Maestro of Battles

The Lair of Litvart was at the entrance of Grave Mountains, a three hours trip on horseback from the Citadel.

The colt Weed was riding on occasionally diverted off course, and even chewed on grass leisurely. He had to cajole it to stay on course.

In front of the lair, a soldier who would look after the horses was waiting for them.

“Johnson, take good care of the horses.”
“Yes, sir.”

The punitive force led by Sir Midvale left their horses to the soldier, and entered the lair. Weed was finally relieved of the colt.

“Ready for battle!”
“Set in battle formation!”

The punitive force shielded themselves with steel bucklers and armed themselves with spears and swords. Compared to them, Weed’s equipment was pathetic. An iron sword and a bow.

Sir Midvale in chain mail approached.

“Is that all you have, Weed-nim?”
“Yes, sir.”
“You are poorly armed to fight on the front line. Stay behind and support the troops.”
“Yes, sir.”

The troops held the bucklers forward and marched on the lair. Weed followed them from behind.

Making a little headway, they spotted five kobolds that were camping around a bonfire, cooking something. Surprised by the sudden appearance of the troops, the kobolds sprang to their feet.

“Grakht!”
“Enemy! Human attack!”

The kobolds are Lv. 20 midget-like monsters, below four feet in height, armed with coarse wooden shields and bronze swords.

“Kill, kill!”
“Drive evil human away! They wreck shelter! Rise, brave kobold warriors!”

When the kobolds rushed out, the soldiers got tense. New recruits, fresh out of boot camps, had not engaged in a battle before. Weed looked toward Sir Midvale, but the knight watched his men with indifferent eyes as if any casualty was acceptable.

‘Isn’t a knight supposed to care if his soldiers die or not? Perhaps he wants them to have firsthand combat experience on their own’ Weed thought.

The soldiers quickly formed a linear formation and charged against the wave of kobolds. A couple of kobolds flung stones with slingshots, but the projectiles barely troubled the troops. Outnumbering the enemy and better equipped, the soldiers gained supremacy over the kobolds with few casualties. Every time a kobold fell, a small piece of metal dropped on the ground.

“Buren, Becker, gather the spoils.”

The two soldiers whose names were called out by Sir Midvale began gathering the metal pieces. They were copper or poorly smelt iron of little value, yet sufficient for farming tools.

One of the reasons why the kingdom operated such a punitive force, other than to train new recruits and restore security to the outskirts was to collect war booty, a creative injection to the budget.

“I need to move in at some point…” Weed said to himself.

On the next battle, he took out the Bow of Theo Grande and aimed at a kobold’s neck.

‘Hold your breath, steady your hands and aim at the target.’

Swish

Weed’s high agility and handicraft skill guided his arrows precisely to the targeted kobolds.

You have leveled up.

When Weed slew three kobolds, a level-up message window popped up. Those kobolds at a level higher than twenty gave enormous EXPs to Weed who was only at level thirteen.

Every kobold shot by his arrow immediately fell because he picked those who were nearly drained of life.

Cleverly, Weed sniped at easy game from behind while the soldiers were risking their lives in the front line.

It was a selfish and secure tactic. An arsonist torching a house is more of a saint than the neighbor plundering jewelry and china from the burning house, isn’t he?

What Weed was doing was very wicked, taking full advantage of brothers-in-arms bleeding and sweating hard to fight the monsters. A good man could not create such exploitation.

On the other hand, Weed was concerned that this tactic could backfire once the soldiers began to notice it and criticize him. Imagine how duped they would feel if a kobold short of a final strike dropped dead because of an arrow from out of nowhere.

Weed only shot kobolds who were running away in a desperate attempt to survive, or when a soldier was helplessly surrounded by two or three kobolds.

You have leveled up.

Each time a kobold was taken down, Weed smiled gleefully. While the other soldiers were fighting hard in the battles, all he needed to do was to shoot arrows blindly from a safe place. What else was easier than that?

His level was skyrocketing as fast as the stock price of Google. Weed’s scheme to buy the bow right before the quest paid off.

On the way deeper into the lair, they found a wide, open place. Sir Midvale and his men circled around it, slaying kobolds as they were detected, and then returned to the place.

“Take a rest and prepare lunch,” Sir Midvale ordered.
“Yes, sir.” Buren and Becker rustled to take out large pots and light a fire.

As the youngest in the party, they were made to do chores. Weed walked to them and picked up a knife.

“I’ll help you,”
Weed said, smiling sheepishly.

“Oh, no need,”
Becker said.

“Well, I like to cook. I am still an amateur, but wouldn’t it be nice if I serve you brave warriors who are devoting your swords and shields for Rosenheim?”

“It is very kind of you, Weed-nim.”

Weed spontaneously won favor among the soldiers. A man who volunteers to do manual labor on a journey is always highly welcomed. For one thing, Becker and Buren’s attitude toward Weed changed. They couldn’t help but like he who picks up the knife and slices beef.

Of course, he had his own agenda, and it had nothing to do with universal benevolence or whatever. Improve his Cooking skill.

Weed sliced and threw beef in the pot, added vegetables and flavors to make a stew. The ingredients that were needed to serve 32 men were quite a lot. Weed was aware that cooking plenty of food was the short cut to improve his cooking skill as fast as possible.

Level Up: Cooking Skill [2]

Enhances the taste of meals.
Increases speed of recovery of stamina when served.
Increase life when served. (+5% LIFE)

Level Up: Handicraft Skill [7]

Enhances your craft skills in every field

Two message windows emerged almost together. Weed’s cooking skill rose while the Handicraft skill that had needed a few experience points for a level up ascended to seven. Two birds with one stone, indeed.

Weed tasted a spoonful of the stew—the privilege of being a chef.

“Excellent.”

Comparing this stew to cheap rye bread that said in any grocery store was an insult. It wasn’t as good as the pork barbecue that he had eaten the other day, but satisfying for his first attempt at catering thanks to his high handicraft skill that compensated the low Cooking skill.

“Everyone! Lunch is ready! Please help yourself.”

The soldiers who felt hungry because of the relentless battles were served a bowl of stew each, which they ate greedily.

“Oh, it’s delicious.”
“I can’t believe a meal could taste so good outdoors.”
“Somehow, I think he’s a better cook than my wife.”

They all gave the thumbs up to Weed. Their reaction told him that they wanted him to keep on cooking for them.

He filled empty bowls with beef stew continuously when asked, and in doing so, his stomach, too.

The soldiers emptied the pot, and when the lunch break was over, Sir Midvale came over to Weed. He asked cordially,

“Weed-nim, would you care to keep serving my men?”

Apparently, even a brave knight valued good cooking. Though, it was more likely that as a revered noble, he was too accustomed to fine meals that he could accept nothing less.

“Yes, sir. I will take care of meals.”
And so, Weed was named the official chef for the punitive force.

He found no reason to decline Sir Midvale’s request, as he could upgrade the cooking skill by preparing thirty-two servings of stew three times a day. Furthermore, he wasn’t confined to the field of cooking.

“Weapons and armors, I can fix them! Bring me anything damaged or destroyed if you have them.”

“Really?”
“Can you really repair my sword?”
“My buckler’s half damaged, low in durability…”
“Just show me what you’ve got. Repair!”

Weed used the repair skill to repair weapons and gear that some soldiers brought to him. It would cost a fortune to have a blacksmith repair damaged equipment back in town. If they were left with low durability, they could suddenly break in the middle of a battle.

“Thank you, Weed-nim!”

Weed was hailed by the troops. He could upgrade his handicraft and repair skills, and earned trust from soldiers as a bonus.

Sir Midvale, who had been skeptical of his friend’s recommendation to bring Weed along on the mission, was now more than satisfied with his role.

“You’re the man, Weed-nim!”
“Not at all, sir.”

Weed blended in with the rest of the troops.

Who knows what inconveniences they would have to suffer without him. They would have had to return to a nearby village from time to time when they needed to have broken or edge-nicked weapons fixed, and the meals would have revolted their stomachs.

Rarely obtained magical items would have needed identification scrolls, which cost several gold coins for each. Instead, Weed could identify them right on the spot with his identification skill.

For the soldiers, it would be torture to go back to the tasteless gruel that Buren and Becker used to claim was beef stew, especially after they enjoyed Weed’s version.

“We’re not cooks in the first place!” Buren and Becker cried in unison.

In this way, the soldiers and Weed formed an unimaginable relationship.

Swish

Whenever an arrow flew from Weed, a kobold turned grey.

The kobolds are considered relatively weaker monsters. They know how to use tools, but the class of their tools is crude, as though made by children. They basically rely on numbers in battle.

“Kiyoyo!” A platoon of nine kobolds charged at once.

‘Come on! My precious EXP points!’

A big grin forming on his face, Weed greeted the kobolds with silent cheers. He shot arrows arbitrarily, collecting easy EXPs. Defense was taken care of by the soldiers, anyway. All he needed to do was shoot as many arrows as possible.

You have leveled up.

You have leveled up.

New Skill: You have learned Archery

This was level-up madness.

Weed had also learned archery, a skill that was commonly exclusive to the archer class. It was hardly surprising, considering that he had done nothing but shoot arrows as he never swung a sword, even once, in the battles.

Nevertheless, the soldiers were not jealous of him in the least. After the battles, Weed was the busiest one there. He cooked meals, repaired weapons and gear and tended the wounded.

Sir Midvale had a few healing potions for emergencies, but the soldiers in the punitive force could not afford such costly medicines. Weed rubbed herbs and rolled gauze on wounds with his handicraft skill.

Skill: You learned Bandage Skill.

Enables you to stop bleeding.
Increases life of the wounded when tended.

The maximum number of skills that a user can learn when his class is undecided is ten.

Weed’s bandage skill, affected by the high handicraft skill, had impressive effects. As he was busy caring for thirty patients every day, the skill upgraded fiercely.

The troops roamed on the first and second floor, slaying kobolds, for a week.

Users were occasionally spotted watching Weed with envious eyes as he was privileged to join a NPC punitive force and hunt monsters alongside them.

The week of slaughtering kobolds upgraded his level to twenty-six. The repair skill hit level three, and the cooking skill, now level four, earned him a special option to increase 50 HP for those who were served with his meals until the satisfaction factor went down.

Still, he had a headache.

“Quest Information Window.”

Search and Destroy Operation in the Lair of the Litvart [II]

There are a hundred monsters inhabiting the Lair of Litvart. Kill each and every one of them at least once, and prove yourself worthy of the honorable class. The completion of this quest will open a right path for your destiny.

Difficulty Level: Unknown
Quest Requirement: None
Number of Monsters Left: 100

Regarding the quest that Counselor Rodriguez had, the number of monster that needed to be kill has not decreased at all though Weed had already knocked down hundreds of kobolds.

After a week of warming up on the kobolds, the troops headed to the third floor of the lair—the goblins’ territory.

While hunting kobolds had been originally intended to give the new recruits firsthand combat experience, confronting goblins posed a grave threat to their life.

The level of the kobolds was in the twenties. The kobold rascals are level twenty-three, and the relatively stronger kobold warriors twenty-eight, but untitled kobolds were at level twenty.

On the other hand, the goblins are level fifty or above. Their weapons and gear surpass what kobolds are equipped with in attack power and defense. The combat strength of the goblins is five to six times that of the kobolds.

“Watch out now. When you find yourself in danger, retreat immediately.”
“Yes, Commander!”

The solders could not hide their excitement and tension. Their levels ranged from twenty-three to twenty-five from hunting kobolds, but their confidence ebbed at the thought of facing an unknown enemy whose level was generally twice theirs. The only relief was that g