Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yomigaeru Proofreader(s): Yuzuha
Author’s note: A longish one this time, around 10k characters.
Limbs thick enough to wrap my arm around. Over 2m tall, a massive physique. A single horn growing out of its head.
That ogre is standing there with its arm extended from a full swing.
Yuel was hurled several meters away, and is leaning limp against a tree.
So those wolves hadn’t run off because their packmates died, but because they sensed the presence of this guy?
The ogre begins to walk towards the collapsed Yuel.
Oh no. That’s no good.
It’s obvious what it plans to do to the weakened Yuel. It intends to finish her off.
Right now Yuel is struggling to stand, but unable to. Because she defended me, she must have taken an incredible amount of damage. Yuel can’t avoid the monster’s attack in her current state.
Moreover, Yuel no longer has that bracelet. Eating another attack from this guy might really kill her. I can’t let that happen. That’s the one thing I cannot allow.
I absolutely can’t let it reach her.
I jump to my feet, and grasp my mace tightly.
I strike the ogre with my mace. It directly impacts the ogre’s undefended back–
and bounces right off.
It makes a hard sound, as if hitting an iron plate. The recoil is so intense that I almost lose hold of the mace.
The sensation is almost metallic.
Wrenched by the deflected mace, my upper body is thrown backwards. I lose my balance. My foot gets stuck in the mud beneath me and I fall on my rear.
The very next instant.
A sturdy arm sweeps just over my head. It generates a powerful gust of air. My body sways from the wind pressure alone. The puddles of water at my feet ripple.
–I can’t win against this.
If I hadn’t fallen over, that one blow might have crushed my head. That’s how powerful a single strike was.
I’m convinced. I’m no match for it.
Besides, that rigid skin. Even though I hit it with a blunt metal weapon, there’s no indication that it took any damage. From the looks of it, I’m not sure it would even be injured if Yuel slashed it with her knife. Even if Yuel and I attack together, we probably can’t defeat it in the first place.
I can’t fight this guy. There’s no way I can win.
…No, this is no time to be thinking about winning or losing. Yuel is top priority. The first thing I need to do is save the wounded Yuel somehow.
I rise to my feet and run towards Yuel. In an instant, the ogre’s fist grazes my back.
I feel a heat on my back as if it’s on fire. I nearly lose my balance, but I recover and run over to Yuel.
I quickly pick her up, and cast healing magic–
then a shadow appears on the ground in front of me. I have a bad feeling about this.
Wrapping my arms around Yuel, I dive to the side.
The sturdy arm smashes into the spot where Yuel and I just were. The ground bursts open. Showered by stone fragments and mud, we roll along the ground.
Dangerous. This is truly dangerous. If I take a direct hit from an attack like that, I’ll die. No mistaking it, I’ll die. If it’s a direct hit to the head, I might very well perish without even having the opportunity to cast healing magic. Even in the best-case scenario, I’d surely lose consciousness.
I can only run. Right away, I grab a handful of soil and fling it at the ogre’s eyes.
「EX Heal! Yuel, are you alright!?」
Without losing any momentum, I stand and run while holding Yuel. I flee from the ogre without looking back.
The ogre’s angry bellow resounds from behind me. Apparently the dirt got into its eyes. That’ll earn us a little time. My body is nearly frozen out of fear, but I have to create some distance right now.
「M-Master, I’m sorry.」
Looking up at me, Yuel apologizes. Is she apologizing over letting that monster get so close without noticing it? Her voice is trembling.
As I thought, that monster may be the something that Yuel was afraid of ever since we left the city.
The circumstances are what they are. I need confirmation from her.
「…Yuel, is that guy the one who ruined your eyes?」
Upon my words, Yuel’s eyes widen in surprise. Dead-on, huh? This guy may very well be the one Yuel was watching out for this entire time.
「M-Master, I’m fine, please put me down. I will gain some time, so please escape!」
Yuel’s expression turns serious as she speaks. But that’s impossible. That thing is different from the kind of monsters that we’ve fought in the labyrinth thus far. Yuel could die in a single hit. If she does die, I can’t cure that.
Besides, and I can tell this because I’m carrying her; Yuel is trembling right now. To be crippled by it in the past, and then to receive an injury like that again now, there’s no way she isn’t afraid. Moreover, she’s worn out from everything up to this point. She can’t possibly contend with that monster.
What do I do?
Yuel’s bracelet has broken. Furthermore, she’s totally exhausted. Although she may have been preoccupied with the wolf monsters, it wasn’t to the degree that that monster could get so close unnoticed. So her mental state is abnormal too. She’s trying to hide it, but I can tell that she’s frightened.
Fleeing is our only option.
Fortunately, perhaps thanks to that ogre monster, no other monsters are appearing. Considering the fact that the wolf monsters ran away, other monsters must be keeping an eye out for that one too.
「Master, p-please let me down!」
Yuel cries out to me desperately. I glance behind us, and the ogre has already drawn near.
It moves faster than I expected. At this rate, we’ll be overtaken.
It’s a large monster. Just having its killing intent focused on me makes me want to curl up into a ball.
I can’t fight such a monster.
What will happen if I fight it? How did Yuel look at the slave market? Her face was smashed, her ear was ripped off, and she couldn’t fight anymore.
I’m scared. My head fills with dread.
But that ogre sure is fast. It’s steadily closing in on us. With my legs, I don’t know if I can escape.
In order to get away, someone would have to stop its movements.
–A single thought comes to mind.
Yuel might hate me for it.
Now that I think about it, this is the first time I’m using this on Yuel. There wasn’t anything this dangerous up until now. I didn’t really think it would be necessary.
But I have to use it.
I softly set Yuel down on the ground. She immediately goes to face the ogre, but I grab her shoulder to stop her.
When Yuel turns around, our eyes meet. Her face makes an anxious expression that’s determined but somewhat tense.
Then, as if having realized something, she gasps. Looking at me, she seems to have guessed what I’m about to do. But I ignore it and continue.
I infuse mana into my voice. Then — I command her.
「This is an order. Yuel, run away until you reach the city.」
A crimson-red pattern rises to the surface of Yuel’s shoulder.
The slave crest. A magic seal that compels absolute obedience to commands.
I wasn’t confident in how to use it correctly, but infusing mana into my voice and giving a command seems to be enough. It’s good that a chant isn’t required. It’s working properly.
There’s no way I can allow Yuel to fight a monster like this.
I’m this afraid of it — so Yuel must be even more frightened.
「I’ll gain some time, so escape for me!」
I have to act cool here. As her master.
Yuel turns in the direction of the city. She looks at the gleaming red slave crest in shock. Then, as the slave crest operates her body, she runs off while repeatedly looking back. If she’s by herself, Yuel should be able to make it back to the city.
I set my gaze upon the ogre before me. When I raise my mace, the ogre looks at me with great interest and comes to a halt.
This is fine. Even though it’s a strong monster, its only weapons are its fists. And I can use healing magic. As long as I defend my head, I shouldn’t go down that quickly. I’ll gain time for Yuel to get further away.
I look at the massive ogre monster.
The wounds that Yuel had back at the slave market. Her constant vigilant appearance ever since we left the city. Her expression when she said she would fight, while her arms were trembling.
Looking at this monster, various scenes flash before my eyes.
I can feel myself getting fired up.
I know that I can’t win if I try to fight it head-on. All I intended to do was buy time. But, if I use healing magic as we exchange blows, maybe by some chance I can pull out a win. That’s the feeling that comes over me.
I want to defeat the monster that Yuel is frightened of; her trauma. That kind of feeling steadily builds up in me. Saying I want to become a girl’s shield and battle a powerful monster, I may just be getting drunk on the atmosphere.
Even so, I still really want to defeat this monster. So that she doesn’t have its shadow looming over her anymore.
First off, let’s use Appraisal.
Armor Ogre (variant)
Apparently that monster is known as Armor Ogre. I was hoping to discover its weakness, but looks like it won’t be so easy. Is it called ‘Armor’ because it has skin hard enough to deflect a mace? No idea what ‘variant’ means though.
For now, I’ll hold the mace so it’s always protecting my head, and slowly close the distance. Neither the Ogre’s attacks nor mine can reach yet. Little by little, I creep closer to it.
The most important thing about fighting a monster is being ready to receive its attacks. It’s important to keep in mind that I could receive an attack at any time, and keep healing magic prepared. With my healing magic, I can immediately recover from even a fatal wound. In theory, if I can just keep my head safe, I absolutely won’t die. Even I should be able to fight it.
As I’m thinking that–
the Ogre looks at me with my weapon raised, and suddenly swings both arms.
Huh? There’s still some distance between us. I’m outside the reach of its arms. What in the–
At that moment, something blade-like slides out from both of the Ogre’s arms.
Springing out of each arm, something around 50cm long.
…Are those swords? No, claws?
Oh yeah, in the Appraisal results, it said that guy was an Armor Ogre variant.
…Are those the variations? With just a glance, I can tell that those large claws have extremely sharp points. And they’re coming out of both of the Armor Ogre’s arms.
……This could be dangerous.
My head quickly cools down.
Those might be too much to handle. No, I’m pretty sure they’re too much. Those claws are too much. Most likely, those claws are too much.
If it were fists, I could maybe endure them depending on how and where they hit me. But those claws are too much. They’re not something I could somehow handle. I can only envision myself getting sliced in half. In other words, they’re scary. Those claws are really scary. They make me think back to my trauma from the Giant Ant.
That reminds me, Yuel’s face, it looked more like claws rather than fists that did that. Right, yeah, it has claws, yeah.
I feel the balance scales in my head slamming to one side.
I should try to run away too after all.
A tactical withdrawal. I had a little bit of hope against those fists, but those claws are impossible. The hard skin, the brutally pointed claws, it’s surely offense and defense in one package. I don’t feel like I could possibly win head-on.
I got a little carried away by my own coolness, but looking at those claws cooled me off in a hurry. Right, I’m neither a swordsman nor a warrior. I’m an ordinary guy who can only use healing magic. I can’t fight a monster like this. It would easily turn the tables on me, and that would only add to Yuel’s trauma.
–While I’m still thinking about it, the Ogre swings one of its arms.
I avoid a direct hit by diving to the side at once, but my billowing clothes get shredded.
…It’s great that I decided to escape, but the Ogre is right in front of me now. And I’m down on the ground from dodging.
I’m seriously gonna die within 5 seconds. No, more like 2 seconds maybe.
Isn’t there something, anything I can do? I throw a rock from the ground, and it’s struck by the Ogre. With one swing of its arm, the rock shatters into tiny pieces.
I remove some clothes from my item box and throw them at the Ogre’s face. Before they hit its face, they’re cut in half.
I fish around in the item box and come upon something good. It’s the warm water magic tool I previously found in the labyrinth.
…Perhaps I can make use of this.
As I stand up, I aim the warm-water-emitting magic tool at the Ogre’s eye.
The output is at best the same as a fully-open faucet. It’s indeed a squirt gun. A trivial nuisance.
But, at point-blank range it would have an effect. Getting water in its eyes would be annoying, so the Ogre would protect them with its arms. For a moment, the Ogre would lose sight of me.
If the Ogre guards its face, I’ll sprinkle water at its feet. The ground at its feet would turn to sludge. By just the slightest bit, I could slow down its pursuit.
This could work. It might just work.
Maybe because the ground is already muddy from yesterday’s rain, but a small amount of water has a large effect.
Run away, run away, at any rate just run away.
But I can’t forget that I’m buying time. It may be pointless to fight it head-on, but I at least want to eliminate the possibility of this monster catching up with Yuel.
I wonder if Yuel’s alright? No, this is Yuel we’re talking about, she could probably make it through even if she were surrounded by monsters. At least, she has a better chance of making it back to the city safely than if she was dragging me along. I have faith that she’s safe.
I keep running from the Ogre. It comes after me, cutting down the branches and trees between us. Oh my god this is super scary.
T-This might be good enough. Although she’s tired, at Yuel’s pace, even after this short time she should have enough of a lead that this guy won’t catch up to her.
This hose of a magic tool is plenty useful. I might not be able to shake off the Ogre, but it’s seemingly possible to maintain a certain distance while running from it.
I can run from it. I can run from this scary monster with those brutal claws.
…But before I run away, I at least want to give this monster a good knockin’.
It’s scary. That monster is certainly scary.
And yet, as I’m running, I think up something good. If this goes well, I may even be able to subjugate this monster; that good of an idea.
I flee through the forest, spraying water at the Ogre’s face and the ground in front of it as I run.
The warm water from the magic tool can only reach a distance of about 6-7m. Due to the speed of my feet as well, the magic tool’s effective range won’t go any further than this. And if I fall, it’s all over. I choose my steps carefully as I run. Avoiding mud, stepping on solid rocks as much as I can, jumping over tree roots, I continue running.
At which point a huge puddle appears in front of me.
Spraying water as I go, I keep running in circles around the same area. Due to yesterday’s rainfall, there are puddles everywhere. And right before my eyes is a huge puddle, just wide enough to fit the Armor Ogre’s body.
This is the place.
As I jump over the puddle, I drop something into it from my item box.
The thing that flies out from my item box is… Slime Jelly.
…I absolutely can’t let Yuel see this method of fighting. No doubt about it, this is totally uncool. If Yuel asked me something like “Why do you have so much Slime Jelly?” I’d have no answer. This isn’t the time to be bothered by such things, though. But I’m glad that I made Yuel run away.
The highly-soluble Slime Jelly rapidly dissolves in the water. It’s a perfect instant trap.
Then, the Armor Ogre sticks its right foot into the puddle.
Its foot slips. Unable to stand firm, its right foot springs up. With comical ease, the Armor Ogre completes a half rotation. Shouting loudly, it sinks into the puddle head-first.
An ogre in a lotion pool. I really wish my opponent wasn’t an ogre, but rather a beautiful lady.
The Armor Ogre struggles to free itself and stand up. But it will take some time for it to get back on its feet.
This is my chance.
If I’m going to get a hit on this monster, it has to be now. Being careful not to step into the puddle, I approach the Armor Ogre. Then, I raise my mace up high.
Where should I aim?
The Armor Ogre’s skin is tough. A normal attack won’t be fatal. Even if, for example, I swing this metal mace down with all my strength, I doubt it will deal a fatal blow to this guy.
In that case, it doesn’t have to be fatal. It’d be great if I can prevent this guy from moving freely, even just slightly.
The difference between me and this guy is that I can heal my own wounds and it can’t. With this blow, I’ll prevent it from coming after me and Yuel. I’ll prevent it from moving.
I want to aim for its eyes, but that’s not possible. It’d be hard to smash both of them, and they’re too close to its arms. It could most likely easily protect them with its arms, and the probability of a counterattack is high.
I aim for its ankle, at the joint there.
A joint has to be flexible in order to move, so that thick skin should be a little thinner there. Breaking its ankle would be best. Just fracturing it would be fine; just dislocating it would be fine.
I’ll rob this guy of a fraction of his ability to move.
I cast healing magic on the arm holding the mace. There’s no special significance to it, but this way even if I break a bone or tear a muscle, I can quickly repair it. It’s not like it will increase the force. But I want to put every last bit of power that I can muster into this swing.
To the very end, I won’t let the mace leave my hand. Strongly, firmly, I grip the mace.
Putting all of my body into the swing, I strike the Armor Ogre’s foot with my mace.
Man, it sure is tough. The recoil nearly makes me let go. But my hand remains tightly gripped around the mace. Pain runs through my muscles, and my bones. I quickly recover from it with healing magic.
–I feel the response from the mace biting into flesh.
Before the Ogre can hit me with a counterattack, I quickly distance myself from it. I move far, far away. Then a little bit further away.
20m away, hiding behind a tree, I observe the condition of the Ogre that’s still struggling in the puddle.
「…How was that?」
After several seconds, the Armor Ogre crawls out of the puddle.
The Armor Ogre stands up and…
starts dragging its right leg.
I did it. I finally did it. With this, I just might be able to shake off this guy.
I dealt damage to its right leg. With that huge body alone, the burden on its legs must be quite severe. For a while, it’ll most likely be difficult for that guy to move.
When I get back to the city later, I can just report this to the knights, and have them search the area. I’m sure the knight brigade won’t ignore a monster that previously caused damage on the highway. Then I can request the knights to show Yuel its corpse. That way Yuel will no longer need to be afraid of it.
That monster that injured Yuel will invariably be subjugated. It’s just that I won’t be the one to do it.
Let’s leave the fighting to the professionals, and entrust the monster to the knights. What I’m doing now is just limiting its movements somewhat and making it difficult for this guy to leave the area. Making it easier for me to run away is killing two birds with one stone.
In order to defeat this monster, it’s fine if I use EX Heal in public. It’s fine if I get hired by the knight brigade too. The next time we meet, I’ll use my bottomless EX Heal freely and fight alongside a brigade of immortal knights.
Perfect. Well, subjugating it like this by myself would be best, but if it turned the tables on me, that would just traumatize Yuel.
I should quit while I’m ahead. I mustn’t overestimate my ability.
It’s not like I looked at those claws and got scared of being hit by them or anything. I just considered the risk and chose the best available move.
If I were to drive my mace into that Ogre’s head, I don’t think it would be fatal. In order to deal a significant amount of damage, I would have to strain myself to my full power like I did earlier. Although I damaged its foot, the Ogre is still healthy. Its balance is bad, but it’s still standing on two feet. I can only envision myself being killed by its counterattack.
Getting a good hit in satisfied my personal grudge somewhat. And I demonstrated my coolness in front of Yuel as her master. By dealing damage to its foot, I also laid the groundwork for the next step.
A temporary retreat is a strategic victory.
Turning my back on the Armor Ogre, I run.
I’m worried about other monsters, but I shouldn’t be far from the highway anymore. I can more or less shrug off any damage and run through without stopping.
Right, maybe I can meet up with Yuel? Nah, that’s impossible huh. If the slave crest is functioning normally, she should be considerably ahead of me. The slave merchant didn’t do a great job of explaining it to me, and to be honest I have no idea how to cancel it either. I figure it’ll probably fade once the order is carried out, though.
While I think about that, I run in earnest.
–At that instant, something impacts my back.
It knocks the breath out of me. Even though I should’ve been running, my feet don’t reach the ground. My body is floating in the air. And starting to keel over.
Suddenly, something glittery enters my field of view. It’s a spectacle I’ve seen very recently. A bracelet. A bracelet, shattering.
My momentum doesn’t stop. I crash into the ground head-first and tumble along it.
It hurts. I can’t feel anything below my back. I can’t put any energy into my body. I can’t breathe.
Did the Armor Ogre catch up with me? No, I should’ve had a good 20m head start on it. It shouldn’t have been able to catch up to me this instantly.
Then was there another monster hiding somewhere? I glance around, only moving my eyes.
–That’s not it.
A rock. A bloodstained rock is rolling on the ground.
…From right behind me, a rock came flying.
Who did it?
When I look behind me, I see the figure of the Armor Ogre shaking its arm as it watches me.
I can’t tell what expression it’s making, but I can pretty much figure it out. That’s rage.
….By damaging it half-assedly, I might have made that guy get serious. I screwed up.
My body is bleeding. My vision is growing dim. I can barely move.
Oh yeah, healing. I need to heal myself.
Along with warmth, strength rapidly returns to my body.
I’m okay, I’m okay. I can heal. If I stay behind trees, I should be able to get away somehow. In any case, let’s run.
As I go to stand up, a stone smashes into the tree in front of me.
Splinters of wood hit my body, and I lose my balance. I fall on my ass into a mud puddle.
The mud feels gross. Also my leg might be sprained.
But I don’t have time to worry about that.
I gotta run. I raise my head and use the tree beside me as support to stand up.
By the time I stand up, the Armor Ogre has already drawn near. Its large claws are extended above its head.
Its movements are faster than I expected.
What the hell, it can move just fine, can’t it? My attack caused it some pain, but apparently not enough damage to limit its movements. Maybe it didn’t reach the bone.
A claw strike is coming.
There’s a tree at my back, so behind is no good. And I don’t have time to evade to the side.
It’s unavoidable. I don’t have a bracelet anymore either.
–If I get hit directly, I’m dead.
Then, at the moment it swings down its arm, the Ogre’s arm stops.
The Ogre’s raised arm stops beside its head.
And then, the sound of metal. A light clinking sound rings out.
Hitting the Ogre’s arm and falling to the ground, a single thin piece of metal.
…It’s something I recognize; a knife.
The Ogre glances to the side. In its line of sight is a silver-haired young girl.
How? Why did she come back? The slave crest should have made her run away. As long as the slave crest is there, the slave can’t disobey an order. That’s how it’s supposed to work. I have so many questions.
Yuel is pressing on her shoulder, gasping for breath as she watches the Ogre. And on her shoulder are countless stab wounds. It’s as if the area where the slave crest appeared was gouged out.
…Yeah, all the skin where the slave crest used to be is gone.
So there was a loophole like that?
…Perhaps it’s a thing where slaves are ordered not to injure themselves, and then further orders are laid down on top of that?
「I’m sorry for disobeying your order.」
Yuel mutters while looking at me.
「But I have no intention of running away by myself! I came this far with Master in order to protect you!」
Yuel exclaims. Then, she raises her knife.