Advertisement
Remove

A note from Belgianfri

So you guys preferred the old cover over the one I got for free, which is why I reversed it to the old one for now. In the near future I'm gonna pay an artist to make a proper cover, though. I'm still looking to get some money gathered for that, I'll probably have to wait till the patreon support comes in. Thanks for that, by the way. It means a lot to me.

 


 

Read 10 chapters ahead on patreon!

 

Discord: https://discord.gg/YHZFB4HMHD

We had made quick progress over the past few days, since traveling on horseback was rather quick compared to traveling on foot. I thanked Helios that I'd never be forced to walk for three days straight again, with Revan now being big enough to carry me.

I hadn't interacted much with the people around me outside of Garrett's party and Doran. Doran had similarly stayed quiet throughout the trip so far, altough Garrett and the others seemed to know some of our accompanying hunters.

The two other tier 4 hunters, a man and a woman, both of average height, were a party of two that did quests together. They were both mages, one being a wind mage and the other a fire mage. They were wearing similar-looking coats that covered them entirely, giving them a mysterious vibe. One was an orange coat, the other a white one, signifying their respective elements. On the second day, I went over to introduce myself to them.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Arthur. Thanks for joining us on the journey to the Duke's palace."

The man under the orange robe took off his hood, revealing orange hair that was bordering on red and a similarly coloured beard.

"Nice ta meet ya laddie, oi'm Emer and me lovely wifey here is Cara."

I smiled in response, but had a hard time not bursting into laughter at his accent. I tried to stay polite.

"Where are you two from? I don't recognise that accent."

Emer had a jovial smile that seemed to be permanently plastered on his face. His wife tried to hold his enthusiasm back a bit by pulling on his sleeve. She seemed used to his antics.

"We're from the lovely green pastures of Iera, one o' the countries borderin' Roa. We moved here when we 'ad' some trouble with the hunters' guild back home. Been livin' ere ever since."

"Well, you made a good choice. Roa's a good country. At least, I think so. I haven't exactly had the chance to travel outside of it yet."

"Be sure to visit Iera when ya' get the chance! It's a lovely country with some of the most beautiful terrain in the world! Shame it's always rainin' though."

"Thanks, I will."

With that meeting done, I moved over to Doran.

"So what does the Duke's palace even look like? Have you been there before?"

Doran looked pensive as he rode next to me.

"Calling it a palace is not entirely accurate, though that is its official title, the Coldwater palace. I've been there a few times for family matters. I haven't been there in a long time, though. When I was there last, the palace looked like a large stone pillar raised out of the ground. The sides of the pillar had been carved-out and formed elaborate and detailed columns, spires, and arches. A number of large balconies jut out of the rock, which are used to welcome guests and the like. It is rather sparsely decorated, but I would not expect otherwise from the duke. He is a strict man."

The fact that even Doran called him strict scared me a little.

Garrett rode up next to us and chimed in.

"Aye, I've seen the palace from a distance before, one time. It's just a giant pillar with carved out rooms. Still, the carvings are beautiful. It's like a giant battle was painted on the mountain. Legend is that the duke carved it himself with his sword."

Now I was really starting to get curious. He had carved his own palace out of rock with a sword? This Duke sounded more and more like my kind of guy. If I ever got to make a castle, I decided I would carve it out with [Overload Aura]. If nothing else, it would make for good practice.

"So how far do we still have to travel before we get there?"

Garrett was the one to reply.

"Well, the Duke's palace is on the torrential plateau, a sparsely populated area. I imagine the Duke prefers to be left alone. Normally we would go there by using the main road, but the guild determined that would draw too much attention. Instead, we're going along a separate path. To get there, we still have to get out of this forest and then pass through the Rainlight bog, a swamp known to have powerful monsters. With some luck, we'll be able to pass by it without issue. After that, it's just a matter of getting to the palace itself."

Rainlight bog, huh? It sounded like a good place to get some levels... Then again, the safety of the party came first.

 


 

A few days later, the forest started to give way for wetlands and low-hanging trees. We had entered the outskirts of the swamp and were heading right through the middle of the dangerous area.

I gave Melinda an uncertain look, which she answered with a reassuring smile. Nestor then went on to give me a rundown of every detail about every swamp he had heard of, confident it would interest me as much as it did him.

"Did you know that some swamps have fireflies? In those areas, there are typically swamp lurkers as well, who use a small bulb at the end of their tail to imitate fireflies and lure prey! These cunning fellows will even cannibalise smaller members of their own species!"

With a frown, I tried to tune out Nestor's babbling and focus on our surroundings.

 

A few hours later, we had entered the Rainlight bog proper. Our horses had to tread carefully as not to sink into the mud, and the low-hanging branches of the swamp willows kept our visibility limited. Using [Dark sight], I noticed that dark-aligned mana was particularly common in this area, almost ridiculously so. I was sure some other mana-types like water and life mana were also prevalent, but it was still noteworthy, since it meant we might encounter dark-aligned creatures.

We slowly marched through the swamp in single file. Doran led the party from the front while Emer and Cara held up the back. The party surrounded me for good measure. This would be the perfect place for an ambush, after all. We were on high alert.

Despite this, nothing happened for the next few hours. As we went deeper and deeper into the swamp, the trees became larger and larger, the mud more difficult to traverse. After a while, our advance had been slowed to a crawl. Doran did a good job finding the best path forward, but even that wasn't enough to speed up our progress. Still, we were getting there slowly but surely.

 

Unfortunately, our frustrating but calm progress was interrupted by a guttural roar. I couldn't exactly describe it as 'loud', but the deep tone made the noise travel incredibly far and made me feel like my bones were shaking from the tremor.

Doran wheeled his horse around.

"IN FORMATION! WE HAVE A MONSTER INCOMING!"

I had never seen him so panicked. The hunters jumped off their horses, so I copied them and followed them into a gathered group. The shield users like Garrett went to the outside of the circle, while the ranged fighters went to the centre.

For a terrifying thirty seconds, nothing happened. Until we heard a boom. Then a few more booms. They were footsteps. The group rearranged itself to guard against the direction of the incoming sound. They were right on time, because when the footsteps came close, a giant frog-like creature burst out of the trees.

Its head looked like a normal frog's head, only enlarged by several orders of magnitude, while the rest of its body was foreign. It looked like the body of a horse, except for the fact that it had the same slimy skin as the rest of its amphibian body. Around the place where its neck would normally be, there were a number of green tentacles, writhing in anger. They were as thick as tree trunks.

The creature roared as it barrelled at us. Doran was the one to maintain control of the group.

"That is a tier 5 [Terror swamp centaur]! Focus on cutting off its tentacles!"

A tier 5? I hadn't known we would be fighting a tier 5?! Do we even have the firepower necessary to kill it?

Immediately, the ranged hunters sent out projectiles at its tentacles. Melinda's rain of blue arrows was tearing into it, to no visible effect. One of the other tier 3 hunters was also an archer, yet launched a single giant arrow at once. This one did manage to pierce the skin of the frog-faced centaur, though the wound didn't seem deep.

The creature screeched in pain and retaliated by swinging its tentacles straight at us in an arc. Doran moved to block, but failed partially as one of the tentacles broke past his golden shield and slammed into the hunter that had fired the large arrow. His body was torn in half instantly.

This time, I realised what kind of situation we were really in. Facing a tier 5 with our party just wasn't feasible, yet running away in this swamp wasn't realistic either. We needed to do something.

I activated my overload and charged up an overloaded orb. I didn't want to show my affinity to the other hunters, but I hoped to explain the orb away as another skill if anybody asked. With some luck, the impact would stagger the beast. My thunder was fated to be stolen, however, as Emer and Cara were casting a spell together.

They took a few seconds to say incantations and structure the mana, but when the spell erupted, it was beautiful. Cara had summoned a large tornado to envelop the beast, while Emer summoned some kind of wall of flame under the tornado. The two spells then seemed to combine into one giant tornado of spinning flame. It was radiating so much heat my dark form kicked in to heal my skin.

The other hunters capitalised on this turning of the tide to charge up a number of attacks alongside me, with even Doran lifting his sword to the sky and praying for a blessing.

A moment later, I released my orb together with the other hunters' charged attacks. Melinda shot a thick blue bolt of energy, Nestor launched a bright green beam of his corrupted light magic and the other hunters all had their own skills to add to the mix.

As our skills launched, Doran and the other tanks used a number of shield skills to enhance our defences and allow us to tank the blast our own skills would create.

The first attack to land on target was Melinda's shot, which pierced through the flame and caused the creature to screech. From there the other attacks landed, some eliciting more of a reaction from the monster than others. Finally, only my orb was left. As the fire abated, the creature broke free of its prison and tried to charge at us once more, despite its heavy wounds, only to be met by a small black marble touching its nose.

 

A moment later, the marble imploded, sending a wave of overloaded mana into the world. The blast impacted our shields strongly, causing nearby trees and water to be ripped out of the ground and pushed away, respectively. Even the monster was affected. The centaur reared back from the blast. It hadn't looked like I had successfully dealt any damage, but it was enough to surprise the creature.

Taking advantage of it being stunned, Doran charged up once more and slammed his golden sword into its face. This time the creature did go flying. The amount of power Doran displayed honestly shocked me. I had known he was holding back in our spars, but this was just ridiculous.

The large creature collapsed on top of some trees. I thought the battle was over and I was about to receive experience any second now, but I was sadly disappointed.

The creature stood up again. I was about ready to start shouting in exasperation, when the big centaur turned around and started sprinting the other way. It kept running until it was out of sight and we couldn't hear its booming footsteps anymore.

Flabbergasted, I tried to open my mouth and say something, but nothing came out.

Doran took charge of the group.

"Alright, find your horses and reconvene back here in five minutes! We're leaving as soon as possible!"

With my mind in a haze, I did as he said. I found my stubborn mule a few minutes away on foot, and reluctantly got into the saddle. Our group gathered again on horseback and rode through the swamp as quickly as possible.

About half an hour later, I rode up next to Doran to ask what the hell had happened.

"Hey, Doran, why the hell did that centaur leave us alone like that? Was it too hurt to keep fighting?"

Doran smiled ruefully at my comment.

"No, Arthur. We hadn't hurt it nearly as much as it seemed. The outer skin of a [Terror swamp centaur] is much softer and weaker than its inner skin. At the rate we were damaging it we would need at least another half an hour or so to kill it. We couldn't have won such a battle, and even if we did, most of our team would be dead. That's the cold reality of fighting above your tier."

It seemed I had been overconfident.

"But then why did it just run away?"

"That's because it is in their nature. Swamp centaurs that reach high tiers tend to pick their battles carefully. If you show them right from the start that you can hurt it, and gain the upper hand, it will typically turn tail and run. Most monsters aren't smart enough to see through that ruse. That is why I ordered everybody to attack, rather than defend. The only way to survive such an encounter is by showing them strength."

I nodded along. We had fooled a tier 5 creature into thinking we were stronger than we are. It left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. It seemed I wasn't as strong as I had thought.

 


 

Pov: unknown

"Hmm, it seems that frog failed. How annoying. Well, at least I met someone rather interesting. I want him. Just stay put, puppet...

Mommy's coming to get you..."

Advertisement

Support "My class [Death Knight] is just barely legal..."

About the author

Belgianfri

  • Your holiness

Bio: I like fries. The belgian kind.

Achievements
Comments(75)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In