Chapter 25:



The building was no more than a few minutes away at best. And so, following a short while of walking, Jaiga arrived. She stood in front of a wooden door, still for some time. Her eyes were fixated on a pane of glass. A small square of distorted lights and colours positioned dead centre on the door.

Jaiga nodded as if affirming her decision. Then, with a step and a push, she entered the building.

"Welcome to the adventurer’s guild, traveller!"

The warm greetings of a familiar aproned dwarf rang out. Remaining behind a wooden desk which held a wooden board pinned with papers.

Jaiga's eyes widened in response. Straightening her back and posture, the Paladin took a few steps forward. Though her mind was set on speaking, no words came out.

Right, a reply wouldn't be custom in this case.

As such, she chose to just nod. Greeting the dwarf with a smile and ease of her posture.

After finishing the process of due formalities, Jaiga took a moment to look around. Through first impression alone, she thought the place to be terribly amusing. Though not in the wry, witty, degrading sense, as if when one were amused by an epileptic rat with two heads, but more along the lines of genuine fascination.

So this is what it looks like.

Jaiga's eyes scanned the surroundings. Able to see and understand with objectivity. Her mind then cleared from the initial blurs of passion.

She saw to the left an ensemble of rock golems dressed like bards on a wooden stage, playing music that bore a resemblance to both new and old. Incorporating classical instruments like flutes and harps alongside electric guitars.

To the right, she saw a slew of tables. Occupied by a variety of students, drinking from oversized horns and mugs. Sharing in their delight, discussion and laughter.

Jaiga then turned her gaze all around, taking in every sight from every direction. Her eyebrows were raised in fascination, and a hand rested on her chin.

My my, not shabby.

It was impressive, really.

How countless chandeliers with their delicate yellow lights hung from the ceiling. How there existed several floors, led upwards by a curving series of stairs at the far end of the room. How all of it was constructed over a single night.

"Remarkable…," Jaiga uttered in a stupor. She to give some credit to Rainee.

The Paladin, who concealed a smile behind her helmet, walked to the receptionist. She'd been so caught up in the moment that she had come without anything prepared, instead staring at the brown-haired dwarf for a good second or so.

Jaiga thought over her circumstances. Her next words then came out with a tinge of apology.

"Forgive my insolence Pessna, but how are you today?" Jaiga said.

The dwarf smiled. And, on impulse, rested her two fists on both sides of her rotund waist.

"Well, I'm doing just fine, darling, and what about you?"

"Excellent. Though admittedly, filled with more than a few questions." Jaiga answered.

"Now, dear." Pessna pointed to the Paladin. "If there's anything I know about questions, it's that you shouldn't keep 'em bottled up inside," The dwarf continued, jabbing her finger at the Paladin's chest.

Jaiga did her best to comply and nodded. "Might I inquire as to how this establishment is run?" She asked after a moment.

The receptionist was more than happy to help. "Of course, sweetheart. Is there anything you'd like to know in particular?"

Nothing in mind, Jaiga replied, "I'm afraid my wits have abandoned me. Would it be possible to have a general rundown, so to speak?"

"Hmm." The dwarf said cheerfully. "Well, where do I start?"

Pessna followed with a scratch of her chin. Her brown eyes looked to the side in search of some unknown object. Jaiga was somewhat aware of what the object might be but made no comment.

The dwarf's face was soon inscribed with a lift of her lips. Her body bent downwards, and a clash of glass against wood rang. When she lifted, there was a bottle of ale in her hand and a glass in the other.

Pessna grinned and looked to the Paladin for question. "Would you care to have some, dear?"

Jaiga met the dwarf's words with a nod. "Very well, a glass will do just fine."

The Paladin's respect and earnestness earned her a smile in turn.

Satisfied, Pessna brought the ale to her mouth. And with a bite and swivel of the bottle, she took off the metal cap. The sound of poured liquid against glass followed for a good second.

From the brownish-yellow tint, Jaiga assumed it to be dwarven ale. An alcohol made from the ordinarily toxic, brown death mushrooms. The Paladin held some reservations over its taste but deemed it disrespectful to cast judgement.

As Pessna lifted her bottle forward in toast, so did Jaiga. With a clank and a moderately loud saying of 'cheers', the two were ready to proceed.

Feeling the cup in her hand, Jaiga's mind wandered to how the ale would taste. It had been some time since she drank. As she would have it, the United States of Aoel wasn't so fond of these types of beverages.

Alcohol wasn't exactly a common past-time there. Shunned by mages for being an idle distraction and by vampires for amplifying already pre-existing cravings for blood.

While not an alcoholic, the chance to relish in some foreign delicacy was nonetheless appealing.

Jaiga lifted the cup to face height for a few moments and supposed it probably was decent.

Wanting to confirm, she brought the glass to her lips and downed it in full. The first sensation was that of a strong burn. A full-bodied, warm and somewhat bitter experience all in one.

Peculiar. Though not without merit.

As the moments passed, however, the after-taste settled. Soon, Jaiga was met with a new range of tastes entirely.


The ale was sweet. Sweeter than any fruit juice Jaiga had ever drunk. Yet severalfold in strength over any red wine or white she was accustomed to.

"Dwarven ale, how'd you like it?"

"It's..." Jaiga paused, searching for the right word. "Different, to say the least."

A split second after, and the dwarf bellowed into laughter.

"Oh sweetie, you don't have to lie."

"No, no," the Paladin denied. "I dare say, it's got quite the unique texture to it. Mind you, I wouldn't have it all the time, but it's not bad."

"Hah, now ain't that just great." Drinking what remained of her ale, the dwarf then wiped her mouth. "Suppose it's only right to start at the beginning then."

Jaiga nodded, stood upwards, and gave her best impression of a scholar.

"Well, you see, ol Rainee built this place, and well, he asked us to come ere', and that’s that."

Waiting in the strange aftermath of Pessna's words was an enthusiastic Jaiga, who gave a few more nods of her head.

"Do continue."

Thinking, Pessna then said. "There'll be some stuff to do and missions, I guess."

Jaiga felt her heart skip a beat. "Yes, and is there anything else?"

"Well..." The dwarf extended with a sigh. "Rainee also told us to keep it a surprise for you young'uns. Leave hints here and there, show don't tell, you know?"

The Paladin blinked long and hard. A hopeful clench of her fist in motion. "And this is everything you can tell me."

"Yeeep." The dwarf said with an iota of regret. "Guess ol' Pessna just wanted someone to drink with."

Jaiga regarded the dwarf with a newfoun intensity. Not only were her facial muscles tensed, but so were the rest of her body.

"I understand." The Paladin affirmed. "Thank you regardless."

Jaiga al Heilewis, who came with small expectations, had been delivered far more. Her face, still marked with the smile from before, continued. Persisting even as she left the building, turned a sharp right and stood beneath an orange tree.

A faithful paladin shall be abound with blessing. Thou shalt reap the rewards of thine faith. Resolve the weakness of concern and admonish the enemies that doth present themselves.

Her grip on reality was loosening. Within Jaiga's eyes was the non-existence of everything. Once lucid petals of leaves quickly became a swirl of orange. The wet earth beneath her feet became no more than sludge. Some flexible piece of moisture that only seemed to suck her in.

The Paladin inclined her head, preoccupied with images of opponents she could defeat. Anything, she thought, from a goblin, skeleton or some evil undead corpse, would suffice.

In her head, even killing a human was not beyond reason. So long as their death served a righteous cause, Jaiga would not hesitate.

An adventurer's guild can only be for one purpose. Jaiga contemplated. Such a building must be a prelude to some great enemy to cut down.

Dreaming of an idealised scenario, Jaiga believed with certainty that Rainee had constructed some system that allowed her to kill monsters. Whether it be some quaint project with the government or some other method operated under his magical prowess.

The prospect of becoming a hero of old and achieving something proved a sufficient promise for her. Enough that her once procedural thinking had reduced to a hopeful naivete.

Aiding her delusion was a callback to the day before.

How wickedly I was denied.

Circumstance had halted her justice prior. Rendered her in a position of weakness, unable to deliver divine punishment upon the wrongful Ceylica.

To her, Rainee's idea of an 'Adventurer's Guild' was a return to normal. It had been long since she was disgraced, 'freed' from her duties as a Paladin, and left to her own devices with nothing to do.

But now, an opportunity presented itself, a possibility of her demonstrating her power.

Deliver wrath upon those who would wrong you.

The Paladin was staring intently into nothingness. Bound by reflection and an indomitable fantasy, she stood. Undoubtedly, she would've continued to stand were it not for a timely interruption.

"Hey, so have yo-.."

From a distance, wet, moist footsteps echoed across stone. Accompanied by voices of diligent students, no doubt conversing over the new building. Thrust back into her body, Jaiga's mind relapsed into reality.

Act in accordance.

The memory of her past training aroused her sensibility. In the next instant, she was normal again. Merely standing against a tree, no doubt thinking about things that good-natured Paladins tended to.

Jaiga looked at the passing students with a smile and watched until they came out of view, transformed into small shapes in the distance, returning to school.

The Paladin had no interest in lingering any longer and began the short trek back. Infatuated with what came ahead, Jaiga set about the task of preparation. The meticulous routine of sparring, sharpening, and meditating on the best course of action.

It was, therefore, that time came to pass, with seconds extending to minutes and minutes extending to hours.

Steward McOy
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