73. Going on a Trip
“He won’t fully recover until he gets an antidote made to directly counteract the poison in his bloodstream. Even with his levels and his Skills aiding him, it’s a losing battle.”
“But you’re a [Healing Mage], aren’t you? Can’t you do anything about it?”
“Best I can do is delay the inevitable. And one way I can do that is by ensuring he doesn’t force himself too much like he did yesterday.”
“So, what you’re saying is that all we can do right now is wait for Gabriel to return and cure him?”
The two Human men craned their necks in my direction, giving me a quick glance. The [Healing Mage], Stannis, nodded.
That was all he said. He let the words sink in, leaving Hadrian alone by himself as he took his leave and exited the room. Daniel and I were waiting off to the side— we were once again outside of Viechester, at the Valiant Dreamers Company’s training grounds located a few miles away from the city.
Hadrian had sent for us— he wanted to check on his father one last time before we embarked on our job. And that was to head to the Motharis Mountain Range with trackers from their company to find a high leveled [Alchemist] named Gabriel who was gathering ingredients there.
Supposedly, it was convenient for us to do this because we were heading to a Dungeon deep in the mountain range in the first place. But from my point of view it only made it inconvenient!
Sure, I could understand Daniel’s argument when he told me we had to do something that went beyond serving our own self interests— especially since the Valiant Dreamers Company had opted to help us with protecting Rachel. I also could somewhat see what he meant when he said it was the right thing to do.
But it was anything but convenient!
We weren’t even sure where this Gabriel was, so we had no idea if he was on the way to the Brilsum Ruins— our destination— or far off in the opposite direction! We just knew he was somewhere in the Motharis Mountain Range. Which was a large expanse of land that stretched a thousand miles!
I did not fully comprehend its size, but I knew I couldn’t run the entire way without resting. So that had to be pretty long, right?
Hadrian approached Daniel and I after the [Healing Mage] left, rubbing his temples as he sighed.
“I still can’t believe this happened.”
“You did not expect the Iron Champions Company to do this?”
I cocked my head and he nodded.
“I did not— and neither did my father. We were always opposed to them, however to think they would target Baris… they want war.”
“And you won’t give it to them.”
I spoke simply, remembering the conversation from yesterday.
“We will not.”
Hadrian glanced between me and my companion— we were both dressed to leave, although we still had to return to the city to say our goodbyes to Edithe and Rachel. The blonde man was apprehensive.
“Ms Salvos, Mr Daniel—“
“I’m Salvos. Or Princess Salvos. There’s no in between.”
“Right. Salvos. I am putting my trust in you two to save my father. We’ll have a [Mage] specialized in scrying spells to accompany you to track Gabriel down. And a [Hunter] too. Honestly, it would be a lot easier if we just had a high leveled [Scryer], but the best ones we have in the Eastern Kingdoms, helping out the Remembered Order Company. It would take a relay of [Short Range Messages] that takes days to get there, and they’ll be too far too effectively pinpoint Gabriel’s location in a way that is more effective than if you just go now.”
Hadrian aired a lot of information at once. Daniel blinked and I simply gave the leader of the Valiant Dreamers Company a blank stare. He glanced between us and shook his head.
“Sorry. Been very stressed lately. Just know that you’re doing us a massive favor by doing this. We’re incredibly short handed right now and we can’t just spare our Gold Ranks by sending them to the Motharis Mountain Range. The Valiant Dreamers Company will be in your debt for this.”
He bowed deeply and Daniel placed a hand on his shoulder. They locked gazes as the [Hero] spoke resolutely.
“If anything, we owe you for what you’ve already done for us. And we’ll just be paying back the favor. Don’t worry, we’ll find Gabriel and bring him back.”
Hadrian straightened, looking more reassured now. He chuckled as he walked out of the room, us following behind him.
“You don’t have to bring him back. Just find him and tell him to return. He can hold his own.”
“Wait, isn’t he an [Alchemist]?”
The blonde man winked.
“A high leveled one.”
We arrived in the city of Viechester soon after, returning to the Valiant Dreamers’ headquarters. There, we met Rachel and Edithe waiting just outside of the gates with Ian and Paige standing guard as usual.
Hadrian entered through, telling us that he would fetch the two adventurers who would be accompanying and helping us find Gabriel. As he left, I walked up to Rachel and Edithe— the former of which was struggling to break free from the latter’s grasps.
“Salvos— you aren’t actually going to leave me here, right? Please bring me with you!”
I stared at the girl as she desperately fought to get to me. Daniel stepped up behind me.
“You can’t come with us, Rachel. It’s too dangerous for you.”
“But I was with you when you fought that Demon! And when those mean assassins came for you! Please… take me with you!”
Rachel pulled with all her might one last time— and finally gave up. Edithe might have been a [Mage], but she was still Level 55. Her [Strength] very easily quadrupled Rachel’s who was a Classless [Human] according to my [Identification].
The little girl sniffled, and turned a pleading snot-covered face to me. I bit my tongue.
I really wanted her to come. However, that was what I wanted. It was not safe for her to follow us. Especially if we were to enter a Platinum Ranked Dungeon.
She would surely die.
“I’m sorry, Rachel.”
I spoke softly, lowering myself to meet her gaze. She blinked— not realizing what I said for a moment. Then she broke out into tears, wailing and crying as Edithe held her in a hug.
I glanced up at the red haired woman.
“Please take care of her.”
“Don’t worry. I will protect her with my life.”
I shook my head.
“Protect yourself too. The Harrowed Vindicators are tough and the Iron Champions Company is ruthless. Don’t let your guard down.”
Edithe’s eyes widened slightly. And she took a deep breath.
“Right. We’ll be fine.”
“I trust you. You’re my companion.”
I smiled and hugged her once again. Then I stepped back and let Daniel say what he had to say too. He tried reassuring the girl that we would be fine, then he hugged Edithe too. And just as he was finishing, Hadrian returned with two adventurers following behind him.
The leader of the Valiant Dreamers Company stopped before me, nodding back at the Level 38 [Archer] and the Level 35 [Mage] with him. High Silvers, I observed. Aren’t they supposed to be cowardly or something? Are they being forced to come with us?
“This is Sophia and Cless. They’ll be the ones searching for Gabriel to bring him back. You just have to keep them safe from the high leveled monsters in the Motharis Mountain Range. Think of it like a kind of escort mission.”
The two Humans— a woman and a man respectively— greeted me without meeting my eyes. I frowned, realizing that they didn’t look particularly pleased to meet me. So they are being forced! I deduced with a snap of my fingers.
They glanced up at the sound and I waved a hand.
“Hello! I’m Salvos.”
“Right— Sophia, Cless, this is Salvos and Daniel. They are Gold Ranks. And not just any ordinary Golds. They’re quite famous adventurers in Nixa.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say we’re famous. More like famous in one small part of it, and somewhat known in the rest of the country.”
Daniel walked up beside me and held out a hand.
“It’s a pleasure to be working with you.”
I had thought his greeting wasn’t unusual. In fact, he seemed to be politer than usual. However, neither of the other Humans seemed to take it too kindly.
Sophia clicked her tongue and Cless slowly shook Daniel’s hand without so much as looking his way.
“Are we going to waste anymore time on saying hello? Or are we going to get going before Baris croaks from old age rather than the poison.”
The [Archer]— or rather, she was supposed to be some sort of tracker [Hunter]— stalked ahead with her arms crossed. Her companion grunted in agreement and followed after her only turning around to give us a look as if to ask us to hurry it up.
Hadrian laughed strangely and scratched the back of his head.
“As you can see, they’re a bit… overexcited about this. And I can’t blame them for wanting to rush. I’m worried about my father too. I do hope you make this trip with haste and find Gabriel before anything worse happens.”
I nodded cheerfully, my face brimming with a smile.
“I have [Self Haste]!”
“That’s not what he meant, Salvos. But yes, we’ll try to get to this [Alchemist] of yours as soon as possible.”
Hadrian bowed his head once again.
And with that, Daniel and I were off. Rachel was no longer crying— although she was now being carried by Edithe and clinging to her shoulders. The two waved at us as we made our way down the street, following the two Silvers out of the city.
It was only when we left Viechester did I turn to them.
“So, you two are good at finding people, huh?”
Sophia made a sound and Cless curtly nodded. I tapped a finger on my chin as the two suddenly sped up, walking ahead of Daniel and I in a faster pace down the sinuous dirt path cutting through a thin forest.
“Hypothetically speaking, if I wanted to find someone in… the Spirit Plane, would you be able to find them?”
I stopped right in front of them and they exchanged a glance. The [Archer] harrumphed and quickly stalked past me while the [Mage] frowned.
“I don’t believe that’s possible. Please don’t ask us to do impossible things.”
Cless hurried after his companion as Daniel slowly made his way to my side once again.
“Salvos, are you irritating them on purpose? Or are you just being dense again?”
“What do you mean? I think they like me!”
He spoke simply. As if it were an axiomatic fact of the world.
“They do not like us.”
“Aw. Why not?”
“Don’t know. But I can pick up on simple social cues such as trying to avoid us, unlike you.”
“Hey! I’m getting better!”
“To be fair, you really are.”
I sighed, looking ahead at the two Silver Ranked adventurers as they entered under the canopy of trees, now covered by a light shadow as they were obscured from the sun. I squinted.
“I think I know why they’re unhappy.”
“Because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed?”
“I’d be pretty upset too if I had to sleep! But— no, it’s because they’re being forced to go on this job.”
Daniel looked at me dubiously, but I insisted he listened to my point before making a snarky comment.
“Look, Silvers are pretty cowardly, right? That’s what I’ve been hearing since I came here. The very first Humans I met were complaining about Silvers!”
“…man, people really hate Silvers, don’t they?”
“And since they’re Silvers, they’re probably scared of dying to some monsters stronger than them—“
“I’m pretty sure everyone’s scared of dying to a monster that’s strong than them—“
“You get my point, right?”
I crossed my arms and faced my Human companion. He glanced ahead at the two adventurers far off in the distance. They were nearly gone from view— almost out of sight. Then he slowly nodded.
“I think I get it. You’re saying they don’t actually want to do this.”
“Exactly! They’re either being forced or they have no other choice!”
Daniel rubbed at his chin understandingly as I beamed. We both spoke up at the same time.
“That means we should—“
“—leave them be and just go to the Brilsum Ruins instead!”
The Human man stared at me. I blinked innocently back at him. But he continued staring.
Finally, after a moment, I scowled and threw my hands in the air.
“...or we can be nice Humans and tell them we’ll protect them and ensure they don’t die.”
“Don’t make me punch you.”
“I was joking. Please don’t. I’d like to have kids one day.”
Sophia glanced back at the dirt road behind her and Cless, seeing no one was there. The brown haired woman nodded to herself then turned to the [Mage].
“I think we lost them.”
He grunted, not even looking away from the path ahead of them. It made sense that the two adventurers would be able to lose those Gold Ranks that were following them. In the first place, they weren’t even being reimbursed for the job, so they probably were only doing this half-heartedly.
In addition to that, Sophia and Cless both had high [Agility]. They might not have been as fast as a [Rogue] at their levels, but they certainly could move faster than any clunky [Warrior] on the battlefield, even if they were Gold Ranks.
Neither of the two were specialized for combat. And that meant the only way they could survive outside of the city was moving quickly and nimbly, avoiding monsters and supporting their allies from the back.
But right now, neither of them really wanted to have anyone else with them.
“I still can’t believe that that idiot Hadrian didn’t listen to us when we told him we could find Gabriel on our own. What does he think of us as— babies? We don’t need babysitters to accompany us. Especially not anyone from outside of the company. We’re almost Gold Ranks ourselves. We can survive a quick trip to the Motharis Mountain Range.”
“He’s still incapable as a leader. Don’t forget that he was only handle the mantle of being the head of the Valiant Dreamers Company just recently, because his father was starting to see signs of his old age catching up to him.”
Cless nodded in agreement as Sophia huffed, arms crossed.
“I bet it was his fault this happened to Baris too. What kind of incompetent idiot doesn’t pass background checks on the servers and chefs we’re hiring to work at the training grounds of all places! One poisoned barrel of ale, and the entire company would have been crippled.”
“Indeed. We’re lucky the Iron Champions Company themselves aren’t the most intelligent either.”
“We just have to get this job done and tell Baris of our deeds. Then maybe he will finally promote us to Gold.”
Cless wrinkled a brow and turned to her. She blinked.
“Nothing. I was just wondering why you haven’t been promoted just yet. You’ve already advanced your Class, haven’t you?”
“I have. When I hit Level 35. And only Baris and Hadrian knows about it. It makes no sense to me either! Any other company would celebrate and hold a party for the promotion of one of their members if they got a Class advancement before 40. Especially for a rare Class like mine.”
“[Centinel Hunter], right?”
“Yep. Got it from tracking down a bunch of [Older Centinels] that had ravaged a town over at the border with Elutra. Led a group of Platinum Ranks to a Centinels camp. Thanks to me, they were all found and killed to the last.”
“Isn’t a Class like that a little too specialized?”
“It gave good Stats.”
“Once we’ve found Gabriel, we’ll have to ask Baris to give you a promotion. It’s unfair how Hadrian has had you doing mundane jobs for the past three months after finding out you’ve advanced. And we don’t get our promotion? We’ll leave the company.”
That stopped the young woman in her tracks. She stared at the man as he finally turned to face her— he flicked his red hair back and met her gaze.
“You can’t be serious, right?”
“But— we’ve been in the company for years!”
“And we have never been appreciated, nor have they tried to cultivate our talents. Think about it, Soph, there are other companies out there that would be more than willing to take us in.”
She asked, frowning. The [Mage] replied simply.
“The Forsaken Company. They’re one of the Three Honorable Companies. And they accept anyone and everyone into their ranks.”
“They also have to deal with the undead hordes coming out of the Plaguelands! And are the first in line to fight off a Kobold invasion!”
“I know they’re… not the safest to work with. But it was just one suggestion. There are many others we can join too, alright? Just think about it. Once we’re done with this mission, we’ve effectively proven ourselves to be Gold Ranks. The Motharis Mountain Range is full of monsters above Level 40. If that still doesn’t earn us the recognition we deserve, then nothing will.”
Sophia hesitated, chewing her lower lip. Eventually, she felt her shoulders sag as she agreed with Cless.
“You’re right. But that’s not going to happen. We’ll prove ourselves here and get our promotion. We just have to find Gabriel.”
“I hope you’re right— come on. Once we see those tall mountains in the distance, I’ll activate my [Scry Direction] Skill. It should lead us to the general location where that crazy [Alchemist] is at. And once we’re close by, your tracking Skills should be enough to help us find him.”
The two nodded and started forward once again, picking up the pace. They reached the end of the forest path, exiting the canopy of trees and entering back out to bask in the sunlight—
“There you are!”
They stopped in their tracks. Blinking, Sophia rubbed at her eyes as Cless took a step back in shock. In front of them stood the two Gold Ranks— Salvos and Daniel— waiting by a large rock. Well, one of them was standing beside the boulder and shaking his head, the other was standing on top of it with her hands on her hips.
Salvos hopped off the rock and skipped a step to them. She threw her arms around their shoulders and sighed in relief.
“When you two disappeared, I thought you got lost! I searched the entire forest for you but couldn’t find you! Then Daniel suggested I climb something to get a better view to see if I could spot you two… and it worked!”
“Correlation is not causation, Salvos. Also, what I meant was for you to climb a tree. Or something taller than a six foot rock. You could’ve climbed on my shoulders to achieve the same results.”
Sophia found herself at a loss for words for a moment, then realized she was still being held by the silver haired woman. She struggled to pull herself loose, but found herself locked into a tight grip that refused to budge.
“I’m so glad you two didn’t run away.”
Salvos sighed, finally releasing them. The [Centinel Hunter] stumbled forward as Cless tripped away and fell to the ground. The two Silvers glared at the [Rogue] and sputtered.
“What is wrong with you? What are you doing?!”
She cocked her head.
“Me? I was just worried you two ran away and because of that we wouldn’t be able to find Gabriel. Or that you were eaten by some angry monster.”
Sophia stared, working her jaw. Does she think that lowly of us just because she’s a Gold Rank?! She gritted her teeth.
The young woman opened her mouth, anger compelling her to say many things she probably should not say. But before she could speak, Salvos clapped her hands together cheerfully.
“I know you two don’t want to do this job, but don’t worry! Daniel and I promise we will protect you and make sure you don’t die! Isn’t that right, Daniel?”
The other Gold Rank nodded. He gave them a reassuring look.
“Salvos may not act like it, but she’s incredibly strong. And I am a decent fighter myself. We’ll do our best to make sure you don’t have to fight a single monster in the Motharis Mountain Range.”
Salvos and Daniel seemed to give each other a knowing glance. As if they did something they thought was right. Satisfied with what they said, the two turned around and began continuing down the path heading northward.
And they left Sophia and Cless behind, staring and at a loss of words.