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Ch058-Who Are You?

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Wolf didn’t blink for an impressive 10 minutes. Just starting completely dead-eyed at Sylver, who was doing his best to pretend to look interested in the piece of overpriced garbage currently being sold for 4,300 gold coins, and just now had its price increase to 4,350.

There was also the issue that Wolf could see Spring, Sylver was sure of it. The only time his gaze left Sylver was to follow Springs’ attempt to sneak over towards him using the ceiling.

But the more Sylver thought about it, the more he calmed down and the lower his heartbeat became. By the time the necklace that let you breathe underwater finished being auctioned off for 8,950 gold, Sylver’s heart rate was back down to its usual 12 beats per minute.

What could Wolf even do? Whatever his level was, he was no match for the guards. And if he was, what could Sylver possibly do to stop him? Sylver didn’t bother worrying about things he couldn’t affect or control.

The extremely faint smile that tugged at Sylver’s lips, completely wiped away the smirk on Wolf’s. Sylver was still afraid and cautious of the old man, but the level of threat had lowered a significant amount once he realized this. The worst he could do was make it publicly known Sylver was trying to summon a demon, in which case he would have the temple of Ra to back him up. And Lola, the cats, and whoever is associated with them, and that’s not even mentioning all the nobles that are in bed with the Cord.

If anything, Wolf should be the one afraid of Sylver. For a few seconds Sylver imagined himself walking over to Wolf’s booth and very loudly proclaiming “HEY, YOU GUYS ARE HERE TO BUY ALL THE STUFF YOU NEED TO SUMMON A DEMON, RIGHT?”

Sylver’s faint smile spread all the way out into a full-faced grin and he had to bite down the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing out loud. But now he really did focus his attention on the auction going on down below, temporarily forgetting about the two giant surprises sitting a short distance away from him.

*

*

*

Lola ended up bidding on and winning several crates of materials, most of them the kind Sylver had never heard of before. Part of this was due to the fact that he was neither an alchemist, nor a craftsman, but a much larger part was that there were a ton of ingredients and materials that didn’t exist back when he was alive.

But Lola and Tamay seemed pleased with their purchases, so Sylver trusted that they knew what they were doing. And it wasn’t as if he had a whole lot of advice to give. His understanding of what Lola was making and selling was extremely limited.

Sylver’s knowledge when it came to crafting anything was extremely specialized, and at his current level of abilities and resources, absolutely worthless.

Selling his knowledge was an option, but it came with the instant downside of someone figuring out he’s got more knowledge in him than just that, and far too weak to defend himself. The fact that Naut and the cats knew it was a pointless effort to try and threaten or torture anything out of him, wasn’t something he could rely on for anyone else.

If anything, it was a fluke that the cats were so understanding. Sylver was still unable to understand how exactly they knew what they knew, especially how they knew he could undo curses, but there were more important matters to deal with, and Sylver wasn’t in a position to piss them off by trying to dig into how they knew what they knew.

And as stupid of an excuse as this was, the whole premise of an underground secret cat information network, amused him to such a great extent he didn’t want to ruin the magic of it by finding out the truth.

Which was a novel feeling for Sylver, given how he usually hated not knowing how something worked, but in this case, he just couldn’t stop smiling at the fact that that little ball of white fur, that was currently asleep on Tamay’s lap and purring, was somehow able to get Lola the hundreds of thousands worth of gold that she needed to build and start her workshop.

Sylver was tempted to fuck with Wolf during the auction, given how he was buying the items from a list Sylver had given him. It was a good thing there wasn’t anyone around who would recognize the only possible thing the ingredients he bought would have in common was that they lowered the mana cost required to summon a demon. The idiot didn’t even try to buy some random materials to hide his tracks, every single thing he bought was directly on Sylver’s list.

But on the other hand, he surprisingly had already managed to buy a good third of everything Sylver needed. Granted the quantity and quality was overkill, but it wasn’t like he could ask for a teaspoon, when 100 kilograms were being sold.

“Ladies and gentleman, thank you all so much for being here! Your items will all be in your room by the time you return! Just a friendly reminder, all the items in question have been temporarily marked with a tracking spell until they and you leave Torg! Should any of you feel that they’ve been stolen, replaced, or disappeared, please call the guards immediately and everything will be swiftly dealt with! Thank you for your time! Tomorrow’s auction starts at sundown!” The announcer announced, his voice amplified, and staring directly at Wolf’s booth as he explained what would happen to those who attempted to steal items.

Sylver was surprised to see that Lion had disappeared, and Wolf was the only one sitting in the booth, a look of faint amusement on his face and making Sylver remember something.

“Wuss?”

The white cat stretched out to his full length while on Tamay’s lap and finally jumped down and landed perfectly on his feet.

“His name is Michael Oxmaul, he was an adventurer that was active in the south and disappeared for a few years and was presumed to be dead. He returned about 3 years ago, sold off enough treasure to retire like a king, and that’s about all we know about him. Novva is right, the man is a dangerous animal,” Wuss explained, jumping up on the couch and looking up at Sylver.

“What do you mean?” Sylver asked, crossing his arms over his chest and looking down at the fuzzy white cat.

“I mean, we’ve tried talking to him, and he didn’t just refuse, he nearly killed the delegate we sent to him. If he was a few levels lower, we would have killed him for it, but as it stands he’s just not worth the resources it would take hiring the Cord to handle him. Look… Just ignore him. He’s an adventurer who stumbled onto a pile of treasure, happens all the time. If it weren’t for Andrey, he wouldn’t even be here,” Wuss explained, his tail limp and surprisingly relaxed.

“Andrey was the big guy, right?” Sylver asked, referring to the now missing Lion.

“Andrey Do’Fidem. He’s the baron of Ganse. A very polite man, but also refused our services. My understanding is that he and Michael have an arrangement of some kind, but quite honestly we’re not that interested in him to dig too deep. The rumor is that Michael saved Andrey’s life, but I’ve heard the opposite said just as much. Why do you ask? Do you know them?” Wuss asked, his body language implying a raised eyebrow, if he had a visible eyebrow to raise.

“No. I just got a bad feeling from Michael,” Sylver said, keeping his soul stable just in case Wuss had a truth sensing skill active.

“A bad feeling? Like an evil eye curse bad feeling, or just a bad feeling?” Wuss asked, jumping on into Tamay’s arms.

“Just a bad feeling,” Sylver said, tapping his foot and looking at Lola. “I want you to find a different bodyguard for her. The warrior and mage from yesterday would be ideal,” Sylver said, looking at Wuss now.

“What?” Lola asked.

“What?” Wuss repeated.

“I need to handle something, and I’m not sure how long it will take me. I didn’t see a single thing that I could use today, and everything sold tomorrow will be out of my price range, and would be replaced by what Lola makes soon even if there was. It’s just a waste of time for me to be standing here,” Sylver explained, opening the door, but feeling either Lola or Wuss use magic to close it.

“You’re not thinking of going and talking to Michael, are you?” Wuss asked, raising an eyebrow as best as he could.

“I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” Sylver answered, letting go of the door handle so he could finish this argument with the fat white cat, currently being held in Tamay’s arms.

“What do you think would happen if you killed someone? Or gods forbid, someone killed you? You’re here in Lola’s name, anything you do or happens to you will involve her. And anything that involves her, involves me,” Wuss said, somehow managing to speak in a perfectly calm tone.

“You know what? That’s actually a good point… I will… I’ll… I promise not to start any fights, and not do anything that would involve Lola? Actually, you know what? I’m just a crazy necromancer, if something happens to me, just say you didn’t know what I was doing, and throw me under the bus as much as possible,” Sylver offered.

Wuss genuinely thought about it for a moment, while both Lola and Tamay looked shocked that he would suggest such a thing. Wuss seemed to reach a decision, but then changed his mind, or at least that was Sylver’s impression going by his ears and tail.

“Kitty would kill me…” Wuss said, ears pressed down for a moment. “How about this… Do I have your permission to involve Novva if something happens? You’ll lose your anonymity entirely if I do that, since there would be a direct link between him and you as a result of him using his influence, but Lola will continue to remain as a vague employer and acquaintance, and whatever mess you made will be sorted out,” Wuss asked, causing Sylver to start tapping his foot again as he thought about it.

“I can live with that. I’ll obviously try not to do anything that would need a Duke’s influence, but at least it won’t screw up all the effort we went through to keep Lola’s and mine connection secret,” Sylver said, not seeing a whole lot of joy from the cat managing to win the argument. “You already-”

“He offered actually. We spoke last night, and I’m fairly certain that man would take a dagger for you. Putting a little pressure on Torg authorities would be a breeze compared to that. And even if Andrey defends him, a baron doesn’t hold a candle to a duke,” Wuss answered, releasing his hold on the door.

“I’ll do my best to make sure there aren’t any daggers coming my way in that case,” Sylver answered, opening the door and escorting everyone home.

*

*

*

After spending most of the night wandering through the city, Sylver was still having trouble properly sorting everything out.

The first thing he needed to handle was Wolf and Lion, and see if they were here for him, or this was just a coincidence. They didn’t actually have a reason to mess with him right now. Or at all.

They could at best suspect he was going to double-cross them, but since they were desperate enough to let him live, even after learning he couldn’t be mind-controlled, they were very unlikely to try anything while he was still useful.

The second part was Poppy, which would be resolved soon enough anyway. Going to her home was a possibility, but Sylver still wasn’t certain she was the woman who had killed him. She never touched him directly, so he could only go off the extremely vague soul signature he remembered, and the shape of her chin and mouth. And her voice, although that might be harder to do. Not to mention, it could also have been that she had used an illusion to alter her face, but Sylver didn’t have anything else to go on at the moment. Possibly using Spring to see how she reacts to seeing a dead man’s face, but that was a last resort.

He also didn’t manage to find any healers that had Nautis come in. Or at the very least, he didn’t see any traces of his curse fighting back against any healers, so it was safer to say that he didn’t find any healers that agreed to try and lift the curse.

On top of the fact that it would require someone to be extremely attentive to notice it was stored in his blood and not his non-regenerating eyes and limbs, there was also the fact that Sylver had made sure to make the curse as volatile and violent as possible.

It was low tier, obviously, Sylver didn’t have any of the materials he needed, or the necessary mana for a proper curse, but he was confident that anything less than a full purge would either kill Nautis in the process, or would make the curse come back in a matter of minutes. And provided the healer’s light affinity wasn’t too high, would also at the very least damage them.

He ultimately had had enough of walking around and sat down at a completely random restaurant, that smelled faintly of smoked meat and butter.

*

“Could I get the same as him, please? And whatever stew you have,” a voice asked, taking the plate of food out of the server’s hands and placing it down in front of Sylver instead. Lion even put the knife and fork on either side of the plate, refilled Sylver’s glass with more ginger flavored tea, and sat down opposite him, both hands clasped together on the now slightly cramped table.

“I just want to talk,” Lion said, before Sylver could come to a decision as to how to react.

“And Wolf is-”

“He’s at home organizing everything, you have my word. I didn’t come here to threaten you, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t planning on doing anything… rash? Sure, let’s go with rash,” Lion explained, his identical jug of hot tea and cup arriving mere seconds after he had ordered.

He poured himself a cup and drank it, while Sylver looked down at his meal and continued with it.

“Can I ask you something?” Sylver asked, gesturing towards Lion with his fork.

“Andrey isn’t my real name. As I assume Sylver isn’t yours,” Lion said, making Sylver momentarily pause eating.

“That wasn’t my question. Since I have you here anyway, suppose the thing we’re not going to say out loud happens. What is it that you’re going to ask of it?” Sylver asked, being careful just in case someone managed to accidentally overhear him.

Demons weren’t something the general public liked to think about. And unless someone was a priest discussing demon-slaying, or an adventurer who was retelling the tale of them slaying a demon, people generally assumed everyone else was a demon worshiper. They were sitting far enough away that the chance of someone overhearing them was slim to none, but you couldn’t be too careful with things like this.

“Are you asking as someone working with us, or as something closer to a friend?” Lion asked, his tone not giving away what he was thinking or feeling.

“How do I put this… When you speak with something like that, there are certain rules you need to follow. Things must be said and written in a very particular way. And there are some things, you can never ask,” Sylver explained, cutting up his piece of meat into smaller chunks while he spoke.

“Like what?” Lion asked, still sipping on his tea, and not addressing the fact that Sylver hadn’t answered his question. The server brought Lion his soup.

“For example, if you try to use them to break someone else’s deal, you’ll lose the protection their own rules provide you. You’ll be killed instantly. But if you ask for the tools to break someone else’s deal, they’ll happily provide them. The normal tale is that they take souls as payment for anything they do, but in reality, they very often can be paid with materials. Gold, diamonds, flesh, blood, sometimes pieces of art, artifacts, weapons, armor, it depends on the person but if I do everything right, you’ll just have to pay some gold and gems,” Sylver explained, as Lion started to slowly mix together his vegetable soup.

“What happens if you mess it up?” He asked, blowing on the spoonful before eating it.

“There’s levels of messing up. Best case scenario, I spend a few days in bed suffering through the magical backlash and try again after I’m better. Worst case we all die. Actually, scratch that, worst case, everyone in a 50-kilometer radius dies with us,” Sylver explained, lowering his voice for the last part.

“So why are we doing it in the city then? Why not go somewhere safe, with no people around?” Lion asked, lowering his voice to match Sylver’s.

“Doesn’t work like that. Calling one of them over is a bit… It’s a bit like inviting a girl somewhere. It needs to seem interesting enough that they consider it. You basically have to lure them in. That was a bad example, but it won’t show up if there aren’t any people nearby. And before you ask, rounding up bandits won’t work, it can tell the difference,” Sylver explained, canceling out the idea before Lion could even think of it.

“How do you know so much? I don’t believe you aren’t level 40, but it doesn’t make sense. You talk like you’ve done it before,” Lion asked, a question for which Sylver was ready for, for a while now.

“You can pay in levels. And stats and skills. Or at least I could,” Sylver said, not actually lying, since he was fairly certain this was the truth. If demons could take something as theoretical as ‘lifespan’, so why would something so ‘real’ as stats and levels be out of the question?

If anything Sylver half expected it.

“Just between the two of us, what was your @&$&@% &@% &% @#% $&% &@% &% @%&@%&$ @%&,” Lion said, an extremely soft sound playing over his voice, just loud enough that Sylver was unable to comprehend a word he had just said. Even trying to read his lips somehow didn’t give him a single clue as to what the burly man had just said.

“Ah… Well, that’s something I guess. I thought since you must have already... The thing…” Lion said, gesturing with his hands in a vague manner.

“You know, the thing!” Lion repeated, doing his absolute best to explain his thoughts without saying what he was saying.

“The thing?” Sylver asked, trying to feel if this was a system fucking with him restriction, or Nameless’s name fucking with him restriction.

“You know…. The thing, the big thing. The place with the thing and the thing. Once you get %$&#&@ &@$ &@% &@$ &%@ $&@. Fuck. When you &&@# &$ &$&@$& &@$&@ $&$&. Not that either. Uh… Imagine if you were to ^%^%^ ^&$^-”

“OH YOU DIRTY MO-!” Sylver shouted, pressing his palms against the pounding headache, and causing everyone around him to look at his pained form. Going by the fact that Lion also appeared incredibly uncomfortable, Sylver hoped he was feeling at least a portion of his pain.

After explaining to the server that he was fine, and waiting for the pain to subside to a bearable amount, Sylver, now in an awful mood, turned his attention back to Lion.

“What the fuck do you want anyway?” Sylver asked, trying to drink from his cup but finding his hands having a faint tremor and spilling a couple of drops before putting it down.

“I wanted to say, you don’t need to worry about Wolf. I’m watching him, and he wouldn’t go against a direct order anyway. I could see how nervous you were when you saw him, and I wanted to make sure you understood there’s nothing to worry about. He’s a great guy if you got to know him. And didn’t make him look like an utter fool for letting you have the book in your hands. I mean, you can’t imagine how big of an argument that little move caused. Quite frankly, I still laugh about it from time to time. I mean, we underestimated you because of the whole Horace thing, but fuck me if that wasn’t the ballsiest thing I’ve ever seen,” Lion explained, his slight discomfort turning to genuine joy.

“Horace?” Sylver asked, his headache now down to a very faint buzz.

“Oh, did you think you really fooled anyone with your whole ‘fuck the temple of Ra’ act?” Lion asked.

“But it did get me into contact with you lot. So you can’t say it didn’t work,” Sylver countered.

“Only because it was too stupid to have been one of his ideas. Everyone knew from the first night you weren’t really not working for the temple of Ra,” Lion said, referring to whoever Wolf had referred to back in the sewers.

“Look, I’m not great at the whole lying and subversion thing,” Sylver lied, “but I wanted to meet with the you-know-what worshipers, and I did. And I was never really working for them, I just didn’t want you-know-what showing up anywhere near my vicinity,” Sylver explained.

“But it’s fine if you do it?” Lion asked, letting the argument drop before it even started.

“There is a world of difference between a worshiper, and a summoner. I am a summoner, what I do is a carefully practiced science, I know what I’m doing, I know the risks, the dangers, I know how to stop it, I know how to do it safely and neatly, and I’m doing it properly. A worshiper doesn’t do any of that. They just kill enough people, and boom, you-know-what shows out. You can’t compare wild magic to actual magic. Just because the two have the word ‘magic’ doesn’t mean they’re the same, they couldn’t be more different!” Sylver explained, getting agitated at the mere thought of being considered a demon worshiper.

He didn’t worship demons, he used them. He didn’t worship the dead, he used them. His magic was a tool, and that was all it was. Only the truly foolish saw magic as anything but that. The kind that let it absorb them, let it cloud their minds and judgment, and ultimately succumbed to its unquenchable desire for more and more power, and ultimately got a short visit from Sylver or Nyx to sort them out.

“Speaking of which, were you guys the ones who organized everyone, and lost someone to the temple of Ra? Because they caught one of your’s and killed them for it in that case,” Sylver asked, referring to the demon worshiper the temple of Ra had originally captured, which started Sylver’s involvement in the whole thing.

“Oh… That… I can’t really talk about it, because I’m not all that certain as to what I’m allowed to say. Talk to Bear about it, he’s the authority on the matter,” Lion explained, looking off in the distance for a moment, staring at the wall directly above Sylver’s head.

“This is a stupid question, because there isn’t really an answer I will be satisfied with, but are you being mind-controlled by Nameless?” Sylver asked, already back to eating his, now cold, meal.

“If I say no, you wouldn’t believe me since that’s what I would say if I were controlled by him. But I can’t say yes either, since I’m not. And although I can’t really prove it, it’s the truth. I’m as immune to mind control skills and magic as you are, although probably for completely different reasons. If you have a mind-control spell you want to try, go right ahead. Same for Wolf and Bear, although Wolf likely wouldn’t let you try,” Lion explained, with Sylver packing away this piece of information into a safe space in his mind.

“Well, as I said, it was a stupid thing to ask. But back to my original question, what do you want from it? I was going to ask when we next met, but since you’re here anyway…” Sylver offered, gesturing vaguely at Lion, pretending to focus on his meal now and finishing it in a few bites while Lion thought about it.

“This is really something you should talk to Bear about,” Lion said, stirring his soup as he spoke.

“No, I meant… What is it that you desire? Power? Money? Women? Revenge?” Sylver asked.

“How about this. You tell me why you’re doing this, and I’ll tell you why I’m doing it? Seems like a fair trade,” Lion offered.

Sylver thought about it for a moment, trying to figure out how to say ‘because there’s a woman out there who could be a 9th tier mind mage, and without the power of a demon I won’t be able to get any answers out of her about how or why my soul is tied to a needle,’ without actually saying that.

“My reason is pretty simple. We have a deal,” Sylver said.

“That’s it?” Lion asked.

“My word is my bond. That’s all there is to it,” Sylver explained, refilling his cup of tea and drinking it slowly.

“I didn’t really think you were the honorable type,” Lion said, barely waiting for a breath before speaking.

“I’m not. But the potential harm that comes from being known to be a deal-breaker, outweighs any benefit any individual deal being broken could ever offer,” Sylver explained.

“What about if no one were to ever find out you broke the deal?”

“It is extremely rare that I make a deal that isn’t favorable to me so there’s no need to break anything. Or at least neutral enough that I don’t have an issue with carrying it out. And even then, just because I’m not honorable, doesn’t mean I don’t have standards. Now that I’ve answered why I’m doing this, why are you doing it?” Sylver asked.

“You didn’t really answer my question though? Why did you get involved in the first place?”

“Because I didn’t like the thought of you-know-what being summoned in my city. I was going to find it and stop it, but this is quite honestly better,” Sylver said, now looking up at Lion.

“I see… My reason is equally simple. I want to save the world. And Nameless needs to be the high king for me to do that,” Lion explained, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Save it from what?” Sylver asked, squinting at him.

“I’m not at liberty to say. It’s up to Bear if he tells you or not,” Lion said, as he called over the server and paid for his and Sylver’s meal. “Wait, what about your deal with the temple of Ra?” Lion asked, sitting back down.

“The you-know-what issue will be taken care of. That was all they cared about. I’m not sure what you are planning afterward, and frankly, I don’t care all that much. I’ll hope that if you ever need my help, you’ll approach me in a much less… What's a good word to describe our meeting? Aggressive? Invite me over for tea next time, instead of making me go through indescribable agony,” Sylver said, adjusting the collar of his cloak as Lion stood up and towered over him.

“Right… Your involvement in everything being kept a secret was part of the deal… In that case, if anyone asks about us meeting here, tell them I came for advice for dealing with zombie hoards. We’ve had issues with them, wandering away from that cursed necropolis, so it isn’t out of the question I would consult a necromancer on such a matter,” Lion said, brushing away breadcrumbs off his shirt.

“One last thing… Are you the ones who sent Samuel after me?” Sylver asked, causing Lion to cock his head to the side. “I see. Nevermind, in that case, I didn’t really think it was you lot, to begin with. Thank you for the meal, have a good night,” Sylver said, walking away from the slightly confused man.

*

*

*

Sylver’s invitation to talk to Fredrick Da’Batstoi came while he was taking an extremely late night, or extremely early morning, shower.

Lola and Tamay were still asleep by the time he left. Wuss seemingly didn’t sleep at all during the night, merely reading a small packet of letters off on his desk, being assisted by whatever strange magic he and Kitty used, and just barely acknowledged Sylver coming and going. He did tell him that the warrior and mage couple would be coming to guard Lola in a few hours, and thankfully the cat didn’t ask anything that Sylver would have to lie about if he chose to answer.

They invited Sylver over for breakfast, at a restaurant that they assured him was a good place to talk in private and even gave Sylver a small card to prove he was who he said he was.

The receptionist let him inside without any issue. The restaurant was fairly standard, tables and chairs, gold plated menus, beautifully blown glass chandeliers, and a wonderful white marble floor.

The private rooms were upstairs, separated by thick wooden dividers, and extremely powerful barriers that made it impossible for anyone who wasn’t already inside the barrier to see or hear a word of what was going on inside.

Sylver adjusted his shiny new robe one last time before knocking on the door and waiting for the barrier to be lowered, so that he could enter and see if Poppy D'Batstoi was the woman who had nearly killed Ciege, Yeva, unborn Benjamin, and actually killed Sylver.

As the barrier opened for the door to open, Sylver knew two things at the exact same time. Poppy was indeed the woman who had killed him. And there was a [Hero] inside the private room Sylver was about to have breakfast in.

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KingKennit

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