TNG Vol. 20 Chapter 1 Part 2

Along with Schnee and the others, Shin followed Celica down the corridor next to the reception counter.

They were led to a room about the size of a small office.

It seemed to be a place used for discussions with parties. The room was equipped with soundproofing and clairvoyance measures, so it seems to be used for trading valuable items or exchanging restricted information such as this one.

To be safe, Shin also took his measures against eavesdropping and clairvoyance.

“Here are all the documents in the guild.”

Celica, who had left her seat, brought a one-mel-square map and a stack of A4-size papers.

The map showed the topography of Wraith Plains and its surroundings, including the inside of the area where only A-rank or higher could enter.

“The entrance to the dungeon is said to be located roughly in the center of this restricted area. But no one has actually confirmed it, only in documents. The depths of Wraith Plains are infested with high-level monsters. Neither the kingdom nor the guild could afford to send out a precious Chosen One to such a dangerous place. Besides, I don’t recommend getting too close now, even more than before.”

“What happened?”

“About a month ago, some higher-level of Skullface began to appear. For now, they only move within a certain range but attack anyone approaching them without mercy. Previously, when similar higher-level Skullfaces appeared, they were fewer in number and instead tried to migrate to nearby forests and beyond. We are still investigating whether this is related.”

This was probably a reference to a request Schnee had received before meeting Shin again.

Shin remembered it well, as it was the first time he had seen a Skullface higher level than even the above-average Skullface.

Now that he had obtained a lot of information, Shin wondered if that was also influenced by Hades. However, he felt that the change was too great to be simply an influence.

The unique individual, Skullface Lord, had said something at the end, but Shin didn’t know what it was. He didn’t have any clues, so although he investigated the items he recovered, he didn’t know how to use them.

“I can’t even imagine what’s happening near the dungeon’s entrance now. There is a possibility that the higher-level Skullfaces are still there, so I’m hoping that Mr. Shin and party can help us investigate.”

Apparently, they had been thinning out the population of Skullface in consideration of the possibility of too many of them coming out of the Wraith Plains. However, at night, they spawned in large numbers, so, rather than trying to reduce their numbers in a hurry, the adventurers were asked to maintain a certain level of numbers. 

This was because if the number of adventurers who could work were reduced due to overwork, the burden would be placed on others.

It was rare to find a party like Shin’s where all members were the advanced Chosen Ones. Usually, there were only one or two Chosen Ones in a party, and they were only slightly stronger than the average person. Even in an advanced level party, the party members were not always organized like Shin’s. 

In addition, since Chosen Ones were valuable, they often play an important role as the core of the party. It was not an easy task to gather only such persons to investigate Wraith Plains.

Even if it were possible, a hastily formed party risks the party itself splitting up when trouble occurs.

That was why they wanted Shin and his party to investigate, since they were a single party and had the perfect fighting skills to do the job.

Chosen Ones alone could not search deep into the dungeon amidst the monsters, so it was inevitable that they had no information about the dungeon entrance area, which they did not even know if it really existed.

“Well, I understand the situation. So, you’ve been silent since a while ago. Is there something you need?”

Shin turned his attention to Barlux, the guild master who had entered the room with Celica and was sitting on the sofa.

“No, what the guild wants is just as Celica told you.”

“Wouldn’t the adventurers be more motivated if the guild master told them himself?”

“You’re not that type of person, are you? My task is to determine if your party is suitable for the job. Well, I quickly learned there’s no need to worry. It’s both encouraging and frightening to see so many powerful people in your party.”

Even though word has spread about their activities in the ‘Great Flood’ and their investigation of the sea area in Barbatos, not much was known about their party members’ outstanding achievements except for Shin and Tiera. 

Schnee and Shibaid disguised their appearance and identities, and Filma and Seti, who were also Shin’s support characters, were rarely seen by the public.

They were still unknown in the adventurer community.

“It’s just a coincidence.”

“Is it a coincidence? Tiera seems to be a different person than before, is that also a coincidence?”

Barlux took one look at Schnee and the other party members, but did not speak to them.

Shin didn’t know about Barlux’s battle history, but he must have played an active role in his current position. He could probably gauge the person’s strength without confirming it directly with the person himself. His face was smiling, but his mood was not light.

Tiera, the topic of conversation, looked away and answered.

“Well, I have a lot of experiences that I can’t tell anyone about.”

“I see, looks like you have been through a lot.”

Barlux did not pursue the matter any further. He looked at Tiera with a slightly pitiful look in his eyes, as if he was thinking of Tiera’s hardships.

There was no significant connection between Tiera and Barlux, but Tiera had visited the guild when she had just come out of the Moon Shrine.

If Barlux had figured out how strong she was at that time, he would know that Tiera was stronger now than she could have ever been.

Tiera’s strength was not something that humans in this world could acquire with a little training. Considering that it had not been decades since her last visit, it was not surprising that Barlux would misunderstand that she must have experienced extreme adversity.

Perhaps the flow of conversation was a little unnatural, but he still couldn’t help but ask the question.

“Well, anyway, we have business in the dungeon, so inevitably we have to go to the center of the Wraith Plains. I’m sorry to say it’s a bit of a coincidence, but I can help you with the investigation before we enter the dungeon.”

If what Eleven, the number 11 Boundary Guardian, said was true, there was a special being called Hades in the depths of the dungeon.

If nothing else, they would like to enter immediately, but since they were already in the middle of an abnormal situation, they have to at least do some preliminary investigation.

The most Shin could provide would be the information obtained before entering the dungeon, which he would then pass on to the guild.

“That’s good enough. We don’t have enough information at the moment, so any help will do. By the way, if you don’t mind me asking, could you tell me why you want to go to the dungeon in Wraith Plains?”

“Due to the circumstances, I can’t go into too much detail, but I received information that the clue to the case I’m currently investigating is located deep in the dungeon. Since there were no other clues, we decided to go there. Just for your information, we didn’t know about Skullface until after we got here. And we don’t know if the case we are looking into is related to the appearance of Skullface. But at least, as far as we know, it is unrelated.”

Celica said the Skullface’s event started about a month ago. This was slightly different from the time Shin and his group made contact with Eleven. Even if Eleven had some means of communication and tried to find Shin and the others ahead of time, the Skullfaces had not left Wraith Plains, and releasing a large number of monsters would be too problematic.

And if Hades were exchanging information with Eleven, she must have some understanding of what goes on outside the dungeon. Then she would not have done it this way.

It’s not impossible that he could be wrong, but it’s not something that could be concluded here, so for now Shin planned to remain neutral.

“We are not doubting you either, Shin. As I’ve said many times, there are too many things we don’t know this time. We’d like some information to figure out the situation. If you can help us in any way, we have nothing to complain about.”

Wraith Plains was situated near the main road leading from Bayreuth Kingdom to other countries. There were also towns along the road, and some countries were located closer to the plains.

A joint extermination party was organized the last time Skullface went out of the Wraith Plains because a higher-level individual’s appearance could affect many countries.

This time there were also many adventurers from outside the Adventurers’ Guild of the Bayreuth Kingdom, as well as knights and soldiers dispatched from other countries.

“I don’t know how useful it will be, but I’ll give it a shot. So, are you sure you don’t have any other information other than this document.”

“I won’t hide anything from you, Shin, now that you are an A-rank adventurer. There’s no point in doing something that will cause displeasure when you’re willing to cooperate with us, right? This is really the only document left in the guild. It’s not like we haven’t done anything, but it’s a matter of location. But I heard some more documents are in the kingdom’s archives. No, I’m not trying to be presumptuous. The documents are scheduled to arrive tomorrow.”

When Shin asked and scrutinized him, Barlux calmly told Shin to wait. The documents from the royal castle need to be processed before they can be taken out, and it seems that permission has finally been granted.

“In fact, the timing of your arrival is so good that it makes us want to be suspicious of you.”

“I don’t blame you, but I can’t say this is a coincidence either.”

Even though it wasn’t intentional, it was true that the timing was so good that Shin thought there might be something going on.

“All right, that’s all I have to say about the current situation in Wraith Plains. And this has nothing to do with the Wraith Plains, but if Shin comes back, I’ve been told to contact the royal castle. Do you have any idea?”

“…By any chance, is it Lady Rionne?”

Shin has no other ideas. And she had the personality to say something like that.

“It seems like you had a prediction. That’s right. I have not been given much information about the situation, but I was constantly reminded to tell her about you as soon as possible and as accurately as possible. I’ve heard about your work in Balmel, so I assume that’s what she’s talking about.”

“I’m sure it is. She is somewhat interested in me.”

Shin refused to escort Rionne to Bayreuth Kingdom, and they parted ways, but it seemed that she had not given up on him.

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