Modherik looked at his captain with terror.
"Father... War... War is scary..." stuttered he.
"But you're a warrior! You're a proud guard of Earthshaking Hammer! Stand up!"
The captain was incredibly enraged at his son's fearful display.
Having little time to lecture his kid, the captain pulled him up and began dictating. While the destructive power of orcish spells wasn't comparable to human spells, high priests of the religion were masters of status augmentation. Oxen Might and agility spells could be dictated on hordes of warriors at once.
Apart from that, shaman high priests could cast bloodlust spells that allowed warriors to enter a berserk state. Not only could high priests greatly improve the synergy between warriors, they could also dispel the fear and cowardice in them and make them fight with wild abandon.
In single combat, a shaman was weaker than a magus of the same stratum. But when the number of combatants increased, a shaman's utility far exceeded that of a magus of the same stratum.
Seeing his father boost the troupe's morale single-handedly, Modherik gradually regained his confidence. He suppressed the fear in his heart and prepared to rush at the enemy again.
However, his captain stopped him.
He looked at his child and said in a voice with irresistible dignity, "The battle doesn't need you now. Head back and notify the nearby settlements immediately. They must be wary of this group of humans."
"No! Dad! I won't run away!" objected Modherik loudly with a flushed face.
He wasn't sure whether his father was mocking his cowardice.
"It's Captain! Listen to me!" cried the captain.
"Our home might be in danger. You have to warn them!"
"Da-- Captain! I want to stay to fight!"
However, the captain no longer had any patience. He pushed his son away and roared, "This is the most important mission! You're not running away! Remember, you have to complete it even if it kills you! Our home depends on you!"
After he finished, he stopped bothering with his son and continued to support the unit with his spells.
Modherik looked at his father… decided to obey in the end. The first time he disobeyed them, more than 30 of his comrades died, so he didn't dare to do it again.
The young warrior gave his comrades, baptized by the human magi's spells, one last look before gritting his teeth and advancing in the opposite direction, dragging his injured leg along.
Kurdak's face was completely expressionless as he stared at the approaching warriors. While they were considered strong by normal people, they were just walking ears worth just five gold in his eyes. He was confident he could turn them into gold, too.
The frenzied slaughter of the last two years had greatly speed up his growth. He had successfully entered the twelfth stratum and could be considered an expert among mid-order warriors. He was confident he could face off against ten orcs at once and still win. That aside, the most important factor in his confidence were his comrades.
Even after Annelotte's ability greatly decreased, her talent as a genius magus was surprising, to say the least. Though every member of the party had grown in strength rather substantially, Annelotte was still the strongest. He even suspected she could still take on the other three, Leguna included, even in her current state.
Leguna was no longer the kid that had to rely on him for a living. He was a deadly assassin. Other things aside, the fact that he could bring 40 orc ears after a one-man excursion was testament to his growth. He had fought against at least 20 orcs. Even Kurdak had to admit he couldn't deal with so many in such a short amount of time even with the element of surprise. As Leguna mostly acted alone nowadays, his understanding of the kid's true abilities was lacking. But given that he was a shadow dancer, even if he was weaker than Kurdak, the gap between them was probably not that wide. He even suspected the kid had already exceeded him.
Vera was the slowest to improve. However, she was still an incredibly threatening archer. Even though she wasn't well-versed in close combat, the moment she was given a safe and stable vantage point from which to attack, her threat to enemies was second only to Annelotte. Her accuracy had been refined to an incredibly high level over the past ten years, and her 11th-stratum-impetus-infused arrows were incredibly damaging!
That was why he didn't fear the orcs in the slightest even though they outnumbered him ten-to-one, no matter how ferocious they appeared.
"Ley, wipe out the orc shaman in the back first. With him around, these fellows' combat ability can be raised up to four-fold," instructed Kurdak calmly.
He knew the moment he gave the order, the orc shaman had less than ten minutes to live.
Leguna stretched his body before retreating to the rear and quietly entering a stealthy state.
"Annie, Vera, Uncle, cover me! I'm heading off!"
Kurdak drew his two-handed sword -- the first human to rush into the fray.
Kurdak seemed like an indomitable war god as he ran into the enemy's ranks with a great howl. A storm of blood, limbs, and torn flesh spewed forth around him. Seeing how courageous and ferocious Kurdak was, Ferd quietly nodded in approval.
Not only does he have a rather complex mind, he also has great leadership and is braver than most. Not a bad fit for Vera. Though, his looks are a little too distasteful...
Even though the thought was a sign of recognition, if Kurdak actually heard Ferd's last comment, he would vomit blood in anger and die on the spot. After all, not looking good wasn't his fault! Good old Kurdak only looked a little rougher than most, but it only added to his manliness, not ugliness!
Ferd and Vera were both expert archers, They skillfully sniped the enemies behind Kurdak one after another, allowing him to completely concentrate on the enemies in front of him.
Further in the distance, Annelotte had unleashed a horrifying wave of magic. A blizzard wiped the orcs off the battlefield, leaving only empty land, while also serving as an obstacle for the orcs further behind. They had no choice but to circle around the area affected by the magic to advance.
Farsi looked closely at Annelotte, who was controlling large amounts of magical power, before proceeding to unleash his own impressive magical spell so as not to be outdone. Though fire type spells were inherently more damaging than ice type spells, the damage Annelotte dealt with her spell was staggering, to say the least, and not the least bit inferior to Farsi's. The two geniuses specializing in their respective areas seemed to be competing with each other in a match of slaughter.
Daver looked at the two freaks younger than him before smiling exasperatingly as he started dictating enhancement spells. Even the genius recognized as the number one in Snowrock was a mere sidekick to those two.
Leguna slowly approached the orc captain. The shaman was surely no pushover, given that he was capable enough to be given command of a company. Otherwise, the orcs who worshipped power above all else wouldn't submit to him. Even so, he was confident he could kill him. He had already killed at least four or five such company captains over the last two years.
Leguna was armed with Lighteater; only this sword wouldn't break his cover when he wielded it. He couldn't carry a bright glowing weapon like Flameblade casually.
The orc captain continued to dictate spells, completely unaware of the encroaching death.
When Leguna had circled around to the captain's back, he realized there was another orc limping away not too far in the other direction. While he didn't intend to spare it, dealing with the shaman was his main priority.
The youth acted. He broke out of stealth when he was two meters away. This was the perfect distance to launch a strike, based on personal experience. If he was too far away, his enemy would easily escape. If he was too close, he'd be discovered before he could act.
Lighteater cut through the air and arced towards the orc's neck. It was a perfect strike. However, the captain turned back to check on his son the moment Leguna lashed out, allowing him to dodge.
Lighteater cut its cheek and blood streamed down its face. Though the orc's face was disfigured, with its teeth visible to the eye, the strike wasn't fatal.
The surprise attack only yielded mediocre results, causing Leguna to furrow his brow. However, his figure didn't remain in the same spot for more than a moment. The instant he realized things hadn't gone as he'd planned, he entered close combat with the shaman. Even though magi and shamans were both spell users, shamans' constitutions were unlike that of physically weak magi. Shamans could still fight decently in close combat.
Armed with Flameblade in his left hand and Lighteater in his right, Leguna parried the orc's axe. He used Lighteater for the parry, and Flameblade, held closely against his arm, for the counter-attack. It was a skill Arikos had taught him. By holding the blade against the arm, the enemy would have a hard time seeing where it was and couldn't predict which direction the attack would come from based on how the dagger was angled.
Though the shaman performed surprisingly well in close combat, it didn't last long against Leguna, who had been trained excessively by Moonshadow.
Not only was the direction of his attacks hard to predict, his footwork and attack speed were ethereal and hard to discern. The battle's pace oscillated between fast and slow under Leguna's control and the shaman found it very difficult to attune to it. The most stunning part was that the youth possessed a terrifying calm. The shaman found the youth didn't commit any mistakes during the fight. The combination of an eerie combat method, an incredibly tempered mind, and a fearsome amount of experience put immense pressure on him. As a result, he lost his focus for the slightest moment.
The trajectory of the lightning bolt he unleashed to force Leguna back was off by the slightest of margins. Leguna only had to sidestep to avoid it before resuming his ferocious assault. He parried the axe with the sword in his right hand and half a second later, cut through the orc's throat.
He could speed up even further?! Was he hiding his true strength all along?! the orc's last though echoed in its mind.
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