༺ Alicia Arden (1)༻
The death of a human was different from that of a beast.
It was something obvious that she knew with her head from all the ethics lessons, but that realization only dawned on her when she cut someone for the first time.
“We can’t stop the blood!”
“But the non-lethal spell was there! How is this possible!”
She remembered the first time she went to an actual fight. She remembered how she frowned after seeing the intestines and blood that were flowing out of the body of a Grade 5 demonic beast.
It felt unpleasant but that was it. She had ended its life while detesting the sight of the beast that had bloody foams on its mouth during its death.
However, the smell of human blood was unpleasant in a different sense.
The air felt different.
The smell was clinging on.
It was her first time but she immediately noticed that this heavy stench was something that accompanied the disappearance of a life.
“N, no… I…”
She couldn’t directly look at her opponent who probably had blood foams on their mouth. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t look at them.
Forcing herself to turn away from the horrifying and terrible scenery, she looked away and what entered her eyes then was a blade gleaming in darkness.
The silver blade of the sword was giving off a black luster.
The beauty of that sword ended up stealing her attention.
Her parched throat let out a dry groan. The sunlight shining through the window slowly awakened Alicia’s senses.
“Ugh… so sweaty…”
The desire to sleep 5 more minutes and the desire to wash her drenched body – the one that came out on top in the internal contest was the latter.
Putting her feet into the slippers on the floor, she slowly opened her hazy eyes and saw the bunk bed on the other side.
It seemed that her roommates were outside somewhere.
“Oh right. I need to… work.”
It had already been 3 days since the end of the interim exams, and she had to clear missions to earn a living. After slowly getting ready, Alicia went to the mission board and looked for a decent job.
｢Patrol Mission｣– 6 hours
– 20 silver coins
｢Subjugation of a horned-rat nest｣– Approximately 4 hours
– 15 silver coins
｢Patrol in the Sewers｣– Approximately 5 hours
– 25 silver coins
｢Looking for short-term bodyguard｣– 2 days
– A Knight above Grade 3
– 50 silver coins. Accommodation and food will be provided.
｢Academic Research: Capturing a Beowulf｣– 70 silver coins.
The missions Alicia was looking for were all easy and convenient ones with less risk. Although it was normal for knights to look for risky missions that were half a level higher than their abilities, Alicia did not pay any attention to them.
｢Urgent: Looking for the Murderer of the City of Fog｣– Permission from the Department and a consultation from a professor required.
“Ugh… That looks super dangerous.”
John Doe – the murderer from the City of Fog, Haze. It was said that he had infiltrated Merkarva City recently and everyone was in an uproar.
There had even been an official announcement from the El Rath Kingdom and it seemed that elite students and the professors were employed to the search mission.
There were talks about elite parties being formed around the representatives of each year, Vampire Marie Dunareff and Beazeker the Berserker.
Whatever the case, it had nothing to do with her.
Living quietly without being swept into large events – that was the only thing Alicia wanted.
She had been in danger on the way to the city because of the interference of someone that had been trying to kill her, but it was a demonic beast that she could easily defeat with her skills.
Seeing the name, ‘Beowulf’, reminded her of the past.
“I wonder where the benefactor is now.”
Thinking of the person who saved her, Alicia touched the belt on her waist.
“… This is the finished spear.”
On the weekend, I visited Ferghus’s smithy after hearing that the spear was finished and unveiled the cloth that was wrapped around the spear.
“Is this exactly as I ordered?”
“Yes. How did you even know about the secret techniques of our family…”
“You don’t need to know.”
One of the quests of the Truth behind the Blacksmiths – the Truth behind the Weapon Breaker had two choices.
One of them was to enact justice by telling the world about his wrongdoings while the other was threatening Ferghus to take the hidden blueprint of his family. The justice route would lead to a forever farewell with this blueprint so I chose the latter.
According to the original storyline, Ferghus would be arrested after a while. I taught him a lesson this time around so if he didn’t rectify his own actions, then what happened in the future would be totally up to him.
“Anyway. Who exactly are you… sir?”
“Nn? Where’s this from?”
“None of the magic stones that went into the spear are normal materials and yet the Academy gave them without any hesitation.”
“You mean that~”
All the materials that went into the production of the spear were all precious. Including the Unique-Grade Soul Dust that I got, there were also Grade 2 Rune Stones and Grade 1 Refined Silver.
Silver Spear. Its full name was Spear of the Silver Knights of the Kingdom of Shadows. It was a Legendary ranked weapon which was one level below Epic.
Refined Silver was one of the magic stones alongside the Unbreakable Stone (that was used for Alicia’s demon-slaying sword) that could withstand the risk of the ‘Domain’. Besides, it was a good conductor of aura and was thus one of the best materials for a weapon.
Unlike the immensely expensive Unbreakable Stone which could barely be obtained towards the end of the story, Refined Silver was a lot more applicable for mass production.
It would cost hundreds of gold coins to make weapons like this using such expensive materials.
But of course, none of the players would break through with money for all the materials, and the standard path was to use the materials that were accumulated throughout the quests to craft weapons.
However, I had the full support of the chairman behind me.
Even though there were no Unique-Grade materials, the Academy did have more than enough Grade 1 and Grade 2 materials so they should have been more than willing to give them.
“You don’t need to know about it. Where’s the money?”
As he had promised, Ferghus gave me all the cash that he received from the Academy. The purse of 30 gold coins was very heavy.
“Don’t even think about pulling tricks like that, and live an honest life. Otherwise, you’ll see me again, alright?”
Leaving behind the frightened Ferghus, I went to the client for the scheduled mission.
“Grade 5 Knight? You can just be the porter then.”
When I arrived at the meet-up location, the Grade 3 mage, Mr. Charlie said with a sigh after seeing my grade. Even though there were no grade limitations, he probably wasn’t expecting a Grade-5-nobody to come.
It was a 3-man party composed of the party leader, Charlie, a Grade 3 and a Grade 4. The party was complete with the addition of 2 students.
The three of them were official guardians that had been dispatched from the Guardian Alliance, and the reason they had been looking for students as their party members was simple.
“Damn it. Am I not too old to look after kids?”
“What can we do? It’s just the Alliance policy.”
Guardian academies had matching interests with the Guardian Alliance. The Guardian Alliance’s job was to assist in the fostering of young guardian aspirants, which included adding students to delegations like this.
Although we did get paid less than the official guardians of the party, it was true that they had to shoulder more burden.
“I wish those damn higher-ups would think about our circumstances as well.”
Therefore, it was natural for them to have such attitudes.
“Ah, of course we weren’t saying that to you. You are the granddaughter of the Sword Emperor after all.”
Was it a coincidence? …Or was this another butterfly effect? It wasn’t just me that took this mission and Alicia was also here.
“What a coincidence.”
“Ah, Mr. Korin… Hello.”
I definitely wasn’t expecting our first re-encounter after the interim exam to be during this mission.
｢Academic Research: Capturing a Beowulf｣– 70 silver coins.
Seeing this mission on the mission board which gave about 700 US dollars as reward, I finally realized that it was time.
It was about mid-April. Time-wise, it was right before the last event of the 1st Arc in the original storyline, but the early conclusion to Marie’s incident and the encounter event with Lunia Arden meant that the 2nd Arc had already begun.
The first main event of the early portions of the 2nd Arc was the ‘subjugation of the Murderer of the City of Fog’.
The original scenario was about the player party chasing after the crazy serial killer that Marie couldn’t catch at the end of the 1st Arc. The infamous knight-killer, John Doe, of Haze the City of Fog was brought back to the surface through the beowulf capturing mission.
On the week of that said mission, if the player did not choose the beowulf capturing mission and went with a different one, they would hear news of how the other party that had been trying to capture the beowulf had been annihilated.
On the other hand, if they went with the beowulf mission, they would come across the murderer, John Doe in the process, and enter a fight before successfully chasing him out.
Whatever the case, the player would receive the official document from the El Rath Kingdom and enter the investigation party.
At a glance, the guardians of the beowulf mission were just there to be killed for the advancement of the main scenario, but there was also a chain quest and a backstory.
The Grade 3 party leader Mr. Charlie had a daughter. Her name was Ms. Sheryl the florist, and she would give a quest about finding Charlie’s necklace for a keepsake.
Ms. Sheryl the florist was a nice person. She was someone who volunteered at medical stations for orphans in the streets and I also had a connection with her in the last iteration.
『You look very sad. Would you like a flower? It’s a leftover so don’t worry about the price.』
Fighting against dangerous enemies with my life constantly on the line, there were times when I sometimes felt very depressed. A single flower given by a nameless stranger was sometimes enough to ring your heart.
‘I’ll just think of this as repayment for that flower.’
Besides, this incident was also related to the future scenario as well as the ‘Precept.’
Ms. Sheryl was a nice person in both the game and the last iteration. I had to prevent the misfortune of her losing her father and also do some prep work on John Doe.
Due to the special traits of John Doe, it was impossible for me to catch him alone. It wasn’t a matter of strength, and it was because his specialty was being exceptional at ‘Stealth’.
I could kill him in a matter of 10 seconds if he was in front of my eyes, but he won’t ever show himself.
The key was someone who could see through his specialty, ‘Thin Mist’, and penetrate through his stealth.
“How’s your eyes?”
‘Why was he asking that question?’ That was the question in her gaze.
There was a reason why Alicia still couldn’t – or rather ‘didn’t – use her eyes.
It was predictable considering Alicia’s character but it was something that wasn’t clear at this stage in time back when it was a game. I could voice it out loud and talk to her about it but… she would probably just deny it.
“Uhh… What do you mean? My eyes are perfectly normal.”
“You know that’s not what I’m asking.”
“……Did you hear from my sister?”
Of course, Lunia didn’t say anything to me but that wasn’t important.
“You have to hurry. Your sister is serious. She will seriously try to crush you so that you can’t hold your sword ever again.”
The fight for hierarchy between beasts was very brutal. It wouldn’t end until one side was down and that was the same for the Ardens because the Arden household was a family of such beasts.
“…I can just stop using the sword then.”
In response to my mutter, Alicia stared at me with a frown.
She appeared to be asking what was so funny, but I still remembered the unkempt and clumsy look on her face.
As well as the bewitched look in her eyes.
“You can’t abandon your sword. Ever.”
That was just the way of the scenario of this world and her nature as a human. Oftentimes, humans had a characteristic that they couldn’t ever run away from.
Alicia was someone with talents that befitted her surname, Arden, more than anyone else in the world.
Inside the beowulf nest were two beowulfs and around 20 short hounds. The party skilfully dealt with the short hounds and one of the beowulfs but things started going strange.
“What the hell! Why are there so many of them!”
“Where are they even coming from!”
A sudden fog started enshrouding them and a horde of demonic beasts began endlessly swarming out of the fog.
“Hanson! Where’s that Grade 5 kid!”
“I don’t know! Now is not the time for that! The lady from Arden is holding on quite well but…!”
Alicia was doing an excellent job against the demonic beasts. Using her innate physical talents and her phenomenal swordsmanship, she was killing at least one monster with each of her strikes.
Although her sword was ridiculously sharp, her skills themselves were also incomparably greater than that of other guardians.
‘Where are they all coming from? It’s not just demonic beasts; there are also spirits! This place shouldn’t have so many demonic spirits though!’
Demonic spirits were mostly the souls of dead people that remained behind in the mortal world that eventually became demonified. Although it was possible for the souls of dead animals to become one, most of them were humans because they needed to have a strong resentment to stay behind and become a demonic spirit.
Thus, it was rare to see a lot of demonic spirits in an inhabited area.
This felt intentional. Alicia was thinking that when she sensed someone approaching from the other side of the fog.
Thinking that it was her comrade that she lost track of during the chaos of the fight, Alicia welcomed the incoming person. She wasn’t that concerned in the first place because he was stronger than herself, but checking his safety still made her relieved.
However, what she saw after turning around was a person in full plate armor. Korin preferred light armor so it was probably not him, and the shivering aura it was giving off was as if it was…
“A demonic spirit?”
In the blink of an eye, the full-plated man swung the ax down as Alicia blocked it with her demon-slaying sword.
‘This weight! It’s not a demonic spirit! It’s a knight!’
“Why are you attacking us!”
A person – a guardian – was attacking them.
Why? Doubt appeared in her mind but Alicia didn’t linger on the topic.
She kicked the armor as the knight fell back. The knight’s body was wobbling more than she expected and did not even have a clear sense of balance.
“Step aside! I will cut you next time!”
Despite her warning, the armored knight did not fall back. While threatening her with the ax, the knight attempted to kill her.
The knight was stronger than she expected and was as tough as a monster. Seeing how both the aura and the equipment weren’t that good, the man should be a Grade 4 Knight at best so how was he so strong?
However, that didn’t mean she couldn’t overpower him. She was about to hold herself back a little and attack but that was when a large mace came flying in from the side.
She used her aura to block the attack but she couldn’t completely absorb the impact. By the time she hurriedly stood back up after rolling across the floor, the knight carrying an ax was already swinging it towards her.
It was too late to dodge and she was too late to respond. Drawing near was an unavoidable sense of dea—
A head popped up into the air. After a while, it followed the law of gravity and fell on the ground.
Thick drops of blood splattered onto her face as Alicia widened her eyes into circles. In that instant, the sword that she instinctively swung had easily slashed through the neck of the armored knight.
Like iron dropped in magma, the scorching blade was tainted and gleamed in black instead of silver.
N, no. I, I killed a person…
The knight who had swung the mace at Alicia thumped its way towards her. As soon as the mace soared into the air and was about to strike down at the defenseless girl…
A white spearhead pierced through the visor of the knight’s helmet and came out the other side.
Blood was dripping from the tip of the spear. Soon, the spear retreated out of the hole after killing the knight in one blow.
“M, Mr. K, Korin…”
“Why are you staying still?”
“I, I… killed a…”
“Don’t hold back. These things are not people.”
“They’re… not people?”
“It’s an undead raised up with black magic.”
It was true. Taking off the helmet of the deceased knight, she found a rotten and decomposed face.
A sigh of relief left her mouth. Her heart was starting to beat again.
“You stupid brat! I told you to stay with us! There are undeads as well! Where the hell were you…”
That was when the mage, Charlie, came running out of the fog and shouted before shutting his mouth mid-way.
“M, Mr. Charlie. I, I’m fine.”
After seeing Alicia, Charlie gulped and took a step back.
— Alicia was smiling.
Her crooked lips were forming a terrifying smile. Dripping from the corners of her lips was a spooky sense of remorse as if it was a pity that the opponent wasn’t a human.
“I told you… You can’t abandon your sword.”
It was neither the Eyes of the Boundary nor her swordsmanship.
The talent of a human-killing ghost:
That was the true talent of the girl called Alicia Arden.
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