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2-4 Conferred

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

After Erin and Nivia left the plaza, hassles were there to greet them at the next street they turned into. They ran into merchants who were very persistent with their sales pitch. Erin even felt obligated to applaud them for their vehemence. Their pitch would have been successful had their products been liquors, but it had been jewelries and trinkets instead. When the merchants noticed the futility in praising their products, they were quick to shift their tactics. They became incessant and excessive in complimenting Erin’s appearance, of how their products would make her into a fairer beauty. The ferocity of these merchants were quelled when Erin let her annoyance show on her tails and ears. Though she had never liked how her tails gave away her emotions but now, she had never been more grateful of her extra body features. No merchants dare approach them afterwards.

Due to their unexpected encounter with Iris, they had no more time to spare getting side-tracked. And the festive streets weren’t being helpful. They would have reached the Guild earlier had it not been for the numerous stalls clogging up the streets. It was hellish for Erin to navigate through. She offered her apologies whenever her tails grazed past some random passers-by. She ignored those who thanked her when tails brushed past them.

When they arrived at the Guild, it was a few minutes past noon. Once a Guild staff took notice of their arrival, Erin and Nivia were escorted to the room just beside the Guild Master’s office. As always, Erin’s presence drew the gazes of many. She even received gasps of awe from the newly arrived adventurers.

Inside the room adjacent to the Guild Master’s office, was Geron himself and surprisingly, Aedan was present too. His unkempt appearance while donning a formal garb was indicative of his presence being unarranged. The father and son were sitting apart from one another at a long table. Array of dishes were spread out on the table, dishes that Erin would never dream to have with the current amount of her funds. She was relatively well-off from the reward of her expedition but it was still nowhere near the amount where she could spend it willy nilly without a single care, much less on such expensive dishes.

The dishes were mostly meat and mainly chicken, a sure sign of luxury. Commoners would never dream of using their chickens as dishes as the chickens were valuable in providing eggs. Only one who could throw caution into the wind regarding their funds could afford a chicken as a dish.

Despite the magnificent dishes, the furnishing in the room cast a shade of humility for Erin after witnessing the Umbrum, Iris’ abode. The Guild itself was considerably wealthy but Iris was on another level with her personal treasury. It truly made Erin realize just how large of a difference in their wealth between Iris and the Guild.

“Good afternoon, Lady Erin, Lady Nivia,” Geron greeted as he rose from his chair. “Please have a seat.” He gestured.

Erin and Nivia returned the greeting in kind before moving to the chair they were gestured to. Erin was still a bit uncomfortable towards being called a “Lady”. At the request of Nivia and given Erin’s recent feats, the Guild had taken the liberty to address her as Lady Erin out of respect and recognition.

It went without saying Aedan remained seated throughout the brief exchange of greetings, incurring a disapproving glare from Geron.

After Geron took his seat, the two Fae followed. While Erin just let herself fall into her chair, Nivia took the effort to gracefully bend her knees, lean forward, before gently placing her posterior down on her seat. Her delicate and elegant actions left an embarrassed blush on Erin.

Aedan stifled a chuckle at the sight, earning him another glare, but from Erin this time.

“I hope you can forgive me for my son’s impudence,” Geron said with a wry smile.

“It’s nothing, Mister Geron,” Nivia responded, returning a smile. “We have known each other for a long time. This is just as usual.”

“The person who should be apologizing is your son, not you, Mister Geron,” Erin jabbed, with her eyes locked on the disinterested Aedan. She could hear his faint mutters, musing on the purpose of his presence at this luncheon.

“A parent is to blame for their child’s mistake.” Geron stared warmly at Erin. “The fault lies with me for failing in educating my son.”

“Alright, fine!” Aedan spoke up, in a tone that astonished the two Fae. “I apologized for my behavior and I aim to not repeat it again.”

Erin had always thought it to be weird on how someone younger could be the father of someone older. Now she understood how. Despite the absence of blood relations, they were just like a child and their parent. Erin chuckled furtively at this thought.

“Is Miss Lyra unavailable?” Geron asked after glancing around.

“She is occupied at the moment,” Erin answered. “Is she needed too?”

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“Not necessarily the case,” Geron said. “I’m just surprised as the two of you were always together. Well, we can put aside those matters for later. For now, let’s not let this wonderful meal go to waste. Please, help yourself.”

At the elderly Dwarrow’s beckoning, they began dining on the fine dishes set before them. Erin fought back a tear when she had her first bite. The tender meat burst in her mouth with its juice, filling her tongue flavor and spices. The gravy complemented the meat well and the vegetables on the side staved off the heavy aftertaste.

For Nivia’s case, her dish was less than impressive in appearance with only a bowl of mashed leaves. However, the aroma it exuded was enough for Erin to know Nivia’s dish was also a delicacy like the other dishes.

Everyone was savoring their food in silence. Erin sneaked a glance at Aedan. Her brows perked when she saw his expression. Unlike the usual indifferent face, he was wearing a faint and gentle smile. His cheeks were undulating as he savored his meal. Gone was all the haughty air around him, replaced by a warmth of humility.

Nivia was frowning at such a sight, clearly disturbed at the vast gap of personality. Ultimately, she said nothing of it and focused on her own meal.

After the main dish, they were then served red tea which held a milder fragrant scent than Erin had expected. Once again, reminding Erin of Iris’ superiority in her wealth.

“Now, I’m sure the two of you understand the purpose of my invitation?” Geron said after taking the first sip of his tea.

Erin and Nivia nodded. Aedan raised an eyebrow.

“Looks like Aedan wasn’t in the know of Geron’s intention. Surprising.”

“Things are relatively peaceful for now after that incident with the village. Our culprit is likely being cautious with their next move. But the problem still persists. Monsters are still at their dwindled quantity. Goblins are still organized with their movements. Besides that, nothing else stood out.”

“The calm before the storm, I bet.”

“However, here’s where things went uphill. Just last night, we received both interesting and disturbing news from the other branches near Green Scar.”

Erin’s eyes and ears perked at Geron’s words.

“The other branches have also encountered the same aberrations. Goblins being smarter than they usually are, dwindling numbers of monsters, and monsters being stronger than they are supposed to be, just to name a few. Their adventurers encounter these unusually powerful monsters with a rod of some kind lodged deep into certain parts of their body. However, the monsters were swallowed by what could only be described as, blood-soaked lightning, destroying the rod itself. Nothing was left to be collected as evidence.”

“This has become a grave issue,” Nivia remarked.

“It has,” Geron affirmed. “There are whispers that the kingdom itself will be taking action.”

“Kingdom?” Erin blurted out.

“Yes, the kingdom. We’re in the Yorun Kingdom which Green Scar is a part of,” Nivia explained.

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This was the first time she heard of this. She was surprised but after giving some thought, it was only logical that she was in some kingdom. There was no way a small town like this would be its own power.

“Moreover, the Ruvans have sent out their paladins after they had somehow picked up on the necromancy usage from that expedition you and Lyra were part of.”

“Ruvans?” Erin heard another unfamiliar term.

“Ruvanian. Largest faith in the west,” Aedan explained, his chin perched on his fist and his elbow resting on the table. “Ruva is the Goddess they pray to. Their sole light and hope in this dark and harsh world, as how the preaching goes.”

“Going by your expressions and tone, their involvement is undesired?” Erin asked.

Aedan chuckled softly. “More than undesired. Paladins in general are feared for their prowess and abilities. Most of all, they are rumored to be… immortal.”

“Immortal?”

“It is said to be the blessings from their Gods. Paladins can’t be killed.”

“I’m surprised there’s no quarrel about this. Isn’t being a paladin too enticing?”

“It’s merely a rumor, officially, since the church have neither affirmed or denied anything. And Paladin is not a fate meant for everyone. Hundreds of people participated in the trials to become a Paladin but only up to three participants out of the hundreds have ever succeeded.”

“They sound popular enough but I don’t hear a reason for the scorn. So why is the Ruvan Paladins’ involvement undesirable?”

“The paladins of Ruvans are some of the most committed and unwavering crusaders,” Aedan continued his explanations. “They deemed the world to be a black and white issue. If you’re on the black side, your head can bid farewell to your body when you chance upon them. If you’re on the white side, they treat you as their family or at the very least, their closest friend.”

Erin shivered from the mere thoughts of these overly-devoted believers. Zealots weren’t something she was unaccustomed to but she could never understand how someone could be so single-minded with their beliefs. It was a very suffocating way to live, she thought.

“Ha… What am I saying? I’m no better. It was the result of my single-mindedness that led me to the title of Sword Saint. Guess this is why I know it’s a very suffocating way to live…”

“That’s not the worst part, Lady Erin,” Geron continued. “Ruvans have an averse perception towards non-humans.”

A human supremacy group, something Erin was also not unaccustomed to.

“They don’t actively show their hostility but the distrust is there. Some are even petty to the degree that if a Demi-human looked them the wrong way, they laid out some extreme punishment with some poorly-concocted excuse in the name of their goddess.”

“They killed them?” Erin asked.

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“If they’re feeling merciful, yes. But they have been worse; they mutilate them.”

“Disgraceful,” Erin spat. “Some faith they are.”

“This is how the world always have been, my dear Erin,” Nivia said. “But thankfully, the Ruvans aren’t fools. They won’t do anything rash towards Fae.”

“They won’t?”

“Incurring the ire of an individual Fae is not a huge problem, but earning the ire of the Fae as a whole, is the same as getting disfavored by the Spirits. Spirits are part of nature and what do you think would happen if nature scorns you?”

Erin gulped in response. No more words needed to be said, she understood the implications.

Geron clapped his hands, gathering their attention. “Now, for the better news.”

“Good news?” Nivia questioned.

“You can see it as such. The closest branch to Green Scar is in Maven’s Creek. Their main trade is the freshwater fishes from their rivers. The branch over there has a Seer.”

Before Erin could ask, Nivia was already explaining the term to her. “Individuals who are sensitive towards magic. They are as rare as people who have Appraisal. They can predict the future, see into the past, or simply get a wide glance at the present. Most of all, they are good at tracing magic, which they are mostly known for.”

“Tracing magic?”

Geron took out an object wrapped in cloth from his coat pocket. As he laid it gently onto the table and unfold it, Erin realized it was the Magic Relay rod.

“Ah, I see.” Nivia nodded. “This Seer of theirs, they could help track down the source with this rod.”

“Yes, that is my hope. The magic in this rod is strong but the lingering trace won’t last forever. We need to get this to the Seer as soon as possible.”

Erin rubbed her chin. “I’m sensing a catch.”

Geron nodded. “Getting to Maven’s Creek will take a few days. The path isn’t harsh, it’s a straight line through a long hill range but… there’s no telling what sort of unexpected dangers awaits. This rod is a loose end. They would definitely come for it if they can.”

“What are you getting at?”

“Travel in a large group, it will be safer that way. The merchant caravans will be departing in two days. I hear some of the merchants are hiring adventurers to be their guards for the trip to Maven’s Creek.”

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Erin and Nivia exchanged glances.

“Questions?” Geron asked.

“They were offered that exact position by Iris.” It was Aedan who answered.

“When was this?”

“Just this morning. I was there too.”

“Yes, you were.” Erin glared. “From last night until dawn, you were there. Never took the rumors of your casual indulgences to be true.”

Aedan frowned. “Have I done something to offend you recently?”

“Have you?” Erin shot back.

“So the rumors I have been hearing about are true.” Geron shifted his gaze to Aedan. “You do have that kind of relationship with Lady Iris.”

Aedan rolled his eyes. “You disapprove?”

“You are aware that she’s not the kind of woman who would be faithful or serious with her partners, aren’t you? And please remember her status. One wrong move or one wrong word with her, this whole town will be done for.”

“I am well aware of that,” Aedan retorted. “We both are aware of that. Lest you forgot, I was once just as fickle as her.”

“I haven’t forgotten about that, Aedan.” Geron’s tone turned grim. “Because of you, we were almost chased out of town by the chief.”

“Oh come on. I’m not the only one in town who has bedded Maria. Also, she came unto me herself. I didn’t even try to tempt her.”

“You of all people couldn’t refuse or even resist?”

Aedan paused for a while. “Well, she was very persuasive and very… inviting, I’m sure Erin here will agree with me.”

“Aedan!” Geron shouted.

Aedan turned silent immediately but not the least repentant.

Geron sighed. ”A thousand apologies, milady.”

“Think nothing of it, Mister Geron,” Erin responded. “Those words are what I have come to expect from him.”

“I appreciate your generous pardon, Lady Erin.”

She wasn’t being generous. She just wanted to get this over with. Having a bout of words with Aedan was as futile as setting water on fire.

“May I request a favor, Mister Geron?” Nivia asked after remaining in silence for quite a while.

“Oh? What that might be, Lady Nivia?”

“I’m thinking of taking Iris’ offer.”

Erin cocked her gaze at the Elf, her eyes widened.

“And where does the favor come in?”

“I want the Guild to be the mediator.”

“Ah, I see.” Geron nodded in understanding. “Lady Iris isn’t exactly known to be untrustworthy, in business aspects, but having the Guild as the mediator does give a lot of assurance. However, in the end, it’s still up to Lady Iris’ discretion on the Guild’s involvement.”

“If she is true to her words regarding her offer, she will have no reason to refute the Guild’s involvement. It only further accentuates her sincerity with her offer. The mediator cost would just be pocket change with that amount of wealth of hers.”

“Very well, Lady Nivia. The Guild shall mediate for you and Lady Erin.”

Erin was bewildered. Nivia once again proved she wasn’t just some obsessive stalker. Her impression of the Elf rose but only until the Elf herself flashed Erin an expression that exuded the subtle aura of “praise me”.

Erin could only smile wryly.

“Sven needs me back at the shop, father. May I take my leave?”

Geron sighed and gave him his permission.

As soon as Aedan had left, Erin asked the one question she was itching to ask but Nivia beat her to it.

“What was the purpose of his presence, if you don’t mind me asking, Mister Geron?”

“It wasn’t anything important,” he told her. “It’s just the foolish wish of a parent. Don’t mind it.”

Nivia failed to pick up on the elderly Dwarrows undertone but Erin left her mouth agape at his words.

Geron faked a cough. “Anyways, there is one last item I want to address.”

Noticing his eyes focused on her, Erin asked, “is it something to do with me?”

“Let me be the first to congratulate you, Lady Erin. The Guild has come to a verdict. Your feats of your last expedition have been acknowledged by even the higher officials.”

“Uh… I’m grateful for the praises?”

“You showed bravery in the face of a despairing situation,” Geron continued. “You showed skills under odds that were against your favor. This verdict of the Guild isn’t unjust and unattested. ”

“It couldn’t be…” Nivia gasped.

Geron smiled. “Lady Erin, from today onwards, you are now a starred-adventurer. Congratulations.”


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