A group of strange looking individuals approached Fran the moment she stepped outside the Adventurer’s Guild.
All four of them wore grey robes that covered them from head to toe and obscured their faces from view. In their hands were staves made from the wood of a sort of old, knotted tree. They looked like mages, more specifically, the type you’d often see described in fairytales.
Their appearance fit the stereotype so well that I almost wanted to label them as cosplayers even though magic did exist and whatnot. The highly synchronized and nearly mechanical way they conducted themselves made them really seem out of place, and almost even suspicious.
Appraising them allowed me to confirm that they were indeed mages, but, none of them were actually all that powerful. The best among them was a water mage with associated magic leveled up to 7.
Though they looked really suspicious, they didn’t actually seem hostile, or wanting to harm us in any which way. As a result, I wasn’t really able to figure out what they were after or how we were supposed to react to their presence.
The four of them split into two smaller groups, with one moving to the right, and the other to the left. They then raised their staves to the sky, as if to create a corridor.
A fifth individual walked through the newly created path. Unlike the other four, he was dressed up in a fancy looking, gold embroidered, purple robe. His staff was decorated with jewels, and clearly much more expensive.
Another difference between the man and the four other individuals that accompanied him was that his face was visible. His bright blue hair complimented his good looks, but, I still couldn’t help but feel that he was kinda suspicious. A part of me almost wanted to say that it was precisely his handsome face that made him suspicious.
「I have been awaiting your advent, Milady.」
「My name is Grakma, chief of the Ulmuttian branch of the Aiwass Magician’s Guild.」
Grakma’s actions were so elegant that they almost seemed to have been pulled straight out of some sort of painting.
The Magician’s Guild was something we’d heard of many times in the past, but we hadn’t bothered involving ourselves with them or their members. Wait, Grakma said he was the Ulmutt branch’s chief, right? Wouldn’t that also make him one of the country’s best mages? I highly doubted that to actually be the case. Grakma was basically the Magician’s Guild’s Guildmaster equivalent, but he really didn’t match up.
He wasn’t that weak, but he was in no way a match for Dias or Klimut.
Grakma was only level 20. He had the stats of your average D ranked adventurer, and wasn’t even that skilled in magic. His best skills were Flame Magic, Storm Magic, and Lightning Magic with their levels at 3, 1, and 2 respectively. He basically didn’t have any other skills to note. One could tell from looking at his stats that he’d fully specialized himself in the magical arts.
My biggest question, however, came not from his stats, but from his attitude. Why the hell was he referring to Fran as “Milady?”
「Your battles were nothing short of magnificent!」
「The sight of you casting incredible spells, one after the other, has done naught but move me to tears!」
I guess that kinda made sense given that he was a mage. To him, it must’ve looked like Fran was constantly using high-tier spells nonstop. I’d been the one to cast Kanna Kamui, so he must’ve interpreted that as her using it without so much as even a chant.
「Milady, I cannot but label you as an Archmage!」
「Nn? Not mage.」
I figured that “Archmage,” was probably a title, but it made me think of classes anyways. I felt like Fran had probably unlocked a good few classes, and that it wouldn’t be too bad an idea for us to go check.
Grakma missed the response Fran and muttered under her breath, and as a result, ended up continuing on as if nothing had happened. He pulled out a small box from his chest pocket, opened it, and showed its contents to Fran as he took a knee.
The four mages that accompanied him seemed to take his actions as a sort of cue, as they lowered their staves so that they were instead pointed forwards before moving as if to surround us.
It almost seemed like they were trying to initiate some sort of bizarre ritual. I knew that wasn’t the case because they didn’t actually end up giving off any sort of magical energy, but what seemed off still did seem off nonetheless, so I readied myself to use Telekinesis to send them flying the moment they tried anything.
「Please take this.」
「It is a medal that serves to present the greatest prestige that the Aiwass Magician’s Guild, has to offer. Please, Milady, I beseech you take it.」
The guild’s chief continued pushing the box towards us despite the fact that we had no idea exactly what taking it entailed.
『Hmm… I’m not really sure what to do either.』
It didn’t feel like any of the five mages present were casting or getting ready to cast any sort of spell, so I kinda felt that there wouldn’t be any issue with us just taking the medal they were presenting to us.
「Please do accept it. It shall serve to evidence your ability as an Archmage.」
They weren’t lying, and they didn’t seem to be our enemies, but I couldn’t bring myself to trust them regardless.
『They seem really suspicious, so let’s not for now. This is kinda sudden, I’d like to look into the Magician’s Guild a bit more before actually accepting.』
「Nn. Don’t need.」
「Milady, that simply cannot b-」
「Okay, how about we cut this off here for now?」
「W-Who dares interfere!?」
Someone placed themselves between Fran and Grakma right as I started considering whether or not we should use force to make him stop bothering us.
「You Aiwass people never do change, do you?」
「Hey Fran, haven’t seen you since yesterday.」
The person that’d inserted themselves between Fran and the annoying mage was none other than the former A ranked thread user we’d just fought yesterday, Fermus.
「What are you doing!? Leave at once, adventurer! We are currently in the midst of an important ritual!」
「I know. The whole reason I interfered was to prevent you from completing said ridiculous ritual.」
「And what exactly do you mean by that?」
「Don’t mind them. What they’ve done here today is in fact nothing out of the ordinary.」
It seemed my suspicions had been spot on. The reason the other four mages had seemed to be getting ready to perform some sort of ritual was because that was exactly what they’d been up to. Specifically, they’d been getting ready to perform a ritual that would indoctrinate Fran into their organisation.
Fran would’ve been become one of their members had she accepted the medal she was offered.
「They won’t use magic to bind you in any which way, but I can say for certain that they would have continued to bother you going forward had you joined their ranks.」
In other words, it was basically a scam. They planned to claim that we’d become one of their members through the act of going through with the ritual so long as we accepted the medal regardless of whether or not we knew what accepting it entailed.
「Even though being tricked?」
Their actions didn’t really seem to make sense. It seemed like there was a good chance of their actions pissing off the people they indoctrinated. Though that, in and of itself, wasn’t really too much of a problem, it could turn into one should they attempt to scam a more powerful, reputable mage. It seemed like a series of actions that could very quickly and easily damage their reputation.
「Their awareness of their actions is precisely what makes them as repulsive as they are. The trick they just used on you is one they only ever attempt to use on talented children. They probably thought it would work on you because they assumed you were as naive as you are young..」
They were clearly aware and making use of the fact that the average child wouldn’t attempt to deal with the situation by force.
In other words, they forced children into their organisation by flattering them and then using the fact that they’d completed a ritual as a sort of foot in the door in order to get them to do their bidding.
「There are many Magician’s Guilds out there, but none are as terrible and infamous as the Aiwass. Their methods are almost as shady as their goal, world domination. They may as well be an underground organisation, and likely wanted to recruit you after seeing the extent of your strength.」
「Please make sure you stay prudent, Fran. You’ll be getting all sorts of attention from here on out.」
「We should probably deal with these idiots one way or another. How do you think we should go about it?」
「B-By “these idiots,” are you perhaps referring to us!? You dare despite being an adventurer, a simple minded brute willing to immediately resort to violence!?」
Though I did admit that there were a good number of adventurers that acted like that, I felt like he was stereotyping us. It didn’t take anything more than just looking at Fermus to recognize the fact that he was civilized. Saying that he was an idiot just because he was an adventurer was flat out unreasonable.
「What? So you think there’s something wrong with me calling someone that attempts to force his ideals onto others without considering the consequences an idiot?」
「Haaah!? How dar-」
I apologized to Fermus in my heart. His efforts were appreciated, but ultimately in vain as Fran was kinda the type of adventurer that tended to immediately resort to violence. That applied all the more to people that tried to mess with her. She simply couldn’t stand them.
The catgirl’s straight kick knocked Grakma onto his back.
Fran hadn’t put too much force into the attack. She’d purposefully held back because she’d only been intending on knocking him over.
However, it caused him to collapse and start rolling back and forth, disheveling his clothes in the process.
『Wow, he’s weak.』
Fran’s eyes widened in shock, an act I hadn’t actually seen in quite some time. She’d been planning on showing him hell, but he’d kinda already fallen over after just a single tap. Honestly, I almost wanted to say it was a bit of a letdown.
「W-What are you doing, Milady!?」
「Whyever would you perform such a savage act!?」
「Bit pissed off.」
「T-That fails to justify your actions, Milady!」
Fran liked being an adventurer. She also really like many of her peers, namely people like Amanda and Erza. She would’ve attacked the man regardless of Fermus’ claims and his relation thereto.
「Shit! Let’s bounc… wait, what!?」
「I can’t move!」
「You won’t be able to get away. You’re far too weak to escape my threads and their bindings.」
Fermus’ strings sure did seem handy. He was able to use them to fully restrain all five of the magicians. They were all rendered incapable of movement.
「Threads were a type of weapon initially developed for use in espionage. They’re much more effective in ambushes than they are in head on conflict.」
Thinking about it, Fermus was right. His weapon wasn’t one suited to combat in an arena. He was much more powerful in something as tight in terms of space as a dungeon. He’d be able to easily kite with traps and whatnot. I could totally see us getting totally screwed over because we happened to stumble into a huge mass of threads in a tight corridor.
「Though, I doubt I would be able to defeat you even if the circumstances were tilted in my favour.」
「The incredibly powerful attack you finished me off with isn’t one I’d be able to defend against.」
The issue with what he suggested was that the combination we’d used wasn’t one we’d always be able to use. As a result, we were left unsatisfied. We wanted to get strong enough to able to beat him by rushing him head on.
「Right, so back to what we were saying. What do you think we should do with them?」
「My suggestion would be for us to leave them to the Adventurer’s Guild.」
「I think so. I don’t see why the guild wouldn’t move to defend an adventurer as powerful as yourself from another organisation.」
I mean, I guess we could, especially seeing as how Fermus was reccomending it. I was kinda tempted to head over to the guild and start showing their members their places, but we didn’t have the time for that.
「Then will leave to guild.」
「I guess we should take them inside then.」
「Wait bit first.」
「Are you going to do something to them?」
「Nn. Administering punishment.」
And so, Fran ended up slogging each of the men in the gut before dragging them inside the guild.
Much to my surprise, Dias was glad to hear what’d happened. I knew he was going to be able to deal with the situation without much issue, but I hadn’t expected him to be literally jumping for joy.
「This is just perfect! They’ve picked a fight with us, and in doing so, given us more than just an excuse to completely wipe them out!」
Dias glanced at his subordinates, a signal that caused them to approach before taking the mages we’d caught away.