Life of an Adventurer in a Harsh World – Part 01
While receiving the payment from Freya, Hikaru asked her a number of things, including where a beginner adventurer could stay for the night.
He arrived at a place she told him about. A plain, square building with only a small signboard out front. Upon entering, he spotted a small counter, where he showed his Adventurers’ guild card.
“100 gilans a night,” the employee said curtly.
Hikaru handed one silver coin, then headed to the second floor where his room was. It was massively spacious, with a wooden floor covered in a straw mat. He was apparently supposed to just sleep on the floor. There were other adventurers besides him, either young or shady-looking. No one noticed Hikaru with his Stealth on.
He didn’t care for talking with adventurers his age. That went double for the suspicious characters. His stomach full from the noodles, Hikaru fell asleep.
When he woke up the next morning, his body felt stiff all over. But sleeping indoors helped him recover his strength more than he thought; he wasn’t sleepy, and his head was clear.
Hikaru got up and went downstairs. Even with his Stealth off, the employee didn’t so much as spare him a glance. I love this place.
He wanted more of the fried noodles from yesterday, but the man’s food stall wasn’t open yet. It was too early.
His full purse put his mind at ease. Looking around the bright streets, he saw numerous food stalls, selling fruits, sandwiches, deep-fried bread, ramen-like noodles, juice.
“Oh, they have it here too.”
What drew Hikaru’s attention was the hotdogs. Sausage wedged into a halved blackish bread. He raised a forefinger.
“Hey there, kid. It’s 30 gilans each.”
A muscular man in his late twenties—who was probably better off as an adventurer—prepared the sandwich with swift efficiency.
Hikaru took a bite. The owner was eagerly watching him eat, his face asking, “Well? Tasty, right? Right?”
Hikaru’s expression changed. He was expressionless, to be exact.
It tastes… off…
The sausage was tender, the bread tough, but it wasn’t that bad. The problem was the sauce. It was sweet and grassy. Why? Who’s he selling this to?
“It’s gotta be ketchup for hotdogs…” Hikaru muttered as he walked away.
The vendor watched him go, dumbfounded. He thought Hikaru would shout, “Yummy!” like a kid or something.
“What’s wrong with that kid? Hmm, he did say something. Ketchup? Did he mean the sauce?”
He was deep in thought, muttering something under his breath.
Since he was definitely staying in town for a while, Hikaru wandered around the streets, drawing a map in his head. He passed by the Adventurers’ Guild in his stroll. He peered inside; there weren’t a lot of people this early. Freya was behind the counter, head plopped down on the desk.
“…What’s up with her? Is she asleep? Whatever.”
Shopping for gear was on top of his to-do list today. I’ll check for commissions later, Hikaru thought, then turned to leave.
Freya abruptly rose. “Hikaru!”
“I, uhh…” She seemed to have something to say.
Hikaru sensed trouble. “Good morning,” he greeted, then turned on his heel. There was, however, something he didn’t expect.
Freya flashed him a smile. “Good morning to you too, Hikaru.”
This is not good… She’s got huge knockers, sure, but man, a smile from a pretty lady is disorienting.
Several people in the guild stirred.
“Hey, did Freya just…”
“She smiled! She did, right?! Not a forced one, but a sincere smile!”
“Who the hell is that kid?!”
Freya seemed to have earned herself quite the reputation. She beckoned Hikaru, paying no attention to the adventurers. He couldn’t possibly leave at this point.
“Thank you for coming,” Freya said. “I thought you wouldn’t come back.”
“What? Why not?”
“I failed to inform you about the Green Wolves. I should’ve done a better job as a receptionist.”
“Oh… it’s fine. Though it might be better to accept commissions directly from the receptionist. You don’t want adventurers just failing the commissions.”
“I know! But there’s not a lot of receptionists around. Do you know what our job is?”
“The job of a receptionist? Uh… adventurer registration and assessing goods?”
Freya beckoned him closer. He was standing three meters away from the counter, and now they were face to face.
I really don’t want to draw attention to myself… But refusing would definitely be offensive.
“Like you said, we assist with registration, issue guild cards, and assess the reward for completed commissions. We are also responsible for receiving commissions and answering questions about them.”
“Right. There’s no one else around to answer questions, I guess.”
“Besides that, there’s also arranging parties, identifying high-ranking adventurers and issuing emergency commissions, processing failed commissions, managing adventurers’ ranks, and managing commissions on the bulletin board. All pretty straightforward, right?”
“Are there any other staff besides receptionists?”
“A great question! There’s none.”
Ugh, what is this place, a toxic company?
“We also have to manage guild funds, and supplied goods have to be sent to the Merchants’ Guild. There’s just too many things to do, right?”
“That’s why accepting commissions is automated. The royal capital’s branch has more manpower, so they can afford to actually have someone be in charge of it.”
“I see. I understand now.”
“But that doesn’t change the fact that you were in danger.”
“It’s really fine. Honestly, I don’t think I can handle any more apologies.”
And those adventurers are staring daggers at me.
“Why are you so hung up on it anyway?” Hikaru asked. “I’ve seen how you treat the other adventurers. You’re uhh… how do I put it… indifferent?”
They mentioned something about forced smiles earlier. She was definitely friendly, but Hikaru felt like she was a little too nice to him.
“R-Really? Maybe it’s because you’re genuine?”
“The others are… a little scary.”
Getting swarmed by adventurers every single day would definitely make her scared of them.
“But you chose this job anyway, right?”
“Yeah…” Dark clouds seem to hang over Freya.
“Did I say something wrong?” Hikaru asked.
“Usually I can handle it.”
“Usually? So things are unusual right now?”
“We actually have four receptionists.”
“Four? Where are the other three then?”
“One went on a business trip with the guild submaster to the royal capital. The other is on her yearly home leave. And the last one’s been sick since yesterday.”
“Oh. So that’s why you had your head down on the counter. You’re exhausted. Take it easy, now. Not that my saying that changes anything.”
“You’re too kind.” Freya became a little teary-eyed. “Ah, but you’re a Civilian too, so don’t push yourself too hard, okay? My shift ends at noon today. I’ll find you a good commission tomorrow.”
“There are lots of commissions out there that might seem attractive to a fledgling adventurer, but look like ‘bait’ to a professional receptionist like me.”
“Oh… I appreciate the help, then.”
“You better.” Freya smiled.
Does she think of me as a younger brother or something? I can’t tell.
Hikaru could only guess, as he didn’t know much about her. He had no way of knowing how important genuine adventurers were to Freya.
“I’ll come back some other time, then,” Hikaru said. “No, wait.”
“Hmm? Is something wrong?”
“I heard something while strolling around downtown. Some bigshot was murdered, I think. Does the Adventurers’ Guild have anything to do with it?”
Freya’s eyes widened. “That news is super top secret. Only a few people know. Where did you hear about it?”
Oh, crap. I didn’t know it was top secret.
News of Count Morgstadt’s death was being suppressed a lot more than he expected.
“I heard it while I was wandering around starving so my memories are a bit fuzzy. You said it’s top secret, but you know about it too. Does that mean an adventurer was involved?”
“It couldn’t have been an adventurer.”
Oh, she sounds pretty sure.
“They came to the guild for an inquiry, asking us to check if there’s an adventurer with a powerful assassination Blessing.”
“Huh, so you help with investigations too.”
“Yeah…” The dark clouds around her grew thicker. “In other words, I only know about it through sheer coincidence. It looked like they weren’t expecting much from the inquiry anyway. Wait, I’ve said too much.”
Freya raised a hand to her mouth. “Don’t tell anyone about this, okay?”
So they don’t suspect me. Good.
“Don’t poke your nose where it doesn’t belong now,” Freya said with the air of a senior. “That’s the adventurer’s ironclad rule.”
Hikaru couldn’t possibly tell her that he didn’t just poke his nose, he was the culprit himself.
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