Carefully weighing his options, Lone decided to do what these elves wanted for now. "I am Lone. My companion and I arrived on this island only a few days ago."
"Where is your ship?!" the centremost elf yelled in an almost desperate tone.
"... It sunk, hence why we're stranded here," Lone replied. 'I should change the topic so he can't poke holes in this little lie, shouldn't I?'
"We were attacked by goblins on our second day here, but we managed to fight them back. The very next day we hunted a group of ten of the monsters." Lone's voice seemed tired and hopeless.
"There was even a Hobgoblin with the ones that we managed to make flee." Lone made sure to use his body language to convey exactly how stressful the whole event had been.
The elves shared glances between themselves. "Is what you say the truth?"
Lone took one of the swords that Sophie was holding and held it up for the elves to see it. "This was one of the blades a goblin was using. I am talented in smithing so I was able to use some basic materials and magic to repair it."
'Please let such magic be at least somewhat common,' Lone prayed.
The five men whispered to each other for a few seconds before finally lowering their weapons. "It must have been hard, Nine-tails. Even for a foxkin, and a golden one to boot. goblins can prove to be a challenge if you are greatly outnumbered."
The elf who had been talking all this time put his hand out. "I am Lal'roh, formerly of the western world tree's green keepers."
|The host has developed the passive skill: Acting.|
|The host has developed the passive skill: Persuasion.|
Lone ignored the two new skills that had clear abilities for now. His mind was busy trying to deduce the meaning behind that single sentence of Lal'roh's.
'Is 'Nine-tails' an honourary title based on how many tails I have, or is it an insult used to purposely avoid calling me by my given name? What's a world tree, and what are green keepers? Why is he a former keeper, and what does he know about my new species?' Lone's mind was racing as he accepted the elf's hand and shook it gently.
"It is surprising that the goblins did not attack you more fiercely for the girl," Lal'roh said as he gestured to the still cowering Sophie. "They are usually very active in the pursuit of breeding materials. The King must be plotting something..."
"Breeding materials? King?" Lone could get a very rough idea of what the man meant, but a deeper explanation was certainly in order.
Shaking his head, Lal'roh said, "Not here. Your little base isn't safe. Follow us. We can talk back at our hideout."
Lone nodded in agreement. He was still wary, but for now, he and Sophie certainly needed information the most. They were too weak, and having some allies that knew what was going on and who had knowledge of this world would certainly benefit them.
The five elves turned towards the forest and started to silently run. Lone picked up Sophie and did the same after returning her sword. He knew that her tiny physique wouldn't possibly be able to keep up with these men and she didn't protest since a fluffy tail had found its way into her arms.
"Soph," whispering, Lone spoke to Sophie. "Whatever happens, don't speak. Act like you're a mute, okay? I don't know if it's wise to let people know that we're not from this world, and the best way to avoid information slipping out is by simply not talking. Can you do that for me?"
Sophie was blushing from ear to ear at being embraced by Lone, but she quickly consented to his words with a few bobs of her head.
The group of five elves lead Lone and Sophie to what looked like a cliff face.
Lone let Sophie down and looked around in confusion. "We passed this place when I was mapping out the island's perimeter... Is there something special here?"
Lal'roh nodded his head. Instead of speaking with words, he instead walked directly off the cliff. Instead of plummeting into the ocean as Lone had expected, the man's entire body simply disappeared.
The four other elves followed suit and all disappeared.
Lone was left speechless. "Is this some kind of magic or something?"
With careful steps, Lone placed one of his feet across the border of the cliff. It, just like the elves, was now gone.
|The host has developed the passive skill: Illusion Detection.|
|The host has developed the passive skill: Illusion Magic Resistance.|
|The host has developed the illusion magic skill: Illusionary Dome.|
Suddenly, a large bubble maybe two-hundred feet in diameter appeared in front of Lone. "An illusion...?"
Sophie looked up at Lone's face with confusion. Could he only now see the massive dome that was as clear as the night sky in her blind eyes?
Grabbing Sophie's hand lightly, Lone said to her, "If we fall, teleport us back to safety, okay?"
Sophie nodded, making sure not to speak like Lone had instructed her to.
The pair walked through this barrier that they could both see. Lone, with his new ability, and Sophie, with her Mana Sensing.
What appeared before the two was a desolate and rundown camp of sorts. There were the five men from earlier as well as fifteen more elven men equipped with bows, daggers and shortswords.
Each one of these new faces looked at Lone with caution and at Sophie with pity.
Lal'roh's eyes showed Lone some respect. "Your hesitation shows wisdom, your eventual crossing through the illusion shows determination. You have a strong mind, Nine-tails."
"Thank you," Lone answered cautiously.
"Come," Lal'roh said as he waved the odd pair over. "Let me bring you to the chief of our tribe. She will wish to hear about your encounters with the green devils."
The three made their way to the largest tent in this camp and entered it after a brief moment.
Sat on the floor with crossed legs was an elf who had strikingly fairer skin when compared to the ones Lone had met so far. Her ears were also a lot longer. 'A different race of elf?'
Lal'roh lowered his body and kissed the woman's forehead. "I greet the chieftain."
Standing up, she returned his greeting by placing her lips of his forehead as he had to her. "Who are these outsiders?"
"The nine-tails claims to have seen a Hobgoblin. He also claims that he and the human survived an attack from a raiding party before going out to actively hunt what I believe was a regular scouting force of the green devils." Lal'roh's tone was incredibly humble. Clearly, this woman had a far higher status than he did in this little community.
The chieftain eyed Lone from top to bottom and cast a scrutinising gaze upon Sophie. "My people detest humans. Your kind seems to always view us as mere merchandise, but your dead eyes tell a different story... How curious... For a blind person's eyes to tell me more than a person with clear vision normally would..."
Lone, expecting this woman to want Sophie to respond to her, chimed in. "This is Sophie. She's both blind and mute, but she can see with magic, so please don't pay her any attention."
"Is that so?" The chieftain had a somewhat disinterested tone in her voice.
"Yes." Lone was getting a bit nervous.
"And you, Nine-tails. Not only have I never met a Golden Foxkin in my long life, but I haven't even heard of a beastkin possessing nine racial traits. How curious you are." Fascination now overflowed from the woman's words.
'Okay, I can use this. If Golden Foxkin are super rare, I can latch onto that,' Lone thought as he schemed.
"I also have never met your kind before. Sophie was the first person that I stumbled across after leaving my home, and she isn't much of a talker, so forgive my ignorance, but who are you people?" Lone asked in a light-hearted tone aimed at defusing the building tension.
"Ah, of course. How silly of me. I never introduced myself, did I?" The elven woman bashfully replied.
|Congratulations! The host's passive skill [Acting] has levelled up! It is now Beginner Level 2.|
"I am Rewal'eh, former council member of the western world tree. Exiled for my 'heretical' thinking, now I am the last remaining High Elf of this pitiful tribe," the elven woman claimed grandly.
"I see, that makes sense. However, how did such an important person end up on this desolate island filled with goblins, of all places?" Lone asked to redivert the conversation away from himself and Sophie.
Smiling bitterly, Rewal'eh answered, "Both my memories and powers were sealed upon my exile. The same was done to the Wood Elves who served under me. We settled down here to start a new life, but deep within the heart of the forest laid a dungeon that we overlooked as weak."
A heavy sigh of regret escaped her pretty lips. "We were assaulted by at least a thousand goblins, or green devils, as my tribe have come to call them, and dozens of Hobgoblins. We killed and killed and killed, however, it wasn't enough. Our women were taken from us, our men slaughtered or eaten alive. Luckily, we had no children with us when we were exiled. I cannot imagine what such disgusting beasts would do to them if we did."
Resting her eyes on Lone's, Rewal'eh ended her story. "We discovered a Goblin King was pulling the strings behind the endless assault. With no way to slay such a powerful monster in our current states, we had no other option than to carve a path of blood, and flee. With what little magical power I still possess, I was able to set up this barrier, but as you can see, destruction inches ever closer."
Lone didn't reply for some time. His mind was racing, however, eventually, he did open his mouth. "I know I asked, but why are you telling me so much?"
No tricks, no lies, Lone was only showing genuine sincerity. Even if this woman was lying to him, how could he not show sympathy after hearing such a heart-wrenching tale?
Of course, there were some suspicious parts. In particular, the mentioned 'heretical' thoughts. That could ultimately prove to be a thorn in Lone's side, but for now, he needed to know more about this tribe of elves as well as this supposed Goblin King.
"Are we not both in the same boat, so to speak? What would I gain by hiding these trivial details from you if I wish for your help?" Rewal'eh shook her head.
"My help?" Lone didn't know exactly what she wanted his assistance with.
"Indeed," Rewal'eh nodded knowingly. "I am fully aware of the legends surrounding Golden Foxkin. With your help, it may just be possible to rid ourselves of the menace that plagues this island, the Goblin King, once and for all."
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