Judging from Commander Berion\'s tone, his words were meant to warn Lith about the danger the lost cities represented.
Maybe he even hoped the young Ranger would reconsider his choice.
Lith\'s curiosity was piqued, instead.
\'How many secrets does the Griffon Kingdom keep from its citizens\' He thought.
\'I can understand sweeping Necromancy under the rug.
It\'s a branch of magic too dangerous to let it fall in the hands of nobles with more money than life left.
\'Heck, even Balkor is something that better stays forgotten.
If the story of what happened to him becomes public, small villages like Lutia would either smother their children\'s talent for magic or lose any trust in the Crown.
\'But this Why a bunch of ruins is deemed so dangerous Why have I never heard anything about them, not even at the Academy\'
With all due respect, Sir, but if the lost cities represent a threat to the Kingdom, why are they still standing I doubt the combined forces of the army and the Mage Association can\'t bring them down, even if one at the time.
Excellent question, Lieutenant. Berion nodded.
He liked Lith not showing any fear for his personal safety and only thinking about the safety of their country.
Alas, what he mistook for loyalty was just Lith\'s innate scientific curiosity.
Misunderstanding or not, the real reason for Berion\'s earlier anger wasn\'t the incident with Trion, but it\'s consequences.
Rumors about the events at Regharos had spread like wildfire, attracting the interest of several high officers.
The Commander wanted to keep the existence of his golden goose a secret for as long as possible.
Any meritorious act a subordinate performed would generate merits for their commanding officer.
So far, Lith had caused Berion a lot of trouble for little return.
The purple crystal disappearance, Sergeant Tepper\'s complaints, and now an assault against fellows Non-commissioned officers.
Berion had invested in Lith, but if someone stole him, it would have been all for naught.
Cleansing operations have been conducted multiple times with poor results.
Once in a while, we have to cull their numbers to prevent them from overpowering the arrays.
That\'s why we need you to check their threat level.
The problem is that there is no way to exterminate them for good.
We tried and failed on several occasions over the centuries.
Those things are hard to define.
They are neither alive or undead.
Even after wiping them out, they keep respawning.
As for destroying the lost cities, it\'s too big of a risk.
Our mages have assessed that, whatever created those things in the past, still lingers up to date.
Those ruins are like a giant living array that has corrupted the very earth they were built upon.
They hold an incredible amount of magic power that somehow never runs out.
If we destroy those cities, we could create an even worse threat.
Not to mention that all the knowledge they hold would be lost forever.
Lith was now even more eager to explore those ruins.
\'It\'s like the library of Alexandria built on top of a nuclear reactor.\' He thought.
\'I wonder why Awakened ones never solved the issue.
Is it because it\'s beyond even their capabilities or do they just not care It\'s also possible they are the reason behind the constant respawn of the creatures.
\'It would make sense if the Awakened ones want to keep others away from the prize.\'
I expect you to depart immediately. Berion handed to Lith a dimensional amulet shaped like the Ranger\'s Crest.
It contained everything he could need during his travels.
Remember to always report your position at least thrice a day.
We need to know where you are and what are you doing.
It\'s especially important before you enter one of the lost ruins or an unmapped city.
Never underestimate the dangers of the border regions.
There a lot of deserters from both the Griffon Kingdom and the Gorgon Empire living there.
In the past, we have lost a lot of promising Rangers because of their carelessness.
Don\'t hesitate to call for backup.
The real strength of the army resides in its numbers.
Feel free to get from the armory whatever you may need.
Good luck, Ranger Verhen.
After exchanging the salute, Commander Berion offered Lith his hand.
Lith was surprised by the gesture, but he shook it nonetheless.
\'Seems he has high expectations for you.\' Solus pondered.
\'It doesn\'t match with my idea of a Ranger being like a beat cop, though.
I mean, what can he possibly hope for you to achieve in the wilderness\'
\'We\'ll find out.\' Lith followed the Commander\'s advice, restocking his supplies of food and Alchemical tools.
There was no weapon or armor that outperformed his current equipment, which was disappointing.
Lith left the camp, reaching the city of Belius with the Warp Gate.
It was the biggest settlement in the region.
Belius was a fortress city built in front of a narrow pass between two mountain ranges that formed a natural border separating the two countries.
On the other side of the pass there was a twin city, Relius, flying the Gorgon Empire\'s flag.
Lith was stunned by the amount of magic in the air.
There were countless arrays in place, preventing the use of dimensional magic, flight, and even spells above tier three.
Lith could sense a dissonance in the air that gave his mana core an ill feeling.
He had never seen so many protections since he had left the Royal Palace.
\'Paranoid much\' Lith realized how hypocritical it the word sounded coming from him the moment he thought it.
\'Yeah and for a good reason.\' Solus pondered.
\'Both cities must prevent the enemy from building a dimensional corridor that would make all the weapons and walls in the world useless.
Dimensional items make smuggling anything an easy feat.
No wonder they are banned here.\' She had attempted accessing her pocket dimension just to find it sealed.
Even leaving Belius proved to be not an easy feat.
Lith had to fill a lot of paperwork to be recognized as the newly appointed Ranger of the region, had to declare everything he had stored in his army and personal dimensional amulets.
Much to his dismay, he found out the Mage Association had a way to undo his imprinting on the enchanted items and could verify Lith\'s claims.
Are you sure you want to leave right away Asked a clerk of about twenty years of age after making an inventory of Lith\'s possessions before returning the amulets to him.
Belius may have strict regulations, but it\'s one of the most beautiful cities of the Kingdom.
Once you get out of the gates, it could be weeks before you have a proper bed and meal.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Without my magic, I feel naked. Lith replied.
I can\'t wait to get out of here.
The man nodded, opening a Warp Gate that brought Lith right outside the city walls.
Those were just some of the words that welcomed his arrival, together with numerous spits onto the ground to emphasized their contempt.
Even the city guards were about to join the crowd until they noticed the traveler was alone and donning the green of the Rangers.
They hastily swallowed their own phlegm giving him a salute.