The early morning sun rises, spreading its lights across the forest. A small breeze of air brushes through Leo’s face, waking him up from his sleep. As he sits up and looks around he sees Claudius sleeping next to him. On the other end of the campfire, Natalie is sleeping, along with Sophia next to her. It seems like Amber has woken up before him and gone somewhere inside the forest. It's been 1 week since Amber joined the group. They have been hiding inside this forest because Elqium members are still looking for her.
“Amber has gotten more lively ever since she joined us. She’s still got a ways to go from completely recovering to her fiery self, but it's a start.”- Leo thought to himself.
Walking further into the forest, Leo hears the sound of magic being cast, amplified with every step he takes. Amber has been waking up early everyday to train her magic, trying to make sure that she can return to her original level. Pushing past the branches, Leo sees Amber trying to attack a wooden log.
“Thunderbolt.”- Amber casts.
A lighting bolt emits from her staff, flying towards the log. It misses. She casts the spell again, this time with multiple bolts. Once again, they all still miss the target. Amber let out a huge sigh and Leo started walking over to her.
“I see you’re hard at work everyday.”- Leo says.
“As hard as one can be just missing targets constantly.”- Amber replies.
“Here’s a tip. Try hitting the target.”- Leo jokingly suggests.
“Wow, thanks! Why didn’t I think of that? You’re a genius!”- She sarcastically answers.
“Well, you’ll get it eventually. Take as much time as you need.”- Leo says.
Amber stood there in silence, not giving a reply. Leo gets confused and walks closer.
“You know something I can do to get 100% accuracy all the time?”- Amber suddenly said.
She swings her staff and hits Leo in the stomach. He hugs his stomach in pain as he falls on his knees.
“WHY YOU LITTLE!”- He screams.
Ambers laughs and runs off back towards their campground. Even through the pain, Leo smiles. He is happy that Amber seems lively in a way.
A few minutes later, Leo walks himself back into the campground. It seems like everyone is now awake, as they were ready to head out to the edge of the forest. Traveling cautiously, the group eventually gets there. A shadow can be seen from the distance getting closer to them by the seconds. It was Ingrid. He has been in secret communication with the group via Natalie this past week. She is the only member that can sneak out by changing her outfit to that of a normal person. After a week’s wait, they finally found a good time to arrange a meet up with Ingrid to find a way out. The group walked back to the campground and talked about their situation.
“You guys got yourself into quite a situation! But that’s what I like about your group, no adventure is without its setbacks.”- Ingrid states in a confident voice.
He explains to them that in 2 days, the Guild Summit will occur. It's a meeting once every few months by the leaders of the top 5 guilds in Ataxia to discuss current affairs and many more details. During that time, a lot of Elqium’s members will have to travel to the Summit, giving Leo’s party a chance to escape.
“Top 5 guilds? What’s that?”- Amber asks.
“Wait REALLY? You were an S class adventurer and yet you don’t even know who the top 5 are?”- Leo is shocked by Amber’s lack of knowledge.
“Well to be fair, we didn’t know about Abania being Elqium’s base of operation up until recently either way.”- Sophia said, defending Amber.
“Well I never intended to become an adventurer in the first place. I was just asked to join the Hero’s Party and then forced to join Elqium. I don’t really care enough to ask about these things.” - Amber answers.
“Haha. Now, now buckos, I’ll explain it to you then.”- Ingrid calmly says.
Let’s start with the top 10 adventurers first, that would eliminate a lot of the confusion down the line. As you all know, there are only limited amounts of adventurers in S class. Only the best of the best can be in that class, but the Adventurer guild isn’t satisfied alone with that so they created the top 10 list. These 10 individuals are ranked by the Adventurer guild itself based on their performance, the list gets updated very often. Although, the members themselves usually remain the same in the top 10. I’ll just start from the bottom up.
At the 10th spot is Saura Lana, “the assassin of the night.” as they called her. Just like her nickname suggests, she is the best assassin in Ataxia. She is rarely seen in public, but everyone knows that she is always known to be protecting her master, the leader of Sanc Gladius. In the rank above her is Malum, a dark elf who serves the Demon Lord. I know it sounds strange, but he has certainly proven his might as one of the strongest known magic users. I know what you’re thinking. “Why is an apostle of the Demon Lord also going on adventures?” Technically speaking, he isn’t breaking any rules, and thus he was allowed to remain in his position. Enough about that, at number 8 is Giza, quite a peculiar fella that could potentially be your biggest enemy. He is Elqium’s strongest member. He spent 15 years alone in the Darkened Abyss and survived to tell the tale. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be a void monster himself, so try to avoid him at all cost.
Above him is Doppel, whom rumors state that he can create hundred, if not thousands versions of himself that all share his adventuring knowledge. He is ranked 7 due to the sheer amount of achievements he has. He is probably the one who has the most quests completed out of any adventurer on this list. At rank 6 is Rudy Taus, the current best magic user in Ataxia. Her knowledge of magic is uncontested by anyone, along with her natural affinity for the majority of the elements known. Her biggest strength is her potential for growth as she is only a 15 year old elf. As you all know, their life spans centuries leaving her so much time to learn and discover more magic.
“Hmm.. an elf girl…”- Sophia ponders as she licks her lips.
“Please turn yourself in to the guards. If not I will turn you in myself.”- Leo says with a dead look in his eye.
Well, if you guys already think that those guys were impressive, the next 5 will blow you away. Next at 5th place is “T”, that’s the nickname they gave her as she was nameless since birth. She is the only so-called “Samurai” class, those who have great mastery of their sword skill. Her skills are so great that it earned her the title of Sword Saint of this era. Her origin is unknown as her appearance is clearly different from the humans here. The style of clothing she wears is also quite unique.
“Wait, is she Japanese too?! I gotta meet her to confirm!”- Leo thought.
Next up is Garnet Grimfoot in 4th place, she is a dwarf who is hailed as the hero of the dwarves land by her own people, also the “Shield of Sanc Gladius”. I’m sure Amber over here knows who she is. The group looked over at Amber in surprise as she explained:
“It’s not what you guys think. Her nephew, Ori Grimfoot, is a member of my old party. Ya know, THE Hero Party.”
Yeah just like she said, I guess the Grimfoot family does produce great talents. Garnet is known by adventurers as the strongest tank in the world of Ataxia with her incredible defensive abilities. Next in line is, quite peculiarly, Zorgis who is a half-dragon, and at the same time another Sanc Gladius’s member. What makes him special is that despite the fact that he is a dragonborn, he holds some kind of grudge against the dragons. He gained the nickname, “The Dragonslayer,” you all can probably guess why. Now at 2nd place is Velh Gammal who is considered to be the best adventurer in this list. He has been alive for almost a thousand years, preceding even the formation of the first hero party. No one knows the reason as to why he lived so long, but that allowed him to have incredible adventuring knowledge given how long he has been doing it. Velh has basic mastery in every class listed in the Adventurer Guild, making him the only person with the most flexibility. Finally, we arrived at 1st place. Ingrid pauses briefly, he then continues. Siegre Franft, the current number 1, is the hero of the 6th hero’s party, someone who actually managed to slay the previous Demon Lord. But he has been missing these past few decades, or at least not making any public appearance. The Adventurer Guild keeps him in first place, that can only mean that he is still out there somewhere adventuring, not to our knowledge though.
Well, that took a while to go through. Time for me to explain the top 5 guilds in the continent as I promised. I’ll go from the top down, starting with the strongest guild currently in Ataxia. Led by Vera Amanda, it’s named Sanc Gladius. That guild has a legitimate origin as it was founded by the God of Adventuring himself, setting the guild up for success. The thing that makes them so successful is the fact that they have 3 members of the top 10 in their guild: Zorgis, Garnet and Saura. They are based in the capital of Alexandria, holding major political influence with their connection to the royal family. At second place is Majoria, a guild with probably the most unique structure out of the top 5 here. For a guild, they technically only have 10 members. The rest are all parties under their banner, who constantly fight to promote their best members to the main roster. This in turn, makes the 10 selected guild members always the strongest. Their proxy leader is Velh, the current 2nd place S rank adventurer. In 3rd place is a guild called Inanna, led by Isabelle. It’s a non-traditional guild as all of its members are females.
“OH YEAH BABY. I’M TOTALLY LEAVING TO JOIN THEM.”-Sophia screams suddenly.
“Bonk,” Natalie hits her on the head as the story continues. The mysterious Sword Saint “T” is their current member and is the reason why they are so strong. And in 4th place, I’m sure you guys are no stranger to them, it’s Elqium lead by Lorcan Willingham. Right as his name gets mentioned, Leo turns to see Amber clearly looking uncomfortable. Ingrid seems to have picked up on that too, quickly moving on with his explanation. Last but not least is Alias United, a guild led by Doppel. They have the most members out of all the guilds as Doppel would send his clones to join parties, taking them over and becoming part of the guild. They have rumored up to more than 600 members, made up of around 100 parties. What makes them scary is also their financial strength as they are funded by the Mercantile Alliance. In return, they would carry out deeds on command by the merchants.
“That would summarize everything you need to know about the top 10 adventurers and guilds. Not bad for a quick explanation.”- Ingrid said.
“That was nowhere near a quick explanation.”- Amber said.
“Well now, it was certainly quick for someone like me. Hahaha.”- Ingrid laughs, Claudius joining in with him.
“Just remember what I said about the Guild Summit, use that opportunity to get out of here quickly two days from now.”- Ingrid said, this time in a serious tone.
“Head West towards the capital, where Sanc Gladius are based currently. They are the least likely of all the guilds to care about Amber and wouldn’t go for her.”- He follows up.
Giving them reassurance for their choice, Ingrid praises Leo for being brave. He then gave them a map of hidden trails that would lead them to the capital. The trails go through many small towns, allowing them to stay under the radar figuratively. Ingrid then says that he has matters to attend to near the Summit and he needs to head off towards there, promising to meet them soon enough again. Two days later, right as dawn arrives, The Mage Party heads out from the forest and onto the trail on the map.
“Just like what Ingrid predicts! There are fewer Elqium members on watch. We can slip through now!” - Claudius said in an excited tone.
The group heads past the main road, finally entering onto the trail.
Thousands of miles away, in a building East of the capital, members and leaders of the big 5 guilds are starting to arrive at the Guild Summit.