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A note from Belgianfri

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I took some time to think about the events that had occurred the day before, and realised that I would have to talk to my uncle in the capital to figure this whole thing out. I still had two more months to gain as many levels as possible before the tournament.

If I wanted to win, I needed as many as I could get.

Honestly, I had debated not using my affinity in the tournament for a while, but decided against it in the end. I could either undergo the whole 'wait, you have a dark affinity, but aren't insane' thing many times throughout my life, or just once during the tournament and be done with it. It would make me a person of interest to the powers that be, but I had already settled for that happening. It's not like I set out on my journey to become a nobody, after all. If I'd wanted that I would have stayed home and become a baker. There was no point in becoming strong if I wasn't going to use that strength for something. That meant that I was going to have to deal with the implications of my class regardless. With some luck, my backers would stop anyone annoying from bugging me.

With my mind set, I got out of bed. Waking up in the guild without Michael sleeping in the bed next to me felt strange at this point. Despite the amount of attention the little bugger required, he had grown on me.

With a yawn, I stood up and clothed myself. My leather armour was once again starting to fall apart. These days I took it off before sparring, but despite that, its durability was coming to an end. I would have to order some tier 2 armour soon. I had the money for it, anyway.

I turned to my mirror and was surprised for a moment. I hadn't noticed because of all the stuff going on in my life lately, but I looked different from before. My dark brown hair was starting to turn darker and darker. Eventually, it would become pitch black, influenced by my affinity. I had also received a growth spurt, because many of the clothes I had were starting to get too tight and too short. That meant another trip to the tailor's, today. I supposed I could go visit Michael while I was here.

I had visited the appraisal office the day before, somewhat in a daze from my conversation with the guild leader, but I was happy to find out that my cauldron had finally been sold for the expected price, to the intended customer. The final price came out at 85 gold with the hammer's price added to it, which I pocketed when I received it. That put my total net worth over a hundred gold, which equalled a single platinum coin.

With that happy thought on my mind, I started my day.

I opened the door of my room into the hallway, only to be greeted by the smiling face of Cerion looking up at me. He was a tall guy himself, but my family was known for being tall, back in my hometown.

"Cerion? What are you doing here, this early?"

"Good morning, Arthur! You woke up just as I arrived! Do you have some time to show me around the city today?"

"I do, actually. I was going to visit a kid I picked up a while ago and shop for some new clothes and armour."

"Lovely. It seems our intents are aligned! Great minds think alike, as they say!"

"I'm pretty sure they don't say that about two guys going shopping, but sure."

 

Cerion was a little too boisterous for morning-me to keep up with, but listening to him rant about street food was as good a way to wake up as any. Apparently, this madman had sampled more than 6 stalls already, and the day was just beginning!

He didn't shut up, even while I ate breakfast in the mess hall, left the guild and entered one of the many market streets.

"Oh, that one over there is actually made out of pig offal! Somehow they clean them well enough that they don't taste like poo.."

"Cerion, can we not talk about this? I just ate a few minutes ago."

He rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment, something he had made a habit of when I stopped him in the middle of one of his rants.

"Sorry, I'm just excited. This is the first time I've been to a city in my life. Dad would never let me go to one."

"Well, you'll have plenty of time to explore it at your own pace over the next few months. We'll have to return regularly to pick up new quests, after all. Speaking of quests, what kind of task did you want to do?"

Cerion turned pensive for a moment.

"Well...both you and I want to get as many levels as possible and we can both fight above our tier...So we should probably pick up some extermination quests. Does the witch hunters' guild have those?"

"Oh, plenty. There's always hordes of undead to slay, and even goblin, orc or troll extermination quests."

"I thought the adventurer guild took those?"

"They do, but sometimes when a quest isn't completed within a certain time frame, giving the mercenaries and witch hunters a chance to do it instead. In other words, difficult, dirty or badly paid jobs do show up in our guild quite frequently. Some of them are good for levels though, especially the difficult or badly paid ones. "

"I see. So we want to pick up those, then. I don't really need the money, so you can have it."

I looked at him in disappointment.

"Don't look down on me, Cerion. For a commoner, I do quite well for myself. On top of that, you should learn how it feels to make and spend your own money. The taste of independence is a sweet one. Though responsibility leaves a bitter aftertaste."

Cerion actually clapped at that. From the grin on his face, I could tell he was making fun of my improvised quote. Idiot.

 


 

"The teacher said that if I keep doing well, I'll be allowed to take the test to go to an academy!"

"That's good, kid. I knew you had the talent to get into a preparatory school. Will it be the one here in Reito?"

Michael shook his head excitedly.

"No, stupid! I mean one of the academies in the capital! I beat all the other kids in the test, and in a few months, there'll be a big exam in the capital! If I do well, I'll be allowed to join."

I looked at him hesitantly. "Listen, Michael. I'm not sure... if the guild can afford a scholarship for one of the royal academies. Have you talked about it with anyone yet?"

"Yeah! The teacher said it's possible!"

I couldn't tell if this was good news or bad news. I had known that Michael was talented, but this talented? Entering one of the academies in the capital would also be a huge risk. They were filled with nobles' kids and talented commoners. That meant that they became a recruiting ground for retainers and servants. The issue was, Michael was already affiliated with the guild and, to a lesser extent, myself. The entrance examination would be around the time of the tournament, which meant that if he entered one of these academies, he would enter the public eye nearly as much as myself. I could handle that, but Michael? He was just too young.

At the same time I couldn't deny his entry into one of the academies either, since the chances of him getting a rare class went up drastically if he got the best education, which was important for warriors like me, but essential for mages like Michael. Unable to come up with an excuse, I decided to just give it to him straight.

"Michael, I have something to tell you."

"W -what?"

"I have a pretty rare class. I'll be participating in the Royal tournament three months from now. If you get into one of the academies, you might get annoyed, teased or even bullied for knowing me. That's why you should think about this carefully."

I couldn't look him in the eyes as I broke the news to him. I felt guilty. He might be forced to give up his dream because of me.

"I -I don't care."

I turned to look at him.

"What?"

"I don't care what people say. You've done a lot for me. I'm not scared of knowing you! If I get into the academy, I'll give them a piece of my mind!"

I pulled Michael in for a hug. He had a good heart, in the end. Who was I to tell him no?

 


 

I had left the orphanage and picked up Cerion at one of the street food vendors, a large, round-bellied man. He looked the same way I felt after a round of Cerion's questions. Perhaps more so than most others, I understood his pain. He actually went as far as to thank me out loud when I told Cerion we were leaving.

"You really shouldn't harass poor salespeople like that, Cerion. He looked just about ready to close up shop for the day, and the clock hasn't even passed the top yet!"

"Alright, I won't, I won't. I have to admit that I enjoy their discomfort just a tiny bit. What was that about the clock though? Past the top?"

He looked at me with a shit-eating grin. I didn't know what he was getting at, though.

"Yeah, Doran taught me that. If the small arrow isn't past the top yet, then it's not even noon yet."

"The top is called twelve o'clock, Arthur." he replied in a monotone voice.

"Yeah, well, same thing. Anyway, let's visit that tailor over there, I need some new clothes."

Apparently, Cerion didn't feel like letting go of my clock-illiteracy though, because he breathed in deeply and began singing.

"Arthur can't read a clock..., Arthur can't read a clock, Oh Arthuuur, caan't reaad..."

I put my hands on his mouth to shut him up.

"Are you insane? Leave me alone, you asshole!"

He had a hard time not bursting into laughter. Oh, I would remember this moment. Revenge would be swift and unexpected, of that I was sure.

 

Half an hour later, I had ordered some custom-fitted clothes to be made. They would be ready a few days later, which meant that it was now time to order some armour. In the stories, the hero always found some hidden back alley that housed a master smith, but in real-life, master smiths were found inside of their own manors in the wealthy district. That was the case because they were 'Rich' with a capital 'R'.

Doran had once again done me a favour and recommended someone to me. He was a grumpy old man that lived on the outskirts of the aforementioned district, apparently.

It wouldn't be the smith that made my tier 2 armour, of course. That would be both too expensive and a waste of a master's time. No, one of his apprentices would be doing the job.

Eventually, Cerion and I found a large townhouse attached to a stone workshop. The label hanging out front said 'Arton's workshop', which was the name of the smith, I guessed. We headed inside and were greeted by an attendant. We went through the typical song and dance until she recommended me to one of the apprentices. She led us to his private workshop, where we found a ball of muscle hammering away.

"Sir, you have some.."

'Clang!'

"Sir, I've brought..."

'Clang!'

"SIR!"

The young man shot up in surprise.

"Ann! Sorry, I was busy making this new piece of equipment. You called me?"

"Sir, I've brought you some new customers. Please attend to their needs."

With a turn of her hips, the attendant left. The apprentice looked a little embarrassed.

"Sorry about that, I was a little absorbed by my work. She gets like that when I don't notice. Anyway, my name's Bertram, a tier 2 [Journeyman smith]. I'm a legacy disciple of Master Arton. What can I help you with?"

Glad that that whole debacle was over, I stepped forward.

"Hi, I'm Arthur, a tier 2 witch hunter. I was looking to get some armour made for myself."

"Armour, huh? An entire set? That stuff takes a while... Well, I can provide, as long as you have the coin. What affinity do you have?"

"Don't worry, I have the coin. As for my affinity, I don't have one, so make the armour without affinity materials."

"No affinity, huh? That's bad luck. No shame in pressing on regardless, though. That's what separates the wheat from the chaff, that's how true men are born!"

I almost facepalmed. Why did every single person I met need to be borderline insane in some way?

"Well, let me get your measurements. I'll have a set made in a week or thereabouts. Should cost around 25 gold in total. Does that work for you?"

It was slightly more expensive than I had expected, but I had the coin for it.

"It does."

As we left the smithy, I could see Cerion tense up. Oh no. I knew what was coming. We had just entered a place he had never seen before and talked to a person he had never met before. That meant there would be questions. There would be many questions.

I sprinted away and didn't look back as Cerion tried to catch up. There was no way in hell I would be caught in another one of his 'question storms'.

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Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

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