TNG Vol. 1 Chapter 3 – Part 2

Shin left the restaurant and headed to the library. The Hillk grass gathering quest isn’t complete yet, but it had no time limit, so there was no need to hurry. Shin was also wary that his actions in the past days meant that he couldn’t stay in that city much longer, so he thought to take care of this other business first.

“This must be it.”

Shin had arrived in the area midway between the commercial and residential districts. The market’s bustling noise barely reached Shin’s ears: it was a much quieter part of the city.

The Bayreuth kingdom-managed library was officially called Royal Magic Library. 

It had “Magic” in its name, but it also housed documents and material on many other topics: Tsugumi told Shin that whenever people in the city were looking for information about anything, they visited this library.

The vision of some documents was only available to those who had special permission, but this time Shin would look for general information about the current world, so that would not be a problem.

The interior of the library was not particularly peculiar: there were tables, chairs and endless bookshelves. 

Shin asked at the reception how to use the library, just in case, and was told that books could be read for free inside, while if he wanted to borrow he would need to pay, that there was a day limit and up to 3 books could be borrowed at one time. The cost of borrowing the books depended on the type of book and length of borrowing period. If a borrowed book was lost, there was of course a fee to pay.

Those books that needed permission to be viewed were normally not available for borrowing. There were also books that only people with a high degree of trust from the kingdom, such as high-level adventurers or court functionaries, could read.

Such precious books could be targeted by thieves, but there were guards present in the library at all times and protective skills were also used in and around it, so no one dared to sneak in.

(A level VII Wall and Barrier…I see why they’re so confident.)

Shin found it a bit suspicious that the barriers here were stronger than those around the castle walls, but he acknowledged that it wouldn’t be easy to break them.

After the explanation, Shin asked in what area the books he was interested in were, picked them up and sat down on an empty chair.

The first topic he researched was history: he thought that he should start from the so-called “Dusk of Majesty”, the period possibly connected to the time between the death game and the mass log-out.

There was a long chronology of events from the inception of the kingdom, so Shin started from spreading it on the table and taking a look at it.

“Let’s start from recent events…hmm, so this is year 511 from the kingdom’s establishment. They said that the Dusk of Majesty happened around 500 years ago, so it’s around the same time as this kingdom was born.”

Confused by the bizarre kingdoms in the chronology, Shin proceeded gradually in the past.

He read about nominations of new kings, funerals, wars, large renovation works and formation of alliances, mostly events related to the kingdom’s politics. He eventually reached the beginning of the chronology, the period when the kingdom was formed, but….

“There’s nothing at all about the Dusk of Majesty.” 

The chronology only reported that the Kingdom of Bayreuth had been formed; there was nothing about whatever happened before.

“Well, this is just a chronology anyway. I can probably find something in some other book.”

Shin tried leafing through another book, but this too narrated events only after the kingdom’s creation, without any detail about the Dusk of Majesty. All the other history books he tried next were the same. Only one book reported about it, but not in a satisfactory way.

“That day changed the world forever…yeah, this doesn’t help me much…”

The book said that kings changed, countries disappeared and the whole world changed, but there was no concrete detail about what actually happened. Apparently, an era of tumults followed the Dusk of Majesty, but there was no mention of what concretely caused it.

The players logged out—for all intents and purposes, disappearing from the world, so it was obvious for chaos to ensue, but there could at least be some tiny record of what happened…or so thought Shin.

He was giving up on trying to find useful info from the books and documents, but hoping to find at least a hint, he picked up a random book from the pile and opened it.

It was a book about races: it listed, albeit in simple terms, their characteristics and ways of life.

𑁋

Humans….were the most common and also formed the highest number of states. They built kingdoms where leaders called themselves, appropriately, kings.

Dragnils….gifted with great lifeforce and power, they can take the appearances of Humans as well. They built empires, where leaders took the name of “Dragon King”.

Beasts….the most numerous after Humans. Agile and nimble, their characteristics varied by tribe. The tribes formed an alliance, governed by a chief called “Beast King”.

Lords….beings with balanced abilities, without peaks in any of them, but high stats overall. They built empires ruled by monarchs called “Demon King”.

Dwarves…creatures skilled in using their hands, proficient in creating weapons and armor. They are scattered among all countries, forming groups called unions to share their technologies. Their most prominent artisan is called “Grotto King”.

Pixies….The race with the highest longevity, they excel in using magic. They created a unique world called “Faerie Village” and are separated between those who live there and those who communicate with the outside world. Their monarch is called “Faerie King”.

Elves…second in longevity only to Pixies, they excel not only in the usage of magic but also in detecting danger. They live in and with the forest. Their young often leave their native settlements, called gardens; the elder is called “Forest King”.

𑁋

Until here, it was mostly the same as Shin knew. He found it strange for an instant that Dwarven leaders were called Grotto Kings, but remembered that they were supposed to originally live in caves, so he concluded that the name must come from that.

Members of longevous species like Elves and Pixies could know about the Dusk of Majesty, so he made sure to remember this piece of information well.

“Okay, next.”

Set on gathering as much information as he could within the time he had, Shin opened the next book.

◆◆◆◆

While Shin was doing his research in the library, in a room of the guild its executive members, like Barlux and Els, were gathered. The topic at hand, of course, was the Skullface Jack.

The gem Shin brought was still waiting to be appraised, but his information was deemed reliable, as he was in possession of the letter of introduction; the available guild executives thus gathered “for the moment”.

The atmosphere was not one of urgency, as the Skullface had already been defeated and the guild more or less knew of Shin’s character, thanks to Barlux and Els’ reports.

It had never happened for a dangerous individual to be in possession of a letter of introduction, that was how trustworthy a tool it was.

“Let us begin this extraordinary meeting, then.”

Answering this call, all faces in the room turned towards Barlux.

“As you probably already know, the Skullface Jack in the northern forest has been taken down. The exterminator took back the gem after defeating it, which we are analyzing right now.”

The executives’ expression turned sour after hearing Barlux’ plainly stated words.

“This person defeated a Jack and did not retrieve its weapon or armor?”

The first member to speak was Aldi, who was present as liaison between the guild and the court.

Probably sharing the same doubts, the mage in charge of analyzing the gem, Arad Royle.

The guild vicemaster, Kyrie Ein and Els, who was aware of the circumstances, did not react. 

Barlux continued.

“The person behind the feat said that both sword and armor were nothing special.”

“Nothing….special…?”

Aldi didn’t seem convinced. Arad, next to him, chuckled while stroking his beard.

“To say something like that, we must be dealing with quite a jolly fellow.”

Arad was starting to grow old, and dashes of white colored his hair and beard, but he stood tall and erect and did not look as old as his actual age suggested. His hearty laugh gave the impression of a good-natured grandpa.

“People with letters of introductions are always weird like that. You’ll waste your time worrying, my lad.”

“Is that really so?”

Arad pointed out the lack of common sense of such people, but Aldi couldn’t believe it completely.

“Wait, wait. It’s not my place to say, but they aren’t that weird.”

“Yeah, that means little coming from you, guildmaster.”

Barlux’ retort was promptly shut down by Els. It was a lighthearted joke, which eased the atmosphere; Arad then made a serious report.

“Well, here we have the gem in question. I don’t have detailed information yet, but I can say that the level is 359.”

“As expected. If we can have proof confirming the level, that’s good enough. The problem is if similar monsters appeared or not.”

Barlux nodded heavily. No one knew more than Arad about gems in the guild, so it was confirmed that a King-level Skullface had appeared.

“For that, we have already dispatched guild members proficient in reconnaissance. We should receive information by tomorrow.”

Kyrie added with a serene tone. Black hair under a beret, narrow brown eyes glinting behind glasses. Because of her smart and beautiful looks, she would have looked like Barlux’ secretary if it wasn’t for the sword at her waist.

Arad shook his shoulders in a comical manner.

“Milady Kyrie works quickly as always. I’d love the guildmaster to learn a thing or two from her.”

“We have an excellent vicemaster, Royle.”

“Lord Barlux should perhaps concentrate more on office work.”  

“Agh…”

Kyrie swiftly punished Barlux’ casual praise. Barlux was not exactly lacking in office work skills, but according to Kyrie it wasn’t still enough.

“Truly merciless.”

“……………..”

Aldi seemed to have been taken off guard by the three’s exchange, then Arad asked him a question.

“Hmm, are you surprised because things aren’t as you expected?”

“Well, er, I thought there would be a bit more sense of urgency.”

He was probably serious to the core: Aldi spoke with restraint, but he looked still confused.

“Well, this happens pretty much all the time. Besides, this is just an exchange of information, more than an actual meeting. If it was a real emergency, we would gather the people in charge from all districts and all S-rank adventurers too.”

“So this time only the Skullface Jack in the report appeared?”

Aldi realized that there was no sense of urgency from the fact that only 5 people came, but he feared that they were being too optimistic.

Maybe because he caught on Aldi’s feelings, Arad voiced his true thoughts.

“Indeed. It would be a critical situation if more than one of those beasts came up. We also have reason to make this assessment.”

“The protective barrier?”

“Exactly. You do know what it is?”

“It keeps threats from outside from coming in, right?”

“Yes, as the first king erected it. What it means is that even if powerful monsters appear within the barrier, they can’t appear in large numbers. The barrier also prevents thick quantities of magic power to form. Besides, you already know that we are on guard.”

The barrier erected when Bayreuth was formed still stood to protect the kingdom. Not the court nor the guild thought that it was peerless, however.

After hearing the Skullface report the knights prepared to be ready to depart at any time, while the guild had not retracted the stand-by order to its adventurers either, as they kept gathering information.

“Skullfaces are more active at night. Aldi, I would like you to communicate to the head of the knights to raise the alert level 1 rank.”

Barlux spoke when the conversation between the two paused. The banter of a few minutes ago seemed like it never happened. Judging from Arad, Els and Kyrie’s behavior, this happened every time too.

“Understood.”

“This is all I have to say. Anyone else need to speak? Or we can close the meeting.”

The main theme was the Skullface, so Barlux, Els, Arad and Kyrie thought that the meeting was over.

Aldi, however, raised his hand, so Barlux nodded to him and invited him to speak.

“I have heard that this Skullface had equipment different than usual. I would like to know about the Skullface’s equipment and the person who defeated it, in as much detail as possible.”

“Hmm…we have no intention of hiding anything about the weapon, but about the exterminator, because of their wishes, we cannot say. If that is alright with you, we will comply. It honestly concerns us why you would want to know about that, may we ask the reason?”

“Yes. I must change the topic slightly, but do you know of the sword that flew in the royal castle?”

All members nodded, naturally. If it wasn’t for the Skullface, that would be the talk of the town.

“The Skullface was defeated the same day a sword flew in the castle; the Skullface also wielded an unusual broadsword. Some think that these two facts are connected.”

The members, except Aldi, thought of several people that could be related to this.

Barlux then asked on behalf of them.

“Might we ask what kind of sword it was?”

“Only if you will not talk about it to anyone else.”

All agreed to Aldi’s condition: they knew how important information was.

“The blade is about 2 mel long, made in a combination of Magic Steel and Mithril. It also had a permanent Light element magic attachment. An excellent blade, equal if not superior to our kingdom’s treasure sword.”

“!?”

The executives could not hide their surprise at what they heard. 

The Bayreuth Kingdom’s treasure sword was, albeit of lower rank, a weapon classified in the Legend grade. It wasn’t certainly common to find weapons on the same level as a sword that no blacksmiths could even temper anymore.

Shin did not use his Appraisal skills, since he focused on fighting, but the broadsword wielded by the Skullface was ranked higher than Rare or Unique. It also had the lowest rank auto-recovery ability attached.

“Let us assume that this weapon is the one the Skullface had. You ask me not to mind about the person who defeated this monster wielding a weapon on the level of the treasure sword…which is frankly impossible. Besides there is another kind of a problem…”

Aldi’s supposition was spot on, but no one could make a final assessment with only the information available at the moment. For an undead monster to wield a Light-elemental weapon, first of all, was a complete absurdity in this world.

“Another problem?”

Barlux asked about what Aldi mentioned last, with a more troubled tone.

“I think you will be soon noticed about that, sir Barlux. Perhaps there even will be a grand announcement. I would like to ask you not to speak of that either.”

“Hmm, understood. Should I have the others leave us?”

“I have obtained permission, so as long as they respect the conditions set before, they may stay. It is highly likely that they will know about it soon, after all.”

The members present, outside Barlux, found the usage of the word “announcement” a bit peculiar, but encouraged Aldi to go on.

“Actually…”

What Aldi said next had everyone hold their heads in “despair”.

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