Two massive ornate doors were thrown open by a rather small and hooded alchemist. A room filled with several old men, but of varying ages sat at a round table. Knights armed with muskets reached for their weapons from the sudden event. Over half of the old men were startled by the noise that the young alchemist created. He yelled, “You old men suspended my funding!?” His voice cracked several times as it was filled with high levels of irritation.
The first of the old men to speak was Magnus, the leader of the order, presumed by his position at the head of the table facing the door. He brushed his long black and graying beard. “Ah haha!” he laughed, “looks as though we won't be needing that messenger after all!” The other old men soon joined his laughter.
The young alchemist gritted his teeth and continued to yell, “I demand answers!”
Magnus stopped laughing and explained, “Young Arslan, your…” He paused in an attempted to use a more positive word. “Research has been ruled by myself and the rest of council to be highly heretical.”
The alchemist slammed his hands down on the table and leaned forward, “Heretical!? What about my work is heretical?”
Magnus took a long drag from a pipe; he blew out the smoke in the direction of Arslan. “Your work involves the use of beasts, does it not?”
He responded, “Yes, it does.”
Magnus raised an eyebrow. “Does that not break what we stand for?” Magnus took another puff from the pipe. “Bartimaeus!” he yelled. “Get the archive!”
The man known as Bartimaeus happened to be one of the guards that were stationed in the room. He turned around and grabbed a thick book that looked seconds away from falling apart. He planted it in front of Magnus and took three steps back.
“Here we go,” Magnus said flipping through pages. “Article seventeen, section three-A, ‘We, as alchemists dare not to take advantage of creatures that are deemed inferior in intellect or physical attributes.’” Magnus stopped reading and looked at Arslan. “Need I read any more rules or are you satisfied with the reasons on your suspension?”
“But, transmutation will never advance past cheap tricks like turning copper into false gold if we never try new things!” Arslan slapped the table in between his words emphasizing his speech. “Discovery requires sacrifice!”
The old man raised his hand to silence the angry alchemist. “The decision was made final by the council; your funds are suspended indefinitely.”
Arslan shouted, “This is a load of shit!” He turned away stomping out, behind him he could hear the conversation of the old men continuing. Beside him hanging around the doorframe with her arms crossed was a female wearing a local convent uniform, slightly taller than he was, her skin pale. And a pair of rabbit ears threatened to burst from her hood. She uncrossed her arms and followed the mad alchemist. “Your ‘negotiations’ were pretty short.” She put an arm around his shoulder and looked at him smugly. “I’m guessing you failed?” It didn’t take a mind reader to know that she found it humorous.
Arslan sighed, “Shut up, Mandilyn.”
Due to her legs being much longer her stride was much longer than Arslan's. She was able to pass him with ease; she turned and started walking backward. “What if you told them about your visions?”
“Do you really think they’ll believe some disastrous calamity will happen simply for no reason? I have almost no scientific proof even to back that up.”
She stopped walking allowing Arslan to pass her. “When you say it like that, it does make you sound a bit crazy.” She continued following close behind.
“Exactly!” Arslan shouted leaving the building. And entered the town of Winterwell, a large port city where the air was heavily saturated with the pungent odor of fish as it was the main export. Today must have been a very productive day as countless numbers of people walked around the city square going from one place to another, guards lazed around street corners while on patrol, adventurers took missions from the bounty boards and mercenaries ignored everything minding their own business.
The rabbit-girl emerged from behind Arslan covering her nose. “I really hate the smell of this city.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Arslan said descending the stairs from the building. Mandilyn followed close to the young alchemist, occasionally she’d get a glance from an oncoming person or city guard, due to her way of wearing the convent clothing. Instead of being dressed traditionally she opted the skirt for shorts, the blue and white tunic was slightly larger than it should be making it harder to see her actual body, and the original shoes had been swapped for boots with lacings that went up to her calves. Her unusual appearance wasn’t exactly uncommon. Members of convents would often join up with mercenaries, so having a combat orientated appearance wasn't too outlandish.
“So,” She started, “What's the plan now?”
Seemingly, Arslan’s tone of voice calmed down from pure aggression to petty passive aggression. “Well, we obviously need to secure a means of funding.” He paused to sigh. “Let’s be honest, between me and you the living expenses are barely in the green, to begin with.” The two crossed the street to come to a marvelous existence, The Hall. A place where quests, requests, recruitments and the like were officialized.
Mandilyn crossed her arms. “...I don’t eat that much.”
“That’s not the point,” Arslan said as he pushed a pair of doors open. The two were greeted by a large room, with marble floors, high stacking pillars that cut into multiple floors, men and women, adventurers and mercenaries, some seated and drinking others approaching the receptionists with bounties or just general posted quests. The vast majority of the occupants had leather and tanned hides as armor was a rarity in this town. “The point is that I need materials.”
Arslan approached the receptionist and began with a simple greeting. “Hello there.”
The receptionist was a timid looking girl, soft features, short brown hair and green eyes, and a petite body. Her uniform, a blue vest with the emblem of a fish with three circles above her breast. She smiled and answered, “Hello! How may I help you, sir?” The receptionist looked to the side seeing Mandilyn, “And sister.”
Arslan cleared his throat, “Ah, yes. Would you have any monster hunting bounties?”
She put a hand to her chin and hummed. “That all depends on your tier level.”
“Right.” Arslan put his hands in a bag on his waist, pulling out a small blank eggshell colored card. The receptionist took it with a sign of gratification. She held it underneath a very unusual looking lamp; it changed colors from red to blue, finally settling on yellow.
She excitedly clapped her hands together exclaiming, “Great!” You are authorized for tiers ‘G’ through ‘D’!
“Excellent!” Arslan said retrieving his card from the lady.
“And what about her?” The receptionist said pointing towards Mandilyn.
“I uh.” Mandilyn began stammering her words as she tried to find an excuse good enough to fool the receptionist.
“Ah! She’s actually my slave,” Arslan said grabbing the rabbit-girl by the waist and pulling her close. Mandilyn let out a tiny yelp as she was forcefully pulled off balance by the young alchemist.
The receptionist squinted, “A sister of a covent...is your slave?” The tone in her voice was filled with audible confusion.
Arslan smiled, “She’s actually not a sister, I just have a bizarre and specific fetish.”
Mandilyn leaned over and whispered in Arslan’s ear, “Slave?”
“I’ll tell you later,” Arslan whispered, not breaking his fabrication.
The receptionist's face began to redden; she was at a loss for words for a moment. “...I see...I’m sorry I pried into your personal life.”
Arslan waved his hand. “It’s fine. I’m not ashamed.”
She had already averted her eye contact and moved into full panic mode; she opened drawers upon drawers in attempts to escape the now uncomfortable situation. Under her breath, she mumbled all the filtered information; she recited “‘G’ through, 'D’ Hunting and manageable by two” eventually she limited the search down to three reports. She displayed them on the table, A wild manticore that recently killed a farmer and seven livestock, ranked as a ‘D’ tier, the middle was a slime colony that wandered too close to a town, ranked as ‘G’ tier, and the last was a stray drake that was spotted — currently ranked as an ‘E’ bounty. The receptionist displayed her hands out towards the reports. “So, which one will it be?” She spoke with a bright smile already getting over her slight embarrassment.
“Hm.” Arslan hummed. “We’ll take the drake.”
“Excellent!” shouted the receptionist clasping her hands together and standing up with all the necessary paperwork. “We’ll put out a request for others to help you!”
Arslan waved his hands and shook his head. “No need. We’ll be doing it solo.”
“Er. Uh. Solo?” She stammered confusedly.
“Yes, solo. Between the two of us. We’ve got more than what's necessary.”
The receptionist hesitantly sat back down. “But a drake is an incredibly dangerous creature for just two people to handle.”
Arslan stared the girl in the eyes, establishing his position on the high ground. “I know.”
It only took a few seconds of the prolonged visual attack for her to break and put the guild seal on the papers. She put on her best professional smile, but it was very apparent she was nervous. “Here you go!” She exclaimed. Happily, her lips twitched as she handed off the notarized paper.
“Thank you.” Arslan nodded and took the papers leaving the receptionist. From the corner of his eyes, he could see her planting her face on the desk. The alchemist and rabbit girl walked out passing by a group of adventurers towards a stall with a sign reading: Bestiaries sold here!
“I’m glad you finally realized my strength!” Mandilyn spoke proudly puffing out her chest.
“You can keep telling yourself that.”
The corner of her mouth turned upward. “Even though you’ve seen me fight countless times you still choose not to trust me!?”
“Mandilyn, I trust you. But there are times where you must learn to use your head.” Arslan exchanged forty Seros for ‘The Extensive Guide Of Winterwell’s Monsters.’ He immediately opened the book and began reading the contents.
“Then why won’t you ever say it!?” Mandilyn grabbed onto his arm and pouted.
“Overconfidence is a silent killer.” She let go and cocked her head. The concept didn’t quite make sense to her. He continued to walk and read before he shouted back to her. “The truck isn’t going to wait for us, C'mon!”