I was using a tablecloth to wipe the lust off my hand after giving Min a quick handjob in the middle of the common’s room. There really wasn’t too many people around to notice. The previous night of the pink moon had left most people in their rooms far into the afternoon. Plus, the table we picked was a corner table, and the innkeeper was still distracted thinking about her previous night of lust. Suffice to say, a seductress could pleasure her man in an open room without too much issue.
He was now breathing hard, his body pressed against my arm while he recovered from my machinations. After wiping most of it off on the tablecloth, I licked the rest off my fingers while planning out the rest of our day. We had fifteen gold coins now, so I figured I could send him out to buy the supplies. After he sold the cart, we might even have a little extra bargaining money.
We probably didn’t need to buy an entire group of Adventurers. Even if we could find one extra person to reduce the danger of the trip, it would significantly take the strain off of Min. Just having someone else to watch the fire at night would allow the pair of us to get proper sleep.
This world had skills and statuses that resembled a video game, but the people and creatures of this world were normal. People wouldn’t throw their lives away unless they thought they could win. The same rules applied to monsters. Therefore, most monsters wouldn’t randomly attack a group of alert people. Baring the addition of seductress pheromones, most bandits, and monsters of this world would act rationally, avoiding groups of strangers unless desperate.
Situations such as the one that led to our capture by goblins were rare. The very fact that a group of adventurers cleared out their nest only shortly after our capture was a testament to the fact that goblins rarely became bold enough to attack merchants. In fact, my capture at the hands of Nova could also be considered a rare event. My luck since I had come to this world had never been good.
“Mm?” Min had noticed that I was frowning as I was thinking.
I shook my head and gave him a reassuring smile. “To be safe, I think we’ll want the strongest companions we can find. Wait, companions…”
With that, another switch seemed to click in my head and I gave Min an even richer smile that caused him to blush just a little.
“I came up with an even better idea!” I stated, lifting my chin. “Why hire adventurers at all?”
Min frowned a little as he thought. “We must…”
“Right, but they’re also unreasonably expensive to hire.” When Min continued to furrow his brow I continued. “How about we find a group already heading north, and then just join them as companions? Instead of baggage they’re escorting, we can be teammates that strengthen them and add to their resources.”
“What about the Cambions?”
“We’ll sneak away when we get close enough. Even if we hired someone to escort us north, it’s not like we could take them straight into succubus territory, anyway. We don’t even know how they’ll receive us. This mission always had a certain level of risk. I’m hoping they’ll see me as one of them, but I don’t know how a group of monsters would treat others. In fact, it’d be best if you returned with them and left me at the colony-“
“Min…” I frowned as he stared back at me, his face not giving a single centimeter.
“No more arguments.”
I gave a sigh and turned away. It wasn’t that I didn’t want Min there with me. However, I feared what would happen. The Incubus and Succubus were a race of beings that procreated with humans to continue their species. They were known as dream demons, and all the information we found on them couldn’t properly classify them between demon, monster, or demi-human.
As the stories told, Demi-humans were created by the gods as a failed attempt to create a being better than humans, generating the various beastmen, the elves, and the dwarves. Monsters were created when magic accumulated in animals. Some of these monsters felt compelled to rape women of the demi-human and human species. Once in a blue moon, this fertilization would succeed, leading to first generation demons. After a few generations, the bloodlines would even out with human mates and you’d find the more traditional demons like vampires, dracons, dryads, and lamia.
Seemingly, the more human-like monsters such as goblins and kobolds I believe are a result of magic-induced convergent evolution, although, that term doesn’t exist in this world except in description. An alternative theory offered in some books that I couldn’t make up if I wanted to suggested they were created eons ago by dark wizards. Once I had heard that theory, I couldn’t stop laughing and Min was deeply confused about why I felt something as dangerous as “dark wizards” was amusing. That reminded me that when we spoke of this world where magic was a reality, it very well could have been dark wizard’s experiments carried out to create monster armies. My humor quickly diminished after that.
While Min seemed to be watching the changes of expression on my face as my mind wandered, I finally decided to get things over with. We only seemed to be burning daylight at this point. I handed Min a smaller portion of the available gold to buy supplies and then took the rest. She gave me a worried look. Ten gold coins and some change was not enough to make a reasonable request at the guild.
However, my goals had changed, and I was feeling pretty good about it. I left the inn and headed my way towards the adventuring guild. Most people didn’t enter an adventuring guild unless they were looking to make or take a request, so even though I didn’t have a card no one would stop me at the door. I was relieved to see that Jerard and his women weren’t present. Well, I didn’t expect the women to enter the guild at all. Even I found myself drawing many uncomfortable looks as I walked over to the receptionist. Adventuring guilds still had the mentality of an all-boy’s club.
The receptionist was a man with a beard. He looked unfit to be out adventuring himself with a large gut and lame eye, but he seemed at home in a job standing behind the desk.
“Hello, miss, have a request?” he asked gruffly, but politely.
“No,” I took a deep breath and continued on, “Actually, I was looking to see if there were any requests heading north.”
“You don’t look like an adventurer, you got a card.” He spoke with disbelief while giving a nod to the request board on the other side of the room.
The room seemed to quiet down and I could hear some whispering behind me. I ground my teeth in annoyance. This was much like the conversations I had in the past.
“A woman, huh?”
This was the bane of all women in the adventurer’s guild. Jerard’s party was a bit of an abnormality. In general, there were very few woman adventurers at all. I had no doubt that Jerard handled this kind of stuff while the girls avoided the guild.
“No, um… actually, I was hoping to offer my services to any group heading north. My companion and I are heading in that direction. I was hoping you could point me to any adventurers heading in a similar direction.”
“Services? What kind of services?”
“Ah, well, my companion is an accomplished swordsman. I can make potions and know a bit of healing magic.” I was stretching out my own usefulness, but to try to sell it I added. “I can offer a bit of money, if…”
The look on the receptionist’s face immediately caused me to realize I’d said the wrong thing.
He broke out into a chuckle and shook his head. “Let me guess. You need an escort and you can’t afford one, so you want to pretend you’re contributing so you don’t have to make an expensive request. I’ve seen this sort of thing before.”
I didn’t know if I was more pissed from his condescending tone or the fact that he had so quickly seen through my intentions. Where did the skill of manipulation go at this time? I had been completely seen through, and it was embarrassing as much as anything.
“I’ll have you know that either of our skills is equal to any second-class adventurer…”
“Oh, so you’re not even at your second-class yet? That explains much.” He raised his hand to stop me while I was starting to turn red with anger and embarrassment. “Don’t say anything more. I’ve heard enough.”
“You…” I wasn’t going to leave the guild without being dragged out kicking and screaming.
However, the receptionist snapped his fingers before I could speak. “Now, that I think about it, I remember you. You’re the one who was bawling out in front of the guild yesterday in her boyfriend’s arms. Skinny, short little pretty boy, right?”
“Min’s a very proficient fighter.”
“Ah, he is then?” The man chuckled. “Hey, boys, remember that stick-lad the other day? She says you guys oughta be careful of him!”
I heard chuckling from behind me and my back stiffened, but I didn’t spare the rest of the room a look. Instead, I glowered over at the receptionist. I could wrap him and every other person in this room around my finger in moments. I could turn them into my own little puppets. Min had defeated the Bandit King Nova in one-on-one combat and forced him to flee. There was not a man in this Adventuring guild that he couldn’t beat. How dare they!
My fist clenched tightly as my mind scanned through all the ways I could wipe this so-called guild off the planet. But with some willpower, I let my fist loosen. I had promised myself I wouldn’t resort to those kinds of tactics anymore. I was trying to do these sorts of things honestly. Why did being a hero have to be such a royal pain in the ass?
As the receptionist watched me shiver with rage, he loosened his features and dropped the grin, leaning closer to me and speaking in a gentler voice. “Look, I’m not your enemy. The guild here exists for a reason. It keeps the clients, and it keeps the adventurers safe. It allows for safe and peaceful transactions which are insured by the nation.”
“For a pretty woman like yourself, you don’t want to work outside the guild. I’ve known entire female parties wiped out because of jealous women, horny men, or both. Husbands dragging their wives into adventuring only for them to be raped or worst. It’d be easy for a woman such as yourself to leave with a group of men and never be seen again. Raped, left for dead, or sold into slavery. When you reach the second class, maybe you’ll have the strength to keep yourself safe, although if I had things my way women wouldn’t be allowed to join at all. Woman seem to add a temptation that tears apart every group they join.”
“Just last month, I heard of a wife and husband duo. Been adventuring with two long-time friends for six months. One of the friends was coveting his wife, so during a vital quest he betrayed and let the husband die. Then, he slit the other friend’s throat and had his way with his friend’s wife. Did all kinds of horrible things to her before he killed her… That sort of thing happens all the time if you’re not careful.”
“Then who told the story?” I asked with a frown.
“Hmm?” He put on a confused look. “The story?”
“Well, if the husband died, the friend died, and the wife died, who was left to spread this tale? Would the rapist go on to reveal his own evil deeds?”
Of course, I had already heard this story or a very familiar one like it. I suspected it was one of those urban legends that were spread around these parts. Whether it happened all the time or even if it happened at all was something worth my suspicion. In some versions, the wife was still alive, but her face and body were ruined. In those, the rapist was hanged, making the entire story a tragedy all brought on by the presence of a woman. In less intelligent versions, the sound of the rape brought monsters to their campfire and they were both eaten alive, leaving nothing but the remains discovered by another party. Either way, this was the story I heard every time I talked about joining the guild.
The receptionist seemed very flustered as he scratched his beard and furrowed his brow as if truly trying to come up with the answer to my question. I waved my hand and shook my head.
“I’m sorry. Nevermind. I simply must go north at any cost. The pair of us can do it on our own, but I was hoping to make this journey easier for ourselves and others. Is this not possible?”
The receptionist shrugged and gave a wry smile as he held out his hands. I gave another sigh and shook my head, turning away in defeat. Perhaps I could send Min in later and have him try something else. Already, most people assumed he was a guy by his dress, so it was possible that simply being seen as a male would make him more successful. Even though some reasoning made sense, I still found the sexism of this world very aggravating.
Feeling defeated, I stood in front of the Adventurer’s guild and let out a deep breath. I still had my gold. Worst case scenario, we open up shop. I spend the gold on alchemy supplies. I can work on selling potions while Min joins the guild and does a few simple missions. It might be summer by the time we can afford to head north, but it wasn’t like I was on any kind of time schedule.
I hated being unable to earn experience for myself, but there were many people who went their entire lives stuck in first class. This kind of thinking felt too much like giving up on my dreams.
“Oi, I heard you talking in there. You really got healing?”
A voice came to my side and I turned to see a large man with an ax strapped to his back. Unlike the fat receptionist, he was considerably more fit, with arms the size of a lumberjack and armor that even included chain links.
“Yes. The pair of us would be an advantage to any team.” I said this as a fact, shoving down the bit of hope that ignited.
“How much gold?”
“We have 8 gold,” I stated plainly, intentionally lowballing.
He winced at that, and I fought the urge to throw anything more at him. Perhaps, if I just used my seduce and eye of the beholder skills a little? One or two uses and I could make sure that he would do it for half that amount.
“We leave at daybreak. We’re heading north to the Trident Mountain. Good skin for armor up there. If you can keep the boys healthy, it’d probably be worth it. Don’t make me regret it in front of my party.”
“We won’t.” I almost gave him a curtsy as I excitedly reached out and took his hand.
“Name’s Tark. Party is called Knifefall.” He shook his head as if he was still conflicted, then turned around and headed back into the Adventurer’s guild with a shrug.
“Thanks!” I let out just as the door shut, then gave a giant breath of relief.
Finally, it was done. Things were rocky there for a bit, but we’d finally be able to go to the colony. In less than two weeks, I’d be on my way to the second-class. I practically raced back to the inn, unable to hide the grin on my face. We’d be turning in early for a very active day tomorrow. My adventure was only just getting started.