The plan wasn’t that great or amazing, but it was something. Perhaps it was the only real plan they could think of. There was only one entrance. While it seemed to be like ruins of some sort, it didn’t take long to realize that whatever they were guarding was the only path to the deeper underground. The ruins on the ground had absolutely nothing.
So, our first step was to remove the two easy goblin guards and get through the entrance. It was more suspicious that there were only two goblin guards. It made me question whether they were foolish enough, it didn’t matter, or they were damn sure that nobody would find or get to this place that easily.
That might be the main advantage of fighting against goblins - they were often stupid. But I had to keep in mind that their master was someone smarter, and I shouldn’t underestimate my opponent.
Of course, the plan was simple; to be fast, quick, and silent. So we left one goblin to Arryn, while we would prepare for the second goblin if Arryn wasn’t fast enough.
“Alice, ready?” I muttered, as all of us - except Bill - hid behind the very same roots I hid myself not that long ago. Alica gave me a sharp nod. I could feel my heart racing. This could be my last night. We could easily fuck anything up and be dead before the next light. Our only real hope was that adventurer’s guild was sending backup by now. Otherwise, we were on our own.
Alicia pushed her stick against the ground, sighing deeply, and closing her eyes. A small line of cold began to travel towards the two goblins. But since it was dark, the line was rather thin, barely visible. But those two goblins certainly didn’t see that coming.
“In three,” Alice muttered.
Arryn pulled out her arrow, preparing it. Now that I saw her doing it, she did it nicely, like she had done it millions of times. Almost as there was no room for any errors. Every second mattered.
The moment the third second passed, Arryn let the arrow go. It was a moment when goblins realized that their feet were frozen in place, so they couldn’t move. The arrow hit the smaller goblin. Their body went limp, which was weird - they couldn’t really fall because of the frozen feet.
Immediately Arryn went for the second arrow. Meanwhile, Bill stepped out from the shadow, not far from the entrance, raising his sword to slash towards the only alive goblin. The goblin was surprised, opening his mouth to shout. But before he could, the second arrow hit his throat, silencing him. Bill’s sword landed straight into the goblin’s heart, catching the dead body’s fall immediately afterward.
“You’re badass,” I muttered at Arryn.
“I told you that Bill was unnecessary,” Arryn responded, giving me a wink, standing up at the same time.
“That was my target, alright?” Bill whispered as we approached.
“Sure,” Arryn said, only giving him a wink as well.
“Dammit. Now I can’t help but think it was all her,” Bill murmured.
“It’s alright. You did good,” I said, giving Bill a quick pat. “You finished him off before he could do anything else.”
Arryn recovered her two arrows, and Bill cleaned up his sword. The easiest part was done. The harder part was about to begin. The unknown.
“So, I’ll go ahead, as we planned. You stay slightly behind,” Arryn said, as Bill was lighting up the torch. The original plan was to just follow Arryn blindly. But it would’ve been stupid. We can’t see anything, and we can’t just follow in pitch-black.
As Arryn was about to go forward, I blocked her path. “Arryn!” I said.
“Are you gonna ask me out now too?” Arryn muttered, smirking.
“What? No. Noo~. That’s mean. Just wanted to say good luck and don’t do anything stupid. We are straight behind you.”
Arryn smiled. “Don’t worry. I’m an elf. It’s in my blood. I was born from being careful.”
“That’s why I am worried,” I said. Arryn raised her eyebrow. “You’re here,” I added.
Arryn kept staring at me for a moment. Then she began to smile. “You’re right.” She walked past me, crouching a moment before she was about to disappear into the darkness. And then she was gone.
We didn’t wait for too long. Perhaps thirty seconds. As we all shared a look, we entered the ruins ourselves. Bill first, me second, and Alice behind us.
It was an interesting experience. As we first entered, it was mostly a square hallway, surrounded by red bricks. But it was always slightly descending and curving away from the original ruins. Suddenly there was a stairway going down in a circle. There was no empty central part to look down or get any idea how deep it was. I wondered why there was such a place in the first place, or why it wasn’t discovered before. Was it recently made? Was it well hidden and by whom? So many questions, yet no answers.
As we had followed a singular tunnel for a good ten minutes or so, the stairway came to an end and a tunnel continued for a mere minute. We finally reached a dead end.
“Dead end? Great!” Bill said, annoyed.
“That’s impossible,” I said. Alice looked at me, understanding what I meant.
“What?” Bill asked.
Alice sighed. “H-he has been always the dumb one in our group,” she said.
“Hey! I’m here!”
“A-and sometimes he’s randomly ingenious,” Alice whispered so only I could hear. I chuckled.
“Bill. Arryn was scouting ahead of us,” I reminded him.
Bill’s jaw dropped. “Shit. Right. Why there’s a dead end then? And why there’s no Arryn?”
“Exactly,” I said, pointing my both hands at both walls. “It means that either Arryn was caught in a secret trap on the way here, or she’s at the other side of that dead end.”
“Ah shit,” Bill muttered.
“Unless Arryn left a message to us with paint, we have to check every stone. Maybe there’s a hidden button to reopen the path.”
“J-just do it!” Alice hissed.
“Fine!” Bill said.
We slowly began to examine the wall. There were no messages. But after a while, someone suddenly pushed something into the wall.
“I-I got it!” Alice said. We could hear how old gears worked for a very short moment, and the wall started to be pulled aside, opening the path. A wave of air immediately touched our faces, pushing our hair towards the exit.
Both me and Alice released a sigh of relief.
“What now?” Bill asked.
I sighed. “What’s a trap and what is it used for?” I asked.
“Oh,” Bill muttered.
We took a step forward, noticing writings visible on the wall, telling us that Arryn is okay and that she moved forward. But we should mind the disarmed traps, or avoid them.
“I-I’m worried,” Alice muttered.
I nodded. “This can be pretty bad.” I barely had to look towards Bill before releasing a sigh. “The trap wasn’t really a deadly trap. It only trapped Arryn inside, not outside. This means that this trap wasn’t designed to keep someone or something out, but to keep it in.”
Bill frowned. “So you’re saying that whatever Goblins were guarding, and whatever they’re doing when the moon is highest… can be something really bad?”
I nodded. “It also might mean that villagers weren’t brought in for…”
“...f-for?” Bill asked, gulping, and looking at us. Alice looked disgusted, annoyed.
I sighed. “Well, you need to learn about it sooner or later as an adventurer. If you really want to become an adventurer, that is,” I said. To be honest, even all those adventurer books that I had read were sugarcoating this fact. Bill gave me a sharp nod that he was ready. “For procreation,” I said.
Bill stopped, looking at both of us. “Really?”
I sighed. “Funnily enough, it’s not necessary. Goblin can procreate with each other easily. But the way how the goblin genes work is… goblin is always more dominant gene. So even half-goblin is still a goblin. But offspring will get the other races stronger genes. As an example, it can be the intelligence or strength. While many adventurers don’t realize, many have fought against half-goblin, that seems like a normal goblin but stronger. And some half-goblins are so strong that they become a leader or even catastrophe. After all, goblins want to spread and grow as fast as possible.”
Bill puked on the spot, looking behind us. He was disgusted. He finally realized why all the women might’ve been kidnapped, and men were left alone. He finally understood why it was so. Or perhaps he knew it, he just refused to believe that. I understood it very well. I still didn’t want to believe that I was now the hero.
“Tell me more,” Bill said after a short pause, continuing walking.
“Do it. You’re right. I need to know this stuff if I want to be an adventurer. No matter how disgusting or cruel it is.”
I sighed. As I peeked at Alice, she nodded. She seemed to know all of it already. She did have a book about goblins after all. It might be the biggest mistake that many adventurers make - not learning and reading about what they are about to go hunt and kill.
“There’s nothing much else to add. Goblins are like weeds that need to be dealt with before they grow too large. At first, they grow very slowly. But once they’ve become something, it’s a lot harder to stop them. There’s a reason why there’s a Land of Goblins, or at least there’s supposed to be. You must be a fool to go there without preparation.”
“I-isn’t it a myth?” Alice asked, looking at me. “T-they say that there’s one, but is there really one?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. But I want to believe that every rumor or myth has a reason or cause for it to exist. In every rumor, there’s at least some truth in it.”
“I heard that the previous hero gathered dozens of adventurers to go and destroy all the goblins over there. But he ended up finding nothing. Yet one week after he left, a nearby village was attacked by an army of goblins,” Bill muttered.
“O-Of course the previous hero dismissed such rumors and said that he has not done anything like that, nor there is such thing as Land of Goblins,” Alice muttered.
Somewhere deep in my mind, I wrote down a note that it’s something I might want to ask from a certain dragon. While it might’ve not mattered, it was something that I was simply intrigued by.
A shadow appeared in front of us. Immediately, we all prepared our weapons for whoever it was.
“It’s me,” Arryn whispered, walking towards us. We all sighed and put our weapons away.
It was Bill who was first to ask. “So?” he muttered.
“This was a super weird tunnel. Just one endless tunnel leading to this giant room. I’ve been disarming traps endlessly left and right. I finally reached this massive room that’s straight ahead.”
There was a moment of silence, once more. “And?” I asked.
Arryn sighed. “It has side floors filled with corridors. At the very bottom, it’s filled with goblins, I think. I didn’t risk going any further. At least not alone.”
I nodded. “I guess that’s where we should go next. Remember our priority number one - find the hostages.”
Everyone nodded. We walked forward, sneaking more and more as we began to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Even Bill had extinguished his torch at one point.
As we entered the corridor, it was filled with torches, making sure that everything was visible. It was like a circular chamber, edges filled with corridors, which also had staircases going up and down.
As I crossed the corridor quietly, there was a fence at the other side that I could peek over. I could finally see what was at the bottom of the chamber. We all were on the very top floor. It was an overall surprisingly large chamber. All the side fences and walls were filled with overgrowth. But at the very bottom, I could see that it was filled with goblin heads, or at least which seemed to be goblin heads. But they were all silent, and a singular voice echoed throughout the chamber. A voice that seemed to be their leader. And it definitely belonged to a human.
“He’s giving a speech,” I muttered. “In Goblin.”
They all looked at me.
“So?” Arryn asked. “Translate.”
“Let me focus.” And as I listened, I began whispering translation of a speech. But we certainly were lucky to get here just in time to hear this.
“...for a long time. But it is truly our time. Those foolish humans have no idea what is about to come. Or perhaps more importantly - what they are about to lose. They have no idea that their era is about to change. And there’s no better time for it than now, now when they defeated the demon king, and think that they’re safe. Now when they are cocky and lowered their defenses.
“It is time to change this world and begin the age of goblin. And trust me, you can do anything once we own the world. But I cannot do it alone. We cannot do it alone. We aren’t definitely not enough. But that’s alright. In an hour, we’ll finally get our hands on the one thing we’ve been trying to get, and that will turn the table for us! We’ll finally get The Elder’s Heart!”
All the bottom floor began shouting, raising their weapons, and screaming. We could hear how lower gallery’s goblins were shouting the object name, which told us there were goblins below us, just not on the very top of the balcony. Three of my companions were confused. It was obvious that they had never heard that term before. But I had. I knew about The Elder Heart. And I could only thank my luck of learning as much history as possible, which includes things that are not that known.
“This is bad,” I said, looking at the other three. “This is really bad!”
“Out of ten, how bad?” Bill asked.
“Nine bad, at least,” I answered.
Arryn sighed. “You need to tell us more than that,” she said.
The chamber went silent again, as goblins finally stopped their cheering. “Later,” I said hastily. “Let’s go more down. I’ll listen and translate as we go!”
We began to move.
“It took us a long time to find this place. The villagers hid it really well, trying to make sure that nobody knew about this place. But I knew they were hiding something. I knew that something was off. And my hunches were right. I’ve finally found it. It’s only a matter of time!”
“Wait a moment,” Bill suddenly said. We all stopped mid-stairway. “I know this voice!” We continued walking down, as we finally reached near the fence again, around the center gallery. We could finally see and hear everything a lot better.
“Oh no,” Bill muttered. “I know him. He’s my childhood friend, Thomas.” Bill stared at Thomas, eyes saddening.
We all looked at Bill, slightly confused.
“Y-your childhood friend is impressive. H-he has managed to build a goblin army under his command,” she said.
“I left when I was young. He stayed behind. I never expected… this,” Bill continued.
“Who would,” I said, peeking down. “There are hundreds of them.”
Arryn sighed. “Makes things easy. We need to find prisoners, get them out, set the place on fire or something, and destroy the entrance.
“Fire won’t do anything,” Bill said.
“But it will drain the oxygen,” Arryn said, smiling.
Bill stared at her. “Wow. Remind me never to make you angry.”
“I’ve reminded you that all the time. You’re just too dumb to get it,” Arryn said, grinning.
“Shut up you two, get a room,” I said. But Arryn had the general good ideal. I was more worried that was even locking them in there might be not enough. What if they didn’t need to leave to achieve their needs. Maybe they didn’t even need prisoners? If the item was what I thought it was, it really wouldn’t matter.
“So prepare yourself. In one hour, we shall get it. Things will change. Cornwall will be only our test to show them our might!” Thomas said, raising yet another shower of cheer.
I only wish my first adventure wasn’t that fucked up.
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- Matthew E. Damson
I'm someone whose pen-name is Matthew E. Damson. Some others know me as Elven. I'm also known as elf, elfie, elves, pointy ears, and some more. To be honest, I have no idea why they call me other names, but they create nicknames, not me.
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