The Selection

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Chapter 49 - Avarice - Good Luck

I scan the area around me carefully while moving forward. I continue this way for a while and then change directions. Out of consideration for Kama, I wait for the formation to adjust before moving forward again.

So far we have only come across non-hostile monsters. We haven’t discovered any signs of recent battle or camp. I think the weight of my actions finally hit me. The possibility that none of these requests that I took would be resolved successfully. What would happen if we failed all of them? I don’t want to think about it too much but that possibility appears in my head. It sends a shiver down my spine.

An hour later, a very small fire particle flies past my shoulder from behind me. It reignites the previous confidence I had as this is the signal we agreed on if someone saw something. I gesture Banni and Jetia to regroup. I smile slightly and quickly rejoin with the girls. Optimistic, I ask, “Did someone see something?”

Kama raises his hand. “Yes, it was me. I think I saw a group of people over there.”

He points to the direction where he was positioned at. I ask quickly, “Okay, which direction were they going?”

“I didn’t get a good look, sorry.”

Really? I want to scold him for not doing something so basic and obvious. I thought he already mentally prepared himself. Did the sight of a group of people scare him immediately? I know he’s an amateur, but this is an important time for us. I only have myself to blame for deciding to take all of these requests. If I want to get something done, I’ll have to do it myself. I don’t let my true thoughts show on my face. I simply sigh and say, “Okay, tight formation everyone. I’ll lead a bit and see how many there are.”

I move forward quickly with light steps. I reach around the point where Kama should have been and then look around. There’s nothing. Did Kama see a monster move and passed it off as a group of people? I don’t want to consider that possibility further because I want to believe in him. If there’s something, I figure it has to be from the direction perpendicular to us otherwise they would have spotted him.

I move further in that direction. There’s a faint sound in the distance. I stop moving to listen closely. It grows quieter with every passing moment. I walk deeper at a slower pace than before. I’m careful not to step on anything that could create noise. I’m not going to let a stupid mistake like stepping on a twig blow up everything into flames even though I don’t see anyone around. Better safe than sorry. I smile, seeing the large group up ahead.

I stop behind a tree and peek out slowly. Their front isn’t as visible as the back. I estimate there are a total of at least three dozen. Four of them unarmed with two young children included in the back. They’re enclosed around three men behind them. I don’t see anyone out of place other than those four. They look like an ordinary group of bandits to me. I’m a bit disappointed, even though it feels wrong.

I rejoin with the others nearby. “I don’t think they’re the ones who we’re looking for, but there’re children mixed up in there. We gotta help.”

“Oh no,” Vicki interjects.

I point in their heading and continue, “They’re moving in that direction, so we’ll move over there too. When we ambush them, it’ll be better if we can reach them faster after being in plain sight.”

“Ho-how many of them are there?” Kama asks.

“At least three dozen…but don’t let that number scare you. Most of them don’t have any armor and probably aren’t very skilled,” I inform. Although some of us aren’t very skilled either.

“If we fail this time…more people will die, right?”

“You’re right. That’s why we won’t fail. It’s good for us if the hostages are all gathered in one place at the back. We hit them before they notice and secure the hostages immediately. Then we can go wild without having to worry about them. And remember what I said—“

“Yeah, yeah… Kill them before they kill us,” Jetia says.

I frown. “That’s not what I—“

“We all know what to do. Can we get on with this? They’re going to get away.”

You guys know what to do? I wish that was the case. Then Kama would’ve paid attention to which direction they were heading in before I checked for myself. If I’m not thorough in my explanations, some of us won’t understand. I refrain from rebutting, though, because what Jetia’s saying is right. I’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt. “Fine, Let’s go. Same formation as before.”

I lead the way. The group of bandits is still moving in the same direction. I gesture everyone behind me to stop while I close in on them. I scan the front and middle of their lineup. No hostages, but several of them have Iron armor. Could this be one of the requests? I can’t rule out that possibility. I hope that’s the case. I regroup with the others. “I didn’t see any hostages in the front, but no large-scale magic until we’re sure they’re just bandits. Got that Ruby?”

“Got it,” Ruby answers quietly.

“I’ll take care of the three guys in the back. Charge in after me. Ready?”

Everyone grips their weapons tight and looks at me in silence. We slowly approach the enemy from the path I took a moment ago. I move Scrap Mana into my leg, foot, and core muscles of my body in higher amounts compared to earlier but with the same ratio. I instruct my Mana to strengthen them for thirty seconds this time.

I deduce that the three in the back must be bandits. If there were adventurers mixed up in here, they wouldn’t be placed around the back where they could plan an escape. I unsheathe both of my blades. We’re almost out of the safe zone. I activate my Mana and dash forward. They haven’t noticed us yet and continue on. I focus on the three behind the hostages. My best chance is when they haven’t noticed.

The guy toward the left turns his head toward me with a blank expression, but it’s too late for him. I slice through his neck while continuing forward. I slash through the back of the other two bandits’ necks too. They scream and go down without a struggle. While looking at the hostages, I exclaim, “Run for it while you can!”

The unarmed man and woman turn around, but so do the rest of the bandits. One of them yells, “Enemy attack!”

“Let’s go!” the unarmed man exclaims. The couple grab the girls’ hands and run. Must be a family of four.

“Oh no you don’t!” one of the bandits exclaims while swinging his weapon toward the woman. I step in front of him and parry his blow.

There’s another one attempting the same attack on the man. I push my blade forward, pushing the guy I’m crossing swords with back for a moment. I dash toward the other guy but an arrow flies into his head. I smile. I can always rely on Marin. He drops his weapon and falls.

Screams resound from the front of their formation. They’re fighting each other. It seems that the adventurers were mixed up with them. With several of the bandits gathering toward me, I jump back. The four hostages have successfully gotten away. I can’t distinguish between who’s who at the front. Now that I know that this could be one of the requests, I’ll just take out whoever attacks me first. I wouldn’t want to accidentally attack an adventurer.

Jetia, Kama, Dano, and Banni gather up in a line on the right side. Fire and Lightning magic activates in the distance. I widen my eyes. It never crossed my mind that the bandits could use magic. Is this the adventurers or the bandits? It won’t be good if it’s the latter. If they target those four who don’t have any means of defending against it, things will end badly. I’ll find the magic users and take them out.

Four of them are heading my way. A gust of wind knocks them down toward the left. “Flame pillar!”

Flames appear in the shape of a circle cover the ground in the center of them. Fire erupts inward and upward at the same time, enveloping three of them completely. A magic I’ve seen before with an adjustment. Images of that day flash through my mind. I shake my head and run past them. I run along the left side to avoid confrontation. Most of them are facing the right side. My Enhancement magic ran out already, but I don’t need it anymore.

Most of the bandits are using Iron weapons in poor condition; they’re chipped. The ones wearing Iron armor among them are using Iron, Platinum, and Cobalt weapons in good conditions. Are they the adventurers? One of them is holding onto something I’ve never seen before. It doesn’t look like something you swing and it’s not a bow. He has it pointed at another guy in armor. One of these two must be an adventurer.

One of the men in a nearby cluster turns toward me. I prepare Rich Mana in my right elbow and point it at him and the others near him. I’m about to shout my keyword, but I refrain since I still don’t know who is an enemy and who isn’t in the cluster. Even if these guys at the front are bandits, the magic could go through and hit an adventurer.

“We found someone by ’imself! Let’s take ’im out boys. Whoever kills ’im gets his weapon!” the man exclaims. Seven others near him turn around.

“What?! He’s got two Cobalt swords!” one of the seven exclaims. A few of them with armor step out in front.

“Wait. Leave this one to us. He must be stronger than yer ordinary soldier since he’s got those weapons. Handle the other ones at the back. You’ll get yer hands on better weapons based on yer performance,” the man holding onto a large Platinum hammer says.

“Fine,” the earlier man says. He and three others run toward the backline. There are four men in armor in front of me. The one in the back was the one I saw with that strange object. He has two of them, one in each hand. It looks like its made out of Iron. So the other guy must have been the adventurer. Alongside the hammer guy are two other guys. One with an Iron sword and Iron shield. The other one with a long, heavy Platinum sword.

They snicker and split themselves around me. The heavy sword guy asks, “Here for revenge are ya? Saves us the trouble of lookin’ fer more of ya.”

I pay no attention to their words. I grip my weapons tightly. The man with the strange objects in his hands has them pointed toward me. There’s a small opening in the long part of it. I don’t think anything threatening can possibly come out of there.

I recall my fight with Captain Albius. It was because I underestimated him that I lost pathetically. I won’t make the same mistake twice. I’ll play it safe until I know how good these guys are and what those strange objects do.

Two smooth, spherical rocks come out of the strange objects and speed toward me. What?!

These rocks are larger than the opening of the strange object. I block them with the flat part of my swords. There is power behind these rocks too. How’s it able to pack such power? I don’t understand. The heavy sword guy points his blade at me with his arms fully extended, showing many openings. Flames appear and extend out from the tip of the sword. I jump back.

So this heavy sword guy’s one of the magic users… I’ll be careful around him since he might be capable of stronger magic. He must be trying to lure me in with his poor form. I dodge the small rocks coming from the strange objects by swerving left and jump while moving backward. They come one after another with no pause. There’s no way that those strange objects can hold so many rocks. Is there an Earth Crystal inside he’s binding his Scrap Mana to?

I let out some Unrefined Mana from my left elbow and instruct them to form a small wall in front of one of those rocks. A noise resounds as it clashes with the Mana. This guy’s really good. He can program instructions into these rocks rapidly without a keyword.

A few seconds later, the rock falls and stops emitting noise. The Unrefined Mana I let out stays in place. The shield guy moves toward my flank while the hammer guy charges at me. It’s actually beneficial for me that the shield guy does, so I can unleash my magic on him with no fear of hitting an adventurer. The hammer guy swings horizontally. I barely avoid it with a backstep. The force of his swing generates more wind than I thought. Things wouldn’t have ended well if I didn’t dodge it. This guy’s strong too!

His balance is way off. It looks like he’s about to tip over. The right side of his neck is vulnerable. Is this a trap or is he stupid? It confuses me for a moment as he could be luring me since the heavy sword guy is near. Instead of waiting for an opportunity, he fully extends his arms again with his blade pointed at me. I take this chance and dash in toward the hammer guy. My sword approaches his unguarded neck. Blood gushes out of the cut. He drops his hammer and keels over. Weak. How can he make the most fundamental mistake when he has such a powerful swing? It’s beyond me.

Flames extend out from from the tip of the heavy guy’s sword again. The other guy has his strange objects pointed at me on my left. It’s about time the shield guy repositioned himself. I point my right elbow toward the shield guy running toward me and exclaim, “Fireball!”

At the same time, I lunge forward and jump over the flames. The other guy follows my movements with his strange objects. I prepare some Unrefined Mana just in case. His balls of rock appear, but not matching the direction of his strange objects. They appear and fly straight to my previous position. I make note of this. I land next to the heavy sword guy. He steps back a bit and swings his weapon down. I dodge it easily with a sidestep. I stab him through his throat. I overestimated them. These guys are idiots. How’re they using magic?

“Damn it!” the last guy exclaims. I look around. Their numbers have reduced drastically. Kama, Jetia, and the two others have surrounded one person. They simultaneously attack him. It’s good to see them make up their lack of strength with teamwork. The last guy is only holding onto one of the strange objects now. He takes something blue out of it. He reaches into his pocket and then puts in a blue crystal. He closes the opening and then points the object at me again. “Yer done fer!”

I charge at him while swerving left and right. If I do this his accuracy will decrease. The rock balls that appear are faster and larger in size, but their trajectories are always in the location I was in a second ago. I close the distance between us. “Shit!”

I pierce through the front of his throat with one of my blades. He croaks while he gradually raises his trembling arm with the strange object. I knock it off his hand with my other blade. His hand goes limp a few seconds later. I remove my sword from his neck. I step out of the way from his fall. Til the very end, he was only capable of doing the same magic over and over again with no change. He should have used Unrefined Mana much earlier if he could. I’ll commend his speed in programming instructions to the Mana. Even I couldn’t do that.

Eight men remain in front of me. Six have two surrounded. I figure the six are adventurers.

The two in the middle are quickly cut down. The difference in skill is obvious. Of those six remaining, four have armor and two don’t. Marin and the others are already finished and are heading this way. The four unarmed people are with them. I slash both of my blades to remove as much blood from them as possible and then sheathe them.

“Kai!” Ruby exclaims as she runs over to me. “Are ya hurt?”

“No, I’m fine. How’s everyone else?”

“I’m fine. Marin’s fine. Umm…Vicki’s fine. Uhh…the mean guy with the shield has some scratches…”

“Mean guy with a shield? Jetia?”

“Yeah, that guy!”

I almost let out a chuckle, but I keep a straight face. Some parts of her never…

No, I don’t finish that thought. She’s Ruby, whom I met a month ago. I never knew this side of her is all. I sigh and then say, “It’s been a month since we formed this team. Don’t you know everyone’s name by now?”

“I know yer name, Marin, ‘n’ Vicki. Ain’t that good enough? I don’t need ta know anyone else.”

“How are Kama, Dano, and Banni?”

“The guys that look kinda the same are hurt kinda bad. The other one ain’t hurt as bad.”

The guys that look the same? Must be Dano and Banni. I used to have a hard time distinguishing between them too. “Well, at least everyone’s alive.”

Marin, Vicki, and the four we rescued join us. I smile and say, “Glad you two aren’t hurt.”

“Yeah…but the others…” Marin says quietly.

“I heard from Ruby already.”

She makes eye contact with me for a second and then looks away. “I see…”

The children’s parents come forward. The man asks, “You are the leader?”

“Yeah, I’m Sergeant Kai.”

“Thank you so much for helping us, Sergeant Kai!” the man exclaims while bowing.

“Thank you very much, Sergeant Kai,” the woman says with a bow. She turns around for a moment and gestures the two young girls to come. “Remember what I told you?”

The two girls come forward and then bow. They say simultaneously, “Thank you for saving us, mister.”

“No problem, we’re just doing what’s right. It’s our duty to help those in need. What happened before you were caught?”

“We were traveling to Drymo with a team of four guards. Bandits attacked and killed them. They robbed us of everything and brought us with them,” the man answers.

“I see. We’ll escort you to Drymo ourselves once we’ve finished our business here. We’ll drop you off at Beltan in the meantime.”

The couple smile. “We can’t thank you enough, Sergeant Kai.”

“Indeed, we can’t give you enough gratitude,” a man from the group of six adventurers says. He’s the one with the Cobalt weapon I saw earlier. A long, heavy sword. “Thanks to your intervention, we were able to make a move.”

“You were planning something?” I ask.

“Yeah, once an opportunity arose. We knew we were stronger than these bandits but we were outnumbered. So we hatched a plan, but before we had a chance to execute it, additional hostages were brought in. Our hands were tied,” he explains as he looks toward the couple.

“By the way, you wouldn’t have happened to join a shady adventurer group to hunt horned rabbits and gather herbs, were you?”

“Oh, you knew? That’s us.”

I smile. “You must be one of the two with the adventurer’s licenses then. We met with a younger man earlier claiming to be a former teammate and speculated something must’ve happened and put in a request.”

He smiles and answers, “That must be Coy. We were indeed comrades. He didn’t want to come along but he still has our backs.”

Bingo, that’s a match for request two. One of those two without the armor must’ve come from the third request. “So, what happened after you joined the group?”

“As we made it to the hunting grounds, we were suddenly surrounded. The ones we joined turned on us too. We could’ve taken them out there, but…some of us weren’t as skilled…”

“You mean the two without armor over there?” I ask while pointing at them.

“Well, yes…but there were others too. They’re holding the women that were with us at their hideout. There are others too. That’s not all. They have our information, our addresses. Of our families and relatives that live in Drymo. They could kill them if we ever disobeyed. We were on our way to their hideout now. Their leader is expecting us soon, so if we take too long…who knows what will happen. That’s why…please help us save everyone!” he exclaims and then bows his head.

A hideout… If there’re more people there, the person from request one might be there too. If there isn’t we save more people. It’s a win-win scenario. We can completely outweigh last week with today’s achievements. I smile before responding, “I understand. We’ll do our best to help you, but after we return to Beltan to drop off the non-combatants and the injured. It looks like two of yours are at their limits.”

The man looks behind him for a moment. “I understand. I have no problem with that. I’m Kane, by the way.”

“Great. Kane, we’ll take a brief break here and then we’ll head to our transportation,” I say. Jetia and the others rejoin us. Jetia and Kama are supporting the other two while walking. They set them down against a tree near us. I walk over to them. Dano and Banni have several cuts on their arms. “Congratulations on surviving your first combat experience. I knew you could do it. How’s the injury?”

“Ugh… I don’t think I can swing my sword anymore.”

“Same here.”

“That’s fine. We’re headed back to Beltan soon. You can rest there. Kama, you should probably stay there too.”

“I can still fight,” Kama says.

“Where we’re headed next might be a little more dangerous than this encounter. We’re going to their hideout where several others are being held hostage. You won’t have Dano and Banni’s support anymore.”

“I see… I’ll stay behind in Beltan then.”

I notice Marin is holding onto one of those strange objects. “Marin, is that…”

Marin looks down at the strange object. “I picked it up. I don’t know…”

I remember the compartment that other guy opened. “Let me see that.”

Marin hands the strange object to me. I mess around with the top part of the handle but can’t open it. “I saw someone using the same thing. He opened this part somehow.”

“You’ve never seen an Artificial Magic Weapon?” Kane asks. He holds out his hand with his palm side up.

I hand him the strange object. “Artificial Magic Weapon?”

“It’s easier to show you,” he says and then points the strange object toward the sky. A small ball of fire appears directly in front of the strange object. The magic moves in a straight line at the same angle of the object. “Artificial Magic Weapons allow users to use magic with no knowledge of how to use magic naturally. You don’t need to know how to manipulate Mana at all.”

You don’t need to know how to manipulate Mana to use magic? Impossible.

He lowers the Artificial Magic Weapon and does something around the handle. Something clicks and then a compartment opens at the top. “These are composed of a Glim, an Affinity Crystal, a Mana Crystal, and some kind of switch that presses the button on the Mana Crystal. Afterward, the Mana is sent through the Glim. It applies instructions to the Mana which then go through the Affinity Crystal.”

There are multiple models for those four ingredients can fit into. This one is called a Gun. I heard it was modeled after the crossbow. This model is worth a lot of money even though it’s only Iron. The Glims’ value depend on the capabilities. These bandits have a lot of Artificial Magic Weapons. You can have them all to sell or use. It’ll be our way of thanking you.”

He hands me the Gun. I’m still not sure what all of this is, but returning with valuable items is another way of increasing our contribution to the army. “Thanks, Kane. That helps a lot.”

I fiddle with the handle of the Gun until something clicks. I open up the compartment at the top and look inside. It looks like the crystals fit snugly inside each slot. The slot for the Glim looks different. The Glim is placed on its side instead of vertically like all the other crystals. I take out the Glim. There’s a slot for the vertical position too. I ask, “Why does the Glim slot have a vertical position and a horizontal position?”

“The side position is for short-range activation and the vertical position is for long-range activation. It’s how much distance the Mana travels after passing through the Glim before activating. Most Glims made for Artificial Magic Weapons are always made with those two modes so that they’re compatible with a range of models.”

“I see. You can replace the Affinity Crystals and Mana Crystals with different kinds, right?”

“As long as they’re compatible with the Glim.”

So that guy earlier replaced the Scrap Mana Crystal for an Unrefined Mana Crystal… Since pressing the switch on the outside doesn’t unleash magic immediately, it makes sense how the magic appearing didn’t match the direction of the Gun. I put the Glim back in the side slot. “Glims are more useful than I thought. How’re they made anyway? And why does laying it by the side mean it’s short –ranged?”

“I have no idea.”

“We…um…learned a little at the Academy,” Marin says. “You need Intermediate Runic magic to make them. I don’t think Moria…told us more than that.”

“Hmm… I have heard something like this, so that’s probably correct.”

“What about the Mana Crystal? How does the Mana come out fast enough to create magic rapidly? The ones I’ve seen at the Academy are really slow.”

“It’s a different type of Mana Crystal. There is a range of different outflow rates for different purposes. Try pressing the button on that Mana Crystal.”

I take out the Mana Crystal and do just that. A burst of Mana comes out, but nothing after that. My first thought is that it’s out of Mana.

“Let go of the button and then press it again.”

I take my finger off the button and then press it again. The same amount of Mana comes out in a clump. “Ohh, that’s interesting. How’s this made?”

Kane shrugs. An answer I expected based his previous response. I put the Mana Crystal back in the slot and then close the compartment. I point the Gun to the sky and then press the switch three times rapidly. About a second later, the first ball of fire appears. The second and third appears shortly after the first. “This weapon’s ridiculous. It’s like a cheat shortcut in using magic with no training at all.”

Kane laughs and then responds, “In a way, yeah. But they’re pretty expensive to use. And predictable.”

“You have a point,” I say and pick up one of the two Guns from earlier. I toss one over to Banni and the other one to Dano. “You guys, take one each since you can’t swing a sword. At least you’ll be able to defend yourselves in case something happens.”

I walk over to where I killed the hammer guy. I pick up his weapon, finding a button on the handle. I press it. Suddenly, the weapon swerves to the left. I lose my balance and fall. “Ah!”

“Kai, are you okay?” Marin asks.

I stand back up with the weapon. “Yeah. That caught me off guard… Kama, can you carry this back to our transportation?”

“It’s going to be difficult with my weapon on my back, but I can try,” Kama says as he walks over to me. I hand the weapon over to him. He slumps over a little upon receiving it. I didn’t think he could do it since Platinum is heavier than Iron. It’s good that he can help out with something I physically can’t do by myself.

“Can you replace your sword with that big sword over there?” I ask optimistically while pointing at the heavy Platinum sword nearby.

“There’s no way I can do that. That sword won’t fit into my sheath. He doesn’t have a sheath for it either.”

He has a point, I can’t blame him for that.

“I’ll help you with that,” Kane says. “Hey, everyone. Help these guys out by carrying as much of the Artificial Magic Weapons as you can.”

I smile. This is turning out to be really convenient for us. I have a good feeling about what’s to come. If all goes well, the Lieutenant promotion might not be too far away. “Thanks. We’ll have to compensate you at least a little bit for doing that for us.”

“We’ll take you up on that offer,” he says while picking up the heavy sword.

“I think there’re a few Artificial Magic Weapons back there…” Marin says. “Unless it was their own magic.”

“Oh, really? Can you bring Vicki and Ruby with you to check? Bring it over if you can.”

“Okay,” she says and then walks away.

I recall the guy with the Gun had Mana Crystals in his pockets. I add, “Check their pockets for crystals and other valuables too.”

Marin nods and then continues her way. I go over to where the shield guy lies. He hasn’t moved since I used my Rich Mana fireball on him. His face is completely pink, red, and raw. Some parts black. He can’t be alive. I pick up his shield and examine it. Another button on the handle. I press it. A second later, streaks of Lightning magic extends out from the shield.

“Jetia, take this,” I say and throw the shield over to him. He catches it.

“What do you want me to do with this?”

“Use it. The button for the Lightning magic capabilities is on the handle,” I inform. I examine the sword the shield guy used. There are small tiny holes around the flat surface of the sword on both sides. The hilt is over twice as fat. The button is on the hilt. I point the sword toward the sky and press it. A second later, flames envelop the sword. I purse my lips. I recall when I set my own weapons on Fire during the tournament. Is this Fire magic…? Or is it Fire magic with Enhancement?

I let go of the button. The flames disappear after about two seconds. I could test it since the sword isn’t using my Mana.

I break down my Unrefined Mana into some Scrap Mana, Rich Mana into some Unrefined Mana, and my Mana into Rich Mana. I bond some of my Fire Affinity to Scrap Mana and then instruct them to form a small stationary sphere in front of me. The stationary sphere made out of my Fire magic appears. I don’t want to waste the Mana Crystal in the sword, so it’ll be a quick test.

I know from the Enhancement seminar we went to that everyone’s capable of Basic Enhancement magic, involving enhancing your own body. Intermediate Enhancement involves enhancing inanimate objects. So if the fire surrounding this sword is from Enhancement magic, this sword won’t be able to go through my magic. The sword will act as a magical energy and collide with the fire in front of me. If there’s no Enhancement involved, my sword will go through and the fire around the sword will linger on my magic.

I press the button on the sword. As soon as the flames appear, I swing it across the globe of fire I made. The crackling sound of the fire intensifies slightly as the sword collides with my Fire magic. All the momentum in my swing is gone. It’s like I just hit an unbreakable brick wall. I let go of the button and relax. This sword might come in handy since I can’t use Intermediate Enhancement magic. That’s another advantage in these Artificial Magic Weapons I didn’t realize earlier. It can be useful to me too despite that I know how to use magic.

Now, the only thing left to check are these pockets. I check the pockets of the four I finished. I only find two Mana Crystals in the guy with the two Guns. The outflow style of both of them comes out in short bursts. Both of them Scrap Mana. I put them in my pocket.

“Kai!” Ruby exclaims. She runs over to me holding onto a dagger. “I found this! Are ya proud of me?”

“Marin and Vicki are making their way here too. I ask, “What’s it do?”

She presses the button on the grip of the weapon. A second later, the dagger shines brightly. I focus away from the dagger as it hurts my eyes. Must be Light magic. It stops emitting light seconds later. Ruby grins. I answer, “Good job on finding that.”

“Yay!”

I look toward Vicki and Marin, who approaches. Marin’s looking away. Vicki informs, “We didn’t find anything.”

“That’s fine. We’re going to move out soon,” I declare. Ruby’s still shining brightly. “Ruby, can you let everyone know that we’re going to leave? Gather them up here.”

“’Kay!”

I smile. We gathered a lot of valuable weapons, saved a family of four, and resolved two of the four requests. We’ll get more valuables and possibly one more request resolved after we raid the bandit’s hideout. With this much luck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ariane randomly bumps into us. I chuckle. I can’t wait to see the look on Captain Albius’ face when he finds out how much we accomplished. I’ll wipe that condescending look off his face. He won’t be calling me a stupid monkey for long. I’ll make him respect me. That I’m someone who’ll catch up to his rank in no time.

Soon enough, everyone gathers up around me. I lead the group toward the transportation outside the forest.

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