Note: Heartfelt thanks to Kyler Martin for donating 20 euros for this series!
Thank you for following this series despite my slowness, it means a lot for us.
The beginning of the guilds and the truth about the girl
White Aries’ crimes were reported to the authorities.
The knights who looked through Purple Scorpio and Green cancer’s structures confirmed that they had broken the law and thus were restricted.
The authorities agreed to interrogate and punish all the involved people accordingly to the gravity of their deeds.
The worst part about all of this was that White Aries’ Guild Master never wore Teacher’s collar—he just followed what she said like a fanatic.
When I had him talk, he also told me about ‘Ashen clown’.
When the guilds had yet to be founded, Albein’s adventurers accepted and accomplished requests personally. Some of them only wanted fame and treasures, so they hardly accepted any request and only went on adventures, but your average adventurer would try to become known enough to live of this.
However, a hundred years ago the capital saw the first being overcoming a SS rank adventurer—Teacher.
She was the founder of the very concept of ‘adventurer guilds’ in Albein.
She named her guild ‘Ophiuchus’1 and gathered the strongest people under her wing, then managed to accept and complete any request from the average people and the nobles, to the point that she almost rivalled the King in terms of reliability, and people eventually saw her service as something essential.
That was the very first guild in the capital, so it didn’t have a color for itself as it didn’t need to be distinguished from any other similar organization.
However, Teacher never thought to stay forever.
After ten years since the foundation, she disappeared without warning, casting all the adventurers in chaos.
Having lost the most charismatic person in the guild, Ophiuchus was disbanded and the strongest adventurers—four SS rank and eight S rank ones—tried to do the same as her and founded their own guilds.
Since they were so many, they all decided to have a color associated to them, leaving a specific one aside: the most inauspicious color they knew—grey.
However, they were nothing compared to the former organization.
Many adventurers wished for her return, but she never came back.
Their feelings were so in disarray that many couldn’t accept her decision or the reality they were forced to face, so they started thinking that she had made a fool of them all. Some went as far as to insult her, calling her a clown.
That’s how the Guild Masters showed their hatred to her, pushing the most loathed color nearby a nickname that framed her well enough—that’s how she became Ashen clown.
Currently there isn’t a Guild Master who knows her real name yet.
Still, her story didn’t matter for White Aries’ Guild Master, who saw her like an embodied deity.
He kept hoping that she would come back eventually and arranged for her the best throne he could offer: he worked hard to bring his guild to the top, then waited for the one true king to return.
When his wish came true, he didn’t mind subjugating the guilds: if that was her will, he wanted it to be reality.
She never forced him to listen to her. He knew she had what it takes to rule over everything, that’s why he helped her as much as he could.
He was well aware of his actions.
A true adept never stops venerating their deity, after all.
When I had three guilds cut their affiliations to White Aries, I didn’t know anything about this. White Aries should’ve considered keeping an eye on me.
However, instead of taking actions against my guild, White Aries’ Guild Master spent all his time to dominate and force the guilds that were left in his iron grip.
But time changes everything.
Once we defeated the demon lord and returned, there was a drastic drop in monsters’ sightings, so the adventurers who based their activities on monster slaying quickly lost their job.
That’s when Purple Scorpio and Blue Sagittarius started to misbehave.
Green Cancer couldn’t keep up with this new situation either and accepted White Aries’ help, which led them into a honey trap.
Teacher was right—there was no need to keep all the twelve guilds in the capital.
It was White Aries’ Guild Master who suggested to create the collars.
With them, they could make sure that everyone would follow their orders, preserving their insane authority.
Teacher accepted his idea and created them, so she was as much as guilty.
What I blamed her the most was that she had White Aries’ members wear it and ordered them to waste their lives if needed.
At any rate, there was something I had to hear from her, so I brought her to my guild house.
I didn’t want her to be arrested before I had all the answers I wanted.
Teacher was wearing just a shirt as she slept in my bed. I told her to sleep in Verlaine’s but she just did what she wanted.
Two hours later, she had yet to wake up and looked feverish, so I put a wet cloth on her forehead to help her keep her temperature in check.
She must’ve used up too much of her magic power to resist my last attack and it was hard to help her replenish it quickly.
The problem wasn’t the technique in itself, but the fact that I didn’t know if she wanted me to help her or not.
I could give her some of my magic power without touching her as well if she didn’t want to get touched, but I had to touch her when I brought her on my back to my guild house, so I didn’t think it was a matter of touching.
I felt it was a matter of respect.
She was the one who taught me how to live and the woman who told me to do what I wanted before I joined the expedition party, so maybe it was humiliating for her if I helped her now.
Anyway, I finally understood why she helped me without asking anything back: she simply hoped that I would come back to her some day and fulfil my promise.
And yet no matter how much she wished for it, I never did… and I never managed to tell her that I didn’t want to kill her.
“Master, I brought you some tea. Take some rest, I’ll keep an eye on her.”
“No. She can teleport away any time, I don’t want her to vanish in thin air. Thank you for your consideration, but I’d rather stay here.”
“Don’t be too kind with me… I might do something crazy. You are quite fascinating when you look this weak too.”
Verlaine switched her way of talking from maid to former demon lord and placed our drinks on the table nearby the bed. It was herbal tea made with ‘Mishika herb’, which helped calming down.
I took a sip and felt my chest lighten, like I finally managed to drop the stone that pushed down on it. Verlaine smiled and changed the cloth on Teacher’s forehead.
Using up too much magic power in one go would strain the body and outbreak in a fever. Teacher managed to heal all the wounds of our fight, but replenishing one’s magic power wasn’t a matter of a few minutes or hours.
“Verlaine, you know what Teacher is, right? She isn’t an elf and I never heard about any other demi-human who is as long-lived as she is. What is she exactly?”
“She’s something that could master very strong magic and transcend the whole creations’ knowledge. An immortal. Someone who wandered the lands as a walking blessing or a devastating curse. It’s said that some of them are among the demons too.”
Her brief explanation helped me guess the answer.
If my guess was right, I knew how those things were called, where they came from and what they aimed to, but I waited for her confirmation.
Verlaine kept looking at Teacher as she slept.
“She’s probably one of the so called ‘Forsaken legacies’. They were created by the gods when they still roamed the lands.”
Something clicked in my head.
The first time I saw Teacher using her powers, I’m sure I thought that she looked just like a goddess.
She could do anything and knew everything.
I remembered her face well when I said that to her.
She faced me with the loneliest expression I ever saw and whispered a few words—There’s only one thing I’ll never be able to do alone.
“Your teacher saw so many things in her life that it shouldn’t surprise us that her personality is so messed up. We can’t even imagine how long the Forsaken legacies have been living…”
“I guess… they’re alive since the day us humans were born into this world.”
We couldn’t imagine how they felt… how my Teacher did.
Now it was clear why she helped me grow and why she had me promise—I was one of the few beings who could really put an end to her loneliness.
She created the first guild in the city a hundred years ago because she was looking for someone who could end her life.
After ten fruitless years, she just moved on and kept searching.
It took her eighty years to come back here and find me.
But why did she come back in the first place? Was it because it only took her eighty years to travel all around the world?
I had to ask her for the truth.
“At any rate, I can’t just forgive her. I’ll spit what I need to her face once she wakes up.”
“That’s brutal, Master. By the way, do you think she was so mad precisely because of her pupil?”
“I was a bad pupil, since I kept lying to her… to the bitter end.”
Dee, I’ll teach you everything you need to live. In exchange, you’ll have to kill me once we’re done.
What do you mean, Teacher? That would be a huge problem for me.
You’ll be free as long as you keep this promise. I’ll never let you go until you fulfil it.
“I never wanted to keep that promise. I joined the expedition party to escape from her and never come back.”
The glass in my hand started to crack. I didn’t notice my grip was destroying it.
I kept averting my eyes from my betrayal.
Teacher wanted to die? Well, I couldn’t accept that kind of bullshit.
I didn’t know anything about my Teacher, and yet no matter how hard it was for her, I just couldn’t bring myself to make her wish come true.
I kept finding a justification to my egoism.
Even though my Teacher was the person who taught me all I needed to be, I wanted to be happy.
“Just… don’t blame it on yourself.”
Verlaine placed her hands on mine, stopping me from breaking the glass that was already showing cracks.
She circled around me while brushing my arm with her fingertips then hugged me from behind.
Her warm embrace made me notice that my heart was cracked like my glass, and tears welled in the corner of my eyes, slowly descending on my cheeks.
I had no right to cry, and yet I couldn’t control myself.
“It’s evident that your teacher is very important to you, Master. Can’t you just start over again with her? Instead of punishing her too hard, can’t you just have her atone her sins with this?”
“I… I’m the one at fault. She was just chasing me.”
“We’ll never allow you to bear this burden alone, Master. We all know how diligent and kind you are, that’s exactly why I can’t keep these words to myself or leave you be. I will surely help you share your burdens and lighten your heart, no matter who hurts you or what ideal blocks you. We all will, even if we gotta beat the crap outta that woman.”
She sounded funny in the end, but she was serious.
Her embrace tightened on me, almost trying to keep me together and not letting me go.
“Master, your will is the path we walk. I’m sure you’re blaming yourself for all the demi-humans who Garamdoor hurt and for never taking actions against the rotten guilds before… but don’t you think those guilds asked for this themselves? We have yet to confirm if your teacher actively used them to ferret you out or she just accepted some request.”
“Yeah… we will confirm it once we ask her.”
I had to wait and keep myself together.
No matter how badly she wanted to die, I didn’t want to hurt her anymore… but I was terrified that I had took it way too far and risked to kill her for real.
What if she was going to die…?
I would regret it for the rest of my life.
“Master, I can feel that you’re keeping something for yourself, so let me reassure you—I won’t let her die even if her heart stops beating. I won’t wait for your order, this is what I want to do. You are not the only one who wants to talk to her… we all want to give her a piece of our mind.”
“Please… it would be impossible to stop an all-out war between you guys even for me.”
“Mphf. You can’t be seen like this, so let me wipe your tears away. I’ll surely go through hell only for hugging you, but still…”
She whispered her last sentence in my ear while wiping away my tears with a handkerchief.
I thought that Teacher was about to open her eyes given how she had phrased the first part, but it didn’t happen.
Instead, I felt a menacing presence behind me and slowly turned around. So did Verlaine, who had taken a little distance from me and called out.
“Come out, girls. Stop watching from the shadows, it’s creepy.”
Mylarka, Yuma, Aileen and Cody were standing outside the door, peeking into the room.
The genius girl was the first one to speak, her expression slightly worried.
“I thought it was better to wait until you finished talking… but then you started talking too seriously and I was waiting the right moment to come sit with you.”
Yuma was right by her side, sobbing quietly.
“I… I did not know you were going through this much, Dick… How… how could I imagine you were asked something so daunting from someone so important to you…!”
Aileen looked sad as she squeezed one of her arms with her hand.
“I dun think I have any right to say this, but… you should be honest to her. Now that you beat her, I think you should open up to her… and no, I’m not crying, it’s just your imagination.”
That last part was an obvious lie given by how hard she was biting her lip, but pointing it out would’ve been out of place, so I looked at Cody, who had a complicated face.
“You feel way worse than any of us, don’t you…? What I felt is nothing compared to this… I feel so stupid right now…”
I appreciated her words as much as everyone’s. They made me realize that we could be more honest between us exactly because we were friends and cared about each other.
But for that very reason, there were things I didn’t want them to see or know.
This discussion was one of them, for example, and it felt like I didn’t really open to them this way.
But now it was too late for that—they knew.
Something inside me was like on fire, and so was my face.
“P-Please, pretend you didn’t see me like that. I wasn’t crying, I just had something in my eye.”
There I was, coming up with another stupid excuse while blushing like an idiot.
I felt like laughing, but I knew I was still about to cry.
The girls walked into the room while Verlaine closed our distance and hugged me again like a few minutes before.
She rested her head on my shoulder with a satisfied smile on her face.