Wha-ha-ha! A huge haul! Those rats didn't stand a chance! And I got the two titles! Too bad my SP and RES are down by 20 points now, but who cares?
"He-he-he. Are you happy, Chippy?" - Lily
There's someone else that's as happy as I am on our way back to the hotel. Lily is talking to her new Fengfeng, a large, orange chicken that sits nestled on the top of her head. It's one of the birds that the young merchant from before owned. He gave it to Lily as a reward for saving him and the birds. He even gave Lily a lecture about the Bird Tamer class.
Hmm, considering that she wants to keep the Phoenix as a pet, that class fits her. I'll give her a passing grade for that decision.
The only bad news is that the number of rats had gone down to zero right before we got Lily's level to 40. Here I wanted to see how a Growth Chimera evolves...
We also got the corpse of that Vile Viper that attacked them. Its scales are worth more than what you could expect from a D-rank monster. Same with the fangs and venom. Flint even described the thing as a department store of great materials. It's venomous to a fault, so I'm gonna dismantle the big thing myself. The workers at the Union are not as experienced as those in Velantas either, so that's the best course of action we can take.
Weren't snakes supposed to taste like chicken? Maybe I'll taste it myself... oh?
As the three of us entered the hotel room, we found Noire and a blonde demon sitting in seiza. The blonde demon has Succubus-like horns...
"Filyn?" - Lily
"Yes!?" - Blonde demon
Ah, it is her. But what's wrong with this picture? Why're the reigning overlord of an evil organization looking like a child who's caught with their hand in the cookie jar...
"What happened?" - Garami
"W-well… Noire and I took a little party-trip throughout the city... and since it would be cool to drive it at least once, I secretly borrowed the keys to your floatship from the Lizardman's room... and I kind of misplaced it somewhere... Ok, I lied, it's stolen. The ship was gone when we noticed that the keys were missing.... you're not going to be angry at your cute boss, right~?" - Filyn
......I didn't do anything except for making way for the Lizardman burning with rage. Hmm, an Iron Claw + [Burning Ground]. Not bad~.
"Excuse me, did you see a floatship looking like this yesterday? Presumably driven by some ruffians?" - Flint
"Hmm... ah, I did. Someone was taking it to the southern parts of the city." - Cloth seller
"Really? Many thanks!" - Flint
Finally, a hint. I've already asked around 20 people by now, so I was starting to think we were up against someone like Blot.
I dragged the sorry mess of an angel with me as we walked to the southern parts of the city.
"Why me..." - Noire
"'Cause it's your and that stupid boss of your's faults that the Mercenary is in the slimy grubs of some no-named crooks!" - Flint
"Wh-what a way to overreact... I said nothing!" - Noire
You better not have. That ship is my responsibility since I'm the only one with the technical skills to maintain it. I'm taking as much care of it as if it was the favorite toy of my niece! Wonder how my old folks are doing?
Honestly, I wanted to take Garami or even Lily with me instead of this sulking Flugel. However, those two are in the auction right now, hoping to obtain some good buys. Apparently, there's some big-shot item in the last auction that we don't need, meaning that there's going to be less of a fight for today's items, according to Garami. And I can't force Lily to help with this. Not after she scored that big game yesterday.
The plan is for me and this birdbrain to gain as much info regarding where the Mercenary was taken, then potentially take it back if we get the chance. If not, we're going to regroup with Garami and Lily, then storm the bandits' HQ along with members of the city guards.
The other perpetrator, the big boss, is also in the auction. Apparently, she's going to bid for that super-exclusive item at the end. Not that we can ask a "noble we only have a friendly relationship with" for help in this situation. The one who dropped the key was "a phantom-member of the Guild", after all. Tch.
I grumbled as we walked to the southern part of the city. After asking some of the more honest-looking citizens, we found out that the Mercenary had been seen driving through here recently, but nobody had seen it since.
Then, the one who found a solution to the mystery was Noire of all people. She had become friends with some of the children playing around in the streets by handing over "cheap rings" as she called them... Those things are on the level of what an experienced Craftsman can make. Cheap? I can see that the rings are made of cheap materials, but the work done on them are worth more than 10-times the market price.
Anyway, some of the children had seen the Mercenary leaving the southern city and into the eastern districts. After thanking the kids, we left for those parts.
"Hey, those rings from before... when did you make them?" - Flint
"During our stay here. They won't provide any proficiency for my skills, as I have yet to evolve them, nor that much for the Goldsmith class either, as the Accessories I need to make now requires more professional tools or else it won't work." - Noire
Ah, I can understand that. Artisan classes are easy to gain proficiency with, but the moment you go into the Advance-tier class, the growth decreases immensely. The decrease is notable even when I changed Blacksmith to Swordsmith, but for a Craftsman changing into Goldsmith, the difference must hit them even more. I'm actually impressed she can say she's getting any proficiency at all with simple wooden rings.
"Then, why are you not evolving the skills? As someone in our group, you should have the Skill Points for that?" - Flint
Someone of her talent should have unlocked an evolution or two for those skills.
"I don't want to. Or, I want other skills instead, so I can't waste my Points on evolving those Point-costly skills right now." - Noire
Noire then retrieved an arrow from that Item Box-skill of hers and showed it to-what the heck's this!?
The arrow's made from wood with some dark coating, and there are runes inscribed on it with such precision that they wouldn't look strange on something from a royal treasury! Hmm? This is...
"You have granted an ability to the arrow?" - Flint
"Pretty much. I have started obtaining weaker skills of various attributes that seem useful in combat. However, there is no way I can obtain enough mana to be able to use them all on my own. Therefore, I had the idea of charging the arrows I create with the effects of some skills and spells and use them instead, which will leave me MP for casting healing- and support spells. Of course, I also have arrows with these effects, but they are difficult to produce, not to mention costly. That is why I am sticking to attack-type arrows." - Noire
...That is not a bad idea at all. Almost every mage has wanted to imbue their spells into a weapon of some sort that they can use instead of using their MP, which has led to the creation of Attack Scrolls and Attack Wands. Blacksmiths like me have also tried to reinforce our products with spell- or skill-like effects, but it's not as easy as one would have wanted it to. Even the items I mentioned before were for one-time use only.
I can create swords with fire-type abilities, thanks to my [Ability Bestowal] skill and Fire attributed Attack Skill. I can even add the abilities on the spot thanks to [Reforge]. However, those swords also turn into one-time-use weapons, so it's not what I am after. That is why I sometimes use the failed swords as bombs thanks to those abilities and [Ember Burst].
Noire, however, has gone one, two, several steps ahead of me! Arrows are already considered as one-time-use items, so there is no problem in using them this way. That strange gun of Garami is working on the same principle, but that is already an item worthy of being called "the strongest", so people can't copy that so easily.
If I remember right, Noire's classes should be Mystic Archer, a class focusing on support magic and archery, Goldsmith, which is the class that improves her detailed crafting, and Rune Mage, which lets her add even more magical effects! Not to mention she is naturally talented in the art of crafting. This arrow in my hand, and the rings from before, are proof of that. Her whole build is perfect for this strategy!
"...Mind if I accompany you in your workshop from now on?" - Flint
"Hm-hm-hm~. You have finally noticed my greatness~? That is fine~, I will allow it~." - Noire
If it wasn't for this personality of hers, I would consider her a master crafter. Well, she is, not that I'm going to say it out loud...
Hmm, but this plan would only produce weapons as strong as your individual attacks. And since using rarer items like materials obtained from monsters would disrupt the construction of the runes, and the magic/skills added to it, Noire can only use "standard" materials for her arrows.
What I want is to create weapons that blow your imagination away. "Standard" is not allowed in my encyclopedia. But simply relying on the specks of the materials goes against my pride as well. Urgh, the road to the legendary weapons is a rough one...
F-finally... we're at the road's end... the damn ship's been transported from the south, then to the east, then to an outpost outside the city, back to the eastern parts, then to the west where the hotel is, then to the north! Damn thieves, they're not of the carefree sort... unless they've only been messing around with the Mercenary.
Ooohh, I bet my tail on that they did! Damnit, they're going down!!
The building that's supposed to hold the Mercenary is a huge mansion, but it's seen some better days. The walls are covered in ivy and other climbing plants, more than a few of the windows are broken and sealed with planks, and the guards look more like bandits than anything else.
"Let us go back and regroup. The auction should be finished by now." - Noire
Tch, we got no other choice...
"Hey, the guard over there!" - Flint
I noticed one of the city guards sneakily walking around the mansion. "Better tell them about our case", was my initial idea, but the way the young guard flinched to the sound of my voice made my grey matter working.
"Y-es!? What can I help you with!?" - Guard
"Are you stalking that building?" - Noire
"Wh-wh-wh-what are you talking about!?" - Guard
Yup, we have a winner.
"...Listen, those guys inside may have stolen something important from us. If your superior is close by, take us to him. We may provide a just cause that allows you to storm that building if that's what you need." - Flint
The guard took some while to digest my suggestion, but in the end, he followed my suggestion and led us to what seems to be an empty building. The inside, however, was filled with guards. And they all looked busy for some reason.
"Cricket! It's not the time to..." started an older guard until he saw me and Noire entering with the young guard.
"...Who are you?" - Older Guard
"Excuse our intrusion. I am Noire, and this is Flint Solrah. We are members of the Adventurer Guild: Voyagers. Yesterday, our floatship was stolen by someone, and after following the trail of the thieves, we arrived at the mansion that this young man was keeping a lookout on. After explaining our situation to him, he decided to take us here." - Noire
...I heard that this girl used to be a part of the boss' staff. Guess it wasn't a joke. We showed our ID Cards to the old guard as proof of our identities.
"...There is a report about that," said the old guard after looking at a Magitech similar to the Terminal that Garami owns.
"Yes. And from the look of it, we have a common foe here-" - Noire
"Fine, you're hired." - Older Guard
What?! What's with this development speed!?
"...Excuse me?" - Noire
"I can't drag civilians into a city guard operation, but we're allowed to hire adventurers in times of emergency. In fact, I'm glad I could get some help this fast, even after sending some messengers to the Adventurers' Union. Listen to this." - Older Guard
The old guard took out a different Magitech, a black box with lots of small holes in one area. The old guard pushed one of the bottoms and...
"What's this?" - Flint
"A type of Voice Recorder Magitech. We planted a transmitter on one of the guys in the mansion and have been waiting for a chance to move." - Older Guard
"Then... all this fuss..." said Noire while looking at the guards steadily arming themselves for battle
"We've been waiting for so long for a reason to storm that place. It's not only your vehicle, missy. If this recording is true, then we're about to destroy a group of scoundrels that are circulating the drug known as 'Angel's Rest'!" - Older Guard
The guards, more than happy after having been preparing for months, from what I could gather as we run alongside them, stormed the mansion while taking down the thugs they encountered using Sleep Magic and the like. Noire and I had already agreed to the old guard's sudden request. So, she is also attacking them using arrows imbued with [Wicked Magic]'s Forced Sleep spell.
I'm fighting on the front-line, using the blunt edge of a katana I had stored in my Item Bag for self-defense. The thugs are many, like, so many like they're cockroaches. Are drugs that good of a business that they can amass so many cannon fodders?
That "Angel's Rest" is far from as pretty as its name suggests. The first few times ain't enough to kill you, but repeated use will diminish your mental capabilities and the dependency one develops makes the users do anything for the next batch, according to what the guards told me while we fought.
This... isn't part of that thing the boss and vice-boss are here for, right? Noire looked furious when she heard about the whole drug-part, and she's almost like a disciple of the boss, so I'm not sure…
In any case, the important thing here's to find the Mercenary before some of the thugs can run away with it.
I followed the guards into the mansion as the blaring noise from a high-tech alarm system rings in my ears. Did they skimp on fixing the building's appearance to cover the costs for the security system?
I push away that thought as I saw some of the bastards coming at the guards from their flanks. I rushed in and struck the thugs down without killing them. The chief-guard wants as many people alive for interrogation-purposes. These guys are weak, so that wish is easy to grant.
The guards started to look for more thugs, but I went to the back of the mansion. It's more likely that they're storing the Mercenary in the backyard than anywhere else.
I continued further into the mansion while knocking down the thugs that came out of the shadows until finally, I found the Mercenary. As Lily would say: yahoo! And there are several thugs throwing goods onto the ship, with a Minotaur standing guard. Not "yahoo"!
"Huh? Who're you?" - Minotaur
I added the effect of [Ember Burst] into the blade I was holding and threw it at the big guy. The minotaur blocked the sword using his large battleax That's the smart move when facing a throwing-weapon, yes, but when the sword explodes...
The force of the katana exploding pushed the giant ox-man back while the parts of his body that weren't protected by the ax was scorched. Even so, as expected of a Minotaur. You can't count on just that to defeat them.
Knowing this, I had moved the second the katana exploded, withstanding the blast through my [Fire Resistance] skill, and circled behind the large ox while he was blinded. Then, let's get that [Rage] working! I grabbed his waist and heave-and-ho---!
"Wh-who the heck pulls out a German Suplex on a 2.5-meter big Minotaur!?" - Thug A
This guy! Now, time to repent for your sins! Hell's too lukewarm for you scum, so I came to get the job done right!!
A while later, and the thugs + 1 Minotaur was captured by the guards after [Rage] has subsided. Should I be ashamed over almost turning these guys to mince meant, or should I be proud of stopping right before I reached the point of no return?
The assault seems to be over from the look of the guards' calmer faces. They had even started to inspect the goods that the thugs had tried to store on the Mercenary... yup. That's drugs alright. Guilty.
I went with the guard who planned to inform the chief guard on the second floor of the mansion. In one of the studies there, we found the chief along with Noire and some other guards... oh.
"This is the reason why the thugs panicked?" I asked while trying to keep my voice calm.
"Probably. These types of organizations are no different from chickens. They walk around and create a mess when the head's cut off." - Chief Guard
By the desk in the study sat a burly man that was dressed like a noble... however, his head was cut off and placed on the desk, as if it was part of a presentation while the body was still sitting in the chair. Blood is still flowing from the neck, meaning the murder must have happened just recently, maybe right before the conversation between the thugs that the guards caught on to.
"Sir! From the statements of the captured criminals, it seems like the room was locked from the inside at the time of death!" - Guard
"...A closed room murder? In a mansion filled with the latest security Magitech? Not sure if I want to be scared or freaked out." - Chief Guard
"Thankful?" - Flint
"This man you see here is... was one of the biggest supporters of our city. The city has merchants to buy our clothes and to support the Grand Auction, and the man you see before you had many connections to those merchants. Making him an enemy of the city would lead to a great loss of access to those merchants." - Chief Guard
"So that's how the ball rolls... Then, you already had a suspicion about this guy?" - Flint
"Pretty much. An underground auction has been going on these last few years. The drug must be one of the illegal goods for sale. Not that we could storm the place without a good reason." - Chief Guard
"Wait, was that recording good enough?" - Noire
"Just half of it. But with them planning to move their hideout, I decided to bet my neck on it." - Chief Guard
...And what would happen to us if your bet failed?
"In any case, you two can return now. We need to keep your ship under our jurisdiction for a few days, but I promise we will make sure to take good care of it. Sorry, but these are the procedures we need to follow. We will bring the reward for assisting on this mission at that time as well." - Chief Guard
"...Fine" - Flint
Just knowing the Mercenary will be returned is good enough. And staying longer at a crime scene's not a good idea. I dragged Noire with me back to the hotel...
"How was the mansion-raid?" - Garami
...And was met by a strange question from Garami.
"What mansion?" - Flint
"The one with the corrupt noble that had stolen the Mercenary." - Garami
"How do you know about that!?" - Flint
Wasn't she supposed to be at the auction at that time!? Or at least on her way back to the hotel!
"You didn't think I wouldn't look for the ship myself? I released some Unseen Ghosts throughout the city and had them look for it. After buying what I wanted, I left the auction hall and went to that place myself." - Garami
"...What about the security-" - Flint
"System? It was too easy to bypass. Sneaking into the Aquarect Queen's tower was more difficult than that. Is this a sign of my growth or something~?" - Garami
"...And the noble?" - Noire
"That fat guy? He seemed suspicious, and I noticed one of the grunts had been bugged. And by the city guard who was hiding close by and everything! Since the chance was there, I thought, why not get rid of the top and let the guards do the job of securing the Mercenary? We had already filled them in that the ship was stolen, so it would return to us sooner than later~." - Garami
So said Garami in a good mood. ...What about mine and Noire's hard work? Eh? This is unreasonable...
Flint's Status Page:
|Race:||Lizardman | Gender: Male|
|Main Class:||Swordsmith Lv.12|
|Sub Class:||Ronin Lv.45|
|HP: 281/281||MP: 227/227||SP: 355/355|
|STR: 415||VIT: 249||MAG: 179|
|RES: 237||SPD: 161||DEX: 423|
|INT: 101||LUC: 93|
Noire's Status Page:
|Race:||Fallen Nehushtan | Gender: Female|
|Main Class:||Mystic Archer Lv.8|
|Sub Class:||Goldsmith Lv.7|
|Sub Class:||Rune Mage Lv.9|
|HP: 286/286||MP: 529/529||SP: 265/265|
|STR: 243||VIT: 233||MAG: 677|
|RES: 557||SPD: 460||DEX: 637|
|INT: 85||LUC: 95|