Chapter 53: Decisions
Nisha was still fuming mad, she was wandering aimlessly in [Thurgau], trying to let off some steam without success.
She had left the Dharnas Estate solely to find a worthy opponent in chess.
Grandpa Eldrin always won, but it was the game itself that was enjoyable, not winning or losing. Now it’s fun only if someone can keep up with my level, and make me go all out, but he managed to spoil it.
The dragon had been looking for a match challenging for her intellect, but her adversary had forced her to play a rematch of a game they had both watched. It was neither new nor a display of his real strength, as he had been able to make her play at his pace, this was most likely not the extent of his skills, he had just been toying with her.
Just thinking back on it made steam rise from her ears, her steps becoming something closer to stomps.
Losing herself in frustration like that wasn’t a good thing, for her mental health, but also because her dark hair had unknowingly began to glow, the dark red accents in her mane making it look like smoldering coals, a quite unusual sight, even in the great [Thurgau].
“Miss, please wait.”
Snapping out of her anger, Nisha raised her head, confused.
The one obstructing her path was a soldier, easily recognizable by his traditional green and red Leandar uniform; he was holding a spear in his right hand, apparently guarding the gate separating the noble district from the citizen sector.
Part of her education under the old butler Galan had consisted of lectures about the city; and although she had almost no practical knowledge, she had still seen a part of the city in person, when she had passed through the town during the carriage ride on the day she had arrived.
“What is it?”
Still irritated by the disappointing Eel’s park, she didn’t understand what the man wanted from her.
“I need to see your permission, Miss. Do you have some sort of identification on you?”
“Ah sure, I have one.”
Reaching for her pocket and pretending to grab something, the elvish girl slipped her mind into her [Soul Space], fishing out a plain necklace on which a ring was hanging.
As her reaction was slower than that of an average citizen used to the gates checkpoints, the soldier tensed up and one of the other two guards approached, wondering what was taking his companion so much time.
Presenting the ring silently, her bad mood literally seeping from her whole being, Nisha was coldly staring at the man.
The sentinel paled when he saw that she had taken out a jewel. His expression turned completely frightened upon noticing the mark on the ring, a large stag with a regal crown.
“I am so sorry, Miss Dharnas, for delaying you. Please go right ahead, no one will stop you anymore.”
Stepping aside, he almost fell in his haste to make way for her, too ashamed of his zeal to dare meet her eyes.
A realization struck Nisha like a hammer.
This man feared her.
Not because she had done something gruesome he knew of.
Her social status, that of a member of the Dharnas house, had beaten him into submission. She wasn’t sure if that was how she wanted to be respected.
Feeling as if someone had poured a bucket of cold water on her, the formerly angry girl left for the popular district and headed straight for a dark corner in some nameless street, where she pulled a hooded cape out of her space, slipping it over her head so as to hide from anyone that might understand her social status from her clean and well-manufactured clothes.
The anonymity gave her a bit of security. The lesson she had received from the soldier’s reaction was something she had yet to fully comprehend, but the hints she had already grasped on the event were enough to disgust her of a society where birth could earn fear from others.
For the time being, there was another object or location there that had unconsciously attracted her, something so peculiar that it had lured her from the noble district.
I wonder … what is different here from the area beyond the gate?
Observing the streets and their inhabitants squirming around her, Nisha slowly proceeded towards the centre of the district, to arrive at a humongous plaza, not unlike the one she had left in the park, but many times bigger and much more populated.
One of the first changes she noticed was that everyone was armed.
Large burly men were carrying greatswords taller than them on their back, the handles rising far above their shoulders; females clad in dark leather had either staffs hanging at their belts or bows on their back; and all those people were chatting and talking cheerfully among themselves as if everything was completely normal.
Armors were the standard apparel there. Nisha even got to see a knight in full armor, he passed by her small hooded figure, paying her no heed, continuing towards an unknown destination.
Staring at her surroundings in awe like a country bumpkin beholding the entirety of a city for the first time – which she was, in a sense -, the dragon slowly headed for the center of activity in this large square, a massive building built out of dark wood oozing raw power, rough stone and sturdy metal, somewhat out of place between constructions fashioned out of white marble, or saturated in golden inlays.
Curious as to why the crude construction was the heart of the area, Nisha calmly strolled to the entrance.
Upon closer inspection, the crowd was dividing itself into six steady streams, entering and leaving from no less than six doors, all wide opened to accommodate all the visitors.
What was probably a shop was frequented by an assorted bunch, but every individual walking through the doors had something in common with the other clients.
Nisha didn’t need anything to know that they were all very dangerous. Practically each and every one of them were glowing in her [Spirit Sight], displaying their proficiency in either mana or aura.
Wondering what kind of business could attract such a number of strong beings, the elven girl closely studied the entrance sign, before entering the mysterious store.
It looks like a cross in a circle. This is neither the sign of the Alchemy nor that of the Forge. What is this place?
Her first impression of the place was simple: loud.
A chorus of voices combined with the clinking of metal on metal, drinking glasses hitting wooden tables and many more sounds she was unable to discern.
Stunned by the unbelievable turmoil, Nisha was helplessly pushed towards one of the corners of the room, lined by a counter like the other walls.
Pulling her gaze out of the merry energy whirlwind generated by the presence of a large number of practitioners, the elven girl took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down.
“Is this your first time in the guild?”
An amused voice chimed on her right, from one of the open counter windows.
Turning around, she spotted a pretty woman, maybe one or two turns older than her elder sister.
“Ah yes, first time here. It’s that obvious?”
Nisha didn’t want to admit that she had been easily seen through and started a conversation with the girl.
“My name is Aubrey, by the way. It’s just the way you reacted, we get a lot of newcomers that act like you, all stiff and flabbergasted. Mind taking off your hood?”
Beckoning her closer, the business smile on her face seemed to widen into a genuine one.
Nisha happily obliged, quickly removing her hood, she had been wishing for someone to talk to just a moment ago.
“You said this was the guild, right? What do people do here?”
“Oh my, aren’t you a bit young? Anyway, this is the Adventurer’s Guild. One of the oldest and most renowned guilds in the kingdom. Specialized in dealing with the perils threatening humanity, we take care of dangerous monster and beast that dare to torment the populace.
We also oversee [Thurgau]’s dungeon’s entrance , it’s a place for knights and wizards to strengthen themselves and hunt for treasures.
Does that answer your question?”
In a teasing manner, Aubrey bowed slightly and smiled at Nisha, happy to see interest gleaming in a youngster’s eyes.
Throwing a glance over her shoulder, the elven girl pointed at a brawl on the other side of the big hall.
“What’s that about?”
“This happens often in the afternoons. There’s a mission board over there, and a counter where you can order beverages, including alcoholic ones.
After the teams lucky enough to get a mission leave, those who didn’t find work usually start partying.
When a big mission is completed, the celebration is much bigger than this.”
Somehow I doubt there could be anymore people in here…
“They are good guys though.”
“I see. And what do you do?”
“I’m responsible for the ones who want to sign up with the guild, this whole counter is for beginner adventurers. We offer training courses, we can also introduce prospective members to crafting guilds, there are several others beneficial services too.
The guild values its future members, so if there’s anything you want to know, feel free to ask.”
Visibly proud to be a part of the powerful organization that was the Adventurer’s Guild, the counter girl beamed her last words, her good mood rubbing off on the dragon, who was soon nicely smiling as well.
“Sounds like a good opportunity. What do I have to do to join the guild?”
“Ara, looks like I was right when I said you’re a bit young. Working as an adventurer is not all glamor and sunshine. Shouldn’t you wait a bit more before you decide to join a guild? There are plenty of other things you could do in the future.”
Concerned about her age, Aubrey tried to deter the dragon girl from choosing such a dangerous path, but Nisha wasn’t going to change her mind.
“No, it’s alright. My grandfather always told me stories about his adventures, I’ve always wanted to experience it too. And it’s not like I’m going to take a lethal mission right away, I just want to walk his path.
How do I register?”
Sighing defeatedly, the counter girl reached for something under Nisha’s line of sight and pulled out a piece of paper, before handing it to Nisha along with a bottle of ink and a writing feather.
“You need to fill this form, and after that we’ll measure your mana and aura level, so that you can take part in the appropriate training course. You can also do a challenge to prove your fighting abilities.
After all that is done, we’ll issue you an adventurer’s card. On the card, there will be your name, your profession – if you have one – as well as your rank.
For your information, regular ranks go from A to F, beyond that there’s also S.
A, one of the highest ranks is mostly for the powerhouses of the seventh tier, while F includes both the first rankers and those without any mana or aura, but we can explain those kinds of things later.
For now you’ll just have to fill this out. If you can’t read or write, I’ll be more than happy to assist you.”
Aubrey’s explanations were too much for Nisha, but the last part was clear enough for her to understand.
“No need, I can read and write. Thanks.”
Looking at the paper, she noted down the informations she had to provide.
I’ll leave my name as Nisha, that should be enough. Let’s see … age, 12 turns. Profession? Position? What’s that?
“Excuse me, can you tell me what are profession and position? I don’t know what it means.”
“Ah sure. You can leave profession empty if you want, but if you belong to another guild, or have knowledge in sewing, cooking, blacksmithing and so on, we can specify it on your card. It’s fairly recent, some of the older cards don’t work like that yet; it was meant to organize balanced parties -like who will sharpen the weapons before a fight, who will cook or so. It’s also frequent for groups forming for the duration of one or two missions only to have trouble splitting the loot evenly, but with information about what raw materials each person needs, it’s easier to distribute the spoils.
For the position, it’s to inform your potential party members in which energy you train, and whether you use close combat or long distance weapons.
Generally it’s fine to write something like swordsman or mage depending on what you are, but a more precise description is fine too.
Like profession, this info is intended to help create balanced parties.
If all of your party member turned out to be back line fighters like archers or mages, it would become quite difficult to properly fight, right?
So you can just describe the energy you train in and your weapon in one-two words.”
Clearly satisfied by her own explanation, the counter girl happily chattered while Nisha was focusing on the paper.
Unable to chose between aura and mana, she simply noted down both mage and swordsman.
“Here, all done.”
“Perfect, now please follow me. We will give you a rank according to your abilities, and then you’ll have to decide if you want to start at the rank given to you, take a practical test or enroll in one of our courses.”
She lifted a portion of the counter, and gestured Nisha to follow her.
The talkative counter girl led the little elf through a discreet door into numerous corridors, talking along the way; the dragon had long since tuned out her guide to admire the interior of the guild.
There had been plenty of decorations and fine materials used to construct the building, reminding her in many ways of the mansion she was currently staying at.
After traversing a wooden corridor, the two girls ended up in a large room inscribed with runes, all lighting up in Nisha’s [Spirit Sight].
“Hey there, Andrew. I got another one for a test. You free right now?”
Aubrey had called a man napping on a chair near a formation carved at the center of the room, a certain familiarity in her voice; the elvish girl excitedly studying her surroundings, obviously looking forward to the test.
It’s gonna be so exciting.
“Sure, send her in, there are no assessments scheduled for today. But are you sure she’s a real applicant?”
Lifting the thin straw hat from his eyes, the one called Andrew lazily replied.
“Don’t worry about that, Nisha here wants to be an adventurer, so we’re making a card for her.
Go to the circle Nisha, you just have to stand in there and relax, the spell circle reads your aura and mana automatically and lights up accordingly, it’s nothing scary.”
“How do you know my name, Aubrey?”
Blinking a few times, the dragon tried to recall when she could have introduced herself.
“Silly, you wrote it on your form, I read it there. Go.”
On those words, the woman pushed Nisha to the formation before returning to Andrew’s side, who activated the spell.