Chapter 529 Hunter Venare, Friend or Foe?
"I would think twice before doing anything you would regret. Or, can it be that your eyes have stopped working to the point where you can't recognize the emblem on that knife?" Venare said as he casually strolled up to the bar.
As Venare approached him, the bartender frowned and examined the knife that nearly sliced off his fingers. The knife's blade was made with high-quality material, and located at its base was the emblem of a wolf with a longbow in its mouth.
When the bartender noticed these features, his heart dropped, his eyes widened from shock, and he broke out into cold sweats. The only people permitted to have an emblem hammered into a weapon in this kingdom were nobles!
"G-great noble...! I meant no offense! It was a poor joke on my part. As an honest businessman, how can I scam my customers? Right, two friends, don't worry about paying. A few days and some meals—I took my trick a bit too far, so think of this as my humble apology." The bartender said with a nervous smile as he slyly signaled his men to stand down.
The bartender was secretly cursing under his breath. Initially, he hoped to take advantage of Izroth and make a quick profit, but he was unexpectedly interrupted. Why was a noble wandering around here, and why did they have to come into his bar of all places?!
Although Venare was only a minor noble from a foreign kingdom, nevertheless, he was a noble. A noble was not someone a bartender could stand to anger!
"Friend, you should not relinquish your weapon so readily to another. This world is steeped with untold threats. One can never be too prepared." Venare stated as he took a seat on the barstool beside Izroth and retrieved his knife from the bar counter. He returned the weapon to the throwing knife holster strapped around his right thigh.
When Venare sat down next to him, Izroth turned to face them as his Eyes of Knowledge revealed Venare's role and real name. After seeing Venare's true identity, Izroth was somewhat taken aback. But, he figured this might be the case given the roles presented by Dreamer's Knowledge. However, what Izroth did not predict was the next words that left Venare's mouth.
"It's a relief that one of you turned out to be the Dreamer. It would have been troublesome if that Night Lord or Earl had received it. I am glad it is you, Captain Izroth." Venare stated in a low whisper.
The one who had been assigned the role of Hunter Venare was the War Brigade 2nd Unit Commander of the 1st Legion, Aurie!
As the Dream Domain's owner and a Commander, Izroth did not expect Aurie to be so careless as to reveal his identity! It couldn't be that she was oblivious to the rules of her own domain!
However, despite Aurie exposing his identity, Izroth did not undergo any changes. There were no system alerts, harsh penalties, or any signs of him vanishing.
If your true identity is revealed, you will suffer harsh penalties, followed by death.—these were the exact words listed on the Tale Immersion skill. Izroth was curious as to how he remained unaffected.
"The walls here have too many ears. Shall we move to a more private location?" Venare, or rather, Aurie said.
After having their meals brought to them swiftly, Izroth, Selene, and Venare headed to one of the inn's available rooms. The room itself was not particularly spacious, and even with one person, it would feel moderately cramped. It had one bed that was so hard that one would be better off sleeping on a slab of concrete, a blanket made of dirty wool that looked as if it had never been cleaned, and one chair with the back part of it on the verge of falling off.
Venare perched on the chair, while Selene sat beside Izroth on the solid bed silently and gradually stuffing her cheeks with the old meat bun that came with her meal.
"W-" Just as Izroth got ready to speak, Venare interrupted him.
"Stop right there. Remember, I am currently Venare. There's no problem if it's just us, but a slip of the tongue can cause disastrous results if it's done around certain individuals. Hence, you should refer to me as Venare while we are here." Venare warned Izroth.
"If that is your advice, I would be a fool to ignore it. I understand, Venare." Izroth replied.
He then continued, "How did you know it was me? Also, how did I avoid the penalty after being discovered?"
Ultimately, this domain was created by Aurie. Because it was her domain, she should know it inside and out. If anyone could give him reliable answers his to questions, it was her!
"Since it is my domain, naturally, I have some benefits that others lack. One of these advantages can lead me to whoever holds the Dreamer role and reveals to me their real identity. As for the penalty, no rules have been broken. While it's true that you cannot reveal your identity, if someone figures it out by themselves, you will not suffer any negative penalties. Though it's important to keep in mind that this exception only applies to the one who possesses the Dreamer role." Venare explained.
'I see. I thought it was too much of a coincidence that we just happened to cross paths.'
"Based on your words, I assume you can't see the real identity of anyone but me. Am I correct in that assumption?" Izroth inquired.
"Indeed, excluding the Dreamer, even I am uncertain of who is performing which role," Venare confirmed.
Izroth went on to ask them a series of questions regarding the dreamworld, being mindful not to disclose any information pertaining to the Dreamer's Knowledge as not to incur the severe penalties.
By the time the two finished their conversation, approximately half an hour had flown by. However, within that half an hour, Izroth picked up a lot of valuable insights.
One of Izroth's biggest questions had to do with the Night Lord Zarolas. It was simple—how long could the dreamworld hold and suppress a being of Zarolas' strength? Would its effects even work on an individual of that level? Aurie was by no means weak, but she was still nowhere near Zarolas' in terms of raw power.
As a result, Izroth learned that Zarolas could potentially break free of the dreamworld. However, it was extremely improbable due to the unique nature of Aurie's domain—though she did not go into too much detail about this topic.
Another thing Izroth discovered was that while those with roles had to act within the confines of the story and follow their tasks, they were not under absolute restriction. During specific time windows, those with roles were allowed to move freely without having to complete tasks. These small windows of time played an irreplaceable part in altering one's fate in the tale itself. It was also why Venare could meet with Izroth despite there being no mention of them ever visiting the Blue Hearts Inn in the actual Tale of The Snow That Falls In Summer.
Another shocking fact was that Aurie, the domain's own creator, had no knowledge about the tale's storyline as her Dream Domain created a unique story every time it was activated.
"My allotted time is almost up. But, before I leave, there's something I'd like to ask you." Venare said. They had put it off since there were more pressing matters to attend to. However, they needed to address the elephant in the room.
They then continued, "What do you plan on doing with that child? I doubt you plan to take her everywhere with you. Or rather, it's not something you can afford to do with everything that's at risk."
"Oh? I was sure you'd remind me that this is just a dreamworld and convince me not to have any thoughts." Izroth said.
Venare sighed as they shook their head and replied, "The lives that exist in the dreamworld are a bit... Complicated. In a way, they can even be beneficial to your growth outside of the dreamworld. I won't go so far as telling you not to interact with them, but I advise you to express caution with your intent. If you attempt to help every unfortunate soul you encounter, there will be no end."
"This point is one I've already acknowledge. Your worries are unwarranted, I assure you." Izroth stated.
With that, Venare hurriedly departed the Blue Hearts Inn after bidding Izroth farewell.
'I have a good grasp on the overall situation. Now then, shall I make my first move?'
A carefree smile appeared on Izroth's face as he stood to his feet.