Chapter 9:

Soldier Chapter 2: Quest Complete

Worm


Warning: There are some grotesque scenes here.  They aren't that horrible, just a heads up.


Soldier Chapter 2

Quest Complete

We have reached the edge of the area where the manticore can detect.

We have no intentions of sneaking past through it. It would be suicide to do so. We won’t get passed it due to its detection capabilities.

We headed into formation…

Akasha and Mark in front at two different sides, Leia at the left flank, Kyle at the right flank, and Evans in the backline.

As for me, I’m in position with a little distance away. I’ll only be a hindrance to them in battle, all I can do is to try and detect the presence to notify them if other monsters are heading this way. My role is also to move on emergency situations.

The strategy is simple.

Have Akasha and Mark alternate between tanking. One will use the skill <Taunt> while the other recovers using potions. <Taunt> is a skill that forces monsters to attack the caster.

Evans will be using flame barriers to protect us from its fire breath and healing the one currently receiving the attacks. Of course, the tank won’t last long because it’s a very strong monster. That’s what the other tank is for. After recovering with a potion, their roles will switch.

Kyle’s role is to shoot arrows and hit the eyes of the manticore. It can still detect us, but it would have a harder time hitting us. There is also chance that the manticore would run away once it feels like it’s being pushed back.

Leia’s role is to use magic to slow it down as much as she can. Ice magic, earth magic, any kinds of magic that can bind it or at least slow it down.

I finished moving around and have confirmed that there are no nearby monsters.

I signaled to Evans and he nodded.

“<Light Ball>.”

Evans used a magic to make a ball of light. He made it brighter than usual and sent it upwards to the cave ceiling.

The hallway was now revealed.

The resting manticore noticed it. It wasted no time charging towards us.

“<Earth Wall>!”

Leia erected a wall of rock, making the manticore stop its charge.

“<Taunt>!”

Mark used <Taunt>. The manticore pounced towards him.

“<Fortress Armor>!”

His armor shone. The manticore swung its claws towards him, he used his arms to block the attack but it can be seen that he’s still damaged.

“<Heal>!”

Evans started healing Mark.

“<Water Rain>! <Ice Breath>!”

Leia used water magic to soak the manticore, then used ice magic to freeze the water. This chilled the manticore’s hair and made it heavier, slowing it down even just by a bit. After using the magic, she moved onto chanting her next magic.

The manticore made a bite attack towards Mark. Mark used both of his hands to stop the jaws from closing in on him. It can be noticed that he won’t last more than a few seconds.

“<Taunt>!”

Akasha used <Taunt> and the manticore switched to a different target.

“<Unbreakable Shield>!”

Akasha’s shield glowed. The manticore swung its claws, Akasha blocked it with her shield while jumping back. She jumped back to lessen the impact received.

“<Heal>!”

Akasha was healed by Evans. At this moment, Mark is drinking Health potions to recover.

“<Earth Pit>!”

Leia finished chanting and used her next magic. A hole was made under the left hind leg of the manticore, making losing balance and making it stagger.

Blood gushed.

An arrow had hit the manticore’s left eye.

“Grouaaar!” the manticore made a pained roar.

A success.

The manticore jumped backed after getting hit by the arrow.

Then it opened its mouth started charging up its breath attack.

“Evans!”

“Got it!”

Evans started chanting.

After charging up, the manticore blasted off a high temperature fire breath.

“<Elemental Shield: Fire Nullification>!”

A barrier was erected in front of the two tanks.

The fire breath was easily blocked.

After a short while, the fire breath had stopped…

We successfully blocked against it… now what will it do, will it run away?

I thought it would be that simple…

Just as soon as the fire breath was over and smoke blocked our view, a silhouette quickly passed through the two tanks.

“!?!? <Taun—”

Blood gushed.

Before either of the tanks were able to react, it was too late.

Everyone’s face paled in despair.

Evans took a full blow from the manticore.

“NOOO!” Leia shouted in terror.

Evan’s body was gone from the hip up…

Damn it… Evans!

The manticore quickly charged another fire breath.

What!? Was it this fast in responding before!? Reports said that manticores don’t use fire breath twice in a battle due to the fatigue it causes! Is it giving it it’s all? But we’re low level soldiers! It should not consider us as a threat!

“Evans! Damn it… Everyone, run! <Taunt>!”

After mourning for Evans for a moment, Mark gritted his teeth and steeled his resolved. He used taunt and jumped away so we won’t get caught by the breath attack.

The manticore used fire breath.

“<Elemental Armor>!”

Mark’s armor changed color and he took the full damage of the fire breath.

We thought he will be safe… but…

After the fire breath, all that remains is an armor and a charred body. His body fell down with a thud…

Spending no time, the manticore pounced towards Akasha.

Akasha’s <Unbreakable Shied> was still active. Akasha was able to take the blow while jumping back to lessen the impact.

This should’ve worked against monsters… but this manticore’s doing everything to eliminate us.

The manticore made a bite attack towards Akasha who is still airborne.

An arrow was released. The manticore saw it coming and moved to dodge it.

Unbelievable… it dodged while airborne. Did it use its wings?

The manticore flew to the airborne Akasha. Half of Akasha’s body was bitten off. Half of her body fell to the ground, with half of its face having a face of despair.

No, Akasha!

Damn it, I need to do something!

While I tried to think of a strategy, the team morale fell down as the manticore did a gruesome thing to Akasha’s body.

The manticore quickly dove down to her body and put it inside its mouth. It chewed, spilled a lot of blood, and made crunching sound then swallowed.

The manticore quickly flew towards a different direction. That direction is where the arrow came from.

“Arrrgghh!”

I could not see it, but I heard Kyle’s voice followed by a gush of liquid…

Damn it!

That all happened within the span of 15 seconds. I was not able to react…

Everyone except me and Leia are dead now…

How… why, why is this happening?

Did I make the wrong choice?

There was the choice of staying in the safe area and waiting for the manticore to move.

There was the choice of negotiating with that humanoid level 10 monster.

I thought the best course of action was to report immediately to save this country from that level 10 enemy. But were there even signs of that enemy attacking immediately? We could’ve delayed the attack for a few hours later.

This is all my fault.

“Soldier!”

I heard a voice shouting… it was Leia’s voice.

“S-S-Soldier, I’m going to delay it for a bit! Please sneak out to the exit!”

“What are you saying… this is all my fault! No, I don’t want you to die!”

“Please! Do you want the lives of others to be in vain? Please report this! The country will perish!”

“But!”

“There’s no time in convincing you! You know this is the optimal result, please… just go!”

Leia said as she ran towards the opposite direction from the exit.

Should I… should I really run away?

I don’t want to leave her… She’s very important to me, more so than my life. I don’t care about the country and such, she’s the only one I live for! She took me in and took care of me even when her own living conditions weren’t good!

The manticore landed in front of Leia.

No, this should not be happening! Leia!

Leia went into stance…

“…Soldier, I was really happy to be with you… They said I was a genius, but I was only able to reach this level because of you… I was able to live because of you… please live.”

“NOOO!”

The manticore…

Didn’t do anything.

“…Huh?”

The manticore suddenly turned tail and ran from Leia. It even ignored me who should’ve been on its path.

“…What? Are we safe?”

All my despair slowly disappeared.

I looked at Leia and all of my despair returned.

“Sol…dier…”

A stinger was pierced into Leia’s neck.

No!

It was the evolution level: 4 monster, stinger ant. An ant with the size of a human.

The tip of its stinger is able to paralyze or poison anything.

I need to save her!

I was about to jump… but I stopped.

I should save her, but I shouldn’t let my emotions affect me… I should calm down and find a way to save her.

…Why did the manticore run away from a stinger ant? Why didn’t I feel its presence?

When I asked that question in my head, I saw that there wasn’t only one stinger ant…

There are so many of them… on the ceilings and walls.

I can’t even count them.

The stinger ant put Leia on its back then started going deep into the cave.

Not only that, they also carried the corpses of my comrades.

No! I shouldn’t let them take her, I need to go save her!

But I don’t think I can! No matter how much motivation, spirit, or devotion I make, I can’t change the fact that I’m weak!

What is the best choice to save her!?

There was that option.

I need to have others save her.

After the ants left, I ran as fast as I could to reach the surface level.

Leia, I’m coming back with help…

I was able to reach the entrance of Abyth dungeon.

After giving the guards a summary of reports, they escorted me to the dungeon’s office.

The head of the office sat in front of me. It’s an old man.

I reported to him every detail that I found.

“Unbelievable… for things like that to happen inside the dungeon…”

“Yes… we need to make a unit and save Leia.”

“I’m sorry…”

What?

“What? Why are you apologizing? What are you implying?”

“Hearing your report, we can’t just send soldiers and adventurers down there. We need a very strong unit to be able to deal with all those. We don’t even know how to deal with the Class Level 10. Reinforcements will come in a few days… not to mention our report will only reach them after three days.”

He closed his eyes.

“I’m sorry, but we cannot save her…”

What?

What?

“You’ve got to be kidding me! We we’re sent down there just to get information. You sent us knowing that our levels are insufficient!”

“No, your skill and achievements as a party was enough. There were no other people more fit for the job. This was only very unusual… Don’t worry, we’ll record your party’s achievement and brand them as heroes…"

“Heroes? Don’t give me that crap! I don’t care about being heroes! Leia is still alive down there!”

"..."


He just closed his eyes as if the conversation is already over.

“DAMN IT!”

I slammed the table with my fist as I walked out.

Going here was a mistake.

After we complete the quest they don't care what happens to us anymore?

I shouldn’t have reported that crap and just let you all die!

I made the wrong choice, I should’ve had saved Leia myself all along!

Leia, I’m coming for you! I won’t let you die!

After that, let’s quit doing this… and live by ourselves. I don’t want anything to do with this shitty country.

I reached the lowest levels and headed towards the direction of the Stinger Ants.

I was able to dodge the monsters and the manticores.

On the way, I noticed some monsters pierced by a lance. The guardian must’ve passed through here.

I also notice that there is some kind of weird mist surrounding the cave. I didn’t see this a while ago.

I don’t care…

After walking for hours, I’ve finally found some Stinger Ants who are moving around.

I can’t feel their presence, but I can see them.

I followed the ants making sure I don’t lose them.

I followed them until we reached a small entrance. A hole. The ants went down the small entrance.

I entered it after them, then slid down.

After I reached the bottom, what I saw was unbelievable.

There are a lot of glowing blue crystals around.

There were thousands of stinger ants and thousands of monster corpses around. The monsters are also segregated into different species.

What’s up with this place? Why are the ants suddenly moving like normal ants? Ants are very smart, and they save food.

But seeing this made me a little relieved. Ants save their food as much as they can. There is a large possibility that she’s still alive.

I’m coming, Leia!

Was what I thought… but I felt something pierce the back of my neck.

I looked back before losing consciousness. The stinger ants I was following was there.

…I was led to a trap?

…I slowly regained consciousness after I woke up.

It was hard to open my eyes.

I can’t move my body. The poison is still in effect.

I tried my best to move my neck to move around and find Leia.

I found her laying down.

I crawled my way towards her.

Before I reached her…

“KYAAAAGGHH!!” Leia screamed in pain.

Two giant scythes pierced her arms.

…What?

They were not scythes… they were arms.

Arms of a giant ant… this description…

It’s a Stinger King Ant.

So that was why the ants became smart…

That monster acted as a leader…

Leia’s body was lifted up to the king ant’s head.

No… this can’t be…

“AAArrghh! Ugh! Kyaa! Agghhh!”

Leia!

I can’t shout, I can’t do anything… my heart aches, to see the person I live for experience this…

While the scythes are pierced inside her arms, its releasing some kind of liquid.

Leia’s body turned fluid, as if there’s no bones.

No… please, stop… I beg of you…

The king ant put Leia next its mouth then bit her head.

It slurped her like noodles.

No… Leia! LEIA!

What… why is this happening?

All we did was receive a mission…

Yes, we are soldiers… it’s our duty to die for the country…

But why were we put into an impossible mission?

…No, it wasn’t impossible.

They overestimated us…

This is because of me.

We always won against stronger monsters, but that was only because I did dirty tricks.

I was confident deep inside… that I’ll think of something again this time.

But no, I wasn’t able to do so…

I made the wrong decisions again and again…

The king ant pierced my arms. I feel like my bones are melting.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m still paralyzed or because I already lost all hope, but I didn’t scream even with this agonizing pain.

This was… all my fault.

If I didn’t accept that mission, this wouldn’t have happened. If I properly prepared, we could’ve lived. If only I decided to wait for the manticore to leave, this wouldn’t happen. If only I decided to chase Leia instead of going back to ask for help, there should’ve been a chance to save her…

I can see the mouth of the king ant closing in…

Yes, this is the end…

I don’t want to live anymore…

I lost my reason for living. And it’s all because of me.

Revenge? No, I shouldn’t blame the country… I know deep inside that saving them would be impossible and will only result in deaths.

If I was in their position, I would’ve done the same thing.

Leia and the others died as soldiers, wanting me to do things for the country.

Even though I can’t accept it, I can understand it…

Damn it…

I only lived for Leia.

Can you blame me? I don’t want to be a soldier. I just want to be with Leia and protect her.

My name is “Soldier” but I do not care about the country. Who was it that gave me this name anyway?

I closed my eyes and I lost consciousness.

Leia… I’m going to meet you in a few seconds…

I don’t feel my body anymore.

But I know… I’m still alive.

I don’t have that much more to live.

My eyes opened. I didn’t force it open.

I think my body fell on the ground and my eyelids who had no strength opened because of impact.

Something entered my sight…

I can see a silhouette.

A silhouette of a black limbless monster.

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