“Keep going straight. You never know when it’ll notice. Let’s hurry.”
Rattri said, looking back.
A few minutes after leaving the fort, Mira and the rest were running towards an open square a little further away.
The most suitable terrain for group combat in the vicinity is an open space.
In a normal hunt with a small party, the basic idea would be to hide between the trees and set traps in the forest. However, they were going head-to-head with a single demon. With a large party of about thirty people, it is impossible to deploy that many people in a forest with poor visibility. That’s why Mira and the team chose to wait in the open field, where it would be easier to coordinate.
According to the hunters, the demon was watching the fort and would surely come after them once they left. In other words, they could reach the square before it caught up with the group. So, if they could get to the square before it caught up with them, all they had to do was to be ready and wait for it to arrive.
At the head of the group was Rattri, followed by two older hunters. The younger hunters followed, with Dolan and Mira behind them, and a little further back, the Holy Knight. This is because if they were to be attacked, it will most likely came from the rear.
“Fumu, not even a single little bird.”
Ever since they left the fort, Mira had been searching her surroundings with 【Life Sensing】. However, she could not even detect a single small animal, let alone the demon itself.
“It must be because the demon lurking here is powerful. They all ran away.”
Dolan replied to Mira’s muttering. Despite the fact that they are moving at a considerable speed, he is not breathing heavily. It’s amazing how strong he is, even though he looks to be well over sixty.
The area around the fort seems to have already became the demon’s territory. However, it was rather convenient for Mira as she did not need to pay too much attention on her skill.
And so the group proceeded through the eerily quiet forest.
The hunters seemed to be accustomed to the forest, and they ran through it with surprising speed, not caring about the poor footholds. At the same time, they did not neglect to keep an eye on their surroundings. Although they were young, the hunters seemed to be very skilled.
As for Mira, she was not as familiar with the forest as they were, so she quickly used her Daoist skill, 【Sky Striding】, to run in the sky rather than on the forest ground. A young hunter in the back row glanced back at her and looked up with surprise and interest. It seems that Mira is not aware of what happens when she goes higher than normal eye level in a short skirt.
At the back of the line, the white knight was forcing its way straight ahead, kicking up branches and leaves as it stepped on the ground.
The broken dead trees and branches scattered with a loud noise. Even though it was on their side, the power they saw when they looked back at the knight was tremendous. Mira never realized that it was spurring the hunters’ legs to move even faster.
The white knight’s action was very conspicuous, but of course, it was done intentionally. The fact that they left the fort would be noticed sooner or later. If the Holy Knight is the first to draw the attention of the demon, the hunters who are a little further away can continue to move safely.
As they were halfway to the square, the time had finally come.
A demon’s roar rang out. It was very violent, as it were trying to assert its existence.
At the same time, a few people cowered, stopped at their feet and trembled, as if the fear deep in their hearts had kicked in. Dolan and the rest of the older group patted them on the back, encouraging them to keep going.
The roar was repeated over and over again and was steadily approaching Mira and the others. And finally, Mira catches a response from her skill.
“I’ll hold it off here for now. You should go ahead and take your positions.”
With that, Mira fluttered down from midair and walked towards the demon, receiving the approval of the hunters on her back.
Dolan hesitated slightly as to whether he should stay or not, but after looking at the Mira’s imposing back, he immediately turned on his heel and drove the young hunters away. Based on his years of experience, he seemed to have decided that it was not necessary.
Mira stood next to the white knight and stared deep into the forest. From afar, the demon was approaching. It flies wildly, at a speed that a human on foot would certainly not be able to escape.
The treetops sway, the earth trembles, and unconcealed hostility closes in. The light that slipped through the gaps in the sky, and the airless wind blew fluently through.
The quiet forest, devoid of living things, was soon enveloped in the violence and roar of a storm.
With a deafening roar, the demon revealed itself, and at the same time, the white knight’s tower shield caught its huge body. A dull echo and a violent shudder. It was certainly powerful enough to bring down the outer walls of the fort.
However, the white knight summoned by Mira was able to withstand all of it completely. And perhaps alarmed by this fact, the demon quickly jumped back.
Thus, both of them were facing each other at a distance outside of each other’s range.
“This guy. I see. Tyrant Spike-back.”1
Two thick, black arms. The two arms are thick and black, and the muscles are so prominent that they can be seen even through the hair on its’ body. Log-like legs, and the most distinctive feature of all, its spiked back. Mira was familiar with this huge figure, which resembled a gorilla towering at three meters tall.
Tyrant Spike-back. As expected, it was the name of a high grade demon that possessed the 『Demon’s Inhibition Poison』 skill whose habitat resides in the Ark Continent.
The situation changed immediately. The demon quickly closed the gap between them in the blink of an eye, showcasing its power as a high grade demon. Then Tyrant Spike-back suddenly turned around and slammed its body down towards the knight with its spiky back in front of it.
It slammed into the tower shield with the destructive power of a siege weapon. At the same time, the air was shaken by a more violent and powerful impact sound than before, like an explosion. Such power will be more than enough to instantly reduce a crumbling fort into nothing more than a rubble.
But for Mira, it was nothing to be alarmed about. The armor of the Holy Knight, which specializes in defense, is not something that can be easily penetrated by even high grade demons.
She was not worried about the fight. But rather, Mira was curious about the reason why the Tyrant Spike-back was in the Praying Child Forest.
It was something that she had expected, but when she actually saw it, she couldn’t help but think that the situation was strange. Even during the game era, this world had a magnificent ecosystem. The distribution of demons was one of them and the world of Ark Earth Online was a well-balanced combination of these elements.
Now that the game world has become a reality, various changes are occurring in the world, which include the world becoming more realistic.
In other words, the collapse of the ecosystem, which can be called the natural order of things, is abnormal, and the existence of this demon that is causing it is bizarre.
Tyrant, as the name implies, will reign over the ecosystem of the Praying Child Forest, and it will greatly upset the balance of it.
Its elimination is essential.
Come to think of it, I also saw a Blizzard Eagle the other day. According to the hunters, a variety of other demons have also appeared. I wonder what is going on.
While Mira was thinking about all of this, she was steadily drawing in the demon.
Deep in the forest, the hunters continued to move forward. While it is hard to see them, Mira has her 【Life Sensing】 skill which allows her to track their movement. She followed them while preventing the demons from attacking.
“Those are some crazy-loud sounds. You sure she’s okay?”
When the Holy Knight blocked the Tyrant Spike-back’s blow, a roaring sound echoed, and one of the hunters turned around anxiously, muttering the question. A dozen or so of them followed suit, turning their heads to look back the way they came, following the source of the sounds.
A few moments later, an even louder sound shook the forest, and at the same time, the hunters who had been looking behind them turned their faces in fear. As if to push them to move even faster, the sound of shock and destruction was repeated one after another.
Even though their feet did not stop, they were getting heavier and heavier. Then, Dolan raised his voice.
“Do you hear that sound? They’re still fighting! In other words, the white knight did not fall and continued to prevent the attack as planned. That’s very encouraging! Keep moving! We’re almost there!”
If the battle was over, the sound would naturally cease. But the sound was still echoing at a distance, not far away. Mira and the knight were still fighting.
If it caught up with them before they reached the square, the Holy Knight would buy them time until everyone was in position.
Dolan’s words made the young hunters aware of this, and they gathered their hearts and strength into their legs and moved forward at once.
After a while, they finally arrived at their destination.
Looks like they are ready.
The hunters who were advancing in two rows spread out in a circle. Mira, who confirmed it with her 【Life Sensing】, measures the time and began a big retreat towards the location. Following that, the Holy Knight also turned on its heels, and rushed toward the depths of the forest while daringly kicking the branches and leaves.
Perhaps watching their figures fleeing, The Tyrant Spike-back roared as if to show off its presence, and furiously chase after them.
Suddenly, the forest opens up. The sun was shining brightly on a circular grassland, which was roughly 30 meters in diameter. Mira, who was running in midair, put her foot down in the center of the circle, followed by the Holy Knight which also stopped and looked back.
A moment later, the tower shield of the white knight caught the arm of the demon that had swung out, and a hard, high-pitched sound spread like ripples throughout the square.
“Well then, its time for the real deal.”
Leaving the Holy Knight in place, Mira stepped back. At the same time, the hunters who had been waiting at the outer edge of the square rushed out at once and surrounded the Tyrant Spike-back.
The next step is for the hunters to use the Holy Knight as a shield in a mass battle. Mira herself had nothing to do after this. The only thing she has to do is to put Asclepius on standby just in case.
The Tyrant Spike-back retreated and took it time while looking straight at the white knight. The hunters in the back of the line also moved backwards to match.
The white knight did not move from its’ spot, but kept its’ tower shield at the ready.
When the demon glanced at the hunters, their bodies became tense and several of them slightly shrink back. The white knight did not move.
As the demon glared at the hunters, there was a small scream and a few more people shook their legs. Still, the white knight did not move.
The Tyrant Spike Back looked at the white knight who didn’t move the slightest, and then as if to show off, it slammed the ground hard with both arms and roared wildly.
It instantly revived the fear inside the hunters. More than a dozen of them slumped down and dropped their weapons at the same time. Their faces were covered with fear.
That was unavoidable. The fear that has accumulated over time cannot be overcome immediately by some motivational speech.
The Tyrant Spike-back, its face twisted with pleasure, looked down with amusement at how easily the formation had fallen apart. It stepped in with a single breath and swung its mighty arm down at a slumped female hunter.
The woman lets out an inaudible scream. It was right after that, the white knight’s tower shield, a massive piece of metal, struck the face of the demon.
The crash sounded dull. At the same time, the Tyrant Spike-back turned his head and stomped on the ground. The woman’s eyes widened in the face of the spectacular scene.
Dolan smiles confidently. And Rattri said, “That was fast!” He was astonished, not by the hardness or strength, but by the speed of the white knight’s step, which closed the distance in an instant.
“Don’t be afraid! I told you it will protect you!”
Mira scolded the hunters, who looked stunned.
It is true that if they made a mistake, they will never recover. But with Mira present, the failure itself is all but swept under the rug.
“You’ve seen it! This is what real summoning is all about. There’s no need to worry. Take up your weapons!”
Dolan shouted again, urging them on. The two older men and Rattri continued to raise their weapons at the demons. Then one by one, they stood up, weapons in hand, and summoned their courage to confront their symbol of fear.
The Tyrant Spike-back, who had adjusted its’ stance, looked warily at the front. The white knight stood there, unperturbed, again showing no sign of movement.
The Tyrant Spike-back glared sharply at the hunters around him, then slammed his arms repeatedly and gave a menacing yell.
And right after that, the hunters also shouted, cancelling its’ roar. Then, from the demon’s blind spots, full powered blows were unleashed.
Swords, axes, spears, and arrows pierced the Tyrant’s body with definite wounds.
At that moment, a high-pitched roar came from it. It wasn’t a show of power like the previous ones. It was simply an outburst of emotion, a roar of rage.
The Tyrant Spike-back swung its thick arms in anger. But it didn’t even hit the hunters who had already prepared for it, thus it was dragged down by inertia and lost its stance. There was no hunter who would miss this opportunity.
They stepped in at once and imprinted their unyielding will on the huge body of the demon.
It was far from a fatal wound. The Tyrant Spike-back’s skin is thick and hard. If it weren’t for Mira’s assistance, it would be a very formidable opponent. However, their faces were unclouded and they kept looking forward.
It must be very unhappy with the fact that the people it had been hunting down was now fighting back. The demon turned to the hunters and attacked them.
However, it was stopped by a blow from the white knight again.
The Tyrant Spike-back immediately regained its footing, roared in annoyance and lashed out at the white knight. But it was also blocked by the strong tower shield.
If it directed its’ anger at the hunters, the knight would stop it. Perhaps understanding this, the demon set its sights on the white knight who was in the way.
“Fumu~, looks like it went well.”
Mira watches the battle from a distance. One thing she ordered the Holy Knight to do was to lightly hit the enemy to get its’ attention when it shifted its’ aim.
As per her plan, the demon could no longer ignore the presence of the white knight, so its’ blind spot would naturally increased. As a result, a sequence of attacks was executed without missing a beat.
One would think that it is cowardly to win with the help of a much stronger ally. That feeling persisted in the hunters’ heart, yet they still wanted to win. Whether it was an act of cowardice or not, they understood that this was a chance to overcome their fear and be able to move forward again.
Therefore, there was no hesitation in anyone’s eyes, and they began to regain their normal movements.
However, the opponent was still a high-grade demon. It will not be an easy task, and some of them began to left the front line and retreated.
“T-thanks. Thank you for the help.”
The man who stepped back had broke one of his arms. He thanked the white snake that had wrapped around his arm, and as soon as he regained feeling in his arm, he returned to the front line with his weapon in hand.
Asclepius crawled around the battlefield, treating the wounded like a medic. It takes time, yet highly effective. The snake also became a source of moral support for the hunters.
Two hours had passed since the battle between the hunters and the Tyrant Spike-back had begun.
The fatigue on the faces of the hunters was visible even from a distance, and as many as half of them had left the front line to wait for healing. Even so, there was not the slightest hint of resignation in their eyes.
“That’s good, that’s good! It’s definitely working!”
There was the Holy Knight, who prevented any fatalities, the older group, who constantly inspired and supported the entire group, and Rattri, who inflicted more than a few minor wounds with his brilliant blows. These actions motivate the young hunters over and over again.
In contrast, the Tyrant Spike-back is slowing down. The attacks inflicted by the hunters are minor, only tearing the surface of its’ skin. However, when the number of attacks reaches hundreds or thousands, the blood that drips from those wounds will not be negligible.
The next thing the demon knew, there was a huge amount of blood on the grass near its’ feet. Its’ breathing became more ragged and violent than the hunters’.
Even so, the power of the Tyrant Spike-back was still intact, and its powerful arm, swung carelessly, easily gouged the earth and sent soil flying up.
Immediately afterwards, the situation began to change dramatically.
The earth and sand poured down on the white knight as if to cover its’ vision, and at the same time, the demon leaped high into the sky. Then, it clasped its’ hands and swung its’ arms like an iron hammer.
It was a blow with all its might. It passed through the protection of the tower shield and completely caught the white knight’s head.
No matter how strong a warrior it is, there is no way it can survive such an impact to the head. The Tyrant Spike-back knew this from the battle and howled, confident that it had won.
But its’ voice instantly faded away. Its’ eyes met those of the white knight who was still alive and well.
The Holy Knight is a spirit of armor. Naturally, it has no human weaknesses.
And then Rattri, seeing the opportunity, closed the distance in the blink of an eye and intervened between the white knight and the demon. From that spot, he could see the throat, which he had always been unable to get a clear shot at during the battle.
Rattri grabbed his sword with both hands, and with a burst of energy, he thrust the tip of his sword into the demon’s throat.
Blood flowed down from the hilt of the sword, and the demon’s huge body tilted unsteadily. Everyone stopped moving, and the grasslands surrounded by the forest instantly regained their tranquility.
Rattri’s blow was sure to pierce the vital point. It was, by all accounts, a fatal wound.
But then, the demon’s arm moved, and in an instant, Rattri’s body flew through the air.
One of the hunters shouted, and everyone rushed towards Rattri at the same time. But it was Rattri himself who stopped them in their tracks.
After rolling on the ground, Rattri quickly stood up, adjusted his stance, and thrust his arms high into the sky. The Tyrant Spike-back’s attempt was so feeble that there was no need for the Holy Knight to react.
As Rattri declared his victory, a heavy thud sounded and the ground shook slightly. A body of a huge demon was lying on the ground. A sword was thrust at its throat, and the sight engraved victory in the hearts of everyone.
The tension dissipated, as if waking from a bad dream. Instead, everyone was intoxicated with glee, and the hunters raised their battle cry in unison.
1: タイラントスパイクバック = Tairantosupaikubakku = Tyrant Spike-back
Also 【Life Sensing】 and 【Sky Striding】 has been introduced before. I kept them instead of retranslating it for consistency.