The next morning, Mia went alone to Clearlight Town. Well, perhaps it wasn't technically alone, as she took her pet Wind Slime with her. It was only a fifteen minute trip by foot through the forest, easy enough for Mia to make the trip on her own even with her young age.
Mia couldn't help but compare this fantasy world society to the one she knew back in her previous world. When she asked Colson if it would be safe for her to go out and about in town on her own, his reply was "Why wouldn't it be?" In fact, Mia had a hunch that perhaps the largest source of crime actually came from her father's soldiers.
Back in her previous world, there was a good percentage of parents that would never dream of letting their five or six-year-old children run out and play unsupervised. Unknown dangers supposedly lurked around every corner, with potential pedophiles or lost children being every parent's worry. This was a fantasy world with wild, hostile magical beasts, yet young children were still free to roam around on their own within reason. Mia smiled wryly, wondering just which society was the more dangerous one in the end. She reaffirmed her mental vow to make it past eighteen years of age this time.
Colson had taken her around before and escorted her in Clearlight Town previously. However, she didn't wish to take him this time – he would seem too conspicuous. Her goal this time was to make contact with and join the Thieves' Guild, and how was she supposed to be able to do that as a noble with her own retainer? Mia didn't want to expose her identity. Nor did she feel like it would be wise to tell Colson that her real goal was the Thieves Guild – what would he think of such a thing, with his sense of honor and justice? And why would an almost six-year-old girl like her know about such things? Mia didn't feel like having to explain herself.
But once Mia arrived in Clearlight Town, she was slightly at a loss for what to do next. In the game, it was easy for players to simply visit the Thieves Guild and exchange money for tips, or learn class related skills. What was she supposed to do, though? She was only an almost six-year-old girl who was a noble. It was highly unlikely that the thief class members would want anything to do with her. Mia decided to scout things out first and simply observe the situation to see if she could learn anything useful.
She had "disguised" herself by wearing more tattered clothes than usual, so that she wouldn't stand out too much. Mia located the tavern that was a front for the Thieves Guild, went to an adjacent alleyway, and began eavesdropping on what was going on inside.
"Hey, are you sure we should be meeting here like this, relatively out in the open? What if your wife or someone she knows sees us?"
"Ha, fat chance of that ever happening. I chose this place specifically because it's one that the old hen back home, or any of her friends, would never dream of visiting. Rather than that, take a look at what I purchased for you as a gift this time…"
Alright then, the first conversation that came to Mia's ears was one regarding an extramarital affair. Mia could only sigh, realizing that some things remained the same no matter which world she was in. She shifted her focus away from this conversation and tried to find anything else that was worth listening to instead.
Well, even though there really wasn't much to listen to, Mia found it useful for training and developing her control over mana. She quickly got absorbed in practicing the [Detection] related skills at her disposal.
A few hours later…
Nymon, a teenaged boy thief, entered the Bear's Paw tavern which served as a legitimate business front for the Thieves Guild. He then took a secret passage inside to a hidden room in the back of the tavern, far away from the dining area and also out of Mia's earshot.
"Hey uncle Miguel, there's this kid outside who's been staring at our establishment for several hours now. You want me to go do something about her? Give her a scare?"
Miguel, the forty-six-year-old local leader of the Thieves' Guild branch in the Hart domain, raised his head from a stack of documents he had been perusing. "How many times do I have to tell you to call me boss whenever it's anything about business, and not uncle? I have more important things to be worrying about than some little girl," he responded. "Our corrupt nobles seem to be too busy playing around these days to notice the storm brewing on their doorstep with our next door neighbors."
"What are you talking about, boss? Stop worrying so much or you'll have white hairs before you know it. Who do you think this kid could be? We absolutely can't let our hideout be discovered!"
Miguel sighed at his teenaged nephew's naivety. Well, that was just how kids were, he surmised. No matter how hard adults tried, they would never successfully understand younger minds and their thought processes that had an entire generation gap. Nymon's parents had both died several years prior, leaving Miguel, who was Nymon's mother's older brother, as the only living relative to take care of him.
What was a Thieves Guild exactly, anyways? While it was the guild that oversaw the basic job class known as thief and the advanced classes thief could promote to, that didn't mean that literally every thief was someone who stole from others. While some indeed chose to become a thief out of a desire to liberate riches from others, there were also those who joined the job class as it was the most suitable for their combat style, choosing high agility and stealth over brute force. Meanwhile, Miguel's nephew Nymon was basically forced into this lifestyle, as Miguel didn't know any other to teach him.
It wasn't even like Thieves Guilds were considered top secret. Most adventurers knew how to find one in each city, and only rookies wouldn't know anything about the Thieves Guild. Nor did most thieves actually rob others on a daily basis. Thieves dealt in information far more than stolen goods, as there were plenty of interested parties willing to pay up for all sorts of information, making information a profitable albeit risky business, depending on the information involved.
Yet, the Hart domain's local branch of the Thieves Guild was basically inactive. Miguel knew of less than ten registered members of the Thieves Guild active in all of the Hart domain, and this was the only Thieves Guild in the domain, established only because Clearlight Town was the closest city to Count Hart's residence.
This was because rather than nobles and thieves having a poor relationship as one might think, one party typically being the robbed and the other being the robber, nobles were typically a group that was one of the Thieves Guild's biggest customers. However, Count Hart didn't do any business with the thieves at all. Either he had less savory sources of information, or he simply wasn't concerned with political maneuvering at all…
Miguel felt that Nymon's head was filled with too many fantasy tales of thieves who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Nymon also had far too much of a black and white view of how nobles were, since Count Hart had been involved in Nymon's parents' deaths. It was all Miguel could do to even rein Nymon in.
"Fine, fine, go ahead and investigate this little girl you're telling me about if you wish. I suppose it's unlikely that anything will happen. Just make sure not to do anything rash, you understand?"
Nymon nodded, but secretly thought otherwise. He was currently in his most hotheaded teenage years, and felt that he had greatly improved his skills as a thief ever since being taught by Miguel. Nymon was quite grateful to his uncle for taking him in, but also felt that his uncle was far too much of a worrywart and a coward, always forbidding him to have anything to do with or to target the nobles. Nymon was of the opinion that he wanted to do something, anything at all, against the local domain lord, although he didn't have any concrete ideas as of yet. For the time being, he decided to investigate the suspicious (in his mind) little girl outside the tavern.
Mia was indeed trying her best not to draw attention to herself as a noble, but she had actually forgotten one little detail. She was a former teenager herself who was now in only a child's body, but without the habit of acting like a child. It was precisely her non-childlike behavior that stood out, which would soon bring unwanted attention down upon her.
Nymon left the tavern and glared at Mia who he viewed as an overly inquisitive child intruding where she didn't belong. He used a simple tracking skill, common to thief and hunter job classes, to begin tracing where Mia came from.
Meanwhile, Mia had become somewhat fatigued, as she had concentrated on her magic for a few hours in a row now. While she was able to maintain all her spells since they had low mana costs for their "low" power level, it still required much concentration and Mia felt like it was time for a break. It was now lunchtime and Mia was getting hungry, without having managed to find out anything more interesting than the extramarital affair. She remained confident that this was really a Thieves Guild, though, due to her knowledge of game information like the Thieves Guild's logo. This couldn't possibly be a coincidence.
Since this Thieves Guild doubled as a tavern, it obviously served meals as well. Mia decided to have her lunch here to see if she could learn anything.
When she entered the tavern, Mia felt all eyes upon her, but she wasn't too concerned about this. For one thing, although the citizens knew that Count Hart had a young daughter, she had hardly ever appeared in public before, so few knew what she looked like. Also, she intended to be doing far more in the future than what the limits of her age would normally allow, so she had decided beforehand that this degree of attention was unavoidable.
Mia slid into a seat at an empty table and called out to a middle-aged man at the counter who seemed like he worked here, judging by his greasy apron. "Mister, could I try that beef stew on the menu, pretty please? I have some money on me, I can pay, don't worry!" She brought out a small pouch of elemental coins, the local currency which was refined from elemental crystal shards, as she spoke in a manner that was her attempt to act her own age.
The man glanced over at her and responded with "Sure thing missy, we welcome any paying customer here at our place. One bowl of beef stew, coming right up!" To Mia's surprise, he didn't even ask her about where her parents or guardian was, like how Colson did when he first met her. Was this due to the differing natures of knight types and thief types?
Mia stuck to something reasonably familiar for her first try at ordering something off the menu of a place she had never eaten at before. One of the benefits she enjoyed as a noble was that her food could be considered superior quality in comparison to what commoners had access to, and Mia always made sure to not be a picky eater and have a balanced diet so that she could grow up properly. This world possessed identical food types to her previous world, so she could feel reassured when eating those. There were also additional magical foods as well, but Mia preferred to stay away from the unknown with who-knows-what side effects.
Mia slowly consumed the rich and hearty beef stew that was filled with carrots and potatoes in addition to beef chunks. The nostalgic taste filled her back up with energy; it tasted basically identical to what she had before in her previous world. She decided to relax and let go of her worries for a few minutes before pondering what to do next.
At the exact same moment, Nymon found to his surprise as he followed Mia's tracks that she came from outside the town, through the Clearlight Forest. Mia's tracks were easy enough to follow, as she was no espionage expert, nor did she expect anyone to do anything like track her.
Nymon noticed from her tracks that she seemed to have trekked through the Clearlight Forest by herself. This was clearly no ordinary feat for a young girl like her. Although the Clearlight Forest only contained incredibly low-level monsters that were easy for even untrained commoners to defeat, that didn't mean that a young girl like her should have been able to pass through safely.
He only grew increasingly suspicious of her identity and motives as he followed her trail. When he arrived before Count Hart's residence, he understood everything (at least about her identity). After all, he had a friend who worked as a servant inside the Count's residence, and had heard before that none of the servants' children were allowed on the premises, so that could leave only one possible explanation as to who she was.
"Damn it, that little brat was a noble all along! Those accursed nobles! Well, I'll show you that you're messing with the wrong thief! Ha, I know just who to go to for dealing with that little brat. Dega's bandits will be more than happy to hear what I have to tell them! Even Uncle Miguel won't be able to blame me if I'm not the one personally taking action."
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