Editors: Templar, Jack Vanatis, Orang
Author’s notes:Hello everyone, it’s been a while!! Skipping all the unpleasentries for now, this is the first chapter release. I am going through all the chapters as we speak and releasing them in turn. I expect to have them all out today, but if not, there won’t be many left. I’m not holding back any chapters and releasing as much as I can.
As for my absense, and what has been happening. I will release two posts after the chapter releases. The first explaining what I have been going through lately and all the reasons I haven’t talked about for now. It is a big step coming out with these issues, so I hope you can be patient with me in this regard. The second post is something different, so wait for it to come (Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad).
Vol. 2 Chapter 1 – Registration
The first night after graduating from Bluemist Academy and being officially recognized as an adult, Regal’s home is intruded upon by two people. These interlopers are Aqua, who independently decided she would be stay with him until they departed Grand Theore and Veronica, who resolutely refused to leave Regal and Aqua alone together.
This night is the longest night Regal can recall. On one side of the room is Veronica, for whom he has strong feelings of love. Standing beside her is Aqua, who is fond of Regal but displeased that her feelings aren’t reciprocated.
Regal stands in the kitchen making a hot stew for them all out of a chunk of meat from a Horned Vice, which is a mutant beast that he was told resembles a cow and has a terrifying charge attack. The entire house is filled with a tense silence, only broken by the sound of the stew boiling and the occasional footsteps passing by outside.
Three large bowls of watery stew are ready ten minutes later, meat and some vegetables floating in the creamy white broth. The aroma of the soup fills the house as soon as it is ready, causing both Aqua and Veronica to heavily salivate.
“Okay, dinner’s ready,” Regal awkwardly says as he serves the stew.
The three eat in silence, with Regal occasionally glancing up at the two women who have their eyes glued to their bowls.
Aqua is the first to finish, exhaling in elation before finally exclaiming, “Regal, that was too good! Will you please help teach me cooking so I get my skill up and make better things like you.”
“I will do my best.” Regal smiles back, relieved that the tension between the two girls seem to be easing.
Veronica finishes not too long after but, rather than complimenting the food, gives a small nod and relaxes her body, seeming to be reflecting on the savory taste. Regal enjoys gazing at her resplendent beauty as she focuses her attention on recreating the flavor in her mind.
“I can always make it again, you know,” Regal happily states to Veronica as if reading her thoughts. Veronica nods her head in response, but whether she meant she already knows, or that she wants him to make it again, remains a mystery to him.
‘Veronica and Aqua haven’t looked at the other all night. Are they deliberately ignoring each other? Why would they? I don’t understand. If there’s a problem, shouldn’t they talk about it?’ Regal’s mind chaotically creating idea after idea that may solve the current situation, his thoughts in complete disorder.
Regal stands up and abruptly says. “I’m going to go to sleep. Tomorrow we will go to the Hunter’s Association to see what nearby communities are looking for new members.”
As if escaping, Regal quickly heads into his bedroom and shuts the door behind himself. Aqua and Veronica follow suit and decide to go to sleep for the night. Aqua takes the spare bedroom next to Regal’s, the one that used to be for his parents, while Veronica calmly lies down on the couch. The house is well insulated from the cold outside, but Veronica still takes a thick woolen coat out of her personal inventory and uses it as a blanket.
While Regal is squeezing his eyes shut and trying to conjure peaceful thoughts to aid him in falling asleep, he can’t help but hear the sounds of the two women outside. One of the sounds comes from the door of the neighboring room where Aqua is, while another is from shuffling in the living area where Veronica is supposed to be sleeping. Regal constantly tries to push the sounds out of his mind, but his attention persists on the sounds and denies him sleep.
An hour after going to bed, Regal finally feels the calm breath of sleep approaching. However, before he can enter into slumber, the click of the neighboring room’s door opening penetrates his consciousness, followed by a series of muffled footsteps. The footsteps lead toward his room, but before they reach the door, a second person’s feet padding on the hard floor joins them.
Regal can hear quiet voices through the door, one seemingly frustrated while the other impenetrably calm. He strains his ears to hear the reticent conversation, but can only manage to make out a few fragmented words. He silently leaves his bed and creeps to the door to eavesdrop on what is being said, but by the time he entered hearing range, the two have already stopped whispering and have gone back to their respective sleeping locations.
Regal can only wonder and steps quietly back to his bed hoping to get to sleep soon. After a long hour of waiting, he finally manages to discard his distracting thoughts and enter the embrace of a peaceful oblivion.
The following morning, Regal awakens just before the break of dawn. He is overwhelmed by a lethargic fatigue and finds it difficult to move his body, a regretful side effect of his lack of sleep.
Normally, Regal would have awoken later, after sleeping enough to not be fatigued, but his room had been intruded upon by the two women: Aqua and Veronica. The two are sitting on either sides of the bed while calmly looking at him. Regal stares back at them incredulously, doubting his eyes that the two of them would be in his room this early.
Aqua is the first to speak, clearing up Regal’s confusion in the process. “Regal, you need to get up. We should get down to the Hunter’s Association as soon as possible. If we don’t get an early start, forget about all the experienced hunters filling it up, it will already be packed with other new graduates looking for communities.”
“Ah, of course!”
Regal struggles to get up, shaking his head as if to throw off the fatigue plaguing him. Aqua and Veronica move to either sides of him, each grabbing an arm and pulling him out of the bed and onto his feet.
“Ah, meet me outside, I will get dressed quickly,” Regal says as he becomes a little more clear headed.
Aqua acknowledges and heads out of the room, leaving Veronica behind who doesn’t leave and instead says to Regal, “I will help.”
Regal finds out later that this is a result of Piora’s whisperings to Veronica about how you must help the person you care about in all aspects, but for now, he sighs helplessly and banishes her as well from his room.
Veronica’s long amber hair, almost unkempt were it not for the handful of bronze clips holding it in place, tickles Regel’s nose as he pushes her out the door. Shutting himself in his room, where Veronica’s scent still lingers. He smiles at the door before rapidly changing his clothes and places his sleeping gear in his inventory along with some daily clothes.
Wearing an academy uniform for so long, Regal feels actual discomfort when wearing something else. After getting changed, he throws on an auburn long coat with beast leather fortifying the main sections for defense. The coat has several large brass buttons lining the trim, which Regal does up as he is leaving the house.
Upon joining the two girls outside, the group of three heads toward the nearest Hunter’s Association building, which is a half hour walk from Regal’s house. Regal also takes out his transmission plate and contacts Astore, Kilde, and Piora, who all also leave their homes to meet Regal and the rest at the association.
“Watch out!” A voice shouts in alarm.
Regal turns around to see a wagon, pulled by two Balrots, charging down the cobblestone street out of control. The Balrot’s eyes are wild, swirling in terror as if there was a large carnivorous monster chasing them. The driver, a merchant in a uselessly gaudy blue and white attire, is frantically trying to bring them back under control, but failing to do so.
Regal grabs Aqua and Veronica without a moment’s spare thought, throws the women out of the way and is barely able to dive in time to save himself from the out of control wagon.
A faint apology can be heard as the wagon charges off into the distance, followed by the man shouting to warn more people who are in his way. Regal decides to forget about the incident as the guards should have been notified already and will soon rectify the problem.
Aqua is a little shaken up from the surprise, but Veronica is unperturbed and calmly asks, “Regal, should we buy a wagon when leaving the city? It will make things much easier.”
Regal opens his inventory and sees that despite all his saving up over the past four years, only has a meagre six gold coins and some silver due to the robbery a while back.
“There’s not enough money, even if we all share the cost,” Regal says reluctantly. “Besides, I am a crafter. My skill is enough to build a simple one if we can get enough materials. I have all the tools for my crafts so it won’t be too hard.”
The cost of a wagon, even the most basic sort, is at least a hundred gold coins. After that, there are still the mutant beasts to purchase in order to pull the wagon, which can be just as expensive for good ones. Regal plans to use the Divine Art ‘Soul Shackle’ from his skill ‘Soul Authority’ in order to procure some beasts to pull the wagon he crafts. In fact, Regal’s skill is the rarest of all taming abilities and he is most likely the only one in the world of Grandosa with it. He wouldn’t even have to worry about his beasts running wild like the gaudy man just now.
A brief time later, Regal and the small entourage arrive at the Hunter’s Association, a three story building taking up a massive plot of land. A copper plaque hangs above the open double door entrance, which reads Grand Theore Hunter’s Association. This building is one of thirteen branches spread throughout Theore’s first floor.
Regal learned all about the association when he was in school, preparing for the greater world. The Hunter’s Association provides registered hunters with a compendium of information, available at each branch. It also provides a service in which an Immortalis, usually a trader, can place a request with a reward that a qualified hunter can accept and choose to complete.
Each grand city has its own association, and you need to register with each to take part in their benefits. There are also branches in some of the larger communities outside the grand cities. Requests are shared across their network and can be accepted from any branch, but they still need to be turned into a specific branch, or one nearby.
Regal waits outside the building until Astore, Kilde, and Piora arrive, which thankfully isn’t a long wait. As the group heads inside, they marvel at how grand the place is. Even with them arriving first thing in the morning, Regal is taken aback by the overwhelming number of hunters. Many of the other academy graduates also had similar thoughts as Aqua and Veronica, trying to arrive before everyone else.
One in every two inhabitants in the lobby are new school graduates, causing the usually busy location to be absolutely bursting with activity. Due to the large crowd of people, Regal can only make out part of a request board occupying nearly an entire wall in the room and the dozen attendants who man the counters at the rear of the lobby where requests and registrations are handled. There is also a group of tables pushed against the far wall on the other side of the room, obviously placed out of the way to accommodate the large influx of hunters after graduation.
Regal and his group weave through the crowd and make their way to the counter, lining up behind several groups of graduates. The associate staff are all extremely experienced and handle all the new registrations in an efficient manner, causing Regal’s turn to arrive before he even realized it.
“Another hunter just graduated?” A middle aged woman that seems to have seen her share of fighting directly asks Regal.
“Yes, ready to go out in the world and join a community.”
“Is that so? Well, anyway, remember that you have a long path ahead of you. Don’t go deciding everything straight away.”
“Yes, I understand.”
“So what will it be today, just registration?”
“Just registration,” Regal reaffirms the staff member’s words while eagerly anticipating becoming a member of the association.
“Okay. All you need to do is pay a small fee of one silver, and I will give you the mandatory explanation for our member ranks and how we operate.”
Regal hastily hands over a silver coin from his bag, which the staff member places in a drawer behind the counter while taking out a bronze, card-like token. She places the card on the counter in front of Regal, who then picks it up and sees his basic information appear on the face.
Grand Theore Hunter’s Association Name: Regal Havier Age: 18 Level: 10 Class: Grand Crafter Member Rank: Bronze Bronze Requests Completed: 0
After confirming that the procedure has had no errors, the staff member then continues with her explanation.
“We have six different member rankings that you can advance through. As a new member, you will only be a bronze rank member. After that, if your level is sufficient and you have completed enough requests, you can advance through to Silver, Gold, White Gold, Mithril, and finally Adamantine.”
“Each ranking requires you to be twenty levels higher than the previous, and also have completed a hundred requests of your current ranking. That means, to advance to silver, you will need to be at least level 30, and have completed a hundred bronze ranked requests. To advance to gold, you will have to be level 50, and this time completed a hundred silver ranked requests. Do you understand?”
Regal contemplates this for a moment before nodding his head.
“Good. You can accept any request of your current rank or lower. By accepting a request, you are acknowledging your intention to complete it. Failure to do so will result in a penalty of a monetary fine and a reduction added onto your number of completed requests, regardless of the failed request rank. Please pay attention to the time limit placed on the request for when it needs to be completed, this is the main cause of accepted requests not being fulfilled.”
“If you wish to place a request, you may pay a fee to the association to use our services. After you deposit the reward for the request, we will evaluate all the information before posting it on the wall for someone to accept.”
“By showing your association card, you may also ascend to the higher floors and view our library of information. Each branch has a library of the same information, so you will be able to view the same information at any location available. As you are a bronze rank member, you may only go into the first area of our library. You will need to advance your rank to view more advanced information. If you gain any knowledge on a new mutant beast, or can improve on what is currently known, we will also pay for this information.”
“Do you understand all of this?”
“Yes, I understand!” Regal says while vigorously nodding his head.
“Good. I personally welcome you to the Hunter’s Association, and hope to see great progress from you.”
Regal then moves out of the way, allowing the rest of his group to register with the association. He grips his member card tightly in his hand, not quite willing to put it away in his inventory just yet.
Everyone quickly completes their registration and then the group makes their way through the crowd to the side wall where all the requests are pinned. Regal scans over the wall and sees that the type of requests are put into different groups.
The most common is the collection requests, each sheet of paper crammed so tightly on the wall some are nearly completely hidden by others. These are to do with collecting a certain amount of mutant beast materials, or specific items, as required by the person who submitted the request. Each one has a colored border, signifying the rank a member needs to be to accept it. This is directly correlated with the difficulty of the request, so no one of a lower rank would even consider accepting one.
The second group are notices of squads looking for new members and hunters looking for squads. These don’t have a ranking on them, so anyone can accept it. They are formatted in a way that only requests of a hunter with specific skills or a specific level range or both are required to accept a request.
The third group is the smallest, containing miscellaneous requests such as guard duty, escorting a caravan to a destination, or attending an event. Regal’s face turns crimson when he sees a request, written with seductive words, from a lady requesting a “young bachelor” to attend a night party with her on Theore’s 12th floor. It even goes so far to describe the lady’s three sizes. While Regal is embarrassed as he reads over the request, a young hunter approaches and quickly snatches it from the wall before fleeing to the counter.
Disregarding the event, he would prefer to forget, Regal then reaches the fourth group of requests. These are all primarily posted by communities looking for members to join them. They include a rough map illustrated on the paper, showing where the community is located in relation to the Grand City.
This last group is also the only type of request that doesn’t need to be accepted. As any hunter can travel to the location shown, all they need to do is travel to that location, speak with the lord of the community and request to join.
Regal, Aqua, and Veronica look through one section of the community requests while Astore, Kilde, and Piora search another. Between the two groups, they end up choosing four different communities that they can choose from. After showing each other which they think is best, they narrow it down to only two.
Community: Greyhorn Townsend Population: 1,400 Resources: ~ Nearby quarry for mining raw stone and some lesser metals. Few positions available for miners under employment of community lord. ~ Level 10 – 50 dungeon a half day travel from community. ~ Compilation of other minor resource deposits nearby. Terms: ~ Monthly tax 10 bronze coins. ~ Crafters exempt from tax under conditional aid of improving town’s defenses as required.
Community: Silver Lion Community Population: 2,800 Resources: ~ Large deadwood forest on border of community, many positions available under employment of community lord. Shared with two other communities. ~ Silver mine constructed beneath town. ~ Several herds of semi-tamed razorback prowlers. ~ Level 20 – 80 dungeon located in center of forest. Terms ~ Quarterly tax 1 silver coin. ~ Town guard duty available for reduced tax. ~ Tamers who pledge to the town for a contractual term of 10 or more years may tame razorback prowlers and are exempt from tax.
“Which do you think is better?” Aqua curiously asks while gazing into Regal’s pondering expression. As their squad leader, of course they leave the final decision up to Regal.
“They both have good points, so it is difficult to decide. Greyhorn Townsend is good because the tax is low, and they are in need of crafters, which is what I excel at. If they are just in need of crafters to create fortifications, it means that they already have a considerable force of hunters to defend the community.”
“But I also need to consider the squad as a whole. I am the only crafter among us, so joining that community doesn’t help everyone else at all. Silver Lion Community on the other hand is twice as big, with a stronger defense, and looking for hunters to further fortify it. Its resources are much greater, and even though the tax is more than twice the former, it isn’t outrageous.”
“At the same time, the latter is also a more dangerous place. If three communities are sharing the same resource, it means they all have equal strength. If one was to become stronger than the other two, a war between the three factions is likely to happen. Either the stronger one wipes out the other two, or the other two join hands first and wipe out the stronger one which has suddenly became a threat.”
“Why don’t we have a vote?”
As Regal looks toward the rest of his group, Aqua and Piora seem to consider it, but Veronica, Astore, and Kilde, automatically choose to go with whichever Regal decides on. The actions of the latter three Soulless completely turn Regal’s decision on a vote straight back for him to decide on the location. After all, Regal will automatically have four votes on whichever he chooses, making the process unnecessary.
Aqua and Piora notice this and sigh helplessly, joining the faction of the three Soulless and telling Regal that he has to decide.
Regal analyses all the information he has on the two communities, quickly forming a logical decision based on the information provided by each community. It may have been more than three years since he developed emotions and evolved from being a Soulless, but the logical method of thinking that once filled his life still provides a foundation for his mind.
“Let’s go to Greyhorn Townsend. We are just starting out on our journey, and plan to create our own community. Greyhorn will be the best place to start. Theore is the northernmost Grand City, and this community is still three months of travel further north.”
The others don’t hesitate to agree with his decision, leaving only final preparations to make before departing. They also check the first area of the Hunter Association’s library, proudly showing their member’s card to the guard while ascending the stairs, but apart from a few maps, there is nothing there that they hadn’t learned at the academy.
The group then leaves the building as dawn turns into morning and more people flow in through the doors, outnumbering those leaving and causing the building to become more and more packed.
After formally inviting everyone into his squad to enjoy the benefits of experience sharing, Regal leads the way to the local market street, where every type of goods they can think of are being sold. Each member of the squad donates two gold coins into a pool of money that will be used to purchase enough provisions to survive in the outside world for months.
With a total of twelve gold coins, the squad purchases high durability tents, food, restorative items, ammunition, various herbs, and even a few pieces of equipment Regal was missing for his crafting skills.
After shopping, Regal’s inventory is filled like never before. He thought it was full with just the equipment he needed for his crafting, but now he was over encumbered. Even with 45 points in strength, the weight of all the equipment Regal just bought weighs him down and hits his limit. He isn’t surprised why so many people view wagons and land caravans as so important. Nobody would be able to carry a large quantity of raw materials in just their inventory.
The rest of the goods are shared between everyone else to store, spreading out the weight of the items. Everyone agrees that all profits they make will be evenly split, so there are no thoughts of who should get more, which can happen in some squads.
With the preparations all completed, they travel together to Astore, Kilde, Piora and Victoria’s homes, to let each bid their final farewells before setting out on their long journey first to the north city gate, and then further north toward Greyhorn Townsend.