The adventurers that challenge the World’s Border have their own objectives.
Most are money and power, but there’s some that are not like that.
As an example; the top rank adventurer of Tsige, Toa, is one of the latters.
From the bases that the Hyumans made in the wasteland, the place that was the furthest in was called Zetsuya. There, she had been pushed almost to the point where her life would be closing its curtains, and in that moment, she was saved.
After that, she has moved her base all the way to Tsige, and continues to challenge the wasteland together with her new comrades.
“This time for sure.” (Toa)
At a room in the house that she had bought not that long ago with her party, Toa lets out a voice of resolve.
In the past, she was so reckless in her explorations that it looked like she was hurrying to her death, but the current her is completely different.
She is exploring with surviving as its prerequisite.
Being saved by Raidou, she changed her very way of adventuring as she gets involved with the Kuzunoha Company that he made.
The words she spoke just now were not fitting of her current self. They showed signs of her being at her wit’s end.
(The exploration of the wasteland is going well. Tsige -no…even if we were to compare it to the adventurers of any base, there’s no party that has achieved as much as us. That’s exactly why…we have to go further than Zetsuya. Now’s the time to step into the direction where Raidou-san had come from.) (Toa)
The party of Toa continued exploring the wasteland as if spreading the circle with Tsige as the center.
That circle of that exploration was already closing in on the place where Zetsuya was.
It could be said that this is the time to set an objective.
It is different from what it has been until now. It will be an exploration in a completely unknown place, and Toa was more nervous than normal.
Even when she laid down on the bed, the nervousness in her body didn’t come off a single bit.
(Further from there, there’s the volcano of the Elder Dwarfs. And then, what comes after there is a complete mystery. But if I were to trust the information I have gathered until now, there’s a decent chance that, further beyond, the Superior Dragon Shen will be there. And if Shen really is there…it would probably mean that I would have walked through the same path as my ancestors of long ago.) (Toa)
The reason why Toa challenges the wasteland is because she is searching for the dagger that her ancestors had lost.
A blue dagger.
Rather than calling it the reason she challenges the wasteland, it is more like the reason why she became an adventurer.
It is a dagger made from a special stone that has a transparency as if see-through. The story of it is passed down in the family of Toa as an excelling weapon and catalist of magic.
The blade and the handle was worked on delicately, and it was said to be used in the temple formalities.
Just that Toa herself hasn’t seen the actual object.
With only that information at hand, she entered the wasteland with dagger in hand, and finally, she reached the footsteps of her ancestors that didn’t return.
Bringing her only relative that is her little sister Rinon.
(The me from that time, now that I think about it, lived quite in the spur of the moment. If I hadn’t met Raidou-san, this life would have been over after all. Right, if I can safely recover the dagger from the wasteland…it wouldn’t be bad to live in this town. I already bought a house after all.) (Toa)
After being brought back by Raidou to Tsige, she made a party with the people that were in the same circumstances of Zetsuya.
Everyone had different objectives, but even when they have already reached those objectives, everyone’s still tagging along with Toa’s objective.
Toa is grateful for that.
That’s why, after her objective is fulfilled, if everyone feels the same way, she would like it if everyone were to live in Tsige as adventurers and contribute to the town.
Even if this was their original base of operations, even if they are a party, adventurers having a house is rare.
At the very least, there’s no doubt that Toa and her comrades hold favourable emotions towards Tsige.
(Let’s go. This time around will be two weeks.) (Toa)
Toa stood up and takes off her house clothes.
She gets dressed in her battle equipment with familiar movements.
Toa was equipping several things that would cost enough to buy several houses, carries the luggage she had already arranged before, and left her own room that’s in the second floor.
She looks down to the first floor, and in the widely made entrance, her comrades were already there.
“This time is two weeks, right? We are prepared.” (Hazal)
Toa noticed the presence of the only male in the group that’s tasked with the role of supporting and healing.
Because the blessing of the Goddess works more effectively with females, it is more normal to see high level female adventurers or knights.
A male adventurer in a high level party would have been impossible to consider ages ago, but in around these ten years, the situation has changed greatly.
Now, there’s males that are high ranked or high leveled doing great achievements as well.
It is proof that, if you don’t rely on the blessing of the Goddess, there’s no discrimination between male and female adventurers.
Toa nodded at the words of the man, and after going down the stairs, she arrived to where the others are.
“It would be nice if we were to find it this time around.” (Ranina)
“Thanks, Ranina.” (Toa)
“No need to worry. We have information till where the Elder Dwarf village is. Don’t make such a tense expression.” (Ranina)
“Yeah. We are truly being saved by the Kuzunoha Company.” (Toa)
The next one to speak out is a female dwarf.
She is the smallest in the party, but she has a firm body build.
Her equipment is that of a high class warrior, and she is also the one who has the most luggage.
Her tone is mature. It sounds more like that of an elder person, and yet, she has a childish face which leaves quite the impression.
Ranina is a warrior that worships the earth spirit and arrived to this land for training.
She has already done plenty enough training, so she can return to her homeland whenever she wants, but in order to help Toa, she is staying in Tsige.
The alcoholic beverages that gather from many places due to the circulation of goods prospering in Tsige is also an objective of hers, but there’s no doubt that she is an ascetic warrior that treasures her comrades.
“The medicine and preserved food has all been prepared at the Kuzunoha Company. Well, it is the basics to procure at the location, but it is enough for any unexpected situations.” (Luisa)
“Luisa. Sorry about that. Even though we found the settlement of the Forest Onis, we still had you tag along with us.” (Toa)
“I didn’t think it would be in such a close place though. Even so, if I didn’t have the help of Toa and the others, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve it. Then, it is a matter of course that I would help those comrades. Don’t worry about it.” (Luisa)
“Are you done with the reports?” (Toa)
“Of course. I have already contacted them that I would be staying for around ten years in this town. Count on me for this time and for the ones that come after.” (Luisa)
The one who reported to Toa regarding the luggage was an elf girl.
Just as an elf would be, she has a tall slender figure, and has a bow on her back.
Unlike usual elfs who normally take a certain distance towards hyumans, she spoke with a voice filled with friendliness.
Even when she is at the side of a dwarf, that are considered to be in a cat and dog relationship with the elves, she is still showing a smile.
The objective of Luisa was to confirm the existence of the ancient elves that left the forest and headed to the wasteland because of the different path they wanted to take; the Forest Onis.
They found their settlement in a place that was not far from Tsige, and the objective of Luisa had been achieved for the time being.
Not only that, the Kuzunoha Company that is currently in Tsige has Forest Onis working as their employees.
In other words, she has no reason to be in Tsige or to be an adventurer anymore, but even with that, she is still working together with Toa as an adventurer.
It might also be because living in a hyuman settlement that overflows with stimulus was appealing to her.
But it is just as she said, it weighed heavily on the fact that she wants to help out Toa.
She is still young as an elf and has a flexible thinking in regards to interacting with hyumans and other races which might have led to this sort of decision.
“Onee-chan, be careful, okay? No need to worry about me, so keep safety as your priority, okay?” (Rinon)
“Of course. I can’t die and leave Rinon alone. Right now, I can actually use my onee-chan power, so it is okay.” (Toa)
“O-Onee-chan power?” (Rinon)
“I was taught that by Raidou-san. I will return for your sake as well Rinon, so do your best in getting better at drawing. Don’t go fighting with Komoe-chan, okay?” (Toa)
“There’s no way I would fight with Komoe. We are best friends after all. Also, this. The guild said to give it a look.” (Rinon)
“Okay. Then, I will be going now.” (Toa)
“Have a safe trip. You will be returning in a month, right?” (Rinon)
“According to the plan, that is!” (Toa)
The four adventurers begin to walk.
They will show up at the Kuzunoha Company, and then, head to the gate of the wasteland.
That’s currently their usual route.
Depending on what’s necessary, their route when entering the wasteland can change.
The Adventurer Guild already knows the address of Toa’s party, so when there’s direct requests and matters that they are troubled in solving, cases where the guild would personally go to them instead have grown more frequent.
Toa’s sister, Rinon, has already gotten used to dealing with the staff of the Adventurer Guild, and in essence, she is acting as the secretary of Toa’s party.
“Oya, Toa. You are leaving today?”
“Yes! We came here thinking that we could be of help with something.” (Toa)
Since the time they acted temporarily together with Tomoe, Toa and the others are now able to practically move around the wasteland on their own strength.
Even so, they still feel deeply indebted to the Kuzunoha Company and Raidou, and have pledged in their hearts to pay them someday.
Every time they leave to the wasteland, they always show themselves at the Kuzunoha Company to see if they can be of help.
Even when they are not asked to, they would speak about what they have gotten in the wasteland and the information they have gotten.
They have made a deep connection.
The first interaction of Toa’s party when entering the Kuzunoha Company would normally be with an Elder Dwarf, and in this case, it was also the same.
“No real need. Waka-sama has left from Rotsgard and we haven’t seen him for a while now. This time you are going to be heading even further from the village that you were living in before, right?”
“Be careful. Sorry for not being able to help with the dagger that you are searching for.”
“Oh no, just the fact that you have given us information of the area is already plenty. Please look forward to some souvenirs.” (Toa)
“Good grief. I told you to be careful, I didn’t tell you to be considerate, you know?”
“The Kuzunoha Company has taken great care of us after all. If Raidou-san weren’t there for us, we wouldn’t be standing here.” (Toa)
“He saved your lives, or so I heard?”
“There’s also that, but the current exploration style of the wasteland is basically something that we were able to obtain thanks to Raidou-san.” (Toa)
“…Ah, the expedition style and the alpi-something, right?”
“The alpine style.” (Toa)
Toa complements the words of the Elder Dwarf that he didn’t remember clearly.
“The mountain climbing techniques of Waka-sama’s country. Now that I think about it, you were asking about it in a strangely interested manner.”
At a certain time, when Raidou had shown himself at the store of Tsige, Toa and the others were coincidentally there and had a conversation like that; the Elder Dwarf was also there.
‘Why do they use so much technique just to reach the top of a mountain?’, that’s the kind of question the dwarf had, but he just thought about it without saying it.
On the other hand, Toa’s party had their eyes change and were concentrated in the conversation. Rather than the contents of the conversation, he was more impressed by that state of them.
“I have never heard of a country that gets so involved in mountain climbing, but I didn’t think that it would be so useful in the wasteland. Well, now that I think about it, the wasteland is like a giant mountain with no peak at sight.” (Toa)
Toa nods as she looks back at that time.
“If I remember correctly, the use of a big amount of people and goods while making several bases to aim for the peak with carefully selected members is the expedition style.”
“Yes. And the alpine style is the one where you use your own strength to climb all the way up with speed as its main point.” (Toa)
“It would mean that the current system in the wasteland is the expedition style.”
“That’s right. But the results are showing. Our current limit is Zetsuya.” (Toa)
“Then, that means Toa’s party is using the alpine style?”
“Yes. Putting importance in one’s own strength, reduce the equipment, and put speed as main focus, is what Raidou-san said too, but it also has the disadvantage that it is weak to unexpected situations. It is not suited for long time stays after all.” (Toa)
“The wasteland has a decent amount of goods and there’s a good amount of mamonos that can serve as food when we dive. I thought it was a plenty viable method by grasping the locations and resupplying in the actual place. In long term stays, there’s currently existing bases, so there’s the option of using those too.” (Toa)
“Lately, we have gotten used to calling our outings to the wasteland as diving. That’s also something that Raidou-san said before. At any rate, by using one’s own strength as main and concentrating at all times, use your all to move forward and deal with things as they happen while heading deeper. And then, don’t ponder too deeply and just think of the journey and the return as a single route.” (Toa)
“Is that the so called awareness as the top ranker?”
“Now that you mention it, we have, at some point in time, taken the top four spots of the guild. I don’t really pay mind to it though.” (Toa)
“Oho, big words there. But with that mindset, there’s no worries of lowering your guard huh. If you are going to be diving, make sure to return alive to Tsige. Don’t make your family cry.”
“…Okay! Well then, we will be going!” (Toa)
Toa’s party lowers their head and leave the Kuzunoha Company.
Since the company is renting a room, the party also exited the Rembrandt Company as they headed towards the wasteland.
“Good grief… I thought they were chicks, but their levels have now surpassed 700. They are beginning to get a sense of presence already.”
A monologue as if nostalgic had come out from the mouth of the Elder Dwarf.
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“This is…the dwelling of a dragon…”
“This…it looks like a pretty strong dragon lived here.”
“Right now it is absent. No, it isn’t living here anymore.”
“Can’t say for certain, but the chances it was Shen are high.”
Day 11 of the exploration.
Toa’s party had gone even deeper than Zetsuya, passed by even the volcano the Elder Dwarfs live in, and arrived at a certain mountain.
When they advanced for a while crossing the decayed gate that’s in the entrance of the mountain, there was a cave that continued on to the inside of the mountain.
There was a spacious room deep inside.
At that place, there’s a part of the dragon scattered about.
All of them were old scales or fangs that had been shed to grow new ones. They were not from fighting, but things that happened naturally.
There wasn’t a single place where you could see ‘the remains of battle’.
If there was some sort of violent fight before, there should be remains left, but there was no such thing here.
“There was no battle? Or maybe the dragon repaired it? No, I don’t think a Superior Dragon would do something like that. But this place has the atmosphere that something has been living here for a long time.” (Toa)
People say that even the excrement of a dragon is a treasure.
If within that, it is from a Superior Dragon, any part of its body can turn out huge profit.
In other words, Toa’s party is currently in a mountain of treasure.
There may not be many, but the scales and fangs of a Superior Dragon are scattered around after all.
In reality, what was left there were the remains of when Tomoe had cleaned up. She left them there since she didn’t care about it, but the sense of worth of a dragon and that of a hyuman are completely different.
The past dwelling of Shen, for an adventurer, it definitely would look like shining gold.
Toa had a heavy tone, but the other three comrades of hers were clearly excited and collecting the scales and fangs as they are on guard of the surroundings.
“We won’t know if these are from Shen until we check it at Tsige, but wouldn’t this be called an achievement at the very least?” (Ranina)
Ranine was looking at Toa and waited for her words.
“…Yeah. I am thinking of using this place as the center of investigation. We still have time, so I am thinking about continuing for a little bit more. Is that okay?” (Toa)
“Of course. If this is truly Shen, then one fang would give us a surplus of money. And even if it isn’t, there’s no doubt it is a strong dragon, that’s plenty enough. We still have leeway in our consumables. We would need to mix a bit more, but there’s no problem with the medicine part either.” (Hazal)
“We will be using this place as a starting point next time after all. Understood.” (Luisa)
Hazal and Luisa return an approval to Toa’s opinion.
Everyone was unharmed.
A party of only four has reached all the way to Shen’s dwelling and still have strength left. A few years ago, that would have been unthinkable.
This is one of the changes that Raidou’s existence has brought about.
“You guys… Then, let’s rest here for today and then advance tomorrow.” (Toa)
Obtaining something that clearly might be a clue, Toa decides on the next plan with a cheerful tone.
“Can you please wait?”
Suddenly, a voice reverberates in the area.
It was not something that came from anyone of the party, so Toa and the others increase their guard to max.
“Well done coming all the way here.”
Aside from the four inside the big space deep in the cave, there’s no other presence.
The four were aware of this, and it was something they confirmed several times.
But a voice still reverberated.
And the first one to notice the owner of that voice was Toa.
Toa releases a throwing knife with the intention of intimidating.
It pierces close to the feet of the owner of the voice exactly as she aimed.
The shockwave that was created from that knife attacked the owner of the voice and the ‘whole’ figure of it shook.
“I am not an enemy, Adventurer-dono.”
“…Who are you?” (Toa)
The guard of Toa didn’t lower at all.
The four had already entered battle stance and had finished taking their formation.
“Let’s just say…I am the remains of someone who challenged the dragon living in this land.”
“Let me ask here as well. Is the objective of you people the Superior Dragon Shen?”
The human-shaped white haze speaks.
“If that’s the case, the previously mentioned dragon is already not here, and it is also not in the wasteland anymore. It would most likely be impossible to search for it.”
“We have no intention of subjugating Shen. We have no intentions of challenging a Superior Dragon. I simply have business with the memento of my ancestors that challenged that dragon.” (Toa)
Toa answered without lying.
That was exactly how she felt, and she had no interest in the glory of killing a dragon.
“…Is that the truth?”
“…I will trust that. In that case, I welcome you, adventurers. Please give us a proper parting.”
“Parting?! So there is one, right?! Somewhere close to here, there’s a place where Shen has battled, right?!” (Toa)
“It is not close, but there’s definitely a place. If you hear out my request, I will tell you the place.”
“Give you guys a proper burial, right? Does it also entail returning the articles of the deceased to their respective families?” (Toa)
“There’s no need to be so thorough about it. We were people that challenged the dragon ourselves and were killed. Our deaths were brought upon by no other but ourselves.”
“But there were some within us that didn’t think that way. Sadly, those have ended up becoming undead. I said ‘proper parting’, but it is okay to just return those guys to the earth.”
“So it is an undead extermination?” (Toa)
“It wouldn’t be much different from that. How about it? I will pay you in advance with information of that place you wanted to know about, and the deferred payment you will have to gain by yourselves at the actual location.”
“…Just what I want. We accept that request.” (Toa)
Toa glanced at her three comrades and confirms their decision.
She decided on accepting the suspicious request of the human-shaped spirit that she was listening carefully to.
“Thanks. Well then, I will tell you the place where we have died. I pray from the bottom of my heart that you can arrive at that place…”
The haze dimmed, and disappeared.
Right after, a part of the wall crumbled and, in that small gouged out space, there was a crumpled scrap of paper.
“Yeah, I will go get it.” (Toa)
Being cautious of traps, Toa approaches it and, after a while of caution, she stretched her hand and obtained the paper.
When she returned to where her comrades are and opens it, a drawn map came to view. It showed the area around, and there was an easy to understand X marked in it.
“It must be there.” (Toa)
“…It kind of feels like it has turned into a treasure hunt.” (Hazal)
Hazal was keeping down his excitement, and said this pretending he was composed.
What he said sounded like a joke, but his eyes were shining.
“The scaling is a mess, so only the direction can be relied on. It would be bad if we hurry.” (Luisa)
Luisa confirms the map and voiced out a precaution.
Ranina also nodded at the side.
“I know. There’s still time till our planned return, but it is okay to not arrive at that location in this occasion. Let’s go with care.” (Toa)
Toa’s composed words were answered with a nod from the three.
That night was a specially long one for them, even if it is the wasteland.
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16th day of the exploration.
The four had encountered a situation that they didn’t expect at all.
The direction was certainly correct, and yet, there was no progress.
Not only that, they were getting agitated by the days that were literally ‘nothing happening’.
That place is close to where Raidou -Misumi Makoto- had been thrown to by the Goddess.
Toa’s party were being baptized by that place too. They were feeling just like how he felt.
The wasteland is an incredibly dangerous place where one can’t know what might happen at the next instant.
The climate is also a mess and the things living there are even more of a mess.
As long as the group doesn’t clean up the place and deploys a barrier, there’s basically no place where one can rest there.
And yet, after leaving the mountain that’s most likely the dwelling of Shen, in the time they were heading to the marked location in the map…nothing happened.
The climate was as harsh as always, but not only were there no violent living beings, there weren’t any living beings at all in sight.
It was just a space where dry land was dancing wildly with the wind.
It is barren, but that’s all it has been since a while now.
For Toa’s party who have explored the wasteland for a long time, they have never had such an ‘abnormal’ wasteland experience.
There might be nothing in sight, but because this is truly untrodden land, they are always at max caution and their pace has decreased slightly.
If one realizes that there’s nothing, travelling through such a place would normally be fast paced and there would be no need to be so cautious. But in reality, even if it is a place where there’s nothing, the fatigue will accumulate almost the same way and the pace won’t increase.
Even when the day to return has already passed, Toa’s party tried persevering for a bit more, but they were close to their limit already.
“…This is as far as we can go. Let’s return this time around.” (Toa)
“It is regrettable, but it can’t be helped. Hurrying things doesn’t bring anything good. That reality has been seeped deep in our bodies already after all.” (Luisa)
Luisa agreed plainly at Toa’s declaration.
Hazal simply nodded silently.
“Next time, if it is the same as now, we might have to consider increasing our speed to gain the distance at once.” (Ranina)
Ranina mutters the lesson of this time.
“Just learning about the place is already a big harvest. Next time, let’s prepare with undead countermeasures in mind when we go… This time, this is as far as we go!” (Toa)
Toa once again speaks out words that reflect their return as she promptly turns around.
The feeling of wanting to advance further was swirling inside of her, but impatience won’t bring about anything and simply takes away. Toa understands this and bit her lip to suppress that emotion of hers.
(I have obtained a clue of the place. Even if, at worst, it is a trap, I want to cling to it. As long as I obtain the dagger, my objective will finish. The days where I can truly live as an ‘adventurer’ is close.) (Toa)
For Toa, this time’s exploration had big progress.
After sixteen days.
They had increased their level quite a lot when they returned safely to Tsige, and their names increased in fame by even more.
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At that time…
“Fumu. Looks like they have finally arrived at the quest that I set up-ja no. With this, we can finally do the ‘return the dagger’ that Waka requested me of. Oi, Shiki. Release a decent amount of undeads. It is that kind of setting after all.” (Tomoe)
“I have already done it. With Tomoe-dono’s memories as a reference, I have placed around 60 mid and high rank undeads. And I have also set it so that they can rot the mamonos of the wasteland to create lower ones.” (Shiki)
“As expected-ja na. Well, in the past, there was a mere subjugation team of around a hundred people that tried to challenge me, but by using Asora, I one-sidedly killed them all, so we can create as many different settings as we want. We have to trouble Toa as much as possible before having her obtain that dagger.” (Tomoe) <Remember Asora was actually an attack of hers>
“It was quite the good article. The maze has been finished by the Elder Dwarfs and the others, so we have already buried it there.” (Shiki)
“So the stage and the cast is already in perfect condition huh. Now then, Toa, show us a great play.” (Tomoe)
Such a suspicious conversation was taking place in a part of Asora.