Ezra looked at Kieran silently for a moment.
Even though arrogance weaved into his tone, Ezra somehow felt it didn’t originate from a place of conceit.
No, she thought it was something Kieran truly believed and felt it was possible to accomplish, provided he had enough time to grow.
Eventually, Ezra’s expression softened into an expectant smile. “I hope that’s true. I wouldn’t mind watching a show. And… should you ever need help, know that you’ll have a shoulder to lean on. Thanks to your opportunities, Advent is acclimating well inside this new kingdom.”
“Oh? Is that so?” Kieran smiled charmingly and crossed his arms against his chest. “You know, the future is a fickle entity where nothing is cemented. So how could you know I’ll always have a shoulder to lean upon? What if something outside of our control were to happen? What would you do then?”
“I-…” Ezra stammered and fell silent while considering the meaning of Kieran’s question.
She had experienced it many times—alliances dissolving due to more attractive offers coming alone despite the trust fostered in the previous relationship.
As Ezra thought about this, her sparkling eyes dimmed. “I’m not that untrustworthy. Believe me. I wouldn’t betray your trust because a more enticing offer has appeared. You were the first to help me, and I should honor the respect you’ve given me.”
“I see,” Kieran nodded with a meaningful expression. “I want to trust your words, but only the future will tell, Ezra. Until then, you’re in my good graces for always warning me despite our somewhat shallow relationship.”
After speaking, Kieran slid off the table and onto his feet with a low groan.
For some reason, Torment’s Belief: Dull didn’t activate all. But Kieran remembered why when he recalled the specifics of the passive.
It was a passive ability triggered only in battle.
Outside of combat, he would be akin to a regular person, incapable of ignoring large amounts of damage. Fortunately, his Constitution contributed to how dreadful the pain was.
Coupled with General Xithora’s healing, it became somewhat manageable.
Ezra noticed Kieran’s grimace and frowned. “With the increased realism, I wouldn’t advise you to move about so much in that state. Won’t it exacerbate your injuries?”
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Kieran shook his head, trying to appease Ezra’s worries. “I had someone healing me; they’re just on break for the time being. It’s the perfect time to stretch.”
“Ah, I see. By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask about this. The city guards have been more active, roaming the city in greater volume. Is that related to the quest we completed?” Ezra asked.
Compared to a few days prior, she felt the security of Aeredale City had doubled or perhaps even tripled. Some of the earlier blindspots in the surveillance routes no longer existed. City guards covered every inch of the city.
‘I guess Mayor Lowe has used some of the returned funds to increase the city’s security. Smart move, but his concern now should be generating increased profit to increase Aeredale’s worth and presence.’
In its current condition, Aeredale City was considered the weakest type of Capital City. A city’s status could be increased by improving its standing, profit, security, and allure. It could be easily accomplished by enlisting the help of renowned NPCs.
Sadly, that option required funds the kingdom couldn’t produce in its current position.
After thinking about this, Kieran nodded to Ezra. “It’s possible that it’s a side effect of the quest we completed. We can’t ignore the fact we recovered plenty of funds. While not absurd to the point it could change the lives of everyone, it was a decent sum.”
“Yeah,” Ezra agreed. “That gold you gave provided Eclipse the means to begin cultivating profession-based classes. Considering the decreasing equipment drop rate, I’m guessing the neglected professions will become incredibly important.”
“I don’t think anything added to the game is useless. I feel it will all have a purpose, whether it is revealed now or later. So, the fact you’re shifting attention to the relatively ignored professions is a smart move,” Kieran remarked.
However, his inward thoughts were different. He frowned.
‘So the larger guilds are noticing the drop in equipment drops rates? It’s to be expected, but there are some facets they aren’t considering. For example, the cost of cultivating those classes.’
One couldn’t just pick up a production-based profession and succeed. There were steps to excelling—tests, acquiring production methods, successes, and failures. Cultivating one talented lifestyle player could cost more than 100,000 Gold in total.
Such an expense was something no guild could currently afford, not with the current condition of the Universal Currency Exchange Trading System.
“Be sure to take your time. Don’t exhaust your funds without first having ways to replenish them. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a bind. Unfortunately, we’ll have to cut our conversation short here. There are some other matters I must attend to,” Kieran said.
Ezra understood how busy he could be since he was inactive for more than two days—at this stage in the game, every hour counted. One opportunity could be the feather that tipped the scales beyond balance.
The two wrapped up their conversation, leaving Kieran to gaze at Scar and General Xithora. Their expressions seemed unusually grim, but because of his condition, Kieran couldn’t understand what they were saying.
General Xithora’s body language changed, adopting a stance that gave off a stern expression. “I know the relationship between you and High Commander Igris has staled. But, you also know how vengeful and venomous that faction is. You claimed his entire arm.”
“He deserved it. He’s lucky he walked away with his life after intervening in a match involving the younger generation, much less my little twerp,” Scar indifferently said.
His gaze was sharp and cold, conveying his lack of interest in the matter.
“I understand that, but you can’t ignore the facts. High Commander Igris, General Saeva, High General Garam—they’re all known to be in cahoots with one another. What about the times of your absence? What will you do then to secure your inheritor’s safety? These are serious matters.”
Listening to General Xithora’s worries, Scar’s expression darkened. She raised many fair points. High Generals headed the many factions, and they were opponents not even Scar wished to go against.
Some of them were powerhouses beyond his caliber and were responsible for the War Deity Council’s identity as a world-regulating organization.
Crackles echoed within the large healing room as Scar clenched his fist. “I’ll take care of it. Not everyone within the council is corrupt. That’s the reason so many factions exist. I know who to speak to.”
“At the very least, it must be a High General capable of contending with High General Garam’s influence,” General Xithora remarked.
“I’m aware, and I know just the person. In fact, General Zieg should be closely related to them,” Scar answered before glancing at the silent Kieran, who bore an inquisitive gaze. “Speaking of which, the boy is healed enough to walk about, correct?”
“Correct. His life is no longer in danger, and his wounds have healed substantially. Of course, I still recommend that you exercise caution.”
“Understood,” Scar nodded. Afterward, he whistled and gestured for Kieran to come.
Kieran naturally walked over a few seconds later, and Scar wrapped his large arm around Kieran’s shoulder. “I’ll be taking you to claim your rightful prizes for your accomplishments. We’ll most likely have to meet with General Zieg. Are you up to it?”
Kieran furrowed his brows with a peculiar expression. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
“What a bold little boy you are. Not even worried that you almost killed someone on their road to becoming a Lieutenant?” Scar chuckled lightheartedly.
“As I said before, those were the repercussions. The transgressions of that event were Thrax’s fault. An eye for an eye is a principle I have and will always abide by,” Kieran said without the slightest fluctuation in his voice.
Kieran’s stoic stance made Scar grin. “Hahaha! Excellent answer. You reap what you sow, as simple as that. Nothing in life is without consequences.”
After clapping Kieran’s shoulder, Scar guided him through the spacious halls of the headquarters. Despite having seen it a few days priors, Kieran remained mystified by the headquarters’ marvelous structure and exquisite design.
Eventually, Scar led Kieran to an open area that resembled a throne room for other purposes. A large stone tablet with deep and archaic etching was located in the center of the room.
Kieran approached it and dragged his finger across the surface, sensing a familiar sensation buried deep within the etchings of the stone tablet.
“Does this stele have any meaning?” Kieran questioned.
Scar glimpsed at the stone tablet in question and examined it. Although the War Deity Council took good care of the item, its exterior exhibited signs of inevitable time-induced erosion. Its age was unknown, but it was undoubtedly an item that spanned eras.
The item’s undetermined age made it so Scar couldn’t glean anything from it even after activating his extraordinary eyes.
“I’m not sure, kid. It seems like it’s unusual, but it’s something beyond me. These don’t seem like runes despite having a similar structure.”
“I see,” Kieran muttered in a dazed voice. He felt the same way. The characters reassembled runes, but he was completely unfamiliar with them. However, he couldn’t ignore the fact he was drawn to them.
“Follow me,” Scar ordered, pressing his hands against two large black doors with a golden design in the form of a Merkaba that spun and disintegrated after confirming Scar’s identity.
Inside the room was General Zieg standing beside another figure, seemingly amidst conversing.