The time for the dungeon expedition was just one day away. Roland and Bernir were both inside the workshop while Agni was keeping watch outside.
There was some business Roland needed to take care of at the guild today before the nobles arrived. He needed to meet up with his temporary party members as everyone would be given a specific job that would fit this mission. The party leader had apparently arrived and he would be assigning the positions.
This brought Roland back to that one other large expedition that he was a part of. That time he was relegated to the backline and placed in a team with lower-level adventurers. While this time his worth had increased he wasn’t sure where he would end up in.
There was a reason why he wasn’t worrying as much though. The guild master wanted his rune smithing skills, it would be counterproductive of him to send him towards his demise. That’s why a position in the backline was more than likely.
Before going out to the city there were a few things that he and Bernir needed to discuss. He would be leaving together with Agni for a few weeks. Apparently, the noble youths needed to complete some sort of exam.
For this, they needed to last for a prolonged amount of time while surrounded by enemies. It was something that this kingdom thought out to train their younger generation for the coming battles.
This wasn’t an era of peace and the nobles would be the future commanders and generals. Everyone needed to be able to protect themselves or at least know how to use their troops and ration their supplies.
From what Roland knew, he and the adventurers were more of a backup plan. They were there to guide the people inside and make sure that nothing goes wrong. The nobles from the academy would have their own soldiers and provisions that they needed to figure out how to use.
Only when something unexpected happened would the adventurers get involved. They were there to lure away any potential threats that the nobles wouldn’t be able to handle. Things tended to go towards the unexpected in his life. Even at that previous expedition, he didn’t think that he would get buried in the mine and then almost die against a tier 3 monster.
“Okay, let us go over this one last time…”
Roland handed Bernir an improved version of the ‘runic grenade launcher’ that he had built throughout this month. It did not look like a basic tube now but as a proper ranged weapon, not like one that you would find in this world though.
The most noticeable thing was the middle part which had a large-sized cylinder. It looked like an enlarged revolver cylinder with six chambers. It wasn’t quite like it as there was a manual crank next to the grip of this launcher. Bernir would need to crank it to make the chambers rotate into place before firing off one of the runic grenades that Roland had prepared beforehand.
The handle was made from wood and fitted with Bernir’s hands in mind. Being half dwarf left the young man with thick hands so even if Roland tried it he would be able to shoot this weapon.
There was a secondary grip at the front part that connected to the barrel. It was there to aid with the aiming as the weapon had some kickback to it. As with all of his creations this one also had some mana stones embedded in the design.
They were all green as instead of small explosions that were produced by gunpowder this one operated more like an airsoft gun. The mana usage was actually lessened with the wind pressure rune than if he used a small explosion-type rune instead.
For the ammo, he used small runic scrolls with various spells. It was all set up that when the orb that the scroll was in collided with something it would be activated. Most of them would just explode while causing residual damage with shrapnel that came from the metal casing. But there were various spell combinations that Roland had shown Bernir, if he was smart about it he could clear out more enemies with less.
Roland would like to have this weapon spin the chamber on its own but there wasn’t any time to figure out the mechanism. He wasn’t much of a gun nut in his previous life, so he went with a more mechanical approach and a crank that spun the cylinders around instead. The thing that he made was more of a portable runic cannon than a proper gun.
He even received the ‘Cannon craftsman’ title for it. Maybe if he was able to make a revolver or something similar he would be able to attain a Gunsmith title? Though he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go in this direction. He already had reusable runic equipment that didn’t require him to create reusable ammo. Someone like Bernir was more suited for that path choice as he didn’t have any battle skills to speak off.
“You sure come up with peculiar things Boss.”
Bernir held the portable ‘cannon’ in his hands and pointed it in a direction. He was a tier 2 blacksmith so it wasn’t that hard for him to use it with one hand either.
“Remember to only use this when you really need it and keep your distance. Most people should just run after a few warning shots.”
“Aye, I’d be running for the mountains if someone used this thing against me…”
Bernir had used this launcher a few times on the straw dummies in the backyard. He had riddled the ground with holes from the explosions but after a while, he got the hang of it. After some use, he had even gotten the basic cannoneer skill. This skill slightly boosted a person’s aim whenever they used cannon-type weapons. Apparently, the Armorsmith class was enough to allow him to get that skill.
“You’ll also need this, remember to bury them discreetly.”
Next came the mine scrolls. Agni would be away for the time being so there was no danger of the Ruby Wolf to set off the traps. After Roland was gone, Bernir was tasked to place these scrolls around the house and mostly close to where the fence was. The moment someone jumped over it they would set it off.
The fence would also be charged up with some electricity. This would just give everyone a little jolt to keep them from advancing forward. Roland was slightly afraid that some kids could decide to pay the strange craftsman a visit.
He didn’t want to have any child deaths on his conscience. If they decided to jump over to the other side even after reading all the warning signs and after passing the electric fence, then it was on them. Lessening the strength of the mine scrolls would just endanger his assistant and his own home.
“Aye, what about these?”
Bernir took out something that looked like a deck of cards. These were the same mini scrolls that Roland used and now they were also given to Bernir.
“Use them if the runic launcher fails you, remember even if they are scrolls they still require some mana to activate.”
Bernir nodded while placing the tiny scrolls in his pocket. The scrolls would be a last-ditch effort before an enemy got into close proximity. Roland even explained a few tactics that he used when he was still a runic mana scribe. The biggest downside here was that Bernir would not enhance these runic scrolls and would not be able to activate them as much as Roland could.
“It would be best to use one of the camouflage spells and then just run, don’t try to be a hero.”
Bernir rubbed his nose while Roland reminded him that this was only for protection. He feared that his assistant would try to defend this house to the bitter end. After getting beaten up by those adventurers he felt like Bernir now had a chip on his shoulder, one that wouldn’t go away unless he defeated someone in some kind of fight.
“You can try using the escape tunnel if there is no other choice...”
Through the month the two had dug into the workshop, expanding it in the process. Roland had also implemented an escape tunnel that would lead them out into a forest area behind the house. There was not enough time to finish it in time so Bernir would need to either dig himself out or use an explosive scroll.
There were also other defensive items and also a detection device that could be used to check for enemies. This was something that Bernir was already aware of so there was no reason to double-check.
“Boss… I’ve been meaning to ask you... “
Roland looked at Bernir that was trying not to avoid that piercing gaze.”
“Ah, never mind… I’ll ask you when you return. Be sure to come back in one piece, I can’t run this workshop without you!”
Roland just nodded while also packing up some things. His suit of armor went through some modifications and he also scribed himself a nice batch of scrolls.
“Now help me put on my armor, I leave tomorrow but need to get that meeting over with. Also see if you can get Agni into his, without him biting through the leather...”
He wasn’t the only one that would be using runic equipment anymore. His Ruby Wolf companion had also been given some upgrades. It covered the general weak points like the neck, underbelly, and the chest area while leaving the legs unprotected. Agni needed them to still keep his speed advantage.
This wolf armor was quite light and was made from a special metal that was lighter but less resistant than deep steel. Just like Roland’s it came in a darker red color and had some mana stones poking out. With the Mystical monster trait, Agni was able to use more runic spells, just like before he was given a protective shield along with a boost to his speed.
“I’ll try, boss, but no promises.”
After dressing up in his work suit Roland headed into the city. His destination being the adventurer’s guild. On the inside, he was greeted by the usual smell of unwashed men and cheap booze. The elven lady pointed him in the right direction which was the meeting room of the scouting party that he would be a part of.
‘This is it?’
He looked at the piece of paper that he was given. This was proof that he was part of the expedition crew. There was also a side note which had the room number written on it. With this in mind, he straightened up and finally he knocked on the door. He was still not that comfortable with meeting new people so he steeled his resolve.
“Please come in, it’s open.”
Roland was a bit early, he was someone that didn’t like to make people wait for him. When there was an event he would always arrive at least fifteen minutes early. Quite a few people were the opposite though, which sometimes resulted in him having to wait for a prolonged span of time.
He grabbed the handle and pushed the door open and discovered that there was only one person in this room.
“Dark red armor? Are you perhaps a member of the Rising Sun Knight Order?”
Inside he spotted an unfamiliar-looking woman. After the use of his identification skill, he could tell that just like him she was an adventurer at the tier 2 rank that was close to the 100th level.
She had a peculiar getup that reminded Roland of what nuns in his old world used to wear. She had it all, the black veil and under it a white form-fitting coif. The tunic was a mix of white and yellow colors, Roland couldn’t see it from this side but on the back, there was a large drawing of the sun.
‘A member from the Church of Solaria?’
It was clear that this person was part of the religious cult that roamed this land. This being the gathering place for the party meant that she was probably the healer. Her face was hard to make out as she was also wearing a dark veil but she had one characteristic trait.
‘Animal ears? A cat?’
He wasn’t sure what type of beastman race she belonged to but her ears were pushing that religious headpiece out. It produced the shape of large pointy animal ears that could belong to various beastman races.
“Oh? Was I mistaken, I don’t see the Rising Sun crest...”
Roland just entered and stood there for a moment as he analyzed the woman’s stats. Thus it seemed like he was just spacing out. The woman on the other hand continued to speculate on his true identity. There were various knightly orders that worked for the church of solaria. He was not aware that they wore similar armors to him though. He had also switched to using a sun-like symbol for his wares, so this could have added to the confusion as well.
“I’m not part of the Church, I’m just an adventurer that was hired for this expedition.”
The woman was still talking so he quickly answered in the hopes of ending the conversation early.
“Oh my, is that so? Would you like some tea while we wait for the others?”
He stepped forward while the woman was talking. From the way her voice sounded, he put her at an age above twenty but nothing too specific. Roland wanted to sit to the side and just wait but then the offer came. The nun had brought out a full tea set and the kettle was even giving off steam.
“Ah no, thank you…”
Roland wasn’t one to socialize with others, talking to them with anything more than business in mind felt like a chore. Also due to nobles being involved in this new expedition, he decided to keep his helmet on. There was no way that he would risk being recognized by someone that knew his family.
“Are you sure? This Albrook honey is truly delicious with this black tea, you might regret it.”
“Y-yes, I’m fine…”
After awkwardly walking to one of the chairs he finally sat down. This room looked similar to the one that he and Bernir had the hearing in. There were several tables with chairs at them with enough for most people to sit alone.
It was time to wait, the nun realized that Roland wasn’t willing to join her so she didn’t push it. Instead, she continued sipping some tea while humming a delicate tune.
“Is this the place?”
“Yeah, just go in…”
In time more people started to arrive though it was surprising that the very next two people were someone that he knew.
First was a golden-haired girl with long ears that flinched back and almost fell over after noticing him sitting in the back. She was held in place by the person that was coming in after her.
“What’s wrong with you, Lobelia?”
Roland couldn’t see the person that was talking but he recognized that voice. The person to whom that voice belonged pushed this half-elf forward and revealed himself to be Armand.
‘What are those two doing here…’
It was hard not to notice them at this point. At first, Roland hoped that they might have walked into the wrong gathering room. Their actions didn’t reflect this fact as Armand just strutted in like he owned this place. Only after Lobelia indicated to where Roland was sitting with her head did his old opponent notice him.
“What are you doing here?”
“That’s what I would like to know…”
Armand and Roland glared at each other, though due to his helmet being still on this went unnoticed by the party of two.
“Calm down Armand.”
The half-elven girl started yanking on Armand’s arm as she knew well that this wouldn’t lead to anything good.
“How can I calm down if this bastard is in here…”
“Haha, he didn’t mean it…”
Roland’s started feeling bad not for Armand but for the girl that was with him. He also recalled the woman with the glasses that probably needed to put up with this idiot’s character.
“Did you forget what big sis told you, go and apologize!”
Lobelia delivered a swift kick to Armand’s shin but the man didn’t seem convinced. Before a big scene could happen a large green hand started pushing into Armand and another person walked in through the door.
“Why you make noise?”
This deep voice belonged to the half-orc that he had also seen on the day of the hearing. As Roland recalled his name was Korgak and he did make quick work of that band of thugs.
Soon the other party members started to arrive, it was time to start the strategic meeting and get ready for the lengthy expedition that would take a few weeks.