As Pochi and I were on high alert for what she had detected, a fairly large group of warriors in silver armor emerged from the east.
Their perfectly lined march made them look like an official army.
Well, not that I knew how well-trained the soldiers at Regalia were, but chances are that this group was even better than the army there.
From what I could see now, the majority seemed to be on the relatively low level of B-ranked adventurers, but a good chunk possessed A-ranked abilities or higher.
One among them – the old man astride a white horse in the very back row – was definitely stronger than the members of the Duodecad Conference I knew.
The warrior lady in the lead opened with a demand for information.
Pochi and I briefly glanced at each other, making sure that we were on the same page that, judging from her statement, the other party was not immediately hostile.
“Im an adventurer from Beilanea.
Were here to hunt a Kerberos Worm, which has been reported to dwell in this area!”
The warrior waited to hear my whole reply before turning around.
She seemed to be communicating with the old man way in the back.
The man, while still on his horse, now had taken one foot off the stirrup and readied himself to jump off at all times.
He had a sharp glint in his eyes, beautifully metallic silver hair, and a physically fit body that betrayed no signs of old age… and he bore quite an uncanny similarity to…that guy…
“Master, Master! Doesnt that man look a bit like Blazer”
“Yeah, chances are hes with the… Silver General”
“The one and only.”
From what Ive gathered, this man must be Argent, Blazers grandfather, a prestigious warrior on par with the Six Braves, and the leading man of the brigade of Silver General.
Now that I got a closer look, all the members around Argent, presumably acting as bodyguards, possessed abilities fit for Rank S.
Id heard from Blazer that he was fast, but exactly how fast could he be
Yeah, hes FAST! He just instantly moved to where I was, from way over there! I wouldnt have reached to him fast enough – and that had been just barely – if I hadnt had augmentations effects on myself.
In reflex, I had jumped a fair distance backwards and held up my staff in a battle-ready stance.
It seemed that Pochis eyes had been able to keep up too.
Now that was what Id expect from Melchis training partner.
“Well-well, I never expected you to have such quick reflexes.
Seems like Beilanea has been raising todays youths well.
Ah – pardon the tangent I just went on.
My name is Argent.
It seems that youre an acquaintance of Blazer, so let me ask – does he currently reside in Beilanea”
Argent produced what seemed to be an extremely subtle grin on his face and proceeded to move away, returning to his horse in the blink of my eyes.
“What is your name, young man”
“I am Pochi!”
I know he was facing you, but youre not a young man, are you
“I am called Asley, sir.”
“Asley, Pochi – Im sure well meet again, somewhere out there.
They came and went like a storm… which made me wonder what in the world were they up to
Presumably, they had come from the east, so perhaps they were heading for Toued Or had they come from the Thirsty Desert down southeast From there, they could head to Iverialtown, but it still was quite a detour, and the route from Toued was more densely traversed.
Moreover, they were not heading due north where Beilanea was.
Rather, they went straight west, where the hilled regions and the Forest of Deeprooted Sins were.
If I remembered right, past those locations was a town called Bianchi, which was also a general stopping point for a detour to Regalia.
Well, for all I knew, this brigade could also very well be heading for the Danger Zone, and that wouldnt be out of my realm of expectations at all.
Now that Ive thought about it, large unified groups such as theirs would naturally have their own course of action.
The Silver General… they were a high-class force that had accepted many tasks directly from the Nation.
I had heard that many adventurers longed for a position in their ranks because, above all else, the range of freedom of opinions and actions they have to their members.
Although this was only my first time seeing them in person, when we fight the Devil King, I reckon they would be a major contributor to our war potential.
We stood to watch the Silver General continue on their way, staying put until we could no longer see them.
“He sure was one intense character, sir”
“Yeah, I wouldnt have survived if he actually was out for my neck.”
“As the saying goes,what is superior will always have a superior, sir…”
Thanks to our encounter with Argent and the Silver General, the sight of the Kerberos Worm paled in comparison.
We hunted it down without incident, and then used the Teleportation spell to immediately return to my room.
It was still around noon, so I headed back to the Adventurers Guild to turn in my reports and accept more jobs.
I ended up taking three B-ranked quests, and then went back to my room once again.
Having trained under Tūs, B-ranked requests were a piece of cake for us.
Since we could clear up everything so quickly, we were able to accept at least three rounds of quests – in other words, nine monster hunts- in a single day.
We kept up that pace every day since then, and while A-ranked quests turned up occasionally, we were practically clearing jobs way below our level for most of the time.
~~Adventurers Guild, Twenty-First Day of the Third Month, Ninety-Fourth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
“Hey there, tough boy~~ Ive got a gift you ya”
Duncan passed me an envelope.
Pochi and I turned to look at each other, guessing in our heads what its contents could be, our face quivering from the anticipation.
“Its finally time! Master!”
All the other adventurers here seemed to have guessed the same, what with them gathering in a clump around us to sneak a peek at the letter as I opened it.
Despite all the weight on my back and shoulders, I successfully opened it, and sure enough, it was written there – the long-awaited “Rank-up Evaluation to Rank S”.
I subconsciously let out my voice in celebration.
The designated time and place was the twenty-fifth of this month at the Royal Capital of Regalia… Hmm Doesnt this mean…
“Doesnt this mean I have to be there within four days”
“Thats right Your evaluation process has already begun, you know~~ Just go with the other candidate whos waiting for you outside, and youll be just fine”
Duncan shot me a wink and pointed me to the exit.
Pochi and I turned to look at each other again as all the adventurers behind us pushed us toward the door, leaving us be once we were outside.
The person who had been waiting for me in front of the Guild was… wait for it…
“Betty! You too!”
“Looks like weve got ourselves a reliable ally for the road ahead, Master!”
“Yeah, you can say that again!”
“Come now, we dont have much time, so lets hurry and get there.
Even seasoned adventurers would normally take at least a week to get there, you know.”
Now this was a total surprise… I never thought I would be going to Regalia with Betty, of all people.
Apparently, a limited range of personnel had the permission to travel to Regalia via the Teleportation spell.
Considering my general public reputation as a Magic University dropout, I couldnt hope to use that anytime soon.
Because of that, we packed our bags in a hurry and met up at the north gate of Beilanea.
While she waited to go, Betty stretched her legs, all ready to sprint off.
“Rise, A-rise! All Up: Count 3 & Remote Control!”
“Oh boy, I cant get enough of this boost!”
“You wanna sit, Betty”
“Whatre you saying Youre her boss, so it might be normal for you to be riding her, but thats not the case for me, you know.
Besides, you just cast this body augmentation spell, right I wont lose to Pochis speed with this boost on me!”
Betty shot me a wink – with a totally different implication from Duncans – stretched one last time and looked into the distance toward the north.
I hopped on Pochis back once she gigantified.
My Familiar dug her paws in the earth, getting ready to dash forth as she gazed straight forward.
“Here we go!”
The instant Pochi and Betty spurted off, their powerful first step shredded the wind.
Pochi started off with a higher speed, with Betty conserving her energy in following right behind her.
Thats amazing – I knew she was the nimblest out of the Silver trio, but never thought she was this fast.
I voiced my admiration for that realization, which Pochi picked up with her ears and chuckled in response.
“How about that”
Betty asked, prompting me to return a wry smile.
Yes, this was whats important…everyone has constantly been improving themselves.
I cant afford to fall behind them.
With that in mind, I stood up on Pochis back and hopped down.
I ran on ahead immediately as I landed, marking Bettys turn to be surprised by my speed.
“Arent you tired, Master! You sure you dont want to sit!”
Youre wasting energy, you know~”
“Dont speak in that creepy voice ever again, Betty! Hey, how about I carry you on my back, Pochi!”
“Huhuhuhu, hes sure an ancient man-child if ever Ive seen one.”
The three of us lining up with each other, we streaked through the wind.
We still had a long way to our destination, Royal Capital Regalia.
Now I wonder what could this Rank-up Evaluation have in store for us
I wouldnt have much time left once Im there, so it doesnt seem like Id be able to gather much information, not to mention being unsure whether Id meet Melchi there at all.
Still, no matter what awaits us on the road ahead, Ill absolutely get that Rank S title for myself – for the sake of getting as strong as possible!
Here we come, Royal Capital Regalia!