Moments passed and as the footsteps grew closer, Ariel and the group could finally make out the shadows of the approaching beings. Surprisingly however, when they finally stepped into the light it wasn’t a goblin hoard that they were expecting, but a party of four humans.
The other side also seemed to be a bit amazed seeing them, but they came to much quicker. In the party there were two women and two men, seemingly a balanced ratio of genders. One of the women was a middle aged lady with an average face, blue eyes and long brown hair tied into a ponytail, she also had a bow in hand and a quiver on her back. The second woman, or rather girl, was assumingly in her teens with a childish, but cute face, short black hair and grey eyes, her weapon of choice seemed to be two daggers strapped at her waist.
Men of the party were a bit more grizzled, both of them were between late twenties to early thirties. The first one was clearly a warrior with heavier armor, shield and a sword, contrasting that he had quite a gentle face, with short brown hair and eyes.
His partner appeared to also be a warrior, however of a different type. He had a two handed sword in hand and his garb was quite a bit lighter than his friends. Not only that, but he also had more aggressive features messy long, blond hair and piercing green eyes.
From the travel meant clothes and armor that the four wore, Ariel and his friends connected them to being adventurers, but didn’t let down their guard due to that and waited for the other side to speak first. Especially Ariel and Brendon who at the Academy had already taken missions to kill human bandits, they personally knew that humans could sometimes be even scarier than monsters.
The adventurers clearly noticed the opposite side’s skepticism, so to show their good will they either put down or sheathed their weapons. Then the warrior with a gentle face at the front of the group, who seemed to be the party leader, spoke. “This is truly surprise to meet you four here, but there is no need to be on guard young masters and misses.”
Words spoken by the man were quite peaceful, but Erna hearing some unexpected titles grimaced and asked. “How do you know we are nobles? It is not like any of our group go on parading around much like most nobles.” The friendly adventurer merely laughed and then responded. “Well we definitely don’t know which families you are from, but simply from you noble auras and uniforms we could easily guess.”
The group looked down at their clothes after hearing that, and although they were modified to be fit for dungeoneering they were still their usual Academy uniforms. Before they had enough time to look up, the man continued. “Although not all people from your Academy are nobles, but from what we know it is quite a safe guess.”
Honestly they couldn’t argue with such logic, so Ariel and his friends could only nod their heads. However even if this was true they still didn’t have a reason to ease up so Brendon soon spoke. “Since it is like this, then we can all go our separate ways now.”
As the adventurers heard that they suddenly seemed to want to say that, but held back, leaving the talking to their leader. “You don’t have to be in such a rush, and don’t worry, your Academy does this event every year so there is no way they would let any humans hurt you, so we would never do anything of harm, against tracking magic we are quite powerless. What is more, we want to make a deal with you.”
At his new words the one to step out was Sarah, since Ariel and Erna honestly weren’t too good at dealing with people and Brendon usually let his sister do the job. “What kind of deal could there be among us? We don’t even know any of you?”
The warrior smiled as he replied with haste. “You see, through the years, adventurers and the Academy made a sort of an unspoken pact in this dungeon. Every year, when you students come here for experience, sometimes students and adventurers team up. This isn’t forbidden by your teachers as it is something like a trade. The adventurers teach wisdom they gained through the years, while the students help out in fire power when killing monsters. Although we are older and more experienced than us, you should have noticed that our power levels are quite low in comparison, and none of us can use any magic.”
Ariel and the rest simply nodded at his words. Although usually only a Master rank person can determine someone’s strength without being told about it, but some talented people are able to feel it by simply looking at someone. Especially since Ariel was already Master ranked and could clearly distinguish that the three older adventurers were only at the late stage Elite rank and the young one barely an early stage Elite.
What is more, they were definitely not the strongest of their level and not one of them had any Mana, only warrior’s inner energy.
Since they already heard them out and didn’t notice anything suspicious, they slowly put down their weapons. After doing so, they turned back to look at Ariel, seemingly inquiring what to do about the deal the adventurers offered. Only after some time passed and they saw that he agreed with it, did Sarah once again speak. “Fine, we don’t see any demerits as well as have something to gain from it, so teaming up would be fine, but first we have to find somewhere to rest since we are a bit tired right now.”
After witnessing that they agreed, the party of adventurers let out a sigh of relief and their leader answered while smiling. “Hahaha don’t worry, honestly we were out on patrol right now to take care of any monsters around the vicinity before going to rest. You are quite lucky you know. Most of your students usually have a rough time if they don’t encounter any adventurers who know some good places to stay, please follow.”
While laughing the friendly looking adventurer signaled to follow. Ariel with his party simply followed and soon without any fights they reached a slightly large crevice with some camping gear in it. Obviously this is the place they stay at.
The adventurers quickly went in and started preparing for having a rest by lighting the fire and taking out some food. Their leader lightly motioned to Ariel’s side to come over and sit down. They didn’t act politely and did just that, also similarly to the adventurers, they started taking out some food from their storage items.
Seeing it, the adventurers were a bit surprised at the magical artifacts, but soon got over it. Like this, everything was taken care of in about half an hour. Soon they were about to eat dinner, but the atmosphere was still a bit cold. Thankfully the same friendly adventurer came over to break the ice.
“Actually I have forgotten something.” The man’s voice attracted everyone’s attention. “All the way until now we haven’t told each other our names yet.” When Ariel and his friends heard that they made slightly stunned expressions.
After witnessing this scene the man continued speaking, and immediately started the introductions. “My name is Henry and as you might have guessed, I am the frontline fighter as well as the leader of the group, the angry looking guy is Vor, who is our main melee attacker. As for the two women, the older one is called Tera and she is our archer, responsible for the groups support. The younger one is Camila, she usually duel wields daggers and is tin the rear guard, while sometimes taking care of the rogue type work.”
When Henry was done with the introductions, Tera spoke out while sneering at him. “You forgot to tell them that I also take the job of being the mother of you three.” Henry let out an awkward laugh at her words and added something to his previous introductions. “You see, sometimes we do some reckless stuff and Tera is in charge of stopping us at those times, but don’t take what she usually says seriously.”
Tera was quite displeased with Henry, but she obviously didn’t want to waste her time arguing with him so she simply began ignoring him. Due to that, the introductions of the other side quickly went on their way. “My name is Sarah. This is my brother Brendon while the blond haired duo, are Erna and Ariel.”
While introducing everyone Sarah did it quickly, and tactically didn’t tell them their last names in case the cooperation would become a bit awkward. The other side also liked it, since it meant there were no statuses involved and they could act a bit more at ease.
After that the rest of the night went smoothly as they chatted and got to know each other a bit better. When they were done with that, they soon went to rest, in preparation of the upcoming day. Back then they didn’t yet know that it would not only be a hard one, but also a tragic one.