The boss of 『Wood Men Fighting Forest』 was a superior breed of Wood Man, the Fighting Wood King.
It basically had the same humanoid shape as Wood Men, but its silhouette was somewhat different. Its tree branches elegantly wrapped around it, making it seem as though it was covered in muscle. Its movements were not stiff like the other Wood Men, and there was a wildcat like flexibility and speed to them.
Unlike the rustic feeling of the ogre from the Goblin Forest, it had a commanding presence, like a military man that had been training for many years.
In reality, it was a Wood Man that evolved after many victories.
Wood Men were very warlike, and fought among themselves. They would join forces when fighting an enemy from outside, but they usually fought each other to become stronger. Basically, the Fighting Wood King was the champion of Wood Men, and the current Fighting Wood King could boast about being the stronger Wood Man.
The dragon girl’s sword mercilessly attacked the Fighting Wood King.
It was a terrifying attack with a huge sword clad in the divine protection of a fire dragon.
She swung the sword many times, and her opponent desperately dodged. It was a stupidly straightforward attack, and the Fighting Wood King did not take a single direct hit. Perhaps they would have hit the common Wood Man, but the Fighting Wood King could read her movements.
She was a strong opponent, but not one it had no hopes of beating.
But the girl was not alone.
When it dodged, it would put itself in a spot that would be very dangerous if there were more enemies there. In that spot was always a swordsman and a light warrior.
“I see an opening!”
The Fighting Wood King was slashed in the back with a sword, and its pivot leg was kicked by a boot with a metal plate.
Its defense was strong, and it would take a significant attack to pierce its skin, but the light warrior knew this very well.
The objective was not to damage it, but to stop it.
Sharp icicles mercilessly attacked it. They were not very strong by themselves, but the damage piled up when the whole body was pierced by them.
Even worse, its body was losing all of its heat.
“《Full Party Heal》、《Sturdy》、《Mighty》.”
Something else that would make it despair was waiting. No matter how much damage it tried to dish out, it would all be negated as soon as it gave them even just a small opening.
The buffing spells being thrown around did not make things easier either.
The Fighting Wood King was at a complete loss. Who were these people? They had too much fighting spirit.
The Fighting Wood King fired itself up.
It told itself. [I am the proud Fighting Wood King, the ruler of the forest and violence incarnate.]
[I have been targeted by multiple enemies many times before, and no matter how hard the fight was, I always came out on top.]
He would target the weaker enemies, and disrupt their coordinated attack.
It had to be the priest in the back. So, the Fighting Wood King leaped into action.
“Too obvious! Karan!”
Its enemies moved organically, as if they had foreseen its movements, and without hesitation, almost as if they were a single monster with multiple heads.
The priest sidestepped the attack, and in its place stood the dragon girl, braced to receive the attack. Her posture was low, and so was her sword.
[Is she going to swing her sword straight upwards and cut me in half?]
The Fighting Wood King accepted the challenge, but just as it thought that…
A block of ice, almost in the shape of a sword, pierced it from the back.
But that was not all, the ice permeated throughout its body, and sealed its movements.
“…Fire Dragon Slash!”
Before it realized what happened, its head was separated from its body.
By the time Survivors completed the labyrinth and stepped outside, it was completely dark.
The muffled woodwind instrument like chirps characteristic of owls echoed, and without anyone prompting them to do so, everyone started making camp.
“What are we eating?”
“The menu… We have wild herbs, onions, duck meat, and dry tomatoes. How about labyrinth chicken?”
“I told you, that is not chicken!”
Immediately pointed out Bond, and Nick ignored it as he started making preparations.
“It’s alright, anything can be labyrinth chicken as long as it has tomato and meat. Pigeon or duck is good enough.”
“That is very sloppy.”
“What matters is that it tastes good.”
Right next to Nick was Karan, who excitedly stacked rocks and tossed twigs in the middle.
After completing this simple stove, she ignited it with her fire breath.
“How much water do you need Nick?”
Tianna was in charge of getting water.
“A fair amount.”
“That doesn’t help.”
“Fill the jar for now. We always use about that much.”
Tianna started creating water with a spell, and the jar started filling up.
Next to it, Nick placed the pot on the stove and started pouring oil. Then he started cutting meat from duck legs straight into the pot, which started sizzling.
“Nick, I brought the mushrooms.”
“Ou, thanks… What’s that?”
The mushrooms that Sem brought looked a little strange. They had five protuberances on the right side that looked like humans fingers.
“They’re 『Glory Mushrooms』. They’re said to grow close to forest type labyrinths and they restore magic energy when eaten, so I picked them earlier.”
Karan and Tianna leaned over, fixated on the mushrooms.
“Do you know about these creepy mushrooms?”
“Yes, they’re expensive. I think big ones like these go for thirty thousand dinar.”
“They’re the kind of thing that’s served in banquets of the imperial court. The part about them restoring magic energy is true too…”
“R-really…? They just look kind of grotesque.”
Nick stared at the mushrooms, a little creeped out.
“But they’re good.”
“You can cut them finely. It’s not like we’re going to nibble on them as they are.”
“I-if you say so, I’ll try it… Can I just cut them normally?”
Nick removed the protuberances, cut bite sized chunks, and threw them in the pot.
The fragrant smell of mushroom filled the air, and Nick started sauteing the wild herbs and dry tomatoes. Once it was enough, he poured the water that Tianna created.
The pot started making bubbling sounds, and Nick added salt and spices while tasting it.
“Is the fire alright?”
“Yes, no problem… Now that I think about it, you have no problem using your breath for stuff like cooking right?”
“Hn? Are there people that don’t do that?”
“A lot of people say magic is not something to be used for things like cooking. There are some stuck-up people out there.”
“But it’s useful. Both the breath and magic.”
As they chatted, the meal became ready to eat, and Nick placed food on everyone’s plate.
“Let’s eat. We don’t have drinks so we can’t toast.”
Said Nick, and everyone said what they usually said before they ate.
It was common to knock glasses together in a banquet before drinking, and this was the same regardless of origin or social class, but there were differences when it came to what was said before regular meals.
Karan put her hands together and bowed, a gesture particular to dragon people. It was different from the habits of believers of different gods from around the Labyrinth City, but for some reason, lowering your head as a way to apologize or say thank you was very easy to understand, and a lot of people copied the dragon race.
“I give thanks for the blessings of heaven and earth.”
Sem raised his index and middle fingers, and drew a circle in the air. Apparently it came from the teachings of Medlar, ‘The world is a cycle, and be aware that you are a part of the world’.
“To a dining table filled with harmony and joy.”
Tianna’s words came from royal and noble etiquette. All sorts of religious sects and clans would be present in events like banquets, so harmony was very much respected. Tianna’s words originated from such events.
“Twelfth day of the rain month, year four hundred and thirty nine of the holy king calendar. We are camping and having labyrinth chicken and bread close to the Wood Men Fighting Forest, and…”
Bond did not say anything specific before eating, but for some reason he stored a picture of the meal with the date and a comment in the information orb inside of him. When Nick asked him why, Bond only said it was because it was customary to do so a long time ago.
Nick did not do anything special either, but he copied Karan and placed his hands together.
It just felt right to him.
“Oh!? It’s even better than usual.”
“It’s the stock from the mushrooms… I guess it really is as good as they say.”
“Yes. It doesn’t show up in the market very often.”
“And food tastes better when you finish a task.”
Everyone was enjoying the food, even Bond, who was wolfing it down.
“You are a good cook. Men who cook well are late to marry.”
“I don’t care. What about all the men working in pubs and restaurants?”
“…I did not think about that.”
“By the way Nick, remember what we talked about? You said you would teach me how to fight with a wooden sword or a staff.”
Nick: “Ah, that’s right I did. Let’s do some exercise when we’re done eating.”
Sem: “Yes. If there’s anything I can teach, you can count on me too.”
Tianna: “You two are full of energy aren’t you? I’m getting sleepy.”
Nick: “You should rest. You used too much magic energy.”
Tianna: “After I watch for a bit.”
Nick: “No way.”
Karan: “I want to watch too!”
Nick: “Well, it’s fine but…”
This peaceful conversation was sucked into the night sky, and no one was around to watch them except for the starry sky and the forest owls.
Silavin: So, we tried to list the names at the end for the convo. Tell me if this is better.