Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 33 – Mission: Obtain the Crystal Flower from the Manatite Forest (3)
“Hmm? Sorry, did you say something?” Mordred asked. He certainly heard her- ‘who… are you?’- and it wasn’t something he wanted to answer directly. In such situations, the best way to evade questions was to ask the person to repeat themselves. Most of the times they would give up, but if persisted then a vague answer should be given.
“No,” Cecilia shook her head. She turned her gaze a bit farther away in contemplation. “It’s nothing. That said, if you already knew how to fight, then at least say so from the beginning, idiot!” she stomped on the ground with her shoulders high. Not giving him enough time to mount a reply, she marched on ahead with a disgruntled tone.
“If these monsters were supposed to be ones that inhabited the lowest floor, does that mean no stronger monsters will show up?” asked Mordred.
“I guess it does? Look, how am I supposed to know? I just got here too. For all we’re aware of these wolves could’ve retreated up to the first floor because there was an even stronger monster down below.”
“A valid point. Then I shall keep my guard up,” Mordred played along.
As they continued to the lower levels, a thought occurred to him. The monsters of this forest were a bit stronger than the average levels of the knights he had fought back at the first village. If that was the case then with the lack of an official administrative branch like an ‘adventurer’s guild’, anyone could come down here. There was no system for what constituted difficulty and thus novices could easily be lured in with the prospect of money and fame to such places and lose their lives. ‘Ah,’ he finally understood why Cecilia was obediently tutoring him, disgruntled as she was.
The path to the centre of the forest passed by uneventfully. Occasionally, low-level monsters such as ‘Poison Goblins’ or ‘Fire Goblins’ would come out to ambush them, but they were taken care of extremely easily with Cecilia’s excellent marksmanship. ‘A headshot every time is rather impressive,’ he praised in his mind. Not that he couldn’t do the same thing, but in his case, it was more due to the cheat-like attribute of his body. With her, it was a skill she had trained and hone through many years of arduous effort and training.
Incidentally, ‘Poison Goblins’ were like regular goblins but their skin was a ghastly, pale purple or pink. They used attacks that integrated poison. Much of this variant of Goblins consisted fighters that applied poison to their weapons. As for ‘Fire Goblins’, they were a similar case to the former, but replace ‘Poison’ with ‘Fire’. Most of them were magician types that specialized in low-level fire spells. Mordred and Cecilia ran into these monsters a total of seven different times but as weak as they were, all crumbled away.
“Here we are,” Cecilia pointed to a small rocky region at the centre of the forest. There was one main entrance that whooshed audibly with the sound of wind constantly pumping through. “This place that seems like it’s breathing, that’s the way to the lower floors. At this point I’m normally supposed to tell you to prepare for stronger monsters, but seeing as how you’ve already proved you can defeat even Black Dire Wolves, I think you’ll be fine.”
[Manatite Forest: Second Floor (Cavern)]
There was nothing new about a cave that Mordred hadn’t already expected. The second floor of the Manatite Forest was no different compared to other caves. ‘Calling it a ‘Labyrinth’ might be a bit of a stretch,’ he commented in his mind. Indeed, all that existed before him was an expansive, cavernous path that sloped downwards. There was more an enough room to manoeuvre with a width of about fifty or so metres. Aligned on the walls and ceiling of the cave were vegetation, of which grew not fruits but mysterious purple and pink gems that glowed to conveniently illuminate a path.
“The monsters of the second floor are slow; if you move around they’ll probably never reach you. In exchange, their attacks are very potent and their defences are absurdly high, even for low-level monsters,” Cecilia explained. “If you don’t have any sort of ranged attacks, then it’s best to let me do all the work. You just make sure to focus on never getting hit.”
“What kind of monsters are they?”
“Undead… no, well, I suppose they’re a bit different than your typical undead.” As if on cue, the monsters of the second floor came to greet the intruders. Red Skeletons. They adorned themselves with worn out leather and plate armour. Fuming from their bodies were a subtle stream of steam. The heat alone warped the air around them and where they stepped, left only traces of charcoal the shape of their feet. “We call them ‘Red Skeletons’. Their primary attribute, as even a greenhorn like you might have noticed, is ‘fire’. Most of their attacks will leave you with a serious burn so be sure to avoid that as well.”
Cecilia unslung her mechanical bow and winded back an arrow. She whispered chants to it. The missile started to warp as small particles of ice formed around it. There was no direct translation between spells from Hellgana to this world’s, but similar ones did exist. This ‘enchantment’ that she placed on her arrows was akin to a low-level magician spell known as ‘Ice Rune’. Simply put, it was a support spell that tagged weapons and bolts with the ‘ice’ attribute.
The Red Skeletons stumbled closer. Their weapons clanging against their bones and dragged against the ground. A trail of smoke and ash left in their steps. A quick scan with the ‘intuition’ ability revealed that there were at least thirty of them headed towards them. Moans and growls extended from their non-existent throats and vocal cords. “Ahh… Ahh…” they would let out.
“Just sit tight,” Cecilia smirked as she aligned her shot. “Slow moving targets like them are the best. It makes you feel like a badass even without actually doing any work.”
She took a deep breath and let go of the bowstring.