“Brother Locke, I’m done with the assessment!” Kristin’s voice rang from the other room.
The black-robed caster smiled at Locke. “You know, you’re more than welcome to find me here should you require further assistance. I’ll be stationed for the entire month.” He stood to shake Locke’s hand.
“Thank you, Meister Brindel. That would be lovely.” Locke returned the gesture. The caster’s amiable attitude was earned with a little incentive of some Botanian essence powder.
“What is this substance? Why is it brimming with vitality?” The black-robed caster gaped at the minute pile of powder, visibly taken by its potency.
“This is a medicinal powder for ailments, given by my elders at home,” Locke lied naturally. He intended to keep its source a secret hence he’d only given Brindel an amount that was too small for anything other than research. This should be enough to keep him happy with something new to study.
“Has your sister joined a guild yet? Shall I enrol her under the Phantom Tower?” offered Brindel enthusiastically.
Kristin chose that moment to enter the room with her report sheet on display, which had a gilded enchanted stamp on its corner. She was now a certified mid-rank Lehrling. Mid-rank Lehrlings were considered important pillars of caster factions on the east coast. Surely, Kristin was bound to attract more offers if Brindel was already plugging his guild.
“Sorry, my sister already has a guild in mind,” replied Locke sheepishly.
“No, I apologise for the intrusion. That much is to be expected from a Mystic Knight, after all.” It became apparent that Brindel had lumped Locke’s group into the collective of Mystic Knights due to his capabilities and wealth. Established Mystic Knight clans with a complete cultivation syllabus of their own were considered powerful, hence it was pretty easy for its descendants to enter any guild of their choice.
“Since we’re here to hone our skills, is there anything you can suggest to us?” Locke pacified Kristin with a pat on her crown, hoping to buy some silence for the conversation.
“Well, our guild has a considerable number of missions for wandering adventurers.”
A demi-human attendant came to lead them to the guild’s mission hall.
Phantom Tower, huh? Locke thought to himself. He wasn’t surprised that Brindel had pledged to one of the three biggest factions in the Marharden Kingdom. Their earlier conversation and the information he’d gathered thus far had suggested that all casters formed the guilds in the kingdom. Guilds like Mermerri’s Cottage, the Phantom Tower and the Scar of the Death Bell had stood at the pinnacle while the others were smaller factions under their influence. The spellcasting scene was already so complicated in the kingdom, and Locke couldn’t help but ponder about knight factions.
The mission hall’s front counter was ridiculously long, allowing ample space for the seven attendants behind to run back and forth from the posting board to their stations. The missions were posted on sheepskin, which was nailed to the cork board with screws. The number of notices stuck to the board had remained largely constant despite the high traffic of adventurers.
Hmm, it seems shabbier than in the Sanctum and Hall of Knights, thought Locke. The system in the mission lobbies back home was much more refined and efficient. The Sanctum even used screens of light! Sheepskin postings felt all too primitive.
Maybe Morrington Harbour was considered a backwater, or the overall competence of casters in the Marharden Kingdom was simply lower than that of the Three Western Isles. Locke tried to reason. Factions of knights and casters back home had existed on an equilibrium of power, dominated by the Sanctum and Hall of Knights. The power distribution observed on the east coast was scattered like a sand plate and governed by their respective influences. While the authority held by casters here was obviously superior to in the Three Western Isles, it had severely lacked centralization.
The mission hall was crowded, most of them being casters while the few knights that were thrown in the mix were generally mid-rank Knechts and above. There was a long line at the counter so Locke narrowed down his choices during the wait. The attendant greeted him once it was finally his turn. “Good day, Herr. How may I help you?"
He mirrored the preceding examples and answered, “I’d like a high-difficulty mission that can be completed by three people.” He let loose a hint of his impetus to display his quasi-Ritter status.
The attendant was a young ginger girl whose uniform clung to her curves tightly. Her eyes went wide at Locke’s display of power. She’d seen many casters and knights in the guild on a daily basis; the appearance of high-rank Knechts was considered a treat while quasi-Ritters were extremely rare.
Her fingers brushed against his palm deliberately as she turned around to retrieve three postings from the board. “These were posted recently and have higher difficulty. The first needs to be done within a week, and the second and third should be done within a month.” Her voice dripped with honey and her smouldering gaze was intense. Locke was a young quasi-Ritter and she was determined to make sparks fly between them.
The women of the Three Western Isles were conservative and reserved, of whom Lia and Suzzane were prime examples. The women on the east coast, on the other hand, were bold and passionate, perhaps due to a higher degree of civilisation and exposure. Unfortunately for the ginger, Locke wasn’t the least bit interested in a novice Lehrling since he already had Laffey and Kristin.
A pair of antlers from an enchanted striped stag and its heart at vitality level 30.
Phantom exorcism; extract twenty soul fragment crystals.
Collect fifteen livor mushrooms.
He read through the particulars carefully, taking note of the mission locations and relevant precautions. The livor mushrooms could wait. He wasn’t completely clueless when it came to material harvesting since he’d helped Ashar with many of her experiments. Livor mushrooms flourished in cemeteries and ancient battlefields. An area with two hundred corpses would only give rise to less than two livor mushrooms, which meant that the task was cumbersome and extremely time-consuming. They’d need to visit a battleground to collect fifteen of them in one go.
The bulletin had suggested three larger burials and a smaller historical battlefield, but Locke was reluctant to go anywhere near them. He’d rather not be chased by the dead and supernatural.