As the other Adventurers diverted the Killer Ants in the front, I used the opening to swing down with my sword at the joints. The battle looked like it would be drawn out, and so I kept the magic energy for Mine Breaker to a minimum.
“I finished over here.”
“Good. Then let’s keep moving.”
The Adventurers were stationed towards the right and left sides of the forest. And their role was to crush any enemies that tried to go around.
As they had not been trained to fight in formations, this was the best way to use them. However, if they took too long to kill the enemy, allowing the scent to spread, then the number of Killer Ants would increase. And so they could not lower their guard.
The Killer Ants would also be used for materials, so the carcases were gathered to one spot, where they would be transferred later. However, a change occurred by that spot, just as the frontlines had advanced to the point where the nest had come into sight.
“They haven’t come to pick them up.”
“Perhaps they are busy as well. We should wait a little longer.”
The pile of Killer Ants was just growing. We could just leave them, however, if the frontline was the only part that was advancing, then the Killer Ants would focus all of their attacks on them.
As we waited, and rested, an Adventurer came running while pulling a wagon.
“I was delayed! The carvers cannot keep up.”
“I see. And how are things at the other locations?”
While loading the Killer Ants on the wagon, I asked about the situation.
“This side is at the forefront. The enemies are more numerous on the opposite side, and have not advanced as much. Ah, if you can spare someone, we could use your help with the carving.”
All of the Adventurers looked at each other. No one wanted to go.
“Well, I’m the only one here who isn’t part of a party. If you don’t mind a solo, I could go.”
If we couldn’t advance now anyway, losing one person would not mean much.
And since no one wanted to go, I didn’t mind going.
“Aye, even one person would be a great help. The other locations can’t spare anyone now.”
“Sorry, Ajifu. We’ll continue to contain the enemy towards the center, and once we reach the others, we’ll advance.”
“That’s fine. I’ll take it easy in the back then.”
I separated from the Adventurers and helped push the Killer Ant loaded wagon as we returned to the center position.
“Don’t stop! The completion condition is to carve one hundred! The gold is waiting!”
I heard the voice ring when I arrived. Gold? It was definitely quite generous.
That meant it was one silver per ant. A low-rank Adventurer would find that very appealing.
While it was a lot of money, it was worth paying, considering the work of carrying so many Killer Ants back to the town.
We pushed the wagon to the great mountain of bodies, and dumped our load.
“I’m going to make another round. We’re counting on you.”
And so I separated from the Adventurer, and approached the work site. They had made a large fire, and the air was hot.
“I was told to come and help.”
I called to the person who seemed to be in charge. He was familiar. The person who usually worked at the delivery counter at the guild.
“Oh! Ajifu! Glad to have you. You’ll get a bonus reward for this. Take one of the Killer Ants to one of the empty spots.”
And so I dragged one away as ordered and got to work. The other Adventurers around me were all working quietly. It could have just been me, but they all looked dead inside.
The hardest part of carving was creating the cracks in order to peel off the hard outer shells. I could just use Mine Breaker, but since there were so many, I was worried about the amount of magic energy it would use. And so I picked up the axe and hammer that had been prepared, and used them to make the crack.
Once the outer shell was removed, I pulled out the magic stone from the chest, and separated the various materials and dropped them at their specific places. There was a system where you received a wooden tag for every Killer Ant that you carved up.
What was left of the carcasses were then thrown into a fire. Beast-type monsters did not contain any moisture, so they burned when put into the fire. Still, I wouldn’t say that they burned easily. A magic tool had to be used to send wind, and keep the flames blazing.
By the time I had carved ten of them, my arms were exhausted. And I had just gotten started. It would be so much worse for those who had worked since the beginning. As I rotated my arms to loosen my shoulders, I heard shouting.
“Hey, someone carry this one to the rescue station!”
“I can use healing magic.”
I said as I made my way through the crowd. In the center, there was an Adventurer who was holding his arm while lying on the ground.
“I would be grateful! It got my arm.”
Upon inspection, the injury was quite bad. It looked like he had been burned.
Thankfully, I was able to heal while only casting it once.
“How did this happen?”
“He was working without wearing any gloves. I suppose he must have torn open an acid sac.”
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t bear the heat. It wasn’t so bad at first, as there was less distance to the fire, but then it got worse.”
The Adventurer had been working near the fire.
“What an idiot. How many times do I have to tell you to wear gloves when working!?”
“I said that I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
The others were shaking their heads with exasperation as they returned to their stations.
“Thank you for healing me.”
“We help each other when in trouble. Don’t mention it.”
As the clamor had died down, I was just about to return to work as well.
“Hey! You! Healer! There’s another one!”
“Again? What is it this time?”
“Someone got acid in their eye. We washed it with water, but that hasn’t stopped it. Please do something.”
“Alright. Where is he?”
After that, there seemed to be no end to people getting injured from the acid. Even if you didn’t touch it directly, the acidic fumes began to fill the air and affect the Adventurers’s eyes. Some were crying as they worked, which resulted in them rubbing their eyes with acid-soaked gloves. Clothes had been prepared, but it was a habit, I suppose.
“I’ve had enough! I quit!”
One of the Adventurers shouted as he stood up. While quitters started to appear, the overseer was not phased.
“As you know, the minimum requirement is a hundred Killer Ants. You can shut your mouth and work, or you can leave without being paid at all.”
The Adventurer clenched his fist angrily. After all that hard work, it would be regrettable to leave now. And so with slumped shoulders, he went back to his spot. I felt bad, but there was nothing I could do.
“Hey, do I have to carve a hundred too? I wasn’t here from the beginning.”
As I was being paid as a C-Rank, the difference was not actually that big, if I was honest. However, I still didn’t want to work for free.
“Eh? Ah, didn’t I tell you that you would get a bonus? Besides, you even healed some of them. We’ll remember that.”
Apparently, I was getting paid extra. And though I was able to return to work feeling satisfied, the atmosphere was quite dark. We faced the mountain of Killer Ants and worked quietly.
“Everyone, listen! Once they enter the nest, we will not be able to carry as many back here. It’s fine if it takes time. But decrease the amount little by little!”
It seemed to blast away the heavy atmosphere, and the Adventurers worked faster. While there was no need to rush, it meant working that much longer. It was best to finish quickly.
With perseverance, the work continued, and the mountain of Killer Ants finally started to grow smaller.