“It’s hot…”

A young lady with long blue hair was peeking out from within a lush-looking carriage. She could see the outlines of a city in the background. The interior was quite spacious and the moment she closed the blinds the warm air was unable to pass inside.

“So this is Albrook? Why do we have to be the ones being sent to the sticks?”

Another voice that belonged to a girl was also heard. This one was more high-pitched and belonged to a golden-haired girl.

“Charlene, you shouldn’t say that. It's our fault for being late with picking our assignment, what if the locals hear you?”

“What of them? You care too much about those commoners Lucille!”

The blond girl by the name of Charlene looked slightly annoyed. Both of these girls were wearing very similar clothes. It was clear that they were some kind of uniform.

“But aren’t they interesting? They were able to build this city and are able to live near a dangerous dungeon!”

“That’s all because they have us. How could they build the city without us nobles guiding them?”

“I’m sure if they tried they could manage themselves…”

“Ha! My Papa always says that the commoners are like headless chickens without us!”

“Ah, if the Viscount says so…”

Lucille smiled a bit but it seemed that the girl didn’t want to continue this conversation anymore. Her friend here had clearly made up her mind and she would be unable to change it.

“Do you think we will be able to pass the last test?”

Lucille asked while peeking through the blinds some more.

“Why shouldn’t we? It’s just another dungeon, we also have the knights with us. I’ll be counting on your ice magic to keep us cool Lucille!”

“You can count on me.”

The two girls continued to laugh and chat and soon heard a knock on the door.

“Lady Lucille, Lady Charlene. We will be arriving in a few minutes.”

A voice of a young man was heard by the two and they instantly knew who it was.

“Thank you, Sir Robert.”

Lucille blushed a bit as she saw the young man after moving the blinds to the side. He was riding on a horse, he was of above-average height and wearing shiny half-plate armor.

This man was packing a bit more meat than the regular youth his age. His hair was of brown coloring and he looked manly. The lady and the knight’s gaze met for a moment. The intense stare that the two were giving of towards each other was stopped by Charlene.

“Shouldn’t you be going back, Sir Robert?”

“Ah, excuse me, My lady.”

The young man moved his head to the side while also slightly blushing and finally trotted off on his horse. He joined up with other men dressed in similar armor. All of them had a certain crest that didn’t belong to any noble family but to the academy, they hailed from. The crest looked like an armored knight on a horse. He was holding a lance and pointing it into the air.

The carriage that the two girls were riding on also had a certain crest. It was a different one, it had a depiction of a robed man holding a staff.

“You should stop talking to that person Lucille.”

“Huh… we weren’t really talking…”

The girl with the blue hair snapped back to reality while holding her red cheeks. It was clear that the two were attracted to each other but there were certain problems that came with that.

“He hails from a baron’s estate… he isn’t even the heir Lucille, you need to find yourself a proper husband that is at least a Viscount! How about Lord Abbington instead? He shows a lot of promise!”

“Lord Abbington…”

Lucille lowered her head while thinking about the young man that her friend was talking about. He was a few years older and she saw him a couple of times at some noble parties but she didn’t know much about him.

On the other hand, Sir Robert was someone that she kept running into from time to time. The two had bonded a bit through the years but she was also a daughter of a Viscount. The youth was not a full noble as he came from a Mistress instead of the lady of the house. He had no rights to his estate unless the heir died.

“Don’t even think about taking Lord Percival, he is mine!”

Lucille then thought to the person Charlene mentioned. He was the heir of a count estate but there were bad rumors around him. Apparently, he was a giant womanizer that liked to sleep around. Her friend here didn’t think that the rumors were true and was more interested in the wealth and title she could grab from a marriage.

She was a young lady that spent quite a bit of her life reading romance novels. She preferred the young knight to the older noble men that she met at parties. Her friends called her immature and warned them about silly acts of romance that didn’t further the noble cause.

“Lord Percival isn’t really my type…”

“Good! Now help me fix my hair!”

The two girls pulled out their pocket mirrors and started looking each other over. They were stuck in this carriage for quite a bit and could not look bad when leaving it. Their looks still remained important as they were ladies in their prime. Even well after achieving their mage classes, this concern about their appearance remained.

On the outside, the group of nobles was greeted at the gate with a salute from many guards. If Roland was here he would have a good laugh at how properly the guards were working for a change.

Nobles were not people that would visit such cities that weren’t even properly developed. The noble house that this territory belonged to didn’t even have any of their family members stationed here.

Most of the time younger members of the family would be tasked with something like this. While their elders remained in the big established cities. This also depended on the number of offsprings, if there was no noble family member then someone like this cities Mayor would be given the job.

To the noble house, the Mayor was nothing more than a servant, not even at the level of the official butler of their house. He was only there to make sure that they were getting the taxes and that no one was being disrespectful towards their name.

This same Mayor was looking out through his mansion window while his sweat was gathering on his forehead. He knew that this day would come and he dreaded the thought of anything happening to these noble brats in his city. He wasn’t directly involved in this expedition but he might be held responsible if anything went wrong.

“Relax you old fart.”

“How could I relax? The Duke will have my head if anything happens to those noble ladies. Even though they are only the daughters of viscounts, they are both mages.”

“Eh, that’s why I don’t like those noble bastards, treating each other like breeding livestock.”

A familiar figure was sitting down on a large couch that was barely containing his frame. His bald head and grayish skin was a dead giveaway of his identity.

“Aurdhan, shouldn’t you be at the guild? What if one of your adventurers does something stupid? You can’t have anyone offending any of those nobles, some of those knights are also from influential families.”

“My guys aren’t that stupid… well maybe there is one... “

The guild master scratched his head while standing up. A face of a particular airheaded guild member entered his mind as this question fell.

“I’ll take my leave then. You worry too much, my men have been clued in. They are there to guide them into the dungeon, nothing more.”

After reassuring that his adventurers wouldn’t be picking any fights with the noble lords and ladies he departed. This was mostly a pretext to get out of the mayor's mansion. He knew that the overweight butler that visited him a month ago would be coming here as well.

That man was quite unpleasant and condescending. He would be coming here to impose on the mayor’s hospitality and also to discuss business. Aurdhan did not want to be here as he feared that he might punch that fatty the moment his double chin came into view.

‘The party members aren’t the best… but nothing much I can do with these limited resources, hope I’m not wrong about that kid…’

The guild master thought back to how he reeled the Runesmith youth in. Due to the trinket, Roland was wearing he couldn’t figure out his real class but he was sure that he wasn’t the average Runesmith.

When he compared him to the craftsmen dwarves there was a stark difference. For one, his fighting capabilities were far ahead of what a dwarven runesmith was capable of. It was clear that he also had a way to use his own runic weapons more freely.

He didn’t seem to suffer through the biggest weakness that magical armor or weapons put a user through, this being the high mana usage. It was clear that he either had a massive pool of mana or some special class skill that allowed him to do this.

The other thing was his combat ability, he had been clearly trained by someone. Mages and craftsmen that the Runesmith class came from mostly did not have proper combat training. Him being able to win against Armand two times clearly showed that he was capable.

There weren’t really many smart people in this guild and Roland seemed like the closest thing to a mage that this city had. There were a few older spell slingers that were working here but they were too old to take part in expeditions like this.

Having someone that was aware of the mana around them was always a big advantage in a dungeon. There was also the tier 3 party leader, he was an expert tracker and good at detecting ambushes plus also traps.

He went with this man instead of someone that would be better at actual fighting. It was safer this way as avoiding combat was what he was going for. Their work would mostly consist of acting like scouts, the battle portion would be supplied by the noble knights.

“Greetings guild master, you’re looking tired today.”

Aurdhan was greeted by the elven receptionist girl. She was rubbing her eyes while also drinking a cup of warm tea. It was early in the morning and it would take some time before the nobles returned from the mayor's house. They had some time to get ready and he wanted to have a little talk with everyone before they left, mostly with Armand and Korgak.

These were the two meatheads of the party. Korgak was violent when he had to but he wouldn’t step out of line as long as there was someone in the party that he respected. With the team leader being tier 3 this part was secured. Unless the nobles actually attacked the party there was no real danger of the half-orc running wild.

On the other hand, his old golden boy Armand was more headstrong. He feared that if some of the noble brats got under his skin he might do something stupid. The guild master wasn't quite sure himself why he was putting faith into the young man but he somehow reminded him of himself when he was young.

Armand had a certain look in his eye, he was hungry for more. He always took on the harder missions and came out victorious. It might have seemed that he didn’t take anyone else into account but he actually prioritized his party members over himself during combat. He was someone that could be relied on.

The biggest problem here was that he had a hard time admitting to his wrongdoings. The guild master wanted Roland and Armand to figure things out down in the dungeon. He was of the mind that if two men were forced to work together with each other for survival. They would somehow figure things out along the way.

He was banking on this happening during this expedition. Getting Roland to take this mission might have been a little rouse that he had set up. The manufacturing schematics that the young runesmith was aiming for were given to him via an old promise.

The price wasn’t actually that high as the Runesmith was someone that he had once saved before. The old dwarf was hard to convince but after bringing up old history he caved in to the demands. He had made a promise that he would keep. Aurdhan also reassured that he would be giving this knowledge to a runesmith and not sell it on the auction.

The guild master was aware of how craftsmen types thought. Just as he thought Roland was unable to pass up on something like this. The small danger of the dungeon was not enough to sway a proper Runesmith away from more knowledge.

“If you think that I look tired, you should have seen the mayor! That poor bastard looks like he didn’t shit for at least a week!”

The guild master laughed while the elven receptionist scrunched up her nose at the thought of the mayor’s bowel movements.

“Is everyone here?”

“Almost, I haven't seen Korgak yet, Lobelia and Armand just came in, Mr. Wayland and that person from the Solaria church have been waiting since early morning. Mr. Silvio is also here.”

“Hah, we can start the meeting without that blockhead, just have him wait if he comes over.”

The guild master was sure that the Half-orc would arrive smelling of cheap alcohol, it would be actually better if he wasn’t there when the nobles arrived.

“Where are they now?”

“I instructed them to go into one of the waiting rooms…”

“Woof, woof, woof!”

While talking to the receptionist the guild master heard a loud barking sound. The sound was clearly coming from the main corridor that led up to his office as well as to most of the other guild rooms.

“Did someone bring a dog to the guild?”

“Mr. Wayland brought his tamed monster over, I think he wants to take it on the mission.”

“Well that’s fine… but why is it being so loud…”

“Beats me, it looked quite gentle when I saw it, maybe someone stepped on its paw?”

The elven girl shrugged while the guild master moved towards the corridor that the noise was coming from. After pushing the door open he saw that all the commotion was about.

‘Those two really don’t get along…’

He saw both Armand and Roland looking at each other. Lobelia was standing next to Armand while Agni was barking at the large muscle man. Both of them looked like they were going to fight which just made the guild master here nervous. Before he could go over to deliver a fist to Armand’s head the young man took a step forward and did something unexpected.

“Huh? Could you repeat that?”

Armand started to nervously scratch the back of his neck, his gaze wavering while not meeting Roland's eyes. Aurdhan could see him move his lips but he wasn’t sure what he was saying. This became apparent after the next line.

“I said I’m sorry! Now get out of my way!”

Armand burst out in rage while quickly running into the room that the meeting would be taking place.

‘Huh? He apologized?’

“You’ll have to excuse him, Wayland, it was hard to convince him to do this. I’m surprised that he even went through with it in the first place...”

Aurdhan then heard Lobelia call out to Roland while laughing. It was clear that Armand was somehow convinced by someone to give out an apology. It was quite forced and not really genuine but it looked like a good start. At least to this guild master it did, what Roland felt about the whole thing remained to be seen.

“I see…”

Were the words that left Roland’s mouth, then finally noticed the Guild Master standing to the side and greeted him with a small nod.

“Well, I see that you two are getting along just fine, hope you invite this old man to your wedding!”

Roland face contorted in various ways. This day his helmet was off so everyone could tell how uncomfortable that comment made him. The party of five with a half-orc missing had a quick talk before the mission started. Before the guild master let them leave the elven receptionist knocked on the door and peeked in.

“Excuse me, Guild Master, a knight has arrived and he wants to see you”

“Finally they are here, you lot get ready and remember what I told you.”

Everyone headed outside, some of the party members like Lobelia were interested in how this noble knight would look like. The exit was along the way and Roland was in the front, he opened the door and took a step forward but then froze in place instantly. Lobelia that was behind him bumped into his armor and almost fell back onto her posterior.

“Hey, why did you stop?”

She then saw the armored man quickly taking a step back into the corridor while hugging the wall. She saw him quickly place his helmet onto his head while slightly fidgeting. Confused at his reaction she looked outside, there stood a young knight of unknown origins leaning up against the wall and waiting...

A note from Kuropon

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