Chapter 21: A Perilous Journey (6)

It has now been four days since we entered this forest.

Suddenly, an old story came to mind.

They said there was a forgotten forest in the northwest of the Empire.

Once, it was called the Demon Realm by the Empire and became a subject of fear, but even that fear was forgotten, and no one cared anymore.

A land where dangerous monsters lived but held no particular value.

There were no special resources, nor was it of any commercial or military strategic importance.

Maybe if one looked, they might find a mine or two, but even now, the Empire was a resource-rich nation.

There was no reason to waste money developing such a dangerous forest.

Because it held no value, not even humans or demons ventured close.

Thus, the forest in the northwest of the Empire disappeared from everyone’s sight.

Even the Empire only occasionally included it in its territory, without ever managing it practically.

Naturally, in novels, it was only mentioned as “a forest in the northwest.”

But we were acutely aware of why this place was once called the Demon Realm.


A clear, resonant metallic sound echoed.

‘This is crazy! I thought I blocked it.’

The shock that traveled through my hand was unusual.

My sword was instantly knocked aside, and its path skewed.

In a way, it was fortunate.

If I had tried to withstand it, the blade would have been cut off instantly.

Even though the blade grazed my wrist as I retrieved it, it didn’t seem like a direct hit.

This time, the opponent was a monster.

What would partially hardened lava look like if it took human form?

Red hues were visible all over its ashen, hardened body.

It looked more like blood than flames, but its appearance inevitably reminded one of cooling lava.

It basically walked on two legs like a human and swung its two arms like weapons.

Its lower body was ordinary, but its upper body was massive.

First of all, its arms were absurdly long.

If it spread its arms out, they would probably be close to 4 meters long.

The arms were thick too, giving off an impression of brute strength.

Its fierce nails made one think of claws. I saw a tree get effortlessly cut down a moment ago.

We had exchanged blows several times, but it wasn’t easy.

However, I recently gained a useful card to play.

“Sirien. Now!”

“Take this!”

The axe thrown by Sirien lodged into the monster’s crown.

A clean, flawless hit.

Sirien’s ‘unexpected talent’ was displayed without fail.

The praise I had given her recently for hitting anything she could get her hands on paid off.

Even though I had to scold her when she threw a fork, Sirien’s throwing skills had undeniably improved.

If it were human, it would have been dead the moment a chunk of metal lodged into its head.

But that wasn’t always the case with monsters.

The monster became wildly agitated by the sudden intrusion of the metal.

It let out a scream that could make the entire forest tremble.

With murderous intent in its eyes, it glared at Sirien, but she no longer had a weapon.

There was no reason to fight such a monster without a weapon.

Naturally, Sirien ran without looking back, and I didn’t allow pursuit.

“Well done! I’ll finish it, so stay hidden.”

No answer came. She had learned not to reply when told not to.

She learned quickly once taught.

There was no need to reveal Sirien’s position to the enemy since I could call her once the fight was over.

Unlike beasts that sometimes lived in packs, monsters roamed alone.

Unless under the control of a powerful Demon King or Dark mage, that is.

Although they were significantly more dangerous than most predators alone, their solitary nature made them easier to handle.

But we were two.

Even though we had only one axe, giving us just one chance to use Sirien, one chance was all I needed.

Just one moment of distraction, one break in its stance, and I could land several blows.

The monster’s black blood splattered everywhere.

Moreover, this monster couldn’t understand human language.

Its guard was up in anticipation of a second or third attack.

In contrast, I only had to focus on this one creature.

‘Its claws are as sharp as well-honed blades. Its strength seems to be above most predators. If I get hit even once, I might die.’

Considering the difference in physical abilities, I was no match.

Strength, reach, speed—all of these were disadvantages for me.

But martial arts are designed to counter such enemies.

The opponent had a far superior body but cursed intelligence.

Its vision was short, and its movements were excessively large.

Since it moved more by instinct than intellect, I had the upper hand in tactical maneuvers.

It was the same now.

The monster’s arm lunged straight at me.

A thrust is difficult to defend but easy to dodge.

I ducked, and its claws embedded in the tree behind me.

Given its strength, it would soon pull them out, but my strike wouldn’t take long either.


With a slice, I cut off one of its arms.

The monster howled in pain and went berserk.

While it flailed meaninglessly in the air, I stepped back to catch my breath.

“It’s really angry.”

The monster looked ready to charge at me with its eyes wide open.

It was fortunate.

The severed end of its arm was already twitching and starting to regenerate.

Dragging this out would be troublesome for me.

Despite its human-like appearance, I must not be deceived.

It was no different from a beast.

Monsters were creatures driven purely by instinct and aggression.

Just once. If I could dodge just once, counterattacking wouldn’t be difficult.

I watched its movements intently.

I confirmed something while dodging its attacks.

Its body structure was definitely similar to that of a primate.

The muscles from its back pulled as it moved its arms, and the pushing motion from its chest was identical.

Both eyes clearly focused on me, revealing its intentions without any hesitation.

‘Here it comes.’

Its leg drew back like a bowstring.

I didn’t miss the movement of its muscles.

The launched attack was fast, nearly impossible to track with the naked eye.

Nearly impossible didn’t mean it was impossible.

Its remaining right arm approached as if to crush me.

Defense was pointless.

Trying to block its claws with my sword would only result in my body being shattered along with the sword.

What I had to do was use its speed against it.

Its uncontrolled speed would turn back on itself.

While desperately dodging, I gripped my sword firmly.

The moment my sword intersected its trajectory, a jarring recoil hit both my arms.


It was a success.

The bisected monster’s body tumbled pathetically through the forest.

There was no time to stand still.

If it were a monster that could die just because its lower body was severed, it would have died when Sirien’s axe struck it earlier.

When engaging with monsters, a definite finish was essential.

You had to assume they could regenerate anytime until they were completely dead.

I chased after the shattered body, cutting off its head and stabbing its heart. The heart was the key.

Feeling something hard with the tip of my sword, I stabbed several times until I broke it.

Only then did the monster stop screaming and its body stiffened.

But I didn’t expect this.


The monster’s body exploded, and black blood gushed over me.

* * *

“Ts. This will leave a scar too.”

The impact of the explosion wasn’t severe.

Half of the monster’s body was already blown away, and its heart was destroyed, after all.

Even its final desperate struggle wasn’t fatal.

Some acidic liquid, possibly from its insides, splashed out, but it only slightly corroded my skin.

Since I reacted quickly, only my left arm was somewhat injured.

However, it seemed a scar would remain.

The deep wound I received in the fight at the cabin had also scarred, and this wouldn’t be any different.

I was beginning to understand why Razen’s body in the novel was covered in scars.

“There are no more bandages. What should we do?”

“We’ll just have to untie the one wrapped around my right arm.”

“Okay. Give me your arm. I’ll do it.”

From the cabin to this forest, the battles had been relentless.

New wounds appeared faster than my body could heal the old ones.

As a result, we were now running low on bandages.

Sirien gritted her teeth.

She glared at my wound as she wrapped the bandage around it.

“Damn it... Don’t get hurt. It makes me sad.”

“It’s not like I can control it. Ah, make sure to wrap the clean side of the bandage around it.”

“Got it. I’ll be careful.”

Before long, Sirien’s first-aid skills had become quite proficient.

A girl who used to freak out at the sight of blood from a needle prick was now handling blood-soaked bandages without flinching.

While it was a good change for survival, it didn’t make me particularly happy.

If I had been stronger, could I have kept her as a sheltered flower? It was something I couldn’t know.

“Oh, there’s blood here too.”

“Huh? What? Did I get hurt there too? Must have gotten scratched by a tree. Just leave it. It’ll stop bleeding on its own.”

A small wound had appeared on my other arm.

Blood was trickling from a cut.

It wasn’t deep, and the bleeding was minimal.

So, it was really okay to leave it alone.

But Sirien’s sudden action made me flinch.


Her soft lips touched the wound, and I felt a slight suction.

Sirien was sucking the blood from the wound.

“What, what are you doing?”

“What does it look like? I’m sucking the blood.”


“To make it heal faster...?”

Does that even make the wound heal faster?

I was utterly baffled, but Sirien looked at me with a puzzled expression, as if not understanding why I was reacting this way.

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