“You are going all the way to the ruined city aren’t you?” She asked.
“Yes, that was the plan,” I said hesitantly.
“I have a friend that I would like you to take with you.”
“A friend? Your team makes expeditions to the jungle city don’t you? Why can’t you bring them?”
She bit her lip, “There was a bit of an argument between my second in command and them so I can’t officially help them out as the leader of Raven. However I want to do what I can to help them.”
It all sounded pretty suspicious. “Who is this person?”
“Chisomo is, well, basically a historian. They are trying to figure out who previously lived in the ruined city and why it was abandoned. However… they are a bit eccentric.”
I hadn’t really considered why the ruined city was there. To me it had just been a feature, a dungeon in a video game. However while many things here resembled a video game there was probably more too the ruined city then just that. Plus even in video games places like that had backstories, at least in good games.
“A historian… Is there a reason that you want to ask my team. We aren’t very big you know.”
“To be honest, mainly because your team hasn’t seemed very interested in adventurer politics. There aren’t too many teams which journey to the ruined city very often and I felt that most of the others would take undue advantage from my request.”
Another companion, that would be a problem. It would basically be impossible to conceal my secret ability from them on a long journey like that.
“What level are they?”
“18, however Chisomo is does not have the best combat skills although they have enough to avoid being a liability.”
“That is a bit low.”
“I know but I owe Chisomo’s family a great deal and would greatly appreciate it if you took them aboard. While I can’t pay out of Raven’s accounts I have my personal pay which I can use to help your expedition as well as some of my personal accounts of the ruined city.”
That second part was tempting. Adventurers usually took detailed notes about what they found in different places. Those notes were valuable and qualified as a trade secret. Sharing them would be quite valuable.
“Taking on somebody I don’t know as an extra that we will likely have to carry is a risk business even with that generous offer. I’ll have to meet them in person and consult with the rest of my team before making a decision.”
Stella nodded, “Of course, that I do understand. It is a difficult ask but I would appreciate it if you considered it. I’m sure Chisomo would also be able to share a lot of their knowledge with you on the journey. They are quite knowledgable about all kinds of things.”
The rest of the dinner was a casual affair where we got to enjoy the meal and talk about our different experiences. I was able to learn about some of Stella’s travels in the jungle which were quite numerous. Once the meal was done she went off by herself, by her own admission to find a bar. I was much too young for that so I let her head off.
It was rather late at this point. The other two were almost certainly done planning by this point. I returned to the inn to find Sterling still awake at the table. He seemed to had his own drink of some kind but he was certainly old enough to have it.
“How did the meeting go?”
“No well then?”
“Stella wants us to take somebody alone on our trip but she is offering quite a good deal. If it wasn’t for one little problem I probably would have immediately accepted.”
“Ah, I see. That could certainly be problematic.”
I took a seat next to him, rubbing my eyes and trying to think through it. “Sterling, what do you think that I should do?”
“Well, I don’t knew the offer and it isn’t my place to divulge other’s secrets. But since you asked my opinion I’ll do my best to offer it. At some point you will need to reveal it. There are some secrets that can be kept in confidence but other secrets with grind away at your paranoia as long as you keep them. Every day you will have to diligently protect the secret and eventually you will fail. That is your kind of secret. Sooner or later it will be revealed, the question is just a matter of when and whether what you might do now is more important than that.”
“And is it?”
“I think that would depend on who Stella wants us to bring with us and why. Have you spoke with them personally yet?”
“No, Stella was going to arrange a meeting tomorrow.”
“Then that is when you will know what you should do. Whatever it is I will support you.”
I smiled at him, “Thanks Sterling.”
“It is my pleasure. Now you should probably get going to bed. Staying up too late can be bad for you.”
I nodded, getting up and heading to the room and me and Lanette shared. Sterling got his own room.
Lanette was already asleep. While she had apparently had trouble falling asleep on soft beds she now seemed to fall sleep almost immediately when laying down on one. She had came a long way. I also felt that she slept more soundly then she had when we first met, not surprising all things considering.
In the morning I received a message indicating when and where I would meet Chisomo. I had expected maybe an inn but apparently Chisomo was some wealthy noble family or something so they had a house that they were living in. I was to meet them there.
When I arrived I noticed that the place did look very fancy however it wasn’t that big. Space was at a premium in Dungeoncity so even wealth people thought twice about using more space then that had too.
It was about the correct time so I knocked on the door. There wasn’t an answer so I waiting a moment before knocking again. There was still no answer. Strange, they were supposed to be here.
I tried the handle of the door and the door swung open, completely unlocked. I became worried so I stepped into the building. The curtains were all drawn to the building was dark and gloomy inside.
“Hello? Chisomo? Are you there? This is Veronica. I was instructed to speak with you today?” I said as I stepped inside.
I nearly jumped out of my shoes when a voice spoke from in the darkness. “Despite the unlocked door you entered anyways. However not without your own preparation. Silent chanting is a hard skill to master isn’t it.”
The person stepped from behind one of the bookshelves that had been propped back to back throughout the room making the place a veritable library.
The person was fair faced with about shoulder length hair left hanging around their face. They seemed slightly more masculine then feminine to my eyes but I couldn’t tell for certain. It was Chisomo.
“Ah, hello, um, yes, silent chanting.” I said as I cancelled the preparation of the spell. “It is a skill that I have gotten fairly recently so I put some effort into at least being competent at it. Who knows when something like it will be useful.”
“Such skill so soon after acquiring the skill, it must have take quite some dedication.”
Chisomo was watching me intently as I squirmed under their gaze. “I am quite dilligent in my training. My friends saw I probably practice a bit too much.” While that was true I did have the advantage on certain hard to improve skills.
“You are the one that Stella sent to meet with me. You look acceptable too me. However do you still need me to convince you bring me along?”
“I, yes, I wanted to speak with you for a bit before making a decision.”
“Very well. Please, have a look at my books while I make some tea.”
Chisomo muttered some words and the lights in the room flickered to life. There were bookshelves placed basically everywhere in the room that they would fit and all of them were stuff with books. The book were all of interesting topics.
One corner of the room was filled with various fictional novels. It was suprisingly sparse with most of the novels being written by about twenty total authors. Where those just Chisomo’s favorite authors or where there not enough authors in this world.
I pondered that while I checked out the other books. There were a huge section of historical books and not just books. Scrolls, bound together piles of notes, and basically anything that you could imagine storing information. There were two sections to the historical books, things from more than 19 years ago and thing from after that point.
The items from after seemed to be more haphazard and contain more of the notes. I had pulled out one of better looking books from a pile and was pursuing it.
A while later I heard a voice say, “The tea is quite cold by this point. Are you enjoying yourself?”
I jumped, startled out of the revelry that I was in. I was sitting on a comfy chair in one of the corners of the room. I had been nose deep in one of the books detailing everything that was known about the Sages and their influence on society.
“I…” I took the book and waved it, “This is very interesting.”
“Normally I wouldn’t interrupt since I get the same way. However we still had something to discuss.” It looked like Chisomo was almost chuckling at my activity.”
“I have a Scholar job so I tend to be absorbed by this kind of thing.” It was something that I had gotten quite a long time ago when I realized that my education back on Earth had translated to more information then was usual to in this world. My hobbies probably had something to do with it too.
“Considering basically all of my jobs are like that I can forgive a bit of reading.” Chisomo motioned and I followed them into another room. This room was also stuffed with books but there was a table and a few chairs in the center of it.
“How were you enjoying Fredands observations of the influences of the Sages on society?” Chisomo asked.
“It was interested how the High Nobility of Jental designed magical items which hide their level in the same way that the Sages did and use that to prevent people from rebelling against potentially low level nobles.”
“Indeed, this kingdom doesn’t do it but rebelion of that kind hasn’t happened yet probably because of Dungeoncity. Keeping high level people occupied with important uses of the time is important. It also helps that the King had kept his level reasonably high through training from high level adventurers that he recruited from Dungeoncity. However there had been some shifts in society which are beginning to priorities high skill ranks more than level. The probably being that it is harder to know what somebodies skill rank is unless you have a specialized skill.”
“Yeah, it is very true. I can determine how good somebody is as magic though. That was enchantment that you used out in the main room right? Empowering the lights to, well, give off light. Are the lights here specially designed to accept your magic. They don’t looks like candles.”
Chisomo smile, “You seem to be a person of many talents. Fascinating. What job do you use to analyze magical skills?”
“Arcanologist. I learned from hiring a trainer through the merchant’s guild. Mainly it was to be able to identify magical items but I got all kinds of useful skills from it.”
Chisomo pulled out a large book from a bag that was stashed under the table. They flipped through the pages until their stopped on one, “What rank do you have in that job?”
“Rank 5. Why do you ask?”
“The reason I am in Dungeoncity is that I am archiving as many different jobs as I can and am finding out learned skills and calculating variations.”