I found myself on the longest trip I’d taken since coming to this world. That was mostly because I hadn’t really travelled very far. At most a few days from place to place. I hadn’t seen much of the world, but on the other hand… most people hadn’t. Most people lived in the same few cities their whole life, or even just a single town. I could see why, since travel wasn’t really all that relaxing. People could ride on a bumpy cart from their walled-off town to a walled-off city.
That was something I realized from traveling toward the border between Othya and Fepresil. Nearly every city had large stone walls. Some had smaller walls, or wood… but those were only in the most peaceful places. Even if monster attacks on cities didn’t happen often, they happened often enough to need walls. The walls also prevented lone monsters from causing trouble for those who couldn’t fight.
In places that had few monsters, there were farms. Even they had low walls and guards, because there could be worse things than just horned rabbits trying to get into their fields. In the case of large scale monster attacks, they would have to abandon their fields and hope they didn’t get eaten or trampled. That was unfortunate, but just the way of life.
“Is there anywhere that doesn’t have monsters?” I asked Kantrilla.
She tilted her head, “Cities?” Then she shrugged, “People work to keep monsters away from certain areas, but nowhere is completely without them… and if it was, something new would probably move into the area. The only place that wouldn’t have monsters wouldn’t have anything alive, nothing for them to eat. Though that doesn’t stop undead from being somewhere.”
It made a bit more sense when I realized that some monsters were just animals that had grown large and fearsome. It was just that ‘normal’ animals were more dangerous here. People had levels and such to make themselves stronger, but they also had to face danger to their life on a more frequent basis.
We were travelling toward the border with a caravan. They would be continuing on into Fepresil, while we would head off our own way. For a caravan, guards were important to their survival- but more important than that were the scouts. After all, avoiding danger was an important ability to have. Eventually something you couldn’t overcome with combat would show up… and then it would be over.
It was almost like a military operation, with forward and even rear scouts keeping track of everything near the roads or that had recently crossed the roads. Mostly we didn’t see the scouts, except when they reported back. Seeing them come back at an irregular time was worrying, but at least they didn’t appear to be in a rush.
The forward scouts spoke to the caravan leader… who then came to Kantrilla and I. The caravan leader was a middle aged woman, and she looked me over as she approached. “You’re a D-rank adventurer right? You good with that bow?”
“Pretty decent,” I shrugged.
“There’s a troll up ahead. We can handle it ourselves, but for something like that more help is always better. You’ll be paid for your efforts,” she turned to Kantrilla, “Likewise, having another cleric on standby would be useful.”
“Sure, I’ll help out,” I nodded. Trolls were a bit tougher than minotaurs, but not too much. Besides, I wouldn’t be doing it alone.
Kantrilla also agreed to help, and the two of us moved forward to join up with the guards. There were about a dozen, half equipped with bows and the other half with pikes. Pikes were good for use outside of a dungeon, because they had very long reach. Inside, they might have trouble maneuvering in tight corridors- though as thrusting weapons they were still functional. Everyone could have had bows, but I realized that most people probably didn’t train in many different kinds of weapons. I was glad to have a class that made that easy.
As we walked up the road, we soon spotted the troll. It was huge. Nine feet tall, perhaps, but it had broader shoulders than a minotaur. It had greenish leathery skin and long limbs ending in claws. I was glad we were at least a hundred and fifty feet away. At the same time as we rounded the bend and spotted it, it saw us as well.
I supposed that included me as well. I started firing arrows as quickly as I could, while still retaining power. Rapid Shot came with a reduction in accuracy, but it wasn’t hard to hit a troll. It was moving, but only straight toward us, and it was many times the size of an archery target. It was peppered with arrows, but some of them bounced off of its leathery skin and some of them only barely penetrated. I saw that some of the latter arrows fell out as the troll dashed toward us. Instead of bleeding profusely, the troll actually only barely had any blood come out. The skin around each little arrow seemed to pucker up and push arrows out- even some of the more deeply embedded ones.
That was part of a troll’s regeneration. They healed quickly- not quite as quickly as it looked like, but wounds on them didn’t have as much impact as it looked like they should have. Still, everything added up. As the troll came within fifty feet, the pikemen readied themselves. At the same time, I felt Kantrilla’s magic wash over me. It was a familiar feeling of a blessing of Strength. Against smaller monsters that wasn’t very helpful- if they died in a single hit, they died in a single hit. Against something big like this, however, it could be useful. Just not with my bow, since if I pulled at full Strength I would just snap it in half, unless the string broke first.
Kantrilla knew what I would do, however. As the troll got close, I stowed my bow and pulled out my spear. I was off to the side a bit, so even though the pikemen had moved forward I still had a clear throw. The troll was an easy target to hit, and it had a lot of torso to go around with vital organs in there somewhere. Sure, there were ribs… but I didn’t have Strength and Piercing Spear for nothing.
I didn’t have time to perfectly compose myself, but I controlled what mana I could and threw, with my spear impacting just before the troll reached the line of pikes. The pikemen all stabbed out, and the troll staggered backwards, then hit the ground with a thud. The pikemen lowered their pikes and stabbed into the troll below its ribcage. Trolls might have had great healing powers, but they were still mortal. Vital organs were still necessary, and a dozen pikes tearing through all of them at once would put them down. Probably. I hadn’t actually fought them before… but it seemed to work. The blood that poured out everywhere seemed to indicate success. The troll was decapitated to make sure it was dead, and then we continued on our way.