Chapter 37:

Chapter 36. Guild of Justice

Zero to Hero


"Wake up! Let's go check out the stadium."

Startled by the loud banging on my door and the energetic voice reverberating through the room, I groggily emerged from my slumber, disoriented by the chaos she was causing.

After greeting and petting my majestic pet wolf, I sluggishly made my way to the door, where the ruckus continued until I relented and opened it.

"Tina… If you want to get your ass kicked, just ask Carla to do it. Why embarrass yourself in front of a crowd? Is that some kind of fetish or something?" I teased, fully aware of the response it would provoke.

Predictably, my taunts were met with indignant shouting and physical retaliation, but the pettiness was worth it for her atrocious wake-up call tactics.

Joining Candace and Carla, who were already in the dining room, I settled in for breakfast while Yami departed to attend to her own needs.

After a satisfying meal, we made our way to the stadium to appease the wolf girl's desire for entertainment, though I had no intention of participating in any fights and risking exposure of my identity, inviting a host of new problems.

"Look! There's a branch of the Guild of Justice here! I didn't expect them to expand all the way to this city!" Candace exclaimed excitedly, pointing at a large building adorned with a fancy sign.

"Isn't that where you were initially planning to seek help?" I inquired, vaguely recalling Candace mentioning something about a guild.

"Yep! Travelers told me the guild was founded by this incredibly handsome man from Darrumburgh, blessed with extraordinary power. They take on requests of all sizes to aid the common people against the growing monster threat," she explained animatedly.

"Is that why we haven't encountered as many monsters? I was hoping for more things to slay after that bear incident. All we've faced are those pesky wolves that he won't even let me eliminate!" Tina grumbled loudly, momentarily forgetting how precarious her situation would be with that bear without my intervention.

"Who knows. I'm just relieved we haven't encountered any excessively powerful or dangerous monsters. Dealing with the occasional corrupted bear or moose is plenty for me," I replied as Candace ushered us into the guildhouse to explore its offerings.

Reflecting the grandeur of its exterior, the guild's interior was spacious, bustling with individuals clad in ornate armor and wielding an array of weapons. Dominating the space near the entrance was a massive wooden board adorned with neatly arranged posters.

Intrigued by the posters, I approached for a closer look. Most appeared to be requests for monster slaying from villages or individuals in need, scattered with a few wanted posters for individuals.

"I wonder if I can submit a wanted poster request for that delusional racist elf," I mused aloud, glancing toward Carla for a reaction.

"If I see anything about my grandfather, you will pay with your life," Carla responded stoically, her words carrying a weight of seriousness despite her lack of emotion.

"Obviously talking about your brother! I would never risk my life for a silly joke," I retorted sarcastically.

Noticing our group, a human girl whom I presumed to be part of the guild approached with a warm smile.

"Good morning! Are you here to take on a job or request one?" she inquired cheerfully.

"We're just browsing, getting a feel for this whole guild thing," I replied casually, continuing to peruse the various requests.

"Of course! Let me give you a brief history of the Guild of Justice! We were founded by a group of incredibly talented individuals, led by none other than the esteemed Vincent Aguirrane! With his divine blessing, he's undoubtedly one of the strongest individuals alive! Well, aside from the heroes, of course."

"With his newfound power and Darrumburgh plagued by perilous creatures, he and his companions decided to wield their strength for the greater good, assisting those in need by eliminating dangerous beasts. As the guild grew in size and influence, we expanded to every continent!" she explained joyfully, providing us with a succinct history lesson.

"Well, 'Guild of Justice' sounds rather cliché, but if Vincent is the founder, then at least we can trust the guild. Oh, and Candace, they weren't kidding about him being super handsome. You might want to try your luck and charm him when we reach Darrumburgh, maybe snag yourself a catch like Gwen did," I suggested playfully.

"You can't get rid of me that easily!" Candace shot back defiantly.

"You know our founder?" the girl inquired.

"He was stronger than Vincent Aguirrane and much younger. But he can't even beat me now," Carla interjected abruptly, refusing to elaborate further and retreating into silence.

"Vincent used to be a good friend of mine. I'm glad to hear he's doing well. We've been traveling a bit lately. How come there aren't as many corrupted beasts or dangerous creatures around?" I queried, recalling Tina's earlier complaint.

"Creatures that encroach too closely upon settlements and display excessive aggression are either swiftly eliminated by hunters or they end up decimating local populations. Over the past few years, those that survived have either developed heightened intelligence to evade capture or have thrived in less populated areas or territories lacking strong defenders," the girl explained.

Given that our journey had largely followed well-traveled paths, it now made sense why we had encountered high concentrations of corrupted creatures only in Bailee's village nestled in rarely traveled mountains and in a remote forest frequented only by human traffickers.

Engaging in conversation with the girl about the guild's requests and operations, I could see how they managed to afford such a grand headquarters in Yelwraek's business district. It was evident that whoever devised this system was someone highly intelligent.

When individuals arrive with requests, they pay a fee to have their needs posted and deposit the reward money. Before leaving, they will receive a magic seal. Interested parties could pay a fee to remove the poster for a duration or risk competition for the same request.

Upon successful completion, the requester would hand over the magic seal, which would trigger once brought back to the guild, opening the chest for the reward money and removing the request poster automatically.

"So you essentially profit from both sides with the fees, accumulating 'reward money' while maintaining minimal direct involvement?" I questioned, unsure of the guild's true benefit for either party involved.

"Not entirely. Although we occasionally have unaffiliated individuals take on jobs, most tasks are undertaken by guild members who pay an annual fee for membership," the girl clarified.

"Who doesn't this guild extract money from? There must be some benefit to joining," I remarked skeptically.

"Of course! Guild members receive a magic seal tied to their life. The jobs can be extremely perilous, and fatalities or serious injuries are sometimes unavoidable. Guild members have access to our top-tier healers for free treatment of injuries, and in the event of death, the seal activates, allowing a designated beneficiary to collect a payout, alleviating financial concerns during times of tragedy," she elaborated.

As our conversation delved deeper into costs and intricacies, Tina grew increasingly restless, loudly voicing her boredom and expressing her desire to leave the guild house.

While I found the guild intriguing and certainly planned to visit its headquarters once we reached Darrumburgh, none of the girls shared my interest. Even Candace, who had been enthusiastic initially, grew bored rather quickly.

"Ugh... That was so boring! We should have just grabbed some requests and left," Tina complained loudly as we settled in at a restaurant for lunch after spending the entire morning at the guild house.

Ignoring Tina's complaints, I turned to Carla for my daily attempt at conversation with the elf girl.

"Since you were a big fan of the tournaments. Who was your favorite? It was me, wasn't it?" I asked, trying to pick up on her earlier remark about Vincent.

"I hated you as much as everyone else in my family. My favorite is Zishell," Carla replied plainly.

"I'm sure most elves favored Zishell. What about the students? Clare? Cecilla? They were pretty prominent elves."

"No, we hated them even more than you for being a disgrace to the Yelwraek lineage. My grandfather favored Xandrian Nafluica."

"What a bunch of racists... Of course you guys liked that pompous snob Xandrian."

Once again, our conversation came to an awkward stop, and I had to move on from the elf girl and resume my conversations with Candace and Tina.

After lunch, we headed for the giant stadium that towered over every other building in the area and was hard for us to miss.

"They must have upgraded this thing greatly. I don't even remember a stadium this grand when I was here 5 years ago," I remarked as I marveled at the beautiful structure.

Unable to contain her excitement, Tina rushed ahead eagerly, while the rest of us strolled slowly and were occasionally stopped by people fascinated by Yami.

When we eventually caught up with Tina, she happily informed me that in Yelwraek, there were always ongoing tournaments. Some small ones might only last a few hours, while the annual tournament during the first month was a huge event that even Zishell would enter to entertain the crowd.

"I can't believe we missed out on fighting the strongest hero!" Tina complained, demanding money so she could sign up for various tournaments.

"Even if you somehow got matched up against him, he could beat you with an accidental sneeze."

"Don't you want to fight him again and see how strong he has gotten and how long it would take for you to beat him?"

"Candace... I have no desire to ever fight Zishell again." Just the mention of Zishell and being in Yelwraek city was enough for me to have flashbacks of that day.

"You were strong for a human back then but really stupid for thinking you could ever beat Zishell," Carla added her two cents.

"I was strong, period. Stop with your racism when you don't even look like a pure elf anymore. Can't believe you when your own grandfather and brother treat you like trash when you had no control over what happened," I snapped at the elf girl, who remained stoic.

Refusing to sign up for any fights despite both Tina and Candace's harassment, I eventually managed to convince the girls that it was time to leave so I could return to the mansion and prepare to head for the castle, facing my past once more.