Grimgal Of Ashes And Illusion / Grimgal of Ashes and Illusion Vol 1 Chapter 4

VOLUME 1: A Whisper, an Aria, a Prayer, an Awakening

Chapter 4: Enjoying Life in a Guild

Various things happened after that, and now Haruhiro found himself standing alone at a street corner in an area of town called Nishimachi.

“It’s supposed to be this building here…” he said to himself.

Nishimachi was where the destitute and impoverished lived; in other words, the slums. All the buildings were old and dilapidated, falling apart or falling over, and badly run-down. All the people he passed, also, were shabbily dressed. In truth, this wasn’t a place where Haruhiro would want to walk in by himself.

Why did he make that decision? He should have changed his mind when he had the chance. It was too late now though, the choice was already made.

Haruhiro decided to take a look around the building, which was made of a complex mix of stone and wood, but soon found it impossible. Even when he, with difficulty, navigated the narrow pathway that seemed to circle it, a wall made out of the same materials as the building cut off access to both the sides and back of it. However, the pathway did lead down to an extremely low door.

At the center of this rusty door was a device that had some sort of emblem-like design on it and which had a keyhole carved into it. Strange. Was this really the entrance?

“Excuse me!” When Haruhiro’s inquiry got no response, he tried knocking. That made his hand hurt, so he tentatively grasped the doorknob, turning, pushing, and pulling on it. It wouldn’t budge.

Maybe he had the wrong place. He had made to turn back when a low voice echoed through the alleyway.

“State your business.”

Where had it come from? Haruhiro didn’t know. There was no one else there but him and the door was still shut tight. He didn’t think that he was just hearing things either. It was definitely someone’s voice.

“Erm… I wish to join the guild,” he replied.

“Enter,” said the voice, and at the same time a clanking sound reverberated from the door.

Had the door been unlocked? When Haruhiro gripped the doorknob this time, it turned. He pulled, finding it unusually heavy, but it opened. Beyond the door was a narrow walkway that smelled of old dust. Both sides of the path were lined with shelves crammed full of ropes, metallic objects, cogs, and other objects unfamiliar to Haruhiro.

As he nervously closed the door shut, he found that it was brighter inside the building than outside. The light came from a lamp down the pathway and it was also there that the path turned and became even narrower. Haruhiro turned his body sideways and somehow made his way down until he finally entered a room.

It was dim, so he had no idea how large the room actually was. A desk had been placed in there and sitting cross-legged on top of it was a woman. She was casually twiddling with a knife she held in her hands. Her hair was long enough to keep half her face hidden but the rest of her body was much less intentionally concealed. In fact, her arms, legs, and chest were all broadly exposed.

“So you wish to join the Thieves Guild.”

“Y-yes,” Haruhiro gulped. It was probably better not to stare, so he averted his gaze. “That’s the plan, anyway.”

“By your appearance, you’re a Crimson Moon trainee. The second to come here today.”

“Second?”

“Not that it matters. If you wish you join us, your training will be one-on-one for seven days. I will be your mentor. An honor, isn’t it?”

“Uh, I…” Haruhiro stole a glance at the woman from the corner of his eyes. It wouldn’t do to look at her legs or chest, so he focused on her face instead. What was her age? Probably not that young. Somewhere in the thirties, he guessed. Pretty up there for Haruhiro’s sixteen years.

That didn’t change the fact that she was HOT. Her sex appeal was off the charts. He continued, “…an honor. Yes.”

“If you find this unsatisfactory, another can teach you.”

“No! No, not at all.”

“But let me tell you this,” she licked her lips and thrust the tip of the knife into the desk. “I am very demanding. If you can’t keep up, you will be punished.”

“…Please go easy on me.”

The woman chuckled softly and tied up her hair. “Are you familiar with the rules and regulations of the Thieves Guild?”

In Altana, there were organizations consisting of people who worked in the same profession, called guilds. The Blacksmiths Guild, Carpenters Guild, Masons Guild, Chefs Guild, and so forth. Additionally, there was the Warriors Guild, Mages Guild, Paladins and Priests Guild, Hunters Guild, Dread Knights Guild, and finally the Thieves Guild.

The guild protected an individual’s rights, offered a place to learn the trade, and guild members offered mutual protection for each other. Those who wanted to pursue work in a given profession within Altana must join the related guild. Anyone attempting to enter a trade without becoming a guild member would soon find their businesses purposely impeded upon by the guild. And because everyone knew about this consequence, no one did business with those who operated outside of a guild anyway.

Having two professions was frowned upon, but even though this was a rather severe restriction, the guild did also put effort into fostering younger generations of members. Once one became a guild member, the guild would also teach them the craft. In reality, there was no other way to learn the skills and techniques required of a profession without joining the guild.

Of course, it wasn’t about simply being listed as a member. All members had to abide by established rules and regulations or risk being penalized.

Well, according to what Manato had said, that is. Manato had even informed Haruhiro of one of the Thieves Guild’s more peculiar laws. But even taking that into consideration, the Thieves Guild was still the one Haruhiro picked out of all the others.

“If I recall, the rules were that there aren’t any rules,” Haruhiro replied.

“Precisely,” the woman yanked the knife out and gave it a twirl. “That isn’t to say, of course, that we don’t have a code of conduct. For example, we don’t operate in an area claimed by another, nor do we conduct our business on fellow members. Conditions that apply to Crimson Moon soldiers are that one party is allowed only one Thief and that we don’t steal from fellow Thieves or other reserve force members. You will be taught this code of conduct gradually; if you become a Thief, that is.”

“I want to become one… I think.”

“It’s not about what you ‘want’…” the woman turned to face Haruhiro and held out her hand, palm up. “…if you can’t afford it.”

Joining a guild wasn’t simply just about applying for membership. Haruhiro reached into his pocket, pulled out the leather pouch he had forcefully stuffed in there, and loosened the drawstring.

According to Manato, payment was necessary to join any guild, and on some sort of previous agreement the fee was the same across all guilds. Newly inducted members into any of the guilds were also required to make it through a demanding 7-day crash course on the basics of the trade.

Haruhiro started pulling out silvers from the pouch. One silver, two silvers, three silvers… the membership fee was very expensive in his opinion, but he had no other choice but to pay. It was impossible to become a Crimson Moon member without any knowledge or skills. Haruhiro acknowledged the necessity, but that didn’t make it any less expensive. Four silvers, five silvers, six silvers, seven silvers… eight silvers total.

Eight silvers. Eight hundred cappas. Four cappas per kebab meant he could buy two hundred kebabs. Did he really have to join the guild? Yes, there was no way around it. Everyone had listened to Manato’s explanation and agreed on this course of action. Everyone else was supposed to be joining their respective guilds at this time too.

Haruhiro took a deep breath and without further thought, placed the eight silvers in the woman’s palm.

The woman closed her hand and smiled pleasantly. “Our modus operandi is self-responsibility, freedom, and lack of restrictions, so we’ll have you swear your oaths later on. You are now a Thieves Guild member. Feel relieved?”

“I guess? But, now that I’m a member, what about my trade name?”

“Your trade name is what you make for yourself as a Thief. As of right now, you’re simply called ‘New Member.’ Your real name has no more use here. After seven days of training, I, as your mentor, will give you a suitable trade name. If you want a respectable name, then work hard and learn fast.”

“Um, would it be okay to call you a ‘Master’?”

“My, my,” the woman leaned close into Haruhiro and cupped her hand under his chin. Her chest… was even more absurdly large this close. Haruhiro was dangerously close to falling over right into it. “That’s not bad at all. How very nice of you.”

The woman grinned broadly and stroked Haruhiro under the chin with the tip of her finger.

“My name is Barbara. This is going to be an enjoyable seven days.”

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