9 Adventurers Guild

Outside of what looked like a tavern one would find in a small town, except being triple the size of one, stood a group of four. Three were humans, of which were two were children and one was an adult. On the youngest one's shoulder was a bright golden crow that radiated a mix of pride and clownish goofiness. Naturally, this group was the Greenwood Village's traveling party, as they'd finally managed to reach the Adventurers Guild in Lightwood Fortress.

Etienne sighed, "It's been so long since I last came here... I wonder if old Theodore is still the Guild Master." The chief almost began to reminisce in his memories until a crow reminded him what they were here for by fluttering up and pecking his forehead. "Let's go inside. I doubt anything has changed much since then." He then made his way inside, with Seran and Fenmore treading his heels.

Upon entering the guild, the first thing that happened was Etienne getting body slammed into the floor. Apparently, two adventurers in the same party had gotten into a brawl, and Etienne happened to end up as collateral damage. Several tables and chairs had already broken, while most of the other adventurers were either watching casually or cheering. The poor chief damn near passed out after being slammed by professional fighters.

This went on for a good minute or so, at which point a rogue punch came close to hitting Fenmore. A pair of immediate reactions happened: the first was Storm leaping forward to spear his beak into the fist, which stopped almost immediately as the adventurer howled in pain; the second was Seran's bloodlust activating as he pounced, the chipped enchanted daggers both being held against one of the fighters necks, who stopped upon feeling cold steel on their skin.

Seran had the darkest look on his face as he said coldly, "Quit your bullshit before I remove your heads." Despite his youth and unique appearance, the air the boy had attested to his words. "Fenmore, check on the chief." As the smaller child went to help Etienne, Seran glowered at the two adventurers, "Give me a reason why I shouldn't remove your heads after you came damn close to killing a child." He didn't get an answer from them, however, as a female voice cut in from the reception counter.

"I'd like to know that myself," said a mid-forties woman in as close to a business suit as one could find in this era.

One of the two fighters, a bald man with a busted lip and broken nose, stammered, "U-umm... guild master... We, we were just-"

"Just about to critically injure a child after knocking one of their companions into the wall?" The guild master's glare only deepened as she continued, "This is the third time you've fought this week, but this time, you could have killed two people. This is well beyond out of hand. I've had more than enough of this. As you two are both C-rankers, I can't just expel you. However, I can enforce a license suspension on you, which would apply to all guilds."

"Wait, guild master, let us ex-"

"Don't bother explaining it to me. Up until now, it was only fees for repairs and replacing broken furniture. Your incomes were more than enough for that. However, if you killed a child, even if it wasn't in a guild building, you'd immediately be arrested for murder. Effective immediately, for the next 3 months, you will be forbidden from doing anything related to your adventurer statuses. If you haven't managed to straighten yourselves out by then, it'll be an indefinite suspension. Understood?" The two men could only nod meekly as she then had them leave the premises. "Cedric, would you mind sending the message along to the other guilds and their branches?"

An older man, close to his 60s, nodded, "I'm on it, ma'am. I'll make sure the other guilds are aware of their suspension. I'll also handle the arrangements for the repairs." He then headed off to the back rooms behind the reception counter.

After a deep, exasperated sigh, the guild master walked over, giving Seran a good look for the first time. Dark brown hair and matching eyes that carried much experience despite her age, she was undoubtedly the fiercest woman he'd met outside of the village. If Seran was going to take a guess, she was definitely at the peak of the A-rank. "My deepest apologies for what just transpired. I let such a thing get out of hand and nearly killed one of your companions."

The white-haired boy smiled kindly, "It's not your fault that adventurers tend to be a rowdy bunch."

"Truer words haven't been spoken around here for a long time. My thanks, though, for managing to defuse the situation somehow." She looked him up and down as if sizing him up, "How old are you?"

"I just turned 10 yesterday. We came for my awakening. This isn't the first time we've gotten into a fight on the journey here. The first time was a group of bandits that had just raided a merchant caravan. My smallest companion is the only survivor, who has decided to stay with us," Seran's response didn't fit his age, but neither did his reactions earlier.

"A ten-year-old capable of instantly stopping a fight between C-rank adventurers is something I find very interesting... wait, bandits? Did one of them have a scar across his face?" Her question seemed rather urgent.

"Yes, there was one like that. Not that it matters anymore. All of that bandit crew have been turned into ash several hours down the road."

"They're dead? They've just been given a B-rank bounty two days ago. Against that group, I'd have to go all out... How did you defeat them?"

"Does it matter? I killed them all myself. The area is better off now. I can't say the same for poor Fenmore. He just lost his parents to them yesterday." Seran looked over at the odd-eyed child, who was helping Etienne regain his bearings. Storm remained perched on the little boy's shoulder like a vigilant guard.

The guild master's expression softened upon hearing of Fenmore's circumstances as she looked at the boy. When she spotted the man he was helping, her eyes widened slightly as she flatly said, "Is that Etienne Greenwood I see?"

Seran was about to answer, again, when Etienne quickly responded, "Of course. Are you that surprised to see me, June?"

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"Very surprised. After all, the last time you were here, old Theodore had to kick you out after you kept trying to hit on me for a week straight."

Attempting to derail the direction of the conversation, the chief said, "Right, what happened to old Theodore? I can understand how you became the guild master, so I don't need an answer for that."

June frowned a little, "A year ago, an A-grade catastrophe came up to the south. We don't have many A-ranks in the kingdom, and with Theodore being the only one we had here, he had to respond to the emergency summons. We got word not long afterward that the catastrophe was stopped via sealing. Several A-rank responders died, and quite a few disappeared during the chaotic battle. According to the survivors, Theodore and three other A-rank mages were casting a sealing spell while several others kept the catastrophe occupied. After the battle ended, the survivors came back to see what happened. The seal had been cast completely, with the entire area of the battle between and around the four mages being sealed off. Within the seal, everything was frozen, including the catastrophe's magic spells."

Etienne blanked for a moment, "Seal spell that freezes time within... isn't that the forbidden spell 'Four Skies Demon Seal'? Nobody should be able to use it! Let alone Theodore, even an Archmage wouldn't be able to cast that!"

"You'd be correct if not for one thing: of the four mages, two weren't human. One was an elf while another was a half-demon." Seeing Etienne's dumbfounded expression, June continued, "The elf was the one who knew the spell and how to replace the single caster problem with four separate casters. The half-demon had enough mana to make up for the missing mana they needed for the spell. So, technically, there isn't anyone that can castle it alone. Still, it means that Theodore is sealed as well. After we got the news, we had to decide on a new leader. As I was already the vice last year, I was almost unanimously chosen. I only became an A-rank six months ago."

"Well, congratulations are in order, despite the circumstances... Anyway, let me introduce these three. This little one beside me is Fenmore Rhodes. The bird on his shoulder is our village's avian defender, Storm. The white-haired genius in front of you is Seran, who I'm reasonably sure is the strongest human in the village." Etienne's last sentence earned June's astonishment as she looked at Seran, who shrugged casually. "I'm almost 100% sure that he's already at the peak of C-rank, maybe even early B-rank."

June had trouble pinning such capabilities on a small boy like Seran, but she had seen his reaction earlier so Etienne likely wasn't lying. "I'd like to see what this genius can do, then."

The white-haired boy grinned widely, "I'll do my best!"

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