I company of 27 B-Rank Adventurers was ready to set off. They were 4 Party and 6 individual adventurers that had answered the call and took on the rescue mission. The one primary employer was not actually the city, but the Palace Merchant Guild. The cities of Tora and Ora were only the secondary sponsors of the quest.
Leading the party was the old magician Venturi. He was the vice-guild master and former A-Rank adventurer. Clad in a blue robe glinting with magic shields and formations he had a straight posture and looked quite fit for his age. He skillfully mounted his horse like a young man. The whole party was lent special horses by the city lord. Not ordinary horses, but creatures especially bred for high-speed long-distance travel. They had little use in a fight but would enable the party to outrun the caravan and reach the wyvern territory within a day ’s time.
Venturi briefly explained their task once again, before giving the signal to saddle up and set off. As Fin had not the physique to handle a horse, she sat on the Vice-guild master ’s shoulder at the peak of the group. One day to reach the wyvern territory if nothing went wrong. Half a day to reach the caravan if they abided by their schedule.
”Seth, I´m coming! ” she thought as the horses dashed off following the caravan.
They entered a giant hall that was carved into the massive rock cliff. A high ceiling was held my massive columns that were covered in artistic carvings. The magic lanterns situated on the walls like torched spend a soothing neutral light.
In some places, the floor was worked smooth like tiles, but in most, it was worn by the constant stream of travelers and mounts that had entered this place to find refuge from weather and wyverns. Entering had felt like stepping through a membrane, as the entrance was actually sealed the entrance off against other monsters that lived in these mountains.
The people of the caravan were not the only ones that had reached this place. Among the people, wagon, and animals from the caravan Seth could also see some unfamiliar faces. Many eyes were directed at them and talking about them. Not all had seen them kill the wyverns, but soon everyone would know for sure. But he could also hear some snippets of talk among the people about the small group of peddlers that had arrived earlier than them.
He had not much time, as one of the adventurers approached him and his party. They were called by the examiners and the caravan leader. The caravan leader, as the name implies, was the person tasked with the organization of everything within the caravan. Delays, damages, victims, it was his responsibility if anything went wrong.
”You really did it now. ” the five could hear an agitated voice from around the corner. They passed the wagon and saw the group of merchants with the leader in the front, arguing with the examiners and proctors.
”Now the wyverns won´t leave us alone, no matter what. One of your parties actually killed one of them! ”
The caravan leader was a fit older man. He had a handlebar mustache and looked more like an adventurer than a merchant, with his muscles and leather attire. On the other hand, was the solemn leader of the A-rank party who only silently watched the caravan leader let off some steam.
”Ah! there you are. ” he said after noticing their arrival. He walked up to them and ignored the seething man behind him.
”You did well. Slaying a wyvern is no easy task even for a B-Rank party. ” he acknowledged their accomplishment.
”We barely got away with our lives. ” Mike answered embarrassedly.
”That you did. Although your actions were commendable, they were not the smartest. Killing it was already not the brightest move. It was a great provocation. But looting the corpse when the elder tried to retrieve it… Why did you have to loot it? ”
The party ’s eyes unanimously turned towards Seth with a questioning look. He could not tell them, that he had to get the souls. Why did he decide to loot the corpse? Greed? No. He was not blinded by simple worldly greed. That definitely wasn ’t it. It was something higher. A great cause even! It was the desire of a craftsman for high-quality material. Yes.
”So, it was greed. ”
”Definitely greed. ”
”Don´t worry, I still like you. ”
”You were blinded. ”
The whole party and the examiner unanimously agreed after he tried to explain to them his great cause.
”Yes. ” Seth acknowledged a little depressed. At least Mina was on his side, somewhat.
”Well, take it as a lesson and learn from it. At least you used the aggro for something productive instead of letting yourself get killed. You can leave now. ” the examiner said and returned to the merchants.
”I called them here, why do you tell them to leave? And a lesson? The wyverns will target us from now on. We were upgraded from possible prey to enemies! Do you just want to excuse them?! They have to take responsibility and- ”
”Let it go. It already happened and nothing will change that. I will take responsibility for this one. It´s our responsibility, as it was us who underestimated the examinees and let it happen. ” the a-Rank held back the caravan leader.
”You are still here? Go already. ” he looked back and shooed them away.
The party did not really understand why, but they got away scot-free and were even able to keep the spoils of war! They sneaked to a corner behind the wagons to take a look at the loot. Even Seth had had no time to check the items yet. It was not close to how much he had expected. Loot was a really inefficient method to harvest items. There were 35 of these scales the size of a palm, a piece of leather enough for maybe one armor, 4 fangs the length of his forearm, and a short horn. Seth was the only one among them who had the skill to appraise items, so he read the description to them.
Their eyes showed when listening to the first two, the third was ok, and the last one was slightly disappointing.
”I don´t know about the horn, but I know a good tailor. The leather could be rare, too. ” Seth assured them. After all, a smooth leather might be of greater use to a tailor instead of a blacksmith.
”So, how are we gonna split it? ” Mina asked into the group.
Everyone looked towards Mike, the team leader. Mike in turn looked at Seth with a complicated look. They all knew that he was a fighting blacksmith. He had the biggest use for the materials but they couldn ’t simply give it to him. Seth smiled amused at Mike´s expression.
”How about I store them for now. We visit the auction house for a neutral appraisal and I´m going to pay you for the stuff I need. Deal? ”
Mike looked relieved any everyone nodded in agreement. Whether they sold it to Seth or at a store, it was obvious who they preferred as long as the price was the same. Seth packed the items into his inventory and the party relaxed in their quiet little corner. They didn ’t dare mix into the rest of the caravan after pulling this much attention to them.
The plan was for the caravan to stay here until the next morning. Hopefully, the wyverns were gone after a night. They send Mina to get some warm food that was cooked and handed out in the middle of the hall. As the assassin, she was the most inconspicuous. Originally it was not planned to cook at any point on the journey, but after getting through such an attack, the caravan leader decided that warm food would lighten the mood.
Mina came back with bowls of hot vegetable stew. After a warm meal, they wrapped themselves into warm blankets and fell asleep.
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