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“It’s alright, the mercenaries will protect us!” Hera kissed her sister’s forehead, which helped Yalani calm down.
“I’ll go and take a look!” Rafaniya had already gotten off the carriage and put on her knight’s armour and steel gloves. The warhorse she sat on let out a snarl, rushing to the front of the group.
The horse had showered Pam’s head and face with dust, and he hadn’t managed to dodge in time. Even his beard had been filled with pebbles, the comedic performance causing the girls in the carriage to laugh quietly. Hera’s stern eyes seemed to have softened.
“These little b*tches are really… Phooey…” Old Pam spat out the sand in his mouth, his hand going to his gun case. He’d polished most of the rust off, and it now smelt of gunpowder. Leylin still believed that it wouldn’t be as useful as a hammer in melee, though.
Leylin was sceptical as to whether this dwarf, who had not even reached rank 5, was brave enough to fight against a high-ranking knight with his life, Although dirtying their beard was a very serious insult for some dwarves, Old Pam seemed to have assimilated into human society, and become crafty and sly.
Or perhaps it could be said that after working with humans extensively, he had learnt to be cowardly and picked up a few bad habits. Naturally, the dwarf would perhaps not agree with this assessment.
Leylin could not detect the slightest trace of a dwarf’s stubborn and tenacious temper from Old Pam. When Rafiniya flew back like the wind, he was already eagerly leading her warhorse along for her and even received a silver krona as a tip.
It must be said that Old Pam could indeed look after warhorses well. Over the past few days, Rafaniya’s originally malnourished mount now looked very energetic. The noblewoman had already expressed the desire to hire the dwarf as her personal horsekeeper, and Old Pam looked rather satisfied with this arrangement.
“What’s happening up ahead?” Leylin did not particularly care about Old Pam’s future career, and immediately asked about the state of affairs in front of them.
“A few scouts and thieves have reported that they’ve discovered the footprints of an ogre. The imprints are fairly fresh, and it looks like it was just half an hourglass ago. We should be ready to get into a fight at any time…”
After hearing Rafiniya’s statement, all the mercenaries immediately grew nervous. The halfling thief and the human archer couldn’t help but grip their weapons more tightly.
Pam involuntarily began to inch closer to Rafiniya’s side. On the whole, this young lady was the most powerful deterrence in their entire group. Since danger had befallen them, she could adapt the fastest and had the highest chance of escaping.
“Well, Rafiniya, you will protect me, won’t you?” Old Pam looked at Rafiniya hopefully.
“Are you not a mercenary?” The young lady had always been completely disdainful towards soft-boned cowards like him.
“Heavens… Do it for Nick’s sake, you can’t treat your horsekeeper like this. Pitiful Old Pam will be torn to pieces by the ogre, and who would look after your Nick then?” Old Pam’s tears were about to overflow from his eyes, and he clung to Rafiniya’s legs with all his might.
Nick was the name that Old Pam had given to Rafiniya’s warhorse in passing.
“Very well, very well! It’s a knight’s duty to protect the weak!” Rafiniya was rather scared of the expression on his face.
“Oh! I admire you, great knight…” Pam immediately started to babble without stopping.
“However, your pay as my horsekeeper will be cut in half!” Rafiniya had learnt a lot after travelling with them, and could even haggle over prices now.
“Out of the question, the most is 10%!”
“40%! You think I can’t find any other horsekeepers? My family has a dozen!”
“30%! You can’t lower it by any more, otherwise Old Pam can’t even afford to drink watered-down rum!”
“Deal!” The lady knight was still rather young and inexperienced when all was said and done. She had retreated in defeat under the dwarf’s pitiful tactics, and Leylin could not help but find it funny.
Just at this moment, a dismal cry came from the front. “Ogre! The ogre is here!”
“Stay alert!” “Stand guard!” Leylin took out his steel sword in a flash, his vigilant eyes attentively watching the uproar in front of him.
Aside from the cacophony of human voices, the sounds of strange roars and clashing weapons now sounded out.
“The ogres have really appeared!” The halfling in the squad immediately took out his dagger and hid in the shadowy corners of the carriage. The human archer climbed on top of the carriage to find somewhere suitable for himself, and his wooden bow that he usually carried on his back was now grasped in his hand.
“Ogres? I’ve been waiting for you for a long time!” Rafiniya excitedly got up and reined in her horse, immediately changing direction.
“Wait, I’ll come with you!” She heard a man’s voice come from behind her and her eyes widened in response. “When did you come?”
No one knew when Leylin had mounted the warhorse and sat behind Rafiniya. To this high-ranked knight, this was completely unimaginable.
A knight and her horse were meant to be one entity, and being approached like this without even noticing was very dangerous if the man had malicious intent. Rafiniya’s heart turned icy, and the attitude of the man seated behind her back made it difficult for her to bear.
“Perhaps you should be a thief instead! Get down immediately, Nick won’t like this at all!” At this point, the closeness of their bodies was rather strange, and Rafiniya began to lightly blush in response.
“Be a good girl, let’s go!”
“I’m not a child!” Rafiniya protested weakly, but Nick bolted out like a black whirlwind beneath them.
At this moment, Rafiniya revealed her superb horsemanship. Even in the situation where she had someone riding behind her back, she passed through the chaotic troops and obstacles to make her way to the front of the caravan.
Many carriages were in retreat, and several mercenary groups were already brandishing their swords and bows in a semicircle.
Standing across the defensive troops were a group of enormous monsters, with fewer than 20 amongst their numbers.
“Are these ogres? This is the first time I’m seeing them!” Rafiniya curiously peered at the monsters in front of them.
The very first ogre was nearly 3 metres tall, with the torso of a man. It looked like an obese fatty, with dark-grey skin, a thick neck, greasy matted hair and vile sarcomas all over its body. There was a wide and flat nose under its beast-like eyes and it had exposed its jutting black teeth, making it look as malevolent as a devil.
The one standing at the very front was the chief of this group of ogres. It wore simple tanned animal skin around its waist. The other ogres were completely in the nude, everything flopping about.
“It smells awful!” Just over a dozen metres away, a putrid stench directly assaulted her nostrils, making Rafiniya involuntarily cover her nose.
“Not bad! It looks very similar to the image in the illustrated handbook of ogres, only we haven’t seen its different variations such as the two-headed ogre and the ogre shaman…” Leylin now sized up the ogres opposite him, his blue eyes shining brightly for reasons that an ordinary person would find difficult to accept.
‘A.I. Chip, scan the ogre’s stats!’
[Beep! Initiating mission, beginning scan… Data is being collected, generating graphics!] The A.I. Chip loyally executed Leylin’s command.
In a short space of time, a hologram of an ogre was projected before Leylin, along with detailed information about its stats.
[Name: Unknown, Race: Ogre, Gender: Male, Strength: 7, Agility: 3, Vitality: 10, Spirit: 1. Feats: Regeneration: Ogres possess extraordinary regenerative abilities, and can survive for a very long period of time even if they have their heads cut off. 2. Armour Skin: The grease on an ogre’s skin mixes with dirt to become a separate layer of natural defense, its effects are comparable to normal leather armour, with no resistance to magic.]
‘These stats are comparable to an average rank 7 or rank 8 fighter, and it’s only an ordinary ogre…’
‘In addition, these ogres have powerful constitutions, and terrifying regenerative capabilities. The cells in their body must be much more active than in ordinary people, and if the Devilblood Dagger can absorb it, then perhaps it could raise my vitality by 2 or 3 points, reaching the 10 point bottleneck!’ Leylin was now looking at these ogres like they were an enormous treasure chest.
Even by the most conservative estimates, this ogre tribe could raise his vitality by 1 or 2 points; it was equivalent to being blessed by the grace of a low-ranking god.
However, Leylin simply did not dare to provoke such a huge group of ogres by himself. He even needed to rely on the others for protection before he was certain he could pass through this region safely.
However, the large caravan group was currently pit against the ogres, and Leylin saw his chance.
“It’s just a scattered group of ogres, no need to worry!” At this moment, members of the Ashen Hawks rushed over, led by the impressive high-ranking fighter Siegfried who Leylin had previously met.
Seeing that there were fewer than 20 ogres against them, Siegfried’s expression relaxed.
“There aren’t any shamans. There’s few enough that the other mercenaries and carriages can gain experience from it. It won’t be as frightening in our next encounter then…” Siegfried was fully aware that if the strengths of their large caravan group could be united, then it would not be a problem at all for them to pass through this region.
However, humans were often knocked down by their fear of the unknown, especially when these ogres had such a frightening reputation in the rumours. It made it much easier to trigger collective panic, and that would be even more devastating to them than a tsunami!
As a result, it was very important to let these cowardly merchants know about these ogres in advance.
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