Chapter 22 — Adventurer Guild
Amber City—a six-century-old city which began its development along with the change of course of the Agate River. Due to the large-scale desertification of the upper regions of the river and the Epic-ranked event Rage of the Viper, the relationship between the human kingdoms and the druids further deteriorated. As a result, the Agate River had its course changed by sixty kilometers. Even now, the druids were limiting the damage humans dealt to the environment, and they would even act violently when necessary.
The change in the Agate River's course caused Amber City to prosper at the cost of the downfall of another city. Unlike the slums, the central part of Amber City boasted clean and wide stone roads which could allow up to ten carts to travel together. The area where nobles lived was almost like a garden, with trees and flowers planted on the sides of the roads. Tall, gorgeous buildings decorated with delicate artwork could be seen everywhere in the area. It was not a place where even Soran could enter easily, as there were elite guards guarding the nobles.
The extravagant city was built at the expense of lower-class people; the entrance fee to the city was 1 Copper Derahl. The lower class and the homeless simply could not afford to pay the fee if they left its walls, and if they entered the city proper, they would be thrown out by the guards patrolling at night. This was rather common in the southern cities, where the inside and outside of the cities were two completely different worlds.
The grand plaza was also the marketplace of Amber City, with tons of goods and products from other cities sent there for trading. A substantial amount of taxes were collected from the traders, and it was the major source of income for the nobles.
Soran could see plenty of vigilant soldiers patrolling the city as he walked down the street. The skinning incidents dampened the mood of Amber City, and plenty of merchants sold their products hastily before leaving the city in a hurry. Intuition from the merchants' past experiences rang alarm bells in their minds as they knew the activity of the Dark Realm brought nothing but trouble and danger.
The Adventurer Guild was right across the street from the grand plaza. It was a massive and loose organization which reached the borders of the world, yet it was managed by people of various other sectors.
Kings, nobles, the Church, and other organizations that held power simply could not allow the Adventurer Guild to stand as their own organization, which was why these parties intervened in the operation of the Adventurer Guild with their power. The Adventurer Guild consisted of various branches which operated independently, and every branch had a council that had members from the nobles, the Church, and local powers. As every branch was independent, there was no such thing as a headquarters or head branch of the Guild. To be precise, they were all local organizations that just shared the same name and had signed agreements which benefited everyone. For example, Amber City's Adventurer Guild branch was responsible for jobs within a five-hundred-kilometer radius, covering three other cities, twenty-one towns, and over a hundred villages.
Soran intended to become an adventurer. There were no such things as requirements or ability tests; anyone could become an adventurer as long as they could pay 10 Gold Derahls, a considerable sum that could feed a family of three for three years. All adventurers started at F rank, and they were given a magical brand which could be authenticated by any other guild branch. Of course, one could also create a fake one if they had the guts and technology to do so.
The best thing about being an adventurer was that the occupation in itself was a entry permit. There were a lot of places where one could not freely enter as people in this world were rather territorial and population migration was extremely slow. With dangerous monsters and wild animals in the wilderness, most commoners never traveled more than fifty miles or so from their homes.
There were two crucial things one must prepare before heading out to other places. First was the identification of a Free Citizen, and second was the identification of an adventurer. Soran planned to become an adventurer, then get the identifications of Free Citizens for both himself and Vivian.
These two items granted freedom of movement in the southern cities and could eliminate countless troubles and hostility from the locals as one travelled. Most towns and villages would refuse to let people without either enter. Some exclusive villages would even send foreigners to the guard post for a lengthy lecture on how to behave, then warn them not to cause trouble before letting them in. There were plenty of adventurers who just became one on a whim and then got interrogated and warned everywhere they went, eventually making their way onto the list of suspicious people for no apparent reason. Even a single move which seemed off to the villagers would send a whole squadron of fully armored soldiers to their place for a 'friendly' talk. If one had not experienced it themselves, it was rather hard to imagine how bothersome and tiring adventuring was.
Getting or faking the identification of nobles was another option. It granted a higher degree of freedom, but things would get troublesome if exposed.
The number of full-time adventurers was actually quite low. It was a dangerous occupation, and forced retirement from injury was a common occurrence. Even a slight mistake in battle could result in a gruesome wound that was hard to recover from naturally, lowering the injured adventurer's combat prowess. If they could not afford to undergo divine magic therapy, then they could pretty much retire at that point already. There were plenty of F-ranked adventurers, but only ten percent of the lot made it to E rank, and less than one percent made it to D rank.
An E-ranked adventurer whose family members had no criminal records could easily get employed as a guard in nearby towns or cities. Even though the income was not as high as being an adventurer, it was a stable source of income and enough to feed a family. After all, not everyone desired the risky life of being an adventurer, placing their life on the line every time they took on a job.
Anyway, Soran was now at the Adventurer Guild. The requests pinned to the requests board were relatively formal ones as low-ranked missions or jobs were mostly commissioned without going through the Adventurer Guild. The lowest ranked requests on the board were F rank with a challenge rating of 5 or above.
"In the territory of Lord Tarold, a group of goblins and gnolls were spotted near the village Snate. The militia in the village are unable to defend the village against these monsters, thus they have issued a request for adventurers to exterminate the goblins and gnolls for a reward of 50 Gold Derahls. Mission Rank: F+."
This was the basic description of one of the requests pinned to the board. Before taking on the request, one should first consider if he could take out over twenty goblins and up to five gnolls. Afterwards, the adventurer would need to travel to the destination and scout out the area in order to determine the accuracy of the number of monsters stated on the request. If the numbers were within a reasonable range, the adventurer could proceed to making battle plans and finally take on the request. However, things would be different if the actual number of monsters was way higher than reported. The adventurer could choose to give up on the mission and request compensation for travel fees, or they could demand a higher reward for exterminating more monsters than stated in the request. Of course, there were also those who did not care at all and simply killed every single monster before leaving with the reward.
Soran could still remember the time when he accepted his first request ever. It was a request similar to the above-mentioned one, but in the end an ogre appeared and almost killed him. If not for the fifty percent increase in reward, Soran would have attacked the client out of rage—that was not a joke.
In fact, Soran had committed the deed once. He tied the client who deliberately lied about the difficulty of the request onto a pole and whipped the client to death before hanging him for three days and nights.
Back then, Soran had teamed up with a native NPC for the first time. The boy he teamed up with was a cheerful lad who had two younger brothers and a younger sister. The lad was the only person in the village who had a combat profession and was a decent Level 6 warrior. He saved Soran's life once by blocking three arrows with his body and covered for Soran as they both charged out of the enemies’ encirclement. Before leaving the remote village, Soran promised the NPC's mother that the two would return safely after earning enough money for the family to reconstruct their village.
They got separated during a request though, and by the time Soran finally found his teammate, only a half-eaten corpse remained; the gnolls were devouring the dead lad. That day, he killed a handful of people, but vengeance served nothing in the end as grief and guilt stained his heart. Soran lacked the courage to face the mother of his friend and could only send the boy's ashes back to the village along with a thousand Gold Derahls. He’d promised to bring the boy back alive, but all he brought back were ashes.
It was at that moment that Soran finally understood that the world was cruel and unforgiving. As a rogue, he would never lower his guard and would never trust others easily. He had already made a mistake once, and he made sure not to make a similar one in the future.
Perhaps this was the incident which distinguished Soran from the other Rogue players. His attitude changed greatly due to the loss of a great friend and teammate, and it was this attitude which allowed him to finally become a Legendary Rogue, which few had managed to reach.
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