The Only Thing I Can Upgrade is Strength chapter 216

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One of the dungeons in Astrurg was a bit of a special case. A dungeon had appeared- or been discovered- underneath a mine. Monsters had flooded out and only been stopped at the entrance to the mines. The mine had eventually been cleared, but by the time that happened the dungeon had opened multiple entrances into different part of the mines. Instead of guarding the various entrances, the dungeon guards were just placed at the entrance to the mines. Monsters still roamed out into the mines, but adventurers regularly dealt with them. The mines themselves were considered ‘safe’, since they didn’t change. Of course, there were only limited numbers of monsters in the mines- the actual dungeon itself had multiple entrances but otherwise behaved like expected of a dungeon. The dungeon was about the right level for our party, but its inhabitants were… not very interesting. They were earth elementals, and the only things that could be retrieved from them were ores and coal. Not even particularly valuable ores… though the dwarves could make good steel out of it, unlike the equipment that goblins wore that was only good for scrap metal. 

The more interesting dungeon was full of ‘guardians’, which were actually similar to something we already knew. Guardians were just equipment inhabited by spirits- usually full sets with weapons and armor, instead of just weapons like in Khyrmin’s dungeon. They sometimes had magical equipment- and even occasionally had accessories that were magical. Most of the magical accessories weren’t very effective- perhaps giving a small bonus, 5 or less, to an attribute or slightly protecting against fire or some other form of magic. However, having them was better than not having them. In addition, any part of the guardian might be magic, weapons and armor to smaller bits like helmets or boots or gloves or even sometimes magic belts. It sounded like a treasure trove, but with most of the magic not being all that powerful- and still being somewhat uncommon- it wasn’t as popular of a dungeon as it would have been otherwise. Guardians were hard to kill- they had no vital organs to stab, so often to defeat them the equipment ended up ruined anyway. In addition, if they did have magical equipment, they were of course made of it- so they could have unexpected abilities, if there was actually anything good to be had. Unexpected things were not what adventurers wanted. Of course, there was risk and there was reward… so some people would still explore that dungeon. If it was like Khyrmin’s dungeon, where the spirits tried to take over the equipment people were using… well, that would get quite dangerous. Fortunately, that didn’t seem to be the case.

After discussing the various options available, and how much Thrandath would be paying us, we decided it would be worthwhile to go to Astrurg for a while at least. If we could stop anyone working for the heretical Attributists, that would be good… and if not at least we would be able to advance ourselves. 

This was the first time I would be leaving the country with planning ahead of time. When I went to Escait I was just chasing after Kantrilla’s trail. When Khyrmin brought us to Fepresil, we weren’t really planning to go there before we did. This time, we could make some basic preparations. Thrandath taught us a few dwarven phrases. On Earth, we might have picked up a guidebook with some translated phrases, but tourism wasn’t so popular here. Probably because of the monsters when traveling. “Don’t worry though,” Thrandath shrugged, “Many people in Astrurg will speak Othyan- and at least one guild representative who can will be on duty. Relations between the nations are good, and have been for generations. If not for geographical barriers causing issues, perhaps the two nations would be one. Then again, that’s just speculation.”

Our party would be traveling separately from Thrandath. In fact, we only planned to officially meet up once when we arrived in Astrurg, so Thrandath would know where we were staying and be able to keep an eye on us- and the people watching us. It was better that nobody knew we were connected to him- either as a random additional ally or as a member of The Guild trying to catch them. 

Unlike Fepresil, trade between Astrurg and Othya was common, so we would be able to ride along with a caravan the whole way. We had passports before we even left Ekralas- the guild could issue them for adventurers, and since we would be exploring dungeons… it was the best method to get a pass. Truth be told, it probably wouldn’t have been hard to just get a pass at the border, but it was better to prepare ahead of time.

Since we weren’t going to just sit around if monsters attacked the caravan, we officially signed up as backup guards. This was the same sort of thing we had done before- we basically would travel for free, and if we actually needed to fight we would be paid standard rates. For the caravan, this was a good deal as well because it didn’t cost them much to bring us, and if there actually were monster attacks it was always better to have more people along. Moreover, E-rank adventurers weren’t something to be looked down on. We could almost be called F-rank as well, but of course nobody cared about that until it was official.

If we traveled at a reasonable pace, it would take about a week to reach the border of Astrurg. That meant we just had to sit in the wagons and wait for that long. Of course, that was only if nothing happened along the way. With Kantrilla’s view on Luck… it could go either way.

Carlos and Socks had to walk along behind us. Well, Carlos walked behind- Socks walked wherever she wanted, with the exception of right next to the caravan. It turned out that horses were afraid of giant wolves. It wasn’t really that surprising, even though it was hard to think of Socks as anything scary… outside of battle. Carlos was extremely familiar with Socks, so he wasn’t afraid, though when they had first been introduced it had taken some time to adjust. Then again, Carlos had also been getting used to Halette and the rest of the party. Socks just happened to be the biggest member.

When we stopped in the middle of the day, I knew something was up. As soon as we heard people calling for us, I knew that this journey we would have that kind of Luck. Well, I didn’t mind dealing with things that would be dangerous for other people. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be dangerous for us, either.

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