Book 2: Chapter 161
After a short while, the search operation began.
Half of Igaru’s group were chosen to join the search party, while the other half was left behind to guard the camp.
Lukas was one of the members left to guard the camp.
“I’ll be away for a while.”
Bargan had been selected as one of the members of the search party. Before leaving the camp, he bowed his head to Lukas, which caused the members of the Ashstar squad to look at him strangely.
Headsmasher Bargan was bowing towards an outsider?
Did the outsider grasp his weakness or something?
All of a sudden, their attention had been drawn to Lukas. Even Ashstar turned to look at him.
Their expressions seemed to be asking, ‘What’s going on?’, but Lukas didn’t pay any attention to them. Instead, he was staring at the great forest.
‘…without a doubt.’
Something was in there.
Lukas wasn’t sure what it was, but he could feel faint traces of its presence.
Meanwhile, Guaba, who had also been chosen to guard the camp, began to chatter once again with a relaxed expression.
In truth, over the past three days, Guaba was the person who spoke to Lukas the most.
Bargan was in charge of another carriage, so he couldn’t find time to talk to him. Igaru, who he had the best impression of among the squad members, was the most important person in the group, so he couldn’t find the chance to talk to him privately.
Of course, this didn’t mean that Guaba was a bad person.
Except for being a bit talkative, he could be considered quite good, especially since he didn’t have any prejudice towards outsiders. And above all else, he had a wealth of experience.
From his stories, it was clear that he had not just explored Combat Island, but other islands as well.
“Places to look for treasure?”
After asking that, Guaba glanced down at the mouse corpse in his hand before swallowing it in one bite. His action was so nonchalant it was as though he had just eaten a piece of beef jerky.
Lukas, of course, didn’t have any intention of meddling with another race’s diet, so he remained silent.
“If that’s what you want then ‘Adventure Island’ is the best place to go.”
From what he’d heard and read, Adventure Island could best be described as ‘unexplored’, and it was also the place where countless treasures could be found.
The reason there were so many treasures there was simple.
There had been dozens of countries on Adventure Island in the past.
“The people who used to live there were known for their viciousness and extreme sense of belonging to their countries. After separating into different forces, they were at war for hundreds of years…”
Guaba lowered his voice slightly.
“It is said that they eventually drew the ire of the Goddess.”
Lukas had already read this in a book, but he continued to listen instead of stopping Guaba.
Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but ask.
“What happened after they drew her ire?”
“She made it rain.”
“Right. For decades, it rained so hard the droplets could pierce through the scales of any Dragonman.”
Heavy rain in a land above the clouds.
Had that also been created by the runes the Sorcerers used?
“The heavy rain from that time caused most of Adventure Island to be submerged. Now, Adventure Island looks like an archipelago. Only about ten percent of the area is land.”
And it was said that somewhere in the submerged regions, the legacies of dozens of countries lay untouched.
“And, well, this might just be a rumor, but it is said that there are quite a few treasures on Death Island.”
“I hear that it’s a forbidden land.”
“Right. Only a few people know why we’re banned from going there. But since it is an order that came directly from Dragon God Island, no one dares to defy it.”
Dragon God Island.
Perhaps it played the role of a monarchy that ruled over the Heavenly Realm.
The awe the Dragonmen felt for the Goddess was similar to how subjects looked up to their monarch.
Lukas wondered if the first thing he should do was meet this Goddess.
‘The stronger you are, the more hidden truths you are made aware of.’
This was one of the truths that transcended any specific world.
“By the way, why are you going to Lirua?”
Lukas decided to respond honestly to see his reaction.
“I’m going there to become the Champion in order to take part in the Championship.”
Guaba’s expression became a bit strange.
“You do know that Lirua is one of the major cities that represent Combat Island, don’t you?”
“And that its arena can be ranked within the top five of all cities.”
“…right. I suppose only someone as ballsy as you could become the Lord of Headsmasher Bargan.”
He nodded as if he had some kind of understanding.
And he continued in a voice as though he didn’t find anything wrong.
“Well, good luck. I’ll come take a look when I get the chance.”
That was it?
Guaba didn’t show any disgust or contempt as Bargan had.
What this meant was simple.
‘Guaba doesn’t know about the fight fixing in Lirua.”
Just as he drifted along this train of thought.
A strange vibration came from the forest.
And dozens of birds flew up from the forest at the same time.
Lukas was surprised that birds were living on the floating island, but now wasn’t the time to think about that.
The ground shook again, almost as if an earthquake was occurring. It was so heavy that the firewood scattered and the large bonfire immediately went out with a puff.
In an instant, their surroundings became pitch-black, which caused the members of the subjugation team to become a bit panicked.
“Wh-, what’s going on?”
“Dammit. What the hell happened?”
“Ugh! Which bastard just hit me!?”
It was Igaru who organised the chaos.
“Everyone, take out your weapons!”
Unlike Ashstar, who had directly joined the search, he stayed back to guard their base.
Igaru’s loud voice pierced the panicked haze that had settled on everyone’s minds. They all drew their weapons and stared at the forest in anticipation.
As the commotion subsided, the area immediately became drowned in silence. So much so that the sounds of gulping were clearly audible.
It also allowed them to hear the sound of panting. It wasn’t from someone in the camp.
Instead, this sound came from the forest when the strong vibrations had just been felt.
Only then did the subjugation team members realise that someone was crawling towards them from the forest.
“Ku-, hu-, urk!”
Igaru’s expression hardened.
The person who was slowly crawling out of the forest with unsteady movements was his subordinate, ‘Naul’.
His face was white with fear, but he didn’t seem to want to get up. No, upon closer inspection, they realised he couldn’t get up.
The lower half of Naul’s body was no longer there. Therefore, he had no choice but to use his arms to slowly drag himself forward like a slug.
He called out in a shaky voice.
“S-, squad leader… ru-, run away… da-, danger is… co-, co-….”
Naul collapsed before he could finish his sentence.
The adrenaline that had been pushing his body forward had finally run out.
Lukas turned to look at the forest again.
Then, he heard a familiar voice once again.
[A great power has been sensed in the ‘Samis Great Forest’.]
[It is recommended that the participant doesn’t approach the Great Forest at this time.]
The answer to this question came promptly.
[That being will be difficult for the participant to confront at your current level.]
* * *
“…relight the fire.”
At Igaru’s order, one of the squad members lit the bonfire once again.
Soft light once again filled their surroundings. Igaru also created a torch by wrapping a cloth around a piece of firewood. Then he carefully inspected Naul’s corpse.
There were numerous injuries on Naul’s body. However, as he looked at these injuries, Igaru couldn’t help but feel that none of them were enough to kill or even incapacitate him.
Every single injury missed his vital points.
Was it because Naul had done a good job of dodging?
From Naul’s pale complexion and his missing lower half, it was obvious that the difference between him and his opponent wasn’t small.
‘He was toyed with.’
Instead of intentionally killing him, the beast simply devoured his lower half and enjoyed it as he crawled away in fear.
From the injury, it was obvious that Naul’s waist had been torn off by the teeth of a huge monster. Naul must have tried desperately to crawl away from it after that, filled with immense pain and even more fear.
Kori, the most knowledgeable member of Igaru’s squad frowned as he looked down at Naul’s corpse.
“It has a powerful bite. It was able to tear through his skin like paper and his bones snapped like twigs.”
“Was it a Dragonling?”
“Yeah. It’s possible that it’s a Mutated Dragonling, or…”
After a moment of hesitation, Kori added.
“It’s possible that it was an Ancient Dragon.” (TL: Here it is…)
Even though it was a shocking statement, it didn’t cause a big commotion. Instead, all the Dragonmen present felt as though a cold wind was blowing against the napes of their necks, and they didn’t dare to open their mouths.
That was the weight of the words ‘Ancient Dragon’.
Guaba, whose expression had been stiff this entire time, finally turned to Igaru.
“Squad Leader. What are your orders?”
It was a difficult situation, but that was exactly why the squad leader’s orders were important.
Igaru took another look at Naul’s corpse then back to the pitch black forest from which nothing could be seen before letting out a long sigh.
“…we will wait here until dawn.”
With the situation, the way it was, entering the forest now would be no different from committing suicide.
Especially if their opponent was truly an Ancient Dragon.
All they could do was wait there for those who might come back alive.
Night had only just arrived. They would need to wait for half a day for dawn to come. Could those in the forest survive that long?
Igaru sighed and shook his head.
This wasn’t the time to worry about the search party. Right now, Igaru had to focus on protecting those still in the camp.
There was no guarantee that the unidentified Dragonling in the forest wouldn’t come here for them.
Guaba, who was wiping cold sweat off his forehead, spoke to his side.
“What a mess. Hey, Lukas, you’re a Sorcerer right. Is there any rune you can use to send messages to those ins-…”
But he didn’t finish his sentence.
This was because Lukas, who had been standing beside him the entire time, had disappeared.