Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 26 – Planning ahead
‘Mission Objective: Obtain the ‘Crystal Flower’ from the Manatite Forest’.
Mordred couldn’t help but let out a metaphorical sigh in his mind as he saw the piece of rough parchment in Cecilia’s hands. ‘No matter what world… I suppose the quintessential formula for quests will never change.’ It had been the same custom; gather ‘x’ materials, guard ‘x’, kill ‘x’ monsters or deliver ‘x’ to this person. At times, they would try to spice it up a little by mixing different types of quests together but they wouldn’t deviate too much from this.
That said, ‘I suppose this would be a good excuse to explore the surrounding areas in the capital.’
“Hmm? Wait, don’t you think tackling the ‘Manatite Forest’ might be a little too difficult for someone as their first job?” Roland asked. Unclear if his worried expression was from concern or all the alcohol he had drunken till this point. “If I remember correctly, that ‘Labyrinth’ is…”
Yet, Cecilia disagreed. “Hmph! I don’t care. If this idiot can’t even accompany me through this kind of low level Labyrinth, then he won’t even get that far in future!” Her arms crossed, she took Roland’s cup and took a long gulp, only to spit out a good portion with a soured faced. “Ugh! What is this?”
Ignoring Cecilia’s situation, Roland turned his sights back to Mordred. “Well, kid? What do you think? I’m sure even you’ve heard stories about the Manatite Forest, right? Look, I won’t blame you if you don’t want to go along with her. I’ll try to find another, more ‘suitable’ person to babysit you.”
Mordred showed a small smirk beneath his breath as he shrugged, “I… actually don’t know what this ‘Manatite Forest’ place even is. You said something about a ‘Labyrinth’, but I’m uncertain in what those are either.”
At such a response, Roland gazed back as though he had said he found the concept of ‘breathing’ confusing. Both Roland and Cecilia gazed back with an unbelievable expression. “How… how can you NOT know what a Labyrinth is?! How did you survive until now?!” Cecilia shouted in confusion.
“I wonder…? It’d be greatly appreciated if you could explain this to a greenhorn like me,” Mordred raised his hands to call for the big breasted waitress. “I’ll even pay for the next drinks.”
Roland scratched his head as he tried to find the words. “Err… let’s see, ‘Labyrinths’ are like… a place where strong monsters appear. Usually, at the end there is a particularly strong ‘boss’ monster that guards a treasure room, though this may not always be the case.” From the concept of it, Mordred had become instantly familiar. ‘Dungeons…?’ he thought. “The mana… magical energy that resides in Labyrinths are particularly potent so a lot of rare ingredients and materials manifest in these kinds of places. For this reason, it’s become a popular place for artisans of all craft to request materials from there. The ‘Crystal Flower’ that Cecilia’s mission specified is found in the lowest level of the Manatite Forest. Usually used in high-level alchemic formulas if I’m recalling correctly.”
“What kind of monsters lurk in this Manatite Forest?”
“On the first floor, they’re mostly similar to the variants found outside the Labyrinth. You’ve got your standard ‘Poison Goblins’, ‘Fire Goblins’… maybe some ‘Goblin Shamans’. Well, if you have a good party with a skilled tracker then the first floor isn’t too much of a problem to handle. Fortunately, Cecilia’s tracking skills should be more than sufficient to navigate to the end of the Labyrinth.” Roland explained as he roughed up Cecilia’s hair, who, in turn tried to bite his hand with a disgruntled expression.
“I see,” Mordred gave an understanding nod. ‘Though monster types are similar, the variants he speaks of isn’t reminiscent of the ones found in Hellgana.’ “If that’s the case then, I don’t think it will be too much of a problem. I will come along for this quest.”
“Eh… tch!” Cecilia clicked her tongue as she turned away with her arms crossed. Perhaps she had been trying to get him to give up by choosing a difficult quest. Though that plan backfired the moment he didn’t know what a Labyrinth even was. Mordred let out a bemused chuckle as he extended his hand over the table.
“Then… please treat me well, Ms. Cecilia.” He extended his hand for a handshake.
“Eh… whatever,” Cecilia slapped his hands away, though the lack of power revealed no malicious intent. “So? What’s your name even? Unless you want me to call you ‘newbie’ or ‘greenhorn’ the whole time, tell me.”
“Ah, right. I’m called ‘Mordred’.” Yet the moment he spoke his name, Cecilia’s face froze. ‘Not quite the reaction I had in mind,’ he studied her state. “Is something wrong?”
“Eh? Ah… no, it’s nothing… Yeah, I’m Cecilia.” Awkwardly, Cecilia averted her gaze as though a profound question popped up in her head. She became silent for a good few moments before bursting back to life. “Hmm? Oh! You guys!” she perked her head up and called out. She dashed out of her seat to approach a party that had just entered the tavern. A group of three people, two men and one woman. ‘Mage, Warrior, Healer,’ Mordred concluded based on their equipment.
“Are they someone she knows?” Mordred asked Roland.
Roland shrugged as he took a hold of his jug of alcohol. “When you’re a mercenary you get to know a lot of people. Though… due to the rather dubious nature of some of the requests there are many times you never see the same people again. So, when you do get to see them, it might be a joyous occasion like that,” he pointed to the group. Cecilia happily chatted away with a large smile on her face. “As for me… unless they particularly catch my attention, I don’t usually remember their names very well.”
“Is that a mental defence?”
A brief moment later, Roland let out a small snicker and replied, “you sure know how to poke where it hurts, kid. Yeah… something like that.” he took a large mouthful of the jug before slamming it back onto the table. “Well, I can’t see too many things going wrong with this, but keep your head straight, kid.”