“Guild Master Ihron, the ambassador to the elven empire is here to see you. He claims it is of some importance.”
Levi Ihron had anticipated something like this, his assistant Tove stood in the doorway of his personal chambers, gnomish eyes averted while the guild master adjusted his robes. He’d seen the missive yesterday, Kirvos Phenistra was a respected and loyal ambassador to the elven empire, if the guilds expansion into elven territory was to continue, he would need to listen to the complaint. Not to mention he owed his old friend a courtesy.
“Escort him to the southern audience room, and have breakfast bought there. Also have Farel prepare the guild guard. I think we know what this is about don’t we?” Tove nodded his agreement and Levi waved him out of his chambers as he stomped over to the wash basin. It was too early for this shit, way too early. He splashed water on his face, staring into the mirror behind the basin. When did he get so old? He let out a long, exhausted sigh.
Flindora guild-house, the missive had detailed a certain someone in the city’s guild-house was not only accessing the font for personal information on adventurers, but they were also siphoning Ether from the font for personal use. A dangerous act that risked not only Ether poisoning, but the guilds had learned hundreds of years ago that disrupting the flow of Ether from a font back into the dungeon network had ‘explosive’ repercussions. The ruined city of K’valaor in the south was testament to that.
Levi hated Flindora, for personal reasons. Sadly, for Levi it was a key city in the northern kingdoms. The guild-house there was instrumental in finding and connecting to more dungeons in both the dwarven kingdoms and the elvish realms. The dwarves and the elves had their own guilds, of course, but having a guild-house so close to both territories meant human adventurers were allowed access to their dungeons, and vice versa.
He dressed quickly and left his chambers, water still dripping from his long moustache. Making his way down several flights of stairs and through an office he shared with Tove. The two desks faced each other, one huge expansive desk littered with reports and requests from guild houses all over the northern kingdoms. The other, much smaller desk was neat and organised. Stacks of reports piled in neat trays next to organised writing equipment. The guild master wasted no time grabbing a folded piece of parchment from the pile nearest his chair. The light through the large windows making it easy to recognise amongst the several mountains of paperwork he was yet to address or pass on for Tove to complete.
Grumbling to himself he left the office through an adjacent door, eventually arriving at the southern audience room.
The large double doors swung inward as he made his entrance, the sound of birds in the nearby gardens a countenance to the low squeal from the brass hinges. He’d have to get someone to look at them, this room wasn’t used very often but he expected excellence in every corner of his estate. A trait his gnome assistant called hypocritical when having to view the guild master’s ‘disaster’ of a desk space.
The ambassador had his back to the doors, staring out of the large, curved windows. The boughs of the trees were at eye level, a serene vista of cultivated greenery that the guild master found exceedingly calming. It was a shame it wasn’t having the same effect on Kirvos Phenistra.
“Guild master, I am sorry for disturbing you so early in the morning.” Kirvos turned slowly. “You know how teleportation is, it’s already midday in Flindora.” He held a porcelain cup of tea in his long-fingered hands, an elven trait the ambassador had inherited alongside his slightly oval eyes, which looked Levi up and down with obvious concern.
“Did I wake you?” He asked, taking a sip of his tea whilst walking calmly over to a cushioned chair positioned near the ornate fireplace. No fire had been lit, summer was knocking on the door and spring had bought ample warmth, the chairs had been positioned to view the garden’s below, bright and lush, especially at this time of morning.
“My dear ambassador, my old friend, it is never too early for such gracious guests.” Levi joined Kirvos in taking a seat, a similarly situated chair, angled towards the windows, its leather warmed by the morning sun.
“I have arranged some breakfast, which to you will be lunch, it will be with us shortly. Before it comes, maybe you can share with me your urgent business, and then we can relax while we eat. Like old times.” He couldn’t help grinning at the half-elf, a gentle reminder that their friendship was forged not in political discussion, but in younger, more adventurous days.
Kirvos took a deep breath, it was so easy to forget that they had known each other as young adventures. Levi the career dungeon delver, the ambassador merely spending a year or two expanding his skills before focusing on his political aspirations. Now look at them. Levi was a guild master of one of the biggest guilds in the world, and the skittish half-elf he had explored with as a youth was now an ambassador to the entire elven nation.
“I’m sorry Levi, you know me better than most, relaxing is not one of my best skills. I wish I was more like my youngest in that respect.” Kirvos smiled, it was a sincere and gentle reminder that the young man Levi had known was still in there, beneath all the formalities of his position.
“It’s just, this not only concerns my daughter, but it hints at something a little more dangerous.” He sipped from his tea, raising a long, arched eyebrow at the guild master.
“Well man, let’s not waste time over the niceties, out with it.” Levi slapped his hand on the arm of his chair energetically, a small cloud of dust escaping the fabric form his enthusiastic slap. The ambassador looked nervous, almost guilty.
“I have been paying one of your clerks to keep an eye on my daughter, Havia. Ever since we parted ways, well, you know more than most the regret a parent feels when they argue with their children’s life choices.” Kirvos was staring towards the windows, watching a flock of birds careened through the branches of the trees. He failed to notice Levi’s jaw tightening, or the clenched fist at the mention of his own past issues. Kirvos continued and Levi relaxed, realising it wasn’t a jibe at him personally.
“She was good, delivering more than just location information. I know that Havia reached level six not that long ago, surprisingly I got a list of her chosen skill set and how much she’s earning on average form her dungeon crawls.” Levi coughed.
“And I know that you know, the only way you can get that information is by tampering with a font.” Levi interrupted, to ascertain if his old friend knew the full ramifications of the situation.
“Yes, yes, I know. And I can assure you, I never asked for it. You know Me Levi, even for something as underhanded as spying on my own daughter, I keep fastidious records. I only requested updates on how she was doing, but the information became more detailed, as did the requests for payment.”
Turning his attention from the window Levi could see Kirvos was red faced, overflowing with concern. “I was ready to report to you a few days ago, then I caught her in a lie, which has me concerned for my daughter’s health.” He leaned down to a small satchel at the side of the chair, handing a few pieces of parchment over to Levi. The guild master looked down at the reports. One was clearly an update on location, level, and progress of Havia Phenistra, a level six thief, the name of the dungeon she was reportedly in was familiar to Levi, something nagged at the back of his brain, another report from the other day that had landed on his desk. He shuffled the papers to read the next report, a copy of a land purchase, in the central kingdoms, with Havia’s name, how in the hells did he get that?
“So, the same week that your daughter is delving in the far west, she buys a property in the central kingdoms?” Levi took a moment to realise what was being implied.
“Teleport maybe?” He offered as the ambassador, his old friend, leaned forward and took the papers out of Levi’s hands.
“Levi, you know that part of my job is trading in information. I have a vast network, and I know for a fact that my daughter and her party purchased a large estate in Chelis, just last week.” He raised a finger, forestalling Levi’s questions.
“I spoke personally with the administrators of the town, they paid in emigran, bought the place outright. No small sum, they couldn’t have earned that in a couple of years of dungeoneering at their level. And they have been in that town ever since.” He pointed at the topmost sheath of parchment.
“Your Clerk reported them in this dungeon days after they had bought the property, and Chelis has no Teleport circle. No dungeons within days. Something isn’t right with this situation. Where did they get that kind of loot? And why did your clerk lie to me?” They were interrupted by one of the servants bringing in the breakfast, which they laid out on a table near the far end of the room. Kirvos watched quietly as Levi stood, pacing before the window for a moment. It was just as the servant was leaving that he remembered where he’d read about the dungeon.
“Would you ask Tove to join us please.” He asked of the servant as they were leaving. They nodded and closed the door behind themselves.
“There is most assuredly something amiss, we’ve have had our eye on that clerk in Flindora for a while. She’s also under suspicion of siphoning Ether, which would explain how she is able to access personal information form a font.” He let that sink in as they relocated to the table, a modest spread of breakfast foods had been arranged. Simple, basic foods, but he knew his chef was top notch, when hosting ambassadors and other guild leaders one had to provide quality over quantity.
As Kirvos helped himself to some thinly sliced ham and a handful of grapes Levi poured some Kafe into cups, placing one next to his old friend.
“Look, I know we don’t talk much, and our partying days are long behind us, but I get why you were so hard on your youngest.” He quickly put a hand up to forestall Kirvos’s reaction. “And yes, it’s none of my business. You were just looking out for her, wanting the best future for her. Trust me, I get it. For you, dungeons were just a means to an end, top up your skills and then back to the life your family had planned for you. But for me it was, and still is, everything. I think you got lucky that it was only your youngest that took after their mother more than you.” He tried his most disarming smile; the one he had practiced often. Tove said it looked unnerving.
Kirvos sighed, hefting a small wrap of meats into his mouth, giving himself time to chew and swallow before replying.
“I know,” he took a sip of his kafe, and reached for the honey. “I may have over reacted when she wanted to make adventuring her career. Maybe I learned that a little too late. I honestly just wanted to keep an eye on her, not enable that vile woman to do something so dangerous as fiddle around with fonts.” For a second the young Kirvos that Levi had known showed through again. A half smile, more than most got from him, that showed he could drop the facade when it was necessary. Levi smiled back.
“Well, I think we have news about the dungeon she was in. No idea how they got over halfway across the kingdoms without a teleport circle. But we will get to the bottom of it. I will see to it personally.”
They picked at the rest of the breakfast in silence, Kirvos sparing only the slightest remark to compliment his chef on the pastries.
Tove entered silently, as was his way, and waited for them to finish before coughing politely.
“Guild Master, you wanted me?” He said, his high-pitched voice countered by his sharp, clipped annunciation.
“Yes, Tove, remind me. We had a report of an incident in a far western dungeon, what was the location please.”
The gnome held his hand to his chin, deep in thought for a few seconds before replying.
“Dahkriu kingdom, Dungeon D473F. Initially discovered a little over three months ago. Recorded as a single floor dungeon, anomalous design with too many traps and hardly any beasts.” The gnome looked over at Levi, and seeing as he wasn’t told to stop, finished recounting the details. “The final report speculates that it failed to manifest any extra-planar floors and collapsed in on itself, approximately a week ago.” Long moustache twitching as he spoke, Tove took pleasure in his work, and recollecting details was his speciality.
“Thank you, Tove, do you know of any active teleport circles in the Dahkriu kingdom, near that dungeon?” Levi asked, sparing a glance at Kirvos.
“It’s a border kingdom with the Gurthak plains. Not a great deal of commerce, and no magical academic facilities. Unless it’s an unregistered personal circle, I’d say no.” he raised his finger in front of himself, as if pointing to an invisible map. “Nearest city to the dungeon, of any note, is Burshol, they have a guild house. At a guess that’s where the ambassador’s daughter was probably based out of. There are quite a few dungeons around there, mostly three floors. But we don’t have enough guild staff to post entrance guards.” Tove looked disapprovingly at Levi.
“My guess is that’s why she’s out there, they can misreport their loot, make extra coin and do dungeons as often as they like without guild fees adding up. I have been suggesting we station more guild staff in the smaller houses.” Levi coughed as Tove barely held the reprimand in check.
“We’ve had this discussion before Tove, we don’t own the dungeons, just manage the flow of adventurers, and ensure facilities around the fonts. We simply don’t have the staff to put guards on every small dungeon that pops up.” Levi barely kept his frustration in check. Banging his palm down on the table to emphasise his point.
“Kirvos, my friend, we will send some of the guild guard to investigate the collapsed dungeon, and I personally will see to the clerk in Flindora. I would say it will be my pleasure, but you and I both know that would be a lie.” For a moment he could see the ambassador relax.
“Thank you, Levi, I knew I could count on you, my friend.” The half-elf reached over and patted Levi’s hand.
“I intend to visit this town in the central kingdoms, to investigate if it is indeed my daughter, or an imposter buying land in her name for some scam? To be honest she has some disreputable friends, I haven’t ruled out some way to snub me further.” He smiled, almost warmly. “She would have made a fantastic politician.”
Levi dismissed Tove and they finished the pot of kafe, briefly discussing their plans. The ambassador offered the use of the elven transport circles, which would speed things up greatly, not to mention saving the guild no small sum of coin. They agreed to reconvene in Flindora the next day, the ambassador would head to the central kingdoms the day after. Levi bid the ambassador farewell before walking slowly to his quarters, deep in thought, and a little anxious about returning to the city where he had lost his son.