Three days ago.
The Adventurers Guild from three different countries had formed joint subjugation teams to hunt the monsters in Un el Portan. As of this moment, however, their headquarters, located at the edge of the great forest, was in a state of chaos.
「They broke through the front lines?」the chief asked. He was the head Guildmaster in Quinbland, in charge of all the guild’s branches throughout the empire. A rank B adventurer in his younger days, he had an active career, but before he reached fifty, he lost his right foot to petrifaction and subsequently retired.
When the first report arrived, he thought it was some sort of a misunderstanding. The monsters’ abnormal growth in numbers happened every year. And every year it was almost always at the same location. The guild dispatched subjugation teams led by rank C adventurers annually to hunt them.
「I want details. Tell me more.」
The guild staff who went with the teams gave his report. While in the middle of fighting a mass of Goblins, Green Wolves, and Plant-type monsters, something unusual occurred. Forest Barbarians — more than ten of them — appeared.
The chief was dumbfounded. A party of rank C adventurers could only take four or five of those at max.
「I see. So the problem is the appearance of said Forest Barbarians.」
「No, Sir. That’s not all.」
「I caught a glance of it in the deeper part of the forest.」The staff shivered.「A dragon.」
The chief thought the staff was simply seeing things due to fear. Dragons lived deep in the mountains, in places where humans had not set foot on. Un el Portan, while a big forest, was bordered by three countries. If a dragon inhabited the place, it would’ve been spotted long ago.
But his assumptions would soon be proven wrong. More and more reports arrived. It wasn’t just Forest Barbarians. Dark Night Wolves, Tyrant Snakes, and Dark Pixies — monsters that were too much for C-ranked adventurers to handle — appeared in double digits.
It was nothing short of strange. Tyrant Snakes acted independently, but they grouped up this time. They had an abnormal situation at hand.
One adventurer gave his report as follows:
There’s a dragon in the deepest part of the forest and it was eating monsters. The creatures were forced to leave the forest.
A dragon, for some unknown reason, had gone berserk and preyed on monsters. Fearing for their lives, the creatures tried to leave the forest. Monsters that would normally be found only in the deepest parts of Un el Portan formed groups — perhaps their instincts kicked in — and escaped.
The chief immediately sent notice for an emergency request to each country’s main guild office. If the monsters escaped, nearby towns would be in danger of being attacked.
Adventures Guild from all three countries sent word to all adventurers rank D and above, requesting them to hunt the monsters in Un El Portan.
「I see.」Hikaru had his hand on his chin as Mikhail explained the situation to him.「Will high-ranking adventurers be there?」
「Well, adventurers usually don’t just stay put in a town. Most of them are out there clearing requests. But if three countries called for help, I think a fair number of them will show up.」
「How long will the hunt take?」
「With a scale this huge, it’ll probably last until winter.」
「That won’t do.」
「Well, don’t look at me.」
At this rate, the event will most likely get cancelled.
「Greetings, fellows. Fancy seeing you all— Huh, I guess not all of you are here.」
Katy arrived, looking like she didn’t have enough sleep. Her coat seemed worn-out, quite the opposite of her usual classy attire.
「I brought you a present, Hikaru.」
She put five bullets on Hikaru’s palm.
「Is this what I think it is?」he asked.
They were different from the ones he lent to the professor. Those were silver, but these ones were gold with a pattern engraved on the exterior.
「It’s just a prototype. I’ve confirmed that they can be loaded with magic. They can be recharged, but only for about two or three times.」she whispered into his ears.
Hikaru stared at her blankly. It had only been forty days since he handed the bullet to her. Even without any prior knowledge about it, she was able to create prototypes.
A researcher in the academy and the greatest Magic Item Specialist, Katy Kotobi.
He recalled the words of the principal. She must be a genius when it comes to magic items.
「Don’t stare at me like that. You’re making me blush.」
「What’s that, Professor?」Mikhail asked.
「I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you. It’s a secret between me and Hikaru.」
「When did you two get so close?」
Well, the Alchemy King knows about it too, Hikaru thought. But it wouldn’t be wise to tell Mikhail that.
「Professor Mikhail, I have a question. The cause of the abnormal surge of monsters is this dragon, correct?」
「That’s what they said. Though we’re not completely sure yet.」
Hikaru shoved the bullets into his pocket and turned his attention to Claude. The young man looked at Hikaru with a serious expression.
「Claude, I’ll tell you about my secret plan. You can beat the boss without me, right?」
「Secret? Wait, you’re not coming?」
「You can beat him even without me, right?」Hikaru asked once more.
Claude nodded. Hikaru then proceeded to open his Soul Board.
【Soul Board】Claude Zahard Kirihal
Age: 18 Rank: 7
..【Power Burst】1 →2
Hikaru put a point on Sword, Shield, Strength, and Power Burst. He then asked Claude to come closer.
(There’s most likely a new job class in your soul card.)
(A result of your training these past few days. Use it. And on the way you should try to move your body a lot so you get used to it. Make sure you get that win.)
Hikaru didn’t really want to do it, but with four points on Sword, Claude could now become one of Forestia’s best swordsmen.
「I have a favor to ask, Professor.」Hikaru told Mikhail.
「You asking for favors feels weird, but okay. What is it?」
「Please go with Claude to Jarazack.」
「What? I told you I need to go to hunt those monsters.」
「Luka Lordgrad Ludancia will be coming as well and they will request an audience with Alexis Jarazack.」
「What?! She’s a princess of Ludancia, isn’t she?! What are you guys planning?!」
「You can ask them on the way. I want you to be Claude and Luka’s bodyguard. They need one, especially with the monsters escaping from the forest.」
「That’s true… Hmm, okay. I can head to the forest once I escorted them safely.」Mikhail surprisingly agreed.「In exchange, tell me what you’re about to do.」
Claude’s eyes were asking the same question. What are you planning?
「I’ll get rid of the dragon. If the root of the problem is a lone dragon, it’s the perfect job for me.」Hikaru answered.