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Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Since the hill lord and commander decided on it, the military camp was busy executing their orders. The auxiliary service soldiers were preparing food and examining and maintaining the soldiers’ facilities while the soldiers who were going out the next day stopped training to refresh themselves.
The soldiers were concerned about going to the mountain tomorrow to eliminate the Grey Gnomes. Though they already had their physical strength and capabilities promoted through the recent training and most of them had become “professional” soldiers of the first or second grade, fear still arose when they had to confront the real magic beasts.
Grey Gnomes were a well-known species of magic beasts. A single Grey Gnome was not very capable in force, but they could be rather destructive. They were smart in using weapons, laying traps and exercising various tactics to fight. According to a survey of the Association of Adventurers, the Grey Gnome was, above all, the most dangerous enemy for a newbie adventurer.
Horror stories about Grey Gnomes were told in communities, such as a businessman being attacked by a group of Grey Gnomes on a trip with his donkeys and horses, and he had run away and left all his livestock and goods behind. Or a village being taken down by Grey Gnomes with all the villagers and livestock being killed and eaten. The only exceptions were several strong guarding soldiers who had escaped. In another famous story, the Grey Gnomes had even built their own brutal and uncultivated country years before which had been secured by its patron saint who had invented the unique “gnome language.”
Most of these stories were certainly made up as gnomes didn’t like face-to-face combat, though they were ruthless and fast-breeding. Instead, they usually preferred to bully the weak. Even in famine-stricken times, they’d rather killed among their own kind to feed themselves instead of attacking human villages.
The so-called “gnome-destructed villages” had actually been invaded by robbers but in the name of gnomes—it wasn’t completely a lie for some because many saw robbers the same as gnomes after all.
Speaking of the Gnome Empire and the God of Gnomes, Javier had been searching for related information of their existence years before, but nobody remembered anything about such an empire. Not even the element gods who had been living since the Ancient God Age knew anything of it. Gnomes were among the derivatives when gods created all other lives, and they didn’t even have a history as long as humans. Gnomes had been created around 800 to 1000 years ago, a bit later than humans and Orcs.
“But this is a big world, I can only say that the Gnome Empire didn’t exist on the Main Plane or other common planes and that the God of Gnomes is not included in the gods of pantheon temple,” Javier told Sui Xiong. “The world is broader than we know or could even imagine. Chances are the gnomes’ kingdom is somewhere we don’t know about, or their patron saint didn’t take on an official god so it’s not in the pantheon temple…”
“Everything’s possible in this big world.”
Crick’s soldiers wouldn’t have as romantic thoughts as the artistic Javier. All they knew was they were about to fight against the dangerous magic beasts on the field.
How terrible this was!
Knight Shawn believed that the two-months’ training would give these fully-armed soldiers an undoubted victory over a group of gnomes. Otherwise, these soldiers should be ashamed and hang themselves at the gallows, for this type of thing should only scare thieves. But actually, Crick’s soldiers had no confidence at all.
After all, they had just been average farmers or labor workers two months ago.
Who had ever seen farmers and labor workers fight against magic beasts? No one had ever heard of such!
However, they couldn’t run away as this was a military order.
Baron Keane was leading a troop with strict military discipline. Though he had abolished some overly strict rules and punishment which might cause impairment as required by Crick, the remaining ones such as scolding, starving, confinement, and other mild corporal punishments—too minor to mention for Shawn—were tough enough for obedient soldiers.
For them, being punished for violating military disciplines was even worse than fighting magic beasts! So, the soldiers had no other option but to encourage and comfort themselves despite the fear.
Crick frowned upon this concerned atmosphere in the camp and sent someone to fetch “Three Arrows” Ryder who was then patrolling with a few soldiers.
Ryder was an experienced adventurer who had become famous years ago for going on adventures with Knight D’vor Ouss. “Fire Hammer” Morton, the second priest of the God of Light of Baron Keane and Mr. Rafael, Baron Keane’s current intelligence chief, were also in the adventure team. The latter, a gentle official, was one who had a terrifying nickname back then: “Back Stab.”
Shawn had unquestionable capabilities. Despite his young age, he was a grade-six knight. Yet compared with the more experienced Ryder, he was far behind in terms of capability and adventure experience.
Speaking of grade only, Ryder was now a grade-fifteen—he had been a grade-14 adventurer and further promoted by a grade of “officer” after joining Baron Keane, thus reaching the high level.
In comparison, Shawn James’ father, Howard James, was merely a grade-9 which included two grades of “hill lord,” and that wasn’t a serious grade of battle profession.
The father and sons of the James family might not be able to defeat Ryder even if they teamed up together.
Once Ryder heard that Crick had asked the soldiers to eliminate the Grey Gnomes tomorrow, he instantly understood why the camp had become so depressed. He laughed and suggested he could give temporary lectures on Grey Gnomes to the soldiers.
Crick didn’t agree right away but turned to Shawn.
Although he was the hill lord, Shawn was the commander of the troop. He should respect Shawn and at least inquire about his thoughts before making a decision.
Shawn didn’t expect the baron to ask about his own opinions, so he suddenly felt warm in his heart and couldn’t help but smile and nod firmly.
“No problem!” he said. “Mr. Ryder is more experienced than me, and he wants to share with us valuable experience at the cost of blood and even lives of former adventurers. It would be the honor of my subordinates and myself to take his lecture!”
Crick also smiled, thinking that Shawn was much smarter than his father and really deserved that high intelligence.
Compliments were always pleasant to hear. Ryder was happy with Shawn’s flattering words. He smiled while stroking his finely-trimmed mustache, nodding before starting his lecture.
“First, here’s a question. Who has ever seen a gnome?”
The soldiers looked at each other, and all shook their heads. Shawn was the only one who raised his hand, claiming that he had seen one before.
Of course, he had seen one, and he had even killed quite a few of them. After all, he was a grade-six knight.
Ryder smiled and shook his head. Then he took out a projection crystal.
A projection crystal was a rather expensive magic prop which projected the user’s memory. But it was for high-level users only—spellcasters of mid-level and others of the advanced level were the least.
Ryder had just been promoted to a higher level to use it, yet his projection was still weak as if playing an old video on a screen.
But it still worked to enable the soldiers to have a rough understanding of what the so-called “Grey Gnome” was.
“‘Grey’ means grey-colored skin,” Ryder explained at the same time. “Normal gnomes’ skin is green or sage green, but Grey Gnomes’ is ash black or light grey. They are taller and stronger than common gnomes but less flexible. You should keep this in mind and need not worry that they will run away quickly when losing. They don’t run fast. But that also means that they are better than other gnomes at close combat.” Ryder projected a different picture, showing a Grey Gnome in an armor made of bark, cirrus and wood and holding a long wooden spear to look more dangerous.
“They use long spears. Though their spears are much shorter than yours and not very sharp, you will get seriously hurt if you are stabbed in an unprotected area,” Ryder stressed. “But no need to worry because your armor is hard and can defend against this weapon, so you just need to keep an eye on the unprotected parts.”
Turning around to the armors being maintained, the soldiers were feeling more confident.
“But the most dangerous thing in a battle with gnomes is not their spears but their bows and arrows.”
Ryder switched the picture again. This time it showed an extraordinarily tall gnome holding a wooden bow in a pose of archery.
“Gnomes are good at making wooden bows. Though their arrows are not far-reaching or have bones and teeth at the arrowhead, they can still be dangerously shot out from the wooden bows. But here’s more news again; unlike their relatives, Grey Gnomes are not good at archery. You don’t need to worry about the ‘bird shooters’ of common gnomes because such tiny and sharp archers could never grow among the Grey Gnomes. Still, don’t ignore the shooters of the Grey Gnomes. They may not target well, but their bows are better than average gnomes’ and if they shoot your head… Well, I guess you know how serious that would be.”
The soldiers shrank their necks, deciding not to take off their helmets just in case!
“Finally, you should pay attention to the Gnome Shamans. To be honest, I don’t think these 20 or 30 gnomes actually have a shaman or any tribal chief. But if they really do, you should do nothing but stay away from it. The further, the better. Shaman spells are short-distance, so they won’t be a big problem unless you volunteer to approach a bare-handed gnome wearing a bone necklace or holding a bone wand.”
The projected pictures switched again twice, showing a Gnome Shaman and then an extremely strong gnome with unique lights of wisdom in its eyes.
“Remember these two, Gnome Shaman and Gnome Tribal Chief. If you are encountering any of them, leave it to your commander because you cannot deal with any of them by yourself… at least not now.”
Then Ryder turned to Shawn. “Have you got any suitable weapons?”
“Yes, I have a set of nice armor and two quality swords.”
Ryder nodded. He thought again and took off a grey wrist guard from his left wrist and passed it to him.
“This is the ogre wrist guard, something I got from my adventures,” he said. “It can strengthen the wearer’s power and has been one of my most important pieces of equipment. I’ll lend it to you for a while.”
Shawn was a bit surprised. He stared at the famous piece of magic equipment and took it after a short hesitation.
“I won’t disappoint you!” he said seriously.
Carefully putting on the wrist guard, Shawn felt some strength coming from the bottom of his heart. He picked up a wooden stick nearby and broke it easily. And in Crick’s eyes, he has now had an extra set of “special equipment; power plus two.”
Crick was suddenly inspired upon witnessing what was happening. Perhaps, he should check his subordinates’ equipment and prepare them with some magic kits.
Even if he could not afford mid-level magic kits like what Ryder had, he could still possibly deploy low-level ones such as the raging bull wrist guard.
Buying in bulk, he could probably get a discount and free shipping…
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