Chapter 0288 Swarm
“I didn’t expect the success or failure of the negotiations to rest on our shoulders…”
“Failure is not an option then.”
“Ten kilometers one way, twenty kilometers round trip, that’s a five-hour round trip if we only count the walking time.”
“Shall we head straight to where the World Tree used to be, cutting down all the trees along the way with <Guillotine>?”
Niels understood the gravity of the situation, Etho affirmed it, Amon ran the calculations, and Ryo proposed the best course of action.
It goes without saying, only Ryo thought that was the best course of action.
“No, I’d rather you travel without excessively disturbing the area…”
The leader Hugh McGrath shut down Ryo’s suggestion.
“Well then, it can’t be helped. Hear that Niels, looks like we’re taking the long way there.”
“Sure. Except for Ryo, everyone else was going to walk through the forest like a normal person.”
Ryo said with a sigh and Niels replied with a deeper sigh.
It was not until seven in the morning that the four of them departed.
Yesterday, they had received a request from Hugh to search for the World Tree, and the four of them had decided to leave after a night’s rest.
Even an ordinary forest at night is no place for humans to venture into.
And even less so the ‘Pitch-Black Forest’.
Even Lasrino, the B-rank scout from ‘Coffee Maker’, who led the scouting party, was absolutely opposed to scouting the Pitch-Black Forest at night.
Even scouts refuse to go into the Pitch-Black Forest at night.
Risks ought to be minimized as much as possible.
Big risks ought to be minimized to small risks, and small risks minimized to none.
To avoid an untimely end, the ability to assess risk is an absolute necessity.
“The forest is getting pretty close to the castle walls, huh.”
Niels said as he stood outside the walls, looking at the walls and forest surrounding Ayteke-Bo.
“I suppose the walls are about five meters high? But the trees in the forest are just as tall.”
Etho said, comparing the height of the walls and the trees.
Ryo tilted his head without a word.
Seeing this, Amon called out to him.
“Ryo, what’s wrong?”
“Yeah…. I’m not picking up any monster presence, whatsoever, within a one-kilometer radius…”
Ryo’s <Passive Sonar> is now able to pick up information within a radius of about one kilometer.
However, there wasn’t a single monster within that radius.
And to make things worse, there wasn’t any presence of ordinary animals either.
“That’s indeed strange.”
It’s a forest after all.
And compared to the plains, forests are home to a greater number of monsters and animals.
Yet the fact that there’s nothing within a kilometer radius is very unusual, no matter what kind of forest it is.
“Anyway, let’s just proceed with caution.”
Niels said, and the other three nodded.
The folks in ‘Room 10’ are an able-bodied bunch.
Forest or not, the twenty kilometers round-trip distance should be a breeze for them.
But one never knows what might happen.
Hence why these four were chosen….
Then something strange occurred halfway between Ayteke-Bo and the World Tree.
“A staggering number of monsters are heading this way. Warwolves…more than five hundred of ‘em.”
“What the hell!”
Niels raised his voice in a frenzy at Ryo’s report.
Warwolves do indeed move in packs, but at most fifty of them.
More than ten times that acting together was unheard of.
“What are they after? Ryo, can we weather this by erecting an ice wall?”
Niels came up with a plan, and Ryo nodded.
He nodded but…couldn’t say for certain because of something entirely different.
“Following behind the Warwolves are…snakes…a lot of ‘em…”
Priest Etho frowned in disgust and exclaimed in exasperation at Ryo’s additional report.
It seemed that Etho isn’t good with snakes.
Neither is Ryo, of course….
“This should do for now, <Ice Wall 10-Layer Package>.”
A wall of ice surrounding the four of them in all directions materialized, and after a few moments, ‘they’ appeared.
Countless wolves with eyes glowing brightly, were charging straight at them.
However, it seemed that they weren’t exactly paying attention to the four of them ahead, and then got deflected as they slammed into the ice wall.
A seemingly endless wave of wolves.
And next came the snakes.
“Ahhh, and here comes wild boars… boar types are on the way…”
Ryo sighed as he kept up with the reports.
Niels sighed as he replied.
Then, without speaking, Etho and Amon too, sighed.
Then Niels made a decision.
“Ryo, can you move while maintaining this ice wall?”
“Sure, I can?”
“Great. Then maintain the ice wall around us. We’ll make our way to the World Tree as is.”
Etho, Amon, and Ryo nodded at Niels’ decision.
Although they were smack-dab in the middle of a monster swarm with no end in sight, time wasn’t on their side.
Despite securing ample time according to the estimates, if they couldn’t make it back to Ayteke-Bo by nightfall….
Even the four of them, experienced adventurers that they were, were horrified at the thought of spending the night in the ‘Pitch-Black Forest’.
Even with Ryo’s <Ice Wall> notwithstanding.
Ryo slightly adjusted the shape of the <Ice Wall>, making it sleeker.
The tip toward the direction of the World Tree was made pointed to make it easier to wade through the swarm of monsters.
The broken swarm of monsters passed by the ice wall, merging and pressing onward behind the four of them.
It would be quite a spectacular sight, if only the thought of the ice wall suddenly breaking wasn’t lurking in their minds.
The boars were not only lesser boars, but also normal boars, and even the occasional greater boars in the mix.
All of the boars came charging with red eyes and menacing looks….
“At first I thought they were being chased by something horrible…”
“Yeah, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Rather than running away, it’s more like they’re heading somewhere to ravage the place or anything in their way.”
Ryo gave his opinion, and Priest Etho agreed.
After a few thousand boars passed by, Ryo sensed something else approaching them.
“Hmm, I don’t know what kind of monster this one is. It’s about ten meters long?”
“If you don’t know it, then it must not be around Rune.”
Niels replied, pondering Ryo’s words.
And then it came into view.
They were over ten meters long. And more than three meters tall.
They looked like gigantic….
An illustration of thousands of caterpillars the size of a large trailer, charging toward you at a speed fast enough to drive on the highway….
For some people, that would be a traumatizing sight.
But Ryo thought….
“If they had lots of eyeballs, that’d make them the king of forest bugs in some anime…”
The caterpillars in front of them had no visible part that could be considered an eye, but a thin tentacle-like thing wiggling around.
“Oh…those are caterpillars…”
Niels seemed to know about the caterpillar monsters.
“Caterpillar… the English version of the word…”
Ryo’s muttering was too soft and was drowned out by the clamor of their surroundings.
“Their bodies are slightly reddish.”
Etho also seemed to know about this caterpillar monster.
“I remember that it turns red when provoked.”
Amon seemed to know about this caterpillar monster as well.
“How come you all know this monster…?”
Ryo was the only one without knowledge of it….
He became a little depressed.
Seeing this, Etho chuckled and explained.
“We saw it when we went to the northern part of the Kingdom on a quest, all three of us. It’s a monster that doesn’t exist in the southern part of the Kingdom, where Rune is located, so it’s no wonder you don’t know about it, Ryo.”
As expected of B-rank adventurers.
They venture all around the Kingdom.
Very unlike Ryo, the recluse, apparently.
“E-Even so, I won’t lose!”
“And who exactly are you fighting, Ryo…?”
Niels sighed quietly and snapped back at Ryo’s muttering.