TNG Vol. 17 Chapter 3 Part 3
“They’re finally in sight.”
Shin spoke while looking at a cloud of dust and smoke in the distance, raised by the monsters.
His current position was approximately one kemel away from the area where he had scattered the traps. As expected, the first to arrive was the pack of animal-type monsters, led by Heltoros.
The tiger-like monster commanding them was running ahead of the herd, naturally.
There were some differences from the information they received, however. Both of its heads had grown to a size much larger than normal.
Furthermore, the beast’s fangs now stretched down to the base of its neck.
“It must have evolved on the way here.”
— Heltoros Garze Level 840
Not only its head, but the whole body was about twice the size of an average Heltoros.
An advanced specimen with higher speed and muscular power. Its jaws could go even over its neck, reaching its torso if wide open. It looked just like its mouth made up for one-third of its body.
“(I confirmed that Heltoros evolved to an advanced form. Selcikeus and Gelganger might have done the same. On your toes, everybody!!)”
Shin urged his teammates to take care via Mind Chat, then sent a message to the troops stationed behind him.
He had no intention of letting Heltoros break through his line of defense, but the other monsters might have powered up as well.
The monsters’ large numbers were enough of a threat: if the soldiers fought them without the knowledge that they might be stronger than usual, they might end up paying a steep price.
“Our first target is that one, right?”
Filma looked at Heltoros Garze, her 『Scarlet Moon』 slung on her shoulder. She was eager to let loose.
“Yeah, the leader’s presence alone makes the pack much more dangerous. Yuzuha, you handle the monsters that slip through. I’ll deliver the first blow, but I think that several monsters will slip through until we take that beast down.”
“You have my word!”
Yuzuha was standing next to Shin in her original form.
She still had not completely returned to her true form, but was very close to it: her body now measured about 10 mel, tails excluded.
Her mental faculties seemed to grow together with her body: her speech had nothing of her usual childishness. Her intimidating aura as one of the strongest monsters in the world was much more powerful.
She transformed in front of the imperial army and the Church Warband, so that they would not mistake her for an enemy monster, but even some of the officers stepped back in fear and awe.
“I’ll throw something big for the first blow. Filma, tell that to the messenger, please.”
Shin spoke while looking at the massive wall standing behind them, so tall you had to look to the sky to see the top.
The wall building operations continued for as long as the monsters’ advance speed and counterattack preparations allowed: the 『End Wall』 was finally erected the day before.
The figure of the massive structure shaking the ground as it rose to the sky was simply breathtaking.
No monster, no matter how powerful or high leveled might be, would pass any longer.
The wall’s overwhelming presence and mass inspired such a belief in the hearts of whoever saw it. Even Shin, who had seen many giant monsters in his life, could not help but be impressed.
His old friend had dedicated his life to making 『End Wall』. The fruit of his efforts now stood tall, to protect all the people behind it.
The troops stationed in the other forts, preparing for the monsters’ attack, also reported that the wall had been erected on their side as well.
The fact that no unexpected accidents happened during the construction of the wall was one of the reasons why Shin, his party, and the soldiers felt confident.
If other holes opened in it, they would have to send someone there as soon as possible.
Such a thing did not happen, however: they all knew they only had to protect this one gap. Their morale was at an all-time high.
“I got a response. We can go anytime!”
Magic power overflowed from Shin’s body. He chose the same skill he used during the great flood in Balmel, 【Blue Judgement】.
The thunderstorm it caused spread all around after hitting the ground, so it affected a wider range than the initial one. It was an ideal skill when the primary objective was to slash the enemy’s numbers.
The sky, where previously only thin clouds could be seen, soon became heavy with dark clouds. Clouds that rained pale blue thunderbolts.
It might have looked like a beautiful sight from a distance. For anyone under the clouds, however, it was nothing but a catastrophe.
The monster horde led by Heltoros Garze moved as a tightly controlled pack, so they were all rather close together.
It was like the situation was asking for Shin to cast 【Blue Judgement】.
The thunderbolts struck the area with the highest monster density, slightly behind Heltoros Garze.
Shin delivered this blow with 【Limiter】 completely removed. Its offensive power and range were approximately twice of Schnee’s 【Blue Judgement】.
It was a view so unnatural for the people of this world. One of the Kilmont imperial soldiers who witnessed it later described it this way: “Rather than a thunderstorm, it looked like pillars of blue light were falling from the sky.”
“I thought I knew how it was going to turn out, but you went above and beyond once again…the majority of the monsters must be gone already, right?”
“It’s like a hole opened in the middle of the pack, yeah. But there’s still more than half remaining. They spawned continuously for several days, after all.”
The monsters defeated by Shin’s attack were the ones with enough speed and level to keep up with Heltoros Garze.
The hole opened in the pack was soon filled by the monsters coming up from behind. On the map, the area behind【Blue Judgement】’s range of effect was covered in red dots.
They already knew about the size of the pack, but couldn’t help but marvel at how ridiculously high their numbers were.
Shin’s detection skills, however, told him that the average level of the monsters trailing in the back was considerably lower. Not all monsters were in the same high-level range, after all.
“Okay, it’s a test of endurance from here on.”
“Right. I’d love to shoot another 【Blue Judgement】, but it looks like it wouldn’t work out. Ah, make sure you don’t go to the areas where I set up the traps, okay? We’ll charge in after they get caught.”
Shin tried to cast another 【Blue Judgement】, but it didn’t feel like the skill was going to activate anytime soon. He felt like the magic power he released scattered in a mist all around.
He also felt that the magic power wasn’t just disappearing meaninglessly.
Maybe because of the magic power control training he started after coming to this world, he felt his mastery of magic power had changed. It was too vague a sensation to put into words, but he was sure something was different from before.
“I have to go over this again when I have the time.”
“No, nothing. Well then, let’s see how much the traps are going to help.”
Even after 【Blue Judgement】, the Heltoros Garze showed no signs of slowing down or looking back.
The same could be said for the monsters around it. They all kept running straight forward, without sparing a glance to their defeated or wounded brethren.
Based on the fact that they proceeded straight towards Shin’s position, even though they weren’t supposed to be able to see him, their goal was probably decided from the start.
It was the gap in the wall behind Shin.
“No hesitation at all.”
The monsters led by Heltoros Garze rushed straight into the area riddled with traps.
Aided by magic power detection skills, or maybe its wild instincts, Heltoros Garze deftly zig-zagged around the earth spears and strange statues rising from the ground. It also opened its jaws, extending close to its torso, to spew flames wrapped in lightning.
Monsters’ breath attacks looked like flames, but they were different from normal fire. The breath attack’s nature could change if the monster willed it.
Heltoros Garze was no exception: its breath ran on the ground, scorching it and destroying Shin’s traps in the process.
“Looks like it noticed the traps. It didn’t do it from the start because it could dodge them, I guess?”
“Yeah, I think so too. Well, I put the traps to slow them down anyway. As expected of an advanced high-level monster, it can destroy even the main ones.”
Some of the monsters coming up from behind Heltoros Garze were pierced by the spears or crashed against the obstacles and were sent rolling on the ground.
Overall, only a few monsters could dodge the traps completely. The closer they were to Heltoros Garze, the more likely they were to do so.
Even so, they couldn’t destroy the traps in the same manner as their boss.
The monsters that followed Heltoros Garze’s path exactly were more or less unscathed, but the others were sometimes caught by traps and damaged themselves or the surrounding monsters.
Some were torn to shreds by explosions, others froze and shattered in a thousand pieces, others sank into the ground.
The various traps hidden in the environment turned it into a scene of carnage.
“Honestly, I almost feel sorry for them!”
So said Filma after swinging her flame-clad 『Scarlet Moon』, unleashing burning hot slashes that turned several monsters to ashes.
Thanks to the traps, only a few monsters had emerged. It was possible to whittle down their numbers with long-range attacks.
They weren’t heading straight towards Shin’s position, probably because they were still quite far from them.
Shin and Filma were using skills that enhanced their sight and could see the monsters well, but the same could not be said for their opponents.
“Well, they’re traps originally used by high-level players to defeat lethal monsters, after all.”
Shin used magic skills with high precision to snipe down the incoming monsters without destroying the traps. It would be a waste to break them while they were still effective.
It wasn’t going to last long, however. Heltoros Garze, which kept running while destroying the traps, had finally crossed the trapped area.
“We don’t have any time to waste, let’s finish it off quickly. Yuzuha, you take care of the rest!”
Yuzuha howled loudly. A howl so powerful it shook the very atmosphere and disrupted the movements of the monsters following Heltoros Garze.
Now that Yuzuha was more familiar with her original powers, her level exceeded 900.
Her tails too grew to 8. Her aura was already fearsome enough, yet she was still far from her complete form.
Leaving Yuzuha, bristling with a fighting spirit, to handle the lesser monsters, Shin and Filma headed towards the Heltoros Garze.
Shin was now holding a straight single-bladed longsword. From its handle stretched four fang-like protrusions, giving the impression of a carnivore beast hunting for its prey.
It was the Superior Ancient-Grade katana 『Hunter Fang』.
It was one of Shin’s finest weapons for killing beast-like monsters: its abilities and stats were mostly focused on dealing critical damage to four-legged and other animal-like monsters.
Heltoros Garze, as well as all the monsters running ahead of the pack in Shin’s general direction, turned towards him. They were still too far to be able to see him.
Even if they couldn’t see him, they all headed in the same direction.
The reason was naturally Shin’s 『Hunter Fang』.
Weapons that caused critical damage to specific monsters had a particular characteristic: the more their critical damage ability was honed, the more attention — in game terms, “aggro” — they attracted from that category of monsters.
According to Yuzuha, the weapon itself emitted killing intent.
Thanks to the information they had about the incoming monsters, Shin could reinforce his specialized weapons to deal critical damage in advance.
『Hunter Fang』 and the other specialized weapons in Shin’s item box were now even more lethal than they were in the game era.
Their boosted ability also caused them to attract more aggro than before.
Unfazed by the increased attention, Shin prepared 『Hunter Fang』 to attack.
He pointed the sword’s tip towards Heltoros Garze and thrust it straight. The monster was still too far for the sword to reach, but 『Hunter Fang』 filled the distance with a beam of light.
“Hmm, guess it can dodge this much.”
Because of the distance between them, Shin had to perform the skill much faster than normal to be able to hit Heltoros Garze with it. Even so, Heltoros Garze moved away from the beam’s trajectory. Its movements showed that it would take much more to successfully land a hit.
What Shin had shot through 『Hunter Fang』 was a long-range attack via the Katana-type Martial skill 【Katana Strike】.
The skill was used to turn a thrust attack to long-range: its range was very narrow, but it was difficult to see, so it could be used as a sniping attack.
Not only slashing weapons, but all kinds of weapons had common skills with similar names and the same type of effects.
After dodging Shin’s 【Katana Strike】, Heltoros Garze detected the source of the attack and turned exactly in Shin’s direction.
Only Shin and Filma were going in Heltoros Garze’s direction: based on the attack’s origin, it was probably not difficult to tell that it had come from Shin.
Heltoros Garze was rushing towards Shin, baring its fangs. A few seconds later, however, its movements changed unexpectedly.
It stopped dead in its tracks, still staring in Shin’s direction. They were now close enough for the beast to be able to see him.
“What? They stopped?”
Not only Heltoros Garze, but most of the monsters following its lead stopped as well.
The monsters scorched by fire traps, the ones with parts of their body frozen, the ones pierced by earth spears — they all looked at Shin and Shin only.
Even the monsters too far to be able to see him did. Shin could tell that all eyes in this area, except his allies, were fixed on him.
“Hey Shin…did specialized weapons always attract so much aggro?”
“It feels different from that, though. Besides, even the monsters outside the aggro’s range stopped. What’s going on here?”
Until seconds ago, the battlefield was filled with monster roars, growls, screams in pain, loud explosions, and the high-pitched sounds of the activation of freezing traps. Now, however, nothing but silence remained. The dust and smoke raised by the explosions slowly drifted away in the wind.
Even Filma, sword in hand, eager to fight, was puzzled by the monsters’ reaction. Her voice showed it too.
It was the same for Shin: there was the fact of 『Hunter Fang』’s aggro range, but also because he did not use any skills to focus aggro on himself.
He had never seen monsters react in the way Heltoros Garze and the other monsters did. It was like the whole pack could see what Heltoros Garze saw.
Heltoros Garze’s mouths moved. Shin was watching it with special attention, since it was the leader of the pack, so he noticed.
It wasn’t just growling. It wasn’t just opening and closing its jaws. Its mouths were moving unnaturally, as if a monster was articulating actual words.
A few empty minutes passed. Before Shin could decide whether to go closer to see what was going on or to use the chance to attack, Heltoros Garze moved.
A loud roar echoed throughout the silent battlefield.
“(It said, ‘FOUND!’.)”
Yuzuha sent a Mind Chat. Heltoros Garze was relatively close to her in terms of species, so she could understand the beast’s roar.