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1-46 Horde

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Author: EnroItzal Original Source: Scribble Hub

“Hey… Aedan?” Cal called out hesitantly from the back of the wagon. Although his eyes were fluttering and his legs were jittering, Celia was still deep in slumber in his cradle.

Still sitting on the coach seat of the wagon, Aedan lazily threw Cal a glance. He urged Cal to spill his question with a gesture from his eyes.

“D-don’t you think we should be doing something instead of just waiting around here?” he asked.

Hearing this, Selene sighed in exasperation. “Cal, we’ve been through this a hundred times. We are much more useful being here than being there.” Her gaze remain steadfast on their surroundings. She was the only who wasn’t on the wagon.

Of course Cal knew that but that was also the matter of quest contribution. Though the Guild had promised them a hefty reward regardless of their contribution, it just didn’t feel right to Cal who had done next to nothing for the whole time.

“What she said,” Aedan responded dryly. “We would be nothing but liability if we went with them.”

“I know that. It’s just… it feels wrong to receive a reward for something that you did not do. It feels undeserving.”

“Life’s not fair, boy. Just be grateful that fortune smiles upon you this time.”

“Give it a rest, Cal. We—” Selene cut herself short as an ominous feeling swept past her. Shivers crawled all over her skin as she wrapped herself up in her arms. “Did you all f-felt that?”

Cal nodded rapidly just as flocks of birds flew off into the distance while giving off foreboding cries. Even some of the animals and beasts ran away from the area.

“Unfortunately, I think we all felt that,” Aedan answered as he stood from his seat. He stared off into the distance, at the village.

“W-what could that be—?” Before Selene could finish her sentence, an arm broke through the ground and caught her leg. She yelped and flailed her legs. She got herself free immediately but her struggle took the arm along, torn from the shoulder. She shook the latched arm off her legs.

“What the hell was that!?” Cal sprang from his seat, his eyes darting at surrounding grounds.

Aedan hopped off the wagon, a pouch in hand as more arms broke through the ground around them. Slowly but abruptly, corpses and carcasses rose from their graves. These dead weren’t buried but simply swallowed by nature. Now, they had all risen from their natural imprisonment.

Aedan scattered the contents of the pouch around the wagon, creating a circle composed of blue powder. He summoned blue flames into his hand and threw it onto the circle. The blue flames spread quickly, forming a ring of blue fire.

The risen dead charged straight at the group without a care but the circle of blue fire turned them into ashes.

“What did you do?” Selene asked.

“What I can do and should be doing,” Aedan answered in a mutter. “Just stay in the circle.”

Cal and Selene nodded in tandem.

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Outside of the circle, hordes of undead were amassing and the undead all had their gaze drew towards the nearest living flesh, Aedan, Cal, Selene, and Celia. The undead couldn’t run but their walking pace could not be considered to be slow.

The Ghouls were as relentless as they were mindless. The blue flames did not halt the Ghouls’ attempts to approach but it did stop their approach.

Cal and Selene began to tremble incessantly. Even knowing they were safe inside the circle, they just couldn’t fight off their premonition-inducing instincts.

“Erin, I hope you can do something on your end,” Aedan prayed in his heart. “And please do it fast.”

With his abilities, he could easily uncover the root of the problem and tear it right off from its soil but in doing so, he would reveal his identity and worse, he would need to leave Cal and Selene’s side and also Celia’s, which he had no intention of doing so. For now, this was the best he could do but should the worst come, he was prepared to do whatever it took, even if it meant awakening his pursuers from their dormant state.

“Well f̲u̲c̲k̲… there’s just no end to them,” Erin muttered to no one in particular.

Realization had dawned upon her only after the eleventh hour. They could just fight off the rising Ghouls or so Erin had originally thought. The Ghouls’ levels were around two to five, which wasn’t a problem to the three. Levels below five were generally considered low but the sheer quantity of the Ghouls more than make up for their low levels. It had only been a dozen of them initially but in seconds, Erin and her companions were now facing against a number more than fifty, maybe even nearing a hundred. The Ghouls weren’t just the dead villagers but also the monsters and long deceased villagers who were buried near the village. It wouldn’t be exaggerated to label the Ghouls as a horde.

The undead were coming at them from all sides. With their own rear flank entrusted to one another, they braced themselves against the horde that threatened to tear them from limb to limb. The three knew this small circle they formed was their salvation. Should one of them leave, it would be the end for them all.

Even with her current prowess, Erin could easily carve and maneuver her way through the horde but abandoning her companions was a notion that never crossed her mind.

Erin had some encounters with dark beings in her past life but Ghoul encounters were much too few to be counted even on two hands. But that didn’t undermine her knowledge of Ghouls. They were undead and being something that was essentially dead, they had neither sense of pain nor self-preservation.

“Oi oi, I’m not seeing an end to these deadlings!” Freed flailed his sword around to fend off the approaching Ghouls. His panicked swings fell a few reaching grasps but the Ghouls weren’t the slightest perturbed. “What the f̲u̲c̲k̲!? They’re not backing off!”

“Of course they’re not.” Lyra yelled back after releasing an arrow into a Ghoul’s eye. “They’re Ghouls.”

The Ghoul who had an arrow shot in one of its eyes kept limping closer to the trio.

“That didn’t kill it?” Erin questioned with raised brows. The Ghouls in her old world would die from an arrow through the head but that was obviously not the case for this world’s Ghouls.

“You have to cut their head off!” Lyra spared only a single second to respond as she quickly fired another arrow at an approaching Ghoul. It didn’t kill the Ghoul but it did slow its approach.

“Any other ways?” Erin managed a question right before a Ghoul lunged at her. She sliced off its arms and kicked the Ghoul away.

Lyra fired an arrow at a Ghoul’s leg. The Ghoul fell and ended up tripping the other Ghouls. “I don’t f̲u̲c̲k̲i̲n̲g̲ know. Holy magic, maybe?”

Erin cut down two Ghouls but failed to cut their heads off. “There’s holy magic?”

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“Oi! Save your chats for later, damn it!” Freed yelled out in between the exchange and the chaos but his words were treated as mere noises of the background.

“I don’t f̲u̲c̲k̲i̲n̲g̲ know!” Lyra answered as she dodged a Ghoul’s grasp and quickly put an arrow between its eyes. “Whatever sorcery those preachers are using, I don’t know the actual name!”

Immediately after receiving her answer, Erin scoured the village amidst the Ghoul horde for a way out of this death encirclement. Or at the very least, she needed to get Lyra and Freed to a safe spot. She was confident in her own abilities but at the same couldn’t be said for the other two. This was probably their first time encountering a Ghoul or even this sort of peril for that matter.

As Erin rustled her mind for a solution to this chaos, something sped through the horde. It was incredibly quick but Erin’s trained eyes perceived it. It was half the size of the average person. It quickly reached Erin and it pounced.

“What the f̲u̲c̲k̲—!?”

It wasn’t a Ghoul spawned of a villager but of a dog. It caught Erin off guard with its unexpected speed but she responded just in time. She blocked the Dog-ghoul’s ferocious bite with her broadsword and decapitated the Dog-ghoul with her saber.

[Experience gained +2% – Level Progression: 7%]

“The first kill after so many swings…. This is not looking good.” Erin contemplated in her heart. She went back to ransacking her mind for a solution. She glimpsed briefly at the two. Freed was holding out albeit with some stain to his posture, but Lyra on the other hand was quickly losing her grounds due to her weapon of choice.

Lyra struggled to nock her arrows one after another after it was released with the enclosing Ghouls. She had a few narrow escapes from the undead’s grasps but it was only a matter of time before her luck ran out.

“F̲u̲c̲k̲ it,” Erin told herself. After slicing a Ghoul to pieces, she yelled out to the two. “The two of you, to the roofs!”

[Experience gained +2% – Level Progression: 9%]

Freed managed to score his first kill then. He turned his head briefly to Erin. “Now?!”

“Now!” Erin shouted. She parried a pitchfork used by one of the Ghouls and impaled its throat. With some strenuous effort, she tore her sword out, decapitating the Ghoul in the process.

[Experience gained +2% – Level Progression: 11%]

“What about you?” Lyra blurted out. Before she could receive an answer, a Goblin Ghoul evaded her arrow from her brief lapse of concentration. “S̲h̲i̲t̲!” There was no time for her to nock another arrow as the Goblin Ghoul was a tad faster than the villager Ghouls.

But the undead Goblin did not even come close to Lyra. Another undead Goblin was flung into it before it was even in range for a lunge, and both went tumbling into the crowd, tripping more Ghouls in the process.

Evidently, it was Erin who flung the Goblin-ghoul. Ghouls were surprisingly light, she found out.

“Thank you,” Lyra uttered as she nocked her arrows as quickly as she could.

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“You can thank me by moving your arse!” Erin said as she fended off three Ghouls. Her blades were only an inch away from taking their heads but Erin decided to not plunge herself too far from her companions.

“No need to tell me twice.” Freed broke off from the formation and went for the nearest cottage that was still standing. Somehow, he made it without being caught by the reaching arms of the Ghouls. And he didn’t have much trouble in scaling the cottage as climbing was one of the staple skills of being an adventurer. In fact, climbing up to the tree to escape from hostile animals or beasts was the most common tactic used not just by adventurers.

“Lyra, you too.” Erin didn’t stop fending off the Ghouls but she didn’t manage to fell even one.

“What about you?! I’m not going to leave you!”

Erin groaned in exasperation. She sheathed saber and scooped Lyra into her arm. She was past asking for permission.

“E-Erin?!” Lyra yelped.

Erin cleared the area with a sweeping swing before leaping in quick succession to the roof Freed was on with Fleet Foot. The short aerial traversal took less Mana than Erin anticipated. Not that she had any complaints regarding that.

Without even a warning, Erin tossed Lyra off of her arm. “Stay here,” Erin said and threw herself off the roof, slicing and dicing the Ghouls who tried to climb as she plunged to the ground.

[Experience gained +4% – Level Progression: 15%]

“Erin!” Lyra was about to follow suit—

—but Freed grabbed her wrist.

“Let go of me!”

“Get your sense together, lass. We will only be a hindrance to her.”

“I don’t want to hear it from the likes of—” The focus in her eyes shifted to something behind Freed. “Behind you!”

Freed turned around just in time to guard against the Ghoul’s pounce but the two went tumbling from the loss of their balance.

“Lass! Help!!” Freed screamed as he felt his own strength giving out.

Without a word, Lyra fired an arrow into the Ghoul’s head. It didn’t kill it but it was stunned.

Freed used this opportunity to shove the Ghoul off. Letting not a moment lost, Freed brought his sword in a wide arc, lopping the Ghoul’s head off. He took his much needed breather but before he could catch his breath, three Ghouls had already climbed up to the roof, stumbling their way to Freed with their bone-bare legs.

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“Stop lazing about and get up already!” Lyra shouted as she shot arrows at the three Ghouls. All of the arrows landed on their supposedly vital spot but with their head still one with their neck, they continued stumbling forward.

Freed offered no verbal response and simply charged at the three Ghouls without any heed to the consequences. He easily beheaded one but for his next target, the edge of his sword was duller from the repeated hacking. He carved into the Ghoul’s neck but the blade didn’t go through its neck. The blade was stuck. Freed gave a few tugs but it remained firmly lodged.

Not wanting to be mauled, Freed was forced to let his sword go. He quickly retreated right before the third Ghoul lunged at the defenseless him.

“Lyra, help!” he shouted in desperation.

“I’m out of arrows!”

The response was way less than desirable. Lyra had short swords but it wouldn’t do them any good.

Just then, a sword flew to the roof. It sliced the head of the two Ghouls clean off their neck. The sword stabbed into the roof at the end of its path. Lyra instantly recognized the broadsword as Erin’s.

“Use it!” Erin shouted from below the roof.

There was no hesitation in Freed’s mind. He had already moved to pick the sword up before Erin had even told him to.

“It’s light,” Freed uttered his amazement. Unlike his sword, this silver steel blade was still showing off its fine edge even after all the flesh it had carved through.

“Stop fooling around!” Lyra walked briskly past him and retrieved her arrows from the Ghouls.

“Yeah yeah, I know!” Freed brandished the silver steel sword at the Ghouls which had just managed to climb up to the roof.

While the two made their stand on the roof, Erin was cleaving heads and clearing the numbers on ground. She took a glimpse at her level progression.

[Level Progression: 25%]

It was vexing to see the meagre increment but now wasn’t the time to be worried about her level.

Erin did not stop her movements. Not even a moment to catch her breath. She knew if she stopped even for a single second, it would spell the end for her. She plowed her way through the horde and cut down those who threw themselves in her path and sight. This wasn’t the ideal strategy but it was the only plan she could think of.

Fighting Ghouls was easier than fighting people but killing a person was significantly easier than killing a Ghoul. For a human, all it took was a cut across their throat and it was done. For Ghouls, decapitation was a must which forced her to expend more energy than killing a person.

Still, those weren’t valid excuses for her to stop. It wasn’t just her own life on the line.

She faced off against various kinds of Ghouls. The villager Ghouls were the easiest to take care of. They were slow and their attacks were weak. It was easy to struggle out of their grasp even when she was caught. The Goblin Ghouls were quite a challenge due to their small stature and swiftness but they were still a huge target for a seasoned swordsman like her. The real threat was the dogs. Unlike the villagers and the Goblins, the dogs were faster and more ferocious than when they had a beating heart. A bite from them would greatly cripple her abilities but thankfully, the number of Dog-ghouls can be counted on one hand.

Erin lopped off the head of a Ghoul who sneaked up on her.

[Experience gained +2%]

She made a full spin with her tails’ tip barbed with Arcane Armor, decapitating three Goblin Ghouls which lunged at her

[Experience gained +6%]

She parried a cleaver from a Ghoul who might have been a butcher when he was alive. She then swiftly ended its misery by separating its head from its neck.

[Experience gained +2%]

She had some difficulty with a Hobgoblin Ghoul but she ended up hacking away all of its limbs before taking its head. Hobgoblins were basically human-sized Goblins but the aspects of their intelligence wasn’t much of a difference.

[Experience gained +3% – Level Progression: 42%]

The number of Ghouls were undoubtedly thinning out but against the three of them, the remaining amount was still a number to be feared. What’s more, Erin could feel her muscles beginning to sore. Her movements were also starting to feel heavy. When she peeked at her status, she saw Moderate Exhaustion written on it. While her mind was still as clear as pure water, her body could no longer meet the demands of her mind with exact precision.

“I still have an ample amount of Mana but this body is really poor with its stamina.”

Due to that, she began accumulating small wounds here and there all over her body from moments where she failed to evade or defend in time. In spite of her own circumstances, she didn’t neglect her heed on Lyra and Freed. With their height advantage, they were relatively safe for the time being but if Erin herself fell, that advantage would be null. The two would be swarmed within seconds.

“I have to hang on… I can’t fall here…” Erin invigorated herself. She tightened her grip on her saber. She focused her whirling vision. She stilled her rasping breaths. “Just a few more…”

There was a part of her which wished to invoke Aedan’s assistance but in doing so, it was the same as telling him to reveal his secrets. She had no doubts Aedan would come swooping in if he knew of their predicament even if she didn’t invoke his assistance.

“Speaking of which, there’s no way he doesn’t know what’s happening here.”

As her mind began to wander to a premonition, Erin was reeled back into the present by Lyra’s shout.

“Erin, behind you!”

At the same moment, her Sixth Sense went off.

[Sixth Sense activated. Imminent threat detected.]

Erin spun her gaze at the direction which triggered her Sixth Sense.

The imminent threat her Sixth Sense was warning her about was an undead but not just any undead. It was wearing apparels differing to the villager Ghouls. The newly-emerged undead was donning pieces of steel plates over leather armor. It walked with an obvious limp like most of the Ghouls but unlike its peers, its hands were wielding axes. Its face was disfigured beyond recognition but with Appraisal, Erin was able to identify the undead.

William was the undead’s name when his heart was still beating with life. Going by his equipment, Erin could tell he was no doubt the Adventurer who was Marcus’ partner.

However, those weren’t the major concerns. Erin stared fixedly at the numbers that signified the Ghoul’s level.

The unusual level of fifteen was displayed clearly in her sight.

“F̲u̲c̲k̲…!” Erin uttered.

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

Level: 11 | Status: Moderate Exhaustion

Might: 19 | Arcane: 17 | Finesse: 17

Magic Arts – Spirit Magic Lv. 8 | 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: 42%

Remaining Skill Points: 0

Remaining Ability Points: 0

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