Chapter 63 — Night Raid
Lizardmen were some of the most troublesome creatures in swamp regions. Despite being weaker than gnolls, having a Monster Level of only 2, their tribes boasted great numbers. They were similar to humans in a sense. They both planted crops and hunted for food. Their settlements were almost like human villages, consisting of simplistic houses and sometimes caves. The smaller tribes had roughly two hundred members, and almost half of those were combatants.
Each tribe also had at least one druid or sorcerer. The lizardman spellcasters could not use a wide range of spells and were more like monster tamers; they were proficient in subordinating other deadly beasts and monsters through magic. Among the more common types of monsters they tamed were giant lizards, five-meter-long, fifteen-hundred-pound monsters with a Challenge Rating of 6. Considering their combat prowess, most adventurers did not dare to mess with lizardmen.
"Could you help us?" The village girl who’d brought food for Soran the previous night came over and asked. She looked at Soran with hope in her red, swollen eyes and continued, "You're an adventurer, right? They were saying you're strong, really strong! You can handle the lizardmen… right?"
Soran slowly shook his head and answered in a serious tone, "I'm sorry, but I can't. There're a lot of them out there, not to mention plenty of archers among them. We cannot stop them with the number of combatants we have. If you all don't leave, they'll just slaughter everyone."
It was just as Soran had said; he alone could not change the tide of the battle. They might be able to win if they had a Level 15 warrior or a Level 12 spellcaster, both of whom could take on around a hundred lizardmen themselves, but none were present right now.
The lizardmen had most likely been forced to leave their settlement in the Dark Swamp. Every location with nearby water sources was a potential target for their new settlement; it was a battle for land, resources, and the right to live. Peaceful coexistence was but a dream in such a world. Humans often waged war even among themselves, let alone with other species. The world was a cold and cruel place, and it would be foolish to believe that monsters would be more civilized than humans; mankind had undergone a lengthy evolution process to reach their current degree of civilization after all.
Soran would not risk his life saving the village; it was not worth it, nor had he the ability to do so. The best he could do was suggest they leave. It was their decision to make, and the villagers would have to take responsibility for their own choices.
Perhaps because of the lizardmen attacking, the militia captain forgot about giving Soran better lodging. He did not really mind though and returned to the barn to rest. The number of militia stationed for the night were doubled as a precaution. The captain and the elders were discussing whether or not to move the entire village; it was never an easy decision to abandon one’s home.
Soran was uninterested in their discussion and did not intend to intervene. Instead, he was planning what to do the next day. Fighting hundreds of lizardmen was not much more than suicide, thus he decided to leave in the morning.
It was now late at night. Soran did not fall asleep completely and remained aware of his surroundings in fear of the lizardmen attacking at night.
All of a sudden, he heard some noises and instantly jumped down from the stack of hay, sword in hand. Soran slowly crept out of the barn, expecting something to happen. Contrary to his expectations, the village was just as it was before he’d entered the barn. Lit torches were placed everywhere, and the militia were patrolling the village. Some of them were also standing guard on the watchtowers. The enemy should be unable to sneak in considering the militia’s level of awareness right now. He loosened up a bit but still decided to walk around for a while. He walked toward the wooden wall, but everything seemed normal, so he turned to go back to the barn.
Wait, what's this?
Just as he turned to leave, Soran realised something was wrong. He crouched and touched the ground; this particular patch was wet and muddy. The past two days had been arid, and it had not rained at all. The nearby dirt was all dry, and just this one area was moist. He grabbed a handful of the soil and held it up to his nose; it gave off a slightly fishy odor.
"Lizardmen?!" Soran muttered and had goosebumps all over his body as he pressed his back against the wall and readied his sword. "A lurker?"
Only those with the advanced profession Lurker would be able to infiltrate the village unnoticed in these circumstances.
Shit, this is not good! Soran thought as he ran toward the watchtower to notify the guards. It was likely the lizardman was currently inside the village.
Before he could reach his destination, a woman shouted, "The warehouse's on fire!"
It caused an uproar in the village. The militia nearby froze momentarily in shock, then ran to fetch water to put out the fire.
Shit, who would've thought the lizardmen would distract the guards with a fire?
It was pretty obvious what the lizardmen were planning to do, thus Soran immediately shouted, "Enemy attack! The lizardmen are coming!"
The sound of an arrow whizzing through the air could be heard, and the guard on the watchtower shuddered before toppling over the fence and falling to the ground. The arrow that came out of nowhere had punctured the guard's leather armor and pierced his heart, killing him instantly.
Soran blended into the shadows. With longbow archers among the lizardmen's ranks, the leather armor worn by the militia was no better than paper. The novice guards were startled by the sudden situation, but the veterans who used to be adventurers quickly sprang into action and began ordering the men around for defence. They had plenty of combat experience; although their glory days of adventuring were over, the veterans still knew what to do.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
It was the sound of something ramming the gate. A young man yelled in fear, "O… Ogres!"
Soran's expression darkened after hearing the young man's shout. He took a deep breath and snuck out of the village while tightly gripping his sword. From the looks of things, the village would probably fall to the monsters’ siege. He had to prepare to break his way out of the chaos when that happened, but for now he would stay behind and kill the lizardman lurker; an enemy who could kill others unnoticed was more dangerous than the monsters banging on the wooden walls. If he allowed the lurker to rampage in the village, the village would fall before the walls were destroyed.
The village was already a big mess right now. The women and children were screaming in fear, while the men and militia were yelling and shouting. At least their basic military training served its purpose as the men rushed toward the barracks and picked up weapons to fight.
"Ha, I guess this is a contest between those of the same trade!"
Soran was experienced in dealing with other rogues; as long as they showed the slightest of traces, he could quickly locate the enemy.
He approached the burning warehouse. The fire was quickly getting out of hand, and the flames were lighting the place up. It was at that moment Soran noticed a slight distortion in the air as a shady silhouette disappeared into the surroundings.
Like a leopard hunting its prey, Soran lunged at what seemed to be thin air and swung his sword. Blood splattered onto the ground, and the lizardman lurking in the shadows revealed itself.
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