Six long and lazy months passed. The guild grew slowly and at a casual pace. Now and then, we met up to do work together. Finally, the guild master approached me as I lazed in a bar after finishing my daily work. “We need to do something,” he began. I looked up at him, and he continued. “If we want to do bigger jobs, we need to fill out our ranks and strengthen farther. I need you to find a trusted friend too lazy to backstab us, and have them make a second guild for us, so we can give him gifts to store away in another guild account at the bank. The workers are starting to refuse our deposits because we don’t withdraw enough.”
I chuckled and rested my head on my hands. “Yeah, I can do that. On that topic, any news on the new guys? The ones with rockets on their asses?”
“Yeah, they want us to refuse small jobs entirely.”
“That’s insane. Big jobs aren’t common. They’re being idiots. We need a combination.” I scowled and concentrated a moment. “Tell them that the small jobs are for our younger members to gain some profit.” I rubbed my head. The new boys accelerated in strength very quickly, and were always on the move. They were convinced that they were the most able out there, and that the rest of us should take only a month at most to train ourselves to our full potential. I was only at the top of the strength food chain because I worked my ass off for several months, and continued to try to improve where I could. Absently, I ran a hand along my newest acquisition– a belt that was enchanted to increase my abilities in combat.
“I’ll do that.” The guild master rubbed his chin. “And about that other issue?”
I stretched. “Right, the artisans. So far, we have a little bit of everything. Only two masters of their crafts though, and I’m still the go-to man for cooking, strange enough. Our jewelers and alchemists are journeymen at their best. They’re starting to gain momentum, though, and have to stop work in order to train themselves to gain passage to areas with rarer materials.” I paused and laughed. “God, those games are awful realistic, aren’t they? Shame we can’t look at each other and know exact numbers for our strengths and weaknesses.”
The guild master waved a hand dismissively. “Never mind that. We need to send some people to Vale Inro. There’s a merchant who sells rare bags.”
I blinked. “Bags? Isn’t that why we have a tailor on staff?”
“These are enchanted bags, dunce.” He grumbled. “They’re enchanted to hold only one type of material, but they hold as much as a wagon without weighing a man down.”
For a moment, I scowled. “That actually sounds rather handy. I’ll tell the tailor to head out there and give him some coin for the trip. He’ll need to beef up, but if he concentrates, it should only take a few weeks, if not, a month or two. He’s been starting to feel less lazy.” With a lazy hand, I shifted my hat. “Jack, I think our lot in life is only heading up. People notice us. Why push so hard?”
Jack sighed and pursed his lips as he thought about how best to answer. “I just want us to be capable to take on some of the largest jobs out there. The ones from the crown.”
My eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Lofty goal, that. We’ll get there.” I picked up a toothpick and began to chew at it with my front teeth. “How goes recruitment?”
“Slow. Just the rocket-butts, but there might be another one soon.”
“Those rocket-butts are a bit annoying.” I paused. “We need another person at the top who can perform medical aid. Ask the one with the robes if he’ll put down his beat-stick long enough to be more useful to the team.” I snorted. “If it wears robes and communes with the holy, it should have the decency to be helpful.”
Jack laughed and shook his head. “But that simply isn’t fun!”
“Sod that. Every other priest in the guild enjoys their jobs, even if they’re slow to beef up.” I snorted. “I need someone to heal me when I’m making every damn thing angry, so that the sneaky people can kill whatever’s wanting to kill us.”
“That finally explains why you gave that knight a black eye for snagging armor you wanted!” The guild master laughed and slammed his hand into the table. “What do you think you are, a brick wall?” He shook his head.
“Well, yeah. Self-appointed job.”
“The hell it is! You’re supposed to be the guild’s quartermaster!”
I blinked and began to laugh. “Well shit, why not just give me the guild, man?” I slapped my knee and leaned against it.
“I ain’t that stupid. You’ll drop me like I’m last year’s spoiled eggs!”
The two of us laughed. “You have a point, but regardless– I’m good at what I do, and as long as I have someone tending to me, I don’t fall. I fail to see the problem.”
He sighed and shook his head. “It’s awful stupid.”
“And I’m not as a whole?”
“Oh, shut up. We have a job later today. If you get killed, it’s going to suck having to replace you.”
“Don’t worry so much. Tell robe boy to start thinking more pious thoughts, and we’re golden.” I chuckled as he rose and left, and turned my attention to an approaching young woman. “Hello, lil’ girl.” With an inclination of my head, I reached forward and pulled a chair out for her.
The woman smiled at me. She was a pretty thing. With grace, she accepted the seat and scooted it closer to me with a playful little smile. “So, you’re the great and powerful Anrod?”
“Anrod of the Mercurials?”
“Yes.” I paused. Something didn’t ring true.
“The Ardents send their regrets.” Her movements were lightning fast, but mine were faster. I grabbed her hand and forced it up until she was off her feet as I stood. A knife with a tainted blade. She intended to poison me.
For long moments, I stared at her. She was a pretty thing, and her glowering hatred made her lovely. “I think I’m going to take you prisoner now, for your attack on my person.”
She tried to aim a kick at my groin, but I twisted and she instead hit my hip armor. This would be fun. I smiled at her. “Drop the knife before I break your little wrist. It’s so very thin.”
As the knife clattered to the floor, I quickly checked her person for any additional arms. A few extra feels here and there ensured me she would make a fine captive to tame, and I carried her away. Her hair was loosened from its hold and she wildly screamed and tried to hurt me. I felt very little of her attacks, and simply carried her up the inn’s stairs, to my rented room.