Swamped Chapter 144 Page 8

“It is smaller. Just by enough to notice,” Drip continues. “I am unsure what that means – auras tend to grow and shrink over time, but the shift is usually imperceptible from one day to the next. And it has been less than an hour since I last saw you. It also seems as though it has gotten a few days older, though that is harder to explain.”

“Is there a point to this?” Bert grumbles.

“Merely a word of caution. Auras are not well-understood even by many priests. However, if it turns out something is interfering with your aura somehow, that has the potential to be very dangerous.”

You find yourself thinking back to that strange corpse on the stage. Which, you realize, you haven’t told Drip about. So you take a moment to do that.

And he looks worried afterwards.

“I think I have some idea of what they may have been attempting to do,” he says. “I cannot be certain, but… I believe the intent may have been to steal the auras of the priests. To what end, I do not know.”

“Well, they can see auras, right?” Bert asks. “So if that was it, then it can’t have grabbed that much whatever or someone would have noticed.”

He seems pretty skeptical about the whole thing, but also worried.

“It’s all just a guess, anyway,” you say, sounding less worried than you actually are. “But even if it’s right, we should just need to stay away from the corpse and not be priests. Or have the same powers as priests. Point is, last I checked I didn’t have any divinely-granted powers and I’m guessing Bert doesn’t either. And I’m not planning on going near that thing again if I can help it. So, it probably doesn’t make much difference.”

“Probably not,” Bert mutters. “Anyhow, I wouldn’t count on our cover lasting long enough for us to get to their boss. We should probably come up with a plan.”

“Oh, I’ve had a plan for hours,” you reply, pulling the prop key out of your pouch. “We just need to stop by the prop storage room first.”

“I shall pray to Nual for your success,” Drip says, bowing his head. “But I have other business to take care of.”

Bert stares at the prop key in disbelief.

“How’s that going to help us?” he asks.

“Well, the room we’re looking for is close by. It’ll be faster if I just show you.”

You head into prop storage. Seems to be empty, probably because the gang members guarding it were more focused on Drip. And the chest is right out in the open.

“What exactly are you going to find in a prop chest that’s going to help us against a wizard and a floating corpse that maybe drains auras, whatever those are?” Bert asks, just as you open it.

So naturally, you present it with as much dramatic flair as you can manage.

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What, you’ve never seen a ventriloquism projector horn before?