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A note from naosu

This was a fun chapter to write! As a sort of bonus I've also made this the longest chapter written for this series so far, as a sort of pre-holiday, post Thanksgiving weekend wrap up.

Hope you enjoy!

Thanks for all support given.

Also if you like a story it's OK to be generous with positive reviews. 

Dreamweaver Chapter 137

 

 

 

 

When we try to slip out the back we’re too late.

We almost made it out but someone got jealous. It’s always the big bully types that act out on their jealousy and anger.

What is it with these people? It’s not that big a deal is it?

When we get to the back alley behind the inn we turn the corner and suddenly the same big guy is there that was in the inn.

“How did he get out here so fast?” Sunghee asked, blocking the distance between him and me.

He’s huge, easily like 6 and a half feet tall, broad huge muscled chest and biceps that are crazy thick. He’s like Moose in a way except he grew broad instead of eight feet tall.

He’s blocking our escape not far from the back door of the inn’s exit after we’d gotten outside.

“Not so fast kid. What’s so special about you? You think you’re tough huh? Huh?” he’s trying to pick a fight.

“Looks like we weren’t fast enough,” Gyle’s nose twitched.

“Yeah looks like,” another guy said, next to Gyle. He’s a thin guy dressed in dark colored clothes almost like a huntsman wearing deer leathered clothes but no armor. He’s also pretty tough looking, standing next to the dwarf and cutting off moving around the other guy.

“Nobody has a zero fatality rate. I think your full of shit, and I intend to prove it. And then I’ll take your women and your money too bitches,” the first bigger guy said.

“But we don’t have any quarrel with you guys,” Rina spoke up quickly. She looks a bit cowed, but remembering I’m there she glances to me and is suddenly standing closer to me. She knows she would be tossed like a rag doll trying to protect me though.

She yelped and was almost grabbed when the guy tried to grab her. He was cut off by Sunghee intercepting him and using her dwarven war hammer to push his hands away from grabbing her in a very threatening and stern posture.

“Not so fast buddy,” she said.

Sunghee barely managed to block the guy, but next time she won’t be so lucky because there’s too much weight difference and also she won’t have surprise anymore.

“So who are you?” I asked the big guy. Then he spat on the ground in front of us as a type of insult. It also showed his poor hygiene.

“His name’s Evan. He likes to challenge people in duels and take their stuff don’t you Evan? Fact is the city guard has been eyeing you for awhile but there hasn’t been any evidence yet. But sure have been a lot of missing people around you like crazy hasn’t there?” Gyle asked him confidently not really waiting for the answer.

Evan chuckled. “That might sound like some accusations that people say. I only hurt bad people though. And you guys are bad people.”

What is this some kind of super ego?

“He uses bullying and force to make people do duels with him. All the guard needs is for a witness to come forward but he’s so good at intimidation that it hasn’t happened yet,” Gyle explained.

“Go fuck yourself dwarf,” the big guy said to him.

“So you randomly call anyone bad who has more money than you do?” Sunghee challenged.

He looks irritated at her, “watch your mouth bitch.”

“Careful what you say,” Gyle said. But he wasn’t saying that to the big guy, he was saying it to Sung and I.

I’m trying to figure out how tough this guy actually is. His physique suggests he’s pretty strong. He looks like he could pick up a car front end with just his arms and back.

“I think you better shut up dwarf while you still can,” Evan said gruffly.

“Why duels though? There’s no point to that?” I said.

“Street duels are legal in dwarven towns if done through magic contracts,” Sunghee said.

“Eh? They are?” Rina is shaking in her boots.

“That’s why he does it. If it’s a duel through a magic contract then he can take people’s belongings legally. It’s a clever way of thieving for bullies,” Gyle said.

“No harm no foul. And I only target bad people,” Evan chuckled trying to look like a gentleman. “And I want to relieve you of these beautiful women as well, who look oppressed and need to be liberated.” He put his hands in his belt buckle.

“So you guys don’t go anywhere until we get what we want,” the huntsman confirmed.

“Guys, there’s two others behind us,” Rina said.

“And you’ll let us go if we duel you?” I asked.

Evan chuckled. “Oh? This might be easier than the others.”

The other guy chuckled.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Gyle warned me.

“We can’t get away, we’re surrounded,” Rina said from behind me.

“So he must pressure people into forcing the duel accept somehow, like this,” Sunghee said.

Evan is cracking his knuckles.

 Uh oh…Sunghee feels threatened and has a look of almost pure madness. If I let her take control of this it could go badly.

“How do these duels work? Do they take place right here, or somewhere else?” I asked.

Evan smiled broadly. “Wherever you want my man!”

“I get to name the terms for the duel,” I said.

“Fine, whatever you want,” Evan said.

Near me, my whole team is like totally stiff with fear.

They have reason to be afraid. Evan is a huge steroid king type of build. He does have a pretty fancy metal two handed sword hanging from his hip. That sword might sell for a bit.

“Do you have a duel contract?” I asked him nonchalantly.

The others look at me like I’m nuts.

“What? Don’t do it!” Rina and Gyle both said.

“I can’t believe you are doing this,” Sunghee mutters nervously. Even she’s nervous and Gyle looks as white as a ghost.

“Oh there is one catch though. You aren’t broke are you?” I asked Evan boredly. It’s my chance to stick it back to him. If he’s got money then he’s stolen it and deserves to have it taken from him. Everything about him screams that is takes from others without doing real work.

“Huh? What does that have to do with things?” he countered.

“Well I don’t want to duel you if you are broke. There’s no incentive,” I said boredly.

“I’ve got money,” he said defensively.

“If you do then show it,” I said.

“Fine!” he pulled out a small bag of coins.

“I don’t know. That looks pretty shabby. And most of that is copper,” I said scratching my chin.

Evan is furious. “I have plenty!”

“Have your men wager theirs with yours too,” I said.

“What? Are you crazy?” Sunghee exclaimed.

“Shun…be careful,” Rina is still scared.

“Have your men add their money bags to you as if they are yours or no duel,” I said.

Evan is looking conflicted.

“There’s something weird about this guy boss. He’s too confident,” the huntsman guy said.

“Screw it. Let’s just do this. Then we can go hit up the other inns,” Evan said.

“So you guys just go around town whacking people all day?” Sunghee asked carefully.

“What’s it to you babe? You know after we get rid of your friend, we can take care of you next. Wait till you see my lover’s technique,” Evan swaggered a bit saying it, and shifted his hips. He’s also obviously scum in other ways besides just robbery and extortion.

Both Rina and Sunghee are totally disgusted.

“Add your friends’ money pouches,” I insisted.

“I don’t like this boss,” the huntsman said again.

Slowly him and the other two reluctantly gave up their money pouches.

Evan and us noticed the huntsman’s pouch is as big as all three put together. “What? I’m saving for a house,” he said.

Evan looks at him funny, “You aren’t cheating our loot are you? Why is yours so big?”

“That’s a good question Evan. Looks like your man here is skimming the cream when you aren’t looking,” I said.

The other guy jumped a bit. “Sh-shut up!” he said looking at me.

“Fuck,” Evan swore, looking at his ally like he’d murder him any second.

The huntsman now looks queasy. “It’s a lie! I swear!” he’s now facing Evan again.

“So we get a share after you gut the kid right if we add to the pot?” one of the guys in the back said to Evan.

“Yeah everyone gets a share. We’ll work it out,” Evan confirmed. He looks like he doesn’t want to share though. Will he take their share by force after this? But thugs need other thugs for safeguarding their own lives. They can’t see or hear everything on their own because they can’t be in more than one place at once. And they also can’t guard their own sleep at night.

“But do you divide it by four, or by whoever contributed the most?” I asked the Huntsman.

“Shut up!” Evan said.

“I say we go by whoever contributed the most,” the Huntsman said.

“Fuck off; it’s my rules as the leader. You get what I give you,” Evan said.

“Are you going to let him get away with that?” I asked the Huntsman. “By rights you had the biggest money pile so you should get a higher share.”

Huntsman sighed. He looks like he wants to confront the boss about it, but then sees how thick Evan’s biceps are. He’s considering his options.

He knows Evan is about ready to punch him in the face too.

It’s…just barely below the point of making the two predators fight each other first to get a chance at the sheep.

“Just duel me already,” Evan said finally ignoring him.

“You have a magic contract?” Gyle asked.

“Yeah right here,” he nodded towards me and pulls out the paperwork.

“Let me see it,” Gyle started reading it.

“Make sure there’s an autoloot clause in there, so that we don’t have to fight them a second time to cough up the money bags,” I said.

“Hey that’s my line,” Evan said.

“And no restrictions of the space area of the duel with starting positions thirty feet apart,” I said.

“Huh? Don’t you want a smaller area to duel in to save stamina? If it’s a ground war with more turf a guy like that has way more stamina against you for running,” The Huntsman is looking at me like I’m crazy.

“Just stick to the rules. And also any weapons or abilities of each of us are doable. Plague and leprosy status inflicted through the enchant on anyone that interferes with the duel and that interferes with the team of people involved in duel both during the duel and for at least a week after the duel,” I stated.

“Shit, that’s freaking nasty,” the Huntsman said, his face paling.

Even Sunghee and Gyle are afraid to be close by.

“Um, that means the duel is deadly,” Evan said. He’s a bit more nervous this time.

“I don’t like this boss. The kids too confident,” the Huntsman reiterated.

“Too late. You have a duel as you requested,” Gyle said holding his pen. “OK then gentlemen. Place all the money on the contract in the escrow enchant and offerings slot of the paperwork’s mini magic circle, I’ve already written in the names of Evan, and Shun. The duel will have an audio timer that will count down from 10, to 1 to start up.”

I hand a money pouch to Gyle as well containing all my money. It looks like less than the Huntsman’s stash but more than Evans. But who knows what’s really there since it could be either copper, silver, or gold in either of their little tied up money socks.

This is risky, but I have a plan.

Evan is looking nervous. He has his two handed sword up too.

But after I put my money pouch down his greed reflex takes over. His eyes are like little flames of hate bearing down on me too.

I sign the duel first. Then Evan follows.

“OK, everyone to the side of the street,” Gyle said.

The others all go over to the side of the street.

Then the countdown starts…but it’s in dwarven so I have to follow it closely.

The duel finally begins. Evan is a monster with arms thicker than my skull. If I let him get within range of me I’m toast if it turns into a grapple move. But I was anticipating that. He doesn’t know I’ve got magic.

First I hit my dimension door and appeared on a nearby building. He can’t even reach me here but is still charging towards me the best he can. While he’s coming at me I hit him with three different volleys of energy missiles with four missiles per volley.

He screamed in fear and with burning in his torso where all twelve star energy missiles have hit. He’s trying to get me still. He ripped a porch support off destabilizing the roof before figuring out he needs to fight back with range too.

Crap, he’s got throwing knives he’s pulling from a belt pouch. I hadn’t seen those when I was checking him out. He pulls out about five of them. I hit one more volley at him and then hit dimension door to the opposite side of the street’s building positioning me on the roof.

Each door cast has cost me about 8 or 9 percent of my mana.

But Evan was better than I thought. He did manage to throw all five knives in a blink. And he hit me before I could make the door jump. They all thunk and hit into my runic shielding are embedded in there as if they are floating in the air. I’m lucky they didn’t penetrate but the next ones could. He’s made some pretty good cracks spidered through the shield.

When I landed on the other side I start spamming energy star darts as fast I can.

Evan is reaching for more knives.

He can’t have more knives than I have magic. That’s what I’m betting on.

I hit him with another volley and then speed cast recasting my runic shielding to reset my shield energy.

It works but then he hits me with another volley of thrown deadly hand knives.

I reset the shield with a casted renewal and then hit him with another volley while he’s screaming in pain. I repeat the volley and his torso is burning so badly there are gouts of smoke and burned flesh aromas in the air.

“I give up! I give up!” he screamed.

“Look out!” Gyle yelled.

Even though he’s saying he’s giving up Evan is running towards Sunghee.

“Sunghee look out!” I yelled.

That cheating little bastard was going for a meat shield.

I hit him with my stun ray when he’s like three feet away from Sunghee. Then I use the dimension door a third time to move Rina and Sunghee away from him and back up onto the roof. Gyle also moved but I can’t carry him too and not have a chance for misfire.

After depositing the girls on the roof I manage to get three more speedcasted volleys onto Evan.

He finally passes out.

“Is he dead?” Rina asked.

“Don’t approach yet. It could be a trick,” Sunghee said quickly.

Evan’s men are screaming at him to get his ass back up there and fight.

Before getting close I hit him with two more volleys of energy missiles.

Turns out Sunghee was right. He was playing dead with a dagger hidden in his sleeve hoping to gut me when I got close to check the body. When the other two follow up volleys hit him, he’s burning and on fire from magic heat with third degree burns opening up all over his back.

I again used a few follow up volleys to make sure it wasn’t another trick since I can’t take chances with this guy.

There’s a blue screen pop up next, which Sunghee reads, “duel results; Evan = dead, Shun = victor. Happy dueling in the future =) OK that’s what it said, but the smiley icon on a duel where someone died is so freaking creapy. Oh and then it says ‘enchant autoloot dispersing. Loading please wait… with what looked like some kind of flower icon after that.”

Bizarre…

“I agree,” Rina interjected before Sunghee continues, “Calculating accumulated funds…3 gold, 5 silver, and 28 copper to dueler; Shun with auto loot. Funds appearing in inventory in 5,4,3,2….1.”

“Oh shit, that’s a lot of money,” Sunghee said.

“Um, do I get a cut?” Gyle smiled cheerfully.

I ignore him. I did the duel after all. I’m still thinking about it. I need to be sure of things without interference first.

“Well we could call this our dungeon for the day right?” Rina asked.

“Hmm that’s a good idea. I’ve burned up too much mana to do a dungeon run today. Plus we could go check out supplies and things to see what’s available,” Sunghee suggested.

“You know that Huntsman guy will want revenge. That was a lot of cash,” Gyle reminded me.

“That’s why we stay together from now on,” Rina reminded me. “We want you to train us and help us get tougher too,” she added.

“Sounds good,” I said.

“Don’t forget you also got the stuff on his body,” Gyle noted. He pointed at the stripped body.

Evan’s now only in an undershirt and some kind of medieval boxers since the autoloot enchant part of the magic contract has already worked itself out. Thank goodness it didn’t take his underwear. That would’ve made me puke in disgust.

“Did he have anything useful?” Sunghee asked.

“Shun you hang onto our money OK?” Rina chuckled.

Ahh the blessing of being a harem master…but they’ll expect me to get them nice things later in return I’m sure. But right now we need to think about tools and living before toys.

“Do you feel bad about it being blood money?” Sunghee asked me.

“Well that was all money they stole from others.  He was doing this with who knows how many victims. If we didn’t do this the victims would have increased by hundreds probably. It’s only blood money if we use it to harm others like they did. We can choose to do good with it and be people that help others,” I said.

“You’re reasoning is right. I’m glad you have perspective but hope you won’t enjoy it too much,” Sunghee said.

“You aren’t giving it away are you? When you say help others…because if you do there will be no sex for like….3 years. Well that’s what I’d like to say but I couldn’t follow through with that probably,” Rina protested. She likes money and it’s obvious.

Sunghee and Gyle snickered and gave me sympathy. I didn’t think it was funny though.

“We aren’t giving anything away,” I reminded them.

“But we could use it to save for a base of some kind, and some of it to pay off our loan to Gyle,” I reminded them.

“That’s a good idea,” Gyle chuckled.

“So let’s figure it out…how much of that is Gyle’s share if we divide it into 4?” I asked.

We climbed down from the roof and sunghee has to scratch the math in the sand. “Gyle’s share is …8 silver and 82 copper,” Rina confirmed.

“Wait you made a mistake. The conversion isn’t 10 silver to 1 gold its 100 silver to 1 gold,” Sunghee corrected her.

“Oh you’re right. Wait let me rework it,” Rina and I did it together. She’s been doing better on her math but I want to be careful, since making mistakes on money shares could make allies really pissed off.

“And Shun holds our shares,” Sunghee said, smiling to me.

“The actual ¼ amount going to Gyle is… 76 silver 32 copper,” Rina and I confirmed.

“That sounds about right,” Gyle said. But then he tilted his head, “But if you get an autoloot calculator enchant scroll that’s reusable then you don’t have to do it manually.”

“Wait let me check that,” Sunghee said while scratching some stuff into the dirt.

Pheromones are awesome. In real life there’s no way the girls would let me hang onto their money…even if I was using it to protect them and give them a better life. Irony is funny sometimes.

That left me with ¾ of the money after paying Gyle. And the girls all demand me to give me their shares because of the pheromones. I love this. Yes…

I do a running sum of both current and new money.

1 gold 33 silver 47 copper + 2 gold 28 silver 96 copper = 3 gold 62 silver 43 copper. What made it hard to figure out is remembering that 1 gold is 100 silver and not 10 silver. When I hadn’t reconsidered that I’d almost made a conversion mistake or three.

“So we’re protected from those guys right?” Rina asked.

“For a week yes. They’ll not be able to get around the whole bit of the plague and leprosy part of the separation cool time bit,” Gyle added.

“That was clever,” Sunghee said, raising an eyebrow at me.

“Well it was necessary. I’m surprised he tried to go after you for a hostage while knowing that though,” I said to her, while holding her hand. The holding her hand part made Rina jealous though.

“Well we made enough money today, are you sure we don’t do the dungeon again?” Rina asked.

“Best to not be greedy, I could regenerate some mana and get from 50% to maybe 60 or 65% but it’s being greedy and taking extra unnecessary risks for the wrong reasons that kills people,” I responded.

“I think you’re right to wait,” Gyle confirmed.

“Actually there is one small problem,” Sunghee said looking seriously.

“What?” I asked.

“What happens if people find out you killed him and they are previous victims he’d taken money from?” Sunghee answered.

“Crap,” Rina and Gyle both said at once.

“I’m not here to give any free rides. What happened with Akira, Saiya, and Yuriko proved that doesn’t work,” I said.

“I suppose that’s true,” Rina said.

“So if someone tries to claim anything from that guy owing him that’s on them, not me. I don’t take over that guy’s debts,” I said seriously.

“Let’s just hope we can avoid that scenario,” Gyle said.

And by giving Gyle a share he has no incentive for it to be known what happened or who got rid of Evan the duel thief.

“So we go shopping?” Rina’s eyes flashed at me with energy.

Oh crap, have to shut that down too.

“We need to focus on what’s necessary first,” Sunghee interjected.

“The dungeon is a dangerous place. Wait till you have a good foothold on good equipment and a base before you do anything like fancy extras,” Gyle advised me.

“you’re right. I keep forgetting how deadly this…place is,” Rina said. I could tell she was thinking world, rather than place but knew she couldn’t say it.

“Actually having a base sounds cool. Like a tower maybe,” Sunghee suggested.

“You will be able to accumulate money quicker than other groups I think because you have unity and commonality. That will let you get a good base and some kind of good building the future,” Gyle said.

“Do other groups usually have a base?” Rina asked him.

He shrugged, “it depends on how much they trust each other and their ability to survive really. A lot of them do a base of some kind if they can achieve some permanence. But groups with high turnover never can achieve that,” Gyle said.

“That sucks. No wonder they got jealous on that zero fatality rate deal,” I said.

“Yeah, people get really upset when they feel entitled and want stuff really bad and it goes to someone else instead,” Gyle said.

“So we should change which inn we stay at,” Sunghee suggested.

“That’s probably a good idea. There’s going to be too much attention there now that people see you like that. If word gets out and if you are identifiable then people will give you too much attention and you could receive like threat letters and violence for people that don’t have the chance to group with you or that want to coerce you into helping them. Nobody is safe at night really too. We depend on a safe place to go but if that’s where the trouble is you won’t live long with no safe place to sleep at,” Gyle confirmed.

“OK, Gyle you can take care of forward our mail with the city guard. We don’t want to miss out on any other military sponsored activities,” I said.

“Oh right. Since you guys had military sponsor ship you didn’t have to pay the dungeon registration fee. That’s nice,” Gyle said.

“Before we do that, let’s go take care of the adventurer license replacement,” Sunghee pleads.

Neither I nor Gyle can turn down a pleading look from Sunghee.

It takes a good hour of walking around the dark city full of dwarves and is hard to navigate except for the light spell I used to keep the girls from getting lost.

“It sure takes getting used to, living underground. How do you guys do it?” Rina asked him.

He shrugged, “it’s not so bad. There’s more security in surrounding mountains and rock around you or living inside of one. We have a lot of enemies and they can’t actually get in here. The only real problems are making sure you have good airflow, a crop and food production system, and light for people who don’t have dark vision. After that all your other problems can fall into place after you base it in a high mineral content area.”

“Oh,” Rina replied.

We finally enter the shop. It’s also a different one from where I had the trouble with mine but I still hang in the back anyway while Sunghee goes up to the front with Gyle and Rina. I feel nervous so I’m in the back, but stay close enough to hear what’s going on. But it’s a government office here. The people are getting paid by the state so there’s no urgency whatsoever to work hard or pay real attention to people.

“We need some help please,” Sunghee rings the bell for service. It takes a minute for the employees to respond. They are slow deliberately even though they aren’t really doing any real work.

A middle aged dwarf comes to the front reluctantly. “Yes, can I help you?”

“Hi, my friend has a license but she lost it in the tunnels of a dungeon somewhere. We need a replacement,” Gyle said.

“OK, we can do that. There will be a replacement fee however,” he said.

“We’re OK with that. We need the license,” Gyle insists.

“Suit yourself. It’s a 5% fee,” the clerk gives us a pitiful look. “That’ll be 5 gold.”

Fudge…that’s awful.

Gyle gives him the money with a worried look like he was selling his grandmother into slavery. All dwarves have that look when coughing up money though, it’s not because he’s actually desperate.

Gyle…has a lot of money doesn’t he? Do all dwarves have money? Come to think of it Gyle is dressed in really well off equipment, and all of its new.

“How does it work though?” Rina asked curiously.

“I use an economic magic program to identify the person and the matching license to pull it up. Then we just redo it as if it’s a new license once we have the missing information. Since we’ve confirmed that it’s a person that actually has a license we don’t have to worry about our primary concern, which is if the person is trying to get a license for free,” he said.

“Well is there a way to tell if someone else has picked up the stolen or lost license and is trying to use it?” Rina asked.

“Actually I forgot about that too,” Sunghee said quickly.

“Once we register the previous new replacement license, the world system will automatically vaporize the previous lost license,” the short bearded dwarf clerk says like he’s had to explain this a hundred times before.

“Is there a way to tell if someone has picked it up and is using it?” Sunghee asked.

“Hmm let me check,” the dwarven clerk said.

He uses some kind of weird skill and a blue screen pops up, which he reads with Sunghee and Gyle. “Hmm, oh that’s interesting. Hmm, OK. Hmm. Aren’t you off the beaten path,” he confirmed with Sunghee.

“What’s that sir?” Sunghee isn’t sure what he meant.

“Well it looks like the last known usage of your license was a few years ago and about 800 miles from here more or less.”

“Oh, that’s right! I forgot about that, hahaha,” Sunghee is blushing.

“Oh that’s odd. It seems that the government thought you were KIA,” the clerk had a double take in shock.

“Eh?!” Gyles is shocked.

“What’s KIA mean again?” Rina asked innocently.

“It means they thought I was dead. Killed in action,” Sunghee said.

“Hmm that looks suspicious. Sorry young lady but I’ll have to do a blood test since it’s listed as KIA,” the clerk said.

Sunghee shakes her head like she’s spooked.

“Do they even have blood tests?” Rina asked her.

“Not like from you know where, but they have a magic version,” Sunghee answered back.

Gyle has a look on his face like he’s about to say, ‘what the fuck?!’ “Is that necessary?” he asked patiently.

The clerk looked apologetic. “Sorry but identity theft is a big deal. Its especially is a risk with foreign nationals both incoming to another country or those going abroad and immigration status also make it messier.”

“Fine. Let’s get it over with. I have nothing to hide,” Sunghee showed her hand. She looks scared of being cut up still and the funny part is that Rina is more skiddish than she is, even though she’s not the one being cut up.

The clerk gets a needle and takes a few drops of blood. Then he used another weird skill. A minute later, he confirms it. “Oh wow, you really are the real Sunghee the ‘Mankiller’.

We couldn’t help but giggle hear it. She doesn’t look like a Mankiller. In fact, she looks beat red.

“Mankiller?” Rina is laughing hysterically.

Gyle is like what’s going on.

“What does that mean Mankiller?” I asked Sunghee.

She looks terribly embarrassed. “Well…I was going through a phase. It’s really not what you think. I haven’t killed anyone I promise, at least that didn’t deserve it.”

“Eh? You haven’t? Too bad, I thought it was kind of cute,” the clerk said.

What the hell? He’s supposed to be working for the government and upholding the law…

“What?” he said when we gave him weird looks?

“So where’d it come from then?” Rina asked.

Sunghee blushed. “Well…I sort of shot down a lot of offers for dates and stuff. So it means Mankiller in a different way like as in Ice Queen. I was partly afraid to date because of lack of health care facilities if it came to getting pregnant. It’s a different way of calling me an ice queen. Please don’t ever use it. I hated that nickname. I still do and it makes me really unhappy to hear that nickname. People thought I was a lesbian but the truth was just that the town I was in, a lot of the men were pigs. As in pigmen. ”

Ten minutes later we had new adventuring license for Sunghee.

“Let’s have a look,” I said cheerfully. Of course Sunghee and Gyle have to translate it. It’s got everything written in both Egyptian and Dwarvish just in case we travel to other areas.

 

 

Name; Sunghee

Race; high human

Class; Adventurer

Magic skills; Adventurer team magic (limited), team contract negotiation

Specialty; Close combat fighter, bodyguard style fighting style focus

Dungeon Teaming Restrictions; None; Leadership & Team Leader for dungeons options unlocked

Apprentice(s); Lyra

Spouse or next of kin; Shun

 

 

 

“Eh? Who is Lyra?” I asked in surprise. I hadn’t ever heard of Sunghee mention someone in her other life yet. And it’s supposedly an apprentice.

Rina and Gyle are also interested.

Sunghee blushed, “she was my apprentice. I don’t even know if she’s alive anymore.”

“That’s sad,” Rina said.

“Wow, it’s been so long since I thought about that. I also was trying to adjust from the trauma. I wonder how I’d even find her again, if she’s still alive,” Sunghee said in deep thought.

“Should we find out? We don’t even know what city she’s in?” I responded.

“Well, you could send a mage message. It will cost a bit of change but would get there instantly if its sent through magic. If you ask them to code the message for return ping on a live person or death ping on dead person too it will let you know what’s up,” Gyle said.

I didn’t know there was something like that.

“Eh? They can do that?” Rina is also shocked, as much as I am.

“That makes sense though. They would want a coding inserted of some kind to make sure on if it’s being received or just ignored by someone pretending to be dead,” I thought aloud.

“Well there’s another way too besides that,” Gyle said.

“Like?” Rina and I both said it at once.

“Technically the next of kin, and apprentice lines, and master / teacher lines only show a name if that person is alive. Lyra will notice the next time she looks at her card that Sunghee’s name will appear at some point as a master or instructor contact. Then she’ll know Sunghee is alive. But the problem is we still wouldn’t know how to contact her and most people wouldn’t look at their license every day. They might only look at it a couple of times every two months when they have to prove who they are,” Gyle explained.

“I don’t know if this is good or bad. If Lyra wants to follow you, it could be awkward because you and I are close,” I said to Sunghee.

“You might be right,” Rina blushed. It figures that she’s thinking of something pornographic and staring at me like a yandere.

“Oh shit. I have money. We need to go the bank!” Sunghee suddenly remembered. She stopped suddenly in the street in surprise.

“You do?!” Rina and I exclaimed.

“Well…I might. That’s assuming the bank didn’t steal it. I think we might still be within the economic no contact rule time limits,” Sunghee is now worried.

“What happened?” Gyle asked. He’s really confused and a little bit suspicious. He’s starting to figure out that Sunghee has a few blanks in her life I think.

“Amnesia!” I exclaimed, wanting to cover for her and thinking it up on the spot. I had surprised myself even but it’s a good cover.

“Oh gosh, that’s awful!” Gyle exclaimed.

Sunghee gives me a very grateful look. “I’m lucky I found Shun though. He saved me and now things are going better.” I know she’d feel ashamed and terrible if it got out she’d been captured and in a stasis crystal for years. She gives me a kiss on the cheek and then rubbed my cheek with her hand affectionately.

Rina and Gyle both look jealous but for different reasons.

“Thanks Shun! Thanks for saving me…from amnesia,” she said sincerely.

“I’m lucky to have you,” I said squeezing her hand.

“Wow, that’s a big story. It’s amazing too,” Gyle said.

“Which we want to keep a lid on, we want a quiet life,” I said to Gyle quickly.

“Right, what he said,” Sunghee said right after.

“OK,” he responded.

“So do you have like a lot of money or just a little? What do you think we should do?” Rina asked curiously. She’s sort of walking to my left and peeking to the side at Sunghee, who is on my right side. Gyle is sort of in front of us a bit studying our reactions.

“That’s good. If you have some preparations that means you are responsible and probably a better business partner,” he affirmed.

“Well I don’t even remember how much is in there. But before my accident…I had a small amount saved for trying to retire and run my own farm or homestead somewhere,” Sunghee blushed thinking about it.

“You want to be a farmer?” Rina asked.

“Well it’s fun to be in charge of your own life. It’s not so much farming as much as wanting to be doing something that isn’t risky or that someone can’t take away from me. That’s why people like to work for themselves,” she explained.

“I get it. I really get that. It’s almost like you guys are part dwarf,” Gyle exclaimed, looking at me. I don’t think he actually means that, but he wants to have a reason why he’s sort of taking us in and to explain why we’re successful. A dwarf might think other successful non-dwarves are badass because they had a dwarven ancestor at some point.

“We all want to live and prosper,” I said aloud.

“So are the banks even networked? Would we be able to pull her funds and like set ourselves up for being able to survive better?” Rina asked sincerely.

“I think they are but when you cross a country border there may be a surcharge for both crossing the border, and for currency conversion. It shouldn’t be too much, but I don’t want you to not think it’s there and get cheated,” Gyle warned us seriously.

“Ahh that bites,” Rina said.

“We could do that. I mean…I could do that for you Shun,” Sunghee said. She threw her arms around me for a quick warm hug.

“Thank you. More important than money is having you though,” I said, slapping her ass. I knew she’d like that, and to confirm it she bites my ear playfully and then giggled. With agility and quick response she slips away, just to tempt me again.

“So we go to the bank next?” Gyle asked.

“Let’s do it,” Sunghee chirped.

Rina is a bit jealous while seeing us, and looks pouty. So I ruffled her hair, while with my other hand Sunghee has this crushing grip while holding my hand.

Both of them are really territorial…

We went through a similar process in the bank. Its long paperwork and a lot of proving who we are and several bank employees making us squeamish with stern disapproving looks; finally we won out.

But something has been bothering me about Sunghee’s race saying high human. I’ll have to ask her later though because if I ask it while Gyle is here then it could be a real problem. He may become suspicious of why I don’t know about the races of this world. I’ll have to ask Fox when no one is around though.

Turns out Sunghee did have a pretty good savings. It wasn’t a lot though, because in her previous ‘life’, she’d suffered and endured a lot. So even if it were a little or a lot I’d have to tread carefully to not trample on her efforts and suffering to obtain it.

Because of having a lot of losses she wasn’t able to save as much as she wanted even though she’d spent many years being an adventurer. When you consider that fact it wasn’t as much as she’d have had if she’d had the advantages we currently have; a mage in the team with buffing, shielding, and healing.

We came out with an additional 137 gold, 57 silver, which was taken out of the bank, which we’re now mad at  the bank had been charging her to keep it in rather than giving her interest. So there wasn’t any reason to keep it there considering I can hold money and keep in the demon inventory box without having a portion of it stolen every month.

Gyle is a bit shocked. “Wow you sure came into a good windfall. That’s a lot of money. Make sure no one finds out you have that much being carried around or you’ll be robbed for sure.”

I hesitated in my step. Does that mean him too? Or will bank employees like warn underground people of huge withdrawls like we just did?

“Well it could be worse,” I said glancing at Rina.

She blushed and avoided responding.

“So how much does a house cost in this town?” I asked.

Gyle whistled. “That’s a loaded question. You are looking at anywhere from 100 to 2,000 gold depending on the size of the property. For a small manor or a castle it can go up even a bit further from that. Of course it costs less if you want to live outside the town wall but that’s pretty much suicide considering the demons are always warring for this world.”

My face fell. “That’s a lot.”

“But you have a chance to do it Shun,” Sunghee affirmed.

She was now putting her arms around me. “When I came here years ago I didn’t have a solid team to go by. You do. You can do more if you build the team up too.”

“You think so?” I asked.

Right now saving up even 100 gold for a cheap house, seemed like a wall that was impossible to climb. True we had part of that, but let’s face it…it had taken her a long time to get even 100 gold. It’s funny that it sounded like so little but it was actually a great deal if a common man only made about 1 silver per day.

So if I were to translate that 1 silver to let’s say an average wage in the real world of 100 bucks…that would mean 100 gold is maybe something like 100 x 100 …for a lot of inflated pricing here. I guess it was partly like that because this was a world where invasion was common it meant that protection from the King or country and the idea of living behind a wall was like a legal form of a protection racket scheme. Not to mention everyone is a serf instead of middle class, or something like that. If you are free and have your own home or farm you are kind of considered a modified lower version of middle class on this world it seems.

The houses shouldn’t cost this much. If they were similar to wages and prices in our world then the prices should be anywhere from 10 gold per house up to 50 gold per house…but the starting range bottom was 100 gold?! Maybe it has something to do with land costs in a dwarven mountain fortress too.

I’d have to ask Gyle more about this later.

“Well if you can get funding from a loan from the king then you can pay for it over time with…I think they call it a mortgage. But those things are rumored to be trouble,” Gyle said cheekily.

“I don’t know if we’re ready for that yet. If we rush into it that could tie us down in something that would create a lot of pressure and conflict our judgment,” I said.

“But we have to stay somewhere,” Rina said.

“We could keep saving until we reach a point where the financing cost per month is lower than the lodging cost per month. But I don’t like the idea of paycheck to paycheck with no room for error,” Sunghee suggested.

“That’ll work too. You might not want to get the first hovel you see though. You need a place that is secure and well built and that can’t be broken into easily since that sort of thing is common here,” Gyle confirmed.

“Thieving is common?” I raised an eyebrow and glanced at Sunghee.

“Unfortunately he’s right. It’s going to be like that when the time it takes for a city guard to respond is so huge compared to the time it takes to do the time and escape. Some cities are better than others. I bet dwarven cities are probably pretty safe comparatively but not all cities outside the dwarven country are,” she said.

“Dang,” Rina is blinking as she tries to comprehend it. “This world is like super screwy.”

“What was that? Why did you say it like that?” Gyle asked her.

“Uh, nothing. It’s just a saying you know,” she said back trying to cover up her slip.

Gyle regarded her funny for a sec, but somehow Sunghee covered it up.

“Sometimes she says odd things. Don’t worry about it,” she added casually.

“So for now we worry about gear and other things,” I replied changing the subject.

“It’s kind of funny that the cost of a really good top of the line slave is more than the cost of a house though. That always seemed weird to me,” Sunghee said.

“But there are cheaper ones right?” Rina wondered.

“Well yeah they come cheaper but you would want something of good quality, not something that will die easily. Something to protect you,” Sunghee said.

I stopped in my tracks. “What did you say?”

“Yeah didn’t you know? This place has slavery see, look,” Sunghee pointed out a few people that were being ordered about by others. They had somewhat plain looking clothing, but were being directed by others. In most cases the slaves in question were non-dwarves, as dwarves were discouraged from practicing slavery on their own race. But there weren’t any restrictions about slavery on non-dwarves.

Wow, how could I have been so blind?

I mean I knew about the slave crystals being probably not something to brag to grandma about. And that someone other than me probably had some versions of it though simpler. But I hadn’t known how far the rest of society and this world had accepted it. It was wide open and in full view of the public.

I’d also thought that the dwarves didn’t allow slavery but I was wrong. They justified it like everyone else. They did have protections that slaves had to be treated fairly well. But because such a thing as poverty exists then you could argue fairly well in poverty was acceptable too.

Complicated now isn’t it.

I wasn’t into slavery much but felt forced to accept it. The slave crystals were like family to me because I felt like I’d saved them to help them recover too…I tried to treat them well and make their lives better and because I was ‘infected’ into being a type of sex demon I couldn’t do anything about it. Nor could I ever escape from it, and trying to do so might cause slips of sanity which might cause me to forcefully indulge.

That concept scared me. But I kind of didn’t like the idea of not sharing my happiness or prosperity with them or living of them.

“This can be a sensitive issue for dwarves though not as much for others,” Gyle reminded us. “Keep your voice down when you talk about it.”

And suddenly without thinking about it, we stumbled into the slave market.

The girls were really embarrassed. I caught Rina peeking through her fingers though when her hands covered her face. Gyle doesn’t care, and I’m not sure what to think. Sunghee just blushed and looked at me.

It was like an auction or something.

We could hear people chattering all around us and there were tents and stalls everywhere with both men and women for sale here. It’s kind of embarrassing in a way. Both the men and the women here are in loincloths if they are young and nice looking to sell them better. The young women are allowed to basically only the loincloth while they are being auctioned off. So everywhere are topless women that cause me to hold both Sunghee and Rina’s hands so hard that they are sort of in semi-pain.

I needed to get out of here. Topless women everywhere isn’t good for me.

Both Sunghee and Rina blush when they see it. And they are also watching to see how I see it and if I’ll remain somewhat civilized.

If they are selling a young and healthy slave they want to show it. If they show them off, then they get more money; so it’s that type of thinking with justification on why the women are topless too.

“How did we end up here?” I said.

Gyle looked embarrassed. “Sorry, but I brought you here on purpose. I want you to understand things better. I totally am so sorry but I feel like you don’t get what’s really going on around here.”

“Eh?!” The girls are shocked.

“I want you to think about how we’ll do our own team for the dungeon. We can now have our own group thanks to Sunghee having adequate certification to not have restrictions but not a lot of groups are good for doing things without having problems. People betray each other, or they have poor leaders that make bad decisions, or people just get selfish. You saw how Jimmy and Moose work but the fact is we live in a really dark era of betrayal. This is the second time I’ve been in a party betrayal murder of all the other parties. They aren’t the first or last like that. You might do better by just purchasing your own slaves and putting them to work as adventurers,” Gyle said.

The girls’ mouths are hanging open in surprise.

“So it happens often?” Rina asked.

“I can’t say it happens every day but if it happens just once per year do you think you can get anywhere?” Gyle shot back.

“So where are you going with this?” I asked.

“Slaves. They are bound with loyalty. So you have a set of loyal team members and they don’t complain much,” Gyle said.

And Gyle seems to think that I would have already have been harm to him if I’d wanted to.

The others are quiet. They’ve already heard about the hell we had trying to survive. They aren’t condemning so that’s cool. Although the imprint from the long term effects of the pheromones and the pheromones themselves probably wouldn’t allow a reaction like that.

“But…” I managed to be totally stunned too.

“I know you think it’s bad but these people are already sold into slavery. There’s nothing you can do about it except try to rescue them. So you kill two birds with one stone. The slave economy also helps the military and the king manage disaster recovery too so unfortunately you can’t stop it or fight it. And by doing so you can try to make a difference by whoever you buy and let go or give a better life, but how are you going to make a difference if you can’t trust the people next to you? Do you think hirelings are going to cut it?” Gyle asked.

“The reasoning sounds more like justification than rescuing,” I noted.

He just shrugged.

“He kind of has a point actually,” Sunghee admitted.

“But how would a slave team member be more reliable than a normal hireling?” I asked.

“For starters if you treat them good, there’s gratitude. A lot of them will rapidly see the difference between their master giving them three meals a day and their other slave friends get one meal a day and sleep in a shed. If you rescued me but didn’t have to then you must be the type that wouldn’t have his team in the shed,” he said.

“That’s awful!” Rina exclaimed in horror.

“So just so you understand, the safety rests on the slave / master contract enchant preventing harm to the owner of the slave from the slave. So betrayal and selling someone out isn’t going to happen,” Gyle looked apologetic saying it.

Sunghee looks conflicted. I can read on her face she’s wondering if her life would have been different.

I’m even more shocked now, because she’s saying it of all people if she hadn’t been betrayed. She’s looking down but leaning against me. “Before I had my…accident…it was caused by a team betrayal. It wouldn’t have happened if I’d have had people I could rely on. I fought well and made good decisions in the dungeon. But someone in our team was paid to have us forced into our accidents. I’d also heard of other people doing the same thing.”

“Paid? Paid by who?” Rina asked earnestly with wide eyes.

“Paid by monsters, or the highest bidder, or slave collectors that’s who,” Sunghee said bitterly. A tear goes down her cheek.

Dammit. This is exactly the type of thing I was trying to avoid. The last thing I wanted is Sunghee thinking of some bad memories.

Gyle looks like he’ll murder someone. I decide I like him. I can see he doesn’t like evil shit happening in this world and that makes him worth mentoring I think.

But I was surprised he’d recommend that particular choice.

So Gyle thinks instead of reviewing the other team offers I should go with slaves? I don’t have a lie detector spell right now either, and I’m not sure there is one. And a lie detector spell would be very useful in forming a team if they came from non-slave stock. From what I’ve seen so far magic costs a lot, as evidenced by our savings awhile ago being wiped out by Rina switching her genes and appearance out to trick me.

I wasn’t sure yet on the slave issue. It sounded like it really sucked to be a slave.

I also need to check with the Inn on how much my rate may go up with extra people in there. I’m sure I’d get a surcharge from Rina and Sunghee.

I needed to be careful and make good decisions. I shouldn’t rush it while I think about what I can do with my extra funds.

But then it hits me as we’re going back to rest.

There’s a reason Gyle is pushing me into slaves. He has some motive.

“Gyle? What’s the real reason you are pushing me into buying slaves?” I asked.

The girls are still hanging on my arms. Gyle is near us and trying to act peaceful and non-chalant. But he can’t.

He avoids the question.

“Gyle? Can you please tell us?” Sunghee’s angelic face and her sharing her experience earlier seemed to just make him crack.

“Fine. I’ll tell you,” he sighed.

“?”

“?”

“It’s OK. Please, what’s wrong?” Sunghee is using that angelic look some more.

“My…sister was taken. She’s somewhere living life as a slave, probably in camps like this. When I was younger my parents fell on hardship. Then my grandfather lost our place to live from gambling.”

He sighed. He’s having a hard time continuing.

“Somewhere in one of the camps there’s a dwarven girl that looks like me. She’s almost my age, and was quickly taken for the debts. I have no idea where she is, but there was a rumor she was somewhere in the Southern Province here where we’re at now. Can you help me find her?”

That’s a tall order.

None of us can talk after that.

But can I really help him? I mean my medical condition kind of makes me a villain in a way. If Gyle knew my problems he might not be so happy to have me save his sister.

I think Sunghee is also thinking that. She’s giving me puzzled looks.

When she noticed that I’m worried seeing her reaction she gives me a faithful smile and squeezes my hand.

 

Later that day I see more of Sunghee’s non-combat skills, which are basically common adventurer type skills (I am still trying to understand some of her technical close combat fighting styles, since I’m a mage that jargon doesn’t make sense to me yet);

 

Summon heatstone; only lasts approximately 12 hours, and non-sellable. Item is as description says. A hot stone that can be put in pockets or coat to keep one warm in cold environments;

Team monitor; Adventurer has instinctive feel when a team member is wounded but has range limits.

First Aid; chance skill to attempt to keep a dying team member alive (not a heal skill, only affects life status). Status’ such as bleeding to death, poison, organ punctures may affect success rate. May only be used once per person within a 24 hour time period; while not a heal skill this is a one chance stop attempt to prevent a team member death.

Sanitize; skill revivifies clothing and can be used to clean body and clothes of the individual target of the skill. Has no additional effect beyond sanitizing a person as if they’d taken a bath, etc.

Torch endurance; Boosts endurance life of torches being used; may target one torch per skill attempt.

Survival; passive insight, experience, mentality to give skill possessor ability to try to live off the land and harvest natural food sources in nature. While not appealing and sometimes stressful to use or live through, this keeps people alive but does not satisfy their pallet. Note that skill possessor isn’t guaranteed to be able to use this skill for all available terrains, but must learn each terrain individually after home terrain base foundation is achieved.

Injury recovery and prevention; passive skill reduces chance for hits to cause permanent injury such as an arrow to the knee, back injuries, paralysis, complications from broken bones, bone spurs, and other lasting conditions. Skill is not a guarantee of prevention, but skill success increases with seniority and experience.

High Human trait; reduced aging; High humans as a race are able to age better than other humans without showing. While still being mortal and still vulnerable to age’s effects, this skill hides those effects under the skin within reason. Doesn’t guarantee a long life; bad things can and still happen to good people.

High Human trait; modified human body; High Humans as a race look a bit slimmer in build than other humans and tend to have slightly longer legs with healthier and smoother looking skin coming from the fact that High Humans are the evolution of Humans in this world.

Insect repellant; Targetable skill; lasts up to one day, helps to reduce insect bites and act as a repellant to insects around the wearer. Not a guaranteed success on use, but does help reduce chances of insect problems. Can be cast on multiple party members in a day, but not usable on others that have no party or clan bond.

Alertness (job trait); Chance to detect sneak actions nearby, or surprise attempts nearby or closing enemy movements within a short range with both an active and passive success rate; Note; human alertness skill is still less powerful than demi-human alertness skill, though this can be upgraded to compensate. 

Mana Mapping; Through magic and mana use, adventurer is able to see a map in their mind that’s trackable, and observable to have the ability to not get lost in dungeons or mazes, or even in the wilderness. Does not guarantee user will not ever get lost and affected by base intellect and wisdom of user. Comes with passive cerebral interface system to help keep from forgetting or losing focus of map. 

Clothing repair ( mana repair ); Adventurer mana use skill; Fascilitates magic repair on clothes and organic leather or cloth. Will not work on weapons or armor, but permissible for clothes, boots, and other gear, excluding saddles and vehicles.

 

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