1-23 Swarm

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

It was regrettable their break could not last as long as they wanted with the Rot-rats still scuttling right on their tracks. They made utmost haste by following the river downhill which the small lake was flowing into. Erin remembered this river as the same river she and Lyra followed out of the forest on the first day of her arrival in this world. It had only been three days since but it felt longer than that. In the span of three days, she was exposed to a vast array of novel experiences, one of which includes her graduation from her virginity.

Whoa whoa. Come back. Now’s not the time for any reminiscences.

Erin did not know how long Cal and Selene had been out in the forest but the short break they had was not enough to refill their stamina. Even without Appraisal, Erin understood they were not in favorable conditions. In fact, they were starting to lag behind Erin and Aedan even though the former was using his Magic continuously and the latter was carrying a load of a few pounds. Erin was starting to feel like she had been overindulgent and under-appreciative with her capabilities. Her current body may not be as sterling as her former body, she was still more well off than other people of her level.

“You two might want to hurry up. Those critters are getting close,” Aedan remarked in an inaptly casual tone. “Though this wouldn’t have been the case if we stop for a rest.”

Erin shot Aedan a glare. “They’re tired, you sod.” Her ears twitched along with her anger.

“Tired or not, they’ll be dead if they don’t hurry up,” Aedan retorted with a still nonchalant demeanor. “Lest you forgot, the Rot-rats are chasing after you, not us.”

Aedan didn’t need to say it out loud. The implications were obvious even to a toddler. It was a cruel utterance but one that rang with truth and Erin couldn’t dispute that. She knew what she had to do.

But before Erin could declare her resolve, Cal spoke up with the breaths he could muster. “You don’t need to worry about us, Miss Erin! We don’t blame you. We’re adventurers and such a problem is only to be expected. If anything, it’s our own fault for overestimating our own abilities.”

It was evident Cal was just putting on airs for the woman he was infatuated with. Seeing the strained-face Cal with a sanguine look, Erin didn’t have the heart to tell him his words were only making her feel all the worse about herself. Although, Cal wasn’t wrong about what he said. A stampede of monsters was known commonly as a monster train. The larger variety was called a monster rampage. That said, monster trains weren’t all too uncommon, according to what Erin read from the handbook. It was a common occurrence especially for monsters who hunted with their numbers.

Down the line of adventurer work, one would keep facing various precarious predicaments that often bordered between life and death. Green Scar was merely the stepping stone for greenhorns. If they couldn’t even find a way past problems of a relatively small forest, they would have no hope of survival when it came to the larger and more dangerous forests.

“So if something happened to us, don’t blame yourself, Miss Erin,” Cal continued.

Selene shook her head in exasperation with a sigh at her companion’s failed attempts at consoling the woman he took fancy to. She summoned whatever strength was left in her to sock Cal’s shoulder with her elbow.

Cal received the blow without any complaints as his mind remained stuck in the clouds over the hope that he had impressed Erin.

Eventually, Aedan let out a sigh which drew Erin’s attention. As he was in the lead, the whole group came to a halt when he stopped. Cal and Selene weren’t in any condition to ask why they had stopped, so Erin did the questioning for them and herself.

Aedan put up his hand, stopping Erin from asking. He willed the bundle of logs to Cal and Selene with a wave of his hand. “Climb aboard,” he commanded rather than asked.

Initially, Erin was stupefy at Aedan’s apparent capacity for compassion but it quickly turned into indignation. She wanted to shout her complaints at him not putting forward the idea sooner but doing so would just paint her in an incredibly petty light.

The pair climbed on to the bundle without any protest or objection. Their client had essentially given them his grace. It would be rude to refuse and with the Rot-rats just behind them, they would be courting death if they rejected the offer.

Noticing the indignant glare from Erin, Aedan flaunted a knowing grin at her. “I’m sure with your level five Fleet Foot and nineteen points of Might, you would not be dragging behind,” he said and resumed his sprint down the riverbank. The sudden acceleration of the log bundle caused Selene to give a shrill of terror like a person who was riding a cart for the first time in their life but she calmed down after Cal held her hand.

Selene returned a bashful smile with her shoulders wiggling.

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Aedan groaned at such an exchange. “Maybe I should just drop them into the river and let the water carry them for the rest of the road,” he muttered under his breath.

Erin followed suit after a moment of tangle in her mind. Under normal circumstances, Erin would have picked up the whisper but her mind was seized by Aedan’s prior offhand statement.

More than affronted, Erin was benumb at what Aedan’s prior words entailed. He practically revealed to Erin that he had the means to evaluate her stats. Besides The Guild, there should be no one else who would know of her stats and numbers. If one did, it could either mean The Guild had breach their individual confidentiality policy or—

He has Appraisal too.

Erin still wasn’t in the know on how common or rare the Appraisal skill was but going by the fact that even the Guild Master needed a special pair of spectacles for Appraisal instead of just learning it, it was probably a skill that wasn’t so easy to obtain. Most vexing of all, he could appraise her but not the other way around.

Wait— If he has appraisal, then he definitely knows that I have appraisal too. Which means… he knows that I know about his secret, probably?

Such realization dawn on Erin. She sneaked some glances to gauge his reactions but as far as she could tell, Aedan hadn’t shown any signs that he was perturbed.

Or perhaps he thinks whatever inhibition spell he was using had completely masked his stats information from me? That’s most probably it. If that’s not the case, either he doesn’t care that I found out or he’s confident that I won’t reveal his secrets.

“Lookout!” Selene cried out as she pointed behind Erin.

[Sixth Sense activated. Imminent threat detected.]

Erin shook herself out of her daze and turned to her back.

What the hell!?

There were three Rot-rats behind her and these three were larger in size than the average Rot-rats. They weren’t just big. They were faster.

Damn it! I didn’t smell or hear them coming because I was too preoccupied with Aedan in my mind… Okay, that’s a very misleading way of phrasing my sentence.

“Miss Erin, here!” Cal called out and tossed his sword to Erin before he even finished his sentence. His foolishness immediately incurred a slap to the back of his head from Selene.

Dumb f̲u̲c̲k̲! At least give me two seconds to respond, you idiot! Slap him harder, Selene.

Erin lurched forward in a hurry to catch the sword. At the same time, she flung the large Core in her hands to the two. “Catch it!” There was no way she could wield a sword efficiently with such a load on her. She could hold on to it with her tail but she wasn’t confident she could adjust to the new change of weight that quickly— no, it was more like she was certain the extra weight would throw off her balance in swinging a sword.

Although Erin was good with a sword, even with throwing one, throwing an object that didn’t even have the slight resemblance to a sword was entirely out of her bounds. Thus, she put too much strength in that throw and it went over Cal who was reaching out to catch it.

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But Erin wasn’t worried.

Before the Core went completely over her aim, the Core miraculously drooped down onto the bundle. Cal and Selene watched with dumbfounded expressions but Erin whispered her thanks to Aedan. Her shout of “Catch it!” wasn’t meant for Cal or Selene, it was meant for Aedan.

“Keep running and don’t stop!” Erin yelled out to Aedan who was already picking up his pace before her lips were even opened.

I can’t tell if he’s a prick or just misunderstood. Maybe both.

Erin slid to a stop and made a sharp turn around to face the Rot-rats. She cast Appraisal on the three larger than normal Rot-rats which lunged at her as soon as they were in range.

They’re just level eight. The only skills they have is Brethren Call. And they are— Soldier variants? Is that why they are larger and faster? Their status reads, Provoked. Provoked by me? Really? I’m really the cause after all? Well, not that it matters much now.

Erin thrust the sword at the Rot-rat in the middle. She felt some strong resistance in her stab but nothing that she couldn’t overcome. She held the other two off by batting them away with her tails.

[Experience gained +4%]

Four? Only four? Oi. Isn’t this evolution protracting my growth rate by a lot?

Even with the complaints swirling in her mind, her hands did not stop moving. She reined her sword in and lashed out at the second Rot-rat which tried to flank her. The blade caught its throat cleanly across.

[Experience gained +4%]

Without minding the meagre experience she was getting, Erin brought the sword around and decapitated the last Soldier-variant Rot-rat.

[Experience gained +4% – Level Progression: 47%]

Hmm. The boy’s taking good care of his sword.

Erin examined the blade which looked finely sharpened and cleaned on a regular basis. It was something she didn’t expect from a scatterbrained like Cal. While she was enamored by the state of the sword, her glance shifted to the movements in the distance which caught her attention.

Oh my lord.

Erin gasped at the swarm of Rot-rats scurrying at her way. It wasn’t massive like she had expected but it was still a number that she didn’t dare to go against at her current level. She estimated there were about thirty or so of these critters. Right at the front of the swarm were approximately seven Rot-rats of the Soldier-variant.

She wanted to run but she wasn’t sure if the small horde wouldn’t just follow her out of the forest. She understood the behavior of the monsters to some degree through her own perception. The monsters always kept themselves inside the forest. They rarely wandered out to the main roads for some reason. But in the end, those were just her own assumptions. If she was wrong, she would be causing a huge casualty by leading this monster train back to town.

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As Erin directed her focus on curbing this monster train, her attention was robbed by a familiar scent but the familiarity only made her raise her guard. It was the scent of her stalker from just this morning who followed her deep into the forest.

He still hadn’t given up?

At the same moment, Erin picked up another awfully familiar scent, one that she had been anticipating to pick up at any time now. From the dense growth of trees to her right, an Elven girl who bore the same height as her emerged.

“Nivia?” Erin greeted with uncertainty. The Elf had a rumpled look and her eyes spelled distress. She took a quick look at her Appraisal. Nivia’s status had the ailments, Distress and Moderate Exhaustion. Erin also took this opportunity to peek at her abilities, which were; fifteen in Might, twenty two in Arcane, and twenty in Finesse. And she had a Combat Art named, Body Strengthening which was level three.

“Erin, I finally found you!” Nivia immediately leaped at Erin and threw her arms around her, pulling the Fox-kin into an embrace. “I thought you were dead! Thank the Spirits, you’re not.”

Wow. Do you have that little faith in me? And were you following me? If so, you have done a very good job at it. I didn’t even notice.

“Are you alright? Are you fine? Are you hurt?” Nivia asked in a quick sequence on the second after she parted herself from the embrace. Then, her eyes widened. “Your tails! There are three? How?”

“I evolved, that’s how.”

“That’s why? How can you be so nonchalant about it!?”

“Why not?” Erin canted her head.

“Because Faerie-kin do not evolve, that’s why!”

Oh. I see. So this is unnatural. Great. I’m not even surprised anymore and more attention to me…

“Anyways, never mind about my tails. What were you asking about just now? Why wouldn’t I be fine?” Erin narrowed her eyes. “Were you following me?”

“No, you got it all wrong!” Nivia immediately refuted. ”I didn’t follow you but I went looking for you when you didn’t come at the appointed time. I even went up to Kane to ask about you. He avoided my question and feigned ignorance but after I threatened him with the parting of his manhood, he admitted that he sent one of his men to spy on you. I got so worried that I came looking for you without having lunch.”

I see. So that stalker is working for Kane— wait, what? You threatened him with what now?

Before Erin could clarify some of the things Nivia said, her pupils shrunk into the distance. “Erin, what did you do?”

Only then, Erin remembered about the swarm of Rot-rats. “Oh, that? They are coming for revenge on me for slaughtering their family, I guess?”

“Are you sure that’s all you did? They don’t come at a person in a swarm just because of that. Otherwise, every adventurer would be swarmed by now.”

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Huh, that’s a fair point. So why me?

“Whatever reason it is, we should run.” Nivia suggested.

“Are you sure?” Erin asked. “Wouldn’t they just follow us back to town?”

“Not possible.” Nivia’s answer was instant. “They rarely leave their habitat and if they do, they would never leave the forest unless some external force compels them to.”

“Such as?”

Nivia grabbed on to Erin’s wrist and easily tossed her onto her back. “I’ll explain later.”

“Wai—!!”

Before Erin’s astonishment was even fully registered in her mind, she was plunged into another string of stupefaction as Nivia dashed down the river at a speed that easily rivaled a horse. Her appraisal told her that Nivia used some type of Wind Magic spell known as Wind Surge.

Erin couldn’t even shout out her dissent as the opposing wind drowned out her voice. Despite that, Erin did not miss the faint envious mutterings of Nivia in regards to her chest which turned out to be larger than Nivia’s expectations.

Erinthea – Faerie-kin: Three-Tailed Fox-kin

Level: 10 | Status: Mildly Exhausted

Might: 19 | Arcane: 15 | Finesse: 14

Magic Arts – Spirit Magic Lv. 6 | Arcane Edge Lv. 2 | Arcane Armor Lv. 5

Combat Arts – Sword Art Lv. 6 | Fleet Foot Lv. 5 | Brawler Lv. 4

Innate Skills – Appraisal Lv. Ex | Night Vision Lv. Ex | Sixth Sense Lv. Ex | Toxin Resistance Lv. 1 | Lust Deviant Lv. Ex

Unique Talent – Mystic Blade Lv. Ex

Level Progression: 47%

Remaining Skill Points: 2

Remaining Ability Points: 2


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