Volume 01: The path that will forever close (1)
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The next day, we got back up and were forced to again carry the heavy materials and the baggage. Since everyone here was under [Order], they didn’t even bother doing the material count. Of course it was possible that these materials only had moderate value so the middle aged man did not care much about it, and the expensive materials were carried by Ryo. Either way, I managed to sneak a few pieces into my [Item Box] when I was 1000% sure no one would see. I don’t work for free you know... Even with lightening my load a bit, it still was rather heavy due to carrying both the materials and baggage.

 

After a grueling 10 hours of walking, we ended up coming to a small village. It was about maybe a third the size of Diara Village? There was no adventurers guild here, but luckily there were shops here where we could sell the materials. Which definitely helped with lightening our loads.

 

I was hoping on picking up some sort of merchant skill when we were in the market, but unfortunately there was no luck. Were they not using any skills? Or did I just have bad luck? Speaking of odd things though, I did not get a skill for horse riding either when I saw the middle aged man and others riding a horse...strange...

 

When we started going for the Inn though, I noticed a shop by the side with a man sitting smashing a hammer against a metal object on an anvil. And to my delight...

 

 

You have acquired a new skill [NP][Blacksmithing] Level 1

 

Unfortunately I could not stand there for 5 minutes and see if I could get any more levels, so I had to move on. Maybe if I get another chance to pass by I would find out.

 

When we arrived to the Inn, the middle age man bought himself a room, and a few spots in the stables. One spot for the horse, and the others for us. Either the middle aged man is being cheap, or Inns around here don’t even allow us access. Which would really make things difficult when I plan to go on my own.

 

Prior to going to sleep, Ryo gave a bit of a heads up on where exactly we are going and why. There have been some strange sightings and monster attacks between this village and the next village over. Our job is to investigate the forest between the two villages. Considering the distance between the two villages, there is a large area to explore. So this will be our last chance to sleep under a roof for a long while.

 

Since this was a special request, it was hard for the middle aged man to turn it down. And since he was on his way here anyways, he decided to get the [Woodland Ant Queen] nearby.

 

The nature of the investigation it seems is due to the large amount of monsters that have been attacking both villages. The villages previously sent some lower level adventurers but they never heard back from them again.

 

That does sound quite worrying and makes me wonder on what I should do. These kind of vague investigations rarely end well based on my knowledge. But then I probably shouldn’t conflate literature knowledge with real life ones ha? I don’t think anything could kill that middle aged man, but him using us as bait when it gets dicey is something he most definitely could do. I saw it first hand with the [Woodland Ants] subjection where he had me distract those ants despite me not being bait anymore.

 

But on the other hand, there is plenty of advantages here as well. The most obvious advantage is that if we plan on staying in the wilderness for a while, that means fighting a lot of different monsters. And if it is anything as fruitful as the [Woodland Ant] subjugation, I can get both skills and levels with minimum risk. If it gets to a point where he uses the beastkin as bait and runs, I can just run away as well. With my [Sprint] at Level 2, I can probably get away pretty fast, add to it [Charge] and [Jump] and I have a pretty solid escape arsenal.

 

As the saying goes, the greater the risk, the greater the reward? But then lets look at it another way, if I do run away now, where would I go? If I try to go to a village, they will try to enslave me again. This time there would be no guarantee that the [Slave Collar] would be defective. If I go to the forest, I risk being attacked by monsters, especially when I am sleeping. So it isn’t really a choice between going to the wilderness or not, but to be exact. Going into the wilderness with strong protection or going there without protection.

 

Not to mention, the party sent before consisted of Rank F adventurers. In comparison, the middle aged man is a upper tier Rank C adventurer. The difference in strength is worlds apart. It would be safe to say the middle aged man has more levels than the entire Rank F party combined.

 

To put it in some context, the [Woodland Ant Workers] were Rank E monsters. He slaughtered 10 of them in less than 2 minutes. Considering from what I heard prior, he is one of the strongest adventurers in this region, along side his companions. There isn’t a safer spot I can think of to farm levels and skills.

 

When things are put simply like that, I have no choice but to follow…

 

.

 

The next day, we left at around mid-day due to the middle aged man stepping out for last minute supplies. Unfortunately, I was not brought along so I could not get some more of that sweet blacksmithing skill. Blacksmithing is the production skill I am the most excited about because it may allow me to repair the dagger. One can only imagine how powerful that mithril dagger would be once it is fully repaired. But as expected, Level 1 blacksmithing is nowhere enough to repair something made out of mithril. I tried to take a look at it while everyone was sleeping just in case and couldn’t figure out anything at all. There is also a possibility that there is another skill that is necessary for repairing other than blacksmithing. So I am out of luck for the time being.

 

Contrary to how we came to this village by road, this time around we traveled exclusively by forest. Probably as part of the investigation. Which made traveling a bit slower and harder. Though on the bright side, the trackers including me got far less luggage to carry. Since our assignment is to look for monsters. The initial goal is to complete our [Smell Sense] and become familiar with the local monster scents. Once that is done, we will search for the source of the anomaly.

 

Personally, I couldn’t be happier than going on a find monster skill hunt… err.. I mean smell hunt… Of course Kuina and the other non-dogkin are less then pleased about the development due to being forced to carry about 50% more baggage. Taking a quick glance at her, I notice she is already glaring daggers at me… It is not like I am the one who came up with this idea… If you have a problem, take it up with the middle aged man ok? She is most definitely a tsundere! No doubt about it…

 

Though the trackers also have another job as we move along, pick up any herbs we see. Apparently the middle aged man is pretty stingy and does not want to give up the herb revenue while we are passing by.

 

We travel for about an hour and do not come across any monsters so far. Which is pretty normal, all things considering. Only after 2 hours did we finally pick up some scents. To be more accurate 3 scents. We first target one of the scents, which seems to be a mammal scent and head towards it.

 

It took us about 30 minutes to reach where the scent originated from, and standing there next to a tree is a weird looking beaver. According to [Identify] it is a [Terranian Beaver]. It does not take long for the beaver to notice our rather large group and start running for us.

 

I simply can’t wait to see what skills I’ll get!

 

In response, the middle aged man takes out a dagger, and flings it at the [Terranian Beaver] killing it instantly.

 

 

You have acquired a new skill [NA][Throw] Level 1

 

Okay… I did not see that one coming… I do appreciate the [Throw] skill despite me already having the racial one as I can combine the two. The bigger issue is that I did not think of a possible downside to being protected by someone who is “too strong”. The fact that the monsters don’t even get a chance to use their skills! If he just kills them too fast, I am out of luck…

 

With that sad realization, we head for the next scent which seems to be some sort of reptile?

 

It takes us about an hour to reach it due to some detours we needed to take due to crossing a river and etc. But we finally arrived where the reptile monster should be. The scent of the monster seems to be coming from the tree. But we see nothing hiding on top of the tree or next to it. Is the tree some kind of reptilian monster? It looks like a normal tree to me...

 

Obviously though we keep our distance from it, just because we can’t identify it does not mean we should carelessly go into its attack range. Though if the middle aged man gets impatient, he might just send one of the beastkin he uses as bait to check it out.

 

To have a better view, I activate [All-Observing-Eyes]. With my improved vision, I look around the tree carefully and notice something. I keep staring at the anomaly for a good half a minute and what I have been waiting for appeared.

 

 

You have acquired a new skill [RA][Blend Stealth] Level 1

 

Yey! My survival skills are going up! But as always, fate will never let me have my 5 minutes as the middle aged man begins to get irritated. Since I am not going to get another skill level from it now, might as well as make the best of it… I take a rock and combining by two [Throw] skills, I throw it at the [Terranian Iguana] which blended in rather perfectly with the tree. The [RA][Throw] is weaker than [NA][Throw] but allows for more control, since I am a good distance away I make sure [RA][Throw] is focused on accuracy over more damage. While [NA][Throw] will do most of the damage, in this way I combine the two skills.

 

 

You have dealt 34 damage to the [Terranian Iguana] !

 

 

Since [Blend Stealth] requires a target to be perfectly still, it quickly gets thrown out of stealth on impact. Once spotted, the pissed middle aged man charges forward and with a strong motion impales the [Terranian Iguana] to death.

 

 

You have acquired a new skill [NA][Impale] Level 1

 

Ooh! Nice, yet another skill! The skill fest continues!

 

Unfortunately the 3rd smell is all too familiar with me, it was a [Giant Rat]. So there was no skills for me to gain there. The middle aged man again killed it by throwing a dagger, and unfortunately [Throw] skill did not seem to rise.

 

We continued for about 3 hours through the forest and did not find any other new scents while avoiding monsters. Afterwards, the middle aged man ordered that we set up camp. It was somewhat early to do that, but we found a rather safe area and wanted to take advantage of it. So with that we retired for the day.

 

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