Off to the right of the large city-square stood a towering building built from a unique blue stone. The building was the focal point of this city-square, with its bluestone walls contrasting against the red brick and mortar that the other buildings were made from. The words Adventures Guild was engraved into the front of the building above its wooden double oak doors. The words glowed a multitude of colors in the sun giving those who stared at them a feeling of wonder and magic. From its walls hung banners inlaid with intricate designs. One looked like a tree with a sword and shield while another depicted a dragon breathing flames.
Jake stood there amazed and full of anticipation. This was definitely something straight out of a fantasy story. Shaking himself out of his wonder, Jake pressed on toward the building passing through its open doors. He had business to take care of and now was not the time to dally in amazement.
As he entered, Jake felt odd and it took him a moment to figure out why. After a second of thought, it dawned on him what the feeling was. The building had AC! This was amazing. Since arriving in this world, he had to deal with the moderate temperature no matter if he was home or in the bar. Looking around, Jake tried to find the air vents, but failed to discover the source that gave out the blessed air.
'Whatever. I'm not here for the AC,' thought Jake as he took in the sights around him.
Off to his right sat many tables. Some were filled with groups of armored men, women, and other humanoid beings. A few groups ate and drank in a merry mood, while others huddled together as they discussed plans.
To his left was a large open area filled with people who stood before a wall filled with papers. Jake could only assume that was where quests were posted. Next to the wall of quests was a set of stairs leading further up to the next floor.
In front of him was a long counter with many employees behind it. Some adventures were at the counter conducting what seemed to Jake as quest turn ins.
"Is this your first time?" chirped a gentle voice from Jake's side.
Startled Jake flinched as he took a step back.
"Oops, he...hee... Did I scare you?"
Looking at the petite girl next to him, Jake relaxed while his cheeks bloomed in embarrassment.
Scratching his head Jake replied, "is it that noticeable?"
"Wel,l standing at the front door with a dumb look is kind of a dead give away," giggled the girl.
Jake couldn't deny that statement so he just decided to move away from that conversation. Since he had someone who seemed to know more about this place, he decided it was a good idea to see if she could help him. Though first, he had to learn who she was. It would not be polite of him if he ignored introductions to go straight down to business.
"Anyways, my name is Jake and yes this is my first time here." The two exchanged greetings, which helped Jake to learn more about this petite beauty. Her name was Trisslandeli Greystone, a long hard name to pronounce for Jake. Though, she laughed at his attempted and told him just to call her Triss. As they talked, the two moved over to an empty table so as not to be in the way of traffic into and out of the building.
Jake learned that even though Triss was human, she was from a world called Salarr and that she was an actual adventurer here in AfterWorld. This was great news to Jake since he needed to make a quest, but was not sure what requirements he needed before going about it. What better way to find out than from an adventurer, though he soon realized he was mistaken. Triss told him that she only just became an adventure a couple weeks ago and was still in the process of looking for a team to join.
"Honestly, your best bet is to ask the receptionist at the front desk. They are the ones that deal with quests, so I am sure you can figure out what you need from them." Chirped Triss after finding out why Jake was here for.
After talking with her for a bit more about different things regarding the adventurers guild, Jake bid farewell before heading to the front desk.
Though in his heart, he could not believe how lucky he was to get help from someone so beautiful and nice. He had no idea what to do when he got here and was worried about making a fool out of himself. But, thanks to the tan beauty with sapphire eyes and great body proportions he knew where to go. Coughing to clear his head of the random thoughts about Triss, Jake reached an empty spot in front of one of the receptionist.
The lady behind the desk was short or more accurate she was a dwarf. Thankfully, she had a high enough chair otherwise she would not have been able to even look over the counter. She was pretty for a dwarf. Though, Jake was not sure what standards dwarves had for looks. Her long brown hair was braided with little gems mixed into her braids while her eyes resembled emeralds that gave her an earthly aura. Her skin was tan and soft in contrast to her male counterparts, though Jake assumed that this was not a trait all female dwarves shared.
Seeing Jake approach, the female dwarf smiled before greeting him.
"Hi! How can I help you?"
Jake blanked for a second before adjusting his face. He had been surprised due to his own impression of dwarves and assumed she would have some sort of accent. It seemed he was mistaken in that assumption, which would make sense since the only dwarves he had ever seen were from movies or games. They, of course, all had heavy accents, but this was no movie or game so it would be unwise of him to assume about such stereotypes.
Thankfully, he was able to understand her. This, of course, Jake had learned about on the first day of his arrival. Something to do with the laws of this world since so many lifeforms inhabited the world it would be ridiculous if everyone was unable to understand each other. Though Jake really didn't understand how it worked since even the angle/witch did not know either.
Pulling himself from his thoughts Jake went about explaining his dilemma to the receptionist. In only a matter of minutes, his request had been accepted.
Apparently, the process of giving out quests was not too difficult and pretty much anyone could make one. There were rules of course, such as a reward being offered, adequate information given about quest and a scan of the quest giver.
The last part was the more unique of the rules since it was done using a type of spell crystal that would record the person's personal information so that if the quest was a fake or a trap. Then, the guild could put a bounty on the person with accurate details which made it a real deterrent to those who wished to cause mischief.
With the quest made, Jake left the spirit gem with the receptionist before heading off toward the stairs. Jake had found out that the second floor was for those who wish to join the guild. This was his other reason for coming since it was all but impossible for him to find a job. Plus, with being attacked twice and not having any way to protect himself, becoming an adventure and gaining strength sounded good to him.
Taking the stairs, Jake noticed an employee walk up to the quest bored and add a new one. 'Hopefully, this will save your life and then we can be even.' Thinking this, Jake headed to the second floor. It was time for him to become an adventurer.
Far from the adventurers guild in The Raven's hideout and deep in the hidden areas below the main building, soft frightening sounds could be heard. The bandits above flinched when they heard the agony filled screams.
"Fuck, man. No matter how many people I kill I always get the shivers when I hear those screams."
"Tell me about it. Ms. Elilne is scary when she gets a new toy. How long do think this new one will last for?"
"If she is lucky, she will die toda. You know she never lets them die so easily. I give her a week before she dies because that's the shortest time she keeps any alive. Plus, from what I heard, this is not even the plaything she wants."
Two bandits whispered as they went along with their business, making sure no one overheard them. They knew how scary the second was and they did not want to be one of her targets.
As they left, a shadow shimmered in the dark for a moment. Shaking its head, the shadow faded back into the darkness. Moments later it reappeared below the hideout near a cell filled with screams full of pain.
In the cell stood a tall woman with silver hair that fell past her pointy ears. Her pale skin shone brightly as the light from the torches washed over her. In her hands, she held two daggers. The shadow knew these to be the tall woman's favorite daggers. She even knew that the woman had named them pain and agony. They were weird names for certain, but if you knew the woman you would know those were her favorite words.
Blood dripped from the daggers smearing the floor crimson. It had been a day since the woman, no not woman, but new toy had been brought to the cell. With that much time already passed, the floor that once was dry now caressed a puddle of blood. Off to the side of the tall beauty stood a sickly looking man known only to the gang as Priest, a name that did not suit him at all. He was one of the subordinates of the tall beauty and he was her partner when she played. With his class being that of a cleric, he allowed the woman to play to her heart's content.
"Nico come out, come out where ever you are!" Purred the tall lady toward the shadows behind her.
Dissolving from the darkness, Nico kneeled before her master.
"Ah, there you are my sweet. So Nico darling, what do you have to report?"
Nico chewed on her lip before answering, "Unfortunately master, I have yet to locate the boy. Either he has not heard about the incident or he doesn't care and is staying hidden."
The room grew colder even though Nico knew the temperature had not changed. Her body shivered at the silence, yet the next second a scream broke the quiet void.
Behind her master was a woman who was strapped to a wooden table. Naked, the woman shivered with fear. Her once beautiful body was now marked with all sorts of disturbing wounds.
From her breast leaked bright red blood from a new wicked wound. Nico cringed at the sight thankful it was not her on top the table.
"Poor doggy, it seems you are not up to snuff anymore." From the corner of the room came the raspy voice of the priest.
"Shut your putrid mouth worm. Else I shut it for you permanently." Barked Nico as she stared daggers at the slime of a man.
If she had the chance, she would slit his throat in a heartbeat.
"Now now children... play nice."
Hearing her master, Nico shot one last glare at the slime before backing down. "Yes master."
Seeing her two subordinates calm down, Elilne sighed in sadness before turning back to her toy.
Leaning down close to the broken woman's face, Elilne wiped the tears from the bloodshot eyes. Lifting her wet finger, she paused her hand midair as a thought floated in her head.
"Darling, it seems you're in luck. We will get to play much more!"
Elilne tasted the tears as she smiled with bliss, "soon my toy, I will find you."
Meanwhile, Jake stepped onto the second floor of the guild building. Pausing in his stride toward the receptionists' desk, Jake shivered as a cold feeling passed through him.
'What the heck was that?'
Shaking off the weird feeling, Jake made his way to an empty desk.
Before him stood a friendly looking cat-man. If Jake had to assume what breed the man took after, he would say a calico cat. The man’s fur was mostly white, spotted with splashes of orange and black.
From his head sat two puffy pointy cat ears. They just called to be played with, forcing Jake to hold himself back.
On the cat's nose sat a pair of glasses, making the cat-man look sophisticated. Though, it only made Jake want to squeeze the cheeks of the cat person and play with its ears more.
Jake loved cats when he was alive, so being before this adorable looking cat person caused Jake to struggle to hold himself back from lunging at the fluffy and squeeze him.
"Can I help you sir? Meow."
Snapping out of his internal dilemma, Jake addressed the cat-man. “I am wanting to become an adventurer.”
“Ah of course, of course, meow. Well, first let me introduce myself dare customer. My name is Softpelt. Meow. It will be my pleasure to assist you. Meow.”
The Softpelt looked at Jake from head to toe before having him place his hand on a transparent giant crystal. Jake was not sure what the crystal showed the cat man, but he could infer it was probably a type of screening.
After a short quiet moment that only had the random soft purring from Softpelt, the cat man looked at Jake before explaining the rules of the guild.
Apparently, since Jake was only level one at the moment, he was unable to join as a full member. Normally, people would become what was known as copper members once they reached level five. This was to weed out the weak. For those who wanted to become an adventurer, there were two routes they could take. The first was to wait until they naturally reached level five, this was an acceptable way of joining. Though, it usually was frowned upon due to the fact that those who level up over time instead of through battle usually are weaker than their counterparts. Whereas the other option was to find a job that hired low levels as guards or footmen and train to level five that way. There were other alternatives that were less ideal, such as buying your own gear and trekking out into the wilds to train.
This was a dangerous route since no one would be there to help you if you got yourself in danger. It was not a choice that never saw any light, there was always one or two that would take this direction and sometimes they would succeed. Normally, some adventurer would find random gear out in the wild.
Jake listened to his options and felt his heart sink because none of those were viable to him. For one, he could not wait to reach level five since that took a very long time from what he had learned. It could easily take over twenty years. For Jake who did not have a job and only one soul gem to his name, he would be dead most likely after a month at this rate, as for the other options again they were not viable.
Softpelt could see Jake's anxiety about his choice and could not help but offer one last option.
“Well, there is actually another option. Meow. I normally don’t mention this one since most people are against this route, but it is actually not a bad choice if you are dedicated and motivated to progress as an adventurer. Meow.”
Waiting to see if Jake was interested in the last option, the calico cat man licked his paw before rubbing the back of his ear. Jake had been about to respond when he saw the cute action and lost track of himself for a second.
A second later Jake coughed to alieve his embarrassment, though it seemed Softpelt had not noticed his odd behavior.
“Yes, please tell me. I have to become an adventurer!” With determination building in his eyes, Jake begged for a solution.
Seeing the determination in the young lad's eyes Softpelt sighed, “Very well, I hope you don’t regret your choice later.”
Saying that the cat man turned and grabbed an odd colored crystal before turning back to Jake. Seeing the crystal made Jake hesitate for a moment as he felt his fate begin to stir.