An Escort Request

Lily Voirgaire ran through the streets of the <<Academic City Azoria>>, heading straight for the entrance to the <<Dungeon>> which stood in the centre of the city.

A <<Dungeon>> could be said to be a building of sorts; they were found in various places around the world of <<Crestalia>>. The Dungeons all seemed to have the shared trait of containing multiple floors, as well as housing large populations of monstrous creatures.

“Good Evening, Lily!”
“Ah, eh, evening~”

While people along her path called out their greetings to her, she only responded with a cursory glance and a quick shouted response, not slowing down.

Eventually the building known as the <<Adventurer’s Guild>> came into sight. It was a large, domed construct that had a hole in the centre of its hemispherical shell. The dome itself was constructed from hexagonal panels of <<Refractive Ore>>, which caused it to have a shimmering, scale-like appearance as the external light was constantly refracted out at various angles. In the rapidly fading sunlight, the dome’s surface was tinged a light, soft red. In each of the cardinal directions stood a grand entrance, a large white door flanked on either side by sculptures of angels, with the visage of an owl with outspread wings engraved into the stone at the highest point of the doorway.

While the rest of the city was starting to quieten as night approached, the area around the Guild was instead getting noticeably busier. This peculiarity could be attributed to the <<Labyrinth of Azoria>>.

Although the Guild’s official priority was the management and representation of Adventurers, its main purpose as an institution was the management of the <<Dungeons>>. In any city with a <<Dungeon>>, there was a branch of the guild constructed around its entrance. The guild managed who entered the Dungeon, as well as administered any job requests pertaining to the Dungeon.

In the case of the <<Azoria Adventurer’s Guild>>, the <<Labyrinth of Azoria>> possessed the unique characteristic of <<Nocturnal>>. The entrance to the Dungeon only opened up during the nighttime, from sunset to sunrise. As a result, the adventurers who operated within Azoria largely lived nocturnal lifestyles, sleeping or resupplying during the day, while entering the Dungeon at night.

Lily ran through the south entrance, then slowed her gait to a walk, making a beeline for the receptionist’s desk that greeted her directly across from the entrance. All around her, various groups of adventurers were standing around and chatting, and along the walls of the circular structure were a plethora of merchants peddling their wares, while interested adventurers examined their displays and haggled price points.

“Good evening. May I assist you?”

Lily reached the reception, where she was greeted respectfully by a girl that looked about her age, wearing a white, one-sleeved buttoned blouse accompanied by black trousers. On her unsleeved left shoulder was a tear-shaped pauldron bearing the Guild’s insignia – an eye, superimposed against a magic circle, surrounded by vines – which had several ribbons flowing from it, which connected to the fingertips on a white glove worn on her left hand. On the back of the glove was, again, the Guild insignia. On her pointed ears – the proof of her Elvish heritage – sat a pair of blue-rimmed glasses, a soothing complement to her forest green hair and eyes.

“Ah, yes. I’m here regarding a request I placed last week, I recieved a letter stating that it had been accepted…?”

“I see. Do you have any identification?”

“Uh, yes, here.”

Lily handed over her student ID, a simple blue card engraved with her name and age, proving that she was a student at <<Azoria Magic Academy>>.

“Very well, Miss Voirgaire, please wait a moment.”

With deft fingerwork born of familiarity, the receptionist skillfully manipulated a flat iron slate on the desk in front of her with her gloved left hand. As she did so, words and numbers began to appear in ink on the adjacent slate.

This was done by employing <<Magic Formations>> of <<Projection>> and <<Psychometry>> that were etched into the base of the slates. <<Magic Formations>> were magic circles that allowed for anyone to invoke magic as if they had an affinity for it.

However, <<Magic Formations>> were excessively intricate and could take up to weeks or even months to create, and generally could only use the contained magic type in a very specific way. Add this to the fact that creating one required an affinity for <<Runic>> magic, and these conveniences were mostly overpriced and excessive.

After a bit more tapping, the receptionist spoke to Lily.

“Here we go. Miss Lily Voirgaire, requesting a 7-star escort mission to the 33rd floor for the purpose of investigating mineral deposits, yes?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

Lily gave a bitter smile as she recalled the amount of trouble the assigned 7-star rating had given her.

Whenever a request was submitted to the guild, an analyst would look over the details of the request and assign it a star rating based on difficulty, from 1 to 10 stars. Escort missions in general were automatically 5 stars and above, while subjugation requests varied depending on the mark. In particular, since her request had been an escort mission to the newest, unexplored floor of the Dungeon, it had been assigned a 7 star rating.

Naturally, the high star rating had been a worrying concern for Lily for quite some time. Clients were required to provide renumeration that fitted the difficulty of their request before the request would be listed. In Lily’s case, the amount had more or less amounted to her life savings. It was only through multiple instances of begging and borrowing, along with juggling 4 jobs, which let her eventually scrape together enough to post the request.

“Your request has been accepted by a party named <<Battleforged>>. 5 member party. 2 gold-ranked vanguards, 1 gold-ranked rear guard, 2 gold-ranked healers. You’ll find them waiting for you in room 153.”

“Ah, alright. Thank you.”

A gold-ranked party. In other words, relatively experienced with a good track record. Lily nodded in satisfaction.

Adventurers were split into various ranks based on ability and accomplishment. All adventurers started at cobalt, and could work their way up to copper, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, mythril, crystal, Hero and finally Legend. The higher your rank, the more difficult the missions you were allowed to undertake. Additionally, a higher rank granted more benefits within the guild, such as increasing discounts at affiliated vendors, or increasing queue priority for accepting requests.

Lily turned and strode towards room 153, one of the many waiting lounges that surrounded the inner surface of the dome-shaped building, with a slight smile at knowing that her escorts were <<Battleforged>>. It meant she would at least have a friend while on this expedition.