NBAA Vol. 2 Chapter 2 Part 3
Several days later, Reito — duly prepared according to Airis’ advice — left the Adventure City together with Ullr.
The first location designed by Airis was the Ymir coal mine, located in the ominous mountain.
It would take two whole days to arrive on a regular horse, but only a few hours for Ullr. The two thus headed towards the mine, while taking breaks once in a while.
“So that’s the place…more than a mine, it just looks like a rocky mountain.”
Ullr was breezing through grasslands when they spotted their destination.
As Airis had anticipated, a large rocky mass stood in the middle of the grassland, its shape concave like a volcano. The pit was located there, though it had already been emptied of all of its coal.
At present, the Ymir coal mine was inhabited by various kinds of monsters, and people rarely, if ever, visited it.
According to Airis, one of the pro-empire Monster Tamers used the mine as a base: part of the Goblin corps was also kept there.
“Ullr, we have to stay alert from here on out.”
Ullr nodded to Reito’s warning as they proceeded towards the Ymir mine.
The mountain saw frequent human traffic in the past, so there was a paved road leading to it: Reito and Ullr could approach their destination without risk of losing their way.
“Doesn’t look like the monsters here are too dangerous…it’s a good place for you to hunt, Ullr.”
Reito looked at the Orc he just defeated and put the broadsword on his back. Ullr pounced the monster’s corpse and started eating.
He preferred his meat cooked rather than raw, but there was no time for that now. Reito took out a bottle and replenished his liquids.
Thanks to the Assassin skills Reito knew, he could move without alerting monsters. Those skills did not affect Ullr, however, so Reito continued fighting as they climbed the mountain.
Goblins and Orcs dwelled on the mountain: both monsters posed little threat, but their numbers were abundant. The adventurers who came to this location thus came in groups as well.
Reito whispered to himself.
“It’s a bit tough, just the two of us…we never encountered so many monsters in the Abyssal Forest.”
Reito wiped the blood from his broadsword, looking at the many Goblin corpses strewn on the ground. After finishing his meal, Ullr returned to his side and they proceeded on their way.
No one was looking at them, so Reito spoke to Ullr in the wolf (dog?) language he had learned during their four years together in the forest.
“Bow!! Bow!!” (You’re eating like a pig, buddy!!)
“Woof!!” (But I’m so hungry!!)
“Bow!! Arf! Arff!” (That’s no excuse to stuff yourself like that!! Cut it out or you’re fasting!)
“Whiiine…” (Everything but that…)
The duo chatted as they climbed, eventually reaching the summit.
The mountain used to have a peak, but apparently about one century ago a meteor had fallen on it, thus at present the central portion of the mountain was caved in, like a volcano.
Curiously enough, after the meteor fell a vein of Mithril was found in the mountain.
The kingdom built an excavation site in the mountain and also changed its name to “Ymir”, the name originally given to the meteor.
“This must be the excavation site…it’s gotten pretty late.”
By the time Reito and Ullr arrived, it was already late afternoon.
The excavation site, however, was dimly illuminated: despite the fact that the mine was supposed to be abandoned, some of the lights were still active.
Reito activated his Assassin skills: Stealth, Soundless Walk, Detect Presence and Seal Presence.
He also used Swift Legs, to increase his movement speed, and Night Vision, which allowed him to see clear as day even in the darkness.
『Oh my, did you suddenly develop a lisp? Or could you have acquired a Tongue-Tied skill out of the blue?』
『I seriously hope not…anyway, target confirmed. Awaiting instructions, Ota*on.』
『Who are you calling Ot*con!?』
Reito opened communication with Airis while observing the excavation site.
At the other end of his gaze stood a Goblin, holding a torch.
It was larger than the average Goblin, almost as tall as a human. It was also equipped with a sword, armor, and a helmet belonging to the royal army.
There were a total of 10 Goblins in the surroundings, all armed in the same way.
Reito could not see anyone resembling a Monster Tamer in the vicinity, but there was no doubt that those were the Goblins were part of the horde responsible for ransacking towns and villages in the Lunot area.
The Goblins were patrolling the excavation site, on the watch for intruders.
『So these are the tamed Goblins…they don’t look or act normal at all, that’s for sure.』
『They will be good sources of experience. The Monster Tamer is inside the mine, apparently, so you don’t have to worry about being found out. Get up, go out there and take care of them, easy as pie!』
『You sure make it sound easy!』
Reito closed the communication and made eye contact with Ullr.
He decided to target the Goblins patrolling away from the main group first.
Two Goblins were patrolling together: one yawned and the other scolded it.
They both wielded spears and wore chest armor and iron gauntlets.
Reito quickly and silently approached them from behind.
One of the Goblins noticed and turned around.
Thanks to Seal Presence, however, Reito’s presence was suppressed to a minimum: it would take the Goblin some time before it could fully realize Reito was there.
Before that could happen, Reito activated Iceclad Sword to create an Ice Block dagger and flung it at the head of the Goblin who noticed him.
The dagger penetrated the small gap in the Goblin’s helmet and pierced its cranium, killing the monster on the spot.
The other Goblin naturally realized something was wrong, but Reito immediately activated the Throwing skill, picked up the dagger, and threw it again.
The dagger struck the Goblin right between its eyes before it could yell. Reito and Ullr propped up the two dead Goblins before they fell: they wanted to cause as little noise as possible.
The other Goblins had not noticed their ambush yet, apparently.
Reito and Ullr gently let the two Goblins on the ground, then looked for the next target.
“Okay…let’s get those ones next. There’s more this time.”
Reito located three Goblins in another spot, then approached them with Ullr. Using the same tactic as before had a high risk of alerting the other Goblins, so he decided to suppress them by force this time.
“Ullr, howl as loud as you can 10 seconds from now.”
“I’m counting on you, buddy.”
Reito then activated the Leap skill.
He jumped close to the three Goblins, opened his Magic Storage subspace and took out his new Cleansing Sword. At the same moment—
Ullr’s howl echoed in the surroundings, attracting the attention of all Goblins present.
Reito used the opportunity to approach the three Goblins.
Reito, his physical abilities augmented in advance with Muscle Boost, swung his broadsword on one of the Goblins.
They were all wearing helmets and armor, but Reito’s attack shattered them all too easily.
Reito’s Cleansing Sword, changed via Metal Transmutation to the hardest metal in his former world, cleaved the Goblin in two halves.
Witnessing their brethren’s brutal end up close, the other two Goblins were shaken to the core. Reito did not give them time to recover and proceeded with his next attack.
Reito spun on his axis as he swung his sword, blowing the two Goblins away. The monsters’ armor could not sustain the broadsword’s power: their upper and lower bodies were torn apart.
Reito looked at the remaining Goblins, guarding the entrance to the mine, and activated Leap.
The Goblins, enraged, readied their weapons.
Reito, holding his Cleansing Sword high, attacked first.
The Cleansing Sword traced a horizontal sweep, targeting two of the Goblins. One of them was blown away, while the other crouched to dodge the attack.
Reito had attacked at a speed normal Goblins could not react to, but the Ymir mine Goblins were clearly more powerful than the average.
The other Goblins moved to counterattack.
Two Goblins, armed with short swords, tried attacking Reito, but Ullr intercepted them: with a tackle, the White Wolf sent them flying.
The Goblin that crouched to avoid Reito’s attack tried stabbing his legs.
Reito activated the Wind Blade spell at his feet.
The gust of wind, released at close distance, threw the Goblin’s body against a nearby boulder. Blood dripped from the monster’s mouth: not even the armor it wore could shield the impact completely.
Ullr grabbed one of the Goblins by the neck and tossed it towards another.
Reito looked at the last Goblin standing. It was one head taller than the others and had a fairly muscular body.
“Whoa, it’s pretty big…”
The Goblin was not as large as a Blood Bear, but was equally as intimidating.
Reito then understood that the opponent he was facing was not an average Goblin, but a Goblin Knight.
The Goblin Knight carried a broadsword on its back: the sword was apparently made in magic metal, like Bal’s, and its blade glowed.
The material composing the Goblin Knight’s broadsword was Crystal: while its appearance was very similar to glass, it was much more resilient than steel and had high resistance to magic.
Reito held his Cleansing Sword tightly and faced the Goblin Knight head-on. They then moved at the same time.
Reito and the Goblin Knight’s broadswords clashed loudly: the impact forced both of them to retreat, with a surprised look on their faces.
The Goblin Knight was surprised to be pushed back by a smaller opponent, while Reito was surprised to realize that the Goblin Knight was as powerful as an Ogre.
The Goblin Knight had superior physical strength, but by using all of his strength Reito could match it.
The Goblin Knight furiously swung its sword.
Reito barely managed to endure the monster’s violent flurry of swings.
It was not his first time facing a monster armed with a weapon, but the Goblin Knight was different from the monsters Reito battled in the past. It did not rely only on brute force but seemed to mimic the movements of human swordsmen.
The Goblin Knight and Reito’s swords clashed again: eventually the monster won the deadlock and pushed Reito backward.
It then kicked out with its right leg, aiming at Reito.
Reito managed to parry with the hilt of his sword, but he couldn’t fully protect himself against the Goblin Knight’s massive foot, and was ultimately sent flying.
The skills Break Fall and Resilient allowed Reito to reduce damage to a minimum, but before he could stand back up the Goblin Knight was already looming over him with its broadsword crashing down.
Reito managed to activate the skill in time: the Goblin Knight’s broadsword was thrown off to the side and stabbed the ground.
Reito did not let go of the chance and readied his broadsword.
Using all of his muscles and rotating momentum, Reito targeted the Goblin Knight’s neck — the monster, still leaning forward, could not move in time.
As Reito’s broadsword was painted red, the Goblin Knight’s head rolled on the ground.
Reito, panting heavily, swung the broadsword to wipe away the blood.
He had successfully defeated the Goblin Knight: he put the broadsword on his back, took a moment of rest and headed into the mine.
Reito and Ullr carefully proceeded inside: lanterns were hanging from the ceiling of the mine, providing illumination.
“There’s definitely someone here, but…Ullr, can you pick any human scent?”
Ullr, his nose against the ground, started sniffing. Soon enough, he found human tracks and ran off. Reito followed him, while keeping wary of their surroundings.
The mine was large enough for a Giant to fit through: Reito could swing his broadsword without fear of hitting any obstacles.
“It echoes in here, you have to be more quiet…this way?”
Reito and Ullr proceeded carefully: he used Detect Presence to find any hostile creatures as they ventured deeper in the mine.
Eventually, they found a steel door. Ullr stopped in front of it, signaling that the smell continued beyond the door.
Reito nodded to Ullr and contacted Airis.
『It’s alright, you can open the door and go on.』
Reito slowly turned the door handle, wary of any traps.
The first thing he noticed as he opened the door was the smell of decay.
There were countless cages along the walls on the left and right side of the room, filled with the corpses of Goblin children.
Reito recalled the young Goblin that had saved him and Ullr when they fought against Blood Bears in the Abyssal Forest; he couldn’t bear to look and covered his eyes. Ullr came closer to him, concerned.
In order to calm down, Reito whispered to himself.
“It’s alright…I’m fine…”
Reito stepped inside one of the cages, in order to examine it.
The Goblins had been killed and left there for days, apparently. Reito looked at the rotting bodies, holding back feelings of nausea, and eventually found a corpse in relatively good condition.
“This one…the blood hasn’t hardened yet.”
A pool of blood surrounded the small Goblin.
Judging from its wounds, it had not been cut down with a sword or blade, but showed signs of being struck by a blunt weapon.
“Did they torture it…?”
The Goblin showed signs of bone fracture all over its body: its arms and legs were bent and twisted in unnatural directions. Most of its fangs and all of its claws had also been removed.
Goblins could not speak human languages: unlike other human or humanlike beings, it should be impossible to gather information from them through torture. Reito wondered what could have been the objective of whoever tortured the Goblins.
Reito then inspected the Goblin corpses for any traces of the Covenant magic the Monster Tamers supposedly used on them.
Monster Tamers engrave the so-called Covenant Mark on the monsters they tame. The Goblin corpses left in the cages, however, showed no such mark.
『Airis! What happened here?』
『Have you looked inside the cages? This is how the pro-empire faction acts. They catch Goblins and torture them, in order to implant hatred of humans in them. The Goblins possessed by strong hatred become extremely feral and attack humans without fear of death. Most of the Goblins cannot endure the torture, however. The result is what you see.』
『Why would…anyone do such a thing…』
『The pro-empire faction is quite disappointed with the Monster Tamers’ lack of ability, as they can only subjugate Goblins. So they are trying to at least create strong Goblins: no matter how much they loathe humans, Goblins will never turn against whoever engraved the Covenant Mark on them.』
『…that’s just sick.』
Reito closed the communication and clenched his fist in frustration. Disgusted by the vicious acts, committed as if it was nothing, he punched the wall.
The expressions of the dead Goblins were all twisted in agony.
“Is this place deserted…?”
Ullr ran towards a wall in the back of the room and pointed at it.
Reito looked at the wall and activated Observing Eye, revealing that part of the brick wall was in a different color, yellow instead of red.
Reito prudently touched the yellow brick, which retracted inside the wall.
“There’s a secret passage?”
After Reito pushed the yellow brick, an iron ladder came down from the ceiling. There was another floor above, apparently.
“A ladder…Ullr, you wait here.”
“Bark if anything happens.”
Reito ordered Ullr to stand guard and started climbing the ladder, but his Detect Presence skill flared up: something or someone was approaching from above.
Reito immediately activated Leap and moved away from the ladder.
The next instant, a massive figure jumped down from the floor above, landing with a loud rumble. The giant creature looked at Reito from head to toe, then slowly opened its mouth.
Reito and Ullr backed away.
The large man, his face covered by a silver mask, had a physique as large and bloated as an Orc. It wielded a large hatchet and was covered in blood all over.
The large man’s bloodshot eyes, visible through a gap in the mask, darted as he spoke again.
“Where do…you come from…? This is…my home…!!”
“This place…is your home?”
“Yes…home…all of this abandoned mine…is my home!! Get out, now!!”
The large man swung his hatchet down on Reito.
Reito reached for the broadsword on his back, but did not have enough time to draw it. He quickly turned around, blocking the large man’s hatched with the broadsword.
Reito was pushed back against the wall.
Ullr jumped in to protect him, bared his fangs at the large man and tried to bite him.
The large man used his free hand to rummage through his clothes, then threw some yellow powder at Ullr.
“Hahaha…this is monster feces, ground to dust…it works best with dogs like you, right…?”
Ullr’s sharp sense of smell could not withstand the intense odor: he fell and started thrashing about on the floor.
Thanks to Ullr, however, an opening was formed. Reito moved to the back of the large man, crimson magic power surging in his fist.
The gravity-charged fist sent the large man crashing against the cages. Reito, however, felt something was off with the impact and looked at his fist.
The large man’s flesh felt too soft to be human, unpleasantly so.
“Owch…you little bastard…!!”
The large man stood back up as if nothing happened. Reito’s fist could slay Orcs and Kobolds in one blow, but it did not seem to affect the large man.
The room, riddled with cages, was too narrow to swing his broadsword. Reito thus decided to use magic, but—
Something fell from above.
It was a Goblin child.
The large man looked at the Goblin, its body covered in wounds and scars, and moaned.
“Huh…? Tch…it’s still alive…”
In that instant, something clicked in Reito’s mind.
The large man was responsible for torturing the Goblins. He bludgeoned and sliced them with his hatchet.
Reito’s voice trembled in anger.
“What the..hell are you…!?”
“Me…? I’m Basil…Lord Basil, Monster Tamer…”
“You’re…a Monster Tamer…?”
Reito thought Monster Tamers were a kind of magic users, but the man before him, more similar to a monster than a human, completely betrayed his expectations.
Reito was facing Basil, unable to move, when he felt something grabbing his leg.
It was the wounded Goblin child: it opened its mouth, as if to say something, but only blood came out. Reito was once again reminded of the Goblin that helped him in the fight against the Blood Bears.
Looking at the agonizing Goblin, Reito clenched his teeth.
Reito drew his broadsword and thrusted it in the Goblin’s head.
It was already too late for the small monster: the only thing Reito could do was to spare it any more suffering.
The lifeless Goblin crumpled on the ground.
“Hey!! You little…how dare you kill my underling…!”
“That thing…was going to become my underling, in just a little more time…tch…”
“Why…why did you torture it so much? If you were going to tame it, what’s the point in hurting it?”
“Huh? You don’t know anything…aah, right, lord Gain said that Goblins get stronger if you hurt them…”
“Gain, huh…I don’t know who that is, but I can just ask Airis later.”
“Anyway…you’re going down now.”
Reito activated Storage magic and put away his broadsword, then clenched his fist. Soon enough, crimson magic power surged in it.
Basil had the feeling that his opponent, much smaller than him, suddenly increased in size. Cold sweats ran down his spine.
“W-what…did you…you will fight me…barehanded…!?”
“Don’t say another word.”
Reito activated Stealth, Seal Presence, and Soundless Walk, effectively disappearing from Basil’s sight.
The next instant, he activated Muscle Boost and struck the large man with his fists.
Reito’s punch, boosted to the limit, sank into Basil’s stomach.Reito felt an unusual sensation, like before, but continued to punch nonetheless.
Reito then tried putting all of his strength in the attack, like when he used Strike Blade. His flurry of punches continued, using Basil’s body like a sandbag.
Basil moaned in pain and swung his hatchet.
“Y-you little…! That hurt…!!”
Reito stopped the approaching hatchet with his hands.
He immediately activated Metal Transmutation, turning the hatchet into a soft material, then used Shape Change to bend it in a way it would be useless as a blade.
Basil simply stared, dumbfounded by the chain of events.
“What the!? Y-you…gwah!!”
“I told you to shut up!!”
<Craft Skill “Strike Fist” acquired>
Basil dropped his hatchet, as Reito’s newly acquired skill struck his stomach without mercy.
Reito’s fist then pounded the man’s face. Basil collapsed on the ground with a shrill wail.
The forceful attack had cracked and shattered the silver mask.
Basil’s face was thus finally revealed: after one glance at it, Reito stepped backwards, surprised.
“Gah…! Gwah…! D-don’t you…dare look at my face…!!”
Reito thought Basil to be a human being, but his face was covered in green skin. His teeth were sharp and crooked like a beast: the tooth decay was so strong that Reito could smell his putrid breath even from a distance.
It was not a human being’s face, but a Goblin’s.
“You…you’re a monster…?”
“Shut up!! I’m human!!!”
Basil attacked, infuriated by Reito’s words, but Reito grabbed him first and threw him over his shoulder.
When Reito slammed Basil on the ground, his clothes were torn.
Basil’s skin became exposed, showing its disgusting, repugnant state.
“…is this your real body…?”
Basil’s body too was covered in Goblin-like green skin.
His body was similar, but not identical to a Goblin. The skin color was the same, but the shape of his hands and face were human: only the skin and fangs were Goblin-like.
Reito, witnessing a creature that resembled a botched fusion between a Human and a Goblin, was at a loss for words. Basil stood back up, more furious than ever.
“You little…!! I’ll never…forgive you…how dare you…look…at me…!!!”
“I see…you’re…a Demon?”
As Reito said, Basil was indeed a Demon, a race of creatures that possessed both human and monster-like characteristics. Basil was a Demon with Goblin-like characteristics: because of this, he was persecuted and ended up developing a twisted personality.
Basil had never even seen his parents: he was still very young when a slave trader picked him up, planning to sell him to nobles interested in keeping Demons.
Contrary to the slave trader’s expectations, however, Basil never found a buyer: when he had grown too much for the trader to keep him, he was given to one of his acquaintances, a Monster Tamer.
This tamer, a member of the pro-empire faction, picked up an interest in Basil and taught him the art of monster taming.
Eventually, Basil became a full-fledged tamer himself and a member of the pro-empire faction.
He was given the task of training and engraving the Covenant Mark on the Goblins sent to the Ymir coal mine, in order to turn them into members of the monster army.
Because of his innate temperament, however, he definitely did not excel at his job…
Basil, back on his feet, charged Reito again.
Reito moved one step to the side and dodged. The ability to avoid attacks with the least necessary effort was something he had acquired during his life in the Abyssal Forest.
Reito moved behind Basil’s unguarded back.
He activated Spin Strike barehanded: Reito spun on his axis and elbowed Basil on the back of his head, making him fall spectacularly.
Normally, such an attack would prove lethal, but the Demon Basil did not seem to be particularly affected. Basil’s race was probably the reason why Reito felt something was off when he hit him.
Basil glared at Reito, rubbing the back of his head.
“Shit…shit…what the hell…are you…!!”
“You’re really tough…oh.”
The Support spell Muscle Boost was deactivated and Reito returned to his original physical abilities. Basil did not let the opportunity pass by and attacked, his arms open.
He was stopped by Ullr, however, who jumped on the large man and knocked him down.
Blocked by the horse-sized wolf, Basil could not move. The more he tried to, the deeper Ullr’s claws sank into his body.
“Ghaaah!? Let go, you damned dog…!!”
“Keep him down like that.”
Reito lifted his palm over Basil, forced to immobility by Ullr. He was going to use a magic spell to knock him unconscious when someone came down the ladder.
It was a group of five Goblins, all covered in blood.
“Oooh..oohhh!! You!! Help me…!!!”
Basil’s order was met by hollow stares.
Reito realized that there was something strange in the Goblins’ behavior.
They showed no sign of attacking Reito, like the Goblins guarding the entrance to the cave. Quite the opposite: they were glaring at Basil, their eyes filled with hate and resentment.
“What, what are you looking at me for? You dare rebel against me!?”
Just as Basil shouted—
The Goblins bit on his leg, ripping the flesh.
The Goblins’ bite was deep enough to reveal the bone. Basil screamed, but Ullr bit on his other leg and broke its bone.
“Ghaah!? L-let go!!”
Reito called Ullr to come closer. Basil, both of his legs wounded, was writhing on the floor. The Goblins looked down at him, silently.
Reito realized what was going to happen and decided to leave the room. Basil raised his voice behind him.
“W-wait, you bastard!! Where do you think you’re— ”
“You better worry about yourself first.”
“Aaah!? Y-you little….don’t get any closer…!!”
Basil’s screams reached Reito’s ears even outside the room.
He turned around only once, to see the Goblins ravage Basil’s body, despite his desperate thrashing.
“W-wait, please!! Please help me!!”
Basil’s screams echoed in the cave, as the Goblins he “tamed” bit all over his body.
Reito closed the door, without a word.
He knew what kind of fate Basil was going to suffer at the hands of the Goblins, but felt no pity.
“You reap what you sow…”
“Let’s go back.”
Ullr, worried, licked Reito’s face, so the boy rubbed his head to reassure him.
They decided to exit the mine.
Reito had thus successfully found one of the monster tamers of the pro-empire faction, but could not muster the will to capture Basil and bring him to the royal authorities.
Reito and Ullr simply walked out of the Ymir coal mine.
Several minutes later, the door leading to the room full of cages was opened again.
A single Goblin emerged from the room. Inside, Basil was lying against a wall, surrounded by Goblin bodies.
Basil desperately struggled until the end: as a result, only one Goblin survived the “battle”. The Goblin was not unscathed: it had lost its left arm and dragged its feet as it walked out of the mine.
Tears streamed from the Goblin’s eyes.
He recalled Reito’s figure, who had left at the very end. Why did a Human choose to abandon a Demon — a creature so similar to him? Why did he act as if he stood on the side of monsters like them? The Goblin could not understand.
Eventually, the Goblin reached the conclusion that among Humans there were also those who did not unconditionally see monsters as enemies.
After exterminating the armed Goblins and the Monster Tamer in the Ymir mines, Reito returned to the Adventure City Lunot. On the way, he communicated with Airis.
He told her what happened in the mine and Airis explained as if she knew everything already.
『The Ymir coal mine is one of the pro-empire faction’s hideouts. Its actual function, however, was to lock up the “undesirable” Basil.』
『Basil had a history of ignoring orders and killing Goblins. His excessive tortures ended up decreasing the number of the Goblin troops. At first, they tried to admonish and keep using him, but gave up when he killed three of his superiors who brought him new orders.』
『He even killed his own comrades? Oh right, he mentioned someone called Gain…』
『Gain is one of the heads of the pro-empire faction. He belongs to the military side of the organization and is definitely skilled in battle: hundreds of royal soldiers have already died at his hands. But even Gain feared Basil, apparently.』
『I see…so, what’s the next target?』
『Next target already? Quite proactive of you…let’s take a small detour and stop by a village. The direction is…』