Asked Hector with a tensed face. He who was a successfulC ranked adventurer and a veteran of many battles, at this moment seemed to have seen a ghost. His face was pale, his mouth dry. He looked towards Lee , his old and trusted friend and also a C ranked adventurer himself, in hopes of finding an answer, but the lean and staunch man lightly shook his head, his face very serious.
"I have no Idea…." Lee replied softly as his hawk like eyes remained focused on the boy who was some hundred metres away from him.
The two men, Hector and Lee, were the people who had been tailing Add as per instructions from the guild. They were following the orders of the guild master, who had told them to keep watch on this strange boy that appeared in the guild a few days ago. They were adept in tracking and scouting skills. The two were a team and had started their life as adventurers together as well. While hector specialised in tracking and close quarters combat, Lee was a scout and was a good bowman. His short bow which he always carried with him, was also an old veteran and had been with him since his early days.
They were quite familiar with the guild master and were among his trusted people. Thetwo men were both approaching their late forties and would soon be too old to to work as Adventurers themselves. In fact hector was already courting a lady in town and planning to retire from being an Adventurer in a few months. He would open a small shop and settle down and raise a family. Lee also would quit when Hector did and return to his home village. The man wanted to raise herd of cattle in his own small farm. They had both saved enough money from being Adventurers for almost three decades, and could now retire.
As such both of them no longer took any dangerous quests and only took the milder ones, to avoid any troubles before they retired. However they were in for a surprise when the Guild Master Jim, also their old friend, had sent word through his secretary that the two of them were to keep watch on a certain rookie adventurer. At first they were a curious as to why they were asked to do that. Why would the guild have such interest in a rookie, going as far as to have him under watch? But despite their thoughts they did as told and began following the boy they were told to follow. But right on the very first day, they realised that this young boy was no ordinary person. For he almost discovered them when he was leaving the library.
The two initially thought that it was a waste of effort, but what they saw today shocked them to the core. As they followed him into the forest, they were sure that he didn't know that he was being followed. After all Hector and Lee werewell versed in the art of scouting and tailing people and were rarely detected. They had hunted down many criminals in the same way. Added to the fact that they knew these forests like the back of their hands, there was no way they could be detected by a kid. Over the course of the many years that they had been Adventurers, the two men had seen a lot of things.But this time they were in for a surprise. For when the boy walked a little distance into the forest, he stopped and looked around as if trying to make sure that there was no one around. Then suddenly, in his hands appeared a strange object, the likes of which they had never seen. It looked like a deformed crossbow, and its function was unknown. Hector wanted to have a closer look but decided not to, as it could compromise his stealth.
But he didn't have wait long to see its function. When the boy encountered a group of goblins, he held the object in front of him and then…
With sounds similar to small explosions the strange object began spewing flashes of fire. But that was not the most shocking part. What was shocking was that as it spewed fire, the fire stayed for less than a moment and didn't even get close to the goblins, yet, the goblin immediately began dying and within moments they were all dead.Hector and Lee realised that the strange object was in fact a weapon, andvery devastating weapon at that. It killed the goblins without giving them a chance to react. They had never seen or heard of such a weapon ever before.
"What Kind of Weapon is that…" Lee wondered.
"A Magic Artefact….." Mumbled Hector.
"Huh ?" Lee looked at him strangely while Hector also looked at him seriously.
"….It has to be one..." Hector assured him again.
Lee who was normally calm and composed, shook at hearing this. 'Magic Artefacts' were tools which held tremendous powers and mystical abilities. It had to be noted that although use of magic was widespread over Iseria, in all actuality, only a very few people could actually use the magic to an acceptable degree, less than 25% of all humans. And among these 25% only a small fraction could be considered as proper mages while rest were just warriors with ability to use mana to strengthen their bodies. Aside from them, the remaining people were relatively normal and could not use mana to achieve anything commendable. For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years that was the case. Then, one day a great and somewhat crazy mage, made a tremendous discovery which would change the world forever.
While exploring the ruins of an bygone civilization, the mage discovered a set of unique weapons. Made from precious metals, these weapons were remnants of an bygone era, their age well over many millennia. However, that was not what was important about them. The thing which made them "More valuable than any riches" was that they could give normal people power rivalling mages. This was a discovery which shook the human countries all across the continent. Made by usingmystical techniques and carved with precious metals, these weapons acted as intermediates between humans and mana and allowed the people who could not use mana by themselves to use it. Of course in the hands of a warrior or mage, they were even more powerful as they amplified the power of anyone who wielded them. The mage who discovered them called them "Magic Artefacts". Clearly, such weapons were extremely sought after and many powerful factions as well as entire countries coveted them. Over the years many more of such Artefacts were found all across the continent, causing countless battles and deaths over their possession. Naturally, many people wanted to obtain them, but they were rarer than rare causing their prices to be sky high, and even if someone had the money most people owning them would never sell them.
The reason why Hector thought that Add's AK was a magic artefact was because he could not explain it in any other way. His heart filled with greed. If he could get his hands on it then he would become many times stronger than he was now, and even if they couldn't use it, it would surely fetch them a price enough for the two of them to live a wealthy and lavish life. Of course Lee had the same thoughts but he quickly dismissed them.
"Hector, we should focus on our job. Remember what the guild master asked us, we only have to keep watch on him and not reveal ourselves…."
Hector turned to look at Lee and whispered, "Lee don't give be that sh*t…you know how much anMagic Artefactis worth, If we can sell it we will become filthy rich! As for the Guild we can just say that he was killed by monsters, its that simple!"
Lee was still hesitant. He didn't want any unnecessary trouble right before he was retiring, plus if they killed the boy, the Guild master would surely be furious if he got wind of it and the two of them may even lose their heads. Looking at such an appearance of his friend Hector was annoyed. His friend was acting really naive, such a chance at fortune rarely fell before people and he was not going to miss it.
"Lee if you don't help me so be it! But I am going to get that magic artefact no matter what!"
"You…..well fine, I will help you…"
Hector grinned. He knew that his friend would surely help him. They resumed following Add who appeared to be as oblivious to them as one could be. But in reality he had been aware of them since he left the Library. Add didn't know how strong they were so he didn't take any direct action and let them follow him. Now that his perception skill was able to track them, he felt at ease and was searching for a chance. And it appeared that lady luck was on his side as he sensed a large group of creatures up ahead. He carefully made his way towards that direction and found a group of goblins. They were around 20 – 30 goblins there. Most of them werehobgoblins but there were three large goblin among them. They looked even more savage than hobgoblins and were visibly stronger with bulging muscles and dark dirty olive coloured skin. 'Goblin Champions', the strongest of the goblin race after the Goblin King. Although they were C ranked monsters, they proved to a tough opponent for even C ranked adventurers as they mostly travelled n groups of 3 to 7. As such even a party of C ranked adventurers had to be careful when facing one, as its friends were likely to be around.
Add knew that he had got his chance. He looked around him and quickly made a plan. First he bought a smoke grenade from the system shop. Next he hid behind a tree and took aim with the AK. All the while he ensure that the two men following him were still there. He then intentionally shot one Goblin champion in the back. The bullet hit it in the back, and while it was far from enough to kill it, the monster was instantly angered by the pain and roared. Add fired another bullet this time hitting a hobgoblin in the leg, causing it to fall and howl in pain. The group realised that someone was attacking them and began roaring. The hobgoblins began scattering around looking for the attacker.
Meanwhile, Add moved from behind the tree and dived behind a thicket of bushes. He had already ensured that the bushes and other plants would obscure the sights of the people following him. And as he expected, Hector and Lee shortly lost sight of him. They saw how he attacked the group of goblins and then suddenly ran into the thickets of bushes. Then he carefully crawled his way across a path he had decided before.
"Sh*t! Lee where did that boy go!?"
He yelled at Lee, who himself had the same question.
"I can't see him, the shrubbery is to dense!"
"Damn! We cannot lose him! Quickly lets follow him!"
Right at this moment a strange object came flying at them and landed just behind them. As the two turned to see what it was, they were greeted with a dense cloud of smoke which suddenly appeared from it. Within seconds the two men were covered in dense smoke and were forced to come out of hiding. Add had thrown the smoke grenade to bring them out of hiding. He could have used a normal grenade and blown them up, but he decided that he needed to get some words out of their mouth before dealing with them, so he needed to keep them alive, for a while longer.
"*cough* *cough* where did all this smoke come from! What the hell is going on!?"
Shouted Hector, he was almost chocked by the smoke. Lee was also in no better condition. The two of them hurried away from their hiding spot. They could not understand. There was obviously no fire anywhere near, so where did so much smoke come from ? at this moment, the goblins who were looking for whatever it was that was attacking them, were alerted by the smoke and rushed towards the source. They immediately saw the two men and attacked them. Of course the hobgoblins were no match for two C ranked Adventurers and were killed easily by Lee and Hector who had dealt with many of them in their long career. But then the three enraged goblin champions also arrived and because the hobgoblins surrounding them, the two were not able to retreat in time.
Cursed Lee as he shot a hobgoblin dead. Three goblin champions were a tough opponent to deal with. A bloody battle ensured, but it was quickly evident that the two experienced adventurers were winning, as the hobgoblins were all dead and the goblin champions were all heavily wounded, whereas the two men were only lightly wounded. But the goblins were far from over, their wounds made them even more savage. But Hector and Lee were prepared. At this moment when their victory seemed eminent, Add who was hiding in a nearby bush carefully took aim and fired, shooting the heads of the three goblins instantly killing them.
[Ding! You have killed Goblin Champion x 3]
[Ding! You have received 1,500 Exp. And 750 CP]
The Goblin champions gave a decent 500 Exp each, which was more than double than that of hobgoblins. However it was fitting since they were much more stronger and dangerous than hobgoblins. After dealing with them, Add walked out of the bushes his weapon in hand as he turned his attention to the two wounded men who were looking at him with eyes full of vigilance. He noticed that they were dressed similar to other adventurers and were probably adventurers themselves. The two of them were not idiots, they immediately realised that they had been drawn into a trap by the brat they wanted to kill. Add would very much had killed them right now, but he wanted some answers so he called his heart which wanted to shoot the two dead.
"Good Day gentlemen, it is quite a nice day to kill isn't it?" Add asked with his face revealing a smile that wasn't a smile as he stood some distance away from them.
"Brat you dare trick us…looks like you want to die badly" roared Hector. His eyes were blood shot. He realised that they were played by this brat and he was fuming in shame and rage.
Add didn't mind his words, and slowly asked.
"Who are you and who sent you here? What is your purpose of following me?"
The two of them didn't answer and kept their mouths shut, glaring at him. Add narrowed his eyes, trying to read their expressions.
"Not answering? Then let me take a guess…..was it someone from the Guild… may be the guild master?"
As soon as he said that, the expression of the two people changed. Add knew that he had hit the nail. He was after all not making blind guesses. From the moment he had arrived at this world he had interacted with few people and among them only the guild master was a person whom he could suspect, after all he felt that the man was suspicious of him back at the guild during his interrogation.
"So it was him…what does he want by making you two stalk me?"
He asked again. Lee turned his eyes and made a small gesture to Hector who returned a nod through his eyes. The Lee calmly replied.
"That is none of your business boy. You better follow us back to the guild, the guild master has something he wishes to ask you….so he sent us…"
Lee was of course lying. He understood well, that this boy was very cunning. He had to be careful while dealing with him. He thought that the boy will not be so stupid to offend the guild and choose to follow them obediently. He was buying time, as soon as they got a chance, they would immediately attack him and finish him. This boy was far to cunning and dangerous to be allowed to live. Unfortunately, he had largely underestimated him. Add could clearly sense murderous intentions in Hector's eyes. For whatever reason, he wanted to kill him, so he need not be polite as well. With a bone chilling smile he nodded his head.
"Alright, now you can both go die"
He coldly gave them the death sentence. The two men were tired and wounded after dealing with the three goblin champions, but they were after all veterans and understood well that he wanted to kill them. Hector clutched his short swords and rushed at Add while Lee quickly knocked an arrow on his short bow and shot it. Their speed was very fast, and in a flash hector was almost before Add while the Arrow was even faster. The two wanted to kill him before he had the chance to do anything. Normally this should have been the end for Add as even with his upgraded stats he was notmatch for two C rank Adventurers.However, too bad for them, they would never have the chance. After all although he was weaker than the two of them, he still had a cheat like trump card on him. That was the reason he had dared to confront them directly.
With a snap of his fingers the M-20 B appeared in his hand, fully loaded and ready to fire.
He spoke softly and the world slowed down, and turned into a familiar shade of grey. The arrow shot by Lee also slowed down and, in Add's eyes, it looked to be travelling at a speed which was a little greater than that of a paper airplane. He moved his head slightly and the deadly arrow flew past him stabbing into a tree behind him.
The distance between Add and Hector was less than 5 metres while Lee was about 10 metres away, well within the kill zone of the pistol. Add instantly fired six shots, his hands rapidly changing targets. The men never got to understand what happened as two bullets blasted through their heads and tore across, spraying brain matter and blood into the air, two more hit their chests and piercing their hearts. They may have been C ranked Adventurers and were very strong, but the head of a human is the greatest weak spot. The two died immediately, Lee was thrown back while Hector crumbled amidst his run and their corpses collapsed on the forest floor with dull thuds, their blood seeping into the ground, their eyes wide open in sheer shock. On the other side, Add who had to endure the backlash of the skill crouched on the ground, with a massive headache.
His plan had played well off. Add clearly knew that he was no match for the two. With the way they had dealt with the goblins, he understood that their combined strength was much above him, and in a direct confrontation, he would have little chance of victory. So he had borrowed a knife to kill his enemies. When they were busy dealing with the goblin champions, he had quietly moved behind them and waited for a good opportunity to strike. As they were tired and wounded from fighting the goblins, he had made his move.
[Ding! You have killed Human x 2]
[Ding! You have received 2,000 Exp. And 1,000 CP]
The two C – Ranked adventurers gave more exp than the Goblin champions although their strengths were roughly the same. It seemed that killing humans would give more exp than killing monsters with the same strength. However it was just his guess since it was the first time he had killed humans in this world after all. After the pain in his head subsided somewhat, he searched their bodies and obtained a total of 55 silver coins, which was quite a sum. He also found their guild cards.
"So Hector and Lee….well at least I know who they were…"
Next, he found a spot surrounded by thick bushes at some distance from the place he had killed the two men. He bought a shovel from the system shop and dug a large pit to bury the bodies of the two men. He dragged the two bodies and threw them into the pit along with their weapons and then covered it with the soil.
These men belonged to the guild and soon people would come looking for them. Although he was not certain that this would keep them hidden for long, it would at least delay investigations. After burying them, he proceeded to remove traces of the men ever being I this place. He moved around the goblin corpses and sprayed goblin blood here and there covering the blood of the two men. Back on earth, in many covert operation he had to erase the marks of his unit ever being there so he was well versed in this job. After an hour the scene only looked had a group of dead goblins and there was no sign that two men had ever been here, even the arrows shot by Lee were found and buried. Only a professional investigator would be able to find any clues from this scene.
"Now that's dealt with…. But looks like I cannot return to the guild now…"
According to Hector, the two of them were directly appointed by the guild master to observe him. If they went missing, the first suspect would undoubtedly be him. The Adventurer's Guild at Strega had over a hundred Adventurers, of which 5 were A ranked adventurers, 22 B ranked Adventurers 31 C ranked adventures and the rest were D to F ranked. The current him was unable to deal with two C ranked adventurers, much less a B or A ranked. He decided to take no risks and head away from the town. He had to level up and get stronger, once he had enough strength he would not need to fear even the guild master. He looked at the direction of the town and sighed. He had been there for such a short time and he had to leave now. Not that it mattered much, as Add had planned to leave Strega eventually and it was not much of a problem if he had to leave earlier.
Making his mind he took out a hand drawn map he had purchased from a shop in the town and headed deeper into the forest. His current goal was to level up as fast as possible. As he went deeper into the forest, he would face more dangerous and terrifyingmonsters, but the stronger a monster the better the rewards on killing it. Like a scholar once said, no pain, no gain. Without taking risks one can never prosper. Add clutched his AK and made his way into the forest preparing himself mentally for the difficulties to come.
_ _ _ _ _
A few days later, at the Adventurers guild in Strega. Guild Master's oofice.
"You bunch of useless people! Even after so much time has passed, you cannot even find two men!?"
The group of adventurers who had been sent to search for Hector and Lee who went missing some days earlier, stood with their heads hung low in shame as they endured the berating of the Guild Master. The two were sent on a mission personally by the Guild Master and had not returned. Naturally his mood was very bad for the past couple of days.
"Get out all of you! Keep looking for them! If they are alive iwant them back here, if they are dead, I want to see their corpses! Go!"
"""YES GUILD MASTER!!!!"""
The Adventurers replied in unison and as if having received a pardon ran away from his office. Guild Master Jim at down in his chair with his hand rubbing his aching forehead. He looked at the only other man present in the room. Vlad who was the strongest A ranked Adventurer in Strega and also his right hand man. He was tall and sturdy man with a large broadsword hung at his back.
"Vlad what are yourthoughts ?"
The man thought for sometime ad then said in a dull tone.
"Those two…they are probably dead…."
Jim sighed. Indeed he was thinking that too. Those two were C ranked adventurers specialising in tracking and scouting. Even if they met some unseen danger, they would be able to run away, at least one of them. But the fact that none of the two had returned indicated the ominous conclusion. Also, the boy named Add they were tracking had also disappeared. All the investigating parties found was a area with corpses of goblins and that was it. All tracks and traces vanished from there, as if the men had disappeared into thin air.
"If they are indeed dead, then the question is who or what killed them ?" Jim said grimly.
"Whoever or whatever it was….will pay the price.."Vlad humped. His voice thick with killing intent. Whoever went against the guild would have to die.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _