The Strange Adventure of a Broke Mercenary - Chapter 190

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And so, night came.

According to Lapis, a fire at this outer region wouldn’t attract the demons’ attention. The reason was, the demons were actually aware of humans and other races entering their domain and collecting intel. If humans came near or into their town, of course they would think about dealing with them. Otherwise, they would simply acknowledge that there were few trespassers doing something sneakily, but they didn’t care enough to go over and repel adventurers.

“Because humans come here gathering intel just to know whether demons will cross the mountains and attack them.”

Dealing with some mere adventurers would only add to demons’ already-bad reputation, while those adventurers only did that much… To demons, such an action simply brought no profit. After being told so by Lapis, Loren came to think that acting with extreme caution here was somehow stupid.

Still, this time, demons weren’t their only opponents. In order to not attract unwanted attention from other creatures, they didn’t make a fire. After dinner, they hid in a corner of a village and kept watch for any strange occurrences. 

“I want cooked food.”

“Later.”

As expected, Gula complained about their scarce dinner, and Loren and Lapis had to sooth her. They decided to not set up a tent, but took turns getting into their sleeping bags and keeping watch. 

The strange occurrence took place past midnight, when the moon was high in the sky. It was Loren’s and Lapis’ guard shift, and Gula was sleeping soundly. Their camping site was hidden next to a building at the edge of the village, and even though there should have been no one else but themselves here, some living creature was approaching them. It was Lapis and Shayna, who noticed its appearance.

“Something’s coming. From the East. There are about twenty or thirty of them.”

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[‘Onii-san, East of the village. Twenty-eight.’]

As expected, the night belonged to the King of Death. Loren gestured Lapis to wake Gula up, then moved to a spot where he could watch the east region of the village. He saw figures climbing over the village fence and got inside. The figures looked a bit bigger than a human and, for some reason, they began demolishing a nearby building with tools held in both hands. 

It happened so suddenly that Loren had to wonder if he saw it wrongly. He blinked, but no matter how many times he looked, the figures still continued their work. They were extremely quiet, but very efficient in their work. As some of them carried scrap materials out of the villages, new figures joined in as if to replace them. 

“What are they doing…?”

“Maybe destroying evidence or something like that?”

Before Loren realized, Lapis had come to stand behind him. She watched the scene with him and guessed with her head tilted in confusion.

“Destroying evidence…”

“To cleanly erase what happened here. Like, before it’s exposed that some unforeseen accident has happened and annihilated a dwarves’ village, let’s make it as if there has never been anything here.”

“You sound like an experienced person, don’t you?”

“I don’t make such blunders.”

Loren thought Lapis could come up with such an idea so smoothly because she was a demon, but Lapis denied it, so he didn’t delve into the subject further. Actually, if she answered ‘Yes’, he wouldn’t know how to react, thus Loren cautioned himself to not ask questions he wouldn’t know how to react to. Gula’s drowsy voice came from his back just then; Lapis had woken her up.

“What? Are those big dark goblins?”

“Big dark… goblins? You can even see colors in this situation?”

Since they didn’t start a fire, they had to rely on the moonlight for visibility. In such a situation, Loren could only see several human-like figures working, but Gula’s eyes could discern even colors in such meager light. He was once again astonished by the powerful abilities of Evil Gods. Aside from that, he was concerned about the phrase ‘big black goblins’ Gula used.

“I feel like I’ve heard it somewhere before?”

“I dunno? Anyway, those are big goblins with dark skin.”

Loren searched his memory for big dark goblins, he thought he had met them before. Lapis looked at him in shock and said:

“It was our first job, wasn’t it?”

“Ah? Ahhh, that.”

It was the very first job Loren had taken after becoming an adventurer. He was asked by another party to accompany them on a goblin extermination, but that party was wiped out at the scene. He saved Lapis, who belonged to that party, and they began working together. They were chased by the goblins, got lost, then ended up in a ruin of the Ancient Kingdom. That was where they encountered the big dark goblins. These goblins were more intelligent than normal ones, and their strength and skills were also superior. They were such formidable enemies that even a party of silver-ranked adventurers like Ritz’ was also put into danger.

“No, but we sealed that ruin. It shouldn’t be serviceable anymore.”

The ruin was a facility that experimented on breeding and strengthening goblins. Loren had destroyed it by his own hands and made sure that it wouldn’t be able to run again, and the Adventurer Guild had sealed it as it was classified as a dangerous ruin. Even if the Guild’s seal was temporarily broken, the facility wouldn’t function because Loren had destroyed it. It wouldn’t be able to produce strengthened goblins anymore. 

“That ruin isn’t the only one that exists. If the information is taken out, it’ll be simple to do the same thing in some other ruins.”

“Simple…”

“That ruin was dormant, but then became active again. Someone entered it before Ritz’ party.”

A dormant ruin wouldn’t be able to operate again without someone activating it. It was an obvious thing, but Loren thought Lapis still should have pointed it out.

“I thought it’s just a trivial thing.”

“It’s not.”

Lapis shamelessly declared, and Loren was considering pressing her a bit more, but Shayna sent a warning in his mind.

[‘Onii-san! We’re surrounded!’]

“What?!”

Loren was being vigilant, but he didn’t notice them being surrounded at all. Surprised, Loren tried to stand up, but a semi-transparent hand reaching out from under the ground and grasped his right ankle.

[‘Don’t touch!’]

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The hand dispersed at the same time Shayna’s thought came, but another hand immediately sprouted from the ground and began tremulously extending towards their party. And there wasn’t just one or two of them. Their number multiplied, and when the three of them noticed, their surroundings were full of translucent hands.

“Are we surrounded by ghosts?!”

As they weren’t living things, ghosts had no presence. Even though the atmosphere had become a bit strange, they were preoccupied with the goblins and didn’t notice. 

“Ghosts can’t be eliminated by eating.”

Gula complained and waved her hand. Unbelievably, the countless arms sprouting from the ground cleanly disappeared. It was over so quickly that Loren felt a bit anticlimactic, but he immediately gathered his mind and spoke to Lapis and Gula.

“Let’s run. Something had probably noticed us.”

“You’re right.”

Gula remained silent, but Lapis answered. They were about to escape the area, but the thing that had noticed their existence reacted before they could: A fresh crop of dark goblins with huge clubs in hands appeared in the direction they were about to run to.

“So troublesome!”

There were quite a few goblins blocking their path, but Loren charged into them without slowing down. He unsheathed his greatsword and slashed at the goblins as he passed by. The goblins either swung their clubs at Loren or used them to meet his sword, but all those actions proved to be futile. As they came to understand that, the white blade had passed through their bodies, making them shiver by its coldness. The next moment, they became mere chunks of meat that fell to the ground. 

Witnessing their comrades’ too easy demise, the other goblins instinctively flattered. Gula’s > swooped down on them, biting indiscriminately and leaving behind untidy messes. 

With a considerable number of them being defeated so easily, normal goblins would have lost their fighting spirit – it wouldn’t be strange if they even ran away. But dark goblins just stepped over the chunks of meat and puddles of blood that used to be their comrades and charged at Loren’s group as if to stop them. 

“These guys aren’t scared at all?!”

“I wonder if they were even thought about that.”

Lapis waved her delicate hand, and the heads of the goblins surrounding her were rotated sideways. As the heads were twisted off, blood spurted from the neck, but Lapis just ran past them without seeming to care. She rushed to Loren’s side, as he had stopped to parry with the goblins. 

“It won’t stop if we keep engaging with them. Let’s break through and take refuge in the forest.”

There was a thick forest outside the village. If they get into there, not only Loren but the goblins also wouldn’t be able to use their weapons as they wish. Their large bodies would become a big hindrance when running through the trees, and their speed would significantly decrease. 

“I’m gonna clear the way!”

Gula turned her palms towards a corner of the wall of flesh made from goblins that was surrounding them. With that simple action, the goblins at that spot disappeared as if being gulped down by something. It wasn’t possible to immediately close a sudden gap like that, and Loren’s group ran out and away from the village through that gap. But then someone stopped.

“Cut, Caliburns.”

Something that could only be described as a flash of light stroke their group right at the front. Loren, who had synced with Shayna’s vision, saw that flash of light cut the Predators right into halves, tearing the ground and surged up to come straight at them. Shuddered to see an attack that was able to cut through an Evil God’s power coming at them, Loren immediately started self-boost. He even aroused the sensation that came with his rampage, and hit at the flash of light with the most powerful slash he could manage. 

There was the sound of something breaking, and sparks of light scattered at the spot where his sword made contact. Loren could feel the scattered light causing injuries all over his body, but he immediately thrust his sword into the direction the light wielder should have been in.

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“Hoh, should I defend now?”

Someone’s voice came from that direction. It sounded just a little impressed. Loren didn’t know how often the voice’s owner could make an attack like the one earlier, but he knew it would be bad to be struck like that again. He smashed the double-strengthened slashes that worked even with the Evil God of Lust on the figure with no reservation. The white blade that could cut through stones as if nothing, swung with a force strengthened to the maximum and a speed that eyes could hardly follow, slashed at the figure, but the sensation transmitted to Loren’s hand was not of a blade cutting through flesh but the shock of the blade being stopped by something hard.

“No idea what kind of suspicious character you are, but you’re a so-so swordsman.”

Loren’s greatsword was stopped by the longsword the figure held in one hand. He stared at the locked blades with an unbelievable look on his face. The owner of the other blade broke into a smile. 

The strike Loren had made with his utmost power while clasping his greatsword by both hands had been stopped one-handedly. His opponent was looking at him with happy eyes, but Loren, even in his rampage state, felt like his heart was stabbed with an ice-cold blade. 

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