Chapter 65: Fighting with Tooth and Nail
Lifting up both her swords to block the incoming blow, Nisha successfully repelled the goblin’s strike.
On her way back from the dungeon, she had ran into the monster in one of the small rooms near the exit.
The day was nearing its end, and she needed to go back home before Luthais noticed her absence – or Galan, in case the half elf was immersed in his work.
The wooden club smashed at her, the goblin was enraged because his little opponent had warded off all of his attacks so far.
Avoiding yet again, Nisha frowned.
This goblin was of the most ordinary monster type there could be. An average first ranked creature, that could be found everywhere. Reproducing like a pest, it wasn’t strong individually but tribes of those could swell to enormous numbers in a short time provided they had a female – of any race.
Usually weaker than a human adult, most of them were barely level one monsters, which represented the first aura rank, and all adventurers could get rid of them one on one.
Armed with a wooden club, wearing a rundown loin cloth, the green goblin in front of her was no exception, as mediocre as a goblin could get.
Since he was hitting towards Nisha without using a particular skill, his side was wide open for retaliation, but she chose not to use this window of opportunity.
Nisha had grown increasingly worried as she fought against several groups of different kinds of monsters. Not that she had lost a single battle. Her stomach was filled to the brim with losers, and there were some meat leftovers in her [Soul Space] to last her for a while after leaving the dungeon.
What really confused her was her inability to easily dispose of those weaker enemies. As a dragon, she had faced a wide variety of opponents, but she had never been troubled like this. Nests of several hundreds of goblins had been shivering in terror when she was casually flying above their lair. Now, some puny three or four goblins dared to think they were stronger than her. Not that she blamed everything on her elvish form. She appreciated a lot being able to mix with humans and elves without being stared at and hunted down for being a greater beast.
Her appearance wasn’t the only thing that had changed. The reason why those goblins had feared her was her sheer overpowering might. Had she decided to invade their lair in the old days, none of them would have had survived; their weapons were once unable to pierce her scales, their strength unable to deter her.
As an elf, a dozen goblins could become a serious threat if they were to encircle her. Compared to the natural armor formed by her lost scales, humans were frail, they weren’t very well defended.
Leaping back, the goblin switched his guard to protect his opened side, although Nisha could have killed him several times by now.
The dragon had decided not to finish him off too quickly like the others of his kind she had encountered. By fighting with him, maybe she would be able to figure out in which ways she was lacking compared to the past.
Firstly, her aura wasn’t that much shallower than when she was at the second rank in her dragon shape. Nisha was able to lift the same amount of weight, her body strengthening possibilities had even increased. Her smaller frame was compelling her into refining her use of aura, wasting less force.
The [Taurith Short Swords] could match her talons and fangs, their quality not inferior to that of genuine dragon limbs.
After realizing that it wasn’t due to these two factors, the elven girl attempted to figure out why exactly her fighting prowess had diminished.
Certainly, she wasn’t at the peak of the fourth aura rank in this form yet, but a bunch of first rankers – not even if they were at the peak of the first rank – shouldn’t give her any trouble.
Parrying, stepping aside, Nisha closely observed the green monster fletching its teeth, sending spittle everywhere and snarling at her, doing its best to appear threatening.
As Nisha was pondering on how to deal with the creature so as to make it reveal her flaws, an arrow flew over her shoulder, piercing through the body of the goblin, killing him right away.
Of course, she had noticed that, while she was battling with the lowly creature, a group of adventurers had approached her position.
I thought the Guild disapproved people interfering with others’ fights.
Eager to see who had stolen her prey, Nisha turned around to face them.
Proudly wearing a set of plate armor, the leader was perfectly fitting the image of a knight.
His party consisted of an archer, bow drawn, another arrow ready, clearly a veteran of many battles seeing his vigilance, he could apparently let lose a second arrow anytime.
“Are you okay?”
The third member was beautifully wrapped in a large robe, which made obvious her profession. A straight wooden staff in her right hand and an innocent smile on her face, this one was female, unlike the first two.
Next to the mage was another human in a recognizable attire, the cleric trainee’s robes of the [Temple of the Seven Stars].
The last member of their party probably hadn’t reached more than twenty turns, unlike her companions. She had a leather armor and a large sword straightened at her belt. Looking concernedly at Nisha, she was also the one who had came forward to speak with her, while the others remained grouped together.
“You’re not injured, are you? Were you separated from your party? I saw you struggling against the goblin, so I asked my friend to assist you. Do you need help to leave the dungeon? It’s dangerous to be here alone.”
Can’t exactly say I was toying with a monster before they graciously saved me, can I?
“That does sound tempting. I was with my group, but we got split up when a big monster attacked. My teammates are all strong so I think they’ll make it out safely, but if you can accompany me to the exit, I’d be in your debt.”
Coming up with a lie on the spot and putting on a charming smile on her face, Nisha was fully intent on deceiving them, she wanted to depart from this place anyway since her time was up.
Traveling with the party and learning more about adventurers didn’t seem like a bad idea.
“Allow me, fair lady. It will be an honor for this humble knight to escort you to the surface.”
Pushing the swordswoman aside, the knight couldn’t be any faster to throw himself in front of the little girl.
“My name is Hamond, it would be my pleasure to assist you. May I be blessed with your name?”
One knee down, the knight took her hand and kissed its back.
Nisha had already seen this type of behaviour in court, it was regarded as a form of good manners, however it was creeping her out no matter what.
The archer behind him was staring, slightly dazed, loosening his arrow – which was now helplessly pointing at the ground -, trying to close his agape mouth.
The party didn’t seem to approve of their behaviour, the cleric looking at them with disgust in her eyes; the mage wordlessly summoned a ball of water over the knight’s head and drenched him to the bones by making the ball fall.
“Serves you right, ‘mond. Now back off, you are scaring her.”
Fully supporting the actions of her teammate, the sword fighter personally took it on herself to protect their new acquaintance and pushed both the archer and the knight back, arriving in front of Nisha.
“My name is Linda. Don’t bother minding that oaf, he has no tact at all. We will make sure you reach the exit safely, just stay away from Hamond and Wright, those two might turn into beasts if they are in your vicinity.
That’s right, you too Wright! No buts, I saw how you looked at her. Now take old ‘mond and go to the vanguard. Didn’t you promise to escort her? Work hard!”
Told off by their charismatic fighter backed by the glares of both the priest and the mage – also they were usually on their side in the fights -, the males could only give up and sulk back at the front, their shoulders loosening in defeat.
Wow, that was harsh.
Originally the mage had had to beg the archer to help out the newbie adventurer she had spotted, calling it a favor to get him dispatch the goblin. Despite that, after seeing Nisha’s appearance, the men had fallen head over heels for her cuteness and offered her assistance on their own.
Dissatisfied by their teammates, the mage and priest made sure to firmly keep the young elf in between them while walking towards the exit, conversing a bit about her team and situation while the female swordsman was shooing off the knight and archer whenever they attempted to join the girls.
One time they heard Hamond and his friend Wright lash out on some poor [Wild Dog], an otherwise harmless monster, slashing it to pieces and spiking its corpse with arrows to make up for the wasted opportunity of courting a young beauty.
“Do you know where you can meet up with your party, Nisha?”
Leaving the dungeon together with the adventurers, the six of them paused in front of the Guild office.
Ivy, the sword fighter that had initially approached the elven girl and asked her party to help out, had gotten fairly close to her. After talking for a bit, she felt a lot of pity for the elf who had lost her companions, to the point where she wanted to help her even after leaving the dungeon.
“We need to turn in the materials we looted, but I can go with you to search for your friends.”
Returning such good intentions with a smile, the dragon declined nonetheless.
“Thank you very much for the offer, I’ll just wait at the Guild branch for them, we’ll meet up sooner or later. I am also carrying some of our materials. But I have never turned in something before, my party usually took care of that… If it isn’t too much to ask, can you show me?”
Nisha’s smile was simply too potent, and Ivy wasn’t immune to the brilliant rows of pearly teeth that shone at her.
“Of … Of course! Follow me, I’ll introduce you to the guys at the counter, I know most of them. We’ll make sure no one takes advantage of you, you really need to be careful, Nisha.”
Hit by the full radiance of a cute girl’s smile, Ivy couldn’t help but stutter and blush slightly, she then ushered Nisha inside the Guild’s rooms to hide her burning cheeks.
Leading his friends towards one of the counters on the right side of what appeared to be a main hall, near the mission board, the knight Hamond started pulling out several materials from his large backpack, piling them on the counter.
Starting with several goblin hides and teeth, there were also miscellaneous items, such as viper fangs, furs, and some chunks of metal, topped by a good portion of monster meat.
With a visible grin, he grabbed the last item, stored in a hidden pocket, their most valuable good, and the one they were most proud of.
The guild employee, apparently a friend of the sociable mage Ivy, gasped in admiration.
“A golem nucleus? Did you finally make it to the second floor of the labyrinth? I can only say one word: impressive! Let me get one of the higher ranked staff members, I can’t appraise stuff above the first rank.”
Returning with an old lady, the young clerk presented the items to her, counting the previous sums.
“Goblin hides: one silver each; [Dark Viper] fangs: three silver each; first ranked monster meat, about ten kilogram worth half a silver each; ten monster furs, mixed quality: one silver each; iron ore, unrefined: five silver each. That’s eighty two silver total.
Please estimate the worth of this golem nucleus, madam.”
Handing her a small green orb, there was a reverential gleam in his eyes.
“Low tier [Ironwood Golem] nucleus, rank two, earth element. Minor signs of any cracks, medium quality. My estimate is twenty silver.
If there is nothing else, please excuse me.”
The golem heart failing to catch her attention, the old lady was disappointed to have been called over for a meager twenty silver.
“Ah, wait a second. You can estimate the value of these marbles? I have some of them too!”
Remembering similar balls from her first fight in the dungeon, Nisha pretended to pull them out of her pocket while reaching for them in her [Soul Space].
While she was standing on her toes to hand them, the adventurer party was already celebrating its profit.
“Did you hear that?! We earned over a gold this time, that means each of us gets more than twenty silver. Think of the new gear we can buy! Maybe Ivy’ll be able to get a new skill book, although we might have to pool in some money. Think about it! More trips in the Dungeon’s second layer means we’ll earn that much money regularly!”
Ignoring the noisy people, the old woman kindly looked at Nisha.
“I am afraid I can’t give you much for regular marbles, girl, those were monster nuclei. You see, even though they are not real monster cores, those that can appear in the deeper parts of the Dungeon in fifth ranked monsters or beasts, they are still charged with some aura or mana.
Your marbles on the other hand … oh! This is…”
Picking up the six spheres, her interest had obviously been roused.
“Peak level [Mountain Graveller] hearts, none shattered, none cracked, five earth element, one fire element. Pristine condition, almost all filled with aura to the brim. My estimate, thirty silver each, two gold if you decide to sell them all to me, despite the size differences.”
“Wait a minute! Why do you pay so much more for her items? This is clearly an unfair treatment.”
Albeit he was in a festive mood from receiving a good pay for his efforts, the archer Wright couldn’t help but be startled by the price offered by the old lady.
“Our nucleus is a rank higher, why do we get less money for it?”
“What other adventurers get for their wares is not of any concern for outsiders. But fine. You want to know why? I’ll let you know why.”
Fed up with the youngsters wasting her time, the lady lost her gentle smile.
“First of all, these are from peak rank one monsters. They aren’t inferior in any way to a low rank two monster’s heart. Additionally, they haven’t been sapped of their energy, the monsters died before they had a chance to rely on their stored power. See how there aren’t any cracks? In a life and death struggle, they’d rather shatter their own source of power rather than dying and leaving it in the hands of invaders. Those are neither fragmented nor used up in any way, a practitioner refining them will be able to absorb it entirely.
Lastly, there is not only one nucleus, but six of them. Coming from the same race of monster and collected in the same room, the absorption effect will be amplified!
There’s even a fire variant among them. Can you really say that your item should fetch the same price?”
Staring down at the party, she made sure none of them would have the gall to refute.
So scary. I really don’t want her to be angry with me.
“Yes, I want to sell them all please.”
Avoiding the stern gaze, Nisha picked up the two gold coins placed on the counter in exchange to which the old woman left with the six marbles.
The young elf was now alone with the five adventurers, most of them staring blankly, it wasn’t every day they were scolded like this.
“Since you escorted me out of the dungeon, it is also thanks to your group that I could turn these in. Here, take this, Ivy.”
Handing the dazed magician one of the shiny gold coins, Nisha hurriedly excused herself from the previously friendly adventurers and fled from the scene, the greedy looks she had spotted in their eyes making her feel apprehensive. She had enjoyed their company, she didn’t want to ruin her relationship with them due to jealousy.
“Hey! Wait, Nisha! This is too much!”
Shouting after the girl who had gifted them the amount of money they had earned after a week of hard work, the group helplessly searched for her around the guild, before finally accepting the unexpected windfall.