Chapter 49 — Tracking
In a dark corner next to the city walls, Soran's hazy silhouette could be seen. He was wiping the blood off his curved sword with composure.
He killed six men in total, most of them probably experienced members of the gang; he received roughly 100 Slaughter EXP for each kill, and even got over 300 Slaughter EXP for killing Calvin. It was a pity he could not loot the bodies; the guards arrived before he could do more than kill them. The guards would most likely keep the loot themselves.
Murdering someone was bad; lighting the place on fire was worse.
In fact, the Whiterun officials could not care less about the murder of a few shady businessmen, but they would definitely track down the person who set the fire. Fires were extremely hazardous to the city, as a single fire could easily spread and even burn an entire district down if not put out in time. That damage would be a lot greater than the death of a few gang members. Soran estimated that the city would begin looking into the case tomorrow. If the guard corps decided that it was serious enough for them to intervene in the investigation, they might even hire some special people to help. When that happened, they might even find out that Soran was the culprit.
He had to leave the city right now.
After looking back at the rowdy scene, he walked in the shadows of the city wall until he reached an unguarded section which was not illuminated by moonlight. He took out a rope and hook from his multi-dimensional bag and attached the hook onto the rope. Swinging the rope like a cowboy, he then tossed it at the embrasure in the city wall's crenelation. After testing out the rope and deciding it was securely hooked, Soran climbed up the wall.
Having 20 Dexterity granted him extraordinary agility; he easily climbed up the twenty-meter-wall in less than a minute. Soran cautiously observed his surroundings after arriving on the wall. Confirming there was no one around, Soran then transferred the hook to the other side of the wall and descended out of the city. With a powerful yank, the hook came flying down along with the rope. Even though it was dark, Soran, who was a half-elf, could still see thanks to his night vision ability. He placed the items back into the multi-dimensional bag, then crawled through the bushes into the nearby forest.
Soran's plan was to go along the road leading to Autumnfall, their intended destination. Along the way, he would kill monsters for Slaughter EXP. If necessary, he would level up his current profession or even take on a side profession. While doing this, he could observe and inspect the road's condition; learning the distribution of monsters nearby would make travelling with Vivian using this route in the future a lot safer. Soran was confident that he could remember the terrain and directions after walking along the road once.
There were plenty of villages near the city, and they all did not have walls. The Whiterun guard corps would patrol the villages and eliminate nearby monsters and beasts from time to time.
In the dark night, Soran walked for several kilometers before deciding to sneak into a medium-sized village and stay there for the night. Haystacks were everywhere in the village; they were mostly used as substitutes for firewood and blankets in the winter. The poor could not afford to buy quilts, thus they covered themselves in hay to stay warm at night. Houses in the northern regions had hollowed floors, which allowed people to heat up the floor by sending the hot smoke from the fireplace into the empty spaces beneath before it left through chimneys. This, however, was rare in the south.
Soran lay on one of the haystacks. It felt itchy at first, but he adapted quickly and fell asleep. He had ventured into the wild frequently back in the game, thus he could endure and adapt to various situations and environments quickly.
Just like that, the night passed, and it was morning.
Soran woke up after hearing the barks of a dog. It was barking loudly while baring its teeth at the intruder. Soran unsheathed his sword and was about to kill the dog, but after noticing the poorly built hut made out of mud and hay, he slid his weapon back into its sheath.
To poor farmers, their dogs were some of their most crucial properties. Dogs were fierce animals in this world, and they would even lunge at and bite monsters to protect their homes and masters. Soran once saw a dog that fought against a gnoll in order to protect its master; even though it died in the end, its master survived the ordeal. Dogs were not simple animals; their courage was worthy of admiration.
Perhaps because the barking dog reminded him of his loyal Heath, Soran took out a piece of dried meat and tossed it to the dog. It continued to growl at Soran at first, but eventually it could not resist the temptation and began munching on the dried meat. Soran leapt off the haystack, brushed the hay off his clothes, and left the village.
The sun was just rising over the horizon, but farmers were already up and working. Humans were lacking in innate talents and abilities when compared to other species, thus they had to learn how to farm for food in order to survive. Kids would start following their parents to the fields at five or six years old, listening to their parents’ instructions and observing their actions. How to plow the soil, when to sow the seeds, when to harvest the crops, how to maintain the fertility of the soil, what to do when there were pests—there was a lot to learn. Farmers could be said to be the most ordinary people in the world, but their contributions to society were by no means ordinary.
Soran traversed the muddy paths before finally reaching the main road which led to Autumnfall. The road was rather long; it ran all the way through the Dark Swamps, then across the borders of the Whiterun plains, before finally reaching the region under the administration of Autumnfall.
Nothing much happened on the first day. Soran only stopped for short breaks along the way, and things were smooth until the next day. He was now in a location where villages were sparse, and there was little human activity.
People would only build villages at locations where there was an ample supply of both fertile farmland and water. Those villages were mostly stockaded villages, though, with each having wooden walls, archer towers, and scout towers for defence. The villagers trained their own militia, who would be stationed on the towers. This type of militia could exist largely because of adventurers.
There were always those who aspired to become adventurers. Some left and never returned; others who gave up along the way returned to the villages and became instructors for the militia. There were some who had high-level advanced professions, but most of those who returned had Grade 2 professions, and they usually had injuries as well. If nothing great happened, they would marry a woman from the village, have a few sons and daughters, and live peacefully for the rest of their lives. When they grew old, they would tell stories of their adventures to their grandchildren. It was such a simple lifestyle.
There was always an end to everything; at the end of their wonderful adventures awaited a peaceful and ordinary ending.
Soran brushed some bushes aside and inspected the footprints. He placed his hand on the hilt of his curved sword, then followed the trail of footprints. The ability to track down targets in the wild was an essential skill for adventurers. They had to learn to determine the species of monsters from footprints and traces left behind; it was an ability derived from the basic skill Survival. Rangers and druids were the best in the business, and rogues were the next in line. Soran, though, was currently relying on his past experience instead of the ability to analyze the traces.
Looks like there's quite a few of them.
As the soil got harder, the footprints became shallower and more vague. He stopped and looked around for while, then muttered to himself, "There's over thirty of them! Did a large group move over here?"
Most kobolds lived in small groups; unless a large group settled down nearby, it was rare to find so many of them acting together. In this world where “survival of the fittest” applied, the smaller the group, the stronger the individual kobolds were. As for larger groups, especially those that resided in mines or caves, it was not as though they were weak either; their numbers could reach up to three hundred after all. The chances of a kobold sorcerer appearing in large groups were also higher.
"This will work just fine as a warm up. It's about time to test out my techniques for fighting groups of enemies."
There was no such thing as a fair fight in the wilderness. Chaotic group fights were the norm when fighting in the wild because monsters rarely appeared one by one. It was crucial to be able to take on multiple enemies at once; one had to dodge and parry attacks from multiple directions and minimize the damage received when it was impossible to avoid the attacks. In a chaotic brawl, it was impossible to avoid every single attack, even with 20 Dexterity.
Taking that into consideration, Soran decided to put on his leather armor. Afterwards, he wrapped his arms and hands with strips of cloth and equipped leg straps on both legs.
Kobolds knew how to fight cleverly as well; they would set traps and use a wide range of different weapons, including spears, daggers, short swords, and shortbows. The simple traps were not an issue at all for Soran, but their homemade shortbows were a threat to him.
Soran's silhouette faded into the shadows of a tree. If one did not observe carefully, it was hard to notice his presence. He slowly unsheathed his curved sword, then crept into the dense forest along the shadows.
The battle to come was more dangerous than his previous ones—taking on a group of at least thirty kobolds was no easy task.
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