There's no way Boss just said what I thought he did, right? Nah, maybe I misheard him. It can’t be. I mean, for a second there, it sounded like he was suggesting I should go and kill that butt-ugly, moss-covered, walking stink factory...
Yeah, right! There's no damn way he'd say that... only...
He keeps staring at me in a way that gets this girl thinking he's dead-ass serious. His eyes are on fire, and he doesn't take 'em off of me for even a second. Feels like he's burning a hole through my soul with the fiery determination coming off of him!
There really are no two ways about it. He really wants me to go in and fight that thing!
"Boss... you can't, like-" I try and think of a way to put it, but I can't even. It just comes out as a garbled mess. "It's a Troll! A real one! You know, the monster shitty parents tell their kids about that'll come to kidnap and eat them if they misbehave? Those Trolls?"
I sound a little frantic, but I can't really control my tone. I mean, here I am, just fresh off of slicing up my first piglet, and suddenly the goal post has been moved like a hundred feet away!
"I know what it is," He speaks in a serious voice while nodding his head. "And I meant what I said. You're going to kill it, and that's a fact."
What the hell makes him so confident? Just cause he's got a big brain, he acts like he's got it all figured out, but I don't see how he knows this as a fact. Part of me wants to trust him. He ain't been wrong about crap until this point, but...
Ugh, why am I even acting like this? It's not like I'm scared of fighting that monster or anything. This is what I wanted my whole life... it's what I left home for- hell, what I dreamed about.
I'm not scared... I've never been scared! So why the hell is my stupid-ass brain deciding now's a good time to start?
A guy like Boss can see whatever the heck I'm going through from a mile away. He tries to make me feel better by grabbing one of my mitts, wrappings his hands around it, and squeezing down on it nice and tight.
Grr... I hate how much better it makes me feel. Stupid Boss.
"Sam, listen to me. Everything I've done with you so far has been to teach you how to stand on your own two feet as a warrior. That Troll over there?" He points to the dumb sack of crap who is right now shoving his hand into the fire for the eighth time, still chasing that juicy, cursed pig meat. "Just another lesson. It might be a scary one, sure, but it's a lesson nonetheless."
I feel my cheeks turn hot, and I pull my hand away from him since he's getting all touchy-feely without my permission. "Scary? Yeah, right! I-"
"Sam," The way he says my name sends a chill through my spine. Something about that deep voice of his is kinda soothing, but it puts me on edge at the same time if that's somehow possible. "Stop pretending like you're hot shit."
"Uh, 'scuse the fuck you?"
"It would be weirder if you weren't scared. Pretending you aren't afraid is childish and unbefitting of an adventurer."
"I'm... I'm not-"
He keeps looking right at me, but he doesn't say a word.
Damn it... damn it... damn it!
Yes, I'm a little scared... so what? Is that a crime? I ain't used to this, and it sucks. I feel powerless, made even worse from Boss telling me 'yo, Sam, you got this, girl' when I know that I sure as hell don't. I feel like I'm disappointing both of us.
Guess I got no choice but to own up to it...
"Sure. Fine. Whatever, I'm shaking in my boots over here... but in my defense, that thing is huge. It's made of muscle- hell, when it walked outta the damn woods, the ground was shaking, Boss! Shaking!"
Still cool as ice, Boss doesn't break a sweat as he asks, "Have I ever put you in danger that I didn't think you were capable of handling?"
"Then what makes you think I'd start now?" He says, putting words in my mouth.
"I don't think you would, I just-"
"Sam, the thought of you getting hurt out there tears me apart. It... would destroy me. You have to understand I would never-"
Does this jerk really think that now is the best time to get all romantic with me? Really? At least wait until after I've killed the damn thing! "Gah, shut up! I-I get the point, you... you don't need to phrase it like that!" I can't believe this man half the time- the absolute balls on him!
His expression softens for a sec. Just long enough to smile at me while he says, "I wouldn't endanger you without good cause. That's all I'm trying to say."
Everything starts settling in the more I look into his eyes. I grit my teeth and think just a bit harder about how much he's trying to convince me. I almost don't believe it, so I ask, "You... really think I have a shot at this, don't you?"
"More than a shot. I'm certain you can win."
Even though I freaked out just a few minutes ago from killing my first monster with blood and guts, he legit believes I can take this on Troll and win. There's gotta be a reason. He's not just pulling this out of his ass.
After everything he's done for me until now, I... I know I shouldn't just ignore him. I gotta hear Boss out, even though it's hard for me to talk. My nerves might be kicking my ass, but... I have to.
Damn it, Sam... you have to fucking do this!
"What..." I open my mouth to speak, but it gets caught in my throat. Fuck you, nerves! It's ok, it's ok... try again. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and force the rest of the sentence out. "What... kind of lesson are you trying to teach me here, Boss?"
He also takes a moment to respond before giving me a determined glare as he says, "How to take a risk."
"A risk? Hold up, I thought you said this was a sure thing?"
"The risk you'll be taking is trusting me, even when your nerves tell you not to."
Damn it... it feels like he knows how to play me like a damn fiddle. When Boss says it like that, I feel an overwhelming drive to prove myself. It's not fair. He knows I have a thing about getting his approval, and the clever bastard is using it against me.
Yet, for some reason... I ain't even mad about it.
If he wants me to take that risk, then I'll take it, not for him, but for me. So I can become the kind of warrior that I want to be. The kind of warrior who can protect this Realm when no one else can!
"Alright, Boss... I'm in. Do we have enough time for you to teach me how to fight it?" We've been sitting here in the bushes whispering for minutes as that dumb git keeps sticking its hand in the fire. I'm kinda amazed it hasn't noticed us yet.
"I wouldn't worry about that," He grows distant while looking past the bushes at the monster's awesome display of intellect. "Trolls are slow... especially Moss Trolls. Seriously, Sam. Do you have any idea how slow a creature has to be for moss to start growing on it?"
I look back at the creature, watching it carefully pull its hand away from the fire. It seems like it finally learned it isn’t going to get the meat that way, but damn it, Boss is right. Every little motion it makes is at a snail's pace, and for the life of me, I can't see it being able to dodge my attacks- a Pigling it ain't.
That's reassuring, and all, but is that really what has Boss so convinced of my chances?
"Sure, the sucker is slow. I'll give ya that. But is that the only reason you think I can take it?"
"No," He adjusts his glasses, looking right back at me. "You're a Great Blader. You might not know any of your class's special techniques yet, but your weapon was made specifically for battling monsters bigger than yourself."
"Really? I just picked this sword 'cause it was badass looking... guess that makes sense, though." Internally, I sigh. I got so much left to learn about being a warrior that it ain't even funny.
"Indeed. On top of that, I have a secret weapon in mind that will guarantee your victory."
My eyes open wide at the sound of that. Secret weapon? Music to my ears. "You shoulda led with that!" I laugh. "Fork it over, Boss, I am all about secret weapons over here!"
Course, he makes a point about being real obtuse over his strategy. The crafty bastard smirks knowingly at me while saying, "I said this would teach you how to take a risk, silly girl. There's no risk in a guaranteed victory."
I roll my eyes. "Tch, I shoulda known you would say that... are you expecting me to just jump in there and have at it, then?"
"More or less. Its skin will be tough, so you'll have to keep cutting until it dies from the wounds."
I nod my head while listening close. Moss Trolls got a tough hide. Got it.
He goes on, "Aside from that, the only thing you need to remember when fighting a Troll is to not get hit. Especially not while wearing your current set of armor."
He's never gonna let me hear the end of my get-up, is he? I just stole the first thing I saw in my father's closet. I was in a hurry. It’s not like I had time to raid the royal armory!
The fact that I'm wearing skimpy bikini armor is obviously something he considered, and he still thinks I can win. So, I'll take that risk and believe in him.
There's nothing else to be said, so I look Boss in my eyes and remember everything he's already done for me. I ain't gonna let him down, and more importantly, I ain't gonna let myself down.
"Alright, I got this..." I take in a deep breath, then repeat myself while staring straight at him. "I got this."
The bastard smirks, "You're damn right you do."
Before I head into the fray, Boss tears a chunk of his white undershirt off rips it in half. At first, I wonder what the heck he's on about, but then he rolls up the two pieces of cloth up for me to use as nose plugs. Nice. They don't completely get rid of the Troll stank, but they're a lot better than nothing.
I shove them up where they belong and look through the bushes to check the current situation. The Moss Troll is still eyeing up the meat, but he's not trying to grab it with his moss-covered hands anymore. Wonder how long it'll be till it tries blowing out the fire or something? By the looks of it, it ain't gonna be any time soon. Seems like I got tons of time to plan things out.
Not that I need it. Boss said that speed is king here, so for once, rushing in blind might be the way to go. He's not giving me any plan of attack, so it's up to me.
I'm not gonna just jump out of the bushes and repeat my mistake with the Pigling, though. Instead of drawing attention to my position, I follow along the long trail of bushes to sneak off to the left side of the monster. It doesn't notice me when I crawl through the plants and not when I emerge on its flank.
After emerging from the bushes, I draw my sword as quietly as I can. I can think of a hundred thousand different troll puns to fit this situation, but Boss just chewed me out on that. None of 'em are worth giving up my stealthy advantage.
Moment of truth, right here.
All that's left is to run in and attack, which is definitely something I know how to do by now. I clutch my sword until my knuckles turn white. Staring at the unaware bastard, I try and channel just a bit of that unending rage I got bottled up inside me, and then I run straight at him.
"Hyah!" I shout, swinging my massive blade in a horizontal arc.
I land a big hit!
The attack slashes the Troll's left arm, tearing through a thick layer of moss to rip across its bicep and shoulder muscles. The first thing I find out is that Boss wasn't kidding about how hard its hide is. It's tough- real tough. It almost feels like I'm not gonna inflict any damage, but I grit my teeth and push even more of my power into the attack.
It isn't super deep, but all this effort gets me going enough to open up the skin. A thin layer of Green blood covers my sword, bringing a smile to my face when I see it. Nice.
I come down from my excitement when I notice that it doesn't look like the cut went that deep at all. I'm gonna be at this for a while before the thing drops dead, but for now, I'm gonna keep attacking it and see how much damage I can do.
"Garg! Oomen it me! It me!" The Troll roars as it scampers away slow as heck. It lugs its bodyweight like it were drunk, making the follow-up even easier. I'm already on its ass the moment it tries putting space between us.
"Hah!" This time, I try and give it a good overhead whack. The Troll puts out its right hand to stop me, but all that happens is my sword catches between two of its four fingers. The slash cuts a little deeper this time since the skin is pretty thin there.
It howls in pain as even more of its icky green Troll blood gushes out of its wound like an open geyser. It might be sadistic of me, but seeing a significant threat like this in so much pain feels good. I still can't forget the anxiety it made me feel, but this helps me remember that this Troll is a monster just like any other.
You're doin' good, Sam. Don't stop!
The Moss Troll roars and pulls its hand away from my sword, leaking even more blood onto the grassy ground below as it does. I follow after trying to stop its newest attempt to put some space between us again, but it manages to stumble to its feet.
"Tak ooman don! Don!" It growls, then starts charging at me.
Crap- it might be slow as hell, but that thing will squash me flat if it manages to land on top of me. There's no way I can let that happen, so I gotta drop my current plan and move it.
I cancel the attack I was about to unleash and then force myself to suddenly dodge to my right. It's tricky to switch up my movements like this, so tricky that I almost trip, but thank the Goddesses, I don't.
This gives me a chance I wasn't expecting. As it charges past me, I use the opportunity to mix in a cross slash that runs through the Troll's ribs. It ain't as powerful as I could've made it, but the momentum of the Troll's charge ends up working against it. Basically, it runs through my sword on its own, and this makes it the deepest cut yet.
Shrieking, the monster rears its head back. "Rargarg! Keel-oo!" It says.
Turning around to face me, the Moss Troll covers up its bleeding gash with one of its ginormous hands. It already wasn't looking too happy about its current situation, but now, the ugly brute looks downright pissed as all hell.
Much as I wanna gloat about it, I know how bad an idea that'd be. I push back the huge urge I have telling me to taunt the monster, remembering all the times Boss has told me not to. This thing can barely talk, anyway, so it's better to save my breath.
The Troll's fury rises, taking a lumbering step toward me that shakes the earth. I watch, waiting for what it's gonna do.
He ain't all that clever when it comes to fighting, so it turns out the Moss Troll is going for a simple punch with its left hand. Because it's pissed, it's getting a little bit faster. The thing is, faster for a Moss Troll is still crazy slow, and it ain't nothing I can't handle.
Man, I really should've trusted Boss from the get-go.
The battle’s been slanted towards my side the entire time, and now I feel like an idiot for getting all panicked. I know I can't help getting nervous since I'm a rookie, and he was right to call me out on pretending like I wasn't scared. Just like everything else he's done, it helped teach me a lesson.
From now on, whenever Boss tells me I can do this, I'm not gonna say shit. The Moss Troll is already bleeding out the wazoo, so if I keep this with a slow and steady approach, it’ll die of blood loss sooner or later.
I can do this...!
"Gon git ooman!" The mossy bastard says something as he readies his punch. Is that what I look like when I leap in and tell a joke? I totally see how it gives away his next move.
Dodging is easy when I know how the attack is coming, and as I slide to the left, I smash my sword's edge into the monster's knuckles. As the impact hits, I feel a satisfying crunchy noise, which gets my red hot blood pumping even more.
I pull my sword back out and- wait... it's... not coming out.
My eyes open up wide when I see what's going on. The Moss Troll just had the first good idea in his whole life, and with his other hand, he grabs my sword with all his strength. I don't think he can break it, but he's making it impossible to rip it out.
I'm stronger than an ordinary girl, but I ain't Troll strong... not yet, anyway.
If I get closer and try and punch the Troll, he might grab me. Not to mention that punching its thick hide is a stupid idea in the first place.
Damn it... I don't see what I can do here other than let go of my sword... but if I do that, then there's no way I can kill it unless I can somehow get him to drop it!
There's gotta be something I can do here... I can't let it end like this, not after Boss was so sure I could succeed. If I lose here, then not only would I die, but I'd die proving him wrong. Like hell, I'm gonna let that happen!
I could go and get that secret weapon from Boss, but he said he'd give it to me if he thinks I'm about to lose. He hasn't said anything yet, so... does he still believe in me? It's either that, or else he went to go and take the worst-timed piss in Karnallian history.
Since I still got Boss in my corner, it means I got no other choice but to keep fighting. But how? C'mon, Sam...! It's just a big, greasy, moss-covered bastard. How can I take it down?!
Wait a sec... greasy?
That... just might work. No, yeah, it totally would! I let go of my sword cause I know I'll get it back in a second. Gonna have to take a risk first.
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