The once lively common area, that was abused by countless goblins to the point where even a few of the tribe had secretly admitted that it was disgusting, had become like the inside of a outdoor barbecue grill. The air was hot, and there were too many charcoal coloured goblin corpses on the ground.
Jun Long and James Tarker were stepping over the dead goblins, chopping off and collecting their ears as proof of their work here. Compared to having to stab into a live human being, using the dagger to lop off these monsters' ears was a walk in the park, Jun Long had no trouble with doing it.
"Are you feeling alright," James Tarker called out to Jun Long from the other side of the room. "You aren't feeling dizzy or nothing?"
"No, I'm fine," Jun Long replied, continuing to chop off the goblin ears. "You don't need to keep asking me all the time, you know haha."
"Let me tell you, Jun," James said matter-of-factly. "'Flame' can easily use up all of someone's mana, really quickly too! That you were able to keep using it for so long means that you must have a buttload of mana in you. Still! It's dangerous to just go and faint out of nowhere just because you didn't keep an eye on your mana. You can't be a good adventurer like that."
"Talking about mana," Jun Long finally stopped what he was doing and stood to face James Tarker who had gone back to tend to the goblin ears. "How do you 'feel' how much mana you have left?"
"Usually it's a feeling of how tired you get."
"Isn't that 'stamina'?" Jun Long mumbled to himself.
"I don't really know how to say it haha! Maybe, when we're in a safer place, you should just keep using magic until you run out. If you do that, and I watch your back, we'll know how much mana you have!"
"Sounds like a good idea!" Jun Long replied excitedly. "But, does fainting hurt?"
"Oh, right!" James said, slapping his head like he had just remembered something obvious. "You said before that you haven't had mana strain before, right?"
"Haha! It should be funny!"
The two kept joking with each other as they collected all the burnt up goblin ears - some even snapped off at the touch!
Having taken care of a bulk of the goblin tribe living inside of the cave, Jun Long and James Tarker were able to make their way toward the inner-most parts of the goblins' living area. The inner areas were made of smaller living quarters and rooms used for storage. Because of the noise that was made during the previous fight, where Jun Long had literally become a human flamethrower, the goblins that stayed in the inner areas waited to ambush the invaders.
It was James Tarker's turn to shine. With every corner - every turn - there could be an ambush, and his vast experience in close-quarter combats made short work of the goblins that hid in the shadows. Jun Long wasn't phased by how James Tarker took the initiative to handle the goblins, when it came to the more enclosed spaces, in fact he was more than happy to leave the killing to his adventuring partner. It looked like James Tarker was happy to be able to show-off his abilities, too.
"Hey, James," Jun Long asked as James finished off another couple of goblins. "Do your attacks have a system to them?"
"What do you mean?" James asked back without turning to face him.
"Like with magic," Jun tried to explain his question. "Do you need to build up mana, or something similar, to use your more powerful attacks?"
"For instance," Jun spoke up before James could answer him. "I noticed that sometimes you'll do this attack where you slash twice like an 'X'. Does that need you to focus like with magic?"
Jun Long's question was referring to something that he often saw in fantasy video games, back on Earth, where fighter type character could learn something called 'Double Slash', or 'Cross Slash'. Seeing as magic, a system that was often used in a fantasy setting to not only allow diversity in an adventuring party but to also give players more forms of attacking or hindering one's enemies, was prominent enough for people to be surprised that someone didn't know about it, could there be a similar case for those who didn't magic as a primary means of attack?
Could there be adventurers known as 'Warriors' or 'Knights', 'Archers' or 'Thieves'? If so, what sort of system would they use to use attacks of a bigger scale? Did they use mana, or something akin to 'chi' or inner energy? Jun Long wasn't an avid gamer, back of Earth, but he had followed his friends into internet cafés often enough to know this much about those kind of games. No matter how he looked at it, this world he had been dumped on felt very much the same as those games!
"Even this is something you don't know?" James raised his eyebrow at Jun Long, then remembered that this had been the case since they met on the open field. "It's not some big secret, but people who use weapons - swords, axes, daggers, bows - use their 'Energy' to use this thing called a 'Skill'."
"So it was like that," Jun Long mumbled to himself.
"There're people who'll tell you that using magic and using skills are the same," James continued to explain. "Because you've gotta use an energy source - like how magic uses mana, skills would use energy - and that energy source comes from your body! But! When it comes to skills, when you use them, you'll feel that certain parts of your body will change to better suit the skill that you want to use."
"Really?" Jun exclaimed. The thought of being able to augment one's body to use a skill never occurred to him. "Can you give an example?"
"Well," James took a moment to think. "When I use this one skill called 'Leap Slash', I can feel my legs get tighter than normal, and I can jump longer than I usually can. After jumpin', I can feel my arms become heavier - yet I can still control them as if they were normal - and I'll cut down with more power."
"..." Jun Long listened intently.
"It's hard to explain," James said shyly, seeing how intensely Jun Long was staring at him. "All I know is that these 'Skills' use 'Energy', and it helps improve our strength in fights!"
James Tarker finished off his explanation with confidence. He turned to face deeper into the goblins' living quarters. No doubt there would be a few more hidden goblins to kill. He was still surprised by how Jun Long could continuously use the 'Flame' spell for so long, giving him nothing to do during the fight in the common area, so he had to redeem himself with repelling the goblins' sneak attacks.
Though goblins weren't a species that would hoard all the 'shinies' without ever using them, there was reason to believe that there would be a storeroom somewhere in the cave with a pile of treasure for James Tarker and Jun Long to take. What use would a tribe of goblins have for gold coins, gemstones, or jewellery? James had been looking for a new weapon, even though he was already carrying a small arsenal on his body, he needed something like a Magic Sword. Today might be his lucky day!
Jun Long and James Tarker cleared out the rest of the goblins' living quarters and finally reached a shoddy-looking wooden plank door right at the back of the cave. There was a lit torch hanging to the side of the door, unlike any other room they had come across thus far, which made the door stand out even more. James Tarker looked at Jun Long with a smile. He was thinking that this must be the goblins' storeroom.
The two pushed the door open, and peeked inside, before walking into the final room of the cave. Standing in the middle of the room alone, holding a feathered cane and wearing a festive-looking headdress, was a goblin that had a much more wrinkled skin texture than any of the other goblins that Jun Long had seen in this cave. It raised its cane slowly, and started chanting in a tongue that Jun Long was unable to understand.
"Jun!" James Tarker turned to him and shouted. "Hit'im with something! He's casting a spell!"
Jun Long quickly circulated mana through his hand and invoked a 'Flame' to spray at the stumpy monster. The goblin was still chanting, as the room quickly heated up from the stream of fire being shot at it, but was able to finish casting its spell at the two adventurers. Though Jun Long's 'Flame' spell wasn't able to reach the goblin before it finished casting its spell, the fiery blaze managed to intercept the 'Fireball' that the goblin had thrown at them, making it explode upon contact.
Mage battles were always dangerous, as magics were fickle entities that brought mana to life and cultivated it into something strong enough to destroy the balance of the world. Not only did the mages engaged in battle have to be careful, but the people standing around also had to be careful. It was easy enough to be caught in the crossfire between two mages who are both using high level magics from any of the Schools of Magic. In this case, a goblin who could use magic - commonly known as a Goblin Shaman - had fired a 'Fireball' into Jun Long's 'Flame' spell. Either of these spells, if used on the wrong people, could do serious damage even if they were both lower level spells.
The force from the exploding 'Fireball' created a gust within the storeroom, sending lighter objects in the room to flutter or even fly away completely! James Tarker had covered his face in reflex to this sudden gale. Jun Long was already facing the force behind his 'Flame' spell, and the extra bit of wind wasn't ruffling his hair any more than it already was. The Goblin Shaman had already started to chant his next 'Fireball', but was shocked the next moment, as the torrent of fire coming from Jun Long continued to rush at it. The goblin was quickly engulfed in an intense blaze that burnt its body to charcoal, just like any of the other goblins from the common area.
With a sound like the air was being sucked into a vacuum, Jun Long released his 'Flame' spell. A soft sizzling sound could be heard coming from the goblin's still standing body.
"I think you got'im," James Tarker sarcastically remarked, grinning at Jun Long from the side.
"Maybe you should hit him just to make sure?" Jun Long said, not knowing that James was joking.
"Haha! You brat."
"Haha!" Jun Long laughed, too.
"Look, Jun," James said, pointing to the pile of random things behind the charcoal model. "Do you know what that is?"
"Is it all the stuff that the goblins stole from the travelers?"
"You could say that, or you could say that it's our reward for doing this job haha!"
Jun Long sighed at how shameless James Tarker was acting. He wasn't wrong, though, as these items sprawled on the floor were ownerless; they were theirs for the taking. Jun Long watched as his partner excitedly jogged over to the piled up treasure.
Jun Long made his way over to the treasures, too, and look at all the different kinds of items. There were weapons of all kinds lying here and there, some were even propped up against the wall, and there were a couple of books flipped open upside down. Littered all around the items were gold coins, James Tarker was picking them up one-by-one humming happily to himself. Jun Long approached a small glass casing, one that looked like it could be put on display at an art exhibition, and held it up to the dim lighting.
Sitting atop a small cushion inside the glass case was a glass monocle. The glass monocle's metal loop looked like it was made of gold, or maybe a really well polished and shiny bronze, and there was a short chain attached to a little hook on the loop. Though the shiny metal was eye-catching, what really made Jun Long pay attention to this monocle was the glass lens. The lens was mismatched, where the metal loop and chain were obviously well maintained, the lens looked like it had fogged up. The accessory was so strange!
Jun Long opened the glass case, needing to use a little bit of strength to do so, but what happened next caused him to nearly drop the whole thing!
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