Lorist was standing on the town walls while looking at the sight before him of the magical beasts outside. The sixth area's central town was like a small raft floating in a sea of monsters, constantly at risk of being flipped over and sunk.
After three days and nights of nonstop water splashing, the former mud wall had already turned into a thick, sturdy ice wall, causing the people of the town to let out breaths of relief. Some of them were so tired that they even fell asleep on the ground right away.
"Milord, you should go get some rest too. It's been three days since you slept," Nors said as he approached Lorist with an incredibly respectful attitude.
Had it not been for the fact that Lorist brought his men to the town and thought up a method to strengthen the walls by letting water freeze over it, the defenseless central town of the sixth sector would long have fallen to the magical beasts, causing more than 13000 lives to turn into ashes beneath the paws and hooves of the beasts.
Lorist's eyes were slightly bloodshot from fatigue. He shook his head and said, "I'm fine, I can still hold on for a while longer. I wonder how the beasts will react to the frozen walls."
Currently, the group of beasts that was closest to the walls right now was a few gigantic magical yak. These yaks easily weighed more than 500 to 1000 kilograms and they were extremely aggressive. With a humongous body covered completely with long, brownish-black fur, and fearsome horns, it was heralded as one of the most troublesome magical beasts to deal with. Apart from defensive ballistas, only Gold ranked fighters could cause these yaks harm.
The central town was surrounded by farmland in the early stages of preparation which only had sparse amounts of algae the herbivorous magical beasts loved so much. That's why the beasts within the vicinity of the town were few and far between. However, that didn't stop them from eating the winter wheat saplings, with the guards on the walls being able to do anything about it other than watch in futility.
"Sigh, all the winter wheat saplings we sowed are gone... These stupid beasts have eaten them all..." Nors said exasperatedly.
"We can still find other sources of sustenance apart from winter wheat. There's potatoes and millets which don't have to be planted during the winter. What matters is that we stay put within the area and think of other methods to struggle for territory with the magical beasts. This year, we've been taken off-guard by the sudden arrival of the beasts. However, it won't be so easy for them next year. Since they've destroyed our winter wheat saplings, they must pay it back with the meat on their bodies..." Lorist said with a tone of seething hatred in his voice.
One of the 3-meter-tall gigantic yaks approached the walls and rubbed its back against it in a satisfied manner, causing Lorist to be completely speechless.
After the afternoon, the magical yaks near the walls left, causing Lorist to feel much more relieved. He had some food before going to take his long-deserved rest.
He slept rather soundly for the remainder of the day. However, he was still woken up mid-sleep. Opening his eyes, he saw Patt's troubled expression as he shouted, "Milord, milord... Wake up! The magical beasts started climbing the walls!"
Huh? Climbing the walls?
Lorist wasn't able to completely process the sentence he had just heard as he was still half asleep. Els, who was sleeping on the next bed blinked slowly to clear his vision and said, "Stop bullshitting... The magical beasts don't have ladders... How are they supposed to scale the 7-meter-tall walls?"
Patt picked Els up and brought him to the window before carefully opening it and said, "Open your eyes wide and take a good look. What else can you call this?"
When the window was opened, a draft of cold air entered the room. Everyone within felt the sudden chill and was awakened by it as a result. Josk who was next door also put on his clothes and came over. After taking a look from the window, he said, "Weird... How are the magical goats able to climb the walls?"
Lorist laughed out loud and said, "What's weird about that? That breed of magical goat is called the mountain-climbing horned goat. As its name implies, it climbs tall mountains to avoid predators. To them, our 7-meter wall is only child's play. Let's leave after we get ready. We'll be having mutton tonight! Free food has just showed up within our territory, so don't let it go to waste! Also, be careful not to be rammed to the ground by these goats. It's said that when the goats aren't able to escape from their enemy, they would abandon all notion of escaping and ram straight into its aggressor in hopes that it would be able to push it down a cliff alongside itself in a suicide attack."
"Are they easy to deal with?" Josk asked. It was the first time he saw goats like that.
"Well, on flat land, a Bronze ranked fighter can take care of three or four of these," Lorist replied.
"Tsk, that was a pointless scare. So they're only small fries whose only redeeming quality is being able to climb up our walls..." Patt said embarrassedly as he had awoken everyone within the building for a matter as small as that. Had he known about their capabilities, he would've went there and took care of them himself.
"It's fine. Are you guys ready? Let's go goat hunting," Lorist said before he left the building first.
The skies were still dark, but it wasn't pitch black either. The wooden cottage Lorist and the others rested within was quite near to the walls and the moment they left it, they could hear the bleating sounds the goats were making.
"We don't have to go up to the walls. Just deal with them on this empty space. Light some of the torches up," Lorist instructed.
As expected, the moment the torches were lit, the goats bleated more urgently and it even seemed that they were annoyed by the sudden illumination.
Sounds of hooves thumping rapidly on the ground could be heard as a bunch of black silhouettes rushed down from the slope from the walls. As the goats rushed straight towards them, Patt held his shield up and received the charge of a goat with a loud thump. However, he stood firm on his ground whereas the goat was sent flying from the force of the collision.
"Begin," Lorist ordered. Within moments, the carcasses of thirty or so goats were laid flat on the ground.
"Even though they're so weak, they actually took the initiative to attack. I really don't know what to say about these goats..." Els commented.
Lorist laughed and said, "They may be weak, but they are still magical beasts. Can't you see their red eyes? They attack humans once we enter their sights. However, within the wildlands, they are known to be one of the most cowardly beasts that run the moment they encounter their natural predators. We can ascend the walls now. There are still some up there, so be careful."
"Upon climbing up the walls and taking a look around, everyone was speechless. Multitudes of magical goats were gathered around the outside of the walls. In fact, they were merely seeking out a tall place to spend the night out of habit. From time to time, some of those goats made their way onto the walls.
However, the moment the goats noticed Lorist and the others' presence, they would rush towards them straight away, only to be put down moments later.
After circling around the walls and killing near 1000 of those goats, Lorist's group had alerted the town guards and Nors brought his men and rushed up the walls right away to combat the remaining goats.
The slaughtering continued all the way till daybreak and the rest of the goats only left the town walls after their numbers had been depleted by half.
Lorist and the rest were currently covered in goat blood from top to bottom and the carcasses of the dead goats were also beginning to freeze over atop the walls.
Nors himself was also covered in blood as could be seen when he approached Lorist and said, "Milord, it is my fault for being too lax and not arranging for a night watch..."
Lorist waved his hand and said as he laughed lightly, "No worries. We're only facing magical beasts, not enemies who are besieging the town. Given that I had ordered for your men to not startle the magical beasts during the night, it's no surprise that no night watch was arranged. Also, you guys have also worked tirelessly for three whole days, so you need to rest up as well. There's also no harm done from these goats coming up the walls to be turned into food by us. Let's get everyone to clear the dead goats up and prepare the meat. I heard that these mountain-climbing horned goats taste pretty good. We'll be having quite the meal today, haha!"
There was a harvest of more than 5000 goats, much to everyone's delight. Nors had some people bring out ten plus huge cauldrons to the central plaza of the town and made some gruel with the meat they got. Everyone could eat as much as they wanted during that night.
Lorist on the other hand enjoyed a delicious lamb chop dish. It was apparent that the chefs within the central town of the sixth area were quite skillful and were able to cook up a juicy piece of meat. Els had already eaten six servings and he proceeded to order one more even though his stomach was practically bloating already.
Lorist himself also finished five servings of the food before something occurred to him all of a sudden, causing him to instruct Nors hurriedly to have the chefs keep the rib bones of the goats for his use later. After that, he took out the map of the town and started pondering deeply.
Josk walked to Lorist's side with a smoked goat's leg in his hand and asked, "What's up? Do you have another idea?"
Lorist replied, "I was thinking if we should let the magical beasts enter the town..."
"What?! Have you gone insane?!" exclaimed Josk.
"You're the insane one! I was thinking that we could set up some traps within the town and let some herbivorous beasts into the town like today to clear them up conveniently. I'm sure you've noticed that during these past two days, the folk of the town were feeling rather worried and down. But right after we killed so many magical goats, they look much more energized and happy. I'm worried that if we only stay put and defend, that will internalize the fear and dread the townsfolk have for the magical beasts. However, if we can let some of the beasts into town and set up traps in advance, we can turn the magical beast wave into an opportunity for hunting so that the townsfolk will no longer have to fear them," Lorist explained hurriedly.
"Gosh, you really scared me," Josk said bashfully. "Milord, since you're so confident, go ahead. I don't really understand complex things like that, but I'll support your decisions anyhow."
At that moment, Nors entered the building and his hands held a plate on which a rib bone with some meat still stuck on it was placed. "Milord, do you want to eat this? How would you like it cooked? Smoked or steamed?" Nors asked.
Lorist took the rib bone into his hand and shaved off the meat with a dagger before proceeding to sharpen the two ends of the bone. After that, he said, "Get me a basin of hot water."
Some hot water was quickly brought to Lorist which he used to submerge the rib bone with. After that, he twisted the rib bone gently inwards into a circular shape and had Patt get him a string which he used to tie the two sharp ends of the bone together. He then took some meat that he shaved off the bone just now and pasted it on the circular rib bone before tossing the whole thing on the snowy ground.
Everyone present merely stared curiously. Lorist proceeded to explain, "I have just made a trap with that rib bone that we can use to take care of the carnivorous magical beasts."
"Milord, you're not kidding, right? How would we be able to take care of the carnivorous beasts with just that?" said one of them. The rest also didn't seem to believe that it would work.
After the rib bone froze over, Lorist asked someone to bring it back.
"Look. When the carnivores notice these on the ground, they will definitely swallow them whole," said Lorist as he removed the string tying the two ends of the rib together. The frozen rib still retained its curled shape.
"Think about it... The stomachs of those beasts should be rather warm, right? Just like this basin of warm water," Lorist said before he tossed the rib bone into the basin.
Not long after, the frozen meat on the bone began to melt and fall away from the bone. After that, the rib gradually uncurled again and returned to its former slightly curved shape with its two sharp edges pointing outwards.
"If rib bones like these revert back to their original shape in the stomachs of the beasts, hehe... No matter how savage they are, they would die all the same. Do you guys understand now?" Lorist said as he looked at the rest with a confident smile.
"Whoa! Milord, you're a genius! Using this method to deal with the carnivorous beasts really saves us a lot of trouble!" Patt praised, with Nors nodding in agreement.
"At the end of the day, Locke, you're the only person who can actually think of something as devious and insidious as this... But, I like it," Els said as he took the rib bone and inspected it.
Lorist stared at Els and thought, was that supposed to be a compliment?
"That doesn't seem right," Josk said as he furrowed his brow. "Milord, usually, these carnivorous magical beasts would their food a bite or two before swallowing it. Given that their teeth is sharp and hard, wouldn't the bone be ground to pieces before it is even swallowed?"
Lorist clapped his hands and said, "Joe, you have a point. The sample trap I made just now was only a makeshift one with some meat plastered onto it. The actual traps we will use will be covered in goat fats. Since goat fats will melt the moment it enters the beasts' mouths no matter how frozen it is, the beasts would just swallow the bone whole straight away because there's no need for them to chew on the fats.
"In fact, this trap was not invented by me. It was actually designed by one of the most prominent adventurers who lived roughly 100 years ago, Carmen Pride. Having been trapped on an uninhabited island for two years, he used this trap to hunt for carnivorous magical beasts which helped him sustain him until the day of his rescue. Due to the fact that magical mountain-climbing horned goats liked climbing to high places, their rib bones were rather elastic. Hence, the rib bones of the goats were the ideal material for these traps."
Lorist looked at the rest within the building and said, "In another two days, the magical beast wave will leave the sixth sector and head for the fifth. Following behind the main group would be the carnivorous beasts, which are very different from the herbivorous beasts we see now. While herbivorous magical beasts only attack if we're in their sights, carnivorous ones will hunt us down the moment they get a hint of our scent. Even though we have the ice walls protecting us, we must still be careful. Just in case, it's better to make more of these traps and there would be no harm having a little more than we need either."
"Yes, milord," said the rest in unison.
"Also, I was thinking of opening the town gates to let those aggressive but weak goats inside so that we can gather more meat. What do you guys think?" Lorist asked.
"Milord, I have no issue with that. I will await your instructions," Nors said.
During the last two days of the magical beast wave at the sixth sector, Lorist opened the town gates twice at opportune times and let in huge groups of magical mountain-climbing horned goats, big-horned wild goats and striped deers into the town. However, during the first time, the gates were closed a little too late, letting in around 20000 of them as a result, causing everyone to be busy killing them off all the way till midnight. Some unlucky fellows were also injured from the wild ramming of the goats. It was fortunate that the soldiers that participated in the slaughter were equipped with metal armor, ensuring that none of them incurred lasting injuries.
The atmosphere during that time was exceedingly wild with most of the soldiers that participated in the hunt running all over the streets of the town, either chasing the beasts or being chased by them. Sometimes, the soldiers who were chasing a small group of goats would turn their backs when they noticed a larger group up front, resulting in them being chased for a change, until another group of soldiers came to their aid and began their counterattack.
The other townsfolk that didn't participate in the activities instead got up to the roofs of their houses and cheered nonstop excitedly. When the hunt came down to the last magical goat, the soldiers didn't kill it right away either and instead took up their shields and made a game out of resisting the goat's charge. Some were knocked flying by the goat and were laughed at by the onlookers while others were cheered for after knocking the goat flying and even received air-kisses from some of the womenfolk.
At that time, Lorist would never have imagined that the practice of letting the magical beasts into town would evolve into a local holiday known as the 'goat ramming festival', which prohibited the use of weapons against the goats they captured and only allowed participants to ram the goats with their shields until they lost consciousness.
Originally, after opening the gates for the first time, Lorist didn't want to do it a second time. However, that decision was received negatively by of the townsfolk, causing him to have to once again open the gates and let in a few thousand magical striped deers to keep the festivities going.
The magical striped deers were the last of the herbivorous magical beasts and what came after were the carnivorous ones that stalked the herbivores from afar, the most common of which being the various types of winter wolves.
From the walls of the town, Lorist discovered that the largest group of winter wolves numbered around 1000. He then instructed for the goat rib traps to be tossed outside the town and made preparations for the collection of the carcasses two days later.