102. An Offer
“It’s my own fault I can’t help them. After all, I am a [Summoner] who can no longer summon.”
My heart sank as Edithe said those words; not only was my companion no longer able to utilize her most important skill set in battle, she also couldn’t use half of her Class’ Skills. She had broken her contract with Mistshard. She ended the contract against the [Elemental]’s will, and as a result, she would not be able to summon a Spirit again.
And now Druma and Mistshard were gone. The two could no longer be called by Edithe. Knowing that had hurt me too, but I focused on what was in front of me first. My eyes sharpened as I stared at Edithe.
“It’s not your fault. You were doing what you thought was best.”
“I did. But once again, I was wrong.”
She raised her towards the stars, her eyes longingly searching the twinkling balls of light for something. Anything. I saw this, and I felt sad.
“I was wrong, just like how I was wrong about you, Salvos. Just like how I was wrong about facing Lucerna. Sometimes… I’m just a bit of an idiot, huh?”
I felt my fist tighten into a ball and I shook my head.
Edithe glanced over at me, blinking.
“It’s fine, Salvos, I—”
“It still isn’t your fault. And it’s ok to be wrong. I have been wrong before too! When Haec warned me about the Demon King’s Domain. I should have listened. We shouldn’t have wandered in. Because of my insistence, we’re separated. But it’s not my fault, just like it isn’t yours.”
“What do you mean?”
I waved my hands, exasperated.
“The world is just unfair. That’s all that is. If it wasn’t, I would be a wild Demon. Or I’d be dead, like the others.”
Taking a deep breath, I solemnly lowered my hands and spoke slowly.
“It is… what it is.”
My companion stared at me, eyes wide. We stood in silence for a moment, neither saying anything. Until finally, my other companion took a step forward and placed a hand on Edithe’s shoulder.
“Salvos is right.”
He paused, eyeing me with a look.
“Even if she’s stating the obvious like it was some kind of profound statement.”
Sputtering, I shook a fist.
“It makes sense to me!”
“It does. And that’s why I’m saying, Edithe, Salvos and I aren’t just going to let others put you down, especially when you’re already down on the ground and hurt. We’ll help you up. As Salvos would say, we’re companions, right?”
Edithe slowly nodded.
I walked up to Edithe and hugged her. She took a step back, caught off guard. Then I pulled myself away from her, clasping my hands behind my back.
“And even if you can’t summon, even if you’re weak now, that just means you can only get stronger. We’ll help you get there. We’ll help you level up. Get you a Class advancement that suits your situation.”
Her gaze was fixed on me, confusion evident. But I met it back with a look of determination. Then a small smile spread across her lips.
“Thank you, Salvos, Daniel.”
I beamed, glad to see that she was now feeling better. Taking the lead, I marched forward triumphantly.
“Then let’s go back to Rachel! I want to play with her!”
Daniel and Edithe paused. They stared at me judgingly. I blinked and took a defensive step back.
The two spoke at the same time. Despite saying that however, Daniel muttered a snide comment under his breath after.
“She’s so childish.”
“Hey! I heard that!”
The three of us returned to the headquarters of the Valiant Dreamers Company soon after. It was not as busy as it had been when I first came here— back then, adventurers filled the halls, chatting with lively spirit. Only two Golds had been guarding the entrance, and even that was considered unusual due to the circumstances at the time.
Now, a team of Gold and two teams of Silvers stood on watch. The barrier which surrounded the structure was far stronger— I could tell how much more delicately woven the threads of mana forming it was. My better mastery of magic and the arcane let me see it. Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed a difference had I not trained my mana refinement over the last few months.
We were let through and entered the building; most of the adventurers here recognized Daniel and I by now. Only Edithe was a member of the company. Since we were with her anyway, we wouldn’t have had problems getting in.
The moment we reached Edithe’s room, Rachel burst out of the door and buried herself into my legs. The little girl stared up at me with her round, amber eyes. I ruffled her brown hair as the look she gave me drew my lips into a smile.
“What took you guys so long! You said you would be back before the sun set!”
I glanced past her, out of the window in the room. The sun hung low on the horizon, giving a vibrant, orange tinge in the sky that stood in stark contrast to the dark blue drapes folded to the side of the picture-esque sight.
“But the sun hasn’t set yet.”
I pointed out. Rachel shook her head defiantly and hugged me harder.
“Well, it almost did!”
Edithe chuckled and pulled Rachel away from me. Holding the girl in her arms, the red haired woman grinned.
“How have you been, Rachel? You’re supposed to be focusing on studying.”
“I have! It’s just that I got a little worried… that’s all.”
Rachel pouted as Edithe gave her a dubious look. I raised a brow.
“Yeah, she’s been interested in picking up a Class soon. She wants to be an adventurer— and a princess, but that’s not going to happen— so I’ve been giving her books to read and prepare herself for the adventuring life.”
Plopping Rachel back on the ground, Edithe faced me. Daniel narrowed his eyes and spoke with a frown.
“You’re just letting her become an adventurer? Isn’t that dangerous?”
“If that’s what she wants to do, I can’t stop her. Besides, I’m not just leaving her alone to fight giant rats or something. I’m having her read books. And for anything else that’s even remotely practical, I’ve asked Sophia to tutor her.”
“And Rachel has been doing an excellent job of learning.”
Another voice spoke out. It didn’t come from me, Daniel, or Edithe. It came from down the hallway. A young Human woman with brown hair tied into a bun turned the corner, her hands dug into her pockets, and a bow hung around her back.
“There’s no need to worry too much, as long as she isn’t getting herself into dangerous situations. In fact, I think it’s better for children who want to be adventurers to be educated about it, so they can actually decide when they’re older if it’s the path they want or not.”
I exclaimed, looking her over. Rachel shied back behind Edithe and Daniel, although she didn’t exactly seem to regard the young woman the same way as she would a stranger.
“Hi, uh, Salovs, Daniel.”
Sophia greeted us both hesitantly for some reason. I grinned and pointed a finger at myself.
“That’s me! And I haven’t seen you all week!”
I had only spoken to her briefly when I returned to Viechester. And it was only because I was searching for Rachel after I had saved Edithe. Sophia was an odd Human though— and the way she acted reflected that!
“I’ve been… a bit busy. Not as busy as the others since I’m not the best at fighting. But I’ve still been doing jobs for the company.”
“Yep! I’ve been helping out too!”
“Right, that’s actually why I’m here.”
I cocked my head as Sophia explained.
“Hadrian asked me to find you and Daniel when you two came back. He wants to speak with the both of you.”
Daniel and I exchanged a glance.
“What does he need us for?”
“I don’t know. Just said to come talk to him when you have the time. He’s in his office upstairs.”
I obligingly started for the stairs, followed by Daniel. Rachel tried following me, but was once again scooped up by Edithe.
“Oh no you don’t. You and I will be doing some reading.”
I could only spare Rachel one look of sympathy before I rounded the corner. Daniel and I made our way through the corridor until we reached Hadrian’s office.
“What do you think he wants with us?”
My companion asked. I shrugged.
“Don’t know. Let’s find out.”
Knocking on the door, I waited for Hadrian’s voice to call out before coming in. His office was a large room that was rather minimalist. I had expected his office to have a lot of books lining its walls like a library, but instead he simply had a desk in the center with a large open space for training.
“Is this a training room or an office?”
I curiously looked around. Hadrian laughed.
“It’s a bit of both, actually. How are you doing, Salvos, Daniel? Been doing good, I hope?”
We nodded as we stopped right before his desk. The leader of the Valiant Dreamers Company stared at us with his piercing blue eyes. Running a hand through his silky, blonde hair, he gestured at the two chairs in front of us.
“Please, take a seat.”
“Did you want to speak with us, Hadrian?”
I asked, raising a hand. He faced me and winked my way.
“Well, I would’ve preferred to just speak with you—”
Daniel scowled for whatever reason. But Hadrian steeled himself and wore a more serious face.
“But this matter is in regards to both of you.”
Glancing over at my companion for any hint on what this could be, all I found was a seething Human man. I turned back to Hadrian as he began.
“As you can tell, our company has been very busy recently. Not only are we low on members after the events of last week, but we’re still embroiled in a pointless company war, trying to force the Iron Champions Company out of the region. Our allies have begun offering us their support— Silvers are being sent to help with keeping the monster population around Viechester from running wild, and some Golds are even coming to aid us directly in the war.”
He leaned forward in his seat and rested his elbows on the wooden desk.
“But the Iron Champions have their own allies too. Support from noble families which are lacking in the Sunmere Republic. We have groups backing us, yes. But we’re in the unfortunate situation where our sphere of influence can’t spread as far as we’d like since we share the same country as the Rising Veterans, one of the Three Honorable Companies. I’m not saying this puts us in a terribly disadvantageous position, but it is a disadvantage. Even if a minor one.”
Tapping a finger lightly on my chin, I listened to the Human man speak. He took a deep breath and I piped up.
“So, your company is in a bad spot. But we already knew that.”
“Not a bad spot. I’m sure the Iron Champions Company faces similar issues and dilemmas as us. No company— or even a country— goes to a war and comes out of it unscathed. We’re just facing problems that are typical of a company war. And we’d like any advantage we can get.”
That was certainly true; if I was going to a Dungeon, I would stock up on healing potions, mana potions, and stamina potions so I would lower the risks of losing a fight and dying.
Hadrian broke me out from my thoughts.
He clasped his hands together, addressing both of us. Daniel was no longer upset; we turned to face Hadrian as he held our gaze.
“Both of your presence have been a massive boon to our company. You have not only helped us in getting our highest leveled [Alchemist], Gabriel, back when we were in a tight spot, but you’ve also saved the lives of some of our best members. And now, you’re working on behalf of the Valiant Dreamers Company to deal with the excess monster hunting jobs that our members can no longer handle.”
“Well, we’re only doing it because we’re helping Edithe—”
Daniel nudged me, cutting me off.
“Let Hadrian finish. I think he’s going somewhere with this.”
I blinked and slowly nodded. Hadrian gave Daniel a grateful look then spoke softly.
“I would like to formally offer both of you, Salvos and Daniel, the opportunity to join the Valiant Dreamers Company as a dreamer. You have both proven yourselves to uphold the values we preach, and you have aided us greatly before. If you accept, we will give you access to not only all the resources and contacts we have, and you don’t have to pay a thing. This is why I called you here.”
I stared at Hadrian.
Crossing my arms, I turned to Daniel.
“What do we do?”
“Personally, I don’t mind either way. So, it’s up to you, Salvos.”
I frowned; the question posed to me was a little sudden. Hadrian smiled gently and waved a hand.
“Take your time. And be honest with yourself. Don’t feel obligated to accept it for any reason whatsoever.”
It was true that the Valiant Dreamers Company had been good to me. They had protected Rachel as they promised, and Edithee was in the company too! If I joined them, they would have given me access to a plethora of things I never would have access to otherwise too!
It definitely seemed like there were no downsides to joining the company. So, I felt my lips curl up as I looked up to face Hadrian. A smile spread across my face as I cheerfully gave my answer.
“Nope! We refuse!”