The adventurers guild was notoriously a place for strange people. A place reserved for those who had reached a high level but didn’t choose to retire and use their hard earned money to live a comfortable life. They instead opted to keep pushing, to keep playing with fire.
The minimum level to become a member was 50. Of course you could become a trainee at any level. Veteran members could either take on mercenary jobs or train the newbies for a fee. As for any other obligations they may have, Sofia had no idea.
Today Sofia and Alith were coming in with a very special mercenary job offer in mind.
The actual guild was a large building somewhat reminiscent of an inn. The doors were wide open. There wasn’t much of interest in the main hall. A board of requests stood on the left wall, a bunch of doors on the right, and a single bespectacled long haired man behind a counter.
[Supporter - Lv.60]
“Welcome to the adventurer’s guild, what may I do for you?” he hailed when they entered.
“Come to the counter, first time?” the affable man continued when he saw them hesitate. Sofia had to leave her visor open all the time in the city, if she didn’t people were quick to become tense around her. It’s becoming very annoying that I can’t completely remove the helmet.
Alith decided that she would do the talking.
“Hello, it’s our first time, yes. We want to seek counseling about adventuring.”
“You want to become trainees?” the receptionist asked with disbelief.
“No, no, we need someone to answer questions about leveling, exploration, general knowledge… Someone that’s at least level 100, the higher the better.”
“Oh that makes more sense, well, we don’t offer that kind of service usually, but I may be able to find someone who can do that right now, what budget do you have?” the man asked, his swift pencil filling a paper form.
“I don’t really know how much would be appropriate.”
“Hmmm.” The man stopped writing, he chewed on his pencil as he thought about it. “We should have five people over level 100 on site today but realistically only two of them would agree… So, you can either have Drian, level 130 fire mage dwarf, I reckon twenty gold and an offer to grab a drink and you’ll get him to talk all night, he’s a good fellow, quite knowledgeable. ”
“What’s the other option?”
“Or you can just ask the guildmaster. That’ll be more expensive, can't tell how much more, but if you have any weird questions she’s definitely the one who could have answers. Well, that’s if she’s not doing anything right now…”
Alith and Sofia looked at each other.
“The guildmaster, right?” Alith asked.
“A wise choice!” a high pitched voice exclaimed from behind. The receptionist’s face contorted in a terrifying expression but he kept his business smile up nonetheless. A young looking girl, right around Alith’s size, fuzzy white bunny-like ears sprouting from atop her silky white hair, and dressed in thick, flowing dark green robes with many layers was smiling smugly right behind the stools.
She extended a tiny right hand. “That’ll be a hundred gold coins!”
Sofia turned back only to see the receptionist still mute with his contorted smile, then she looked at the waiting bunny girl again.
That’s enough money to buy a large house…
[Fighter - Lv.250+]
She summoned the empty pouch and let a hundred coins flow in. The frail looking hand of the rabbit girl didn’t even shake from the gold’s weight.
Then again, this could save my life in the future. She better make it worth the money!
“Good! Follow me to my office!”
She guided them to a brightly decorated room on the third floor. It felt more like a flowery tea salon than an office desk, with old books, potted plants and all kinds of trinkets and plushies everywhere. The small girl turned to face them after they all entered.
“Please close the door,” she instructed, “Alright! I’m Kuli, Drakron’s Guildmaster since… Well, a long time. I’m at your disposal for whatever until my next appointment in two hours. I’m sure you have a lot of questions but please introduce yourselves first. You start,” she ordered, staring at Sofia. The cute act she had been putting up until now was gone, Sofia didn’t know why but she felt the girl’s presence to be very unnerving.
“I’m Sofia, I’m a defensive healer of sorts, it’s an honor to meet you.”
The guildmaster nodded and shifted her gaze to Alith.
“Name’s Alith, I’m a bit of an all rounder. I like cooking. Pleasure to meet you.”
At the girl’s sign, they all sat around a small table.
“So what do you girls want to know exactly? Is it about the towers?” the guildmaster asked, holding her head with a hand on each cheek, elbows on the table. Then she locked eyes with Sofia. “Or is it about the church?”
“You know?!” Sofia couldn’t help but let her reaction escape.
“Nehehe! Word travels fast, especially in war times. Do you think I wouldn’t know with my position? Well, I have good and bad news for you.” The girl corrected her posture and with a wave of her hand, a tea set already full of steaming beverages appeared on the table. “The paladin order is in shambles without their leader and they’re having a really hard time defending the border right now, so the church can’t at all afford to look for you. Besides, I know the church’s Oracle, I can assure you he won’t make a move, or you would have never reached here.”
“What about the bad thing?” Alith pressed on as the bunny girl was busy savoring her tea.
“The Magisterium's daughter has ‘gone missing’, she’s also a paladin above level one fifty.” The guildmaster answered in between two sips of tea.
And we’ve just found another reason to keep moving… I don’t want to confront the man’s daughter… Maybe I should, still… But not until I’m stronger.
“Alith, right? You’re the only hero she summoned?”
“No, we have a melee fighter too but he couldn’t come.”
“Oh, that should make yours a decent party then. Come with him next time. Is your blessing good?”
“It’s strong but I need to reach level 100 for it to start being useful.”
“Well you’re almost there… Alright, one last thing and I’ll let you decide what we talk about next, please stand up, Sofia.”
What was the point of sitting down in the first place then?
“Good, now stand in front of this,” she ordered. The thing in question was a large stone tablet standing upright on the floor that she had just taken out of nowhere. “Brace yourself, I’m going to hit you. Don’t worry you won’t actually lose any health, but it will hurt.”
“B- But why?!” Sofia stuttered, she had trouble even thinking straight under the pressure exuded by the high level fighter class that was directed at her.
Kuli took a fighting stance. Her small balled up fists were cute on the outside but to Sofia they looked like the reaper’s scythe aimed at her. The guildmaster’s next move was very simple, she punched the air with her right fist.
The whole building shook from the impact.
Sofia felt like her soul was ripped from her body, every fiber of her being howled from pain. She couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, it was like falling in an excruciating torture sleep. She could swear her body had been reduced to dust. For a moment, she believed herself dead.
Then it all stopped. She was still in the same room, standing in front of a now collapsed stone tablet, its debris glowing with magical energies. Sofia collapsed too. The bone armor clanked loudly as it hit the floor.
I’m still alive!
She could hardly believe it. She cried.
“Sofia!” Alith wanted to stand up but the guildmaster stopped her.
Kuli approached Sofia. They stood at almost equal height now that Sofia was sitting like a mess on the floor. She placed her hand on Sofia’s armored shoulder.
“This is what it feels like to be summoned by a saint. I hope you’ll remember that,” she whispered in a motherly tone, taking out a handkerchief and wiping Sofia’s tears. “Now come on, don’t cry, it’s over, you’re safe. Here, drink this and take a moment to breathe.” She handed out a steaming cup with unknown contents.
It was delicious. Sofia’s scrambled mind was instantly appeased by the beverage.
“I’m sorry, you held out too well against the skill. Most people would faint early on but you didn’t, that put you through a bit more pain than I intended. My point still stands however. You just wrongfully got the full experience. I’ll make it up to you…” Saying that, she went to a corner and started to take out random things from a spatial storage item.
“I-... It’s ok… n-, no need.” Sofia stammered through her sobs that just wouldn’t stop. She could think clearly now but her body was still adjusting.
“No no, it’s my fault so that’s the least I can do. Neeeh where did I put that darn thing!”
A pile of junk was accumulating in front of the guildmaster until she found what she was looking for. She held what looked like a long thin strand of gold.
“Can you take off the armor?”
Thank god I actually bought clothes to wear under the armor before coming here!
Kuli grabbed Sofia’s wrist and wrapped the gold strand around it a few times. The two ends of the string strangely melding when she struck them together.
“It looks good! It’s better for you to take it, I can’t use it anyway. Can you identify it by yourself?” The guildmaster seemed proud of her decision to gift this thing.
“I, I can.”