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"In any case, if we do encounter a bounty hunt, shouldn't we evaluate our current strength for such possible occasion?"

While making our way to Wogyl, it is important to take notice of our surroundings. Unlike the rest of Kralima, the rest of the upcoming regions will be very different. Many are even avoided by several people due to its natural conflict with nature itself. This is to say that, Wogyl is also known as 'Lagrima Rift'. In other words, often, a rift is a word used to describe a break or a disruption in some sort of way. In this scenario, the Lagrima Rift is a crack that happened long ago between a war of attrition in the space gap of centuries ago. What's worse is that the Lagrima Rift is supposed to have a huge crack of snow right in the middle of it. Thus, the main way to proceed into Naguryl is somewhat blocked. Even so, there is always a way. If there is an easy way to something then there is undoubtedly a way to open an avenue. However, that way is probably way harder. Now, about the question that this new guy Lazol asked. It would be extremely convenient to ask that because we will fight monsters along the way. There is no point in even deceiving myself over this. Ever since I had the ability to fight back and learn how to outlast monsters, I did exactly that. I do understand that this time around we have no idea what we are up against, therefore to confirm our current strength should be a valid question to the current matter.

"What do you think, Zakarias?"

That question is a bit unnecessary. Because all of us can simply look at each other and scan our levels. I'm level seventeen, while Lodya is level fourteen. Normally, I would be against her on the battlefield for specific reasons, but, if we are four then this shouldn't be a problem. Is, what I wanted to say. But, in the face of the current reality, our party is an odd one. As mentioned, I myself am a level 17, Lodya is a level 14. On the other hand, to contrast that, Rei is level 7. Awkwardly enough, he has made it out fine with just being level 7. That's not the point here though. Realistically, we never had to fight, to begin with, me and Rei back in the Island simply recurred to the usage of strategies that were the best against monsters. Yet that's exactly the problem. It was only good against those monsters. I knew how to counter those monsters from back to front. Then, this leaves us in a tight spot. In all likelihood, if a monster that is over his level by at least 10 or so levels engages him, then he is dead, most likely. Lastly, the surprise of the party is, Lazol. He is at level 23. I wish I could be happy about this, but trusting him seems to be too much of a beginner's mistake, so I will keep an eye on him.

"Rei, why ask the question when you already know the answer?"

"I thought I knew the answer to that, but Lazol seems promising no?"

I suppose it's fair to assume that Lazol is bound to be a bit strong due to his level. It's a fact that to gain experience points, one has to engage in multiple battles with monsters who are most likely higher in terms of levels in comparison to the engager. And that's the right assumption. Though, in this case, the question was to evaluate our current strength. If I had to say, then some changes need to be made.

"Lazol, you mentioned that we should question our current strength in case we do encounter a bounty hunt, right?"

"Yes, that is correct. Although, as you mentioned previously if we do follow the right path, then we can avoid the bounty hunts."

"I would like to correct my own misjudgment. I don't think we can avoid any bounty hunts at the moment."

"Wait, what? But didn't you just say a while ago that if we do follow your strategy that we could avoid them?"

"I did say that, but as mentioned it was my own misjudgment. Misjudgment is caused by a lack of consideration. That's exactly what I just did. Think about it for a second. Isn't it risky to simply follow onwards when we know nothing about our potential enemies? We should at least have a general idea of what we could be up against yet we know nothing. Furthermore, I will answer your question, Lazol. Our current strength is lacking, and here is why." I say as I hand him the piece of the journal that I was carrying.

Lodya's question was a good one, I will give her that. We could have maybe avoided the bounty hunts if we followed my strategy. But after rethinking about it, it's highly unrealistic that such events do not happen. We are at a stage where we are incredibly low level, the perfect appetizer for bounty hunts if one thinks about it. I am in a hurry to get to Ralcultak, but, by no means, am I in a rush to die. By the time I gave him the journal he should have understood what I was talking about. Lazol, though young, can pose good questions. It's good to have someone like him, even temporarily. Otherwise, my assumptions will never get questioned and then I will assume that they are correct. Thankfully, he did exactly just that. And for that, grateful I remain.

"I see your point. Then, what do you suggest we do for now?"

"Go over the last page. Tell me your thoughts, please."

"...Assuming that we do end up following the route right now and engage such monsters that are on that level, no, above these levels, then we shouldn't follow the path to Ralcultak at all. I'm an idiot, as the highest leveled up member here, I should have realized."

"And I should have capitalized. This was too good to be true. We are only left with that option, are you fine with that?"

"I'm more than fine with that. To repay for my mistake and my own foolishness, I believe that we should go there."

"Good to know that we have an agreement. But first, do you have an original ability, Lazol?"

It would be seriously anticlimactic to have another member without an original ability. Plus, it strictly says that, in order to enter there, one needs an original ability. Otherwise, entering would be impossible. But, if he has read this far and has realized the current situation, then I think it's highly unlikely that he doesn't have an original ability. Although, one cannot be certain about what one always assumes.

"Yes. It would be rather problematic if I didn't have one, according to this."

"Um, what are you guys talking about?"

Maybe it's a habit of mine, but I tend to always turn blind on other people whenever I seriously initiate a discussion with someone. Essentially, by going there we can, not only be prepared this time around but instead of blindly moving forward, we can also gather more strengths and defenses to our own arsenal. However, before that, there is one thing that needs to be done before that, and that's the most obvious one.

"M'lady, I believe that Zakarias is telling us that we should head someplace before we could advance. Wouldn't that be it, Zakarias?"

What was that 'M'lady' for, even? Putting that randomness aside, it's only normal for Lodya to question my words entirely. I'm surprised that Rei has not spoken, aside from his initial question. Maybe he understands that in order to move forward we need to move forward in other aspects as well. If that's the case then that's perfect.

"Alright, I need you two to listen up for just a minute here. As I said, we can't advance onwards because I made a misjudgment. To prevent that, we need to make sure that we have the strength to back it up. Currently, our strongest member is Lodya, in all likelihood."

She is the strongest, but it's not due to her original ability, but due to that overpowered Atlas that she has. I know for a fact that, if that Atlas is used correctly, it can be devastating. But, that might just be another point. Relying on her Atlas is a fragile move. I say this because her original ability by itself is not the greatest there is. Plus, Rei really needs to get his own original ability. But, I'm somewhat curious about his 'Sky Breaker'. That skill seemed pretty powerful, I would very much like to see him use it seriously, in order to assure what our assets are at the moment.

"W-Wait, how am I the strongest?"

"You just are."

"Agreed."

"If they both say so, then I will trust their judgment."

Rei knows as to why Lodya is strong, but the very fact that Lazol gave out his word like that brings surprise, that's for sure. He seems to have a very noble personality from what I could tell. Our past argument was unfortunate because we started off from the wrong foot, yet he has proven to be a help so far. But, that argument was necessary, sincerely.

"You guys aren't making any sense you know... I'm only level 14, just saying..."

"That doesn't matter. You have the Elder's Atlas. That by itself is worth at least twenty levels."

She probably won't notice and I hope that nobody takes the last part seriously since it was an obvious lie. But, her Atlas is so powerful that it immediately makes her the strongest member right now. This is assuming that Lazol doesn't have an Atlas on his own, even if he does, it would take a lot to outlast her Atlas. If she doesn't realize this, then that's fine. She will gain the prowess to master the Atlas on her own. After all, the Atlas is passed down from generation to generation, or so the Elder said.

"Pardon me, but you have an Atlas?! That's amazing! I dream about having one, every now and then!"

I would dream about it as well, but the reality is, I have no idea how to forge one. So far all I've got is a recipient for my own original ability. Speaking off which, in order to forge my next form, I need to make a stop somewhere around Kralima, while we are still here. It's not enough to have four forms on my own. On my way to Ralkultac, I will need at least ten or so forms. Each of them needs to have their own diversity in terms of powers. As much as I would enjoy cutting down the conditions and consequences, that's fairly impossible. I suppose that's a fair bargain, though. To ask for a greater power asks for a greater drawback to being applied. At least, that's how original abilities work.

"Haha, it's just a present from my grandfather, it's nothing special, really. Do you want to see it?"

"If you would allow someone like me to even glance at it, then I would be the happiest person in the world at the moment, M'lady."

Again with the 'M'lady'. This guy. I need to keep an eye on him for a couple of reasons. He requested that we accompanied him over his course to his three stops. So far, only one stop is known, that being, the 'Maldreadia Caverns'. Although I said to him to list his stops he only went as far as to list one, which raises even more suspicion. Trusting someone who I know nothing about is a bland mistake to make. More so, his abilities are unknown to me, but when he and Rei were running inside the boat, he landed perfectly on the ground from a fairly high height. Even for a young age, his physique might be extraordinary. Also, his original ability is unknown. All that is known about him is his name and level. That's the disturbing part. That's not enough to create a trusting bond. Some would call this insecurity, but isn't this just taking every option into consideration? It is. Ultimately, if he agreed with me to go there, then he is either serious about this or he will completely run away. That's right, while this is a quest for evolution, this is a test for the truth as well.

"Zakarias, are you okay? You seem serious all over the sudden."

I didn't notice Rei approaching me, but that was simply because I was too focused on my own train of thought. That's normal, really. It just means that I am doing a good job on my own concentration. Concerning one's seriousness is nothing to fret about. Especially when my intentions are for the greater good. Yes. If my intentions serve a greater cause, then it should be fine to be looked like a bad person to others. After all, my intentions are what matter as they will flow into the course of my own actions. Still, if I don't relax every now and then, who knows what I might look to others. It's not exactly my cup of tea to look like a villain to others out of my own free will.

"Sorry about that. Anyways, I needed to have a word with you and you alone, now that those two are busy conversing between one another."

"I'm afraid that we are too weak to advance or something like that, I think. But I thought that you alone would be a match for all of our upcoming enemies, Zakarias."

As if it's that easy. Rei, sometimes you don't know how to exhibit intelligence, even at the lowest of all degrees. Or maybe, I'm the one who is not seeing his perspective. Be as it may be, my abilities have more consequences than actual conveniences to it. Thus, my ability to take down enemies is severely dependent on those conditions, is what I would like to tell him. But, if I tell him this it would just probably lower his own moral to a whole new level. He doesn't seem to be very confident, but that might just be a signal that he is probably considering things as they are now. If so, that's great.

"Greatness just in self can only be occasionally great. Either way, you want to get your original ability as soon as possible, correct?"

"About that. Yes, I do. But, I will ask again, how exactly do I get my own original ability?"

The fated question. Being initially reluctant about answering this question might have been for the best. No, answering this question earlier would only provoke further misunderstandings and unnecessary speculations to be created. That's not a good thing. However, although I know how to get one, I would like to pass my time effectively, in other words, to gather some usefulness for our own benefit. Besides, our time just got a lot smaller. Originally, the plan was to go right into Ralcultak by following the correct path, and along with that way to pass through Lazol's desired stops while receiving information about the Atlas's. Supposedly, the only reason as to why I'm in this is for the sake of obtaining the Atlas. When I do, I can apply this recipient in it to make my own abilities even more powerful. Lastly, the end goal would be... No, to achieve the end goal perfectly, I will need more. So much more. More than I can currently take. In order to receive more and more to my own power, when Rei finishes obtaining his own original ability, we will direct ourselves there. However, if he doesn't have an original ability, then he can't enter there. That's our current issue right now.

"Original abilities are obtained from craft stores. There are automatically at least two over each region. Furthermore, aside from being able to produce your original ability faithfully, a craft store is, in other words, a bazaar of goods, overall. It sells anything that a beginner would want. Spells, skills, weapons and many more."

"But, does an original ability cost min?"

"No, it doesn't. If I had to say, it costs a similar price. But that's only something you can hope to understand when you are inside a craft store."

"I see. Thanks for that. Another thing I wanted to ask is if we can't advance from here on, then when are we going to?"

"For that, you are better off asking Lazol that."

"Why can't you answer it, though?"

"Because I need to be in a certain place right now. Ask Lodya or Lazol to go over to a craft store in my place, will you?"

"Wait, where are you going, Zakarias?"

"To a certain place, did I not say it before? Let's meet there. Lazol will know where. Ciao!"

Leaving confusion inside Rei's mind, Zakarias takes off as he goes straight into the west direction. Kralima, being the vast rustic city that it is, is a place of many zones. It contains so many different types of places that one could easily get lost in it. Amidst that, Zakarias makes his leave to a place where he, himself knows that he is unreachable. Feeling in doubt, Rei gazes to the standing moon and sun while closing his eyes a bit due to the penetrating light that the sun emits. Even against this sunlight, the moon had no power to illuminate its most unique crescent majestic moonlight. Yet, the people that still roamed Kralima admired such normalcy. What could be said to be normalcy was without a doubt, something obscure and orthodox to the man who went to where a smiling girl was while she was happily explaining the story behind her most treasured possession at the moment.

Just like a child hoping to understand something that cannot be explained, the young man Lazol continued with his persistence. This exact moment brought forth a memory of Rei enjoying his past three years with someone who had given him the reason to move forward in this life of his. While he remains forever grateful, he can't help but to always wonder for what purpose did the one who gave him such purpose would go as far as pushing him into an unknown dimension. However, unlike what most would expect out of him, he happily smiled while he made his way to where Lazol and Lodya were sitting. Right into the left chair he went. In the end, he maintained his small smile and was gladly received by these two companions of his. Meanwhile...

The Lost Sea Taskbar.

"Greetings."

"Greetings. Please tell me anything you know about the current bounty hunts from this region."

The Lost Sea Taskbar. Unknown to many due to its strange location is a taskbar that sells drinks and the usual at a bar. However, there is one reason as to why this taskbar is preferred among hunters, especially hunters who don't just hunt for the sake of hunting and winning rewards. Many of the bounty hunts revolve around the purpose of obtaining a large amount of min it is initially proposed right into the hunting bill. But, that's about it when it comes to regular hunts. Hunts inside this taskbar go further than simple huntings. Around four years ago, while I was away from the Island on my way to train outside of the village, I managed to find this place, but by the time I found out about it, I was too weak and underleveled. Hoping to come back here one day, I trained like hell. Thus, I've gained fourteen levels since then along with my original ability.

"You have been here before, have you not?"

"Yes. It was around four years ago if my memory recalls correctly."

"Have you come back stronger?"

"That's what I want to find out."

"Very well then. Are you ready?"

"Please."

I'm not saying that completing regular hunts that are around the bill posting cafés are easy, no, that's not it. But, it's just that, the rewards are somewhat bad. In the end, what a café can offer one for slaying a bounty hunt is nothing more than min. That itself is by no means bad. However, it's also by no means good enough. To enter the Subterra, each of us needs 2,500 min just for the entry. I've told Rei that he should ask Lazol for further instructions, therefore I am expecting him to get a hold of his original ability when I get to the supposed place. Otherwise, entering Subterra is out of the question. Getting his original ability is one thing, but the most worrying part is the humongous price one has to pay just to enter Subterra. We are currently broke and relying on Lazol to pay us everything, assuming that he does have the min for it, is, again, out of the question. Blind trust only leads to demise. As the bartender questions my resolution, the following option appears right in my screen:

[Join Lost Sea's Hunting League?]

[Yes or No?]

There is absolutely no reason as to why I should decline this in the first place. This is what I came for. By joining the Lost Sea's Hunting League, it will take hunting down bounty hunts to a whole new level. Not like I wouldn't be glad to hunt down regular hunts, but it's a matter of motivation for the most part. While there are pleasant rewards to regular hunts, if there is a greater reward in another, then it's natural to seek the greater reward. But, as a downside to that, there is a greater danger to those hunts. Although, that's really what I'm about to find out, really.

"Great! Welcome aboard, lad! Just sign this up and you will officially be a member of the Hunting League!" Says the old man as he hands me down a paper along with a pen.

Well, it wouldn't make much sense to go under this without a registration process I suppose. The following page looked something like this.

ⱠØ₴₮ ₴Ɇ₳ ⱧɄ₦₮ł₦₲ ⱠɆ₳₲ɄɆ ⱤɆ₲ł₴₮Ɽ₳₮łØ₦ ₱₳₲Ɇ

₵₳ⱤĐł₦₳Ⱡ ₦₳₥Ɇ:

 

₴ɆӾ:

 

₳₲Ɇ:

 

ⱤɆ₳₴Ø₦ ₣ØⱤ JØł₦ł₦₲:

 

ØⱤł₲ł₦₳Ⱡ ₳฿łⱠł₮Ɏ ĐɆ₴₵Ɽł₱₮łØ₦:

 

₳₵₮łVł₮Ɏ ⱠɆ₦₲₮Ⱨ (Ø₱₮łØ₦₳Ⱡ):

There was more to it, a list of terms. It was nothing special as it's always a protocol of rules and whatnot, but as long as one limits himself to his own hunt, there shouldn't be any problem. However, there was one rule that caught my eye for a second. 'A hunter cannot choose a hunt that a hunter has already chosen to hunt.' This could very well imply that if I choose one hunt then I will have to commit myself to that hunt and that nobody else can accept my own hunt. Violating this protocol will lead to one's expulsion and furthermore, that hunter is forever banned from taking any hunt inside Ceulonia. Talk about harsh, but it's a correct necessity. There was also a rule stating that a hunter has about one week to hunt down their hunt, otherwise, if failed, the hunt will become available to another hunter. That's normal, I suppose? I mean, if there was an infinite time for a hunt, then most of the hunters would probably be up to no good. What comes to my mind is that this rule was established to prevent people from doing unnecessary things, such as joking around when this is quite serious. You are putting your life on the line for hunting down these hunts.

"There, is that enough?" I ask as I return back the registration paper.

"Thank you. However, for the purpose of hiding your own identity, we use codenames here. Is there a codename that you wish to use?"

"Just curious, but for what reason is there a need to hide your own identity?"

"As you can see, this taskbar has hardly usual customers, since most people come here for these elite hunts. Whenever going through the Hunting board, one could see the true name of the hunter. This would create a problem back then due to the following reason: If a hunter is reported dead, their hunt becomes available to other hunters. Hunters are usually greedy around here because the reward for each hunt is tremendous. Therefore, other hunters would often kill other hunters just for the sake of obtaining their hunts. To ensure that this isn't a problem, we have a codename system now. If someone now sees your codename on the hunting board, they will not be able to identify you since they have no way of knowing it. Also, this registration page that contains your cardinal name is highly confidential, so none can access it and see your real name."

That certainly makes sense. This just shows that people who do these elite hunts are in it to win it. This isn't a walk in the park, no, this is a highway to hell straight away. I have to say, this is a good idea, the fact that you can hide your own identity out like this is oddly convenient. This just enforces one to be cautious above all things. Also, as I learn more about this already established system that is very well known around this taskbar, I can move on to my next step. Grabbing the pen that is already still on the counter, I also grab a small paper on my right, which is usually used for cleaning up your mouth after drinking, supposedly. Lastly, I write my new identity.

"Here."

"Clever move to hand out your new identity like that. You earned my praise."

"Save the flattery. Can you tell me now about the bounty hunts?"

"You should know this by now, but there is no turning back now. It will be a struggle for your life once you go out there to hunt down these monsters. Monsters don't limit themselves to savage creatures, but often are the types of creatures that we are the most familiar with. In other words, humans. Even knowing this, do you still want to put down these hunts, even if it means walking into straight hell?"

Hell? What do you know about hell, old man? Only people who have walked through true hell should ever mention the word hell. If so, then I suppose that we are one of a kind. Hell walkers who stand right inside the Heavens. Demonic pretenders. How interesting.

"Bring it on."

It's been a while since I've been this excited about something new. Boredom is like a disease that infects those who live under normalcy and most of all, surrounded by that which is considered natural for others. Although this feeling isn't relatable to many, this exhilaration to experience something new is consuming my current self as we speak.

 

To be continued.

 

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Saga Rakiyuga

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