'Looks like some hybrid of Reishi mushroom and ginseng,' thought Yi-han, as he stared at the herb that they were tasked to find.

was the name of the herb, and it was commonly used to concoct antidotes.
“Are you familiar with this herb?”
Yi-han was relieved to hear this.
Even though they had been given a drawing of the herb, it wouldn't be easy for an amateur to differentiate between the various types of plants that were present in the woods, hills, and fields.
He was lucky to have someone experienced next to him.
“But…with just the two of us, it wouldn't be safe to move about.”
“It would be a bit dangerous, wouldn't it?”
We should get at least one more person to join us.
If I had known this would happen, I wouldn't have beaten Gainando to a pulp.”
“He wouldn't have come with us anyway even if you didn't beat him up.”
Yonaire grinned when she heard this.
“Nothing we can do about it.
Should the two of us just bear the risk and explore?”
I don't want my name on the list of casualties.”
Though the academy was known to be the best magic institution, there were many vicious rumors surrounding Einroguard.
Magic was a dangerous field of study, and casualties were unavoidable.
Yi-han knew this well and had come to accept it.
After all, accidents were bound to occur no matter how many safety nets were put in place by the professors.
'They completely lack safety awareness…'
Both the professors and the students here seemed to have little concern for their lives.
For someone like Yi-han who used to live in modern times, everyone here was borderline crazy.
“List of casualties, you say…
with that face of yours, you shouldn't make such uncanny jokes.”
“But I'm not joking.”
“Which is even worse.
Well, if you say so.
I guess we should try finding someone from the same tower as us.”
Yonaire looked around in search of a potential teammate.
She was thinking of recruiting someone from the Blue Dragons, but her search proved to be fruitless.
“Are we…screwed?”
“How about the princess?”
“You want to team up with her? She seems really cold and unfriendly.”
“It's not like we're trying to invite her to a ball.”
What Yi-han said made sense, prompting Yonaire to nod her head.
He was right.
“But it seems we're too late.”
There were several students around Adenart.
She must've noticed early on that she couldn't travel alone and thus formed a party.

“Wait, some of them seem to be students from the Black Tortoise,” Yi-han said indignantly.
If they feared and avoided him because of his ties to the Wardanaz Family, shouldn't they avoid the princess as well? Yet several of the students around her were from the Black Tortoise.
“Well, she was quite famous even before she was admitted to Einroguard.”
Someone that was popular before entering the academy would naturally be popular even after she became a student.
Even within the royal family, Adenart was known to be one of the brightest and the most talented.
It was no wonder nobles and commoners alike gathered around her.
“…Do people from the Wardanaz Family never read the news?”
“I was only ever interested in reading .
I couldn't care less about .”
“Oh, I like that section as well.
Have you read the article that talks about how you can earn money by returning the bottles that adventurers throw away after chugging down the content? Brilliant, isn't it?”
“Yeah, it's not a bad idea.”
“…Wait, we're going off track,” Saying so, Yonaire went straight to the point.
“If you take a moment to read , you'll see that Adenart is famous for various things.
It's no surprise that everyone wants to get close to her.”
“Anything special mentioned about Gainando?”
“I see.
So there's nothing special about him.”
“Absolutely none.”
They were trash-talking Gainando behind his back while he was drinking a potion to recover in the ward.
“Then let's give up on the princess and find someone else.”
“It won't be easy, you know? The ones that are left are all from the Black Tortoise.”
Yi-han frowned when he heard this.
She was right.
The students left were all from the Black Tortoise, and while some of them would no doubt accept their invitation if they went around asking people at random since they would be moving in a group, they had to make sure their chemistry wasn't terrible to the point where they would affect each another's ability to finish their tasks.
What's more…
'I'd like to have someone skilled.'
When it came to group activities, it was all about having skilled members.
Yi-han looked around before finally locking his eyes on a certain target.
Nilia was a dark elf born in one of the empire's northern regions, and she used to be a part of the , a group that consisted of skilled hunters and scouts that went around the northern mountains as if it was their backyard.
Hence, she was confident when it came to exploring mountains and forests.
'Turns out it's nothing difficult.'

She had never seen a before, but as long as she knew what it looked like, finding one would only be a matter of time.
She was in a different league compared to the other newbies who had never been in a real forest before.
Until now, she had felt a sense of inferiority after entering Einroguard.
Forget people from the other towers.
Even within the Black Tortoise, there were many students with a better background than her.
Some were from families of rising nobles.
Some were from merchant groups renowned throughout the empire.
Some had parents who were famous adventurers.
Nilia, on the other hand, had lived her entire life in the forest.
She had accepted the academy's invitation, but she felt inferior to the others, and she struggled a lot when she was learning about magic for the first time.
But now that she was partaking in an activity that suited her, she felt more motivated than ever.
'Hmph, just you wait and see.
I'll find it much faster than anyone here.'
Nilia was thinking of acting alone and finding the herb by herself.
Others might need to work together as this would be their first time in a forest, but Nilia was confident that she would have no problem even if she was alone.
Nilia was surprised when a pretty-looking girl with bright red hair approached her.
“…Who are you?”
“I'm Yonaire Maykin, and he's-”
Nice to meet you.”
From the flow of their conversation, Nilia assumed Yonaire was a noble while Yi-han wasn't.
After all, nobles usually declared their family names when they introduced themselves.
'But isn't he from the Blue Dragons?'
“Why isn't she saying anything?”
“It's because you didn't tell her your family name…”
Yonaire scowled at Yi-han, not understanding why he would leave out his family name.
“Don't you think it's too much of a hassle to say your family name every time you introduce yourself? While you're at it, why don't you tell them the name of your patriarch and where your territory is as well?”
“We do! When we're at parties, that is.”
Yi-han felt genuinely repulsed to hear this.
Nilia cautiously opened her mouth to speak while staring at the two.
“If you wish to bicker, you can talk it out somewhere else.
What business do you two have with me?”
“Want to travel together?”
Nilia was stunned by Yi-han's invitation.
She hadn't expected this at all.
“What are you scheming?” Nilia asked as she glared at Yi-han suspiciously.

It was apparent that she didn't think highly of nobles or their descendants, and this stemmed from her time living in the northern regions.
Once in a while, nobles would climb the mountains and visit them, and every time they did, they would frown and ask how someone could possibly live there.
Even when the hunters provided them with the best delicacies and the most comfortable bed, they would say the food tasted horrible and the beds felt unbearable.
They would complain on and on about the poor treatment, so much so that some scouts joked about how there would be none the wiser even if they pushed the nobles down a cliff.
As such, Nilia, who lived with them, also had a bad impression of the students from the Blue Dragons.
“We have to explore such a large area, and being alone wouldn't do you any good.
You'll need at least three people if a monster appears.”
There's no need for that.”
Nilia harrumphed and proudly refused.
Yi-han wasn't surprised by this response and pressed on.
“May I ask why?”
“Why should I tell you?”
“By knowing why you refused, we'll get a sense of what kind of a person you are.
Hmm, want me to guess your reason?”
Yi-han thought hard for a second before opening his mouth.
“Is it because you think we'll use you as bait, or that we'll toss you aside when things become dangerous? I hope that's not the case because that'll be an insult to our honor.”
“…It's not.”
No matter how much she disliked the nobles, she couldn't possibly say “yes” to the two in front of her after being confronted so directly.
“Then do you think you alone would suffice?”
“That's exactly-”
“I hope you aren't so foolish to think so.
After all, even if you are familiar with the mountains, you never know what will happen inside.
And even if you find the herb, you'll have to carefully dig it out.
If someone thinks they can do all that by themselves, they'd have to be an idiot.
You're not that stupid, right? Hmm, I'm running out of ideas…”
“…Shut up.
I'll team up with you.
You satisfied now?” Nilia turned around while huffing in anger.
Yi-han nodded, satisfied with the result.
Yonaire, on the other hand, stared at him in astonishment.
'What in the world do they teach at the Wardanaz Family???'
Nilia's movements were light and swift.
She was at the very front of the group, opening up a path for them, which showed how skilled and experienced she was at navigating the mountains.
Yonaire who saw this asked Yi-han a question.
“She moves really well, but how did you know?”
“She has toned legs and calluses on her hands.
These all point to one truth: she's an experienced hunter and wields a bow.”
It wasn't just Yonaire.
Nilia, who was leading them, also felt a chill when she heard this.

To think he'd figure out her origin just from that.
She had been looking down on the two for being nobles, but she felt like the one named Yi-han couldn't be underestimated.
She felt a slight sense of danger from him as if he could see through everything she was hiding…
“Just kidding.
I saw the token hanging on her waist.
If she's from there, she'd have to know the mountains like the back of her hands.”
Nilia turned around and glared at him.
Yonaire grinned when she saw this.
“So you were listening?”
“Was not!”
“Hey, slow down and match our pace.”
“Why would I be matching yours? Just speed up and match mine!”
Here, Yi-han joined the conversation.
“Because Yonaire's the only one in the group that can tell which herbs are what.
If she couldn't keep up, we'll have to search with just the two of us.”
Nilia couldn't think of a counterargument, and her pride kept her from being unreasonable and continuing the argument.
I just gotta slow down.”
“How mature of you.
As expected of a Shadow Patrol…”
“Are you mocking me? Is that it?”
“I was complimenting you.”
Annoyed by Yi-han's constant teasing, Nilia targeted him next.
“She knows a lot about herbs, and I'm here to act as the guide.
What can you do? What role do you have here?”
'If I say I'm here to leech off, she'll hurl, right?'
Yi-han barely stopped himself from being truthful.
There was no point in fueling Nilia's anger even further.
“I'm here to chase after beasts or monsters that come near us.”
Nilia once again fell silent.
Indeed, it was important to have someone chase away monsters while they were climbing a mountain.
From looks alone, Yi-han seemed like he came from a knight's family as he was tall and his body was well-built.
Don't knights belong to the White Tigers?'
“I forgot to ask early on, but what's your family name?”
I'm from the Wardanaz Family.”
Nilia took a step back as if she was disgusted, not knowing that she had opened up Yi-han's wound once more.

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