Level up with swords (56)
The person who recognized the omen was Hamel, a former ranger from <Claws of Steel>. Even though it has been a long time since I retired, the experience accumulated in my mind and body does not easily disappear.
A forest in darkness.
In an environment where the visibility distance was less than 20m, his eyes found an irregular twitching pattern.
“It’s an attack!”
Hamel shouted loudly and took out the bow on his back.
My body reacted faster than I thought. The best option. Before those monsters could close the distance, the upper guard had to gain time to form their formation.
I move my fingers with the sense trained as a ranger.
The figures in the dark were small and numerous. To discourage those approaching, a means of suppressing a wide area was needed rather than precise sniping.
“Tsk, this is a waste.”
Hamel pulled out an arrow and clicked his tongue. This was because it was not cheap enough to be used on low-level monsters.
Still, he did not hesitate and pulled the bowstring.
Even if it’s a business that doesn’t make a profit, you have to do it.
A red ray was fired.
<Aura Arrow> of fire attribute. The wind howled in its orbit, and the darkness cleared for an instant, revealing the shapes of the monsters.
Small, ugly monsters were running towards me, holding rusty daggers and blowguns in both hands. Dozens, maybe more than a hundred. Hamel calculated the exact timing by estimating the number.
The arrows that pierced several goblins gradually slowed down and soon fell to the ground.
As he spoke to himself, “Auror Arrow” exploded.
The pieces of gunpowder iron planted inside the arrow fly in all directions, crushing the goblins around them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t die. Because the injured person naturally grabs the ankles of the others.
Hamel shouted as he coolly fired the next arrow.
“80 distance from the leader! 15 seconds until contact!”
Fire three or four shots in one breath. As the corpses of the goblins killed by him piled up in a heap, the movements of the goblins that had been attacking him like a wave began to slow down by a few beats.
This is enough.
As Hamel, who had consumed half of the Aurors in an instant, retreated, the mercenaries in formation walked out thanks to his performance.
“Well done Hamel! From now on, it’s our turn to work!”
The warriors, led by Gustav, stand at the front.
Although troops were left behind to protect the rear or flanks, the most intense area was bound to be in the direction of progress.
Leon was also mixed in with the group.
‘…Have you never fought like this before?’
This is the same whether before or after becoming an adventurer. For Leon, who was accustomed to acting alone, situations where he had to cooperate with others were unfamiliar.
I’ve infiltrated the enemy’s stronghold with Cesare or dealt with foreign mages with Karen in a subjugation of evil, but the situation itself is so special that it doesn’t help much. Most of the coordinated attacks were tailored to Leon.
But there was no time for him to think or do anything more.
“come! “You rats!”
As Gustav smashed several goblins with a powerful blow, other mercenaries also jumped forward.
The best defense is to push the wire itself.
The mercenaries knew this from long experience.
‘Let’s give it a try!’
Leon followed behind and raised his sword so as not to be left behind.
Cut off the head of the attacking goblin. It was cut much easier than the one I cut on the way to Blaine.
Leon felt his own growth through that touch.
It doesn’t end with just one animal. As he began to immerse himself in battle, his sword turned golden, and in just five steps, more than ten goblins were cut into pieces, scattering a large amount of blood.
Aside from Leon, the battle was one-sided.
Not only <Claws of Steel>, but also mercenaries below rank C are not weak enough to lose to goblins.
Several mercenary leaders shouted loudly and commanded other mercenaries.
“Hold the line! “Anyway, the stinger won’t get stuck anywhere but in the face!”
“Archer! “Kill the bastards that shoot poisonous needles from the trees first!”
“The guys from behind are already done!”
The mercenaries slaughtered the goblins without taking a single step back and reported the situation to each other. That unerring movement was an area that even the cunning of monsters could not penetrate.
The mercenaries continued to swing their weapons until goblin corpses piled up by the hundreds and the air of the forest was stained with the strong smell of blood.
Among them, the person who stood out the most was Gustav.
When he crushes a goblin with an entire tree and swings his great sword, even the direction of the wind reverses, scattering the smell of blood.
Indeed, it was an appearance worthy of its nickname, the crusher.
‘I can’t believe you’re swinging that great sword naturally in a forest like this…!’
However, Leon’s weapon skills were more surprising than his destructive power. It is common knowledge that weapons such as polearms and Zweihander do not show their full power in narrow spaces, but Gustav’s sword skills moved as if there were no obstacles.
It wasn’t just about being strong. This is evidence that the ability to perceive space has been overwhelmingly developed.
It was a different sense from <Anbeop>.
When Leon apologized for bumping into an unknown mercenary, he just shrugged his shoulders and moved on to another location.
Leon felt embarrassed and fiddled with the hilt of his sword.
This was also part of his immaturity.
Since I’ve never fought with someone’s back or shoulder to shoulder, I don’t know how to maintain an appropriate distance. So, I almost collided with other people several times.
‘Can we keep the Aura Sense more precise and stable?’
You can’t tell a hundred stories, but you can see it once.
One practical experience allowed Leon to set his next goal. You can make progress in swordsmanship by following what El Cid showed, but the best way to come to this realization is to experience it yourself.
A more refined aura sense scans the surroundings. Maintain your own space so that it does not overlap with that of others.
Leon grew one step further like that.
“good! “It looks like it’s all over!”
At that time, Gustav, who returned from the lead, spoke loudly.
“All the goblins have been defeated! “I’m sure none of your friends were seriously injured by those idiots, right?”
Everyone, mercenaries and adventurers alike, giggled at those words.
A horde of hundreds of goblins.
If it were a remote territory, it would be a threat to its safety, but as a guard unit composed of B-rank and C-ranks, it was nothing. Moreover, even though he didn’t participate in this battle, isn’t there an A-rank adventurer accompanying him?
Even if there were thousands of them, not just hundreds, they didn’t flinch.
“Let’s go back to the carriage and rest for now! “The friends in charge of reconnaissance will suffer a little more, and the rest will disperse!”
Following Gustav’s command, the mercenaries and adventurers each return to their carriages. There were no by-products from the goblin’s corpse that could be used for money, so no one dismembered it or searched the body.
Leon stayed there for a while and tried to control the Aura Sense and concluded that it was not a task that could be solved in a short time.
And as he and Karen were heading back to the carriage where they were staying,
he said, “Well, wait a minute.”
Before he knew it, Gustav came to his side and stopped him. Leon opened his mouth to ask why.
“What’s going on?”
“The owner of the merchant called you and your group. “It’s probably business.”
“―It must be troll hunting.”
Leon and Gustav flinched almost simultaneously. This was because someone suddenly appeared behind him.
If you are ambushed from this distance, you will simply die.
Because they understood that, the bodies of the two prosecutors froze.
Karen, the adventurer who was behind them without any hesitation, smiled and clasped Leon’s shoulder. She spoke to Gustav in that posture.
“Do you think the guards want to catch the troll?”
“Hmm, that’s right. “We have also completed discussions with the merchant owners.”
Like a seasoned mercenary, Gustav quickly calmed down and answered her words as usual.
“As you know, forest trolls have completely different attitudes toward the strong and the weak. “If you show your power, there is a high possibility that you will run away from this area without even looking back.”
“So you’re asking me not to come forward?”
Karen looked at him with emotionless eyes.
That feeling of intimidation that was difficult to face even though he had nothing to live for was truly his accomplishment as a ‘gwankeeper.’
Gustav said, breaking into a cold sweat.
“It’s just a recommendation. If you don’t want it, the troll has decided to just give up.”
Then Karen thought for a while and turned her head to Leon.
“What do you want to do?”
“Why are you asking me?”
“You’re a troll. You haven’t dealt with one yet, have you? “If you want to fight, I thought it would be a good idea to use this opportunity to hunt.”
Leon felt his interest rise at those words.
A medium-sized monster that lives in woodlands and swamps and dominates the area with its unique regenerative power and brute force. In every adventure story, a troll appears at least once.
‘It’s different from the monsters summoned through foreign methods. ‘You’ll have quite a bit of experience to gain from fighting.’
Monsters with bodies and special abilities superior to humans for which the Holy Sword’s banishment function does not work.
Leon hasn’t dealt with those guys yet.
“I want to fight.”
“I knew so.”
After hearing his answer, Karen turned to Gustav.
“One of them will give Leon a chance to fight him one-on-one. If you’re willing to do that, I’ll cooperate with the troll hunt. how is it?”
“…I will pass it on to the merchant owner as is.”
“Ah, I’ll get all the money for the troll’s blood, so just pay it at the market price.”
It was a natural request.
Gustav immediately nodded.
* * *
It was four days later.
The Storm Troops were still a bit past the central area of the forest, but this was due to repeated raids.
The goblin horde on the first day was nothing special.
Even though hundreds of them were dead, the goblins flocked again and a mountain of corpses piled up like before. Anyone could see that this was not normal behavior. Even monsters know fear. This is different from a berserker who endlessly attacks even an opponent he cannot defeat.
“Goblins on the first and second days, then gnolls and kobolds? “I don’t know what’s coming this time.”
Karen, who was juggling a dagger, muttered that.
Leon nodded without realizing it. It was as she said. Perhaps the influence of the forest trolls was greater than expected, and monsters from all over this forest were targeting Storm Merchant.
Of course, that power was not very threatening.
So, the owner of the merchant, Arnold, probably hasn’t given up on troll hunting yet.
“Isn’t it possible to just wait and see and not attack?”
I thought it would do this once or twice and then attack, but the forest troll’s patience was quite persistent.
Leon felt like he was just wasting time.
“Well, that could be possible.”
Karen also did not specifically deny it. Monsters are not all the same, so even if they are the same species, their behavior can vary.
This was especially true for forest trolls.
In a forest where there are many monsters stronger than trolls, they gather in groups of dozens like hyenas and search for corpses. There were also cases where they hunted by throwing stones and trees like humans.
For that reason, troll hunting was more about the cunning than the strength of the troll itself. If they thought they couldn’t win, they didn’t show up, and their behavior changed greatly depending on the environment, so there was no set hunting method.
It was that moment.
The dagger that slipped out of Karen’s hand fell into the bottom of the carriage, and she looked out of the carriage with her eyes wide open.
A beat later, Leon also sensed the approach.
Something extremely heavy was approaching quickly.
There was no time to do anything other than react.
As soon as the two people got up from their seats, a large rock hit the carriage one car in front of them.
The ground shakes.
The carriage was hit by a rock with such force that it was crushed to pieces and even the horses fell over.
There was nothing to say about the people inside it.
“…He died instantly.”
Leon jumped out of the carriage and frowned.
Despite several attacks, no one was killed, but three people were killed in just one attack.
I didn’t know his name, but he looked familiar.
These are mercenaries who clinked glasses several times during the banquet.
“I’m here. “Get ready.”
Karen, on the other hand, was cool.
Without even looking once, I keep my eyes on the direction from which the rock came. There is no emotion in someone’s death.
From that look, Leon realized that she was a real assassin.
However, there was no time to get caught up in those sentiments.
“More rocks are coming! Prepare for impact!”
Gustav’s angry cries are heard.
Only then did Leon look up and see four rocks flying from afar.
The forest trolls finally entered the fight.