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Chapter 63

“Ah… I forgot; I can’t read this world’s language.” I sighed, putting the book to the side. “Lydia?”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry, Master, I never learned to read.”

Well, she was born and raised as a slave, so that wasn’t surprising. For me, I had grown so used to reading in my old world, that I hadn’t considered it when I asked for some reference materials from the adventurer’s guild.

First, we had stopped at the general goods and restocked on supplies. I had avoided spending any money by skillfully trading in supplies. Since everything I sold got a 20% increase and everything, I bought a 30% decrease, I was actually able to get all of the supplies I needed simply by selling off the stuff that I didn’t need. Things like the lanterns and water jugs were no longer needed as I could cast magic to create those things myself. Support class had some advantages.

Upon reaching the Adventurer’s Guild, my desire was to find out more about jobs and skills. It’d be really nice to know what kind of stuff Lydia had. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read this language and neither could Lydia, so the books were useless. Of course, the adventurers nearby were happy to tell me about their jobs, but most didn’t know anything outside their own job, and many surprisingly didn’t even know what their own jobs offered, only learning what they called the critical skills. Those were the best skills that truly changed how they fought.

As a result of these kinds of questions, I knew that Lydia had three different forms of special attacks, and a handful of status boosts that helped her as a Swordsman. As for my jobs, which no one here shared, I’d still only see what skills I had as I got them.

“Here it is…” A map was dropped on my table by the secretary.

Since I had been promoted to the town hero, she had grown significantly more polite with me. It appeared like she was the town historian as well as the person who set up quests and missions. I had asked her for a map of Old Chalm, which is what she now put on my table.

“So, it is a lot bigger than Chalm,” I said, noticing its size was about twice as big.

“Yes, Old Chalm was truly a city on the frontier. It sat just outside the border of the Aberis Kingdom and the country of Dioshin, in the wildlands.” The secretary answered. “That was before the land became cursed.”

“Really?” I asked. “I thought it had something to do with the fact they were freeing Aberis slaves illegally.”

The secretary nodded. “Some think it was Aberis that cursed the city in retaliation. Specifically, the Karr family, who lived in the mansion at the edge of town.”

“What happened?” I asked.

The secretary looked off distantly. “It was about fifteen years ago. Our town had established a means of helping slaves escape from Aberis, and then we smuggled them into Dioshin. You see, most animalkin slaves are originally from Dioshin. They were kidnapped, abducted or tricked into slavery. We simply… stole them back.

“However, this was starting to upset the country of Aberis, and they were growing angrier by the day. It was getting to the point they were going to send soldiers to attack our city. We were stronger then, but not strong enough to fight off even a single legion of Aberis’ army. The only reason they hadn’t attacked us sooner was because of Dioshin. Sending so many troops to the front lines would certainly cause an incident and possibly incite war.

“Our leader back then was a philanthropist of the Karr family. They were the ones that mounted many of the operations to free slaves. Then… the problems started to crop up.”

“Problems?” I asked.

“It started in the mansion. Maids would see things. Animals would get sick. Slowly, the Karr family grew introverted. Eventually, they started to ignore the world outside their mansion. Even as Aberis was starting to mobilize their armies, and the people banged on the door for their guidance, we were met with silence. That was when the ghosts came. One night in the middle of summer, they began to flood out of the mansion, and we were forced to flee.”

The secretary’s eyes grew watery. “I remember that night. I was just a toddler, but I remember my mother’s frantic breaths as she held me against her chest and ran. We abandoned almost everything. I remember the wails of the ghosts as they chased us from our homes. Many died that night to help us flee, including my father.”

As she spoke, Lydia squeezed my arm tighter and tighter, shaking slightly.

“I’m… sorry…” I tried to offer a bit of sympathy.

She shook her head. “It was a long time ago. However, many are still haunted by that night. We fled to the Dioshin border. However, some had grown sick and ill from the ghosts spiritual attacks, and the Dioshin are a superstitious lot. They feared letting us in would let the curse spread, and so we were refused by those we thought were our allies. So… we came to Aberis. When we needed it most, they opened their borders. They sent out a group of priests that cleansed the curses and spiritual diseases and then erected a barrier over Old Chalm. Then they let us re-establish our city in their border.

“Aberis Kingdom may have corrupt nobles and many laws to despise, but we never forgot their kindness. It is this reason that we follow their laws and only buy and free slaves legally now. A few believe that Aberis set the whole thing up and started the curse. I don’t believe that. I think they saved us.”

I nodded after hearing her story. “You speak of cursed land… did you guys perhaps consider…”

“A dungeon?” The secretary smirked weakly. “Well, it’d have to be, doesn’t it? Except that no one has ever seen the entrance. The priests only sealed the place away. They didn’t look very hard for an entrance.”

“The entrance must be in the mansion.” I deduced.

She nodded. “No one has entered that mansion since the day the ghosts started to escape it. It would certainly be strange for a dungeon to spontaneously open in a person’s residence, but no one knows what happened to the Karr family. It’s a mystery to this day. The city has remained closed and no spirits have bothered us in the last fifteen years. Those strong enough to enter the city are too traumatized to ever go back. They remember fleeing in the night.

“Just remember one thing, Deek. If there is a dungeon there, it has been sealed for fifteen years. It isn’t like the undead dungeon, which was newly grown. This one will be deep, dangerous, and high level.”

“Just great.”

“Fortunately, you do not need to enter the dungeon to fulfil the request of the mission.”

“Mission?” I asked.

“This time, we will do things by the books. You will be paid for your services. You are to enter the abandoned mansion. Any loot you find is your own. You are to find out the fate of the Karr family and report. This is a scouting mission for the moment, no more. Of course, once the curse is ended, then the mansion is yours to keep. Either way, you will be paid 100 gold coins for your services.”

“One hundred!”

“This is our way of apologizing for cutting you short in the past.”

“If you could afford one hundred coins…” I sounded doubtful. 

She held up her hand. “As much as it looks like our city is poor, this is merely because you came at a bad time near the end of a bad fiscal year. Once the merchant comes, we’ll be able to sell our goods and replenish our coin. At that time, we wish to repay our debt to you. No one wants to see Lydia return to a life of slavery. I know Chalm has taken advantage of your goodwill, but the people of Chalm have noticed all the sacrifices you have made for us, and we will do whatever we need to help you, as you have done for us.”

Chapter 64

“Remember, Lydia, we don’t need to accomplish anything today. This is just a scouting mission.” I stated as we walked in the direction they pointed for Old Chalm.

“Yes…” Lydia responded quietly, and I realized I had already gone over the plans with her a dozen times.

“Ah, sorry, I just don’t plan for us to enter that dungeon. Rather, the mansion is our goal. According to them, it was flat out abandoned and no one has entered it since the noble family went missing. That means all of the wealth is inside. We have one month to get into the mansion and steal goods. If we’re lucky, we’ll find coins outright. I’m not going to depend 100% on this caravan or Chalm.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t trust their efforts, it was simply as I said before. I wouldn’t risk Lydia on anything. 


I had also noticed that Lydia was being oddly quiet the further we walked. Her grip on my shirt was also tightening. We finally reached a low hill, and before us was the city. As for the barrier, it wasn’t something that could be seen with the eye. Perhaps a Priest might be able to make it out, but I didn’t have that ability.

Where the current Chalm was made completely out of wood and thatch, Old Chalm had many stone buildings. At the far end of the city was a two-story mansion, just as described. It wasn’t massive or unreasonable. Probably about fifteen rooms max. There was almost no movement, and the place felt extremely eerie without a sign of people. Strangely enough, the town was not overgrown with weeds. In fact, there was nothing living. The grass looked brown and dead, yet despite fifteen years it didn’t seem to rot away. The same could be said about the trees and bushes.

Although the stonework had cracks in it from disrepair and age, the entire city appeared like it might have been abandoned yesterday. This only increased the level of discomfort I felt.

“W-wait!” Lydia cried out as I took a step forward.

“What?” I asked, turning back to her.

Lydia blushed, lowering her head. “N-nothing…”

I could only cock my head in confusion over her odd behavior. I began walking down, and she followed me closely. She reached out and grabbed my hand now, no longer feeling like holding my shirt was enough. It only took a few minutes before we passed the border. It was sudden, and I let out a gasp. It felt like walking through water. On the other side, the city was exactly the same. Part of me thought the appearance outside would have been some deception, and once I got closer I’d see the true town.

Taking a deep breath, I held Lydia’s hand and continued to guide her into the city. It was deathly quiet. There wasn’t even the noise of insects or animals rustling around. This was a ghost town in every sense of the word.

“I-it’s not so bad… in the day.” Lydia spoke up, her voice sounding almost startling amongst the extreme quiet.

As if to answer her, a distant squeaking sound started up. The pair of us looked at each other and then slowly began to walk towards the source, which continued on in a rhythmic fashion. Finally, we found it. There was a lone tree, not a leaf on it, that was gnarled and dead. It reached up into the sky like a disembodied hand, and hanging from one of the branches was a lone swing. Ever so slowly, it was swaying back and forth, making that squeaking noise that filled the street.

“Um… Lydia…” I said, working the moisture back into my mouth.


“Is there any wind today?”

“There is not.” Lydia’s voice came out in a squeak.

The swing suddenly stopped. Lydia’s hand let go of mine, but then grabbed it again so tightly it almost hurt. I didn’t look back, as my eyes were focused on the silent, unmoving swing.

“I think we have explored enough of this city for today.” I coughed.

“Yes, Master…” The voice that came next to me wasn’t Lydia’s.

Chapter 65

Very slowly, my head turned to see that there was no one standing next to me. However, I still felt the grip in my hand. That was when my eyes went down. Standing there, holding my hand, was a little girl doll. It had a little striped tail and tiger ears. It looked exactly like an approximation of Lydia, except that it was only two feet tall, and its eyes were red. It looked up at me, the hand not holding mine contained a knife.

“Hehehehehe…” it started laughing, the knife rising up in its hand.

“DIE!” I screamed so loud that even the doll was taken aback.

Grabbing my sword, I immediately hacked down on the doll. It let out a girlish shriek, but I ignored it. As it lost grip of my hand, I put it to the hilt of my sword and struck even harder.

“Die! Die! Die!” I screamed as tears ran down my eyes.

{White Mage has increased to level 13.}

{Cure Disease has been unlocked.}

“M-master!” A cry came from nearby.

I looked up from the mess of strings and wood that used to be the Lydia doll. The real Lydia was on the ground. She had been bound with some string, but she had used her teeth and nails and had managed to work her way out of it.

“Lydia… I’m glad you’re safe.” I responded stiffly.

“I’m glad Master quickly realized the doll wasn’t a curse that turned me into a doll like when I was made undead.”

“That’s right, it could have been you! Ahem… I mean… of course I knew…”


“Ahhh… what can I say! Dolls should all die! They’re creepy! My cousins made me watch Child’s Play when I was really young, and then that night, they snuck into my room and moved all the dolls to the foot of my bed. Ever since, I hate them so much!”

Lydia lowered her head and started crying. My eyes widened and I held out my hands in a panic.

“No, don’t be upset. I’d never attack you like a doll!  You’re my Lydia… I could…”

“N-no… master…” Lydia spoke while shaking. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I don’t do good with these kinds of things. I’m really scared.”

“Ah? But you were fine in the zombie dungeon.”

“You can touch and kill a zombie!” She wailed. “This is far scarier!”


Just as she said that, a door slammed shut. She screamed and this time she threw her arms around me. I could feel her body shaking. I had written off her behavior earlier, but apparently my sweet Lydia was really forcing herself to be here. After all, it was her debt we were resolving. She couldn’t say no. The result was that she was starting to break down now.

A door opened with a creek slightly. I stared at it while holding Lydia tightly. Then all the windows on the block opened at the same time, so fast that they made banging sounds. Lydia cried out and then held me tighter.


“Come with us…”

“Join me…”

The voices started to assault our ears, coming from every direction. I spun around, not able to see anything.

“We need to get out of here now.” I cursed. “Portal takes a few seconds. I’d use Return, but I’m not 100% sure you’ll be taken with me.”

“D-don’t leave me!”

“Yeah, I can’t risk it, Lydia, cover me! Portal!”

I could see now there was a group of dolls running down the street towards us. They looked like all manner of animalkin and human. Were they the faces of the people who died in this town?

“I can’t…” Lydia cried tearfully, shaking even more.

“They’re something you can hit!” I growled.

“No… no… scary!” She cried out.

The Portal opened just as the dolls reached us. I leaped through, but not before a dagger implanted itself into my calf.

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