Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 32 – Mission: Obtain the Crystal Flower from the Manatite Forest (2)
“Tsk, ‘Black Dire Wolves’…” Cecilia commented as she clicked her tongue in annoyance. They were large, almost twice her companion’s- Mordred’s- size and triple hers. They were no different from ordinary wolves, aside from their abyss coloured black-steel fur and gleaming yellow eyes that pierced through the shadows of the forest. Several such monsters appeared to surround them. They moved like snakes, hissing and growling about as they eyed the ‘prey’. “Why are they already on this floor?” this was unnatural.
“From the way you’re speaking, it seems like this kind of thing is an irregularity?” her supposed ‘novice’ companion asked her. Regarding him, ‘sometimes his tone pisses me off,’ she clicked her tongue again. The way he questioned these kinds of events were extremely amateurish, but at the same time it felt like he was taking this all as a game. She could feel it in the way he spoke and acted. There was no hesitation or fear in his voice even though they were surrounded by monsters two-to-three times their size.
He drew a small dull-looking knife from his side and readied himself. His stance was correct. He knew how to move and avoid gaps in his defence, yet he claimed to be an amateur. That wasn’t it; he clearly had experience fighting, even monsters like this didn’t scare him. The disconnect existed in his complexion. Completely smooth and pale skin as though he’s seen no hardship. ‘If it’d been anyone else, they’d have pissed their pants… yet this guy,’ he was an overall enigma. ‘No, now’s not the time for this,’ she resumed herself to the battle at hand. She had a bit of time to strategize. Wolves typically didn’t attack until they knew they had an opportunity.
“Yeah, these monsters are supposed to inhabit the lowest floor of this Labyrinth, yet they’re appearing here.” That said, it didn’t really matter because their goal was to descend to the boss room. Eventually, these Dire Wolves would’ve crossed paths so meeting them here or later changed nothing but order. “Are you sure you got this?” she asked. He carried himself like a studied fighter, but every action he has shown revealed his inexperience as a mercenary. At the very least, while he was under her responsibility she would look after him.
“I’ll probably be fine. If I don’t make it, please try to reclaim my corpse at least.” A joke in this situation. He really wasn’t afraid.
“I won’t. I won’t go anywhere near your disgusting dead body so don’t die. I still need a mule to carry back all the stuff we brought.”
“Of course,” he replied with a slight chuckling under his breath. “Then, I’ll take the five on the right and you can take the seven on the left. Since you’re naturally more experienced than me, this should be fair, right?”
“Whatever, just do it!”
Cecilia quickly winded back her bow and let go of the first bolt. The missile flew. It whistled as the very air split in half to make way for her deadly attack. The Wolves did not know what hit them before one of them dropped to the floor with a thin arrow dislodged from the centre of its skull. An ‘enchanted arrow’, one strengthened prior with magic to increase penetration damage. It was all in an instant. ‘One down,’ she noted to herself.
That marked the start of the battle. The Wolves all entered a frenzy as they witnessed their comrade fall without even being given a chance to fight back. They lunged towards her. Beasts that were far larger than she was, yet that was her one advantage. Her nimble- and unfortunately- aerodynamically proportioned body whizzed past the Wolves and their attacks. She avoided them mere inches away from a fatal blow. With the front of her mechanical bow she struck down as though it were a sword. ‘Enchanted Bow’, her entire bow was strengthened magic that increased blunt force damage. The wolf flew several metres back from the impact alone. It smashed up against a tree and fell.
The others did not relent as they went in for their attack. Cecilia was ready. She strafed left to evade the wild swings of the beast. She quickly pulled out a small dagger from her waist and jabbed it through the underbelly of the monster. However, this kind of attack was not immediately fatal and the wolf turned for another attack. Yet, by the time it had turned to do so, it was already too late. She poised herself with bowstring drawn back with a missile ready for fire. The moment the Wolf turned back to counterattack, she launched her own assault. Just like the first wolf an enchanted arrow to the centre of its face did the trick. It collapsed as it blew a small dust storm from its large body falling to the forest floor.
Seeing three of their comrades taken out in rapid succession, the other four Wolves retreated. However, against a fighter that specialized in ranged weaponry, this was the biggest mistake. “Idiots,” Cecilia mocked as she drew back another enchanted bow.
Without missing a beat, she fired four successive bolts. The missiles found their mark and sank the monsters without impunity. “Hmph, too easy,” she shook her head.
Monsters within the Manatite Forest were not true monsters, but masses of mana given form. As such, once they were defeated, their bodies turned to dust. Only white charcoal remained where their corpses once were. ‘How about him?’ she stole a glance back to see how he handled himself against such monsters. She caught only a glimpse of his final attack as the last wolf was turned to dust. A beautiful downwards arc with a dagger. The edge of which pulsated with a clean, red aura. ‘What skill…?’ A silent, swift cut that emphasized ‘quick’ kill. The soundlessness of the attack gave it an even more ominous vibe, almost as though it was specialized for assassinations rather than forward combat.
She shuddered. Five Black Dire Wolves were felled by that kind of attack. If she had to hazard a guess, it was almost as, if not equally, potent as an enchanted arrow. Certainly, his movements just now were not those of an amateur. “Greenhorn, you… just who are you?”