Day 91 ~ 100
We departed the forest yesterday at noon.
Enough time had passed, that if we had let the skeleton centipede run, which can move without resting, --since it would have stood out too much if we had left it like that, I disguised it as some weird self-propelling covered wagon. It was still conspicuous, but it was better than a skeleton centipede... I think?-- at full speed, we would have already been able to cross the vast grassland that lies beyond the forest, traverse the hilly area, leave the mountain pass behind, and maybe even reach the highway leading to our destination, the fortified city of ≪Trent≫.
However, since we had spent a night in a village in the plains, we were still in the grasslands.
The village we stayed in was called "Clueto" and had a population of about 300. They did some minimal farming as a fallback, but mainly went to our birth forest, which was called the "Big Kuudrun Forest" by the humans, to collect high quality wood, --Here also, probably because of the spirits gathered by Velvet's dungeon, apparently there were ancient trees with traces of the spirit's powers-- which was used to craft unusual chairs, instruments, and other things, which were then sold for income in the city.
I had them show me their products, and they were magnificent. The power of the spirits, though only slightly, dwelled within, and I could understand why the rich would buy one of these as a kind of a status symbol. I imagine that those with Jobs that use instruments like [Minstrel] would seek to buy one of these, as they had an abnormally high performance.
I heard that originally, this place was empty like the surrounding grassland, but as craftsmen with confidence in their skills gathered, seeking the high quality wood you could get from the forest, a settlement was formed, and an increase in apprentices working under the craftsmen resulted in the creation of this so called artisan-village. In a few years, the size should increase even further.
As there were some master artists among the craftsmen who specialized in trading with aristocrats, through the noble client's arrangements to guard the village, there were five manmade magical creatures, the [Guardians]--Long story short, they were golems made of iron. Their physical power was weaker than an Ogre's but stronger than a Hobgoblin's, so they were not especially strong, but because they were made of iron, their endurance was extremely high-- that were stationed there. In addition, as precautions towards external threats, they installed watchtowers, moats and a wooden wall.
According to Redhead and the others, this was one of the villages that were blessed with an environment that could be considered quite safe in this world.
However, if that were the only thing about this village, I would have just casually stopped by --There was some trouble, as I was an ogre, but I will omit that part. Also, I changed my conspicuous black skin color with one of Velvet's legacy items, the [Shape-shift Ring], to brown, the same color as normal Ogres. I plan on eating the ring afterwards-- and after saying my greetings around the neighborhood and handing out business cards, or rather, business metal plates containing one of my clones, which gave it a communication function, I would have left for the city.
The reason we didn't do so was because a problem had recently broken out in this village and the villagers were troubled by it.
The problem was as follows.
Since around ten years before this village was founded, the people would safely gather high quality wood from the forest by offering a couple female slaves or a certain amount of food or weapons every half a year to the Orc tribe living in the forest. It seems that the Orcs protected them from the monsters in the forest.
Apparently, that was the most convenient solution at the time the village was founded, and that had continued until today.
Nevertheless, recently, the Orcs had not only broken their promise, but also started attacking as they were lumbering, and because of that, around three young female apprentices had been kidnapped. Not only that, they had even attacked the village several times.
The [Guardians] were monsters that were strong enough to easily kill Orcs, but they weren't enough if they came in great numbers. Although the [Guardians] couldn't be destroyed, with just five of them, they couldn't cover the entire village. In order to protect the village, the baffled villagers took up arms and fought, and as a result, although there weren't any deaths, people got injured one after another, their fields were devastated, and they couldn't safely gather their material, the high quality wood, anymore.
The villagers wondered why the Orcs, who had been friendly for the past ten years, would carry out such barbarous acts, and it seems that they concluded that Orcs were nothing but monsters in the end.
They still had a surplus of wood, but if this situation were to continue, it would hinder their delivery period and, in a worst case scenario, they would lose their customers and the village would decline in prosperity. That would turn this place into a ghost town.
Its history was shallow and most of the villagers weren't born and raised here, but if you lived somewhere, you were bound to grow fond of that place. Especially for the senior craftsmen who had been living here for ten years since the foundation. They were frustrated at the thought of the village being deserted and it was obvious that, as a human, you would try to avoid losing your job.
They had even started talking about sending an Orc subjugation request to a Guild in the near future, rather than having something like that happen.
In other words, um, we were the root cause for the critical situation in this village.
Our current headquarters once belonged to the orcs. We then snatched it away by killing the Orcs. At that time, we annihilated their main force, or rather, their leader and the mages, which were the brains of the tribe, and ate them.
As a result, only those who were not in the mine at that time, that is to say, the Orcs who were in the settlement, survived, and as a result of examining them with my clones, I confirmed that only Orcs who lacked intelligence were left. Although their number had diminished as they were killed by the [Guardians] and the villagers when they had attacked Clueto village, there were still around thirty survivors.
The results may have been different if there had been some clever survivors, but in reality, the work and food distribution system set into place by the leader and the mages collapsed with their deaths and the Orcs acted on instinct, recklessly eating their food supply, which led to them being troubled by food shortages. It was an understandable flow of events.
Orcs were strong, but they weren't very skilled at hiding their presence, so it was not hard to imagine that it would prove to be difficult for them to catch enough animals and monsters from the forest, which were sensitive to presences, to ensure that none of the Orcs starved.
Recently, the Orcs had become thin. You could tell by their appearance that they had not eaten anything proper.
The remaining Orcs, who had been driven into this corner, then resorted to looting the humans as a way to somehow stay alive. This was because humans were way easier to hunt than the beasts of the forest.
Since they would also get crops from the fields, there was even more reason to do this.
Then the Orcs attacked the village.
So yeah, in that sense, the cause lay with us, especially me.
Even I couldn't bring myself to just ignore the problem I had involved these strangers into. All the more if I was the origin. Besides, well, actually, this is my real motivation, but if the villagers sent out a request, the location of our base would probably get leaked. From the fact that the Orcs occasionally sold the elemental stones that they had dug up in this village, the cave would definitely be searched for and investigated.
Elemental stones were valuable. If you sold them in the right place, you could earn vast amounts of money. There was also a demand for them as an ingredient for high quality magic items. I couldn't imagine that humans would overlook such a money tree. It seemed that they had not been investigating and had kept the information hidden because of the contract with the Orcs, but that was now all in the past.
If you asked me, I would like to avoid having them search. The base was still in the middle of being fortified. I wanted to prevent as much information from leaking as possible. Keeping the base a secret was top priority.
Therefore, I talked with the mayor of this village yesterday, and since we lost time agreeing on a contract for us to protect them while they felled the trees, we ended up staying a night.
He thought that they would be betrayed like with the Orcs, but Redhead and the others were able to pursuade him. As I thought, in times like these, words from members of the same race could carry a lot of weight. Although, me healing their wounded without charge may also have been one of the main factors.
Anyway, we reached an agreement with Clueto village. We settled on having a short-term contract along with several promises for now, and after seeing how it went, we could make an official long-term contract. We agreed that they would not look for elemental stones, so it should be fine for now. I also threatened the mayor by saying that we could not guarantee what would happen to this village if they breached the contract.
Since we compromised a lot on the reward and such, this much was probably fine.
With the problem solved, we received our breakfast and departed from the village.
When we established our contract --in other words, around yesterday evening-- I sent an order to the group back at the base, and within a few hours, the remaining Orcs had all been turned into roast pork, so the Orc problem was already solved.
The reason why we killed them rather than enslaving them was that we didn't need slaves on the level of Orcs, and also because they tasted pretty good, so I had them eaten to boost the energy of those defending our base.
As for the three kidnapped women, --As you could tell from their name, and from the ability I gained from them, Orcs were pretty much bottomless in that area, so they were dirtied quite a bit, but I'm sure the villagers would do something about that-- we saved them, so today at around noon, I plan on having ten Goblins led by a Hobgoblin Mage, a party of eleven, take them to the village when they visit them.
It would be fine if we started building up their trust from now on.
Also, we decided on taking in the several surviving female slaves that the Orcs had kept.
I think their living environment will be better than before.
You could say that that these were pretty good omens.
While being rocked by the skeleton carriage, I consumed the bracelet.
[Ability [Shape-Shift] Learning Complete]
For now, I'll only change my body color. The red tattoo is still visible, though.
I gave up on the idea of getting to the city quickly. This was because I wanted to devote my energy to thoroughly investigating our surroundings and eating monsters.
Our current location was the hilly area just beyond the grasslands, where, in addition to the Bicorn we had killed and eaten in the grasslands, we found many other species we hadn't encountered before. For example, the "Boarfolle", a mix of a rhinoceros, buffalo, and a boar, the "Turtle Snake", a two meter long snake with a red 30 cm diameter turtle shell in the middle of its body, the "Horn Rabbit", which was probably a higher rank of the Horn Rabbit with a sharp 20 cm long blade growing from its head, and the "Harpy", which looked like a human that had switched its limbs with those of a bird.
I was sure that I would gain abilities I had never gotten before if I ate them. I was looking forward to it.
It's just that, there weren't many places to hide, unlike in the forest. Dhammi-chan and I could somehow manage, but it would be really hard for Redhead to approach the enemy by hiding in a blind spot and launching a surprise attack.
Given our situation, we decided that Dhammi-chan and I would strike first with a magic attack, and while the enemy was knocked back, I would ride the Demon Bear Kumajirou with Redhead and approach the enemy.
Dhammi-chan's ≪Familiar≫, the Triple Horn Horse, was left at our base for various reasons, so she was riding Kurosaburou, who was now a Orthrus.
I could have finished everything by myself, but then Dhammi-chan, Redhead, Kumajiro and the others wouldn't receive any experience points, so this was the best strategy.
However, I still wonder why Dhammi-chan was looking at Redhead so enviously.
Our first target was a herd of Boarfolle. There were 10 of them. I decided that we would turn at least one of them into a ≪Familiar≫ as a camouflage, to make it look like it was pulling the skeleton centipede.
Well, since people were surprised at the skeletal wagon when we stopped at the village, I decided to make it look more proper. I could have used Kumajirou, who was lying around on the luggage rack, but since we planned to use him as a mount in emergency situations, I dropped that idea. And since Kurosaburou is skilled at raid attacks, it's much more efficient to have him move on his own, rather than riding him.
Getting back to the story, we succeeded in hunting down Boarfolles.
According to Redhead and the others, the horns of a Boarfolle can be sold at a high price as an ingredient for medicine, so I tore them off.
It seemed that you could also sell the meat, but for now we ate around five of them for breakfast.
[Ability [Crushing Rhino Body] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Desensitization] Learning Complete]
The amount I ate was quite a bit, but since they were weaker than me, I only obtained two abilities. Well, I think that's about right. They both seem pretty useful, so it doesn't bother me and I have no complaints.
Rather, the quality of the meat was so good that there was no way I would be dissatisfied. I cooked it like yakiniku and I couldn't stand the texture of how the meat melted when I put it into my mouth, and how the deliciousness spread around. Having this flavor despite its looks, you couldn't help but think that you were being tricked.
TL Note : Yakiniku is thinly sliced meat (usually beef) roasted on a metal net over an open fire.
In this case, I think it was natural to scream out that Boarfolle meat was delicious.
I didn't miss the chance to have my blood clones run around and fill out the map in my head while eating. After the meal, I changed the shape of the skeletal centipede so that the Boarfolle, who was turned into a ≪Familiar≫, could pull it, and we set off towards the hilly area.
After a while, we discovered a Blade Rabbit. Despite the Blade Rabbit being larger than a Horn Rabbit and having a sharp weapon, to me and Dhammi-chan, it was only small fry that could easily be trampled, so we let Redhead hunt it down.
I decided to watch with Blacksmith-san and the others while drinking some black tea that we got from Father Elf.
It looked like Blade Rabbits were unexpectedly nimble. Over short distances, it was moving even faster that the Red Deer that Redhead used to chase down and slaughter. Redhead was being toyed with by its speed and its strange movement pattern. The number of small wounds she sustained as they crossed each other kept growing and blood was spilling out.
A small cry rose from the sisters each time, but Redhead kept her cool and continued observing the Blade Rabbit. Yes, she may be losing in speed, but she had only received scratches and had not yet sustained a fatal wound. This was likely the results of our daily training showing.
After around a minute, Redhead, who had gotten used to the speed, swung down her kukri knife and precisely hit the neck of the Blade Rabbit, tearing through its flesh and neck bone.
After picking up the head and the body that were rolling around on the ground, Redhead turned towards us. I nodded. Seeing that, she began devouring them. That is, raw. She ate the blade on the forehead as if it were a rice cracker.
Since she hadn't drained the blood, the fresh blood splattered out and dyed Redhead's mouth and leather armor red.
I could tell that even Alchemist-san, who usually kept her cool, had her breath taken away by the gory scene.
Seeing that, I told them, "That is a necessary measure to restrain the side effect of Redhead's [Noire Soldier], so there's no worry about her getting sick.", but they replied disappointedly, "No, that's not the problem...".
Then they chuckled, laughing at me.
I wonder why.
Well, whatever. Since I was set at ease by patting Redhead on her head, who was happily saying that eating the Blade Rabbit had raised her ability stats with a red stain around her mouth, I let that slide. By the way, I completely removed the huge amount of blood stuck to her leather armor with [Hydro Hand], so there wasn't even a trace left.
At noon, I discovered a den of the Turtle Snakes. It seemed that Turtle Snakes made their nest underground by digging holes, just like ants. This was strange behaviour, but I found out that a lot of them were sleeping underground, thanks to [Echolocation], so I decided to attack them all at once.
Using [Earth Control], I pushed out every single sleeping Turtle Snake. The momentum was so strong that they flew high into the sky, so Dhammi-chan, Redhead, the three Lords we brought along, and I split up and cut off their necks.
The races of the Lords were a [Gale Lord], a [Flame Lord], and the last one was an [Illusion Lord].
The fact that the [Illusion Lord], who wasn't a melee type, took time to chop off the heads while Redhead hunted down more, goes without saying.
I heard that the shells of the Turtle Snake could be sold at a high price, so we were careful to not damage the shell. When we counted after finishing, there were 88 Turtle Snakes. I had killed 38 of them.
Red was shocked, saying that I was too fast, but since Blacksmith-san and the others were praising me with excitement, saying how amazing I was, I was in a good mood.
I stored the shells we collected in my item box, and we turned the snake meat into kabayaki and ate it.
Tl Note : Kabayaki is a way of cooking eel in Japan where the eel is split down the belly, filleted, skewered, and then grilled.
The kabayaki, which we weren't able to do with the Night Vipers, was very delicious. Its compatibility with Elf Sake was outstanding. I wanted to eat this again. Or rather, I chose in my heart to definitely eat this again.
[Ability [Hide in Shell] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Dormant] Learning Complete]
The taste was good, but the abilities I got were iffy. I'll definitely sell those shells at a high price.
Actually, I wanted to try eating the Harpies flying in the sky, but leaving Dhammi-chan and Redhead aside, I thought it would be bad for the mental health of Blacksmith-san and the others, so I'll eat when they're not around. I'll hold myself back for now.
At around three in the afternoon, we thought we had done enough, so we decided to set off towards the mountain path beyond the hilly area.
As I had already completely mapped out the hilly area with my clones that ran around, I had no special regrets.
Now, I wonder what kinds of monsters we will find on the mountain path.
There seemed to be three mountain paths, namely a path which was the shortest, but ran along a perilous cliff, a basic, wide path which was average in both danger level and distance, and a path which had the lowest danger level, but followed a long river.
This goes without saying, but I chose the route which was the shortest, but was along the perilous cliff.
When it was said to be perilous, there was the fact that the road was rougher than the others, but above all, the strongest monsters, comparable with the Hind Bears, dwelled along this cliff, and there was even a boss-class monster like the Red Bear.
Furthermore, it seemed that the strength of this boss-class monster living here surpassed that of even the Red Bear.
The strongest species that inhabited the cliff around these parts was said to be huge eagles with four wings and brown feathers, called the "Falaise Eagle". Their average body size was about two meters, and the sight of them flying as they spread out their four wings, which were more than twice as big as their body size, overwhelmed observers. Furthermore, it seemed that they had high flight speeds, were more maneuverable than their huge frames would indicate, and could secrete a paralysis poison from their talons to slowly weaken their prey, which was rather troublesome.
TL Note : The Kanji for the Falaise Eagle literally means four winged large eagle. - Cookie
I also heard that the boss that led them --a [Falaise Eagle Subspecies] with jade colored feathers-- was even bigger, and due to the abilities from the [Divine Protection] of one of the gods, it could attack its targets by generating small tornados from its mouth, or by transforming the wind born from the flapping of its wings into blades that chopped through the enemies. In addition, it had enough intelligence to command its subordinates.
Ever since this guy started living here, it seemed that there were barely any people who used the path along the cliff.
Indeed, it was a troublesome story. The Red Bear was strong, but in the end, it moved alone. However, this time, I should probably think of the enemy as a group.
Blacksmith-san and the others explained all this to me very thoroughly before we entered the cliff route, but I said that it was OK and pushed on, so there wasn't anything special to worry about.
Certainly, the flight speed of the Falaise Eagles was very fast. In addition to the speed, it was difficult dealing with them because they came flying out of the many blind spots along the cliff path. However, since I had [Detect Presence], it was a piece of cake for me to aim for the exact moment they would come out of the blind spot and capture them by using my thread.
Once you knew about a surprise attack before it happened, it was really easy to counterattack. Just like that, after removing the parts that could be sold from the 18 Falaise Eagles we caught, we cooked the rest as Karaage or Yakitori and ate them.
TL Note : Karaage is deep fried chicken and yakitori is grilled, skewered chicken, usually glazed with a teriyaki sauce. - Cookie
The meat had a refreshing flavor and tasted pretty good.
[Ability [Panic Voice] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Feather Generation] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Knowledge of High-Speed Flight] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Wind Reading] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Paralysis Talons] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Paralysis Resistance] Learning Complete]
As we were proceeding like that, at around two in the afternoon, we reached the widest part of the cliff path. There were all sorts of animal bones scattered across the ground, and rather than a path, it looked more like something's nest. Upon closer inspection, you could find the remains of several human bones and equipment. It was as if they were the remains of those who had come to subjugate the beast living on the path, but had the tables turned against them.
As I was thinking that, from above, the loud flapping sound of wings rang through the air. A sudden gust blew violently against our skins.
I wasn't surprised, as I had already felt their presence with [Detect Presence], and I looked up into the sky.
There, I saw, in addition to five Falaise Eagles, a [Falaise Eagle Subspecies] with jade-colored feathers --a "Jade Eagle (tentative name)". The sight of its body, which was more than twice as big as a normal Falaise eagle, flying powerfully through the air, was overflowing with an overwhelming presence.
It was even larger than a Red Bear, and the intimidation it was radiating was on a whole different level.
Our eyes met. I felt an uncomfortable feeling around the nape of my neck. It had definitely come here to kill us.
Its jade-colored feathers sparkled, reflecting the sunlight like blades, and its diamond-like beak and talons were constantly moving, as if they were aching to quickly tear apart the flesh of the prey. Talon scraped on talon and sparks flew.
I could sense intelligence in its yellow eyes looking down on me. It had enough elegance to make me think that it would be a waste to kill it.
Unfortunately, I try to eat enemies I see for the first time whenever possible, and this Jade Eagle was a subspecies. If I ate it, I would probably obtain [Divine Protection]-type abilities, just like with the Red Bear. For me, it was an enemy I had to eat.
Entrusting the protection of Redhead and the others to Dhammi-chan and the three Lords, I used [Insect Wing Generation] to grow insect-like wings from my back, and flew towards the airborne enemy that was looking down on me.
I had a Halberd grasped tightly in my hands.
I think about an hour had passed.
As expected, the sky was the Jade Eagle's territory.
The flight speed and turning ability brought forth by the four wings were exactly like the wind. Thanks to the [Knowledge of High-Speed Flight] I had just obtained, I was able to better understand how amazing it was.
I was toyed around with by the Jade eagle, who freely flew around the sky like the wind. My flight had faced difficulties as it was shaken by the turbulence created by the eagle's four wings, my wings were torn off again and again by the small tornado spears it shot from its mouth, and its huge paralyzing talons had gouged out flesh from several places all over my body.
My whole body was stained in blood and I was continuously losing body fluids. Moreover, the jade feathers were sharp and hard, cutting my flesh with the slightest graze. This was extremely troublesome..
Since I couldn't dodge all of its attacks, my right arm, which I had been using to shield myself, was cut off by its diamond talons, and my left leg was bitten off by its diamond beak. There was probably some anti-healing property to its saliva, because blood continued flowing out from my left leg without stopping, so I had to resort to forcing the blood to stop flowing by clenching my muscles.
Fortunately, I had [Severe Pain Resistance] and [Desensitization], so even if I were this severely wounded, the pain didn't distract me. However, I was being slowly driven into a corner.
As expected, while airborne, I had difficulty perfectly executing the many martial arts I had mastered. This was because, in the end, they were merely methods that were developed and passed down by humans. It was difficult to demonstrate their full effect while in the air.
With that said, it didn't mean that it was a one-sided fight.
I had already cut down all five Falaise Eagles that had tagged along.
The right leg of the Jade Eagle had been cut off by my halberd, there were several holes in its four wings and there was a deep wound in its torso. The jade body feathers were dyed red here and there.
It wasn't that I was losing in terms of individual power in any way.
However, the sky was an unfamiliar battleground. The enemy's territory was weighing me down.
I must have been an easy target for the Jade Eagle, since my mind was slightly disarrayed, due to being exposed to strong winds caused by its raging whirlwinds and having to fight and fly simultaneously, which I wasn't accustomed to, and because of this strong damage, my initial flight speed had declined significantly.
The intensity of the attacks increased and at last, the halberd in my hand fell onto the cliff path. Luckily, the Halberd fell and stuck into the ground in the direction the skeleton centipede was travelling, and didn't fall down the cliff. Nevertheless, it was not in a place where I could pick it up immediately.
The Jade Eagle, probably seeing me losing my weapon as a good opportunity, took a larger distance from me than ever before and came flying straight towards me, seemingly intending to pierce through me with its diamond-like beak.
Along with that came storm-like winds.
The Jade Eagle, riding the sudden gust it probably generated with its [Divine Protection] abilities, flew at a speed that couldn't be compared with anything until now. It seemed like it was flying towards me with its actual, full speed.
It made me think that it did a good job, going so far with such a tattered body.
A cry rose from Redhead and the others.
Pierced by its beak, I would meet my end in the sky.
I felt that the Jade Eagle, firmly believing in its victory, smiled a little.
I clenched my teeth with a vexed look.
I tried putting on such an act.
No, to be exact, this was simply the result of me limiting the abilities I would use, and so it ended up this way.
As expected, it seemed that this wasn't such an easy enemy that I could win in its territory without using any abilities. Well, they were stronger than Ogres as a race, so you could say that it was obvious.
I stopped the fight that I was treating as training to raise my own strength and I decided to seriously go and kill it.
After estimating the timing at which the Jade Eagle would fly into me, I activated numerous abilities, one after another, that I hadn't used in the fight until now.
I ate my right arm, which had been cut off but I had secretly collected, and thereby fulfilled the activation conditions for [Infused Liquid Restoration], and by stacking [Rapid Regeneration] and [Rapid Recovery], I instantly healed all of the wounds on my body. Even my chopped off right arm and my torn up left leg regenerated immediately. In exchange, I used up a lot of energy and I got hungry, but there was food right in front of my eyes, so that wasn't a problem.
Next I changed my appearance into something like a red stag beetly using [Exoskeleton Equip]. The exoskeleton not only had a defensive function, but also enhanced my physical strength, and by simultaneously activating [Black Ogre's Tenacious Body] and [Dragon Scale Armor Formation], I transformed into something like a stag beetle with dragon scales.
I sprouted golden threads from my fingertips and entangled the Jade Eagle, who had been witnessing my instantaneous transformation, and additionally used [Gravity Law] to manipulate gravity to pull him in the opposite direction he was flying in, and forced him to lose momentum.
Several of the golden threads were cut by the wind blades surrounding the body, but some of the threads remained, and since it was not able to go against the intangible gravitational pull, the amazing speed had already disappeared.
I swung both my fists down onto the head of the enemy, who couldn't change its trajectory at such a late point.
I didn't use an ability. I just simply swung down my arms at full strength. If I did this with my current enhanced physical strength, the results should be as clear as day.
The Jade Eagle was thrown onto the ground at a high speed. It was an attack that resulted in a small crater where it hit the ground. It was on a level that normally would've sent limbs flying and killed it instantly.
However, maybe because of the especially tough vitality of this monster, it was still alive. Still, it was only to an extent where you could say that it just wasn't dead yet. Although, I thought it was impressive just by the fact that it didn't die.
I recovered the halberd I had lost and put an end to our fight by beheading the Jade eagle.
I collected the jewel-like eyeballs from the head that had fallen off and put them in a small bottle filled with a liquid before eating the skull with its meat. Delicious. It felt as if the Jade Eagle's life force was flowing into me.
After being satisfied, I took apart the body as usual, by removing the skin while being careful that the blade-like jade feathers wouldn't fall out and by preparing the meat I chopped off. As I was cutting around the heart, I felt the sensation of my hunting knife hitting something hard. I knew that it wasn't bone from the feeling, and when I curiously investigated, I found something like a jade-colored, ten centimeter large cobblestone.
Thinking to myself "What is this?" I used [Appraisal] and found out that it was an item called the [Lord of Falaise Eagles' Spirit Stone].
As I turned towards Blacksmith-san and the others, wanting to ask what this was, the four peddlers were immediately standing next to me, staring at the stone in my hands as if they were ready to devour it.
They came so fast that I wanted to ask when they approached me. It really startled me.
TL Note : What, you got startled by weak humans? - rei_hunter
Pulling myself together, I had them explain what it was, since they seemed to know something, and they said that [Spirit Stone]-type items were all [Legendary]-class.
It seemed that the you can get [Spirit Stones] from one in a hundred boss-type monsters. The stronger the boss-type monster, the purer, the rarer, and the stronger the [Spirit Stone] you could get from it was.
Even then, boss-type monsters weren't something you could hunt down easily.
There was even a story that there was once a well-known boss-type monster who was recognized as having a [Spirit Stone], and a certain country's army was deployed to subjugate it, but was wiped out completely.
The [Spirit Stone] was not an item you could simply get by aiming for it.
Therefore, it seemed that when a [Spirit Stone]-type item was put on an auction, enough money was moved to buy a small country. However, most of the time it wasn't offered for sale, but was used to craft a magic item with unmatched power.
It was interesting to hear and as I was wondering whether I should eat it or not, the four glared at me with looks that seemed to say "There's no way you're going to eat that, right? If you're going to eat it, let's sell it." So I decided to put it in my item box for now.
I gave a wry smile to the four, who were merchants through and through.
Since I was probably able to obtain this thanks to [Luck] and [Golden Rule], I felt gratitude towards them.
After that I draped on the skin I had peeled off with its jade feathers and activated [Exoskeleton Equip].
Just like the time when it took in the Red Bear leather armor to create the Red stag beetle-like exoskeleton, it took in the Jade eagle skin with its jade feathers and a second new exoskeleton was created and registered.
It was a polished exoskeleton with a jade and black color scheme, and there were four wings on the back. There were sharp projections here and there, and diamond talons were attached to my arms and legs. It seemed I could retract them by will, so it should be useful. The new exoskeleton had an overall resemblance to birds.
I flied to try it out, and I could fly faster than with my insect wings. It seemed that, when I brought out my wings, they automatically generated a gust, which raised my flight speed.
I also impulsively activated my insect wings, and it was a pleasant surprise to see that I could fly even faster.
While thinking that they would play a big role in air battles, I decided to eat the meat next.
I also thought this when I ate the head, but it was so delicious that it could fight for first or second place among what I had eaten until now.
So good that I reflexively shouted out.
[Ability[Predator of the Sky]Learning Complete]
[Ability[Divine Protection of the Storm God]Learning Complete]
[Ability[Dust Storm Immunity ]Learning Complete]
[Ability[Indestructible Flash Talon]Learning Complete]
[Ability[Sonic Bird]Learning Complete]
The result was satisfying. There were many abilities that seemed good, and I also gained a lot.
Next, wondering if I could maybe gain something, I searched the corpses of the dead adventurers and I found five still usable storage backpacks. When I checked the contents, I found a lot of money, weapons, and armor, as well as medicine, so I took it gratefully. There were some other useful things, so I took those as well.
As compensation, I gave the many corpses, who had been reduced to bones, a proper burial.
I gathered all bones in one place and cremated them.
Rest in peace.
After offering a prayer, we continued on our way. The only thing that bothered me, though, was that the three Lords started pointing their gazes, filled with mixed feelings, at me.
It felt as if they were looking at a monster, but also looking at someone they admired; it was that kind of look.
Today, it rained heavily.
Fortunately, we made it to the main road leading to the city yesterday, so we were able to take shelter from the wind and rain in a so-called "resting place", a simple, huge, one-story house with a width and length of 30 meters. The skeleton centipede was in the shelter for carriages.
The group of peddlers and the gathered adventurers, who had entered before us, got scared or showed bloodthirst the moment they saw me enter, so for now, I took out two wine barrels that I had looted from the human army and distributed drinks to everyone there.
I was able to win over the adventurers but not the peddlers, so I tried interacting with them by selling the turtle snake shells we got earlier, some materials we got in the woods, and the personal belongings of the adventurers we had cremated.
They showed some fear at first, but because of the presence of Blacksmith-san and the others, we gradually opened up their hearts.
The humans and demihumans that entered afterwards were surprised at my presence, but probably judging that there was no danger by reading the atmosphere, they didn't attack me, although they still kept an eye on me. I was thinking that I would eat anyone who attacked me, so I was a bit disappointed.
Around noon, the sisters joined the other women and men with [Cook] jobs and made lunch, and after eating, I was invited the join a gambling game so I decided to give it a try.
It was a card game that was similar to blackjack, and after receiving a simple explanation, I had a go, betting the money we got the day before.
The result was that I won hands down!
This was probably thanks to [Luck] and [Golden Rule]. I stripped away everything from the other participants until they were stark naked. There was even a gambling merchant amongst them who had his merchandise taken away.
After letting out a triumphant laugh, I returned the clothes and also returned the merchandise, keeping what I wanted.
It wasn't that I was returning all of the money and goods I had won, it just wasn't pleasant to look at naked filthy men, and I also felt guilty because I was cheating them a bit. Besides, it seemed that the guy who waged his merchandise was a member of a rather large trading company, so I thought I would make him owe me a favor.
I handed out business plates to those I got along with and advertised our mercenary troop, so I would say it was a good accomplishment.
The rain didn't stop today, so we decided to spend the day at the resting place.
Our skeleton centipede had a roof installed, so we could have proceeded if we wanted to, but since we weren't in a hurry, I decided to wait for the rain to cease and to kill time by sparring with Dhammi-chan, Redhead and the three Lords at the training ground in the corner of the resting place.
It seemed that Dhammi-chan and Redhead had recently discovered their own combat styles, so they just had to build on that from now on, but the attacks of the three Lords were monotonous, and it felt like they were forcibly pushing down opposition by using the natural abilities they were born with.
For now, I tried teaching Savate to the [Gale Lord] Fuuki-san, who didn't have good footwork, Muay Thai to the [Flame Lord] Netsuki-kun, who liked hand-to-hand combat, and Jujitsu to the [Illusion Lord] Genki-kun, who didn't like fighting directly.
Before my reincarnation, there was a special device which could be used to insert information on various martial arts directly into the brain, which I used to learn all of the techniques, many of which I had been using, so teaching them didn't pose much of a challenge.
After sparring for a while, several adventurers, who had been spectating from a distance, started saying that they wanted to join, so we decided to have a few matches.
Since there were more [Swordsmen] and [Warriors] than [Pugilists], I took out wooden swords and spears, which I had made beforehand, from my Item Box, while making it look like I was taking it out of a "Storage Backpack".
I tried holding back a bit, but I had been fighting against multiple enemies at once recently, and there weren't many strong opponents, so there wasn't much competition.
Even so, it was good exercise for me and I was able to grow quite close to them, so it was all good.
Leaving that aside, several of my clones disappeared. I wonder why?
I have no idea.
The rain that poured throughout the whole day yesterday had stopped, and we were currently proceeding through the muddy main road. However, we now had more members than before.
The deputy manager of the fortified city of ≪Trent≫'s branch of the Fermier Trading Company, who I got friendly with at the resting place, and his party, as well as the group of adventurers escorting them, were now with us.
Putting it simply, the deputy manager was a plump, bald, middle-aged man, and the person who had gambled away his merchandise to me yesterday. He was a gambler to the core and sometimes would even turn his wares into collateral for his loans.
I had my doubts on whether someone like that could become the deputy manager, but he said that, besides his gambling problem, he was a perfect fit for this position. It seemed that he was even more capable than the current manager.
Hey hey, don't exaggerate, I thought, but he didn't seem like a bad person and it had nothing to do with me, so I didn't really care.
Unlike the skeleton centipede, they had a covered wagon with horses that needed to rest, so our travel speed was slower than before, but since I was able to ask about the state of affairs in this world, it was time well spent.
During our conversation, it was mentioned that the princess was successfully cured by the secret medicine that the next emperor had brought back.
This was the first ever case of the "Creciendo Disease" being cured, and there were rumors that the Empire and the Kingdom were analysing the few remaining drops of the secret medicine.
In reality, the unused secret medicine had already spontaneously exploded without leaving a single drop, but I decided to keep that to myself.
Moreover, I understood that the Elves would no longer be attacked. The relationships between the countries had become unstable, and there were more and more people speculating a war in the near future.
That meant that they had no time to get involved with the Elves.
Besides the conversation, the day ended without anything special happening.
We arrived at the fortified city of ≪Trent≫ at around noon. The white wall that surrounded the city looked sturdy and had many mechanisms built into it, so it would probably be troublesome to break it down.
As I was thinking such thoughts, there was a commotion in front of the gate because of the fact that I was an Ogre. Well, the Demon Bear, Orthrus, and Boarfolle may also have been one of the reasons.
The situation started going in a critical direction, so it was possible that I would not be able to enter the city.
However, the deputy manager took care of the situation. It seemed that the influence of the Fermier Trading Company was considerably strong in this city.
I was thankful. Although, he made me agree to sell him Turtle Snake shells and such at a cheaper price in exchange.
For now, I decided to wear a hooded coat that covered my entire body while in the city. It wasn't as if it could hide my huge frame, but I liked to think that it was better than nothing.
There were many people in the city, but I also spotted some humanoid species and demihumans. I would say that the proportion was about four non-humans to every six humans. The city was very lively, and the main street was lined with shops, with shouts to come see their wares coming from all over.
I thought it must also have its dark sides, but it's a city I thought I could enjoy.
After entering the city, it was a pretty busy day, with all sorts of shopping and looking for an inn.
I told Redhead and the others that we would stay here for four to five days, so they should decide by then whether they wanted to come with me or to stay in this city. Personally, I didn't want to let them go, but I needed to respect their wishes.
Today, Redhead informed us of an institution called a ≪Guild≫, and so we headed there.
The members that went were me, Dhammi-chan, and Redhead, while the ones who weren't with us, which were Blacksmith-san and the others, walked through the city with the three Lords as bodyguards. Or rather, they said that they were going to sell the knives and magical potions they had made in order to fund the shopping tomorrow. Just as one would expect from peddlers.
The ≪Guild≫ was a fairly big and imposing institution.
Judging from its outer appearance, it looked like it had three stories and the ground floor that we stepped into was also being used as a bar. We saw a few people drinking alcohol there. I was wearing a coat, but it wasn't as if I could hide my huge body, and since it would have gotten in the way indoors, I had taken off my hood and entered, so there were some people who were surprised at me and drew their swords, but I ignored them and headed to the counter.
When they saw this, a group of them attacked me with their swords, so I suppressed them out of self-defense. Since it would be bad for me to kill someone here, I stopped at knocking them unconscious. I felt some bones breaking, but that was inevitable.
The color drained from the receptionist lady's face as I drew closer, but for now, I asked about what kind of quest requests they had at the moment. There were numerous papers pinned to a nearby board, but I thought it would be easier to understand if somebody explained it to me.
However, I did not receive a reply. It seemed that she had fainted while sitting in her chair.
It couldn't be helped so I asked the old man with a mysterious atmosphere who was seated next to her, and with a thud, he put a thick book onto the counter. It seemed that everything was explained in there, so I started reading. I had him explain the parts I didn't understand.
From there, after choosing the quests that had the delivery condition fulfilled by our inventory, -- like the delivery of Boarfolle horns-- I had Redhead, who had been registered as an adventurer, accept the quests, and then I took out the goods and received the bounty. The reason we came here was because we could gather information and make money at the same time.
There were things in the book that an adventurer of Redhead's level would not have been able to accept, but once we took out the goods and showed them to him, he made an exception and let us accept the quest. He was a very understanding old man.
As a result, Redhead's rank went up a level, but since it now matched her actual strength, it shouldn't be a problem.
After that, I asked the old man all sorts of things and we left the guild behind.
I only found out afterwards, but the old man I was talking to was the manager of the guild -- in other words, the guild master.
I wonder why he was at such a place. It's a mystery. Well, it doesn't have anything to do with me.
We then met up with Alchemist-san and the others, and I tagged along for the shopping. I really thought over this, but I wonder why it takes so long when women go shopping. This also held true in this alternate universe.
I was pretty exhausted.
Along the way, as there was a group of people following me, I decided to lure them into a back alley to repel them. Since I was counterattacked with a knife, I knocked them out cold, stripped them of their possessions, and left their nude bodies hanging somewhere around there.
Really, what a bother, right after coming to town.
We went back to the inn, did some light training and slept.
Early in the morning, after doing some light training at a nearby empty lot, I decided to wander around the city on my own for the day.
Since Dhammi-chan was saying that she would go look at clothes with Blacksmith-san and the others, I had Netsuki-kun and Genki-kun sacrifice themselves as pack mules. Fuuki-san is the only female Lord, so I was sure she would enjoy going shopping with Dhammi-chan and the others.
I saluted the two for their noble sacrifice.
Since I decided to wander on my own, I didn't go with the appearance of a hooded ogre, but decided to go after using [Shape-Shift] and [Metamorphosis] to change into a human body that looked like the body I had in the previous world.
After all, when asked whether I stood out, this option was much less conspicuous.
As I aimlessly wandered around, I gathered information from the city. As I expected, or should I say obviously, rumors about me had spread quite a bit.
Generally, Ogres were known as [Monsters] that harmed all living creatures around them. On rare occasions, there were individual Ogre Mages that didn't harm humans, so I couldn't say this was true for everyone, but they were acknowledged as a dangerous species. The disturbance at the gate was also because of this.
I had seen all sorts of reactions from people who didn't know about me. However, there was a strong tendency towards feeling terrified and scared. Well, I guess that was to be expected.
I walked along the main road for around three hours before eating lunch at a random place, and after gathering enough information, I walked around in the back streets.
The thought behind this action was to see whether I could maybe lure in some hoodlums if I put on some pretty decent equipment.
As a result, I successfully baited them. Six thugs, carrying knives and weapons that looked like billhooks, appeared while letting out a stereotypical vulgar laugh.
There weren't any people around, so I started flooring the thugs without wasting any breath. Only, I had forgotten that my human body at the moment was smaller than usual. My sense of distance was messed up and I ended up having my heart stabbed by the knife of the last guy, who had taken advantage of the openings that were created.
Nonetheless, even with a human body, I was an Ogre. It hurt but the pain wasn't so bad, so I pulled out the knife and terrified the enemy. Well, whatever. After breaking everybody's necks, I decided to eat their corpses in the back alley. I knew that nobody was around thanks to [Detect Presence], but I ate quickly, since anybody could come at any moment.
[Ability [Job: Thief] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Silent Stab] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Escape Bomb] Learning Complete]
It seems that these six were thieves. Since they all wore rings with the same pattern engraved on them, there was a high probability that they belonged to the same organization. Maybe they were even members of a really big organization.
Well, not that it mattered.
Before anybody came, I collected all valuable items, dissolved all the worthless stuff by changing my body fluid to an acid, and, after concealing all traces of the six dying, left the scene.
As I was walking down the back alleys, hoping to catch some more thugs, I encountered a scene where five men were fiercely quarreling with a young boy.
The five men had scary faces and I could tell from the smell of iron and their gestures that they had blades hidden in their bosoms. Most of them had cuts on their faces and it seemed like they belonged to a business you normally wanted to avoid contact with. Their average age seemed to be somewhere in the late twenties.
The boy opposing them was probably around thirteen or fourteen years old. His blond hair shined even in the dim light of this back alley, and his noble face was so brilliant that you would think he was going to be a handsome man in the future. He was wearing silver light-armor and a red cape, and a sword was on his hips, so he might be a knight in training. Guessing from the quality of his equipment, he was probably from a pretty important family.
From what I heard while staying hidden, it seemed that they were talking about kidnapping.
It seemed that the young knight was trying to pry information from the five men with such a force that you would think he would draw his sword at any moment. I wasn't really interested, so I thought I would go back, but then I noticed that the fingers of the five men were carrying the same rings as the thieves I had just eaten.
As I was thinking that I would look at how it ended for now, as expected, a fight started.
The five men had the advantage of numbers, but the boy was stronger as an individual. He wasn't pushed back easily just by the difference in numbers. Even so, the difference in numbers was too big and eventually, the boy was pressed down by the mass and was captured.
One of the men straddling the boy swung down the knife clasped in his hands in order to pierce the chest of the boy, who was pinned down, and that's where I stepped in. For the moment, I decided to knock the five men unconscious and took them over with my clones, in order to find out their base.
Carrying the tattered boy, I left the scene. After all, it would be troublesome if he were to kill or capture the unconscious men
After reaching a certain distance from the place, I healed the boy's wounds for a fee. The boy yelled at me for letting the men go, so I punched him for showing such an attitude to his lifesaver, and handing him a business plate, I told him to use it after a while without being noticed by anyone, to which he asked who the hell I was, so I told him I was just a mercenary and left.
The boy had a nice figure, but he was male after all, so treating him like this should be plenty.
TL Note : Maybe its a girl in disguise - rei_hunter
At 3 AM, I was moving through the city, which was still shrouded in darkness, not in my human, but in my ogre form. At my side was, in addition to Dhammi-chan and Genki-kun, the young knight I had saved the previous day.
Returning to yesterday's story, shortly after returning to the inn, I was contacted from the business plate I had given to the boy.
When I told him the inn we were lodging in, thinking that not even an hour had passed, he came and asked whether we were mercenaries, so I told him that we were. Then he told me he would like to make a request.
The subject of the request was to rescue the tomboy princess who the boy was serving.
Tl Note : Tomboy princess (Otenba-hime) is a phrase often used to describe princesses with boyish personalities/interests in Japanese culture (video games), first made popular through Dragon Quest IV.
It seemed that the tomboy princess, who had travelled to incognito, had aimed for a gap in the guard of the convoy and the young boy, who was her attendant, had escaped the inn, and was taken captive by a kidnapping organization, who thought she was a lady from some noble family.
They were then asked for ransom money, and so the boy, as a representative of the convoy, went to the designated place with the money, but there, he only found six underlings. Those were the guys I beat up yesterday. The reason why there was one more guy more was because he had already taken off with the ransom.
It seemed that the reason why they were arguing was because, unlike they had promised, they were now demanding even more money.
It may have been a bad move to beat them up because of this, but the one who started it was the boy, and the clones were now controlling these guys, so there was no problem. I steered our conversation in the direction of having everything go according to plan.
Now, under the cover of night, four of us had come to attack the abandoned noble's mansion, which was now the organization's hideout. Thanks to the clones, the internal information had been leaked.
There were other guards besides the boy, but I didn't need any hinderances, so we had not told them anything. The boy was this time's employer and he said he wanted to come, so I couldn't help it.
Redhead and the others were sleeping, and, although it might have been unnecessary, I left Fuuki-san and Netsuki-kun to guard them. Having the three of us, leaving the boy out, was more than enough, so it was no problem at all.
After arriving at the organization's hideout, I secretly created Black Skeleton Assassins, so the boy didn't find out. I released ten into the base and moved them so that no enemies could slip through.
We then invaded the enemy hideout.
Skipping to the result, we had destroyed the organization before the sun rose. After assassinating the leader of the group of thieves, who was fast asleep from drinking alcohol, we killed off the many others, and so the battle was won. No one was overlooked. Since that was a condition of the request.
We were able to successfully rescue the tomboy princess. Contrary to my expectations, she was a young girl who was so frail and delicate that you would think she would fall apart if you touched her. I would say that she was around ten to twelve years old. Her platinum colored hair was lovely, and judging from her face, she would most likely be a beautiful woman in the future.
Iron restraints were attached to her arms and legs, and her mouth was gagged so she couldn't speak, but fortunately, she was only put to sleep by a drug, her clothes weren't damaged, and there were no traces of violence, so there shouldn't be any big problems. Now the convoy, including the boy, wouldn't have to have their heads chopped off.
After crushing the organization, I collected all the hoarded treasure, and all sorts of documents related to the dark side of the Kingdom while we were at it, hiding it from the boy. I was able to obtain more information. Or rather, according to the documents, it seems that this abduction was planned, but I have no plans of getting involved in this just yet, so I will keep my eyes closed.
If I approached this in a bad way, I might get burned.
I didn't see anything.
The boy doesn't know anything.
The kidnapping never occurred.
Let's keep it that way.
I told the boy to report to the convoy that this was all a prank that the princess had planned, and that he reluctantly played along.
It would be safer to cover up the event of the princess getting kidnapped. Rather than receiving the heavy punishment for not being able to protect her, it would be better to just say that it was a prank of the tomboy princess.
From the heroic tales of the boy, the tomboy princess had done enough things to make this believable, so I thought that this would work out.
After hearing this, the boy said that he should report everything to the Kingdom and wouldn't agree to my proposal, so I made him agree through Genki-kun's hypnosis. Being too honest could also be a problem. I didn't want him to do anything that would trouble me.
I also told him to make sure that the tomboy princess would tell the same story while he was at it.
While the boy's consciousness was momentarily still cloudy from the hypnosis, I tried eating the members of the organization.
[Ability [Spider Web] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Poison Bomb] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Eavesdrop] Learning Complete]
[Ability [Kidnap] Learning Complete]
The result was so-so. We evacuated from the hideout before the sun rose.
Flames roared from the mansion. In order to destroy the evidence, I reduced the truth to ashes.
Afterwards, I slept until noon, then the boy secretly brought the reward, and since I had promised the deputy manager that I would drop by, I went to the branch store of the Fermier Trading Company to greet him.
Tomorrow, we will leave this city. The children of the next generation have been born, so I will return home for now.
I was slightly nervous about what Blacksmith-san and the others would decide to do.