Chapter 23: City-State Garoua Maria
「Going to the past doesn’t mean I can change my path. I wonder if it’s really worth it.」
It was pitch black. Not from the darkness of the room nor from the obscurity of the night. It was from a black mist. All I could see was a shadowy figure wandering around me.
「It’s worthy, Lugis. But, you must be the one to forge a new path. It won’t be easy. You will face hardships along the way. A rough path I must say. A path that will crack your bones. One engulfed with flames. Even so, you’ll have the chance to avoid burning yourself as you venture through the trails of your past. There will be a way to twist your own fate! 」
The shadowy figure continued with his monologue. The voice was somber, but it sounded as if it was not from around here. And yet, it sounded very nostalgic, something from an intrinsic dream.
「In other words, it won’t be easy to change the course of your past. As long as you keep focused, with your feet and mind on the ground, there will always be a chance for you to traverse your path.」
I could tell that this being was talking to me. But, his mouth was obscured. I wasn’t able to see him clearly. I couldn’t read this shadow’s facial expression. I wondered if he had any emotions like joy or sorrow. Therefore, I could only hear his words. Shapeless and emotionless words that I was only able to grasp from this ghostlike being.
「But, I will carry you. I won’t resent the choices you make. I will gladly accept the consequences of your actions. Therefore, I don’t mind the way you’ll change your past. I will welcome any choice you make. If…it is close to the result I want!」
His words seemed cold and monotonous. Soon, I stopped hearing him speak after a while.
Suddenly, I could hear his voice whispering next to me.
「All right, your new path has reopened. 」
The City-State of Garoua Maria. Even if the costumes and traditions were comparable to other neighboring countries, there wasn’t any other state that benefited from having an autonomous freedom like this city.
A robust fortification surrounded the entire metropolis. These impenetrable walls served as a protective shield. It prevented invasions from other nations and allowed them to stay away from the interferences of external conflicts. This city flourished as a center of trade between the East and the West. Because of that, the city was able to establish a firm and independent sovereignty. Under this prominent influence, many other neighboring cities began transitioning to be autonomous just like Garoua Maria. They maintained a close relationship with Garoua Maria and in a short period, they became annexed to the main city-state’s jurisdiction. It was hard to identify these neighboring cities as independent or as a whole organism since they became part of Garoua Maria.
History told us that this city-state never fell. Well yes, at least until now.
Once we entered this city, I got out of the carriage immediately since I felt I little dizzy. I could hear someone sighing slightly.
「What happened? Did you hit your head in the carriage? 」
This loud voice came from a barrel’s carrier.
Actually, it was a weird combination of a girl’s voice while taking a huge barrel herself.
This girl was quite petite but, even so, she managed to lift the barrels inside the carriage with her small body. She spoke with me with an energetic voice. This person was our guide in Garoua Maria and a friend of Ms. Ninz. Her name was Largud Ann.
I felt uneasy on my heart when I looked at our guide. She was too young. I was expecting someone more mature. Somehow, I had a weird feeling about this situation. Besides, she was carrying large barrels with her tiny and frail body of hers. How was she carrying those heavy barrels in the first place? Was this type of guide really okay to being with? I felt a mixture of anxiety and ice run through my veins.
However, this person was personally assigned to be our guide by Ms. Ninz. Even though I had doubts about her appearance, I was sure that Ms. Ninz would ask someone who was capable enough. There was no mistake this person might have commendable abilities. Ms. Ninz would never sent me an irresponsible person. I knew that for sure.
「Hey, Lugis…that guide is going to fall. 」
Caria spoke in an unsurprising voice. When I looked again, that guide lost her balance. She was about to fall and get crushed by that huge barrel.
I thought there wasn’t a mistake on hiring this girl as our guide. Yes, I knew that. But, I started to have some doubts.
That barrel was several times bigger than her tiny frame. She was not obliged to take that entire heavy luggage by herself. Maybe it was just an act of stubbornness. I didn’t know if Largud Ann was a merchant with that much pride, or if there was another reason to act irresponsible like that. To be honest, it was getting a bit annoying, so I had no choice but to intervene.
「Thank…Thanks…Okay then. I shall take you to the Guild just as requested. Leave it to me. This is my field of work. Don’t worry!」
Largud Ann showed me a smile. And yet, that didn’t convince me much.
「Just a moment ago, you were in trouble with that field of yours. Are you sure, there won’t be any problem?」
Caria spoke the harsh truth to the guide while I stood silent.
This woman was truly unforgiving as always. She lacked the compassion to interact with other people. Sometimes, being silent was the best way to deal with others. Particularly in this case. Her cold persona could be overwhelming sometimes. And her question showed how dubious she was of our guide’s abilities. Largud Ann’s face became pale when she heard Caria’s words.
Right now, this was not of my concern. What I really wanted to do was to make sure Caria settled down in Garoua Maria, before I could escape from her. Caria was a difficult person to deal with. Leaving her alone was not the best approach right now. She was excessively sensitive and possessive. That was my miscalculation. Therefore, I needed to have the proper time to make sure she would be fine and settled in.
In addition, I could not let her be on Gharast any longer. It would be too risky. These were troubling times. The main trading center between the East and the West was peaceful, for now. This was the best place for her to be.
「What’s wrong, Lugis?…We have to proceed right now, or…Don’t tell me that cargo is too heavy for you as well?」
I was engrossed on my thoughts. On that moment, I wrinkled my eyebrows when I heard Caria’s sarcastic voice from behind. Ah, this woman was far from being good at harmonizing with other people. Her hobby probably consisted of mocking a person’s weaknesses. It was pretty evident. Her strangely gratifying face proved that her deeds were quite devilish.
「From now on, there will be a new life starting from zero. There won’t be any familiar people, tavern or inn on the city-state. Even the Guild. I don’t know what awaits us there.」
Summing up, the Guild is a trading business, where merchants, crafts-men and adventurers gather. There are several types of Guilds in each country.
It started as a small organization that focused on information exchange, price bargains and monopoly arrangements. Before long, the organization grew in size and prestige. The Guild incorporated the power of influential people. Nowadays, the adventurers who join the Guild will have a chance of being under the patronage of great aristocrats or other similar powers.
In reality, this was all a façade for the sake of monopolizing the currency. In the Guild’s shady business, an adventurer’s life would represent money itself. However, the Guild’s true purpose was not only to make profit from adventurers. They also fared a private army in order to keep a show of power and prevent interference from other organizations. Of course, there were some variances among other countries, but the real core of the organization was not that different. The influx of merchants between the East and the West made these organizations thrive in money and power.
If one adventurer travelled to another country before joining a local Guild, then that adventurer won’t be able to join it afterwards. Adventurers who were not members of the Guild would be considered wanderers without proper identification. This could be troublesome if they went to another country without taking the right measures. They could be seized by the local government and be sent to prison. Therefore, joining the Guild was a necessity for new adventurers. The Guild could take the name of great aristocrats in exchange for a large amount of money in order to give protection and proper identification for the adventurer.
In other words, we didn’t have any sort of back up to live on the city-state. We had no choice but to join a local Guild. Even if I managed to get us a citizenship card, we could be regarded as suspicious individuals because we didn’t have any affiliation with the city organizations.
「Garganti Chamber of the Guild Commerce…Hey, hey. Are we really going to belong to this type of place?」
I asked Largud Ann in a surprising voice, as she stood right in front of this Guild entrance with a tiny smile. Without realizing, my throat became dry and my voice trembled as if it were having small spams. I didn’t foresee this.
First of all, the gate was a bit different than what we usual see. I belonged to a small Guild in a province of the Gharast Kingdom. It was rather humble if I recall correctly. It had an old wooden board that served as a signboard. But, this Guild was quite different. I could see a luxury signboard on top. The entrance was a bit overwhelming and I could tell that it was probably cleaned daily.
The size of this Guild was quite grand to be honest. It was really true that Garoua Maria was a thriving city. Perhaps, this organization was one of the leading Guilds of this city. Well, at least, its outer appearance proved that imposing status. I felt I was out of place for standing in front of this place. My legs started to quiver.
「Yes. The Garganti Chamber of the Guild Commerce is a branch of the main headquarters. It divided the power between two branches in Garoua Maria. But, is this place not good enough for you heroes?」
「…Heroes, you say? What do you mean? It’s the first time someone called me that.」
When I asked that question, my eyes rolled in a startling way. Largud Ann looked the other side. I didn’t understand why she spoke such statement about us.
Heroes. A brave hero, a savior. Ah, I remembered some bad things. There was no way I could associate that name with something good. I never proclaimed that name for myself. And I didn’t have any intentions to do so. It was quite strange how a simple name could make me have mixed feelings.
Largud Ann looked straight ahead then. She rubbed her neck and changed the direction of her eyes.
「I heard from Ms. Ninz that you, Lugis, renounced your position to rescue the prisoner Caria. You did something heroic but with repercussions. That’s why you had to leave the country.」
I see. But, I wondered why Ms. Ninz used that particular name. Next to Largud Ann, was standing Caria, who looked at me with scornful eyes. However, she held back her twisting tongue. Why doesn’t she disappear from my sight once and for all?
Indeed, as an adventurer, I aspired to be a hero myself. That was a long time ago. But, I wanted to be another kind hero. Not the one I had bad memories of. Heroes were people who were loved by fate. Heroes received the favor of God. With time, I realized that being a hero wouldn’t suit me. That title suited that hateful man much more. Sometimes, I would feel very lonely by remembering these memories.
Largud Ann carried a huge barrel and headed straight to the entrance of the Guild. She looked unbalanced as always.
Largud Ann opened the door of the Guild and we could hear a sounding bell before entering inside. The bell of the Guild had a very somber sound.
Once we entered inside, I had a shiver run through my body. I never been like this before. My eyelids were fully open. My whole body was accelerated. My heart beat fast and my breath was heavy. There were a man and woman inside. I locked eyes with them as we walked through. That gave me chills. I was behaving quite irrationally. This was getting ridiculous.
The woman was a girl who shook her unusually long black hair. She had a foreign appearance. There was also a blonde-haired man standing next to her. He seemed to have a gentle expression.
Ah, that’s right. I didn’t exaggerate back there.
…Soon, all of my anxiety came true all at once. I was not feeling too well.
At first, I thought I was wrong. I truly thought that. But, there was no mistake. I didn’t forget for one bit. But, it shocked me. I wasn’t expecting it here. My eyes were frozen and my throat was dry. My body didn’t move an inch as if I was petrified.
「…Hey, what’s up with you. Is my hair color that strange to you? 」
The girl with the long black hair pointed her finger on my direction. She was bothered with my fixedly frozen eyes. Her wrinkled eyebrows showed that she was in a bad mood.
I was not mistaken about the identity of this girl. She was a member of the Hero Party on the rescue journey. The Sorceress. My enemy. Filaret la Volgograd.
「Miss Filaret. You mustn’t talk with strangers like that. 」
Beside her, was standing a man who spoke to her with a humble voice. This man. Yes, this person was that man.
The man who messed up with my fate. An unmistakable old enemy. The man who was the source of my envy. My heart was controlled by a demon called hatred. He stepped on my pride when he took the glory of our party’s achievements. He even received the blessing from God. All bad things happened to me because of him.
Yes, that’s right. This man will be called a hero in the future. The man of salvation. The one who was bestowed to save the world, Helot Stanley.
“I will welcome any choice you make. If…it is close to the result I want!” -> Quite an eerie phrase right here… Welcome to volume 2. 😉
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