Agility. Speed. Dexterity.
Those were some of the things heavily taught to him from a young age. He had his old man to thank for it. Albeit he only found use for it now, which by far was too late already.
He tore the thought away.
Owen Liddell crouched on the highest branch, maintaining his balance as he searched through the trees of the forest and realized it was stupid. He couldn't see anything through the thickness of the trees, he had no [ Marksman Eye ] or [ Bird's View ] Skill which allowed him the chance to see from far away and up close and personal. If he shouted, he doubted the young man could shout back.
More than that, Tobias would have not thought—
Smoke appeared in the distance. About a hundred trees away were a small glimpse of a smoke cloud which disappeared in less than a minute, but that was now his goal. Fire meant smoke, which meant people. Whether it was just Toby himself or a group of Thieves and Marauders like the last time, he'd get through it.
And he would turn out to be wrong.
When Owen traversed through the thick woods, he avoided natural nocturnal predators and tried not to wake those asleep—but then he saw something glowing in the night. Only his [ Shadow Veil ] Skill prevented him from getting noticed at once. Multiple glowing eyes and the sounds of grunts were available from about a few trees ahead of him.
He hadn't seen them in the flesh before, but if he had to base it on what he read and how they fulfilled certain criterias—the eyes were lower than usual, too far away from each other though to be some kind of monster with multiple eyes, and considering their location.
Small goblins. Those who hadn't been able to become Hobgoblins. Scouts? Sentry? He didn't like the idea one bit and looked away. He hid behind a tree and took a deep breath. At first it didn't make any sense on why Toby, someone who had lived in his village his entire life and was a glorified Herb Gatherer would get lost in the very woods he worked in.
The man got captured by Goblins.
Was this a tribe of them? If they had enough numbers to send out some as watchmen, then it wouldn't be strange if they had as much as fifty Goblins, some as Hobgoblins and leading them.
Owen Liddell hesitated.
These creatures could overwhelm him by sheer numbers. What were the chances that Toby was even alive and not killed by these monsters? If Toby had been a girl, then there was a lot more he would worry about. Chances of getting impregnated and other terrible events scoured up.
What was a tribe doing so close to a village?
His heart pounded. There were too many factors at stake now for him to move. How many of the men and women in the village could take up arms to battle? Did any of these matter?
He should request a group of Adventurers to come here and deal with them. Even higher year leveled Students might be better if Adventurers were busy—
But could he even go back to the inn at this rate?
This was just him wasting his time—the young man ran. Late into the night in search for who could have possibly been the closest thing to a friend he had in awhile.
He hoped the man was alive.
Tobias Summer lifted his head groggily from the ground and bleared his eyes sleepily into the night sky. It was a beautiful one with twinkling stars and a cloudless sky.
The young man didn't even finish his sentence as he realized he couldn't move that much. His entire body ached, his muscles were completely asleep and he wondered about what exactly happened for him to come across this situation.
He looked around the forest grounds with the corner of his eyes and only saw the sight of something unnaturally blue despite the night. A bunch of trees with star-like and soft yellow petals, their large leaves were droopy slightly and then he groaned.
He was a Level 5 Innkeeper Assistant, Level 3 Alchemist Apprentice and even Level 3 Hunter. At the age of eighteen with approximately eleven total levels in his belt, it was actually impressive enough even if it was scattered around into three Classes.
"Stupid, idiot. You walked right into that one, didn't you?"
It meant that once he had reached seven years old, he gained a new Level each year—and while it didn't actually happen per year, some happened consecutively, it was a feat he was proud of.
But now his feelings were far from it.
For someone who didn't even leave his village for as long as he remembered, he was leveling good. And yet if his guess was right, he had stumbled into those coves of trees and was knocked right out.
The Oaken Ashwood was a large forest, he himself couldn't have explored it all fully, but his Master Alchemist Mossblossom also paid him extra to document strange flora and fauna he hadn't observed before and even bring samples.
And it was probably the flowers that knocked him out senseless.
"Some kind of sleepy flower variety? These buds were closed when I first saw them this afternoon… so what this tree does is knock out all of the creatures traveling underneath it to sleep. Pollen maybe? If it was a smaller creature, they could probably end up sleeping there for days and start to rot and decompose in the spot. Great for fertilizer and nutrients, damn trees."
He groaned and stood up wearily, looking around for his weathered journal and for his quill to write his notes down. And then realized his bag was gone along with the samples he got from the wolves earlier.
Toby had worked hard to find a place where wolves left its droppings and shed some of its natural fur, but now they were all gone as well.
A realization came to his mind.
"Not only small creatures can get knocked out… if I had stayed there and wasn't moved, I might have been tree food as well." He stared at the peaceful cove of trees and found a lack of human skulls.
He sighed in relief and tried to stand up.
The young man failed, finding difficulty to gather strength in his legs. He scratched his head and sighed. "Some paralyzing effects? Muscle relaxing elements?"
He cursed underneath his breath. What was he going to do? Drag himself and crawl all the way back to the village?
It wasn't a very good option.
Author's Note: Scary sleepy trees! Plants are strange and scary. I get monsters, goblins, ogres, trolls and wolves and stuff are scary and can kill you, but then there are sinister plants with flowers shaped like stars sending you to eternal sleep. Oh, but stuff like Venus Fly Traps, Pitcher Plants and others can already make your skin crawl. Imagine if they were human size? Definitely glad I wasn't born when plants were humongous. How was the change of POV? I do that. Here and in other books too when one perspective fails to give the entire accurate view. This is the story of Owen Liddell for sure, but you're free to like other POVs!