The Statue of the Goddess Freya

As Weed and his teammates came closer to the lizardmen’s stronghold, the number of monsters falling in their way increased rapidly.

“We already took down more than forty lizardmen…”

“We’re still at the border. How many more do you think are gathered deep inside?”

Irene and Romuna spoke in turn. But Weed only smiled.

“Look, you all know the lizardmen are group-living monsters, don’t you?”

“Yes, Weed-nim. They herd together more than Orcs,” Irene said.

“That’s right. They also protect their own territory jealously. What if someone steps over it?” Weed asked.

“They fight back without exception!” Surka said.

“That’s right. That’s what makes the lizardmen fearsome among users.”

“Doesn’t it mean we’re in trouble now?”

Weed and his teammates were going through a valley. They often rested in the middle to recharge mana, and wasted no energy.

At this point, he gave away the riddle.

“I’d say we’re in danger under normal circumstances, but we can count on Darius now.”

Because of Weed’s revelation, they realized where his confidence was coming from.

“What do you mean by that–oh, I got it!” Surka said.

“Darius is really helping us out!” Romuna said.

The stronghold of the lizardmen.

Now they should have been fighting viciously against the punitive force who had invaded their territory.

In other words, the base camp would be nearly abandoned, only guarded by a handful of lizardman warriors.

At the sometime, Weed guessed that treasures that the lizardmen had plundered from nearby villages were stacked over there.

He was climbing the western valley in order to accomplish Ghandilva’s quest, but his real agenda was hidden.

“We will face a more difficult enemy from this point on. How about baiting them now?” Weed asked.

“Roger!” Surka said.

“We should be careful. We can’t allow many lizardmen to take on us at once,” Weed said.

Surka did a great job baiting lizardmen one by one. Her outstanding dexterity helped her lure the enemy separately.

“Come on, you ugly reptiles!”

“Kruru!”

“Human, we kill you!”The furious lizardmen chased after Surka.Weed and Pale quickly loaded arrows on their bows, targeted the lizardmen and shot them.SweeshWhile Weed shot one arrow at a time, Pale shot multiple arrows so fast that his hands were almost invisible.

Their skill levels in archery made a fair difference, not to mention the effects of Pale’s other skills.

Weed’s archery had advanced beyond his overall level as he had sniped at the goblins, yet he could not possibly rival Pale whose hands had never left his bow.

For Pale, even before an arrow hit a target, the next arrow was already loaded and launched.

Since level five, when he converted to the ranger class, he had been upgrading the Chain Shot and Penetration skills, which rendered his arrows more powerful.

Weed shot arrows until the lizardmen got too close to him. The damage was low, yet his expertise rating in archery improved nonetheless.

No, the bottom line was that his temperament didn’t allow him to sit back and wait for his enemy.

Why should I wait for EXPs, no, the enemy to come?

Weed loved to fight, never got tired of it. He was unstoppable now.

“Yatz, yatz, yatz!”

Out of his mouth, another battle cry burst forth.

Irene and Romuna giggled. They had once mentioned this to Weed, who had to admit he could not help it.

For him, it was a roar of triumph that came out only when he was overly excited.

Fortunately, there had never yet been a time when monsters had heard him and rushed to get his party, though he was constantly embarrassed by his involuntary habit when he was fighting shoulder to shoulder with other users.

Weed is always composed, but he sometimes goes out of control and becomes childish, Irene thought.

They encountered six lizardmen in a ludicrous battle.

The moment the battle began, two of the lizardmen were slaughtered by Weed’s sword, and there were four more to go.

He left those four monsters alone because if he had taken down all of them, Romuna, Pale and Surka would be denied precious EXPs.

Worse still, Weed’s mana would run out while Irene’s mana remained in excess, which would compel the entire party to take a break in order for him to refill his mana. They would waste valuable time, falling behind the deadline of the quest.

Two lizardmen went after Surka, but the other two in a fury charged at Weed to exact revenge for the loss of their comrades.

Weed’s sword was in need of repair, below ten in durability. Given that a powerful sword technique gives an excessive burden to the weapon in use, further lowering the weapon’s durability, he had been engaged fiercely without a rest.

“Disarm the iron sword.”

Weed returned his sword to the inventory and clenched his fists.

Surka’s signature skill!

“Yon-han-kwan!”

Weed’s fists lashed out at the enemy incessantly.

He had called out the skill name, not that the skill was actually activated. He had not learned it in the first place, let alone used it.

Instead, he imitated the way Surka had used her fists to the best of his knowledge, and beat the lizardmen.

Wanting to hit monsters with his own hands, he had learned martial arts for a year, waiting for that moment.

Needless to say, his punches were terrific.

Pabababak!

Weed’s hands moved at an invisible speed.

In clubbing the lizardmen mercilessly, his intermediate handicraft skill added an extra fifty percent to attack power by fist.

“Ugh!”

“Human fists, they hurt!”

Weed closed on his enemy, punching at every opening. The lizardmen swung their blades in retaliation.

The bottom line was, the lizardmen and Weed were both obsessed with looking to finish off the other before being finished themselves.

Weed’s footsteps were light. Any time his body rocked, a punch thrust into a lizardman. His ankles and waist moved at his will and drew strength for the fists, which in turn struck the lizardmen’s stomach and chests.

“Kugh!”

“Treacherous human, he hits the same spot over and over!”The lizardmen wailed in pain.“Weed-nim, keep up the pressure!”Irene was busy healing the frontline leaders from behind.Her expertise in healing was acknowledged. Whenever her teammate’s life went down below seventy percent, her Healing Hand touched the needy. It is risk-free and effective.

Weed was enjoying the firsthand sense of punching the enemy. He preferred hand-to-hand combat to sword fighting, for he could feel it, and it felt more real.

The lizardmen and Weed were pummeling each other, but it wasn’t the same. The lizardmen’s faces were filled with pain, but a smile hovered on his.

He was whirling his mighty fists, crying out with excitement.

Meanwhile, Romuna and Pale were casting magic spells and shooting arrows, respectively, to get rid of the other two lizardmen that had fastened on to Surka.

Without a hope in sight, those two lizardmen facing Weed were having the hell beaten out of them, yet were still alive.

New Stat: Fighting Spirit

The endurance stat is mostly generated by warriors in the first rounds of their adventure.

When it is developed, it reduces physical damage inflicted by the enemy, and even increases the user’s life by a small amount.

You can invest some stat bonus points from a level up in the endurance stat, but the majority chose to let it develop of itself by receiving melee attacks.

After the endurance stat had been newly added to his stats, Weed’s movement became more tactical. He checked how much mana Irene had, and intentionally let the lizardmen strike him with their blades.

The stat grows as it is hit.

This is truly the power you can obtain only through pain and suffering.

Weed was a human that gladly accepted the lizardmen’s attacks as long as they were acceptable within Irene’s mana.

In Royal Road, you actually feel hurt when you are hurt. Weed even enjoyed the pain.

“Kueeek!”

One of the lizardmen finally perished with a death cry.

Weed achieved a stirring feat by punching a lizardman to death in the battle.

The other three lizardmen were sandwiched by Romuna, Pale and Surka and killed.

Weed had killed three of them alone, but it would not have been easy even with the iron sword unless Irene constantly regenerated his life. The victory required all five of them in the party.

* * *

Surka went fishing in a group of lizardmen in the distance when there were two or more groups of lizardmen nearby.

If it had not been the case, Pale would simply shoot an arrow at them, or more often than not, Weed would be the first man to move.

Weed would run right into the ranks of lizardmen and swing his sword freely. His teammates would run after him and help finish the monsters off. Then they would walk away victorious.This was what Weed liked about his teammates most.

They were usually chatty and noisy on the march, but when it came to a battle, they would fall silent and get serious.

They had been thoroughly tamed by Weed.

Since they had hunted foxes in front of the Citadel, they had learned how to hunt monsters rapidly and economically.

When they entered the lizardmen’s stronghold after neutralizing a handful of lizardman guards, they found a bunch of straw huts scattered in the forlorn valley.

The captives are over there, Weed thought.

His eyes shone.

The parents of the children were confined in a cage made of woven branches.

Weed studied the situation for a while.

There were ten men and women locked in the wooden cage, and he located eight lizardmen mounting guard over them.

Eight of them!

With little consideration for mana, Weed could finish two, or three at most, in a blitz, but in that case, his teammates would have to deal with the other five remaining guards.

He was certain that they would prevail in the end, but Irene and Romuna, who were low in life and weak in defense, could end up dead. Mages and priestesses could be endangered by only a few wild strikes from a lizardman.

“We’d better rescue the captives first. I’ll lead the group away.”

Surka knew it was time for action, and moved.

“Human!”

“How she get here…”
“Kill first!”

When Surka approached the lizardmen, five of them began to chase after her. Instead of pursuing her, the other three lizardmen stayed behind to keep an eye on the captives.

They’re not as foolish as I thought.Weed made eye contact with Surka on the run. They nodded.

– Weed-nim, I will race in a circle along where we came from, and come back here.

– Thank you, Surka-nim. That will be enough.

Weed and Surka struck a quick deal through whispers.

Assured that she and her pursuers were out of sight, Weed and Pale appeared in front of the remaining lizardmen.

“More humans!”

“Human, come again.”The three lizardmen stammered in surprise.“Engraving knife technique!”“Fire arrow!”
“Power shot!”

The guards survived barely a second against the human intruders.Weed and Pale downed them in a split second and opened the gate of the wooden cage. The parents stayed inside, though, scared out of their wits.Weed could sympathize with how terrified they were, having been captured by the lizardmen and waiting for death any second.

“We are here by the request from Ghandilva, the elder of Baran Village,”

Weed said to the villagers.

“The… the elder…”
“Yes, he asked us to rescue you and take back home safely. Is anyone wounded here?”
“This way, please…”

Weed went into the wooden cage and gave first aid to the wounded with herbs and bandages.

That measure alone restored their health greatly.

“Weed-nim, Surka-nim’s back,” Pale said.

Surka, who had been leading the lizardmen away from the cage, was coming back.

“Stay in the cage for a minute. Get ready to leave now. You want to see your children again, don’t you?” Weed said tenderly to the villagers.

Some would have counted the villagers as a liability, and, as a matter of fact, they were right in a sense because his party was responsible for rescuing the captives from the lizardmen and guaranteeing their safety to Baran Village.

But Weed thought one step further.

“These lovely EXP points!”

What Weed was carrying out was a rescue mission.

For each head saved, he would receive extra EXP points as a reward when the mission was completed. He had given up fame and EXPs from the punitive force quest to exterminate the lizardmen, but this one was still a good bargain.

Weed and his teammates finished off the five lizardmen that returned on Surka’s heels. They quickly hid the villagers in a safe shelter, and then searched for more captives, who were eventually found and rescued as well.

Their disappointment, though, lay in what the lizardmen had looted and stacked.

Orcs and goblins collect gold and gems. In stark contrast with those crow-like creatures, lizardmen in the class Reptilian hardly gathered anything valuable when they plagued human civilization.

So all that Weed’s party found were a mountain of shields, armor and weapons made of iron.

* * *

Weed and his teammates swept the armaments together without leaving anything behind. The maximum weight that a user can carry depends on his strength and stamina.Even Irene and Romuna were stumbling toward the village with heavy loads on their backs.

Of course, it wasn’t only his party that carried arms.

“We saved you.” Weed said to the rescued.Their faces showed some uneasiness at his words.

“Naturally we are not asking for any compensation for what we have done. All we want is a seed that Ghandilva, the elder of your village, promised. It is because we didn’t save you for profit or reward.”

Reassured, the villagers looked less anxious than before.

Smiling gently, Weed added, “I understand you’ve gone through trouble a lot, but would you mind helping as carry those arms down to the village?”

“……”

The villagers’ faces underwent another sudden change.

They were extremely weary due to malnutrition. The last thing they wanted to do was anything that might compromise their