38.2 The Mercenary Association
It was already September. The air that had once been scorching hot simmered to a cool. Autumn was the season of harvest. Besides the vegetation that grew along the road, the fields were filled with the crops planted by ordinary citizens. Under the radiance of the sun, the air became even more refreshing. Although the brilliance of the sun was strong, when walking in the shade, it was both refreshing and comfortable.
Ice Orchid City was a large city straddling the border between the Ice Moon Empire and the Proud Orchid Empire. It was one of the most eccentric cities in all of the Yang Guang continent as the city was two-thirds in the Ice Moon Empire and one-third in the Profound Orchid Empire. When the territory was being planned out, it was unknown how the city would be divided. Fortunately, the relationship between the Ice Moon Empire and the Proud Orchid Empire was good. The city was under the jurisdiction of the Ice Moon Empire, but an annual tax was paid to the Profound Orchid Empire.
Due to the Ice Orchid City being split between the lands of two large empires, it was the biggest hub for exchange and commerce. The city was on par with the size of Ice Moon Empire’s second biggest city, Ice and Snow City, and was even busier than Ice and Snow. The people of the Proud Orchid Empire and the Ice and Moon Empire moved without end throughout the city. One of the biggest groups there were merchants. The Ice and Moon Empire and the Proud Orchid Empire have trade relationships, and smart business men would buy and sell goods from both countries so that they could reap the greatest profits. Where there are merchants, there will naturally be quite a number of these types of people: mercenaries. In order to maximize profits, merchants had to transport their goods a very long way. So they employed mercenaries for protection. They had become absolutely necessary. After all, what merchant would desire for their wares that they had painstakingly gathered to face troubles on the road.
Mages had their mage association, while the mercenaries also had their own mercenary association, except it was not as refined as the mage association. . In the eyes of ordinary people, it was a place where warriors gathered. You could take on any number of tasks from the mercenary association; each task had a different rank and would be rewarded accordingly. There were very few special martial artists among the mercenaries. After all, if a martial artist reached a certain level, why would they need to work as a mercenary? There were many better alternatives awaiting them.
The mercenary association of Ice Orchid City was located on the most northern side of the city, quite close to the city gates. It wasn’t a very tall building, but it occupied a wide swathe of land. The main hall of the association approached thousands of meters in breadth. At the present time, there were at least seven, eight hundred mercenaries gathered there. There were some who took on tasks on their own, and there were some who took tasks on in mercenary groups. But their goal was the same: to make money. If they could find a simple task that was easy to complete, then that mercenary would be satisfied for a while.
Of course, not all of mercenaries were there to earn money. These kinds of people, although rare, were really there because their goal was to travel or because they liked adventure. Although they were few in number, these few people were the strongest among the mercenaries.
“I saw this task first. Do you think that your Orchid Fire Mercenary Group can bully other people and steal it away?” The angry voice belonged to a mercenary whose stature was not tall, but his body was like a very large ball. His voice was disproportionate to the size of his body and seemed to fill the entire hall. In a single moment, the mercenaries, who enjoyed commotion, immediately cast differing gazes his way. The chubby figure was somewhat comical. Simply put, his entire body was like a lump of flesh shaped into a meatball. He was plump everywhere, and his expansive clothing did not look like a warrior’s clothes. On his chest was an emblem of a white shield with two crossed swords.. This was the symbol of the mercenary, but he was just a ordinary fourth rank mercenary.
Mercenary ranks in descending order were special rank, first rank, second rank, third rank, fourth rank, fifth rank, and probationary mercenaries. Their emblems were identical, a shield with two crossed longswords, but they were colored differently according to rank. In descending order, badge colors were separated into gold, silver, scarlet, purple, yellow, white, blue and grey (the color of the metal).
“You’re being bullied, is that how it is? Shorty rubber ball, roll along home. How could trash like you complete this task? You wouldn’t even make it halfway before getting eaten up.” A tall mercenary wearing blue warrior’s clothing spoke. From his appearance, he looked a lot more like a mercenary.
The short and fat mercenary shivered. “You, you dare. This is the mercenary association, not your Orchid Fire Mercenary Group. What gives you the right to rob the task that I have accepted? The association deals in justice, right, beautiful miss?” While talking, his gaze fell on the miss in charge of the desk at the mercenary association.
In the large hall, there were at least thirty or so desks responsible for assigning tasks. Behind the desks was a large blackboard, where every kind of task of any rank as well as their requirements were written. No matter which desk it was, you could take on tasks there. If a task was not taken on by anyone for three months, and the employer had no desire of abandoning it, the rank of the task would automatically increase. The ranking for mercenaries and tasks were the same, but that’s not to say that a third rank mercenary could definitely complete a third rank task. For tasks of the same rank, the degrees of difficulty were close but not exactly the same.
The young lady who was in charge of the desk looked to be twenty-five, twenty-six years in age. Her appearance was ordinary, but her clothes outlined her pretty figure, exposing her well-developed body. She looked at the short fatty with irritation. “The Association will naturally be fair, but although you just took on this task, you were dithering around for a while and did not make the final confirmation. Thus, the Orchid Fire Mercenary Group is not taking advantage of others. Honestly speaking, with your fourth rank as a mercenary, it will be too difficult for you to complete this third rank task. Please do not make a disturbance here and leave. If the Orchid Fire Mercenary Group could please finish the registering procedures.”
“Utter nonsense. Obviously I took on the task first. You bitch, you are definitely his mistress. Fuck, today I, your daddy, was not able to take this task.” The short fatty’s face was flushed red from anger. His right hand forcefully slapped the desk, emitting a loud sound.
The Orchid Fire Mercenary Group member wore a yellow insignia, signifying he was a third rank mercenary. He extended his palm-like hand and pushed on the short fatty’s shoulder. “Since you made a disturbance, just get out. Don’t interfere with my registration.”
The short fatty slapped away his hand. “Get out, this is my task.”
Mercenaries were a mix of dragons and snakes1. When the member of the Orchid Fire Mercenary Group saw that the other had a lower rank than him but was still boasting, the atmosphere immediately got heavier. “What? You want to fight? I will stick you like the fat pig you are.”
The young miss in charge of the desk snorted and said, “If you want to fight, go outside to fight. If not, I will call the guards.”
When the boastful fatty and the harsh faced Orchid Fire Mercenary Group member heard the word “guards,” their facial expression immediately changed. The fatty cursed in a low voice and embarrassedly squeezed through the crowd to leave, while that member of the Orchid Fire Mercenary Group started to register for the task.
A mercenary’s rank was determined according to the difficulty of tasks completed and the quantity resolved. So even a third rank mercenary could have the strength of an advanced warrior. The majority were just plain warriors, but the guards employed by the mercenary association possessed at least the strength of an advanced warrior. They also didn’t have a shortage of experts at the swordmaster rank. Those who dare to make a disturbance here would definitely think twice. With a move from the guards, tendons would be snapped and bones broken easily. So even though the mercenaries were often in conflicts, they did not dare to provoke an association guard.
Seeing as the disturbance was over, the mercenaries that had gathered each went back to doing their own thing. The young miss in-charge snorted. She didn’t know how many times she had seen such a situation. Grabbing the pen on the table, she very slowly affirmed the registration from the manly man from the Orchid Fire Mercenary Group.
“Excuse me, are there any tasks here asking to sell high-level magic scrolls?” A cool and clear voice came from in front of the desk.
The lady in charge had finished signing the registration and passed the registration plaque to the Orchid Fire Mercenary Corps member. At the same time, she said with irritation, “Can you not read what tasks there are? Why are you even asking?” While saying this, she raised her head. When she actually saw the person making the inquiry, her eyes that had been full of irritation immediately sparkled. It seemed like there were heart shapes in her eyes.
Standing in front of the counter was a tall man. His body type was not as exaggeratedly thick as the man from the Orchid Fire Mercenary Group, but was slender and well-proportioned. A head of long, golden hair draped behind him, and his eyes, which were as deep blue as the ocean, exuded an aura of wisdom. He looked to be around twenty years of age. His handsomeness could almost make a woman jealous. When he heard what the young lady in-charge had said, he could not help but crease his brows. His eyes swept over the blackboard in the back.
The young miss coughed and managed to tamper down her excitement. “Mister, did you come to take on a task?”
The golden-haired youth was indeed Nian Bing. When he heard her talk, his gaze fell on the face of the young miss in charge. Nodding his head, he said, “Yes, I wanted to see if there was a task for selling rank 5 magic scrolls and up.” After ten days of travelling and occasionally flying on a Snowstorm, Nian Bing had finally arrived at the city straddling the border between the Ice Moon Empire and the Proud Orchid Empire. When he had entered the city, his first order of business was to buy a detailed map of the continent. In these ten days, if he had not relied on flying and asking around to find the correct road, he did not know how many roads he could have gotten lost on.
Just as he arrived in Ice Orchid City, Nian Bing first wanted to replenish his quantity of magic scrolls. After counting, he only had twenty or so purple-gold coins on him. It was enough to buy ordinary blank scrolls, but if he wanted to make his dual magic trigger scrolls with the effects of the Ice and Fire Source, he needed to use the best scroll available to have a good success rate. He obviously did not have enough money on him, so he wanted to sell some scrolls to make some money. Of course, he looked for a branch of the Ice Moon Empire Mage Association, but regretfully, due to the fact the Ice Orchid City bordered Proud Orchid Empire, there was no mage branch here. Of course, the fact that there was none here had to do with the fact that the strength of the Ice Moon Empire Mage Association was on a decline.
Faced with no other choice, he could only go to magic shops to try and sell his scrolls, but due to the fact that his scrolls and ordinary magic scrolls were not the same, he would only open the rank 4 to 6 scrolls, but would not activate them to show the might of the special scrolls. He naturally could not let people test the goods. Some were not special scrolls, but were fusion magic scrolls. How could those magic merchants understand the arrays drawn on them? Nian Bing wanted to use a scroll to display his strength, but the scroll’s price was too high. He really was not willing to part with them. After a time, he entered an embarrassing situation. After switching between many shops, the answer was still the same. Finally, a kind-hearted shopkeeper pointed him to the mercenary association to test his luck. If there was a task about buying magic scrolls, he would not have to worry about the scrolls not being bought. The buyer would probably pay money to test the strength of the scrolls. Without any other choice, Nian Bing asked around for the way there and finally arive here, hoping to meet a suitable task.
Nian Bing saw the entire scene before. As a result, the low-calibre mercenaries left him with a poor first impression.
The young miss in charge looked at the handsome Nian Bing’s face and smiled. Under his gaze, her cheeks blossomed pink like peaches. Too handsome, really too handsome. “Mister, could I trouble to wait for a moment. I will go and look up for you. My name is Ma Rui and I am very happy to be of service to you.”
“Oh, so this is the face of a girl in love! Ma Rui is so lecherous today. I never have received this kind of treatment!” From the side, a forty-plus year old third rank eccentric mercenary spoke.
Every day, Ma Rui came to this place of dragons and snakes mixed together. She had seen much of the world. With a snort, she said, “Get out of here and stop flapping your mouth while I’m here. If you have the ability, become a first rank mercenary, and I will find tasks for you.”
The forty-plus middle-aged man’s gaze fell on Nian Bing. “Don’t tell me that he is a first rank mercenary? I don’t see it.”
Nian Bing cast a gaze of irritation at the person next to him. The other’s face was looking at him with an indecent smile. He did not bother with these kinds of people, and returned his line of sight to to Ma Rui.
The middle-aged man looked at Nian Bing’s quiet response and grabbed his shoulder and became more intense. “Young fellow, from your appearance, you must definitely be a prostitute. I haven’t seen you before here. Don’t tell me that business isn’t good, so you came here to sell yourself to women? Ma Rui is not a bad choice. Her figure is definitely very stimulating! However, her job might not be enough for you. If you want I can introduce you to some better prospects. The noble ladies of the city like effeminate boys like you. Ai, the heavens are truly not fair! Why is that I cannot have been a bit more handsome? Young fellow, your mother definitely is very beautiful. Hehe.” His lascivious laugh immediately made the surrounding mercenaries roar with laughter.
- There were both good and bad people. ↩