I closed the door behind myself. I had overslept too hard. But that was fine. Recently I haven’t had any sleep at all, so it was fine. It’s only natural to sleep a lot more when you’re slightly sleep-deprived. It wasn’t just because of the quiet place I had slept in, but because nobody has no idea where I was. For the first time since the whole thing began, I was alone. For the first time, I felt free.
It didn’t take long to walk through the guild’s tavern, just to stop in front of the reception once more. For my surprise, nobody still paid any attention to me. I’d expected everyone to know who I was by now.
For my luck, the same woman was standing there, eyes on some kind of thick book. She casually glanced at me for a mere moment - as an instinct to eye a movement, perhaps -, looking back at me almost instantly as she realized who I was. “Good morning,” she said, trying to smile. It was obvious that she was nervous. I was probably more nervous than her, but at least I could keep up my composure.
“I’m impressed,” I began as I stopped in front of her. “Nobody still knows I’m here.”
“I didn’t tell anyone. You seemed tired, and you asked me not to. So I didn’t,” she said.
“And I thank you for that!” I said, giving her a sharper nod.
“So, how can I help you?” she asked. “Or are you here to do a check-out?”
I shook my head. “I have actually a favor to ask,” I whispered.
“Too early to ask favors from someone who you’ve met for the first time, Hero,” she said, staring at me, eyes slightly squinted.
I casually looked at a small sign on the reception, her name on it. “Erica. I’m sorry, I-”
“I’m kidding,” Erica said, sighing. “A lot of people ask me favors. Even though they don’t really ask a favor, per se,” she said, giving me a weak smile. “What’s up?”
“Thank you. You’ve probably figured it out, but I’ve never been really an adventurer. But it’s more a handicap if anything. I need to work with adventurers, a lot. How do I start? Where do I start? I’m a bit stuck. You work with them every day, do you have any tips?”
Erica looked at me, smirking. She casually pushed her dark brown hair back, revealing her green eyes that I barely noticed before. She was pretty, for sure. I could see her mouth opening a few times, and closing, almost as she was thinking, or perhaps not even sure if she should help me in the first place.
“Erica!” a shout interrupted her. “Did you say ‘Hero’? Have you seen him? Are there any news about him?” a younger human male walked to him, excited. Two others followed, both female, except one of them was an elf.
“Relax,” Erica managed to say, barely.
The elf walked closer. “So, did you find someone? We really need the fourth one,” she said, looking at Erica, eyes squinted. “We can’t take the quest without the fourth one.”
“And you mentioned something about the hero?” the first one said.
“W-we should…” the final party member mumbled behind, nobody noticing her.
“Actually…” Erica began, almost shouting to get everyone's attention, “...I do have the fourth member,” she continued with a normal voice.
“Really?” The elf said.
To be fair, I already saw what was happening. I looked at Erica, and Erica looked back at me, grinning.
“Let me introduce you,” she began, hands moving in slow motion towards me. It was a doomed attempt. The moment they’ll find out that I was a hero, things would be different. “Hiro!”
“Hiro?” the only guy in the party said.
“Yes. You misheard me before. He’s Hiro, and he’s your final party member,” Erica said, smiling.
“Erica, could I talk to you for a second?” I whispered.
“No, you can’t. You asked my help, here’s your help,” Erica said it out loud, everyone looking at me.
“That bad, huh?” the guy said.
“Hiro is a pretty new adventurer. And it’s literally his first day. So be kind,” Erica said, smiling. For some reason, it was even slightly irritating, even though she was completely accurate. I probably was a lot worse than the others. “He probably sucks at fighting, but he has brains,” she said, looking at me, eyes slightly squinted. I understood what she meant. It was probably a sign to not show my power too much and make it an easy mission. Jokes on her, I truly do suck, so it was good for me.
“Hiro, let me introduce others. This is Bill,” Erica said.
“Bill Cornfield, to be more exact. You can guess where I grew up,” he said, snorting. “I’m a warrior. I was born to hold a sword. And I’ll become the next hero. Straight after our current one. Maybe I can become Hero’s pupil. I can’t wait to prove myself.” I couldn’t help but notice how fast he talked. But Bill was surprisingly short, compared to the sword he had. He had to push the sword's handle down all the time, so the hilt wouldn’t touch the floor. He had darker brown hair. But he was certainly more skinny than an average adventurer. However, he didn’t joke around when he told us where he was from - he did have those muscles.
“Yes-yes, Bill. This is Arryn,” Erica continued, looking towards the she-elf.
“Yo,” she said, raising her hand for a moment. Arryn had almost pure white hair and gray eyes. Her ears were a lot pointier than any other elves I had seen. Of course, she was also skinny like most elves. But there was one thing that was noticeable - she had a bow strapped tightly behind her. She was definitely ranger, and she had no signs of any other weapons besides that.
“Why don’t you have any knives?” I asked.
“I do,” she said. Like a flash, she had pulled out an arrow from the quiver, arrow’s tip pointing my neck. It was truly impressive. “I don’t even know you, so watch your words,” she added, winking, and pulling arrow away from my neck to put it back into her quiver.
“Sorry. I think this is a wrong party-” I began, jokingly.
“I was making a joke,” she interrupted, eyes squinted. She knew it very well that she needed me. Of course, I didn’t know why yet, but that didn’t matter - not yet.
“It was very funny,” I said, face serious, trying to keep my every muscle skill.
“Ha-ha… ha,” she said, also serious.
“And~,” Erica continued, finally looking at the final human girl behind everyone. “Alice,” she said.
“H-hi! I-I’m Alice. I-I’m a wizard, I guess? I-I hope we’ll get all along!” she said. Her every word had a change of emotions. First, it felt like she was more scared of us, but by the end, she was more forcing herself to be strong. Of course, it still felt like she was about to cry. She had yellow long hair. Her bangs hid most of her eyes, but as much as I could see, she had blue eyes. She wore more light clothing, but thick ones that hid almost everything she could possibly hide - besides her face.
I nodded. “Hi, Alice. It’s nice to meet you too,” I said, smiling.
“Can we get the quest now?” Arryn said, stepping to the quest board, ripping one paper away and placing it on the table. “Why it even requires 4 people in the first place? This is stupid!”
“Have you heard anything about the hero?” Bill asked, also stepping closed to Erica.
“Both of you, stop! It’s a precaution. Especially since you’re all literally beginners,” Erica said, sighing. “But yes. You can all now take the quest. I’m not more than confident that you can do it.”
“What’s the quest?” I asked, but it almost seemed like saying it to no-one.
Only Alice seemed to notice my question. She took two awkward steps forward, looked at me and then looked at my feet. “G-goblins.”
Oh. The classical. It’s always either goblins or slimes. But you only go to kill the slimes if there are nice girls in your party. Otherwise, it’s goblins. I wouldn’t mind slimes in this party.
“Nice,” I muttered. I wasn’t sure if I was even able to beat goblins. But it still sounded like something fun. And perhaps it was a good idea to have my first real adventure fighting goblins, before taking on the Hero’s job, which is everything that moves at the other side of the wall.
“Hey, noob. We can fill you in with details later. For now, let’s go!” Arryn said, waving the quest’s paper piece in the air. The paper was visibly filled with necessary information.
“Sure, give me a minute,” I said, staying behind and stepping towards Erica. “Really?”
“Come on. It’s the first step to understanding adventurers. Plus it helps me to sleep at night, knowing that those total amateurs are with the hero.”
I couldn’t help but sigh. Not because I was disappointed, but because she was wrong. Adding me to a party against mindless monsters who will not have a discussion with me, will not end well. They are in more danger if anything. But perhaps it was the perfect way to finally get my first adventure ongoing. Perhaps it was something that I really needed.
“Come on. You asked for a favor. Here it is. Do this for me? Please? I’ve really started to like those three, and they’re really trying and really good. They just need someone to make sure that they will finish something.”
I sighed. “Fine,” I said. Of course, I did want to go with them. It felt more fun than terrifying. Plus it was my only chance to escape from being a hero. It was my chance to be a normal adventurer.
“Hiro. Are you coming?” Arryn shouted.
“Nice thinking about the name, by the way!” I said as I turned around and began walking towards the exit.
“Sorry,” Erica said.
“I’m serious. It’s better than being called Hero all the time.”
It might’ve felt like a small change - just an s to the end - but I couldn’t help but feel happy about it. It was something different. I was Hiro - a normal noob adventurer.
“Why are we leaving this place?” Bill suddenly asked as I arrived.
“I don’t know? We need to find a place where to sit down?” Arryn said, almost as it was obvious.
Bill looked past me, right at the tavern part of the guild.
“No. This place is filthy, and… and… and-”
“...full of humans?” Bill ended the sentence. “You need to get over yourself. This is the cheapest place in the whole city. Ignore the stares. Soon we’ll get the stares because we’re famous.” He walked towards the tavern, looking back at me and Alice.
“H-he’s right,” Alice said, gave Arryn a weak smile and followed Bill.
“You’ll be fine,” I said, smiling, and followed the other two. I had no idea why I was the one comforting Arrys, but it didn’t matter.
I could hear a slightly irritated mumbling, but she followed us soon after.
“Alright,” Bill said as we all were sitting behind one large table. “Put it on the table, Arryn!” He looked around, finally raising his hand. “Hey, hey! Four cheapest beers, please!”
“Three. I don’t drink!” Arryn said.
“I-I’ll pass as well! I-I can’t drink right now. I-I’m too nervous.”
I looked at Bill, and Bill looked back at me. I could see his eyes begging me.
“So, two it is,” I said, giving him a weak smile.
“Two cheapest beers!” Bill said, proudly.
“Are you sure you want the cheapest? Aren’t they bad?” I asked, just in case.
“Come on. I’m not rich!”
“But this deserves celebration, you know? We shouldn’t take the cheapest! I can put some money in!”
Bill looked at me, eyes slightly squinted. “Two normal beers,” he shouted, but still kept looking at me.
“Thank you.” I honestly didn’t want to get sick before my first adventure. My stomach was whirling without it already.
“Anyway,” Arrys said sharply, pushing a scroll across the table, opening it. Thankfully since it was a natural thing that adventurers did in this tavern, there were larger metal pieces that we could take and place on the paper’s edges to keep it opened. “This, my friends, is our contract!” A large grin appeared on her face.
“Goblins, huh?” I said, trying to look experienced.
“Isn’t that your first encounter?” Bill asked me.
“Oh, for sure,” I said, nodding. “But that was bound to happen, one day. And goblins are something that almost everyone know about.”
“That’s the spirit!” Arryn said, patting my back with a force. It fucking hurt. I moaned, slightly.
“Don’t kill Hiro before we get out of the guild, Arryn,” Bill said, smirking. Two beers were placed in front of us. Both me and Bill took sips. It was... an average beer. Just thinking what was the cheapest beer gave me chills.
“Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!” Bill announced, taking another sharp sip.
“Calm down, alligator,” I said, laughing out loud.
“Anyway,” Arryn said loudly, to get everyone’s attention once more, “we need to go to the village called Cornwall.”
“That’s my hometown,” Bill said. “Or used to be. Cornfield family name comes from there.”
I sighed. “Let me guess. It’s a village that grows corns near the wall?”
“Very original, am I right?” Bill said, grinning.
“They’ve had some goblin problems recently. Two of their children were kidnapped.”
That was the moment when my attention was placed fully on Arryn. “When was this quest posted?”
“A week ago,” Arryn said.
“And it still isn’t done? What the fuck is going on?”
“Calm down,” Bill muttered.
“Why are you calm? It’s your village!”
“I grew up there as a child, yes, but most of my life I grew up in Kirkwall. I literally have no memories of this place,” Bill said, looking at me. “So, what’s the problem?”
“Don’t you understand? If a week has passed, it’s very unlikely that those children can be saved. And maybe there has been even more kidnappings. Why hasn’t anyone taken this quest before us?”
“W-we tried to get it as soon as-” Alice muttered.
“But why no-one else?” I interrupted, slightly annoyed.
“Because it’s a fucking Kirkwall,” Bill stage whispered, groaning, and looking at me. “It’s full of gold and platinum adventurers. And the only thing they care about is the other side of the wall. Everyone else is on the other side of the island or near the capital. Nobody really cares about this side of the island, near the wall. First, there are very few of us, lower levels. And those who are up there, all that gold in their ass, they think that lesser ranking should kill goblins. And then there’s the illusion that near wall areas should be protected… because of the walls themselves.”
It was my turn to groan. It sucked. It all sucked. I understood the higher ranking adventurers as well, but if there’s a quest for goblins that require at least 4 lesser ranking party, the quest could be possibly dangerous. But it still didn’t make any those higher ranking members blink an eye. They first prefer to not work than take a low-rank job like that. “Dammit!” I muttered, hitting my hand against the table, just to hit the table’s edge instead. That hurt.
“A-are you okay?” Alice asked, leaning slightly towards me. “I-it’s alright. I-I can heal you!”
I smiled. “Thank you, Alice. But I’m fine. I’m happy that at least someone is taking this on,” I said.
“No, thank you. We’ve been trying to find fourth member for a week now,” Bill said, scratching his back.
“Okay. I believe that there aren’t that many low ranking adventurers here, but I can’t believe that there aren’t like… any?” There was a sudden silence in the table. Even I understood that something was wrong, or that I touched a touchy subject. “Yeees~?”
“W-well. W-we have some bad nicknames, so nobody wants to join us. T-they say it’s a death sentence,” Alice muttered, looking at me, tear at the edge of her eye.
“Such as?” I asked.
“Promise you won’t run?” Bill said.
“I don’t think I can run, even if I wanted to,” I said, sighing, head pointing towards the contract.
“The Worst Party. The Losers. Zero Success Party. And those are only a few,” Bill said.
Of course, the last one gave me the most information. It was a devastating moment. In some sense, I had hoped that I was in an okay party, and I could ride on their experience. I had zero experience in fighting, what-so-ever, and yet I ended up in the worst possible party in the whole town. My luck was great, as always.
“Look at the bright side,” I muttered.
“Yeah?” Bill said, taking a sip from his beer.
“You’re ‘Still Alive Party’, as well,” I said, giving everyone a wink.
There was another moment of silence, but it was soon broken as everyone began to laugh, quietly. The laugh began to grow, and soon we were all in tears. Many examined us. Some who recognized us began to laugh as well, pointing fingers at us. But it seemed that my party didn’t care. The didn’t seem to notice.
“So. Arryn, continue,” I said, pointing towards the contract.
“Yeah, right,” Arryn said, nodding. “The contract is surprisingly simple. Find the goblins, kill them all, eliminate the threat. Plus save everyone that can be saved. That’s all.”
I nodded. “Which means what?” I said, looking at Alice.
“W-we need to go to Cornwall, and ask for more information?” Alice suggested. Even she was more pumped up.
“Exactly. However, before we go, I want to go through blacksmith and buy a weapon and some armor,” I said, sighing.
“Wait, you don’t have one?” Bill said, looking at me.
I shook my head. “I did, but… not anymore. But it’s fine. I have the money.”
“Do you want to go alone or…?”
“Actually yes. I’ll meet you all at the edge of the town that leads towards Cornwall?” I suggested.
“Alright,” Bill said, nodding.
“You can have my other half of the drink,” I said, pushing a small copper coin on the table.
I stood up, stretching myself. “It’ll take some time. I’ll meet you in a few.”
All of it was terrifying. It felt like yet another bullshittery that I was going through. I cursed my luck once more. But somewhere I couldn’t help but feel excited. It was my first adventure…
For the first time, I had everything that I could actually use. The leather armor was uncomfortable - for now - but I could wear it without feeling the muscle ache. It wasn’t heavy. I had a sword that I actually could lift, and yes, that’s was literally the problem with my previous sword - I could barely lift it. I had a shield that I could also lift. I had it currently placed on my back. And then there was a bow with some arrows as well. The collection was finished with a backpack filled with some other possible necessary items.
“You’re really prepared,” Bill said as he finished examining me. “You can use everything?”
I shook my head. “To be fair, I want to try them out.” It came without saying that I had also prepared for the possibility that they’ll find out who I’m later, so I already thought out to be just pretending newbie to test out their skills and knowledge.
Genius, am I right?
“Seriously?” Arryn said, frowning. “You’re worse than us!”
“A-Arryn!” Alice mumbled with her slightly stronger voice than usual.
Arryn crossed her hands. “You’re overly protective. You like him?”
Alice began to blush, visibly, pulling her hood over her face and looking away.
“That’s what I thought,” Arryn said, sighing.
“Don’t be an ass,” I said, looking at her. “You’ll have a hard time in adventurer’s guild if you continue like that.”
“I’ll have a hard time regardless. Not only I’m in the weakest team in the guild, but I’m also an elf,” Arryn said, shrugging.
“Yes. You’re in it, and only you can fix it. Also, it has nothing to do with your race, so get over it,” I said, walking past everyone towards Cornwall. Others followed. “Just because they’re an ass, doesn’t mean you have to be one as well,” I said it out loud so Arryn would hear it.
“Sure-sure. Don’t worry. I’ll teach you how the bow works,” she said, sighing. “You could’ve just asked.”
“Thank you, Arryn,” I said, looking over my shoulder, really slowly.
Bill giggled. “It’ll be half a day travel there. Let’s get along, alright?” he said.
“Y-yes! Let’s get along!”
“I’ll show you some tricks with the sword and how to use it. Don’t worry!” Bill said, pointing his thumb at me.
“A-and I’ll check it out if you have a magical essence,” Alice said, looking away from everyone. She was probably going to wear her hood all the way to Cornwall.
Arryn released a visible sigh. Everyone else couldn’t help but laugh.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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