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.:: New Ravenfort; Rayola ::.

 

 

I stared at the parchment in front of me as I stood in line.

I was in the middle of the Adventurer’s guild in New Ravenfort.

The place was unexpectedly neat and tidy, very much contrary to the image Nael painted in my mind. There’s probably a lot of friction between the two groups. Not that surprising considering that they’re rivals of some sort. The last two weeks flashed by in the blink of an eye, and before I knew it, we had already reached The City.

Time really flies by when you’re enjoying yourself.

{ Ah, how I miss those little buggers. Children are such joy! }

*Even if they think you're a doll? *

I pouted. 

{ Even then.} 

Nael prompty dropped me in front of the guild and ran before anyone could see him.

When I first stood in front of the city gate, I was frightened of even taking a step forward. Nael had to actually drag me inside. The guards checked the authenticity of Nael’s explorer’s card and promptly let us inside after paying my registration fee, then continued to watch the horizon without shooting me a second glance.

Extremely anti-climatic. I was preparing myself to be hunted down after being discovered at first glance.

*That’s just stupid*

{Maybe I’m paranoid.}

*Probably true.*

{That doesn’t make me feel better, Maybe I should relax more.}

*I never said it's bad. It’s better to be actually be careful anyway, You never know.*

I let out a long sigh.  When I got to the reception, I inquired about membership, and the receptionist just gave me this form to fill up. I was confused about half the questions asked.

And then there were questions which I don’t know what to answer even if I knew what it meant.

Like Race. What even am I? I just went with ‘Rare human variant.’ I do remember being human once although only a few fragments of it. Birthplace… unknown? Really should have asked the name of the burnt town, but was I even from there? 

The most confusing part was a lot of 'class' related details and a guild. Class? I don't really remember if i had anything of the sort, and I for one, am not going scribble down 'Baker'. Was it really occupation ? For that matter, It probably was.

It was obvious. Why was I being stupid again?

Then affiliated guilds... That made me wonder if I could join more than one guild at the same time. Had to clarify that with a man nearby and learnt that the adventurer’s guild was more of a mediator and central organization linking all militaristic guilds, and spanned across three of the four inhabited continents and also the regulator of relations between both the Layan Empire and The Dawn.

By nature, an ‘Adventurer’ was a special sort of mercenary bound by a code, who could, if they wish, be part of any other of the sub-guilds or 'factions' as they call it, but at the same time, they need to earn their badge’s worth lest be expelled. The explorer’s association on the other hand, is extremely exclusive, and is much more of a political entity and has a larger range of influence.

Their membership is more akin to that of a militia with a yearly contract and is very restricting to say the least. The plus point being that they get a lot of neat gear and access to otherwise unavailable, futuristic magitech.

They’re not too fond of each other as both of the groups seem to interfere in each other’s businesses too much and can’t seem do anything against the other as well... well, anything major.

Both of them neccesary for political balance.

A stalemate.

The adventurers never missed an opportunity to piss them off either.

The stories I listened to were absolutely hilarious. 

The biggest riot out there at the moment was the case of Tony the Swift. It happened barely a year ago.

There were two famed adventurers, Tony and Jacob. Adventurers who transcended mortal capabilities, who were considered demigods, for they tamed dungeons, rode dragons, made the journey across the Great forest unscathed, Fought against a Dreadlord and lived to tell the tale. They were living legends, prided by the empire. Repellents against foreign aggressors.

One day, they were in West Griffinreach, Jacob the Thinker asked Tony the Swift a question. Which was Faster, flying with his skill, or being shot across by a catapult? Fair to say, that got Tony thinking, what could possibly be the answer? As one might guess, this was a typical case of Adventurers whose ‘adventuring’ went wrong. Tony the Swift and Jacob the Thinker ‘Borrowed’ an enchanted catapult from a nearby explorer branch, which by the way, was an experimental weapon. When Tony was shot, in addition to the whiplash from the force of being launched, the enchantments on the thing set off every one of Tony’s artefacts, in addition to the skills he activated in his confusion. He was fired into the sky at speeds higher than any mortal had ever achieved, which was an achievement in itself. Not even the Harpies of The Dawn managed to replicate this feat, and they were born with the ability to fly!

In addition to the damages to the site of launch, Tony landed in the heart of a private Perfume company, a very prosperous business at that which managed to set a trend among various nations. The only problem with the perfumes developed so far, was that it was flammable. Fair to say, things went boom. The company was set back by nearly a year, and they filed a case in the Imperial Court, against Tony, who set fire to their establishment. Tony, by the way, had to spend a whole load of his fortune on medical expenses and couldn't really pay much unless he sold his Artefacts, and you don't just separate adventurers from their artefacts. That got the adventurers riled up and they started to make a ruckus against those who dared to insult their heroes.

Eventually, everything was traced back to the enchanted catapult, which was apparently, being built in a sensitive strategic position next to the neighbouring Land of The Dawn. And yes, it was not supposed to be there, even if it was but as an experimental model. The adventurers shifted all the blame onto the explorers and they were forced to compensate for the company.

That soured things between the Adventures and the Explorers further. All because Jacob the Thinker had asked a question, and that hadn’t even been answered.

 

True story. 

Then there’s the fact that the explorers have all this neat magitech which they’re not too keen on sharing with others. That rubbed the wrong way with the adventurers too since there were a lot of useful ‘life saving’ devices which they really could have used. So the adventurers took it upon themselves to make as much trouble for the explorers as possible.

With extreme enthusiasm and prejudice. There were even organized events for it, I took one look at the notice board and nearly doubled over with laughter.

Someone nudged me from behind, bringing me out of my hazy thoughts. Before I knew it, It was my turn to enter the room.

For my Physical and magical statistics or 'stats' as they call it, I apparently needed to use this ‘reader’ everyone keeps talking about. Anyone could get a basic gist of their abilities and details of their self if they concentrate hard enough, like trying to remember a dusty memory but it’s hardly accurate and no-one could ever tell ‘how much’ in relation to other people. IF one doesn’t verify it, it’s going to lead to a lot of inconvenient problems.

There's even a story about it. 

Apparently there was once this master swordsman who lived alone in the wilds for many a year,  and thought he was a weakling just because he couldn’t singlehandedly kill a wyvern, and he never knew his folly till the same wyvern annihilated an entire expedition crew. At that time, the 'reader' was usually only available for guilds and people who were related to similar organizations.

Maybe he's just stupid. 

Anyway, after that, there were always one of those ‘readers’ in every town centre square so that people with the relevant talent could actually become useful for once.

No-one's going to be spouting lame excuses like that any longer. 

Personally?

I Think that's just a stupid story people tell kids so that they keep track of themselves.

*Probably*

I hope.

{No-one could be that stupid right?...}

There are still ‘readers’ in most guilds too, for required updates.

I walked in and stood in front of a man behind a darkwood desk.

He had the look of an academic, clean shaven face, groomed hair, glasses, and extremely neat clothes. Maybe that's just me associating stereotypes.

Anyway, he beckoned me to sit. I pulled the seat and did so.

“Give me the form please.”

I handed it over to him.

“ooh, new recruit, eh. Lemme see… Rare human variant? What’s that?”

I shrugged

“ I honestly have no idea myself.”

He sniffed.

“Reasonable since you look ‘human’ enough. The reading will probably help since most races have their own characteristic traits.”

I froze

{Oh shit, shit, shit. }

He then beckoned me to a table next to his own.

There I saw a wide assortment of orbs, and a machine that looked similar to a metal campfire with an magnifying glass, a holder of some sort, and a long strip of paper at the bottom.

He placed a green orb on it and told me to place my hand on it.

When I did so, I saw it emit a lot of green light and saw the magnifying glass move and with it, a clean beam of green line burnt a straight line along the paper.

Then we repeated the process with orbs of various colours. It took a damn long time, as should be with the new registrations but still I shook my head with annoyance. There were nearly thirty of those orbs, and the speed at which they burnt the paper was like waiting for a turtle to run across the entire town. It was agonizing. Especially with all the tension.

He seemed surprised at the yellow one, looked at the violet one with a fair bit of disbelief and nearly staggered back at the red one.

Curious, I inquired as to what was wrong. The tension inside me grew. He just told me to wait, and trudged back to his seat where he kept measuring the burns with a ruler and made a whole lot of tally marks. After about ten minutes, he noted everything down on my ‘status card’ which was in fact, also my identification card. It was fairly professional and fit my hand perfectly, with the option to hide my status and everything.

As I read through it, he started talking.

“Your physical Defence is at 8, which is barely above that of a normal civilian, and your strength is at 24, which is pretty high, but it’s strange that it’s locked. You probably won’t experience any growth in those sectors. I don’t know why.”

I nodded.

I was dead, I think, not sure. Still a reasonable compensation for my regeneration rate though.

“Then about your mana, Your vessel seems very large. The particular machine we use wasn’t enough to measure how much you have, pretty much like the case with High Elves, but the actual amount you possess seems to be negligible.”

I stared at the burn mark from the violet orb, which had promptly burnt off the edge of the paper.

“It’s also linked to Blood and fire magic for some reason. I assume there’s a condition for using it. It’s not that common, but there are a lot of people who use conditional magic. Most are linked to transformations or states like ‘berserk’ or ‘Flow’ which are usually race traits, although yours is different and actually requires some sort of trigger, like in the case of beastmen. You probably need to be careful about that, conditional abilities tend to be a bit… Unstable. Anyway, having a large vessel is rare and all, but not that unbelievable. The main problem is this.”

He said, pointing at the regeneration column in my stats.

It was a whopping 85.

He seemed to be gauging my reaction, but I was hardly surprised.

“ what’s wrong with it? “

He stared at me with disbelief and suddenly erupted with laughter.

“ What’s wrong with it you say?”

He asked as he eventually calmed down.

EVERYTHING! a swamp Lurker barely has 66, and that thing can regenerate an entire body from a single one of it’s tentacles within a week. You’re effectively the second most un-killable 'person' in recorded history. The only consolidating factor being that you’re fairly weak and there’s no room for improvement on that regard.”

Phew, he didn't notice anything strange...

Well, Strange-ER.

He shook his head.

“What about resistances? I heard you could gain resistance against the elements and stuff like that.”

"That requires a more detailed inspection and is very expensive because the test is a bit... unique, so unless you have a lot of cash lying around, you have to guess. I do recommend you do it though, You never know how useful it might be if it turns out you could just wade through fire and things like that. There’s also these unrecognized permanent afflictions I’m concerned about. There’s something wrong with your body and I have no idea what. You should probably go to a healer or a diviner as soon as possible to see what’s wrong.”

*You don’t say, what could POSSIBLY be wrong with my body?*

“Okay.” I replied

He smiled.

“There’s no need to worry, There’s all kinds of weird things going around. But you really do, need to check those afflictions though.”

“sure.”

*As if.*

I got out to see a LONG line waiting outside.

*Oops. Maybe we took too long in there.*

I headed straight for the notice board. What I saw, was not a board at all. It was practically a wall full of posters and requests.

{ Why do they even call it a board?}

*Well, The first guild just put up this board outside their building for people to stick requests on it and someone could just go and grab it.*

{Does that even work? I can point out a hundred problems with that arrangement.}

*Well, It WAS, after all, this guy's private estate. Forgot his name, but yea. Anyways, like you said, it failed spectacularly, and things just went from one thing from another and before you knew it- Bam, an adventurer's guild. The name stuck though.* 

I saw at least three events dedicated to making problems for the explorers in a multitude of super- creative methods. It was interesting to say the least. I was VERY tempted to take them. Anyone can post a request, but for me to get someone to actually come with me to Grath’s- oh wait...There’s already an expedition scheduled at the end of next winter year.

*That was convenient.*

Yea. And it's like in… a year and Eight months?

{Hmmm. I’m practically useless except for as bait in there like Nael said.}

*Oh, how I hate him for pointing that out.*

{Thus I really need to get better at killing stuff before then. Since I’m not that great at Physical battle, I probably have to train my magic, but the reader said my magic is conditional…. I really need to check that out then. will still stick with my sword though.}

*I really wish it's something i can use to blow things up.*

{Is there anything that requires a lot of stamina? Thankfully the machine didn’t have any way to read that or he would probably have yelled at me more. I guess I’m being too desperate.}

I let out a sigh. I've been sighing a lot, lately.

As my eyes scanned the wall, I saw another event. This one was the long drawn war to recapture the lands occupied by the undead blight.

The Eastern War.

Apparently they discovered a special Abomination in close proximity, and killing it will apparently destroy the undead’s telepathic network in the region, effectively cutting their combat potential by half. It was led by the mighty Hero of the Empire, Nathan Lance.

Hmmm… it was the undead blight I kept hearing so much about.

Lots of marks denoting that danger was aplenty.

Oh, jolly, Perfect!

Can’t hurt to check it out, right? I noted the number and headed to the reception.

“Hello.”

“Hi, how can I help you!” Said a much too enthusiastic blonde girl in a deep red gown with a badge on her chest.

… Casey was her name.

“Um… I’d like to take the Request for the Eastern war event, number 56.”

She started to write it down before abruptly pausing. She glanced at me.

“Aren’t you a newbie?”

“Newly registered but I’m not exactly helpless.”

she shrugged

“Fair enough.”

She took my card and stared at it for some time.

“Oh”

“What?”

She coughed.

“ugh… I would recommend that you hide your stats…. You’ll attract a fair bit of attention with those…”

*That was unexpectedly foolish of us.*

“Okay.”

She signed me up without further questions.

Well, objective accomplished, now where are we supposed to go again?

*It’s North of Eastwell, about eight day’s travel to the reach the camp inside the borders of the blighted lands.*

Hmmmmm.

{Really will need a ride.}

I headed to the city centre and asked around the market till I heard that there was a caravan heading there tomorrow with rations.

{I wonder why the Guild never mentioned that?}

*They probably did and I you just weren't paying attention.*

{There’s also going to be a whole load of adventurers as well.}

*No one’s going to miss the opportunity to Kill an abomination.*

{For glory huh?}

I really wanted to take the train but apparently it’s barred from the public and not allowed for anyone without explorer company. Even then, they would need official permission. No wonder Nael thought of blowing the thing up to get rid of all the evidence. The association was really a gang of pricks.

Need some new gear as well. I glanced down at myself I was clad in torn trousers and a really, really worn gown.

No wonder why all those people gave me the stink eye.

*Armour? No, it’s pretty much useless, isn’t it? Unless it’s it’s indestructible, but those cost too much.*

{So… let’s just go with looking pretty.}

*Seduction eh?*

{What? NO!}

*Hmmmm…….*

{Let’s just get going, we have about two golds and two weights}

The Empire’s currency was called Qaros, And ranged from small change to a few thousand in units. Weights and golds were the local slang for units of 10 and 500 respectively. Golds were called as such because until a few years ago, that was the exact price for the same wight of gold a coin would possess. 

A Pretty good little loan Gilbert provided me with.

*The man was such a sweetheart.*

Anyway, back to clothes.

{Let’s see, we're going with black.}

About an hour later, I spent the entire cash for a pair of black coats, trousers, and a chequered shirt. Let’s just say I spent most of my money on the coats and had little for the rest.

*I admit we're pretty terrible with money.*

Those were some pretty neat, black long coats made of enchanted leather apparently, not very feminine, Pretty sure it was meant for males, but still very cool. And there were only two in stock. I wanted a spare just in case I damaged the first.

Which I probably will, no matter what enchantments you put on it.

Then I stared down and noticed that I forgot to buy shoes.

And I don’t even have any cash left.

Shit.

Oh well, I’ll just have to monitor the ground for stinky landmines.

I sighed again.

I tucked my hair in and started on my way towards the gate. I got outside and guess what, no-one was there.

*Well, yes, technically since we are an entire day early.*

I didn’t have anything else to do, so I just kept the guards company till daybreak.

They were interesting chaps.

Very good at cards too, taught me a few tricks. I was curious that they didn’t ask me any questions. Maybe they got enough of all the shenanigans adventurers usually pull off and learnt to eventually stop asking questions. Or maybe they just enjoyed the company.

Doesn't matter.

After about two more hours, I saw a large group of people assembling. There were quite a bit of wagons and caravans of all shapes and sizes. The adventurers got there first though. There were quite a lot of them too. Nearly eight hundred of them.

That’s a Batallion right? 

Apparently, the group were travelling from city to city, gathering more numbers before heading towards the war.

They would also stop at another Fort up North before heading on their way to battle.

I saw a woman shouting for attention.

She wore some shiny heavy plate armour covered in spikes and horns and looked like a freaking metal Dragon. I wonder how she walks in that. It probably weighs a ton.

*High stats? Takes a whole lot of time and effort, but you CAN, hoard a lot of em with enough training right? remember gilbert. He was waay stronger than he seemed, and he LOOKED strong.*

Then again, I’m probably the LEAST prepared person in the group, with just some enchanted coat for protection and a shiny sword for offence. And then there was the absence of shoes.

People were eyeing me strangely.

I figured Mages would wear cloth or something light like that, Just some image that crept in my mind for some reason but all the mages here seem to be clad in several layers of all Kinds of enchanted protection. They were probably the most heavily prepared of all the groups.

Some of them even seemed more buffed up than the sword users. No wonder warriors were having a hard time finding employment. The poor lads were being forced out of service.

“Okay folks, I’m Naina Kartha, the one in charge of the recruitment for these parts. We’ll be meeting up with Nathan Lance's group at Fort Lionsgate. For all the new guys, You know what you signed up for, we’re going to the blighted lands, and we’re going in deep. Things ain’t going to be flowers and honey there, You’ll see all sorts of horrifying things over there. Sometimes, things so horrifying you would wish you were never born in the same world!. If any of you are having second thoughts, Now’s the last chance to chicken out!”

No-one responded.

She shrugged.

“Okie, one last thing, we’re a pretty damn large group, so most monsters ain’t going to be bothering us, but there’s all kinds of stupid out there, and all kinds of dangerous too, so see those wagons behind ya, yea, those are our lifeline in the war, so you’d do well to keep them safe in case something attacks.”

Everyone murmured in agreement.

“Okay now, All those already in a balanced team or group go to Malak over there”

I say a guy behind us waving his hand with vigour.

“Yea, that guy. He gets a bit excited too easily and doesn’t stop when he starts his rambles. so don’t go talkin to him if you’re in a hurry”

I smiled.

“Okay, those not already grouped up, step forward.”

I slowly made my way forward with about seven others.

She glanced at us and nodded.

“Okie, tell me what you’re good at and whatever I need to be concerned about.”

One by one, they started to introduce themselves.

There was an elf among them too. At least I thought she was one, didn’t have the glow either, like Nael but felt less…. Well,

*less like a human butterfly?*

Yea, that.

First one up was Namiel, a warrior of some sort in light armour and a two thin swords hanging at his side. He had a light complexion, long windswept brown hair, black eyes and an extremely annoying grin which seemed to tick me off for some reason.

He set off an alarm in my head for some reason.

Note to self; avoid at all costs

*Self; noted.*

Then it was the elf. Called Lien. A hydromancer of some sort. I asked the guy next to me what it was and learnt that it was a mage who specializes in water.

That was pretty obvious though.

*DUH, ye stupid.*

I also asked if she was an elf and what he said was pretty interesting.

Apparently there weren’t any pure-blooded elves outside the Great Forest in this particular  continent. There were probably some outside of Arthos though. So Nael was special…. Then again, he did say he was kicked out.

Figures.

She had on some yellowish - silver armour that seemed to have a material awfully similar to the stuff the sword I stole from the bear looked like.

The person next to me was a guy in fully clad black armour, which by the way, seems to rival the dragon-lady in bulkiness. His black helmet also had large grey horns which arched backwards. His visor had a thin veil of black cloth in between.

Not a single inch of skin was visible.

Nirlam, he was called.

I also felt a strange sense of kinship with him. I could’t place it into words properly, but I had a hunch.

The Next guy who introduced himself was a redhead named Francis. I felt a greater understanding with him than anyone else. It was pretty simple, He blew things up and he loved it.

And so did I.

He wore leather armour on top of a set of clothes that smelled heavily of rust and iron. Then there were a pair of female siblings and another guy

The sisters seemed identical at first glance, with matching blue eyes and chetnut skin and deep, brown hair. They also wore matching grey leather. Apparently, they were effective rangers with lots of experience on hunting stuff.

And the other guy well... Let's just ignore the strange silent guy with a dangerous air who wears black like he was going assassinate someone in the dead of the night. 

*I forgot the sisters’ names and didn’t Listen to the other guy's by the way.*

Oops. There goes my backup plan.

Well, not really my fault.

I'm forgetful.

*It IS, your fault.*

Maybe.

It was my turn.

I shrugged

“I’m Rayola, a bit new to the guild. I can slash really hard, not really good at close, OR long ranged combat by the way, but I have a whole load of stamina so I’m not going to get tired easily. I don’t think anything there can kill me either. Oh, I also may or may not go on a frenzy with wild magic, so you gotta be careful about that.”

Naina raised an eyebrow.

“Are you a berseker?”

I shrugged.

“I think so, sort of. Not too sure what the trigger is.”

*you really need to figure what you capable of.*

*Sigh

“Okay, and what do you mean nothing there can kill you? I can give the name of a thousand things that can.”

*You screwed up on that one. Never should have mentioned that.*

{Oi, do you think I DIDN'T realize that the second my stupid mouth spouted it out?}

There was a little bit of contempt in her tone too.

*There goes first impressions.*

{Might as well play along now.}

I shrugged again.

“I’m weak, I agree, but I still am pretty much un-killable.”

She snorted.

“Well, miss unkillable, that's enough.

Okay then, folks, you all heard each other, talk tactics or something.

Alrighty then, when you’re finished, go to Malak, he’ll give you your posts.”

With that, she walked away with the heavy clanking of metal.

{Well, that was… Interesting to say the least.}

*And very humiliating. Don't forget that part*

...

I turned to see the silent guy staring at my bare feet. He just shook his head and walked away.

I turned to the rest.

Francis shrugged.

“Let’s talk?” Lian suggested.

“Yea, let’s”

I sighed one last time and walked with the group.

I wonder how things will end up.

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Cloudless Night

Bio: Concept Artist, Camouflaged Cloud.

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