Meanwhile, back at the cottage in Palocaesy, the Vampire noblewoman, Noire Scarletine Krauss, sits up in a fancy black coffin with padded red velvet lining, wearing a beautiful nightgown as she reads over a parchment by candlelight. It is the message Eugus had a Harpy messenger deliver on the same day. It was addressed specifically to her, to be read only by her, as requested when she and the guild master last talked before the latter left. She summarized the letter to Gabriella who was with her that Eugus had found two capable adventurers to escort them through the dungeon, and as instructed, they will wait one day for them to prepare for the quest before meeting them the following day. What Noire kept from Gabriella, however, are the names, races, and ranks of the adventurers.
After reading it, Noire was supposed to destroy the message by fire, but she had to keep it with her to reread the interesting description of her assigned escorts.
“The talented Lizardman Sage, Umeiyon, and her mate, the foreign and mysterious human Brawler, Jinma Kotori, both of them newly registered adventurers ranked as red and black, respectively,” she says quietly to herself after reading the letter and a smile forms from her glossy lips. The signature fangs that trademark her race poke out as she gives a light giggle. “A very interesting find indeed, Mr. Gallofree.”
Noire crumples the message into a ball, sets it on an ashtray, and chants “Create Fire” while snapping her fingers to spontaneously combust it into flames, quickly turning it to ash within seconds. She then turns to the glass doors that lead to the balcony to gaze at the night sky. One could see the reflection of the blue moon into her violet eyes if they tried.
“Not to sound brash, but someone’s head will roll if this does not please me and I do not just mean Gabriella’s,” she swears to herself.
She then reaches down to her coffin and pull up a smartphone with a sparkly ruby case, turning it on, and opens up a journal app where she types in her entries.
[My time in this world as a free woman is nearing its end. While I am grateful to what has been given to me since noble birth, I cannot help but feel I am lacking something I have yet acquired in my lifetime. Am I selfish to seek that despite everything I have been given? Is this greed so improper for a noblewoman when I do not even know what it is that I seek?
[Whatever be the case, I will just have to relish the remaining time I have however I can before I settle with annoying my ‘dearly beloved’ to pass the time for the rest of my days. I just pray I will be given permission to at least see my enthusiastic, charming friend on some occasions.
[Blood is ever tastier when shared with the one you love. From what I have tasted, I do not think my ‘dearly beloved’ fits the quota that Dear Mother and Dear Father have ingrained in me since I was a child.
[Even blood of the highest quality has come to taste bland when it was my ‘dearly beloved’ who gifted it to me. If I were to taste something different, maybe that would be the beginning of a change that I have so longed for. I just hope my assigned escorts will be able to provide me a drop at the least in my last venture.
[Oh, how I wish to see the one(s) who drew so much blood from a horde of monsters in such an extravagant manner this morning, the one(s) with the peculiar magical aura(s). Perhaps their tale of how they survived such an ordeal would be more interesting than all of the achievements my ‘dearly beloved’ has attained.]
After yawning and stretching her arms from finishing her entry, Noire sets the alarm on her smartphone and blows out the candle. She reaches for the lid of the coffin and shuts herself inside, completely enveloped in darkness before falling into a solemn, lonely slumber.
Outside of that cottage, at the hill of the fields where Jinma fought the mob of monsters, a silhouette glides above the area with large feathered wings unfurled wide and out of her back, a Harpy with a pair of goggles that gleams under the moonlight.
“Gah, I hate wearing these things. Why do we have such poor eyesight in the darkness of all times?” she berates to herself.
Harpies, while a race that loves to fly in the air free as birds are also like most of them in a sense of seeing in the dark. Sure, some of them may be lucky and are gifted to see at long distances with the ‘Deadeye’ skill from birth like this one is, very rarely does one or two are even born with ‘Night Vision’ like some species of birds, but for the most part, Harpies cannot see and navigate in darkness for the life of them. If one was seen flying over the moonlit sky, while there is a chance they could have the ‘Night Vision’ skill, it’s far more likely they’re wearing the same goggles this individual is currently wearing, built and magically enchanted with that same skill to allow any wearer to see better in the dark. Like its skill levels, the ability to see in the dark increases as it gets higher, as well as the price for even affording such a pair.
For this one, her goggles are enchanted with ‘Night Vision’ at 3 in the level of mastery, not much to brag home about, but still manageable for one to see well within a 15-meter [~49 feet] radius of the user’s surroundings.
The Harpy glides down to a soft landing at the clearing. She makes sure she doesn’t make a sound that’d wake monsters nearby, yet still has one of her talon-like hands on the shortsword holstered at her side, ready to unsheathe at any ambushes that might attack her. She scans her surroundings through the goggles over her eyes and takes a few whiffs of the air.
“Hmm … this is where I saw that human male fighting all of those monsters this morning … the scent of blood still lingers in the air, but there’s not a drop of it in sight on the grass. Since Gabriella has night watch, I thought I could take this chance to see if I could find any evidence of him … being dead or alive.”
The Harpy who speculates this is the same one who spotted Jinma fighting off the monster horde on his own earlier in the morning, the black-ranked Harpy adventurer, Tyvera, currently on secret reconnaissance as ‘requested’ by her superior who goes by Lord Rowling, something that Noire isn’t aware of.
Normally, when an adventurer finds evidence of another being dead, like their ID card now gray from its original color, they are to report it to the nearest guild at their earliest convenience during business hours. Tyvera suspected Jinma to be one of these unfortunate cases but has yet to find evidence of his death as she searched the area of where she saw him last. She’s unaware that he wasn’t even a registered adventurer at the time.
Sure, normally she would’ve flown in immediately and provided assistance to someone facing danger in such overwhelming odds, but Tyvera was given orders to keep watch for any oncoming dangers to Noire’s life within a certain distance. She couldn’t leave her post for even a couple minutes to help someone, even if she saw them getting maimed before her eyes.
This kind of judgment is not uncommon for adventurers while on the job, especially if they’re on escort quests when they’re protecting important clients and merchants who paid for their services. Unless they were given permission to help the third party in danger, they’re to not leave their client under any circumstances.
That doesn’t make for a good excuse for why Tyvera had to ignore Jinma in danger, though. She didn’t get this far in her adventurer career ignoring people who’re in need of help. Even if it was a reckless decision at times, she’s almost always the ‘act first, ask questions later’ kind of girl, and with her honed aerial acrobatics and skills to become the unique Airborne Huntress she is today, she’s confident she’d help the victim escape from trouble at the least before bringing them to a safe location for questioning.
Tyvera could’ve done that much for Jinma in this case. Give her 5-10 minutes and she’d rush in, lift him off the ground, and carry him back to her post in Palocaesy. She’s that confident in her speed.
“W-Well, it wasn’t my fault he made such a stupid decision to taking on all of those monsters by himself with only a fucking knife and whatever magic he had on him,” Tyvera says to herself while crossing her arms, trying to lessen the guilt on her conscience. “He’d have such a stern talking to from me for doing something so foolish … even if he did look kind of cool while doing it at first,” she mutters.
Tyvera shakes the image of Jinma’s figure out of her head. “Well, whether he’s an adventurer or not, someone’s going to notice him going missing sooner or later. If I ever catch word of it, I’ll just point them here and they can take care of the rest. I still got a job to do, and I got a hammock perched on a tree with my name on it just waiting to be slept on.”
Finishing the search here, Tyvera crouches and unfurls her wings, ready to take flight.
“… May you rest in peace, crazy human male.” With that mutter to herself, Tyvera the Harpy takes off and heads back to her post to sleep for the evening, unknown that she’ll see Jinma’s current ‘condition’ soon enough.
Back in Dondegarm’s adventurer’s guild, Eugus Gallofree is in a room closed off from the world, black as pitch, with only a crystal ball on a pedestal he knows is in front of him.
“It is time,” he says before holding a hand over the crystal ball, focusing his magic until it emits green light. It grows and fills the room before giving off a blinding flash, changing the scene completely.
Eugus is now in a circle with numerous green hologram-like figures. If seen from another perspective, he’s among those same figures as a hologram as well. The ‘room’ these people are in is a peculiar one. In reality, they’re all in their own guild’s respective secret room, but the power that lies in their own crystal balls allow those in the room to communicate and hold meetings with everyone present as if they were right there.
This is the work of a special Messaging Crystal that only guild masters of their respective guilds have access to, and with those crystals activated while all of them are gathered, the ‘Adventurer’s Association’ is formed. The association usually comes together once a month for meetings to discuss current events and important matters around their respective residences. There are a few occasions, however, where one sends a message to all others to hold an emergency meeting at the usual appointed time at night to discuss a drastic change within adventurer grounds.
This is one of those occasions that Eugus appointed to the association.
“All right, it seems everyone is accounted for,” Eugus says.
“Can we get this over with? I didn’t mentally prepare myself for this meeting and I’m dead tired,” a lithe man with a yellow fox-like head and large, poofy tail of the same color says while scratching his ear.
“Before we begin, I’d like to confirm something with you, Eugus,” an old human man holding a cane speaks. “I have heard that Dondegarm was infiltrated by the White Rapture last night.”
“Thou hast heard correctly, Kaswell.”
“Is it true that, among those who were involved with the infiltration …”
“I saw him as soon as I could to make sure of it myself. Yes, thy brother, Gin, was the second-in-command that helped lead the infiltration. He is held captive to recover before questioning as we speak.”
The old human man who goes by Kaswell sighs. “Gin-boy, you fool,” he mutters to himself before bowing to Eugus. “I know it is not enough, but I apologize for his actions. I know he didn’t have a good history with demons in the past, but for him to go this far …”
“Each adventurer must be held accountable for their own actions,” Eugus says. “I understand if it affected thee, but thou art not directly tied with thy little brother’s intentions. If thou cared for him so, I would be thankful for him to be alive if I were thee, especially since it is due to the person of the subject in this discussion that I called all of thee here for. The young man who defeated him in a one-on-one battle turned many against one at Gin’s command, yet he stepped out with not even a scratch, according to reports.”
“And this man is a registered adventurer?” a woman asks.
“Nay, but not until earlier today, as I was not aware of his achievements until my niece introduced him me. I was presumptuous as a fool to lose my beard at the cost of him gaining my attention.”
“Oh, thank god I don’t have to be the one to point out how tasteless that new beard style of yours is. Then again, your need for a shave is waaaaaay past due,” a flamboyant human man comments.
“Please excuse my appearance, I did not have time to get a proper trim. Now, for the man in question, he paid ahead for an Innate Stat Ranking that I witnessed today, of which I will reveal the results to all of thee now.” Eugus takes the hologram-like card from the black case and inserts it in a slot on his pedestal.
The enlarged image of the card hovering in the air elicits a collective gasp from the association members.
“… You are right, Eugus. With these rankings, I’m amazed my little brother is kept alive under such overwhelming power,” Kaswell says.
“Is there something wrong with that card, Eugus?!”
“It’s what the Immortals evaluated him through the monument. Nothing could change that, and the Immortals would not joke about this.”
“How has this man not appeared in the Kingdom of Yineer?! No, more importantly, what is this ‘D-Human?!’ And why is he still a Brawler?!” a human man with graying brown locks wearing a sort of uniform exclaims.
“Mmm~, and he’s young, you say? I’m quite interested in meeting him, now,” the flamboyant man comments.
“His name is Jinma Kotori,” Eugus begins. “As I said before, he not only defeated Kaswell’s younger brother in combat but had the most responsibility in saving Dondegarm from the White Rapture’s raid. This includes beating the one leading the raid, Rasholl, overcoming the possession from the infamous ‘Cursed Misfortune Tanto of Nyra’ that he now wields as his primary weapon, and stopped a rampage from a Bear Mole herd that same cursed weapon summoned, possibly in hopes to possess him by exhaustion.”
“Hold on, you mean the Rasholl? The ‘Protector of Night,’ Rasholl? He led White Rapture’s infiltration?” Kaswell asks.
“And from what was reported, he tried to wield the cursed tanto himself but failed. He ended up, to put it bluntly, twisted like a pretzel under Jinma’s newly gained powers when he held a Werewolf slave under hostage.”
“I have also received a report just earlier today that same Jinma hast subdued 65 of the cult’s scouts that were investigating Dondegarm for another raid … he only left one alive to be further questioned, but all of them were cultists, registered adventurers of various ranks from green to purple. We have intel of where they art supposed to meet for a strategy meeting that we art currently formulating a plan for while seeking adventurers to assign to as a quest.”
“This human Brawler killed 64 people of his own kin, all of that … on his own? Not taking into account the EXP he earned from winning, he would’ve already gone up at least 120 levels …” the uniformed man trails off shakily. If one would look closely enough, they could see him breaking out beads of cold sweat.
“There is one last thing about Jinma that needs to be addressed, however,” Eugus continues.
“What else needs to be known if he wasn’t crazy strong already?” the fox man asks.
“From what witnesses reported, this man bears the ‘Devil Eyes’ that appeared the moment he took hold of the cursed tanto.”
“That’s impossible!” a woman with black horns resembling a bison exclaims while pounding a fist to the wall. Her black wings flare open, her arrow-pointed tube tail straightens out, and her scleras turn dark as she bares her teeth. “Only those with the Devil race’s blood would bear such eyes! This ‘Jinma Kotori’ is a full-blown human! How would he possess such power?!”
“You mean a ‘D-Human,’ Natasha, and I cannot help but feel that plays a part in how he is capable of holding such a powerful racial skill,” a mature woman with long pointy ears theorizes.
“Calm down, Natasha. Eugus, have you confirmed with Jinma about using this power?” Kaswell asks.
“Nay, but from what has been mentioned in the reports, it seems not even he was aware of such capabilities until then.”
“And since this guy’s still a freakin’ Brawler—god knows why—we’re dealing with one hell of a Pandora’s Box here,” the fox man groans.
“Hahaha! Interesting! I’m tempted to find that man and challenge him to a brawl, myself!” The one who roared is a male with the head of another canine, a monstrous wolf with sculpted hindlegs, beastly claws, and a bulky physique covered with fur that is red as rust, wearing only a tattered pair of slacks for decency as a guild master. The tips of some strands are gray as ash that show his apparent age. He continues his roaring laughter after exclaiming his desires as a beastly warrior.
“I’m interested in meeting him for more than exchanging fists, myself~,” the flamboyant man coos.
“I imagine you penned him in as the lowest black-rank after seeing these stats, Eugus?” Kaswell asks.
“Yes, I did.”
“It is the highest rank we can grant for one just starting out as an adventurer, as we agreed upon with our positions as guild masters, but I imagine he’ll go up the ranks fairly quickly if his levels are anything to speak about. What needs to be addressed, however, is how much of a threat he may pose to Padimon as a whole? He could very well be invincible if his Vitality is unreadable by the Immortals’ standards,” the uniform-clad man says.
“Are we sure this human isn’t a Champion?” Natasha asks.
“Even if he is, you know we guild masters are not allowed to directly question his identity under the Immortals’ law,” the fox man answers. “Even if he opened up his identity to one of the bishops in the churches, be they Holy or Cursed, they are also under Immortals’ law to not reveal a Champion’s identity to anybody, including amongst themselves under the same roof. It’s honestly annoying enough as it is that the Immortals had to put up these laws concerning Champions.”
“Not only that, but there are esteemed individuals in this world who’re also gifted with the Immortals’ blessings that could put them on par with a Champion’s power. Kaswell’s granddaughter is certainly the case and point in where she stands.”
“Aye, indeed. I’m so proud of how far she’s come in her life,” Kaswell says while puffing his chest.
“What is your personal take on Jinma’s character, Eugus?” the long-eared woman asks.
“I … am uncertain myself. He dost not seem to pose a threat, but he practically has Dondegarm’s citizens in the palm of his hand, the females, especially. And then there art those girls who fawn over him wherever he goes, all demons, even one of the receptionists could not stop talking about him! That damn miscreant even caught Lady Tephalia’s eyes to hold him in high regard after speaking with her for confirmation!”
“Sounds like someone’s worried this ‘miscreant’ will take his precious niece away,” the fox man says before snickering.
“There, there, Eugus,” Kaswell consoles. “I know how you feel, but girls must grow up to be women at some point in their lives.”
“Easy for thou to say! Thy granddaughter hast not been snatched away by a troubling young man yet!”
“Ah, but that’s because I’ve trained her to be as strong as she is today, and I’ve ingrained in her that she may only marry the man who proves to be stronger than her. Some of the demon races’ proceedings in finding mates have helped influence my parenting in this regard.”
She’ll never get married with a hurdle that high. The majority of guild masters in the room more or less had that similar thought, knowing what Kaswell’s granddaughter is capable of.
“And of course, no one lays a hand on my daughter until they surpass yours truly! They’d be dead before even getting a chance to lay their eyes on her!” the black wolf-like man declares.
Considering Vrog’s a Hellhound, I pity his daughter right now, the long-eared woman thinks.
“*Ehen.* Moving on, is there anything else about Jinma Kotori we should be aware of?” the man in uniform asks.
“… I gave him an Assigned Quest as his first to judge his character,” Eugus continues after taking a moment to calm down. “Konjiro, I think thou know where I am getting at as it involves your city.”
The fox man that goes by Konjiro pales. “Wait … no, no! You can’t be serious! Do you even know what’s at stake with a great noble’s daughter involved?! Don’t even get me started on her betrothed! I’m losing hair on my fur from lack of sleep and the stress of it all! Strong as this Jinma Kotori is, he’s a total newbie as an adventurer, right?! Has he even been in a dungeon?!”
“Not to worry, he has a talented Lizardman Sage at his side who will be able to assist him, and from what I remember, he also has his Werewolf and Ogre slaves that he will likely take with him for this quest as well.”
“Did you not you say he has many female demons who are fawning over him?” the long-eared woman asks. “Are those three included? Could they all be part of a harem?”
“That … is likely, yes.”
“So, we have a Demongenerate in our hands, and with his ‘Charm’ with demons? Oh, yeah, this Assigned Quest will just go swimmingly. Allow me some time to write my will and resignation letters.”
“Konjiro, as a fellow man with ‘unique’ tastes myself, I will not overlook the use of such a foul term against one of my own kin,” the flamboyant man says while furrowing his eyes.
“Oh, and you think I feel safe enough around you and your ‘tastes,’ Julius? I don’t mean to brag, but being a Kitsune, I can change my appearance into quite the handsome human male, myself. Don’t think I didn’t notice you stripping me with your eyes when we first met.”
“Th-That isn’t the point!”
“Will ye two shut it?! I gots me own wife and kids I need t’ get back ter, y’ know?!” a short, stout man with an orange beard covering the majority of his body yells in a heavy accent.
“At any rate,” Eugus continues, “‘tis a quest assigned to my guild by the client, Konjiro, thou art only serving as a witness in these events. I will be guiding Jinma and his chosen party members to Palocaesy and its dungeon where it will take place.”
“Good, because I’m not wanting any part in whatever chaos this human may wreak in my city. If he fails this quest even after giving him one day to prepare himself, well, we will know then if he is worth the rank that is given to him.”
“In that case, why don’t we hold off on announcing the new black-rank adventurer until he finishes that quest?” the uniformed man suggests. “If he fails, you will demote him to violet as a penalty while handling whatever repercussions that follow. If he succeeds, then you will handle it accordingly to his results. We will have a follow-up meeting then to determine where he stands before deciding to make an announcement to the other guilds of his arrival. Everyone in agreement?”
“I’m excited~. Such an interesting rookie to come from out of nowhere. My body will be anticipating the results~,” Julius coos.
“Coming from you, I don’t know who I should fear for more,” Konjiro groans.
“Is there anything else that should be addressed while we are all here? Some other rising individuals we should be on the lookout for like Jinma of the Brawler class?” the long-eared woman asks.
The room falls silent, but three people, in particular, have the most contemplating looking expressions on their faces as they think.
A fully black leather-clad female with a peculiar ruby-colored helmet very unlike one from a Knight class and a chain whip looped around her torso, Konjiro thinks with arms crossed and eyes closed. I’ve been hearing things about her lately and the weapon itself speaks that her class is either a Mercenary or the unique Advanced Class of a Lasher, but if she’s keeping herself so closed off from everyone if it doesn’t involve business, standing out as much as she already is, wonder if she is also a Brawler in some way?
Not really worth mentioning, but that girl who frequently works at that pub might be one that fits the bill, Kaswell thinks as he looks back with a smile behind a fist befitting for a perverted old man. Young, cute, friendly with anyone of any race, and she’s a Brawler! Other than going on collection quests from time to time on her own, she’s certainly going up the ranks in her own way for the last couple of months. Looks like I found an excuse to do some personal ‘investigation’ at that pub, soon enough!
For a human Brawler to kill so many of their own kind at once like this Jinma Kotori did, there’s only one I could think of that would certainly be similar in that regard, the uniformed man thinks with cold sweat on his brow. Said to have shown up out of the blue one day with at least 20 heads of bandits that raided a nearby village for pillaging, an ominous katana red as blood, eyes cold and lifeless, also such a dark shade of brown that’s almost black like the void of darkness.
It’s so unlike such a young woman to have the look of a cold-blooded killer, yet I could still remember how the cold shiver went down my spine when I first laid my eyes on hers. Everyone who was there for her Fighting Evaluation Ranking would remember how cold the air was when she won against a blue-ranked adventurer who foolishly hit on her, lopping both of his arms off in such a nonchalant way seconds after the test began.
We’re blessed in the Yineer Kingdom to have numerous talented healers on standby to reattach his arms after paying a fee, but then he and his party made the foolish choice of overwhelming her for revenge. One is more likely to get away with killing other adventurers as they rise in the ranks depending on the circumstances, but at that time, for all of them to be found scattered and dismembered cleanly while she stood there so unfazed of the situation …
She quickly gained a rep as the ‘Cold Slaughter Princess’ at that point, and now is a violet rank after 4 months since that day, leader of the ‘Freezing Bird’ party with only a Werepanther and a Kitsune on her sides as slaves. If she isn’t a Brawler, she could very well be a powerful Samurai at this point, and I need to see how much she’s changed since that day before making the decision of promoting her to a black-rank.
“No people to speak of, huh?” the long-eared woman asks. “Well, if we are all lacking enough information, I guess it would be best that we would not jump to conclusions so soon and investigate to the best of our abilities. In which case, we will adjourn this meeting for the time being. Eugus, you will notify us when Jinma Kotori finishes his quest.”
“Of course,” Eugus says while bowing his head.
“Ugh, finally, I can get some sleep, but I’ll have to mentally prepare for the follow-up meeting, though, especially for witnessing the proceedings between him and the noble client. I never even met the guy, yet he’s already giving me more trouble than he’s worth.”
With Konjiro’s comment, the guild masters cut off their connections from the ‘meeting room,’ their hologram-like figures disappearing until Eugus and Natasha are left.
“I figured thou would stay behind,” Eugus says.
“Just answer me this, Eugus. Does this man pose a threat to the Demon King? Do you know?”
“… Nay, I do not.”
“I see. Do keep in touch if you find anything out that might pose a problem down the line.”
“I will try to keep that in mind, Natasha. Good night.”
With that, the two of them disconnect at the same time. Eugus exasperates a sigh before pulling out Jinma’s Innate Stats card and holds it up in the darkness.
“… Thou hast me trotting on thin ice with dangerous people. Thou hast caught my attention, now prove to me how capable thou art to be as an adventurer, Jinma Kotori. Well, as sketchy as he may seem at first glance, at least I will not have to worry about Kalline getting further involved with such a male.”
Little did Eugus know that his precious niece, Kalline, patiently waits for him at their home with his favorite meals cooked and ready to serve, her main weapons for her approaching heated ‘battle’ with him involving that same man.
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
I not only like to read novels of many kinds, but I also like to write them. The stories published here will be in webnovel.com as well, so if you can, I'd appreciate it if you could support me on both platforms. I also like to read any professional critiques people may have on my works in order for me to become a better writer.
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