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Loren had the impression that strange and weird things did not happen in the daylight, but rather when it was dark and everyone had gone to sleep.
However, as if to mock Loren’s assumption, this strange event occurred suddenly when their group had decided on an encampment site and were beginning to prepare for it.
The party had parked their wagons in an empty lot on the outskirts of the village, and were unloading and unpacking their luggage to take out what they needed. Lapis was the first to notice it.
She returned the luggage she was handling to the back of the wagon and turned her gaze outside the sparse row of trees that surrounded the village. Loren and Gula rested their hands and looked in that direction to see what it was about, and Dia casually said.
“Something is approaching.”
With a sense of foreboding, Loren quickly asked, and Dia looked beyond the trees for a moment before answering with a tilt of her head.
“About a hundred?”
No matter what was approaching, a hundred was an unusual number. Loren quickly picked up his greatsword and synchronized his vision with Shayna’s. With his vision enhanced by the King of Death’s power, he instantly caught what could not be seen with human vision: the reactions of numerous lifeforms approaching their encampment at a fair speed from a considerable distance beyond the trees. Each of these signatures did not seem to be very powerful, but the sight of that many gathering and approaching all at once caused even Loren’s expression to twitch lightly.
“Watch out! Something is coming!”
Loren shouted a warning, and at the same time, Nim climbed into the back of the wagon and quickly fired an arrow from her position. As the arrow flew through the trees, a faint but distant sound similar to the scream of an animal could be heard.
Loren was amazed at Nim’s skill with the bow. The arrow had hit its target despite the trees and the distance. Then the elf told him the identity of what she had shot as she knocked another arrow.
“Loren, the orcs are coming.”
As soon as she told Loren the identity of their enemies, Nim shot another arrow. This time, the arrow also passed through the trees, and a scream very similar to that of a pig could be heard closer than before, which made everyone realize that something around a hundred were indeed approaching, and that it was a group of orcs.
“A hundred or so orcs? That’s too many!”
“It seems that they have obtained a large number of mother bodies.”
As Lapis complained with a stiffened expression very much like the one on Loren’s face, Dia said such an outrageous thing in a casual, everyday conversational tone.
Dia, perhaps noticing that all eyes were on her, tilted her head as if wondering whether what she had said was really that strange and continued.
“Orcs and goblins grow very quickly. Naturally, they are born from the mother’s body in a dozen days, and can grow to almost adult-size within seven days. A month after that, they will be able to start reproducing.”
The reason why orcs’ and goblins’ numbers did not increase explosively in their natural state was because of the difficulty in securing a mother body, Dia continued.
But of course, what appeared to be a group of orcs was steadily approaching their party, and while listening to Dia, Nim was frantically shooting from the top of the cart to chip away at the enemy force, albeit just by a little.
“Since their species have few females and the females are usually not very strong as individuals, it is not possible to have enough females to serve as mothers. That’s why their number is not as large as it could be.”
“Nearly a hundred orcs IS a large enough number!”
Nim’s shooting continued to make, their probably-orc enemies, scream.
The sparse trees slowed the enemy’s advance to a certain extent, so none had reached their group yet, but it was only a matter of time. Loren also noticed Nim grimace for a moment as she tried to knock another arrow. Perhaps her arrows inventory was starting to dwindle.
“They’ve probably managed to secure a good number of mothers’ bodies. Once they do, they will keep on reproducing until the mothers’ bodies give out. That’s why there are so many of them.”
“Where did they get such a large number of mothers?”
“That… I think from here?”
Dia casually pointed back to the wreckage of a destroyed village, where not a single villager was left.
“Orcs will even eat the corpses of their own if they can get their hands on them. The corpses of villagers and soldiers would have been good food for them. Besides, there must have been quite a few women in the village, young and old alike.”
Loren looked at the destroyed village with horror.
The houses that lined the streets belonged to the villagers, and each house must have been occupied by a family. To put it bluntly, there were at least as many women in the village as there were houses. They did not know how many of them were taken alive by the orcs, but it should be quite a number as orcs would not kill women due to their desire for bodies to act as mothers.
Moreover, this village was not the only one destroyed. At least one other village had suffered the same fate, the one they had found earlier. If both of them had been attacked by the same group of orcs, the number of villagers taken could be close to dozens.
“And orcs, by the way, are strangely prone to giving birth to twins or more.”
“I don’t want to hear such information!”
Loren swung the greatsword in his hand in response to Dia’s comment, which sounded like a bit of trivia about orcs. Coincidentally, a creature leapt out of the trees at the same time and the blade, which had been swung with full strength, cut it in half at the torso. The creature had a pig-like face and let out a pig-like scream as blood splashed all around.
Loren did not expect any member of this party to scream at the mere sight of orcs, but surprisingly, Lapis did scream and hid behind his back. He had thought it was unexpected, but he immediately understood the reason when he saw the dead orc he had cut up.
Orcs were intelligent beings, and normal individuals all wore some kind of clothing or armor, even if they were ragged. However, the orc that Loren cut in half was, for some reason, not wearing any kind of clothing and was completely naked, even though it was holding a weapon in its hand. Naturally, everything was in full view, even the object dangling from his crotch, which was probably a little too long and large compared to that of a human, and Lapis apparently reacted to this by hiding behind Loren.
“Lapis-chan, you’ve never seen an orc’s penis before, have ya?”
“The size is different, but it is basically the same as a human’s. It is nothing to be surprised about.”
“I mean, you’ve been traveling together, you must have seen Loren’s at least once…”
“Dia, stop it.”
The other three said such things to Lapis, who was hiding behind Loren’s back and not coming out, while shooting at orcs that had leapt out of the trees or biting them off with Evil God power or catching and draining them. When the last, inexcusable words came out, Loren had to put a stop to it.
It was true that Loren has had several instances in the past where he had remained unconscious for long periods of time, and each time he had been nursed by Lapis. What Dia was trying to say was that seeing that thing was a part of nursing, but it was something Loren had always tried to avoid thinking about. He would die of embarrassment if it were to be exposed to the light of day like that.
“The size difference between Loren’s and orc’s is because of their races…”
“If you don’t stop, I’ll throw this sword at your head. If you think ‘It’s just a greatsword’, you’re mistaken.”
Loren pointed his sword at Dia instead of the orc that was coming for a surprise attack, thinking that making her shut up was of a higher priority. He then thrust the tip of the sword to the throat of the orc that was lunging at him from the side. He twisted the blade slightly to widen the wound, and without looking at the orc, which died instantly and fell to the ground, Loren cut another one that jumped at him from behind into half vertically and clicked his tongue in disgust.
Although most of them could be killed with a single blow, there were just too many of them.
Thinking that he wouldn’t be able to silence Dia like this, Loren glanced at her while slashing another orc. The Elder punched and kicked the orc approaching her, then drained the life force of its unmoving body, probably with Energy Drain. Seeing a moment of opportunity, she raised her hands toward Loren as if in surrender.
Dia thought that to tease Loren and Lapis any further with this stuff would be dangerous not only for herself, but also for Loren, who was still trying to shut her up, and Lapis, who was still hiding behind Loren’s back.
“Why don’t you stop checking out your own allies? You might die very unexpectedly.”
“You’re the one who started it.”
“Rather than that, the enemy number is increasing. Don’t you think it’s more important to intercept them?”
“You’d better remember what I said…”
Despite this venomous comment, the number of orcs surrounding the encampment was indeed increasing, and the situation was becoming so dire that a single mistake could result in severe damages.
A normal party of iron-ranked adventurers would have been annihilated by this, but Loren’s party remained undeterred.
Every time Loren swung his greatsword, an orc would turn into a lump of meat, and around Gula, orcs with missing heads and torsos would disappear as they fell down, their entire bodies devoured before they could hit the ground.
Nim was still shooting the orcs that tried to approach them from the top of the cart, but Dia, realizing that she had a limited stock of arrows, followed her lead and struck them down with a strength of arms and legs that one could not imagine from her childlike appearance.
“Gula, how are you doing that?”
Nim was indeed mystified by the sight of the orcs missing bodies parts just by approaching Gula without any chanting coming from the latter. While Loren was thinking bitterly that it would be natural for that to happen if she used her power, Gula answered boldly.
“It’s my secret skill!”
“I see. I won’t ask for more details then.”
Nim replied readily, and Loren wondered if that was a good thing. But he was grateful that she was not pursuing the matter, so he didn’t press it.
If a large number of comrades were killed in such a short period of time, it was only a matter of time before the orcs, no matter how little intelligence they had, would become frightened and flee. Strangely enough, however, the orcs showed no sign of retreat, no matter how many of them were cut down, beaten and kicked to the ground, pierced by invisible fangs, or devoured by their own.
Not only that, their bloodshot eyes did not look at Loren at all. They all fixed their stares on the other party members and attacked them.
“These orcs! Are you all Klaus’ kin?!”
“Loren, isn’t that a bit too much?”
Loren, who had spoken these words unintentionally to the orcs, who seemed to have no interest in him, was very calmly reproached by Lapis, who remained hidden behind his back.