044 Exploring the Demon Woods 1 p.2

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The town was at long last, being revitalised. Various buildings were being constructed to meet the demands of the adventurers who were going to challenge the Trees of Darkness. Facilities like inns, blacksmiths, workshops, taverns, brothels… And they were all being built at a feverish pace. Also, other than the discovery of the dungeon, there were the mines and the locally made potions. There were merchants who travelled to Marlan in search of it. There were some who got second thoughts upon hearing about the notoriety of the lord, but the investment and influx to the town continued nonetheless.

This place was going to grow. Once the town grows, he would be able to make more money too. And he had his foresight to thank for being able to reach the town earlier than anybody else.

“Hmph, ‘transient crows’...”

He heard a low pitched grumble.

The owner of the voice was a young lad who was less than 20 years old. He had brown eyes and bluish black hair. He was probably shopping for food, as he was carrying a bag of bread, dried meat and fruits. His innocent and gentle face was oozing youth, but the disgust he had for whatever was in front of him was evident.

“Tch…’Guardian of Balance’, Joel?”

He was looking scornfully at Raymond.

The young lad was the leader of an up-and-coming party ‘Guardian of Balance’. Their rank was C. While he was still young, he had already attained the same rank as Raymond. For him who had spent all his youth getting to his current rank, the one thing he hated most were these kinds of greenhorns.


Still, he wasn’t childish enough to pick a fight just because he was irked by him. He would just give a snort at him and walk past him.

Joel had called him a transient crow. That was not because he was talented and gained a nickname. Having a nickname at C rank was too early. In fact, it had the opposite meaning, it was used to criticise the deeds of an adventurer.

‘Transient’ was one of the styles of adventurers. It might be too much to call it a style though. It was mainly not forming specific parties, though it wasn’t going solo either. If a party needed extra members because of a big request, ‘transient’ adventurers might be recruited. And after the quest, they would leave the party and seek out a different party. In short, they were adventurers who lacked skill to survive alone, nor did they have the persistence or teamwork to stay in a party for long.

They were neither here nor there, neither the kind of people who could cultivate long term camaraderie with others nor independent enough to stand on their own. This was why they were easily hated amongst the other adventurers. Some of these transient adventurers would be insistent on their share of loots, or tend to shirk responsibility to others when in dangerous situations and were commonly seen as cunning and dirty. It was almost as if they were scavenging for scraps, hence the name ‘transient crows’.

(Well, such an opinion isn’t completely false though.)

Well, it’s not like he would be called that in broad daylight, Raymond thought.

Actually, what he did would only get on the nerves of youths with a sense of justice. He was monopolising the delicious hunting grounds at Marlan with a faction made up of his previous comrades or other crows. It was commonplace for adventurers to hunt monsters 1 or 2 ranks beneath them to earn spare change. Some youngsters have asked him to let them use the place for a single day but he had replied by threatening them. For adventurers who love to challenge themselves, fight strong foes and explore the unknown, taking this evil path was equally as good.

Raymond was describing none other than himself. He knew what he did was distasteful, but being told off by others was infuriating. Especially so when being told off by talented youngsters.

“Hey, Joel. What is it?”

“Nothing...just some detestable guy.”

He could hear a pair of man and woman conversing. Joel’s party seemed to include a female magician. She was rated by others to be a beauty and there were some rumours saying that she was intimate with Joel, the leader of the party.

Basically a happy-go-lucky guy. Getting a person of the opposite sex to join the same party was difficult, having a public relationship within the party was even rarer and on top of that, he was the leader of the party. That is to say, Joel’s party could split up anytime.

However, for some reason, Raymond couldn’t see any signs of cracks in their relationships. Were the fissures deep within or had he made the impossible possible with his extraordinary leadership? He clearly wanted it to be the former but in their trade, it was an unpleasant jinx.

United parties with mixed genders were known to excel.

It sounds ridiculous but there were real examples. To the west border, there was an active A rank party made of 3 men and 1 woman. He had also heard of similar stories from other countries. Also, heroes written into history were always the ones with romance on the battlefield.

(If this isn’t what I expect, then this youngster could be hero material?)

Thinking about it made him fed up.

Joel’s emergence as an adventurer had just started. Becoming a C rank at this age was already unheard of, and there were already rumours that he was going to become a B rank soon. Raymond had not met him at the Trees of Darkness before, so perhaps he was venturing deep within the dungeon ― places where only B rankers would go. For common people like him, being at C rank was their peak but for somebody like Joel, it was just a passing point.

He held such hopes in the past. Hoping that he and his party would be famous. When he became a C ranker, he firmly believed that he could continue on to become a B rank and finally an A rank. Yet, there were some party members who were satisfied and wanted stability, and these conflicting views led to the party disbanding. That was when he became cunning and petty. He could not get used to going solo and slowly but surely, his skills with the sword dulled. No longer being able to choose, he had to lower his expectations, and join different parties whenever they needed extra support...soon, it became known on the streets that he was a transient.

Having failed to achieve his dream and accepting the harsh reality, he had already fallen from grace. That was who Raymond was now.

Joel did not venture off the path he started on, and in fact, was racing faster than he ever did. That’s why Raymond couldn’t stand him.

“Do your best in chasing your dreams. One day you will stumble too...”

Filled with jealousy, Raymond walked off.

The injury a person sustained from falling was proportional to how fast that person was. Even more so for a person unaccustomed to falling. For Joel, who had only the smoothest sailing life, how stunning would his eventual blunder be? The middle-aged transient crow imagined quietly.

※ ※ ※

“I think it is a good time to start exploring deeper.”

The members of the party ‘Guardian of Balance’ were dumbfounded on hearing the proclamation of their leader, Joel.

They were in a room of an inn, late at night. They were discussing their future plans.

“Umm, Joel.”

A guy with thin eyes looked troubled. Now that they were at the inn, he was not wearing any equipment and was in ordinary clothes but, hanging from his neck was a cross, a symbol for the Saint. From this alone, anybody could deduce his job was a priest ― a clergyman who borrows power from God to perform miracles like healing or protection. His name was Mariano. He was from the Omnian Empire and was the party’s eldest member.

“―Exploring deeper as in, exploring the depths of the Trees of Darkness?”

“There are no other places to explore, right? Mr Mariano.”

Joel’s reply was in a joking fashion but his eyes were dead serious. His determination could be seen clearly. The girl who was beside him sighed and gave her views.
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