Chapter 2 – Departure to the Gathering Mission
The following day, the cold air of the morning was still misty.
Two carriages were brought in front of the Coralde company, surrounded by several silhouettes.
Out of concern that the adventurers’ guild tried to pull some trick, Nostalgia and Coralde decided to leave before the guild opened. Except in case of emergency, carriages belonging to the guild required paperwork to be used, so they could only leave after normal office hours started.
Even if the guild was plotting something, they wouldn’t go as far as breaking their own rules to do so, or so Coralde and the party assumed.
Luckily, the town’s gates were opened at dawn. Though impossible to depart in the dark of night, they could still do so very early in the morning, when few people were out and about.
Roa approached the carriages and found that Nostalgia’s members had already arrived. Different from the day before, they were fully equipped now.
The party’s shield, Cornelia, was wearing a hulking full body armor despite her short stature, which made her look very unbalanced.
“I’m sorry for making you wait.”
“You didn’t, we just came early to load up our luggage. We finally finished just now. Sir Ro…Roa, that’s all you’ll bring with you?”
Roa noticed that, since the day before, Dietrich always started addressing him with “sir”, then corrected himself.
It was probably easier for him to address Roa with “sir”, so Roa’s request of not using titles was probably putting him on the spot…even so, it would be too weird to say that using “sir” was okay now.
Roa felt apologetic, but could do nothing to change the situation. The other Nostalgia members noticed too, but chose not to say anything. It was just a habit for Dietrich.
In the past, Dietrich’s speech was much rougher than now: he could barely use polite speech.
The person who educated him was extremely strict and hammered into his head that people he met for the first time, his superiors, and bosses should always be addressed politely, mixing preaching and “physical” teaching, so it had become a habit.
Usually, he would revert to a more familiar tone after some time, but when told to “address me without titles”, he always ended up talking in an unnatural way, like now.
“Most of the things I needed were prepared by sir Coralde, so this is all I need.”
Roa showed the two bags he carried. One was a common magic bag, the likes of which Nostalgia knew well too. The cloth had a curious luster, which seemed kind of metallic.
The other was an old, stained cloth shoulder bag which Roa had carried to the meeting too.
He pointed out to the newer bag.
“This is a magic bag sir Coralde lent me, where I put the magic potions I made. This old one is…a magic bag too, but I use it to carry my own things.”
“Eh? You have your own magic bag? That shape is pretty strange though.”
The voice belonged to the scout and swordsman Kristoff.
“Yes, it’s pretty worn out and would be thrown away, so Mr. Coralde sold it to me for cheap some time ago. Though, it can only fit pretty much what you could carry with both hands. I would have gotten in trouble if they found out I had it, so I disguised it by stitching a leather bag over it.”
“…are you sure it was okay to tell us all that?”
“Yes, no problem.”
If Roa said it wasn’t a problem, Kristoff couldn’t say anything else. Very few people possessed magic bags for personal use. Because of this, disguising their appearance to prevent theft was a rather common practice.
“…you said that you made those magic potions by yourself?”
Roa honestly answered the question asked by Cornelia, the party’s shield.
“Wasn’t that supposed to be a secret?”
“No, not really. I asked Mr. Coralde to keep it a secret that I sold my magic potions to make some money, but I didn’t hide the fact that I made them.”
Cornelia looked at Roa as if she couldn’t believe her ears.
Nostalgia’s members knew of the rumors circulating about Roa in the guild. One of them concerned his supposed ability to make magic potions, but as far as they knew no one could say for sure.
They all thought that it was because it was a secret, so she was mildly shocked to learn that it was just a coincidence.
Magic potions weren’t something you could easily make, as long as you weren’t an alchemist by trade. In her homeland, the basics of alchemy were taught at school, but only one out of one hundred students managed to create even the simplest potions.
Alchemy required the use of magic tools, so an aptitude in magic was necessary too. It also required a large amount of knowledge, so many students gave up on it during theory.
It was hard for her to imagine that someone in Roa’s position could have had the chance to study it, so his mystery deepened even more.
I’ll ask him how he studied it in the cart…was the course of action Cornelia decided to take.
“Okay everyone, we’re leaving.”
One of the coachmen called to the party. Despite the title, the man looked just like a middle-aged adventurer: he wasn’t wearing armor, but his body was clearly trained. He was also carrying a sword at his waist and, to Roa, he looked stronger than the average adventurer.
“How should we split our group in the carts?”
Roa’s question prompted Nostalgia’s members to look at each other and grin.
There were 2 carts: with just one, there wouldn’t be room for all their luggage and the gathered materials they would have to bring back, so they decided to use two.
Such a luxury wouldn’t have been possible with the adventurers’ guild’s carts. These carts were property of Coralde’s trading company; he thought that putting them to use would definitely be better than just letting them stay idle, so they accepted his offer.
Dietrich shouted all of a sudden, his fist in the air. He was really loud.
After his voice resounded in the early morning air, quiet returned to the town.
“…so, all the luggage goes to the second cart. We’re riding in the front one.”
“Yeah, it’s going to be a long trip, so let’s enjoy it.”
Cornelia and Kristoff led Roa to the cart, as if pushing him on. The mage Bernhart also followed them, silent.
“…guys, I’d appreciate a reaction here.”
Dietrich mumbled to himself, his fist still in the air.
“Hey! After I shouted, shouldn’t you all say “yeah!” or something in reply!?”
His face was getting redder.
“Alright, let’s forget the silly adults raising their voices at dawn and go!”
Roa was perplexed by Cornelia’s words, but he could only walk in the direction he was pushed to.
“Whenever our leader does anything dumb, remember, it’s okay to ignore him. That’s the one thing he can’t stand, he’s a lonely guy after all. He looks like a proper guy most of the time, but he’s a big dumb goof at heart, so forgive him if you can.”
Kristoff pushed Roa forward too.
“You guys know that I can hear you, right!? Wait, I’m getting on too! Don’t leave me behind!”
“Leader…please. You’ll wake up the whole neighborhood.”
Dietrich apologized earnestly after Cornelia’s rebuke.
“…you’re still loud…”
The party’s early morning departure was somewhat awkward.
“Mithril boy, I don’t appreciate all this racket in the morning…”
When Roa and the others boarded the cart, its coachman called out to them. He was clearly older than the one they talked to before, with numerous white streaks in his hair.
“…sorry. But don’t call me boy anymore, I’m almost 30…”
“You make a racket with no care for other people…you’re a brat.”
Quickly silenced by the man’s words, Dietrich sat down on one of the cart’s seats and grumbled an apology. Roa was starting to understand why the other members called him a “dumb adult” during their first meeting.
After making sure that everyone was sitting, the coachman spurred the cart forward, which started transmitting its vibrations to the passengers as the horses moved.
The other cart followed in tow. The party’s luggage and the other coachman were supposed to be on it.
“Do you know each other?”
When the cart’s pace stabilized, Roa asked a question to the coachman.
“Well, yeah. These guys helped me when I was attacked by bandits.”
The coachman answered, his eyes fixed on the road ahead.
The roads used for transport rarely saw the appearance of magic beasts; one reason was that plants that magic beasts disliked grew along these roads, but magic beasts tended to dwell in forests and other locations where magic essence was found in abundance, and rarely left them.
This was different for normal beasts and people, however.
Normal beasts, different than the magic ones, normally appeared on the roads too, but never attacked people, barring cases of extreme hunger.
What travelers using common roads needed to be wary of the most were other people…bandits who attacked travelers and convoys.
“It happened when I was returning from Adad, the next country over, with Mr. Coralde. We were attacked despite the fact that we didn’t have any luggage and had a good number of guards with us…I ditched the cart and ran away with Mr. Coralde, protecting him as we did, but they kept chasing us. When I thought it was all over, they saved us. …that time, I wasn’t a coachman yet, I was still a guard. But that time I hurt my leg, so I became a coachman.”
The coachman then placed a hand on his leg.
“We ditched the cart, so we didn’t have any healing potions either. Thanks to the Mithril boy and his comrades the wound somehow closed, but I can barely walk now.”
“We were in the middle of our journey and had used up all of our healing potions too. There wasn’t anyone around capable of using healing magic either. I felt bad for the old man, but all we could do was close the wound…”
Roa looked towards the direction of the voice and noticed that Cornelia was standing beside him all of a sudden. Judging from the fact that she managed to stand up straight despite the cart’s vibrations, without any support, she had to have an excellent sense of balance.
Healing potions can’t fully heal a partially recovered wound. The partially healed part is considered cured, so no more recovery is attempted. The only exceptions were magic potions of the highest rank, but even nobles would have a very difficult time obtaining one.
If you wanted to fully heal such a wound no matter what, you’d have to carve out the partially healed flesh and drink a high-level healing potion. The coachman’s wound, however, was probably so deep that such a method wasn’t feasible.
“What are you saying? I’m nothing but thankful to you people! I’m already pretty old too, it was a good chance to retire from the escorting business. You’ve shown me something rare too.”
Cornelia answered Roa’s question. Unfazed by the vibrations, she walked to the back of the cart towards Dietrich, his head still drooping.
“Hey leader, give me your sword for a minute.”
Cornelia swiped the sword from the still musing Dietrich and returned to Roa’s side.
She extracted the blade from its sheath just a little and showed it to Roa.
“Our leader’s sword is made of mithril.”
Despite being classified as silver, that metal had a transparent brilliance to it that silver could never achieve. It felt as if it was wet to the touch.
It was the first time for Roa to lay eyes on mithril.
“This is mithril…”
Roa’s eyes changed color before the metal he had never seen before. Mithril, also called Magic Silver, was a magic metal, just as the name suggests. It was said to form when a large quantity of magic essence…of magic power poured into silver. It was actually found in silver mines near locations where magic essence was abundant.
“Amazing, it’s my first time seeing it…that’s why he was called “mithril boy” then.”
Roa spoke while gazing at the sword.
Mithril was a metal slightly more valuable than gold. Adventurers who made a decent profit would not struggle too much to acquire some. Few could use it fully in sword form, and it was not really necessary to do so, so few people had blades made of mithril. It was more common to see it used in swords made for rituals or decoration purposes.
“He whacked me with that and my wound closed up.”
“Old man, I doubt “whack” is the proper term here…you know that pouring magic power into mithril generates holy light, right? Four of us poured our magic power to generate holy light and heal the wound.”
Pouring magic power in a mithril sword caused it to glow faintly, making it possible to damage even opponents that normal attacks left unfazed, like ghosts or undead. It was also said that using even more magic power made it possible to produce the same effects as healing magic.
It was only said to be so: even mages with high magic power could only produce a faint glow on their own. There were very few examples of successful manifestations of healing magic.
“…healing via mithril. That’s rare indeed.”
“It was an emergency last resort, really. Good thing it worked.”
“That last resort saved me, so I’ve got nothing but gratitude.”
“It was just luck, old man.”
Cornelia laughed, slightly embarrassed.
The cart quietly proceeded through the city and finally reached the gates. The gate guards strictly inspected any incoming visitors, but were quite lax when people left. The coachman just needed to show his Coralde trading company badge and they let him through.
While the cart continued on its way, Roa was thinking. Lost in thought, he stared off into space.
Intrigued by his serious look, the finally recovered Dietrich called to him.
“Nothing, just…I was wondering, what is the reason why mithril is mithril?”
Dietrich’s reply was a surprised yelp, but Roa’s serious expression made him start thinking about the meaning of his words.
“Silver absorbs magic power and becomes mithril, correct? Then it can also emit holy light. But even if you pour magic power into silver, no holy light comes out, right? Or does it? Maybe human magic power just isn’t enough to do that?”
This is the face of a researcher that got his switch flipped on…
So thought Dietrich as he looked at Roa and decided to leave him alone.