The gate guard stood there with his arms spread out as he declared the village's name.
I clapped my hands awkwardly.
But the man lowered his arms in dejection. It seemed like I got the meaning behind his little performance wrong.
Instead, I lowered my arms and looked away as my cheeks grew warm.
"Umm...anyways, I was wondering..."
"Ah? Sure, what's wrong?"
"Could you tell me where the important things are in this village?"
I gave the man a bit of a smile as I tried to gloss over my mistake.
"Like stores or other notable things. I've never been to a village before"
"Oh, is that so? Right, you said that you came from the forest, so I guess this is your first village huh?"
"That's amazing, such a little girl like you living in such a dangerous place like the forest"
My smile cramped up.
Certainly, now that I looked at him properly, he was easily more than a head taller than me...or rather a head and a half...maybe more like two heads...but calling me a little girl? That was rude and annoying! He was just excessively tall!
"Well, it makes me happy that you chose to come to Edgeworth for your first village. Though we don't have much, the people are good"
(Can you not make giving me directions such an event?)
"Right, right. So like I said, we don't have much here. When it comes to important things, I suppose it would be the village chief's house, the general store, the village's inn, and the adventurer's guild"
That...really wasn't much, and most of it were things I wasn't too interested in.
"If you follow this main road, you'll reach the village centre. They're all near that point"
My eyes followed the direction the guard pointed. The wide dirt road continued from the gates all the way through the village, and I could see another set of gates on the far side in the distance.
"Alright. Thank you for your help"
I flashed the man a small smile in the hope that he wouldn't be left with a bad impression of me.
"Not at all, it's no problem. It's the duty of us adults to help kids like you when they need help"
My smile cramped up so badly that there was pain in my cheeks as the guard pat my head through my hat and hood while he gave a big grin.
"I, I need to get going"
I hurried and stepped out of the man's reach. The little fluffballs had gotten fed up with his rudeness and were bonking their bodies through his. It was a shame he didn't notice, but the sight helped to soften my stiff smile.
Before it could turn into a real smile, I turned towards the village centre. My legs moved me at a brisk pace, but not so fast as look inhuman.
The glowing fluffs caught up after a few seconds and orbited around me. They seemed to still be a little agitated, so I tossed around a few mana treats as thanks.
My legs took me past a series of shabby looking wooden buildings. Their construction wasn't too bad, but they were in poor repair with the walls being discoloured in areas and worn out in others. Some had small gaps where broken parts had been crudely repaired with inadequate material and skills.
The occasional person I saw wore what was little better than rags, as they stopped what they were doing and stared at me.
My shoulders instinctively pulled inwards as I hurried my pace even further.
To the side, there was a larger gap between two of the buildings. Through the gap, I could see a well and several women in shabby clothes surrounding it. It looked like they were doing some laundry.
A little further in, the main street opened up to a plaza, though it was nothing more than a wide ring of buildings surrounding what looked like a dirt pitch. There were a few kids playing around there with sticks. All of them were wearing rags, and many didn't even have sleeves. It was like their tops were potato sacks with holes for their heads and arms. Most of the boys at least wore pants of varying length and the girls' tops were long enough to be considered a dress in the most technical sense. None of them wore shoes though.
The sight worried me, but as a few of the kids noticed me, they started to point and the others started to stare at me.
In a panic, I lowered my hood and turned to check the buildings.
The few structures in this area were much bigger than the ones I passed earlier, and had wide space in between them. Most had wagons and carts parked to the sides and there were even a few horses and oxen. They seemed a bit thin to my eyes, but I've only see horses as a kid and oxen in pictures. There wasn't anything to say that the ones in this world would be the same to the ones on Earth.
There were signs on the three biggest buildings. [Mint's General Store], [Gozer's Inn], [Edgeworth Adventurer's Guild].
I had no money, and I had no use for a bed to sleep in, so my destination was set for me. With a stiff gait, I circled the plaza and opened the door to the adventurer's guild building.
The door creaked on it's not-quite-aligned hinges as it opened.
Inside was a large lobby that took up the whole width of the building. To the side was several simple wooden tables surrounded by chairs. To the other was a sign on the wall that read [Requests], and a few wooden tabs hooked on to nails protruding from the wall.
Across from me was an undecorated wooden counter and an old man napping behind it.
His clothes were simple and old, but not worn out. It was clear he was doing better than the people of the village, but not that much better.
I tried calling out to the man as I neared the counter. The multi-coloured spirits were wandering around the room, looking at the various things like cats wondering around a newly bought piece of furniture.
But the old man didn't move.
This time, the old man opened his eye to my yell.
His unfocused eye lazily appraised me before opening both eyes all the way.
"Ooh, how unexpected. An unfamiliar face"
"Nice to meet you"
I gave him a nod with a small smile as he righted himself and grinned. He looked like a good person.
"So, what can I help you with little girl?"
(I take it back. All of it.)
My smile once again cramped up. My face was likely to become pretty sore the next day.
"I, uh, I'm new around and was wondering if this was a good place to make some money"
Just because this was called the adventure's guild didn't mean that it was anything similar to those I've read in books.
"Hmmm, well, I don't really recommend it to a cute little girl like you…"
"…but I'll explain it anyways. It's nice to kill some tine with a cutie"
The old man leaned forward to look into the shadow of my hood. The way he did that gave me goosebumps so I took a half step back and lowered my face, covering it with the brim of my hat.
The person frowned but started his explanation anyways.
"So, adventures are people part of the adventurer's guild and do requests given by the guild. See those tags over there?"
He pointed at the wall with a few wooden tags hung on nails. There were five little wooden boards, each with something different on them. Three were labelled gathering requests, one subjugation request, and one escort request.
Two of the gathering requests for various plants I haven't heard of and the third for the meat of an animal called a riot boar. The subjugation request was for goblins. The escort request was, well, an escort request.
"Those are the most common requests available in any guild. Gathering requests ask to gather certain materials. They are often in dangerous places, and many require you to bring back materials from specific monsters. The second is subjugation requests. They require you to defeat dangerous monsters and bring back a piece of it as proof. The last is escort requests. They have you guard people as they travel, and you'd have to deal with any monsters or bandits you encounter along the way"
I gave him a nod as I turned back.
"Aside from that, the guild also accepts various materials from registered adventurers even without requests, although at a reduced price"
Pretty much exactly what I expected. It seemed like this world's adventurer's guild wasn't particularly different from the norm.
"So you see, it's a dangerous job, and it doesn't even pay that well until you reach the higher ranks. If you have any other skills, I suggest you try plying those first. You wouldn't want to scratch that pretty face of yours, would you?"
(Actually, so far it's sounding pretty good)
"Umm, what sort of obligations and requirements are there if I join?"
"Haaa, well, there aren't many obligations in the first place, since most of the people who become adventurers are people who can't do anything else. Once you gain the trust of the guild and reach the higher ranks, adventurers can be given designated requests. Beyond that, registration can be revoked if you go too long without taking any requests. Generally that's one a month for the lowest rank, stretching to one a year for the higher ones"
"Is it possible to avoid designated requests I don't like?"
"Hmmm...it doesn't happen very much since designated requests tend to pay well. If there's a good enough reason, then sure"
That was good. I didn't want to be forced to do something I didn't like. Adventurers in various stories were known for their free spirits, and getting locked down on something I didn't like wasn't a very pleasant thought.
I might not make as much money as with a normal job, but it wasn't like I needed much money in the first place. I can't eat human food, and I didn't have a need to sleep, so really, clothes and equipment would be most of my expenses. And if being an adventurer became a problem, I could just quit and do something else anyways.
"Alright, I'd like to register"
"Huh? Haven't you heard a word I've been saying?"
"I have, and it sounds pretty ideal to me"
"You know it's dangerous, right? It's not the sort of job a cute girl like you should be doing"
"Most of it is hunting monsters, right? I've spent my entire life doing that already, so it'll be nice to get paid for it for once"
The old man blinked his eyes a few times as I grinned at him.
"You sure you won't regret it? There's a city just a few days from here. If you show me your identification, I can write you a letter of introduction to a few people that might be willing to hire you for something safer"
(Shit, there's ID cards in this world?)
"You don't have any?"
I shook my head.
The old man stared down at the counter hard for a few moments before raising his head again.
"Alright. The guild's open to even street urchins, so you can get some ID from us, but I really do think you should just use that to get through the city's gates and go find something more suitable"
"I came here so I could see the world. I doubt any job aside from being an adventurer would be suitable for me"
"Haaa. If that's your dream, then I suppose that's true. Just don't get hurt little girl"
This guy. He kept saying things that made my back itch.
"Well, the registration fee is ten copper coins"
"You don't have any money either?"
I shook my head.
"This is the first settlement I've been to"
"Haaa...this isn't something I can let off. As you can tell, this village isn't doing so well. As cheap as registration is, it still costs us money to do so. Money we can't afford to wave"
"I don't have money, but maybe I can trade something in exchange?"
"Well, I suppose that's fine. Normally we don't allow material exchanges for non-members, but I'll make it a special exception this one time"
I removed my white rabbit plush bag and dug inside, looking for something appropriate to sell. Since the village wasn't doing so well, it was probably best to go for things that weren't too expensive. Maybe something that the people here could use as well?
Not sure what he'd accept, I pulled out a few things. A haunch of meat from a boar-like monster on a large leaf, some mangoes, and a handful of those mana infused gems I got from most monsters in the dungeon I called home.
"Is there anything here you can take?"
For a few seconds, the man in front of me sat frozen with his mouth hanging open until my words rebooted his brain.
"Ah, erm, did you get these all on your own?"
(Was it that weird?)
Well, maybe not entirely on my own, but Alicia didn't help me kill the monsters that dropped the meat or gems, and I picked up a few mangoes before we met. I had no idea if these were the ones I got by myself or the ones I got with Alicia though.
The old man examined each set carefully.
"Well, I can't take these fruit, since I'm not sure what they are. This meat though, it's from a charge boar, isn't it?"
"Is that what it's called?"
"Do you have the rest of the monster?"
"I have more cuts of meat if that's what you mean"
Since I've slain quite a few dozen of them.
"No, it's fine. This alone is enough. It'll even leave some change. I'd like to buy the mana crystals as well, but the village isn't doing too well right now. I'd rather buy as much meat as you can afford to sell if you don't mind"
It wasn't like I could eat them anyways.
I pulled out a few more slabs of boar meat, leaving ten on the counter to be sold, then put the remaining items back into my bag.
"Oooh, this'll feed most of the village tonight"
The haunches were big, but they weren't that big. Maybe 10kg per? I was quite a bit smaller than in my previous life, but a lot stronger despite that, so it was hard to accurately measure anything, but considering that even one would last Alicia a week, it wasn't small in the slightest.
But it was hard to imagine 100kg of meat being enough to feed an entire village. Even if it was only for one meal, did people eat that little here? Or maybe I was just misunderstanding him and he only meant that as side dishes?
"So...uh, can I register?"
"Oh, right, my bad, my bad. One moment please"
All of the sudden, his tone changed. It was a bit creepy, but oh well. I'd get what I want anyways, and I can just move on somewhere else. It was hard to imagine there was much to offer here.
The old man dug around under the counter and pulled out something wrapped in an old rag. He placed it on the counter and removed the dirty rag, revealing a large crystal ball the size of a soccer ball sitting on a small metal box.
"Just put your hand on this, and I'll take care of the rest"
If that was all I needed to do to register, didn't that mean that this thing scanned my status page?! I hesitated to touch it, and instead tried using [Scan]. The result: page after page of useless information.
"Oh, don't worry. This only reads your name, your mana signature, as well as checks your criminal history, if you have one"
"It's just a way to identify you. Every living creature has a slightly different mana signature derived from their soul. It's almost unheard of for two living beings having the same mana signature"
"But it's happened?"
"It has, but apparently the only time it's happened the people involved weren't even the same race, and they were scanned a few hundred years apart. It's generally believed to either be a freak accident or a small mistake caused by the older models of mana signature technology"
I sighed in relief, then closed off the dialogue box. [Scan] really was pretty useless as it was. Just scanning for the information I wanted took minutes. There was no way I could get what I needed if I was on a time constraint.
My hand landed on top of the crystal ball. It glowed white, blinding me for a few seconds, before the light faded.
The box attached to the bottom of the crystal ball spat out a dull bronze rectangle about the size of a business card with rounded corners with a hole in the middle of one of the short sides.
The old man grabbed the card and examined it before handing it over.
The metal card had my name, rank of G, and an emblem on it. It was a sword, arrow, and staff crossing over a shield surrounded by a simple wreath. There was a similar, but even more elaborate emblem on the back with a much bigger wreath with various leaves and flowers on it.
"Right. So as a new adventurer, your rank is G. It's the lowest rank. As you do requests, you can raise your rank and gain access to more difficult requests. You need to complete a set number of requests of your current rank to increase your rank. Higher ranks, like E, D, C, B, and A require you to complete an examination as well"
"The lowest huh...?"
The lowest rank always sucked from the books I read.
"Well, considering that you can beat charge boars on your own, I can recommend you to take an evaluation exam to bring your rank up a bit"
I raised my eyebrow. It was weird for him to make me a card without doing such an exam first.
"Ah, you can't do it here, I'm afraid. I'm the only staff member of this guild branch, and I'm too old to give out those sorts of tests. I can give you a letter of introduction to do the test the next town over though"
He tapped his lower back as he gave a wry smile.
"The only? Then..."
"That's right. I'm this branch's guild master!"
The old man put his hands on his hips and puffed out his chest. I had no idea what he was so proud about, considering despite his rank, he had absolutely no subordinates.