This being my first time outside into the city, my eyes widened at the size of everything. The training facility itself was a square box in the middle of the city a mile long from edge to edge, made of a hard red stone called iron stone for its malleability when exposed to high heats.

A cool breeze filled my lungs and robes, carrying with it the smell of salt and humidity. Plants filled every walkway making a sea of green and red, hanging from their branches were fruits the size of tennis balls swaying in the wind. People in various colors of clothes yelled across streets of stone, carriages flew through the street as large chicken like animals pulled them. The city was moving full and vibrant of colors and life which was a big contrast to the inside of the cube.

Three tall buildings stood out, a tower that reached to the clouds made of various dome like structures that made it seem like a giant deformed batch of mushrooms caught my attention. "That's the school for those that study nature magic, they regulate the vegetation in the area." Jade spoke up beside me.

With a slight nod I scanned the area, memories floating to my head about various areas of the city. One such thing I remembered was the ten best places to buy pork and how much you can haggle down the price. Nikolai was actually very tight fisted with money as he planned to make a future for himself without relying on his family.

Tightening my traveler's cloak around me, I sunk into the crowds using my light footwork to slide between the people. Like a fish to water, I swam through the men and women before ending up back near Jade with handfuls of street food shoving some sweet bread with meat inside of it into her and Joshua's hands. "You have to try this!"

Before they could speak I was gone once more like a shadow in the crowd. Trinkets, baubles, strange metals all ended up in my bag one by one. Manuals disappeared from shelves as I passed of anything that sounded useful to me. When Jade and Joshua caught up they heard me yelling at a peddler, my aura of pride in full force as I glared at him.

"Of course I'm only paying a single silver for this! The ink is still clear, crisp, this isn't the original! Selling as an ancient manual over five hundred years old is a crock! Do you want me to point out everything in here that is a scam to the good people?" I pointed at Joshua as I said this, his surprised expression perfect for my point, of course I let the metal attached to my cloak that identified me as Solomon's student be in full view.

"Go-good sir, I'll have you know we are a respectable establishment. I-in fact I'll gift you a manual given to me by a friend of mine not too long ago as payment for my blind eyes." The peddler was a good actor, his face not showing any sign of the internal struggle he was feeling. He was going to lose money to a child, but the metal that shone wasn't something everyone could have.

"Hmph, fine, just so you wouldn't dare call me stingy I'll pay a silver per manual!" Slamming down the two silver, the peddler grabbed them like they were a treasure, handing both books to me with a slight bow. Nodding, I added them to the pouch as I looked back at my two friends. "What took you both?"

Their eyes still stared at me, both of them shell shocked, not by the haggling I had done but the fact that on my person I now carried about a hundred pounds of dried pork. A man not too far away was crying a trail of tears, and looked at me like a long lost child. The small golem beside me now had a backpack as well with meat spilling out of the top of it as she stared at the man with her cold lifeless eyes.

By the time we got to the adventurer's guild I looked like a trick or treater that had filled their bags up at a meat market. A small wagon dragged behind me filled with various bags, as I bought out several butchers of their meats, especially monster meats. Every once in a while everyone saw a few heads pop out of the meat to breath or complain about exploding, making everyone take a few extra steps to avoid me. As I pushed open the doors for the guild I yelled into it, "I am here for Kingfisher!"

Several people started to pull out weapons looking as if they were on guard, many of them looking for Kingfisher with worry on their faces. This made me take a step back and look at the situation, 'Okay, so I just burst into a room wearing all black, with a battle ready golem dragging behind me a wagon of still bloody meat. My weapons are all within hand reach, clearly visible and I just announced I'm here for an adventurer.'

"I hired them to escort me into the forest!" A look of disappointment came over many faces before most of the people went about their business. Jade came to my side as I made my way to the counter, slightly embarrassed. I had expected this place to be like an old western saloon rather than an actual establishment.

Polished red wood was used for each counter, a layer of marble over the top of them which they had finely crafted into each a sigil. Behind each desk was a well dressed man, or woman wearing what seemed to be a martial artist's version of a suit. Each wore a black silk gi with red thread running through the whole thing, a silver stripe ran like a ribbon across the edges, and on the back we're two golden sharks trying to take a bite out of eachother.

As I stepped forward the man behind the counter nodded, pressing a few sigils on the surface, "Mr Crowley, we have your two tags ready. They are being brought now, with Kingfisher in tow. The charge is one hundred gold coins, fifty now and fifty should the quest come to completion for two months of protection and information from a silver member. If you should die during your travels a thousand gold will be delivered to your family members."

Nodding, I sat down at one of the leather seats that were in front of the counter, taking a glass of brewed tea that one of the workers here brought over. The smell of hot milk filled my nose as I closed my eyes to enjoy the subtle sweetness behind the blend. A familiar voice broke my enjoyment though as standing between two ladies, dressed in leather armor was a friend of mine. "Nikolai?"

"Crowley." Sipping at my drink, I corrected him, my eyes going across his gear approvingly. His small buckler was replaced by a bigger spade shaped shield, his rapier traded out for a generic arming sword. I had wondered how he had trained his reflexes to this extent, and it turned out he was used to fighting against monsters.

"I didn't expect you to use your vacation time from alchemist training to be used forging through the forest." Zack shook his head.

"And here I thought I was getting a guard that was named Kingfisher for his speed and deadliness not because he was a king at finding worms."

"Better than being a masochist." Zack sat in the chair in front of me and took out a contract. Setting it on the table he sat back taking a milk tea himself from one of the men that came around. "Those are my rules, if you don't feel like following them I will refund everything to you and you can find another adventurer to follow you."

There were only three on the paper:

If I say run, we run.

Do not bring more than three people.

If we find treasure I get a 1/4th cut if I am involved in handling it, gathering it, or fighting for it.

Since they were reasonable, I signed the contract with little thought. "My golems are not people, so they will be coming along don't argue against this point."

Zack nodded, his eyes going to the wagon at my side a hint of curiosity spreading through his eyes. "I also require you to sign a contract, if you do not agree to it you can leave this mission, I will not pay the fine that comes with that." Zack's expression darkened at that, since he felt that was unfair when his conditions included paying back the gold. Mine had simply one rule though, 'Anything seen, said, felt or in any way observed about this mission, Crowley, or his companions shall remain secret under punishment of execution.'

Zack couldn't help but look at me in a new light as he knew I was going to do something that no one could know about. This usually happened when someone had a mysterious artifact, or a secret technique and any time he accepted similar contracts he had come ahead. There wasn't hesitation as he signed the contract with a smile on his face.

"Pleasure doing business boss! We head out at.."

"We head out now, monster activity increases at night." I interrupted, trying to get my hands on another cup of tea.

"Exactly why we should go during the early morning." Zack seemed annoyed with me already going against his plans.

"You misunderstand, the monsters are the targets of this whole exploration. Why would I not want to go into the forest when the most resources are about?" With a grin of triumph I now had a new cup of tea in both hands, sipping at the creamy substance warming my stomach.


Welcome to this website