The steps of the Guild are made of stone. Its limestone walls, which were originally white, now have an opaque grey tone.
Angeline, who had been called early in the morning, enters the building while hiding a yawn. For some reason, the place seems more crowded than usual.
There are many faces she’s never seen before. Some guys look at Angeline boldly. When Angeline looks back at them, a few stood up with a threatening expression. At that moment, their close companions whisper something in their ear and the thugs’ expressions change immediately, their faces turn pale and they sit down again without making noise.
“Who are these guys…?”
Angeline heads for the counter as she frowned. When she sees Anessa and Miriam among the crowd she tries to call them out, but there are too many people making too much noise in front of the counter.
Taking a closer look, she can see a ridiculous old man with huge muscles, wearing a winter military cap and a big coat. He is grabbing Lionel, the Master of the Guild, by the neck and is lifting him up. Lionel seems to be much more tired than usual and also some huge black bags under his eyes.
“This is a disaster, Lionel! This is all you can do with your determination!” says the clumsy old man in a thunderous voice.
“No, Mr. Chebolg, but I’m doing the best I can~ The number of magic beasts is simply abnormal. Besides, I think you`re raising your voice a lot.”
Seeing Lionel’s miserable appearance, the enormous old man with the white beard and mustache loosens his grip and sighs heavily.
“It’s unforgivable that the situation worsened so much that you had to call us… No, I think we also have part of the responsibility…”
Angeline is so happy that she starts running unexpectedly, jumps over the big crowd, and lands near two elderly people.
“Musclehead General! Old Silverhead!”
The two elders look carefully at Angeline and their faces are illuminated with smiles.
“Oh, Ange! You look healthy!”
“Of course… Who do you think you’re talking to?”
“Hahaha! You’re the same as always!”
The Muscular General, Mr. Chebolg, throws Lionel away, laughs out loud and hits Angeline in her back. At that moment, another old man of great stature takes Chebolg’s shoulder.
“Hey, Chebolg, don’t hit Ange with your ridiculous force. Are you an idiot?”
“What?! Did you say something, Dortos?!”
“Don’t yell at me, you moron!”
“It’s been years since we saw each other! I thought I’d lost your hearing by now!”
“Is that why you are always screaming? Well… Ange, you look healthy. I’m glad.”
Angeline smiles when she sees that those two old men haven’t changed. These two elders are former S rank adventurers, now retired. Both are in their sixties, but despite that, their bodies are still as strong as if they were still active and their muscles still seemed to be made of steel.
They retired as adventurers about two years ago. But before that, they met Angeline, who was already standing out for her unparalleled skills. On the battlefield, these old adventurers demonstrate fearsome abilities but are also gentle and attentive to others, as if they were their own grandchildren. That’s why Angeline likes them so much.
Chebolg has trained his muscles to the extreme, which is why he has two nicknames; “Destroyer” and the one Angeline thought off “Musclehead General”. It seems that the only thing he has left of his time as a soldier of Estogar is that military cap he always wears. He has magical tattoos on both arms that increase his strength as he fights and he is a skilled man who has crushed a large number of magic beasts with his fists and overwhelming magical power.
Dortos manipulates a silver spear made of platinum, as his nickname “Old Silverhead” suggests. Although thin, his body is quite flexible and is three times stronger than that of an average man. In addition, his spear is so heavy that it required two ordinary men to lift it, but he wields it with only one hand. His technique with the spear is the best in the Duchy of Estogar, and no one is sure of the total number of magic beasts he has defeated.
“Are you two coming back?” says Angeline as she pulls Chebolg’s arm away.
“Yes! You, young people, have been very careless!”
“We can’t help it. With a big number of magic beasts out there, we can’t sit still and do nothing.” When Dortos says this, Chebolg laughed with great force.
“Ha, ha, ha! What are you talking about Dortos! I just want to destroy everything! I came because I was told I wouldn’t have any restrictions!”
“You’re noisy Chebolg. I don’t want to hear that from you.”
“Fufufu! I’m glad to see both of you. But why did you retire? You look great.”
“To be able to spend time with my grandson, of course! But lately, he’s told me that I’m too noisy and he doesn’t want me to come near him! So I have a lot of free time!”
“You should lower your voice. As for me, I got tired of being an adventurer, I didn’t think of it as a lifelong job. I’ve been doing this for forty years. But, apparently, I can’t escape from it. “
Angeline laughs satisfactorily.
It is certain now that the strangers in the Guild`s lobby were the people who had come to help. Although it’s only been a week, Lionel gathered all of them, Angeline has to change her opinion on the Guild Master.
“You worked quite fast this time around, Guild Master! Thank you!”
Lionel, who has been thrown away by Chebolg, lies on his back and laughs weakly.
“Haha~. Yes… Half of this is thanks to you Ms. Angie, but this old man also worked hard~. I had to use a rather rare communication gem but I finally managed to negotiate with the Lords and got permission to do this. In addition, they also accepted the other request and are going to mobilize the army~. Well, because of this situation, the employees are upset because they haven’t been able to rest. Also, the Guild’s budget was completely depleted. Like the money in my wallet~. What are we going to do tomorrow~?”
“…I wish you’d done this sooner, but as it’s already done. I’ll forgive you. “
Lionel stands up and scratches the top of his head.
“Well, that’s normal, since it’s the first time in a hundred years that there are so many magic beasts. The Guild was not strong enough on its own, nor was there an emergency manual for cases like this. No one knew what to do… no one imagined the situation would get this bad. Also, the people in the capital were incredibly stubborn, they got angry because I didn’t make the applications before and then, they got angry because I made the applications. This old man really didn’t know what to do~.”
“It’s not a reason to take so long on your job, Lionel,” says Dortos as he squints his eyes and strokes his beard.
“I know I’m incompetent~. But I keep working hard despite being like that,” says Lionel with a sigh.
“All of this happened because you don’t trust anyone. To think you only called us until after Angie told you to…”
“Well, I contacted an old friend in the capital, but it’s a one-month trip to get here~. No, in this weather, the trip takes two months… Ah~ that’s why he hasn’t arrived~.”
“That’s why you have to work faster. You got to the position of Guild Master on your own, so you should know how to do it properly. “
“You’re too strict, Mr. Dortos… I’m very tired too~. Don’t be so cruel~.” Lionel says as he bows his head.
Right then, the Guild’s staff says something out loud in the lobby. Apparently, they’re giving instructions to the new arrivals. They move as they nod and snap their fingers. It seems that only adventurers above AA rank are gathering around the counter. There are about thirty people in total.
There should be other S rank adventurers, but no one has seen them lately. Apparently, these adventurers do not have the visit the Guild regularly because, like Angeline, they travel a lot due to their missions. Besides the two people Angeline knows, there are no more S rank adventurers. In the worst case scenario, these guys lost their love for Orphen and left without saying anything.
Angeline recognizes and nods to several people she met as she moved up the ranking.
Ten people suddenly approach Dortos and Chebolg. They’re their old party members. All of them retired when they reached the age of 50-60, but none of them seems to have lost the dignity of an adventurer who had reached the top.
At that moment, Miriam and Anessa approach Angeline.
“Good morning, Ange.”
“Good morning~! This is unbelievable~!”
“Good morning, both of you. This became very encouraging,” says Angeline quite excited and tapping on the shoulder of her two companions.
“So what kind of work are we going to do? I would hate waiting for the situation with the magic beasts to get worse,” asks Dortos as he strokes his beard,
Lionel scratches his head and bends his mouth with a grumpy expression.
“I do not have the luxury of doing that. Now that we have enough people, we will attack the source of the problem.”
“The source? Have you discovered it yet?”
“It was discovered yesterday so it’s not confirmed,” says Lionel shrugging. “I don’t want to believe it, but it could be the Demon King.”
The atmosphere becomes tense and the adventurers begin to mumble. Regarding the resurrection of the Demon King, although for the time it has been mentioned in the streets, everyone thought they were only rumors. That its existence could only be found in legends and fairytales.
“Is that true?” says Angeline leaning forward.
“That’s why I told you it’s not confirmed yet, because there was a limit to my investigation, I’m asking someone else to confirm it right now.”
“What? Did you go to investigate yourself, Guild Master? Did you set aside the documents and go out into the field?”
“Oh come on~, the Guild staff are just ordinary people who handle documents on a daily basis. High-level adventurers have their hands full right now, so this old man had to do something. However, I also had to negotiate with the Master of the Central Guild and the Lords, as well as other procedures and applications, so my progress was not much. “
“But, perhaps some low-level adventurers…”
“No, we can’t risk sending a low-level adventurer to a place where a high-level monster could appear… Besides, they can only go to relatively safe places, and in this situation, there weren’t many of those~.”
“But, if you ask high-level adventurers during their free time…”
Lionel scratches his head with a bitter smile.
“You know very well that an investigation like this doesn’t last two or three days, Ms. Ange… If I publish a mission in which they have to move from one place to another, the high-level adventurers will surely get angry, and my neck will be in danger. In fact, there were some adventurers who got angry for that very reason and quit~.”
“…Then, the Guild’s instructors…”
“The instructors are F or E rank, even if they tag along they could only deal with D rank missions, and this mission was at least A rank. There was even the possibility of having to deal with an AA enemy, so I didn’t want to risk it. In addition, it would be quite uncomfortable to have to ask the high-ranking adventurers to teach the newbies since most of them could be considered prodigies~.”
“Oh, then you could’ve asked for support from the adventurers of Estogar and…”
“Ms. Ange~. In those cases, the applicant has to pay the costs. If a person makes it, that person has to pay. If it’s a village, the village pays. In the event that a guild does so, the Guild must use its budget to pay for it. But in this situation, we already had to give a fixed salary to the high-level adventurers so that they wouldn’t leave, we also had to increase the rewards of the missions and all that came from the budget of the Guild. In short, we didn’t have the funds to hire high-level adventurers from other cities~. I managed to contact some of them for a while, but when the money disappeared, so did they. That’s the way adventurers work~.”
“B-But aren’t all guilds supposed to be associated? You could’ve asked as a favor and pay them later on…” The Guild of Orhpen has taken over many works from other guilds. Angeline herself has taken some of those works before.
Lionel scratches his cheeks with a complicated expression.
“The higher the rank, the more intolerant adventurers become. They don’t want to do difficult work without getting paid. In your case, Ms. Ange, they were missions I simply couldn’t refuse. I’m really sorry~.”
“It doesn’t matter, because after all, they ended up paying me. Okay, let’s forget the adventurers, but there must be a plan of action between guilds, right…?”
“There’s Central Guild policy, but the truth is… It is incredibly fragile, money is the only real way to do that kind of thing. Either way, the personal interests and self-preservation instinct of the big shots are frightening. Adventurers require money to work, after all, so they don’t like to work on promises. And sometimes, although the guild promised great rewards, the adventurers ended up leaving~… That really broke this old man’s heart~.”
“So… did you always work alone?”
“…Well yes. Thanks to that, I had to fight high-level magic beasts, I haven’t slept properly for almost half a year and I’m very tired~. I’ve never worked so hard, even when I was an adventurer~.” says Lionel with a big sigh.
Angeline often called Lionel to complain. But on many occasions, Lionel was not in Guild, and Angeline was outraged to think he was simply faking his absence. However, it seems that on those occasions, Lionel had actually gone out and was investigating the origin of the catastrophe they were experiencing, all by himself. At the same time, he seems to have dealt with the complaints and statements from the other adventurers, guilds, and Lords. This is why he always looks tired.
The method Guilds use during peacetime, a method based on self-interest and self-preservation of the big shots, cannot function properly when a catastrophe such as the one they are experiencing now with magical beasts occurred. Lionel was caught right in the middle of this turmoil and received attacks from all directions.
However, he had only managed to discover the source of the abnormality, as was to be expected of the individual who is above the S Rank adventurers.
Angeline thought that he was a lazy and irresponsible person, who occasionally cared for powerless people. But she was wrong. Upon realizing this, her face turns slightly red with shame and makes an annoying grimace.
“…You should have told me something.”
“No… I didn’t want you to consider me useless. Although I’m already telling you now~.”
“However, that’s no reason not to say anything, right? Now I’m ashamed to have said you were an idiot the last time we spoke. Guild Master, I’m really sorry…”
When Lionel sees Angeline bowing her head, he scratches his cheek a little embarrassed by the situation.
“No, Ms. Angeline. I’m quite incompetent~. Besides, you were the only one who scolded me, everyone else went about their business as if nothing had happened. Even though there were other guilds in other cities, you were always mad at me, weren’t you, Ms. Ange? That pushed me to such an extent that I had to do my best. And for that, thank you.”
“Ha Ha Ha! It’s all right Ange!” Chebolg pats Angeline’s head as he laughs thunderously. “Young people shouldn’t rush to understand the world of adults! If you hadn’t scolded him we wouldn’t be here! Lionel! Why didn’t you call us earlier if you had so many problems? That’s not how the Guild Master should behave!”
Dortos nods to Chebolg’s comments and gently tapping Angeline’s shoulder. “That’s right, Ange. It was Guild Master’s own mistake not to have taken preventative measures earlier and let it all come to this point. If the adventurers begin to leave the Guild. You can’t just sit there and do nothing.”
When two old soldiers scold him, Lionel ducks his head hastily.
“That’s too mean, you two~. the Central Guild system is nothing more than a faulty façade… Besides, no matter how many times I talked to them, the Central Guild and the Lords were just looking for a way to avoid responsibility and reduce local budgets… What else could an S rank ex-adventurer do~? It’s not like I wanted to meet with these terrifying old geezers again~.”
“What?! Did you say something, Lionel?!”
“Of course not! Let’s go! I’ll keep explaining as we walk!”
Lionel leaves the building with erratic movements, almost as if he is in flames. The two veterans smile when they see him, and they follow moments later. Angeline was also quick to follow them.
When they go outside the sunlight shines on them. There are no black clouds in the sky, the wind is cool but the sun is warm. The snow that melts on the road is only a very thin layer now.
A large group led by Lionel leaves the capital, splits up to board different horse-drawn carriages and heads east. The number of soldiers protecting the city walls is larger than normal, as the Lord is finally mobilizing the army. Angeline bends her mouth into an annoyed expression at the sight of them.
“The Lord took a long time to mobilize the army.”
“Apparently, it’s quite expensive to do so. That’s why the request had to come directly from Guild, as defending against the magic beasts is the job of the adventurers,” explains Anessa as Miriam nods.
“So far, we’ve managed to handle the situation somehow~. Moreover, a hasty mobilization would be more problematic than a well-planned and slow one, don’t you think~?”
“Yes, it’s a fortune they decided to help despite the fact that the eastern border has had some strange movements. Apparently, we’re going to a place where magic beasts have created some kind of huge nest.”
“Wow… That’s really intriguing, but it’ll all end today. I’ll destroy it!”
“Fufu~, this is very exciting… but Grandpa Chebolg is here~, so I probably won’t get my chance to shine.”
According to Lionel, there seems to be a large reservoir of magical power in the back of a dungeon, near Orphen’s suburbs.
One might think that this dungeon is a high-level dungeon, however, it is barely an E rank. The reason for this is that a low-level group was sent some time ago to investigate but they failed to recognize the reservoir, which holds back the investigation.
Over time, the magical energy contained in the reservoir begins to leak to the subsoil and has a great effect on the magic beasts that inhabit the dungeon. Which finally leads to a stampede of magic beasts, some of them of a very high level.
“Can magical power travel underground? I didn’t know that.” When Miriam hears Angeline’s words, her expression becomes serious.
“Normally it’s not like that, but the magical power of the Demon King is very powerful.”
“A powerful enemy~ what kind of opponent will he be~?”
“It doesn’t matter what kind of opponent he is. All we have to do is defeat him.” Listening to Angeline’s stubborn indifference, Anessa cannot help but sigh.
“It looks like everything’s gonna be fine~, so there’s nothing to worry about~”
The carriages travel for a while longer, pass through a small forest and arrive at a place full of hills. In one of them, you can see some kind of side cave, which seems to lead to the underground dungeon inside. However, the dungeon lost its core a long time ago, so it is now forgotten. That’s why normally no adventurer comes near this place. This time they plan to enter the dungeon and eliminate the cause of that huge reservoir of magical energy. In other words, the Demon King.
The horse-drawn carriage stops and the adventurers come down. Angeline rubs her numb lower back, looks at the dungeon entrance and frowns. She can’t feel any abnormality in the vicinity. Is there really a huge magical deposit in this place? she thinks to herself.
Suddenly, they find someone standing at the entrance. With shiny long gray hair, a thick coat, and a huge scarf. Lionel rapidly approaches that person.
“What do you think, Ms. Maria? Have you found anything strange?”
“That is so. It is true that there is a great deal of distorted magical energy in here, and someone has placed a barrier so that it cannot go outside. I have to admit, it’s pretty impressive. It is thanks to this that magical energy and magic beasts have not escaped.”
“That’s what I thought… What about the leaks?”
“Because of the barrier, magical power seeps into the subsoil. I also think that’s why magic beasts have become so strong. Even so, you dare to send a helpless maid like me to this place!” *Cough* *Cough*
The face that turns while coughing is that of a beautiful young woman. Although her facial features are attractive, the atmosphere around her is somewhat heavy. In spite of being a woman, she was quite tall, comparable to Lionel’s stature.
Angeline is glad to see you again and runs towards the woman.
“*Cough* *Cough*, What? Ange? You look as young as ever. “
“How have you been, aunty? Is your illness better…? “
“Of course not… *Cough* Even so, they force a maid like me to go out and work.” Maria gently caresses Angeline’s head as she spits out those harsh words. Then she sees Miriam and Anessa behind her.
“Hey girls, have you been doing your job properly? If they called me, it means you’re not trying hard enough.” *Cough* *Cough*
When she says this, apparently something got stuck in her throat and Maria coughs strongly. Miriam runs to her side with an expression of surprise and rubs her back.
“Ms. Maria, don’t try too hard~ You are already too old~”
“*Cough* What?! I’m a 68-year-old girl in the prime of her life!”
“68 isn’t the prime of life, you old lady!”
Mary stares at the smiling Miriam and points at her with her finger. “Shut up, you idiot disciple! That’s no way to address your master! *Cough*! *Cough*! “
“Fufu~! That’s what you get for bullying your disciple! Look at you now~!”
“Your little brat… *Cough*! *Cough*!” Maria seems quite angry but cannot help but to cough again. Miriam hurries to rub her back. Anessa smiles when she the master-disciple exchange.
Maria is a former S rank adventurer who retired three years ago. She has been Miriam’s teacher since Miriam was a rookie, an arch-mage known as “Dragon Killer” or “Ashen”, not only in the dukedom but throughout the entire kingdom of Rhodesia. Because of his enormous magical power, his body has stopped aging. So, despite being 68 years old her appearance is that of a young woman.
However, when she defeated the Cursed Dragon, an S Rank monster, some of its blood fell on her body and she received a curse. Since then, her body has been consumed by the disease, with permanent chills, painful seizures, and an incessant cough. Yet she remains the most powerful sorceress in the kingdom.
Dortos and Chebolg approach them. Dortos caresses his beard and has an expression of surprise.
“But if it’s Maria, did they call you too?”
Maria squints her eyes and smacks her lips.
“Dortos? Oh, dear. To think that so many old people would gather in one place, *Cough* *Cough*“
“Maria! You’re still pretending to be sick! You’re so sloppy!” says Chebolg in a thunderous voice.
“I’m not pretending! Why don’t you just die, muscle Daruma! *Cough*! *Cough*!“
“What?! Did you say something, Maria?!”
“I said go die! Or should I kill you myself?!”
“Excuse me… Could we continue with the mission?” says Lionel with an expression of tiredness, seeing the indiscretion of the veterans who left him in the background. But the elders keep talking and laughing. Lionel can only sigh.
“Well, I asked Maria to confirm it, and it seems that there is indeed a great reservoir of magical energy and it is seeping through a vein in the subsoil. If we destroy it, we’ll end our magic beast problem.”
“How should we do it? What’s the plan, Guild Master?”
“Yes, well, as with any other dungeon, we should go to the deepest part, and as this dungeon was originally an E rank, it should not be complicated at all. But there is the possibility that the rank of the magical beasts has increased due to the magical energy. But with all the powerful people here… “
“You talk too much! In other words, I just have to send this flying!”
“Hey! Wai—!” But before Lionel stopped him, Chebolg raises his fist.
His coat flutters in the wind, the magical tattoos engraved on his arms glow and without even thinking about it, he hits the hill where the dungeon is located. At the same time, a huge shockwave spreads through the place and half of the hills disappear.
“Oh. *Cough* The barrier is gone… *Cough*” murmurs Maria.
At the same time, miasma begins to emerge from the dungeon, as do a large number of magic beasts. Although this must have been an E rank dungeon, magic beasts that reached B or even A rank are among them.
“What are you doing, Chebolg…? ” says Lionel holding his head.
“Ha, Ha, Ha! Don’t worry! Hey, Demon King, get out of there!”
“Wait, Chebolg. You’re not allowed to go ahead on your own.” Dortos removes the cloth that covers his spear and instantly pierced several magic beasts that were nearby. He does not have the same calm expression that he had a few moments ago, now he looks more like a true warrior, and he seems to be having fun.
The two veterans jump into the flock of magic beasts with a triumphant expression and begin to defeat them without any difficulty. The other members of their parties also follow them and defeat a large number of magic beasts with overwhelming strength. Despite being older, they all seem to be in excellent condition. It’s possible they were eagerly awaiting this battle.
As the rest of the adventurers are stunned by this, Lionel claps his hands and begins to give instructions. “All right, the venerable elders have already started! Don’t let those grandpas take the main roles!”
Adventurers cannot help but smile awkwardly at the words of their leader.
 Angeline’s expression must be something like or
 A Daruma is a Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodhidharma and it looks like
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