TNG Vol. 17 Chapter 3 Part 1
“Explain in more detail.”
Raig talked to the agitated soldier in his usual tone.
He took a solid, unfazed commander-like stance.
The soldier seemed to regain some composure thanks to Raig’s calm. He took a deep breath and started talking again.
“Yes sir! The report arrived just now: the scouts stationed in the 1st fort witnessed several large monsters separate from the horde at high speed. Afterward, the rest of the monsters started moving as well, as if following their lead. Lastly, the scouts could not read the names or levels of the large monsters that left the group first.”
The scouts stationed in the 1st fort were experts of concealing their presence and analyzing their targets. Most of them were Chosen Ones, so their stats were far higher than the average person.
If they couldn’t analyze their levels, the monsters either had very high levels or skills that hid their information.
“How many of those large monsters were there, exactly?”
“The report mentioned that three were spotted at the moment. They headed respectively northeast, east, and southeast of the starting point. Each of them leading monsters of their same type.”
The scouts confirmed that the monsters heading northeast were of the shapeshifter type, the ones heading east the animal type, and the ones heading southeast the insect type.
The animal types were led by a tiger-like monster with two heads.
Its body was approximately five mel long, mostly covered in black fur, with red patches here and there.
A pair of yellow horns grew from both of its heads. It was also reported that there were sparkles of something coming from its mouths.
Based on this information, Shin guessed it was Heltoros. What sparkled in its mouth was probably lightning.
Heltoros could spew lightning from its left mouth, flames from its right.
It was highly skilled at commanding feline and canine monsters: it was the kind of monster powerful on its own, but much more fearsome in a pack.
It also possessed very high mobility: even if the prey managed to run away from it, it could track it via smell and would chase it obsessively.
In the game, its level was between 700 and 750. If it was leading a pack, it was better to regard it as being 100 levels higher.
The insect-type boss monster had a lizard-like head, compound eyes, a centipede-like body with six pairs of thin dorsal wings. It also had long spider-like legs.
Shin was sure that it was a Selcikeus. Its characteristics were too unique: as long as it was a monster from the game, there was no mistake about it.
Even if it had wings, its flying capabilities were limited and it could only fly very slowly, so it normally used its long legs to move on the ground.
Its most dangerous abilities were an extremely large range of enemy detection and long-range attacks.
Its lizard-like head could split in four to release a very powerful searing hot beam. Its offensive power was so high that Selcikeus itself was blown away from the recoil, so it used its long legs to anchor itself to the ground.
Its level ranged from 800 to 850. As far as Shin knew, it did not have the ability to command other monsters of the same type, so this Selcikeus might have acquired new abilities.
Finally, the shapeshifter monster was one the scouts had the most trouble with.
Slimes and other shapeshifter monsters were very difficult to identify from their external characteristics, as suggested by the name. Since they could change their shape, such characteristics could not be relied on.
What was known at present was that its body was blue and purple and had three pairs of thin stick-like limbs, six in total, growing from its oval body.
It used such insect-like features to move. Most spherical shapeshifter monsters either rolled or crawled on the ground, but this one was different.
The soldiers’ report confirmed that only the monster leading the pack moved in such a way, however.
Heltoros, which was more dangerous the larger its pack, had thus found its ideal conditions.
Selcikeus’s long-range beam attacks would be very dangerous if it sent other monsters ahead.
The shapeshifter monsters’ abilities would be unknown until the battle started.
Considering their numbers, each pack was dangerous enough to wipe a small country off the map. Maybe even a large country could not fend them off for long.
“They’re all going to be a pain to deal with.”
“A pain? Shin, these are calamities for the normal people here. By the current standards, they’re basically screwed.”
Milt sighed helplessly at Shin’s comment.
In the game era, players from everywhere would have gleefully charged at the monster packs, excited to join the new event, but things were very different in this world.
Now that the 『World Rift Wall』 project was nearing completion, however, there were ways to deal with the issue.
“I know that. But there are still things we can do. Because we have a bunch of “abnormal” people on our side, me included.”
“Phew, I’m glad to see that you’ve got self-awareness. If they weren’t scattered you could wipe them all out by yourself, after all.”
“I’m not sure if you’re praising me there, Milt.”
Shin was slightly bothered by Milt’s response. He wasn’t going to say that he was a perfectly normal person, but it felt a bit uncomfortable to hear others say it.
“There are way too many monsters for me to wipe out completely by myself anyway…wait, why are you two nodding like that?”
Shin told Milt that what she said was beyond ridiculous, but both Tiera from behind him and Yuzuha on his shoulder nodded in approval.
“Well, thinking about the battles until now, that seemed like the natural order of things. I honestly expected that after building the wall you’d say something like ‘I’m still worried after all, so let’s defeat them all to be sure’, go over the wall and start fighting. Once the wall is complete and the monsters can’t advance, the time issue is solved, after all.”
“Ugh, I can’t…deny that possibility…”
Shin scowled a bit at Tiera at first but soon realized that he was really prone to say something like that.
Even if the wall prevented the monsters from spreading through the continent, leaving such a large horde of monsters alone was definitely worrying. It would not be strange if they decided to exterminate all the monsters that spawned this time.
Shin thought so because it was not beyond their capabilities.
“(Kuu! Time for Shin to show what Shin is made of!)”
Yuzuha seemed to agree too. She deftly used her tails to support her body upright and punched the air with her paws, as if shadowboxing.
“You people are sure taking it easy. The 1st and 2nd fort soldiers are going to be attacked by the monsters, remember?”
Reiner interjected in the conversation with a mixture of confusion, disappointment, and a pinch of anger.
Most of the troops stationed in the forts were foot soldiers. Even with the support of arts and skills, they definitely could not outrun high-level monsters.
The physical abilities of monsters outmatched humans too. Compared to the average person, a high-level monster’s energy was practically endless.
The monsters were overwhelmingly superior in both strength and speed. There was a high chance that the 1st and 2nd fort troops would be attacked before they could cross the wall line.
“I’m sorry, but we aren’t just messing around.”
Shin understood that the atmosphere surrounding Milt and Tiera was very different from the other officers.
“Yes, Shin could really pull it off.”
“Right, Shin definitely could”
“(Kuu, Shin will do his best!)”
“That’s not a proper reason…look, everyone’s glaring.”
Shin urged them to act more seriously, but the officers’ looks did not change much.
“Hahaha! It appears that even monsters unknown to us aren’t much of a threat to Sir Shin. We couldn’t hope for a more reliable ally, could we?”
Loud laughter erupted in the conference room. Raig saw the situation differently from the other officers.
“Do you have any plans other than the wall project? Everyone is anxious, as you can see. Can you tell us about them?”
Raig stopped laughing and took a serious expression. The retreating troops would soon be in danger: they couldn’t keep laughing forever.
“The number of humans on our side is next to nothing compared to monsters. So I propose to use these to transport the troops quickly to a safe location.”
Shin took out a crystal enchanted with teleportation magic. He was involved in the current situation as Schnee’s ally, and it would not be strange for her to use such items, since she lived since before the Dusk of Majesty; Shin thus decided to use them without hesitation.
“A crystal to transport the troops…? Could that be…”
The officers seemed to be puzzled, not understanding how the crystal could move the troops.
Raig thought for a bit after seeing the crystal, then his eyes opened wide.
“We can bring the troops close to the 9th fort in an instant with this. It’s not possible to transport the whole army at once, of course, but based on their numbers, we should be able to bring them all in using them 10 times or so. We’ll go there ourselves and start transporting the troops. I heard that there is a wyvern in this fort, to be used when messages do not work, so if we borrow it we should be able to reach the forts before the monsters do. This will also give us more time to prepare to engage the monsters after the wall has been built.”
“…a crystal enchanted with teleportation magic, I see. It surely would dispel all concerns of the troops being chased by the monsters.”
Raig sighed while looking at the crystal in Shin’s hands.
“I thought I knew how skilled you were, Sir Shin, but I cannot help being surprised nonetheless. Disposable teleport crystal shards can sometimes be found in ruins or dungeons, but not crystals capable of transporting groups of people. I know that it was the norm once, but there are very few people capable of such a thing nowadays.”
“Where in the world did Lady Schnee find such a person…?”
Raig’s vice officer seemed stupefied too.
“Well, enough about that. If we have our allies retreat without forcing them to suffer casualties, there will be no better plan. The 1st and 2nd fort troops will be sent to guard the soldiers in charge of setting the wall creation items. With Shibaid and Lady Schnee present, I doubt anything will happen, but more manpower could be useful in case of emergency, at least as a defense.”
“I agree. We cannot rule out the possibility of a situation we could not handle on our own.”
Numbers equal power. Even if Shin and his party members were individually very strong, they could not be everywhere at the same time. All the situations they had faced until now could somehow be resolved by brute-forcing their way in specific locations, but they had to be ready for a situation where that method would not work.
“Can you move immediately?”
“Yes. There are still many unknown factors, so we should act as soon as possible.”
The unconfirmed Wolfreet-like monster was another issue Shin wanted to deal with, but the monster horde had higher priority.
“Our side shall proceed with building the wall, then. Item setting and escort troops have already been dispatched to forts 3 to 7. Let us depart too.”
Activating the 『End Wall』 required a certain amount of manpower, to prevent the mistaken activation of a single item that activated all of the others in a chain reaction.
There were so many items used in the 『World Rift Wall』 project precisely to prevent human error or people misusing the items with malicious intent.
Schnee and Filma were going to act on their own, by borrowing a wyvern like Shin’s group and visit the various item activation points, defeating monsters on the way.
In case of emergencies, they would contact Shin and deal with it.
Shibaid and Sety were going to continue on their way to regroup with Shin, defeating any monsters they found.
The party was going to regroup where the『End Wall』items hadn’t been set yet.
The item setting operations had proceeded at a feverish pace while Shin was doing his experiments.
The item setting could proceed more smoothly thanks to items that allowed the workers not to be spotted by monsters, provided by Shin.
The workers would continue setting up the items as much as they could until the monsters arrived; if they couldn’t make it in time they would activate the items on the spot: Shin and the others were going to fill in the gaps.
Depending on the wall’s structure, it might not be possible to block all the gaps, so Raig, the imperial army, and Reiner’s church forces were ready to be deployed too.
A report from the capital stated that the dragon knights had departed already.
“First, we will head to the 1st and 2nd fort to assist the withdrawal of the troops there. We will decide the teleport location once we arrive: please inform any deployed troops about the teleportation plan first. It wouldn’t be a problem even if they are deployed, but if they know about the plan in advance we can avoid needless confusion. Would it be acceptable to inform the soldiers here later?”
“Not a problem. I leave the troops in your capable hands.”
Raig nodded and Shin jumped on the wyvern.
Wyverns usually had rough temperaments, but this one was trained well, so it didn’t run wild even if it was its first meeting with Shin. It trembled when Yuzuha hopped on its head first, so that might be the reason.
Shin made sure Tiera was sitting properly behind him, then lightly pulled on the reins.
The wyvern understood what that meant and started running. After a short run, it spread its robust wings and soared in the sky.
It was probably supported by skills or magic: after kicking the ground it flapped its wings just a few times but was already high up in the clouds.
“Since it’s used for emergency communication, I expected this wyvern to be very fast, but it’s nothing special…maybe?”
Tiera was hugging Shin’s back, but after the wyvern stopped soaring and started flying in a more stable manner, she moved away a bit.
She didn’t let go of his hands, though. There was a lot of shaking while the wyvern flapped its wings, so she might still be worried.
It had shaken strongly enough that Tiera could have fallen off if she didn’t hold Shin’s hands, as she wasn’t handling the reins.
“Seems pretty fast to me, though. Until now you’ve flown only on the Ancient Dragons and Tzaobath, so I guess this guy seems slow in comparison.”
They did not fly many times together, so it was easy for Shin to recall.
The Ancient Dragons and Tzaobath both had much higher levels than the wyvern. Even if it was trained to fly at high speed, it couldn’t compete with them.
The wyvern cried softly, and Shin thought it said “Don’t compare me with beasts like those, please…”.
It wasn’t the kind of gap that could be filled via training, so Shin softly caressed the wyvern’s neck to console it.
“How long will it take to reach the destination?”
“It’s about three hours till the item setting area. We’re going to set a teleport spot there, then head to the 1st fort. They should have been informed already that the monsters are moving, though, so they might have started retreating already. In that case, we’ll arrive earlier.”
Raig said that it would take the troops 2 days before leaving the fort, but that included the time necessary to prepare food supplies and equipment.
If the troops only prepared enough supplies and gear to move to a nearby fort, 1 day would be enough to make preparations.
The only other factor was how much time they could buy before the monsters arrived.
“We’ll make it in time…right?”
“If the monsters moved exactly as the report said, yeah.”
Tiera was worried, but Shin chose not to be optimistic.
Most of the information in the reports they recently received was about the large monster horde.
The 1st and 2nd forts were the closest ones to the monster spawning point, but they couldn’t focus on only those two spots.
While the monsters were heading deeper into the continent, not all of them acted in the same way.
Maybe because of their lower intellect, some monsters stopped advancing halfway, roaming the surroundings instead.
Some monsters also formed packs, so there was the chance they attacked people or settlements during their advance. They couldn’t rule out the possibility that such monsters might be attacking forts right now.
Raig had warned them about this before they left to rescue the soldiers. He decided to tell them because Shin was not especially knowledgeable about Kilmont’s floods, so he might not know about it.
After about three hours of flight, they spotted the silhouettes of what seemed to be the item setting troops.
“Looks like the item setting operations are going well.”
“Right. I can feel several strong magic sources from under the ground.”
Shin too detected large globes of magic power, set underground at fixed intervals.
Maybe because he knew the items’ structure in detail, he could tell that they were properly connected by threads of magic.
“Okay, let’s make sure they don’t mistake us for monsters.”
Shin, still riding the wyvern, took out the imperial army flag borrowed from Raig.
All the Kilmont troops knew that wyverns were used for emergency communication. If Shin waved the flag on top of that, there shouldn’t be any risk that they would be mistaken for monsters.
“We have come to secure a teleportation location to assist the withdrawal of troops from the 1st and 2nd fort. Have you received communication from Sir Raig?”
“Yes, we have. Based on the number of troops, I believe an area about one kemel away from here would be fitting. What do you think?”
The field commander checked Shin and the others’ names and identities, then made this proposal. He said the distance to be one kemel, but since the troops would be stationed starting from the center, it was actually closer.
If it was too far away they could have trouble dealing with sudden developments, but the wasteland had little obstacles and offered a clear field of view. They could notice any changes immediately.
The field commander also considered the fact that positioning the troops too close to the wall building points might cause accidents.
“We will head to the 1st fort immediately after setting the teleportation point. Please continue your operations.”
“Leave it to us. The safety of many of our compatriots depends on this mission. We shall carry it out perfectly.”
The field commander saluted Shin in the Kilmont style, by holding his right first over his solar plexus, then returned to his work.
Shin and the others did as they said: after setting the teleportation point, they soared back into the sky on the wyvern, heading towards the 1st fort.
It took them about 30 minutes: as the map and detection skills already told them, there was no one to be found there.
“Looks like they left already. A lot sooner than what we were told, though.”
Even if they started their preparations immediately after the messages were sent, after the council in the royal capital, not even half a day had passed yet. Raig had said that even if they had to abandon the fort it would have taken some time to prepare, so Shin was worried that something unexpected happened.
Even if unforeseen trouble struck in the 1st or 2nd forts, however, they were supposed to be contacted immediately.
Since there was no such communication, Shin guessed they either left ahead of schedule or had to leave immediately for a specific reason.
“There are tracks of the troops’ retreat. It doesn’t look like they were attacked by monsters, more like they left in a hurry. They shouldn’t be too far.”
The troops had clearly used the same arts used by the Church Warband to move more quickly. The numbers of the troops were great, however, and Shin’s party could move faster by flying.
After about five minutes of flying while scanning the surroundings with detection skills, they found a cluster of soldier presences and other presences scattered here and there.
“Thanks to their experience fighting on the frontlines, the commander’s judgment was swift, I suppose. Their movements are coordinated very well.”
From above it was easy to see that the troops moved in orderly files. They were using physical boost magic, as expected: they could move very quickly.
Shin thought their movement speed was even higher than the Church Warband. They might be using skills, not arts, to boost their physical abilities. Since they were fighting in dangerous frontlines, their abilities had to be higher as well.
“Even so, there are things you can’t avoid.”
Shin looked towards a group of presences that repeatedly went closer, then away, then closer again to the 1st fort troops.
As Raig had warned Shin, a group of roaming monsters was attacking the troops.
The soldiers were prioritizing their advance, so they did not stop to fight the monsters.
Some of the monsters that did not attack the soldiers left the pack, without paying too much attention to the soldiers, so the commander judged there was no point in engaging them in battle.
“I’ll go take down the monsters that left the pack. Tiera, please go help the soldiers fighting against the monsters. Yuzuha, control this guy so that Tiera can shoot more easily.”
“Kuu, leave it to me!”
Shin entrusted the reins to Yuzuha, now in human form, and jumped off the wyvern. While cutting through the wind, Shin activated a magic spell and two fist-sized globes of magic power appeared in his hands.
Shin used 【Flying Shadow】 to regain an upright stance, then aimed at the monsters away from the soldiers.
Lightning-type Magic Skill 【Giant Spark】.
Shin launched one fist-sized globe of electricity for each pack of monsters. The globes would enlarge once they hit the center of the pack, engulfing it fully in a lightning storm.
After the skill subsided, only charred corpses remained.
All the monsters other than the ones engaged in battle with the soldiers or too close to them were thus quickly exterminated by Shin’s 【Giant Spark】 barrage.
“What power is that…!?”
“All troops, be alert! Where did the attack come from?”
“Captain! I-it came from the sky!”
The soldiers trembled in their boots as they witnessed the monster packs being annihilated one by one.
One of the soldiers pointed to the sky and shouted.
The soldier riding on the most majestic horse of the group looked upwards too.
Shin landed right next to this soldier on horseback and started running along him.
“Sir, I assume you are the commander of the 1st fort troops. I have come from the 9th fort to assist your retreat, my name is Shin. Are the soldiers here with you your whole division?”
Judging from how the other soldiers addressed him, Shin thought the man on horseback was the commander and talked to him as such.
Shin’s sudden landing surprised all the surrounding soldiers, so it took a few seconds before the man replied.
“…Yes, I am commander Gunoit. We have indeed heard that they sent a wyvern as emergency reinforcements. Let us talk more once we have repelled the monsters, shall we? We have encountered a large pack while retreating, and our numbers make it difficult to lose them.”
“Let us deal with them first, then. Have you heard the details about your transportation?”
“Yes, I did find it hard to believe, but if Sir Raig says so, I have no choice. Are there any additional orders?”
They were still under attack, so Gunoit wanted to deal with the monsters first. He probably noticed that the lightning only targeted monsters.
Shin too knew that it would be difficult to transport them like this and didn’t want to waste time talking about details.
“Nothing in particular. It would be better for you to be still for the transportation to work, so let us deal with the monsters first. If we can defeat the monsters surrounding us, we can proceed with the transportation immediately.”
“Understood. We had grown irritated with the persistence of those beasts too. All troops, stop where you are! Prioritize defeating the monsters!”
The captain probably used a magic tool to communicate: even the soldiers too far to hear him normally stopped to fight the monsters.
The soldiers were probably as fed up as Gunoit with the monsters: starting from the spots with a lower concentration of monsters, the soldiers blew them away with their shields or pierced them with their spears.
Their way of fighting was rather wild for imperial soldiers, but they positioned themselves in a way to support each other, showing they were indeed battle veterans.
“Ah, my companion is shooting the monsters from the sky, so please don’t attack that.”
“I shall inform the soldiers accordingly.”
Shin nodded as Gunoit shouted the order to his troops, then leaped in the air.
He jumped again with 【Flying Shadow】, then headed towards a pack of monsters too close to use 【Giant Spark】.
The soldiers could take down smaller groups of monsters, so he headed towards larger groups.
Most monsters were four-legged animal types. They attacked the soldiers using a hit-and-run strategy, switching places with other monsters every time, possibly due to their instincts.
The soldiers did not risk going to the spots where Shin went, consistently culling the monsters’ numbers instead.
Shin jumped over the soldiers’ heads as they deftly defended themselves against the monsters’ claws and fangs, sometimes with their shields, sometimes with their weapons and armor.
Since the soldiers were on the defensive, Shin assumed the monsters’ attacks were becoming more aggressive. He landed between them, without a sound, then flashed his 『Kakura』.
The monsters probably did not even notice that an enemy had landed behind them. Before they did, they had already dissolved into blood and smoke.
Before their severed heads or torsos fell to the ground, Shin swung 『Kakura』 again.
All monsters in the sword’s range were torn to shreds.
Most monsters were under level 200, so he could easily cut down their numbers without using skills.
Shin performed his attacks in directions where there were no soldiers, to prevent the shockwaves from damaging them.
“I’ve finished off the monsters in the back! The ones in the front are the only ones remaining!!”
Shin shouted to the surprised soldiers.
They were having a difficult time because of the monsters’ battle strategy too, but especially because of their numbers.
Even if they managed to wound the monsters, new ones soon took their place. The soldiers couldn’t run at full speed either, so they couldn’t outrun the monsters. Their energy was thus gradually whittled away.
Since they were veterans that fought against the floods on the frontlines, monsters around level 200 were no match for them.
They stayed on the defensive because they couldn’t see how many monsters in the back rows had been defeated by Shin.
The greatest threat of the monsters’ number was gone, and the monsters themselves were shaken by Shin’s appearance, so there was no need to fight defensively anymore. The soldiers in this area too started proactively exterminating the monsters.