“I’m telling you, I need to see Mister Kaine Hyssop. I have a letter for him, right here.”
“And I’m telling you, that isn’t possible without a prior appointment.”
Lily srunched up her face and massaged her brow as she spoke to the receptionist. They had come to the guild for the purpose of passing the letter to the guildmaster of the Saphiz branch. Unfortunately, she was now stuck at the front desk, trying to convince the receptionist to let her see the man. She seemed to have especially poor affinity with guild receptionists. Frustrated, she slammed her hand on the counter, waving the letter around.
“Look, can’t you just make an exception? I’ve got a letter from the guildmaster in the Oparil branch, and I’d like to get it to him as soon as possible so that I can start doing some work to make enough to go home. So I would highly appreciate it if you could just tell him-”
“Tell me what?”
Lily’s tirade was interrupted by the quiet utterance of a man sitting at one of the inconspicuous tables along the right hand side of the building. He stood up and strode towards her, a brown cloak covering him and obscuring most of his body, save for a glossy pair of black boots. He had a head of messy black hair, accompanied by a pair of glasses, sitting unevenly on a crooked nose. As he walked, Lily glanced at the receptionist, who jerked her head in the man’s direction. This was Kaine Hyssop.
He stopped by her side and held out his hand, into which Lily promptly delivered the sealed envelope. He pushed his glasses up with his left third and index fingers, causing Lily to briefly wonder if all guildmasters wore glasses. He casually broke the wax seal and read the letter, eyes tracing the page as he took in its contents. After a while, he lowered the letter and glanced over at the two girls appraisingly, his glasses slipping down slightly. He folded the letter and stowed it in his pocket, then walked behind the counter, opening a simple wooden door. He stepped through it, gesturing with his head for the girls to follow behind. Lily gave the receptionist an apologetic glance, then followed him.
Unlike Serena’s office, which boasted extravagance and wealth, Kaine’s office was far simpler. It had no carpeting, and no furniture save for a number of lamps on the walls, and a wooden table with two chairs on one side and one, larger chair on the other. Bookshelves lined the walls, but they were empty, filled with cobwebs. Occasionally, the cobbled stone of the walls would show between bookshelves. Near the door, in stark contrast to the rest of the room, was a rack of various weapons, all polished to a fine gloss. An ivory bow stood next to a pristine steel sword, and above that was a glinting poleaxe with a varnished wooden handle. This was the office of a man who spent more time on the battlefield than behind the desk.
Kaine seated himself in the larger chair, and gestured for Lily and Iris to take the smaller chairs. Once seated, he leaned forward and spoke, with a contemplating look.
“Serena, huh… It’s not often someone gets a commendation from that monster of a woman. They say she’s the greatest fencer in the land; if she gives you such high praise, your ability must be outstanding.”
Lily and Iris looked at each other curiously. Serena had not particularly seemed very strong when they were interacting. To be fair, she had annihilated a goblin nest on her own…
“Show me your licenses.”
Lily and Iris withdrew their licenses from their pockets and presented them to Kaine, who inspected them, his expression changing from an expression of approval, to confusion, to surprise.
“Both Paragons… <<Extension>>? …Wait, <<Bombardment>>!?”
He stared at the two girls, but especially at Iris, who just replied with an angelic smile. He narrowed his eyes and returned their licenses.
“You two are certainly something else…”
He leaned back in his chair, some of the tension leaving his body.
“Well, ladies, according to the letter, Serena has faith in your abilities. So if I have any missions that are guild-request only, I’ll tell the receptionist to add you to the nominee list. For now though, there’s nothing. So you’ll just have to take on ordinary missions.”
“…Is there any benefit to doing guild-request missions?”
Kaine’s face took on a look of surprise.
“Huh? You don’t know about them? Well… The pay is generally higher, for one. Guild requests tend to come from influential nobles or governing bodies, so we can offer higher rewards. Additionally, as most of them are higher in difficulty, these missions offer higher points.”
Kaine’s jaw dropped wide open.
“Wait, you don’t even know about points!? …Serena did say she promoted you straight from Cobalt to Gold… hahhhhhh… damn that woman, leaving the boring stuff to me…”
He calmed himself, pushed up his glasses, and spoke again.
“To go from one adventurer rank to the next, you need to accumulate a certain number of points. For instance, for you, a gold adventurer, to rank up to platinum, you’ll need 500 points. A normal mission, like an extermination job, for instance, would give you about 5 to 15 points. A Guild-requested mission can give anywhere from 100 to 10,000 points. If you’re looking to climb ranks quickly, Guild requests are the most efficient way. You can also buy points, at the current rate of 10,000 Pars per point. Not a very reasonable rate, but it’s not a method we encourage. For this reason, you cannot buy points after reaching Diamond rank. In the first place, we only implemented it to placate the nobles who wanted children whom they could show off as high-ranking adventurers. Not that you should have any reason to care about that, of course. Well then, that’s all I have for you for now. If I have any Guild requests available, I’ll make sure you’re informed. Go on then. On your way.”
Kaine seemed to stop himself just as he was about to launch into a tirade against the aforementioned nobles. Cutting himself off, he waved Lily and Iris out of the office.
Lily laughed the moment she left the office. What an interesting man. Very different from Serena, much less controlled. She returned to the front desk, where the receptionist regarded her with a sour glare, to which Lily responded by glancing down apologetically.
“…Sorry for causing such a commotion just now.”
The receptionist looked at her for a while more, then sighed and recrossed her legs.
“…And? I assume you want to take on a job?”
“Ah, yes. What do you have available?”
The receptionist ran her fingers along her tablet, then passed another smaller tablet to Lily, where a number of requests were engraved in it.
Lily scanned through the options. Mostly they were simple requests, from 1 to 5 star difficulty, a large number being extermination or gathering jobs, with payments averaging around 2000 to 5000 Pars. One particular request, however, stood out.
[Hunt <<Unicorns>> on the 18th floor of the <<Tower of Saphiz>> and collect their horns. Required quantity: 8. Difficulty: 7.5 Stars. Client: Atelier Horace. Payment: 14,500 Pars. Points: 35. Deadline: Five days.]
Lily contemplated. It seemed simple enough. She was about to glance at Iris for her opinion, but the girl was busy playing with the frills on her dress. Lily smiled. She would likely be able to handle it, anyway.
“This one, please.”
“Alright, please hand over your licenses.”
The receptionist placed both licenses on her stone tablet, then touched a few spots on the top half of the tablet. A faint glow was emitted, after which she returned their licenses.
“Done. You’re now registed for this mission.”
Lily tapped Iris on the shoulder to get her attention, then strode toward the door. While she would have preferred to go straight into the dungeon, first she needed to buy some provisions. Food could be hunted from monsters inside the dungeons, but water was a different matter. She purposefully strode through the door, bursting onto the streets, then staggered back, off balance, as she collided into someone passing by.
She skillfully regained her balance, and look at the ground in front of her, seeing the prone form of the girl who had collided into her. The girl was short, and looked to be about twelve to fourteen, much like Iris. Unlike Iris, however, she was wearing a set of practical work clothing, including sturdy trousers and an overall with many pockets, which was obviously too large for her small build. Her face was a lively pinkish color, marred with soot, and her hair, kept short without ornamentation, had an odd coloration, being mainly black but transitioning into blue highlights as it approached the tips, the tips of each strand being a stark white.
As Lily stood observing the unique features of this girl, the girl jumped up, rubbing her nose, and glared at Lily.
“Are you an idiot? Who just bursts into a main street like that!? Gods, watch where you’re-”
Her tirade cut off as she made eye contact with Lily. There was a moment of silence, then she doubled over, hands clenching tight over the part of her chest that protected the heart, fingers scrabbling against her small chest, with her face scrunching up in pain, flushing red. Alarmed, Lily moved closer to her to see what was wrong, but she matched Lily’s movements and took one step back. With one final angry glare at Lily, the girl awkwardly took off running down the street, hand still desperately clutching her chest.
Once she was out of sight, Lily straightened herself, scratching her head questioningly. That was odd. Shrugging, she decided to pay it no mind, and walked off in the direction of the general store. She did not notice Iris’ eyes lingering on where the girl had run, nor did she notice the gentle smile that was playing across Iris’ lips.