Chapter 61: Returning to the Guild
The air rippled from the pressure of the collisions of several hundred swords.. This chiming already echoed before the first rays of the sun had appeared, and now the fiery star had already travelled halfway across its path.
Each swordbearer was also dressed in a set of iron armor with a red phoenix engraved on their right chest, sparring against each other. In front of these warriors, a strange pair traded blows. One had the standard silver-red armor set, holding back slightly with each blow. On the other side was a small elfish girl, struggling to keep up with the experienced soldier in front of her.
Parrying another slash that Hale sent towards her head, Nisha took a step back.
“Okay, I guess that’s enough for today.
After her visit to the palace, Nisha had spent most of the past moon in a somewhat stable schedule.
In the morning, the elven girl eventually started to bother Lance Corporal Hale and the legion near their [Navis Terram]. Originally, she only wanted to visit every once in awhile, yet with the Guild still off-limits for her and her interest piqued by the morning exercises the legionares practiced, the dragon eventually ended up joining in as Hale’s sparring partner.
Naturally, the experienced soldier was far stronger in both aura and swordsmanship. Despite that, Nisha mainly played around and had fun. She wasn’t looking to win against her friend, but wanted a way to fill her days.
She didn’t ask to be taught in the ways of fighting and neither did Hale offer it.
While the elven girl returned through the city gates, she pondered on what to do now.
Usually she attended court on the Day of Light and the Day of Darkness together with Luthais and his son Henry, grasping more of the political relations and dealings in [Thurgau].
Unfortunately, no session was planned as now was the Day of Earth, so she had to find another activity. Usually Nisha explored different stores, looking for something to buy, even if she never did. Most store owners asked for copper or silver coins, which she did not have stored in her [Soul Space], and they couldn’t give her change for the gold coins.
She didn’t consider visiting a [Merchant Guild] to exchange some gold into silver and copper, because someone might recognize her from the [Adventurer’s Guild].
In the end, the small elven girl became a well-known mascot of the central plaza, with many store owners recognizing her whenever she roamed around. They gave her small freebies. The elated smile whenever she snacked on a candy or a bite to eat was payment enough. Recently, she also extended her tours towards the more prestigious establishments in the noble district, albeit most of the stores treated her as a little trespasser and often shooed her away.
From time to time, Nisha also frequented [Eel’s Park] to challenge other chess players, and look for a challenge as she had already beaten most of the regulars by now. For some reason or another, she never found a chance to challenge Lady Alice, who seemed to be a rare guest.
Lastly, on the days that she wasn’t drifting through the streets, she visited the [Temple of the Seven Stars]. Her activities consisted of either bothering Thana, who had now acquired a new disciple for her Hall, or High Priest Roland, who always welcomed the chance to teach her more about the temple’s philosophies.
Only when all else failed did she sit down to cultivate her mana and aura, feeling less and less advancements towards the next rank, which puzzled her. In her dragon form, she never had to train to progress.
She got a few suspicious glances from the guards at the gate after she emerged from the legion camp, but most of the guard teams had already gotten used to it after a moon.
Having changed into a dress from her leather gear, the guard captain simply waved Nisha through the gates. There was no need to check her.
Making her way to the plaza around the Guild, the dragon was considering what she wanted to do today. There were six moons left until the academy was going to start admission, so she wanted to find something to fill her time with. The city was just so interesting, bustling with life and new things.
However, it’s time for lunch first.
Plenty of side streets in [Thurgau]’s outer district were more or less abandoned, but now in one of them sat Nisha. Based on her expression, she looked forward to her meal, even when she did not have anything with her.
Let’s see. There should still be some [Iron Mountain Tiger] left, but where did I put it…
Going through her [Soul Space], she looked in every corner of the clearing to procure another meal for herself. She had an excessive amount of hunted prey from living in the hunting grounds after all.
At the time she hadn’t been looking to prepare for this moment, yet it still came in handy. Contrary to her petite build, she still consumed large amounts of nourishment, almost the same as she had done when she still had her scales and wings. The meals in Luthais’ mansion certainly were exquisite and tasty, but she simply had to supplement her diet with the stored rations.
Fortunately, Nisha could spare any passerby from witnessing an elf consuming the blood and flesh of a creature several time her own size by chomping on her snack inside the [Soul Space] itself.
While looking through her storage, the dragon’s expression grew severe.
I never thought I’d ever eat all of it. Looks like I’ll run out soon.
Living in the Wilderness meant she was free to hunt as much as she liked, even when some things hunted her.
The city certainly was much safer. On the other hand, Nisha now had to come up with a way to procure large amounts of edibles without alarming someone of her unusually large diet.
She didn’t want to bother Luthais or her elder sisters, who were studying hard to become independent traders soon. All three of them knew about her troubles in varying degrees, just not in full detail and would certainly help her out if she asked.
The dragon simply didn’t want to rely on them, since it was going to be an issue in the future as well.
In the end, Nisha had no choice but to direct her steps towards a direction she had avoided so far. She didn’t know the direction in the beginning consciously.
By entering the dungeon and hunting more prey, she could sustain her current lifestyle without too many problems.
Certainly with a disguise, she might be able to purchase meat directly from a butcher or strike up a deal with a merchant house.
At the same time, it would also leave a trail that led straight to her secret. Nisha wouldn’t handle this matter poorly and often thought about it since she was close to running out of stored goods.
Heading towards her destination, most of the people on the street were either below the first rank or barely managed to reach it. She could sense mostly aura but a few first rankers in mana also appeared in the crowd.
Most importantly, the dragon’s mouth couldn’t help but twist into a smile when a youth clad in dirty clothes rushed in her direction, seemingly not paying attention at all.
Frankly speaking, this was not a rare occurrence. The main street was always packed and everyone had to pass through this district to enter or exit [Thurgau], so a moment of carelessness often resulted in a clash.
Somehow, Nisha with her fine clothes and unconcealed purse on her hip attracted them more often than others.
After colliding with the elven girl, he did not stop to apologize, and only threw a casual sorry at her and hurrying along.
Nisha’s smile only broadened. In her hand, she held a small pouch, so filled with coins that their outline could be seen through the soft material.
Of course, this was not her own. She stole it from the young man, who in turn dexterously severed the leather strap that was holding the pouch to her hip and pocketed it. Sadly, he was going to learn that it was filled with nothing but small debris collected from the side of the road to fake a full pouch.
Looking for a suitable target, Nisha greeted a defeated looking farmer on his way to return to his home outside of the walls.
Without alarming the poor man, she slipped the ever-growing wealth in the fat purse of a successful thief into his pocket.
I wonder how often I have to do this until they learn their lesson.
By keeping the purse and spending the money for herself, she wouldn’t be one bit better than the pickpockets. Someone else got this money taken away, and she remembered the anger and sadness from the time she thought she was going to let Thana down after the purse she entrusted her with got stolen.
There’s no way in hell I could buy something with dirty money. I hate them for doing this to others.
Certainly, such heavy pouches were bound to contain many silver bits and maybe even a gold coin. To Nisha, it simply wasn’t much money and she’d rather just look at wares and stay unable to buy them instead of breaking the promise she made to herself.
Therefore, she didn’t even have a bad conscience by stealing from thieves and donating the wealth to others.
The only troublesome thing was just obtaining new leather pouches every now and then. Thankfully, there was more than enough unused leather in Nisha’s [Soul Space] to last for a long time, so much that even if she lost one every time she walked through the outer district there’d be no shortage.
Without an obvious target on her hip, the dragon finally arrived at her destination, aware or unaware if she had chosen it.
Staring at the six entrances to the [Adventurer’s Guild] and the grand cross inside a circle above them, she sported a complicated expression on her face.
A blade slicing through flesh. Hitting the ground. Fighting for her own life. Using an unknown power to escape.
It wasn’t the first time Nisha fought against humans and she didn’t regret it anymore, long talks with Thana dispelled any notion of that. But she didn’t want things to escalate like that. Slicing Kartoff’s throat happened against her wishes. She didn’t even know what happened to the party in the end.
The [Flickering Cover] enchantment on the coin around her neck tempted her to just use its power and escape all prying eyes.
Nisha knew better. Appearing and disappearing was bound to draw even more attention than just walking up to the counter.
Using an entrance opposite to the one she used so far, the dragon did her best to exhibit confidence and normality. No one that laid eyes on her should be able to tell that she was anxious and had a somewhat complicated history with this place.
For the moment, it worked out. Blending into the stream of adventurers entering and exiting the Guild, Nisha made her way to one of the counters. Looking them over, she carefully selected the one she wanted to utilize.
Might as well go for a complete opposite.
Similar to Aubrey, most of the personnel employed as the Guild’s face were handsome youths. Contrary to the rather short and energetic staff girl, the young man behind the wooden barrier was tall and exuded the airs of a seasoned warrior. Many faint scars ran across his skin and face. He ought to be terrifying and unapproachable, yet Nisha detected a comparably friendly attitude from him. Her choice was made.
“Welcome. What can I do for you?”
A fearless attitude combined with her expensive dress allowed the elven girl to be treated like a full fledged adult rather than a little girl. The attendant didn’t even bother warning her or doubting her like Aubrey had done.
Fortunately this was a counter for new sign ups and beginners, so no one besides her was currently around, they all swarmed the mission counters.
Using her experience from the royal court, Nisha didn’t bother introducing herself either nor asking for his name, demonstrating a superior position and no need for small details like that.
“I have joined the Guild recently and need information about the dungeon.”
While it wasn’t phrased like a question, there was no other interpretation. Due to being situated in the capital city [Thurgau], children of fairly influential families frequented the counters as well, so the clerk took no offense.
“Certainly, this is the right place then, miss. What exactly do you want to know?”
Now certain of her high status, the youth was eager to earnestly answer all of her questions, lest she used her family’s influence to complain about him to his superior.
“I have not been in a dungeon before and have heard very few details, so a general explanation and things you think I should know about it, like guild regulations, will do for now. I’ll ask more when something is unclear. Ah, and I’d like to know where the entrance is.”
“Okay. To start off, the dungeon here in [Thurgau] is located in the harbour. Besides the docks and the shipyard, there’s another guild building there, where you can enter by showing your guild card.
Each floor consists of rooms and passages connecting them, often filled with monsters or traps. In general, a rank F adventurer is limited to the first three floors, while a rank E might go up to the fifth floor.
No one knows why, the monsters in the dungeon will never run out, no matter how much you kill. On top of that, you can take materials from their body and even discover treasures, so for adventurers a dungeon is just like a treasure trove. Sometimes there are missions requesting specific monster parts and the guild lists on which floors the monsters or beasts in question likely appear.
Speaking of beasts, they rarely appear in the lower floors, however that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen from time to time. They tend to leave more treasures behind when you slay them, but they are also much harder to kill. Almost everyone took to calling those beings floor bosses. When and how they appear is also unknown.”
Speaking up to this point, the clerk stopped and made sure that the miss understood all of it. Nisha had a question and took this break where the employee paused to ask it.
“You said that E rank adventurers can only go up to the fifth floor. Is that a guild regulation and are there guards to prevent E ranks from going higher?”
“Not at all. Simply put, the dungeon is a rather mystical place. The ambient mana and aura is far richer than outside, putting heavy pressure on all living beings inside except for the monsters living in it. The farther you get inside, the more pressure you feel. Therefore the average F rank can bear it in the first three floors. If they step onto the fourth or fifth floor, their combat power is likely restricted since movement becomes hard and senses start to dull.
It is not a guild restriction per se to forbid entering higher floors, only a recommendation to help every adventurer to preserve his or her life.
Loot and treasure are tempting, however nothing is more precious than one’s own life.
Related to that, the Guild offers to buy all materials in the dungeon your team does not want to process personally, be it ores, herbs, monster parts or other oddities. Just take them to the counter at the entrance and you will get a fair offer.
As a word of advice, even if you don’t choose to sell things like hides or leather obtained from monsters down there, most artisans will know the difference between an object brought back from the dungeon and their counterpart picked up outside and refuse to buy dungeon articles – simply because their quality is usually slightly inferior.”
Why are materials obtained in the dungeon inferior? Aren’t they exactly the same as the ones outside? Well, it’s not like I lack money, but that’s good advice, I should keep it in mind.
“Are there more regulations?”
“Hm, yes. For example, unless there’s an emergency, a party is forbidden from interfering with the fight of another party. Imagine you find a rare monster you had accepted a quest for and another group steals your reward after you already had almost killed it.
On the other hand, if your party discovers another one is in grave danger, traditionally it is not forbidden to lend a hand. In most cases your group will then also be allowed by the other group to keep the spoils of war, risking your life for others should be awarded. The guild has no definite stance on that, it is more or less a tradition betweens adventurers only.”
“Isn’t that a contradiction? You could always just say you saved them and therefore the loot belongs to you?”
“That’s exactly why it is more or less only a tradition and not a guild regulation. If you are cheated by others, please bring this to our attention, the Guild will judge all matters fairly.”
“How often do you run into others in the dungeon? Are disputes due to treasures common?”
“Not at all. While I say third or fifth floor, usually it takes new adventurers more than a turn to even pass the first one. There’s a large number of rooms to pass and conquer, only stairs signify you have reached the boundary to a new floor. All rooms connected by passages are part of the same floor, running into another group becomes less common the further you descend and it isn’t that regular on the first floor either.”
Thinking about the wealth of new information for a bit, Nisha was satisfied for the moment.
“I see. Thank you for answering my questions.”
Having obtained the information she was looking for, the elven girl exited the building quickly in the same manner she arrived, dignified and self-confident.
No one recognized her and nothing went wrong during her visit.