Blue sky, a perfect protecting dome that plays with the sunlight on this fine beautiful day, promising to be the canvas to a peaceful and bright outlook towards life. A perfect day to be outside. What a coincidence that today is the graduation ceremony of Bosart University.
Groups of students stand in the beautiful field just beside the campus. Instead of the classic square cap that I’ve worn in my previous graduation, this time I’m wearing a cone baggy cap, similar to that of a mage.
On the grandiose stage adorned with golden and jewelry ornaments with bountiful flowers gather important figures such as the head of Bosart university and the deans of each department who one by one give boring speeches. Leaving me no choice but to grumbly pass through it with my mind somewhere else.
Next up is what seems to be an announcement of honor students, as one after the other gets called up and goes to the stage.
Just another mundane procedure of graduation ceremony. This whole thing sure takes a long time…
「 In the《School of Wits Magic》we have Renald Alderhide. With his great talent and no small amount of determination and hard work, he was able to master a legendary spell and achieve advanced level mastery in just three years from scratch — the first in the history of the《School of Wits Magic》academia. 」
Another wave of claps comes through with multiple eyes staring at me…
My name just got called. That means I have to come to the stage.
Why are they even over-exaggerating my achievements? It must’ve been purely to raise the other students’ morale or something. I mean it’s just achieving an advanced level of magic, not really a novelty.
Whatever, just follow along with the program.
I walk to the stage, where I stand side by side with the other students who apparently excel in their respective schools of magic.
Instructor Smush comes to me with other teachers approaching other students besides me. In front of me, she attaches a golden badge of the《School of Wits Magic》to my chest.
「 You might not notice it Renald, but I’m very proud to be a mentor to such a talented student. 」
Without even giving me a chance to reply, she already goes away, following other teachers in leaving the stage.
Soon shortly followed by all of us as we make our way back to the field. Surprisingly, after I’ve finally gotten back in my original position, she still stays on the graduation podium, standing with a straight back and proudly.
「 Today, in this beautiful clear weather I, Vivienne Veinard, the second royal princess, is incredibly honored to address the graduates of Bosart University that the Veinard can rely on should the need arise. My heart goes out to all of you who have worked for this achievement and waited for this day for years. Countless hours have been poured into perfecting the art of magic and many more in other fields. 」
Hmmm… Another dull speech. When will this ceremony be over…?
The boredom causes me to daydream…
「 We Veinard have been the spearhead of the prosperous humankind. We pioneer new frontiers and reach new heights never before imagined, bestowed by our knowledge and wisdom that is what makes us humans. And so as the representation of the Veinard Royalty, we’ve declared to open our campus door, to accept admission to all human kingdoms in the Concordis-sphere. 」
This major news is like a grenade thrown in the middle out of nowhere. Most are shocked as the field now is filled with countless whispers, with an equal number of students leaning towards one another, discussing the major change that’s about to happen to the Bosart University.
「 Times are changing. 」She continues her speech, not minding the ruckus,「 this is a small step towards a more united front of the great Humankind. Thank you and may Goddess Maria bless us all. 」
Cheerful hand claps of numerous graduates and spectators congratulate her speech, she ends her speech with a simple bow with her two hands daintily lifting the skirt.
And then with some last few words from the Head of the Bosart University, the graduation is drowned with loud magical fireworks, along with cheers of hooray and joyful screams.
The perfect rows and columns of students standing up become a mess as the ceremony is over and scrambles.
I follow along with Elras and Aaron in walking away to the sideline, where most students’ parents and families are waiting.
I remember when I received my degree I was ecstatic. Dreams and big hopes of a great degree flow to my mind, as I daydream and wonder about the desired future that what was once was soon reachable.
Now… I don’t really feel anything. Only a single thought that it’s finally over. A burdensome mandatory task is finally dealt with.
「 Reinhardt-sama, 」Aaron calls, 「 Have you reckoned before the princess’s shocking announcement? 」
「 Surprisingly no, 」Elras replies, seemingly a bit disappointed with himself,「 a loose alliance with the whole Concordis kingdoms, or maybe a closely knit alliance with a few of our neighbors? That’s within expectations, and what our kingdom usually does. But this kind? I don’t know if this is for the good or for the worse. One thing for sure, something worldwide is brewing. I have some ideas, but with how this recent event proves how wrong my speculation was, I might definitely be wrong. 」
I don’t have much to say with how clueless I am in regards to the kingdom’s politics, but even then I knew that the Veinard kingdom doesn’t act hostile with neighboring kingdoms, although they aren’t exactly friendly with them either. Neutral but likes poking other kingdom’s affairs. And they are allowed to act that way thanks to its sheer scale compared to other kingdoms.
I’ll leave it to the experts.
「 Congratulations sweetie! 」
Mother comes holding a flower banquet, looking very lovely. She runs out, arms wide open, and goes straight at me.
She comes quite forcefully, having to withstand her passionate platonic love, and even with flowers in her hand, she is still quite impatient enough to hug me tight.
I smile a bit forcefully and wave back to Aaron and Elras, where they return the gesture and give me time and space with my mother, as they go to their respective families that are waiting for them too.
「 Thank you, mother, for the flowers… 」
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of flowers, and I’m not sure how to reciprocate. But it’s the intention that matters right?
「 With this, you’ve truly become a real adult! What’s left is for you to find your special someone! 」
Special someone huh…
I’ve given up on finding one. Even if my love towards my mother is a platonic love that still leaves a gaping hole inside my heart, it will do.
It saddens me, even in her happy attitude I can still sense some guilt beneath it. Our last conversation must’ve weighed her down.
「 Excuse me, young lord! 」
Then out of nowhere, I look at that shout that seems to be addressed towards me. The housemaid in my dorm. She seems to come here in a rush with the apparent sweat that builds up around her normal features.
「 Yes? What’s with the rush? 」
「 Forgive my unsightly appearance young lord, 」she bows slightly, her hands holding the letter reaches out to me,「 a representative from the《Adventurers Creed》recently comes to the dorm and wants to give the young lord a letter containing an emergency quest they hope you can respond as soon as possible. 」
I take the letter, open it, and begin to read its content.
An emergency quest in subjecting a very recently discovered kobold nest three hours walk, outside of the city. The kobolds have an explosive growth rate, and many were spotted in the area, thus leading the guild to ask for as much support as possible. The ultimate goal is to destroy the nest, but thinning their population is also fine, apparently. Lone adventurers without an established party will be put into a team chosen by the guild. There’s already a meeting point if I can respond to the guild’s call.
The adventures guild that I sign up for huh… Strange… I know I’ve signed up to the guild in preparation for what’s to come after graduation as I can’t depend too much on Elras name, but this seems to come out of nowhere. Well, it does give a huge reward for this kind of quest.
「 You did a good job. You can go back now. 」
The housemaid replies back by bowing slightly and immediately heads back to the dorm.
「 Mother, it seems that I’ve just received an emergency and sudden quest. It should be relatively quick and short, but I have to prepare immediately. 」
「 Sweetie, you’ve just graduated! This calls for a celebration! Not a dangerous quest. Can’t you postpone it to at least tomorrow? 」
「 I’m sorry mother. The guild calls for me and it’s an emergency quest. Due to its nature, it is always sudden, although in return they give a higher reward. Could you please give me this one chance? This is a responsibility of mine I need to fulfill, as I’ve become an adult like what you’ve said, mother. 」
「 Finee…. 」She says, seemingly giving up without hiding her displeasement, 「 make sure you be careful and after the quest is over, to go back to me alright? I’ll be waiting for you in the Alderhide mansion. 」
I hurry back to campus and ride a horse provided by the guild to the main road, accompanied by the bewildered expressions of passersby.
The reason is apparent. A graduate in fancy getup seemingly fleeing from the university.
And perhaps I am.
Though kobolds are nothing to scoff at if left alone for too long. Even if it plays into my hands, I’m doing the right thing here.
A heavily fortified gate comes into view. Guards are doing searches, but just for those entering the city.
Nonetheless, a youth in stand-out clothes at full speed is apparently suspicious enough to make an exception.
「 HALT! 」One guard shouts at me while his colleagues align their spears to make sure I turn into a pincushion should I try to run past them.
「 In a hurry are we? Why don’t you show us some identification and tell us why you need to leave the city, huh? 」
I don’t know whether he thinks I’m a thief or is just being sadistic, but I don’t have the time for either.
「 I’m on a guild mission, so shut it and make way! 」
Having the badge thrust in his face luckily makes him come to his senses. 「 Le-let him through. 」
Out of the city, the road is still well-maintained, but as I navigate towards the meeting point, stony paths take over and force me to slow the horse.
At the side of the road, lies a group of adventurers, some on horseback. Swords on their hip and one of them wears the classic baggy hat — a wizard hat. Strange. That would indicate that he is a proficient magician. With magicians being rare enough, especially in《Adventurers Creed》it would be overkill for this quest. The party consisted of six people too, a bit too much for thinning out kobold’s population.
「 You must be Renald Alderhide. 」One of them says, putting up a neutral face, 「 come. We must hurry. I want this to be done before sunset, although that would be impossible from the looks of it. 」
Their horses neigh as they start moving, all of them already on the move.
No introductions or some sort of briefing on the quest? Probably as we go I guess…
We are already quite far away from the city, our surrounding is a thin forest, with few trees, leaving considerable open space for maneuvering. Now on foot as we are nearing the nest. We should arrive soon towards our destination. The sooner I can be done with this strange party, the better.
The party is, to mildly put it, quite a bit off. The others rarely talk with one another, so our trip is filled with a heavy silence. I understand and even expect some awkwardness since this is a loosely formed team, but this is too much.
「 Hello Renald. It’s been a while. 」
Unexpectedly, what comes to view is Dae Sho with his bodyguards. How the hell is he here?
「 I wish there is a better way to settle this, human. But time is running up for me, and you don’t do much to help me anyway. 」
「 Why are you here? What do you want Dae Sho? 」I ask, quite pissed with his roundabout attitude.
「 You know what I want. Stop being clueless and put up an innocent front. Where are the ancient swords? 」
He’s still on about the swords? I thought he gave up already.
「 I will be extra nice to you and still give you the last opportunity to give me your ancient swords and return with your pockets heavy with money. 」
「 You are still on about the swords?! I’ve told you on and on that, I’m not giving it to anyone else! 」
His face explodes with fury, his hand gripping the sword at the side of his hip.
「 First, I insist on buying your swords with no small amount of money. Second, I’ve tried to avoid using violence by ransacking your place in the hopes to find your hidden swords. Now, you leave me no choice but to cripple you, human! 」
He brandishes his sword, looking awfully similar to the distinct slightly curved single-edge sword I’ve known of in my past life. A katana. A fucking katana. To think it exists in this world too. I would’ve appreciated its craftsmanship if it weren’t pointing right in front of my face.
His underlings brandish their weapons too, including “my party”, all pointing their weapons at me. Their faces belittling and mocking me.
Shit. It’s a setup. I should’ve known!
I move ever more slowly backward, brandishing my swords. My mind is already set with the incantations that will provide me the reinforcement I direly need, preparing for the worst.