The rich lived in the northern area of the Labyrinth City, and it could be said that north and south were on opposite ends both geographically and financially.
The north had many schools, sorcerers and researchers. It was common to see youths walking about wearing brand new robes. Tianna looked on at the busy streets through the window in the wagon she was riding, and felt a little sad about the distance she felt between inside and outside of the wagon, although she could say with confidence that her situation was not bad.
“Young lady, Thunderbolt Company is this way.”
Tianna paid the driver of the ride and stepped down onto a big but empty street. On it, there was a building with aged bricks, and from the outside, Tianna could see a well-kept garden. This majestic environment made her feel nostalgic.
“It’s like school.”
Mumbled Tianna as she approached the guard at the door.
“Yes? How may I help?”
The young guard was well educated and polite.
“I have an appointment to meet my master, Bellocchio. Can you please confirm it?”
“Ah, so you are miss Tianna. Understood, please come inside.”
The guard let her in without confirming who she was or asking further questions.
Tianna was taken to a guest room, and sat on a comfortable cotton filled chair. The wooden table in front of her had beautiful carvings, and the lamp above her was a magic item, so it illuminated without generating heat. Everything seemed very high class.
If anything, it all seemed very fussy, so Tianna imagined whoever owned the place was a very strict and rigid person.
[Why is master Bellocchio living here?]
Tianna asked herself, but it all soon became clear.
There was a loud knock on the door.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting! No, it’s fine, stay where you are. Bellocchio is helping me with a few things! Good grief, I have so much to ask him and now he’s decided he’s going to become an adventurer at his age!”
A woman wearing an extravagant outfit that Tianna could not quite tell if it was a dress or a robe came in, and started speaking quickly. Tianna was at a loss for words, as she expected to hear the calm voice of her master instead.
The frustration over being caught off guard actually calmed her down, and she soon cleared her throat and smiled.
“I am Tianna, a disciple of Bellocchio Shrews. Thank you for the wonderful reception.”
The woman let out a sigh of admiration, and spoke to Tianna with a more restrained voice than earlier.
“I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Minerva Erde and I am the head of the Thunderbolt Company research institute.
I’ve heard a lot about you from Bellocchio. You remind me of me when I was younger… Bellocchio has settled down since, but I bet he never even mentioned he used to be an adventurer.”
Tianna looked surprised.
“He used… To be an adventurer…?”
“So he really didn’t tell you…”
“Can you stop talking about my past when I am not present?”
Tianna, still surprised, heard a familiar voice.
Bellocchio entered the room sighing as he looked at a grinning Minerva.
Tianna on the other hand was relieved. Continuing to talk with that woman by herself would have been exhausting.
“Your presence makes the kids shrink back.”
“That was a long time ago. I’m not scary, am I?”
Tianna thought she really was not scary, but rather somewhat of an overwhelming presence. Obviously, she did not say this, and instead simply smiled.
“Well, I will leave you two alone.”
Said Minerva as she left the room. A silence and solitary feeling typical of when someone noisy left filled the room.
“She is an old friend.”
“So you used to be an adventurer?”
“She even told you that?”
Bellocchio shook his head with a light smile on his face.
“It’s alright. I just do not like talking about my embarrassing past, but I guess I should explain.”
“I want to hear about that too but… First of all, are you working here?”
“Not really working, more like I am under their care.”
“Because you’re so busy with your work as an adventurer?”
“Yes, because I quit once. I went all the way up to a high rank and had some achievements under my belt. I thought they would still be in the records, but I had to start all over from rank F. It is quite a bother.”
“I thought for sure you were starting from scratch.”
“I had no intention of fooling you… I wanted to talk about that as well when I called you. Perhaps given the contents of the conversation I should have gone to you to talk, but I find it somewhat difficult to move about. Also, Suisen would have followed me, so it would have made it difficult to speak…”
“So you are kind of like the breaks of your party.”
Tianna figured she understood the general atmosphere of her master’s party. She thought gathering adventurers in this manner was amusing, and laughed.
“It sounds like a lot of trouble.”
Bellocchio smiled and nodded. Tianna felt as though the reservations she had been feeling were gone, and although their positions were now different, she felt she could now talk to him as she did before.
Tianna fixed her posture, and started speaking about herself.
“I have something I need to say.”
“What is it Tianna?”
“My carelessness put you and other teachers in a difficult predicament. If I had been more careful, you wouldn’t have been forced to quit. I am really sorry.”
“That is not true.”
Bellocchio bluntly denied what Tianna said.
“If anything, your troubles were brought about by lack of attentiveness on our part. I should be one apologizing. I was so focused on my research that I failed to see what was around me, and was foolish enough to think political turmoil had no relation with school.”
“Also, after I was expelled from school, I was too busy thinking about my future to care about you. Your leader is correct, this was an error on my part.”
Bellocchio stopped and took a deep breath.
“You are more resilient than I thought. Perhaps it is imprudent for me to say this, but you look a hundred times more cheerful and energetic conquering labyrinths and gambling than I expected.”
Tianna unconsciously smiled.
“Yes, I’m surprisingly stubborn.”
Objectively speaking, there was no point in trying to pin the fault on anyone. Bellocchio jokingly proposed they stopped talking about it, and Tianna accepted. That was the sense of distance between a master and a pupil.
“But master, I have two questions.”
“We’ve confirmed that we are both doing well. I’m an adventurer, but I’m still a sorcerer, so is there any point in trying to scout me?”
“That is one question. What is the other?”
“If you used to be an adventurer, why do you want me to quit being an adventurer?”
Said Bellocchio before answering.
“The answer is the same for both… But Tianna, I will ask you something that was difficult to ask in front of your party.”
“Tianna, is being an adventurer your life’s goal? Are you doing it out of a sense of obligation towards your leader and your other partners for saving you, or do you wish from the bottom of your heart to continue being an adventurer for as long as you can?”