“How... Hard is it to get the necessary amount of Glory?” I suspiciously asked.
He let out a sarcastic chuckle.
“Well, I suppose it depends on the shard and one’s social standing. There surely are individuals for which such a small amount is nothing. But in the places I have been, most people never get to a hundred points in their lifetime and those who get to two hundred point are already titled delvers. The only reason I had so much of it was because I used to be a promising upstart in what I believed was the greatest army across realms... But that part of my life is well behind me now.”
If that’s true, then why were random common items listed on the terminal? Things that easy to get being sold for the equivalent of someone’s “life work”... That means that either glory’s value is manipulated, or the items are more special than I thought.
...Or that I had wasted an incredibly valuable resource. But what was done, was done.
Ardos raised his head and gravely looked at me.
“I am sure you now realize how bad it could have turned out if people somehow caught wind of you spending enough Glory to upgrade a random Refuge terminal into a Guild terminal. Being a young delver is already surprising, but if you are known to be strong people will leave you alone. Having that many Glory points without any backing, though? The worst kind of crowd would be after you in this very moment. You should thank Laure when you get a chance. The angel’s blessing will make regular people think twice before trying to harm you.”
I wasn’t exactly realizing what could have happened, but I certainly understood the gist of it. My thoughts weren’t focused on that particular issue, however.
From what Ardos had told me, that title had a great social and economic importance. Should I really give it to someone I had just met, just so that he could travel?
“In what way does you getting that title benefit the orphanage?” I asked. “I don’t see how you running away with the one who owns the whole thing would help the kids.”
My words visibly stung, but he just shook his head.
“I never planned on leaving them. We would bring them with us. The orphanage is close to Royin’s heart, she would never abandon the children. And it’s not just because most other shards offer better life prospects than this one. This shard will soon be taken back by the fog and what lives in it. Leaving anyone here would be sentencing them to death.”
When I was on top of the plateau of the ruined city, I had spotted light fog in the direction opposite to the one leading to the settlements. I hadn’t paid much mind to it, but this new information meant that there was another source of danger to keep in mind.
Which meant that I would also eventually have to leave. In any case, the title meant nothing to me, and securing allies would definitely come handy sooner or later. I needed strength, and this man seemed to have desperately studied the ways to get stronger for a long time.
And more importantly, I could always change my mind.
“Alright,” I finally said. “I’ll help you get the title.”
His reaction was a mix of surprise, glee and disbelief. “I... Didn’t think you would decide right away. We didn’t even discuss your price or-”
“Obviously,” I said with a yawn. “But I will tell you what I want in exchange at a later time. Right now, I am tired and just want some sleep. But you can count on me.”
At this point, I mostly just wanted him to leave so I could get some sleep. The room was illuminated with the magic candles and I was starting to wonder if there was a special way to snuff out their flames.
Ardos straightened up with a serious expression and put his right fist on his chest in a way that made me think of a military salute, “You won’t regret your decision Edward Lee. I offer you my most sincere thanks for recommending me to your master.”
I blinked, not sure what that last part meant.
“Um... no worries,” I said, not sure if I was supposed to replicate the gesture, “You never know what I will end up asking in exchange, so don’t be so sure you won’t be the one regretting it. By the way, I’m going to call you Ardos. If I’m going to change someone’s life, I at least get to call them by their first name... Also, what do you mean by ‘master’?”
He smiled for the first time, but seemed connfused by my question.
“Yes, your master,” he said with apparently as much confusion as me. “The one who prepared you and went with you in the dungeon you first cleared?”
“Oh, I don’t have one. I was by myself.”
Those words seemed to hit him like bricks. They shouldn’t have, considering the first and only dungeon I had entered was one specifically selected by my patron, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.
“Don’t feel too bad about yourself,” I said with an empathizing smile. “It was a very special situation that I am sadly unable to replicate. However, I am willing to go with you so that you can enter the dungeon.” Then I added after thinking his words over, “I guess that would make me your master? But don’t worry, I can tell calling me that would make you uncomfortable.”
He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, then looked at me. “I see,” he simply said .
As he turned around to leave the room, he seemed to have aged many years; however he stopped moving when his hand came into contact with the door handle.
“Almost forgot,” he said with a tired voice. “I assume you already have a class? What is your level? Dungeons adapt to the strongest member of a party, but I am confident I will be able to protect you, provided you’re not too low. Otherwise you can just join the morning training sessions.”
“Oh,” I said. “I do think I need some training, but I can do that by myself apparently. I also need to find a gun. What level would be enough?”
“At least twenty, that would put your vitality at a safe spot. Does your class require you to use firearms as weapons? They are literal gold pits. You can probably find some at the bunker for cheap, but the mana crystals necessary to operate them will cost you more than the skin off your back.”
“Yes, but I have two classes and with the other one I think I can somehow learn how to use a sword by myself. Do I have to raise both of them to level twenty?”
He froze. Then frowned.
“You have what?”