Tsutomu stood up, went to his desk, and started to write letters to the four major Clans. The three roles of Tank, Healer, and Attacker; methods of using <<Heal>> shots; and data regarding the Fire Dragon — All that information were to be offered in a joint conference between two newspaper publications. The letters’ content was an invitation, asking the Clans to consider participating.
After adjusting the contents of each letter to fit each Clan’s name and prominent traits, Tsutomu confirmed their addresses then headed out to each of the Clan Houses.
Golden Tune, Ealdred Crow, Scarlet Devil Squad, and Labyrinth Conquerors — by the time was done around to deliver the letters to the four Clan Houses, it was already night. After returning to the inn, Tsutomu waited for his evening meal at the Dining Hall.
Tsutomu’s prediction was that all Clans other than Scarlet Devil Squad would be on board. Ealdred Crow definitely would be interested, as apparent from how they were already trying to imitate and make effective use of Tsutomu’s strategies. Golden Tune, despite their four-Attacker and one-Healer composition, was a Clan with a high chance of prevailing over the Fire Dragon — but then again, they were sure to want information on the <<Heal>> shots and the Fire Dragon.
As for the Labyrinth Conquerors, Tsutomu was uncertain as to what he would get since he was not so familiar with them. Regardless, they were a Clan that put their lives on the line to capture the Dungeons out of town; Tsutomu had the expectation that they were greedy for this sort of information.
It would not be until two days later when the letters were replied to. On the day, Tsutomu lined up at the Forest Apothecary first thing in the morning in order to replenish his supply of Potions, then went to check out how other people were progressing through the Dungeon, mainly on the two-digit Monitors. He needed two more party members to establish a Clan; Garm had said that he would be introducing someone to him, so Tsutmomu had plans to meet up with the person in question soon. He still had to look for the other member by himself, however.
Tsutomu had previously posted for improvised parties on the Guild’s bulletin board in order to Explore the Dungeon. He searched for any who did the same, who might be capable, but over the span of two days, no one in particular caught his eye. Another thing he planned to do was showing off his <<Heal>> shots during the conference in which we would be providing his information to the major Clans; it that ended up changing the Clans’ perceptions, perhaps he could attract some of their reserve or even reserve-reserve players to his side.
If things did not work out, in the worst case, Tsutomu would need to look for members for his Clan at the Guild, but he did not really want to do that.
Mid-level Explorers without an issue in their backgrounds and behavior, if there were any, were sure to have already been scouted by other Clans. This meant that those who would even consider finding a Clan through the Guild were only the leftovers and no-names who may or may not turn out to be hidden gems. It was not necessarily a bad idea to train them up from scratch, but Tsutomu still wanted someone at around level 30, if possible.
As far as recruiting from the other Clans went, Golden Tune was pretty much a no-go, since almost all of its members were the Clan Leader’s harem. And since Tsutomu had heard that those of the Labyrinth Conquerors were quite proud to be a part of the Clan, he expected to pull someone over from Ealdred Crow. Since the latter Clan had more than a hundred members, Tsutomu believed that pulling just one person with a level of 30 to 40 out of there would not cause too much friction.
[The guy Garm will be introducing is probably a Tank… So the Job I would want is a Lightweight Warrior, as an Attacker.]
After receiving the four letters from the receptionist at the inn, Tsutomu returned to his room and opened the envelope from Ealdred Crow first, all while imagining what his future Clan members could be like.
Tsutomu was relieved to see the letter’s contents spell out the sender’s utmost wish to participate; so far, things were going the way he had expected. With this, he was starting to see some hope in regards to recruiting members for his Clan. After scanning through the rest of the letter, the tone of which was quite enthusiastic, Tsutomu proceeded to open the letter from Golden Tune.
Golden Tune also expressed their wish to participate, but the text suggested that they had some sort of hidden agenda. It was especially apparent in how there were numerous allusions to rewards in exchange for information. Regardless, the fact that Golden Tune was almost certainly in on this still heightened Tsutomu’s mood.
The ‘reward’ Tsutomu was calling for in this case was not Gold, but rather, for them to give interviews to the two newspaper publishers. For Golden Tune, if it was just that in exchange for the information they wanted, they were almost certain to agree to it.
Unlike Solit Company, the two other publications had almost no connection with the major Clans, not to mention, their obviously lower financial strength. Therefore, in addition to his main objectives of spreading the use of the three-role system and improving the circumstances of Healers, Tsutomu also aimed to establish connections between the major Clans and the two smaller news outlets.
The two companies had recently seen a growth in their businesses thanks to the free-of-charge interviews with Tsutomu, Garm, and Amy — and not to mention the fact that they had stocked up Tsutomu’s informative announcements and interviews with Garm and Amy for questions-and-answers columns, giving them enough material to last a whole month from now. Since Tsutomu’s party had already disbanded, however, they would not be able to keep milking the trend for any longer than that.
As such, Tsutomu had the idea to establish connections with the major Clans for them, so as to keep their performance up after the month was over. And having connections with major Clans meant that mid-tier Clans would also swarm to them, opening up new future opportunities. They would be able to pay more fees to the Clans by then, so the plan was certainly an option worth considering.
Next, Tsutomu opened the letter from Scarlet Devil Squad. It contained formal declination statements that read like a generic template. This was not unexpected, however, so Tsutomu promptly picked up the envelope from the Labyrinth Conquerors.
Though the other Clans’ envelopes were all of good quality, this particular one was on a whole different level, and was even fastened with a golden cloth wire. And it was obvious from how it looked outside that there was something solid in it. Tsutomu carefully opened the seal, thinking dirty thoughts about how much Gold it would fetch if he were to sell whatever item it was.
The letter’s content, in somewhat of a quirky literary style, expressed the sender’s wish to participate; the other items were three Small Magic Stones — one Lightning Magic Stone, one Ice, and one that Tsutomu could not identify. Reading the letter thoroughly, he saw that the Magic Stones were to thank him for the invitation, and that this would not count toward their reward in exchange for information.
[Now this is some high-class treatment…]
While thinking how suspicious the writer of the letter — presumably the Labyrinth Conquerors Clan Leader — came off as, Tsutomu tucked the three Magic Stones into his Magic Bag.
The afternoon of the next day, Tsutomu headed to the Guild to meet up with Garm, who was going to introduce to him a potential member of his Clan. While pacing around the reception counter looking for Garm, he was stopped by the receptionist.
“Garm is exploring the Dungeon right now. He said that he’ll come back when he reaches layer thirteen, so I think you won’t have to wait long.”
“Oh, I see. Thank you for going out of your way to tell me.”
“You’re always welcome.”
After bowing to the smiling receptionist lady, Tsutomu sat down on a bench near the Guild’s Black Gate. As he absent-mindedly watched the party on the Monitor do their thing, eventually a familiar, tall-statured man emerged from the Black Gate waved to greet him.
“Hello there, Tsutomu. Looks like I’ve kept you waiting. Be right back after I get my Status Card updated.”
Garm had the usual straight face, and standing behind him was a young man with black, droopy dog ears; the latter was drenched in sweat. Despite his face still having a hint of immaturity to it, he was quite tall and well-built, and the armor he wore was quite bulky.
The young man, shorter than Garm but taller than Tsutomu, briefly gave Tsutomu a look of suspicion, then proceeded to bow, his tail with black-and-white fur standing up as if signifying an alarm.
“I am Daryl! It is nice to meet you!”
“Oh, yes, nice to meet you as well. Shall we talk after getting your Status Card updated?”
Seeing how Daryl immediately sat down on the bench, Tsutomu urged him to carry on with his business first; the former did so, standing up and walking after Garm in an energetic stride. Tsutomu was felt relieved of some of his initial worries, both because the young man seemed to be quite a spirited one, and since it was apparent from his familiar equipment that he was a Tank.
The armor Daryl had on was the kind commonly worn by novice Heavy Knights. Seeing that, Tsutomu guessed that his Job must be either Heavy Knight or Heavyweight Warrior. The observation led Tsutomu to wonder, if the young man were an Attacker, what would he be other than a Heavyweight Warrior, and how would that affect the party’s composition. While pondering it over, Garn and Daryl came back and sat down.
“Tsutomu, this is the person I’d like to recommend as a member of your Clan. His name is Daryl.”
“Yes! I am Daryl!”
“I see. I am called Tsutomu.”
They shook hands; Tsutomu only gripped lightly since Daryl was still wearing his gauntlet. Then, the latter held out the Status Card that he had kept under his arm to Tsutomu.
“This is my Status Card!”
Tsutomu accepted the slightly sweat-stained Status Card and took a look at Daryl’s status ratings.
Daryl was a level-31 Heavy Knight, and his VIT rating was a B-. As far as the Heavy Knight Job was concerned, their AGI rating was quite low, but their VIT was one of the highest among all Jobs. Judging from his status ratings alone, the young man would do well as Garm’s substitute.
Liking what he had seen, Tsutomu’s face broke into a smile as he returned the Status Card to Daryl.
“A Heavy Knight… Looks good.”
“Daryl is still somewhat of a wimp, but by no means a coward. Give him some time, and he’ll surpass me as a Tank, I’m sure.”
“Oh, no, no! I would never dare, Sir Garm!”
“I said ‘as a Tank.’ Don’t get on your high horse just yet.”
With Daryl chuckling and scratching his head, Garm sighed and threw some hards words his way,
“His defensive form is a mess. Offensive form on monsters is not that good yet, either. Especially the offensive — as feeble as Goblins. For the time being, I don’t think we can expect him to do much damage.”
Daryl averted his gaze, looking disheartened; Tsutomu simply kept on listening to Garm’s lecture.
“His command over <<Combat Cry>> is weak, too. But under my guidance, I reckon he’ll soon be able to use it better, and he should be dealing more damage the more he improves his form and gets used to fighting. So, when do you plan to establish your Clan, Tsutomu?”
“Let’s see… The plan is to have it ready to go in two, at most three months from now. I think that should be how long it takes for everyone to get used to <<Heal>> shots and the role-division party composition, you see.”
“Then in the meantime, I’ll be training him — make him have the same Tank capabilities as I do. Of all the people I know, Daryl was the one from whom I felt the most potential. So what do you say, Tsutomu?”
“…You’ve given him so much acknowledgment and approval, Garm — I’ll be happy to accept him, even right away. Well, I still do want to see what kind of personality he has, though, so I’d like to have an evaluation period during the first week of Clan formation. Will that be all right?”
“Of course. It’s more than enough that you’re considering him in the first place. Thank you.”
Garm put his hands on his knees and bowed, then Daryl did the same… then Tsutomu did the same in reply to them.
“Having a stable Tank makes a party stable, after all — so I really appreciate that you’ve introduced me to someone capable.”
“We should be thanking you as well… I know that not everyone can be like me. But if they can do their part as a Knight, whatever it be, I’d always be happy to help them out. If there’s anything else you need, just say the word.”
“All right. Oh, by the way, mind if I ask when your next free day is? I’m planning something right now…”
Tsutomu proceeded to spend some time chatting with the two; while discussing with Garm about the disclosure of information to the major Clans, he also made sure that Daryl could join the conversation.