Marcello listened intently as Garib explained to him the quest details.

“If you go to the grove, there will be an old silver sword. Retrieve it, and come back here. You will need it for the next part of the quest. But beware, because vicious goblins live in the grove!” Garib said with dramatic flair. “Although I don’t think you’ll have much trouble with them, after all you’ve been through, gahaha!”

“No, I don’t think I will,” Marcello replied with a grin.

“I’m supposed to tell you the second half of the quest once you retrieve the sword, so do that for me first, alright?” the gnome continued. “And make sure you visit me once in a while once this whole thing is over. I think you’d have more juicy stories by then, ha! We will end up on the same plane after your trial shenanigans. You can find me by the forest near where the ocean and the volcano meet. You can’t miss it!”

“Will do, old man. But where am I supposed to find this strange goblin grove without directions?”

“Well, it won’t be much of a quest if I tell you everything, will it? Go explore the woods, and you might find it,” Garib replied. “Eventually.”

Marcello chatted with Garib for a while longer, and the gnome graciously offered some stew and stale bread to him, although the knight declined. Before leaving, he learned that the forest was inhabited by some dangerous creatures, although he had already encountered his fair share of danger back in the terrestrial plane so he wasn’t particularly worried.

The human knight exited out of the hollowed out tree stump via a hidden door carved into the bark itself.

“Best of luck, my friend,” Garib said to him cheerily. “And don’t let the wolves bite!”

“Stay safe, Garib,” Marcello replied.

The gnome gave him a thumbs up, before adding one more thing. “If you want to make your way back here, look for the tree with the burl up there,” he said, pointing upwards at the gnarly growth on top of the tree about halfway up.

Marcello nodded. “Got it.”

And with that, the human knight departed from the gnome’s home in search of the grove in the woods. Although, he had some other ideas in mind first.

Namely, finding these so-called dangerous creatures and testing out his skills against them. As a level 32 advanced promoted warrior class with a conquest ability up his sleeve, multiple rare tier or above pieces of equipment and some stat boosting titles to his name, he was looking for a challenge.

After ten minutes of wandering the forest, Marcello still did not come across any beasts, although he saw the old remains of a campfire. Strange. He couldn’t seem to encounter any monsters no matter how much he searched.

His desire for a challenge was then answered by an arrow to the back of his helmet, striking him painfully.


Marcello whipped around, just to see a group of humans, some of them pointing their bows at him while others had their swords drawn. In front of them was a bearded warrior who was the leader of the squad.

“You, how’d you get here?” the bearded man asked gruffly. “This area is Eric’s territory. All trespassers will be expelled. That’s the rule.”

Marcello quickly used identify on the leader, only to be surprised that he was only level 11. Most of the others were even lower than that.

“Eric?” Marcello replied. “Who the hell is that?”

“He’s the big boss around here, so show some respect!” spit the bearded man. “Have you been living under a rock these past ten days? We’re the biggest faction out here!”

The lone knight shrugged, unimpressed. “I don’t care. I’m just here to kill some monsters.”

As reasonable experience sources were extremely scarce at this point, that was the wrong thing to say. The entire area of the forest had been strip-mined of low level mobs, with the newly spawned monsters being instantly killed and monopolized by Eric’s faction.

Saying that he was just here to kill monsters, as innocuous of a statement as it was for Marcello, was basically taken as a declaration of war by the scouting squad.

“Attack!” the bearded man shouted.

Arrows rained down from the hill, as Marcello quickly equipped his uncommon rank wooden plank shield and advanced quickly with the help of the added walking speed from his charismatic silk pants of chakra.

“Fred, I can’t see his level!” an archer shouted at the leader of the scouting party.

“It doesn’t matter. He’s alone. Just kill him!”

Marcello’s shield, armor, and absurd seventy nine constitution meant that he was taking virtually no damage from the shower of arrows, much to the dismay of the archers. They had never seen anyone in full plate armor before, and even so to invalidate so many arrows like this was unheard of.

Then again, the archers had never fought anyone with an advanced promoted class yet. Such a promotion was generally available at level fifty at earliest.

“What the hell?” an archer shouted. “He’s not taking any damage!”

“Keep firing!”

The lone knight in a blue gambeson jogged forward with his shield covering his body. He decided not to use the King Jaeger’s conquest ability, not only because it would cause some recoil and put it on a large cooldown, but also because he felt like he just didn’t need it to deal with these humans.

“Mages, fire!”

Several mana bolts shot towards him, blasting and leaving blackened spots on his wooden plank shield, with one stray bolt hitting him on the leg. The bolts did a bit of damage, and stung like hell.

Summoning his archeios javelin, Marcello threw it with herculean strength at one of the mages standing ten yards away from him. The javelin pierced the mage’s right shoulder and left a horrifying gaping hole in her shoulder, dealing more than half of her health in one hit.


A healer appeared in the backline and began healing the mage’s wound immediately.

But at this point, Marcello had closed the ground enough to use something that he hadn’t gotten the chance to use thus far to any real effect.

[Giant’s Roar]


The deafening sound imbued with giant’s magic tore through the forest, causing several crows to fly out of the treetops.

One of the mages of the scouting party raised his staff, ready to cast another mana bolt, when to his horror he realized that the ability could not be used.

“W-what the hell is this?” he exclaimed in panic. “I can’t use my spells!”

An archer standing by him was quaking in his boots, his lip quivering in fear. He nocked another arrow, but his hands were shaking and he could not aim well.

This was the power of Giant’s Roar, a rare rank ability unique to the Enigmatic Bulwark Knight class, which had a silence effect that temporarily muted mages and healers alike, and a terror effect which instilled fear in the hearts of those in the vicinity.

This was the power of a secret advanced promotion class.

Marcello ran forward to meet the leader in combat, his longsword flickering with a thirst for blood.

“You bastard, Eric will kill you personally!” the bearded man known as Fred shouted, brandishing his own sword. “I’ve already sent our fastest scout back to base. You’re not long for this world, knight.”

Marcello couldn’t help but laugh as he drew closer, as arrows harmlessly bounced off of his shield and armor and mages and healers alike still had their spellcasting muted.

“I’d love to fight your boss,” Marcello said. “But you’ll have to do for now.”

His longsword met the warrior’s sword with such unexpected strength that the warrior’s weapon was knocked out of his hand, even with a half-assed blow with his cumbersome shield in hand.

Marcello had to point his shield to the side while swinging his sword, as arrows landed on his platemail armor and slit visor helmet, bouncing off while doing minimal damage. It was a bit cumbersome to use this sword and shield style when his longsword was better to use two handed and his plank shield was exceptionally tall, but he didn’t need to use the full brunt of his strength in every swing to beat this weak warrior.

“Sundering blow!” he shouted, imbuing his sword with a shockwave effect to accompany the cut as the longsword’s blade dug into the warrior’s chainmail vest.

The sword blow itself dealt a third of the warrior’s health, and the accompanying shockwave dealt another quarter and partially crushed Fred’s chainmail.

Two other warriors were now running at Marcello, but he decided to attack the mages first before the silencing effect of giant’s roar wore off. Unequipping his plank shield, he ran forward with his pants allowing him to outpace the warriors, and both his hands wrapped around the hilt of his sword as he slashed at a healer.

As his longsword cut through the healer’s white robes and tasted blood, he felt the little bit of health that he had lost in this fight returned to him.

Marcello didn’t exactly like attacking defenseless healers like this, but these assholes attacked him first and seemed to be keen on calling their base to finish the job, so he felt very little remorse.

Next was a mage. With a powerful sword swing, he lobbed off the arm of a mage and followed up with a downward slash into the mage’s ribcage, killing him instantly.

A bit of disgust overwhelmed him as he had just decapitated and killed another human being. Marcello stopped for a moment out of shock, only to get hit in the back by a painful sword swing.

The way that his fellow humans engaged in such senseless violence so casually made him wonder just what kind of hell on earth had transpired in the week and a half that he was gone. This didn’t seem like the first time this scouting party had fought to kill, either.

Marcello raised his longsword again, understanding that he had to stomach his disgust for killing other human beings to be able to survive in this new reality.

A warrior’s sword swing collided with the ribcage of his torso armor yet again, as Marcello performed a wide swing that sliced into the warrior’s neck, cutting through his meager leather neck armor. The man’s head fell down to the ground as if it had just been guillotined. He and the warrior had struck each other at the same time, but it was clear who was favored in that exchange.

Although he felt very uncomfortable about killing humans, Marcello did feel a bit of redemptive triumph over taking down these people that wanted to kill him on sight. They had thought of him as simple prey just like any of the others they had killed. Turns out, the prey could fight back this time around.

Marcello backstepped to dodge a double slash sword skill from the second warrior who had just caught up, and ran towards the other mage that he had wounded earlier with his archeios javelin.

The mage fired a mana bolt, the bolt hurtling through the air and slamming into his chest plate.

It stung like hell and took a bit off his large health pool, but Marcello noted that this kind of bolt was nothing when compared to Emma’s destructive power. This mage was just a weakling. With a upwards stab, Marcello thrust his blade through the mage’s black robed torso, puncturing her chest as she coughed up blood.

He yanked out his longsword and then slashed sideways, cleaving the mage’s shoulder in half as she fell down lifeless.

He stood over her dead body and looked back at the warrior that was chasing him earlier. He was running as fast as he could, as were the other surviving combatants. Fred was being carried away by an archer and a thief with a crossbow.

“Oh, you’re not getting away,” Marcello said bitterly, picking up the archeios javelin from the ground beside him. He aimed, and then threw the javelin with his entire might.

The javelin pierced the thief to the right in the leg, who immediately dropped Fred to the ground. The other archer ran like hell, abandoning the bearded warrior.

The knight in bloody armor walked over to Fred, who was suffering from broken ribs from taking the brunt of the knight’s sundering blow.

To his right, the thief with a crossbow was bleeding out. Marcello did not have the heart to finish him off, nor did he want to heal him after experiencing multiple crossbow bolts to his armor earlier.

But Fred, on the other hand…

Marcello knelt down next to the bearded man, then uncorked a health potion and forced the liquid down his throat. He then took out his Dagger of Bleeding slid the sharp end of the blade down the man’s face.

“You and I are going to have a little chat, alright?” Marcello said bitterly. “I need you to fill me in on what’s happened in this forest since my absence, and about this Eric you were talking about earlier.”

Fred spat at Marcello, hitting his helmet.

This wasn’t going to be easy, was it? Marcello put the dagger back into his inventory. For matters like this, communication through fists might be better. He didn’t want the guy to actually die, just softened up a bit until he spilled the beans as to why he just got attacked on sight, and what the hell happened since he was gone.


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