Fran, Urushi and I spent the three days leading up to our ship ride walking around the city, eating, and just lazing around. The rare bit of downtime served to function as a decent break from all the action we normally threw ourselves right into.
We actually ended up visiting the orphanage a second time. Our timing had been a bit off, so Fran and Urushi didn’t end up catching themselves a meal, but they did manage to get themselves a cup of tea and couple baked sweets, which, for our purposes, was more than enough. The whole reason we’d visited was so we could give them a bunch of stuff, and use their hospitality as just cause for doing so. Of course, we made sure to give them more than enough stuff to also make up for all the curry Fran and Urushi had consumed. I figured they probably wouldn’t be all that comfortable with us giving them money, so we ended up giving them ingredients instead. More specifically, we handed off a bunch of flour, some sugar, and several different kinds of spices.
Though lazing around was nice and all, we were still rather keen on actually going places. To that end, we set out early in the morning on the day we were scheduled to leave and immediately headed in the ship’s direction.
『Looks like we’re finally taking our first step towards the Beastkin’s Country.』
「Nn. Can’t wait.」
『I’m pretty sure we can do a much better job at guarding the ship this time around than we did the last. That said, don’t forget to enjoy the ride.』
「Can’t wait. Tough foes.」
We’d gotten a lot stronger since our last boat trip. I was pretty sure we’d be able to handle anything that came at us with ease, save for maybe the Mydgard Wyrm.
When we arrived at the ship, we saw the captain talking to a group of people that seemed to belong to some sort of government office. I wasn’t really sure exactly what he was talking about, but he wrapped things up and began calling out to Fran when he noticed her.
「Hey Black Lightning Princess. I think I forgot to introduce myself last time. The name’s Jerome, captain of the HSS Algieba.」
「Nn. C ranked adventurer. Fran.」
The pair exchanged a handshake. They almost seemed to be on the same wavelength or something, as the act caused both to smile. It was a rare moment for Fran, who typically really didn’t care for appearances.
「Hey, you! Get over here. Show Fran to my first mate and have him introduce himself.」
「I’m stuck doing a bunch of stuff so I can get us ready to sail, so my second in command’ll fill you in on all you need to know.」
It turned out that the people Jerome had been speaking to belonged to the Ministry of the Port. He needed to work through a few details with them before the ship could actually depart from the harbour. The government officials more or less functioned as sea traffic control. They were making sure people worked on a schedule and only departed when it was their turn to leave. Likewise, they also made sure each ship was assigned a priority so that any lower priority ships would yield in the case of a schedule conflict. Their function was near identical to the sea-traffic control stations you’d see back on Earth.
The world I was currently living in definitely was a totally different world, but its port-related rules were quite similar. I honestly wasn’t surprised, rules were needed no matter where you were, and the ones that both worlds had chosen were not only functional but also rather easy to implement. Ships like the Algeiba only emphasized the need for regulation all the more. Allowing large ships to leave whenever they wanted would lead to a whole slew of issues.
「Should be over here.」
One testament to the ship’s sheer size was the 100 odd step staircase we needed to climb to get up to its deck from the harbour.
A large group of sailors were working the day away atop the ship’s massive deck. The one that was supposed to be guiding us walked past most of them and approached a man that seemed to be supervising everyone else’s work.
「What? Oh, I’m guessing that’s the last escort?」
「Yessir. Her name’s Fran.」
「C ranked adventurer. Fran. Accepted escort mission.」
「Me, I’m Buphett, the captain’s first mate.」
Unlike the captain, the first mate didn’t really seem like much of a fighter. He was tall, lanky, and to be frank, seemed a bit frail overall. Appraising him allowed me to confirm that he was the type that stayed out of battles. Both his combat related skills, Bow Arts and Spear Arts, were still at level one. To compensate, he had high levels in Commerce, Way of the Word, Arithmetic, and Observation. In other words, he was great at everything he needed to be proficient in to qualify him as the ship’s second in command.
Though his skills did draw my attention, I found myself much more interested in his race than anything else. He was apparently a sort of goatkin, so I couldn’t help but suspect that he would end up eating the documents he was supposed to fill out.
「I’ve heard plenty a rumour about you, but honestly, it’s a bit hard for me to believe that the Black Lightning Princess everyone’s been talking about is still just a little girl. I thought I might change my mind after seeing you, but…」
「The captain says she’s legit though.」
「Sorry if I offended you. I was just trying to say that it’s really hard for an everyday civilian like me to tell that you’re really strong. To be frank, you look just like every other beginner to me.」
「Not offended. Used to already.」
「Hahaha, good to hear. I guess I should probably have you meet the other adventurers we hired. I hope you guys’ll be able to get along.」
「Will be careful.」
「Please do. Give me just a second to have them all brought over.」
Buphett ordered several of his subordinates to go fetch the other adventurers. It seemed that they were all already here, and that we were in fact the last to arrive.
「Total, how many?」
「We hired a total of 12, you included. We’ve got a few decent fighters amongst the crew, but we still tend to hire adventurers for a good few reasons.」
It’d become something along the lines of a tradition for ships that worked directly under the crown to hire adventurers, an act that served to show that there were ties between the royal family and the guild. More importantly, adventurers proved quite useful in the case of an emergency. Most tended to have a ton of experience, so they could really aid in keeping everyone calm and battle-ready. To that end, most ships would make sure they grabbed a few adventurers in addition to just having a few battle ready crew members on board.
「I believe you’re also the only one that’s running solo.」
「I’m not qualified to gauge how strong they really are, but, there are a total of three parties, with their party-wide ranks being C, D, and E respectively. The C ranked party’s leader is probably the strongest of the group. He himself is a B ranker.」
I was impressed that there was actually a B ranker aboard the ship, as I assumed the person in question would end up being decently strong. However, I couldn’t help but feel as if having them around would end up being more of a pain in the ass than anything else, as we would have to listen to their orders in the case that something happened. I myself didn’t really mind, but I somehow doubted Fran would obey the person’s commands.
「It looks like they’re here.」
『Seems like it.』
The crew members led the adventurers that’d been inside the ship onto its deck. The warrior-like man at the group’s forefront immediately caught our attention. He, the B ranker Buphett had just told us about, looked much stronger than the rest. A sense of dejavu struck me as I looked at him. I felt like I’d seen that blue armour of his somewhere before, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly where. Chances were, we’d probably crossed paths at the Adventurers’ Guild or something, but I wasn’t really too sure.
「Right this way, Mordred.」
Hearing his name made me suspect that he was going to end up betraying us at some point, but the more rational part of my mind told me that it would probably be fine. 
「This is the last adventurer that’ll be joining us in escorting the ship.」
「Oi, what the hell? Why’d you go and call my bro Mordred all the way out here just to introduce him to a puny little girl? It would’ve been much more polite for you to have her head over to him instead goddammit.」
The short man next to Mordred angrily responded to the first mate’s summons as soon as he laid eyes on Fran.
What pissed me off the most was that he wasn’t wrong. Fran, a mere little girl, was technically lower on the the social ladder than a B ranked adventurer. Hence, many of Mordred’s party members ended up nodding along to voice their agreement.
「Boss, these bastards are making light of y-」
「Shut up Slunin. You’re embarassing yourself.」
But he was soon cut off. Mordred, the person the angry midget had complained to, had spoken up as if to silence him.
「We were the ones that were told to move because it’s natural for the weak to go out of their way to convenience the strong. Putting on a show of respect is our job, not hers.」
「W-What’re you saying bro!?」
Witnessing the natural manner in which his boss had submitted caused Slunin to shout in surprise. He was quite loud, but Mordred paid him no mind. He instead turned towards Fran and bowed.
「Excuse that subordinate of mine. He tends to be a bit rude.」
「Nn. Don’t mind.」
「Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mordred, I lead the C ranked party known as the Iron God’s Breath.」
「C ranked adventurer. Fran.」
Slunin seemed hella pissed. He clearly felt that Fran should’ve been paying Mordred her respects instead of the opposite because she was just a C ranker. He was about to start yelling again, but Mordred cut him off before he could.
「Am I right in assuming that you’re the Black Lightning Princess?」
「Called that often lately.」
「I thought so. I saw all your fights.」
「Was at Ulmutt?」
「Yes, but I was the only one of my party members that was there. I participated, but ended up losing to Fermus in the second round.」
Only then did I realize why I felt like we’d seen him before. We hadn’t met him, but we’d watched his matches. Fran also ended up recalling him after I reminded her of one of the battle’s key points.
Mordred had been pretty good at using Lava Magic. I very vividly recalled being impressed by how he’d made it seem like such a valuable skill to have.
「You remembered me?」
「Nn. Because strong.」
「I’m honoured to hear that from the person that defeated an opponent that wiped the floor with me.」
「So uh… boss, care to explain?」
「You guys were holed up in the Crystal Cage back when it happened, so I doubt you know, but she’s the person that won third place. She’s still a C ranker right now, but she’s in no way weaker than an A ranker.」
「You’ve gotta be kidding me…!」
「I’m serious. She’s way stronger than me.」
「「「We’re really sorry!」」」
All three of Mordred’s subordinates dove in front of Fran and started prostrating the moment Mordred’s declaration left his mouth. Seeing them had made me realize that they weren’t so annoying after all. They were punks, but honest ones. Fran seemed to feel the same, as she wasn’t really angry either. Instead, she seemed to be finding the sight of three massive dudes prostrating themselves before her to be more curious than anything else.
 Arthurian legend. Mordred the traitor.