“Eh? An adventurer? Isn’t she a little young for that? Although, hmmm…”
Lily and Iris were standing at the counter of the Oparil branch of the Adventurer’s Guild, speaking to a flustered receptionist.
Thankfully, the long-sleeved shirt, gloves and trousers Lily had looted off the slaver were sufficient to hide her metal limbs, and she looked of age, but due to the clothes being too large for Iris, Lily had been forced to sell them and use the money to buy Iris a cute one-piece summer dress, complete with a sunhat. The getup made her look unbelievably cute, but it also unfortunately accentuated the fact that she had the physical appearance of a fourteen year old. Given that the legal age for joining a Guild was sixteen, this posed a slight problem, as the receptionist – a busty young elven woman with close-cropped chocolate brown hair – was attempting to explain.
“It’s not a matter of strength, you see, it’s not legal for us to hire below sixteens. So I can’t allow you to become an adventurer.”
“…I’m older than I look.”
“Somehow I truly doubt that, but this really isn’t my decision to make… hm… hold on a minute. Let me get my manager. Yes. She’ll know what to do.”
She left the desk and entered the door behind it, coming back several minutes later with a Nekoi woman in tow. This woman seemed to be in her late twenties, with striking black hair tied in a ponytail. Her sharp feline eyes were tinged a bright yellow, her cheeks angular. Atop her head sat two sharp cat ears, twitching. She wore a formal-looking shirt buttoned all the way up her neck, ending just below her chin, with sleek black trousers and polished leather boots. Around her left shoulder she wore a red mantle which resembled an arm-cape. At her right hip was fastened a rapier. Behind her, as she walked, her long tail swished around. On her sharp nose were a pair of square-rimmed glasses, lying just above a horizontal scar that perfectly bisected her face.
“Are these the applicants?”
“Ah, yes, ma’am.”
The woman looked at Iris and Lily appraisingly, lingering particularly on their necks. Self-conscious of the barely visible mark left by the <<Slave Collar>> after wearing it for two days, Lily resisted the urge to touch her throat. Serena nodded twice, then extended her hand to Lily, a gesture which Lily returned.
“Welcome to the guild. My name is Serena, Master of the Oparil branch of the Adventurer’s Guild. I look forward to working with both of you.”
She turned to the receptionist.
“You. Prepare their licenses. I approve of their employment.”
The receptionist breathed a sigh of relief and hurried to the front, leaving Serena on the side to continue silently observing the pair.
“Lily Voirgaire and Iris Voirgaire.”
Iris blushed slightly at Lily identifying her as her younger sister. It was the cover story they had decided on, but it still made her happy.
“I was born in year 460 A.R.”
A.R. was the name of the calendar the world used. Nobody knew what it stood for; the records had long since been erased. But everyone used it nonetheless.
“So… that makes you 20 this year. I see.”
Lily fought hard to hide her shock. 20? She had been seventeen when she left on that fateful day. Had she spent three years in that wasteland? It would explain her hair…
“How about Miss Iris?”
Lily thought for a bit. If the current year was 480, then for Iris to be at the minimum employable age of 16, she would have to be born in…
“Iris was born in 464.”
“Ah, so she is sixteen. I’m sorry for doubting you.”
The receptionist’s tone of voice had a dry quality to it that suggested she greatly doubted Lily, but she filled in the form anyway.
“Why you want to be an adventurer. Money? Fame? The excitement of it all? This will affect the jobs available to you.”
“Ah, then I suppose we want to make enough money to go home.”
Serena broke into a smile at the side, as if she had just confirmed something. Lily frowned.
“I see. Then I’ll put it down as ‘Financial’.”
She sent some mana into the tablet at her desk, causing it to glow, and the information was transferred onto two waiting small cobalt plates, which she handed to the pair.
“Congratulations, and welcome. You’re now both Cobalt-ranked adventurers. From now on, you can come to me or any Adventurer’s Guild for jobs and requests. I look forward to working with you.”
Lily took her card and handed the other to Iris, intending to keep hers in a compartment in her arm later on. She shared a small smile with Iris. Now they had their chance to start earning enough for a trip home.
Lily had nearly fainted when she found out they were in Oparil city. Oparil was not just a different country from her home city of Azoria, it was on a completely different continent. To get back home, she would need to get on a ship, and getting a spot on a passenger ship was not cheap. She had toyed with the idea of taking a ship by force, but she had no idea about how to navigate the oceans, and even if she threatened the crew, a crew motivated by fear was an unreliable one. Taking into account the fact that Iris and herself had immense combat potential, the most effective way to earn money would be to take on high-paying, high-risk jobs as an adventurer, which had led to her decision.
As Lily was about to ask the receptionist for a job, however, the door of the guildhouse burst open, revealing an angered slaver.
“Oi you. Green hair. You’re coming back with me. Your sister too. Don’t think you can get away with escaping just like that.”
Lily rolled her eyes.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t you fuck with me! I don’t know how you suddenly got arms and legs, and I don’t know how you got out of the collar. But I do know you’re an escaped slave. So know your place.”
“Ahem. Is there a reason you’re disturbing the peace of my guildhouse and browbeating a guild member?”
Serena cut into the conversation. At her question, the slaver paled.
“A guild member…?”
Lily proudly displayed her cobalt ID. A vein started to pop out on the slaver’s head. Being a guild member meant that Serena now had a vested interest in helping her; it would affect the guild’s reputation. The slaver grit his teeth and continued.
“Terribly sorry, ma’am, but that guild member of yours is an escaped slave! You can see the collar mark around her neck! By law, illegally escaped slaves cannot be granted employment!”
The slaver grinned slightly, certain of his triumph. Not missing a beat, Serena instantly replied.
“The law also states that all slaves must be sold with an accompanying writ of purchase, signed by the individual or their guardian. Let’s see it.”
The slaver went white, fists clenched and trembling.
It was true that slavery was legal in Oparil. However; legality implied regulation. According to Oparil law, all slaves had to be accompanied by a written writ of purchase signed by the slave, stating that they had been consigned to slavery either of their own free will or by their legal guardians. The unlegislated capture of slaves was wholly prohibited. And of course, a large majority of slaves were illegally captured. As such, most slaves did not come with this writ, and were forced using the threat of the <<Slave Collars>> to sign it after capture. As Lily and Iris were unexpected acquisitions, the slavers had not had the time to carry out this forced signing. Not that they would have signed the papers even with the persuasion of the collars.
Of course, the writs were largely an unenforced formality – the slavery industry was far too profitable and large to allow it to be fettered by laws, and nobles would find themselves losing their slaves and playmates if they were to enforce this law. That said, for the sake of upholding the city’s international image, the law was in place. And it was this law that Serena leveraged. The Adventurer’s Guild had some lawkeeping powers, and it was within their rights to exercise nonlethal force to apprehend an infringer.
The slaver growled, then turned around and stalked out of the guildhouse, allowing the built-up tension to dissipate.
Serena turned to Lily and Iris, a sparkle in her eye.
“Now then, since that’s been resolved, would you like to join me in the back? I might have a special job for you.”
Not waiting for an answer, she turned around and walked into the door behind the counter. Lily turned to Iris, who shrugged. Iris took her hand, and the two girls entered the back room together.