Finally came the day that Eryn was ready to complete her initiation into the Magic Knight Guild. We were to head to the city center of Engelberg in order to officially register me as her familiar. Pietro had brought me a new set of clothes for the occasion. Putting them on, I looked at myself in the mirror.
“As expected…” I sighed with slight disappointment.
Having accepted my place as Eryn’s chef that would accompany her during her travels, my attire was pretty indicative of that role, being composed of the stereotypical chef uniform and a scarf around my collar. At least I wasn’t given that stupid hat. My belt contained a holster on each side, where I kept two knives, the standard chef knife and a smaller paring knife. It would be my duty to not only feed Eryn, but also watch her back at times. However, with how capable of a fighter Eryn appeared to be, I wasn’t sure when or if that would even be necessary. I had watched one of Pietro and Eryn’s spars, noting that Pietro had no doubt gone easy on me even when I had struggled so hard. I guess a large gap in abilities was to be expected since Eryn had shown me that she was around level 25. In the first place, I have no concept as to how level scales with ability in this world. It may not matter at all to me, as what could I even do with my unbalanced stats and dinky knives?
The last component of my outfit was a metal plate that ran down the front of my forearm. While I was told that this protector could be used as a shield, the abrasive surface indicated that it functioned more as a whetting stone to keep my tools sharp. A bit peculiar, but who was I to argue?
Hopping onto the cart, we headed towards the tall buildings in the distance. Soon, the spacious residential area turned into a more populous, commercial area teeming with activity. Other than the first day, I had been cooped up at the Faulkner residence for the last week, so I was eager to see more of the surroundings. While the environment suggested that of a typical RPG, this was juxtaposed with various modern conveniences, likely powered by magic. In part due to all the games I had played, this kind of setting felt somewhat familiar. Eryn and I chatted about various things, as I pointed out objects of interest as they came in sight. I would have to go shopping at the marketplace at some point later to absorb all of the different experiences. At that point, Eryn tossed me a small bag, which clattered as I caught it in my hand. Reaching in, I pulled out a silver coin with an image of an angel descending from the heavens. This was apparently the mark that defined currency used in Sistina.
“That’s your wage. I’m sure there are things you want to procure, so I’m giving you some spending money ahead of time,” Eryn said with a wink.
Not knowing the value of these coins, I simply nodded for now and slipped them in my pocket. The cart slowed to a stop as we ended up in front of a large building. Paying a man who came up to lead the cart away, Eryn beckoned me to follow her inside.
A variety of people of different aptitude loitered around, some cluster near signboards. There were certainly many strong looking people and capable teams around, if their equipment was any indication. This was apparently a hub for the typical adventurer. Eryn had explained to me that nobility was usually assigned a different role than the standard adventurer. Most of them were sent out as scouts to survey rumors and oversee potential conflict, sending reports back to the guild with requests for aid and/or verification of completed jobs. However, they were allowed to take on requests themselves in between jobs.
“While this may sound like a mundane task, it’s our duty as first responders to analyze the situation and determine what resources are required to satisfy the request. Negotiations for compensation are usually mediated by the nobility. Of course, our assignments have the potential to be very dangerous, as we are usually the first to assess a developing situation. Occasionally, teams have been obliterated by an enemy who is unexpectedly dangerous and hostile,” Eryn thoroughly explained.
Hearing this, I immediately appreciated the fact that a system existed to make sure requests were appropriately assigned to adventurers. I guess this was how difficulty spikes are managed in the real world.
Walking up to the receptionist, Eryn confirmed her appointment, and the two of us were led to a private office. Buried within piles and piles of papers at a desk was a mature lady with reading glasses, fiercely stamping away at documents. She glanced through and approved them at a blinding speed, only pausing occasionally to contemplate before moving on. As we approached the desk, she finally stopped and gently set the stamp down.
“Welcome. Miss Faulkner. I am the Director, Castia Arnstorf. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Yes! Eryn of House Faulkner reporting for duty with her familiar, Claude Evers.” Eryn slightly bowed, and seeing this, I followed suit.
“I have read over the details. An interesting role for your familiar. It’s the first time I’ve heard of using an Electi as a simple house servant.” Castia glanced over at me.
“Claude’s aptitude in combat appears to be lacking, but he is undoubtedly the partner that I have summoned.”
“I see.” Castia made a motion with her hand, and my stats popped up in a window next to me.
“Depending on how Mr. Claude develops, I may need to consider pairing you with others depending on the situation.”
“Agreed. However, my abilities in combat and magic should be sufficient. Please allow me the chance to show that I am capable even without the aid of a strong familiar,” Eryn stated proudly.
“Well, I suppose it’s not unheard of. There are familiars that are trained mainly for communication and information gathering.” Castia paused for a moment. “This path requires much more out of a knight than normal. If you are determined, then there is nothing more to say. The kingdom welcomes your service.”
“Thank you. I will meet your expectations.” Eryn bowed again, as Castia brought out a thin box and opened it. Inside was an emblem.
After Eryn accepted the box, Castia waved a hand seemingly excusing her. The both of us left the room as the sound of stamping started up once again.
At the moment, no assignment had been given to us, but the expectation was that we would receive a notice soon. In the meantime, we were free to use our time to prepare or take on tasks. As we made our way to one of the signboards, someone called out to us.
“Why, if it isn’t Faulkner? Taking on requests like the commoners, I see.” A blond guy in a gaudy outfit proclaimed with a sneer.
That one statement was enough to develop a dislike of this guy. Since he was acting all high and mighty, it was probably wise to tiptoe around the situation.
“Eryn, who is this?” I tried to whisper to her.
Having guessed my thoughts, the guy stepped forward and proclaimed loudly. “I am…Starkenberg, son of Viscount Madiswil. A talented and noble magic knight of the great country of Sistina!”
Ack…What an introduction brimming with self-pride. Not sure how important a Viscount’s son was, but the urge to sock Mr. Whatshisface was growing. Guess I’d settle for keeping that in my thoughts. But seriously, I could barely understand that name. It sounded something like ‘Stark Mad.’
“I’m Claude Evers…Lady Faulkner’s familiar.” I hesitantly spoke, not sure how to respond to the pompous self-introduction.
Mr. Stark Mad looked at me blankly for a moment, and then his face contorted into an ugly sneer as he stifled his own laughter.
“You mean to tell me that this servant looking guy is your familiar? I was wondering what a mere cook was doing at a guild.” Stark brought up a window seemingly looking at my stats.
“What is with these stats? How fitting that someone from a lowly house would summon one fit only to be a servant, despite having the luck of getting an Electi.” Stark could no longer hold back his laughter as he pointed at my lack of offense. He was one step away from doubling over from this supposed amusement.
Eryn was doing her best to keep calm, as she hid a clenched fist behind her back. Her head looked to the side, as she clearly tried to hide her frustration. Holding a seemingly superior position, Stark was free to ridicule us.
“Let’s leave it at that, shall we?” A new voice approached.
A new guy had shown up, placing a hand on Stark’s shoulder with a gentle, but cold smile.
Short blue hair, with straight bangs covering his right eye. A lean body with a feminine face. It was like a textbook pretty boy from an Otome dating sim game. Despite the smile, he gave off a pressure that seemed to grind everyone to a halt.
“Won’t you join me for a chat instead?” The new guy’s hand left Stark’s shoulder and traced along Stark’s cheek down to his chin.
“N-No, thank you! I have had enough amusement for the day. I-I shall take my leave.” Stark stuttered as he casually tried to move quickly away.
“Oh my. That’s unfortunate. I was hoping to become more familiar with the new knight recruits. I had heard of a potentially strong knight, but it seems that he was a bit lacking in the personality department.” The guy winked at us as we watched Stark speedily walk out the door.
Somehow, this guy also seemed a bit off…
“Cornelius!” Eryn finally exclaimed.
“Hello, my dear Eri! How are we today?” Cornelius took her hand and kissed it, before turning towards me. “And who might this gentleman be?”
“This is Claude. Claude Evers, my new familiar.” Eryn looked back at me. “And this is Earl Cornelius von Reichenstein.”
“Oh my dear, no need to be so formal. I am still your childhood friend, Nealy, no matter what my current title is. Aaaand we are fellow knights now! We should celebrate!” Cornelius brushed her cheek with a hand.
Eh? They were awfully close to be ‘just’ childhood friends. As I watched Eryn continue talking with…Mr. Corny Rich Guy, a glimmer of jealousy started to develop. Yet at the same time, his mannerisms threw me off. As I listened to them chat for a bit, I learned a little more about the 2 newcomers.
Starkenberg Madiswil – a new magic knight at the age of 16, the same age as Eryn. He was rumored to have a high proficiency in magic, and acts more as a long-distance magician, while his wolf familiar guards him. While very skilled with fire and earth Magic, his pride and tendency to look down on others made him difficult to work with.
Cornelius von Reichenstein – Having been a magic knight for 2 years, he quickly distinguished himself with his powerful ice magic that could ensnare the toughest of monsters. His family and Eryn’s were close, being neighbors. Recently, he became the new lord of his domain due to overwhelming popularity with the domain’s inhabitants. As an Earl, he had significant influence overall in the kingdom of Sistina.
“We should be celebrating your succession as lord of Reichenstein instead. You’re becoming known as a rising star amongst our generation to lead the kingdom.”
Looks. Title. Fame. A childhood friend. This was becoming the recipe for an overpowered main character. It felt weird to even be standing near a guy like him.
“Speaking of which, why is your familiar dressed as a chef?” Mr. Corny pointed at me.
“Because he is a chef? At this point, he’s not very useful in a battle.”
Eryn proceeded to explain about my unique circumstance as Corny nodded every so often. Finally, Corny interrupted her.
“You should still level him up. There are benefits for the summoner as the familiar grows in strength. You should take advantage of that, especially since you have an Electi.”
“Benefits?” I interjected.
“Why yes. Even if the familiar isn’t strong, by leveling up, a portion of the familiar’s stats are granted to the summoner, thereby improving the summoner’s abilities. Therefore, it is suggested that every magician should summon a familiar upon reaching maturity.”
Corny made a few hand gestures, and a majestic, blue bird-like creature materialized.
“This is Hal, my familiar. Its specialty is ice magic and quick movements, which allows it to bombard enemies with spells in a hit-and-run. As our bond deepens, the growth of my Mag and Spd is accelerated.”
“Wait, I have no specialties. Doesn’t that mean that Eryn would hardly gain anything from me?”
“Hmm. Normally, Eri would still get a small gain regardless. However, summoning an Electi is different. The stat growth is accelerated for the familiar’s worst stats.”
What? Then isn’t that great for Eryn? Since my attack and magic are near zero, wouldn’t that provide a big boost for her offense? A mental image of chibi Eryn raining fire and brimstone down on her fallen opponents popped up.
“There’s only one problem.” Eryn interrupted my daydream. “How do we level you up? Last time, you struggled to even kill slimes.”
Ah. I had forgotten about that. Slimes rained down and buried the chibi Eryn in my mind. With no way to slay monsters, it would be pretty difficult for Eryn to gain anything from me.
“I guess we’ll just have to find a way. Pietro decided that it was best to bring you along as my chef, so I’m inclined to believe him. Let’s try something simple to start with.” Eryn reached over to the signboard and plucked off a request.
“An escort mission?” I said as I looked over the paper.