It would be easier that way.
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Money wasn’t something I had any greed for.
It was the relics I needed and that would be something I could store in my dimensional rune.
Even if Alaric’s ascent training was utterly useless, as long as he could help me acclimate to Alacryan lifestyle without prying into me, it’d be worth it.
I didn’t trust this drunkard but at least his intentions were straightforward.
I trusted human greed more than kindness, and if he had any other ulterior motives—well, hopefully it wouldn’t come to that.
If it does, it shouldn’t be too difficult to remove him as a threat.
“You done introspecting?” Alaric interrupted, holding a new bottle of liquor in his hands.
“What’s that?” I pointed at the bottle.
“Oh this?” He gave me a wide grin.
I resisted the urge to bury my face in my hands.
Out of all the kinds of people out there, how was I stuck with the alcoholic version of Regis?
Suddenly, Alaric jumped off his barstool, stumbling to gain balance before turning to me.
“Anyway, we should get moving.
Lots of things to do and we’re burning daylight.”
After paying the bartender with my runecard, I followed after my new unstable adviser.
Our first order of business was getting ‘my story straight’, as he called it.
To do this, we went back to my inn.
As I opened the door to see Regis waiting by the entrance, I didn’t know what to expect from Alaric.
Both the aetheric dog and drunk man stared at each other silently for a minute, as if still processing what they were actually seeing.
Unexpectedly, Alaric was the one that wobbled over to the black and blazing purple wolf and…patted him on his head.
“Good dog, there, aye,” Alaric slurred as Regis turned to me, giving me a baffled look.
“It’s fine,” I comforted.
“This inebriated gentleman will be working with us for the time being.”
“Ah, well in that case.
What’s up, old man?”
“It talks!” Alaric gasped, stumbling back behind me to use as a shield.
I’m not an ‘it’! I’m a ‘he’…” Regis then cocked his head toward me.
“Or am I a ‘she’?”
With a smirk toward Regis, I said, “Does gender matter for a ‘mighty weapon’ such as yourself?”
“I’m a ‘he’,” Regis decided while Alaric continued to mutter curses to himself about how he regretted all of this.
Once I was able to drag my drunk advisor inside the inn, I began to explain my situation with much of the details omitted.
Alaric himself said he wasn’t interested in my past.
He just needed enough to go off of in order to come up with a story.
You did a good job not telling people your blood name.
That carries much more importance than your given name,” he acknowledged while his eyes continued darting between me and Regis.
“First thing’s first.
I don’t know how you got acquainted enough to a Denoir that they’d be willing to give you this dagger—”
“Lend,” I corrected.
Whatever,” Alaric dismissed.
“The important thing is that you don’t tie yourself up with Highblood Denoir.
While it’ll definitely get you out of some sticky situations, it’ll also draw too much attention—especially once we get into bigger cities.”
“Then, what do I do?” I stared down at the white dagger in my hand.
“Without this, I have no identity here.”
“That’s where I come in,” Alaric replied.
“I have an acquaintance who’s an accomplished artificer capable of forging you an identity.
You’ll be my nephew that I took under my wing because you didn’t want to follow after your father in the merchant business.”
“You just happen to have an accomplished artificer friend that’s able to forge identities?” I pried, suspicious.
“Accomplished, yes, but gravely underpaid,” he chuckled.
“Two clients make him more gold from this side of business than a year’s wage he gets at the fancy laboratory he works at in Sehz-Clar.”
“Sehz-Clar? Isn’t that the southern dominion?”
He has a tempus warp anchored to this city,” he answered, taking a swig from his newly acquired bottle of alcohol.
“Anyway, I need to know a bit more about your… abilities.”
‘How much are you going to tell him?’ Regis asked mentally.
Just enough to have something to work with.
“Augmented regeneration, strength, speed,” I listed off.
“How augmented? And no elements? You’re strictly a striker then?”
“Very augmented,” I said confidently.
“No elements, and if you’re asking if I have any long-range spells, not yet.”
“Have you gone on an ascent before?” he asked while deep in thought.
“Just once,” I admitted.
Alaric nodded, undeterred.
“That’s better than nothing.
How big of a group did you ascend with?”
I tilted my head.
“It was just me.”
“Just you…” Alaric repeated slowly, cocking a brow.
“I did team up with a few others in a convergence zone, but we parted ways after,” I explained, not sure what he was thinking when he suddenly lowered his head.
What I didn’t expect was for the old drunk to start laughing maniacally.
Regis and I exchanged a glance and my lupine companion twirled a paw beside his head.
“I’m not crazy!” Alaric snapped, taking another swig from his bottle.
“I’m allowed to be happy.”
He looked at me like I was made of jewels.
“It’s not everyday that you strike gold like this.
A striker capable of not only surviving in the Relictombs but has gotten far enough to reach a convergence zone!”
“Maybe you should ease up on the alcohol,” I warned, but before I could take the bottle away, Alaric shoved the bottle in his dirty pants.
“Don’t you dare, pretty boy.” He narrowed his bloodshot eyes.
“Take this away from me and I’ll be nonfunctional and there’s still too much to do.”
Pushing himself off the ground, he teetered toward my companion.
“How did you manage to hide this companion of yours, anyway?” he questioned, studying Regis.
“I’d expect him to draw attention, especially in these parts.”
“I usually just hide inside him,” Regis answered in my stead, demonstrating by leaping and disappearing into my body.
Alaric just stared at me for a few moments, opening his mouth at one point only to close it back shut.
He repeated this a few times before deciding to take another gulp of his rum.
“I’m not even going to ask.
Just…make sure that when your companion—”
“Regis,” I cut in.
“His name is Regis.”
The old drunkard gestured grandly while rolling his eyes.
“Just make sure Regis doesn’t talk in front of other ascenders.”
“So it’s fine to fight alongside Princess here?” Regis asked as he slipped back out of my form.
He looked rather excited by the idea.
“I don’t see why not.
There are quite a few documented emblems and regalias where elements take on the form of a beast,” Alaric shrugged.
“Those summons, however, are basically just animated puppets that can be preprogrammed with certain sets of instructions so no talking and it’s best not to stay out for that long.”
“Hell yes!” Regis whooped.
“No more twirling my metaphorical thumbs while watching Princess have all the fun.”
“Now!” Alaric declared.
“Since I have the basic rundown, let’s head to our first destination.”
“Which is?” I queried.
“We need to get some new clothes on you,” the drunkard sang as he did a sloppy twirl to demonstrate his point.
“If you’re talking about armor for the ascent, I already—”
“Bah! Not that, you wogart,” Alaric snapped.
Did he just call me a wogart? I didn’t know what that meant but I was pretty sure it was an insult.
“Remember my whole speech about you being a walking bundle of inconsistencies?” Alaric continued, walking toward the door in that unsteady yet surprisingly light-footed gait of his.
“Right now, you look like some runaway prince that thinks he’s disguised himself by putting on a shabby outfit.
You’d actually draw less attention if you just looked the part of a well-off blood.”
I frowned at the idea of looking like one of those colorful peacocks strutting down the streets.
“Can’t I just look more shabby like a commoner? I’d feel more comfortable that way.”
“No,” he stated, deadpan.
“Your face stands out too much.”
“My face stands out too much?” I echoed blandly.
“Annoyingly so,” he grumbled.
“If I was born with a face like that, I’d just woo some rich highblood lady and bathe in sweet rum every night.”
Regis snickered while Alaric continued to mutter quietly about his delusions.
“Fine, let’s get this over with,” I hissed, following Alaric out of our room as Regis disappeared back into my body.
“But what’s after that?”
“You, my dear nephew”—the drunkard patted my back—“will be taking your ascender’s assessment and start making your uncle some money!”
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