Carving Work, Continued
“Everyone, listen! The main unit has entered the nest!”
The news brought great excitement to the workplace. It was finally some good news, so everyone was happy.
“The operation is going smoothly. If you don’t hurry, you won’t be able to get into the tavern tonight!”
No one wanted to stay behind and work. And so the Adventurers worked with renewed fervor. Still, the Killer Ant shells were hard, and my hands felt numb after cracking so many of them. Feeling excited was not going to help with that.
I heard a shout coming from nearby, and someone dropped their axe. I saw Rowar holding his hand while lying on the ground.
“Mr. Ajifu! It’s Rowar!”
Nenreko called me, and so I rushed towards them immediately. Rowar looked like he was in great pain, and so I put my hand over him and cast Heal. It took effect, and he regained his calm.
“What happened? It was so sudden.”
“I lost control of my hammer and hit my own hand. Thank you, Mr. Ajifu.”
“Be careful! We’ve come this far, and we can’t leave without collecting the reward!”
“Of course! I have to buy a new sword. Something like this is not going to stop me!”
Rowar and Nenreko made a firm fist and encouraged each other. While the hand that held the hammer was still shaking, he seemed optimistic.
“That being said, don’t get injured again. There’s still time, so don’t push yourself too hard.”
I was relieved to see that they were still cheerful, and so I went back to work. However, that was when a voice rose from a different direction.
“An advanced type is coming!”
There was a commotion, and I quickly grabbed the sword I had laid on the ground. However, there was no way they would allow something to reach the center of the camp so easily. And moments later, the extra large and vicious-looking Killer Ant was carried in. As it was so unusual, I had to get a closer look. And when I tapped it with a hammer, it felt a lot harder than the others.
“This is going to be a tough one.”
“Soldier Ants have harder shells. But they also sell for a higher price. So do your best.”
The Adventurer who carried it left quickly. Apparently, they were called Soldier Ants. They must be quite formidable if you fought them. However, cutting them up was also a good opportunity to learn about them. After all, you could lay them bare. Especially if it was something you had never fought before.
And so I dragged away the creature, which was the size of a large doge, and got to work.
I tried hitting it with an axe, the same way I did with the Killer Ants, but it was hard. That being said, there was still a scratch. So it would not be impossible, even if it would take some time. While I struggled with it, a different advanced type was brought in.
It was called a Dig Ant, and was about the same size as a Killer Ant. The outer shell was softer, but it had large fans and more acid. They did not seem well suited for close range combat. I suppose they were for the rear guard.
As the number of advanced types being brought in started to increase, there seemed to be some kind of commotion in the main unit. After some time had passed, a frantic Adventurer rushed towards us.
“Hey, I’m taking the magic wind tool.”
Upon hearing this, the director was surprised.
“You cannot take it! Besides, don’t you have enough in the nest already?”
“Some idiot went wild with fire magic in the nest. It even caused some of the tunnels to collapse. It’s a disaster. If we don’t send more wind, the others won’t survive there. It’s not like you will die without wind.”
“Th-that is true, but…”
“Then I’m taking it.”
With the wind tool gone, the bonfire that burned the Killer Ant carcasses grew smaller and smaller. Without wind, the firepower was insufficient.
The pile of caracasess then grew. And yet we had to continue working.
As time passed, the numbers went down, but then the percentage of advanced types increased. The harder shells of the Soldier Ants were bad enough, but the Dig Ants were dangerous with their acid sacs. They were large, and would break easily if you are not careful. People continued to get injured, and I had to use magic over and over so that my MP was running low.
“My eyes! My eyes hurt!”
“I can’t stop crying.”
And then there was a new problem. Not only did the advanced types have thicker acid, but they had it in higher quantities. And it began to fill the air around us. On top of that, without the magic fans, the airflow had become worse. After working in such an environment for so long, it started to hurt the eyes of the Adventurers. The work place was filled with pained groans.
Amidst all of this, Rowar finally reached his hundredth body.
He raised his fist in the air, expressing his joy. This was a result of keeping a fast pace while there were still mostly low-ranking ants. And so he was the first.
The other congratulated him.
“Well done. You can return to the town if you want. Or you can stay and get paid extra for each ant. What will you do?”
“I’ll stay and work!”
Rowar answered firmly. The others were surprised by this.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Everyone else is still working hard. I can’t just leave now. And my partner is far from finished. Right, Nenreko?”
“I know! But I’ll catch up in no time!”
Their cheerful voices echoed through the work place.
“Alright, let’s do this!”
“Aye! It’s just a little more!”
“And then we can get a drink!”
As hard as the work was, it would not last forever. It was this feeling that spread, and the others became lively again. And then, as if to encourage this, we received some good news.
“Everyone, listen! The Ant Queen has been slain!”
Cheers erupted everywhere. So the battle in the nest had ended successfully.
“They will be bringing the ants back as they return! So there will be a lot more, but the end is in sight. We’re almost finished, so keep it up!”
With this new momentum, the Adventurers bore the pain in their eyes and forced their tired arms to move. If anything, they were working faster than before, and more and more people reached a hundred bodies.
“We came this far, so we’ll stay until the end!”
“I want to make as much money as possible!”
Even after finishing a hundred, none of them wanted to leave. And then, suddenly, a great wind blew through the area.
The stench was blown away, and fresh air was around us again.
“Hey, there seem to be a lot of people remaining this year.”
Came a voice as a group of Adventurers appeared. I saw a magician lower their staff.
So that was where the wind had come from. I had seen that party before at the guild. Apparently, they had returned after the fight.
“Aye, all of the people that finished decided to stay. So things are moving much faster than last year.”
“Huh. They must be quite motivated then. Alright! Let’s join them!”
And like that, the other Adventurers joined in as well.
I said to the Adventurer who moved next to me. I didn’t know his name, but he looked familiar.
“Hmm? Is this your first time here?”
“Aye. I’m not from these parts, so this is my first time participating.”
“So that’s why you don’t know. But every year, those who return after the battle always help with the leftover ants. Though, things are a little different this year.”
I see. So that’s why you were allowed to return after finishing a hundred.