The day was bright and we left the city of Wilpeck.
To the nameless forest on the northwestern border of the Fifth and Fourth Lords’ territories.
Is this a dungeon again?
I gazed at the scenery outside the window, lost in thought in the carriage.
This time, the place where the mystery was hidden was probably also a dungeon. Because Tair said so.
The difference between a ruin and a dungeon was whether there was a risk factor or not.
If there were only hidden treasures, it was a ruin, and if there were dangers such as guardians or traps, it was a dungeon. Just like when I was looking for the floating veil last time.
The dungeon I had to find this time was a place I had no information about, so the danger was unknown.
It’s said that Tair accidentally broke through the dungeon and found the mystery, so it doesn’t sound like a very dangerous dungeon…
Tair was only at level 20, so there was a high probability that the level of the dungeon was at that level.
Of course, it’s just speculation, and in the end, nothing was certain unless I experienced it myself.
Aside from the risk, there was also the problem of deciphering the code and then finding the dungeon.
Time passed, and we arrived at Oron City, on the northwestern border of the Fifth Lord’s territory.
This time we arrived quite early in the day, so we could grab a lodging and I went straight to the adventurer’s guild to hire a guide.
If they described it as the biggest tree in the forest, it would mean that it was so big that it would stand out, so I wondered if there would be many people who knew about it.
Upon entering the guild building, the hall was buzzing with overflowing adventurers.
I looked around for a moment and then spoke in a slightly louder voice.
“I will hire the best guide who meets the conditions for 10 gold.”
Like a miracle, the noise stopped, and all eyes turned this way.
I wondered if everyone had heard it correctly, but I spoke again as they were making faces that seemed concerned.
“I’ll hire a guide for 10 gold. Does anyone know of the biggest tree in the Northwest Border Forest?”
Every time I hired a guide; I ended up spending money.
Well, there was an abundance of money, and it’s the most effective way, so what about it?
The adventurers seemed to look at each other, but soon words came out one by one.
“…Are you talking about the Mengrodi tree?”
“I think you’re right. What else could be the tallest tree in the Northwest Forest?”
Looking at the reactions, it was a famous tree that everyone knew about.
It was a good thing. At least I wouldn’t have a hard time finding the tree.
“…Hire me! I know very well where the Mengrodi tree is!”
Soon, an adventurer raised his hand and shouted.
Starting with him, other adventurers also intervened one by one.
“You’re F*cking shit. How many adventurers in this city don’t know that place!”
“I’m much better than that guy! I can guide you to your destination quickly and safely!”
In an instant, even the employment auction hall became open, and I could see the staff at the counter perplexed.
I said a bit of my apologies to them. Did this cause too much of a fuss?
Just then, we heard a loud cry from above.
“Shut up everyone! You said you would hire the best adventurer!”
The mouths of the adventurers who were making a fuss shut their mouths all at once at the gruesome voice, like a beast roaring.
I looked upstairs.
At the same time, someone jumped off the railing and came down.
A beastman woman with scars all over her bare skin, carrying several short swords around her waist.
“Sir, I’m the best here, so hire me.”
She strode towards me and said with a confident smile.
Among adventurers, talents over level 40 were quite rare. Was she a first-class adventurer?
“No, Railo… you can receive so many other requests. Isn’t it too much to take such a request?”
An adventurer raised a disgruntled voice.
But when the woman turned her gaze to him and glared at him, he instantly shook and withdrew.
“Well, you idiots. If you’re complaining, do you think your skills are better than mine? You’ll get 10 gold after guiding the road with those skills? Have you lost your conscience?”
There were no adventurers who expressed their dissatisfaction further. They either frowned or sighed and turned around as if they had given up.
It was harsh, but not wrong. All the commissions one received were proportional to their skills.
Turning her gaze back to me, she introduced herself with a slightly business-like smile.
She said, “I am Railo, a first-class adventurer. There is no adventurer more skilled than me in Oron City, so you will not regret hiring me.”
I nodded and took the money out of my pocket.
“Here’s half the down payment.”
Railo smiled when she was handed the five gold coins.
“When are you planning to leave?”
“If possible, right now.”
“Okay. Then let’s go right away.”
So I quickly hired a guide who seemed pretty good at her job.
Since the forest was quite far from the city, we travelled by carriage.
There was no problem since there was a trail.
“Hey, it looks ordinary, but isn’t this a very high-class carriage?
Railo, who was sitting in the other seat, said.
In the seat next to her, Asher sat silently, as always.
Outwardly, Asher always looked expressionless, but as I kept looking at her, she had a slight difference from normal.
Now, I felt she was in a bad mood. It could be because she was annoyed by the noisy Railo.
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“Oh, I made a lot of noise. I’m sorry.”
She soon calmed down and looked out the window, as if she had noticed Asher’s reaction.
She then asked me after a while.
“By the way, can you tell me why you are looking for the Mengrodi tree?”
Was she asking that now?
If she was going to check who the client was and what the purpose of the request was, it would have been normal to check before accepting the request.
Or would she accept any request without hesitation, knowing that she would get caught up in something dangerous?
This adventurer named Railo seemed to have that much confidence in her own skills. Looking at the level, it was probably true.
I was going to just say whatever, but I changed my mind.
Come to think of it, was there any reason to hide it this time?
Maybe she could even help find the dungeon. Even if she tried to do something, Asher was here.
“Have you ever explored a dungeon?”
Railo answered my sudden question.
“A few times. Why do you ask that?”
“Going to the Mengrodi tree is to search for a dungeon.”
“Ah… was it like that?”
I nodded my head.
“Honestly, I had a rough idea. Most of the men who ask for directions to some unexpected places are looking for ruins.”
It seemed like she had taken on this type of request quite a few times.
I asked again.
“Is there a lifeless branch associated with the tree called Mengrodi?”
“…Lifeless branch? Well, I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
Railo tilted her head, but soon became interested.
“Is that a code related to the dungeon? Finding a dungeon with a code is a lot of fun.”
After saying that, she murmured the word lifeless branch, deep in thought, and then brushed her hair.
“Anyway, finding a dungeon makes work much more fun. After guiding you to the tree, can I continue to help you? Of course, I have no intention of accepting more commission money.”
“It doesn’t matter, but if we find a dungeon, I have no intention of letting you explore the inside.”
At that, Railo giggled.
“Please give me an extra pay based on how much you think I’ve been helpful. And to be honest, I expect little. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, finding ruins is a waste. What do you think?”
I took things a little too easily, perhaps because I was consistently successful in finding mysteries.
Dungeon was actually not that easy to find.
After arriving in the forest, we got off the wagon and started moving.
Baros had to guard the wagon, so we left him it at the entrance of the forest and I went inside with Asher. Railo took the lead and guided the way.
“But isn’t it funny when you think about it?”
“Isn’t it said that dungeons are legacy left by ancient mages? But then, they could just pass it on to their disciples and let them inherit it. Instead, they made dungeons could kill trespassers who tried to get their treasures.”
Well, those dungeons could be made by mages who didn’t have disciples to succeed them.
Or maybe eccentric mages just made it out of boredom.
In the first place, it was just the setting of the game, so I never mulled over about it.
It’s enough to attach the background in moderation, and rather, it’s strange if there were no dungeons in RPGs.
As they went deeper into the forest, monsters gradually appeared.
A giant rat, bigger than a human, appeared blocking the way. Was it a Giant Rat?
I didn’t know what monsters appeared in this forest.
No matter how much I played RaSa, I didn’t know all the monsters that appeared in this ordinary forest without a name.
Railo approached Giant Rat with a tap on her neck.
It roared and lunged at me with an intrusive cry.
Railo, who had stomped her foot, swung her fist without drawing her sword.
The Giant Rat, which bounced away with a sound like something exploded, had its head smashed to death.
Railo said, shaking off her fist with a slightly refreshed face.
“Let’s keep going.”
After that, we rarely encountered other monsters. Even if we ran into them, it was only about level 10 trash mobs like Giant Rats.
It seems that there aren’t many monsters here in the first place.
By the time the sun went down, we reached our destination.
It took little time because the forest wasn’t that big.
“Now, this is the Mengrodi tree.”
I looked up at the huge tree in front of me and admired it a little.
I expected it to be the biggest tree in the forest, but it was much bigger than I had imagined.
It was several tens of meters tall, and the circumference was wide enough for ten people to stand hand in hand.
After touching the surface of the tree for a moment, I turned my gaze to the sun setting in the sky.
The sun is setting just now…
The mightiest tree, when the twilight has completely subsided, the lifeless branches.
These were the three keywords of this dungeon search.
The biggest tree was here, and the time was soon to be night, and all that was left was the ‘lifeless branches’…
What the hell is a lifeless branch?
I raised my gaze to the dizzying branches of the Mengrodi tree.
As I did that, Asher and Railo started looking at the branches as well.
Then, suddenly, Asher opened her mouth.
“Hey, look at that.”
She stared somewhere behind me and pointed with her finger.
I looked to where she was pointing, but couldn’t see anything. I narrowed my eyes.
I immediately widened my eyes.
A single twig intermingled among the lush branches.
However, upon closer inspection, it was different. Because only that branch had no leaves.
Was that a ‘lifeless branch’?