“Bye! Thanks for the ride!”
I waved at the carriage as it rolled down the street, having dropped us off at the Adventurers Guild of Viechester. Rachel was ogling the city around us— everywhere we turned, we could see the high walls of the city surrounding us. The white banclite rose up to at least 50 feet, standing taller than any city wall I had seen before.
In fact, this city was large; it was nothing like Silvergrove or Hazelbury. If Rachel had been captivated by Warrington, a small city on the border of Nixa, she was mesmerized by what Viechester had to offer.
She gasped as her gaze glazed over the scenery around us. I couldn’t help but be impressed too.
“I didn’t know Humans lived in such large cities. If Lucerna had attacked this place…”
“He would have died.”
Daniel finished my sentence for me. I nodded, tapping a finger on my chin.
“I wonder why he never attacked a place like this. Didn’t he want to die?”
“He probably wasn’t fully resigned just yet. Sometimes, people feel like they want something, but they can’t fully commit to doing it just yet. If he really wanted to die, he would’ve just… you know?”
“No, I don’t know.”
I turned to the Human man with a confused look.
“What do you mean?”
He stumbled over his words.
“You know… if he really wanted to die, he’d just have… d-done it himself.”
Blinking, I slowly registered the implications of his words; then I took a step back and stared at Daniel, horrified.
“Why would you do that?!”
“I don’t know— can we change topics?”
“Look at that! Look at that!”
Rachel piped up over us, hopping up and down excitedly. We turned to her as she pointed at a Human woman waving a small wooden stick— a wand— in the air. Suddenly, a smokey white bird poofed into existence and took off into the sky. Then it circled back and disappeared into a tall, black hat.
“How is she doing that?”
The little girl faced with wide eyes. I scratched the side of my head.
“More specifically, illusion magic.”
Daniel added from the side.
“She’s a street performer. She’s casting simple prestidigitation kind of spells to do that— nothing above our levels.”
I identified the street performer and found her to only be at Level 18.
“Yeah, look, you can see a few other [Mages] and some [Rogues] showing off tricks down that street too.”
He gestured at another road, full of busy pedestrians crossing through as other Humans lined up the sides, performing different kinds of flashy and dazzling tricks. A [Rogue] juggled half a dozen daggers, an [Archer] shot an apple mid air, and a [Warrior] carried a huge rock.
Not all of them were impressive— many passersby didn’t even give them a second look. It mostly drew looks from the children. And Rachel was especially locked to the scene before us. I was staring too, until I noticed this.
I crossed my arms and loudly harrumphed.
“I can do that too. It’s nothing amazing.”
“Yes, but you’re Salvos.”
She spoke simply, giving me an uncaring glance. I threw my hands in the air.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I mean, is she wrong though?”
“Well, no— but… I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. I am Salvos.”
Daniel laughed and Rachel tugged at his shirt, pointing at a food stand.
“Can I… can I have that?”
“But we don’t have enough…”
The girl instantly deflated and nodded understandingly.
“Oh, I see… I’m sorry for bothering you Mr Daniel.”
He glanced at her, then at the judging look I was giving him. He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“Let’s get that real quick. Then we’ll go to the Adventurers Guild, alright?”
“Yay! Thank you!”
Rachel beamed and we headed over to the stall. And when we left it, she was munching on a piece of burnt fish stabbed through by a wooden stick. I ignored that and faced Daniel.
“Why are there so many street performers here? I don’t think I ever saw one before.”
“That’s because it’s banned in Nixa. They find it hard to tax and regulate these street performers because of the way they earn their coins. So they don’t allow it.”
“But it’s allowed here?”
I raised a brow, perplexed. He shrugged.
“The Sunmere Republic doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. I don’t know, never been here before. Everything I know comes from what I was forced to learn when I… came here.”
Daniel pushed the door of the Adventurers Guild open, letting Rachel and I into the large hall. A few faces turned to us, and I raised my chin, expecting to hear some shocked reactions. I was a Gold Rank adventurer after all!
But other than a few nudges and a few glances, there was no reaction.
Blinking, I took a good look around the room and realized that we weren’t the only Gold Ranks around. In fact, there were some that were even higher leveled than me! And they were the ones getting all the attention in the room.
I frowned as Daniel walked by me with Rachel by his side, chewing on bits of food.
“Something wrong, Salvos?”
I grumbled and marched forward.
“Let’s ask them about Edithe.”
He exchanged a glance with Rachel but she pulled away from him and hurried after me.
I sourly walked up to the receptionists desk with Rachel now by my side, holding my hand. The receptionist— a young Human man with an odd object made of glass rested on his nose and clinging onto both his ears… glasses— looked up and almost through me.
“I am Salvos.”
“Salvos, I don’t believe you’re local to this guild, are you?”
“Nope. I came from Warrington, but before that I was from Silvergrove and Hazelbury.”
“Right, so you’re not a local then.”
The receptionist spoke bluntly and I scowled. He doesn’t even know my name! Everyone around Falisfield knew my name!
I produced my Gold Rank badge and he nodded, scribbling onto a piece of paper. I waited for a reaction, but none came.
“...aren’t you going to say anything?”
“No, why would I?”
He looked up at me with a bored face. I scowled.
“Alright Miss Salvos, what do you need from Viechester’s Adventurers Guild?”
I said nothing, completely demoralized and defeated by the dismissive attitude of the guild. Daniel stepped up behind me, taking over.
“My companion and I were looking for a local company. Or… it’s a rather big one, but it’s located here. I believe it’s called the Valiant Dreamers Company.”
“If you’re looking to sign with the Valiant Dreamers Company, I don’t believe they’re holding an admission test today. And don’t bother trying to haggle Baris to let you in just because you two are Golds. He won’t do it.”
I cocked my head and turned to Daniel. He shrugged.
“Probably someone from the company— look, Sir, we’re not trying to join the Valiant Dreamers Company. We just have a friend who’s part of the company, and we’re looking to find her.”
“Her name’s Edithe! She has red hair, about as tall as me! But she isn’t me, of course.”
I happily supplied, raising a hand. Rachel copied my gesture, holding up the now-empty wooden stick.
The receptionist made a sound and strummed his finger on the table.
“Very well then. If you want to get to the Valiant Dreamers Company, it’s a rather large warehouse located in the western part of the city. Once you go out of the door, turn right and head straight past the city square till you’re halfway to the gate. You can ask for better directions when you’re there.”
Daniel nodded gratefully at him. Then my Human companion paused and glanced over at a bulletin board to the side as he shifted uncomfortably on his feet.
“By the way, are there any, uh, open jobs I can take a look at?”
“Sure. These are the ones we have for the week. But they’re mostly minor tasks, would a Gold Rank like you even need to do this job?”
He laughed nervously and I quickly led Rachel out of the guild.
The three of us walked through the busy streets of Viechester. Rachel was enamored by the street performers and other displays of the city, such as a magical fountain that spewed colorful water in the air.
I stopped to stare at it too, analyzing the way the strands of mana in the air were interrupted by some magical sphere within it. Whatever magic enchanted it was not efficient— it did not draw any mana from the surroundings at all!
Saffron’s basic lessons on mana theory really are helpful, I mused, turning to Daniel.
He was leafing through the pamphlets and pieces of paper we had been given by the receptionist. Apparently the jobs he had taken were ordinary jobs— something that was meant to be done by new Silver Ranks.
“So, we have a gathering job that requires us to head over to the nearby forest and pick out some zorth mushrooms, an extermination job for giant rats in the sewers, or a simple day guard job where we patrol the nearby roads for any monsters. What do you think?”
“They all sound boring!”
I answered truthfully. Daniel didn’t even blink.
“I know you think they’re boring, but these are part of their weekly jobs, Salvos. It’s good to make some quick money, especially since we have none right now. As opposed to taking a… I don’t know, a job that requires us to go to the Plaguelands and retrieve the Sacred Sceptre of Nhirad.”
My eyes twinkled and I turned excitedly to him.
“That sounds interesting! Can we do that?”
He spoke simply.
“That’s a job for Diamonds. Certainly not for us.”
I deflated, but I knew when things were too hard for me to do. It would be like if I were an Infant Demon all over again and I decided to attack a Greater Demon. I most definitely would die.
“I guess we can look for those mushrooms…”
“I’d have thought you’d prefer to exterminate the giant rats.”
I wrinkled a brow.
“Why would I do that? They wouldn’t give me much experience, and fighting them would be boring. But these zorth mushrooms— I wonder what’s so special about them.”
I cast my gaze to the sky, trying to imagine what these mushrooms were like. I had seen mushrooms before, especially when in the Silkfall’s Crevice Dungeon, and they came in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Is this a big one? Or is it small? Or does it at first seem like a bunch of small little ones gathered together but is actually a very big one?
“They’re just mushrooms. A common ingredient used by [Alchemists]. Very good absorbents of mana.”
Being told what it was took out all the fun behind it. I shrugged.
“Then can we just live without money?”
“No, we can’t. We wouldn’t survive without food or shelter.”
“But I can!”
Daniel ignored that comment as we rounded a corner. He stopped as we came face to face with a large warehouse building. It was fenced in on all sides by brick walls, however I noted a disruption in the flow of mana going through its perimeter.
I wanted to walk up to it and touched it, but Daniel led me to a metal gate instead. It was not as big as the gates on the walls of the city, but it was about twice my current height.
Two Humans stood there. One was a brown haired woman with her hair tied into a ponytail, while the other was a bald man dressed in dark clothing that revealed his abdomen.
[Mage - Lvl. 58]
[Rogue - Lvl. 61]
The bald man called out, stepping forward.
“Access to this building is authorized only for members of the Valiant Dreamers Company. Produce your guild pass or be turned away.”
He gave us a menacing stare— a glare. And Daniel and I exchanged a look. Rachel quickly hid behind me, hugging Princess tightly as she peered out the side of my legs slightly to see what was going on. Daniel opened his mouth to speak, however the brown haired woman elbowed him and pushed him aside.
“Why do you have to be so rude, Ian— can’t you see they have a child with them? Hey! Sorry for my friend. And you, little girl, don’t be afraid. He may look scary, but he’s actually a really nice guy.”
Rachel peeked out a little more, but stayed silent. She did not look scared, however her eyes were almost expressionless— it reminded me of the first time I met her. The [Mage] realized she wasn’t going to get a response from her and cleared her throat.
“So, are you new recruits or adventurers looking to join the company? Sorry, we don’t recognize your faces, and we’ve been a bit on edge lately.”
“Oh, we’re not part of your company.”
I replied honestly. She nodded, as if she expected it.
“I see, I see. Well, if you’re new recruits looking to join us, we’re not currently holding any admission tests. We’ve had… problems. We used to hold them every two weeks, as I’m sure you’ve heard, but things have been… happening.”
The bald man, Ian, grunted from behind her.
“Trouble. And I dislike trouble. If there’s trouble, I stab it.”
“Hey, me too!”
I nodded respectfully at him.
“Well, sometimes I cut them too. Or slice at them. But stabbing is very effective as well.”
He just stared at me, not saying anything. The brown haired woman cleared her throat and gave me an uncertain look.
“So, uh, unfortunately we’re going to have to turn you away. Sorry.”
“Oh, but we’re not here to join your company.”
The [Mage] frowned and the [Rogue] tensed.
“Then why are you here?”
I opened my mouth— but Daniel spoke over me, pushing me back.
“We’re here to meet with a friend of ours. She’s with your company. A Gold Rank.”
The brown haired woman gave us a dubious look, narrowing her eyes.
“And who exactly is your friend?”
Daniel began to reply.
“Her name is—”
I shouted over him, stepping forward. My other Human companion was talking to a man as they strolled out of the building beyond the gate.
The [Mage] and the [Rogue] blinked, turning back to face the red haired woman. Before either of them could speak however, I ran past them and hurled myself over the gates. I rushed forward and leapt at Edithe.
“It’s been so long! It’s me, do you remember me?”
The Human woman blinked as I threw my hands around her. I kept my arms wrapped around my companion, clinging onto her for a few passing moments while her eyes widened. Then, as if she realized what was finally happening, Edithe slowly hugged me back and smiled.
"How have you been?"