Chapter 30: Familiar Faces
Back at the goldhorn neighborhood, after more than an hour of looking around, I finally found the first one of the day.
It stood in the middle of the road, far away from the forests to both sides.
It saw me from quite far away and stared at me while puffing air out of its nose. Warning me to stay away.
Sadly, I had other plans.
I grabbed a rock from the ground and threw it at the goldhorn with all my might. It flew really fast and with a lot of power, just that it didn’t even come close to hitting the goldhorn.
Still, it served its purpose and the goldhorn began stomping the ground and snorting angrily. It gave the pavement a last, strong stomp and charged at me.
I responded in kind.
Halfway through, the idea of using body strengthening to increase my charge’s power crossed my mind but it was better to leave the experimenting for later, when not in mortal danger.
I cleared my mind from useless thoughts, and we clashed soon after.
The goldhorn swung its head towards me just before we came into contact, making me miss the middle of its skull where I was aiming. That worked to my advantage, though.
My spike pierced its neck and sunk in so deeply that the reach advantage disappeared and the goldhorn’s antlers ended up hitting my chest, breaking a few bones and knocking the wind out of my lungs.
I struggled to keep my grip on my spike as I backed away but the goldhorn was not about to let me escape.
It began to hit me with its front hooves as I tried to keep it as far away from me as possible by moving my spike inside its neck.
That just angered the goldhorn and I ended up with a broken arm and a lot of bleeding bruises.
It had been bleeding from its throat for more than a minute and was still pummeling me.
Lucky for me, its power and speed began to lessen, and instead of breaking my bones with each attack, it just injured me really badly. A great improvement.
I activated Body Strengthening and pushed the spike as much as I could into its body, leaving only the cloth handle outside.
The goldhorn knocked me over with a strike from its antlers but it didn’t pursue.
Its legs wobbled and slowly but surely it collapsed onto the road’s hard pavement, dead.
|Black Goldhorns Slain [2/5]|
Everywhere around me was covered in blood, both the goldhorn’s and mine.
I killed a goldhorn on my own. I told myself. That’s something that only big parties can do. I’ve gotten really strong.
But those words could not make the pain in my body go away. And it certainly did not make the disappointment in my head go.
Getting beaten to a pulp was just getting really old.
Things would be different if I were in a group…
I healed myself and pushed through the disappointment of not being as strong as an isekai protagonist and not receiving any evolution marble from the dead goldhorn. 10 ether points were still good, just not what I desired.
The more I walked around the goldhorn neighborhood and its surroundings the more I realized I had been lucky by finding a goldhorn in less than two hours because it took me until late in the afternoon to find the next one.
The fight went as expected, giving the goldhorn a fatal wound during our first clash and getting a few bones broken as I waited for the injury to weaken it enough for me to step away and finish it off.
|Black Goldhorns Slain [3/5]|
I got fewer injuries this time, but the fact that I spent more time healing myself from the fight than actually fighting as no less annoying because of that.
With that, and more disappointment piling up because the goldhorn didn’t drop a marble again, I hurried back to the mall before it got too dark.
When I got back things seemed a little weird. I could hear heated voices from inside the mall.
There was no sign of fear or pain, though, so it was safe to assume it was just some petty squabble and not a monster attack.
“Oh, shit…” I muttered as I got inside the mall.
There was a group of fifteen people—people I had not seen in over a week—standing in the middle of the lobby, facing a smug Lisandro. Most of them had their clothes in tatters and covered with smudges of blood and dirt.
“And whose fault do you think it is, you sick piece of shit?!” They hurled insults at Lisandro, which seemed to only make his smile widen.
“Calm down, please, calm down.” In front of the group, poor old Ronel tried to make the people behind him stop with the insults, but they didn’t seem to listen too well.
Ronel clenched his fists so hard his arms began to tremble and when he could not take it anymore, he stomped the ground with a kick, causing a thunderous explosion that echoed through the whole mall.
“Oh, shit.” Some dust and tiny pieces of debris began to fall from above. I stepped away, ready to dart out of the mall if anything big began to collapse.
“Shut up for a minute, will ya’?” Ronel glared at his group and they all shut up. Except for Laura, who seemed prepared to throw a second round of insults at Lisandro. She was one of the few people in the group wearing nearly new clothes and definitely the better off among them.
“We want to join the raid to the lord’s lair.” Ronel looked at Lisandro in the eyes, his back ramrod straight.
“Am I supposed to forgive all of what they just said?” Lisandro put his hands in his pockets and held his chin high, looking at Ronel.
Ronel clicked his tongue and let out an exasperated sigh. “Then why did you make fun of the people that died?” He took a deep breath and shook his head. “That’s not the problem here. We need to join hands in raiding the lair.”
Lisandro frowned, his upper lip curling. “Why should we let you cowards go with us and profit from our work? We’re more than enough.”
“No, you’re not.” Ronel shook his head with conviction. “We witnessed that monster’s power and I can assure you there is no way you could kill it with just the 30 of you.”
“We’re 41,” Lisandro said in a low and paused voice.
“That doesn’t change the fact that that thing is simply too powerful.” Ronel began to lose his cool. “We fought it and lost miserably last week, but we have a plan to fight it and win but we can’t do it with just us. We need a lot more people.”
“You know how to defeat it?” Lisandro scoffed.
“What would it take to get through your thick skull and make you understand this is our last shot at getting out of here alive. If your group dies or my group dies its all over. One can’t win without the other.”
Lisandro stared at Ronel in silence, still unconvinced.
“Do you want me to kneel and beg, is that it?” Ronel took a step forward. “Would that be enough?” Then he dropped hard on his knees.
“What are you doing?”
“What the hell, dude?”
His companions complained.
“What is pride when all our lives are at stake?” I heard another familiar voice from within Ronel’s group and watched as Jair came forward and also knelt next to Ronel.
One by one, my other ex companions began to step forward and knelt next to the other two.
First was Brian, who fell on his knees dramatically. Just behind him were Veronica and Luciana. They also dropped hard on their knees and put their hands on the ground in front of them.
The rest of the group began to reluctantly step forward as well.
Lisandro frowned, clearly disturbed.
“You want us to bang our head on the ground as well? Is that it?” Jair clenched his fists and pressed them on the ground. Then he brought his head down with enough force to knock someone out.
Lisandro flinched at the muted bang and before he could say anything Ronel followed suit and slammed his head on the ground as well.
“Would you bunch of retards stop it already?” Lisandro had his palm on his face, pressing his temples. “You want to come? Sure. Just stop that shit already. It’s embarrassing. And stupid.” He moved his gaze away from Ronel and the others and turned around to leave.
“Lisandro,” Ronel called him.
“What?” Lisandro glanced behind him, impatient to leave.
“Thanks.” Ronel nodded at him as a thin line of blood trickled down his face.
Lisandro turned his face away with a groan and walked away, not looking back even once.
The crowd began to disperse after the commotion ended and Ronel’s companions began apologizing to him for making things worse. Again, except for Laura. She was too hot for that.
“I probably looked li an idiot.” Jair scratched the side of his face and laughed as Brian came up to him to heal his bleeding forehead.
“Nah, you totally showed him up.” Brian chuckled. “Defeated with a single kowtow. That sure is embarrassing. For both of you.”
“Jerk.” Jair slapped his arm.
“Yeah, Jair. Thanks a lot,” Ronel said. “That was the push we needed.” He patted his shoulder. “But banging your head on the ground? Who thinks that?” He laughed.
“Oh, just some stuff I’ve seen on TV shows.” Jair shrugged.
“In animes,” Brian muttered.
“Eh…” Jair chuckled and didn’t say more.
The crowd dispersed around the mall’s entrance and in the middle only remained Brian and, two injured dumbasses and a few concerned people.
And I was standing right in the middle of the mall’s entrance, staring at them like an oddball. It was not a surprise when they saw me.
Ronel’s face seemed to be showing some strong emotion, but I did not see more than a slight change in his expression from the corner of my eye.
My focus was on Jair and the other three.
We stared at each other in silence, no saying anything.
What was there to say?
They were all in one piece and well, and they seemed to have grown some balls since I last saw them—at least Jair did. I would never dare to do some as cringy as what he did…
Anyway, they didn’t say hi or wave a hand at me so there was no need to say anything. It was obvious I was still considered a persona non grata by them.
I averted my gaze and returned to the toy store, where an evening of moving rubble awaited me.
The next morning I went out early to hunt the goldhorns, hoping to find the last two and end the quest once and for all.
I found the first one pretty early and the fight went as usual. I even got a double bonus from the fight. The goldhorn dropped an evolution marble that I consumed like a starving kid and used to increase my dexterity, and when I was healing myself…
|Your fortitude has increased by 1 point!|
Things couldn’t have gone better. I basically got the same benefits from a regular level up after that fight.
But humans are greedy and I was no different.
I continued looking for the last goldhorn all day, really eager to get the rewards from the goldhorn hunt but fate was not about to let me indulge in my greed. Not without making me work extra hard for it.
It was already evening and I had not seen a single golden antler since that morning, no matter how many times I walked down the same streets. The worst part was that there were no other monsters in the area surrounding the neighborhood, making me waste most of the day just walking.
At some point, I even began taking risks and entering the mini forests to the sides of the road to inspect the destroyed houses that had been engulfed by nature. Suffice to say I only found, well, destroyed houses and nature for the most part. A lot of what I guessed was goldhorn dung as well.
Later that night, I finally the opportunity to work hard to satisfy my greed.
There was a certain house, one that was bigger than most others. It still conserved its original shape despite the trees and vines piercing and strangling it. It was the first one I saw that wasn’t only walls and collapsed debris.
From inside I heard an eerie humming that reminded me a lot of several cows mooing at the same time. A normal person would’ve turned around and left, but it had been quite a while since I was not normal anymore.
So I approached the house, carefully pushing the shrubbery away with my feet, making my best effort to avoid making any loud noises but my efforts were trampled by the dry leaves I trampled with each step.
Still, I moved forward and got to a window, where I carefully craned my neck from below the frame and peeked inside the house.
I saw a bunch of goldhorns inside in what I could only describe as a scene straight out of a horror movie.