The Adventurers of the Guild
A peculiar rumor began to make its way throughout the public treatment facility in Gomag. People spoke of a strange song that could be heard in the special ward at night. The voice apparently sounded like a man’s yet also a woman’s at the same time, and a child’s yet also an elder’s at the same time. The song sounded somewhat like an exaltation of love yet also somewhat like a lament of homesickness. Every night, that enigmatic melody resounded out from somewhere within the shadows.
Of course, many suspected that one of the patients was the mysterious singer. However, the only current residents of the special ward were five men and women, all deep in a coma of unknown cause. Furthermore, those five happened to be targets of some strange cult, so heavy security surrounded the building around the clock, effectively making it impossible for any outsider to enter unnoticed.
That left only one conclusion: the patients, sucked into dreams of a vast ashen world, were singing in their sleep, trying to drag those around them into that same dream with their evocative yet repulsive melody…
“Stop talking about that!” Lucie said with a shiver. “I’m going to be on guard tonight! You’re gonna pay big time if I see ghosts or something!”
“Ah, it’s just so fun seeing you react like that I couldn’t help myself,” Ted said with a hearty laugh before receiving an iron fist in the nose and toppling over.
“If you keep teasing girls like that, you’ll experience real pain soon enough.”
“I think any proper girl would classify that punch just now as real pain.” Ted received a stone cold glare. “Never mind.”
Naturally, there was no shortage of similar ghost stories associated with the hospital. Someone made up a story of a misfortunate girl who died while longing for her fiance the day after strong winds blew, and all the patients gossiped about it as if it were true. There was also a legend of a mysterious white cloaked man with a hatred for all life who appeared the day after the curtains on the second floor were changed to white, and all the kids talked about it excitedly.
So in other words, Lucie probably had nothing to worry about. The song might’ve just been the wind whistling through the windows, or the meowing of a stray cat, or the loud humming of someone living closeby. There might’ve been nothing supernatural about it. But still, she always had a weakness for scary stories.
“Ugh… maybe I’ll just bring ear plugs.”
“You’re supposed to be guarding the building, so that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.”
“And who do you think is making me worry so much!?”
The two of them sat at a table in the corner of the adventurer’s guild, sipping on cheap wine, waiting for night to come.
The investigation into the coma incidents still hadn’t progressed very much. The victims only continued to gradually increase without rhyme nor reason. They shared no common background or lifestyle in particular, and no trends in age groups or gender could be observed.
Clues as to the whereabouts of True World’s headquarters were still virtually nonexistent as well. A mere three thousand people lived in the small town of Gomag, so where on earth could they have been hiding? Or in the first place, was their headquarters even in the town?
Those men they fought earlier remained silent ever since their capture. Torture and other such methods were banned under an international charter, so they could do absolutely nothing as long as the men refused to talk. After that battle, seeing how the coma victims showed no signs of stopping, everyone had prepared for another similar encounter. Their preparations turned out to be pointless, but the absence of another kidnapping attempt seemed like it could be a useful hint.
Recently, Lucie had stopped seeing that young Quasi Brave, since he deemed the danger of the situation to be moderate enough that the adventurers could handle it by themselves. Apparently busy with investigations of his own, he also stopped showing up at the guild.
“… so about that Willem guy…” Lucie broke the silence.
“Yeah?” Ted responded.
“He’s not married, right?”
“Nope. He does have a lot of kids in a sense though, being the effective manager of the orphanage and all.”
Kids, huh. Taking another sip of wine, Lucie thought for a bit. She was never very good with kids.
“Oh, but apparently there are a lot of girls he’s close with. And some of them are super famous too,” Ted added on.
“Hmm? Like who?”
“I’ve heard that the Regal Brave Leila Asprey is a disciple of the same master as Willem.”
Aglhgh. The wine went down the wrong way.
“Also, as for people that us adventurers know, he’s fought with Emissa Hodwin and Kaiya Kaltran more than just a few times.”
“T-The over level 30 people!?”
Since the adventurers used level as a way to roughly judge others’ strength, those with a ridiculously high level naturally became well known amongst them.
“Willem’s over 30 too, according to him.”
“… ughh…” Lucie didn’t find it hard to believe. Although she only saw him fight once, his skill that battle seemed overwhelming. “W-What does he think? Did he say anything about who he wants!?”
“The other day, he said he found a really nice girl and proposed.”
Damn it. Lucie rammed her forehead against the table.
“I didn’t ask who it was, but it seemed like someone we don’t know.”
“Ahhh… well I guess I don’t stand a chance then…”
“Personally, I can’t really recommend him. If word gets out that you have a boyfriend, the floor of the guild will probably run red with blood.” Ted turned around. Immediately, about ten guys all readjusted their seat, opened a book, took a drink, or gazed out the window, pretending to not be eavesdropping. “I’m after Almaria so I don’t really care, but there are a lot of guys here that want you, you know? Not sure what it would be like to see them all crying.”
In Lucie’s opinion, if those guys hadn’t tried approaching her at all yet, they effectively weren’t even after her. Their crushes were no more than shallow admiration. So, most likely, they would all end up crying anyways. The only difference was whether that would be now or later.
“And what am I supposed to do about my urge to cry right now?”
“Devote yourself to work and forget about it. That sounds like a good plan.”
The cuckoo clock on the wall made its silly little sounds. The time for the guards at the public treatment facility to change shifts was drawing nearer.
“… waaah.” Lucie threw her head down onto the table once again.
“It’s okay. Ghosts aren’t real.”
“If anything happens to me, the first thing I’m gonna do is curse you!”
“I’m telling you, nothing’s going to happen. That story is just a rumor. Come on, get up and work.”
“Noo, no scary things! I want to go home!”