The Four Guild Branches
The morning after the day we arrived in Beim.
I exited my room, and descended the stairs to the first floor of the inn. In the space used as a dining hall, the narrow-eyed man was finishing a meal.
To the man who ate with a delightful grin on his face, the inn’s proprietor directed a bitter smile.
Breakfast was a service for those staying overnight, and not something offered to general customers, or so I thought.
Noticing me, the man waved his hand.
“Howdy. Wanna join?”
“You were waiting for us this early in the morning?”
He opened his eyes wider than usual, and pointed to his plate.
“The breakfast here is delicious. After I waited here a few hours for my precious customers, the owner over there asked if I wanted a meal. Quite a nice person, ain’t he?”
The owner held up both hands, and waved them dismissively.
While the man did seem to know his way around words, he was eating quite happily.
The one working the desk came over to me, and went over the menu.
The menu had a nice selection of soup.
“Corn soup please.”
After I said that, the owner headed for the kitchen, and the employee also parted from the table.
As I sat in front of the narrow-eyed man, he leisurely proceeded to eat.
Cutting bread up fine, and dipping it in soup.
“Corn soup sure is nice. But among adventurers, there are quite a few who’d pay an extra fee to get some meat on the table. You sure that’s enough for you, Lyle-kun?”
Adventurers moved their bodies around a lot.
Those that took part in battle frequently ate quite a bit.
Not just meat dishes, it isn’t rare to find one ordering several slices of steak in the morning, apparently.
“We’re just sightseeing today, after all. Why not order some yourself?”
“I’m eating on their good will. I can’t be that shameless, you know.”
Meaning the man before my eyes wasn’t even considering dropping a coin for his meal.
As I smiled, the employee brought over breakfast.
With the cold days that had been upon us, a hot bowl of soup was exceedingly fulfilling.
While I enjoyed the warm feeling spreading through my stomach, and the flavor of the broth, the narrow-eyed man started drinking a cup of water and observing my actions.
“What’s the matter?”
“No, I just thought you ate quite neatly, is all. Even so, won’t any of you comrades come down?”
We borrowed four two-person rooms, and Monica slept standing in mine.
She was cleaning at the moment, so the only one who came down was me.
“They’re spending their time preparing, or perhaps still asleep. See, there’s still a ways to go to the time we scheduled and all.”
He nodded, and went into the day’s plan.
“Then I guess I’ll give you the details first. There’s a bit I’d like to ask about as well.”
Something he wanted to ask me? I tilted my head.
“Don’t mind it. Just wanted to ask what you wanted to do for the night’s entertainment. Personally, I can introduce a place or two, but your party’s a special sort, so I should probably ask you first. So you need anything like that?”
I endured the urge to choke, and violently shook my head.
I won’t say I’m completely uninterested, but at present, I don’t have the leisure to play around like that.
But I did hear a teasing voice from the Jewel.
It was the Sixth.
『What’s the matter? How about you learn to play a little? Anything you catch can be fixed up with magic, one way or another.』
Hearing that, the Fourth shouted out.
『Right, so he’ll pull down his pants, go to Novem-chan, and say, ‘I’m sick, so please treat me?’ Absurd!』
I’d like to avoid such a situation as well.
The narrow-eyed man chuckled.
“I’ll bet. The green-haired one looks a little dangerous, and perhaps it’s best for your own wellbeing if you stay earnest, Lyle-kun. Oh, right, if you’re ever curious, you can usually find me loitering around the gate, so call out any time. I’ll bring you to a nice place in a jiffy. I can even match it to your price range. And I will say it’s probably best you don’t try searching for one by yourself.”
He cautioned me.
While there was the matter of his commission, it appears there were plenty of shady shops as well.
“When young adventurers unaccustomed to city life get themselves a spot of money, and experience failure, then it all comes down to gambling, drink, and women. If they don’t learn how to play around in moderation, it’ll surely bite them later. Right, when you think about it like that, perhaps it’s best you learn some while you can.”
While watching narrow-eye’s smile, I finished the meal.
After drinking some water, and taking a deep breath, he started going into the characteristics of Beim.
“Beim is where people, and goods, and money gather. But you have to take care; it’s not just one good thing after another. Even if you can walk around them normally during the day, there are some places that become life-threatening at night.”
Walking around a complex city like Beim required some caution.
I listened to his description of areas generally used by Adventurers, and places best never to enter.
While we were in the middle of that, I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.
It was Novem.
“Good morning. So you were with the guide? I thought we had some time to spare.”
To Novem’s questioning gestures, the narrow-eyed man narrowed his eyes even further.
“No, I can’t go about making a customer wait, right? It’s important to arrive ahead of schedule.”
Showing off his composure, the man turned from Novem to me.
The employee approached Novem, and confirmed the day’s menu.
And narrow-eyes muttered to himself.
“… As I thought, it was my luck to have called out to them.”
Swallowing those words with water, he changed the subject, and continued talking about Beim.
I had thought touring Beim to be an easy task, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Shannon was resting on Monica’s back, and perhaps even Aria was tired, as she was making quite a withered expression.
Eva showed interest towards a variety of things, but she was already unsteady on her feet.
Only Novem and Miranda were normal. Clara was tired out by the crowds alone, and tipsy. Her face was flushed red.
The Free City of Beim had an exceedingly large number of people.
I thought Centralle was a lot, but it was incomparable.
Our final landmark this time around, a Guild Branch, was finally before our eyes.
We had operated in the two guilds of Dalien and Arumsaas, but the building he named as the guild branch was a surprising sight.
“There are four of this scale?”
The narrow-eyed man smiled as he explained.
“Nope. The busiest one’s the guild closest to the harbor. The other ones are generally the same, I guess, but the one used most by the mercenaries is smallest, perhaps.”
Mercenary brigades were something akin to giant households.
I ended up wondering whether it was really alright for the branch used by those groups to be the smallest.
Noticing something, Miranda cut into the conversation.
“So that one’s primarily an intermediary?”
He snapped his fingers, and affirmed her response.
“Travelling all over the lands, while they do slay monsters, their main goal is mercenary soldier work. Rather than actively pursuing monsters, working on the battlefield or challenging a labyrinth is much more productive. Based on the situation, some can play around for quite some time after laying hands on the treasures in a labyrinth’s depths. Of course, they do properly buy off magic stones and materials, but requests asking for mercenary work usually end up there. If you want to take it the other way, you won’t find any other sorts of jobs there.”
The guild by the harbor dealt with monsters of the sea, it seems.
A large portion of monsters that appeared underwater were too small to be a real threat.
But giant ones weren’t too rare, making for giant spoils to be found. Because of that, the Guild had expanded in scope considerably.
Novem sought confirmation.
“What of the remaining two?”
The narrow-eyed man put his hand to his chin, and explained.
“The level of their service is the same. Though you’ll get some differences by receptionist, they both primarily focus on training, so I doubt much is different. It’s all up to you guys.”
Saying it was up to us, he looked over our party, and nodded a couple of times.
“There’s a few patterns those operating in Beim follow. See, you can find specialized adventurers at other guilds, right? In Beim, those sorts gather at the Harbor and one other. Otherwise… you can get dispatch requests to other lands as well.”
“Dispatch, is it?”
On Novem’s query, he gave a through explanation.
What differed in Beim’s guilds from the rest was the number and quality of adventurers.
With four branches to speak of, the numerical figures they employed were on another level of any other city out there.
So could all those adventurers put food on the table with what work they could find around the city? The answer, of course, is no.
Therefore, the option the city selected was to dispatch adventurers to other lands.
To places short of hands, or that needed support, they were always ready to send able men their way.
But what I was curious of was…
“So you can operate all over the place without changing home guild? And wait, won’t it take time to move?”
Scratching his head, the man made a troubled expression.
“Yeah, it takes time. But they take care of all the paperwork themselves, and secure a means of transport as well. You can also challenge the Labyrinth Beim manages if you really want, but doing that gives you an obligation of sorts to do their request. To put it bluntly, dispatches don’t have many takers.”
Cutting it short at calling it unpopular, the man turned around, and looked at the Guild Branch.
“By the way, this is that very unpopular guild. Ah, also, normal Adventurers never go to the main headquarters, by the way. That’s where all the important folks work.”
I looked at the large headquarters building, but people were flowing in and out the doors without stop.
He pointed to a smokestack atop the branch.
“There’s even a bath in this one. They have their own lodging facilities, so if you’re ever left without an inn, you can sleep here.”
Their facilities did seem well in order.
My honest impression: as expected as the headquarters of adventurers.
A tired Aria, Clara, Shannon, and Eva.
Monica showed no interest, and didn’t bite into the conversation.
Miranda let out a sigh.
“And so? For what reason did you choose to bring us here? If you think over it, you’re pretty much saying that challenging the Labyrinth would be a better use of our time.”
He raised both his hands in playful surrender.
It does appear the commission this man gets isn’t just from the shops.
(I see, so the adventurer guilds themselves also hire these sorts.)
As I nodded in satisfaction, I heard the Fifth’s voice from the Jewel.
『Well, it’s at least good of him to have explained that all beforehand. Of course, I’m sure there’s plenty he hasn’t said as well.』
It was just as the Fifth said.
I waited for the man to continue his explanations.
“It’s not like I’m trying to trick anyone. I’ll properly show you another on the way back. It’s just I have my own inclinations to work with, and the guild’s doing quite a bit on their part.”
Watching his disinterested attitude, the Third let out his voice.
『No, isn’t it fine? Lyle, this branch suits us quite well.』
I gripped the Jewel to signal affirmation.
“… I see. Shall we go back, then? Shannon is at her limit. Can I leave the road back to the inn to you?”
After I voiced my intent to return, the narrow-eyed man nodded with a smile.
I took out two silvers, and handed them over.
“As I thought, I was right to call out to your group. Oh, I forgot the all-important greeting.”
He gave a wide smile.
“Welcome to the city of adventurers. To Beim.”
After returning to the inn, with my comrades so worn out, we decided to sleep early.
Dropping by the Jewel, I confirmed it with the Third.
“Why did you recommend that branch?”
With his chin rested atop the round table, the Third spoke in a bothersome tone.
『It’s fine and all to build up strength in a Labyrinth, but your goal isn’t to get stronger, is it? It’s to defeat Celes.』
Wiping off his Glasses, the Fourth joined in the conversation.
『To be honest, there’s pluses and minuses on both sides. But I think it’s best if you chose a guild with a degree of freedom this time. If that doesn’t work out, you can always change branches, right?』
Their reasons seemed to be, that the dispatch branch seemed to have more merits than the others.
The other ancestors weren’t present this time around.
Raising his chin, and putting both hands behind his head, the Third looked at me, and explained the plan.
『Not just Beim, I thought you’d be more free if you worked at a one that lets you venture out. If it turns out different than what you imagined, then just change it up. At present, we’re lacking too much crucial information. So gather some, go outside the walls, and confirm it all yourselves.』
Putting the glasses back on, he took over explanations.
『You’ll be moving to gather as many ally forces as possible. And there’s no problem if you clear a Labyrinth outside, right? In a managed Labyrinth, they won’t let you get the treasure in the innermost chamber. You’ll all have to prepare equipment as soon as possible.』
The rare metal that exists in the innermost chambers.
The problem was, that if you took it away, the Labyrinth would cease function.
For that sake, cities that manage labyrinths purposely prevent the clearing of them, reaping profits from the magic stones and materials of their monsters.
The Fourth looked at me.
『People, goods, money… you’re lacking in all of them at present. If you want to find a chance to beat her in your current state, you can’t be reluctant from here on. Go at it with your all.』
Rather than concealing Skills to do work, it’s better you just assertively use them to complete it.
The third stood, and stretched.
『Well then, should we get a start on it?』
Bringing his hand to the back of his neck, the Third began tracing a line around it…
“… I’d like to refrain for today.”
I retreated, but the Fourth circled behind, and grasped both my shoulders.
Turning my head, I saw his glasses were letting off an ominous light, and his lips were smiling.
『Oh isn’t it fine? Wonder child of the Walt House, I want to fight against the boy who once held that name. You’re going to win against all of us, right?』
I gave an excuse.
“T-that was just because I thought if I couldn’t win against the ancestors, I would never be able to win against Celes! I didn’t mean it like that!”
I tried my best to escape, but the Third beckoned me closer.
『Hahaha, that excuse ain’t gonna work. Now we have plenty of time. Me and the Fourth will take turns fighting you.』
(These guys are still holding grudges about it!)