Book 2, Chapter 18

Growing Up

Everything in the base was a complete mess. A lucky soldier who’d managed to escape stealthily was hidden in a corner, attempting to flee by climbing a wall. However, he felt something at the front door of a nearby house. He took a peek in, and his expression instantly turned to one of horror. He parted his lips in a scream.

However, that scream never came. The soldier’s body shuddered, and his expression stilled. Streams of blood spurted out of his ears, even as a puddle of murky green liquid flowed out from under the door and squirted into his mouth.

The liquid was extremely corrosive, stifling the soldier’s scream as large amounts of gas erupted from his mouth. There was no chance for him to call for help as he fell head first to the ground, facing the sky. Both his hands were grasping at his throat in a desperate struggle, but two sharp blades flashed from within the room, biting into his calf and dragging him into the house.

The broodmother’s soul had grown exceptionally in a short period of time, and it had gained the ability to spew acid.

……

The surrendered soldiers were detained in the cellar of the pub, bandaged and given a modicum of treatment. The two novice knight, more seriously injured than the rest, had lesser heals cast on them as well. This relaxed the prisoners; the priestess would not be willing to waste her precious holy spells on them if they were going to be slaughtered.

Two knights followed Tiramisu to the outside of the base, picking up two more prisoners that were rather valuable— a knight who’d been immobilised by his injuries and the fainted priest. The rest were up to their own tasks; cleaning up the base, collecting the spoils of war, or searching for hidden enemies.

A handful of opposing soldiers had escaped at the very last minute of the battle, but Olar was already chasing them down. It would be impossible for him to capture all of the escapees alone, but he was also the only one of them with the energy left to pursue while observing the situation.

The battle had finally ended, and weirdly enough Richard’s entire party had come out of it scot-free; a beyond miraculous situation. Of course, the biggest miracle was Flowsand. Her Lens of Time had allowed them to kill Hubert off instantly, and during the stalemate she’d used seven greater heals, twelve normal heals, and a whopping thirty lesser heal spells in total. This was like giving every individual in their troop half a life. Flowsand alone had been as useful as a group of clerics, the Book of Time of course playing as important a part in that as her talent did. Nearly a third of the spells she’d cast had been stored within the book before.

Richard, Gandor, and Waterflower had made equally significant contributions to the battle. Gangdor had maintained a stranglehold on Menta until he died, while Richard had killed a substantial number of normal warriors. He easily had the most heads to his name of anyone here, with even Waterflower only having a dozen odd kills. Of course, five of her kills were knights, with the others being elite veterans.

Moving on, Richard calculated that the next biggest contributor was actually the elven bard. His warsong could support three people, effectively boosting them from level 10 to 11 in terms of ability. While that didn’t seem like much, the results of his voice echoing throughout the battlefield spoke for themselves. He himself had ten kills of his own; the smart elf had intentionally avoided fighting knights, targeting injured warriors and taking them out with a single shot for each one.

All of the seven knights had survived, their willpower and rich experience definitely helping in the pivotal situation. A veteran like that was far better in an actual battle than any young genius. Only now did Richard understand why Gaton had used up ten teleportation slots for them.

Numbers aside, Richard had actually made more contributions than one could see on the surface. His soul contracts allowed him to know the locations of more than half the enemies, as well as the overall tides of the battle. He’d constantly made it to the most crucial areas at critical times. On top of that, he’d set up the ambush with the two trolls outside right from the start, to act as their last resort in case both sides had suffered great casualties.

Richard was currently standing in the plaza of the base, listening to his knights’ reports regarding the battle. The veterans were extremely proficient in these administrative affairs both before and after battle, doing it out of their own will without Richard’s requests or reminders. Such a thing made people like Gangdor, the elf, and the trolls who only knew to kill pale in comparison.

However, he was sensitive to numbers and something felt off. The sum of escapees and corpses fell short of the numbers of the army that had attacked them. Of course he didn’t know everything on the battlefield like the back of his hand, but a difference like this was hard to ignore.

He tried to remember, but he eventually came to the conclusion that the missing warriors were neither hidden in the base nor escaped, they’d likely died. So the real issue was this— where were the bodies? The battle had just ended, so the base couldn’t have any enemy presence.

As he was immersed in thought, Richard suddenly felt waves of pain assault his mind. Fragmented noises sounded in his ears, but amidst the splitting headache he thought they were just background sound. However, these noises grew clearer and clearer as time passed, becoming extremely eerie.

Richard shot up, nimbly picking up the sword on the ground as he signalled for Flowsand, Waterflower, and Gangdor to come after him. He followed the direction of the noises in his consciousness, coming to a secluded corner of the base. The noises sounded exceptionally clear here, coming from the ground floor of this two-storey building.

“Broodmother?” Richard called out. He could feel its presence right here within his mind.

The creature’s reply immediately rang out in his head, “I am here, master. It is safe, you may enter.”

The words had been spoken quite fluently. The creature had been true to its words, learning Norland’s tongue in a mere day.

Richard remained suspicious, leading the small party through the door. However, he was shocked by the sight the moment he step foot into the building!

This floor had originally been a living room, but now everything was in complete disarray. All that was left of the furniture was a pile of rags, leaving a huge empty space at the centre of the room where the broodmother was crouched. Its head was down, continuing to chew on broken armour, shields, and weapons. These were the noises that Richard had heard in his mind.

Everyone here was shocked by the broodmother’s current appearance, even Richard himself. The creature was currently two metres long, being a metre tall and wide as well. Before the battle it was less than half this size!

Gangdor and Waterflower had already assumed battle positions subconsciously, the large broodmother radiating an intense feeling of danger. Even though they’d already seen it before, and they knew that it was a contract creature, it was almost impossible for them to draw connections between that rather large insect and this monster before them.

“What’s going on?” Richard asked in shock.

“These metals can strengthen and harden my armour. Everything I chose was scrap, there was no way to reuse it.”

Richard was shocked once more, but this time at the creature’s intelligence. It was barely a day old, but it was already familiar with the concept of value. Even as he talked to it through their soul link, it didn’t stop eating once throughout the conversation. The tough metal was easily crushed in its mouth before it swallowed, drool dripping onto the armour and weapons every now and then as it sizzled a hole into the alchemic metals.

Gangdor and Waterflower grew more alert at the sight. The battle might of the broodmother was still unknown, but if one came into contact with its saliva… the consequences were obvious.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Gem

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA