Chapter 1 – A New Life Begins
Roa left the party’s mansion and headed towards the adventurer guild: he had to report that he was no longer part of Crack of Dawn.
“What should I do now?”
His wounds were already healed: Roa’s smile was wide, his step light. He knew he couldn’t continue being an adventurer, so his fears and worries seemed to have disappeared.
Why had he been so set on being an adventurer until now anyway? His heart felt so light and free that he questioned even that.
When he reached the city center, Roa had someone call his name. He was about to turn around when a hand touched his shoulder.
A shining bald head entered Roa’s line of sight, enough to let him recognize the person.
“I’d never expect to find you here! Out on an errand, are you?”
“No, I was going to the adventurer guild actually.”
“I see! I’ll accompany you then!”
The splendidly lucid-headed man, Coralde, was a merchant. He owned one of the top trading companies of the area -the Amadan County- and was well known for being quick to action.
Coralde was still in his forties, but had turned the small shop he had built into a large trading company in just over 10 years: his great talents as a trader were well known throughout the county.
Roa had dealt with him often in his errands to scrounge money, and, for some reason, Coralde had taken a liking to talking to Roa, despite him being a mere All-Rounder.
“Sir Coralde! Please do not run off like that!”
“Oh, sorry, sorry. I just saw Roa, so I had to, you see.”
Coralde apologized to the guard who ran up to him, but did not seem to be repenting at all. He laughed as he massaged his sparkling dome.
A merchant quick enough to outrun a guard…? Roa was pretty puzzled, but did not say anything.
He knew of the merchant’s other alias, “Coralde the Omnipresent”: he was known for suddenly appearing wherever there was money to be made.
Despite Coralde’s middle-aged chubby figure, he was not out of breath at all, even if he had run to reach Roa.
“Oh yes, I have to offer you my congratulation!!”
“Er…ehm, that’s, well…”
Coralde’s congratulation was surely meant for Crack of Dawn’s designation as a Hero Party. Even if a party received an award, however, few people would go as far as congratulating even members with All-Rounder jobs. To be able to do something like that so naturally was another one of Coralde’s unique traits.
“Why the hesitation my boy? Did something happen?”
Roa’s reply might indicate that he was just hesitating, but Coralde noticed that it was not so simple.
Roa thought a bit if it was okay for him to tell, but realized that the news would spread soon enough and that Coralde, who had treated him kindly despite his All-Rounder job, would not react badly even if he knew.
“…actually…I was dismissed from the party…”
Coralde was surprised for a moment, looked away for a few seconds, deep in thought, and his lips formed a smile.
“That is quite fort…apologies. It must have been hard for you. For me however, there could be no better tidings, so I rejoiced. I am truly sorry.”
Coralde bowed his head in a very natural manner.
“Tidings…? Please, do not worry. Honestly, I also feel strangely relieved. It feels like I am finally free of something that possessed me. I was probably too fixed on becoming an adventurer, so my field of view was too narrow…when I learned that I couldn’t continue being an adventurer I felt desperate, but as soon as I left that mansion I felt so free. I honestly feel really good right now.”
Coralde looked at the relieved Roa as if he was looking at someone very dear.
Moments ago, the word “tidings” slipped out of his mouth, but it expressed his honest feelings. He had already started thinking about certain plans for the future.
“You look quite well now, my boy.”
“Do, do I?”
“You certainly do. A truly nice expression you have there. So, what are you going to do from now on?”
“…actually, I was told that I was out of the party just after noon today, so I haven’t thought of anything yet. I barely have any money left though, so I have to find a job, and fast…Mr. Coralde, I only have a couple, but wouldn’t you buy some magical potions?”
“But of course! Could you come along to my shop then?”
“Then, let us go!”
The two men started walking together. Coralde’s guard was concerned by his master’s bizarrely high spirits, but followed them without showing it.
After a while, they reached Coralde’s trading company, so Roa headed to the back entrance as usual. He was stopped, however, by the owner himself.
“You’re not a party member anymore, so let’s enter from the main entrance.”
Roa had no reason to refuse Coralde’s invitation.
The reason why he had always entered the shop almost in secret from the back entrance was that he didn’t want the other Crack of Dawn members to know that he worked odd jobs to earn some money.
Adventurers belonging to a party could work other jobs in their free time, as long as they duly performed their duties in their party; if the Crack of Dawn members noticed that Roa worked odd jobs, however, they would become irritated and attack him, saying that he had to worry about working for the party instead.
From their point of view, if Roa had any free time it meant that he was skipping his duties for the party: they thought that it was natural for him not to have any time for anything else.
Roa couldn’t contain his surprise at seeing the trader company’s luxurious entrance for the first time. The entrance, carved in stone, belonged more to a temple or sanctuary: all of the columns that supported it were intricately decorated, in some places even adorned with golden leaves.
Works of art were on display everywhere, surrounded by fresh flowers to make them stand out even more. It was clear that the flowers were cared for closely, as there was not a single wilting leaf in sight.
“I do not enjoy such lavishness, to be honest; but a “facade” like this can help the company too, so I gave up and built it according to my clients’ tastes. More than titles or looks, I care about contents, you see.”
Coralde led Roa towards the back of the hall, to the usual guest meeting room. It was a simple relaxing room built mainly in wood, equipped with equally simple furniture. The only work of art present was a painting depicting a small rural village, there were no flowers either. The large window showed a well-kept garden.
Roa didn’t know it, but the garden was an artificial one: the light pouring from above seemed natural, but it was created by a magical item. It would certainly require large amounts of wealth to preserve it.
The quiet garden gave a very natural feel, but only nobles or very wealthy merchants could ever build such a space.
Only two rooms faced the garden: the guest meeting room Roa was currently in and the room of the company’s president. This showed that the room Roa and Coralde were currently in was reserved for important transactions.
The room appeared frugal to Roa’s eyes, but the walls and the floor had been built with wood strictly selected by experienced artisans; the furniture too was composed of first-class items, the painting created freely by the court painter in his youth.
Roa was invited to sit down and obliged, as usual.
When he first sat down in the chair, years before, he thought “as expected of a trading company, they have comfortable chairs even in normal rooms like this”; excluding the company president’s room however, that chair was the most valuable in the whole building.
Roa was pretty ignorant in terms of chairs though, so he would never realize it.
“Then, could you show me the potions?”
Roa opened a small bag and placed small glass bottles on the table.
“I have 12 low-level healing magic potions and 3 medium-level healing magic potions.”
Roa never said it officially, but his sub job was an alchemist. It was a job where talent was everything, one of the few that did not require studying under a master. If one was capable of creating magical potions, it was possible to become an alchemist even without a master’s approval.
“I couldn’t make high level healing magic potions this time. In exchange, I obtained some interesting materials, so I made this.”
Roa took out another small bottle. It was larger than the others and contained a light blue liquid.
“This magic medicine prevents sudden death.”
Coralde took the bottle in his hands and scrutinized it.
“What effects does it have?”
“I can’t give a clear answer with my low-level appraisal tools, but it can withstand the sudden death attacks used by the Undead. I am sure that you could find out much more if you researched it…”
“Is that so. Giacomo, make preparations for appraisal.”
Coralde’s guard fetched a small box from the back of the room. Coralde took it and took out a tube-shaped item, about the size of a thumb, equipped with lens at both of its ends.
It was a magic tool used for appraisal, which compared the target with the Akashic Records and displayed information visually. Depending on the quality of the magic tool, the obtained information varied, but Coralde’s tool was of quite a high level.
Coralde looked at the glass bottle through the appraisal tool.
“My, my, my. I see. It is indeed true that it can affect sudden death attacks from the Undead. The probability of evasion depends on the level gap between the attacking Undead and the user, however, so it is fairly unstable. Its effects are present for 8 hours after it is drunk, so it must be used before being attacked. Fairly obvious, of course. It can prove useful only in specific situations, but it is interesting indeed.”
Coralde continued to think, a smile on his lips.
…Roa is an interesting fellow, after all. I was right to build a friendly relationship with him, despite his All-Rounder job.
Coralde had met Roa by chance, but his instincts told him that the boy smelled like money. If he kept dreaming of being an adventurer and belonging to a party, his talents would probably fail to awaken even if Coralde dragged him out of the party, or even worse, disappear completely.
Thus Coralde decided to wait. He kept a friendly relationship with Roa, waiting for the chance that had now finally come. He couldn’t let it go.
Coralde looked at Roa straight in the eyes.
“Mr. Roa, I have a proposal for you.”
“Until you can find the next job, how would you like to work for me?”
Coralde’s hairless head sparkled even more than usual.
At the same time, in Hero Party Crack of Dawn’s servant beasts’ hut…
<When is the brat coming to brush me!?>
A gryphon was quite enraged.
The reason was that Roa had not come for the scheduled afternoon brushing session.
The gryphon was clawing at the ground out of irritation, scattering the straw of its bed everywhere.
The other two servant beasts looked at it, a bit exasperated. Both of them were magic wolves, one with blue fur, the other with red fur.
At first, the wolves were also looking forward to Roa’s brushing, irritated by how late he was, but because of the gryphon’s overt rage they felt their irritation subside. They both spoke to cover for Roa.
<I guess there must be a reason…>
The blue and red wolf decided to go to sleep, using each other’s bodies as a pillow, forming a kind of circle.
<Brat…it takes guts to break a promise made with me. I’m going to rip out your hair at dinner…!>
The gryphon howled in a tongue incomprehensible to humans, continuing to rip at its straw bed.
At a certain point, its expression turned into a twisted smile.
<Hah…hahahaha. I’m going to stomp on your feet. Right on your little toe!! No, I should ask for better food in exchange for forgiveness. He always puts in too many vegetables! I’m a carnivore!! I require only meat! Brat, you don’t think I’m some little bird, do you!? Meat, meat it is! If you want me to forgive you, bring me a block of meat!>
The wolf twins glanced at the gryphon, then closed their eyes.
….”grandpa” looks like he’s having fun today too…
Their thoughts were the same as they drifted off to sleep. The only sounds echoing in the hut were the gryphon’s howls and its claws scratching at the ground.
About the same time as when the twin magic wolves fell asleep, Roa and Coralde arrived at the adventurers’ guild.
Roa decided to accept Coralde’s invitation and was discussing the conditions.
The trial period would be for one month. Roa’s work would consist of concocting existing magic potions and developing new ones. The new magical potions could be anything, as long as they did not exist before. He would work in a room in Coralde’s trading company, which he could use as his living quarters too if he wanted.
If Roa succeeded in creating a new magic potion, Coralde would buy the recipe and forbid Roa to mention it to anyone else, but he could create it freely.
As a reward, other than the price for the magic potion and its recipe, Roa would receive 30 silver coins a month. For Roa, the conditions were nothing short of exceptional.
The currency used in the continent were gold, silver, and copper, as well as 10 cents and 1 cent coins; with just 1 silver coin, it was possible to stay in the best inns in the city of Amadan, complete with breakfast and dinner.
If one already owned a house and saved a little, they could live without concerns for one full week.
Roa would receive 30 of such coins. He had no reason at all to refuse.
As a reward to an alchemist, Roa’s sub job, it was actually pretty cheap, but if the reward was higher there was the risk that Roa would worry or refuse it, so Coralde considered well before proposing it.
Having Roa work in one of the company’s rooms also served as a tactic to keep him under control.
There was just one problem, however: the materials for new magic potions.
Until now, Roa had gathered materials from plants or magic beasts in forests and dungeons he visited as an All-Rounder. During work, he gathered parts to provide the party with magic potions; during meals, free time, or at night he collected parts to have some money for himself.
The locations he visited there were inhabited by magic beasts that A rank adventurers were dispatched to defeat, which would be far too dangerous for average people to visit.
They considered requesting adventurers to collect materials, but then discarded it. Roa always combined parts following his instinct, so he couldn’t tell what materials were necessary, which made it impossible to request a gathering expedition.
After a lengthy discussion, they decided that Roa himself would go looking for materials, with a group of adventurers as an escort.
Roa and Coralde then went to the adventurers’ guild: Coralde to request an escort for Roa, the latter also to report his exclusion from the party.
The famed merchant Coralde and the All-Rounder Roa were a bizarre combination, so they gathered the attention of the adventurers present.
“Sir Coralde, did that boy disrespect you in any way?”
Before they could reach the reception, a male guild staff member noticed Coralde’s unmistakable shiny dome and hurried to him. Both Roa and Coralde laughed wryly at this reaction.
“Not at all. I came to make a request today.”
Coralde’s smile left the guild staff unable to respond. Why in the world was the merchant Coralde in the company of an All-Rounder? The guild staff was still confused, but concluded that they just happened to enter together and were actually unrelated.
“Should I go to that counter to make a request, then?”
“Ah, yes! My apologies! We will prepare a room for you right away, sir Coralde! Please wait a moment!”
The guild member rushed to the back of the hall, returning very quickly.
“This way, please.”
“Hm, thank you.”
Coralde followed the guild staff, with his escort and Roa in tow.
“Why are you following us!? Go away!!”
The guild staff noticed that Roa was following, stopped, and then shouted at him. He would have never imagined that at an All-Rounder could be related to Coralde’s request, so he thought that Roa was coming with them uninvited.
The adventurers started whispering because of the angry shout that echoed throughout the hall. They were acting normally, but were actually very interested about the request that the famous merchant had come in person to make. Especially because they hoped to be the ones to undertake it: if they succeeded in having the rich trader notice them, he might start supporting them financially.
Among the whisperers, some glared at Roa, wondering what in the world he was doing. It was normal for them to misunderstand: All-Rounders were just novices, apprentices, never treated as normal people…
Roa was starting to find the situation difficult to bear.
“Haha, Mr. Roa here is an important part of my request, you know? Why did you decide to send him away on your own? You are not trying to get in the way of my trade, are you?”
Coralde was still smiling, but the tone of his voice was ice cold. A chill ran across the whole hall, which turned completely quiet.
Even the greenest adventurer understood what it meant to get in the way of a famous merchant’s trade. Coralde was not just any famous merchant either: he was a man that “even gods and devils fear”, as they say, who had built an immense fortune in one generation. Guild members and adventurers were but mere ants before him, so it would be easy for him to crush them.
Why would an All-Rounder be an important part of his request though? There had to be a very particular reason behind it.
The heads of the adventurers were riddled with questions, but no one dared to speak.
“T-then, do you wish to request the Crack of Dawn party?”
“What does that party have to do with my request? Mr. Roa has been kicked out from that party, as it seems. He has nothing to do with them anymore. Am I right, Mr. Roa?”
Roa hesitated a bit, as he suddenly was in the center of everyone’s complete attention, but managed to reply.
“Would you mind taking us to the room, then? Or are you more inclined to waste our time?”
“Right away! C-certainly not. My sincerest apologies. P…please, this way!”
The guild member, a few shades paler and sweatier than before, somehow recovered from the shock and resumed accompanying the small group.
The guild hall was still eerily quiet, but as soon as Coralde and the others entered the soundproofed room, a whole new ruckus started.
The main topic of discussion was the connection between Roa, an All-Rounder for seven years, bottom of the barrel and then some, with Coralde, the shrewdest merchant of the area, but not one person managed to guess the right answer.
Only Coralde knew that it was the first step towards a great change which would soon affect the city itself.