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After spending a day with the King and finding out Eliana was pregnant, I returned home peacefully. The next few days went by just as calmly. I even gave the girls a day off, although I personally couldn’t remember the day that well. Terra continued to work on the wall. She had also shown me a new item she had created.
It was rather ingenious. It was a golem creator. She had apparently gotten the idea when I talked to her about automation in my own world. She had worked with the resident enchanter toward building such an item. In short, it could construct golems and program them to carry out simple tasks. We had built a handful of prototypes, and they were now being used to clear the forest outside of Chalm and even till some land to eventually be used as farmland.
Mana was a part of everything in this world, and years of having a dungeon suck the land dry had made it all but infertile. However, I knew about certain bean plants being good for revitalizing land, and I knew that with the fairy spring, the land would rapidly recover. Already, the green around the city that had once been brown and dead was green and lively.
My own dungeon, apparently, also sucks out mana from the land, but it mostly sucks from the mana spring. Furthermore, because the spring wasn’t just a source of mana for the dungeon, but a supply of waters of life for us to sell, the waters of life would diminish and eventually be destroyed. This didn’t happen because I was thankfully able to renew the waters of life by using fairy dust and my own mana. Astria then could concentrate the spring water. Doing that once a week was enough, but when I did it daily, the spring grew stronger and more magical, and the benefits derived from it also increased.
As for her golem creator, we needed to contact people from Jespain if we wanted to advance it farther. With time, Terra said that she could build all kinds of different golems. Golems that maintained stuff. Golems that built stuff. Golems that could defend the city. However, I saw it as something else. In my mind, the golem creator was basically a magical 3D printer. The thing that made it the most impressive wouldn’t be in producing golems, but in producing magical items.
That’s right, I imagine a world where we could print storage rings, enchantment-enhanced jewelry, and even armor. We could begin to mass produce such useful items. However, a trip to Jespain would be almost mandatory, and right now, I was still trying to help stabilize Aberis. Prince Aberis was going to become the new King soon, and with a turncoat to the north, Bandits to the south, and a hostile wilderness everywhere else, Chalm wasn’t so stable that I was ready to make that journey.
I didn’t necessarily need to make the journey myself. If I was able to mark someone on my map and follow them, I could technically make a portal directly to them, and then once I was in Jespain, there wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, it was proving impossible. It took about a month to reach the Capital City from old Chalm. Reaching Jespain would take anywhere from six months to a year.
Dioshin had its borders closed off to the east. That meant you had to either go up through Imperial Cloud Meadow and Shie Gescar, or go down to Esmore and try to take a boat. Dioshin sank boats sailing in their waters, so you wouldn’t just have to make a year-long voyage, but have to avoid being shot down. As for Shie Gescar, there was a large river between Imperial Cloud Meadow and Shie Gescar. From what I heard, no one who crossed it ever returned. This included the Master Blacksmith who once worked with Rubee. As a result, Shie Gescar was an extremely mysterious place. As for Figuro, I didn’t know how he had managed to penetrate their ranks. I knew that he was a special case though.
Terra’s parents had supposedly come from Shie Gescar, but they were both famous magicians who lived a simple life. Furthermore, Faeyna had mistaken Shao as a woman from Shie Gescar, although I later learned she had actually come from a Northern city on the border of the demon lands. She was Japanese, so that seemed to suggest that Shie Gescar contained people who appeared Asian. That only served to make it more mysterious. Suffice it to say, it would be some time before I could finally visit that place.
“Deek! What are you doing in here?”
“Haven’t you already gotten the orders?” I asked.
The Guild Master chuckled. “Ah! It’s about that then. I thought you’d take some more time to rest. You seem to always be going somewhere. It’s tiring just watching you.”
“The girls don’t seem to want to take any days off. I guess that one day was enough. Even Carmine sounded energized on my last contact with her. When I had suggested a day off, I had forgotten about Carmine and Salicia, but I heard the girls had brought them to Chalm for the day. It seemed to have done them well. Either way, Carmine’s next fight is going to be coming up soon, so I was thinking about training her up a bit.
“Wouldn’t that mean Dungeons?”
“Dirage is a bit too big, and we don’t know where any of the other dungeons in the wilderness are. That’s why I’m sending Lydia, Terra, and Celeste out to do recon. They’re going to try to locate the dungeons in the wilderness, but that might take a couple of weeks.”
“Weeks? Is it wise to send out your strongest?” The Guild Master asked worriedly. “After all, we did just have a giant golem attack the city.”
“Ah! Nothing! I mean, what if a giant golem attacked the city? I’m just worried your party will be too weak to handle any of these missions. Even if we can resurrect you, it’s something I’d like to avoid.”
I didn’t take offense. The Guild Master had sent countless people out on missions, so he was really just trying to make sure I had thought of everything. I had carefully considered things. It was getting to a point where I couldn’t afford to move around as a group any longer. The girls needed to depend on each other to overcome challenges by themselves once in a while.
As for why I picked the three, Lydia was the best scout, hands down, so it made sense for her to go. As for Celeste, her ability to fly allowed her to get a vantage point and see things at a distance. Finally, Terra could build protective barriers, buying them time, and also create shelters so they could rest safely if needed. Besides, if they got in trouble, they had access to Portal and could flee if needed.
There was also another reason I decided to do things this way. The girls had sat me down and given me a scolding the other day. They said that I wasn’t giving enough time toward Raissa, Carmine, and Salicia. I had worried they knew Raissa was pregnant, but they didn’t seem to indicate as such. I suspected that Astria and Elaya knew, but thankfully, they had kept this knowledge to themselves.
Thus, I was going to bring Raissa, Carmine, Salicia, Shao, and Miki with me on this adventure. I worried a little about Raissa, but I wasn’t taking her into a dungeon. Rather, the quest was to hunt Bandits in the countryside. Carmine was a protective wall, Shao a skilled assassin, and Miki was good at detecting life force. No one knew more about Bandits than Salicia. Supposedly, Carmine and Salicia were more powerful than the other girls too. Since I could take over the scouting duty, there was no reason Raissa even needed to risk her life at all.
“Unfortunately, you’re registered as a team for E. It has to be those five girls. However, you can use your individual registration, you can accept requests as well. Unfortunately, that puts you at F.”
“Geh… that’s what the Prince is trying to fix.” I sighed. “Are there any F-level bandit requests?”
“I didn’t think so, are you sure we can’t make an exception?”
“The Adventuring Guild isn’t run by the nobility. I have to follow the rules here. I would love to make an exception, but I can’t… the lowest bandit level quest is a D, so even if you did sign up for a new ‘E’ party, it’d be a problem.”
“Then, what do you have in mind?” I figured there was no way he’d tell me this unless he had a plan.
“That’s simple. You’re going to have to accept the mission with a guide. Fortunately, I found the perfect person for you.”
I didn’t have to wait to find out who the Guild Master selected, as she nearly jumped up. She was a tall, muscular woman, and one I hadn’t seen in some time.
She puffed out her cheeks. “You still won’t call me by my name. It’s Ruby! Ru-by!”
There was a time when she had seemed so large and powerful to me. She honestly had intimidated me a lot, and so even though she was always nice, I kept a distance from her. However, that was the old Deek. I wasn’t only more muscular than I used to be, but I actually grew a little too. I heard it was an effect from leveling rapidly. Your body started to change to match your skills and abilities.
After dealing with the Osterians, Ruby didn’t seem so imposing anymore. Rather, after being around so many strong women, Ruby appeared a bit cute. She was still a big woman, although she wasn’t so large as to be Osterian, she was a bit over six feet tall. She had a big chest that made Celeste’s look small, and was even bigger than the Queens. She also tended to wear very little armor, exposing a lot more skin. I wasn’t sure how that tied into her being a skilled Adventurer though.
“Ah, so you’ll be joining me?”
She grinned a big smile. “I’ve been waiting for a time I could take you out. To think you’ve been an Adventurer for around four months, and you still are a grade F. That’s really slow.”
“Ruby!” The Guild Master rolled his eyes. “You know the situation with them wasn’t exactly ideal.”
“He knows I’m just teasing him!” She hit my shoulder hard, but where I remember it hurting once, it only felt like friendliness now. “Anyway, the mission is bandits? I have to tell you, bandits are tough. Monsters are only so smart, but bandits are as smart as you and I. Also, although these quests are leveled, Bandits are unpredictable. It’s very easy for a C quest to jump to A because we had their numbers wrong or a particularly strong person joined their group. Death is common against bandits. That’s why so few Adventurers have been doing anything about them.
“That, and they’re as tough to handle as cockroaches. They can be resurrected by Dark Priests, and they’ll hold grudges. If you capture them, you need to deliver them to a city with the strength to hold them, or the Bandits will raid the city and they end up free again.”
“Yeah, I learned that the hard way.” I said bitterly.
I was hoping to get a quick buck and ended up handing in a bandit leader that had attacked us close to the city of Penbrooke. However, that city was attacked and the man I had just defeated had been freed only a short time later. He later died, but there was nothing keeping him from being resurrected. At the moment, I had no clue if he was still out there, plotting against me.
“I’m just being frank with you here. It’s a very tough job. I’m not a Dungeon Diver, and I know you have the threat of perma-death hovering over you, but battling bandits is a completely different beast. As much as we like to act like we’re immortal, we only have so many lives before death psychosis begins. That’s when your spirit has been worn down by so many deaths you start to suffer unseen trauma. So, battling bandits that have just as many lives and can be just as skilled and powerful as we are can feel like trying to hold back a flood with just your hands. I’ve known Dungeon Divers, who are used to the clear rules and expectations dungeons provide, crack under the pressure of Bandit hunting. It’s not for everyone.”
“Ruby! Haven’t you scared him enough?” The Guild master admonished.
I merely let out a chuckle, “Actually, I think we’ll be fine.”
Ruby gave me a worried look. She clearly wasn’t convinced. It looked like I was just going to have to show her what we could do.
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