2 – City of Heroes
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About 300 years ago, humanity underwent a great catastrophe. Mana density skyrocketed overnight, so high it can kill living beings.

The living being, such as plants and animals, mutated in response to the new environment and became stronger and fiercer.

At the same time, a vast amount of dungeons and demihuman also began to appear.

It was the northern regions that were hardest hit. Maybe because the source of this disaster came from the north.

Imagine it like this, monster levels in the southern region increased from level 10 to level 36 while the monsters in the northern region increased from level 10 to level 70.

Many northern countries collapsed with countless casualties because they were unable to deal with the sudden change. Those who survived immediately fled to the south region. At least kingdoms in the southern region were somehow still able to hold on.

Young-old, man-woman, nobles-peasant, everyone unites and forgets all past conflicts.

They used Denia's fortress as a last line of defense and managed to withstand the onslaught of myriad monsters chasing them from the north.

Eventually, the northern region has become uninhabited. Many tried to regain their lost territory but to no avail.

Yap. That was a brief history of this world.

There is an abyss that seems to separate the world into two halves. Right beside the abyss stood a city that connected southern and northern parts of the continent, known as the Heroes City of Denia.

The City of Heroes has walls that reach up to ten meters thick that seem to extend into the blue sky, and it is surrounded by various mass killing machines.

Generally speaking, the city was divided into five areas with the city hall and government area as its center. The adventure district and military district are located in the north, the commercial district is in the southeast, and the residential area is in the southwest.

Adventurer district itself is full of bars, inns, weapons shops, and many others that smell of violence.

The most prominent building around here is of course Adventurer Alliance headquarters which also serves as a city landmark.

Upon entering the headquarters, ten of ten people would be amazed at how stunning it was. The floor is wrapped in white marble with gold hues giving the impression of glory and purity.

Eight pairs of giant pillars stood firmly as supports. Each pillar was designed differently according to the characteristics of eight legendary adventurers. There are also names of various great adventurers enshrined on these pillars. 

Every corner of the building is covered with murals and paintings. The ceiling is illuminated by a giant golden chandelier.

However, ten of ten people agree this hall doesn't fit the image of an adventurer. It's just, too luxurious. God knows what the person who designed it thought.

On the receptionist counter, one of them is talking to a little girl who is sulking.

"Eh?! Clara never heard there's such a rule!"

"This regulation was just passed last month," the receptionist replied with an apologetic expression.

There is no hint of impatience on the receptionist's face as she patiently explained the rules of adventurer alliance to that little girl.

"Starting on the 18th of last month, Adventurer Alliance has approved a new regulation regarding age restriction. One must be at least 14 years old to register as an alliance member."

Thus, Clara's adventure came to an end even before it began...

There's no way she would accept it!

"Yup. That's how it is, Little Miss," said the man standing beside Clara.

He is Rhino, one of the uncle's bodyguards. He wore leather armor covering his burly body and a threatening expression on his face. He carried an axe and a short sword on his waist. 

Even though he looks like a thug, he is not a bad person.

“But-but … hmph!”

Clara averted her gaze and puffed out her pale, reddish cheeks. She is clearly disappointed.

Her grand plan to become an adventurer was doomed before she had even begun. The age restriction is stupid, why must there be one? She started cursing at anything that could be cursed.

"Just forget about it. It's not like anyone forbids you from being an adventurer. It's just that now isn't the right time," persuaded Rhino while poking Clara's adorable cheek.

Clara could only nod slowly in agreement. Well, at least there is still plan B.

"Sorry to intrude your time," said Rhino to the receptionist, lowering his head.

"No worries. It's my job anyway."

The receptionist does not hate children who are full of youth and passion. She liked it instead. It was a shame she registered after the age restriction regulation was approved.

"No matter how strong or talented a child is, they are still children. As an adult, it is our responsibility to protect them." 

That's more or less what the new Alliance Chairman said last month during the meeting.

One could have gone on an adventure without joining the Alliance. But the scale will certainly be more inclined to the negative side.

Becoming a member of Adventurer Alliance meant having full support from Alliance. That means you would have a better chance of surviving. When it comes to adventure, the acquaintance you drank with last night might have become ground beef the following day.

In addition, joining Alliance is the fastest way to obtain permission to cross the northern region.

Therefore, alliance support is absolutely necessary for an adventurer.

"Clara, cheer up! Don't give up!" The receptionist held up a porcelain doll and waved its hand left and right.

Clara's mood slightly improved. She looked at the doll with bright eyes.

“Wah! It's so beautiful! What's your name?"

"My name is Belle. From now on let's be friends, Clara!"

"Um!"

She hugged the doll with a huge smile. The receptionist then turned her attention towards Rhino.

"For the big boy over there, what about a drink after work?" offered the Receptionist.

"Sorry. Perhaps next time," said Rhino 

"Eh~. Aren't you rather cold to big sis?"

"I still have a job, after all."

"Okay then, let's drink next time."

Before leaving, Clara made a missing person search request.

"Please find news of an adventurer named Henry Pragdina..."

"Henry? Ah, that lad. I remember he received a request from a certain noble," said the receptionist.

"Di-did you know about him?" asked Clara.

"Sadly no. Well, it's weird there is no news about him. Usually, he constantly sends news just in case something happens. Perhaps he is in the dungeon somewhere. I'll let you know if there's any news about him."

"Thank you."

After confirming her request, the eccentric duo of thug-like men and the little girl leave headquarters.

"Hey, Rhino, do you know her?"

"She is Anna. She took care of many young, reckless adventurers and so got a nickname everyone's big sis."

Clara covered her mouth and looked surprised. "So she took care of Rhino as well? She doesn't look old at all. What kind of witchcraft does she have?"

"Why are you even focusing on that... anyway, where are we going next?"

"Library!" Clara replied excitedly.

When going to the alliance-building Clara was in high spirits. After failing to join Alliance she became disappointed, and then she was sad because there was no word about her father. Now, this girl is cheerful again.

Clara's mood swings like a tornado make it impossible for Rhino to keep up with her.

Nevertheless, this Clara is better than the gloomy girl from his memory. At least now she talks and behaves like a child her age.

****

Summer is at its peak today. There is no doubt that sunburn is stronger than usual.  Yet people were still busy passing by. The Adventurer Alliance HQ was not spared from this situation either, though the temperature inside was much cooler.

A woman walked on the hallway of the Alliance building's third floor. She has a fairy look-like appearance with her porcelain face, silky white skin, and golden mane strand. She is hugging a porcelain doll that looks like a copy of herself.

She stopped in front of the alliance chairman's office and then just walked in without knocking. As a result...

"Whammo!"

She saw something that she shouldn't have seen.

"Sorry. Next time I'll remember to knock."

"Yes. Please," said the owner of the room, awkwardly.

After a short period of silence, they started talking about business as if nothing had happened. Or rather, trying to forcibly forget about the accident earlier.

"Anna, there is a special request for you, from the Court," said the man in a black suit, the Alliance Chairman, Erick.

"Hm. Is there going to be another war?" asked Anna with a sweet smile.

"I hope not. But the situation has been a bit chaotic since the disappearance of General Kin. Personally, I want you to look into this matter. However, that isn't what this time is about. A personal request letter came from Sir Delta Greyhorn."

Anna read the letter for a second and then lost interest immediately. Instead, she talks about something unrelated.

"Erick, guess who I just met."

"Let's finish this business first. What's your answer?"

Anna ignored Erick's words and continued, "It seems that girl has some relationship with Sis Rosella. Maybe her child."

"Your. Answer."

"You definitely must see her. She might be a great help to you."

"... Okay, I will see her if I'm free. So, your answer?"

"I'll consider it," Anna replied with a bored expression.

After that, she said goodbye and left the office.

Erick, who was left behind, could only sigh.  An affectionate smile spread across his face as he stroked the chest, or maybe a coffin, on his workbench.

"You better not be like her, got it?"

A static reply came from inside the chest. "Yes, father."

"Good girl."

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