The day after completing the Goblin subjugation request, the figures of Set and Rei could be seen on the highway. However, instead of flying on the ground like before, they were walking normally on the highway.
Actually, Rei wanted to fly through the sky to get around, however, he was asked by Ranga to stop landing near the city or on highways. It seemed to be an appeal from travelers and merchants that had fled scared when Set landed on the highway yesterday.
Rei didn’t fly near the town and decided to give Ranga some face and didn’t land on the highway either when he took his next quest.
TLN: The concept of face isn’t unique to the Chinese, it is rarer in Japanese stories though due to the story settings. Drop a question if you don’t know what it means.
「Well, the request this time is to subjugate Soldier Ants……」
He recalled the contents of the request that had been posted in the guild.
In the past few days, near the city – that is to say within a few hours walking distance – the appearance of Soldier Ants had become more frequent.
For the subjugation request of the Soldier Ants, the proof of subjugation was the dagger like protrusion that grew on their backs. The reward for each part was 5 copper coins, about double that of the goblins.
According to the story Rei heard from the lady at the reception, there was probably a nest with a Queen Ant near the city of Gimuru and that the so called Queen Ant might appear. However, while Soldier Ants are rank F, the Queen Ant is a rank C, because of this, it was best to not mess with it if it was found.
(Rank C, the Water Bear was also rank C when I found out later. Then if I let Set or the Death Scythe absorb the magic stone, acquiring a skill is certain. In that case, I’ll aim for it.)
While thinking this in his mind, he advanced along the highway with Set while looking for Soldier Ants.
Why didn’t they fly? Though Set gave a cry as if asking, Rei stroked his back to soothe him as they proceeded along the highway.
It should be noted, though they occasionally met passersby, as soon as they saw Set and Rei, they would pass by before running at full speed towards Gimuru.
The had walked along the highway for about an hour. Although Rei was distracted by the scenery around them, he switched to his combat state after hearing Set growl ahead of him.
Holding the Death Scythe, he confirmed something with a black appearance coming from the bushes surrounding the roadside.
They were some sort of black ant, that is, they were the Soldier Ants that needed to be subjugated. They also seemed to have found Rei. With threatening mandibles like a huge pair of scissors, they made gachi~ gachi~ sounds as if to intimidate him.
Aside from its cry and size, they looked like a normal ant. If there was one difference, it would be the dagger-like protrusion that grew on their backs.
A Soldier Ant ran towards them while raising a short cry. Though it went straight for Rei, trying to bite and tear him apart with its sharp mandibles, its speed wasn’t particularly fast. It was a less formidable enemy than the goblin rare that Rei fought yesterday by a great extent.
The Soldier Ant that had opened its mandibles to bite Rei was cut in half by the magic empowered Death Scythe.
Although Soldier Ants can still act if one of their legs are lost, it doesn’t seem to be possible if its body is cut in half, its legs didn’t twitch for long before its movements stopped.
Although he took down one, from the bushes it came from, 1, 2, 3, 4 and more ants made their appearance.
Rei unintentionally clicked his tongue.
「Set, Fire Breath!」
Set opened his mouth while giving a high cry in response to Rei’s voice. Flames spewed from his mouth the next moment. It was the newly learned skill from the magic stone of yesterdays goblin rare, but because it was at a low level at Lvl. 1, the flame breath was small, its range was also limited to 2~3m.
Still, the flames seemed to succeed in dealing moderate damage to the Soldier Ants, even if it didn’t kill them, their movements were still dulled.
Even though they had numbers, when the movements of the Soldier Ants dulled, they were no longer enemies to Rei, instead of monsters that had to be fought, they were reduced to mere prey.
Pouring magic power into the Death Scythe, he cut through the necks with the blade and split their bodies in half. Striking their body with the handle to knock them up, he split them in one strike.
An ant was blasted apart by Set’s Water Ball as he spewed a concentrated Fire Breath at another ant, turning it into charcoal. His powerful beak pierced through the ants body as he tore off its neck with his claws.
It was a few minutes after the fighting began. Over 30 Soldier Ants had been killed in a few minutes, body parts and fluids covered the ground.
As Set raised a cry of victory, Rei was wary of more enemies coming. However, the bushes were still quiet after a few minutes passed.
「This seems to be the whole group.」
Rei finally spat out a sigh of relief after confirming that.
Asking Set to watch the surroundings, he went to retrieve the magic stones and proof of subjugation.
However, recovering the magic stone and projection from the Soldier Ant that was exhaustively burned wasn’t possible as it had been turned to charcoal. It was also impossible to retrieve the magic stone and projection from the ant that had been blasted apart by the water ball.
(When an attack with too much power is used, it becomes impossible to collect the magic stone and proof of subjugation. I better take note of that from now on.)
While thinking of that, he took The Beginners Guide to Dismantling Monsters from the Misty Ring and opened to the section with Soldier Ants.
The materials listed in the book that could be stripped off the Soldier Ant were the antennas, which could be used for medicine, and the head and exoskeleton, which could be used as armour.
The antennas were easily cut off with a bronze knife, but the problem was the exoskeleton of the body.
Though the knife could cut through the gaps in the exoskeleton, it was considerably difficult work for Rei. Though he managed to strip the exoskeleton off the Soldier Ant, it wasn’t in good condition.
Still, after taking some time, he did succeed in removing the exoskeleton and storing it into the Misty Ring.
「With this, the minimum subjugation amount is complete. Now we just have to look for the Queen Ant……」
Rei looked around while spitting out a sigh. The corpses of 30 Soldier Ants were scattered about. The amount seemed to be an advance force. The sigh was involuntary as he thought about the number of Soldier Ants he would have to contend with to aim at the Queen Ant.
The Soldier Ant itself wasn’t a very strong opponent. No, there wouldn’t be a problem if you just called it weak. This wasn’t without grounds as he with Set had wiped out more than 30 Soldier Ants in a few minutes.
However, the problem was the amount of fatigue. They hardly felt any fatigue even after defeating 30 of them this time. But what about fighting the same amount several times, or tens of times, what if the battle was repeated dozens of times.
Certainly, for Set and Rei, their bodies were tougher than normal monsters and humans. However, this didn’t mean they had infinite strength. It is natural for movement to dull if you are tired, and if your movement dull, you become more likely to be hit by an attack. Even if their bodies had eternal youth, they were not immortal.
Still, to miss out on the magic stone of the C rank Queen Ant was too regretful.
「Well, what to do.」
Thinking while thrusting the handle of the Death Scythe through the body of a Soldier Ant……suddenly, he felt a sense of incongruity with the exoskeleton.
(What? Why do I feel something different when I look at this exoskeleton? This exoskeleton looks normal……so, apart from size, the appearance and size are the same as the other ants. There’s no mistake. However……!?)
Muttering in his mind, he finally understood his sense of dissonance. An ant that leaves its nest will usually grow wings, a so called winged ant. However, there were no wings attached to the Soldier Ant that lay before his eyes.
(In other words, not all the ants in Elgin have the habit of becoming winged ants? Or did these ants not leave the nest to become winged ants……there’s a strong chance of being wrong either way.)
All the ants the Queen Ant controlled didn’t have wings to fly……that would be considered too optimistic. However, the few Soldier Ants Rei and Set defeated didn’t have wings. In other words, the chance of success was higher if instead of going along the ground, Rei and Set flew, mounting a surprise attack on the Queen Ant from the sky, Rei thought.
Whether or not it was fortunate, from the information obtained from the guild receptionist, if the Queen Ant is defeated, the swarm, which is lead by the Queen Ant would no longer be able to maintain itself and will scatter into the surrounding area. The number of times Soldier Ants will appear near the city of Gimuru would increase for a while, however, it would still be better than the swarm governed by the leading Queen Ant.
While watching the surroundings, Set, who was pecking at the corpses of the Soldier Ants, curiously turned his head to face Rei.
「Try to search the Queen Ant from the sky. Launch a surprise attack from the sky to kill the Queen Ant.」
Nodding at Rei’s proposal, Set crouched down. Rei vaulted onto Set’s back while holding the Death Scythe.
Raising a sharp cry, Set flapped his eagle like wings after a run up of a few steps. Rei’s cheeks unintentionally loosened as they steadily ascended into the sky by kicking the air, a smile floated onto his face as he saw another group of Soldier Ants heading to the place they were at before, they had evaded a second battle.
「Though it would have taken some time for more to arrive after Set and I defeated the first group, we would have been stuck in a constant war of attrition. The correct decision was made early.」
I agree, Set seemed to say as he gave a short cry. While patting his neck, a grassy plain a forest spread along the highway……it wasn’t easy to see deeply into the forest from the sky.
They had flown through the sky for about 20 minutes. Although they occasionally saw the figure of a monster passing through, the figure of the Queen Ant, which was their aim, could not be seen anywhere.
「Its not so easy to find after all.」
Set raised a cry as if to comfort Rei but changed into a sharp cry half way. It was a cry of precaution.
The reason he raised his voice was immediately found. The enemy appeared from the forest. Because there wasn’t an object for comparison, it can’t be said for sure, however, they looked larger than the Soldier Ants. Moreover, they had wings growing from behind their necks. They flew through the sky, straight for Set. There were 5 in number.
「To fly through the sky, moreover, they’re bigger than Soldier Ants. Imperial Ants, or should I call them Imperial Ants? Well, an enemy is an enemy. Let’s go, Set!」 TLN: More word differences, the first Imperial Ant is written in Kanji while the second in in Katakana.
Flapping his wings while raising a courageous cry, Set flew straight towards the Imperial Ants in a straight line without hesitation.
The distance between them decreased……
A water ball appeared near Set’s face and with Set’s cry, was fired on the Imperial Ants.
Though the Imperial Ant flying at the top avoided the attack by tilting its body at an angle, the Imperial Ant that flew behind it didn’t fair so well. Hitting it in the face, the water ball exploded at the same time. Most of the upper body exploded with it and it fell to the ground.
Muttering, Rei began to cast a spell.
『Flame, collect and gather. One for all. All for one. Appear at my command.』
After Rei finished casting the spell, a mass of flame 1m in size gathered at the tip of the Death Scythe Rei held. Facing the Imperial Ants, Rei swung the Death Scythe with all his strength. At the same time, the flame flew straight towards the enemy.
However, its speed was only half the speed of the water ball Set had fired first, it was lacking speed in all aspects.
In fact, the Imperial Ants scattered so as to avoid the flames……
Flames exploded at the same time Rei activated his magic. A large amount of flames the size of his fist scattered into the surroundings at high speeds.
It was a magic that Rei had made in the image of fireworks, however, the power of the flame after the explosion wasn’t that high.
Still there was enough power to burn the wings of the Imperial Ants, with their wings burnt completely, two of them fell to the ground.
Falling from a height of over 30m, they would not survive.
And there were 2 Imperial Ants left. But.
One had its body crushed by Set’s claws.
The other was split in half by the blade of the Death Scythe wielded by Rei.
「Right, the next step is to find the position of the Queen Ant……」
When Rei said that, a huge cry came from the surroundings.
The main sounds were coming from near tree 30m ahead of Set. There was the figure of a giant ant monster bigger than the Soldier Ant and Imperial Ant.
In other words.
Set gave a sharp cry in agreement to Rei’s words. Rei stroked Set’s neck while smiling at his bravery.
「Right. Then……lets go!」
Giving a high pitch cry in response to Rei’s words, Set dived towards the Queen Ant on the ground.