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Chapter 3: East Branch

East Branch

We had spent our first day in Beim sightseeing with a guide.

He told us of where the shops we might have to use were, and of which ones were popular in Beim, but he also informed us of the places it best we don't stop by.

Of course, it's not like we were able to see everything on the list in one day.

As the basics for adventurers in general, he introduced us to the Guild, armories, food shops, inns, and realtors.

While in Beim, spending time in a poorly placed inn would become a pain.

It would also rack up quite an expense.

Unless one went solo- or had a small enough party- and earned extraordinary compensation for single requests, constant inn life is a dream within a dream.

For those of mercenary brigade scale, they sometimes built up their own strongholds within the city.

Due to varying circumstance I won't say this as a definite, but for any wishing to set Beim as their home guild for a long period of time, inn costs would only pile up to something awful.

No matter the sum we earned, there was equipment maintenance and renewal, and daily expenses that all added up.

Even adventurers retired as they grew older.

For that sake, having savings was a necessity.

Meaning a real estate agency was also a necessity for the trade.

Heading to Beim's [East Branch]with our party of eight, we found ourselves mildly amazed at the busy citizens moving about so early in the morning.

Centralle also had a lot of people, and it had its own sort of business to it. Compared to Beim, I now saw the capital as a quiet place.

Arumsaas was the same, but there it was Students of the academy leaving their homes early to commute.

Dalien was of small scale, and it had some energy to it, but compared to Beim the difference was all too clear.

The figures of numerous adventurers headed to the Guilds... I heard the eastern branch was the dispatch one, and had fewer adventurers assigned to it, but was that really the case? As I thought that...

"Hey, about that group over there..."

Aria called out, so we turned our eyes to the direction she was looking.

A well-equipped party was headed for the guild.

From their equipment and the way they walked, I couldn't see them as any ordinary adventurers. The trade was one that called for light-weight gear, and they were making use of heavy metal armor.

Aria...

"How imposing. Could they be mercenaries?"

Their numbers totaled in the twenties, with adder support personnel following behind.

I could definitely imagine them as a small scale mercenary brigade.

But a voice from the Jewel refuted that. It was the Fifth.

[They're knights from somewhere. Not Bahnseim... does a country of adventurers hire on knights as well?]

It wasn't just the Fifth to question it.

The Fourth too...

[It truly is unnatural. Of course, the country's policy is different than our own, so I can't really say anything to it.]

In Bahnseim, it wasn't looked on as favorable if a knight took up adventuring on the side.

Because it wasn't possible to get rid of the negative image stuck to the work.

There, Miranda tapped my shoulder with a finger.

I turned to see a tall, yawning woman headed off in a similar fashion.

That woman was being avoided by those around her.

"Somehow, all the adventurers that catch the eye here are quite amazing. Those that'd usually be called the rare elites are littered all over the place."

On Miranda's words, I observed my surroundings. There really were a large number of competent ones.

Quite a few that gave off a different air than the others.

Walking nearby, Clara took care not to strike any passersby with her oversized staff.

The ground was one of neatly interlocking stone, and the sound of scraping metal and countless footsteps made it hard to hear each other.

"There are many adventurers in general, so perhaps it appears that way. Of course, it may be exactly because such adventurers are here, that all the requests gather in Beim."

Did requests gather because of the adventurers, or adventurers for the requests... with that on my mind, I noticed some sort of ruckus breaking out ahead.

Others that noticed the quarrel walked around it without stopping.

One side was a group that looked to be made of young adventurers, and the other was a group led by a bearded man in his thirties.

His beard and features gave him quite a villainous face. And now why would new adventurers get involved with someone like that...?

"After running head-into us, 'sorry' is the only word you've got to say!? Looking down on us just because we're newcomers to Beim!?"

The young adventurer with a large sword on his back wore nothing but a tank top on his upper body. However, his hips were covered in metal protectors all around, and his boots were tipped with steel.

He wore quite some unbalanced equipment, but the ones following him around were quite normal, or how should I put this... they didn't have proper equipment to begin with.

Thinking back to where I'd seen him before, I recalled him as the one shouting out when first arrived at the gate.

His skin was a healthily tanned brown, and his muscle was formidable. However, the villainous one he was picking a fight with was the same.

He looked to be accustomed to using and maintaining his equipment.

More than that, his arms were thicker than the young man... his body trained, and the comrades he brought along were all wearing suitable equipment.

"... What's with this situation?"

On the contrary, I found it quite intriguing, but seeing the scene, Shannon scoffed.

"If they fight, those guys'll be killed off within the minute."

Eva confirmed it with her.

"Eh? So is the one with the large sword stronger? I kinda want to see it out."

Novem shook her head.

"It's the opposite. He's the one who'll fall instantly. While the one with the sword seems quite competent... his comrades are..."

Just from their gear, they were worlds apart.

I could only look on in wonder as I tried to fathom why they acted up so much.

The bearded adventurer apologized.

"I really am sorry. I wasn't paying attention on my side. I've properly given my apologies, so is it fine if we go on our way? You all have business with the guild as well, don't you?"

He really didn't want to be involved.

I quickly realized why he didn't speak of pride or anything of the sort.

The surrounding adventurers....

"How lively, so early in the morning."

"Assertiveness is a good thing. It all goes flat once you've lived long enough."

"After setting out for the guild so early, they end up losing time in a place like this? My deepest condolences."

As the nearby adventurers were saying as such, I'm sure they only thought of it on the level of a minor unlucky happening.

Anywhere else, it wouldn't be strange for a fight to break out here and now.

We also avoided the strife to make our way to the Guild, but the adventurer with the large sword suddenly turned to us.

His eyes were focused on the outfit of a maid. When I looked at Monica, she purposefully put both of her hands to her face, and blushed.

"God, what's gotten in to you in such a place? If you want to partake in my love, please make it when we're alone, or..."

"... What happened to your robe?"

She stood out, so I told her to wear one, but she had taken it off.

She shrugged off the question.

"The surrounding adventurers and civilians didn't actually seem to care too much, so I took it off. I mean, I take quite a bit of pride in my uniform. I can't just go about concealing it with a robe, and I didn't see the need to begin with."

I have nothing but questions for those damn ancients.

The bearded adventurer's group turned curiously to where the large sworded man was looking.

I took Monica's hand, and swiftly left the area.

When I gripped her, she...

"Just like this, a flight of love."

"If you want to take flight from reality, then do it whenever you want! Now let's get going already."

It was a tone that would raise complaints, but if we stayed where we were, I'm sure we would have been dragged into something strange.

Seeing that, the Fourth spoke.

[With so many sorts of adventurers, it seems like an interesting place.]

The Sixth was...

[I wonder what sort of guild this one will be. I pray it isn't one like Arumsaas'.]

The Third.

[The guide said it was mainly to train, but what's that supposed to mean? Well, that's the fun to come, I guess.]

There, behind me, even further back than the adventurer with the large sword.

I heard a tremendous voice.

"Albano! You again!?"

"Oy, oy, don't make this one my fault dammit, Creit-san!"

I thought.

(It really is lively here, or how should I put it...)

-

-

-

The Guild on the east side of Beim was, quite straightforwardly, known as the [East Branch].

The building it occupied was a large one, and in its bulk it held lodging facilities and functional baths.

Seeing how complete their services for adventurers were, I could understand just how much profits they were reaping from the enterprise

The east guild's receptions desk was divided by purpose.

There was an entire counter set aside for home-change requests, and newcomer applications.

A warehouse building to take battle spoils over to was prepared separately, and the receptions desks were on the first floor. Perhaps this was one of the characteristics of the city.

Signboards were posted around the vast hall, alongside a map of the building. On them, for those visiting Beim, the eastern guild for the first time... there were simple directions laid out for those moving to the east branch, or becoming adventurers for the first time.

"New recruitments and home change relations are... the second floor."

From the entrance plagued by intense traffic, we started walking towards the second floor.

There were plenty of adventurers seeking home changes like us.

Many who wanted to become adventurers of Beim.

As we ascended the stairs, fleeting eyes began to gather on us.

(... Well, I guess there's no helping it.)

What drew them may have been the fact everyone in the party besides me was female. What's more, one was still a child, another a maid... if someone asked what sort of gathering we were, I get the feeling the answer 'street performer' would pass.

(Ah, I think we could actually survive on street performing...)

When I looked at Eva the elf, she tilted her head.

I noticed that the stares could be divided largely into two groups.

Envy for the women, and pity for me.

I heard the Third's voice from the Jewel.

[Looks like you're popular, no matter where you go.]

He said that with deep sarcasm, so I tapped the Jewel to deny it.

And reaching the second floor's reception, I found a line had already formed.

Behind the organized counters, receptionists were given detailed explanations to the adventurers.

All employees were wearing the same uniform as they dealt with their clients.

The Seventh...

[They've put quite some money into this one. I'd never ventured to Beim, but... how should I put this, I imagined a much harsher environment.]

I held the same opinion.

From what I heard, the city was supposed to be one brimming with danger.

Perhaps it's just the first day, and I have yet to understand anything, but that being the case, the atmosphere was completely different from what I had anticipated.

While I was searching out the counter dealing with home transfer processes, a staff member called out.

"Home changes are over here."

"Ah, many thanks. There sure are a lot of people here."

I gave a light greeting, and tried to start up some idle banter. The receptionist gave a bitter smile.

"Beim has a considerable population, and there're always more coming in than out. A while back, the counters were narrow, and it took some time to do all the paperwork."

After I handed the seven pairs of guild cards to her, the receptionist turned to Monica.

I sighed, and...

"That one isn't a human. She's an automaton."

The receptionist woman held my card out over a device. I didn't really know what she was doing, but she nodded a few times as she looked at it.

"There's been a bit of break in your activity, but it looks like you've been in Arumsaas. I never thought I'd be able to see an automaton so soon."

It does appear that word has already reached from Arumsaas. She began to explain.

"There are very few who venture from Beim to Arumsaas, but the other way has its numbers. And Professor Damien is quite a famous one here too. Seeking the baggage carrying robots he is producing... Porter, we've only recently had a stream of people going to Arumsaas at all. It really is amazing. I wonder what sort of man the professor is. Do you know him?"

I decided to smile with an ambiguous smile on my face.

(So even Porter's known here? That was fast.)

To the curious woman, I...

"Yep, he's a... good person. A bit of a strange one, though."

Hearing that, she nodded with delight.

"You're an acquaintance of Professor Damien? Ah, but he is a famous one there as well, so perhaps it is not a marvel for you to know of him... ah, right, the paperwork."

As the receptionist hurried on with the forms, the voice of a fed-up Fourth...

[Well it wasn't a lie. He was a good person to Lyle, at least. I mean, he taught him magic and gave him an Automaton after all.]

The Third laughed.

[That sleeping beauty was the best. But wasn't the 'bit of a strange one' part a lie? That one's a full-blown pervert.]

I decided to ignore the voices from the Jewel.

After confirming the seven guild cards, she took charge of one of each pair.

And after we finished registering as a party, she handed the other ones back to us.

"And that is the end of it. There will be an explanation as to the format of Beim's guild, so perhaps it is best you all partake. It will take place in the inner room. I assume there is much you don't know, as you've only just changed homes. I do think there is a fair share of differences from the other guilds, so I really do think it best you partake."

Accepting everyone's cards, I nodded.

From the force of her insistence, I guess there are some adventurers who choose not to undergo it.

And so we headed to the inner room, and found a wide assortment of adventurers who'd changed their homes already assembled.

Nearby the conference room-like area, I heard a familiar voice from the meeting for complete newcomers nearby.

It was that of the man with the large sword.

I tried to focus on the guild speaker's words...

(So he came to Beim to become an adventurer? That's some courage there.)

I thought starting up in Beim would be too rough, so I had chosen to build up some experience elsewhere.

But I really wonder what caused him to shout out in an introductory meeting.

(And wait, I seem to be running into him quite a lot.)

-

-

-

After the explanatory meeting had finished, we went back down to the first floor.

Everyone's expression held more dissatisfaction than I expected.

Especially Aria...

"Hey... what's that supposed to mean? That they'll assign requests on their part?"

The main reason for that discontentment was the fact we couldn't select jobs on our own.

Requests entered into the guild in too great a number.

And even if they found one with favorable conditions, the adventurers of Beim weren't able to freely select them on their own.

Novem tried to soothe Aria.

"There's no helping it. There are too many requests, that a system of us selecting would... I'm sure there wouldn't be anything like before, where we could just take up a request no other adventurer had decided to do."

If the conditions weren't that favorable, then an adventurer wouldn't take up the request.

The guild also tried to ensure such requests weren't put out to begin with, but occasionally some questionable ones would come out.

Clara looked at Aria.

"It's just that after adventurers have a certain level of experience, they choose not to take up odd jobs, so it usually works out, right? The problem is that this one is specialized to dispatch requests."

My comrades' eyes gathered on me.

Dispatch meant we'd be moving to lands apart from Beim.

And in that case, we'd lose whatever time it'd take to migrate.

I cleared my throat.

"No, look... our goal isn't adventuring, but Celes after all. If this one turns out no good, I thought it would be fine if we transferred to the west branch."

On my opinion, Monica promptly...

"Three months at minimum, was it? They said there was a limitation on home transfers within the city, did they not?"

To decrease the ease of transferring post, a restriction had been placed.

Shannon...

"And they even said we have to periodically complete requests. Seriously, what's the meaning of all of this?"

I honestly...

"... I was a little na?ve in my thoughts. I'm sorry."

As I apologized, Eva spoke.

"Huh? Is it really that strange? I don't know too much about adventurers, but I've heard that the system usually does change based on one's home."

She fiddled with her hair as she spoke, so Miranda explained.

"This guild is going to push jobs onto us. We'll have to alter our plans and preferences, and it will be rough on the sorts of adventurers that don't usually take up formal requests."

If it was just challenging the Labyrinth the city managed, then there would be no problems if we didn't take one up.

But the Fifth...

[You've yet to take up a single request, or make a coin in Beim, right? Isn't it better you make a decision after giving it a go? If you really do find it unbearable, then change homes as soon as you can, and that's all there is to it.]

Quite a constructive opinion.

"Well let's set this as our home for a while, and see how work goes. If we keep denying it without doing anything, we won't get anywhere."

As I said that, Clara nodded.

"That's right. Perhaps we may find some benefit to this system."

Eva...

"There are still adventurers who use this one as their home, so there's no saying there's nothing to it, right? Though the story would be different if there was a reason they simply couldn't transfer."

It was a guild more troublesome than I had imagined.

That on my mind, I heard a voice call at to me.

"Oy!"

I turned around to find the man with the large sword behind me.

"Me?"

"That's right! Aren't you a little too stuck up?"

I was puzzled over why I ran into him so much, but I didn't think he'd call out to me of his own accord.

And judging by the atmosphere he gave off, I was not being dealt with on friendly terms.

Behind the man, his comrades were looking... at all my party besides me.

A voice came from the Jewel.

It was the third.

[Ah! So that's it. A gathering of beauties does make one a bit jealous.]

The Fourth was amazed.

[What? And jealousy makes one shout like that? This kid's an interesting one.]

The Fifth's voice sounded irritated.

[I hate these sorts. Adventurers of a certain level won't get into others' business, but he's a newbie, is he... these types really irritate me.]

The Sixth laughed.

[It's the express right of youth! The fruitless desires of reckless men. Isn't that fine?]

The Seventh disinterestedly...

[You can fine these types anywhere you look. Just ignore him. Don't get yourself involved.]

They all gave out their opinions, and following the Seventh's advice, I gave a vague smile and tried to leave.

"Is that so? Then I'll take it to heart. Now let's get going, everyone."

I tried leading my comrades out, and felt him grasp my shoulder.

His grip was strong enough to let out a grating sound, and I narrowed my eyes to glare at him.

He had a smile across his mouth. The Second's Skill informed me he was using a Skill himself.

(Is he amplifying his power? Vanguard? Support's a possibility.)

I kept it short.

"That hurts, you know?"

As I said that, he...

"And so? All the folks here are cowards. I've tried so many times to gauge my skill level here, but no one will take me on. You're an outsider, right? Then play with me a little. Then I'll be able to understand what sort of thing adventurers are."

He was taking some fleeting glances at Novem and the rest. The fact he was overly conscious of them was quite obvious.

Inferring the situation, the eyes of others began to gather.

And...

"Hold it right there! Personal matters between adventurers are forbidden here!"

A tall young man with all of his black hair swept to the back stepped between us.

The adventurer with the large sword...

"Who are you supposed to be?"

So the tall young man named himself.

Straightening his back, the polite-looking man gave a proper introduction.

"My name is [Creit Venini]. I am currently working here as an adventurer. As a fellow adventurer, I can't overlook these personal quarrels!"

The man gave quite a hot-blooded impression.

Thinking I was saved, I put my hand to my chest, and...

"Therefore, you should hold a formal duel. Use your skills and technique to compete fair and square!"

I raised my face in surprise, to catch a glimpse of Creit making an expression that pretty much said, 'I always wanted to say that.'

"Eh? Duel? Eh!?"

Seeing my surprise, the adventurer with the large sword...

"Perfect, I'll take it up. I'm [Erhart Baumann]. It'll leave a bad taste in my mouth to kill off such a frail looking kid anyways."

He was full on board, so I turned to my own companions.

Aria and Miranda.

"Hey, just have at it already."

"Isn't it fine? If it's a duel, then no one's going to die. If you get injured, I'll heal you right up... with uninterrupted service."

Clara and Shannon...

"This sort of story book development is a little thrilling. They're all over the place in novels, but nobody does that sort of thing these days, so it's a bit exciting."

"That sort of duel over a woman thing? I don't really read much, so I can't see the point."

"No, I mean the essential plot point where an adventurer ends up picking a fight with a veteran. Don't you find it strangely appealing?"

"Not particularly, and doesn't that make Lyle the villain in this case?"

... They were having fun.

Thinking it was just a fight between newcomers, and perhaps because the young man had recommended a dual so grandiosely, others were looking our way, and smiling.

Eva...

"It's kinda like Lyle's that! He's got that sort of luck! But when you're telling a tale, I think these sorts of developments are important! Accept by all means!"

She's telling me to fight for the sole sake of her song.

Monica even...

"I want to see the Chicken Dickwad's cool parts~."

She sung that out, and let her twin tails twitch up and down.

(Her voice is clear, and she sounds strangely skilled, so it just makes it all the more irritating!)

Novem made a troublesome expression.

"Um, please make sure you don't injure your opponent too much."

For her to worry about my opponent, I do think it's a kind and wonderful thing to do. But can't she try to get me out of this?

I heard laughing voices from the Jewel.

The ancestors in order...

[He's sure got it! Lyle's definitely got it! It's like this wherever he goes!]

[People rarely ever pick fights like that anymore. This may actually be interesting.]

[Yeah, there's surprisingly little of this sort of thing among adventurers. Well, if you can beat the hell out of him, then just do it.]

[It's getting heated, Lyle!]

[He does seem to be a Skill user, so I'm sure it will be a good experience. Good for you, Lyle.]

I shook my head as I thought.

(Why is it that instead of even trying to stop it, everyone seems to be having fun?)