Chapter 9

On the sixth day Orban had a different kind of training in mind for us. The seven of us were going to work together as a team and hunt down some goblins. It was interesting to hear that goblins existed in this world and the way that Orban described them, they seemed to be quite weak.

He assured us that the seven of us would have an easy time taking them down. I was feeling pretty confident in my own abilities and even though this was training, I felt as if I were doing my very first quest.

The other six trainees and I were lined up at the training ground waiting for Orban to lead us to where the goblins made their home. There was a hilly area not too far east of the town and goblins liked to build their own camps there. It was suspected that there might be a dungeon somewhere in the cave within the hills and the goblins were coming from deeper underground.

They frequently tried to settle in the hills and their spawn rate was extremely high. Their numbers needed to be thinned constantly otherwise they would attack the town. When they formed large hordes, they were dangerous but in small groups, they were easy enough to kill for even beginning adventurers like us.

“Listen up trash!” Yes, Orban, it is completely necessary to refer to us as trash and other derogatory terms while training us.

He wasn’t a bad guy, he just couldn’t say two words without insulting something or someone.

“You are worth less than the horse dung on my sandals!” He literally has horse dung on his sandals right now and he’s flicking it off.. I really should teach him some hygiene.

“Don’t think for a second you have what it takes to be an adventurer! You are nothing more than lunch for anything bigger than a maggot.” Orban, this world probably has some pretty large maggots, I think you are setting the bar too high.

“You might as well as get down into a fetal position right now and cry for your mothers, you worthless scum!”

The insults continued for another ten minutes.

“It’s time to experience working together as a team now that you have had time to improve your physical abilities and see how each other fight. Don’t get too cocky, you’re still nothing better than garbage and the only monsters you won’t die against are goblins. Keep everything I said in mind and make sure you don’t die” Aww, Orban you really do care about us, you tsundere you.

The seven of us followed Orban out of the town and we headed east, it would take two hours to arrive at the Iendal hill area where the goblin camps would be. I had asked Orban why we couldn’t take a horse and cart, but he told me that this was part of the training. He explained that there were times when an adventurer would have to walk for a long period of time and then immediately fight with monsters. The life of an adventurer was very difficult and you didn’t always know when monsters might attack.

I had already witnessed this, but I kept my mouth shut. I was much more experienced than these other beginners. They may have spent more time training than me in their youth, but I had already killed a bunch of monsters in the forest with Reia, even some powerful ones!

While we walked to the Iendal hills, I walked beside Tris. I couldn’t really become friendly with the younger trainees due to the huge difference in age unfortunately. I didn’t think the age difference mattered as much in this world, but to my sensibilities, it was just too much. The only exception was Dreg, that guy wasn’t friendly with anyone, so no loss there.

In the end, the only person who was relatively somewhat around my age was Tris. Tris and I got a long quite well and she had a good sense of humor. She also taught me a lot of new things about this world that I didn’t know. Whenever we finished training, I would ask her questions about the Kingdom of La’gun and the surrounding kingdoms as well. I also tried to find out as much about the common sense of this world as I could.

It seemed awkward at first because these were things everyone knew, so initially I had to come up with a lie so that she wouldn’t be too suspicious. I came up with a story about how I was the son of a minor noble in some distant kingdom and my house had fallen into poverty due to one circumstance or another. She didn’t seem to question the story so I went with it. I’m not sure if she believed me or not.

It had been almost a week since I had seen Reia and I was starting to miss her company. Tris was nice enough and I thought we could be good friends but she couldn’t replace Reia who had been through life and death with me.

Nonetheless, Tris was a pretty cool girl and we got along. I started seriously considering asking her to join my party with Reia. The only thing was the Demihuman issue. I decided to ask her about it and see what her reaction would be, she would find out soon enough anyway and I thought it better to get it out of the way now.

“Tris, do you remember that friend I mentioned before, Reia?”

“Yeah, I remember you talking about her, what about it?”

“I’ll just come out and say it, Reia is a Demihuman. I heard that Demihumans are discriminated against in the Kingdom of La’gun and I really want to know why Humans around here hate them?”

This was something that was really bothering me and I didn’t understand why. Was it just because they were a different species or something? I know humans might hate someone or something for less, so it wasn’t like it was that surprising, but this was a different world.

Growing up in the U.S. I was no stranger to discrimination seeing as how it was a big part of American history with slavery and all. So, I was certainly quite curious about this and I didn’t feel like it was something I could have asked Reia.

Tris didn’t answer immediately but eventually said, “It isn’t just the Kingdom of La’gun, most human countries on the continent aren’t fond of Demihumans.” She seemed to be skirting the question. I didn’t want to pry too much, but I wanted to know.

“I didn’t mean to single anyone out, I just don’t understand. Reia is really kind. She saved my life when I was almost killed by monsters. Then she trained me and introduced me to Orban and even wants to party with me.” I was praising Reia left and right, I hope I didn’t come off too strong.

“The way you talk about her, she must be amazing. Are you sure you guys are just friends?”

“Come on! Don’t misunderstand here, I just respect her a lot. Anyway, answer the question.”

Tris didn’t answer right away, it didn’t seem like a pleasant topic of discussion. “There was a time, long ago, when only humans lived on Aergan, there were no Demihumans.” That’s news to me, Reia never said that!

“Wait, so then where did they come from?” I didn’t mean to interrupt her but I couldn’t help blurting it out.

“No one knows. There was said to be a vast empire that spanned all of Aergan in that time. The center of the Empire, the capital and most populous areas, were located to the west of here, somewhere within the vast plains which we call the Plains of Sorrow. The Empire was said to have power unimaginable, but one day it all disappeared. The center of the Empire was obliterated and all the people who lived there vanished, or died. The only ones who were left were those who were more distant from the center. No one really knows honestly, it happened almost five thousand years ago. After that, civilization collapsed, and that was when the Demihumans were born, but not just them, monsters and even dungeons” This story is somewhat different from what Reia told me. Is it just a matter of having different perspectives or is it something else? The commonality between the two is that the Empire was destroyed.

“So, you’re telling me that Demihumans and monsters showed up around the same time? Did the humans think they were monsters or something?” I’m glad she’s not asking me why I don’t know any of this. Does she suspect something is strange about me? Well, until she says something I will continue to stick to my fake background story.

“With the collapse of civilization, many people died and towns fell into ruin so it took a long time before people encountered any Demihumans. The monsters also rampaged and slaughtered many of the people who didn’t die to famine or other natural disasters. The way the story is told, it was a time when humanity was almost completely wiped out. It took thousands of years before the small pockets of Humans who survived could rebuild civilization to the point we are at now.” I guess you could compare this to something like a zombie apocalypse? If I get back to Earth I am pitching this to a movie producer, assuming I make it back of course.

“When humans finally met Demihumans for the first time, they thought they were monsters and blamed them for the destruction the monsters had caused. We now know that the Demihumans and monsters are not the same, but the differences between us is too great for some. It also didn’t help that the Demihumans appeared from somewhere within the former empire and they still mostly live a tribal existence on the Plains of Sorrow. Some have ventured to Human lands though.” I will just have to assume the truth is somewhere between what Reia said and what Tris told me. We are talking about thousands of years ago so it is basically myths and legends anyway.

I was not expecting all that when I initially asked Tris why the Demihumans were discriminated against and the differences in stories between Tris and Reia was something to think about. It made sense, but the Demihumans I had seen didn’t look that much different from humans. How did they ever suspect them of being the same as monsters and did they really cause the destruction of the old empire? 

“In the south, there is a large empire called the Reginar Homen Empire. They do not allow Demihumans to live freely there and all Demihumans in the Empire are slaves, or they are killed. That doesn’t exactly help things either.” I see, I hate that place already, sheesh. The idea of slaves just doesn’t go down well with me. Slavery was something apart of Earth’s past and I was happy it was mostly done with it.

“I see, but I had heard a somewhat different version from Reia.”

“I don’t know what you heard, but there are a few different tellings of the story.”

I suppose she was right, it had been thousands of years since these events took place. Who knew how much was truth or how much had been changed?

After Tris’s explanation was done, we talked about some lighter topics until we arrived at the area where the goblins had made their home.

“We are about to enter the hills where the goblins make their camps. Do not be surprised if you run into a large camp of goblins. The goblins are relatively weak and shouldn’t pose much of a problem for any of you, but in groups they can be dangerous. If you don’t work together, you will all die. If you all die, I will laugh at your corpses, got it?” Orban, you don’t really mean that right? How can this guy be so morbid?

Orban instructed us to head out together while he remained behind. He wasn’t going to interfere or protect us. Our job was to find a goblin camp, kill the goblins and bring him the goblin ears as proof. He would wait at this spot until evening. If we didn’t return by then, he would come and look for our corpses, but only to confirm we were dead. Those were his words.

Arin volunteered to be the leader of the group and no one objected. I didn’t really care who led honestly, my only concern was finishing this quest successfully and getting my adventurer’s medallion.

It took about fifteen minutes of searching before we found our first goblin camp. Tris, who was something like a ranger, had scouted for us and found them after some searching. It was larger than I expected with about fifteen goblins in it. That was more than double our number but if they were as weak as Orban said, this would be a piece of cake.

“Okay, I am familiar with all of your fighting styles. I think the best formation to go with would be if Orthus and I take the front as the vanguard, Tris you stay in the rear since you can attack at range. Dreg, you will take the center, if any get through Orthus and I, it will be up to you to take them out. Aessa, since you’re a mage, you will also take the rear. I am relying on you to use elemental attack spells. Don’t use fire since there could be collateral damage, stick to wind or ice. Idren, you will also guard the middle of the formation and use mobility restriction spells against the goblins.”

“Aren’t you forgetting someone Orthus?”

“Oh right, the weird old guy?” Who the hell are you calling old? I’m spanking this kid when we get back!

“Do you want me to hit you with my black flames while you’re fighting a goblin?” That scared him, he saw how powerful my flames were!

“Alright! Sorry! I forgot, that’s all. Just do whatever you want! I don’t care.” He threw up his hands angrily. Kids these days eh?

“Not much of a leader are you?” He just ignored me and got everyone in position, I was standing on the outside of the formation. Well, he did tell me to do whatever I wanted, guess I will follow the orders!

With the plan of attack decided, the group moved forward at a jogging pace. I kept pace with them and looked around for any stray goblins just in case. Once we were in sight of the goblin camp, the goblins noticed us and released strange yelping sounds. I never heard a goblin before, though, so maybe this was what they sounded like. They looked as I expected they would, but their sound was unimpressive.

The shock the goblins felt at our sudden attack quickly dissipated and the goblins ran at us with their weapons at the ready. Their equipment looked shoddy and was barely holding up. I had heard there were much stronger types of goblins, but these particular goblins were weak and their weapons and armor were almost nonexistent. Nonetheless, they coordinated their attacks surprisingly well.

I unsheathed my blade and channeled the Void within me, preparing my flames. I realized I could summon the flames onto my hands or arms and they would remain there as a defensive barrier. I could then send them flying towards enemies so my flames were extremely useful. They could be used quickly, could be stored on my arms or hands and could then be used as a projectile to attack long range.

Tris knocked her arrow and began firing arrows continuously. She was a talented archer and scout and would be a useful addition to my team.

Idren had used some strange incantation to root some of the goblins in place and he had even created a mini mud puddle that caused some goblins to get stuck. Aessa was throwing hadoukens at the goblins, at least that’s what it looked like! In reality, she was chanting with her palms facing  towards the goblins and wind blades were striking them down. Orthus and Arin were also making quick work of any goblins that came near.

I sent my flames towards two of the goblins and burned them where they stood. They weren’t even able to react as they were slowly melted. The battle was over before I knew it, it had only lasted about ten minutes or so. I could only use my flames three times, but it was enough to wipe out a few goblins and the others finished off the rest. They went down quickly, they were weak just like Orban told us.

With the deed done, we quickly went around cutting the ears off the goblins. Every time I got near a goblin, my body would absorb the ‘Dark Matter Contamination’ from their bodies. When I absorbed the fifteenth goblin, I felt a surge of power fill me. Maybe this has something to do with the threshold? I had 15 VP when I checked the divination crystal and it said that the next level would be 30. We just killed 15 goblins and I felt that surge of power. Does that mean I sort of leveled up? Nice! Can’t wait to check when we get back to town.

The others were busy cutting away at the monster bodies. Their bodies wouldn’t remain too long so they quickly got to work. I noticed that Tris was cutting into the goblin’s body after cutting the ear so I decided to ask her about it.

“You already got the ear, why are you cutting the body open. The smell is disgusting! Ugh!” As I got close I could smell the insides of the monster and almost gagged.

“What are you talking about Peter? I have to get the magic crystal out too, they are valuable.” So they do have magic crystals in them? Wait, then in the forest when Reia was cutting up the monsters she was looking for the magic crystals? She didn’t find any though.

“Do monsters always have magic crystals?” She looked at me strangely when I asked that question.

“Peter, everyone knows that monsters have magic crystals, you must have really grown up sheltered if you don’t know that.” That’s weird, then why didn’t we find any in the forest?

“This is strange, I can’t find the magic crystal, it should be in here.” It wasn’t just her, the others had been looking for the magic crystals in the goblins too and none had been able to find any. Not one of the goblins had a magic crystal.

“This doesn’t make any sense….” After looking everywhere in the corpses, they finally gave up and we returned to Orban with the goblin ears.

He pretended to act like he was surprised to see us return alive. I was beginning to think he wanted us to die after all. Walking back to town was uneventful and the entire experience had been somewhat underwhelming. It was an easy quest. I couldn’t expect more from it since it was really meant for beginners. Orban gave a speech while we were walking about knowing the limits of a maggot. Obviously when he said maggot, he meant us.

After arriving in town, we followed Orban back to the Guild where Orban gave us yet another speech about how important it was that we check our status using the divination crystal whenever we killed monsters because that was the only way to know if we had gotten stronger. I guess he meant something along the lines of leveling up in game terms.

I was the last to head to the room with the divination crystal. I put my hand on the crystal.

[Level: -1   EXP: 0/0]

[HP: 15/15]

[Health Regen:  0.01/min

[VP: 30/30] [Void Threshold: 30 Next level 60]

[Void Regen: 0.1/min]

Strength: 9 ( Modifier 0, Representation of your attack power as well as your physical strength)

Dexterity: 9 (Modifier 0, Representation of your reflexes, movement, agility, and evasion)

Constitution: 10 (Modifier 0, Representation of your resilience and affects health/health regen)

Charisma: 10 (Modifier 0, Representation of how others perceive both your physical appearance and personality as well as your skill at social interactions)

Intelligence: 137 (Represents intellectual capacity, Affects Skill Growth)

Wisdom: 155 (Represents an accumulation of life experience and common sense)

Acquired Proficiencies: Sword (Level 3/10 Intermediate)

Blessings: Blessing of the Void (?)

Special ability: Molecular absorption (Absorbs dark matter contamination strengthening host)

Inherent status: Immortality (Immortality grants agelessness, your body and soul will no longer age)

Affinities: Void (Your natural and innate magical affinity, Void Element)

Void Element: Void Flame (5VP – 1VP/min) (Manipulate flames from the Void for both attack and defense)

So that power surge I felt when absorbing the goblins was in fact a sign of hitting the threshold. I also obtained VP equal to the amount of monsters I absorbed. Two of my attributes increased by one point and a few other things went up too. I have advanced to intermediate swordsmanship and my wisdom went up a little.

Also, from what I can tell, the threshold doubled from what it was before. Will it always double or was it just coincidence? It might be too early to come to that conclusion. No change in VP regen or HP regen though. HP regen seems to be tied to constitution, maybe if that increases then my regen might also increase. As for VP regen, not sure yet what affects it. There is still much to learn about my status. I will just have to continue to experiment and observe.

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