Translator: SaltyTank Editor: SaltyTank
Soran and his squad looked at one another, then started doing just that.
Encountering so many ogres in one place was no joking matter. If the monsters discovered them, they almost certainly could not escape. Ogres could charge at extremely high speeds on the plains, and a lot of them could probably also activate Feral Bloodlust to further increase their physical stats. Even though the ogres would be weakened after using the skill, the five adventurers would already be dead by then.
“I’m afraid the upcoming battle will be a tough one,” Yarse said when they had retreated a considerable distance. “Getting rid of so many ogres won’t be easy, and that’s not even counting the ogre wizard. That one really hurts our chances of winning.”
An adventurer who seemed to be a warrior multiprofessioning in Swashbuckler nodded and replied, “It’s time to really test Whiterun’s strength then. They must have sent out people with high-grade professions for such a large-scale operation. If we have high-grade wizards on our side, winning isn’t totally impossible.”
Having a combat profession meant a person was at least Grade 1, reaching Level 5 would make them Grade 2, and reaching Level 10 would be Grade 3. What people often referred to as ‘high-grade’ professionals were those who had a combat profession of Level 15 or above. Not many existed in a single city, and those who did exist were often at least high-ranked military officers. Most of the adventurers who’d taken on this mission were Grade 2 and Grade 3. High-grade professionals rarely adventured, because they had plenty of better choices. If they wanted to, they could easily enter the administrative systems in cities and organizations or become influential gang leaders. Be it wealth or power, they could easily attain either without adventuring. Even if they did adventure, they wouldn’t be hunting monsters in the wilderness.
Considering this, Soran did not reply to Yarse. He did not really care if the operation succeeded or failed; all was good if he could earn Slaughter EXP under relatively safe conditions. In any event, he would surely not be diving into the main clash between man and monster this time, given how dangerous the battle would be. It seemed that the previous failures had given the Whiterun officials enough information and experience for them to even bring out golems.
Other adventurers had already delivered intel regarding the fortress to the Whiterun army before Soran’s squad returned. It was not a surprise considering there were many veterans taking part in the operation.
Strangely, none of the adventurers had yet seen the army’s commander. Although the army and adventurers operated separately, it was still a bit strange for the commander of the army to stay hidden for so long. It was as though he could not meet the adventurers for some reason, and some adventurers were already getting unsatisfied. After all, this was a large-scale battle; at the very least, the person in charge should show himself as a basic courtesy. It did not matter if the commander was a general or a noble; what the adventurers cared about was how strong the person in charge was. Without a powerful commander with the strength of a high-grade professional, there would be plenty of casualties in a battle of such a large scale. Some of the adventurers were already considering pulling out of the operation. No one would be willing to throw their lives away for thirty or so Gold Derahls they’d only receive after they’d died anyway.
The Whiterun army marched on. After receiving information on the fortress-in-progress, the army engineers started to prepare siege machines. Golems appeared one after another, with wizards and their apprentices tweaking the golems as needed. Most of the golems were stone golems, though there were also iron golems. Golemcraft was well-spread among wizards, but as it required advanced alchemy techniques, usually only Grade 3 wizards or above could craft them.
Unfortunately, it was hard to hide a two-thousand-man army from the ogres, especially when standing in a plain. In fact, even when Soran’s squad was first scouting out the fortress, the gnolls that served the ogres had already discovered the presence of the Whiterun army.
Inside the ogre fortress, a two-headed ogre wizard grumbled then roared, “Prepare for battle! You dimwits! Every one of you, pick up your weapons and lock up the captives!”
It glanced at the gnoll scout prostrated on the ground before it and said, “Very well, my slave. I shall grant you your freedom. If you continue to serve me, I shall grant you land within my territory and make you a leader among gnolls. There you can create your own tribe.”
Ogres tribes tended to have vassals due to their ability to enslave wild monsters, so this wasn’t an unusual exchange.
Brawny ogres gathered, heeding their leader’s call. It was difficult to distinguish their sex because they all looked pretty much the same. Ogres could eat meat the moment they were born, and weighed around thirty pounds at birth. As they valued strength, they would often abandon or even eat children who seemed weak. Most of them only had 6 or so Intelligence, which was even lower than wolves, but their combat prowess was extraordinary. Very rarely, the dumb monsters would even give rise to ogre wizards and sorcerers.
Goblin slaves were busy handing the ogres spiked metal maces and helping them don their armor. It was all crudely made armor forged by kobolds with around 50 Smithwork and ogres who had inherited forging techniques. This armor was mostly composed of separate pieces, such as spiked shoulder guards, chestplates, and gauntlets, and it only relied on mass and weight to protect the user. Their crude techniques were not enough to mass-produce full platemail armor
“Bone crushers, gather!”
More ogres gathered, but this time they stood in order and formed squads among themselves. Unlike the others, these were strictly trained ogres.
A whip cracked through the air.
An ogre wearing full platemail armor appeared, whipping the other ogres. An attack that would almost kill gnolls only resulted in mere scratches on ogres. The military governor shouted, “Gather quickly, you retards! Braves of the Bone Crusher Tribe, come receive your weapons.”
Heavy war axes, spiked armor, leather armor crafted with monster skin, and two-meter-long iron spears were distributed to the trained ogres. These ogres looked taller and larger than typical ogres, and each had a ten-centimeter-long horn and gray face paint in the shape of crosses. On their bodies were eerie tattoos crafted onto their bodies during an ancient ritual. Shamans would slice open the ogre’s arms, apply a special dye and ointment onto the wound, then feed them special medicine. Ogres that had undergone the ritual would become stronger and have tougher skin, and they could activate their innate power to enter a berserk state similar to Feral Bloodlust without using any skills.
Another ogre holding a whip opened a cage and drove out Ironspike boars. These boars weighed half a ton and had sharp solid spikes on their backs. They were one of the few types of beasts ogres would tame and rear. They were primarily raised for feeding the ogres, but they could also be sent out into battle. As they were beasts, all they could do was charge at the enemies, but that was enough to wear the opposition down considering their weight and spiked bodies.
One could see very far on the plains due to their openness, not to mention that in this case the ogres’ fortress was located on the middle of a hill. They could easily see the Whiterun army the moment the soldiers had stepped foot onto the plains.
The two-headed ogre wizard led its army down to the bottom of the hill. It was not often that ogres stayed in their fortress, the reason being that they would start to berserk the moment battle started. In the rear, ogres holding whips herded gnolls toward the battlefield; goblins and kobolds were left alone, as they did not even have the qualifications to become cannon fodder.
Dom! Dom! Dom!
The ogre shamans drummed their war drums made with mammoth skin and roared.
The two-headed ogre’s words thundered throughout the plains as it used a spell to project his voice. It stood at the very front of the ogre army, glared at the approaching Whiterun army, and roared, “I am the two-headed ogre chief Grol, descendant of demi-god Hager, Astral Walker Grosaldo, and Dragon Slayer Grondo! This place shall become the Bone Crusher Tribe’s territory! Send your chief out and talk with me!”
A slight disturbance spread out through the army after hearing the ogre chief speaking in fluent Common language. The ogre’s degree of intelligence was beyond what they had expected.
“Halt!” A woman’s sharp voice could be heard.
A strong-looking woman radiating heroic spirit emerged from the army. She had a scar on her cheek, wore delicate rune-crafted leather armor, and held a warspear. Her long black hair was tied together together with a silk ribbon. The fact that the commander was a woman was already shocking, but what made the adventurers’ jaws drop was her chest: her right breast was missing, apparently having been cut off.
It was the adventurers’ turn to whisper among themselves.
“A female warrior from the tropical rainforest!”
“What the hell? Why would Whiterun let one of those women lead the army?!”
The female commander slowly walked forward until she was at the very front of the Whiterun army. She spun and stabbed her warspear into the ground with lightning flickering between her fingers and the warspear, looking almost like a Valkyrie in myths. The army’s morale raised in an instant.
Realm of Legends?! Stormlord?!
Soran squinted his eyes, and the other adventurers were all shocked. They finally realized the person standing in front of them was a Legendary stormlord, an advanced profession available to priests, warriors, druids, and barbarians.
* * *
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*[Long Taos]: side characters in Chinese operas who perform acrobatics and fight scenes
*[12.47 to 13.07]: don’t ask me about the tree sap