Chapter 12 - The Statue of the Goddess Freya
As Weed and his teammates came closer to the lizardmen’s stronghold, the number of monsters falling in their way increased rapidly.
“We already took down more than forty lizardmen…”
“We’re still at the border. How many more do you think are gathered deep inside?”
Irene and Romuna spoke in turn. But Weed only smiled.
“Look, you all know the lizardmen are group-living monsters, don’t you?”
“Yes, Weed-nim. They herd together more than Orcs,” Irene said.
“That’s right. They also protect their own territory jealously. What if someone steps over it?” Weed asked.
“They fight back without exception!” Surka said.
“That’s right. That’s what makes the lizardmen fearsome among users.”
“Doesn’t it mean we’re in trouble now?”
Weed and his teammates were going through a valley. They often rested in the middle to recharge mana, and wasted no energy.
At this point, he gave away the riddle.
“I’d say we would be in danger under normal circumstances, but we can count on Darius now.”
Because of Weed’s revelation, they realized where his confidence was coming from.
“What do you mean by that–oh, I got it!” Surka said.
“Darius is really helping us out!” Romuna said with a smile on her face.
The stronghold of the lizardmen.
By now they should have been fighting viciously against the punitive force who had invaded their territory.
In other words, the base camp would be nearly abandoned, and only guarded by a handful of lizardman warriors.
At the sometime, Weed guessed that the treasures that the lizardmen had plundered from nearby villages were stacked over there as well.
He was climbing the western valley in order to accomplish Ghandilva’s quest, but his real agenda was hidden.
“We will face a more difficult enemy from this point on. How about baiting them now?” Weed asked.
“Roger!” Surka said.
“We should be careful. We can’t allow many lizardmen to take on us at once,” Weed said.
Surka did a great job baiting lizardmen one by one. Her outstanding agility helped her lure the enemy separately.
“Come on, you ugly reptiles!” she called out to them.
“Human, we kill you!” The furious lizardmen quickly gave chase after Surka. Weed and Pale quickly loaded arrows into their bows, targeted the lizardmen and shot them.
While Weed shot one arrow at a time, Pale shot multiple arrows so fast that his hands were almost invisible.
Their skill levels in archery made a fair difference, not to mention the effects of Pale’s other skills.
Weed’s archery had advanced beyond his overall level as he had sniped at the goblins, yet he could not possibly rival Pale whose hands had never left his bow.
For Pale, even before an arrow hit a target, the next arrow was already loaded and launched.
Since level five, when he converted to the ranger class, he had been upgrading the Chain Shot and Penetration skills, which rendered his arrows more powerful.
Weed shot arrows until the lizardmen got too close to him. The damage was low, yet his expertise rating in archery improved nonetheless.
No, the bottom line was that his temperament didn’t allow him to sit back and wait for his enemy.
Why should I wait for EXPs, no, I mean, the enemy to come?
Weed loved to fight, he just never got tired of it. He was unstoppable now.
“Yatz, yatz, yatz!” From out of his mouth, came another battle cry that burst forth.
Irene and Romuna giggled. They had once mentioned this to Weed already, who had to admit he couldn’t help it.
For him, it was a roar of triumph that came out only when he was overly excited.
Fortunately, there had never yet been a time when monsters had heard him and rushed to get his party, though he was constantly embarrassed by his involuntary habit when he was fighting shoulder to shoulder with other users.
‘Weed is always composed, but he sometimes goes out of control and becomes so childish,’ Irene thought.
They encountered six lizardmen in a ludicrous battle.
The moment the battle began, two of the lizardmen were slaughtered by Weed’s sword, and there were four more to go.
He left those four monsters alone because if he had taken down all of them, Romuna, Pale and Surka would be denied precious EXPs.
Worse still, Weed’s mana would run out while Irene’s mana remained in excess, which would compel the entire party to take a break in order for him to refill his mana. They would waste valuable time, falling further behind the deadline of the quest.
Two lizardmen went after Surka, but the other two, in a fury, charged at Weed to exact their revenge for the loss of their comrades.
Weed’s sword was in need of repair, below ten in durability. Given that a powerful sword technique gives an excessive burden to the weapon in use, further lowering the weapon’s durability, he had been engaged fiercely without a rest.
“Disarm the iron sword.”
Weed returned his sword to the inventory and clenched his fists.
Surka’s signature skill!
“Rapid Shadow Fist!” (Yon-hwan-kwon).
Weed’s fists lashed out at the enemy incessantly.
Although he had called out the skill name, it wasn’t actually like he activated the skill itself. Because He hadn’t even learned it in the first place, let alone be able to use it.
Instead, he imitated the way Surka had used her fists to the best of his knowledge, and beat the living crap out of the lizardmen.
Wanting to hit monsters with his own hands, he had learned martial arts for a year, waiting for that moment.
Needless to say, his punches were terrific.
Weed’s hands moved at an invisible speed.
In clubbing the lizardmen mercilessly with his fists, his intermediate handicraft skill added an extra fifty percent to attack power by fist.
“Human fists, they hurt!”
Weed closed on his enemy, punching at every opening. The lizardmen swung their blades in retaliation.
The bottom line was, the lizardmen and Weed were both obsessed with looking off the other before being finished themselves.
Weed’s footsteps were light. Any time his body rocked, a punch was thrust into a lizardman. His ankles and waist moved at his will and drew strength for the fists, which in turn struck the lizardmen’s stomach and chests.
“Treacherous human, he hits the same spot over and over!” The lizardman wailed in pain.
“Weed-nim, keep up the pressure!” Irene was busy healing the frontline leaders from behind.
Her expertise in healing was acknowledged, and whenever her teammate’s life went down below seventy percent, her Healing Hand touched the needy. It is risk-free and effective.
Weed was greatly enjoying the firsthand sense of punching the living hell out the enemy. He preferred hand-to-hand combat to sword fighting, for he could feel it, and it felt more real.
The lizardmen and Weed were pummeling each other, but it wasn’t the same for the lizardmen. The lizardmen’s faces were filled with pain, but a smile hovered on his face.
He was whirling his mighty fists, crying out with excitement.
Meanwhile, Romuna and Pale were quickly casting magic spells and shooting arrows, respectively, to get rid of the other two lizardmen that had fastened onto Surka.
Without a hope in sight, those two lizardmen facing Weed were having the living hell beaten out of them, yet they were still alive.
New Stat: Perseverance
The perseverance stat is mostly generated by warriors in the first rounds of their adventure.
When it is developed, it reduces physical damage inflicted by the enemy, and even increases the user’s life by a small amount.
One could invest some stat bonus points from a level up in the perseverance stat, but the majority chose to let it develop itself by receiving melee attacks. After the perseverance stat was added to his stats, Weed’s movement became more tactical.
He checked how much mana Irene had and intentionally let the lizardmen strike him with their blades. It was a stat that grew by the amount the user was hit. This was truly a power you could obtain only through pain and suffering.
Weed was a person that gladly accepted the lizardmen’s attacks as long as they were acceptable and were within Irene’s mana limit to heal.
In Royal Road, you can actually feel hurt when you’re hurt. Weed even enjoyed the pain.
One of the lizardmen finally perished with a death cry.
Weed achieved a stirring feat by punching a lizardman to the point of death in the battle.
The other three lizardmen were sandwiched by Romuna, Pale and Surka and were killed.
Weed had killed three of them alone, but it would not have been easy even with the iron sword unless Irene constantly regenerated his life. The victory required all five of them in the party.
Surka went fishing for a group of lizardmen in the distance when there were two or more groups of lizardmen nearby.
If it had not been the case, Pale would simply shoot an arrow at them, or more often than not, Weed would be the first man to move.
Weed would run right into the ranks of lizardmen and swing his sword freely. His teammates would run after him and help finish the monsters off. After which point, they would walk away victorious. This was what Weed liked about his teammates most.
They were usually chatty and noisy on the march, but when it came to a battle, they would fall silent and get serious.
They had been thoroughly trained by Weed.
Since they had hunted foxes in front of the Citadel, they had learned how to hunt monsters rapidly and economically.
When they entered the lizardmen’s stronghold after neutralizing a handful of lizardman guards, they found a bunch of straw huts scattered in the forlorn valley.
‘The captives are over there,’ Weed thought, as his eyes shone.
The parents of the children were confined in a cage made of woven branches.
Weed studied the situation for a while.
There were ten men and women locked in the wooden cage, and he located eight lizardmen mounting guard over them.
Eight of them!
With little consideration for mana, Weed could finish two, or three at most, in a blitz, but in that case, his teammates would have to deal with the other five remaining guards.
He was certain that they would prevail in the end, but Irene and Romuna, who were low in life and weak in defense, could end up dying. Mages and priestesses could be seriously endangered by only a few wild strikes from a lizardman.
“We’d better rescue the captives first. I’ll lead the group away.”
Surka knew it was time for action, and moved.
“How she get here…”
When Surka approached the lizardmen, five of them began to chase after her. Instead of pursuing her, the other three lizardmen stayed behind to keep an eye on the captives.
‘They’re not as foolish as I thought.’ Weed made eye contact with Surka on the run. They nodded.
– Weed-nim, I will race in a circle along where we came from, and come back here.
– Thank you, Surka-nim. That will be enough.
Weed and Surka struck a quick deal through whispers.
Assured that she and her pursuers were out of sight, Weed and Pale appeared in front of the remaining lizardmen.
“More humans!” they yelled.
“Human, come again!” The three lizardmen stammered in surprise.
“Sculpting Blade technique!”
The guards survived barely a second against the human intruders.Weed and Pale downed them in a split second and opened the gate of the wooden cage.
The parents stayed inside, though, scared out of their wits.Weed could sympathize with how terrified they probably were, having been captured by the lizardmen and waiting for death that could come any second.
“We are here by the request from Ghandilva, the elder of Baran Village,”
Weed said to the villagers.
“The- the elder…?”
“Yes, he asked us to rescue you and take you all back home safely. Is anyone wounded here?”
“This way, please…”
Weed went into the wooden cage and gave first aid to the wounded with herbs and bandages.
That measure alone restored their health greatly.
“Weed-nim, Surka-nim is back,” Pale said.
Surka, who had been leading the lizardmen away from the cage, was coming back.
“Stay in the cage for a minute. Get ready to leave for now. You want to see your children again, don’t you?” Weed said tenderly to the villagers.
Some would have counted the villagers as a liability, and, as a matter of fact, they were right in a sense because his party was responsible for rescuing the captives from the lizardmen and guaranteeing their safety all the way to Baran Village.
But Weed thought one step further.
‘These lovely EXP points!’ he thought gleefully.
What Weed was carrying out was a rescue mission.
For each head saved, he would receive extra EXP points as a reward when the mission was completed. He had given up fame and EXPs from the punitive force quest to exterminate the lizardmen, but this one was still a good bargain.
Weed and his teammates finished off the five lizardmen that returned on Surka’s heels. They quickly hid the villagers in a safe shelter, and then searched for more captives, who were eventually found and rescued as well.
Their disappointment though, lay in what the lizardmen had looted and stacked.
Orcs and goblins collect gold and gems. In stark contrast with those crow-like creatures, lizardmen in the class Reptilian hardly gathered anything valuable when they plagued human civilization.
So all that Weed’s party found were a mountain of shields, armor and weapons made of iron.
Weed and his teammates swept the armaments together without leaving anything behind. The maximum weight that a user can carry depends on his strength and stamina.
Even Irene and Romuna were stumbling toward the village with heavy loads on their backs.
Of course, it wasn’t only his party that carried arms.
“We saved you.” Weed said to the rescued villagers.Their faces showed some uneasiness at his words.
“Naturally we’re not asking for any compensation for what we have done. All we want is a seed that Ghandilva, the elder of your village, has promised. this is because we didn’t save you for reward or profit .”
Reassured, the villagers looked less anxious than before.
Smiling gently, Weed added, “I understand you’ve gone through trouble a lot, but would you mind helping as carry those arms down to the village?”
The villagers’ faces underwent another sudden change.
They were extremely weary due to malnutrition. The last thing they wanted to do was anything that might compromise their return to home.
“As you see, this valley is something close to an impenetrable fortress, and I’ve heard that Orcs often appeared here.”
At a mere mention of Orcs, the villagers shuddered in terror. They had barely survived the lizardmen, and if Orcs were the next calamity to deal with, they knew it was going to be a hopeless case.
“Just in case, suppose that the Orcs find this place – they will rejoice over those arms stacked here. They could take up the arms and sweep over Baran Village down in the valley. So I think the arms should be removed from here. Will you please help us?”
Persuaded by Weed, the villagers ended up carrying as heavy loads as they could possibly manage and walking down the valley.
Meanwhile, the lizardmen in Baran Village had been wiped out by Darius and his troops.
The village was devastated, but the rescued villagers wept in delight for their return anyway.
At the front gate of Baran Village, Weed said to them again, “Thank you so much, my friends. We could not have made it here safely without your care and support. I will take over here, so you are free to go back to your children. They’re desperately waiting for their mothers and fathers.”
The moment Weed finished his speech, the villagers put down the heavy arms and scattered, looking for their sons and daughters.
Ghandilva was waiting with children in a clearing near the gate.
“Selen, Marron, I’m glad you’re alive!”
It was a touching reunion between children and parents.Ghandilva walked to Weed, smoothing his white beard.
“You have finished the quest, Weed-nim.” the elder stated.
“Yes, sir,” Weed said humbly.
“I am very grateful to you that you rescued all of my fellow villagers. Honestly, I did not expect you would accomplish so much… You did a great job. None of us will ever forget what you have done for us.”
Quest Completed: The Calamity of Baran Village:
The dispersed families in Baran Village were reunited by the brave heroes who were willing to see justice done.
The village was destroyed by the lizardmen’s raid, but the crowing of roosters and the barking of dogs will be heard soon.
The children are relieved to see their parents again. Till the day their eyes fill with tears from their parents’ scolding, the children will have gratitude for the brave heroes.
Fame has risen by 15 points (+15 FAME)
You have leveled up!
The fame and EXP were distributed equally to everyone in the party, but the seed was given directly to Weed who was the party leader.
“We in Baran Village owe you.”
“No, Sir. We have only done what we were supposed to. We will always do our best to preserve Baran Village’s peace and prosperity.”
There are many factors involved in receiving a quest.
NPCs may beg anyone who they run across them if they want a quest to be done urgently, but most of them will wait for their favorite user, if any, to appear to solve their problems instead of trusting a total stranger.
“Darius, I think you’ll regret this.”
Weed had won considerable trust and gratitude from Elder Ghandilva and from the villagers who had been rescued by Weed’s party, they would also feel deep indebted to their saviors as well, and this would work to their advantage when shopping and other services in the village itself.
If Darius assumed that he had nothing much to gain from Baran Village, he would not be worried. But he would have to pay for his mistake if he had planned to expand his power over the Southern province based on his status as the commander of the punitive force.
Obviously, this subtle friendship rather than material reward was more likely to turn into the biggest asset in the future.
Darius would not have rejected the quest under normal circumstances, but he had been the commander of the punitive force.
It would have been a tough decision to abandon his mission to lead his troops to defeat the lizardmen for a major credit, or to instead, rescue a handful of villagers from their stronghold.
For that reason, Weed understood Darius, but pitied him at the same time.
Opportunities like these don’t present themselves often. Like an unforeseen accident from nowhere, they come and go.
Ghandilva suddenly clasped Weed’s hands.
“I am reminded that I have another favor for you, Weed-nim. You’re a trustworthy man. I heard from soldiers in the punitive force that you were a sculptor. Am I mistaken?”
“No, Sir” Weed said calmly.
“We used to have a statue of Freya that we all worshipped in the central square of the village.”
Freya was a goddess who is widely worshipped in Rosenheim. She was known to govern fertility and beauty.
Ghandilva said with a gloomy face, “We have always prayed for peace and prosperity to the village statue of Freya. But it was smashed in an accident earlier this year. Now that I look back on how things have turned for the worse, I suspect that the absence of the statue caused all of those troubles.”
“Do you me want to restore the statue of the goddess?”
“Yes, Weed-nim, I want you to carve a new statue of Freya. I originally asked another plausible foreigner to bring a replacement, but I have not since heard from her. It’s urgent. Would you please carve a statue of Freya?”
Quest: The Statue of Goddess Freya:
Freya, the goddess of beauty and fertility is the patron goddess in Baran Village. The statue of Goddess Freya stood in the central square, but it was destroyed by a pine tree when a flood knocked the tree down. Though the lizardmen are defeated, the villagers will not live in peace until the statue of Freya is restored.
Build a statue of Freya in the village and bring peace back.
Difficulty: Class restricted quest.
Only available to Sculptors.
It was a class quest reserved to sculptors.The difficulty level and rewards for the quest were undecided because they depended strictly on the outcome.
The rewards for most quests were settled by the same rule.
Except for definite missions such as messengers or couriers of certain objects, the rewards varied to a great degree on the outcomes.
“Please wait here. I need to consult with my teammates.”
When Weed said so, his teammates, who had been listening to the conversation vacantly, grinned and congratulated him.
“Congratulations, Weed-nim! Good luck,” Surka said.
“I thought we made a mistake when we ditched the punitive force quest, but now I am proud that we did,” Romuna said, smiling.
“Ladies Surka and Romuna, thank you,” Weed said. “But if I accept this quest, I can’t go hunting with you all for a few days.”
Weed sought consent from his teammates, and Pale was eager to give it.
“It’s fine with us. What’s left for the punitive force quest is to run around and sweep up pockets of resistance. Since we’ve already encountered our fair share of lizardmen, I believe we can do it on our own. To be honest with you, Weed-nim, you have a far higher level than the rest of us, so we really want you to take this quest.”
Pale lifted the burden off Weed’s shoulder. The truth was, his teammates were a little uneasy at learning up with someone whose level was way above theirs.
As Weed played the role of the main leader and damage dealer in most battles, they felt like accessories to his adventure. For true teammates, everyone had to be put on equal terms, and the party could not work together as long as others were conscious that they were indebted to one person in particular.
“I see. Then i’ll take the quest,” Weed said, and walked to Ghandilva.
“I will make the statue of Freya, sir.”
You have accepted the quest!
“Thank you, Weed-nim. Please get ready and build it as soon as possible,” Ghandilva said.
When Weed and his teammates left the village, Becker and Hosram approached them along with their subordinates.
“Nice to see you again, Commander,” Becker said.
“Where are the others?” Weed asked.
“They are chasing after lizardmen on the run,” Hosram said with a grin.
Weed thought that the other soldiers were pursuing the remnants of the lizardmen that had been driven out of the village by the troops.
“What about you?” Weed asked.
“Sir Darius ordered all the soldiers from the Rosenheim Army to stay behind,” Becker said.
Weed suspected that Darius had assigned the Rosenheim soldiers to defend the village, so he could keep all the credit to himself.
Only the Rosenheim soldiers were left behind on sentry duty in the village.
Weed led his party to a secluded place. The seed was in his hand.
“Oh, by the way, speaking of the reward that we got after we rescued the villagers, what in the world is the seed for?”
At Surka’s question, Weed just looked down at the seed and said, “To be honest with you, I have a strange book. The book has this story written in it…”
The City of Heaven!
When Weed told them about the book he had received from Volk, even the usually calm Pale could not help but be shocked.
Every adventurer on the Versailles continent has a dream.
A fantasy continent. A land of living legends and mysteries. To leave footprints of his own on an undiscovered territory where no pioneer preceding him has ever been.
To explore in an unknown dungeon and shed light upon it’s secrets.
A man who discovers a new horizon earns many opportunities besides enormous fame. The opportunity to grow, and the opportunity to die.
“The City of Heaven–are you serious there is such a place? I heard of the City Under Earth…” Pale said.
“The City Under Earth?” Weed asked.
“Yes, it’s known to be a subterranean city deep down in the earth, and that the dwarves built it. Their palace is located there.”
“Can those users who select the dwarf race in the beginning go to the city?”
“Not really. I heard not every dwarf was allowed to get into the city. There are very few people who know the place. If you get there, you can acquire the expert blacksmith skill, and learn the artisanship skill, too.”
They were headaches to Weed having chosen a sculptor’s path.
For a human user to learn the handicraft skill, he needs to select a primary class related to craft skills.
A sculptor can learn the handicraft skill in the stage of basic sculpture mastery.
In Weed’s case, he had obtained it even before he chose the class, for he had finished the unique serial quest about Zahab’s successor. But not everyone is half as lucky as he was.
Be assured that almost no one receives such a windfall.
Cooks and blacksmiths have to advance their skills to at least the intermediate stage to learn the handicraft skill. A tailor can learn it when he raises his skill level to eight in basic tailoring skill.
Unless you choose a craft class, you cannot reach the intermediate stage of any craft skill. So if you want to learn the handicraft skill, the tailoring skill is a must-have.
But dwarves are born with the handicraft skill right after the activation of a new account.
With boundless stamina and imposing strength by nature, dwarves even have superb handicraft!
Weed could not relax his vigilance against the race.
However, being a Dwarf does have it’s own drawbacks. Instead, dwarves are short in height, and penalized in spell casting, horse riding and expert combat skills.
Weed wanted to visit the City Under Earth someday.
“If I get the chance, I’d love to go there,” Weed said.
“It won’t be easy. I heard they are very hostile to humans. Only good artisans are respected there. Unless you win a certain degree of recognition from them, you’ll be denied entry to the city,” Pale said.
Sculpture masters such as Zahab and Geihar Von Arpen could have entered the City Under Earth.
I have a hunch that there’s probably something related to the sculptural art’s mystery down there.
That intuition aside, Weed took out the unidentified seed that he had received from Ghandilva.
“Alright. Let’s go for it. If I am wrong, we wasted our time for nothing,” Weed said.
“I’m sure your decision was right.”
“I have a good feeling about this.”
Irene and Romuna cheered Weed up.
Burdened by his teammates’ expectations, Weed used the identification skill carefully.
Item: Seed of Heavenly Tree:
You must sow it near Baran Village.
Guides to the City of Heaven.
Once Weed read through the description window, he closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again.
His teammates were impatiently waiting for him to deliver the good news.
“This is real.”
Once Weed gave the confirmation, the rest of the party members cheered. However, there were still matters to discuss.
“I don’t want as to be seen sowing the seed and climbing up to the City of Heaven.”
Weed was going to take his teammates there, but introducing it to Darius and his minions, or even other members in the punitive force, hardly appealed to him.
Selfishness, or you could call him self-centered if you wish.
Still, it was Pale, Surka, Irene and Romuna that had been through the unofficial mission along with Weed to get hold of the seed.
“I agree with you. If there is a City of Heaven, it will be eventually discovered by someone and become available to everyone, but it doesn’t need to be us to do that,” Pale said, seconding Weed’s suggestion.
It wasn’t a case of monopolizing the information. It was more than those in the know deserved to be able to use that knowledge.
If everyone learned of the existence of the City of Heaven, the merits of their discovery would be diminished, and what Weed had done so far would not bear any fruit.
Living by kind and righteous morals was a foolish thing to do.
Imagine if they went public with the City of Heaven, who would unveil his own secrets, or share his own quest to whom appreciate their naïveté?
“I think so too. It’s too early to tell anyone else about this,” Irene said.
“Let’s go there alone,” Surka agreed.
They soon came to a common agreement on the matter.
Yet leaving for the City of Heaven was put off for the time being.
Weed had to finish his Statue of Goddess quest, and the punitive force quest for their other teammates was still underway.
They decided to head for the City of Heaven once they were all done with the quests.
They were half excited, yet half worried about exploring a new region. If it turned out to be too tough for them, they would possibly end up enjoying the scenery in the sky and coming back in vain. Such exploration always held such hazardous possibilities.
Weed cooked up a good excuse for Darius and his troops, who had been reported to be returning. He was afraid that they might question why his party failed to show up in the battles.
When they returned to Baran Village, however, the battered troops numbered less than a hundred, and they were quarreling with one another intensely.
“You’re responsible for this!”
“Why are you making a scapegoat out of me?”
“Your pathetic plan got Collonya killed in action!”
“It is his responsibility to take care of his own life.”
“Now you’re blaming the dead man!”
While winning back Baran Village, and cleaning up the remnants of the lizardmen, the troops had suffered heavy casualties.
To begin with, the group of total strangers was incapable of executing organized tactics, so they ended up losing many clueless users in the middle of dogfights.
As a consequence, there was no love lost between Darius and the ranks in the punitive force.
“It was a battle, part of a war, that we just participated in,” Darius said. “Inevitable casualties are always a part of war, aren’t they? Get over it.”
“A few casualties? Are you calling the death of Collonya an ‘inevitable casualties’?You don’t give crap about it? It’s all because of your bad leadership!” the angry user who had lost his friend shouted.
“Wasn’t it you who eagerly accepted to obey my bad leadership? I am tired of quarreling with you this way when the battle was decisively won.”
“What the hell!”
The quarrel between Darius and his ranks got worse.
With such heavy casualties, nobody cared if Weed and his teammates had run off during the mission.
Weed studied Darius and his minions. None of them looked hurt, all alive and well.
“I bet they took most of the EXPs for the punitive force. They forced the other users into a trap, and only went into battle when the lizardmen got weak and to finish the reptiles off.”
In a mid-size battle, it was up to the army leader how to fight, possibly changing the whole outcome of the battle.
Weed later learned that the lizardmen, hidden in a forest, had sent some of their fellows out to bait the hook users.
A forest is where they fight best.
A large army is rather immobile in a forest area where defenders are better placed than offenders.
Darius and his minions had engaged with the bait, and the main force had been ordered to penetrate through the forest.
While they were toying with the bait lizardmen, the main force had been trapped in the jaws of death.
When the main force eventually exhausted and wounded most of the lizardmen, Darius and his minions, who had finished off the bait, suddenly appeared, slaughtering them!
To sum it up, Darius and his minions had collected the most fame and EXPs.
“I did my best. I killed the most lizardmen, and my friends rescued you. Show us some respect,” Darius said calmly.
“What? Do you think we don’t know what you’re up to?”
“How can he say something like that? He’s not as clever as he thinks.”
“Darius is just some second-rate leader.”
When the users in the punitive force began to denounce their commander so loudly, Darius and his minions finally revealed their teeth.
“If you have the guts, stop mouthing off and fight a duel with me like a man,” Darius said.
“You wouldn’t be here in the punitive force if I hadn’t picked you, women.”
Weed looked at Darius and the other users in the punitive force cynically.
You are all fools. Weed thought.
Darius had spread a bad reputation about himself among general users in exchange for a handful of fame and public service points.
Sure, he had missed a bigger fish and went ahead to catch the smaller one right in front of his eyes. You have to pick up small ones without making a noise, and catch the big ones boldly. Then, you look around to see if there is something else you missed. That is the right path.
Still, the other users in the punitive force could not be forgiven for their collective folly.
What had they seen in Darius to obey him unquestionably? If they had stopped to throw a little doubt on his intentions, they would not have played to his fiddle.
It was their fault in trusting a stranger too much. If they had been more cautious, their friends would still be alive.