During the three day journey towards the Grey Forest on the outskirts of Bairan, Grid constantly worked Jude and the soldiers.
He instructed them to fight the monsters who were drawn by Malacus' Cloak. However, the Bairan monsters had a minimum level of 100, while the Grey Forest monsters had a minimum level of 120. It was hard for the level 70~80 soldiers to fight them. There were the sounds of suffering.
But Grid was firm. He never gave orders for the soldiers to retreat. They were forced to fight, even if they had to die. He gave almost no breaks. In the end, the soldiers couldn't refuse his commands and were forced to fight with a real determination to die. Indeed, they almost died several times.
The soldiers no longer regarded Grid as a hero. They thought he was the devil.
Initially, the soldiers thought that this expedition was to torment them. But none of the soldiers lost their lives to the monsters. Every time the soldiers were on the brink of death, Grid and the knights saved them.
This repeated for three days, and the average level of the soldiers increased to 90. Jude always fought in the lead and managed to reach level 110.
'Certainly... NPCs are different from users.'
Grid realized some new facts. Users gained 10 fixed stat points every time they gained a level, while NPCs randomly acquired a minimum of 6 to a maximum of 20 stat points. Every time Jude levelled up, he got at least 16 stat points. Indeed, Grid was interested in a Grade A NPC.
Grid was encouraged.
'Yes Jude. Grow quickly. Then become my faithful dog.'
The next day, the party finally reached the Grey Forest. From here, the atmosphere became strange. The spirits of the soldiers that had grown under Grid's direction faded away in an instant.
"I-I'm sorry but we can't move any further."
The start of the forest was covered by a poison fog generated by the poison flowers. A radius of 300m was filled with poison. The soldiers and knights naturally shrunk back. They were five meters away from the poison, but their skin was already irritated. They could feel their health deteriorating in real time.
Romeo judged that stepping into the forest without a Rebecca priest was nothing more than suicide.
"It is unreasonable to beat the Guardian of the Forest with this group. It's impossible to reach the Guardian of the Forest itself. It's great that we reached here, but we can only turn back..."
The knights and soldiers stood still and didn't move. Grid didn't force them.
'The poison flowers' poison fog does 350 damage per second.'
Putting aside the knights, the soldiers had less than 3,000 health. If he forced them into the fog, they wouldn't even be able to move 100m before dying. Grid worked hard to train them, so he didn't want to lose them like this.
'I have to go ahead.'
The poison flower wasn't simply a poisonous plant. It was a level 160 carnivorous plant that attacked anything that came into its range with its tentacles. It was the object of complete terror for travellers and monsters.
But the flowers weren't a threat to Grid. The tense Grid put a hand into his inventory. He was planning to take out Dainsleif in order to get rid of the poison flowers.
Jude was silent as usual as he walked forward towards the fog. He was heading towards the poison fog that scared even the knights!
'Indeed! He's a person that I am paying attention to!'
Grid was filled with anticipation. What would Jude use to break through the poison fog? He watched with curious eyes. Then Jude finally stepped into the fog. Jude's health gauge started to decline at a tremendous pace.
But Jude didn't care. He groaned and kept advancing. Then he fell down onto the grass.
Grid was perplexed by the unexpected development. Then the soldiers were in an uproar.
"Ah Captain! He moved without thinking and is digging his grave!"
"Let's go rescue Captain quickly!"
"Shit, we have to go into that poison fog? We'll die as well!"
"Uhh... Will Captain die like this?"
Jude's poisoned gauge was falling quickly. The helpless soldiers were forced to watch as their captain died in front of their eyes. Grid noticed his mistake.
'Wasn't he stupid?'
Despite repeatedly gaining levels, Jude's intelligence was still stuck at 11. There was also the unknown skill with the ominous name of 'I have no Idea.' The reason Jude went into the fog wasn't because he had a means of breaking the fog, but because he had no idea. Grid belatedly discovered this face and hurriedly moved.
'I can't lose him like this!'
Romen and Deck cried out. A viscount was throwing himself into poisonous fog just to save a mere captain? They couldn't understand Grid's behavior.
Deck shouted in an urgent voice, "Sir Romeo! If the viscount dies, then we are finished!"
But it was too late. Grid's movement speed was superhuman. The moment Romeo and Deck thought to stop him, Grid was already in the middle of the poison fog.
"Drink it quickly!"
His vision became cloudy. A terrible pain filled his body. Jude thought he would die like this. Someone suddenly ran up to Jude and raised his body. Then Jude was fed a potion? The person was Grid.
A noble was willing to risk his life to save a commoner? Didn't nobles consider soldiers to be meat shields on the battlefield? Grid was different from the nobles that Jude had met. Why was he different? He was curious, but Jude's intelligence couldn't infer the reason. So he was just thrilled.
Then he made a stupid look as tentacles from the poison flowers flew towards him. The tentacles were like flying birds, but none of them could reach Jude. It was natural. How could level 160 monsters exert their power in front of Grid?
"Pagma's Swordsmanship, Wave!"
Swords of light moved in all directions around Grid. The tentacles flying towards Jude were destroyed and dozens of poison flowers screamed. Then the poisonous fog started to disappear like a lie. Jude made a stupid expression and admired Grid's skill.
Clean air started pouring into the poisoned lungs. His innate health meant Jude was quickly freed from suffering and he raised his body. Then he bowed to Grid.
These words were too simple towards someone who saved his life. Grid was embarrassed for a while.
'He really is stupid.'
He told Jude, "It's good to be brave, but you should think before moving forward. You don't have 10 lives, right?"
Jude nodded like he understood. But the expression was too subtle. It was like he didn't understand what it meant. Grid felt uncomfortable. He couldn't help feeling anxious. It wasn't a difficult demand. Grid just asked him to be careful. But how stupid was he to not understand?
Then the knights and soldiers ran up to them.
They gazed at Grid with admiration.
"It's amazing that you can sweep up dozens of poison flowers all at once! This is the majesty of the hero who defeated Malacus!"
"The acting of rescuing the captain is the epitome of all nobles and knights!"
Romeo and Deck started to praise Grid. The soldiers who misunderstood Grid as a devil once again recognized Grid as a hero.
"Viscount is the best!"
"Thank you for saving the captain!"
The cheers from the soldiers and knights! Grid smiled at them, but it had an ominous feeling.
"How is it? If you are with me, you can easily defeat the Guardian of the Forest."
Despite the fact that Grid had shown his greatness, the knights and soldiers still reacted skeptically to beating the Guardian of the Forest.
Grid didn't care. He was willful from the beginning, so he just started moving forward again. The knights and soldiers were forced to follow him. Then the party encountered something in the center of the forest.
"Humans! No humans in forest! Humans pollute forest! No forgive humans!"
It was a goblin lord. Most goblins were around one meter tall, but he was around two meters tall. And his strength was beyond imagination. As a level 180 field boss, he was an intermediate boss that had to be defeated before meeting the Guardian of the Forest.
He summoned dozens of hobgoblins. Grid identified this and began conducting his troops.
"This is the final training before we defeat the Guardian of the Forest! Three soldiers will mark one hobgoblin, while the knights and Jude will look at the entire battlefield and help those in danger. Once the goblin lord starts acting strange, it is the precursor to an earthquake. At that time, spread out and minimize the damage!"
The goblin lord had the same attack pattern as the Guardian of the Forest.
The goblin lord summoned hobgoblins while the Guardian of the Forest summoned golems. The goblin lord also possessed the same wide range earthquake technique as the Guardian of the Forest.
That's why Guardian of the Forest raid parties tended to meet the goblin lord before meeting the Guardian of the Forest. Grid had familiarized himself with the process and responded as calmly as possible.
The knights and soldiers marked the hobgoblins according to Grid's instructions, while Grid approached the goblin lord. Then he used Pagma's Swordsmanship, Kill, in order to suppress it.
[The Holy Light Gloves option effect is activated, causing you to attack the target five times.]
[You have dealt 302,555 damage.]
[You have defeated the guard of the Grey Forest, the goblin lord!]
[2,600,100 experience has been acquired.]
[The Goblin Lord's Club has been acquired.]
[The Goblin Lord's fang has been acquired.]
[Your level has risen.]
The critical strike combined with the Holy Light Gloves' option and Kill was a blow that managed to cause the level 280 griffon boss monster to fall into a critical state. Therefore, it easily took care of the level 180 goblin lord.
Of course, this wasn't his intention. Why was the power of his items applied at such exquisite timing?
"Hiik! Humans! Scary!"
The hobgoblins ran away with fear while Grid was feeling embarrassed. Grid grasped the situation.
'Damn, I should've taken off the gloves.'
Grid felt regret over missing the opportunity to train the troops, while the knights and soldiers were baffled.
'Is that a human?'
"The Guardian of the Forest. It's time to hunt it."
In the midst of the chaos, only Jude was moving forward without thinking.