“So… We have a lot to think about, but that’s a pain so let’s explore a labyrinth.”
Survivors went to the adventurer guild Fishermen for the first time in a while.
They made their way through the usual crowd of people, secured a table for themselves, and started casually making plans for their next adventure.
“I don’t know about that way of dodging responsibility but… Anyway, how was that magic item shop disguised as a tobacco shop? Did you go there to look for Karan’s Dragon King Orb?”
“…It was being raided when we got there.”
Said Nick with irritation.
“So, did the order find it?”
“I asked, but they said it wasn’t there. It was in the index of stolen goods though. Apparently they were waiting for an opportunity to sell it at a high price.”
“Then where is it?”
“We don’t know that yet… No, the Order of the Sun did tell us that they know for sure it didn’t leave the city, so there’s the possibility that they know where it is and are just not telling us.”
Said Nick with a sigh, and Sem threw in a question.
“Is it really impossible that it’s outside the city?”
“That’s what I’m afraid of… But the order says it’s still here, and I think so too.”
Nick put his hand on his chin as he started thinking, and then answered the question slowly.
“The people that buy and sell magic items on the black market have taken a blow, now that White Mask is gone. He wasn’t necessarily their friend, but he was certainly the order’s enemy. Now that the order doesn’t have to worry about someone as strong as him, they can really be brazen and conduct raids.”
“Han… So they’re riding on our coattails.”
Said Tianna as she sat back on her chair and sneered.
“And Olivia got a nice achievement for herself too.”
“She’s full of secrets… I don’t think she’s lying to us, but there’s probably a mountain of things she isn’t telling us.”
“There’s a lot I want to ask her too but… We should’ve done this sooner. Sorry Karan.”
Nick looked at Karan with remorse in his eyes, but Karan didn’t seem at all shocked. Rather, she seemed very much composed.
“Well, it can’t be helped. There’s no point in trying to force things on our own either.”
“We’re not getting the Dragon King Orb back if we just barge in and tell them to give it back. If we’re too hasty, they might even end up tricking us instead.”
“I guess that’s true…”
“Nevermind that, let’s talk about labyrinths. We should get stronger so we’re ready when the time comes. And I didn’t get to do anything good last time, so I want to make up for it.”
Said Karan with no gloom on her face, and everyone there looked at her with some surprise on their faces.
“…Then stop fiddling with my hair and horns please.”
Tianna started patting Karan’s head without saying a word, until Karan grabbed her hand with a slightly uneasy expression.
“I agree with Karan, we didn’t get to do anything, and I’m starting to get stressed.”
“Well, I’ll think of that as reassuring.”
Said Nick with a bitter smile as he looked at Tianna and Karan.
“And where will we be going?”
Nick did not answer Bond’s question, and instead started counting on his fingers the labyrinths they had conquered.
They conquered the G ranked labyrinths Goblin Forest, Shadow Wolf Den, and Sticky Goo Gate, all located close to the Labyrinth City.
They did not conquer any F rank labyrinths, but they did conquer two E rank ones, Ice Den of the Rakshasa and Wood Men Fighting Forest.
“So we conquered five. We’re not spending a lot of time in places that have weak monsters and low earning potential, so we’re going at a pretty high pace.”
“There isn’t really any point in conquering anything below E rank if you’re strong, is there? We could see it as a simple and safe way to make money, but still…”
“No… It’s true that it’s safe and simple, but it’s not good to be going through the motions. Some degree of tension is actually good.”
Said Nick with a troubled expression, in response to Sem.
It seemed like an extravagant concern, but it was still something that adventurers had to keep in mind.
“What rank are we anyway?”
“…Now that you mention it… E or F I guess.”
Everyone responded to Nick’s vague answer with a tepid stare.
“There’s not much difference anyway. The guild decides the rank based on the difficulty of the labyrinths we conquer and the materials we collect and bring in. Sometimes parties rank up and don’t even know it. It’s a different story when you reach D rank, but… Hold on, I’ll go check.”
Nick then noticed an employee that just happened to be passing by, and asked.
“Survivors are E rank. You really should be going higher and ranking up to move over to 『Pioneers』. It’s nice having strong people around, but it’s not proper for people that can go higher to be sticking around in lower ranks.”
Said the employee before heading towards the board to switch out some papers, and kicking out some drunk people. Guild employees were weirdly strong for people that were mostly office workers.
“There you have it.”
“Rank up… Are there any restrictions, like in the beginning?”
Tianna was talking about when they ranked up from G to F. In order to do so, they had to conquer the easiest labyrinths.
“No, worse. We can’t just conquer labyrinths… We need a letter of recommendation.”
“Letter of recommendation?”
“G rank adventurers are really nothing more than beginners still learning the ropes. E and F ranks are intermediaries, so their main job is to defeat monsters close to the Labyrinth City. It doesn’t really matter if they’re a little bit weak, or if their attitude isn’t the best, but that all changes starting with D rank.
They go inside labyrinths where it looks like the monsters might start rampaging, and defeat monsters that wander out of labyrinths. Sometimes, they’re even specifically called by the guild to deal with important quests.”
“…But on the other hand, adventurers don’t exactly have a nice reputation, so that letter of recommendation acts as a way to verify their behavior, right?”
Said Sem, to which Nick nodded with a concerned look on his face.
“The qualifications for who gets to give a recommendation aren’t very strict. A knight with the title of noble, someone in a public office or with a professional occupation, an intermediate level priest… We could easily get one if we pay someone that has status and it doesn’t cost a lot of money.”
“That sounds simple.”
“We could also accept an escort quest and take the opportunity to ask the person that put out the quest to do it…”
“Isn’t that how you’re supposed to do it in the first place?”
Said an exasperated Tianna.
“Yes but… Reality and ideals don’t always match. I mean, the kind of person of person of character that a place like the adventurer guild is looking for probably isn’t going to be an adventurer to begin with…”
“You can’t become an honest person by just listening to what others tell you to do.”
Said Karan, and Nick nodded in agreement.
“So how do we rank up after we get the letter?”
“It’s like moving up from G to F rank. We have to conquer three specific labyrinths.”
Nick lifted three fingers.
“And if we do rank up, we’ll move to another branch of the guild. It’s not like we won’t be able to come here anymore, but we should move if we want to do more difficult, but also more profitable quests.”
The adventurers that frequented Fishermen were E and F rank intermediary adventurers, basically, average adventurers. But from D rank forward, it was different. It was basically the higher end of intermediary adventurer, and the gateway into becoming a powerful or veteran adventurer. In general, people around them saw them differently as well.
“So we should start by going up to D rank right?”
“Aiming upwards is no bad thing.”
Said Tianna, and Karan and Bond cheerfully agreed.
“Well, I’m not going to complain about you being motivated. Well then… Leaving aside that letter of recommendation thing, we have to clear what we have to clear.”
Nick spread out a map made for adventurers, with labyrinths around the city marked. He then pointed to one specific place.”
“… Blazing Bird Peak?”
Tianna read the name of the place Nick pointed to.
“Yes. This will be the first checkpoint.”
Said Nick, and the table was filled with ambitious smiles.