Adventurers depicted their designated rankings in a pendant through the following order: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Adamantium for Master and Customized for Hero, with the latter being the highest and most powerful. This was the standard hierarchy, developed by the Guild and eventually becoming publicly known throughout the world.
Aqua had learned Adventuring 101 from the conversation with the Moonlight White Cats.
"What does it take to become a Master-tier?" Aqua continued to ask, wanting to learn so much more about the adventurer world now that she was officially a Bronze-tier adventurer.
Maybe... maybe, I'll reach there one day!
Aqua smiled sheepishly as Mana gulped down her beer like water — she seemed to be a natural drinker. With a burp of satisfaction, she bellowed:
"Okay!!~ So there are a bunch of requirements like being able to cast 5th tier magic, having five years of adventure experiences, be in the top one hundred in the overall ranking and... Wait. I'm legit too tipsy to think right now. Help me Tetsuo? Sachi?~"
The other guildmates stared at Mana and laughed.
"Come on!! Fine then, you tell Aqua cause you're always crazy about climbing the ranks."
With a bump of a shoulder, the torch of information was passed to the only sober guildmate. He let out a sigh and continued where Mana left off.
"The most important is performing a major feat."
Kirituna sipped on his apple juice with a straw. He was a black-haired swordsman who was the other Platinum-tier. The others were all Gold-tier with two more that could not make it today.
"Like Duality with slaying the Elder Hydralisk or XIV writing a manifesto on casting fourteen variations of fire-based spells. Being Master-tier is all about having an achievement that distinguishes you from others."
Writing a book?
"You don't need to slay monsters to become a Master-tier?"
"Nah," Keida laughed out loud as he was as wasted as Mana. "Although most adventurers hunt da monsters, there are others who collectin' rare materials, providin' protection, explorin' the unknown, volunteerin' for da public services."
"Being an adventurer is being an advocate for humanity." The adventurer called Sachi chimed in softly. She gave the presentation of a wise yet shy lady, although her cheeks were slightly rosy.
Aqua could only fall in love with her childhood dream once again. After hearing the details, this career sounded so noble! A great adventurer was something she definitely wanted to be.
"For Master-tier, these criteria only satisfied the bare minimum. Unlike other rankings, where you would typically ascend after a Promotion Exam, Master-tier has a limit of ten spots and is insanely competitive."
Ten spots...?! There are over thousands of adventurers...
And that's just only in the Capital of Libertea...
This must mean that the likelihood is lower than 1%!
"Yeah, so you are basically considered the elite of the elites." Mana nodded, resting her head tiredly on the table. "DAMN! I want to at least Diamond-tier before I retire..."
"Oi oi, ya alright, Miss Mana?" Keida grinned. "Didn't know ya such weakling."
"I'm fine, I'm fine. Just resting my eyes!"
"Typical Mana," Tetsuo shook his head. "I swear you do this every time when there's alcohol."
"If only she was as serious about the quests as drinking." Kirituna chuckled to himself as Sachi walked over and covered her with a coat.
"I'll get there!!" Mana sang out as the group laughed. "Just you wait..."
Realistically, Aqua knew that she could never achieve such status that was Master-tier. Heck, even Platinum-tier. She was far too noob. Still, it was interesting to know and fun to talk about. In her dreams, maybe she could indulge in it just a bit.
Aqua, the Master-tier adventurer.
Saving the world and becoming famous for slaying dragons and monsters!
At the same time, known for summoning cute animals made of liquid...
Wah~ Aqua could feel her cheeks glow warmly. Perhaps it was the thought of being a top-tier adventurer or the alcohol messing with her brain. Thus, the Bronze-tier adventurer returned to the conversation, and will probably return to her fantasy later on in bed.
♦ ♦ ♦
Master-tier adventurers mainly help resolve problems at the national level such as the Ancient Dragon Incident that happened three years ago. In the guild, these elites stood near the pinnacle, directly below the zenith of humanity known as Hero-tier. Right now, Mana was a newly promoted Platinum-tier.
With her eyes closed and the fluffiness of Sachi's coat, she mused to herself while hearing The Moonlight White Cats chattering in the background.
Next goal — Diamond-tier.
Realistically, that would take at least a decade. The journey only gets harder. Because if all adventurers in the world were to form a hierarchical pyramid, then Master-tier would be scarce. For Hero-tier, it would be similar to searching for an oasis in the desert.
That was because there were only four living Hero-tier adventurers, with one busy devoting himself to the research of ancient-tier magic and one far away in a magical expedition to search for the hidden ruins of Palantis. The remaining two were the famous pair called Duality.
But they disappeared about a year ago.
And no one knew where they went or why they decided to vanish without a trace.
While a few assumed that the legends had finally perished in glorious combat, many adventurers would immediately disagree. How could living legends die so suddenly?
Their sudden disappearance only added fuel to the flames of their publicity.
That was because they were still alive. Many theories were formed behind their disappearance such as retiring to the rural countryside with their life savings or operating undercover in classified missions. Mana's personal favorite was that the two finally decided to marry and settle down.
Gah~ I would love to attend their marriage ceremony. And maybe see the two take off their mask and then lean in for that magical kiss!!
Love was a ubiquitous topic associated with Duality and many admirers shipped the duo together.
If people analyzed their fighting style, they would find themselves admire their absolute synergy and trust with one another. Plus, many agreed that it was romantic that they were mutually exclusive and sworn to protect each other. And Mana was one of the numerous who supported that one true ship; Yin x Yang.
Duality... I wonder if they'll ever come back again.
There were boisterous murmurs near the entrance. A wave of commotion then swept through the guild like a surging gust of wind.
Mana vaguely understood the reason for that disturbance as she opened her eyes towards the same direction to where everyone was looking at. There, she saw them. Her idols. In the living flesh.
It was the Hero-tier guild team; Duality.
As their name implies, Duality comprised of only two members: Yin and Yang. A guild that lived fully up to its title, refusing membership to any who tried to apply. Rumors had it that they even turned down Master-tier adventurers.
Their faces were covered with their signature crimson-trimmed Wolf-Kabuki and Fox-Kabuki Masks, paired with midnight-black cloaks that concealed the rest of their bodies. The two mysterious adventurers radiated an air of gravita.
At the very most, the people here knew the two were male and female by their physique and how they carried themselves.
"Look at their pendants..." Someone whispered. "The color and design..."
"It's real... they must really be..."
Located at Yin's neck and Yang's wrist hung a custom-made pendant — one that belonged to living legends, an object of worship for adventurers, the trump card of humanity that would protect them from being ravaged by the 'God-tier' monsters like the Ancient Dragon or Elder Hydralisk — an onyx-black one for Yin and a pearl-white one for Yang.
Their accomplishments had long surpassed other teams.
Duality completed seven 'God-tier' quests, the highest difficulty in the adventurer's guild, setting a world record in the history books. Even that alone was too far in excess to any other parties. The team in second place only finished three in mere comparison.
This was the solid proof that Yin and Yang stood above and beyond the pinnacle of humanity.
And now, these two, famed in bard's songs and stories throughout the world, had appeared before them after a year of hiatus.
What do I do...?
Shit. I'm so drunk right now...
Mana was utterly speechless. Her head was throbbing. Exhaustion was constant. With the alcohol inhibiting her brain and vision, she could only glance at the two, barely making out their form in the distance.
But it was obvious that their appearance stirred the Adventurer's Guild into a speechless frenzy.
"The heroes of all heroes..."
"They look even more compelling in person..."
"That must be... the Elemental Princess, Yin... And behind her is Yang, the Legendary Swordsman... I can't believe my eyes...They're here..."
"I never saw that type of blade before... I wonder if it's a drop or custom-made."
"That's her that's her!!! That's the mage that can cast all the elements."
A group of adventurers sitting nearby whispered amongst each other.
"Yo dude. I heard they were responsible for the destruction of Temecula half a decade ago..."
"No way, how could that be? Against King Hurley and his elite squad of magicians...?"
"Come on, dude? It's Duality we are talking about. Not even Boba or Shen could pull off such feat."
"Yeah, those Hero-tiers got nothing on Yin and Yang."
"Still... to think they managed to withstand against the Unpolites... Weren't they suppose to be the most feared mercenary group in the world?"
Yin and Yang advanced calmly to the standing maid under these adoring looks. The adventurers nearby all instinctively stepped back and made a clear path. On their faces was an emotional mixture of respect and fear.
After the crowd had finally silenced, the Fox-Kabuki stepped forward and addressed the maid with a nod.
"Yin of Duality. We are here to discuss the upcoming quest, Mari."
The muffled yet elegant voice reached out like a sweet lullaby.
Yin sounded a lot more soothing than Mana had expected.
The mask she wore did not seem particularly thick, so it should have been easy to make out the feminine qualities of her voice. Somehow, there was no way to tell Yin's age or any emotional inflections from it. At the very most, Mana could assume that she was a young maiden. But that was already given based on her lustrous black hair that flowed out on the sides of her hood.
"Thank you for coming, Hero Yin and Hero Yang. Please follow me to the meeting room."
"Lead the way, Mari."
Despite being an Elite Five, Mari nodded in deference and bowed deeply before them. That was only to be expected in the sheer presence of living legends who had saved the world from its demise.
As the maid turned on her heels, the duo adventurers slowly trailed behind her and headed upstairs, leaving a huge crowd of adventurers murmuring amongst themselves.
"I wonder what they are doing here...?"
"They said they're here for a quest, did you not hear? I bet you it's another God-tier quest."
"Oh my god, that was freaking Duality... In. The. Flesh!"
"That must be why they disappeared. They were questing all along!"
"I still ship the two together, did you see how close they were walking?!"
As the commotion dispersed, all of the members of Moonlight White Cats turned their heads towards Mana, wondering what sort of reaction she might have.
Many thought that she might possibly just explode in utter happiness, whenever the topic of Duality was mentioned. Maybe even cry out tears of joy. It was hard to tell because the Platinum-tier adventurer had a blank expression, looking mighty drunk.
After a few seconds, Mana examined her guildmates. They seemed to be leaned in, waiting for her response.
Letting out a deep sigh and a huge facepalm, Mana bellowed out with her face as red as a tomato:
"I'M NEVER DRINKING EVER AGAIN. NEVER EVER AGAIN!"
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