“You’re a lifesaver Elodia!”

An elf with golden hair could be seen hugging a woman wearing glasses that had a stack of papers in her hand.

“I don’t know what I would do without you around.”

Elodia took a step back from the overzealous elf as the stack of files in her hand had almost tipped over. Soon her co-worker left the area as she had a very important ‘appointment’ with a new admirer.

“Yes, whatever would you do…”

Elodia grumbled to herself while looking at the extra work that she would have to do. This wasn’t the first time her friend left her with some extra things to do.

If it happened that some of it wasn’t completed till the next day the guild master would probably give both of them an earful. Being that she was already on shaky ground since that incident with Armand she would rather not risk it.

All of this would take her about an extra hour to finish which was that bad. Ever since the guild master started dipping his toes in the weapon dealing business the workload had increased.

There were a few new hires here and there but it fell on her to show them the ropes. Being the top worker had its ups but also had its lows. Being the most knowledgeable person around just made everyone look to her for advice. This in effect took away from her own workload that only stacked up till the end of the day.

Knowing that something like this could happen Elodia had already spoken with Lobelia, her younger sibling. She would need to take care of the kids till she came back home. Luckily she was not out adventuring this day as they had recently come back from a dungeon run.

She could remember the day before, that morning more shouts between her brother and other adventurers took place. Armand was still quite hot-headed which caused him to but heads with the other adventurers.

He and Lobelia came as a team but they didn’t belong to any larger adventurer group. They either went together or joined smaller groups that were searching for some helping hands.

Armands track record was not that good. Whenever he got involved in any of the better parties they kicked him out after some kind of silly incident. The only reason that he was able to somewhat get work done was his skills.

Compared to the other warrior types in his level range he stood out. This could be attributed to the way that he grew up and his big sister here knew why.

“At least that person can knock him down a peg…”

She thought back to a certain armored man that had tussled with her younger brother. Even though he was younger than Armand he was able to come out on top after each clash. Now it seemed that her brother had somewhat calmed down when being around the one that bested him.

Elodia gave out a chuckle after remembering the last time that she witnessed her new friend at the presentation. As expected he looked like a fish out of water, the way he talked to the audience was remarkably fast. It was clear that he wanted to get it over with haste but this only made him stand out more.

He did feel a bit strange and unique when she compared him to the other people that she met. At first, he looked like someone that was trying to hide and run away from something. This was something that she could relate to as she and her ‘family’ had also moved here to start anew.

His existence felt like a bundle of contradictions. He seemed to want to avoid people, thus his choice of living in a secluded part outside the city was logical. Then on the other hand he wore quite the set of flashy red armor with various runes on it. Even she found herself looking at the craftsmanship, it was as if he was trying to get people to look at him.

The visits to the adventurer guild were always swift and direct. At first, he seemed to be avoiding her but sometimes he did visit her part of the guild. He always seemed to know what he came to do and how to maximize his earnings. There were no bothersome questions or harassment like from some of the less stellar adventurers.

Then came the fateful day where he had done something surprising. In defense of his assistant, he rushed into one of the pubs and beat up one of the infamous adventurer parties. The rest was history and her attempt of sweeping Armand’s involvement under the rug didn’t go through well.

“Ah, what was I thinking...”

Elodia gave out a sigh while placing some papers to the side. While remembering the scolding she received and also how much money their household had lost during the whole event she could only shake her head.

Luckily Wayland did not push for further punishment with which Armand could still continue his work as an adventurer. Her hard work to make a good impression on the guild master went down the drain. She was hoping for a raise but now it would be hard to ask as she angered the guild master.

The hour passed swiftly and the stack of papers was neatly organized to the side. They were accounting records of the guild's new venture.

Normally guild masters didn’t really dip their toes in this line of business. Most other guilds only possessed shops with the most basic equipment that only the lower tier adventurers used. When they moved up in ranks they all found their own blacksmith to fit their fighting style.

Aurdhan their guild master seemed to be somewhat of an entrepreneur. He used the fact that a runesmith was also an adventurer and somehow was able to reel him in. After the presentation, the runic weapons that were put on the shelves were slowly bought out.

At first, the adventurers were wary about using untested wares but Wayland’s name was becoming known. This was mostly spread by the new adventurers that were said to have been helped by him during the dungeon runs.

With his name spreading in good faith some of the adventurers tried the new weapons out. The preliminary reviews were good and the runic versions of the enchanted weapons proved themselves to be better than their lesser counterparts. They required less mana and were able to produce better effects which was all that was needed.

“But will this be enough?”

While the accounts showed the rise in the runic weapons this could not be said for all the other wares. The stores were unable to sell much of the regular gear as the dwarven run shops had dropped the prices. It was clear that it had become a war of attrition which would be tough for the new arrivals.

Even though the dwarves could get the backing of their union, this was not an infinite resource. The big shots would need to actually agree that it was worthwhile to invest in Albrook. If this didn’t happen the two sides would need to somewhat coexist with each other.

‘I should get back home.’

Elodia stretched out as it was finally over. While leaving the guild she could see some of the other receptionist ladies working. They all had to spend quite some time in the guild, the pay was good but the hours were long.

There were not many free days and all the receptionist girls had to somewhat discuss it amongst themselves. They would be given money for the extra hours which was why Elodia mostly found herself filling that spot.

“Big sis is back!”

“Hey, what did I tell you about running in the house?”

“He he he.”

When Elodia finally returned to her home she was greeted by a scene of Lobelia chasing one of the small ones with a ladle in her hand. She could only smile at the scene as more kids came out to greet her.

For a change all of the adults were here at the same time, even Armand didn’t seem to have slipped out for his nightly adventures.

All of the family had been gathered here, the oldest of the kids was only ten. With a lack of resources between the three adults, it was hard for them to spend it on an ascension crystal.

She and the others knew that every moment mattered. Only when they received a proper class could the kids progress through life. Even the simplest class would help them get a way to survive. Without it, they would be left to the mercy of others.

Together with herself, Armand and Lobelia, there were twenty-three heads to feed in this orphanage. This number had been smaller when they arrived here as with time more children without a family moved in.

Even though the dungeon seemed like a way to get rich fast it was not such an easy task. Many people wandered into it without realizing their limitations. It was easy to lose your way in the dim-lit corridors and the heat only added to the confusion. Many young men and women went in and never came back.

This only left their loved ones out in the streets with no way of paying for their lodging fees or food. Some of the young ones found themselves here while others remained in the streets in hopes of a faster payout.

The mayors and the nobles only looked up. Expanding and building the better parts of the city was a priority but this left many others behind. Not all were fortunate enough to earn a useful skill that would aid them through the harshness of life.

The building that they were living in was not in a good state. There were holes in the ceiling and sometimes large rats greeted them in the morning. With a lack of time and funds, it was hard to get this place in order.

Armand the man of the house was still immature and would rather spend his time outside hunting monsters. He did bring in most of the money so now one could complain but he left it up to the others to take care of the uncomfortable parts.

Elodia was saddened by the fact that she didn’t receive a battle-related class. She felt a lot less useful as she could not earn as much to take care of the kids. The only thing that remained for her to do was to manage the family expenses. It was as if the gods were playing tricks with her as the class that she received was fashioned with this.

She would have probably been a perfect head maid in a lord's house with her skill set of accounting and housework. She was good at cleaning, cooking, and economics. Her skills let her analyze any faults in calculations with but a single glance. Thus she also found herself doing the bulk of the work at the guild as the other workers knew well that she had skills that helped her finish her work faster.

“Hey Elodia, take this.”

After all of the kids were fed, Armand approached her while she was cleaning the dishes. In her hand, she saw a crystal, the same one that she once used to get her very own polymath class. This class allowed her to learn a lot of skills like accounting and statistics but was not very specialized.

“Give it to Rayne, she will soon be eleven…”

“So that’s why you haven’t been coming home for so long”

Elodia smiled at Armand and petted his shoulder, at this the large man moved backward with a certain awkward expression on his face.

“Thank you.”

“Hah, it was an easy task for this great me!”

Her smiling face quickly turned sour as after her compliment her younger brother started laughing.

“Maybe if you didn’t cause trouble last time we would be able to afford the crystal sooner.”

The laughing stopped suddenly as Elodia met Armand’s gaze. This gaze he evaded as he quickly left the room in a hurry.

“I think he learned his lesson already, even I'm starting to feel bad for him…”

“Then don’t, unless he does something about that attitude, I’m going to remind him of it!”

Elodia fixed her glasses and went back to washing dishes and soon the next day approached. With her being gone it fell to the oldest Rayne to take care of the younger kids. She wished that she could remain here longer but the work at the guild would not finish itself.

The day started off the same as always with large sweaty adventurers visiting her side of the guild. While she took care of the work with haste her friend Solana lost precious time with useless banter. Even then the customers that were at that side seemed somewhat happier.

This was one of the big mysteries of the craft which she still didn’t fully understand. She was the best but this didn’t reflect in customer satisfaction. Whenever she asked Solana about it she only received laughs and the only advice was to smile more but whenever she tried it seemed to turn the customers off even more.

After few hours of dealing with the usual rabble and less than stellar stares a curious visitor arrived. Not that long ago it would be hard not to spot him as he usually went around wearing flashy red armor.

Now on the other hand his clothes were less reserved but he still had that strange atmosphere around him. Elodia couldn’t put a finger on it but she felt somewhat lordly, as if he was of noble birth. Though that aura started to diminish whenever they spoke as he was not much for talking.

It was not time for him to pick up his cut from the store earnings nor was it time for him to deliver them. So she was a bit curious as it seemed that he was walking towards her.

“Mr. Wayland, how can I help you today?”

She stood up straight and made sure that her uniform was without a blemish. For one reason or another, the young man’s eyes started darting all around as if he didn’t know what to say. Thus with a little push, she repeated.

“Mr. Wayland, is everything alright?”

“Ah yes, everything is fine Ms. Elodia… I have a question.”

“A question? What is your question?”

Before answering he looked to each side and finally started with a somewhat resolute voice.

“It’s better if we don’t do this here, when do you finish?”

“When do I finish?”

“Yes, when do you get off work.”

“Um… it's still morning, I’ll be here for another seven hours or so.”

“Great, I’ll come to pick you up then, I have something to discuss.”

After having said that, the young man nodded and excused himself from the guild counter that she was working at. Elodia was unsure of what the meaning of those words was but soon her co-worker Solana’s face appeared right next to her.

“What is this? You and Wayland? You never told me you like younger guys! How could you.”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

Elodia had to take a moment to figure out what her elven co-worker meant. Having focused on working and family safety made her a bit blind to romance which caused her to space out for a while. This was followed by a certain reaction to the notion of having any kind of suitor.

“You look like a ripe tomato, it must be the truth!”

“What are you talking about! Me and Mr. Wayland are in no such relationship!”

“But he just set up a date!”

“No, he didn’t!”

The adventurers in line stood watch at the back and forth between the two women. It took a few minutes for them to settle but this did not alleviate the questions that Elodia now had.

Did Armand do something again and Wayland wanted to complain to her about it? Was it about work-related things? But why would he need to wait for her to finish work before talking to her? Could what Solana was talking about be true? Could he really be wanting to pursue her?

These questions continued to fill her mind throughout the whole day. It was hard to focus as she did not know what to do. She was of the mind that relations between people working together was taboo. The young runesmith was somewhat employed by the guild but he was more like a contractor than a regular employee.

“Good luck, you will need it!”

“It’s not like that…”

Solana gave Elodia a wink while she just rolled her eyes. Her mind was telling her that it was job-related but for some reason, there was a certain strange feeling inside her chest. A part of her hoped that he wouldn’t show up but another one did the reverse.

“Ms. Elodia.”

The moment she pushed the guild door open she heard his voice. There he was in his new clothes and with his face revealed. He slowly walked up to her which caused Elodia to take a step back.

“Ah… good evening Mr. Wayland.”

“Yes, I apologize for keeping you from going home if you want we can talk along the way. It really won’t take long.”

For one reason or another, she found herself walking with the town Runesmith back home. While he said that it wouldn’t take long he remained silent for a prolonger period before she finally broke it herself.

“Mr. W-wayland?”

“Ah, yes I’m sorry, I don’t really have much experience with these things…”

“With these things?”

“Yes, you’ll be my first if you agree.”

‘Wait what, I’ll be his first? He is younger than me… was that idiot elf actually right?’

“Ms. Elodia, I think we danced around it long enough so I’ll just ask you.”

“W-wait Mr. Wayland, I’m not ready!”

“Would you be willing to work for me? I’m willing to of course pay you more than what the guild is offering you but we can agree on the terms later…”

“Huh? You want me to work for you?”

Elodia almost tumbled forward at the revelation of Wayland’s true intent. She felt equally relieved while also somewhat angry for an unknown reason that she was not sure about...

A note from Kuropon


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