The Master of the Brave - Chapter 95
Chapter 95 – Erz’s Adventurers Guild
The next morning. After spending the night at Count Elstead’s mansion, Wynn and his friends had breakfast in the hall where the banquet of the previous night was held, and then decided to leave the house. They were to pass through the tunnels of the Majil Mountains to the kingdom of Lyon before Marquis Cliffdorf’s army besieged Erz. And apparently Alfred, Royce and Kelvin had gone to the headquarters of Count Elstead’s private knight Order to discuss the future. Royce’s wives escorted them to the door.
“Aren’t you afraid that the city of Erz will be drawn into the war? Or do you have any guarantee that it will come out of all this trouble unscathed?”
After hearing yesterday’s story, Cornelia asked Royce’s wives about what she herself had been wondering. It was impossible that Royce hadn’t told them what kind of hardships lay ahead for Erz. But even at breakfast this morning, there was no sign of fear or anxiety in the girls. Royce’s wives looked at each other at Cornelia’s question. And on their behalf, the oldest of the wives, a woman in her twenties named Lila, answered the question.
“Who knows, we don’t know that much either. Although we are sure that our husband will take care of it, so we will go on with our daily lives as usual until he says otherwise.”
“You have full confidence in the Count, don’t you?”
“Of course. So, Your Highness, Your Excellency, please don’t worry about us and continue with your journey to Lyon. We will be praying with all our hearts for your safe journey.”
As the girls bowed their heads at the front door, the smiles on their faces were not just polite, but sincere.
“First we need a map of the mines.”
After leaving Count Elstead’s mansion, Wynn and the others first asked for the Miners Guild. Apparently, Royce had contacted the Miners Guild beforehand, and they were given a map of the mine without any inconvenience.
“Huh, what the hell…” looking at the copy of the map Wynn had received from the guild staff, Locke muttered involuntarily.
The tunnels depicted in the image were as intricate as if they were a tangled thread. There were countless intersections, but it was unclear if these were on a flat surface, or if they were three-dimensional intersections with the levels above and below. There seemed to be many layers, as he was given a large number of maps.
“It’s useless. This is the most accurate map we’ll ever have. Besides, they say the tunnels are still being dug and they change every day.”
“I don’t know if we can get to Lyon well with this…”
When Wynn said this, Locke covered his eyes with his right hand as a visor and looked up at the sky.
“What… what if we get lost being on our own?”
Leticia, who had been looking at the map as well as Locke, looked at Wynn and gave him a worried look after saying that. Even tough, of the six of them, she was the most well-versed in travel.
“I’m afraid of the idea of being lost underground~.”
When Lino grabbed her head, Wedge, who was next to her, nodded.
“I’ve heard that the tunnels leading to the Kingdom of Lyon border have already been abandoned, so it’s not like they’re still being dug and the path is going to change. But Letty’s right, it’s a bit unsettling if we’re on our own.”
“Why don’t we ask the Miners Guild to show us the way?”
Following Cornelia’s suggestion, they asked the guild staff if they could give them directions. However, the Miners Guild replied that, if they wanted directions to the abandoned mine, they should go to the Adventurers Guild and find some adventurers who knew about abandoned mines.
Why does it have to be the adventurers instead of asking the miners to guide us through the mines? Leticia asked Wynn curiously when they returned.
“Once a mine has been abandoned, no miner goes down it. And in this case, the tunnels, said to be connected to Lyon, have been abandoned for nearly sixty years.”
“But why the adventurers?”
“It is said that demons sometimes nest in the abandoned mines, and every few years, adventurers go there to kill them on a large scale. That’s why, the Adventurers Guild knows more about the paths of the abandoned mines than the Miners Guild itself, since they still usually still have the maps used to defeat the demons back then.”
“Huh? Are there demons~?” When Wynn answered Locke, Lino frowned in disgust. “I wonder what kind of demons there will be… I hope they’re not undead or something…”
“That’s one of the possible demons we might encounter.” Leticia said.
“If there have been victims of some mining accident or something, there could be undead there if at some point there was contact with demon miasma.”
“Letty, what other demons can you think of?”
Wynn asked, and Leticia tilted her head to the side to think.
“It’s not like I’ve fought in caves much either. Other than undead, goblins and kobolds come to mind, which are demons that usually live in caves and abandoned mines. As for magical beasts, I’d say there could be reptiles like snakes and lizards. There could also be other types of demons such as insects. Worms, scorpions…. Among the ones I don’t want to meet are ants. There are always too many of them…”
Wynn answered Lino’s question. Worm demons were demons that moved through the ground, munching on dirt and rocks alike. They could eat insects, small and large animals, and even other demons. They sought their prey by vibrations and sounds transmitted through the ground, and sometimes attacked human settlements. However, the teeth in their mouths that could chew through stones and their rock-hard skin were troublesome, but it was also a monster that could make adventurers rich if they were skilled enough to dodge its attacks and break its tough skin. A worm’s body was usually full of minerals. In particular, if the worm lived in a mine with gold veins, gold nuggets could be found in its belly. Lino listened to Wynn’s description of the worm, and her disgust at such a large beast seemed to disappear. That didn’t stop her goose bumps, though.
“Please, let’s get the bug issue out of the way…”
“I agree with you on that… Lino.”
“But demons in insect shapes aren’t just found underground, there are quite a few other places too, aren’t there, Onii-chan?”
“Yes. I think there are many insect demons in the forests and low mountains. Personally, I wouldn’t want to encounter mosquito monsters. The poisonous sting of a bee is a nuisance, but if you were attacked by a mosquito monster, it would suck out your bodily fluids even if you were alive.”
When Wynn was still working as an adventurer, the Empire once issued an urgent quest to all member adventurers through the Simurgh Adventurers Guild. The inhabitants of a village were found dead during the night, reduced to skin and bones. The cause of this was mosquito demons. These insect-like demons, capable of flight and acting solely on instinct, could attack travelers passing through the villages and streets one after another if left unchecked. Knights, soldiers and adventurers belonging to the Simurgh Adventurers Guild went into the forest to seek out and defeat the mosquito demons.
Wynn never fought directly, but saw the bodies of the soldiers who were attacked during the extermination. They left only one corpse that had had its bodily fluids sucked out, leaving only skin and bones. According to other soldiers who witnessed the attacks, the mosquito demons would dodge the attacks, insert their huge proboscis into the neck of the poor soldiers and suck it out in a jiffy. As the contents of his body were sucked out, his screams of despair as he grew weaker and weaker were an out-of-this-world macabre spectacle.
“Hey… You’re kidding, right? Is there really a demon capable of doing something like that?”
Leticia shot a subtle glance at Locke, who had gone pale, probably imagining what Wynn had said. Leticia must have seen scenes like that many times before.
“I… I don’t wish for us to meet an insect demon either.” Cornelia, eyes watering, dropped her shoulders and shuddered.
“I’m glad I didn’t encounter such a demon during my periodic extermination mission~.”
“Yes, same here…”
“Well, I don’t think we’ll encounter mosquito monsters in the tunnels, as expected. They’re only found near miasma-infested swamps.”
Wynn chuckled as Cornelia, Locke and Lino looked and nodded to each other.
“Okay, Onii-chan, shall we go to the Adventurers Guild?”
“Right. Let’s ask where Erz’s Adventurers Guild is and go there.”
After some discussion, Wynn and Leticia went ahead of the others.
The Adventurers Guild in the city of Erz was a two-story building, and here, too, one of the city’s famous belltowers stood in the center. The building was made of wood, as was typical in Erz, where wood abounded, and the Adventurers Guild sign hung at the height of the second floor. Once inside, you would find the Adventurers Guild reception on the second floor and a tavern in the back. The second floor served as private rooms and inn. Naturally, it was smaller than the eastern branch of the Simurgh Adventurers Guild. There were only five tables in the back tavern, and only two groups of adventurers around these. Both groups were still young, in their late teens to early twenties.
When Wynn entered and looked around, the adventurers who had been drinking and eating gave them a quizzical look. Wynn and the others were now wearing plain shirts and pants, no armor. However, Wynn, Locke, Lino and Wedge were wearing the same clothes. They were dressed in a way that showed they were not adventurers, but belonged to some sort of organization. The adventurers looked openly uncomfortable, but when Leticia and Cornelia came in after Wynn, they turned and looked at them with interest. They must have recognized at a glance that the two girls were no ordinary girls. They looked at Leticia in particular and were struck by the beauty she possessed. An old man wearing a headband called out to them, as if seeing Wynn, who was leading the group and touring the guild, as a representative.
“Are you customers? Or are you here for a request?”
In Simurgh, the reception desk and the tavern were manned by different people, but in this guild, an old man seemed to do both. He may have been a famous adventurer in the past, and the arms peeking out from his rolled-up shirt were still well-muscled despite his advanced age, and there were blade scars in places.
“A request. We seek an adventurer who can guide us through the tunnels of the Majil Mountain Mine.”
At the mention of “Majil,” the old man turned to Leticia and Cornelia, who stood behind Wynn, with interest.
“A guide to the tunnels of the Majil Mountains? What would a group of noble ladies want in a place like that…? No, that was a stupid question. Forget it.”
Some requests to the adventurers were confidential. The old man couldn’t not know this kind of situation, but seeing Leticia and Cornelia, his true feelings must have come out of his mouth. He immediately apologized to Wynn and invited him to get near to the counter where he stood.
“So… a guide to the Majil tunnels.”
“Yes, we want to go through the Majil tunnels to Lyon.”
The old man cleared his throat as he showed them the tunnel map they had obtained from the Miners Guild.
“The abandoned mine… hmm. Hey, guys! Can you take the road to Lyon through the abandoned mine road in the Majil?”
“Oh? The tunnel to Lyon? Don’t be stupid, old man. It’s been over sixty years since that mine was abandoned, hasn’t it? The tunnels back then were pretty deep in the mountains. It’s too deep for us…”
The adventurers were expecting to hear about a well-paying job brought by a noble, but were discouraged when they heard that it was about guiding them through the tunnels to Lyon. The old man turned his attention to the other group in the back, but the man who appeared to be the leader of that group held up his hands and shook his head.
“Hmm… that’s how it is.”
“Um… is the place really that dangerous?”
Wynn asked, and the old man looked at him with half-closed eyes.
“Were you planning to go into that mountain without knowing anything…?”
“Is it… dangerous?”
“I’m not so sure about that. The area of the new tunnels, where the mining town extends through, is fine, but people don’t go near the old tunnels anymore. It’s easy for demons to nest in caves like those tunnels.” The old man looked out the window toward the Majil Mountains. “Besides, the Majil are home to beasts like bears and wolves, as well as ghostly species like dragons. It’s not a place you want to venture into unless you’re a skilled adventurer.”
“I had heard that the Miners Guild regularly exterminated demons from around the mine. Therefore, adventurers should be more familiar with the ways of the abandoned mines.”
The old man nodded.
“In fact, we have a map showing the way to Lyon. Some of us have been there before, but all the more experienced ones have left. Those who are here now are still young, and the guild can’t let them go to the Majil.”
“Is that the path the captain wants us to take?” Locke, who had been listening to the exchange between Wynn and the old man, whispered to Lino beside him. “Even though Her Highness Cornelia is here…”
“Could it be that the captain is judging that it’s okay since Leticia-sama is here~?”
Leticia shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“True, but even I’m no match for an elder-class dragon.”
“I think we can take care of the demons. Is it too much to ask to be just a guide? We have prepared a reward.”
“You are knights, aren’t you?”
The old man turned his attention to Locke, Lino and Wedge, who were behind Wynn, chatting.
“Something wrong with that?”
The old man looked reluctant. Two daughters of nobles and four knights. It was true that a knight’s combat power was far superior to that of an ordinary adventurer. But the old man seemed to be concerned about the youth of Wynn and the others. Wynn was about to open his mouth when he realized what was going on.
“Hey, old man. Can I order something to eat now?”
A man came down from the second floor. He was probably in his fifties. A man with short, cropped red hair and a beard. He was scratching the back of his neck sleepily as he yawned, as if he had just woken up from a dream.
“Oh, I just thought of something, it’s a good thing you’re here!” the old man shouted out and looked at the man.
“You’ve been down the Majil’s abandoned mine road before, haven’t you?”
“Yes, well, a few times, what about it?”
The old man suddenly brought up the subject, and the man blinked in confusion.
“You haven’t been working on anything lately, have you? How about it, Oort? A job just came in to do some guiding along the abandoned mine roads of the Majil.”
The man named Oort stood at the foot of the stair with his hand on his chin, pondering the job. He turned his gaze toward the old man, then turned and saw Wynn’s face looking back at him.
“What, huh? You… where do I know you from?”
“…Are you by any chance, Oort-san? I used to be in the Adventurers Guild in Simurgh…”
They had met with Oort, the axe-wielding adventurer who fought alongside him against a powerful demon to protect a little avian girl seven years ago.
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