For the remainder of the afternoon, Lexiana kept trying to engage Thomas in small talk. She would ask questions and if he felt like it, he would give her a short and simple answer. He revealed minimal information and refused to say anything about Snowlily. Still, she managed to piece a bit together to form a somewhat incomplete image of his life since he was summoned. The thing that she found most interesting, as a descendant of wolves, was that he found monster meat to be far more delicious than regular meat. To her, they tasted pretty much the same but to hear the way he described monster meat... It made her wish she was an otherworlder while swallowing her saliva.
The journey was peaceful and quiet for the remainder of the afternoon. No signs of monsters or man. When it was approaching evening the caravan stopped and set up camp for the evening. Since they were out on the plains fires were kept to a minimum as the supply of firewood was limited. The meal was simple and enjoyable. Though Thomas was honestly hoping some monsters of some sort would attack so he could have a tastier meal. Even plain monster meat just seasoned with a little salt would be far more delicious than the provided meal.
The night shifts were scheduled just the same as always so once dinner was over Thomas and Snowlily retired to their tent so he could get in a short nap before his shift. He slept well and his one hour shift on watch came and went without incident. Lexiana didn't even come to bother him since this shift was the most important one. This night and the next were the two nights that the caravan was most likely to be attacked. With the number of guards on duty and their strength, the odds of human casualties were small but there was a chance of damage to the goods being transported.
Thomas finished his shift and went back to his dreams. He'd not had any other weird dreams since the first night he camped out in the wilderness. He suspected that either the entity still had no idea how to deal with him or could only risk contacting him when he was alone. Maybe a combination of both. It didn't matter to him since he just found the entity amusing. As he was peacefully dreaming the caravan alarms started to blare while the guards on duty shouted, "ATTACK INCOMING!"
The entire camp burst into action. Half-naked guards charged out of their tents while holding weapons in their hands. Magic users chanted spells and threw them into the air to illuminate the area with balls of light in various colors that matched their elements. Thomas came out of his tent with only his boots, pants, and chest armor on. He carried his revolver in his right hand and his shortsword in his left. The sight outside shocked him.
Bathed in the lights of the spellcasters was a horde of large monsters. This was the very first time Thomas had seen them in this world and just the sight of them was... Each monster was between 2 to 2.5 meters tall. Their chests and arms were thickly muscled and each of them wielded a large weapon. Their stomachs looked like over-bloated beer bellies that jiggled as they walked on short stumpy legs that ended in ridiculously small cloven hooves. The worst part though were their faces. Staring at them Thomas muttered aloud, "Are those pig snouts?"
"Yup, those are pig snouts."
Thomas turned to look at a nearby guard that overheard his rhetorical question. The guard had a deadly serious look on his face that contrasted vastly with Thomas's own befuddled look. Thomas could help somewhat asking, "Orcs?"
The other guard nodded briskly as he gripped his weapon tightly, "That's right. Orcs."
Thomas turned to look back at the walking pig-like monsters and groaned. Why did the game designers have to go with this style of orcs?! These were the weirdest most unattractive and uninteresting type of orc design! Why pigs?! Why not fierce gruff warriors worthy of fighting?! Then again... Thomas looked at the orcs as he started to smile sadistically. Saliva began to flood his mouth as he remembered his gripes with the caravans food. Before him was a small army of pork chops just waiting to be harvested!
The orcs were still some distance away but they were charging directly toward the caravan as they shouted and waved their large weapons in the air. They were attempting to intimidate the caravan before attacking directly. Thomas gripped his sword tightly as his eyes began to glow blue in the darkness. His night vision made the forms of the orcs clearer in the darkness. He gathered some mana and tossed it into the air to ignite his own glowing ball of light that shined brighter than most of the other balls. The guard near Thomas gave him a nod of appreciation as they walked further from the camp to meet the orcs.
Thomas watched as the orcs charged and couldn't help wondering how such stick-like short legs could propel such massive bodies so fast along the plains. Just a casual observation would make anyone wonder why their legs didn't snap like twigs with their heavy steps. Their legs made up less than a meter of their height making the majority of their body just stomach and chest topped with a tiny head. Their proportions were just completely wrong. Still... they did seem like they would be pretty tasty and it had been a while since he last had an orc chop!
Just the thought of a juicy orc chop for breakfast flooded his mouth with saliva and made the mana in his body surge in excitement. His mana circulated through his body feeding into his muscles and bones, strengthening them. As the orcs got closer he crouched down and readied himself to charge out into the fray. A group of orcs looked in his direction and stumbled a little as their beady black eyes opened a little wider in their piggy faces. They could instinctively feel that the man in front of them viewed them as nothing more than prey to be killed and eaten.
As the orcs approached the guard for the caravan all charged forth. The two forces met in a bloody clash. Swords, axes, hammers, arrows, and spells slammed into the bodies of the pudgy orcs and ripped gaping holes in them. As the fight commenced six thunderous cracks dominated over the sounds of combat and surprised both sides of the conflict. No one had time to look around and spot the smoking barrel of Thomas's Peace Maker or the six small holes now decorating the foreheads of six dead orcs.
With the six shots in his Peace Maker expended and the orcs drawing close enough to swing their weapons at him, Thomas holstered his gun and swapped the shortsword into his right hand. While mana was channeled into the enchantment on the sword lightning formed into a ball on his left hand. As the orcs lifted their weapons to attack, Thomas crouched down and charged forward. He dashed directly toward the nearest orc and slammed his left hand and the lightning in it into the orc's stomach. The ball of lightning burst covering the massive body of the orc in thick arcs of blue-white lightning that burned it from the inside out. Not all orcs needed to be saved for his meals.
Thomas moved through the orcs while slashing their thick bodies with his sword and blasting them with electricity. Their large muscles gave them a frightening amount of power. Just seeing them clash with some of the stronger guards informed him that just a single direct hit from an orc would deal significant damage to him. Despite their high power though, their agility left something to be desired. They could charge quickly on their stumpy legs but turning or moving in different directions was a chore for them. They relied on large sweeping attacks to cover for this weakness. It made their attacks easy to predict and simple to dodge.
The fight wasn't the easiest. Thomas had to constantly move and dodge around to make sure he didn't get hit with any errant swings by the orcs. For every five or six orcs that one of the other guards would fell, he would only manage to take down one or two. As he fought fiercely with his sword and magic he suddenly found himself completely surrounded by a group of orcs. They all lifted their weapons high above their heads to immediately swing them down with massive force. Half a dozen heavy weapons slammed down and sent up a thick cloud of dust. The orcs squealed in delight.
High above them, a bright red light burst forth. Looking up with their small beady black eyes the orcs could see a small shadow beneath a massive ball of fire. The flames grew brighter above the outstretched hands of Thomas as he poured more than half of his mana into them. The ball expanded to a diameter of nearly thirty meters and shred bright light over the entire battlefield. Every living creature looked up in horror at the sight of the massive fireball. Everyone couldn't help but image the damage that would be done to both sides no matter where that ball of fire landed.
To the surprise of everyone, the massive fireball wasn't launched as a single attack. Its surface began to bubble and burst, sending out waves of smaller fireballs that rained down on the orcs blasting each of them with multiple smaller fireballs. Small explosions like fireworks covered the battlefield and blasted the backlines of the orcs decimating their numbers. Laughter could be heard intermittently from the air as the large fireball slowly shrank with each small fireball that it launched. Squeals of pain and death filled the air as hundreds of orcs were mercilessly slaughtered in the flames.
By the time Thomas landed roughly on the ground, the backlines of the orc horde were in flames. His head was pounding so hard that a trickle of blood dripped from his nose. He'd leaped into the air and used wind magic to slow his fall, at the same time as he was casting the fire magic. Dual casting small stuff didn't hurt as much anymore but such powerful spells left him with a splitting headache. He stumbled back toward the wagons of the caravan to get out of the fight. He doubted anyone would complain at all after the show he'd just put on.
Once he found a spot to rest he looked around and spotted Snowlily. She was well behind the front lines but kept casting ice spells to hurt orcs or support the fighters. She'd discovered that creating a slippery sheet of ice beneath the small feet of an orc would cause it to fall down and become helpless prey. As he watched she got into a rather vicious groove. She would trip the orcs with a sheet of slippery ice then fire off a thin blade of ice and slice their throats open causing them to slowly bleed out. Despite how vicious it was, Thomas found it to be beautiful. Why? Because she was bleeding out their meat and it would make them even tastier!
The battle raged for half an hour before the final orc was defeated. The casualties to the caravan were zero. With how powerful some of the guards were the orcs hadn't stood a chance. Thomas looked over the carnage and estimated that there were easily over a thousand orcs in the horde. With the fighting calmed down, he stepped into the field and started to collect some of the bodies. He didn't have enough space to store a bunch of them, unfortunately. He could only spare enough space to store two of the large monsters.
As he walked the battlefield he saw the other guards cutting open the chests of the orcs to pluck out their hearts. Then they cut into the hearts and pulled out mana crystals. Thomas was surprised to see that the living monsters outside of the dungeon produced mana crystals. What's more, the mana crystals were much larger than the ones he'd seen so far. Curious, he copied the other guards and cut the heart of out an orc and extracted its mana crystal. The orcs heart was bigger than his head and the mana crystal inside of it was as big as a baseball. The color was different from what he was used to as well. It was a very light purple color meaning that it had very little impurity inside of it.
Collecting the mana crystals of over a thousand orcs took far longer than it took to kill them. By the time the collecting was done the sun was rising on the horizon. Everyone was a little tired and covered in blood from the fighting and extracting. Thomas spotted a head of thick wavy red hair walking through the corpses. Lexiana's bodysuit-like leather armor was completely covered in blood but she didn't have a single scratch on her. He hadn't seen her at all during the fighting so he still had no clue what her fighting style was like or how strong she might be.
With the sun rising a few of the carriage drivers butchered a couple of orcs on the spot to add their meat to breakfast. Thomas was delighted by that while a few of the 'upper-class' guards complained and avoided the orc meat. More for him! Breakfast was amazingly delicious. Thomas had seconds, and thirds, enjoying the various cuts of super fresh meat.