We started walking around so we could look for Old Man Gallus.
I started thinking about who we needed to talk to in order to find him. The Adventurer’s Guild was always an option given that adventurers were always on the lookout for skilled blacksmiths. There was a pretty good chance someone would know something about where he was.
Likewise, the Blacksmiths’ Guild also seemed like a fairly decent choice. He probably would’ve stopped by at least fairly recently if he was still at work in Barbra.
『Let’s head for the Adventurer’s Guild first, I guess.』
To Fran, the Adventurer’s Guild was more or less her home base. She’d met with Gamud, the guildmaster, in person before, and had even become rather famous because of how far she got in Ulmutt’s tournament. There was simply no way the Adventurer’s Guild would end up turning request for information away for no reason. Speaking of which, the Adventurer’s Guild’s information network likely outshined the Blacksmiths’ Guild’s. There really wasn’t any reason to choose the latter of our two options over the former. Given all that, we ended up turning our heels towards the Adventurer’s Guild.
For some odd reason, both Fran and Urushi ended up fidgeting and restlessly casting their gazes all over as we moved along.
Their restlessness seemed to indicate that they were sensing something.
『Is something the matter?』
I totally forgot that Barbra was in the midst of a curry boom until after Fran and Urushi inadvertently reminded me of it. There were several street stalls in our vicinity. It only made sense for at least one of them to be serving the dish given its popularity.
Fran somehow managed to narrow down the exact stall in question and casually approached it. She did it so naturally it almost seemed instinctual.
A part of me couldn’t help but suspect that she would probably fall for any traps that involved luring one’s prey in with curry, even if we were in the midst of exploring a dungeon.
「Aye, that’d be mah curry n’dles. We mades it based off curry.」
I was pleasantly surprised that someone had already come up with the idea of using curry to create a noddle-based dish. It looked to me like their recipe involved putting the noodles and curry together in one big pot and then cooking it all at once. The result seemed pretty good appearance wise, but I figured the noodles would end up being overcooked and soggy. Still, I couldn’t really claim that I was disinterested. The same seemed to go for Fran, as she bought two portions of the stuff, one for herself, and one for Urushi.
Both my companions immediately slurped down their entire bowls. They seemed perfectly content with the flavour.
『How was it?』
『Were the noodles not too soggy?』
It seemed that the chef had managed to come up with something to keep the noddles nice and firm. I asked Fran about it a bit later on, and we managed to conclude that the noodles were the kind that didn’t really get soggy unless you left them for way too long. They probably contained something along the lines of konjac or cellophane.
The dish was interesting, and I was really impressed by the chef’s ingenuity. He’d raised the bar; I was starting to expect a lot more out of other people’s curry dishes.
Fran continued to visit stall after stall as she made her way over to the guild.
Barbra’s Adventurer’s Guild was lively; it contained an incredible number of adventurers.
A fair portion of them seemed to move their gazes in Fran’s direction the moment she entered. They threw her glances, as if they weren’t all that willing to stare. Their eyes seemed filled with doubt and suspicion, but she didn’t mind them and instead just marched right over to the counter.
「Please feel free to ask away.」
The receptionist’s professionalism impressed me. She treated Fran courteously and politely despite not knowing her identity.
「Looking for someone.」
「So you want to issue a search request? I can introduce you to an adventurer that specializes in that sort of field if you’d like. Would you mind negotiating with the person in question directly?」
I liked the receptionist’s suggestion. The person in question could probably do a pretty damned good job if the guild considered them a contact reputable enough to recommend.
「Works. Can meet person soon?」
「Of course. He’s right there, after all.」
The receptionist directed her gaze towards a nearby adventurer, a middle-aged man with a scout-type class. His combat-based stats were rather low, but that was only because he specialized in the gathering of information. He had a bunch of detection-based skills, stealth-based skills, and negotiation-based skills.
「Hey, I heard you’re looking for someone?」
「I’m what a lot of people like calling a small fry because I pretty much only do jobs that don’t need me to leave the city. That said, I can make up for it because I know pretty much everything that goes on here in Barbra, so I should be able to point you in the right direction. Anyway, I probably rambled off a bit too long, why don’t we get down to business?」
Our newfound acquaintance introduced himself as Regus. He seemed to run his operations within the guild, as he had us sit down with him in one of its corners as he spoke. His attitude was an easygoing one, and he didn’t really seem to be looking down on Fran either, which was nice.
「So, who exactly were you looking for again?」
「Oh? You’re looking for the ever so famous blacksmith, are you?」
「Know him? Want to know current whereabouts.」
Things were looking up. It seemed that we’d be able to find Old Man Gallus so long as we paid up.
「Will pay intel fee.」
「Don’t bother. I won’t be charging you.」
「Well, you see, the thing is I don’t really know all that much about where he is right now. I do have a bit of info for you, but it’s nothing substantial enough to warrant me charging you for it. Besides, networking with the Black Lightning Princess is worth way more to me than a bit of chump change.」
Regus’ words demonstrated that he’d acted the way he did precisely because he knew who Fran was. I didn’t really care either way, as we ended up getting the information we needed.
「The last I heard of him was about 10 days ago. He was still in Barbra, and I think he did some maintenance on the Guildmaster’s weapon.」
There wasn’t any more information on him. Regus himself was of the opinion that Gallus had likely left the city.
「But didn’t see in Ulmutt.」
「Have you not been in touch at all?」
「Hmmm… I can think up several possibilities if that’s the case.」
The first possibility Regus brought up was that Gallus had gotten into some sort of trouble on his way over to Ulmutt. The old man could’ve been attacked by either magic beasts or thieves.
「But I doubt that to be it. The tourney’s made it so the roads are more populated than usual. There’s been more patrols checking the route too, so there probably would’ve been a few witness reports if that was what’d happened.」
Gallus was decently proficient with both Hammer Arts and Fire Magic, so I doubted he’d be delayed by any sort of minor conflict.
The second possibility was that he’d been involved in an incident that took place within Barbra, one that happened before he managed to leave. He was an incredibly skilled blacksmith; there was a chance he’d been kidnapped by a slave merchant or criminal organisation that wanted to make use of his skills.
Though both the first and second possibilities insinuated he was in some sort of trouble, that in and of itself was an assumption that may or may not have been correct. Gallus could’ve just accepted a job that required him to remain off the radar. The old man had the tendency to only do things he wanted to, but that didn’t mean he was actually safe from royals or other highly influential nobles. He could’ve been dragged off by one because they wanted him to do some top-secret task.
Furthermore, there was always the off chance that he’d simply forgotten to keep in touch because he got a bit too engrossed in his work. He had a true craftsmen’s temperament, so that was always a possibility we had to consider.
There was simply no way for us to figure out exactly what had happened.
「Would you mind giving me a day to do some investigating?」
「Thanks. Any task for me?」
「I don’t really think anything too showy would work to our benefit… Hmm… wait, you know Barbra’s guildmaster, right?」
「Alright. It’d probably be best for you to see if you can get any information out of both the guildmaster and the Blacksmiths’ guild. Don’t worry about investigating and figuring out if they’re trying to hide anything. Just talk to them as you normally would.」
Alright, I guess that means we’re visiting Gamud.