Chapter 31:

The Road Still to Follow

Every Side of the World

Kizou stood outside the entrance door and walked back over to the registration booth.

Look at my little bonus coming over to me, the female operator said greedily. Even with that mask on, I can still see the money signs.

Why does she look like she’s about to eat me? Kizou thought to himself.

“Hi there,” Kizou said as he walked to the booth. “You’re drooling a bit.”

“Oh sorry,” the female operator said as she wiped off her drool. “This is a late introduction, but my name is Ema. You’ll be seeing me often if you accept missions.”

“My name is Kizou,” Kizou replied with a smile.

“Let me give you your Adventurer’s card,” she said.

I was supposed to get an Adventurer’s Card? Kizou embarrassingly thought to himself.

“Here you go,” the female operator said as she handed him his card.

Kizou picked up the white card and looked at it closely. It had his name on the right, and it even had his picture which he didn’t recall taking. On the bottom of his name, it had the rank as “B - 200.”

“As you can see by the rank,” the female operator said. “It is what you achieved from the exam. The number next to it is your placement. That rank determines what kind of missions you can take from the job board. Higher missions are available but exercise caution.”

The female operator pointed to the right side which had plenty of missions posted up from different grades.

“In addition, there are other features that the card holds. Power up some magic into it,” Ema said.

Kizou powered up magic into the card, and a hologram popped up in front of him. He scrolled through and was amazed at all of the features that he found inside. He found a map of the city that had names of all of the buildings, rankings of every Adventurer, and it even played moving pictures.

“In other news, the new demon students will be arriving today. As policy of the-”

“How am I seeing people on this thing when they’re not there?!” Kizou exclaimed with pure fascination.

“That’s Holo,” Ema said confused. “It’s something that everyone in the Kingdom knows. It was a new addition to the Adventurer’s Guild, but every home should have a device that has Holo.”

I shouldn’t let her know I’m from the village, Kizou thought to himself embarrassingly.

“Oh, I knew that,” Kizou said with a smile.

“Well yeah, Holo will only play important announcements such as news around the Kingdom. In addition, Holo will ring automatically whenever the Royal Family has anything to say,” Ema said.

Royal Family, huh? Kizou thought to himself.

“In fact, they’re welcoming the new Demons today,” Ema said. “It’s the 10 Year Anniversary, so expect a ring from the Adventurer Card.”

Wait, it’s been 10 years since the King returned? Kizou thought to himself.

The door to the entrance of the exam opened, and Maru walked out with a smug smile.

“You finished, Maru?” Kizou asked as he walked up towards her. “What did you get?”

“Something better than you,” Maru said with a smirk.

“B+?” Kizou asked in surprise.

“Just a bit higher,” Maru said while still acting cocky.

“A-?!” Kizou asked in shock.

“Bingo!” Maru said while putting a thumbs up towards Kizou.

I knew she was strong, but I didn’t think she’d be this strong, Kizou thought to himself. She walked over to Ema to get her Adventurer’s Card. Kizou moved towards the lobby.

“It was easy work!” a familiar voice could be heard gloating to a group. “The announcer didn’t have a chance.”

Not this guy again, Kizou thought to himself. Shouldn’t he be gone already?

“As expected of you, Stereo,” one of the members of the group said. “That’s why you’re destined to be in Shadow’s Guild!”

Shadow's Guild?! Kizou thought to himself angrily.

“Kizou?” Maru asked as she walked over to him and could see him visibly angry.

“Well, what did you expect?” Stereo said as he continued to gloat. “I didn’t even need my brother’s recognition to show these weaklings who was stronger.”

“You’re right,” another member of the group said. “You’ll automatically reach the Captain’s position in Shadow’s Guild!”

“How do you know the Shadow’s Guild?” Kizou asked as he walked up towards Stereo.

Isn’t this that guy that had to help the announcer? Stereo thought to himself.

“Why?” Stereo asked with a smile. “You wouldn’t be able to join, especially with a mask like that.”

The group started laughing as Stereo poked at Kizou’s mask.

“I said, how do you know the Shadow’s Guild?” Kizou asked again as he continued to stay angry.

“Geez, you just won’t shut up,” Stereo said while shaking his head left and right. “The current Commander is my brother. His name is Klein, not that it would matter to you.”

This is Klein’s little brother? Kizou thought to himself. This is the little brother of the man who tortured my village and almost burnt Grandpa?

“Stereo, we got to go!” one of the members said as he held his Adventurer’s Card. “Takumi sent out a command.”

Takumi?! That guy too? Kizou thought to himself. He’s not lying then. Should I kill him now?

“I doubt I’ll be seeing you again,” Stereo said with a laugh as he turned around.

As Stereo turned around, he felt an overwhelming pressure of bloodlust directed at him.

Is this that owner again? Stereo nervously thought to himself. No, this pressure is stronger.

Stereo turned around, but the pressure instantly disappeared.

Let’s just forget it, Stereo thought to himself nervously as he exited out the building.

“Hah,” Kizou panted out as he tried to calm down.

“Is everything alright with you?” Maru asked as she noticed the whole event that just happened.

“It’s nothing,” Kizou replied annoyingly. “Why are you on my case as if we known each other for so long?”

“Oh,” Maru replied, shocked. “You’re right.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Kizou replied with a sigh. “Thanks for worrying.”

“It’s fine,” Maru said.

Awkward silence hovered between the two for a bit until a little girl walked up to Maru.

“Excuse me,” the little girl said towards Maru. “Would you like to partner up with my party for a mission in the Cryptic Forest?”

The little girl reached up to Kizou’s stomach and had long blonde hair. She wore a pink dress, but she had a sword on her side as well. She had white skin and almost looked like a child.

“You’re an Adventurer?!” Kizou exclaimed at seeing her talk to Maru. “You’re like a baby!”

“Ahem!” the girl said. “I am actually 24 years old! I am Froya the Adventurer who is ranked-”

“Look at those cheeks!” Kizou said as he crouched down and started squishing her cheeks.

Reminds me of the village kids back home, Kizou thought to himself with a smile.

“Kizou!” Maru said as she hit him over the top of the head.

“Ow!” Kizou said as he grabbed his head.

“Please excuse my friend,” Maru said. “I’d be happy to come along with you.”

“Thank you,” Froya said excitedly. “You’re not bringing this one, right?”

This one? Kizou thought to himself with his fist up.

“Unfortunately, he will be coming with me,” Maru said as she looked at Kizou earnestly.

Kizou never agreed to come, but that look made it seem like Maru might not be too experienced with working with other people. Kizou let out a sigh.

“Yeah, we’re a package deal,” Kizou said as he looked at Maru with a smile.

“Fine then,” Froya said while putting her hand to her face. “This is the other person who I already partied up with.”

A familiar face walked up to the group and introduced himself.

“Hello everyone, my name is Yokuto,” he said with a smile and his hand out. “Nice to meet you.”

Isn’t this guy the one that fought Aimi? Kizou thought to himself. He was pretty strong.

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Kizou said as he shook his hand.

Beep! Beep!

All the Adventurer’s Cards within the guild started ringing. Some people didn’t care and continued walking while some people stopped what they were doing and checked their card. Kizou grabbed his card and Holo popped up.

“The Royal Announcement will now go underway,” an announcer yelled out among a packed audience. He stood on top of a stage in front of a large castle. A balcony could be seen way up high which was more than likely where the Royal Family would walk out from. There was a huge crowd gathered around the stage below.

Oh yeah, Kizou thought to himself. Ema did say that the King is supposed to speak today.

“But first, please welcome the Chariots!” the announcer yelled out.

Six figures all wearing grey coats walked on top of the stage to cheering coming from the audience.

“Chance with his huge size!” the announcer yelled. A man who had to be almost 7 feet stood up in front of the crowd. He was definitely young, and he had black short hair with brown skin. He had two knives attached to the side of him.

“Juri with her adorable presence!” the announcer yelled. A young girl who was almost the size of Froya bowed down. Her grey coat was too big for her. She had long blue hair and smiled towards the crowd. She had a large mace that looked like it was too big for her as well.

“Neku with her overwhelming strength!” the announcer yelled. A woman who was around Kizou’s height gazed towards the crowd. She had short purple hair and a built body. She had a long sword on her back that was too big for her waist.

“Knox with his brains!” the announcer yelled. A boy who had to be younger than Kizou waved towards the crowd. He had short brown hair and glasses on his face. He carried a small sword on his side.

Why does he look familiar? Kizou thought to himself as he looked over to Yokuto.

Yokuto gritted his teeth at the sight of Knox.

Oh, well that makes sense, Kizou thought to himself as he could see the resemblance.

“Kota with his experience,” the announcer yelled. A man with a black beard and short black, unkempt hair yawned towards the crowd. He had a sword on his waist and looked as if he didn’t want to be there.

“And finally, Tina the Commander,” the announcer yelled. A girl with pink hair stood proudly with her attire. She had a sword on her waist and waved towards the crowd.

“As you know, these Chariots were handpicked by the Royal Family as being not only powerful but also well respected within the Kingdom,” the announcer said. “They are the future!”

The crowd erupted and cheered. The Chariots all bowed their heads towards the crowd and continued standing on the stage.

“Now, let’s give it up for the Royal Family!” the announcer said as everyone’s attention pointed up.

The crowd stayed silent in awe as they awaited to see the King. After a few minutes, no one came out, and it seemed the crowd was getting tense.

“Looks like we’re having some issues,” the announcer said. “I’ll be right back!”

The announcer ran off, and the Chariots all looked at each other.

“As expected of the King,” Juri said with a chuckle.

“He does like to goof off a lot,” Chance said. “Don’t you think so, Neku?”

Neku just stood there.

“Come on Chance,” Knox said with a smile. “Neku respects the King too much to say anything.”

“Maybe I should take Neku on a date, so she can respect me too,” Kota said with a smile.

“Everyone, stay in position!” Tina announced. “He could come out in any minute.”

“Yes Ma’am,” everyone said as they stopped messing around.

“I apologize for the wait,” Tina said as she looked towards a group sitting in the front row of the crowd.

“It’s okay,” said the voice with a smile.

You really have grown a lot, haven’t you? Kota thought to himself with a smile while looking at Tina. You’ve stopped being scared of them even after that event 10 years ago.

In the Adventurer’s Guild, Kizou stood there baffled.

“Is the King not going to come out?!” Kizou exclaimed.

“The King is known as someone who likes to be late to these announcements, since he always goes out and explores the Kingdom,” Maru said. “Don’t you know this?”

“Of course I did!” Kizou answered hesitantly.

I should really tell everyone that I’m from the village area, Kizou thought nervously to himself. But would I be looked at differently?

“Whatever the case, it’s time to go!” Froya said as she pushed them out of the door. “I want to get this money for this mission already!”

“Okay, okay!” Kizou said. “No need to push so roughly.”

As they exited out of the Adventurer’s Guild, a crowd of people gathered around a carriage that seemed to be on its way towards the castle.

“What’s that about?” Kizou asked.

“Didn’t you just hear me say that the King likes to explore the Kingdom?” Maru said while looking at Kizou.

“Well yeah, but I didn’t know this was what you meant?!” Kizou exclaimed in shock by how unprofessional the King was.

Didn’t Cheron act like he knew the King personally? Kizou thought to himself. Just what guy would catch Master’s attention?

“We don’t have time for this, let’s go!” Froya yelled. “We have to pass the crowd to get to the main gates.”

The group started pushing through the crowd and making their way out of traffic. The carriage finally started moving away and bringing the crowd with them. However, the cheering and yelling were loud enough to burst anyone’s eardrums.

“King! King!” voices were heard yelling.

“Let me join the Castle!” other voices were yelling.

Some people are really desperate, Kizou thought to himself as he continued walking to the gate. But it would make sense to want to live in luxury.

“Let me marry your daughter!” other voices yelled. “I can definitely take care of her!”

Okay, maybe that’s a bit too desperate, Kizou thought to himself with a sigh.

Kizou and the group continued to walk to the main gates to prepare for their mission.

As Kizou continued on, the Royal Family finally arrived at the castle to find the announcer waiting angrily.

“Please hurry up and give the audience the speech, my King,” the announcer said visibly angrily as he rushed them towards the castle.

After a few minutes, Kizou’s Adventurer’s Card started ringing again.

Is the King finally here? Kizou thought to himself as he opened it up.

“Please, welcome the Royal Family!” the announcer yelled out as he pointed towards the balcony above him. The crowd erupted in cheers as a silhouette started to walk out.

“Hello, my people!” a familiar voice yelled with a smile.

Kizou stood there frozen as he realized who the figure standing on the balcony was.

I had a hunch, Kizou thought to himself with a wide grin. Didn’t know that Cheron and him would actually know each other.

Everyone stopped walking as they realized that Kizou stood there frozen.

“What’s wrong?” Maru asked.

“Hush for a bit!” Kizou exclaimed.

Everyone looked at Kizou confusingly as an announcement from the King was perfectly normal.

“Before we get to our announcements,” the King said. “Let me bring out everyone else.”

3 silhouettes walked onto the balcony, and Kizou couldn’t stop smiling at what he was witnessing.

“You think this is the first time he’s seen the King?” Yokuto asked.

“From the few hours I’ve met him, I can’t tell what he’s thinking at all,” Maru said with a sigh.

“This is Queen Hoshu,” the King said as a woman stood next to him.

Still looks the same as ever, Kizou thought to himself.

“This is Prince Cryus,” the King said as a boy who was slightly older than Kizou stood next to him.

That finally answers my question from 10 years ago, Kizou thought to himself.  But why was Tomiko worrying when she said his name?

“And finally, my most precious, amazing, perfect-”

A nudge from Hoshu hit the King on the side, and he coughed.

“This is Princess Tomiko,” the King said as a girl who was once familiar to Kizou stood next to him.  She had grown to be a beautiful woman, and her charms were unmatched as the crowd cheered.

"Princess Tomiko! Marry me!" voices could be heard yelling.

"Hey, quiet down!" the King said as he realized they were fawning over his daughter.

So, it was like that the whole time, Kizou thought to himself as his eyes were focused on Tomiko.  

Kizou quickly put the Adventurer’s Card back in his pocket and looked up to see everyone looking at him weird.

“Are you okay?” Yokuto asked.

“What do you mean?” Kizou asked back.

“You’re crying,” Maru replied.

“Huh?” Kizou asked as tears started rolling down. “I am?”

Froya stared at Kizou as she handed him a handkerchief and let out a sigh.

“Take your time,” she said as Kizou wiped his eyes.

While Kizou put away the Adventurer’s Card, the announcements were still going on.

“Now before we continue on with our other announcements,” the King said. “Let’s give a warm welcome to our new Demon class that will be enrolled in Lestia Academy.”

No claps could be heard except for the Royal Family that stood above the balcony. The row of Demons that sat in the front of the audience wore only black robes with hoods over their heads.

“Please introduce yourselves!” the King asked excitedly. “I heard that we have a special guest this year.”

“That is no problem,” the Demon said as he stood up. “Their names are Kichi, Mayako, Sadao, and Griselda.”

“Nice to meet you,” the King said excitedly.

“And my name,” the Demon said as he took off his hood and bowed down to show respect. “My name is Prince Cryo. Thank you again for this opportunity, King Osamu.”

“My pleasure,” Osamu said with a smile.

Meanwhile, Kizou and the group finally reached the main gate. They stood right by the tall wall.

“Okay, this is an A rank mission, so there will definitely be issues along the way,” Froya said. “Therefore, we’re partnering with a Guild to get this mission done.”

“Who are we partnering with?” Kizou asked.

“The Shadow’s Guild,” Froya answered. “They’re one of the top guilds.”

“Trust me,” Kizou said as he tried to calm his anger down. “I know who they are.”

Maru looked over to Kizou and saw that this was going to be problematic.

As they slowly walked out of the main gate, a mysterious presence stood on top of the tall walls watching Kizou’s every movement. Four figures stood with white veils covering their faces.

“I can’t breathe in this thing!” Haru yelled out as he pulled his veil off his head.

“Quiet down,” one of the figures said.  "Keep the veil on."

“You mess around too much, Haru,” the other figure said.

“Whatever!” Haru complained. “Is this what you saw, Prophet?”

“Of course it is,” Prophet said with a smile after unveiling herself. “Kizou’s fight with the Deviant in the Cryptic Forest is the turning point in this story. Everything will fall into place from there.”

Everyone stood next to her and didn’t dare question her foresight.

“You were hot under there too, weren’t you?” Haru asked with a smirk at seeing her take off the veil.

“Shut up, brother!” Prophet said with a red face while punching him in the stomach.

As Kizou walked out of the main gates, he let out a deep breath. He turned to look to his left and right and saw the faces of comrades smiling at him. He pulled out his Adventurer’s Card and looked at it.

Chariots, Tomiko, Shadow’s Guild, all of it, Kizou thought to himself. Looks like another journey is about to begin.

Kizou put his Adventurer’s Card back in his pocket and looked back at the road that was in front of him.

“Let’s go,” Kizou said to the group as he continued on his journey.