The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 199

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We soon learned the dwarf’s name was Thrandath. He didn’t have any weapons or armor visible, which didn’t necessarily mean he was safe, but it helped that we had seen him before. He hadn’t caused us any trouble even when we were at our weakest point, far away from our homes in another country. We sat down for tea, not that we drank much tea ourselves… but it was good to reduce social awkwardness. Thrandath took a sip then started talking, “As I was saying, I’m from The Guild. We keep a watch on the various adventurer’s guilds throughout different countries. Primarily our goal is to keep them from getting too directly involved in national politics… going to war, for example. So far, we have been mostly successful. With monsters and dungeons to deal with, most countries aren’t interested in attempting war with each other very often, especially if the strongest people from their countries won’t go on the offense but other adventurers still defend. Of course, we can’t do much about people who choose to join a particular nation’s army specifically, but at least it’s not at guild direction. Anyway, that’s not what I’m here about. You’re an Attributist, correct?” he looked at Kantrilla.

“That’s right,” she nodded.

“Attributists believe in self-improvement, among other things. However, that can be a problem when taken to the wrong extremes. Those who kidnapped you could be considered Attributists, though not in such a way as most would consider them the same. They believe in improving their attributes even at significant harm to others. Thus, the stealing of attributes.” Thrandath nodded as he took another sip of tea, “There is a group of them that have been developing such techniques for some time. We haven’t been able to capture any core members, but we have found several hideouts belonging to them. For reasons I shall not go into detail over, they need those with blessings for the process to be effective.” He turned towards me, “You acquired a Blessing of Strength just before we last met, did you not?”

I nodded. “That’s right. They threw me in a dungeon and I almost died… but managed to make it out.”

“Interesting,” he nodded, “That is what you told Sage Norwood as well… and it sounds true. Yet my investigations show signs of a Blessing of Strength before then, if one looks carefully.” Then Thrandath shrugged, “But I am not here about that. Sage Norwood already told you about those looking out for you, I am merely here to provide more information about that, and to ask you to work with us.” Thrandath’s beard wiggled as he nodded his head, “Normally we’d only reach out to more experienced adventurers, but you are already sufficiently involved in the situation. You have dealt with the extremists, have blessings, and even destroyed a dungeon… there aren’t that many secrets left. We also know you to be trustworthy through your associates.”

I couldn’t help but ask, “What would you want from us, then? Since as you said we aren’t really very experienced, overall.”

“Perhaps not yet,” he nodded, “But you are also no longer just beginning adventurers. Good job with the school, by the way. It’s hard to be willing to do something like that without thinking about the profits to yourself. Anyway, as I already stated… you are already quite involved in this situation. We have several requests for you. Firstly, watch out for anything about the attributists you could tell us. While Sage Norwood could tell you to be on the lookout, I’m sure you will agree that knowing a bit more will help. Unfortunately it is not easy to say what the fanatics will look like except they will likely have several exceptional attributes… and they might look for you. I would also watch out for your students… you might end up with spies or those with blessings who could be targets.” Thrandath drank the last of his tea, then continued. “In addition, we would like your party to continue exploring the goblin and minotaur dungeons as you are able. Specifically, look for the cores. We are not sure if they have merged or if there is some other anomaly, but they are acting much like one larger dungeon now. The ooze dungeon is so far unconnected. Some other adventurers will be exploring as well, but it seems like you may have already once come across the core of the goblin dungeon… and you may be well suited to find it. In addition, sending adventurers of too high a level can cause issues with dungeons besides just their utility elsewhere. If you find any details, you can inform Sage Norwood or guildmaster Timmy, and they can decide what needs to be done. The dungeons may need to be destroyed, which would be inconvenient for Ekralas but… so is the current situation. If you agree, I will also talk to the other members of your party.”

“Could we talk about it?” I asked. “This seems like a decision that shouldn’t be done lightly.”

“Of course,” Thrandath nodded, “But, with what you know you are already mostly involved. We are not asking you to do anything that wouldn’t be for your own good, though you may of course choose not to explore the dungeon if you find it too dangerous. Regardless, I imagine I shouldn’t need to tell you to keep the information about The Guild secret, not that I have said that much. Still, it’s better if guilds don’t know they are being watched. It’s easier to root out corruption that way. Feel free to confer with your party before providing an answer, I will be available in Ekralas for at least the next week.”

—–

“Well,” Kasner shrugged, “I can’t say I like the idea of exploring a dungeon that’s doing weird things… but then again, I do like the idea of solving that mystery. As for the rest, it’s not like we wouldn’t be talking about problems we noticed anyway, it’s just now we know what to look for.”

Alhorn nodded, “Though I do enjoy working at the school, I am also not without adventurous ambitions of my own. Exploring the dungeon will be good for us and others in the long run, if we are not careless.”

Halette chimed in, “Plus, having favor with The Guild should be good, right? Even if they don’t turn out as good as they say they are, knowing more about them would be the only way to find out. Of course, watching out for our students is good as well.”

Kantrilla and I had already talked, and we both felt good about helping The Guild- after having confirmed some of the things that were said with Sage Norwood. “Great!” Kantrilla clapped her hands together, “Now we just need to figure out what we can do. With the goblin dungeon as it is, we can’t advise our newer students to go there at all… I was thinking we could possibly bring a group with us to the first and second levels… though obviously not whenever we go to wherever the core might be.”

We all discussed the plans for the near future, both for the school and ourselves. If possible, we wanted people to start reaching class advancement, which meant specifically gaining more levels and not just exploring.

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