“Please…” He whispered inwardly one last time, hoping for a miracle he knew he would never come. However, at that moment there was a knock on the door, gentle but enough to rouse his attention. The man slowly rose to his feet, wiping his eyes to dry his tears. “Yes? Who is it?” He called out, doing his best to keep his voice calm.
“Just a wanderer.” The voice returned softly. “Just a wandering healer, who heard that you might be in need of help.”
The farmer froze in his steps, his fists tightening. There was a spark of hope in his heart, and yet at the same time, fear. “I… we can’t pay you. You should turn back, don’t waste your time on us.” There was something in his voice, a bitter sorrow.
“I don’t need you to pay me. I am not short on coin. I’m just passing through, helping where I can.”
The man’s heart nearly leapt out of his chest. He was by no means a strong individual, and that much was public knowledge. He was a farmer, born in a farming family. If there were someone trying to rob him, they’d either need to be blind or stupid. So… maybe, just maybe.
He walked to the door, opening it to see a man dressed in strange silver robes. A kitsune, going by the ears and the black tail swaying gently behind him. Young enough to have only left home for a year or two. However, he knew that such appearances could be deceiving. So the first thing that he did was to look at the man’s feet.
The soil around the house was fairly loose, so it was often easy to tell a man’s weight by how deep his steps. And a man’s weight often helped narrow down his physical power. From the little bit he saw, he could at least determine that this man had some training.
“Come in.” He stepped back, holding the door open to let the man inside. The floorboards creaked with the added weight, making him nod his head in acceptance. “Are… are you sure that you are able to cure narui?”
The man tilted his head in confusion for a moment, before a look of realization dawned on him. “I should be able to manage. Please, take me to her.”
The farmer hesitated, but ultimately decided that a slim chance was better than none at all. He led the man into the bedroom, where they saw his wife laying still on the bed. Her health bar was suspended over her, slowly creeping closer to her death. “I’m Zamas, and this is Aryu.” He explained, introducing the two of them.
“She’s in the late stages of narui now… We can’t afford to visit the town alchemist. Please… if there’s anything that you can do for her…”
“I’ll try.” The man spoke, his voice wavering for a moment. He moved to sit beside the bed, using the same chair that Zamas had used himself only minutes ago. After that… it’s hard to explain exactly what happened.
The stranger in silver robes reached out, placing his hand on top of Aryu’s forehead. Zamas could make out an old copper ring adorning his finger, though it did not seem to be anything special. All he saw was a small silver light surround the man’s palm, before glowing green specks appeared in the air around him, floating into his body.
However, that was of little concern to Zamas. Something far more important was happening. A green number appeared above Aryu’s head, the sign of receiving magical healing. Still, although he saw this, there was still doubt. It seemed likely that the stranger was a priest of Udona, here to try to channel the power of his goddess to heal the ailing Aryu.
Zamas knew that such a thing was foolish, however. The priests of Udona could heal many injuries, but never a sickness. No, instead their healing would only make a disease stronger. When they were asked why this was the case, it was explained that Udona’s blessing grants life to everything, big and small. And the virus, while malicious, was also a living thing.
So he watched, hoping that his speculation was wrong, that this man truly had some magical power that could wash away the disease infecting his Aryu. In the meantime, he simply watched one green number after another appear, his wife’s health bar visibly improving.
It wasn’t until he heard a choked cough from the bed that he sprang into movement. That was the first sound that he had heard from her in days, and he almost pushed the stranger out of the way as he quickly arrived next to Aryu’s side, grabbing her hand. “Aryu?” He asked, renewed hope finally making its way into his features.
The stranger shook his head, slowly standing up. Even now, the green motes of light were slowly appearing to pass into his body. “I believe she’ll be alright now. However, she’ll probably need a few days to recover and get back to normal.”
Zamas heard him talking, but he couldn’t pay attention to that. He saw the smallest tremble of his wife’s lips, and it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. If not for the health bar showing that she was still alive, patients in the late stages of narui are often mistaken for the dead without closer inspection. But now, he saw signs of life, proper signs of life.
After a few moments, he finally remembered his wife’s savior, turning around to thank him. But, at this point he had already gone. The door was hanging opened, having never been closed after they entered. Zamas stood, rushing out to the door just in time to see the stranger in silver robes walking away, towards the town.
That went… pretty well, I think. I mused, walking towards the nearby town. It had taken longer than I thought, and burned through a fair amount of my new ki. However, even while I was walking, the robe and accessories I was wearing worked to replenish the missing energy.
What surprised me the most was the appearance of the green lights that kept flowing into me. Belatedly, I realized that they were specks of natural energy, though it took me a little bit to properly figure out what was happening.
Because the pool had been attuned to the ki of beginning, it was naturally refilling it. However, my body was not able to produce natural energy, one of the ki components in the recipe. It could only supply the ki, and then when the pool was imbalanced it drew in natural energy from the outside to fill it up. I suppose this had been happening all along with elemental ki as well, I had just never been wearing any items to boost the recovery speed enough that the effect became visible.
Udona, any plans for the next area? I asked, sending my message to the overseeing goddess. My wish to not bother Aurivy had remained unchanged. Hopefully, there was somewhere nearby that I could do some work.
Yeah, just a second. You’ll be able to find the most work if you head to the city of Suram. It’s the local hub for trade.
Hearing that, I gave a small nod, stepping into the city. How far is it?
That… It’s a few days’ walk. But you can pay for a gate if you go to the local Guild Hall.
I felt a small smile creep onto my lips as I heard that. Alright, which guild am I looking for.
No, Dale. It’s called the Guild Hall. The organization you want is just known as The Guild. They handle adventurers, mercenaries, and random job requests. Pretty much everything that isn’t a permanent career goes through the Guild when it comes to the beastkin.
After she said that, I felt a mental tug towards one of the larger buildings at the center of the town. On the front of the building was a large emblem shaped like a badge with four colors. Red, blue, green, and gold occupied the four corners of the emblem, black lines drawn between them. Guess that’s the place.
When I walked inside, I immediately saw a large amount of people crowding the left side of the building surrounding what looked to be a row of billboards along the wall. There were four of them in total, each marked at the top with an emblem identical to the one on the front of the building. The only difference was that here, each emblem only had one color, each being one of the colors seen outside.
On each billboard was a series of papers tacked on, likely the requests. Most of the papers had an identical emblem to the one of the billboard that they were posted on. However, there were a few that had two, maybe even three emblems of different colors. Shaking my head, I made my way towards the reception desk.
“Are you here to register, or to request a job?” The man, a lycan with red hair and a slender build, asked.
“I’d like to request transport to Suram. Is there anyone available that could help with that?”
After I asked that, the man briefly nodded his head. Focusing for a brief moment, a paper appeared on the desk in front of him, one with a green emblem above it. “Is this what you’re wanting?” He asked, sliding the paper to me. “I have listed the price according with the guild policies.”
Nodding briefly, I reached down, grabbing the paper to read over it.
Requirements: Druid Level 10+ with a connection near the destination.
Payment: Three sil, twelve pen
Specifics: The quest will be completed after the requestor has been transported to the destination.
… Udona, Ryone, someone please tell me what this currency means.
Sil is the local name for a silver coin, and pen is for copper. Think of it like pennies. You’ve got plenty of both in your bag, so don’t worry about it. Ryone replied quickly, as expected of the merchant goddess.
I set the paper back down, nodding again. Focusing on the bag of holding that Ryone had given me, I retrieved the requested currency, placing it on the counter. “How long should I expect to wait?”
He collected the payment, pocketing it himself. Since this was a quest scroll, he must have supplied the initial payment from his own pocket. “It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a day. If you allow me to attune your comm crystal, I can contact you when your request is accepted.”
“I… don’t have one of those…” I said softly, shaking my head. Now I know how it felt to walk around in modern times without a cellphone.
There was a troubled expression on his face when he heard that, but he let out a sigh. “Well, if you would like, you can buy one from the guild. Otherwise, you will need to wait here until such time as someone accepts the request.”
“I’m okay with buying one.” I answered rather immediately. It’d be good to have one in the long run, and this way I’d have another little toy to explore.
“Please proceed to the first basement floor, then.” The receptionist motioned towards the stairs towards the back of the room. “General sales are conducted on that floor.”
After briefly thanking him, I followed the directions to make my way down the steps. What I found was a long hallway, various signs lined up on the ceiling to display what each branching room offered. I wasn’t looking to buy monster ingredients or weapons, so I passed over the first couple of doors.
Next came a sign simply saying ‘General Goods’, which sounded like the place. Inside was a young kitsune woman with blonde hair working the counter. The rest of the store seemed empty, so it was no surprise when she called out to me. How she called out to me, now that was something else entirely.
“Come on in, Dale.” She said with a professional smile, waving me forward. “You’re here for a comm crystal, right?”
I had to admit that I was stunned, only able to dumbly nod my head. “...Udona?”
“No.” She shook her head stoically. “Irena. I wanted to be a living person this time.”
Udona… you did this on purpose, didn’t you?
There was a brief laugh on the other end of the connection. Dale, I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. You wanted someone to cure, and there just happened to be a potential patient near one of our incarnations. Really, wouldn’t it be more odd if none of our incarnations were around sick or wounded people? I just directed you to one where you can meet one of us.
I let out a light sigh, shaking my head as I stepped into the shop.