For the temporary camp, they parked the carriages to build a wagon fort. They could maximize the effect of Evee ’s wards in this way. This time Set ’s party shared their rations with the cat people. It was Link ’s time to shine as a chef and cook for the caravan.
Or share some of the prepared food. One person cooking for more than 30 people was a little much to ask. He distributed the food he had cooked at the church and stored in his inventory. The cat people had a surprised look on their faces when they tasted the food.
They ate the food with similar valor, as the party members had gorged on their soup. Link grinned from one ear to the other when he saw people appreciate his cooking.
It was a joyful evening if one ignored that they were camping in a monster-infested wilderness.
Since it was their food Seth did not have to hold back and ate several portions before falling asleep satisfied.
~ Hey, Relaxo! Wake up, the caravan is ready to keep going. ~
He woke up abashedly. The caravan had already packed up and saddled up. Everyone had finished preparations while he was sound asleep. He hurriedly got up and stored away his stuff. While chowing down on some rations he walked to his place on the carriage.
”I guess you slept well? ” the old cat teased. Drosi was already up on his seat with the reigns in his hands.
”Never been good with waking up early… ” he grumbled and answered and sat down beside the caravan leader. Pictures of his broken alarm clock flashed through his mind. It felt like such a long time since his journey started, even though it was barely a year since then.
The surroundings finally started to change on their fourth day traveling through the foothills. Trees and other plants became smaller and scarcer. It could not be called a forest at this point as rocky terrain started to dominate the landscape.
The wind became stronger and colder in this place and the weather would change from clear to rainy in the blink of an eye.
Less vegetation was no guaranteed for a better field of view. The paths were surrounded by boulders and crevasses where things could hide even from vigilant eyes. His eyes and sharp ears had long registered the arrival of the caravan.
Normally, those messengers below lv.20 would do their best to avoid any fights and hide from attackers. That was how those people survived the journey. Seth ’s company did not have that option.
The wards had kept away the weaker beasts in the forests but here where the real mountains began were the big guys. Seth and his party could have somehow tried to cheat their way through, but he did not trust his luck. That ’s why he had allied with the cat people.
In this mountainous region, the first monsters that did not care about the ward appeared. In pass stood an iconic figure. A dreaded existence that had ended the journey of many players, in a popular game he had played.
It was an ice troll! Stand on the crumbling road in the soft windswept drizzle it blocked their way. It was over three meters tall with snow-white fur and grey skin. The four pairs of menacing crimson eyes stared at them as the wind played with its fur.
Trolls were known for their extremely high regeneration and endurance. On top of that, they were abnormally strong and resilient. Ice trolls were like normal trolls but doped. Still, one Troll would easily fall to their forces. Why did it stand in the open like this?
It was in the moment when Seth imagined noticing a contemptuous smile on the rough monster ’s face.
”Ambush! ” the scout exclaimed.
It was the call from a young cat scout, he was the first to notice something amiss.
”Get in positions! ” Drosi ’s voice filled the still empty landscape. The carriage hurried to form a circle around the armored carriage.
One troll was not enough. Even trolls knew that much. From nooks and cranny, from behind boulders and ledges above appeared a pack of ice trolls. A quick glance told them that these beasts were all around lv. 50.
Considering these were three-meter-tall ice trolls they were a much greater pain in the butt than the same number of humanoids on this level. An adult troll on lv.1 was already equivalent to a lv.40 player. The 50 levels came on top of that. Ice trolls were another notch above that.
These monsters were likely much more dangerous than the wyverns he had faced on his way to Tora.
They were outnumbered by roughly 2:1. The pack of almost 40 ice trolls had loosely surrounded the caravan. Against them stood Seth ’s party of 7 and the 3 scouts, 10 guardians, and 2 mages of the caravan. Unlike Drosi and the mages, who looked like giant housecats, the guardians and scouts resembled big predators like tigers, lions, pumas, panthers, and leopards.
In the meantime, children and non-combative women had squeezed into the armored carriage. Alison, Evee, Link, Drosi, and the mages took station on top of the armored carriage to support the vanguards who surrounded the wagon fort in a circle.
Seth wielded his wyvern set. Considering the strength and endurance of the trolls, their party might have been able to gain some stats through their weapons. Was it appropriate to hold back his fire in such a dire situation, to gain attributes? Could the Tijaahk handle the numerical disadvantage?
Seth ’s worries vaporized when he saw the guardians of the cat people. These warriors were serious from the start. They put away their weapons and got pumped. Literally. Cat Warrior was not their final form.
Bloodcurdling roars echoed through the mountains as their fur stood up and their bodies grew and bulked up to rival or even surpass those of the ice trolls. Claws like daggers grew from their paws and they rushed the pack of trolls.
One guardian could easily handle one or two trolls. Jonah could also handle two at once while Monique could fight three holding the upper hand. Tekar managed to block 3 trolls from advancing. Felix, Evee ’s familiar, was also busy distracting a troll.
Link and Evee were occupied with spreading debuffs to ease the vanguard ’s burden, while the mages started opening fire at the trolls, minding friendly fire.
Even if Seth didn ’t pull all his registers they were able to manage just fine.
The level and attribute difference with the trolls was huge, but it still had some effect on them as their movements slightly slowed. With this Seth also took on two of the icy monsters and focused on giving them death through a thousand cuts.
However, one could not underestimate the ice trolls. Their skins were this and most injuries inflicted on them healed within moments. Only cut-off limbs and broken bones took slightly longer to recover.
Even injuries to the vitals were not fatal unless it was their head. It was great for Seth ’s party since the trolls would not die no matter how often they cut them. The effects were not as good as he had anticipated after their crazy grinding in the fog dimension.
Seth felt a slight increase with every hit, but it took about 10 swings before his endurance went up by one. He was a little confused, but it was not exactly the time to think. It just meant he had to cut more often.
Playtime was soon over. Unlike the trolls, the caravan member did not automatically heal. Evee could not handle the role of healer alone, but even after Drosi revealed himself as a shaman, they had a hard time keeping everyone alive.
Everything was in a fragile balance, but this balance had a deadline. He had gained 7 points in endurance and 3 in strength when he decided that it was time.
Seth equipped his big stick, and the iron rod went to work. It may not have been an epic item, but it did not mean it was weak, especially against this kind of opponent. He had no vanguard class, but his items easily made up the difference.
A swing with the staff was blocked by a thick forearm but was accompanied by an audible crack from broken bones. Just endurance was not enough to mitigate the blunt force of Seth ’s strike.
He backstepped to evade the swipe of the second troll. Seth ’s staff was enveloped in a layer of bright flames as he stabbed towards the abdomen of the attacker using the other end of the staff. The flame was like a spearhead as it penetrated fur and flesh, sending a wave of fire into the abdominal cavity.
Before he could finish off the burned opponent who had sunk to its knees, its compatriot attacked him with its healthy arm. He ducked below the attack and smashed the creature ’s left knee. He turned, brought the fiery end of the staff around to crush the ice troll ’s head.
With the right arm limply hanging down and tilting to the right, it could not evade or block. It could only watch the incoming attack that ended its life. He finished off the second troll who had a hard time doing anything with its innards cooked.
He joined the casters in getting rid of the trolls that were not bound by the vanguard and the balanced quickly tilted to their favor.
With Link ’s and Evee ’s debuffs and Seth binding them in melee combat they had a hard time evading the magic as they did before. Monique and Jonah also finished their battles and went to help the pressed cat guardians. The battle soon ended with over 40 dead trolls surrounding the caravan.
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