Ch 32 – Walking The Rope (1)
In the game 'Kyren Zena Chronicles,' a monster is classified as such if it meets both of the following conditions: First, it possesses intelligence far inferior to that of humans, akin to beings with intelligence lower than that of a three-year-old human child.
Some beastmen or orcs might experience a sharp decline in intelligence when they lose their rationality, but they are not classified as monsters because they do not exhibit this behavior under normal circumstances.
Second, they exhibit an instinctive hostility towards humans.
This is an even more reliable distinction than intelligence.
Monsters cannot suppress their hostility towards humans and attack them on sight.
That is why demons, demon kings, and ancient dragons who have been considered enemies of humanity since ancient times, are not classified as 'monsters.' This is because they generally possess higher intelligence than humans and do not indiscriminately display hostility.
One of the most common tasks performed by active heroes is monster subjugation.
Of course, requesting a hero's assistance is costly, so the main targets are powerful monsters that mercenary guilds cannot handle.
For example, there are Great King Beetles, Drakes, and Krakens.
These are large monsters that are extremely difficult for ordinary people to face and are more efficiently dealt with by one superhuman than 100 soldiers.
However, most monsters are too powerful for a hero to face alone unless they are top-ranked.
Therefore, when undertaking monster subjugation missions, it is common practice to work with aides or form parties with other hero teams.
Wednesday arrived, the day of the practical evaluation.
Today's evaluation subject is 'monster subjugation.' Over 200 first-year Hero Department students and field staff members boarded five 45-seater carriages and headed towards the western forest.
Of course, they would not be subjugating actual monsters.
There are dozens of mock training dungeons in the western forest created by the Archmage Odius.
Like the exclusive training grounds for the Hero Department, the mock training dungeons can be customized to suit various preferences.
The surrounding environment, size, monster species, and even the number of monsters can be adjusted with precision.
Though the magic training grounds have limitations compared to reality and the mock monsters may be somewhat lacking, they're sufficient for assessing the abilities of first-year students.
As they arrived at the western forest, the carriages came to a halt.
The students who disembarked at their destination clustered together and chatted.
“What kind of monsters do you think we'll face?” “I heard from the seniors that they had to deal with Giant Cockatrices.
Maybe something like that?” “Oh, that sounds manageable.” “I hope I get a good team…
Please, let me get a mage, a mage!” “Please, let me get a tanker, a tanker…
I hope I end up in the same team as Max.” I also chatted with Noctar and my orc classmates.
“I hope we end up in the same team, Theo.” “Me too.
Don't go beating up mages on your team, Noctar.” “Of course not.
A true warrior knows when and where to fight.
Even if they're mages, once they become part of the same team, they're brothers.” Another orc classmate approached me.
“I'd like to be on the same team as you too, Theo.” Who was he again? “Ah, who are you?” “I'm Tarkan.
I'm a warrior from the Blue Sand Tribe.” As we conversed, Plod, plod, plod- “······.” “······.” When the bald professor, Rok, and the field instructors strode in imposingly, the chattering stopped immediately.
Rok emitted an aura that even high-ranking nobles would struggle to emanate.
Students naturally lined up before Rok, overwhelmed.
Rok slowly scanned the students before speaking.
“You've already heard the details yesterday, so I won't repeat them.
I'll simply announce the team compositions, which I'm sure you're all curious about.” As Rok finished speaking, a petite teaching assistant, who always followed him around, hung a scroll on the wooden signboard with a grumble.
The composition of the evaluation teams, similar to the duel evaluation, was determined by the Hero Department.
However, the selection was not entirely random.
As the lowest-ranking student, I would likely be paired with a top-ranking student.
While the monster subjugation itself was important, a hero had to be able to lead a diverse group of team members.
That's the underlying message.
Since the majority of us were still young, only a few of us were able to fully comprehend this.
“Who's on my team…
Ah, shoot.” “Wait, I'm with Neike…
I'm on the same team as Neike! Nice!” “Hehe.
Nice to meet you, Eshild! I'm Travis.” Most of the students were simply happy to be teamed up with higher-ranked classmates.
A typical hero team comprises one hero and four supporting aides.
Accordingly, the scroll displayed 40 teams, each with five members.
The full-scale joint practical evaluations with aides would take place at the end of the first year.
Naturally, there were no aides at the moment – only prospective heroes.
'Let's see who I'm with.' I quickly scanned the scroll and soon found my team.
··· [Team 2: Piel / Ralph / Samir / Ivelia / Tarkan] ··· [Team 6: Aisha / Brad / Peter / Li Shang / Gerber] ··· [Team 10: Eshild / Siena / Max / Travis / Theo] ··· 'This is unfortunate.' I sighed inwardly.
Eshild is certainly competent, as is Max.
Travis shares my low ranking, but Max, being the 51st, was quite exceptional, so that was fine.
The issue, as anticipated, is Siena.
She is the sole elf in the first year, and her ranking for the school year is 74th.
It's high but not exceptionally so.
However, Siena possessed a unique ability, 'Spirit Magic,' that no one else could match.
A unique ability differs from a trait; it's more akin to a supernatural power.
Firstly, those who possess unique abilities are exceedingly rare.
Furthermore, Siena is a spirit wizard, as scarce as a 7th-circle high mage or even rarer.
Her 74th place ranking isn't due to a lack of skill.
Rather, she simply doesn't care much about her grades.
If she put her mind to it, she would undoubtedly be in the top 10.
'I must never get entangled with her.' I am already quite involved with other students, unlike in the original game, causing the future to change significantly.
However, I must never get entangled with Siena.
The future changing is one thing, but once she takes a liking to someone, she treats them like a plaything.
In the game, Neike suffered greatly because of her.
As I was thinking this, “Hello, everyone?” Siena brushed her golden hair behind her ears and greeted her teammates.
All the team members except me smiled awkwardly.
'It's understandable.' After all, her outward appearance is that of an elf, more beautiful than anyone else in the world.
meet you?” “I, I'm also glad to meet you.
Let's do our best, Siena…um, ma'am.” Max and Travis awkwardly exchanged greetings.
In the Hero Department, excluding special cases like Aisha, students usually use informal speech with one another.
However, Siena, with her stunning appearance and being a 150-year-old elf, exuded an air of dignity that made her difficult to approach casually.
In fact, Siena is also the princess of the Wood Elf tribe living in the Great Forest.
“Nice to meet you, Siena.
Since we're classmates, let's use informal speech?” “Glad to meet you.” Of course, Eshild and I spoke informally to her.
She looked at us with an amused expression.
“Of course, feel free to speak comfortably.” I didn't need her to say that.
I was already planning on it.
Fortunately, [Twisted Noble's Dignity] did not activate.
When I first spoke with the orc, it had activated.
Was it because Siena was a beautiful elf princess? Siena smiled and continued the conversation.
“By the way, I heard from other students that the monster we're going to subjugate this time is a giant Cockatrice.
How about we come up with a strategy for that?” “Great idea.” Max and Travis responded.
“I agree too.
Honestly, I have no idea how to plan strategies.
You guys should do it.
I'll just follow the plan.” Eshild also replied.
'It's not a Giant Cockatrice, but a Great King Beetle.
I won't say anything, though.' I remained silent.
“Theo, what do you think? How should we proceed?” Siena inquired pointedly.
I had to choose my words carefully.
“Apologies, I was lost in thought.
I believe I have a sound plan.
Max, Travis, and I can hinder the Cockatrice's movements while Eshild provides ranged support.
That seems to be the safest approach.” “That appears to be a solid strategy.
You're as insightful as you were during the lecture.
What should I do?” “Managing the exploration would be ideal.
With the assistance of spirits, you'll likely locate the monster faster than any other team.” “Oh, I see.
What about the rest of you?” “I agree.” “Of course, I'm in favor too.
Just listening to the plan sounds plausible.
I hate using my head, anyway.
Leave the attacking to me; I'm confident.” Everyone agreed.
Siena gazed at me meaningfully and smiled.
“…” Suddenly, I felt uneasy.
It was best to avoid drawing the attention of that intensely obsessed elf girl.
As our discussion continued, an instructor interjected.
“Team representatives should obtain an emergency communication crystal.
Let's hope you won't need to use it.” As Eshild shrugged, Siena cast one more glance at me before going to collect the emergency communication crystal.
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