Episode 16: Cowardly Ranged Weapons
In Leon’s world, ranged weapons were considered weapons of the cowardly, reserved for the weak.
They were never acceptable to a knight who valued honor, and the only people who used them were either serfs or freeman soldiers who did not need recognition.
The man is a natural commander and an undefeated rising general.
He had plenty of archers, catapults, and even cannons.
But ranged weapons have their restrictions. They have a specific limitation, and it’s the same with guns.
There’s a limit to the amount of ammunition, a limit to the amount of firepower… In the end, they’re weapons that have a maximum value.
But swords and lances are different.
How you swing is how you swing, and how you thrust is how you move. It’s purely based on the individual’s capabilities.
If you can’t split a boulder with your sword, then you’re not a knight.
Can’t you slice through the enemy’s armor on horseback? A skilled knight can do it even against cavalry.
In the end, honor and prestige are earned purely through your skill, not by relying on weapons such as bows.
For Holy Grail Knights who have completed their quests and been chosen by the Grail, a ranged weapon is a dishonorable affirmation of their inadequacies.
“No, there’s something wrong with you!”
Of course, it needed to make more sense in this modern age.
“You’re a funny fellow.”
Oh, Kang-hyuk laughed it off, but not the rest of the party. They were about to say something when the impatient hunter staff member shouted,
“We need to get going!”
Gu Dae-sung followed where the Association hunter led, thinking this test might be a bust.
“This test… how does it work?”
Dae-sung asked, and the Association staff kindly answered,
“Basically, you’ll be hunting 50 kobolds. They’ll be out in the field, but if it’s too dangerous, I’ll go forward with you.”
Even though the association staff member said that only kobolds were required, Gu Dae-sung wanted to earn a higher score.
Obviously, hunting down gnolls and boss monsters earns higher scores, and there are specific areas where they appear.
“Hey, guys. I know a spot. Why don’t we head over there and hunt for some points?”
“You’re more experienced than us, so…….”
“This old man is fine with that.”
The three agreed while Leon remained silent. Gu Dae-sung led the party out of the meadow and into the forest.
Tae-hoon and Na-yeon, the novices, craned their necks to see where he was taking them.
“Dae-sung-ssi1, I see a village at the end of the meadow. There must be a lot of them there.”
“Don’t mess with the villages. Kobolds and gnolls, many of whom are mobile, could be surrounding us and outnumbering us.
Gu Dae-sung was a veteran of the gate, entering it for the tenth time.
Although he comes to this gate less often because it’s only for testing purposes, he has seen kobolds and gnolls at other entrances.
“We’re going to target the kobolds in the cave.”
Gu Dae-sung explained the advantages of fighting in caves.
First, the cramped space and one-way passageway meant they wouldn’t have to worry about being surrounded.
He said, plucking a patch of grass he’d found while passing by,
“I’m going to light a fire with the grass here and fill the place with smoke so we can easily attack the cave kobolds.”
“You’re different, after all.”
Even as the party members praised him, Gu Dae-sung smiled bitterly.
It wasn’t that big of a deal, as he had come to this testing gate ten times.
If his class had increased, the testing gate would naturally be different. For Class C, it would be the Samjeon Station Gate. For a B class, it will be Building 63 Gate.
He spent hours studying and researching various strategies, imagining that one day he would be able to enter the top gates, but all he could see was the Seoul Station gate.
‘I have to move up this time, and I can’t be a Class D forever.’
He wanted to be strong, and he was sick and tired of being D-ranked.
“Kobolds up ahead!”
At that moment, Shin Tae-hoon, who was in the forefront as a tank, stopped. The kobolds had spotted them because of the loud shouting.
Kobolds are humanoid monsters with the heads of dogs. They are about the height of an elementary school student and are the lowest class of demons.
“Block them using your shield in front, Tae-hoon!”
The kobolds’ charge was simple. Straightforward and simplistic. They had a strong tendency to go with pure strength and power.
In such a case, the hunters would win unless they were overwhelmingly outnumbered.
An arrow struck down the kobold that had been charging straight for Na-yeon.
It spun around to face Tae-hoon’s shield and crashed head-on into it, bleeding from the nose.
Tae-hoon plunged his sword into the fallen kobold. Just then, another kobold threw itself at Tae-hoon, and he fell to the ground in surprise.
Just as the kobold was about to sink its teeth into him, Dae-sung’s sword pierced the kobold’s neck. Hot blood poured down Tae-hoon’s face.
“Don’t let your guard down! They may be weak, but they’re quick!”
There are five kobolds left. But immediately, Na-yeon’s arrow pierced through the second kobold.
Elder Oh Kang-tae took over the collapsed formation and punched the kobolds in the face with his armored fist. It was a swift jab.
The kobolds’ faces got squashed. The moment Dae-sung picked up Tae-hoon and joined the fight, the kobolds collapsed one after another.
“I’m, I’m sorry. I made a slip-up.”
When Tae-hoon apologized for breaking the formation due to surprise, Dae-sung patted him on the back and encouraged him.
“It’s okay, and it happens the first time.”
He, too, had made his share of mistakes against the kobolds. Considering Tae-hoon was a rookie, his mistake was hardly counted as a mistake.
“Na-yeon took care of two of them, and thanks to you, no one got hurt. Everyone did a good job.”
‘Though I was insecure at first, this is not a bad party. Except for one person.’
“Hey, foreigner, you… you didn’t do anything to help us fight, did you?”
“That’s right, you were just standing in the back watching Mr. Staff. Is it okay to do this?”
A shot was fired at Leon, who remained silent. The desire to get rid of Leon and get another party member was in the air.
“Haha… I’ll take that into account, so don’t worry too much.”
Leon would get the lowest score, and the others would earn extra points. Dae-sung was disappointed in one person, but he thought it was good to receive different points.
“If you say so… then let’s go further in. We’ll reach the cave soon.”
True to his word, they walked further into the forest, and a cave appeared.
“There really is a cave.”
“Ugh… Do we have to go in and fight? I don’t like dark places.”
Na Yeon’s complaint made Dae-sung want to say, “That means you won’t be able to be a hunter in the future…” but he swallowed it down and said, with a smile on his face,
“No, we’re going to ‘raid’ the cave.”
“Well, a basic part of being a hunter is to raid the gate, so I need you all to gather some leaves from the surroundings. We’ll set them on fire and send the smoke into the cave.”
“Aaah! You’re going to choke them to death with smoke?”
“Wow, awesome. Then we’ll have to catch the ones that come out.”
That was precisely it. According to Gu Dae-sung’s experience, there are more than twenty kobolds in this cave.
He had been using this method ever since his sixth attempt at the gate, as it allowed him to eliminate the more than twenty kobolds with little loss of health.
As he worked out his plan and gathered up fallen leaves and tufts of grass around him, his eyes caught sight of Leon, arms crossed and eyes closed.
“Hey, why don’t you help instead of just hanging around?”
Leon opened his closed eyes. His blue eyes penetrated Dae Sung.
“In your eyes, am I being idle?”
If not, then what…
But he couldn’t say it out loud.
Dae-sung couldn’t explain it with logic or reason, but a strange gut feeling told him that if he said anything more here, he might get in trouble.
“Uh-hmm… Wha- whatever, you’re the one at the bottom so that you know!”
It was the best he could do to avoid eye contact.
“I gathered up everything!”
“Do we need a lighter for the fire?”
“This old man has a lighter. Oh, I’ve long since been done with cigarettes, don’t get me wrong.”
When the older man was about to flick the lighter on the fuel,
“Do you really reckon that is best?”
Leon spoke up.
“Huh. I mean, you haven’t even helped out so far, so what?”
“I asked you if you think it is best, don’t make me ask you twice.”
“…… I’ve tried this three times. And it worked all three times.”
“It’s based on experience, which is alright. But how can you rely on that experience when it’s so flawed?”
“What are you talking about, really…….”
For a moment, Dae-sung wondered if he was wrong, but he didn’t know any better way.
“Oh, never mind. You’re too young to have experience…….”
With that, he lit a fire and pushed the smoke from the massive bundle of leaves around them into the cave.
A guttural thumping sound echoed from within the cave.
“Oh, here they come!”
With Tae-hoon’s shout as he raised his shield, everyone prepared for battle. And as the first group of kobolds burst out of the cave, they stopped at the sight of the flames blocking the entrance.
The arrow Na-yeon pulled flew, and the rocks thrown by Old Man Oh and Dae-sung smashed into the kobolds’ faces.
One kobold after another fell. Five of them were slain in a matter of seconds, and Dae-sung cheered.
‘See! My method is correct!’
The next group of kobolds jumped out. They were gasping for air to keep from choking on the smoke, and they looked dizzy.
“Alright, let’s get on with it!”
The moment the seventh kobold was taken down,
A similar but different howl. For a moment, Gu Dae-Sung doubted his ears.
He turned to the sound coming from his flank, and there, staring back at him was a gnoll armed with body armor, a shield… and a one-handed axe.
With a head of a ferocious hyena and a physique one and a half times larger than the average gnoll…….
Gnoll Chieftain. He’s a boss here at the gate of Seoul Station. His monster rank is at least Class C. He’s definitely challenging for them.
“Oh, no. Why now?”
Suddenly, Dae-Sung’s mind flashed back to Leon’s words about ten minutes earlier.
“Do you really reckon that is best?”
It was as if he’d been expecting this, but how?
“Dae, Dae-sung-ssi, what should we do?”
Na-yeon’s urgent cry made Dae-sung’s breath quicken.
“Old man and Na-yeon, stop the kobolds from the cave, and Tae-hoon and I will deal with the Gnoll Chieftain!”
Adepts were needed for both sides. Above all, it would be suicidal for a D Class to fight against a Gnoll Chieftain without any tactics.
‘I could only hope that Tae-hoon, who is technically a novice, could hold his own with the shield.’
The Gnoll Chieftain screamed and charged. Tae-hoon goes first and holds up his shield, but one can see his legs shaking from the roar of the beast.
‘He won’t even be able to block the attack with a stance like that!’
“Tae-hoon, get a…!”
Before he could finish his sentence, the terrifying axe slammed into Tae-hoon’s shield. Tae-hoon was unable to withstand the blow and fell to the ground, his shield missing.
Gnoll Chieftain was about to strike Tae-hoon down. Dae-sung moved himself forward on a spur to save Tae-hoon.
Gnoll Chieftain quickly blocked the attack with his strength. The longsword was unable to penetrate the shield in front of him, and Dae-sung’s legs were forced to a halt.
Gu Dae-sung gasped as his back arched backward. Then the swung axe struck him in the side.
He tumbled in an unsightly roll. His gut ached like it was going to explode from the impact that his armor had barely absorbed.
It was then that he caught sight of the terrified Tae-hoon, the shadow of the great axe obscuring his features.
‘Hasn’t the others finished dealing with the kobolds yet? Why hasn’t the Association’s hunter come forward?’
His thoughts didn’t last long. Dae-sung grabbed Tae-hoon’s shield on the ground, forgetting even to grip his sword.
“Tae-hoon-ssi, step back!”
The shield blocked the axe that struck down at Tae-hoon. His knees buckled under the unimaginable weight of the axe.
But he held on. He instinctively adjusted the angle of the shield to make the axe slide down even just slightly.
Gnoll Chieftain let out an annoyed grunt as his weapon slipped, and he raised his axe again.
‘A second blow. Can I stop it? If only Tae-hoon-ssi would come to his senses and counterattack, we might be able to do something.’
The axe came down, and Dae-sung clenched his teeth.
The expected clashing sound didn’t occur, and Gu Dae-sung’s pupils dilated as he stared at the Gnoll Chieftain’s axe without blinking.
“Well, that was a pretty passable effort.”
Gnoll Chieftain’s axe was caught in Leon’s fingers, and the thing was shaking.
His reaction was slow. Thoughts need to catch up. What is happening?
“Raise your shield and face it again, I say. If you have done it once, why not twice?”
Leon, who had let go of the Gnoll Chieftain’s axe, urged, and Gu Dae-sung, as well as the Gnoll Chieftain, tilted their heads.