TN: Merry Christmas.
128. Chapter 128
Walm had undergone significant changes as a result of the deadly fight with Fausto. Whereas previously some who passed him in the labyrinth had given him a scrutinizing look, now it had become worse, and such a look extended even when he was in the waiting area. The stares, which were a mixture of curiosity and suspicion, continued the entire time. As expected, it was uncomfortable to be watched like this all the time. When Walm looked back, they immediately diverted their eyes. But not long after, another unpleasant glance would fall on him. There was just no end to it at all.
Another change was the train of thought in the battle. After the fall of Highserk, Walm had given himself over to laziness for a year, which left him both physically and mentally rusty. Even with some self-training and fighting, he couldn’t regain the momentum of his military days, and these negative effects continued. This dullness was being scraped away day by day, but in a fight with Fausto’s party, he reached a point where it was completely scraped away. His thoughts were relaxed, and his body responded obediently to his demands.
In this current situation, there was another concern, and that was the party members. It had been seven days since Walm had started recruiting, but there was no news about it. Although he had prepared in advance for this outcome, the reality was harsh, as expected.
With this in mind, Walm, who couldn’t afford the luxury of waiting too long, threw himself once again into the labyrinth. As he advanced deeper and deeper, he defeated the monsters on the way and now was about to rest in a corner of the safe room. Dropping to his knees, he looked down at the floor. The cobblestone was nothing unusual, but it meant a lot to Walm.
“No stains or scratches?”
There were no traces of the battle Walm had fought. Must have been completely cleaned by the Labyrinth’s self-cleaning. If he had made even one step wrong then, Walm would have died instead of the two Manhunts. And his death would leave nothing behind and cleanly disappear from this world
After taking a breath, Walm directed his gaze straight ahead again. Fortunately, there was no one lingering in the safe room. So there was no one to question him for his eccentric behavior.
Walm, who had rearranged his train of thought, aimed for the door to the next floor. He pressed his hand gently against the door. A balmy breeze caressed his cheeks as he peered through the door, which opened after a slight resistance.
There was no change in the interior. The walls and ceilings remained as usual. Still, Walm was confident. According to the previous rule of thumb, the monster’s difficulty level would definitely change before he reached the next safe room.
As Walm swung the halberd lightly, he could hear the reliable weight and sound of the wind splitting.
The legs stepped over the stone pavement and the agility of the body felt perfect.
Exhaling lightly, Walm resumed his exploration of the labyrinth.
The welcome came quickly. The pebbles that had accumulated at the end of the passage trembled, and the vibrations were transmitted through the soles of Walm’s shoes whether he liked it or not.
What emerged from the darkness was a heavy cavalry. It was a familiar presence on the battlefield, and the pincer movement that made use of its power had the power to decide the battle situation.
Due to the luminous moss, the appearance slowly became visible.
“That horse’s half-body is… is that “Centaur” ?”
Of course, it was impossible for a heavy cavalry to appear in the Labyrinth, and its true identity was a group of Centaurs.
Centaur, was a monster with the lower body of a horse and a humanoid upper body. The upper body was covered with armor. Thinking logically, it would be more difficult to deal with it than with heavy cavalry, because there was no need for communication between man and horse.
Walm immediately kneaded mana.
The overwhelming difference in mass and speed would create a powerful and unparalleled attack. In no case would he be allowed to use any superficial tricks or half-hearted magic.
To deal with a Centaur without going on the defensive would require attacking it in a group of spearmen or defeating it from a distance with a bow or magic. And the only option left for the lone Walm was to use magic. Unfortunately – or fortunately – there was only one escape route from each other in the straight passage.
Walm created a fireball and shot it at the leading Centaur.
The fireball hitting the abdomen bent the Centaur’s armor, sending its guts, smeared with a foul odor, into the atmosphere.
The Centaur lost its balance, its forelegs broke and the whole body crashed to the ground. But the result was far from what Walm wanted. Although the thick body and armor blocked the way, the two following Centaurs still rushed at him.
The gap was already closed, which meant that the second shot would be the limit. When the next centaur was only a few steps away from reaching Walm, he shot the fireball again.
The effect of the magic hitting directly on the Centaur’s chest was tremendous.
The body, wrapped in blue flames, was pulled onto its back along with the armor around its chest, and the neck was now connected only by a few muscles and skin. The lifeless horse lost control and rolled, hitting a wall and coming to a stop. The flames engulfed it to the end, and Walm hoped that the result of this would extend to the last Centaur, but it emerged from the flames.
The Centaur was somewhat burned and had lost its body hair, but the threat was still there. There wasn’t enough time to make another fireball, and Walm, who had decided to fight head-on, consolidated his stance and prepared to extend his halberd.
As the centaur approached, Walm could see how big it was. The spear, which was far above Walm’s head, thrust sharply at him.
The distance of the powerful spear was long enough to match its large body, and Walm had no choice but to be passive. The tip of the spear grazed the tip of the halberd, and off it went in another direction.
Although Walm handled the spear, there was still the body. And he already knew that mass and speed, when they came together, became a force. The centaur, which had a horse’s lower body, also tried to impose its characteristics.
The Centaur tilted its body, and turned its course. If Walm was kicked or pushed by those legs, he wouldn’t escape unharmed.
Immediately, Walm changed his stance and shifted his center of gravity backward. He slid across the ground as he angled one of his legs. The smell of the Centaur’s burnt fur rose to his nasal cavity as the horse’s legs passed in front of him. After it passed, he fixed his stance with the underside of the halberd and his other free arm.
In fact, the Centaur reversed its position as it sent the horse’s hooves against Walm. In the truest sense of the word, it was a magnificent performance displayed by a rider in unison with the horse. The skillful movement deserved praise, but it was a risky move for a “cavalryman”. How much strength would remain in such a cavalry that threw away its speed?
No matter how strong the legs were, the initial speed couldn’t be very high. So Walm quickly closed the gap to 《Strike》 the Centaur.
The Centaur thrust the spear as if refusing Walm’s approach, but the spear, which had no speed, was lighter than before. When the spearhead was cut by 《Strike》, the Centaur pulled the saber at its hip with its hand.
Just as the blade came out of its scabbard, the Centaur’s head fell to the ground of the Labyrinth. The body, frozen by the loss of its control, collapsed with its limbs outstretched. If this battle had been fought on a wide plain, Walm would have had to struggle even more, but the good qualities of cavalry were barely visible in the narrow passage of the labyrinth.
Walm, wiping the blood on the halberd and reaching out to quickly scavenge the corpse, clicked his tongue.
The next challenger was already approaching. According to the information Walm had, there were almost no parties that could dive beyond the 30th floor. Compared to the previous floors, the monsters hadn’t been regularly thinned out. In this case, it was obvious that the burden per party would increase rapidly from this floor.
“Of all things, it’s armed Trolls.”
The name of the unwanted visitor was Troll. It had ugly skin full of bumps similar to goblins, and a bloated abdomen about the size of an infant or adult. Most importantly, its regenerative ability was extraordinary for a humanoid monster. The torn arm could be reconnected by simply attaching it, and the torn throat would close over time. Such a monster wore armor.
Mud fights were inevitable in close combat. On the other hand, if Walm defeated it with magic, the sounds and smells would cause one raging monster after another to rush in. What a lovely situation to be in. And from now on, this would be the norm. There was no other way but to get used to it.
Walm welcomed the guest without a smile.
A pillar of fire extending from the ground engulfed half of the armed Ogre that carelessly closed the gap. Without even waiting for a breath, the skin burned down to the muscle and bone. Walm, who had killed the armed Ogre, moved his gaze as he shook his head in response to the threat.
Using the pillar of fire and the burned corpse as a shield, Walm thrust his halberd into the fourth armed Ogre. The thrust was aimed at its soft neck, but it was deflected by the longsword. It seemed he had learned the distance and speed of a thrust when he saw the spearhead of the halberd pierce the throat of the other Ogre. And the diligent armed Ogre gleefully stepped in.
Walm drew back the halberd with a speed that surpassed the Ogre’s advance as he spun it. Although the Ogre had become sensitive to the thrust, it had no idea that Walm would pull back the halberd midway.
The halberd’s claw-like blade cut into the neck from behind, wildly agitating the spinal cord and aorta. Profuse blood spurted from the throat and mouth, and the heart immediately gave out.
At the same time, an unpleasant and distorted wind noise approached from the side. The source was a war hammer with an asymmetrical head. Walm quickly jumped back in the posture inclined for evasion. A conical mass of metal penetrated the space where Walm’s chest had been until now.
The weight of the two-handed war hammer was concentrated on the head, and the blow, swung obliquely from above, had both weight and speed. The force of the blow alone would be enough to shatter even cobblestones. If such a blow hit Walm, his guts would be destroyed along with the armor. Unfortunately, it didn’t hit Walm, but the corpse, which collapsed on the ground.
“You’re, too late.”
The fifth armed Ogre tried to pull up the head of the war hammer that had bitten into the corpse of its brethren, but Walm’s sole was faster in stomping the war hammer. The Ogre clearly made a wrong choice. It clung to the war hammer instead of concentrating on mowing Walm down. And the result was that the spearhead went into its head from its chin and pierced its brain.
The hustle and bustle stopped abruptly, leaving only the sound of Walm breathing and the dull sound of the last armed Ogre collapsing.
“Hurry up. I’ll give you one minute.”
Although Walm should have enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment, he chose to search the surroundings for enemies and loot the corpses. Walm had experienced firsthand what would happen if he spent his time here luxuriously.
At the first contact with the group of armed Ogres, Walm blew one away with a fireball. Meant, he only needed to check four. What a time saver. Of course, as he examined the body, he didn’t forget to twist the spearhead to collect only the metal.
Since the capacity of the magic bag had reached its limit, the bulky weapons and armor were thrown away and the items Walm considered valuable were put into storage. Although it wasn’t as rewarding, he also found a small gold coin, six silver coins, and a silver fork and spoon.
“Why did an Ogre have tableware?”
After all, many didn’t like bulky luggage when they dived into the labyrinth, and Walm was no exception. He had lived a life in the Labyrinth that had nothing to do with tableware. Picked up food with his hands, crushed it, and threw it into his mouth, that was the norm. And now he found an Ogre, a monster, with tableware, which in a way indirectly meant that his eating culture was lower than that of the monster.
In any case, Walm, leaving the place after the looting, found that the pattern of attack that had been repeated until now hadn’t begun at all. Finding this strange, he thought of the possibility that monsters were gathering somewhere, an unusual situation was occurring, or a rare species like the Bone Collector he had encountered was the reason.
Walm continued to think, but the answer soon came to him. Not that the answer suddenly came to him. Just that he saw a chopped Troll to the left in the passage. There was also a Centaur lying there that had been cut in half.
Cannibalism among monsters didn’t occur in the Labyrinth. There was no such information. And logically, they shouldn’t be interested in killing each other, since this wouldn’t be profitable for them in any way.
Walm looked at the corpse and found traces that indicated that the body had been scavenged.
“There’s a party ahead?”
Although it was the first human trace Walm had found since he went deeper than the 30th floor, he felt no great joy. He still couldn’t quite put the incident with Fausto out of his mind
Looking closely, Walm noticed that the blood hadn’t yet dried, and considering the Labyrinth’s self-cleaning, the unknown party ahead of him shouldn’t be too far away.
Walm decided to carefully follow the traces left behind. He had experience in tracking down people in a skirmish with the Liberia Trade Federation. The Squad Commander, who had a rough personality, was more concerned about footprints than anyone else. When Walm accidentally stepped on the soft grass and destroyed some of the footprints, the Squad Commander hit his helmet hard. Such a memory so bitter yet nostalgic came to his mind.
However, tracking wasn’t Walm’s specialty, so he could only use the methods he had learned. Following footprints and the corpse of a monster that had apparently been hit by a storm, he moved on.
Slowly, a sound of battle could be heard, which meant that Walm would soon catch up with the unknown party. In the Labyrinth, there was a room with a rather large open area, which was different from a normal room. Most of these rooms were like a crossroads that anyone had to pass in order to continue. And the deeper such a room was found, the greater the chance that it was true.
In such a big space, a big battle was happening,
On the monster side, there were Ogres and even Cyclopes. On the other side, there was a party of five.
What surprised and amazed Walm was nothing but the way they fought.
A battle axe and the Ogre’s mace crossed. The mana infused battle axe gained a lopsided victory with a blow that seemed to fail. Clearly it was 《Strike》, a skill seen on the battlefield and in the Labyrinth, but still, Walm couldn’t help but be amazed at the fact that everyone in the party could use 《Strike》 and fully demonstrated its power.
Ten monster parts lay scattered on the stone pavement. Considering their large number, the surrounding monsters must have been attracted. Moreover, the party hadn’t stopped fighting either, and now they were dealing with a Cyclops in the large room.
Four out of five had physical characteristics in common. A body size that was about Walm’s eyes, but the chest was so thick that it could be seen even from the top of the armor. In Walm’s vision, a fierce battle unfolded in which they fought in a way that could be called a storm of steel.
“…Is that “Dwarf” ?”
Anyone who saw the scene would say the same. If the warrior before Walm wasn’t a dwarf, what else could be called a dwarf?
Humans and monsters weren’t the only races that lived on the continent. Elves, Dwarves, and Beastmen also lived there.
Besides the four dwarves, there was one with a tail and ears reminiscent of a beast. This must be a beastman.
The armor they wore had the emblem of a large tree with four intertwined trunks. Even Walm, who came from the northern countries, knew the emblem. Elves, dwarves, beasts, and humans – four different races had pledged in unity, a unity in the name of the forest, that was the meaning of the emblem. Right. It was the national emblem of one of the three major powers, the Aleinard Forest Alliance.
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