[Note from Mimosab] As explained on Discord, the translator was a bit late so we couldn’t proofread in time for the release scheduled last tuesday. So there is only one part posted on the website this week. But it’ll go back to normal next tuesday 😉
Fletcher Castle in the Central Continent.
It was a small castle not much known to the rest of the world, but currently an adventurer from the Hermes Guild named Pante was staying in it.
"It should hatch soon."
One year and six months ago, he received a quest while he was in the Doria region. There was a common assumption among the public that those who belonged to the Hermes Guild would only take quests which were already known to the world, especially the ones that offered good rewards; while it was true to some extent, Pante sometimes devoted his time to quests that no one had successfully completed before.
< Elves in Puzzlement
The elves living in the birch tree grove are confused by the strangely rapid withering of flowers that has been occurring lately in the forest. It seems something has happened in the grove, and they are seeking for an adventurer who can solve this mystery.
Difficulty Level: D
Reward: Increased affinity with the elves >
Having felt quite bored, Pante accepted the quest upon finding that it had not been completed by anyone yet.
'I'll get this done quickly.'
As he was wandering around the forest, he found a hidden space underneath a layer of fallen leaves, from which he obtained a small amount of sticky mud.
< You have obtained the essence of the soil that bears a malignant spirit. >
A series of linked quests followed after he brought the mud to the elder of the elves.
– Purification of Soil
– A Sunny Ground in the Birch Tree Grove
– The Evil Spirit's Secret
– Precious Nourishment
– Beautiful Flowers
The difficulty level was also stepped up to C as the series of quests continued.
– The Wet Ground of Mollork.
However, for a questline that had been initially taken so lightheartedly, Mollork was simply too far away for him to continue.
"Difficulty level C… It's a bit of a waste to stop here considering the number of quests I've already completed, but I guess there's no choice."
Pante concluded that it was too much of a bother to roam about the vast land for more than a month, and forgot about the quest soon.
8 months had passed since then, and an expedition party sent from the Haven Empire headed towards the land of Mollork. The Hermes Guild was well aware of the fact that there were still countless mysteries remaining in the Versailles Continent. Most users chose to repeat the quests and use the hunting grounds that were fully revealed to the world, but there were still hidden jackpots scattered across the land. Hence an expedition team was deployed from time to time to explore the corners of the Versailles Continent, consisting of top elite users, in order to claim the dungeons and treasures uncovered during the journey. When Pante heard the news of such an expedition party coming to explore the land of Mollork, he joined the team and completed the forgotten quest at last.
Although it was a part of a larger questline, he did not expect much in terms of the rewards, for many such quests only offered mediocre compensation. However, the quest did not conclude in the region of Mollork; rather, it continued even further through a request from an old local resident.
"Adventurer, I would like to ask a favor of you."
"I expect, with that soil you have obtained, it will be possible to grow the seed and make it bloom."
"And where is that seed?"
"My grandfather has lost it, but fortunately, I know the location of the place where he's lost the seed."
< The Shady Nest in Mollork
There is a habitat of Vargetts in Mollork, and it is said that one can find some preciously rare fruits in that place. Eliminate the Vargetts and obtain the seeds of the rare fruits.
Difficulty Level: A
Restrictions: You must have completed 'The Essence of Soil' and 'The Wet Ground of Mollork' quests.
Rewards: the supreme fruit >
Now that the difficult level had become A, this was no longer an ordinary commission.
"I will do it."
Pante reported the quest to the superior authority in the Hermes Guild and immediately received the support of a special strike force.
"We will get it done for you within today."
The strike force of one hundred users consisting of knights, mages, archers and clerics thoroughly destroyed the nest of Vargetts, and Pante was able to clear the quest without any difficulty, but still it was not the end of it.
< The Magical Fruit
This is a Quairan fruit, which is known to bring health to anyone who eats it: a first-class cooking ingredient!
However, it is said that this fruit was especially sought after by a special group of creatures. There might be someone among the old dwarves who can recognize this fruit.
Difficulty Level: A
Restrictions: You must have acquired the Quairan fruit. >
With the help of the Hermes Guild, Pante could have a word with the dwarves in Thor.
"So you have a Quairan fruit? That's some very rare stuff."
"But what exactly can I use it for?"
"That's… well, I'd rather not talk about it."
In order to become friendlier with the dwarves and get the answer, Pante began to spend money freely. With the mighty Hermes Guild backing him, investing about a million gold in this quest was nothing difficult. But even after he became much closer to the dwarves, they kept their mouths shut.
"This isn't something I can talk about so openly. But you might have a better chance with that Drunkard Dwarf; he's quite talkative, you know…"
Using the information network of the Hermes Guild, he managed to find the Drunkard Dwarf and continue the quest.
"You've got a Quairan fruit? That fruit… is a favorite of truly great and terrifying beings."
Pante's quest was now closely watched by the top-ranking adventurers of the Hermes Guild. The series of linked quests that had eventually reached difficulty level A — with so many steps, following one after another, they anticipated that this might even lead to an S-level commission.
– Balam: The great and terrifying beings to dwarves? Then they must be…
– Tahembo: Dragons.
– RoadTracker: So this quest is somehow connected to dragons. The word 'jackpot' doesn't quite cut it.
Through Weed's adventures, people had seen that a quest with the difficulty level S had capacity to change the shape of a region or even the very course of history of the Versailles Continent. Drunkard Dwarf's story continued.
"It was a long time ago. We had to offer them these Quairan fruits, but it was very hard to procure them because these beings just found them so delicious and ate them all. Well, and there were some dwarves who brewed wine with those fruits in secret, too."
"Ah. I see."
"Hold on a second… that reminds me of a rumor I heard years and years ago."
"Quairans are known to be the fruits that these great beings like the most when they are young. So it is said that one might be able to make the rarest discoveries by searching around the place where they found the Quairan fruits."
< You have obtained the necessary information from Drunkard Dwarf.>
< Your quest has been updated.>
< Dragons' Favorite Fruit
The Quairan fruits are food for dragons. These fruits contain plenty of nutriments, which is why dragons often seek them as their giant bodies need a lot of sustenance.
Investigate the areas near the place where the Quairan fruit has been found. Although the risk is high, you might discover something that is highly valuable.
Difficulty Level: S
Restrictions: You must have obtained a fruit of Quairan and the information related to dragons. >
"This really has the difficulty level S?"
"Gods, just how far will these quests go?"
As the quest became increasingly challenging, even the leading members of the Hermes Guild could not easily decide how to proceed, not to mention Pante and other adventurers belonging to the guild.
"Should we continue on with this quest?"
"It might be too dangerous, getting ourselves tangled up with dragons. I also feel rather apprehensive about the sudden appearance of dwarves."
"Well, the dwarven Kingdom of Thor is the domain of the evil dragon Kaybern."
"The land of Mollork is very far away, and it is mostly an unknown territory. We shouldn't exclude the possibility that this might be an entirely new type of adventure."
"We haven't even gotten anywhere close to the lair of a dragon. Gaining some affinity with the dragons through this kind of quests would be tremendously beneficial, wouldn't it?"
"The problem is that it is impossible to predict the way this quest will unfold. If we cannot drop it midway until it is concluded, we could get into trouble."
The heads of the Hermes Guild even held a meeting and argued over the quest, but in the end they decided to proceed with it a little further.
Hence Pante and the adventurers explored the land of Mollork with the help of the strike team which had been extensively reinforced. It was a difficult journey, because the monsters they encountered all had levels over 400 and 500, but before long they found what they came for.
< A dungeon: you have become the first discoverers of the Neglected House.
Fame increased by 10,000 points.
Experience points and item drop rate will be doubled for a week.
For your first hunt, the monster will drop the best item out of all the possible items it can drop when killed. >
Inside the dungeon, chimeras with levels over 600 jumped out at them, their strength and life force beyond the bounds of common sense. The party would have had a much harder time if Pante had come alone with adventurers, but they were able to deal with the monsters thanks to the military force that the Hermes Guild had sent to accompany them. The knights and fighters took the lead in clearing the dungeon while being supported by the clerics and mages from the rear.
"Hm. Let's begin the search."
They started their investigation, with the strike team taking the main roles.
A dungeon that was almost as vast as a city!
Countless monsters were dwelling in the place, and treasure chests were spotted in some obscure corners — valuable finds that contained plentiful amounts of gold or jewels. Occasionally there were also some swords and armors in them, which were all made by dwarves.
"This is quite incredible. Even in the Central Continent, we haven't discovered a dungeon as large as this one."
"And the rewards are excellent. There are more than ten quests that are linked together."
Other than that, they also noticed evidence of magical traps, although they had all ceased to function.
After the long search was complete, what they eventually found was a pure-white mass, with a height of approximately 4 meters.
"What is this? A rock?"
"It looks like a rock. It's quite hard, too."
"Don't you feel the warmth coming out from it? This might be a mana stone."
"No, there's no way this is a mana stone. I cannot seal any magic in it."
They could only confirm the identity of the mass after the adventurers took some time to appraise it.
< A large egg!
This is the egg of a dragon.
It is protected from magical and physical forces by its thick shell.
1st class cooking ingredient!
1st class blacksmithing material!
1st class sculpting material! >
The adventurers and the users of the strike force stood frozen to the spot.
"Whoa, a dragon's egg…!"
"Could this be Kaybern's egg? And if that's the case, wouldn't we be all killed by him for the crime of intruding into this dungeon?"
"I don't think that's what's going to happen. The name of the dungeon is 'the Neglected House', for one."
"We don't know what dragon this egg belongs to yet."
Pante walked closer to the egg and touched it. His heart swelled with joy to find out that this chain of many linked quests had finally led him to a dragon's egg.
< Your quest has been updated.>
< The Dragon's Egg
You have discovered an egg which was produced between the green dragon Arankald and the black dragon Kaybern. After Arankald departed for some unknown reason, the egg has been left in its current place until now.
The egg that has been subjected to human touch will incur the rage of the dragons. In order to quell their anger, you must hatch the egg safely and wait for the birth of the baby dragon.
Difficulty Level: S
Restrictions: You must have discovered the dragon's egg. It is impossible to abandon this quest at the current progress stage. >
Having realized the true nature of the quest, Pante was lost for words.
'A dragon is going to be born?'
The heads of the Hermes Guild also plunged into a heated argument over this matter after hearing the full story.
"This is a linked quest with the difficult level S. Even Weed has never had such an adventure."
"If we put this on air, we can at least be sure that the viewing rate will reach a new peak."
"And we'll get plenty of advertisements. This is an opportunity to imprint the true capacity of the Hermes Guild on the mind of the users."
"Opportunity? Don't you realize how dangerous a dragon can be? If things go ugly, it may bring about the total destruction of several major cities."
"Such a quest will have a huge impact on everyone. We'll need to carefully consider the damage it will cause in case of failure…"
With everyone having different opinions, it seemed that the discussion would not end easily.
Hangtu, a dwarven adventurer, expressed his concerns.
"It's all well and good that this is an S-class adventure. The reason I'm worried about this is the fact that this quest is related to Kaybern. That creature is not called 'the evil dragon' by people for nothing."
Even Pante could not find any words to refute this argument. Every adventurer of some fame and competence preferred to avoid any quest that had some connection with dragons. Not only did the dragons rarely chose to grant an audience to humans, but it was also very hard to ensure that an evil dragon such as Kaybern would offer any fair rewards appropriate for the difficulty of the quest.
"Still, this is a quest… wouldn't we be rewarded in some way at least?"
"Well, Kaybern tasks the dwarves with various manufacturing quests, but I have never heard any account of him giving them proper rewards in return."
"A shame; this is certainly a quest I'd rather continue and challenge myself with, given the difficulty level and the current circumstances."
There were a lot of knights who felt especially attached to the quest; although nobody could be sure how the content of the quest would change from this step on, they could all imagine a great vision.
Hatching a baby dragon — if one could form a friendship with this dragon, they might be able to gain the legendary profession of a Dragon Knight.
Long ago, when Weed was eradicating the Church of Embinyu, he once rode on the back of Ausollet, the Dragon of Chaos. The sight of him standing astride the black dragon and fighting against the avatar of the god Embinyu still remained in the minds of many knights like an afterimage.
'If I could become a Dragon Knight like that, it would be well worth giving up a castle in exchange.'
'Becoming a Dragon Knight… that would be the wildest dream of any knight.'
There were only a very small number of members who knew about the quest, and most importantly, there was Bard Ray, who was a Black Knight himself.
"We've already done so much to clear this quest, and the profit we could gain by successfully completing it may be enormous. We have no choice but to proceed further; the quest cannot be cancelled at this stage anyway."
Thus, Pante and a handful of other adventurers were keeping the dragon egg in the Fletcher Castle and preparing themselves for the hatching. Ever since they moved to this castle, there had been a number of invasions from armies of monsters. The public simply assumed that they were influenced by the rebel forces or the weakened public order, but in truth those invasions were the doings of black mages seeking to steal the dragon egg. The attempts of the black mages failed every time, as they could not surpass the military strength of the Hermes Guild. In addition, the adventurers could obtain some more information from the mages as they fought them.
– If the egg is destroyed, two dragons will descend upon the land.
– The purpose of the black mages was to open the age of magic.
– The rage of the dragons would most probably bring forth waves of monsters, which would in turn completely devastate the entire continent.
(To be continued…)