A Demon Lord's Tale: Dungeons, Monster Girls, and Heartwarming Bliss Chapter 17
Chapter 17 – Unfortunate Adventurers
Adventurers are people that seek, claim and fight the unknown. They receive various requests and get appropriate rewards for them.
It is a job many dream of, as those that get the most achievements can accumulate wealth, fame, land and even become nobles.
However, although 'adventurer' is a single profession, there are many different specializations, from suppression of monsters, delivering documents, exploring dungeons and even research of ruins, it is a pretty vast field.
The basic requirement though, is power. As soon as one leaves the lands ruled by humans, they enter a field of monsters where death always lies in the horizon.
If one is to make their living in such environment, they need the willpower to not falter in face of adversities, and the strength to overcome them.
Those that cannot do it, will quickly reach their limits and be unable to raise their rank.
The adventurers are divided in ranks according to their strength, it starts with brass, followed by steel, silver, gold, mythril, adamantium and the last will be Orichalcum. We are on the mythril rank.
Although it is the third rank from the top, it's not really feasible for a normal human to reach orichalcum rank, they are almost the same as natural disasters; and adamantium ranked ones are known to being able to defeat a thousand warriors on their own. There are only a few dozen or so that can reach that far, which means mythril is generally as high as one can normally get.
Because of that, we ended up receiving a direct request from the guild that supervises the adventurers.
We live in the city of 'Alfiro', it's located on the border of the country, so it's a good place for experienced adventurers to get requests of monster subjugation, and since the city is well protected already, no orichalcum rank adventurer lives here.
There are a few adamantium ones, but due to some bad luck, none of them is on the city right now. It just so happened that we were the highest ranked ones currently available.
The request is about some strange occurrences on the 'Haunted Forest'.
The haunted forest is filled with the most dangerous monsters in the vicinity, and it's also where their biggest concentration lies, it's a dangerous place that one generally cannot leave with life.
Not only that, the forest's environment is extremely harsh, an ordinary person shouldn't last more than 30 minutes in it.
Due to that, it's strictly forbidden to enter the deepest parts of the forest, even adventurers are no exception, and severe penalties await anyone that breaks the rule.
Though the real reason is not because of the forest's danger, what is truly fearsome is what lies beyond it.
A being with overwhelming strength, the Supreme Dragon.
Dragons are said to be the strongest living beings, and most of them are considered at least disaster grade threats. The most powerful among them is the Supreme Dragon.
Disaster class monsters are beings strong enough to destroy a whole country by themselves, back when the Supreme Dragon was rampaging, numerous countries were destroyed and all troops sent to kill it were wiped.
The nearby countries had to unite and send a force of over 300000 people, with many orichalcum and adamantium class adventurers to suppress it, however, in a single night, almost all of them were killed. Only 1000 came back.
Not only that, the Supreme Dragon is said to change the region's topography with a single breath, and to be able to use the strongest spells in the world as if it was child's play. Although it has rarely appeared, every time history mentions that legendary dragon, disasters follow it… However, that monster doesn't seem to have much interest in anyone aside from themselves, and are known to leave others be for as long as they don't bother it.
Therefore, all countries decided they would no longer try to interfere with the Supreme Dragon, and this agreement is still in effect.
Ever since then, the Supreme Dragon was no longer seen, over one hundred years passed and it hasn't been sighted near the Haunted Forest at all.
However, something strange is happening on the forest recently.
Half-dragons, which rarely go out of their own territory, have been seen one after another in areas extremely far from their own.
Also, a large-scale territorial dispute seems to be occurring, with monsters being pushed farther and farther from their territory.
It was thought to be the Supreme Dragon pushing those monsters away at first, but that being has yet to be seen, and yet, the other monsters keep moving.
Consequently, this is probably something else's fault, and the guild wants to know what it is.
While it is not a bad thing to have the monsters' numbers thin out, having them move is troubling.
The beings from the Haunted Forest prefer places with high concentration of mana, so they wouldn't normally approach villages outside of it. However, if they are pushed outside by another force, then it becomes dangerous.
I didn't want to accept such a stupidly dangerous job, but requests from the guild are troubling, because one loses rank if they refuse.
It's also clear that this cannot be left unattended, and we are the only ones that can do it at the moment.
Which is why the three of us entered the forest with our usual party.
* * *
“Don't give in to tiredness yet, do you want to die!?”
“To think the rumors were true…”
Our team was composed of Reyes, the scout, Lowie, the mage, and me, Griffin, as a vanguard. Right now, out only option was to run.
Approaching from behind us was a 'Horn Tiger', breaking through the trees in its path as if they were made of paper, the tiger was hunting, and we were its prey.
Monsters are classified according to their degree of threat, they can be any of the following: harmless, hazardous, dangerous, lesser disaster, disaster, major disaster and calamity.
The Horn Tiger is part of the lesser disaster class, their strength should be enough to give some trouble to a single adamantium class adventurer, a party of mythril class ones shouldn't have much problem though, however, we have been forced to fight against this kind of monster one after the other even though they shouldn't appear in this area.
The level of monsters here should be considerably lower than this… What is happening?
Since we are mythril class adventurers, we entered the forest a fair amount of times, but we never saw this kind of monster appear close to the entrance, it's been a few hours since we entered, but we barely made any progress.
Also, this tiger seems to have lost the territorial struggle, it is thin enough to the point that makes you think it didn't eat anything in the past few days. The monster is looking at us impatiently, obsessed, as if it cannot control its hunger anymore.
“Lowie, can you cast something!?"
“I can't! I haven't recovered even 10% of my mana!”
The many back to back fights against monsters similar to this one took its toll on us. Lowie ran out of magical power and we have no potions left, even though we prepared more equipment than usual for this task.
I really should have rejected the request, even if it meant dropping rank.
The Horn Tiger used some sort of skill and suddenly dashed from behind us to our front, blocking the path.
“Tsk, there is no choice, I'll have to do it!” Filled with desperation, I pulled my sword from the scabbard.
Suddenly though, the wind blew heavily with a thunderous sound.
One instant later, sounds of flesh being ripped resounded. The Horn Tiger that had cornered us fell down and another monster stood where it was.
I was frozen in place. A huge wolf with beautiful fur looked at us.
It was as thick as a log, yet had very well defined muscles, with limbs that were clearly very agile, the wolf's height was also enormous.
Its mouth has very sharp fangs which should be able to tear us apart with a single bite.
This fellow is dangerous. I felt it as soon as I saw the wolf.
I went through many hardships in my time as an adventurer, this greatly honed my instincts, and they were telling me… This monster is the biggest threat I ever saw.
My whole body screamed its wish to escape, but I couldn't budge a single inch.
The fear of being taken down the moment I moved stopped me from doing so. My friends seemed the same, as they were completely frozen in place with their gazes fixed at the wolf.
It glanced at us for a single instant, and then, seemingly completely uninterested, the wolf turned to another side and walked away with its prey in mouth.
As soon as that monster disappeared, even though we were still within the Haunted Forest, Lowie dropped herself unto the ground.
I don't blame her though. My whole body was also trembling, and I felt as if my legs would give in at any moment now.
“We almost lost our lives…" Lowie murmured in relief.
“That wolf, it was definitely a disaster class monster…” Reyes complemented.
“… That's not all, were you able to notice? It had a collar in its neck.” I told them.
Just like a pet, the wolf had a beautiful collar.
“What? You mean that it belongs to someone!?" Reyes gave me a stupefied look.
I'd like to think my eyes played a trick on me.
On the matter of disaster class threats, the army does have the necessary power to subjugate them.
Mankind has developed enough to defeat foes that should be a lot stronger than us, including beastkins and disaster grade monsters.
"I wonder what kind of unthinkable existence settled on this forest.” I wondered.
Something that even disaster class threats obey, and that also scared the monsters away from the Haunted Forest.
Whatever it is, lives deep within the forest, and just imagining meeting this being send shivers down my spine.
“… Anyway, let’s get out of this forest, this place is too much for us now.” I suggested.
“Agreed, even if I had many lives, I wouldn't want to remain here anymore." Reyes answered.
“I don't want to stay for even one more second.” Lowie agreed.
With this unanimous decision, we quickly moved out of the forest, as if we were running from something.