Owen Liddell reached the goblin tribe. It was located in the heart and center of the Oaken Ashwood, and it was there that he came across a number of around thirty to forty goblins huddled and gathered together in this particular clearing.
He stared at them silently from the safety of distance and enshrouding of his skill.
They were horrendous and abnormal green little creatures which looked like a cross between miniature elves with demon-like features. Goblins had eerie glowing red eyes at this time, and with teeth that could make a wolf look like a mere puppy. All in all, their appearance made him wary.
His skin crawled.
Somehow it was like a mockery of all intelligent races. There was a wrong assumption that goblins were monsters for starting Adventurers. Maybe a lone one was easy enough of a threat to deal with… but this number of them was different.
Even if they were small, only around the size of children. With only hobgoblins reaching adult size, if all of them came at him at once—it would still lead to nasty bites, scratches, and other grievous injuries.
Powers in number. They bred like animals in heat and mating season too. Owen came across the sight of exceptionally small goblins at the far end of the clearing, tearing and shredding through something and screeching in their own language.
His ears hurt.
If it weren't for the regular culling of Adventurers and these goblins were left unattended, it was easy enough for them to grow larger than the human's own population and ravage the lands. When goblins began to gather together in extremely large numbers, they turned into vicious swarms like locusts and descended into villages and towns.
History could not repeat itself.
Only someone unwise would let this situation simply pass by. It was easier to deal with pests while they were still few in numbers. And yet the scholarly nature in him still studied them with morbid fascination. This was his first time seeing them up close. He had only seen them drawn in his books and they were more or less the same grotesque creatures.
Was there any hobgoblin here? Most of them were the ones in charge of their goblin brethren and leading them. Owen Liddell didn't see any hobgoblins now, but it didn't mean that there would be none later. A goblin could become a hobgoblin, often ending up even more cunning and of a threat.
Whatever the case, it would do him no good to throw caution in the wind and flung himself into their territory and hope to vanquish them all. He could summon more well-equipped Adventurers here later to deal with this situation at a later time.
There were really so many of them.
Most of them were garbed in wolf pelt, old rags, and other flimsy fabrics. If one could even call them 'clothing' for this uncivilized group. But he wasn't here for any of this. His eyes flickered across the entire tribe's camp. No permanent structures, so they were a wandering type of goblins.
Not that they could have homes, but some variety lived in caves and other places they could infest themselves in. He temporarily paused at a big skewer that held some kind of large meat, the creatures smacking their lips.
The meat was already charred, but they were still burning it.
He could feel his stomach hurt. Owen searched for any sign of a human held captive, whether or not it was Toby or someone else. It was already documented in the past that such cases often happened, and he was still hesitant about what he could possibly encounter here. It was a less-traveled route, but there were other smaller villages scattered across the kingdom that might pass by here.
Owen found none.
But everywhere there were goblins.
He was alone.
Owen had only managed to sneak here thanks to his [ Shadow Veil ] Skill which cast around him a cloaking effect and it was highly effective enough to avoid all the other goblins scouting earlier. Anybody else might have run away half an hour ago at the first sight of these creatures.
But he was here for a reason.
Although there was no evidence of Tobias actually being around here or captured by them. He frowned. Maybe he was wrong about this situation? Had he stumbled upon this place by accident when Toby had probably gone home and was having dinner already?
If that had happened, then it was much better. He needed to leave now to avoid any possible detection, but he couldn't exactly call it a waste to stumble upon this place.
The appearance of a tribe was worth noting, but he could not find anything else—something flew into the air and landed in front of him. It was a brown satchel. Owen stared at it, eyes widened. His pulse raced as the contents slightly spilled out. It was shed gray fur, and some ripped apart pieces of paper. The stench of something horrible filled his nose.
A goblin child scampered over towards his relative position. It bent over to pick up the satchel with its grubby green hands. These creatures' spawns had been playing around with all the contents with gleeful cheer. Owen's eyes darted to the large skewer in the fireplace and back to the satchel. Realization struck him, and his blood ran cold.
No, no, no—but there were already journals dealing with cannibalism of goblins. They could and would eat anything to survive. Even one of their own, if necessary. How much more than some human that had stumbled into this tribe by accident?
Red glowing eyes suddenly looked up at him.
A dagger flung right at the goblin's chest.
It fell down in a flash, without even making a sound as it hit the ground. Dead. Its eyes still open and staring. Owen cursed and moved out of the bushes and snatched the satchel out of the corpse's hands and fled without another second passing him.
How soon would they notice it—
Roars and cries quickly erupted behind him. Something exploded and crackled like thunder in the dead of the night. Of course, the other goblins would notice it quickly.
Owen Liddell ran through the dark forest, only his [ Owl's Vision ] helped him navigate through the uneven and gnarled terrain without missing a beat. The satchel was haphazardly slung across his shoulder. His second dagger was gripped tightly in his hands as he glanced around his immediate surroundings for any sign of immediate chasers.
None so far—
Owen Liddell felt the ground underneath him rumble. The young man twisted and leaped at the last second, barely avoiding the trap pit beneath him. Instead, he nearly landed face-first on the ground and thankfully stopped himself from stabbing himself in the face.
A hiss escaped his throat and he pulled up to his feet. It was far from smooth landing, his right knee bleeding when it hit against a sharp rock.
There were traps set by the goblins.
He gritted his teeth, ignoring the jolt of pain in his bones, and then scrambled up the tree—he vaulted from one branch to another. Owen ignored the numbing sensation in his limbs. He looked back now and then to see if anyone was chasing him. His [ Shadow Veil ] was pretty darn useless if the goblins knew they were supposed to be looking for someone.
And so he moved.
The sound of wolves howled into the night, and he hurtled faster through the trees.
Owen could feel the wind burning through his lungs. His hand tried to grab for a stamina potion bottle, the yellow liquid glowing slightly in its bottle as he uncorked it. The liquid slithered down his throat, slightly choking as he rushed through it—only to find no effect. He had already abused it by trying to get to Wolfcrest Village on foot without any stops.
This was bad.
While it might have been true that Assassins and Rogues were more trained to finish their opponents in one swift move, it didn't mean that their stamina was this bad. Owen was just insufficient. The decision to lock himself in his own room for around a month was a terrible one. His lungs couldn't keep up, and his legs were shaking. But he kept moving.
He had to get back to the village and escape.
Then he would be safe. Goblins weren't that stupid to suddenly just attack a village even if it was small. Besides, it was just one goblin; it wasn't worth the effort for them to chase him down now that he thought about it.
He still kept running just to keep safe.
Owen Liddell zipped through the treelines at breakneck speed. Adrenaline pumped through his legs and veins. He pushed through various branches and leaves to keep moving until he finally reached the edge of the Oaken Ashwood.
His feet finally landed outside of the forest. He ran for the village ahead of him, a mixture of relief and accomplishment—the feeling died down quickly. The brown satchel still hung around his arm without its owner.