Tafel and Vur sat on a blanket underneath a tree with a basket of food in front of them. Lindyss was negotiating with Zollstock and Randel. Exzenter had teleported the human king to the kingdom, much to the misfortune of the king and his privacy.
“Where’s Snuffles?” Tafel asked.
Vur shrugged. “He disappeared a while ago, but mom said not to worry about him since he’s strong,” Vur said and sighed. Tafel thought back to the time she heard a father tell his son that his favorite duck had run away after coming back from the butcher.
Tafel pat Vur’s shoulders. “I’m sure he’s doing fine,” she said and nodded. “Maybe he found a girlfriend.”
“But he only has the dragon class, what if he gets attacked?” Vur asked. “I hope he’s okay.”
Only…, Tafel thought as she grabbed Vur’s hand. “We can go look for him together if you want,” Tafel said.
Vur shook his head. “If he’s alive, he’ll come back,” he said. “If he doesn’t come back, then he got eaten.”
“That’s kind of bleak.”
Vur shrugged. “That’s what Leila says. The strong eat the weak,” he said, “but don’t bully the weak just because you’re strong.”
The undead leader’s skull popped out of the ground next to them. “That’s a good policy,” the leader said. “This Leila sounds pretty smart.”
Tafel blinked at the skull. “Were you here this whole time?” she asked.
The leader nodded and laughed. “We’re everywhere,” it said. “How else are we supposed to stop crimes?”
“Except inside the outhouses. We stay outside the outhouses,” the leader said.
“What about the baths…?” Tafel said with her cheeks turning pink.
“Don’t worry,” it replied and grinned, “there are female skeletons too.”
Tafel shuddered. “That’s a bit unsettling.”
“It’s fine,” the leader said and waved his hand, “we don’t have eyes.”
“But you can still s-“
“Oops, gotta go,” it said as its head vanished back underneath the ground. A voice floated out of the hole it left behind. “Mistress is calling.”
Tafel stared at the hole and sighed. She turned to the basket of food in front of her.
“Suddenly, I’m not hungry anymore,” she said. “Do you want to go to the adventurer’s guild?”
Tafel and Vur arrived at the adventurer’s guild. It was a small building located near the entrance of Konigreich. It had two floors and its exterior was wooden. Vur pushed open the door and the two walked inside. A few men were drinking alcohol and sitting by the tables in the corner. Food, water, and shelter were provided to the citizens for mana crystals, but alcohol had to be bought with gold. A couple of the men raised their eyebrows when they saw the two’s short stature, but they paled and looked away after seeing Vur’s eyes.
“What’s wrong, Jack? You look like you saw a ghost,” a man said as he turned around. “Oh.” He turned back and his shoulders hunched forwards as he drank.
“H-hello,” the receptionist said as he wiped his brow. He wore a white dress shirt and thick rectangular glasses.
Tafel turned to Vur. “What did you do?” she asked. “Everyone’s afraid.”
Vur tilted his head. “I didn’t do anything,” he said and looked around, “everyone’s just always afraid. Grimmy says that’s the natural state for humans.”
“W-what can I help you with?” the receptionist said as he tried to smile.
“We’d like to sign up as adventurers,” Tafel said as the two walked up to the counter, which was taller than both of them.
“Just the two of you?” the man asked as he leaned over the counter. “Are you registering for an already established party?”
Tafel shook her head. “We’re starting our own,” she said and smiled.
The receptionist’s eyes landed on the adventurers in the corner. They all coughed and looked the other way.
“Al-alright. Just fill these papers out,” he said and passed the two three forms. The two took the papers and walked to an empty table in the middle of the adventurers. They all fell silent and only the sloshing of liquid could be heard.
Minutes passed in silence, except for the sounds of quills scratching against paper.
The two got up and walked back to the receptionist. “All done,” Tafel said and handed the papers over.
The receptionist nodded and pulled out two metal cards. “Let’s see,” he muttered as he placed his hand over one card. “First name, Tafel. Last name, Besteck. Class, Black Mage. Hometown, Niffle. Age, 6. Gender, female. Eye color, purple.” His hand glowed blue as the information engraved itself into the card. He looked at the card and nodded before offering it to Tafel. Tafel took it and her face broke out into a huge smile.
“Alright, next,” the receptionist said as he held Vur’s paper in his left hand with his right hand on the other metal card. “First name, Vur. Last name, …”
The receptionist turned to Vur. “Last name?” he asked.
Vur shook his head. Sweat formed on the receptionist’s brow. “Okay,” he said and looked back at the paper.
He looked at Vur again, but didn’t say anything and turned back to the paper.
“Hometown, … blank again. Okay. Age, …,” the receptionist sighed. “Gender, man. Eye color, gold.”
His eye twitched when he looked at Vur’s half empty card.
“Here you go,” he said and passed it to Vur.
The receptionist lifted the last sheet. “Party name, Tafel x Vur. Members, Tafel Besteck, Vur, Snuffles…?”
He squinted at the paper, but didn’t say anything. He turned to Tafel. “Well, you’re both registered as adventurers now and your party has been recorded. Would you like to take a test to determine your starting rank?” he asked. “If you don’t take it, you’ll start as an E rank.”
Tafel nodded while grinning.
The receptionist made a strange face. “Alright, let me get the guild master,” he said and walked up the stairs. The adventurers sitting in the corner all looked at each other.
One of them whispered, “Alright, why are we being so quiet? I’m new here. Who’s the kid?”
“You know that giant crater in the forest?” another one whispered. “He’s the one who made it. Apparently, he ate too much cake and got excited. A bunch of people tried to stop him, including the guild master and elves, but they all got thrashed.”
The man sucked in his breath. “You serious? That crater’s huge.”
The other one nodded. “Yeah, don’t mess with him. He’s a monster,” he whispered.
Tafel frowned. “They’re saying weird things about you,” she said while turning towards Vur.
The men fell silent.
Vur nodded. “I like compliments,” he said and smiled.
A thud rang out from above. “Alright,” said a man as he walked down the stairs with a giant silver claymore on his back, “where are the newbies who want to di-“ His eyes locked onto Vur. He looked at the trembling receptionist behind him. “Don’t tell me it’s him,” he said with a frown.
The receptionist nodded. “It’s him.”
The guild master’s face contorted. His face turned towards Vur.
He fell to the ground and clutched his chest. “Urgh,” he said, “I’m defeated. You pass.” He scrambled back up the stairs. “Make them SSS ranked and don’t bother me until I finish recovering.”
“But the girl-“
“I said don’t bother me until I finish recovering!” A door slammed shut. The receptionist sighed.
“Congratulations on reaching SSS rank,” he said as he took their cards and channeled mana into them.
Tafel hugged Vur’s arm. “Thank you,” she said and pecked his cheek. “I’m so happy.”
Vur blinked at Tafel and his face turned red.
“Let’s go on an adventure!” Tafel said while tugging his arm, dragging him to the bulletin board.
“Let’s pick a fun one,” Tafel said. “Collect ten corpses, that’s too morbid. Steal books from neighboring kingdoms? … Stealing is bad. Collect dragon stool samples? That’s gross, who would even- oh. Exzenter.”
“How about collect a bottle of fairy tears?” Vur asked. “We get a chocolate cake as part of the reward.”
“Let’s do it,” Tafel said as she ripped the paper off the bulletin board, “Dustin told me about this one once. He said his party couldn’t complete it. I want to beat him.” She smiled.
The receptionist looked at the paper. “Are you sure you want to do this one?” he asked. “Fairies are tricky to find and they’re supposed to be pretty deep in the wilderness.”
Tafel nodded. “It’s fine,” she said and giggled, “we’re SSS ranked.”
A skull popped out of the ground next to Vur and Tafel. “The mistress is looking for you two,” it said, “she’s at the mansion.”
“Okay,” Tafel said and turned to the receptionist. “Thanks, mister.”
The receptionist nodded at her. “Good luck, you two.”
“Dustin!” Tafel said, “I’m an SSS ranked adventurer!”
“What?” Dustin stared at Tafel. Tafel and Vur were at the entrance to the living room of the mansion. Lindyss, Exzenter, Randel, Gale, Zollstock, Mina, and Dustin were sitting on couches with a round wooden table separating them.
Tafel nodded. “Vur and I went to the adventurer’s guild today and signed up. We passed the test and became SSS ranked,” she said as she pulled out her card, “see?”
Zollstock and Mina glanced at each other. Zollstock cleared his throat. “That’s great, Tafel,” he said. Mina stayed silent. Zollstock turned towards her and raised an eyebrow.
“We picked a mission too! We’re going to get a bottle of fairy tears,” Tafel said and stuck her chest out. Vur yawned and stretched while walking over to Lindyss. Mina’s chest tightened and Dustin coughed while looking away with a cramped face.
“Why that mission?” Mina asked with her voice trembling.
“Dustin told me his party couldn’t complete it. If I do it, then that means you’ll have to accept that I’m strong enough to be an adventurer,” Tafel said and pouted.
Mina frowned and turned to Dustin. “I wonder what else you’ve told her,” she said with her eyes narrowed.
“Don’t blame Dustin, Mom,” Tafel said, “please.”
Mina sighed and looked away with her eyes wet.
Dustin scratched his head. “It’s not that I wasn’t strong enough to complete it,” he said, “there were just… circumstances.” He gazed at Zollstock for a brief moment and looked away.
The room fell silent.
Lindyss let out a cough. “Anyways,” she said, “I’m sure many of you have met or heard about him.” She gestured towards Vur.
“What is he?” Randel asked.
“A specimen!” Exzenter said with his eyes twinkling.
Lindyss ignored Exzenter. “He’s the adoptive child of the dragons,” she said and turned to Randel, “since someone stole their egg.”
Randel gulped and his face paled.
“Don’t worry; we’re not asking you to return the dragon,” she said. “It’s just a beast without an imprint after all.”
Randel raised an eyebrow. “Really?” he asked. “Aren’t its parents furious?”
“They were, but Vur filled the void in their hearts,” Lindyss said. “Personally, I think Vur is much more lovable than any dragon child could ever be.”
Randel scratched his head. “That just seems too easy…”
Lindyss stared at him. “Why are you complaining?” she asked. “If you feel guilty, then just return it.”
Randel shook his head. “Ah, if that’s how it is, then that’s just the way it was meant to be,” he said and smiled.
“He’s the reason you want us to unite our kingdoms?” Zollstock asked.
Lindyss nodded. “I want Vur and Tafel to be happy together when they get married,” she said as she ignored Mina’s frown. “I’d rather not have either of them be discriminated against because of their race.”
Randel frowned. “It’s not that easy to forget eight hundred years of enmity.”
“And yet here we are. Elves, demons, and humans talking with each other peacefully,” she said. “Make it happen.”
“What do you gain from this?” Gale asked.
“Obviously, I just want Vur to be happy,” she said as she narrowed her eyes at Gale. “Nosey people should take care or they might get bit.”
Gale shuddered and nodded.
“Now, who wants lunch?” Lindyss asked with a smile.