The weekend quickly came to an end and Vixia, Puff, and I returned to the guildhall in the morning. It was just as we had left it, except the window had finally been repaired from when Vixia broke it.
“Did they wait until we left to fix that?” Vixia asked, pointing to it as we walked up the front steps. I shrugged as Puff climbed into the hood of my cloak from my shoulder. We pushed the double doors open to see many of the guild members still eating. I looked over at Vixia to see her eyes scanning the room.
I began to search with her, finding no sign of the burly cook. That is, until I spotted him sauntering out of the kitchen. He was wearing his apron again.
“Over there.” I led Vixia and we headed over to where he was. While I was used to the staring from the other guild members, this time felt different. I noticed that some looked away from us after a moment, laughing and chatting amongst themselves.
Do they know?
I felt my stomach twist a little at the thought. I looked away from the others and turned my eyes back to Darius as we approached him.
“Hey.” He stopped what he was doing and looked our way. He smiled and raised a hand to wave.
“Hey, you guys are back.”
“You were put back on kitchen duty?” Vixia wondered aloud, looking him up and down. Darius rubbed the back of his neck and averted his gaze toward the kitchen.
“Yeah. I figured that I should stick with what I’m good at . . .”
Because of me?
“Wait, does that mean—”
“Quiet down everyone!” Nesryn called, cutting me off as she made her way down the staircase. “I have everyone’s quests for today, so listen up.” She stopped at the bottom of the stairs and looked over at us. She then lifted up her clipboard to conceal her face from the other guild members.
“I’ll talk to you two after I’m done with all of them.”
I nodded hesitantly, feeling uneasy. Vixia and I exchanged unsure glances and stepped aside as Darius returned to the kitchen, likely planning that night’s dinner.
Nesryn gave her regular speech and read off all of the names. As always, the rest of the guild began to get ready for their quests and most of them left. When she was done, she walked over to us.
“Welcome back,” she began. “I hope your weekend was restful.” At that moment, I remembered what Vixia and I had talked about with the dragons.
Not right now. I tried to push it from my mind as Vixia responded to her.
“Are we barred from going on quests now?”
“Not quite,” Nesryn answered with a sigh. “I can allow you guys to go out for more quests once you get another party member. Darius has requested that he be put back on kitchen duty, so that leaves you guys without a third teammate.”
“Great,” I mumbled, trying to hide my bitterness and ultimately failing.
“I’ll give you two a few days to find another one, but if you can’t I have no choice but to assign you guys chores again. Good luck. If you need me, I’ll be in my chambers.” And with that, she walked away.
Over the next two days, Vixia and I talked to anyone that we could to see if they would join our party. We quickly learned that Sparrow had spread the fact that we failed our last quest around so even the newer guild members dodged our request. We began to hear the same excuses over and over again.
“I’m sorry, but I prefer staying closer to the guildhall.”
“I am already part of a different party, sorry!”
“Have you asked so-and-so? Maybe they would be willing to join.”
But in the end, it all lead to deadends. At dinner on the second day, all I did was stare at my food. Vixia sat across from me in Darius’ usual seat and tried her best to console me.
“We’ll find someone eventually. There’s got to be someone here who would be willing to join us.”
“But we’ve asked literally everyone here.” Vixia let out a sigh as I poked at my dinner with a fork.
It’s all my fault.
“Ketsuna, Vixia.” We both looked over to see Nesryn walking toward us. She also caught the attention of some of the other guild members, so a lot of them were staring. At first, I assumed that she was going to tell us that we were out of time. I almost wanted to sink into the floor, but once she got closer I could see a troubled expression on her face. She spoke again once she neared our table.
“I need to talk to you two privately,” she said in a stern yet quiet voice. “It’s urgent. Meet me in my chambers as soon as you’ve finished eating.” Before we could respond, she left again, walking briskly.
“I wonder what that was about.” I looked back at Vixia to see her tilting her head. I shrugged and looked back down at my food.
I wonder what she wants.
As soon as Vixia finished eating, we headed upstairs to Nesryn’s chambers. Once Vixia and I entered the room, we realized just how serious the situation was. Nesryn was sitting at her desk, like usual, but she wasn’t sorting through any documents. She was sitting up straight in her chair, her fingers knitted together as she rested her hands in front of her on the desk. She was staring straight at us, an intensity in her eyes that I hadn’t seen before.
“I know that I chewed you two out the other day, but I really need your help,” she began in a low voice.
“What is it?” Vixia asked. I remained silent beside her, waiting for Nesryn’s reply.
“I need you to go save Sparrow’s crew.” I raised an eyebrow.
“Why? Have they not come back?” Nesryn shook her head. I averted my eyes and sighed. “Why would you send us? I mean, we screwed up last time.”
“I know what I said before,” she snapped, “but I was wrong. I can’t send anyone else to do this.” I looked at her again.
“Some members of our guild are in trouble. Isn’t that part of the reason why you started fighting off these dragons in the first place? To save people?” I froze at her comment. In a way, she was right. I looked over at Vixia, who appeared to be worried. I turned my attention back to Nesryn.
“Fine, we’ll go get them.”