Chapter 66 – Season of Hunting (1)
[Stella: Perhaps…where do you live in real life?]
Crockta was relieved at her question. He lied.
[Ian: I live in Busan, Busan. Hahaha! Ay, come visit Busan! We have donuts and gukbap! Gukbap! Kelkelkelkel!]
(TL: Ian fakes a Busan accent during this.)
[Stella: Ah…I see. I thought I would ask since I know someone with the same name. How are you doing?]
The messages to Stella would display the name of the caller. As he acted like a man who lived in Busan, Crockta hurriedly ended the conversation. Jung Yunji was becoming dangerous. He wanted to hide his identity as much as possible.
“Why are you so dazed? Let's go Crockta dot! The North! The unknown!" Tiyo cried out as he bounced around.
Crockta laughed. He was a cute friend.
“I, Tiyo, am going! Kiyoooooh!"
Tiyo started running ahead into a vast plain. If they looked beyond that horizon, they could see the forbidden area they were going towards. A roar emerged from Crockta's chest, "I, Crockta, am goingggggg! Bul'tarrrr!"
Crockta rushed forward as well. An orc and a gnome started running towards the north.
Hunting was a calm, peaceful task.
He moved within the darkness of the forest. He was the shadow, an entity the enemy couldn't notice, moving between the trees, aiming to cut off the enemy's breath.
The game that he was staring at was rare. A twin head ogre. A mutation like this didn't just appear. If a legitimate evil spirit polluted an ogre, then it became this ugly monster.
Therefore, what he needed to penetrate wasn't the mutant twin head ogre, but the core of darkness infecting it. He had aimed for the darkness a long time ago. It was his old cherished wish, but he had missed the chance.
As winter passed and the buds of spring spread across the land, the smell of that darkness started to flare up again. The decaying mutant ogre proved this phenomenon.
His mouth distorted. He had been waiting, and he wouldn't miss it this time.
Now. It came again.
Crockta touched the gnome's shoulder.
“Going, I'm going, really."
Tiyo looked at the black forest and gulped. There was a thick spread of black trees that was so dense that they could only barely see inside. It felt like they were faintly moving when seen with the naked eye.
Suddenly, system messages popped up.
[You have arrived at the Forest of Creatures.]
[Wow! You have great courage to come here.]
[If you pass through the Forest of Creatures, there will be a reward for arriving first.]
[How do you like this quest after not receiving one for a long time?]
[Special achievement points will be awarded as you pass through the Forest of Creatures. If you can achieve a hidden clear condition, you will earn tremendous rewards and a title.]
Crockta confirmed the message windows. Before, he thought they were just set messages, but these days, it was obvious that an artificial intelligence was controlling the messages. The words were somewhat hateful.
Tiyo asked, “C-Crockta, are we really going? We are going right?"
Crockta burst out laughing. “Tiyo, are you going to continue like this? Are you really from the Quantes Gnome Garrison?"
"What! I'm not an indecisive person!" Tiyo jumped. “Good dot! I'll show you! Starting from now dot!"
Then he leaped eagerly towards the forest. The small gnome couldn't be seen after he entered the shadows of the dark forest. Crockta was about to walk after him when…
Tiyo came running back out of the forest and rolling across the ground before getting back up and running again.
“What's going on?” Crockta drew his greatsword and shouted. There was a large shadow in the place where Tiyo had run out. It was about to come out of the forest.
Crockta was nervous.
The identity of that shadow… was a huge spotted cow.
"…M-Monster! A monster has appeared dot!" Tiyo shouted as he grabbed Crockta's pants.
Crockta gazed at Tiyo with cold eyes. Tiyo felt a chill as he gazed into Crockta's eyes and looked away.
The cow cried out.
It was just a cow.
Tiyo got up from his seat without speaking and rubbed at his clothes, "Hum hum, hum! Now, shall we go Crockta? Don't hesitate dot!"
Then he started walking again. Crockta shook his head and followed behind Tiyo. Tiyo snooped around the cow.
"By the way, why is there a cow here?"
"I was thinking that too."
Crockta examined the cow. It wasn’t just a wild cow. There was evidence that someone was looking after it. It stood still as they approached it and stared at them with simple eyes. Crockta stroked the head of the cow and it cried out again. It was a calm cry.
It calmed the hearts of the listeners. This place now felt like a leisurely pasture, not a forest full of creatures.
"Is someone inside?"
“Are there people in this forest?"
The Forest of Creatures had long been regarded as a forbidden area that couldn't be accessed by people. Usually, people would fall prey to creatures as soon as they entered. But now there were traces of a human's touch on the cow. What was this?
Tiyo and Crockta stared at each other.
Now it really was the time to enter the Forest of Creatures. Tiyo climbed onto the cow.
“Crockta, lead us well.'
The cow's tail waved. Crockta led the cow and Tiyo and entered the Forest of Creatures.
It was cold as soon as they entered.
The temperature was lowered as the dense foliage covered the sky and blocked the sun, causing everything below it to be in steady shade. The damp ground was trampled underfoo as moss flourished at the base of the trees and unknown sticky things got caught on their feet.
It felt like a bad place.
“Cow, where is your house?"
Tiyo whispered to the cow. Then the cow started to walk in a certain direction. Tiyo and Crockta followed the cow as they gradually headed deeper into the forest.
They had no way of knowing what would appear beyond the darkness. Just like mountains were often described as strange, he felt a creepy sensation as the direction seemed to keep shifting. It was a strange feeling that he had never experienced before.
Suddenly, they sensed something moving. Crockta and Tiyo flinched. Crockta placed his hand on the handle of his greatsword while Tiyo prepared General.
The moving object approached. A troll. It was a forest where trolls were common. Crockta grinned. This truly was the Forest of Creatures. Monsters like goblins or werewolves wouldn't be able to stay here.
The minimum requirement was a troll! Weak creatures wouldn't survive here.
Tiyo shouted, "Go! Crockta!"
As Crockta rushed out, Tiyo fired 'General'.
It was a formation similar to how they defeated the ogres at Quantes. Tiyo would block the enemy in the back with his magic weapon while Crockta faced it directly. The troll was hit by General's intense light and fell to the ground like it was paralyzed.
Tiyo's General didn't have the destructive power to kill the enemy, but it was excellent support. The troll groaned at Tiyo's bombardment. Crockta plunged in. The famous 'Ogre Slayer' cut the troll's neck.
The troll's head and body were separated. But it was a troll. Even after the head and body were separated, both sides wriggled and moved. Bubbles bloomed at the cut surface, indicating the troll's unique regeneration. If the troll's head and body joined back together, it could move again.
Crockta's recovery skill had reached 'Troll’s Regenerative Power (Essence)', but it seemed lacking compared to a real troll. Crockta and Tiyo exchanged glances. It was a truly great collaboration. This Forest of Creatures might not be that tough.
Crockta held out his hand and the gnome hit his palm in a high five.
The cow gave a long cry in delight. Tiyo once again got on the cow's back with General.
“Cow, where do you live?"
The cow's tail waved and it started moving again. It was heading deeper into the forest. Crockta followed it.
The cow seemed to be familiar with the Forest of Creatures and they passed by a variety of strange things. If the cow suddenly sniffed the ground, delicious mushrooms would emerge. Once it began to cry towards the sky, there were sweet fruits.
Crockta and Tiyo bit a red fruit. The cow also nibbled at the fragrant mushroom.
“It seems very familiar with this place dot."
“It really seems to live here."
As they continued walking with the cow, the shape of a house started to appear. Crockta lowered his body. The cow was tame but there was no law saying that the owner of the house would be. Besides, the person was strong enough to live in the Forest of Creatures.
The house was surrounded by a moat and a sharp fence. Their bodies would be pierced by a sharp barricade if they approached without thinking.
"A magic circle dot."
"Looking at the design, they don't seem to be lacking in intelligence. It looks like this place is protected with magical artifacts. Indeed, this is how they managed to live in the Forest of Creatures."
Tiyo analyzed. As a gnome, he easily recognized the magical engineering design. As he listened to Tiyo's words, a faint presence could be felt in the area.
The cow moved around the moat and suddenly stopped at one point. It walked through a shallow part of the moat. After crossing the moat, the cow crouched and passed through a hole in the dirt beneath the fence. It was a small passage. Despite the cow's big mass, it went through like a mollusk.
Then it cried out again from beyond the fence.
Crockta and Tiyo looked at each other.
“Can we go in?"
"I am curious."
“But it is another person's house."
“We can't ignore the cow. The cow is also a member of that household! In other words, the member of the family invited us dot!"
He had a point.
Crockta and Tiyo used the shallow part of the moat and passed through the hole like the cow. Tiyo entered easily but Crockta's skin was scratched by a piece of fence and he barely passed through it.
The inside was an entirely different world.
It was a peaceful scenery that couldn't be imagined inside the Forest of Creatures. First of all, there were two more cows. The cow that Tiyo and Crockta brought here cried out leisurely. On one side, chickens were pecking at the ground. Vegetables were growing in the garden. In the center, a solid house made of logs was standing firm. There were axes, pickaxes, and farming equipment lying around. It felt like someone had lived here for a long time.
Suddenly, Crockta found something among the tools. They were handmade arrows and arrowheads. Since this was a forest…a hunter.
“Look! Crockta! This is definitely the artifact that is protecting this place dot!" Tiyo shouted.
Crockta approached and saw a magic staff next to the log cabin. There was a crystal ball at the end and a blue aura flowed from it and spread out in a circle. It seemed to create a dim shield that concealed this area.
“The magic power runs down here and…"
Tiyo explained. Below the place where the staff was inserted, there were round shapes and patterns.
“This is a great technology dot."
Tiyo's eyes shone. As Tiyo was looking around, he accidentally nudged the staff. At that moment.
There was a sound and the magic staff lost its light.
Tiyo stiffened. The blue energy flowing from the staff suddenly disappeared. Then faint film covering this area also disappeared.
The shield protecting this place had disappeared. Tiyo retreated.
Crockta looked up at the sky. Wyverns were passing above them.
The moment that the barrier disappeared, a wyvern glanced down. Crockta's hands became sweaty. Just keep flying.
However, the wyverns started circling around.
Tiyo stuttered, “I, I, I, just…"
“Calm down Tiyo."
One of the biggest rules of the battlefield: don't dwell on the past. It already happened, so it was meaningless to argue. They could analyze the operation or fighting techniques after it was over, but they should concentrate on the enemy when it was in front of them.
The wyverns started to flap their wings. It was the precursor to gliding.
Crockta looked around. There were two objects of prey that the wyverns could aim for. Them or the cows.
"Tiyo, there are two choices."
“…What does that mean?"
More wyverns started appearing. The group of wyverns had flocked at the sudden appearance of easy food. Tiyo raised General.
"We only have one choice dot!"
“Kulkul, well said."
One Wyvern started to dive towards the cows, followed by three other wyverns. Tiyo aimed the muzzle of 'General'.
Crockta grinned. His new ally wasn't just cute.
“As a reliable guard, I never run away from a fight dot!"
He was a real man.
The moment that the Wyvern’s sharp claws were about to grab a cow, Crockta's roar resounded through the forest.
It was the Essence ranked skill, Army Crushing Roar! It went beyond a mere battle cry and actually affected the enemies with physical force.
The dense vegetation shook. The wyverns were shocked and stopped their descent. The cows figured out the situation and turned to flee from the wyverns. The wyverns regained their spirits and tried to catch the cows again, but Crockta blocked them.
The greatsword tore at the wyverns' wings. One wyvern fell to the ground while the ones following scattered to the left and right. Tiyo attacked the wyverns with General.
The wyverns spread out and soared up to the sky again. The wyverns were fast and avoided the attack. Tiyo's bullets just hit the air.
The confrontation continued with no progress. Crockta's expression hardened. They couldn't overpower the wyverns who dominated the sky. But more wyverns would come flocking soon.
Tiyo bit his lip. At that moment…
A strange bolt flew through the air.
One wyvern crashed.
Crockta and Tiyo's eyes shone.
Once again, a bolt of light passed through the sky and another wyvern fell. The wyverns continued to plummet. Now there were no more wyverns threatening them as they all became corpses. The party couldn't tell where the attack came from.
Crockta looked at the arrows lodged in the bodies of the wyverns.
Crockta approached to verify it.
Sususuk, an arrow flew right in front of Crockta's nose.
Then another arrow struck in front of Crockta's foot, an obvious warning not to move from this spot. Crockta and Tiyo looked in the direction that the arrows came from.
Someone was walking towards them.
Praise the Orc:
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