With those collected we began to head back to Dungeoncity. We were in the canyons, one of the terrain features surrounding Dungeoncity. I felt that the name it was given was highly appropriate. The route from Tortburg to Dungeoncity was through a very narrow pass. On the other side was wild untamed wilderness which had all kinds of strange fantasy terrain dotting it.
This wasn’t even including the near countless underground labyrinths in the surrounding areas. It was enough to make me question whether the place could have ever naturally existed. I had questioned Lanette about it and she had said that 10 years ago the mountain range was considered impassible and only when status magic appeared had the pass become known.
There had been a ruined city on the other side and the Dungeoncity was built on those ruins. It all seemed suspicious to me, maybe something to do with the Sages that Lanette had also told me about.
The canyons were along one of mountain sides and it was close walls and steep dropoffs. A dangerous place but safer than some of the other locations. It was frequented by lower level adventurers because of that. As me and Lanette had also learned to was also a good place to power level. Most adventurers did not use it like that because they lacked the bonus skill ranks when leveling up that we got and there wasn’t much of value to be found in the canyons.
“So are we going to go visit the jungles next time? I remember you saying that you thought that would be a good challenge.” Said Lanette and we made our journey back.
“Probably. However there is the other matter that I think we need to deal with soon.”
“The third party member?”
I nodded, “Yeah, it has been getting tougher just trying to do this with just the two of us. Plus most of the advanced quests won’t let you accept them without at least three people.”
It has started to become an issue. No matter how strong a party was more people made encounters easier. Without a full party we were at a disadvantage. Even one more person would make a big different.
“I want a tank. After that a dedicated healer would be good.”
“You have been saying that, yes.”
“Basic party composition. We can only do so much with just CC and DPS.”
“The only probably is finding somebody worth inviting. Most people already have a team or couldn’t be trusted.”
I nodded along, “Yeah, at least we don’t need to be too picky about level. We will be able to power level them pretty easily at this point.” Although mentally I laughed at that. Being level 20 was hardly a level where we should be talking about power leveling.
We debated the merits of what kind of person we would want to accept into our party. The biggest issue was that I still wanted to keep Improved Level Up secret. There were still probably plenty of higher level adventurers who would want to take advantage of it.
There was the option of buying another slave but I dismissed that option. Using the same flag too many times was terrible. No story worth its salt would do that. I would need to find a new plan.
We managed to reach Dungeoncity without any distraction that couldn’t be easily dealt with. The city was a bustling pot of complete lack of city planning. The roads were only straight because it was built on an old city. Stops were just haphazardly placed next to each other. The only thing that was well designed was the guards watching the entrances of the city. Without those the city could easily fall to an manor of monster attack.
As we reached the main square where we would turn to head to the inn that we were staying at I stopped and took a deep breath. “That one… that one!” I shouted gleefully while tugging at Lanette’s sleeve.
She looked where I was pointed. “I’m sorry, I still don’t think I understand your aesthetic. Can you explain to me why that old man looks special to you.”
“Are you even looking at the same person as I am? An old man wearing fairly heavy armor, however he is leading a child through the street trying to help them out.”
“That kid is obviously a duping him in an attempt to steal him money.”
“Obviously. But don’t you see, he is clearly an unusual character. He is well groomed too. And it is rare to see people that old attempting to be adventurers, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is rare, and I suppose that he is surprisingly high level.” The old man was level 16.
“What do you say? Rescue the old man from the child?”
“You keep saying the weirdest sounding things. But sure, I’ll bite.” Said Lanette before she began jogging toward the old man. I followed quickly behind her but since she cast a much more intimidating visage than me she was the better one for doing these kind of thing.
“Excuse me.” She called out as she got close to the two of them, “You two seem to be having some trouble. What is going on?”
The old man looked up and smiled at her but the kid froze in his tracks like a deer in the headlights. I need a better metaphor considering headlights don’t exist here. It looks like Lanette’s reputation had been spreading. Long duration curses can be scary.
“Ah, yes, Jonathan here has had his dog run away and we are looking for it.”
“Oh really?” Lanette smiled at the kid, “A missing dog. Well I certainly hope that you find it quickly. Do you need some help? My and my companion can help if you want.” She continued to smile, her smile could be terrifying.
The boy recovered enough to respond with, “We don’t need your help. If you helped I’m certain that my dog would just end up dying.”
“Now now,” Said the hold man patting the kid on the head, “No need to be mean. I’m sure she just wants to help you just like I do.”
I was hanging a little back snickering as quietly as I could. That poor kid, trapped between the old man and Lanette. Time for me to step in and solve their problems.
“If you need help I could use some wind magic to scout the city and find your dog if you want.”
“See they can be of help to you Jonathan.” Said the old man.
The kid looked toward me with a special kind of hope in his eyes. “You can really find him that way?”
I pounded my hand against my chest and said, “Leave it to me.” I raised my staff and began to chant. There was whirling of the wind around me as I called upon my wind elemental magic. As that continued I said, “Is your dog brown?” I asked.
“Yes, yes, he is!” Said the boy.
“It looks like he is in the meat market begging for scrapes.”
“Thank you.” The kid shouted and began to run in that direction. Of course there was no dog, there had never been any dog.
As the boy rounded the corner the old man said, “He told me that he dog was gray.”
“Gray and brown are pretty similar colors.” I held out my hand and said, “Nice to meet you.”
He held his hand to shake mine and said, “Yes, a pleasure. I am Sterling, but of course you already knew that. Old habits die hard.”
I did already know that. After all his name was floating above his head in my vision. It was the same reason I didn’t tell him my name since he would be seeing it above my head.
“What brings you do Dungeoncity?” I asked although it seems reasonably obvious.
He laughed, “Why to be an adventurer of course. Although it seems that you kids have already beaten me. I had hoped that my experience would at least count for something but I have once again underestimated young people.”
Lanette waved her hand in dismissal, “Don’t use us as a benchmark to determining appropriate levels. This one here is a work-a-holic and spends all of her time practicing.”
“No all of my time.” I said pouting.
“My apologizes. She also spends too much money on sweats.”
Sterling laughed again, “How every energetic. If only my grandchildren were as energetic as you too.”
“Have you already signed up with the Adventurer’s guild?” I asked.
“I was just doing that when young Jonathan asked for me help.”
I smiled as widely as I could, “We can lead you there. Do you want to join our party?”
“Your party? Certainly you wouldn’t want an old man like me on your team.”
Lanette looked down before saying, “Here is comes.”
“No, no, no, no.” I said, “You are absolutely perfect. It was pretty easy to tell that you are a good and honest person which are relatively rare here in Dungeoncity which tends to draw people who are just looking out for themselves. Also you look like you were make an excellent tank. Heavy armor with a shield. That kind of defensive build is exactly what we need. What kind of jobs to you have?”
He stepped backward a little a bit overwhelmed by my relentless assault. “I am a Knight. Used to be an actual one too back in my youth.”
“Your eyes are sparkling.” Said Lanette.
“A Knight? That sounds like the perfect job. Does that have many defensive abilities? Bonus health? Aggro pull abilities?”
“Calm down.” He said holding his hands up to block me, “Don’t you want somebody with a higher level then me? I’m sure you can find somebody who higher level than me.”
I dismissed his argument with a wave of my hand, “That isn’t an issue. After all I’m only two levels higher than you so I’m sure you will fit right in.”
He looked between me and Lanette trying to make up his mind. He would obviously need a party to adventure so considering us as an option certainly was possible. Finally he smiled and said, “All right you have got me. It isn’t like I could refuse the genuine offer to help you two. I may not be much but please take care of me.” He did a small bow.
“So perfect, like a butler. Is this what a true Knight is like?”
“Please control yourself.” Said Lanette and she grabbed me roughly by the head and pulled me back from him a little. “We appreciate it. However if you change your mind you are under no obligation to keep helping us.”
“No! You are under tons of obligation! Your honor will be besmirched if you change your mind now.” I said pleadingly.
Lanette boxed me aside the head, although softly. “Please ignore Veronica. I usually do. She can get a bit intense some times.”
The old man Sterling just began to laugh. After a moment he wiped the tears from his eyes and said, “No it is good. You have convinced me to stay. People this sincere can not be bad people.”
Lanette said, “Thank you.”
“Then off to the Adventurer’s guild we go.” I raise my hand in a charging motion before leading Sterling and Lanette to the adventurer’s guid.
As we entered the incredibly crowded Adventurer’s guild I raised my hand to wave toward one of the scribes, “Jered! Jered! Over here.” We pushed our way through the crowd before getting to the scribe who said,
“An Veronica and Lanette. Plus somebody new. Ah, I see that Lanette has finally managed to hit level 20. That means you qualify as advanced adventurers now.” He had a practical calming voice. “And you found a new guy, I haven’t see you around before. Welcome to the Adventurer’s guild.”