༺ Suspiciously… (1) 


  My conferment into Grade 1 Knight was met with an extremely negative response.
An ultrahigh-speed promotion from temporary Grade 5 to Grade 1 in just one semester was both ridiculous and unprecedented.


  A guardian’s strength relied heavily on innate talent.


  The common belief was that students entering the Academy as Grade 5 were all ungifted, and only those above Grade 3 were considered talented with a decent future waiting ahead of them.


  It was rare for even those Grade 3 students to reach Grade 1 in their lives, and yet I had suddenly gone up from Grade 5, the ungifted students, to Grade 1, so it was natural for people to strongly disagree.


  – How is this even possible?


  – This doesn’t make sense.


  – Korin Lork is the guy that fought against Ms.
Lunia during the interim exam right?


  – But even so, it should be impossible for him to become Grade 1 in an instant just from that.
We never had anything like this happen before!


  Honestly, complaints like this were bound to be raised even if I had been promoted to semi-Grade 1. 


  Whatever the case, I was a knight who had perfectly cleared the grade assessment for a semi-Grade 1, assisted with dealing with the King of Iron Mountain, and had dealt with the traitor, Fermack Daman, one-on-one.


  All the professors that were aware of these restricted pieces of information seemed convinced by my promotion, and that puzzled the students and other professors even more.


That’s great.”


  Alicia said in surprise while watching me walk down the stage.
She wouldn’t have expected me to go straight to Grade 1 in one go either. 


  “I thought you would be semi-Grade 1.
Is it because of ‘that’?”


  She asked while secretly implying about Fermack’s incident.


  “That one is a secret.
Officially, this promotion to Grade 1 is because of the King of Iron Mountain incident.”


  My Master Erin and Lady Josephine appeared to be hoping to hide Fermack’s betrayal for the time being.
It was partially to slow down the speed of the news of his death reaching Valtazar, but it was also to prevent chaos from breaking out.


  Because of that, the only higher-ups that knew about Fermack Daman’s betrayal were Erin Danua, Lady Josephine, and lastly, Dina Grandeia, the president of the Southern Guardian Alliance.


  With the agreement of those three people, I was able to go straight to Grade 1 even though I was supposed to stop at semi-Grade 1.


  The thing of most importance was the right of a Grade 1 guardian – this was the most important one.


  The right of a Grade 1 guardian was something that was only available in the 3rd year in the game, and even in the last iteration, it was something we barely laid our hands on in the 2nd year. 


  It was something that would have a great impact on the future.


  After all, the members of my guardians guild will make me have more influence inside the Alliance.


  ‘It will be perfect if Marie can join as well.’


  If the semi-Unique Grade mage, Marie, or the successor candidate of the Arden family, Alicia, were to join my guild, even the Alliance headquarters wouldn’t be able to ignore my words.


  That would translate to authority, and more authority meant that there would be more things I could do in the future.


  That will allow me to lay my hands on power that was unthinkable for mere students to have. 


  Even when taking in the ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱ and the last iteration into consideration, this was the first time that the player’s social power had gone up this early.


  ‘For now, I guess I need to contact those three first.’


  Renya, the waitress of a bar,


  And the wolf siblings; Ren and Ron. 


  Leaving aside Renya the waitress, the wolf siblings were related to the hostile group acting in secret inside Merkarva City, so I had to deal with them before the festival.


  “It’s a holiday now.
What are you guys going to do?”


  After the ceremony, most of the students were leaving the stadium while the freshmen acquaintances gathered in one place.


  “Earn money.”


  First to reply was Dorron.
That was exactly what one would expect from him.


  “I… am going to go to the lands of other druids.
We have kept in touch with few of our kindreds after all.”


  Yuel, who had lost her homeland from the demonic beasts, appeared to be planning on looking for other druids.


  “I’m going home.”


  “I applied for an internship at the Tower of Mages this holiday.”


  Jaeger was heading home while Lark was doing an internship at the Tower.
I heard that was tough though…


  “I’ll be going to the west… Apparently they’re planning on demolishing an old castle.
It will be the best place to make a new core…”


  It seemed that Kranel would be leaving for some golem materials.
Judging from how gloomy he looked, one might think he was the type to stay holed up in his room at home, but he was more diligent than what one would expect.


  “I think I have to return home.
Grandpa… was looking for me.”


  Next up was Alicia.
So she was going back to the Arden family, huh… Well, now that Lunia Arden proclaimed that she wouldn’t touch Alicia, she shouldn’t go through anything dangerous at home.


  “Well, good luck.”


  “Where are you going to go, Mr.
Korin? Will you be going back home?”




  In the last iteration, I returned home this holiday by relying on Korin Lork’s memories, and found out that no one was home.


  “Apparently, they’re going on a family trip.
Without me.”




  Due to postal errors, the letter arrived 3 days after the beginning of the holiday in the last iteration, which was why I had to suffer for no reason.


  “…I see.”


  When I told her that I wouldn’t be going back to my hometown, Alicia started fidgeting her fingers and lowered her head before raising an offer.


  “I, in that case.
Would you… like to come with me?”


  “Me? To your house?”


  “I, it’s scary to go by myself…”




  It was reasonable for her to be scared.


  Nothing happened back in the game, so there shouldn’t be any problems, but I could understand why Alicia would be so frightened.


  “Unfortunately, I have things to do in the South, so I don’t think I can.”


  “Uhh… the South?”


  “Let’s go there together next time.
I do want to visit the East when I have time.”


  Alicia’s household was in the east.
It wasn’t in another continent, but it was still quite far from the south.


  “Why do you have to go to the South?”


  “There’s a place I have to go to, because someone told me to check that place out.”


  Sebancia Duke, whom I met at the Great Library at the start of semester, told me to have a look at the office in his castle.


  This holiday should be the best time to have a visit.




  Marie shouted while running to me from a distance.
It seemed that she was finally done bidding farewell to her friends.


  “Senior Marie.
Congratulations on your promotion to semi-Unique Grade.”


  “Congratulations on your Grade 1 promotion too, Korin! If it’s you, you’ll easily be able to go up even more!”


  Wearing a bright smile on her face, Marie handed me some potato chips as a celebration.
She still had more potatoes, it seemed…


  “By the way, Korin.
Are you going to the South?”


  “Did you hear that?”


  “B, by chance of course!”


  Weren’t we a bit far for it to be by chance? Was it because of her physical traits as a vampire?


  “Let’s go together then!”




  “My house is also in the South! So why not!”


  Well, if we were going the same way…


  “Well, I guess there’s no reason not to.”


  Like that, it was decided that my trip to the South this time around will be with Marie as a company. 


  “Oh right, Yuel.
Can you do me a favor?”


  “You have something to ask of me? What a surprise.
What is it?”


If you happen to meet other druids, can you ask around for a place called ‘Findias’? It’ll be great if you can also look for a druid called ‘Uzkias’.”


  “…I will try.”




  The place that concealed the sun, Claiomh Solais, under the protection of the druid, Uzkias.
As long as I could lay my hands on that item which was one of the 4 great treasures, I would be able to ruin Tates Valtazar’s plans by a lot.


  ‘Golden Mandrake.
It might go easier than expected if I use this.’


  It was crushed during the fight against Fermack but it was alright, because I could still use the Golden Mandrake in another way.




  After the ceremony, I bid farewell to my friends and headed off with Marie.


  Soon, we arrived at the station for magic carriages heading to the southern cities from Merkarva Academy and were met with countless carriages.


  The carriages of this world were completely different from the horse carriages that were used in Europe during the medieval times.


  These large transportation devices that moved with the power of a mana crystal had 12 specially crafted wheels that were each 1 meter thick, and were as tall as 7 meters.
It was about as big as two triple-decker buses put together. 


  It was a widely-used transportation method in the game that allowed fast travel between cities while keeping a fantasy-feel to it.


  “Korin! I got the food!”


  Marie said while bringing the giveaway meals from the 1st floor of the carriage.
The meal itself wasn’t too bad even though the carriage was quite bumpy at times. 


  After 4 hours, we arrived at a ‘carriage platform’ which was similar to a service center.


  “We are departing again in one hour, right? I heard they were selling udons at the platform.
Do you want to try that out?”


  “Shall we?”


  We were returning to the magic carriage after a light meal when I found new passengers boarding the carriage.


  “New passengers, please head up to the back seats of the 2nd floor.”


  They were customers who were changing carriages in the middle.


  “Excuse me~”


  “Carriage coming through.”


  The new passengers made their way through the carriage to their designated seats.
They looked like nimble men.


  “Oh no…”


  I heaved a sigh after seeing them, and Marie asked a question with a tilted head after seeing that.


  “Is there something wrong?”


  “No it’s nothing.
It would take 9 hours for us to reach the next platform, right? How about you get some sleep first, Senior?”


  “Maybe I should.”


  Because the carriage doesn’t stop even at night, we had to sleep in the moving carriage.
Something was going to happen on the way, so sleeping now was better than sleeping later.


  After sleeping for about 4 hours, I woke up and felt something leaning on my shoulder.


  – Hnn~


  It was Marie.


  Marie was resting her head on my shoulder, while letting out a soft breath in her sleep.




  In response to my call, a large blood dog revealed itself from Marie’s shadow.
Other passengers would have been frightened if they saw him, but it was in the middle of the night with most of them asleep, and the lights were also off, and it thus didn’t cause any chaos.


  “Let’s get rid of some flies before your mom wakes up.”






  – Rattle rattle


  Hearing the wheels of the carriage that had been running across the road for hours, Jackie opened his eyes.




  He was supposed to pretend to be asleep but ended up actually falling asleep.
But a question appeared in his mind – his partner Rock should have woken him up when it was time… Was he also sleeping?


  “Rock… Rock?”


  He wasn’t here – the partner that was supposed to be sitting next to him was gone.
Maybe he was in the bathroom?


  Standing up from his seat, Jackie went around the carriage looking for his disappeared partner but couldn’t find him. 


  What? Where did this idiot go?


  Jackie turned to his pocket watch, and noticed it was already about time.
Even though Rock was nowhere to be seen, he still had to send the signal by himself.


  He immediately headed to the corner-most seat, opened the window, and turned on his magic flashlight.


  He repeatedly turned it on and off.


  Like that, he sent the signal a few times, but nothing happened.


  “What? Isn’t this the right place?”


  The carriage was already speeding through an empty plain with nothing but nature surrounding them.
If they quickly stole everything inside and crushed the wheels, it would take 2 days for news to reach the nearby public security officers.


Jackie was a member of carriage thieves.
His job was to board the carriage and pretend to be a passenger before sending a signal to his buddies outside.


  “Like, fuck… What is going on?”


  There were problems with the plan.
One was that his partner, Rock, was nowhere to be seen, and the other was that his buddies, that were supposed to be following carefully from behind, weren’t responding to his signs.


  “These retards.
They didn’t fall asleep or anything right?”


  It was actually quite convincing because he was also sleeping until just then.


They were drinking coffee and were all wide awake.”



  By the time he perceived the sudden voice, his neck was already being grabbed by someone. 


  – Swish!


  Without even having the time to scream, Jackie was pulled outside the carriage through the window.
After getting off the carriage in the blink of an eye, he stared at the one holding onto his neck.




  In the barren land of darkness, the voice of the man under the moonlight resembled the howling voice of a wolf.


  “W, who are you?”


  “What do you mean who? Of course I’m a Sir Knight, who’s here to catch bad thieves.”


  “K, knight! Hukk! W, wait! Sir! I, it’s a misunderstanding!”


  “Misunderstanding my ass.
I’ve seen your faces in the last iteration as well.”


  “W, what do you…”


  It was then.
A humanoid figure was dragging something with a growl.
Upon a closer inspection, Jackie realized that more than twenty men were all tied up and being dragged by a red demonic beast.


  They were most certainly his buddies.
Rock, who had disappeared from the carriage, was also in the mix.


  “D, demonic beast?!”


  “It’s a familiar.
Don’t worry about it.”


  The man with a wild atmosphere kicked Jackie by his chin and made him faint, and tied him together with the carriage thieves before telling the red beast.


  “Tie these guys up and put this signboard next to them.
Security officers will pick them up on the way when they find them.”


  – Woof!


  “Ah, I’m so sleepy.
Why do I have to do this in the middle of the night?”


  After a yawn, the boy dashed forward and immediately caught up with the distant carriage.








  When the morning sunlight began shining through the curtains of the window, Marie gave a big stretch and raised herself up. 




  It had been a while since she last stayed on a seat for this long, so her body was very sluggish even after a sleep, and her shoulder was in more pain than usual.




  Shoulder pain was nothing new, so she was about to ignore it, but for some reason, her right shoulder was heavier than usual, as if something was resting on it.




  Turning to the side, Marie realized that it was Korin.
The boy was leaning his head on her shoulder in his sleep, without even knowing that it was already morning.


  ‘S, should I wake him up?!’


  Wait a second.
Is there… a reason to bother waking him up?


  The boy’s everyday life was as arduous as a farmer leaving for the farm everyday.
Building stamina, practicing spearmanship, and researching at the Great Library – it was very rare for him to have any day off.


  The reason she invited him to her house after hearing that he was heading south this time around was because she wanted to give him a nice holiday at her house.


  So was it correct to wake someone like that up when they were in such a deep sleep?


  ‘No! Mhmm! Of course not! So what if my shoulders hurt a little!?’


  With her wondrously ethical standards, Marie decided to sacrifice her shoulder for the benefit of another person.
There was not a single ulterior motive behind it.
It was a generous consideration on her part with not even 1 millimeter of ulterior motives!


  – Thump thump!


  Even though her heart was beating out loud, she decided to ignore it.


  Moving her trembling eyes, she looked at Korin’s hairs that were touching her cheek.
It was very disheveled because it was morning but… wait, disheveled?


  ‘Hutt! I didn’t get to wash today!’


  That was the inevitable downside of long-distance travels with a magic carriage.
Unless you were to get off in the middle on one of the platforms, there was no way you could have the luxury to wash your hair or take a shower.


  Of course, that was something that applied to all the passengers inside the carriage including Korin Lork.


  However, it was a huge problem for the girl who was deeply in love, and was a problem that she couldn’t compromise with.


  “D, Doggo…”


  In response to the hurried voice of the girl, a large blood dog showed itself from her shadow.


  – Woof!


  “S, shhh! B, be quiet! What if he wakes up…!”


  – …Woof.


  “C, can you go to my bag over there… and get a brightening cream, and some perfume? And for the perfume… g, give me one that’s a bit thicker than usual!”


  Marie tried to reach for her bag, but quickly pulled her hand back after hearing Korin go, ‘Mhmm’ as if he was about to wake up.


  – Doggo.
Hurry up!


  Instead, she sent a desperate gaze at Doggo.


  – Woof!


  Seeing his mother, Doggo couldn’t help but shake his head.


  – Doggo.
You! How can you say something so mean?!


  The girl’s voice was so soft that her complaint was buried by the background noise.




  By the time we were at the second platform, I opened my eyes and saw several other people that were also waking up from their sleep.


  “Ah, Korin.
You woke up.”


  “Oh… Was I leaning on your shoulder? I’m sorry.”


  “N, no! It’s okay! That’s nothing, so you don’t have to worry about it!”


  “Well… thank you.”


  It seemed that she was such a nice girl, that she didn’t even know how to say ‘No’.
I had to be more careful from now on.


  – Sniff


  “…Huh? Senior, are you wearing perfume?”


  “Hmmmm? W, wat do you mean??”


  “I think you smell a bit different today…”


  “O, oh, y, you don’t know it, huh! T, this is the smell of potatoes! If you have enough potatoes, your body will start to have this scent!”


  ……Isn’t that way too fake no matter how you see it? 


If you say so.”


  “‘If you say so?’ Korin? D, do you think I’m lying?”


  “No no~.
Of course not~.”




  I smiled before changing the topic.


Finally time to get some fresh air.”


  The first platform that we got off at was like a service center that you would often see on highways, whereas this platform had a small village surrounding it.


  People who gathered to sell food and items to passengers and technicians that were here to look after the carriages gathered one by one and eventually formed a small village. 


  “Feeling a bit hungry now.
Should we go have some food?”


  “I know some good places!”


  “Have you been here often?”


  “This place is our transfer station, after all!”


  “A transfer station?”


  This place was sitting at the entrance of the southern plains.
‘Transfer’ was, therefore, quite a strange word because all the carriages going through this place had to stop by the biggest city of the South, Reff City, which took another 8 hours on the carriage.


  “If you see over~ there, there’s the transfer station that we are going to use!”


  Marie was pointing at an empty plot of land that was managed by tens of workers busily walking around.
Something different, I guess, would be… that there were wyverns tied in place.


  “Is that a wyvern landing zone?”


  “Nn! We’ll be heading straight home on a wyvern.”


  “Ahh~ I see.”


  Wyverns were a transportation method that I’ve used quite often, even back in the last iteration.
It was tremendously faster than carriages and was just a strictly better method for moving across plains in the undeveloped countryside. 


  However, the cost of hiring a wyvern rider was incredibly expensive, so we couldn’t use it very often.
If we were moving around as a party, we had to hire 2~3 wyvern riders at once, and that was way too costly.


  There was a time when we had to solve an extremely urgent situation and had to hire a squad of 12 wyverns to take all our party members across and… damn, even that Mr.
Park was appalled by the price of it.


  “How much is it here? A one-way trip is like 30 silver coins, right?”


  “Nn? Nope! My family will be sending us a wyvern! Because I always catch one here!”




  Her family possessed a wyvern? Looking back, Marie was from a family of farmers.
I’ve heard how some rich farmers that had an enormous plot of land used wyverns to water the crops.


  That was how to water crops like a badass – using wyverns.


  “Senior Marie.
You said you were from a family of farmers, right?”


What about it?”


  “Since you also have a wyvern, I assume you own a large piece of land.
Is that correct?”


  “Hmm… It is quite big.”


  She scratched her cheek in embarrassment.
Since she wasn’t the type to usually boast about being rich, she seemed shy about bragging about her wealth.


  “Please excuse me if this is disrespectful, but how big is your land? I heard how people watered the crops using wyverns, but it sounded like a story from another world to me.”


  “Umm… I don’t know exactly though.
Maybe about 2 million?”


  2 million? Wow~. That’s crazy.
I was living in a house that was less than 50 square meters back when I was on Earth though.


  “2 million square meters? …That’s ridiculous.”


  2 million square meters… it was such an unfathomably enormous plot of land that I couldn’t even imagine how big it was.
It seemed that Marie was incredibly rich.


  “2 million square meters? Uhh… the unit is a bit different.”




  “It’s not square meters… It’s hectares.”


  “…… Hnnn?”


  “2 million hectares.”




  Roughly 20,000,000,000 square meters.


  While my mind was going in circles from that absurd set of numbers, a squad of wyverns were approaching the landing zone from a distance.

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