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Ch018-And Now We Drink

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The three well-armed men simply stood there staring at him. Not one of them drew their swords, cast a spell, or even blinked. Edna had wiped her tears away quite quickly and was standing behind Sylver, her wooden staff glowing in her hand.

“Gentlemen! Let’s all remain calm and talk.” Sylver said from the floor. He had to look up quite a bit to properly see the men in question.

“Everything is fine Ellari. We’ll talk later, leave us.” A voice said behind him. Sylver stretched his neck, and saw a familiar white fluffy cat, standing near Edna’s foot.

To his surprise, the three armored men simply turned around and left.

“For a second there, I was worried we were going to fight,” Sylver said. He laid his head back down and closed his eyes again.

“Could you have won if you fought?” Kitty asked, walking over to him. Sylver couldn’t tell if the question was genuine or a joke.

“Well for starters they’re something of my natural enemy. Going from how much mana I felt coming off them, they were at least 40 levels above me. Then there’s the fact that my mana is pretty much empty right now. I can’t use my hands to cast spells, or even hold a dagger properly enough to stab someone. On top of all that, I’m exhausted beyond words, and I’ve lost so much blood, I’m barely conscious. In short. It’d be a bit of an uphill battle but I could take them.” Sylver said with a grin. He closed his eyes again to let them rest with the hope of dulling the pounding headache.

“Can I talk now? What the fuck was that. Why the fuck is that cat see-through? Why do your arms look like that? What the fuck was up with that fish? And are you going to live?” Edna asked, with the kind of tone, that usually came before wild screeching, and more tears.

“Can we discuss this later? I’ve got a few minutes until I fall unconscious again, and I would rather do that in the safety of my room than here. I’m perfectly fine, this is all at most a flesh wound.” Sylver explained, wiggling his unresponsive arms.

Before the question of how he was going to get to his room was raised, Fen, his strongest shade right now, came out of Sylver’s shadow and picked him up. The current king of cats, the first king of cats in the form of a specter, and Edna, all watched the man with charred and bleeding arms, being princess carried by a dark shade, off into the distance.

*

“Tighter, or is this enough?” Edna asked.

“A little more. It needs to be flush with my skin.” Sylver answered.

“What do you think they’re talking about?” Edna asked, tightening the wraps.

“Honestly, I have no idea. She’s clearly got some sway over the local authority, so I’m trying my hardest, not to jump to the conclusion that cats are controlling everything from the shadows. Because that’s a peek behind the curtain, that I do not need right now.” Sylver answered.

After he was brought back to the room he was renting at Salgok’s, Edna burst in, followed by Kitty, the current king of cats, Horace, the first king of cats in the form of a specter, and ultimately Salgok, who had questions regarding the army of cats sitting on top of his inn and trying to get inside.

Kitty explained some of the situation to Salgok, and now everyone was sitting in the main room of the inn, either off in the corner drinking milk from a saucer and talking to their predecessor, or in Sylver’s case, at the bar table, getting his destroyed arms wrapped up by Edna, while Salgok drank and made everyone drinks.

“Is the girl going to be ok?” Edna asked after tying the last knot.

“She’s fine. Kitty and Horace checked before coming here.” Sylver answered, looking at bandaged up appendages. It actually reminded him of one of his first really big fuck ups.

“Aren’t you going to go see her?” Edna asked, turning Sylver’s hand over so he could check the other side.

“To do what? I’m not a healer, and I don’t want her or anyone there to see my face.” Sylver replied, closing his eyes and focusing.

“Why not? Do you know who they are? She’s elder Morris’s daughter. He’s the advisor to the lord of Medera. He could make the 100 gold you got from the cat, seem like pocket change.” Edna asked, taking a drink from Salgok and sipping it.

“I’ve got enough money for my needs. And I’d like to avoid undue attention until I’m a little stronger at least.” Sylver answered again.

“So what are you going to do now?” Edna asked.

“Now? I’ll drink while I wait for whoever Kitty assigned to gathering ingredients for me to return. After that, I’ll heal an arm, and escort you back to Arda.” Sylver answered, drinking from his cup from a bronze straw, that made Salgok grin at how idiotic it looked.

An arm? Why not both?” Edna asked, moving Sylver’s drink closer to him.

“Because this will be a temporary fix until I can do it properly. It’s going to take a while for me to find what I need to make them as good as they were. And it’s a whole process, I can’t just do it, wherever.” Sylver answered.

“I know you said to let it go, but how do you know how to speak dwarvish, and read elvish? Knowing one is possible, I’ve heard of people getting the skill after only a few years, but you’re too young to have both.” Edna asked. Either she was under the influence and saying what she had been meaning to, or she was hoping Sylver was already drunk enough to stop speaking in riddles and dodging her questions.

Looking down at his cup Sylver had a bright idea.

“It’s my unique class. It came with a lot of perks and traits, and that’s how I knew how to break the curse.” He answered with a slur in his voice.

It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Edna to keep silent about him, just that it was an honest enough explanation that stopped any further questions. And in the event he ever needs someone to back up his lie, he’ll now have Edna. Salgok neither asked, nor cared, how exactly Sylver knew dwarvish. He was just immensely happy that he had someone to talk to.

“Are you the [Hero]?” Edna asked with a whisper. Her cheeks were flushed red, and she was not handling whatever Salgok gave her very well.

“Not even a little,” Sylver whispered back. Only a child from another world could be a [Hero]. And Sylver was just from the distant past, but was very certainly of this world.

He watched as she lowered her head down on the table and started to snore. Moving a little closer, he smelled her mug, and his nose burned.

“You had black ale, and you didn’t even offer it to me? I thought we were brothers!” Sylver asked in dwarvish, a hint of genuine hurt in his voice.

“With your 200HP, I was worried it would kill you,” Salgok answered, not even a hint of shame in his tone.

“You can see my HP? How? I thought all you got was a level and a class?” Sylver asked, forgiving the dwarf entirely due to this revelation.

“How high is your appraisal level?” Salgok asked.

“Level 1. I’ve been unable to increase it to anything useful, and I get a headache when I use it too much.” Sylver answered.

“Because you’re doing it wrong. You’ve been appraising trees or rock or random garbage, right?”

“Pretty much.”

Salgok rummaged underneath his desk and pulled up the stone he was working on a few days ago when Sylver initially came in.

“Try appraising this.” Salgok offered.

[Dwarven Sic??? - 3G 19S - Excellent Quality]

“Dwarven Sic and three question marks. Worth 3 gold, 19 silver, excellent quality.” Sylver readout.

[Appraisal (I) Proficiency increased to 9%!]

“Oh fuck me,” Sylver said upon receiving more experience from this one thing than all the random garbage he used it on. All of his shit, was worth less than a gold coin, much less.

“It’s a wee bit strange you didn’t know this. There’s likely a course you could take in Arda to level it up quickly. At level 2, you can get the option to see the health of what you’re appraising. The requirement to get it is to accurately estimate how much health an opponent has.” Salgok explained.

“So you essentially need to already have the skill, with that effect, to meet the requirements to get the effect?” Sylver asked, hanging his head.

“Or you could do what I did, and just find something extremely weak, and hit it with a stick, every swing estimating that it’s got 1HP left until you’re right. I got it on my first try. Found a python when I was a child, and my mum held it down for me.” Salgok said, reminiscing on the thought.

“Should you be telling me this? Isn’t this kind of thing usually sold for gold or something?” Sylver asked, out of politeness more than necessity. He already knew why Salgok was sharing.

“It is. But for a brother of mine, I’ll take no gold. Except for the room and food, as an innkeeper. But this, free of charge.” Salgok said with a smile.

“I really wish there was something I could do to repay your kindness. If you ever find yourself in need, I’ll aid you in whichever way I can.” Sylver answered. Leaving gold behind would bean insult, and Salgok would just keep it in his safe and not touch it if he did. And he wasn’t in a position right now to do anything, he didn’t even have working arms. He’d have to find some other way to properly repay the dwarf for the kindness he had shown.

Sylver thought about it as he drank more and looked around the small room. Salgok was currently underneath the bar table, and was looking for something.

“Tell me. Do you own this building?” Sylver asked as the dwarf remained under the table.

“Almost. Only a few more payments and it’s fully mine.” Salgok answered with a mixture of pride and weariness.

“How much would you want for it? Hypothetically speaking.” Sylver asked.

Salgok stood up and looked blankly at Sylver. As if he couldn’t decide to be insulted or not. “Why are you asking?” He finally asked.

“Because I would like you to move to Arda and work as a smith there. I’m going to need quite a few custom tools, and it would put my mind at ease if they were made by someone I could trust.” Sylver answered, with a careful tone.

“What makes you think I’m a smith?” Salgok asked, crossing his arms.

“Because that particular cut and scar on your left hand, only comes from mishandling a hot blade. So either you were messing around with some sort of self-heating knife, or you made a mistake when smithing. Also, you have the dwarven smiths mark on your left shoulder. And you told me when we were drinking. How you planned to give the whole thing to your daughter, and left everything behind when they died.” Sylver answered.

“If I was asking someone for something, I would at the very least do them the courtesy of being completely honest with them,” Salgok said with a low tone.

“I was getting to that. I have a friend who lost his father a while back, and now will be unable to inherit his father’s class or anything. Luckily, his system was reset by a chance encounter, so he’s starting from nothing in about a year's time. My hope was you would take up the forge again, and when this friend was ready, he’d work under you, and if not inherit your skills and build, at the very least give him an edge over the other smiths,” Sylver explained. He took another drink from his metal straw.

“Is your friend here? And how did he reset his system?” Salgok asked.

“He’s not here. He’s preoccupied at the moment, but I can vouch for his skills and knowledge. It’s been a dream of his to be a smith since the day he was born, and if it weren’t for a whole lot of bad luck on his part, he would be on his way to being a master right now. As for how he reset his system, it’s a bit of a long story. And one I’m not at liberty to share at this moment.” Sylver answered.

“Aren’t there enough smiths in Arda already? My family’s had to start from scratch 6 generations ago, how am I going to compete?” Salgok asked. Sylver noted that he hadn’t said no yet, and sounded more than a little interested.

“Well, to be completely pessimistic, it’s not like everyone is looking for a legendary sword. Many people need a functional dagger or just a sturdy shield. With how many die down in the underground dungeon, the demand for weapons and armor, far outweighs the supply. I ordered a small stiletto from one smith, and he told me to wait a week. And the really good ones, told me I’d have to wait months. On the optimistic side, most of the smiths in Arda are humans. So while they’ve got better skills and classes, you’ve got experience on your side. Which in my personal opinion, far outweighs whatever aid the system can give.” Sylver explained.

“They have a mine nearby, so the metal is relatively cheap. I know some people who could help you get set up if that’s the problem. And at the absolute worst-case scenario, you could move right back here if you get tired of it.” Sylver offered.

Salgok’s face was hard and stoic for a few seconds. Sylver was familiar enough with dwarves to read their body language, but he was getting absolutely nothing out of Salgok right now.

“I’m not selling my inn,” Salgok said with finality.

Sylver opened his mouth to interject but was interrupted.

But. If you’re willing to invest 150 gold coins into it, I’ll go and work in Arda as a blacksmith. We’ll split the profit 50/50 until I pay you back your investment, and 10/90 after that.” Salgok said slowly.

“Deal,” Sylver answered with barely a moment's thought.

“Just like that?” Salgok asked.

“Just like that,” Sylver replied.

“Then one last question... Why?”

“Why not? It’s just money. And in exchange, I’ll get a blacksmith, who I can trust to keep the things I ask him to make a secret, as well as someone to help my friend finish his apprenticeship, and someone I can sit down and drink with without needing to travel for 3 days through a bandit infested forest. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a lot of money you’re asking, but I have an eye for people, and I’ve very rarely been wrong. And worst-case scenario, it’s just money.” Sylver explained.

Salgok reached out a hand to shake on it, but quickly realized his error.

“We can shake on it after I fix one. In the meantime, gather your belongings or what have you, and think about what you’re going to do with this place while you’re gone.” Sylver offered.

“I can help with that,” Horace said jumping up on the table. Having been around a little longer, his form had solidified significantly. You could barely tell he was a specter by this point. A mark of the strength of his soul, and mental abilities.

“The fucking cat knows dwarvish,” Salgok whispered to himself.

“This fucking cat knows a lot of languages. But putting that aside, how much time do I have left.” Horace asked, as Kitty followed after him and joined him on the tabletop.

“15 hours, give or take. I’d offer to extend the time, if I could, but you don’t have enough to stay longer than that.” Sylver answered. “There’s also the fact that I don’t have the power, or the ability to do it, even if I wanted to.” He continued, looking at his wrapped up arms.

“It’s alright. I’ve already lived longer than I had any right to. How many people get to talk to their great grandchildren, and their great grandchildren’s children anyway? As for you dwarf, we would like to offer you a deal. Kitty’s men will look after this place for you, keep it clean and standing if you ever wish to come back, and in return, you’ll house a few of our members in Arda.” Horace offered.

“So you want me to have talking cats living in my new home, in exchange for taking care of this inn?” Salgok summarized.

“You’ll hardly even know they’re there. They just need a safe place to rest, and they can handle everything else. And it comes with the benefit of…”

*

*

*

“You’re a very strange man,” Kitty said.

“I’m not. In fact, I pride myself on being relatively normal.” Sylver answered.

“Relative to what?”

“Oh. If you knew the people I’m comparing myself to, you’d consider me downright boring.” Sylver answered. It was already the middle of the night, and the two were standing outside Salgok’s inn, and watching the giant structure in the very middle, buzzing with activity. Horace was inside negotiating with Salgok, and Edna was fast asleep on the tabletop. She had a pillow under her head, and a blanket over her so as not to get cold.

“I realize it’s a little late… But thank you. I quite honestly already considered the girl dead when I called for you. I didn’t dare hope you’d actually succeed, let alone succeed so spectacularly. You can’t imagine how much knowledge Horace took with him when he died. And you even managed to bring him back too.” Kitty said.

“We had a deal. And for all my many faults, I’m always true to my word. Unless it’s the middle of a fight, in which case it doesn’t count. I said I would give it my best, and I did just that. It just so happened my best was more than good enough.” Sylver explained.

“I won’t tell the girl or the dwarf. But this is permanent, isn’t it? I’ve seen mages get damaged like this, but never to such an extent.” Kitty asked, gesturing to Sylver’s limp arms.

“It’s not. Really. It’s going to take a while to bring them back to normal, but this is very much fixable.” Sylver answered.

“I know I already agreed to keep everything a secret. But her father would really like to meet with you.” Kitty said, coiling her tail around her legs.

“Adviser to the lord of Medera, I’m aware. And there isn’t a price you can put on anonymity. When I’m a little stronger, sure, but not before then. How long before you find Oska and the others?” Sylver asked while they were alone for a change.

“It’s very likely she changed her name. And it’s outside the boundary of my territory, so it’s going to take even longer because of this. But I’m on good terms with the rulers of that area, so if she was ever there, I’ll know about it. I’ve got other groups working on it too, just to be safe. We’ll find her and the others, you have my word.” Kitty said.

“Great. And the gold?” Sylver asked.

“It’s all in your room, inside your bag. And this is from Horace.” Kitty said. She closed her eyes for a while, and when she opened them, they were glowing brightly.

[Perk: Eyes Of The Royal Tiger]
-Advanced Night Vision
-Advanced Predator Vision
-Advanced Telescopic Vision
-Ability to distinguish between marked and unmarked creatures.

Sylver felt absolutely nothing as he silently accepted the perk. But instantly the dark and barely visible area around him, now looked as if it were the middle of the day. He looked at the white cat sitting next to him, and could instantly tell she was ‘marked’. Even better, with barely a thought he could see her clearer, and could even concentrate his eyes to the point he could count the hairs on her head.

“Huh. You got the perk, but your eyes are unchanged. What is that by the way?” Kitty asked.

Sylver stopped playing around with his new perk and walked over to a window to look at himself. Despite the fact that he could see everything with perfect clarity, and he could even feel the muscles in his eyeballs moving, there was absolutely no change in how his completely black eyes looked.

“I don’t know. What does it mean by marked animals?” Sylver asked.

“Animals or monsters who have access to the system. There’s an intelligence threshold you need to access it, otherwise, you don’t get a choice in what you get from it. A marked monster may be lower level than others, but it’s much more dangerous. My understanding is there’s a skill you can get that has the same effect, but this is the only one I’m aware of. It’ll help you find those working for me if you ever need to get in touch. Although it is always amusing to listen to stories of people spending a few minutes trying to explain to a random cat that they’re aware of us.” Kitty explained with the cat equivalent of a chuckle.

“On the topic of secrets. How are you able to give me a perk? I was under the impression it was something you could only earn, or unlock?” Sylver asked.

“I can’t give you any specifics, but it’s to do with the fact that I’m a king,” Kitty answered. She jumped down from the ledge she was sitting on and looked down at the mud below.

“I have a rule not to ask questions I don’t want to hear an answer to. But I’m going to make an exception here because it’s going to bug me if I don’t. When we first spoke, how did you know all that stuff about me? There’s no way you gathered that much information out of nowhere. So either you were ready for me before I got here, somehow, or you knew it when you decided to talk to me.” Sylver asked, staring at the small white animal.

Kitty’s ears dropped a little before she answered. “I’ll tell you if you tell me where you came from. Because Ciege the blacksmith’s son is a very well done cover-up but it doesn’t make sense. And Horace has refused to say a word about what went down in there, only that we should be careful with you.” Kitty answered.

Sylver thought it over for a few minutes. And weighed the pros and cons of letting, what he got the feeling was a spymaster of some sort, know his real background. He already cut it pretty close by telling her the names of men and women who have most likely been dead for hundreds of years.

“On second thought, I’m not that interested. Tell me how you’re going to protect Yeva.” Sylver asked, changing the subject.

Kitty seemed to almost grin at him, but it was hard to tell with her face.

“I already have a group getting ready to go, I’m just waiting for a few things to be in place before they leave. She’ll be constantly discreetly monitored, but safe. Absolute worst-case scenario, they are under orders to get her, and her husband, out of there alive. After that, you’ll be informed and what will be done with them will be up to you.” Kitty answered.

Same thing I had for Nyx basically. But probably on a much smaller scale. She was so pissed when she found out all of her neighbors were working for me. Sylver thought, grinning to himself in the dark.

At the edge of his vision, Sylver saw a cat with a satchel on it’s back jump down. Because of his new eye perk, he could tell it was one of Kitty’s and not just a regular cat. Although the pack was a bigger giveaway.

“The ingredients you wanted are here.” The cat answered. Sylver watched as it sort of sat down, and crawled underneath the satchel, leaving it behind.

“Great. Thank you. Fen, come pick these up for me.” Sylver said.

His shade came out of his shadow and carried the satchel inside. Once he was in his room, he had the shade remove the ingredients and held them up to Sylver’s face to inspect them.

“I’ll be. Right down to the gram. There is a mortar and pestle in my bag, get it for me.” Sylver said.

At some point, Salgok moved Edna over into Sylver’s bed, and he left her there to sleep off the black ale.

He spent the remainder of the night instructing his shade, and other shades, how to properly process the ingredients and used a table Salgok gave him that he wouldn’t mind being thrown away, to prepare the framework. Explaining the geometry to a shade that had no knowledge or understanding of it, was extremely difficult, but thankfully the framework was simple enough, that there was lots of room for acceptable mistakes. Sylver ended up holding a knife with his teeth to work on a section he couldn’t get properly explain to them.

He looked down at the corpse of the mage he was planning to use to house Lola and thought about it for a few seconds. In the end, getting his arm working, was a much greater priority than giving Lola a body. She seemed quite content with the book collection in his mind, and unlike Ciege, her soul was strong enough to remain untainted by him, for at least a few months.

The roll of tools he took from the man who made the curse came in incredibly useful here. It made opening the woman’s body to extract some dead mana channels very easy. And although Fen had steady hands, he was not a very good surgeon. But he was good enough to cut Sylver’s arm where he was told to cut and followed his commands to the letter.

Once Sylver had a slither of a working mana channel in his arm, he quickly got to work repairing and expanding it. He was extremely glad he asked for 3 times the ingredients he needed because he fucked up the first attempt completely. Luckily the second attempt went perfectly, and he regained feeling in his arm. He had his group clean up the blood and pieces of flesh off the floor, and rewrap the remains of the dead woman. He consoled himself at losing such a great corpse, with the thought that he’d certainly find something better soon enough.

Maybe even an elf, who knows?

With a tiny portion of his right arm healed, the pain appeared along with it. The pain was very gradual, but that’s where the painkillers he made for himself came in. Numbed to the point of passing out, he had Edna moved a little further down the bed, and promptly fell asleep on it.

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