The Master of the Brave - Chapter 77
Chapter 77 – What Lurks in the darkness of the Imperial City (V)
After parting ways with Locke, Wynn, Leticia and Cornelia visited the eastern branch of the Simurgh Adventurers Guild, where Wynn used to go when he worked as an adventurer. The purpose of their visit was to ask if there was any information about missing persons cases in the slums. The eastern branch of the Simurgh Adventurers Guild was one of the largest in the Empire. When entering the guild, one would immediately see a large hall with a counter at the back that served as a mediator between adventurers and customers.
“Huh, isn’t the atmosphere a bit tense?”
Leticia said, tugging on Wynn’s sleeve.
“Yes. Somehow, I’d say it’s quieter than usual, or the atmosphere is more shadowed…”
The adventurers’ business was often a deadly business. When they finished their work, they were usually cheerful, thankful that they had survived the day and earned their money. Of course, not all adventurers were that way, but it was still true that many of them were quite optimistic.
Today, however, all of the adventurers who had gathered seemed to have a subdued expression on their faces. Only a few of the group were excited, but, even so, they seemed more reserved than usual, and the atmosphere was somewhat quiet.
“I wonder if something has happened to some of the adventurers’ parties.”
Leticia lowered the tone of her voice a bit and spoke to Wynn. When this kind of atmosphere was in the air, it was usually when some group had lost a colleague or had been killed while working.
It was a tough business, as adventurers competed for the most lucrative jobs, and sometimes even made enemies. There was a sense of solidarity and camaraderie among the adventurers. In this business, even if you moved to someone else’s group, the next day you could move to another. The atmosphere in the guild was always tense when an accident occurred, Wynn and Leticia had experienced this firsthand several times as children.
Wynn gently stroked Leticia’s head to comfort her, then deciding to move on, turned to the counter at the back of the guild. At the counter, three staff members were responding to the adventurers, but as soon as he saw them, Wynn’s face lit up and he quickly approached as he noticed something.
The person he approached was a young man in his early twenties, sitting between the other two people. No one was facing him, probably because the other two receptionists were young women and most of the adventurers were standing in lines at their stations. The young man was looking over some documents at his leisure while, but when he noticed Wynn approaching, he looked up.
“Why, welcome to the Adventurer’s Guild… wait, Wynn! Hey, hey, if it isn’t Wynn! And don’t tell me that’s Letty-chan?”
At first, the young man was going to give a conventional greeting, but as soon as he saw Wynn and Leticia’s faces, he leaned forward with a touch of glee. The young man’s momentum and amazingly strong voice made the female staff on the sides and the other adventurers they were tending to turn their faces away.
“Ahaha. It’s been a long time, Paul-san.”
Following Wynn, Leticia, who noticed the young man, also greeted him with a smile on her face.
In the past, he had worked with Wynn and Leticia in a party as an adventurer many times, and they were friends years apart.
“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it, Letty-chan? No, as expected, I shouldn’t call you Letty-chan anymore.”
Paul knew that the girl he used to work with, who was just a guild employee, was now The Brave Leticia von Mavis, who had accomplished the feat of defeating the Demon King.
Leticia shook her head slightly towards Paul, who spoke softly, as if concerned about her surroundings.
“Letty is fine, Paul-san. By the way, why is Paul-san sitting in the reception area?”
“I see. You don’t know, do you? Actually, Paul-san, after you left…”
Recalling the circumstances under which Paul retired as an adventurer, Wynn’s voice fell silent and his face became somber, but Paul, on the contrary, laughed cheerfully.
“Don’t be so serious, Wynn. Letty, I injured my leg on the job a long time ago, and I’m no longer an adventurer.”
When asked to kill a bandit, the bandit fired a poisoned arrow that struck Paul in his right thigh. He survived, but the after-effects of the injury left him limping on his right leg.
With his leg crippled, he was unable to continue his work as an adventurer, which was often hard. Fortunately, the Adventurers Guild had an opening for a receptionist, and Paul was hired by the guild master to work.
“I didn’t know that had happened after I left…”
Leticia couldn’t help but show a pained look. She remembered that Paul dreamed of becoming a great adventurer. However, despite Leticia’s attitude, Wynn and Paul looked at each other and laughed.
“Hey, Letty. Do you know why there was a vacancy on the staff of the Adventurer’s Guild when Paul-san was forced to retire as an adventurer?”
Wynn said with an unusually mischievous grin on his face.
“What, why… isn’t it usually because someone quit?”
Her eyes fluttered and Leticia compared the two of them, Wynn and Paul. Paul had a pleased expression on his face.
“Luria, do you remember her?”
“Oh, yes, she’s the girl you liked, Paul-san!”
Luria was the name of the woman who worked as a receptionist at the Adventurer’s Guild counter when Wynn and Leticia were young. She was a woman who took good care of Wynn and Leticia when they were still novice adventurers.
“Luria-san. She’s called Luria Weaver now.”
“Luria Weaver? Luria Weaver… Weaver! Paul Weaver!”
When Leticia’s face lit up and she looked at Paul, Paul scratched the back of his head sheepishly.
“It was said that Luria left because she was having a baby. Which will be three years old soon. So, my current job is much better than the dangerous job of an adventurer.”
“No way! Really, congratulations! Wow, I want to see Luria-san already! I want to meet your baby too!”
Leticia opened her eyes wide and congratulated him in a cheerful voice.
“Yes, thank you. You should come visit us at home sometime. Luria will be happy.”
“Yes, Onii-chan. We should go together sometime.”
“And I’d also like to thank you properly, Letty-chan.”
Suddenly becoming serious, Paul bowed toward Leticia.
“Thank you. Thanks to you, Leticia-sama, our children have a world where they can have hope for the future. I really appreciate it.”
“…No, it’s okay. Let me meet your child sometime.”
Suddenly, while being surprised by Paul, who thanked her again, Leticia gave a beautiful smile and Paul nodded with a shy smile.
“Still…you’ve grown up so much…even then you were so cute, but you’ve become really beautiful. I could see it coming since you were a little girl. Well… that’s… kind of what I meant…”
Paul nodded with a somewhat moving look on his face.
“Hey, Paul-san… you talk like you’re an uncle.”
“Hahaha, Letty-chan was always eating something, and I was under the impression that she followed Wynn around a lot.”
“Did you like food that much, Leticia-san?”
“That’s not true! Or so I think…”
Leticia shook her head at Cornelia, who had taken to teasing her. It was then that Paul realized that besides Leticia, Wynn had brought another girl with him, he quickly leaned over the counter and held Wynn’s head in his arms.
“Hey you, not only with Letty-chan, but you’re also running around with another pretty girl like her! Are you cheating on her?”
“No-No, you’re wrong!”
“What the hell, Wynn, you hadn’t become a knight, had you? Couldn’t you become a knight after all, so you quit and come to become an adventurer? If it’s you, we’ll welcome you with open arms.”
“No, nothing like that! I came here today because I had some information I wanted to ask you!”
“What, you’re not going to be an adventurer again, are you? Well, you and Letty-chan are still registered in our guild, so of course I’ll tell you what I know.”
Wynn slapped Paul’s arms as he tightened his grip.
“Paul…-san, I mean it…”
Somehow, Wynn managed to wriggle out of Paul’s arms and rubbed his neck, gasping for air.
“So, she’s, uh… a friend from knights’ school?”
“Just a friend? What, you can’t give me a name?”
“There’s a little situation, you know, and all that stuff…”
Paul looked at Wynn’s face with a quizzical look, but suddenly seemed to realize something. Then he slowly looked around and asked a colleague who was working on something else behind him for a change.
“Hey, Wynn, come over here.”
Grabbing a walking stick that was next to his seat, he dragged the crippled right foot and led the three of them to the second floor of the guild. On the second floor of the east branch of the Simurgh Adventurers Guild, a three-story building, there were private rooms that could be rented for patrons and adventurers to use when they wanted to have a private meeting. Paul spoke as he ushered Wynn and the girls into the room.
“So, Wynn. Well, I already have a pretty good idea who this person is.”
“Yes. I’ll introduce her to you again, Paul-san. This is Cornelia-san. And Cornelia-san, this is Paul-san, the adventurer who took care of Letty and me when we were children. He works for the guild now.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Cornelia.”
She bowed politely, and when Paul heard Cornelia introduce herself, he muttered under his breath a “as I guessed.”
“I know nothing about etiquette, so please forgive me if I’m a bit rude. It is an honor to meet you, Your Imperial Highness Princess Cornelia.”
Leaning over her crippled right knee, he managed to get to his knees before lowering his head.
“Please raise your head. Since I’m just a student at the Knights School right now, if possible, it would be helpful if you could treat me as such.”
At Cornelia’s words, Paul bowed his head once more and stood up. He then motioned for them to take a seat in a chair in the room to the three of them, and then he himself sat down across from them.
“Paul-san, how did you know that Cornelia was the Imperial Princess?”
“That’s because an adventurer’s life depends on information. Most adventurers know that a commoner has become a servant of the princess. Especially in this eastern branch. Where it is believed that Wynn is the rumored commoner, moreover and brought to this place a person who is clearly a noblewoman. Besides, if you call her a friend from the knight school, it’s even harder not to think it’s her.”
“But I was able to talk to Her Imperial Highness… and I’m going to pass this down from generation to generation.”
“Paul-san? I’m also the daughter of a duke…”
“Hahaha, when you put it like that, Letty-chan is also impressive, isn’t she? I mean, I can’t believe that I teamed up with The Brave… in a sense, would that make me part of The Brave’s party?”
“Yeah. Well, sort of.”
“Really?! Next time I’ll ask a bard to write me a poem about those days. Anyway, you know, I mean, what can I say… a lot of amazing things happened since I met Wynn and the others.”
“But I didn’t do anything.”
“Aren’t you aware? Okay. So, what are you doing here today? You didn’t come just to see me, did you?”
Wynn told Paul about the recent string of disappearances in the slums that Seri had told him about.
“Oh, so that was it.”
After hearing the story, Paul had a sour look on his face.
“Actually, there have been a few adventurers that belong to our guild that have gone missing. Multiple of them…”
Wynn and the others looked at each other in surprise.
“Did you notice how heavy the atmosphere was in the guild? If a whole party had disappeared, there might be a clearer reason, like an accident on some job, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
Paul began to talk about the adventurers who had disappeared. According to his story, all of the missing people had three things in common: “They disappeared in, or near the imperial city Simurgh,” “They were often novices, and their whereabouts were unknown after they left their friends and were left alone,” and “They could use magic”.
“They could use magic…”
“Yes, that’s right. There aren’t many adventurers who can use magic properly, but most of the ones whose whereabouts are unknown are those who could use it to some extent.”
Cornelia raised her hand in a reserved manner.
“Wouldn’t the kidnapping of the noble girl that Locke and the others are after be related? Nobles can usually use magic.”
“There could be a connection.”
Paul spoke to a reflective Wynn.
“About the missing persons in the slums you asked about, we at the Adventurers Guild have received several requests in the form of search requests. And the common denominator of those missing people were those who could use magic.”
“Are there people who can use magic but live in the slums?”
Paul laughed at Cornelia’s simple surprise. Those who could use magic were valuable. It was also proof that you were educated, because you needed to understand the theory behind magic in order to use it. It was hard for Cornelia to believe that someone like that could not find a job and saw a poor life. However, Paul, hearing Cornelia’s words, thought she was still a naive princess, though it wasn’t her fault.
“Everywhere there are those who don’t fit in and fall apart.”
“Do they only attack novice adventurers because they’re afraid of being hit back?”
“There are skilled adventurers who are as good as knights. If they are actively seeking those who can use magic, the most natural thing to do would be to target rookies.”
Wynn answered Leticia’s question. The ability of those who can use magic could not be measured by appearance. The best example of this was Leticia, who was sitting next to Wynn.
“It would be better to ask if the missing mercenary Seri-san told us about was able to use magic.”
Wynn and Leticia nodded at Cornelia’s words.
“Seri-san gave me the name of that mercenary. I’ll contact the mercenary guild.”
Paul stopped Wynn, who was about to get up and run immediately.
“Our guild master is thinking of asking a skilled adventurer to take this case as a guild request, but if you want, why don’t you take it?”
“There’s no doubt about your skills.”
“Hmm, but right now, I…”
Wynn’s position was that of a servant of Cornelia. As for Wynn, although he was interested in the incident itself, after investigating the whereabouts of the mercenary Seri mentioned in the mercenary guild, he wanted to leave it to Locke and the others if possible.
“Oh my, that’s fine with me.”
“I’ve always wanted to try being an adventurer.”
Cornelia nodded with an amused expression on her face.
“But it’s dangerous. There are quite a number of people missing.”
As for Wynn, he wanted to make sure Cornelia was safe first.
“Wow, you’re going to protect me, aren’t you, Wynn-san?”
“Of course, that’s the plan, but…”
Leticia’s shoulders moved quickly as Cornelia gave Wynn a mischievous look. Paul, who was looking at the three of them with a smile, opened his mouth.
“Wynn, you’re in a difficult situation…”
The tone of his voice sounded slow.
“I understand Wynn’s concern for Cornelia-sama’s safety. Then how about a reward for success? And, If it’s too dangerous, you can drop it.”
“Is that okay?”
Paul nodded to Wynn, who asked back in surprise.
“It looks like the knights are getting around to hearing the story, too. If the case we’re pursuing here and the case the knights are pursuing are connected, it looks like there won’t be any need to rush so fast.”
“All right. If that’s the case.”
“Well, that’s it in a nutshell. If the Knights are going to solve the case, they can contact us as well.” Wynn nodded and shook the hand Paul offered him.
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