Yes, because I read this after Ch.1 was rewritten Votes: 1 50.0%
Yes, read the original and the rewrite Votes: 0 0.0%
No, I'll go read them now Votes: 0 0.0%
No, and I'm not going to Votes: 0 0.0%
I can't remember since it's been so long since you updated! Votes: 1 50.0%
Godfrey stayed jovial after we set off, but quickly changed his attitude when we approached the edge of our village’s divine protection, which was marked by a thick rope surrounding the it.
It’s said that Gorro uses his power to keep human settlements safe from monsters. It was still physically possible for monsters to enter this area of protection, but they instinctively stay away for whatever reason. The only exceptions are tamed and unique monsters, though both are pretty rare.
Unfortunately our village’s population was small enough that the village’s wooden fence was still visible when we reached the border.
Before crossing over it Godfrey turned to us and asked in a serious tone, “Who here has been to Derton before?”
About half of us raised our hands. Lucy wasn’t one of them probably because she hasn’t been back since she was born.
“Alright. Those of you who haven’t gather round.” He effortlessly broke off a branch from a nearby tree and started drawing a rough map in the ground. “This tiny dot is where we are, and that big circle is Derton. The left side of this Y connecting the two is the river we’ll follow to get there. Any questions?”
“Why can’t we just go straight to Derton through the woods?” one of the other kids asked. “Wouldn’t that be faster?”
“True, it would probably just take 2 days instead of 3. But beyond this point,” he warned as he tugged on the rope, “we have monsters to worry about. We had to fight a couple of goblins to get here and saw signs that there’s something else nearby. But the river is wide enough to keep away monsters on the other side and shallow enough not to house anything too dangerous.”
“You’re afraid of a couple of goblins?” Micheal snicked. “Some adventurers you are.”
“Even I could kill a goblin,” Elliot boasted. Though I’m not sure where he got his confidence from since he’s never even fought one before. Every previous time we went to town everyone just hid behind the adventurers whenever we were attacked.
“Really? I guess if you get attacked then you won’t need our help then?” Raphael replied before Godfrey could. He was suddenly standing behind Elliot without anyone noticing. “Since goblins aren’t a threat to you two maybe you’d like to try going through the woods alone?”
Micheal didn’t have a response to that. He just looked away while taking a sip from his wineskin so Raphael looked to Elliot for an answer.
“D-Don’t be stupid! I have to stay here and defend my family since you guys are so scared!” he yelled in a fluster.
“That’s right tough guy. So just get in line and let us cowards handle everything.” Raphael turned away and slunk back to the rear again.
I’m not sure if Daniella was trying to diffuse the tension in the air or if she just couldn’t hold back anymore but that’s when she chose to strike.
Up until then she’d been pretty reserved, going out of her way to hide her beautiful face under her hood and letting her husband answer all the questions. But for whatever reason that’s when she decided to reveal her true personality.
She removed her hood and very casually pressed herself up against Elliot, wrapping his right arm in between her ample breasts.
“You’ll protect me too won’t you?” she asked with upturned eyes.
“But...but that’s your job isn’t it?”
Thanks to his elitist attitude he wasn’t very popular with the opposite sex, despite his handsome face and noble lineage. So it was a bit of a shock for all us to see such a captivating woman throw herself at him.
“A big, strong man like you wouldn’t leave a helpless girl like me to those monsters would you?” She ran her fingers up his chest and coiled herself around him even tighter.
“Aren’t you silv-”
“Can you imagine what those filthy goblins would do to me? After they push me down and rip off all my clothes...you’ll spare me from such a fate won’t you?”
Several audible gulps could be heard from the crowd. Elliot couldn’t see it but he was attracting the jealous gaze of every unmarried – and some married – man there.
After a moment of silence Elliot managed to get his mind together and come up with a response.
“I could do that. You’ll have to stick close to me though, for your protection,” he said as he put his arm around her waist.
“Don’t worry, I won’t leave your side.”
For a moment it seemed like she only had eyes for Elliot as she brought her face closer to his, but then she suddenly turned away and addressed the rest of the men there.
“You boys will all keep me safe too won’t you?” she asked, battering her eyelashes.
The hostility in their eyes was instantly replaced with lust as they hurried to answer her.
“You can stay by my side!”
“I’ll won’t let anything happen to you Daniella!”
Even Henry couldn’t help but join in. My father on the hand just scoffed at the situation. Mother was the only women for him. Speaking who whom, she payed little attention to what was happening and was praying as usual.
I thought Godfrey would have been furious seeing his wife flirt so blatantly with another man but to my surprise he just ignored it as if it was normal.
“If there’s no more questions then lets get going. Keep the chatter to a minimum. Everything’s coming out of hibernation this time of year so they’re hungry. We don’t want to draw any more attention than we have to.”
◊ ◊ ◊
Despite his warning the first day was surprisingly uneventful as far as combat goes. On my first two trips to Derton we were attacked within half an hour of crossing the border so it was nice change. It’s not like we didn’t encounter any monsters – they were just already dead when we did.
But the fact that they were corpses didn’t make them any less frightening, especially for the children in the group.
Just 10 minutes after crossing the border Lucy tugged on my sleeve and pointed towards the woods.
“What are those Lief?” she asked.
I took a closer look and saw 3 small creatures laying naked in the woods. Their dirty green skin ruled out the possibility of them being human. But even if their skin was a normal color they were far too ugly to be mistaken for anything other than the most common monsters.
“Goblins!” I yelled. “Godfrey, there are goblins over there!”
“What? Miss Daniella get back! We got this.”
The boys who were so busy flirting with her instantly formed a human wall around her. Micheal also grabbed Lucy’s arm and dragged her behind them. I myself hid behind our cart with my mother who was, once again, praying.
“Everyone quiet down!” Godfrey roared. “Stop freaking out over a couple of corpses. See? There’s nothing to panic about.”
He walked over to them and grabbed a pair of goblins by their heads and tossed them our way. When one of them landed in front of the other men they all took a deep breath and stepped back. But after Elliot poked it with a stick and confirmed it was really dead they sighed in relief.
Daniella started praising them for their bravery but I tuned that noise out and focused on the goblin that ended up in front of me instead.
It was my first time being so close to a monster so I was able to make out details I didn’t notice before. Upon closer inspection it was obviously dead. It’s left arm was nearly torn off by what appeared to be a large bite mark and a pool of blue blood was oozing out of it’s wounds. It must have died recently for it to still be bleeding so much.
It’s hands only had 4 fingers but more notably it had several strands of silver fur under it’s dirty nails.
Even though it was a completely different species I could tell it’s last expression was one of shock and fear. It’s mouth was agape baring it’s pointed, stained teeth. But more significantly it’s eyes were wide open, revealing it’s red iris – the same red of Lyn’s eyes.
“Hey Lief, you’ll protect me from those things right?” Lucy asked.
“Of course. But lets hope it doesn’t come to that.”
If I ever had to fight then that likely meant that our guides were defeated. And we were definitely not qualified to fight anything that could beat silver ranked adventurers.
Even though I probably already had Lorose’s blessing I didn’t know how to use it. And more importantly I was completely unarmed had 0 combat experience up to that point.
I couldn’t even tell the goblins were dead at first from a couple feet away, so I wondered how Godfrey could knew they were already corpses from where he was. If it turned out he didn’t notice them before Lucy then it would have been cause for concern.
The way that goblin was killed bothered me too so I decided to ask him about it before we continued.
“Not to be rude but you did know that the goblins were there and already dead right?”
“Obviously. Don’t underestimate a silver ranked kid.” He seemed particularly proud of his rank because he kept bringing it up as a testament to his skill.
“But how? Even if you saw them you couldn’t have known they weren’t laying there waiting to ambush us.”
“Easy. Lynn is the scouting ahead, and she wouldn’t leave any goblins alive. And if she did come across something she couldn’t handle alone we would have gotten a warning.”
“So you’re saying she killed all of these? But some of them were clearly attacked by something not human.”
I immediately threw out the idea that she could have inflicted those wounds. If she was a beastkin it would have made sense since they have the ability to transform into various animals, but she lacked the distinct furry ears and tail that all beastkin possess.
If I’d met her the same way everyone else did then I could have assumed that she just hid them under her cloak, but that morning proved that there was nothing to hide.
However Godfrey just evaded my question.
“Don’t worry about it kid. What’s important is that they’re dead.”
Before I could follow up with another question he turned away addressed the rest of the crowd.
“Everyone done gawking?” Godfrey asked. “We’ve got a lot of time to make up for.”
“Tsk. And who’s fault is that?” Micheal muttered under his breath.
If I could hear him then there’s no way Godfrey didn’t, but he chose to just ignore it and move on.
◊ ◊ ◊
After that we passed by several more groups of dead goblins without incident. It should have bothered me more that there were so many more than my previous two trips to Derton but I was too distracted trying to solve the mystery of how they died. It wasn’t until the next day that I got my answer.
Oddly enough they were killed in a variety of ways. Most had a single hole shot through their head or had their throats slit. I could easily accept that Daniella killed those with her bow or a knife.
But others had the same bite marks as the goblin I inspected earlier. They were either torn limb from limb or had large slabs of meat missing from their necks. Their corpses were especially bloody and we all took care to avoid stepping on them.
Stranger still, some of them were burnt to a crisp. Their blackened skin was still smoking when we got there but there was so sign of anything else around. Unfortunately they gave off a putrid stench bad enough to take away everyone’s appetites so we decided to skip lunch that day and kept walking.
Meanwhile seemingly nothing could stop Daniella from flirting with her reverse harem.
Unable to hold back my curiosity anymore I walked up to our guide and asked him what’s been on my mind.
“Hey Godfrey, doesn’t that bother you?” I pointed behind us at Daniella, who was whispering sweet nothings into my brother’s ear at the moment. She treated everyone equal until she learned that our uncle was the duke of Derton. After that she seemed much more focused on him.
“You’re just full of questions aren’t you kid? But what are you talking about?” He genuinely didn’t seem to know.
“You really can’t tell? No matter how you look at it she’s flirting with everyone there.” Even as a child I could recognize flirting when it was that obvious.
“So what?” He shrugged. “Let her have her fun.”
“But isn’t she your wife?” I wasn’t sure how other families worked, but in our village at least married couples loved each other and probably wouldn’t like seeing their spouse flirting with others.
“Shh. They don’t need to know that.”
“But aren’t you jealous? She seems to really like them.”
“Why would I be jealous? At the end of the day the only one she can really be with is me. Besides, it’s not like we married each other out of love.”
“Eh? Why did you two get married then?” Lucy suddenly injected. She asked even before I could so she must have been really curious.
“Right, I forgot you two probably lived in this tight knit village your whole life. Alright kids, lets see how simple I can make this. Being an adventurer is a dangerous job. You could lose your life at any time. Even now we could suddenly be attacked and killed by dragons.”
I thought he was being a bit dramatic but I was able to follow him up to that point.
“But Luslo forbids sex with anyone you’re not married to. Get where I’m going with this?”
“No...” Lucy and I both replied at the same time. Now that I’m an adult the connection seemed obvious, but back then I couldn’t see how the two were related.
“Listen, nobody wants to die a virgin. So some people with high-risk jobs like soldiers get married to whoever’s around of convenience.”
“Oh, I see.” I personally would have preferred to marry someone I loved at the time, but his reasoning did make sense.
“Hmm… So adventurers marry people in the same party?” Lucy seemed particularly interested in that point.
“Not all of them. Lynn and Raphael haven’t gotten hitched for example. But that’s probably because I’m man enough for both her and Dani.” He flashed us a wide smile as he flexed his muscles for everyone to see. Though he never took his eyes off the path throughout the entire conversation.
“Or maybe I’m just not driven by lust like the three of you.” Raphael’s ghastly voice suddenly came from behind us.
“Speak the devil, what are you doing here? Did something happen in the rear?” Godfrey asked.
“Yeah, one of the girls sprained her ankle. We could put her on one of the carts but some of the kids are getting tired and sun’s going to set soon.”
“Good point. Might as well set up camp then. The spot we found on the way here should be fine. Can you ask Lynn to check it’s still safe?”
“Already did. There were some more goblins there but she should be done clearing them out by the time we get there.”
“Got it.” He turned to address the rest of the group. “Listen up everyone, we’re going to set up camp pretty soon. It’s a little bit into the woods so make sure you don’t get lost. If you do just find a place to hide and don’t make a sound. One of us will come and get you.”
◊ ◊ ◊
After that we marched uphill til we got to a large clearing the in woods. Fortunately no one got lost on the way. Unfortunately many of villagers were hesitant to spend the night there. Even I didn’t think it was good idea.
The trees weren’t cut; they were violently knocked down by something big. There were giant claw marks everywhere and huge footprints leading deeper into the woods. The dozen recently deceased goblins scattered about didn’t help.
“Hey, is it really okay to stay here?” Micheal asked. He was holding Lucy back, not letting her step foot into the clearing til he knew it was safe.
Many other villagers voiced similar concerns.
“Yeah, what if whatever caused all this comes back?”
“Or more goblins come?”
“Everyone relax. We wouldn’t stay here ourselves if didn’t think it was safe.” Godfrey reassured everyone. “Whatever did this hasn’t been here for at least a week. Last time we were here the tracks were already a few days old. And even if it does come back I’m confident we can drive it off again.”
“Besides, the brave, strong men of this village aren’t scared of a couple of goblins are they?” Daniella asked as she stroked one of their biceps. That was enough to win over most of the men at least.
“It’s too dark now to find somewhere else anyways. You’re free to try your luck out there instead of here with us though.” Raphael said as he pointed into the darkness. That convinced everyone else.
Once the goblin corpses were disposed of everyone set up their tents and campfires. We were all especially hungry since we’ve been marching all day and skipped lunch. We only packed jerky and hard bread for the journey but our guides were kind enough to share some of their dinner with everyone else.
Lynn came back while we were in the middle of setting up with a couple of rabbits, so Daniella turned it into a stew. Although it would be more accurate to say that the ingredients were just tossed into a pot of boiling water.
Lynn didn’t eat dinner with us by the way. She left right after dropping off the meat.
The taste was by no means good though it was better than what most of us brought for the trip. Plus it was free so we had no right to complain. But of course one person did.
“You call this food?” Micheal grumbled as he picked at his stew. “If this is how you normally cook then I’m surprised you’ve survived this long.”
“What? You insulting Miss Daniella’s cooking?” one of the men shouted.
“We let you get away with a lot of shit over the years but this is unacceptable!”
“That’s right! I doubt you could do better out here in the wilds, even with your divine blessing!”
“It’s not like it magically makes food taste better,” Micheal said. “Anyone can cook as well as I if they practiced. But what you did was an insult to the art form! Even my little girl can cook better than this.”
“I just wanted to make everyone happy with my cooking,” Daniella cried. The men immediately switched from yelling at Micheal to comforting her.
Her husband didn’t join in though. He was much more interested in Micheal’s blessing.
“A blessing related to cooking? You can’t be talking about Bulltong could you?” he asked. “Why are you living in a village in the middle of no where? You’re way too important to just leave alone.”
“Is daddy an important person?” Lucy asked.
“Of course! Bulltong is the God of Wine and Cuisine you know? It’s one of the rarest blessings in the world. They’re the only ones who can use preservation magic. Shouldn’t you be working for a lord somewhere?”
As you can imagine this is a big deal, especially in the middle of a war like we were. Being able to preserve food easily meant your armies could march farther and enjoy better tasting food while they’re doing it.
It was possible to freeze food, but people who could use freezing magic were almost just as rare. Plus summers in the Thearyn Kingdom are particularly humid and most people would rather use that magic to keep themselves comfortable.
“…Those days are behind me. Now I’m just a simple baker.” Micheal didn’t seem fond of talking about the past.
“Well I’d invite you to join us, but I don’t think we could handle anyone even grumpier than Raphael,” Godfrey joked.
Once we were done eating the day was finally over. Like the other villagers my family and I all stayed in one tent (that’s one tent per family), but the adventurers all split up. Daniella stayed in the center while Godfrey slept at the edge of the clearing – where the giant tracks were leading to. I’m not sure where Raphael and Lynn ended up.
We weren’t expected to keep watch of course, so I slept trough the night.
Godfrey took first watch, followed by Lynn, Raphael then Daniella. Thankfully we weren’t attacked in the middle of the night. Or at least if we were it didn’t cause any damage.
If only the rest of the journey was so peaceful.