The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 155

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Khyrmin’s seriousness about the likelihood of trouble made me realize why she had been so hesitant to help. For all her gruff personality, she was still quite helpful. She’d trained me without even verifying the letter of introduction I’d brought… and I could tell she had a particular fondness for Alhorn, her nephew- though she didn’t say much. She just didn’t want to help us come here because there was trouble from her past… possibly quite significant trouble.

We entered the guild building about thirty seconds behind Khyrmin. While we wouldn’t be able to talk to most people without her… she wanted to check for potential trouble on her own.

As we stepped inside, I saw that even though it was very different style- being carved mostly out of a tree instead of being built up independently, and other elven features- the guild hall still had the same features. A receptionist’s desk, tables for guild members to gather at, and a job board.

In the center of the main room Khyrmin was arguing with another elven woman. Though their voices were steady and well moderated, I couldn’t call any sort of discussion where swords were drawn anything but an argument… though I didn’t know what it was about.

Then there was a flash of motion. Khyrmin was already back in her position by the time my mind caught up, but the other woman’s sword was on the ground and the scarf she’d had around her neck split into pieces, falling to the floor. Everyone in the room started jumping up from their chairs, drawing their weapons… but the woman opposite Khyrmin just shouted something and waved her hand. They slowly sheathed their weapons and sat down. She said a few more words… and Khyrmin sheathed her sword. Then the woman turned towards us, “You can come too.” She spoke in Othyan, with the same accent as the other elf who had done so- clear and understandable, but also obviously not a native speaker.

Khyrmin looked to us and nodded, and we followed the two of them up the stairs. We continued all the way to the top, into a fancy room that I could only take to be the guildmaster’s office. As the elven woman sat down at the desk, I noticed a wicked scar on her throat. She nodded towards us as we entered, “You look just like your father.”

Alhorn faltered, “Ah- you knew my father?”

“Of course. He was an excellent paladin. I was sorry to see him go.” She turned towards Khyrmin, “I also appreciated the duelist Khyrmin, even with all of the trouble she caused. As you have no doubt surmised, I am the guildmistress of the Fepresil Adventuring guild. You may call me guildmistress Salinde.” She folded her hands in front of her as she looked at Khyrmin, “So… you are back.”

Khyrmin shrugged, “I am. I somewhat expected more people trying to arrest me…”

Guildmistress Salinde shook her head, “If you ever stopped to listen to me, you would have known not to worry about that. You know, it’s very hard to talk with your throat pierced.”

“I could have killed you… and everyone else.”

“I know… but what I am saying is it was completely unnecessary. Did you really think I was going to give up one of my best to some whining nobles? I could have sorted that out rather easily… but instead it took a decade to clean up.”

Khyrmin raised an eyebrow, “You really dealt with house Liaxalim?”

“They still want to kill you, and they might even try… but they have no legal basis to do so. If you had waited a few more days we could have settled things without you having to stab your way out…”

I now had a pretty good idea of what had happened… and I wasn’t at all surprised. Khyrmin was more of a stab-first ask questions later sort of person.

Khyrmin shrugged. She didn’t seem interested in apologizing in the least. “Whatever. I need to find your brother.”

Guildmistress Salinde sighed, “Twenty years and you still don’t know how to ask for a favor.” Khyrmin just stared back. Guildmistress Salinde looked over our group, her gaze lingering briefly on Kasner’s leg. “I can tell you where he is, but I need a favor from you. Nothing big. We just have a new batch of noble adventurer wannabes. I don’t want to tell their parents they died on their first quests, but they aren’t exactly serious about their training. I could do it myself but it wouldn’t have the same impact as if you did it. You don’t have to really train them… just let them see they aren’t that good.”

Khyrmin frowned for a moment. “Well… fine. But I’ll do it my way.”

“Of course. Otherwise I wouldn’t have asked.”

“When will they be around?”

“Tomorrow morning they should be in the training grounds. I’ll have someone point them out, though they should be quite obvious.”

—–

In the morning Khyrmin brought us to the guild training grounds. One of the trainers pulled Khyrmin aside and pointed out the group- though even I could recognize them. Most elves looked young whether they were or not, but these were especially so. Not that I could say much about looking young, but they stood out from the other adventurers in that they had matching equipment, not only full sets for themselves but matching the rest of their group.

Khyrmin walked up to them, and one by one disarmed them of their weapons. I didn’t speak elven, but I had a good guess at what they were saying. They were probably complaining about not being ready or something like that. Then they each fought Khyrmin individually, if a very brief moment of holding their sword and then looking stunned when it disappeared counted. Then she did the same to all four of them at once.

While they did so, an elven man dressed up in light clothing such as a wizard might wear came to stand near our group. “You come with the Khyrmin duelist, yes? Very fearsome.” It was clear he wasn’t quite fluent in Othyan, but on the other hand I probably didn’t even know two words of his native language. 

I nodded, “She’s… definitely an intense person.”

Khyrmin walked towards us, carrying two training swords. She threw them at Alhorn and I- not to us, but at us. We instinctively caught them. “You two are up next.”

“Against you?” Alhorn asked.

“No, they wouldn’t get anything from that. You against them. “

“Alright then,” Alhorn nodded. “What are the rules?”

“Don’t worry about that,” Khyrmin said, “Once I declare the start, just disarm them as fast as possible. Don’t go easy.” Khyrmin glanced at me, “You’ll be second, so follow after. And you-” She pointed to Halette, “Start warming up for archery. Being beat by a woman much older than them just isn’t the right kind of embarrassment.”

I had never seen Khyrmin so serious about anything. Sure, she took training seriously… but she seemed quite overqualified for this particular situation. Then again, any of them that could still bring themselves to pick up a sword after today would have the proper determination to survive… and if they all quit, that was better for them in a way.

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