Chapter 23: Jin, the Cadets, the Beastman, and… (1)
There were already three cadets inside Garon’s office. They were standing stiffly and nervously from the sudden summons. Garon was explaining the mission while looking at the map on the wall.
“Due to the excellent results of this year’s beginner class, this mission was specially assigned to… Ah, you’ve arrived, Young Master.”
With Jin’s arrival, Garon wore a faint smile and bowed.
While the beginner class normally doesn’t receive missions, this case wasn’t the first time it had happened. If the beginner class’s cadets showed outstanding performance and results, they were issued missions on rare occasions.
The current batch of beginner class cadets could only show so much growth worthy of being sent on a mission due to Jin’s influence.
During Jin and Bellop’s duel last year, the latter wasn’t the only individual to be awakened. While it wasn’t Jin’s intention or plan, the battle from that fateful day had greatly impacted the other spectating cadets.
“We were given a mission, Garon?”
“Yes, Young Master. This mission involves ten beginner class cadets including you.”
Jin turned his attention to the world map behind Garon.
‘The red symbol must be the mission’s destination. That location is… someplace near the Zhan Kingdom.’
The Zhan Kingdom was in proximity to the ‘Land of the Beastmen’. In fact, it was adjacent to the headquarters of the most dangerous race—the White Wolf Tribe. Travelers avoid that area, adventurers flock to it, and mercenaries detest it.
“I’ve also contacted the cadets who have temporarily left the Garden of Swords. There are ten participants including you, Young Master. You will have to carry out the mission in two different groups.”
“You’ll divide the ten participants of the beginner class into two groups?”
“Indeed. You will be the leader of Group 1, Young Master. Group 2 will be led by Scott Limon.”
Scott Limon. While the results hadn’t been announced yet, everyone predicted that Mesa or Scott would be the runner-up cadet of the beginner class, behind Jin.
‘Even so, Scott is only at the level of a 2-star knight. If it’s a mission near the Zhan Kingdom, it’s highly probable that it’ll involve beastmen…’
Something was off.
Even if they were Runcandel cadets, they were merely rookies between the age of 14 to 16. They weren’t the appropriate participants to carry out a mission dealing with beastmen.
‘Did one of my siblings bribe Garon to assign us on a difficult mission? No… Seeing Garon’s confident face, I’m pretty sure Father personally instructed him to do so.’
But why would Cyron do that? Jin calmly thought to himself.
‘I highly doubt it’s simply because I’m connected to Solderet or because of my high scores. In that case… the incident with Bellop was probably relayed to Father. I see. I’m starting to see the full picture now.’
Jin calmly nodded.
“Then one group must be composed of five members. Who will I be working with?”
“Yes. Group 1 is composed of Bellop, Phils, Edington, Sierra and you, Young Master. Scott’s group is composed of Mesa, Kiko, Taimont and Zhushen.”
Having heard the formation of the groups, Jin immediately saw through Cyron’s intentions.
The four cadets of his group were all middle- to low-ranked within the beginner class, with the exception of Bellop. Having ‘awakened’ with the duel against Jin, Bellop was now part of the mid-upper ranks.
On the other hand, Scott’s team was composed of top-rank cadets. There was only one explanation behind this uneven formation of groups.
‘Father wants to test me. He wants to check if my principles of leading those weaker than me won’t change during this mission.’
In that case, this mission was certain to be troublesome.
As Jin’s intuition told him so, he spoke up again.
“Give me a rundown of the mission and operation.”
“The mission is to scout the vicinity of the Zhan Kingdom’s southern border. It seems a certain tycoon’s son went missing in that area. The groups will be in charge of separate areas, and as soon as you find the missing person or clues, you must report back to me.”
The cadets in the office all calmed down when they learned that the mission was simply a search-and-report task.
“And after having reported?”
“If the victim’s survival is confirmed, we will dispatch guardian knights in order to perform a rescue operation. In the meantime, Groups 1 and 2 will return to base. But if the victim is reported dead, the mission will come to an end as long as there aren’t additional requests from the client.”
“Sounds simple enough.”
“Yes. However, you must move with prudence as the chances of encountering beastmen are high.”
“I assume so. And since the Zhan Kingdom’s southern border is where the White Wolf Tribe is most active, we’ll have to be extra careful.”
The White Wolf Tribe. Just as their name implies, they are a race of beastmen who look like wolves with white fur. They’re famous for being the most talented and skilled amongst beastmen in combat.
“Young Master, if you encounter White Wolf beastmen during the mission, you are to abandon the mission and retreat immediately. That goes for everyone else too.”
“I also know that. No matter how outstanding this year’s batch of cadets are, we’re no match to the White Wolf warriors. No need to worry.”
Garon smiled at his words.
“I am not concerned. I’ve personally witnessed how much this year’s cadets have grown—including you, Young Master. However, one never knows what kinds of unpredictable dangers are lurking around oneself.”
Jin stared straight back at Garon and also smirked.
“You talk as if a dangerous incident will definitely occur during the mission, Garon.”
“You’ve caught me. Personally, I can’t wait to witness your marvelous figure as you overcome the situation, Young Master.”
“You’re a good teacher. Inform me when the cadets who aren’t at the Garden have all returned.”
Three days later, the cadets’ break ended. Without further ado, the beginner class’s mission began.
Jin and nine other cadets went to the transfer gate in order to depart to the Zhan Kingdom.
“It’s an honor to be able to carry out our very first mission with you, Young Master. Group 2 will do our best not to inconvenience you.”
Scott approached Jin and spoke as they waited for the transfer gate to open.
“Haha, are you putting pressure on me, Scott Limon?”
“That’s absolutely not the case! I am simply showing my gratitude towards the Young Master for giving us the opportunity to carry out our first mission while still in the beginner class.”
“I’m just kidding.”
Scott was extremely loyal towards the Runcandels, and his admiration and respect towards Jin were immense as well.
However, Scott wasn’t the only one to hold Jin in high esteem.
“Hey, Group 1. Make sure you don’t get in Young Master Jin’s way, and assist him to the best of your abilities.”
As Mesa sharply declared, the cadets of Group 1 all nodded in sync.
“Moreover, if we successfully carry out this mission, you may be given a chance to advance to the intermediate class despite your low scores. Do you understand?”
“We understand, Mesa. We’ll do our best.”
Jin smiled to himself as he watched their interactions.
It may seem like Mesa was being rude to them, but she truly hoped from the bottom of her heart that all the members of Group 1 would advance to the next class with her.
She behaved like the disciplinarian of the class (it seems she has an aptitude for it), but in truth, she was a big-hearted cadet—one who cared most about her comrades.
There certainly was something special about this year’s batch of beginner class cadets. They all had developed strong bonds centered around Jin.
This was a rare case within the competitive system of the Runcandel Clan. Moreover, in most cases where strong bonds formed between cadets, they excluded the ‘Young Masters’ and ‘Ladies’ from the group.
However, during the past few years, Jin had completely made these cadets his subjects.
“Quiet, everyone. As the transfer gate will soon open, I shall issue a command.”
The cadets gathered around Jin in a circle.
“As soon as we arrive at the southern border, we will set camp at the center of the area. Once everyone’s done preparing the campsite, Groups 1 and 2 will go their separate ways and begin surveying the area in earnest.”
Jin pointed at the map before continuing his speech.
“The camp’s use is for sharing information between us and reporting casualties. Each group will send a member to the campsite in order to share information once a day at a prearranged time.”
“Understood, Young Master.”
“You shall refer to me as Captain and not Young Master during the mission. And members other than casualties are not to rest at the campsite. However, each group may take breaks at their own discretion. Any questions?”
“That is all. Let us hope that our target is alive and well.”
A few moments later, the transfer gate activated and everyone’s bodies were surrounded by glowing mana.
Once the teleportation was completed, the cadets and Jin found themselves at the transfer gate in the central-southern region of the Zhan Kingdom.
Normally speaking, they would’ve had to go through all the administrative procedures after arriving, but as soon as the employees saw the robes the cadets were wearing, they skipped all the procedures. The robes had the Runcandel’s ‘Black Sword’ emblem on it.
Three days have passed since they arrived in the southern region of the Zhan Kingdom.
The cadets had constructed the campsite and were surveying the area, but to no avail.
The Zhan Kingdom’s southern region was a land composed of grassy plains and forests. They were thoroughly searching through the open, grassy fields, but finding traces of a single missing human wasn’t a simple task.
“It seems we’ll have to focus our search inside the forest. There isn’t a single clue in the grasslands.”
“Captain, Edington says he saw Watertail beastmen earlier.”
“Watertail beastmen? If they’re here, it’s unlikely we’ll encounter White Wolf beastmen.”
Watertail Tribe beastmen are a docile and gentle tribe that catch fish in rivers or seas using their harpoon-shaped tails.
They aren’t found in areas where White Wolf beastmen or Red Tiger beastmen reside. Watertail beastmen always avoid predators when building their villages.
“The one who’ll return to camp and meet Group 2 today is Bellop, right?”
“That is correct.”
“Bellop, depart for the campsite two hours earlier than usual today. You’ll be slowed down by the sleet. And once you’re done exchanging info, go to Area 13 instead of here. We’ll be surveying that zone.”
Groups 1 and 2 were meeting up at 9 PM every evening at the camp in order to exchange information.
Once Bellop left the group, the other members also began moving towards Area 13. ‘Area 13’ was a woodland that hadn’t been surveyed yet.
‘Something’s off. Even though Father personally gave us this mission, nothing has happened so far. Was I mistaken thinking that he was trying to test me?’
No incidents happened at Area 13 either, and they couldn’t find any clues about the missing person.
The only special incident that occurred was that they were gifted roasted fish from the Watertail Tribe village they found by coincidence.
“Missing human? We, not know. Watertail Tribe, nice. You all, miserable look. Fish, take. Gift.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know. Thanks. They’re well-cooked. We’ll repay you next time we come over.”
Having searched the area well past midnight, the members of Group 1 were now waiting for Bellop to return in the rain as they wiped their wet swords. As the sleet continued, they found it meaningless to continue the search in the darkness in this weather.
‘Since we didn’t find anything even after surveying Area 13, we’ll have to approach the beastmen’s territory in order to continue the mission…’
However, surveying the beastmen’s territory wasn’t a mission a beginner class cadet could do.
‘There’s no need to do such an unreasonable thing just to obtain good results. It’s foolish to go so far. We should spend the remaining three days checking the surveyed areas again, before ending the mission.’
Bellop finally returned from the camp as the watches neared 2 AM.
“Young Master! Young Master Jin!”
He was in such a hurry that he had completely forgotten about calling him Captain. The cadets on standby stood up and rushed to Bellop as well.
“What’s the matter, Bellop?”
“Group 2 was attacked! Even Kiko—who was sent to the camp by them—had minor injuries.”
“Everyone, prepare to move. Was it beastmen?”
The cadets immediately stood in line, ready to start running at any moment.
“No, they say it was humans. Group 2 cannot use their flares as they have gone into hiding, so we must hurry to them!”