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The next morning, I left Ozy's house to rent a room for a month in an inn near the labyrinth.
The procedure did not take me long, since I went with the recommendation of Ozymandias.
So, the innkeeper accepted me with open arms, even though I told her I would pay her at the end of the month, when normally I would have to pay her a good amount of money in advance.
This comes in handy. Since, although I'm not short of money, I don't know how much my new sword might cost me.
But, considering that the mithril dagger cost me 324 gold coins and that my sword will require much more metal, I suppose my new weapon will cost me a large sum of money.
Besides my sword should be made of orichalcum, according to Octavo's advice. Which is a very expensive metal.
After saying goodbye to the innkeeper, I headed in the direction of the guild to hand in the paper that certifies my promotion to vanguard rank adventurer.
Arriving at one of the entrances to the guild, I see Agustin arguing with a strange girl with animal ears.
Her body is like that of a human, except that she seems to have a thin layer of grayish hair covering her skin. And that she has cat-like ears, with fur of the same grayish color with bluish tones.
But that's not the only thing strange about her, since she also has a short tail a few centimeters long. And, her eyes are amber with vertical pupils, like those of cats.
The girl has light armor and a pair of short daggers as equipment, and her short stature makes an odd contrast next to Agustin's height, as she barely reaches the boy’s chest.
Based on what Ozy told me yesterday, I know she's a therian from the ones that came across the sea.
They seem to be arguing about something because, as I look curiously at the cat-girl, I hear their voices clearly.
"We already explained to you that there is an age limit for unaccompanied persons! People under 15 years old are not allowed to enter the guild without being previously accompanied by a registered adventurer," says Agustin with a jaded tone and an expression of deep boredom on his face, while blocking the girl's way "why do you insist on entering even knowing you are not allowed? You should find someone you trust to accompany you."
"But the adventurers are inside the building! How am I supposed to find someone to accompany me if I can't talk to them?" says the girl, and her voice gets sharper by the moment due to the irritation she seems to be feeling.
"That's not our problem. The rules are the rules," says Agustin without changing his bored expression.
When I snap out of my surprise at seeing one of the people from the foreign races, I head towards the entrance, while trying to ignore their discussion. But...
Again, although my hair and eye color, and my height and build are different from the last time we met; Azur, who is on my shoulders in his small draco form, gives away my identity because, as I walk past him, Agustin turns and speaks to me.
"yes... Hi" I say turning around, and an awkward silence falls over us "well.... I was coming to do some paperwork at the guild, so I'll let you get on with whatever it is you were doing".
I get ready to continue on my way, but Agustin stops me again. "wait! I'm working at the guild now, so I could help you with whatever you need. Besides, I think I need to ask you a favor."
This leaves me dumbfounded.
Considering the mood in which we parted ways, I thought he wouldn't even want to see me. But it looks like that's not the case…
Anyway, I don't care.
Agustin is someone from my past and, even though he may have come to his senses, I'm not sure I feel like relating to him.
Just seeing his face, evokes the phrase he said to me so long ago when Joseph died.
And, with that anger begins to build, as I remember the unfair way I was treated by him.
Azur begins to growl over my shoulders, and I can feel that his feelings towards Agustin mirror my own.
As I ponder these thoughts, I see Agustin mutter something to the girl. And, a moment later, he turns to speak to me.
"Follow me. I don't know what paperwork you'll have, but I'm sure it will be faster if you leave it to me instead of standing in line to get it taken care of," he says with a smile.
"I guess you're right," I mutter and sigh, still a little undecided on how I should address this 'old friend'.
We step into one of the guild rooms, which in this case are on the second floor. And which is much more spacious and lavishly decorated than those in the crossroads town guild branch.
"Could you wait outside, Deirdre?" says Agustin to the girl and closes the door to the room.
"Yes, sir!" the girl says in a firm tone.
I'm surprised by the sudden change in her attitude, but I guess Ozy was right when he said they were freaky…
I can't measure this girl by my standards, as she probably has a different mindset, being from another continent.
With the room closed, Agustin points me to a small table and some armchairs in the center of the room.
When I finish explaining my intention, I hand him the paper.
Agustin keeps it in a pocket of his jacket, and explains to me that the change of rank will be effective in my next purchase or sale in the guild.
As we talk, I can't help but let the tension show in my voice.
And Azur echoes this sentiment with a low but uninterrupted growl.
"Well... That was all I was coming to do," I say and hastily get up to leave.
I have no intention of talking more than strictly necessary to my former companion.
But, just as I'm about to reach the door, Agustin speaks to me again.
"I would appreciate it if you would take that girl into the labyrinth and give her a scare. She's very small and I'm worried that she'll be tricked by some group and kidnapped for ransom or worse. That's why I'd rather she go with someone I trust," Agustin says hastily, with a grim expression that I see out of the corner of my eye.
"Ahh, so now I'm someone you can trust..." I say, raising my voice, turning around, and looking him straight in the eyes with fury.
"Yeah, well... I'm so sorry!" says Agustin with an expression that I now notice is one of anguish. "I shouldn't have treated you like that. It's just that my cousin had died, and I felt that my arm didn't work like it used to and, well… The situation got the better of me... I'm not trying to justify myself, just… Forgive me, please."
"So that's why you're working here and not in your workshop?" I ask, distracted for a moment by the new information.
"Yes, my arm is no longer good for grabbing a hammer. Every time I try to grab something tightly, my hand just doesn't work," he says sadly.
"Ahh. I'm so sorry," I say and my fury subsides a little, "but that doesn't change the fact that I can't see you as a friend anymore..."
"I understand..." he mumbles, and it seems he won't say anything more. But, as I'm already turning to leave, he adds, "but that has nothing to do with what I'm asking you! It's not me you're helping, but this girl. She is only 12 years old. So far, she's been trying to get companions, but no one trusts someone so young, and even less being that she's a foreigner... I'm afraid she'll lose her patience and do something stupid, like sneaking into the labyrinth by herself."
"well, okay," I say, after thinking about it for a few moments.
After all, I was planning to enter the labyrinth today to climb a few floors.
It will take me quite a while to get to the upper floors, since the maximum I have access to so far in this labyrinth is the 29th floor.
And, while I could find someone who already has access to the upper floors to take me, I'd rather unlock those floors by myself. In order to see the differences between each floor with plenty of time to spare.
Based on my experience with Octavo, I know that the colors of the walls and the lighting of the labyrinth change as the difficulty goes up but…
What other changes will there be?
According to Octavo, that's all that changes, but he doesn't have my ability to inspect monsters.
It would be cool if there were monsters that drop rare items of equipment, or directly grant abilities…
In addition, I saw that the girl possesses a singularity.
Hmm, I wonder what kind of abilities she'll have…