“So this is it?”
“Yes Mr. Wayland, congratulations on passing your test and achieving the gold rank.”
Roland looked at his adventurer card which now had a golden outline on it. After the woman he talked to vanished for about ten minutes she rushed back down to proclaim that he had passed. What Loreena wrote in the letter was unknown to him but it seemed to have impressed the current guild master.
Even the process of updating his card was hastened, already after an hour of waiting everything was in order. The best part about it was that he did not need to get his status red for the update. This was something that he expected as the status check was done before the test was supposed to start. With the help of a certain sun elf back at his home he was able to go around this.
“Would you like me to explain the benefits of the gold adventurer rank?”
“Ah well, that’s fin…”
Before Roland could finish his sentence the guild worker was already blabbing away the information that he was already familiar with.
“Now that you are a gold rank adventurer you can choose to take a leadership role in small expeditions! You will be free to command lower ranked adventurers and receive higher rewards if placed in such a role!”
Bronze, Steel and Silver grade adventures were quite common and mostly seen as common foot soldiers. Now after reaching the gold rank an adventurer was seen as more experienced and with a future. This was the rank just before tier 3, it was the last step before the world of elites opened up.
This reminded him of one of his earlier adventurers in the ant-infested mines. There a group of gold rankers took over the show and instructed him, who was only a steel grade adventurer. They just sent them out as scouts without much thought about the dangers while waiting. Now he could actually join those types of expeditions and be the one giving orders but did he want to?
‘That does seem like a bother but…’
There were pros and cons to being a leader. On one hand, he could direct the forces as he wished to complete the task at hand in the way he wanted. On the other hand, if the mission failed he would be held accountable for any deaths or failures. It was a double-edged sword that mostly fell in favor of the higher rank as they were able to save their life by using lower ranks as meat shields.
“With your gold rank card, you will be able to purchase potions and various other necessities at a higher discount…”
The woman continued to list things that he already knew. With Elodia back home he already had a living encyclopedia that he could ask about all things related to the guild. One big change that the woman didn’t mention was concerning tamed beasts like Agni.
The Ruby Dire Wolf was over level 100 and only if their master was a gold rank adventurer could his pet be officially allowed into the city. This would require more paperwork and a special harness with a muzzle as he was a wolf-type monster with a strong bite. This would not be a problem for a blacksmith like him who could easily create one. With a few modifications, he could even make it come off automatically so if Agni found himself in trouble he could just use his mana to take it off.
“Thank you but I know all of this already, if that’s all then I will excuse myself.”
“Ah… please come again!”
Roland decided to interrupt the woman as she continued to babble on. The job that he concluded was still under review but he would not receive any rewards anyway. Due to it being a rank-up test he wouldn’t be receiving any more than this. Money was not what he came here for though and this would allow him to leave this city earlier than any other participant.
While walking away from the guild receptionist he heard a familiar voice that belonged to a fellow adventurer. It was Orson waving to get his attention, his entire party with an additional berserker were all there eating and drinking up.
“Are you finished? Have a drink with us lad.”
Dalrak laughed while moistening up his beard with some cheap beer. They all had clearly finished up giving their reports and were now winding down. This adventurer guild was a lot larger than the one back home and this cantine area was the same. It was mostly full with some empty chairs here and there.
‘I guess I haven’t eaten anything in a while…’
The moment he saw the food on the table he could feel his belly rumbling. The fresh food that Elodia had prepared for him before the trip was already gone and he was stuck with dried meat and bread.
“How is it?”
“Hah, what does it matter, food is food!”
As he sat down he turned in Grisalde’s direction, the large woman was munching on a drumstick belonging to an unidentified bird. It was a lot larger than one that belonged to a chicken and could actually belong to a monster. Monster meat was mostly too tough to eat but there existed some weaker ones that could actually be raised.
“I guess you are right, excuse me, can I have one of those too?”
He nodded before calling the waitress over. Though he had gotten used to the seasoned food prepared by Elodia, eating roasted bird from time to time wasn’t bad. When among other adventurers in heavy armor and a muscular barbarian woman he didn’t seem that out of place even when wearing this shiny armor.
“So, how long do you think they will make us wait?”
Asked Orson after taking a swig from his mug.
“I’m sure that merchant will try to weasel out of paying in full even though we recovered most of the merchandise.”
Replied Senna that was poking a piece of meat with a knife.
“We might be stuck here for a while, why don’t we visit the dungeon later?
Said Dalrak while laughing. Roland was listening in without saying much, this was quite a large incident that could take a while to resolve. It mostly depended on the merchant that could just fork up all of the money they were owed. If not the guild might have to confiscate some of the merchandise and sell it before giving the adventurers their wages.
“Maybe if someone didn’t drink all of the liquor from the carts it would go faster.”
Senna narrowed her eyes when looking at Darlak. At this moment Roland recalled how the dwarf had probably gone through most of the booze by himself. He was probably the only one that didn’t partake in the drinking as he preferred tea or just regular water.
“Hah, can’t blame a dwarf for quenching his thirst!”
“What about you Wayland, are you going to stay?”
“Me? I’m not sure…”
While Senna was arguing with Darlak, Orson posed a question to Roland who was going through the drumstick he ordered. He had done some thinking about his next step which mostly took him back to his own city.
“I was planning on leaving but I’m not sure if it will be that easy…”
“So you want to go back? That will be a problem with the inquisitors running around, all the paths back will be blocked off that would leave you with a few choices.”
“Right, either I take the long way back or take the ship…”
“Yeah, they will probably make it difficult for anyone that isn’t a resident from going on the ship though.”
“That’s a possibility.”
Roland had a quick back and forth with Orson that continued to look drunker with each passing moment. They had managed to enter the city right after the incident had occurred. Not everyone was informed about the situation so they managed to evade any integration attempts yet.
‘That inquisitor was on my side but this doesn’t mean that others will act the same, staying here for too long might be unwise.’
While these four didn’t seem to be bothered by the run-in with the cultists Roland was not so relaxed. He expected the forces of the evil cult to clash with the Solaria worshipers. Even the city could be turned into a battlefield if it gets out of hand, this depended on a few factors.
‘Do they have enough forces on this island to go against those church knights? Will they just abandon their precious relic or quickly scramble to take it back?’
Roland did not know much about the cult, they were quite the secretive bunch. But at this time they were out in the open, they could not remain hidden away if they wanted their biggest secret to being revealed. If the church managed to figure out how the relic operated they might be able to counter any future mind-affecting attempts.
‘It will probably not trouble them instantly…’
Even if the relic was decoded the specialized equipment would not come cheap. Probably only high ranking church members would have it with them. This would really not help their victims that would still not be able to do anything about the illusion trigger.
‘They could wait and also take the relic when it was being transported but the church has the resources to protect it…’
“So you coming or not?”
“There you go again, spacing out into your little own world, I said, are you coming to have some fun!”
His thoughts were interrupted by a visible more drunk Orson that was grinning now. By how the man was licking his lips while talking about the fun, he already knew where this was going. Orson was a man that followed his basic instincts, this mostly consisted of getting drunk and going to the whorehouse.
“I think I’m going to pass.”
“Hah, suit yourself!”
Night was arriving and it was time to split up. The three adventurers that he arrived with were getting rowdy. Even though they didn’t receive their payment they still had some money. Without much to spend it on, they were probably going to hit the city for more drinking and entertainment. This was something that Roland had grown out of, with his combined age he was already over forty.
“It was fun working with ya~”
Senna called out to him while heading over towards the party of four. For some reason, Grisalde was also sticking with the group that she seemed to dislike. Perhaps she was reeled in with some promises or another bet that she would probably lose again.
With that he was alone again in a city he did not know and without a proper means to return home. Normally he would take the first caravan back home as a passenger or sign up to be a bodyguard like in the previous mission. All of those caravans went through the nearby village that was filled out with church soldiers now. They would certainly not let them enter the forest that they needed to pass through.
‘I need to restock…’
The satchel he had only had a few mana potions and healing potions remaining in it. He had enough money to last him a while but he did not want to be stuck for a month here. If the church decided to create a makeshift base in the village it could block people from using the old route for quite some time. It seemed that the fastest way of getting out would be the ship.
‘It doesn’t seem that they are implementing martial law, or at least not making it too obvious, also who was that Paladin? I should probably do some research…’
While he had been saved by the high level church inquisitor, the man’s origin was unknown. Would he listen to his plea and not disclose that he met him in the middle of nowhere whenever he visited his father? Was there even a possibility of the man seeing his old man unless a war broke out?
‘People like them should be busy, I can’t imagine a Paladin like that heading to noble parties to mingle with people… but he could always send him a letter…’
His cover could have been blown and he would not be able to do anything about it. His only choice was to wait and contact his older brother Robert. If his father found something out then the only person he could confirm this information with was Robert. Which made things difficult as he was busy performing his duties as a proper soldier in the kingdom.
With being low on the totem pole he would probably not be able to give him much information. Without the knowledge of what was waiting for him, Roland knew that he would be stressed out. This he could only work on by himself by preparing for the unexpected. When he returned home he already knew that he needed to toss himself back into the dungeon and level up as fast as he could.
‘I should check out the pier first.’
It was close to sundown, everyone else that came for the trip was either waiting in line or out in the city’s pleasure district. To them there was no rush, the cultists were dead and they could just use the nearby dungeon to get some coins. Roland on the other hand needed to have an exit strategy if for some reason the cultists appeared in the city like in Edelgard. There was a low possibility of this as with the appearance of the golden order they would be busy for a while.
Thus his first option of getting back home was the port. Luckily this city came equipped with it and the ships here should be leaving for the port town that he visited when he first arrived on this island. The adventurer guild had a detailed map of the city hanging on the wall to help anyone that was new find their way. With the help of his good memory, he quickly noted down the important areas.
‘This is a lot bigger than the ports I have visited before.’
The walk towards this side of the city took him about half an hour. The whole city was sectioned off into three main parts. One of them was the main noble castle where the reigning noble and his army resided. Some rich merchants and lesser nobles also had villas and houses that they occupied there.
Then there was the commercial part of the city where the adventurer guild and merchant guild was positioned. This was the largest part of the city which had the highest concentration of people. It had many smaller districts that apparently had their own set of rules. Money reigned supreme there which brought the rich merchants up to the forefront.
Then there was the third side which was the one he was looking at, Reeka’s port town. It was composed of many piers that were occupied by various ships. Even now he could see sailors unpacking large crates with various goods in them. While spatial technology was available in this world it was not available for every small piece of luggage.
Besides the merchant ships, there was space for a smaller residential district where the seamen and fishermen lived. This was a full-blown town within a city that could support itself by trading and fishing.
‘One of these should be going towards Albrook…’
After seeing the many various ships his hopes were up. Perhaps if he was lucky he could take a trip back this very day. Roland was worried that if he didn’t take the chance now the church could block people from leaving the city. The governing noble would probably not allow that as even a week of halting the trade would bring in losses to their coffers. Yet if the push was too strong or if the cultists appeared in the city then even the noble would have to go through with an order like that.
What he was looking at was a massive circular building that was right in the center of this port area. The water flowed inside of this large building that was taller than any of the ships that were going inside. He couldn’t really see it from this angle but from what he could tell this was a giant warehouse into which some of the ships directly deposited their wares. On the inside, there were probably a lot of guards to protect all the various wares.
‘Think that’s the harbor that was noted on the map, I need to go inside to see if there are any ships leaving.’
It was time to gather some information, with some luck he would be able to get out of here before anything drastic happened. While he wished to tour the area and check out the stores for any runic equipment he could copy, he was not a beginner anymore. Anything that was at the stores he had already seen, unless it was a high tier 2 runic item or beyond he was not really interested. Thus he descended towards the area smelling like fish in hopes of getting back hope to his friends.