Chapter 1 What is a Hero?
A vast land of turmoil and grace. A land large enough to be called its own world. The Endless Continent encompassed all of the known human race. A population of nearly fifteen billion people. Here where mankind was as numerous as the grains on the earth there was a small village overlooking a cliff of a tall and mighty mountain. A mountain so large that it completely dwarfed many nations. One of the Seven Great Mountains Peaks. The Great Yamato Mountain.
Here in Maple Village, a young boy sat on a wooden chair in the garden. His eyes were glued to a leather bound book in his hand. Around him were children ages 3 to 8 running around playing a game of tag.
“Grey come play with us!” said Elise. A gentle hand came to rest upon his shoulders. Her eyes were as bright as the sunlight behind her golden hair. “It’s more fun with more people.”
Grey looked at her strangely and shook his head.
“No it’s okay,” he said quietly. “I want to finish this book.”
Elise frowned, but shrugged and went off to play with the other children. Who could know what the village bookworm was thinking?
Ever since Grey was young he had loved books! The adventure! The pain! The Love! Books were a window to another place and time. In them, Grey could be anything he wanted. A hero. A monster. Or even a girl! The possibilities were endless, and this book he was currently reading described the adventures of the famous Dungeon Seeker Abel who scoured the 138 Dungeon Worlds and single handedly created the Iserian Ranking Chart, which ranked each dungeon by their difficulty.
Primitive, Cursed, Hidden, Ancient, and Chaos.
The world was never the same. Now adventurers who were previously all equal in the eyes of the common folk could now compare their achievements with one another for glory and fame, and the most coveted recognition as Hero.
Grey sighed inwardly.
What a lofty title. A person recognized by all the world as a guardian of mankind. If not for the Iserian Ranking Chart who could tell how powerful a person was? Previously, anyone who could walk into a dungeon and come out in one piece was recognized as a true adventurer. But now! If one could venture into a Chaos Dungeon and come back. They would be showered in praise and glory as an insurmountable genius.
Such a goal was so far away. Grey wondered if he too would one day be able to venture out in the world and receive such praises. But before that could happen he would have to train his body and soul in one of the heroic paths.
The Heroic Paths. The five paths to ultimate power. The warrior the embodiment of physical strength. The priest the embodiment of vitality. The mage the embodiment of wisdom. The rogue the embodiment of dexterity. And the ranger the embodiment of agility. Five Paths. One goal! To be the strongest in the land. To be a herald of mankind. A Hero!
Grey sat there in his chair and thought to himself. On this day, Grey would be five years old. Heroes came of age in their thirties or forties if at all. There were instances of some past geniuses reaching the title in their teens, but even so…if he wanted to become a hero he had only a few years to do so before the window of opportunity would be closed to him forever.
After all in the last 3,000 years, there hadn’t been a single hero in the Endless Continent. 15 billion people and not one was capable of reaching the skill required to venture into a Chaos Dungeon.
Closing the book, Grey sighed. The issue was what path he should take. His physique was not that good. He had come from a family of bookkeepers. His father was a librarian. His mother a record keeper of the village treasury. And while he was grateful for books his father provided him. Grey could only shake his head when comparing his father with those heroes of legends.
Thin and pale with broad round glasses and a stout bushy brown mustache. A friendly face for a friendly smile. Not at all daring or dangerous. Grey could not even remotely imagine his father holding a sword, much less slaying evil monsters with it.
Worst of all. Grey had not only inherited his father’s looks, but his mother’s figure. Slender. Well-shaped. With small light fingers. As he was growing up his mother would hold his hands and compare them with hers. They were the same! As if he was a girl that had never done an honest day of work. He had even heard other children murmur behind his back he would be better off growing out his hair and wearing a dress.
If his physique made him unfit to be a warrior than perhaps he should try to be a mage?
Mages read lots of books. He read lots of books. Would that not be his dream job? He was not crafty nor agile enough to be a rogue or a ranger.
There was a common saying that if you don’t like it then don’t do it! If he was going to train for several years it must be something he loved to do. He nodded in agreement. It must definitely be right. He would set his eyes on becoming a powerful mage like those in legends.
He only now needed to find out how to train his magical potential so when he left the village. He would be able to defend himself from roaming beasts.
His father certainly must have a book about cultivating magical talent. Grey immediately stood upright and headed towards his father’s study.
“Father! Father!” calls Grey into his house. His voice echoes through the hallway. Though his village is small his family lives in the library, which is as big as three houses. It had long narrow corridors, every wall was a book shelf, so there was a maze of books blocking his path.
“I wonder where he went?”
His father was always in the library save for lunch and dinner. Maybe, someone asked for his help outside? Grey walked down the hall and looked through the books. Though still a young child of five years. Grey had read several books ever since his father taught him how to read 3 years ago. Others may say Grey’s a genius, but him it was as natural as learning how to plow the earth or pluck as chicken. If you try enough times it is only natural you will learn how to do it.
He looked over the piles of books near his dad’s desk. Ruin Symbols, Monster Compendium Vol. III, The Witching Hour. All these books, Grey sorted out and placed them to their proper place in the hallway. As he looked through the books under the farming section of the library, he saw at a shiny cover on the third shelf on the wall and went up to grab with using a ladder.
“Magic Cultivation Techniques Vol. IV.”
He found it! A magic book!
His eyes glistened and opened the book. But as he looked inside he frowned. Although, he, Grey was a very bright child. This book was talking about a lot of unfamiliar words.
He didn’t know any of these words. He sighed and placed the book on his father’s desk so he could look at it later. This happened from time to time. When there was a series of books. The first book would teach the reader new words so that when they read the later volumes they could easily understand and comprehend what the book was saying. Indeed, magic was a very large field of study. Without inventing new words to describe certain phenomenon how could learn to harness such a mysterious power?
Grey ventured off into the library again and in a few hours he had a stack of twelve books on the table. In them were books about magical items, schools, and even a Vol. III Spell Formation. He, however, did not manage to grab a hold of that elusive Vol. I Introductory Magic Book.
Grey sat with his brows furrowed. Without the first book to teach him the words. Would he have to try to learn straight from Vol. III? If he made the smallest mistake while he was training he could end up a cripple or worst. Dead!
As he was about to give up trying to learn magic and wait for his father to return, a girl walked in to the library. It was one of the girls from the playground. He recognized her because out of all the children. She had long bangs which covered her entire face. You couldn’t even see her eyes! In her hands was a leather book. The words “Vol. I Magic Theory” sewn on its cover.
“Ah!” said Grey, pointing at the book.
“Ah!” yelped the girl, surprised.
“T-That book! I need that book,” said Grey, frantically.
“W-Who are you? This book is mine!” said the girl, shaking her head. Her eyes look frightened. Who was this weird kid yelling at her.
“Um,” said Grey, coming back to his senses. His dad said when asking for something one had to be respectful and patient. “Can…I borrow that book? I’ll give it back to you, but I really want to read it.”
“But…this book is mine,” repeated the girl. She held on the book even tighter. Ever since she was little she liked reading this book. It had a lot of pictures.
“Please?” said Grey, “I’ll let you borrow one of my books?”
Grey pointed to a pile of books on his father’s desk. Many of them had elaborate covers made out of silk and animal hide.
“Oh,” said the girl, looking at the pile. She had never seen these books before. She quickly picked one out. “I like this one.”
It was the book Grey had been reading earlier.
“Tales of Abel the Dungeon Seeker.”
“But you have to promise to return my book to me. I got it from my mom,” said the little girl, shaking her head.
“I promise,” said Grey. He reached up and shook her hand. She nodded, leaving the book on the desk, and blushing as she ran out the door.
“Hm?” said Grey. He thought it was weird for her to run out the door, but nevertheless the Vol. I Magic Theory book was in his hands! Now, he could really begin to learn how to become a powerful wizard.