For One Last Embrace
Hunter Ashley? The guildmaster is ready to see you. Rika looks over from her table she is sitting at, and sees the receptionist waiting for her. She picks up Rui, and follows the attractive young woman into the back area, into the storeroom.
The Numan remembers being here once, when Chaz's curiosity got the better of him and led the group into the back area before Alys could get everybody to head back to the front gates to begin the trek to Kadary.... This time, however, an elderly man is waiting here, sitting on a cargo chest and drinking directly from a bottle of liquor. He holds the bottle up to the young mother, but she politely waves it away. He takes another swig.
Cute li'l shit you got there. Yours, I take it?
Yes. His father is Chaz, if you remember him.
Ah, yes. Good swordsman, but none too bright. Shame he got offed; all he needed was a brain to be as good as his mentor. He tips the bottle upward one more time, and chucks it against the wall, where it shatters. Rika hears the door behind her open for an instant, and she just makes out the receptionist's face before it closes again.
Pardon me, guildmaster, but could I ask why you requested for me?
Oh, right.... At this point, I'm supposed to give you this long-assed lecture on how the guild operates and why it's important to follow orders and whatnot, but quite frankly, that's some boring shit, so I'm skipping it. So, your first job... I do believe you failed to do your task to follow those bastards and report on where their base is, don't you agree?
I'll take that as a 'yes.' Instead, you decided to throw your damn life down by jumping into a group of bandits large enough to storm Aiedo. Correct?
And through one hell of a twist of fate, you escaped, not only smoked out their entire base of operations- which, by the way, that plume of smoke was how we managed to figure where the fuckers were- but you even bested the big badass himself in combat. Right?
Yes, Guildmaster. Rika isn't sure what conclusion the man is trying to reach.
Did you know that wuss of a son I have was one of the merchants you saved from execution there?
Rika gives a confused look, and the guildmaster laughs.
That's right, the fucker really takes after his mother... anyway, officially, you have failed your first mission, but under the table, let me send some money your way for all you've done for me, plus the bounty on that punk you brought in.
Now, since you did fuck things up before you made things better, I have to decide on a punishment, unfortunately. However, I think I have just the thing. I hope you weren't planning on leaving the guild anytime soon, 'cause I think compulsory membership will fit the bill nicely. Welcome to the Hunter's Guild, it's nice to have you aboard.
Read the epilogue