Two days later.
On the wide grassy plains, behind a little hill, there were two yellow bonfires within close proximity of each other, emitting two yellow halos of light.
The two groups of people surrounded each bonfire, each doing their own preparations.
"Garen, you’re in charge of tonight’s recon, we’ll be counting on you for the night," Andy said to Garen softly.
"You guys can go ahead and sleep, relax." Garen nodded, and stood.
Reconnaissance was mostly up to him and Valerie, because both of them used flying type totems. Valerie’s was a small bluebird, which flew at high speeds and could be used as a messenger.
After delegating their work these past two days, they had started getting more familiar with one another.
Cana and Valerie sat beside their captain, baking by the bonfire. When they saw Garen stand, Cana finally couldn’t help but ask,
"Cayduran, what on earth is Garen’s core totem? Why have I only seen him using the neon butterfly as his totem this few days? That’s a very unpopular kind of totem, isn’t it, I don’t think anyone’s even researched how to further improve on it."
Cayduran was stoking the bonfire, and raised his head when she said that, looking at her in surprise.
"I’m telling you to stay away from him, his core totem? You’re the closest to him, and you still don’t know?"
"Know what?" Cana asked, frowning.
"This Garen doesn’t have a core totem, he only does recon in his team." Cayduran looked at Cana curiously. "If you think he’s some rich noble kid, you’re wrong. That Garen was working at a totem repair shop by the nightmarket back there, and Andy only pulled him into the team later. Even if he’s nobility, he’d only be washed-out nobility. That’s why I advised you to get all your facts straight before you make any plans. I thought you knew."
Cana was rather stunned.
She never guessed that the answer she was looking for all this time would be that simple.
But she still had more faith in her own judgment. This Garen had an aura she just couldn’t see through, in other words he was really weird. There was no way he was just a normal totem user.
"Stop fantasizing, nobles always take their own safety very seriously. Without even a core totem, he can’t even guarantee his safety on a mission like this." Valerie couldn’t help but speak, "That guy is actually the weakest in our team." He had long since been unhappy with Garen. Every time he
saw Cana initiate a conversation with Garen and get a cold shoulder in return, sparks flew in his heart.
"Let’s wait and see…" Cana frowned and said softly, but her passion had also been doused. She was beginning to doubt her own theory.
Early the next morning
Garen kept away his neon butterfly, preparing to mount his horse and rest for a moment by taking a nap. The horse would be led forward by the connecting ropes anyway.
He soon realized that Cana, who would usually approach him for a chat, had gotten a lot colder, riding her own horse as she chatted with Valerie.
It was a rare moment of peace for him, so he slowed down his horse and created a little distance between them. He began to check his current condition.
After hunting down so many missions for the War Guild, he was also beginning to understand some things about Luminarists.
Most totems were divided into two types, Seraph Lights and Phantom Lights. There were fewer Phantom Lights, but each of these were extremely strong. The scar on Garen’s neck was left by a Phantom Light.
He was aware that he didn’t have a core totem yet, so his abilities plus his secret techniques only added up to the level of a Form 1 Phantom Light, equal to a peak Form 1 totem user. But if he was to go against a Form 2 totem user face to face, then he would be way out of league.
In the two small teams present here, only Andy and Cayduran were slightly stronger. When it came to controlling totems and the strength of their Totem Light, the two of them were the strongest, and that made them the main fighting force in head-on confrontations. The others were all rookies, at the same level as the general average. They were all relying on their totem’s attack type, and determining their strength by the strength of their totems.
As a thought occurred to him, he saw that in front of him, Cayduran was whispering something into Valerie’s ear. Cayduran nodded, and turned around to look at Garen.
"Garen, we need to check that small patch of forest ahead on the left, we’ll have to rely on your butterfly for a bit."
Garen nodded, and pulled out his silver-colored short staff to release the neon butterfly. He then let it patrol around the small forest ahead on the right.
Finding nothing, the neon butterfly returned, and the team continued forward.
Not long later, just as Garen was getting ready to rest, he
he heard another call from ahead.
"Garen, don’t sleep yet, something seems to have come up behind us, go send the neon butterfly to take a look," Valerie said loudly.
Garen had stood guard all night last night, and was just growing sleepy. He planned to rest, and recover a bit. Upon hearing that, he opened his eyes and frowned.
"Valerie, your totem is a flying type too, why are you always making Big Brother Garen do the work?" Jessica asked, slightly unhappily.
"He’s the weakest, so he should work more," Valerie said smoothly with a pout.
"Forget it, it’s fine." Garen didn’t want to pick a bone with this team either. This assignment was extremely important to him, he didn’t want to influence the path of history too much.
Releasing the neon butterfly, he let it take a round behind them, chasing away a few young deer. Only then did it return to rest on Garen’s shoulder.
They slowed down their horses, proceeding at a speed that was neither fast nor slow. The group decided they might as well settle their food and drink on horseback. It was only in the afternoon that they stopped to let the horses rest and drink.
In the afternoon.
Cana hesitated for a while, but still came over to chat a bit with Garen. Valerie was instantly put off. From what the captain said, he finally understood that Garen wasn’t any noble at all. Even if he was, he’d just be a washed-out one, and so he posed no threat at all. Seeing Cana approach Garen even now, the discomfort in his heart got even stronger.
"Garen, I’m a little tired, so I’ll take a nap now. I’ll leave patrolling to you." Valerie walked up to Garen and said loudly.
"What do you mean by that?" Beside him, Andy frowned and stood up. "You’re supposed to patrol during the daytime, right?"
"It’s okay, it’s okay." Garen didn’t say anything more. His endurance was out of this world, he trained in the secret techniques, and his spiritual power was brimming, so this little bit was nothing to him. This assignment was related to Goth’s explosion, and it affected the variables that might appear after he joined the team. He didn’t want to completely fall out with Cayduran’s side over such a small matter. After all, in the images in his memoriesm Cayduran and the others had gone into the caves together too.
Seeing that Garen himself wasn’t bothered about it, Andy and Goth, who was just about to stand up, couldn’t interfere much either. Both of
Both of them sat back down.
As requested, Garen began to patrol the surroundings immediately.
When he stood up, however, Valerie said to him in a soft voice,
"This is just a little lesson for you. If you understand, then you’d better leave Cana alone, otherwise it won’t be this easy next time."
Garen almost wanted to laugh.
This brat actually dared to threaten him. This mother-suckling brat, without a whiff of blood on him, actually dared to stand directly in front and threaten him, face to face.
If he weren’t so scared of causing too many changes, creating too many variables in this mission, he would have long ago given this kid a tight slap.
After one round of patrolling, he returned to the temporary camp. Garen approached Goth and sat down next to him. Seeing the way Goth ate half a baguette in one bite, gorging himself like a pig, Garen suddenly felt especially hungry. He picked up the rock-hard baguette, dipped it into ketchup, and enjoyed it more than he thought he would.
"Garen, go fetch some water from around here." Valerie’s voice sounded again.
"Hey, what’s the matter with you?" Goth got to his feet in an instant. "You got legs and hands, can’t you get it yourself?"
Valerie stood as well, laughing coldly. "Someone who doesn’t even have a core totem would be a burden anyway, why should we give him a portion of the money if he doesn’t do a little something? Anyone on this team can contribute to the team, and fight for the team. He’s the only exception, not only is his totem so weak, it’s not even a core totem. He can only be a burden for the team."
"Alright, Valerie, isn’t that enough?" Cana finally had enough, standing up as she said coldly, "Don’t make me look down on you!"
"Alright, alright, no more fighting." Andy and Cayduran both got up. Cayduran glanced at Garen, frowning, "This matter ends here."
Valerie glared at Garen. Since he was scolded by Cana just now, he was even more pissed off than before.
The two teams suddenly stopped talking to each other and sat separately on two sides.
After getting enough rest, they continued on their journey.
Although Cana now knew that Garen wasn’t any nobleman like she had hoped, but she still couldn’t act like how Valerie did. She didn’t want the two teams to split over something like this. So she still sought Garen out and personally apologized, followed by a short chat.
Unfortunately, when Valerie, who was just rather annoyed, saw rather annoyed, saw that Cana still insisted on sucking up to Garen, he got even angrier.
Looking at his dark expression, it was clear that he had begun to hate Garen.
A full four days passed.
The two teams began to slowly enter the wilderness. The surrounding cottages and hunting houses grew sparser and sparser, and eventually disappeared altogether.
There were more and more weeds on the road, almost enough to cover the surface of the road entirely. And this was covered by a lot of loose pebbles.
The two captains gathered together, holding the map and tracing the route. Soon enough, they left the road for cars and horses, following a narrow dirt road, turning into some other unknown territory.
Everywhere around them, there were endlessly vast expanses of grassy green fields, and almost no trace of humanity whatsoever. The spattering of woods also grew fewer, as they had evidently arrived at the dirt plains.
The team continued pushing forth, eventually finding the little mound that looked like a pitchfork.1 The whole team stopped.
"This is where we start." Andy held up the map to compare.
"There’s blood here!" Cayduran crouched behind the little mound and said loudly, "The assignment description said that a few people disappeared here, leaving behind traces of blood and fighting. Seems like we got the right place."
The others quickly hurried to look, and saw that there were some clots of dried red-black blood on the grass. The soil underneath had also been dyed dark red, making it very obvious to the eye.
"Thank goodness it didn’t rain these few days, so the blood stains weren’t completely washed away," Cayduran said in a low voice. "Check the map, how should we go from here? If I wasn’t wrong, there should be a bandits’ nest nearby."
"The assignment mentioned that regular city guards came here to check a couple times, but the never found anything. That’s why they handed the assignment over to the Guild. But I bet they’re just slightly more cunning normal people, it shouldn’t be much of a problem." Andy walked over and spread open the map as he said, "If we search right from here, we should be able to an underground cave. The last time the city guards went in, five days before we received the mission, it was too dark inside, and they couldn’t advance because there were too many traps and switches. After a few of them got hurt, the city guards came back out, but mentioned it on the assignment."
"C’mon, let’s go in and look." Cayduran stood up.