As if he had lived several decades with no specific goal of his own, and one day, he starts asking questions about the meaning of his life.
This is the first time Garen thought about it. He was used to the passivity of his journey, being led on by the enemies in front of him until he climbed up the peak.
But now that he’s in a different world, everyone was much stronger than he is that he can’t catch up right there and then, but there’s also nothing he could do to speed up the process.
In the gap between all the fighting he had done and he will do, he started questioning his own existence.
This uncertainty had only lasted a short moment before he shirked it off.
Garen shook his head, laughing at his sudden yearning.
"I haven’t even resolved my current danger, who am I to think about existential questions?"
Laughing at himself, he continued his study of the handbook. Combined with the memories he’d watched previously, he started collating the details and information of Luminarists.
The whole planet is dominated by the East Continent and the West Continent, the rest are mostly just oceans and glaciers. All the countries of the two continents were controlled by Luminarists, and as of now, the Obscuro Society and the Royal Alliance of Luminarists are having a feud.
Riding on that opportunity, Terraflor Society which lacks a huge power will rise and turn into a syndicate as powerful as the Obscuro Society.
This was the overall situation. Aside from the three parties trying to get the biggest piece of pie, the rest were just normal Luminarists.
The support of the world comes from this large group of Luminarists, the only thing separating them were their ideals. This is not just a normal battle, but a war of ideals.
Garen compiled all the memory he had watched and started to collect events that may be happening in the near future, arranging them into a timeline for future reference.
The cargo stopped every once in a while to unload and refill their wares before continuing their journey.
Following the Red River, they passed by several villages. Garen kept searching for an opportunity to leave.
Teacher Emin stays in at the Red River Valley, but that wasn’t where the team was heading to. The elites who are protecting him, Ulun and the two other quieter knights would not let him leave by himself. He needs to find an opportunity to sneak away.
A dozen days later, there was a raid from some mounted robbers, forcing the elites to make a move. In the chaos, Garen left the team with a note, and went on his way solo, following the map his teacher left him.
At the other end of the Red River, in the small town of Vinker.
The town was built on the side of a hill-laden plain, an ocean of red flowers bloomed across the plain, surrounding the town, steeping it in its fragrance.
In the afternoon, a dust-covered Garen stood on top of a hill, staring at the town from afar. The town is shaped like two side-by-side crosses. It's small and could only fit shit several hundred people.
It was much smaller than the other towns along the river.
The houses were built with old wood boards, most had some clay bricks mixed into their infrastructure.
A stone wall marked the border of the town. Notches were left decorating the wall, clearly left behind through something charging at it.
Garen was looking at the town silently before he suddenly stomped his right leg.
A red centipede crawled out of the dirt before rolling over and curled up, dead.
"It actually is quite dangerous, it seems…" Garen muttered. On his was here, he took the carriage path along the Red River, which fortunately didn’t have bandits. However, creatures like this swarmed the road, and that’s excluding the wolves and wild dogs. Those come in packs.
Especially the wild dogs, every time they appear, they’ll bring hundreds of them along. Garen only scared them off using his intimidating aura. If it were any other people, it’ll take a while even if they’re not scared of them.
With such a terrible state, if normal people have not gone through special training, it’s impossible for them to go for a trip. Before long, they’d be bitten by a plethora of bugs or injured by hordes of animals, and were forced to find some place to stay. Otherwise, once their food stock was exhausted, they’ll have nowhere to go in the wilderness.
"Finally found this place after two days!" Garen took out his map and checked, confirming the accuracy of the location.
He kept the map and took out a whistle, preparing to blow it as a signal.
An unfamiliar shuffle came from the left.
By reflex, Garen lowered his body and took a few steps back, hiding behind the downhill slope.
On the only road leading into the town, two black horses raced toward him with two men with black capes on them. The two men had hulking statures and wore exquisite clothes, silver axes hung behind their backs.
Even from that distance, Garen could feel the strong but hidden aura they were emitting. From his Aura Detection, the two lit up like a torch in a moonless night.
"Guardian-level…" Garen squinted, noticing the symbols on their capes. It was red long-necked flying dragon, the symbol of the Royal Kovitan family.
"Them again…" Garen’s brows furrowed, "The RAL had been everywhere on my way here. Pretty much every nooks and crannies had been covered by them. What are they planning?"
It’s not the first time he saw these people. He had occasionally seen them in several places, in forts, towns, and even villages.
They seemed to be investigating something.
It’s only a while that Garen had to hide behind the slope. They had left the town not long after, disappearing on their horses.
One of them seemed to have seen Garen, but he didn’t think too much about it, he only urged his partner on to leave.
Garen stood up and witnessed as the two black horses disappeared into the horizon. He took his silver whistle and blew into it with force.
There was no sound except for the air rushing out of the whistle’s other end. It feel just like a broken whistle.
Garen didn’t stop, he just kept blowing the whistle.
Soon, another ‘knight’ came out of the town. It was a pretty girl in white clothing on a beardless white goat.
The white goat ran toward Garen.
The girl in white yelled in excitement.
Garen let down his whistle, and waited for the girl to arrive in front of him and got off the goat.
"Is that your whistle?" She asked without thought, pointing at the whistle by his side.
"Grandpa Emin asked me to bring you there. Come on." She hollered.
Garen answered without hesitation, the little girl in front of him didn’t look weird. Her physical properties were estimated to be average. Garen glanced at her hands. They were rough with calluses.
"Not a Luminarist disciple as well. Should be a normal person."
He followed the little girl into town. Most of the population was made up of women and children, save for a few men who looked like they’d just woken up. Chimney smoke were coming out of a few houses.
Dogs were barking, and roosters were crowing.
The little girl led Garen to a wooden house at the edge of the town.
"Here it is. Are you Grandpa Emin’s student? You’re so young!"
"I am," Garen nodded. "My name is Garen, what’s yours?"
"My name is Nicol, I’m a neighbor. Sometimes I come here to sweep the floor and learn some words." The girl answered. "Quick, go in, Grandpa Emin is waiting."
"Okay," Garen took out a small copper rumb, "This is your reward." He handed over the rumb copper to Nicol.
"You’re so generous!" Nicol’s eyes were shining and almost grabbed the copper out of Garen’s hand. She sniffed the copper. "It really is money!"
"Have fun, I’ll be on my way." Garen smiled and left the little girl to her own. He pushed open the fence and walked into the area of the house.
After a few paces, the door to the house slowly opened from the inside. An old man with snowy white hair stood in front of the entrance. He wore a white robe, his face lined with wrinkles that cross each other. The only familiar thing to him was the analytical look he gives.
"Teacher… Emin?" Garen asked hesitantly after laying his eyes on the gray-haired man. "How do you, how are you…?" From the aura that he give out, Garen was sure he was Emin, the Luminarist who had the appearance of a middle-aged man.
Emin smiled calmly.
"Come in, I’ll tell you in a bit." He turned around and walked into the dimly lit corridor.
Garen strode into the house and closed the door.
Humidity filled the air of the dimly lit house, there was also a scent of burnt leather.
A beam of light shone onto the floor from the dormer, providing the only source of light in the entire building.
Emin sat at a sofa just outside the range of the lightbeam. He had a cup filled with warm water, which he sips occasionally. Observing Garen’s entrance, he pointed at the sofa in front of him.
Garen went over and sat, proper and poised. His gaze fell upon Emin’s hair and his beard.
"Get the water yourself if you need it." Emin gestured toward a dusty jug of water.
"Yes sir," Garen nodded, "Teacher, I’m here for…"
"If there’s anything, just say it. Is it about the Blackguards? If it is and you want me to interfere, I will no longer owe you anything. Think about it." Emin said calmly.
"Blackguards?" Garen did a double take, "What Blackguard?"
"Huh?" Emin did a double take as well, "Aren’t you here because of the Blackguards?"
"Of course not." Garen was completely confused until he remembered the two people in black capes.
"If you’re not here for the Blackguards, what do you want from me at this point of time?" Emin frowned.
"I’m here to get my next part of the lesson." Garen stated flatly.