Just as the sun began peeking through the slopes, two people were pulling something similar to a sleigh with a beast, frozen with magic, loaded on top of it. Magic wasn’t Ruth’s forte, but because the ability to freeze stuff was essential to their livelihood, Ruth desperately strengthened his magical skills under Alec’s teachings. Even though science wasn't thoroughly developed in this world, it seemed like the knowledge of that magic in itself was spread among the people for their everyday life.
After walking for a while, they saw the church’s emblem that stood high above the village. At this rate, if the descent down the mountain went well, they’d probably dismantle the beasts at home while the sun was still up and be able to bring them to the orphanage.
“I wonder if mom is going to make boroa steak today. I can’t wait~”
“Mm-hmm. Steak made with fresh meat is top-notch after all. Don’t hog it all, Ruth.”
“You too, Dad. You eat up to almost 5 helpings...”
“Hm? Ruth, what’s wrong?”
Ruth, on guard against any beasts and demons, walked in front and heard the faint sound of someone running. It sounded like the footsteps of someone being chased with the trample of something following after them.
“Dad, I’m hearing something weird coming from the mountain on the right…”
Both of them stopped in their tracks and listened carefully. Ruth heard the sounds farther than before this time. The ground sank at that large creature’s every footstep. Whatever was walking was definitely not human. Not only that, but the footsteps of the person being chased were irregular.
“The giant creature might either be a beast or a demon. The one in front is probably a human, but… the way they’re running is strange.”
“Maybe somebody is being chased by a demon? Let’s go see what’s up…”
Rossa walked slightly faster. The reason why he’s not breaking into a run is that the person being chased might have something planned out. If they’re an adventurer, they might be being chased on purpose to act as a decoy. As such, they have to be careful because the other party might just get angry instead if they forcibly intervened in their plan.
While holding their baggage, the two of them silently head towards the place where the sound came from. Then, they finally saw the figure they were looking for as they approached flat ground on the slope.
“Dad, it’s a baal. A baal is chasing after someone!”
“Baal!? The baal can use the 'Demon’s Howl', there’s no way a decoy would work on them. Let’s hurry!”
A 3 meters tall baal stands up, supporting its huge body on their two legs. It’s a demon with a thick tail covered in spikes, arms long enough to touch the ground, and a mouth centered between its 3 eyes that take up more than half of its face. It resides deep in the mountains and rarely descends to places with a lot of humans, but it’s a dangerous rank B demon that eats both animals and humans alike. Because of their slow movements, it might seem like it’s easy to defeat them if one were to strengthen their defenses and physical power with magic. However, the 'Demon’s Howl' is a heinous technique that petrifies anyone who hears it. Not only are the victims immobile, but depending on the person, it’s powerful enough to make them lose consciousness.
Both of them set their baggage down and ran faster than before. Ruth finally saw the person being chased by the baal.
“Ain’t that a knight from the royal capital? Why is he in this sort of place?”
“Let’s go save him, it looks like his leg is injured. Dad, can you provoke--”
“Leave it to me— HEY, BAAL! I’M RIGHT HEREE!”
Rossa did what he calls the 'Forest’s Roar' to provoke the enemy. It’s similar to the 'Demon’s Howl', but it’s unable to petrify the opponent and is only used to attract the enemy’s attention towards them. It’s usually very effective with Rossa’s booming voice, catching the opponent by surprise.
(But, it only just glanced over its shoulders, huh…)
However, the baal only looked over once before immediately turning back to the knight running in front of it.
But, thanks to Rossa, the knight being chased seemingly understood that they were allies and changed how he moved. He purposefully ran through the narrow trees and drew closer to Ruth and Rossa while slowing down the baal’s movements. Because of that, Ruth soon caught onto what he was doing.
“Dad, let’s chase it out. It seems impossible to grab the baal’s attention.”
“Chase it out, you say…”
Ruth told Rossa his plan and they broke into a run slightly apart from each other. He pulled an arrow out from his back and cast strengthening magic on it. The same one used to crush the boroa’s head.
Precisely at that moment, the knight fell to the ground and seeing the baal raising their hand to aim for the knight, Ruth immediately took his bow and fired the arrow.
The arrow flew through the trees and cut through the wind, heading straight towards the baal.
Then, it collided with the baal’s hand that was raised to strike down at the knight.
The arrow made a particular dull noise as it zipped through and made a direct blow to the hand. The baal waved away the explosion from the arrow and jumped away without striking down at the knight.
(Ack, it hardly did any damage…)
Even though the arrow that Ruth shot was enough to pulverize the boroa’s head, it wasn’t able to pierce through the baal’s hand. The baal’s hand turned reddish, but the damage wasn’t enough to make the baal cry out in pain.
However, the attack seemed to be effective after all as the baal let out a low groan and turned towards Ruth. It finally acknowledged Ruth's presence.
The knight took the opportunity when he fell to create some distance after having been able to avoid the baal’s attack. It looks like he also caught onto what Ruth was trying to do.
(I can’t strengthen the arrow any more than this… there’s no other choice…)
As Ruth ran towards the baal, he shot an arrow that wasn’t strengthened with any magic.
Ruth kept shooting the arrows in succession, targeting the baal’s head and body. The baal, finding them to be a nuisance, waved its hand and flicked away the arrows. In comparison to humans, the arrows must feel like being hit with pebbles to the baal. Because of that, the baal’s attention was completely on Ruth and it seemed to forget about the knight’s existence. Behind the baal, the knight sat down under a tree far from it and sprinkled something onto his leg. Probably first-aid treatment.
“Hey, knight over there, there’s a village if you go east from here. Do you think you’ll be able to head there by yourself!?”
Ruth yelled out to the knight while still facing the baal. The baal can’t understand human language, so it’s probably thinking that Ruth is talking to himself. The knight seemed to understand as he turned towards Ruth’s words, but he strongly shook his head. Then, he showed Ruth what he was holding in his arms.
(A child…? They’re one of the kids from the village.)
Ruth didn’t know the reason behind why the knight was carrying an unconscious child, but if that was the case then, of course, the baal would target them. Anyone who walked through the mountains knew that the baal found human children to be the most delicious treat.
“Ruth, everything is good to go!”
It looks like while the baal was targeting Ruth, Rossa was stealthily finishing up the preparations. As expected of a man from the mountains. Despite his large body, his ability to conceal his presence is first-class.
Ruth, who had no more arrows left, pulled his knife out from behind him and enchanted it with stronger strengthening magic than before. His older brother, Clark, had bought this cast iron knife from the royal capital for Ruth’s birthday and it’s a much heavier load than the stone arrows. This will at least deal a blow at it.
When the arrows stopped, the baal started to attack. While Ruth was dodging the attacks coming from baal’s tail and punches, he started to move.
(If Dad and I can’t defeat the baal… there’s no other choice but to drive it back.)
Fortunately, because the baals are clever, it’ll choose to give up if the fight drags on for too long. When it realizes the situation is unfavorable, it would return without doing anything. It might not follow through with the condition to leave the child, but Ruth still plans on inducing the baal to do so.
While Ruth was avoiding the baal’s swinging arms, he picked up a rope left on the ground. Then, Ruth threw the rope towards Rossa while the baal was still fixated on attacking him.
The straw rope was strengthened with magical enhancements and the opposite end of it was fixed to the trunk of a large tree. Ruth threw the kicked the rope up and it slipped around the baal’s upper half of its body. At that moment, Rossa pulled on the rope and it immediately tightened around the baal’s weak point at the base of its neck.
Because of Rossa and the large tree, the baal violently struggled from being choked and sent rocks flying everywhere from the slight crater created on the ground. However, it also couldn’t use its two fingers to tear the straw rope around its neck. Since it’s been strengthened with magic, it won’t be that easy to pull it apart with just physical strength.
Ruth turned back to the baal that was trying to cut the rope off and maxed out the strength of his knife with magic. Then he broke into a run towards the baal’s exposed stomach.
Channeling all of his strength onto the top of the knife, he ran straight ahead. With his whole mind and body-- he stabbed into the baal’s stomach.
(It went through…!)
When the knife plunged into the baal’s stomach, it tore into the baal’s magical armor, unlike the arrows that felt like a breeze to the baal. Blood spilled out from the wound and the baal’s movements were different than before.
However, the whole blade was lodged in place in its stomach and Ruth couldn’t cut it down or take it out.
(I… can’t do any more than this…)
Originally, Ruth wanted to inflict more damage, but it looks like just stabbing into the baal is his limit. As a result, the rampant baal lost itself in the pain and turned its line of sight towards Ruth. Being faced with the demon’s clouded eyes, Ruth broke out in cold sweat.
MARY: Thank you for waiting!! I apologize for taking so long to get this out u_u but I really appreciate everyone's patience! Let me know if you see any mistakes and please support the author!!
I'll see everyone in the next chapter ^_^)/