Virgil asked as the other Adventurers began to talk uneasily amongst themselves.
“Yeah. There’s an underground tunnel behind this village that is hidden behind trees and rocks. Beyond it is a base that was used by the orcs.”
“A base, you say? But you are talking about orcs?”
The Adventurers questioned as if this was hard to believe. Daniela raised her voice.
“We have a report concerning that as well. We cannot be certain yet, but we believe that there is an abnormally evolved orc among them. It should be thought of as a subspecies, different than your average orc. And these tend to have the intelligence to match humans. In other words, moving through the valley’s fog, preparing a base from which to attack, these were part of this being’s strategy!”
It was a succession of things that had never happened before, and the mouths of the Adventurers closed. Either they were processing the information or they were dumbstruck… From what I could see, it looked like a little of both. Unsurprisingly, Virgil raised a hand first and spoke.
“Let us say that this is all true, could we win against such orcs? We investigated this village ruin, and cannot believe that this was the work of orcs. They took only what was valuable, killed the elderly they had no use for, and set fire to the houses. It is a tragedy, and I would be much more likely to believe you, had you said it was bandits.”
The others all nodded. Indeed, it would be hard for them to believe it was the work of orcs. However, it would make perfect sense if an evolved orc was behind it. Beowulf was intelligent enough to erase his presence and ambush us at night. He was powerful and cunning to the point where I was convinced that I would die. The assault kobold had used its knowledge in an attempt to build a kingdom. He had a speed that humans could not keep up with, and I could not dodge the attacks of his claws. He had planned for a stampede in secret and continued to haunt me after death. I had made peace with Beowulf, but the same could not be said for that assault kobold.
But that was how intelligent and powerful these monsters were. As we had faced them, it made perfect sense to us. But it was hard to make the Adventurers understand.
“But, that is the power of these abnormally evolved beings. Monsters with high intelligence are not so different from us. If anything, as monsters, they are much more dangerous than any human.”
“…You seem very confident about it. Are you?”
“Yes. There is no doubt that it is the work of orcs. And we believe there must be an evolved orc behind it all, judging by the situation. But we have yet to confirm it. That must come next.”
“So, you are saying that we must go and investigate their colony?”
“That is what I am saying.”
They wouldn’t believe us without evidence. Our words may have been based off prior experience, but a report from an actual witness would carry more weight.
“And so, if there are any Adventurers here who are skilled scouts, we would like their help! Daniela’s detection abilities and my skills will support you!”
I say as I look at them. As this was an orc extermination quest, most of them were heavy warrior types, but surely there were some with light equipment that could help scout?
Right then, one Adventurer pushed his way forward from the crowd of men and came forth. He was scrawny and wore light armor.
Clearly a scout type. The Adventurer smiled lightheartedly and said,
“Scouting? That’s my specialty!”
He said with overflowing confidence. Well, it was Ness.
“Ness. Why didn’t you say anything if you were here!”
“Ehehe. We thought we’d spectate to see how much you’ve grown. It was Gardo’s idea.”
He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. Gardo was behind the group of Adventurers and waving amusedly. Huh. I felt like a kid during a parent’s observation day.
“Ness, can you go then?”
“Aye, leave it to me!”
Virgil asked him. Ness hit his fist into his palm as a show of his eagerness. Now that I think of it, I’ve never gone on a quest with Ness or Gardo before.
“What about you, Gardo?”
“Look at me. I’m not cut out for scouting. But I do have a knack for killing orcs. I’m sure that’ll come in handy in the end?”
Gardo waded through the Adventurers like Ness, and like Ness, he answered us confidently. A reliable pair they were.
“Alright, so we have Ness as our head scout, but we need a few more. I’d like to search a wide area.”
“I’ll choose some men for you then. But that is enough talk for now. It’s almost nightfall. We’ve set up camp nearby, so we will move over there.”
I looked up at the sky and saw that a thick shadow was covering the sunset sky. It would lose the battle soon and turn into complete darkness. Several of the Adventurers were preparing torches now. I took out our own lantern from the bag and lit it. Now that we were ready, it was off to their campsite. We would talk in more detail there, and then return to the base once the sun had risen again. And then we would start moving.
Our destination, the orc colony. Our goal, hunting down the abnormally evolved being and the annihilation of the orcs.