
"That was... quite a guy," commented Auguste as he sat back down.
"That was Lucien," said the auburn-haired woman. "They also called him the 'Dragon Slayer'."
"He slew a dragon?"
"So they say."
"To get an attitude that big, he must have."
"And it would seem that his abilities are, in a word, quite profound."
"That's two words."
"Then 'profound' will do."
"So what does that mean?"
"You saw what happened with Isabelle, the Augur we have at the office of the Dungeoneers' Guild. It would seem that just the attempt of giving him a reading was far too overwhelming for most of our Augurs. He has quite some 'power' within him."
"I reckon that he's one of them S-rankers then?"
"Without a doubt."
"If he slew a dragon, why even bother? The dead dragon would be more than enough proof, right?"
"I suppose he wanted something that could be made into an official document. It can be quite useful you know, in the Arithmi Theocracy and even places in the Magnolia Republic."
"I'll pass. I doubt I'll get any good results."
"Oh, it's hardly about getting good results. It's about knowing yourself, your possibilities and limits, what you are able to do and what you are not."
"Well, perhaps I've been too presumptuous. I'll stop talking about it."
Moments passed in awkward silence before Finn finally emerged from the west wing. He seemed a little dispirited, but he put on a smile nonetheless when his eyes met Auguste.
"Then let's head back."
While he hadn't planned to say anything about it originally, upon leaving the temple's front door, Auguste couldn't quite contain his concern and decided to ask.
"How did you do?"
"Not as well as I hoped," Finn replied, putting up a broad smile as he went. "Average in some aspects and lower in others. My large body is my strength but I've got not much else. They said I'd make a great farmer or laborer, and that I probably shouldn't continue this lifestyle of dungeoneering for long."
"Well, it's not like I didn't see it coming though. Still, it looks like my dream is a little beyond my reach. I'm kind of bummed out thinking about that."
"You mean to be a hero like Albert?"
"Yeah, but I guess it'll have to stay a dream."
"Guess you'll have to settle for being a hero like yourself."
"Knowing you, I'm sure wherever you go, you'll brighten someone's day. Whether you're a Dungeoneer, hero, or just any plain ol' farmer. So long as you're you, you'll do fine. That's what I think. At the end of the day, a hero is just a title someone else gives you, and in my heart, you're already a hero."
"Y-you're just saying that."
"Oh please, since when am I so slick with my tongue? Trust me, you've got what it takes to make someone happy, and that's plenty heroic in my book."
After all, nothing is quite as obvious and noticeable as something others have and you don't. Auguste too wanted to be like Albert, once upon a time at least. However, he knew that he lacked something fundamental to achieving that, something that has little to do with abilities and parameters and whatnot. Something that both Finn and Albert had and he did not. It was heart, a kind, gentle, and selfless heart, something that he absolutely lacked.
"I'm just telling it as it is. There are things you don't have to be an Augur or Oracle to see. Besides, who cares if you're not so good at a few things. You have us to do them for you, that's what a party is for."
"Yeah, you're right. You're absolutely right!"
"Man, what a waste of time, am I right?"
"That's not necessarily true."
By this time, they've already passed the gate dividing and have entered the old town. Having passed through the west side, the setting sun painted the walls with a warm, reddish glow.
"After all," Finn continued, "I got to know myself better and I have a thought or two about what I'll need to be working on."
"Is that so? What do you have in mind?"
"Um, well, I think I'll keep it a secret for now," said Finn as he scratched his chin to hide his shyness.
"So it'll be a surprise, huh. Speaking of surprises, I haven't given Morgan her's yet."
"Was it important?"
"Nah, it can wait till after dinner."
"I wonder when meat will be back on the menu."
"Considering your sister, I'd say not for a good while. I don't hate vegetables though, but I guess someone your size needs a little more."
"I sure hope the next Dungeon takes us somewhere with more livestock."
"Me too, buddy. Me too."
End of Chapter 42