The big axe cuts open the stomach of the big sized demonic monkey.
The mamono falls along with a showy blood spray.
It must have been the decisive blow, because that figure of the mamono only being able to twitch signaled the end of the battle.
“Fumu, well, that’s about it-jaro. Even if each of you are powerless, you can flexibly divide the roles with those skills and classes of yours. Instead of getting desperate in increasing your ability here, it would be better to concentrate on increasing the total strength of the party. That will serve as a shortcut to getting stronger-jaro na.”
“Meaning, ‘don’t be fixated on your level’?”
“No. But well, it would be stupid to be too fixated and charge into danger because of it-ja. But in the case of you guys, level will follow on its own. Different from me…”
A conspicuous samurai, Tomoe, was watching over the group’s battle without interfering in any way and just speaking. As she said something that sounded as if she were giving them a passing grade, she gave them advice.
This place is the first base in the wasteland ‘Ando’, so it is one of the branching routes.
If one continues forward from there, they would arrive at the fifth base created in the wasteland, ‘Chiana’, but it is at quite the distance.
In terms of the base to base distance in the wasteland, the bigger the distance, the higher the danger level that route has.
And in reality, the adventurers that challenge this land and come to Ando to take a rest, when they have to consider their next route, taking the Chiana route will not even enter in the options.
Only a few would loiter around that place due to circumstances regarding requests.
By the way, the route that is the most chosen is the shortest one, and connects to the second base made, Rinkawa.
Then, why are Toa and her comrades here?
The initial reason is because they are here to do a gather request, and the other, the actual number one reason, to receive battle instructions from Tomoe.
And so, the reason why Tomoe had designated this route, where only regular adventurers who wish for death would come, is because there’s no people around.
This is almost already an open secret, but Toa’s party are currently under the care of the two that are said to be strongest in Tsige, Tomoe and Mio.
If with even that, they were to get trained at the wasteland personally by those two, it could bring a bad stimulus for the other adventurers.
If this were Makoto, he would have just done training wherever, but Tomoe at least took consideration of this.
After Toa’s party finished the necessary gathering for the request, Tomoe invited them deeper into the wasteland with a smile, and the party felt as if their legs would give out, but ‘if you don’t take this offer, we won’t be interacting with your party as much in the future’, is the underlying meaning they felt from the words of Tomoe, so they steeled themselves and proceeded further in.
True to its name as a suicidal path, Toa’s party was attacked viciously, but with the advice of Tomoe, and her occasional assistance, they somehow have managed to fight it through.
A nest of Demonic Monkeys; a situation that could only be described as an adventurer killer hell, they managed to splendidly come back alive from it.
“Different from Tomoe-sama…? Ouch ouch.”
“Even if I were to fight a hell lot while concentrated on leveling, it only increases by a little bit after all. In the first place, the role of you adventurers should be to explore the unknown, right? Then, isn’t it a matter of fact that you would get fixated to your level that is basically the representation of how much you have killed? Levels are simply byproducts of your results in your path to getting the necessary strength. That what it means-ja. Don’t stop thinking, do your best; it is as simple as that-ja yo.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe speaks of levels in a derogatory manner; the levels that adventurers see as the representation of their status.
Most of the reason behind it must be because her previous training journey didn’t bring pleasing results.
“Increasing several tens of levels with a single expedition when your level already surpassed the thousands isn’t just ‘a little bit’ though.” (Toa)
Toa laughs bitterly.
Tomoe sweeps her gaze once on Toa and her comrades, and then, narrows her eyes.
(That just now was a battle that was quite close to their limits, and yet… they really got some spirit there. If I don’t shape them up in the time I can take care of them, they will become baggage that will unnecessarily worry the heart of Waka. I will be wringing you guys out in a short period, so prepare yourselves.) (Tomoe)
“But to think we would be able to defeat this many shadow tails on our own…” (Luisa)
The elf archer, Luisa, mutters this as she seriously stares at their own fruits of battle, at the heaps of corpses after the battle.
This demonic monkeys, Shadow Tails, are dangerous existences for wasteland adventurers even when fighting only one of them.
They have high intelligence that allows them to use several kinds of magic, dexterous movements, claws coated in poison, sharp fangs; on top of that, they call for the reinforcements, and set up ambushes, making even a lot of seasoned wasteland adventurers hate these guys.
To put it in perspective, before they met with Makoto and moved together, that kind of opponent would have taken them their all to defeat one of them by ganging up on it.
But today, the party managed to defeat more than 40 Shadow Tails.
In a dangerous area that had basically turned into a monster room, with the guidance of Tomoe, they set up a surprise attack, and, even if they did get help from Tomoe in the preparations, the battle itself was done only by Toa’s party.
This will turn into confidence.
Toa and her comrades were all tasting deep emotions as they confirmed their own fruits of battle.
Specially the shadow tail boss that the dwarf, Ranina, finished off just a few moments ago, a special individual that enters the category of Lords.
Its looks and battle ability are on a whole different level from the regular Shadow Tail.
It was a deadly struggle.
But what was obtained from this was big.
…Even in the materialistic kind of sense.
“You see, Shadow Tails…! Their tails are nice! They can be sold at a high price! Also, the claws that have changed in color due to being coated in poison!! You can also sell those at a high price!!” (Hazal)
The alchemist, Hazal, immediately began collecting the materials.
As the name Shadow Tail states, their characteristic tail is the most popular material of them.
When they are alive, their tails are covered in some sort of black haze that feels as if it were hovering between having and not having substance, but when they die, they settle into a state where they are like tubes with tar stuffed in.
They serve as ingredients for powerful talismans, or for special armours.
The two tails that the Lord has will probably be the thing that will fetch the highest price this time around.
And then, the claws would follow immediately after.
The poison that the Shadow Tails use to kill their prey including hyumans has seeped into their claws after a long time, and there are rare cases when the color of the claws themselves change.
This is an important material for alchemists to use in medicine.
Moreover, if it is the claws of an individual that has lived for long, its hardness increases, and it can also serve as a material for weapons.
Within this party, if they were to make arrows for Luisa or a dagger for Toa from those claws, they would definitely become reliable weapons.
“Get all the claws from the Lord, even the ones that are not colored, okay? They can serve plenty well even as simple weapons after all.” (Toa)
Toa speaks to Hazal, who happily went to dismantle the Lord, as she herself began to dismantle the other ones.
There’s quite the number of corpses after all.
Luckily, it is not amount that they can’t bring all back, but there’s no doubt that it will be a tough job.
When the sun goes down, the danger level of the wasteland increases all around.
This time around, Toa’s party doesn’t have any business that requires them to defeat a special mamono that only appears at night. In that case, they should begin their job as soon as possible, and leave as soon as they finish.
“Umu, hurry. After this, I will have you guys pass the night at a place that is slightly more troublesome.” (Tomoe)
Ranina unconsciously stopped dismantling and looked at Tomoe.
She was showing the same wide smile that she showed when she told them that they would be raiding the nest of the monkeys.
In other words, she wasn’t joking.
“Uhm, Tomoe-sama? Wasn’t this battle this time’s lesson?” (Ranina)
“This was a preliminary battle-ja.” (Tomoe)
The shouts of the party overlapped perfectly.
“I wanted to know if you guys had the ability to destroy a nest properly. It was a test, a test-ja yo.” (Tomoe)
“…Uhm, where are we supposed to camp at?” (Hazal)
The face of Hazal as he asked this was twitching.
“A camp close to a water source would be the perfect place-ja yo. From here, it would be…around three hours, maybe.” (Tomoe)
“…Could it be…” (Luisa)
The blood drains from Luisa’s face.
The hint of Tomoe had led her to one place.
“T-That place does indeed look like it would be ideal for camping the night, but just at a glance, Tomoe-sama.” (Luisa)
“Umu, it is one of the places that you guys call as graveyards, right? There’s a lot of materials there. Consider it a bonus from me.” (Tomoe)
“That place huh… Uuuh…” (Ranina)
Ranina lets out a low groan of despair.
The spot, where at day is decently safe but at night the danger level shoots up radically, had surfaced in her mind.
“And then, when morning comes, I will have you guys destroy another monkey nest like this one -by yourselves.” (Tomoe)
“With this trial, the first step in my battle instruction to you guys has been wrapped. Now then, collect the materials quickly. If you dilly-dally too much, I will add one more mamono subjugation before camping, got it?” (Tomoe)
Toa and the other members saw that tone and expression of Tomoe that said wouldn’t allow any talking back, and with a grim expression, they all hurried their hands.
“What is it-ja, Toa?” (Tomoe)
“No matter how you put it, I feel like that is way too much. Even just now, it was thanks to Tomoe-sama adjusting the amount of Shadow Tails we would be fighting that we were able to win.” (Toa)
“Moreover, camping the night at such a dangerous place. We do feel like we are getting stronger, but we still don’t have that level of strength to—” (Toa)
“You do.” (Tomoe)
“You guys already have plenty enough strength in yourselves. What’s next is to learn how to use that strength and learn how to stand up for yourselves. And also, it is a matter of resolve-ja.” (Tomoe)
Tomoe answers the doubts of Toa.
Not by comforting her or inspiring her, but by speaking the truth.
It is true that Tomoe was adjusting the amount of Shadow Tails they would be fighting at once depending on the situation, but at the same time, she was also observing the potential that can be currently pulled out from Toa’s party.
Subjugating a Shadow Tail nest with one party -Tomoe was saying they have that kind of power already.
She also told them the factors that they were lacking to achieve that.
In other words, Tomoe was telling them that they will be getting that by tonight.
“Strength, awareness, and resolve…” (Toa)
Toa was making a complicated expression. It was as if she had been told that what they need in order to win is friendship and effort.
For adventurers, the saying of ‘justice wins’ is just an illusion.
“Don’t worry. I will pull that out of you guys even if by force. Also, the town will soon get busy. We have to hurry a bit on our side as well. Seriously, how restless-ja.” (Tomoe)
“…Fumu. Well, not telling you anything might be a bit too harsh. If I were to say ‘you are not in a standing to know’, it would the end of it, but as you guys have caught the eye of Waka, it should be fine for you guys to have some side-benefits.” (Tomoe)
“It is reputation-ja yo, Toa.” (Tomoe)
“In terms of a suitable mamono for you guys, it is true that there’s one that would fit you better than those monkeys. Also, in terms of a place to camp the night, there’s a place that has similar conditions only an hour from here. But this time around, that place won’t work-ja.” (Tomoe)
“It won’t?” (Toa)
Tomoe said that the Shadow Tails weren’t the ideal opponents, and that it is necessary to camp the night in the graveyard that will take quite the time to arrive at.
The reason is reputation.
But Toa and her party didn’t understand the true meaning with the information Tomoe had given them.
“…Listen well. The mamonos that the adventurers in Tsige and the four bases around this area hate the most are those monkeys that are currently lying there-ja.” (Tomoe)
“Yes. Shadow Tails move in groups, and there are many times when they would ignore territorial limitations to raid you. There are even instances where they would team up with other mamonos. Their reputation is that of super evolved goblins.” (Toa)
They are troublesome mamonos, are extremely aggressive, are strong individually but also create groups; Shadow Tails are problematic mamonos that bring about enormous pain to the adventurers.
But well, for strong wasteland adventurers, they are degraded to a good source of pocket money though.
Toa and the others, who have been at the deepest wasteland base, reaching this answer naturally was proof that they had challenged dangers in a place where they didn’t belong in.
On the other hand, Tomoe had researched the memories of low and mid grade adventurers for the mamonos that they hate the most, and she reached to the existence of the Shadow Tails.
“That’s why, by destroying their nests, you will bring back the materials that will serve as backing for your words, and your reputation will increase. I am not talking about the reputation you will receive from the townspeople as adventurers. What I will have you guys gain this time around is the respect and gratitude of adventurers just like you guys-ja.” (Tomoe)
“And then, while at it, in the course of your camp at the graveyard that is closest to Tsige, you will hunt mamonos there. You guys are different from me. The achievements you guys have accomplished are close to what other adventurers can achieve-ja yo. To the point that it can bring forth unnecessary envy and animosity.” (Tomoe)
“From now on, the town will grow bigger, and within the big influx of adventurers and people, if you guys were to stay as adventurers that bring out achievements as you have always done, it would be so dangerous it would be nerve-racking. You have to become aces that possess both ability and attitude…or it won’t be long before you guys get crushed. Even if you guys have special assistance from the guild.” (Tomoe)
“Obtain achievements that are easy to catch the eye of people from your same trade, and while doing that, challenge your limits, but don’t become reckless. Think about how people in town of your same trade and residents think about you guys.” (Tomoe)
“I see. As Tomoe-sama taught us, increasing levels is just a byproduct, right?” (Toa)
Toa nodded with a meek expression.
And then, she learns about the meaning of the words Tomoe first said.
The achievements that adventurers on their peak manage to get and the minusses it creates. They felt ashamed that they were not aware of this.
It couldn’t be helped.
The party of Toa was so incredibly elated with their comeback that they couldn’t see their surroundings.
The others aside from Toa also stopped their hands and nodded with a serious expression.
“That’s why, quickly bring judgment to the hated ones and get respected. It is fine to just have them learn that you are cut different from the rest. It won’t work if they think you guys only have luck…… Well, that’s something I would also like to advice our Waka on though. With him specifically, he could forcefully crunch you, shoulder toss you, and he would be able to get away with it. I don’t even know how to deal with that…” (Tomoe)
Tomoe leaks out her worries regarding Makoto.
Toa and the others know about a part of the actual strength of Tomoe’s master, Makoto, so they could only laugh dryly.
It is true that he is an unknown existence that would be able to overcome most of anything while laughing.
With the topic of Makoto coming out, the mood around had lightened a bit.
“Ah right, I almost forgot. The nest you guys will be raiding will have close to a hundred. The boss monkey had three tails. If you fight with so many unnecessary movements like you did today, you will all be crushed by sheer force of numbers. Make sure to properly make countermeasures by tonight.” (Tomoe)
“Wa?! Tonight as in tonight?!” (Toa)
“Oi oi, there’s no two nights in one day, right? Of course-ja.” (Tomoe)
After this, the adventures of Toa’s party had created many stories, and they earned great popularity.
One of the early tales of them, the subjugation of Shadow Tails, was one of the catalysts of their popularity.
But there’s one thing that the different iterations of the Shadow Tail subjugation story all have in common, their mentors.
The mentors that guided them. Women shrouded in mystery that are said to already have the same strength as a Brave, but for some reason, their names are hidden and are simply called as Blue Mentor and Black Mentor.
The imposing and severe trial that the Blue Mentor gave them at the beginning was the subjugation of the Shadow Tails, is what everyone mentions. No, if one had to say the exact words they spoke when they brought this point, it would be: ‘It is a mystery how they are alive’.
In stories, there’s many instances where Spirits are the ones that are compared to as the existences that bring death.
The Black Mentor that, on the surface, takes a cold attitude, but at times acts kind; the Blue Mentor that, on the surface, seems to be easy to get along with and is cheerful, but constantly pushes you to one or two steps on the brim of death.
The reality is still shrouded in darkness, but within the researchers that study the great pioneers, the adventurer party with Toa as the leader – ‘Alpine’, these two were existences of incredible interest.
Tomoe who smilingly pushes and doesn’t allow retreat while the party of Toa hold their heads and scream.
These are the happenings of a few days before the party had turned from simply lucky adventurers to being acknowledged as the aces of Tsige.