Chapter 79 – Leaving the City (Part 2)
Everyone was sleeping on the ground. It was warm out and There was no need for tents. Only the city guardsmen had brought some in the inter spacial rings but few chose to use them. Those not on watch duty were the only ones inside of them.
Meanwhile Leo and Marcos were talking with some of the other who’d been walking near them. Everyone was a little wary about going to Bull-Wind Forest. It was one of the “danger” places that had been noted before, and even with all the expedition teams it hadn’t been traversed all the way through.
They talked about the many legends surrounding it. How there were trolls, orges, almas and even some beast men… And these were just the weakest things in the forest!
The stronger monsters like the giant beasts and the divine beasts were even scarier!
One of the boys, a 17 year old guy named Robert mentioned how the scariest thing he didn’t want to encounter was the evil man eating succubi!
“Think about it! What is the scariest thing you could possibly find? No! Wrong! It’s not some ugly ferocious beast. You can just kill those or run away from them! It’s not some evil demon from the abyss, I mean you can just use magic to make those go away! (Everyone was wondering whether there was a screw loose with this kid, making these things sound so easy) No…. The scariest thing are the succubi! A super delicious body, with a mind numbingly gorgeous face? If they wanted me to give them my left shoe, right hand, and third leg who could refuse!? I’d die a slave! A slave man!”
The others were laughing at him and some of them chose to walk away at this point, not wanting to associate with this guy any more “That guy is bad luck… I don’t want his stupidity to rub of on me… “
Leo and Marcos were among that group as they walked away. “Seriously though… There are a lot of dangerous things in the forest. We’re going to have to be careful from the moment we enter. No letting your guard down for even a second” Leo mentioned to Marcos.
“Hehe… Don’t worry… I have a special super secret weapon Leo!” Marcos said in a hushed tone with a maniacal smile spread across his lips
Leo could only stare at Marcos as if he’d gone crazy. Choosing his words carefully, he whispered back “Okay… So what is it…?” Leo couldn’t help but feel his heartbeat speed up a bit. Even if his friend looked like a lunatic at the moment… Leo couldn’t help but wonder what amazing item Marcos had bought to make him so confident on this excursion.
“Hehe… I bought an extremely rare and precious book… With it, we’ll be able to overcome everything in this forest of death!” Marcos almost squealed the last few words as Leo’s heartbeat rose even further as he watched his friend pull out a book from his bosom as he passed it to him.
“Be very careful, we don’t want others to see it, and then try and steal it from us.” Marcos said in a somber tone as he quickly looked around at the others walking nearby. There really were too many people to keep track of.
Leo tried his best to keep the book close to him as he gazed at the title. Leo stopped walking as his mind was stunned. On the cover of the small, book that seemed to have no more than 20 pages, it read “Basics to surviving in scary and dangerous forests”.
It took Leo a moment as someone bumped into him, rattling his mind back to reality as he raised his eyes to meet Marcos who was still looking around defensively.
I… How do I respond to this…? Leo was speechless.
Leo took a second for his mind to catch up… “Marcos… Have you been keeping a secret from me since childhood… Are you secretly…” Leo let his words trail off and Marcos hanging on each word couldn’t stop himself from asking “Secretly what???”
“…Stupid?” Leo finished his sentence with an eyebrow raised in question.
Marcos took a second before punching him in the shoulder “Ugh. I can’t believe I fell for that… Don’t be an idiot man! It’s got a stupid name, but that’s because it was written by a guardsman with a sense of humor… Probably…” Marcos rolled is eyes at his own words
“If you read through, it’s got a description of some of the scarier things in the forest, like things you should definitely avoid. Places that are semi safe. Places like rivers where you should definitely not go, and if you do not for long because trolls gather there. It’s got useful info written by one of the guys who’s been out exploring for the city!” Marcos exclaimed in a whisper but clearly excited
Leo was a little skeptical but as he opened the book and skimmed some of the pages he couldn’t help but be surprised that the information in the book really was useful! If it was all true, then it was definitely written by someone who’d previously been through the forest. At least parts of it anyways!
“Whoa… You definitely did stumble onto a huge treasure here…”
Marcos was grinning at him like an idiot “Of course! Your friend here does some pretty amazing things every once in a while right? With this, I definitely believe we can be cautious and make the most of our exam! We may even do better than Damien or Haeru!”
The top families had skills and knowledge they could pass on to their younger generations making it easier for them to gain some easier insights into the basics as they progressed. Haeru’s family was much the same. It gave the people of their family a significant advantage! Moreover both of them were only 16 and would have probably been able to qualify for the exams when they were younger if it weren’t for the fact that the last exam was held when they were 11 and still unable to participate due to the age restriction.
Leo thought about his words. He wasn’t going to respond to the first comment but about the second… Damien came from one of the better families. Everyone practiced mana manipulation and had varying degrees of success. Lots of people in his family have even achieved sufficient success and had high positions. A lot of this stemmed from the fact that they had skill books since it was an old family. This way they managed to learn something without any effort and then build on that knowledge by working backwards.
Among them Damien was one of the most talent and most sheltered. He was taught sword skills and was given a lot of information regarding mana and the elements since a young age. Despite this he had shown limited progress regarding mana but had been very adept at his warrior training. While he wasn’t looked upon overly favorably by his own family, compared to everyone else his age he was still at the forefront.
Moreover Damien had a cruel streak to him, and on numerous occasions had mocked Marcos. Marcos’s father worked for his family and thus he’d come across Marcos plenty of times and belittled him time and time again. With no ability to retaliate due to his father’s position, Marcos had been forced to simply accept his cruel words and grit his teeth.
All these things passed through Leo’s mind as he realized why Marcos was so excited. If they really did better than the others, and placed as well as people like Damien. It would be a huge honor for his family, enough so to even elevate his father’s position.
Leo considered the words of his friend and wondered whether it would be possible to really shine and do better than the top recruits during the exam. Originally he was only concerned with passing and doing well enough to rank high, he hadn’t set his ambitions so high as to think he’d rank in the very top.
Still, if the book was useful, there were plenty of methods to find and deal with monsters they could defeat, before the monsters knew what happened.
It was one thing to get into a battle with a monster, anyone or anything when both parties stumbled upon each other, it was a completely different matter to stalk prey. This would make them hunters!
Leo began to seriously consider this as Marcos noted his expression and dropped the topic.
Marcos thought “Jeeze when this guy dozes off like this the conversation is just plain over” as he shook his head and just laid down on his back and tried to close his eyes and get some rest.
Meanwhile Leo had laid down in similar fashion as he rested his head on his hands while staring up at the sky in further thought about this exam.
“This is the start of my future… Maybe I hadn’t thought big enough after all… This is the start of how far I can go and the higher up I start the better my odds will be… I am confident in my sword skills, I’ve trained and given it my heart and soul.
But… I know how weak my magic skills are… I’ve meditated to gain a better perception of my sword skills and that helped with my mana manipulation but I still can’t use mana in any useful way. I don’t understand and haven’t had the chance to have a good teacher or any teacher help me. This is my chance to start higher and finally make up for that huge weakness!
Even thinking about this is rough. It’s so weird to think about how hundreds of years ago everything was so peaceful and calm. I can’t even imagine a world like that.
I mean… I was born on the 100th anniversary of the awakening. Now I’m 15, so it’s been 115 years since the the world ‘changed’ and the barrier appeared around the city.
My grandpa still tells me stories of the chaos that happened after the barrier was up. The family had declined so much in the good years in terms of power and had only maintained wealth and even that had dropped. Once the world had changed and power became the only real measure of wealth, had it not been for grandpa working so hard and getting as far as he did that may have been it for our family.
I can’t even imagine what it must have been like then. ‘A peaceful world where you can just go wherever you want’…
Instead I live in a world where no one has left our city and found another city filled with humans in over a hundred years. A world devoid of the benefits of the gods.”