Chapter 70: Patching Things Up
Inhaling a deep breath of fresh air first thing after leaving the Dungeon, Nisha was wondering what to do next. The sun had yet to set, there was still some time left before the siblings would have to return home to avoid worrying Galan and Luthais.
Checking the condition of her arm, Nisha was surprised to see how fast her dark runes had worked on her injury.
The bloody and raw flesh had been replaced by scabs; the wound seemed to have been inflicted several weeks ago.
The salt in the air was burning her hand a little, but overall her condition was pretty satisfying. Thinking back on the event with that scary lizard, it was a wonder that both her and Henry could escape the Dungeon alive.
And that trip had brought unexpected – or not – rewards …
“I must thank you, Nisha. Though I don’t know if I’ll be able to put what I came to understand with you in practice soon, I can tell that our excursion helped me immensely with my mental block. So far, I’ve always considered the Dungeon as a scary place, filled with unsurmountable dangers and overpowering monsters. You showed me I was wrong. Rushing through countless rooms without breaking a sweat, overcoming the rank barrier relying on keen instincts and wide experience; all of those things I never thought could happen… You can do it, because you never give up, no matter what.
Of course I noticed you had a few secrets. Don’t worry I won’t ask, you already showed and told me plenty.”
Without warning, Henry captured his sister in a short and strong hug.
“I guess it’s time I show you my brotherly side now; we’ve still got time before sunset. You said your friend works at the Guild, right? I will come along and make sure you two can make up. Come on, is it this branch or another, or maybe the commoner’s district’s headquarters?”
Wiggling out of his embrace, Nisha tried to escape his grasp.
I want to see Aubrey, but …
Truthfully, she had decided to set things right. But she was also scared of the possible outcomes. What if the counter girl didn’t want to have anything to do with her anymore? Or she had gotten in trouble and was angry at her? Or, worst of all, she had been disappointed in the one she had thought was her friend when she had seen her run away?
Eventually, she would have gone to the Guild and surrendered.
… right now?
“No buts, You don’t have a choice. I had none when you said we’d go to the Dungeon, so it’s time I return the favor. No matter what happened, I’ll help you smooth things out. It’s not like you can’t patch things up, unless you did something unforgivable? No? Then it’s easy. Just ask your friend to forgive you. If she really is a friend of yours, then she will.”
Interpreting her vigorous head shake as a no, the thought that his stepsister’s problem wasn’t that bad crossed the young man’s mind.
“Lead the way, Nisha. No matter what you did, I’m on your side. It might or might not be enough. I just want to help you like you helped me.”
Nisha finally accepted Henry’s good intentions, and the two of them departed to the Adventurer’s Guild, the former dragon having tacitly confirmed where her friend was.
Since it wasn’t as late as usual, the main gate to the noble district was still open, it would save the siblings some time to go through the noble district instead of skirting it. Some of the soldiers on watch recognized Nisha and saluted her. Most of them had opened the small door for her early in the morning almost every day throughout the past moon, and they had come to like the small girl despite her nobility, as she was friendly with them and had exceedingly good manners.
At the other side of the town, on the open plaza, many shops were already closed for the night, and the lonesome sight triggered a sudden wave of anxiety in Nisha.
“Actually, we don’t have to do this right away. How about we go home, wash up and come back tomorrow?”
“Jeez, we already discussed it. Come on, you stalled it for long enough.”
As he was practically dragging her along, a few half-asleep stall owners passively raised their heads; it had been a while since the last time they had seen a spectacle like that of a cute girl being pulled into the guild by a boy twice her size and a face not losing to hers.
Unhappily standing in the main hall, nostalgically noticing the scent of leather, metal and blood, Nisha did her best to appear as small as possible while Henry was surveying their surroundings.
She turned her half-closed eyes toward the counters, torn between happiness at the prospect of seeing Aubrey again and anxiousness, apprehensive of her reaction.
Fortunately, or so it seemed, Aubrey wasn’t working at the moment.
Led by Henry, the two of them approached the spot dedicated to the welcoming of new adventurers, where Nisha had signed up to the Guild over a moon ago.
Approaching the pretty boy currently at the counter – whose appearance was slightly more mature than her stepbrother, maybe because of his superior height – the scared elven girl didn’t dare to talk and only listened as her situation was being described.
“… and as you can see, we are now looking for the Guild employee called Aubrey to settle the situation. I assume we will have to speak with your chief?”
Explaining the incident in few words, since he didn’t know the specifics either, Henry gazed at the clerk with a practiced aura of nobility, leaving no doubt that he was expecting a positive answer from the servant.
Used to the Guild’s noble customers’ conduct, the headquarter being built near the entrance of the noble district, the young man at the counter understood very well that Henry’s last sentence might have been phrased as a request, but wasn’t one.
“Of course. Please allow me to go fetch the manager, I will ask him to free his schedule for you.
But that incident … you can’t possibly mean she’s the one responsible for the Training Hall Massacre, can you?”
Peering curiously at Nisha, his face full of disbelief, he apparently couldn’t link the rumors of a dangerous monster wreaking havoc in the Guild to the cute girl in front of him.
Blushing, her head lowered in shame, Nisha was the best person to answer, yet she refused to meet the employee’s inquisitive gaze.
“I appreciate it. We will wait here then.”
Well versed in the ways of dealing with others thanks to his upbringing as a noble, Henry had no trouble dismissing the commoner and sent him on his way to arrange their appointment.
Even after the departure of the Guild’s retainer, the pressure on the dragon didn’t dwindle at all.
“Training Hall Massacre. I think you might have omitted some details, didn’t you?”
Hearing the name of the minor incident, Nisha felt dread imagining the punishment awaiting her, she couldn’t look Henry in the eyes, her face completely flushed red.
After a short period of time spent in silence, the man came back and opened a counter section to allow the siblings to enter.
They were then guided to a room familiar to Nisha, where the elven girl wasn’t surprised to meet Berti again.
He excused himself from two youths and a strict looking middle aged man Nisha had met the first time she had come to this room.
Compared to their previous meeting, Berti’s expression was less friendly, he was sighing looking at a paper on his desk as they entered the room.
“Welcome back, Nisha. And welcome to your friend whose name I don’t know too.
I’m glad to see you returned on your own accord, even though you ran away in the first place. This will certainly be reflected positively in the case report.”
Picking up a file, Berti sighed again.
“Please, sit down, both of you. Nisha might have told you already, my name is Berti Teucher and I am in charge of the personnel in the Guild. Currently, it is also my responsibility to investigate the incident involving the adventurer party [Valiant Ashes] and the rookie adventurer called Nisha.
Do you mind introducing yourself, young man? Who are you?”
Looking expectantly at Henry, Berti politely waited for his response.
“I am Henry, Nisha’s step brother. I am afraid I haven’t heard many details regarding the incident, I am here to help Nisha resolve the matter.”
Seeing no harm in giving his name, the youth lightly bowed after giving his step sister a side glance when he heard she had fought a whole party; yet didn’t comment on it.
“It is a pleasure to meet you then, Henry.
Nisha, to complete the investigation, please state your version of the events. We have already confirmed and recorded the statements of the party [Valiant Ashes] and the Guild employee Aubrey. Sadly, there wasn’t any other eye witness, so with your testimony, the case can be concluded.”
Hesitatingly glancing at Henry from time to time, Nisha started to depict what had happened from the moment Aubrey and herself passed the Training Hall’s door.
With each development, her step brother was getting more and more shocked until the point where he couldn’t endure it anymore and buried his face in his hands, exactly when he heard that the elven girl had challenged Kartoff alone.
Seeing her brother in such a desperate state, her cheeks, which had just taken back their regular colour, reddened again.
Finishing her tale quickly, Nisha timidly looked at Berti, waiting for him to declare that she had made up the whole story.
The pot-bellied man, though, only pinched the bridge of his nose and read over his files.
“Certainly, this matches Aubrey’s words. I think that with this, we can safely conclude that the party made up its part.
Only, they have Baron Cinderrock as their patron, he won’t easily back down. Well, we can take care of that anyway, it’s part of the Guild’s protection role after all.
Thank you for your cooperation, Nisha.”
Writing down a few words on the paper, Berti silently worked as the dragon squirmed in her seat.
“Then … what’s my punishment?”
The question caught everyone unaware.
“Punishment? What are you talking about?”
Raising his eyes previously glued to the paper, the middle aged man looked lost.
“It doesn’t work like that? Galan taught me. If you break a rule, you get punished accordingly. When Aubrey told me about the guild rules, she said fights between members are not allowed. Since I fought with the [Valiant Ashes], I should receive a punishment.”
Reluctantly stating those facts incriminating her, Nisha was eager to have a way to remedy her actions. After making up for her mistakes, she would be able to look for Aubrey, guilt free.
Let’s just get it over with.
“I think you misunderstood something. It is indeed an offense to seriously injure others under the jurisdiction of the Guild, but small conflicts appear on a daily basis. As long as you work out your issues afterwards, fighting at the Training Hall is not much of a problem. We can’t really afford to monitor everyone and issue sanctions if disagreements can suddenly be regarded as crimes.
Additionally, Aubrey assured me that you challenged Sir Kartoff to a proper duel, his side broke the agreement first by attacking you with their full force, branding your reaction as a case of self defence. Slightly excessive, maybe, which is one of the reasons why Baron Cinderrock is so intent on banning you from the Guild. You did nothing that would require a punishment, especially since the rules were still being detailed to you when the incident began. So please, don’t worry too much about it, the Guild can deal with one baron.”
His back straightened, Henry had been quietly listening to the explanation so far. Now, an amused smile was painted his face.
“Sir Berti, can I offer my assistance in handling the baron? I can most likely resolve this without the need for the Guild to bear too much of a burden.
Nisha, can you please fetch the employee from before, the one at the counter? I’ll have him deliver a letter. Sir Berti, would you lend me a sheet of paper and some sealing wax?
Tell me, which faction does this Baron Cinderrock belong to?”
Nisha understood that Henry wanted to negotiate with the manager without her, and couldn’t find any good reason to refuse even after racking her brain.
As she was leaving, she caught a part of Berti’s answer.
“Ah, the Cinderrock family has been established fairly recently. This is partly why the baron is adamant on getting results from this investigation, they supplied a sizeable portion of their fortune to [Valiant Ashes] in hope of getting a good harvest and reliable adventurers affiliated to their House once they would rise to prominence. Their foundation still needs to be strengthened. The Sheridan house is in charge of their territory and has shown some interest in their development, however not to the extent …”
The rest was inaudible as Nisha had closed the door behind her.
A while after, a perplexed young man following her, Nisha had the feeling that the affair had been settled when she saw Henry, who was smiling brilliantly, and Berti, a faint sheen of sweat shining on his temples.
What happened? I don’t think I have ever seen him so flustered. Not that I’ve seen him a lot anyway.
The employee next to her seemed to be thinking of something along those lines, his brows wrinkled as he stared at the distressed pot-bellied manager.
The manager in question was apparently seeing the elven girl in a new light. He quickly cleared his throat when he realized that everyone was watching him.
“Well, with everything said and done, I think we can close the curtain on this case. Claude, please take this letter and deliver it to the residence of the Baron Cinderrock.”
Handing his retainer a sealed white envelope, Henry’s ring’s imprint on the wax , Berty completely ignored Nisha’s obvious inquiring stare.
“Sir, what about the counter? No one else is currently available to take my shift, should we close it early?”
Grimacing as if he had bitten in a sour fruit, Berti answered with a proud expression.
“Of course not! If we can’t help it, I’ll fill your spot for a while.
What? Pick up your jaw from the floor, it’s not like it’s the first time I do that. Tch, scram, take care of the letter.”
Apparently this was more than slightly unusual, the pot bellied manager wouldn’t have time to personally work in the front hall of the Guild.
Nisha grinned at the mental image of his belly overflowing on the counter.