With the four leading us, we finally reached our destination and entered one of the nearby towns. This is the same place that another guild’s set up shop in, the one we decided to infiltrate temporarily.
Well, I’m sure that’s just one of those coincidences. Any run-of-the-mill guild is only going to establish itself in the safety of a town. The places they establish are a bit like our own headquarters, with the distinction that it’s rare to see any guild headquarters erected outside a town, where the danger of monsters and bandits was much more prevalent.
The only kinds of guilds that are usually built outside of town are either dark guilds or grey guilds, the latter of which is really only a hair’s breadth different from the first. These are the kind of guilds so shady they tend to attract the presence of royal knights.
Knowing that makes me sure that the guild Lucille belongs to isn’t some sort of haven for the criminally inclined. This obviously isn’t enough grounds for us to lower our guard, but it’s a relief to know that we probably wouldn’t have to resort to our last-ditch methods at some point.
This last-ditch effort I’m talking about is, of course, killing every last member of this group. Now, I may be the master of a dark guild, but that doesn’t mean that I have any kind of fondness for killing people.
“Our guild’s someplace along the outskirts of town. We don’t really have the kind of money to set it up in the middle, you know.”
Lucille is at least kind enough to go into that much detail. Well, that’s perfectly alright to me.
It’s not as if my long sessions of being locked up in my own guild have given me any disinclination to walking, and Sorglos isn’t short on stamina either. If Laladi were with me instead, I’d probably have to resort to carrying her on my back for the whole path. Sorglos, however, just follows behind me, not the slightest hint of disturbance seeping into her pace or her breathing. Hm… Don’t you think it’s better if you walk beside me?
“No. I’d rather be back here, indeed.”
O-oh, alright. The response, both abrupt and not at all lacking in clarity, is enough to make me pull back and drop the subject. I, uh… I can really feel Sorglos’s gaze digging into my back. It’s making me feel a bit itchy…
“We’re here! This is my guild, right here!”
Oh, would you look at that. We made it. I raise my head to look at the place just as Lucille points it out, and feel a weight lift off my chest and my back when I’m finally released from Sorglos’s intense scrutiny. Then I actually see the guild and feel myself stiffen up.
Not that I dropped my smile, that goes without saying. How do I put this… Well…
“That thing’s falling apart, truly.”
“What was that? You wanna say that again?!”
Oh, come on! Sorglos just doesn’t hold back, does she? Rage becoming evident on Lucille’s small form, the boy begins to trod towards her. Someone stop him! She’s going to kill him if you don’t!
“Come on, Lucille. She only said the truth, nothing you can change about that.”
Read the original on https://dao.ist
“Let me go, Herolo!”
Luckily, before Sorglos even has a chance to pull out her kunai, a young man with gentle features moves to stop the boy in his tracks. Thank goodness for that, too. Now we won’t have a dead child on our hands… To the young man – Herolo, as he was called – I give a silent cry of admiration.
“Well, it’s certainly run-down. But I can assure you that it won’t fall on your heads.”
And here is a man clearly in the prime of his life, addressing both Sorglos and eye with a slight strain to his smiling features. Uh… I’m sure I got his name. Apollo, is it? I deliver a quick chop to Sorglos’s head and tell the man that we really don’t mind it being a little run-down.
“Ow… That’s so mean, indeed…”
Sorglos holds her head in her hands, throwing me a somewhat reproachful look. That’s where you’re wrong. You were much meaner than that.
“What’s keeping you two? Come on in.”
The one who asked us to do as much is another man with a somewhat forced smile. He’s fairly thin, and a pair of spectacles rests on his nose. He’s called… Rieg, I think?
If the necklace around his neck is anything to go by, he’s a member of the Angel Faith. Well… Best not get involved with Rieg, then.
For some reason, a large chunk of the more religious people in this world lean towards strangely fanatical sects. Never really knew why. If this turns out like it did with Mary, and he finds out that we belong to a guild that has a member who’s part of a whole new faith, then there’s no doubt that he’ll try to attack us. He doesn’t look like a bad person, though, and it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.
“Come on in then, please.”
The other people around us entered the guild before I even notice. Apollo is holding the door open, waiting for us to come in.
Well then… I wonder how this is going to turn out… There’s still the chance that all those members on the inside might attack us the second we walk in. If that does happen, Sorglos? You have to run, even if you’re on your own.
“That won’t happen, indeed. I will protect Milord, no matter the cost.”
It does make me happy to hear her say that, I’ll admit. But if anything, the opposite is true. If anybody’s going to protect anyone, it’s going to be me protecting you.
Read the original on https://dao.ist
Throwing a smile towards Sorglos, I enter the guild.
Their guild proves to be a cozy little thing, though so small and exposed to the ages that it barely compares to our own. While it’s about as spacious as any remote house can be, it’s hard to imagine it lending repose to a larger-than-average number of guild members.
But let’s stop trying to evaluate this place, shall we? We should be focusing on how many members it actually has. With great artifice, I let my eyes dart around this place, and…
“A guild with few members, indeed.”
Sorglos speaks to me from behind. And yes, she’s right on the money.
There is a surprising lack of adventurers in this guild. To go into more detail, I can only sense one other presence beside the four that allowed us entrance.
“A bit strange, eh? The lack of members?”
Apollo didn’t even look our way when he said this, simply letting a dry chuckle follow his statement. Not that looking our way would have benefited him. My smile is practically fixed on my expression, and the only part of Sorglos that’s exposed to the air is her eye; I don’t see him getting a read on us any time soon.
It’s clear, however, that he finds the lack of members equally strange. One of the requirements for a guild to be officially recognized, after all, is for it to have five members or more.
Our own guild doesn’t have that many members, but we still number ten in total, myself included. And yet, theirs only has the bare minimum of five. It’s barely a company.
“There’s actually one more member, see. We make a grand total of five members, but…”
“No need to elaborate, indeed. We already know.”
With only four people present in front of us, Apollo appears to have assumed that there’s a need for some additional detail. Sorglos is quick to cut him off, though. We can sense their fifth member, after all. There’s really no need for this sort of thing.
“On to more pressing matters. You’ve brought us all the way here, and so I implore you to finally speak your piece, indeed.”
“…Of course. Before that can happen, though, you should really take a look at our last member.”
Read the original on https://dao.ist
Sorglos’s approach, though bordering on being abrasive, is met my this suggestion from Lucille. His expression tells me he’s made up his mind about something. Their final member… They’re talking about whoever it is I can sense behind that door, aren’t they?
There’s something off-putting about that presence, though. Something extremely unpleasant…
“Hey, you sure about this?”
“Yeah. We need their help. We can’t afford to keep things secret from them, right? We can’t really move on without showing them what happened.”
Herolo’s hand is still on Lucille’s shoulder after asking the boy if he was certain about this. The worried nature of his expression seems evidence enough for me that he’s a good man at heart. Lucille nods as he responds, his expression determined.
“Follow me. This way.”
Lucille takes the lead as he urges us to go after him, and lo and behold; he’s walking towards the door I was looking at before. Despite the general discomfort I can feel behind that door, I conclude that it’s not the result of anything that might pose a threat. That in mind, I follow in Lucille’s footsteps.
“What you’re about to see might surprise you. But please, don’t let your expression show that. Can you do that for me?”
Lucille looks at me earnestly. Oh… I see how it is. If the presence I feel tells me anything, it’s that whoever’s behind that door is…
I give the boy a nod. Who knows. I may just know a way to help.
Sorglos follows suit, though that doesn’t stop her from grumbling about how I’m supposedly being issued too many demands. Lucille, seeing our respective reactions, allows himself a smile before his expression slips back into its prior tautness.
“…Okay then. Please, go inside.”
With that, he opened the creaking door. The inside of this room is a drastic change from the otherwise dilapidated building, with everything arranged to be immaculate.
That doesn’t change how ill-furnished the place is, however. There’s little furniture to be seen, and what can be seen looks a touch too dreary. There’s a plain bed, and beside it, a small shelf.
On the bed is a young girl, fast asleep, her face directed towards the ceiling. She bears an undeniably strong resemblance to Lucille himself, so much so that a shorter haircut would make the two almost indistinguishable.
The two must be siblings, then. And if that were the only thing of note here, then I wouldn’t be pressed to say that anything is unusual.
What makes the whole scene so unusual is the occasional pained groan the girl lets out in her sleep, coupled with the sheen of cold sweat that drenches her face. Another, far more curious thing is the warped, ominous crest floating to the left of her head.
“Milord, this girl…”
Sorglos, having made the same observation as I, whispered into my ear. And she’s right, too.
…This girl is under some kind of curse.