Chapter 54: Evaluation
Taking a closer look at the formation, Nisha recognized the pattern as the one inscribed on Eldrin’s guild ring.
She was standing in the middle, where a circle had been divided in two, on the left half it was radiant a sun, whereas a crescent moon was occupying the right half.
Nine rings, each bigger than the others, all with the same center – namely right where Nisha was standing -, were drawn around the split center, filled with so many stars that she felt as if she had been sent into the Wilderness’ night sky.
The hex was producing a small tug pulling at her aura and mana, urging her to supply the spell with power, and display its splendor.
Both her flame and the black runes in her core rustled slightly, awoken by the magic, however they settled down just as quickly as they had arisen since there was no danger in sight.
As streams of Nisha’s mana and aura were flowing into the formation, the ring under the dragon’s feet started to whirl, a silver light beamed because the fiery star and the cold celestial body were rapidly and unceasingly exchanging places.
It wasn’t unpleasant, just making her a bit dizzy as the outside world was getting increasingly blurry, leaving her stranded in a dark sky laden with shiny planets.
At this point, she was able to name all of them, they were old friends that had came to visit her and lend her their help, and each of them was governing over an element.
The brightness and the originally small stream of aura and mana were intensifying with every heartbeat, filling the night with burning lights as the dragon was exhausting her power in the spell.
It was at this moment that the runes chose to act on their own.
Spreading like a dark net over the seemingly infinite firmament, they stretched to cover over half of the planets in the blink of an eye.
An inexplainable sadness took ahold of her small body at the sight of her lifelong companions getting extinguished, but she decided to trust her own powers, neither the small flame nor the runes would ever do her wrong.
The world stopped rotating; the circle rooted itself in the real world once again and the sky disappeared along with the flickering lights. Nisha spotted Aubrey and her friend Andrew frozen in the very pose they had taken after pushing her into the circle.
She was about to address them when the last trickles of silvery light abandoned the drawing she was standing on – returning the sun and moon to their original appearance – when the two guild employees suddenly started moving.
What just happened here? Was I the only one able to see it?
“Congratulations, Nisha! Only twelve turns and already at the second aura rank!”
Visibly excited, Aubrey stepped into the circle with the little prodigy, and pointed at the glowing red, dark and grey stars on the side of the sun that had grown big enough to paint the first and second rings.
“You’re also talented enough to become a mage.”
Shaking his stupor off, the male employee helplessly lifted his straw hat and scratched his head, pointing at the moon. Mirroring the other side’s configuration, three stars had grown, although only the first ring had lit up.
“Where did you find this girl, Aubrey? I know you’ve been having trouble breaking through the second rank, but this one here is already able to light the second array. Impressive.”
Although Andrew had a deep voice, he seemed like a man of few words, he had apparently already proven himself, there was no need for him to explain his thoughts or action too much.
On the other hand, Aubrey was too young and inexperienced to share his cool, and she couldn’t help but start blushing when she heard his words.
“Shut up Andy, if I hadn’t needed so much time to break through, I’d be at the third one already. And Nisha here is an elf, her kind tend to be more talented than humans.
Congratulations, Nisha! Don’t mind that killjoy over there, being that strong at your age is super impressive! We’ll go back now, and I’ll give you your guild card, you’ll be able to start at level E right away, that’s genius territory.”
Happy for Nisha, Aubrey took her by the hand and pulled her out of the room, almost running.
What’s the big deal? Isn’t it only the second rank?
Before encountering Eldrin, Little Flame had been at the peak of the fourth rank, a formidable enemy to other monsters, and even those at higher ranks than the dragon had had to lower their head in front of the beast, which was why the [Dragon’s Den] had never been assaulted. Everyone in the Wilderness had respected the refuge the dragons had created for themselves.
Thus, being a second ranker didn’t seem like a great accomplishment for the elvish girl, although she wasn’t completely honest with herself either.
She missed the ability to freely roam the Wilderness, to win a fight without batting an eye, and to look down on everyone from high above, hence she was actually quite joyous to see her strength improve.
She had woken up in a new body, and lost her eyesight, therefore she hadn’t realized it in the hunting ground’s cottage.
Nisha missed her wings, she wanted to soar through the sky and go wherever she pleased.
Fight against other beasts, to survive or just for fun.
Be a predator. Be true to her nature.
Although she could hunt and roam the forest in her new form, it wasn’t the same.
I wonder when I got to the second aura rank. Whenever I ranked up as a dragon, there was a feeling of warmth, I knew I had gotten stronger. There have been no such things recently.
Pondering on this mystery, Nisha didn’t even notice that they had not directly went back to the counter, and only when Aubrey sat her down on a comfortable-looking chair in an office did the elven girl become aware of where she was.
“I wish I had your talent, Nisha …
Anyway, with your second aura rank, we can safely put you in the E category.
You are now officially protected by the Adventurer’s Guild, and you can take mission from either the mission board or the counter.
In turn, you are required to sell all of the materials you gain in dungeons to the guild, but don’t worry, we are offering fair prices.
A part of your missions’ rewards will be held back as a guild fee, it’s for your membership fees and it funds the guild. If you ever want to take a break for a long period of time, make sure to report it so you can either suspend your membership or pay the fees in advance.
There are more rules, like ‘hurting other guild members is forbidden’ or ‘one have to refrain from damaging guild property’, but you just act according to common sense, there shouldn’t be any issue.
Just take some time to read the rules someday, ‘should be fine until then.
Oh, right! Since you were admitted you can pick a training manual from the skill library, just present your guild card and any book that catches your eye in the building, you can take one for mana and one for aura.
All those informations were a bit too much for someone as young as Nisha, fortunately the little girl was able to understand most of it.
At least I hope so.
“What’s the skill library? And what do you mean, the guild protects me?”
Leaning back on her comfy chair, Aubrey was evidently enjoying the opportunity to stay there longer given by the newby adventurer’s questions.
Handing Nisha a small blue card with a big E painted on the top right-hand corner, the counter girl resumed her explanations.
“The big building on the left of the guild is called the skill library. I think it actually has another name, but everyone just calls it the library.
It’s separated in different floors, the guild has a deal with the library to allow each member of the guild to pick a training guide book when they gain a guild level to promote the strength of all members.
You are pretty lucky to have a E card, because you can pick from the second floor; make sure to pick a technique that fits the element you want to fight with … to think you had three elements … Fire, Darkness and Life and Death.
If you allow me to make a suggestion, you should take fire or darkness manuals; most of the life and death manuals are very obscure and hard to train in.
The Adventurer’s Guild local branches have their library in the same building, but since this is the capital, and the headquarters of the Guild, the library also has its main building here.
If you discover a technique or manual you can’t use somewhere, you can bring it to the library where it will be evaluated and traded against another of the same level, or you can just ask for money.
As for the protection provided by the Guild, there have been cases in the past where adventurers caused damage to property belonging to farmers or other unrelated individuals.
In these cases the Guild covered for the reparations, however the guild membership of those individuals was put under investigation.
The influence of the guilds is extremely significant, organization like ours can act as mediators in conflicts with nobles and other parties.
Hence overall, the protection is a rather strong one.”
Smiling at the young girl, Audrey finished her account.
“Are you an adventurer as well? You really know a lot about the guild.”
The question was an innocent one, Nisha simply wanted to find out where the counter girl had acquired all her knowledge.
“I have to admit, I tried to be an adventurer at first, but I’m not anymore.
As a kid I always heard the stories of strong parties defeating fantastic monsters and bringing home unimaginable treasures.
When I entered a dungeon for the first time, it was a simple trip with my party of the time. But I was afraid of everything. Every dark corner hid horrifying monsters and every breath could have been my last.
Adventuring isn’t made for everyone. When I was offered a job here at the guild, I was only to happy to give up exploring.
But don’t think I’m trying to convince you to give up on your dreams. Just know that you can quit anytime like I did.”
Aubrey seemed about to add something, however the office-like room’s door opened and a middle aged man with a nice potbelly entered.
“There you are girl! What did I tell you about sitting in my chair?”
Nisha had to turn around to see him. His expression wasn’t that of an angry man, he looked rather pleased to see his employee take care of business in such a professional tone.
“Ah, sir, you’re back soon today. Of course I would never sit in your holy throne, everyone knows you are the only one allowed to sit in the comfiest seat of the whole building.
Here, let me help you sit.”
Almost jumping out of the piece of furniture in question, the counter girl displayed a wide smile as she pulled the item, presenting it to the man so that he could sit.
“Aubrey, one day … Ah just forget it, scolding you for the hundredth time won’t change anything.
And who might you be, little lady?”
Noticing that there was a guest in front of his desk, the middle-aged man seized the place graciously offered by Aubrey, not without throwing another annoyed glance at his subordinate -who had settled on a wooden chair behind another table of the office, grinning broadly.
“My name is Nisha, sir. I joined the guild today and I’ve just received my guild card from Aubrey.”
Showing off her shiny card, the elven girl had immediately rushed to the rescue of her newest acquaintance, she was aware that the counter girl had done something she wasn’t supposed to, and tried to justify her actions.
“So, a new recruit. And you are already a level E adventurer, that’s a surprise. Are you sure your family is alright with you joining the guild, though? There are a lot of jobs around the city that aren’t dangerous, and you’ll have to take care of yourself on your own here. If you take a monster subjugation quest and end up missing, that’s not the responsibility of the guild.”
Sternly looking at her, the potbelly man was searching a sign of fear or uncertainty in her demeanor, taking an approach similar to Aubrey’s to test her resolution.
Meeting his eyes, Nisha did not back down.
All they do is talk about how dangerous being an adventurer is or how my youth is impending to my career. I can do it, or at least they’re not qualified decide otherwise.
“I don’t expect to be looked after, sir. I’ve been duly informed of the adventurer job’s risks.”
Proud of her maturity in this regard, Nisha did not retreat in the slightest, standing her ground.
“I see. In that case, welcome to the [Thurgau] Adventurer’s Guild’s headquarters. If you ever have any questions or if you need assistance with anything, please feel free to come to my office or talk to Aubrey.
The name’s Berti, by the way, chief of the personnel division.
Don’t worry about Aubrey, she’ll probably take over my seat one day … just not yet, you hear me, girl? This chair still belongs to me!”
His outbreak made the counter girl giggle, she modestly accepted the compliment, but didn’t give it any reply whatsoever – which elicited another groan from the characterful supervisor.
“Is there anything else we can do for you, Nisha? Or is your business done here? ”
Trying to conclude the conversation and get rid of the intruders – maybe to admonish his cheeky subordinate, Berti did his best to courteously urge her to leave.
Nisha, taught in the arts of social interactions by both Galan and her grandfather could do better than watch herself being pushed away.
“Yes, there’s still something. Aubrey mentioned earlier the possibility of a challenge to change my guild rank, will it be possible for me to do it?”
It was not Nisha’s intention to challenge someone, and she had actually not even remotely thought about it when she had entered the guild building, but the discovery of her rank-up, coupled with the reminiscence of her predatory instincts, had aroused the dragon’s blood lust.
A fight organized by the Guild surely wouldn’t be as exciting as a life and death struggle between fellow beasts, but ever since she had came to the capital, she hadn’t been able to fight, not even a little spar with her two older sisters.
All in all, a nice battle was exactly what she wished for right now.
Her request surprised both Aubrey and her chef, they blinked and blankly stared at her for a moment, silence spreading in the room.
The counter girl regained her composure first.
“A challenge? But, even if you beat an instructor of the third step, you would still be at the same level. It doesn’t make sense …”
Unable to deal with the unusual request, Aubrey seemed to have forgotten her public image – that of a pretty and collected counter gir l- to scratch her head in a puzzled manner.
“Ah, I don’t really want another level, I don’t know what they are anyway. But I just learned that I had attained the second rank and since I have no idea of how strong I am, and I don’t have much combat experience either… Before even thinking of taking missions, it would be wise to see how I fare against others, in a sparring match for example.”
Explaining her reasoning, Nisha was in fact quite pleased with her speech.
I didn’t say I wanted to fight someone so much that anyone would do! I even got an actual reason, this should be fine, right?