Perhaps it was a good thing that my first adventure happened to be a huge one. If I couldn’t manage that, how could I manage the next one? There were still so many things I had to do, so I couldn’t die here, not now.
“Alright,” I said, peeking over the fence once more. Thomas was still there, continuing his speech, saying how good everyone was, just to boost their motivation, mood, and morale. But we didn’t have time for that.
“We need to go,” I said, starting to sneak down one more level. “We need to find the prisoners, release them, and then we can continue whatever we’re gonna do,” I explained.
“Well, we have no idea where the prisoners are,” Bill muttered out the obvious.
It really was the main problem. I also couldn’t figure it out. Did we really have to try our luck and just start going through all the rooms where no goblins were patrolling? It didn’t make any sense to hide humans near the exit.
“Any thoughts?” I asked, looking at the others.
“S-since their leader is not a goblin, the general knowledge doesn’t help either,” Alice muttered.
Arryn sighed. “So, do we just check all the rooms?”
“We shouldn’t separate ourselves, either,” I said, peeking over the fence once more, examining all the doors on the opposite side near the bottom floor. All the doors were surrounded by Goblins, listening to the speech.
A small smirk appeared on my face.
“What?” Arryn asked, noticing it.
“They are somewhere above. The bottom floor is a mine. They were mining, trying to find the Elder Heart. It’s full of pickaxes and such.”
Bill shook his head. “That doesn’t make sense. Wouldn’t they force prisoners to work?”
I shook my head. “Then they would’ve kidnapped men, not women. It’s very likely that they are used for something else. For example - cooking? But since a human is in charge, you don’t want to have food anywhere near… that,” I explained, pointing down with my head.
Arryn sighed. “That’s a weird way to use prisoners.”
“As I said, their leader isn’t a goblin,” I repeated, looking at Arryn just for a moment. “Women aren’t real miners.” I looked at Arryn and Alice. “No offense. And I don’t think your friend is that dumb. ”
“None taken,” both of them whispered to me at the same time.
“So, check the top floors?” Bill asked. I shook my head. “Let’s check all floors from here to top as we go. We can split up here, though.”
We all nodded.
“Go!” I said.
We split up into two directions, making a full circle to each floor, going from door to door, and opening each of them slowly so we wouldn’t make too much noise. As expected, they were full of beds, rocks, or just used for storage. It made sense though - this place was full of goblins, with only one purpose. Just seeing those rooms made me realize how long they must’ve been mining here.
All the puzzle pieces began to take their place. I began to understand the large image of what was going on. I thought the answers to most of the questions I had. And if I really was correct, this was bad. This whole situation was bad.
As we were 2nd floor from the top, I opened slowly yet another door, just to discover three goblins standing there, spears in their hands, looking at inside. I raised my hand backward but didn’t look away. I kept looking past goblins and saw at least twenty women there, sitting at the edge of the bed, waiting. But waiting for what? I could see the fear in their eyes. Maybe they knew what was coming? Or perhaps it was the unknown they feared?
One of the kids noticed that the door was opened. As she first gazed at me, dumbfounded, she couldn’t help but keep staring at me. It was a mistake, as one of the goblins noticed the girl’s stare.
“Huh?” he muttered, turning around.
I frowned. I was against three goblins alone. There was no way I could beat them. Should I quickly close the door and hope they wouldn’t notice? No, they would notice. It was either do or die.
“I’ll take left,” Arryn whispered into my left ear.
“I’ll take right,” Bill added to the other.
“I’ll freeze their feet,” Alice whispered at the very end.
I smiled. We had become a team.
The left goblin turned around, just to see an arrow reaching his face, hitting and piercing deep within his eye socket and probably even the brain.
Bill and I dashed forward, pushing the sword towards the remaining two throats. They were easy kills. Three dead bodies finally tried to land down, ready to create some noise. But their legs and knees didn’t allow that. They were frozen in place. We caught them and gently laid them down.
As I looked up, I could see all the mothers pushing their hands on their kid's mouth to keep them silent. They were smart and realized what was going on.
“Are there more of you?” I asked.
“The room next to us,” one of the women whispered to me. It was the next room I was going to check.
“Go straight to the stairs, quietly, search for the long tunnel and just run. It will lead you outside. But don’t go back to the village, run north-west from the entrance till you find a safe place to hide. You might see our belongings - that’s the best spot. The hobgoblin is still keeping an eye on the village, so don’t go back home, not without us. Leave one woman at the entrance - or at least for a short time - to lead the others who are going to follow you soon!”
I took hold of goblin’s spears and gave them women. “Just in case. I hope you won’t need them. Give them to your best. Now, go!”
They all began to leave the room, sneak-running towards the stairs.
We sneaked to the next door, opening it slowly as well, peeking inside. But as I opened the door, I could see large battleaxe falling towards me.
It was Arryn who was fast enough to react, pulling me away from the door, axe barely missing my face and hitting the stone floor instead.
Alice immediately pushed her wand against the floor, freezing the battleaxe in place - just for a moment.
But that wasn’t all of them. As the door was pushed open, two goblins rushed out with their spears. One of them was immediately hit by Arryn’s arrow. But not anywhere critical - just their shoulder. The goblin released a loud howl. Immediately the talk at the bottom floor stopped.
The other goblin began to walk towards me, spear ready to pierce me. But suddenly, one of the women that had been inside locked her hands around goblin’s neck, clinging to him desperately.
“You fucking piece of shit. I’ll fuck you to death!” the goblin swore in Goblin. I immediately took hold of my sword, pushing it through the goblin’s eye, deep into his brain.
Meanwhile, it was Bill who was pushing his own sword at the slightly larger goblin. By now, the goblin had abandoned his battleaxe, holding a smaller axe in his hand. A clashing sound echoed throughout the chamber. Even Bill was surprised by how well the goblin managed to parry his hits.
Another arrow went past us, hitting the larger goblin’s chest. The Goblin took a step back, roaring. But Bill slid down towards him, slashing his sword through the goblin’s knees. A legless goblin fell down on the ground, screaming and cursing.
The third goblin roared, rushing forward, spear’s tip pushing inside Bill’s shoulder.
“Fuuuck,” Bill shouted, raising his own shield against the spear’s wooden handle, forcing the spear away from his shoulder.
A piece of magical ice burst into the third goblin’s head with a force, pushing the dead body inside the room, in front of all the remaining women.
“Fuck you,” Bill shouted as he pushed his own sword inside the larger goblin, ending his pain.
“They are coming, go go go! Run upstairs, find the tunnel, run through it, follow the others! Go!” I shouted.
They all began to run out of the room towards the stairs, but we went first. I took hold of one of the spears, throwing the other towards Bill who caught it. We were thinking the same thing. We walked towards the stairways as well, except we didn’t go up, but stopped at the top of the stairs that was going down, pointing the spear tips further down, waiting for the noise to finally reach us.
I could finally hear Alice breathing, heavily. She was probably starting to run out of magical essence. Arryn casually took out three arrows, one tip still bloody from the previous goblin, pointing them down the stairs.
“We are so fucked, aren’t we?” Bill asked.
Arryn sighed. “We definitely are!”
“We still have the strategies that we prepared,” I muttered.
Bill laughed. “Against hundreds? Well, at least we can keep them down there while we escape! If we don’t fuck up!”
It was a very tempting offer. I really wanted to do that as well. “We can’t,” I whispered.
“What?” Bill said.
“We can’t let them get The Elder Heart. It’s too dangerous,” I said.
“If we stay, we’ll just die and let them have it anyway. At least we can let the adventurer guild know about it. Or maybe the hero can do something about it?”
I bit my lip. That’s why I couldn’t escape. It would be a disgrace for me to leave as a hero. “You three can leave, I’ll hold them back. You’re right. You deserve to live.”
Alice sighed. “W-what are you saying? W-we are a team. I-I’ll stay if you stay. I-If it’s as bad as you say, how can we leave?”
Arryn grinned. “I can’t let you die, noobie,” she said.
“Fuck you. Fuck you. And especially, fuck you,” Bill said as he looked all of us one by one, finally, his sight gazing at me. “At least tell me what the fuck that elder heart thing is!”
“No time,” I said as shadows appeared at the bottom of the stairs, goblins finally doing the turn, but stopping straight away, looking at us. They began to laugh.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Bill kept muttering.
“Shut up, you’re making me nervous!” Arryn hissed.
But the goblins didn’t come up the stairway. They just waited. We could hear how the last of the women finally reached the tunnel, hopefully running away. We had finished the original plan - save the prisoners.
Finally, the goblins made room for a human figure, who stepped at the very front but just in a way that he could hide behind the nearby wall if it was necessary.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t Bill,” Thomas said, examining his old lost friend.
“Your security seriously sucks!” Bill said, smiling. “They’re all gone,” he added to be more clear.
“Well, that will definitely anger all my minions here, who were waiting for their rewards,” Thomas said grinning. “But don’t worry. With those numbers, they’ll catch them after we are done here.”
It was probably true. With these numbers, it would be troublesome.
“But it’s pretty ironic, don’t you think? Of all the people, you’re the one here to stop me. Don’t you hate the villagers? You despised them when you left this place,” Thomas said, leaning against the wall, hand slowly scratching his chin.
“Well, when one becomes adventurer, one might change,” Bill said, proudly. “What about you? I didn’t think you would become so evil.”
“Well, when one becomes the bad guy, one might change,” Thomas said, grinning.
Bill gazed at me for a moment. “Should we run now? We bought enough time!”
Thomas began to laugh, immediately. “You think you’re buying time? I’m letting them go,” he said.
“It’s a pretty stupid idea to tell us about your plans. You’re the one buying time, aren’t you?” I said.
“You’re merely four low-level adventurers. The fact that Bill is with you proves it. For a moment, I was worried, you know? But now it’s all chill. No worries.”
I chuckled. “Really now? What if I told you that I know everything, including your plan?”
Thomas laughed. “I doubt that. You know nothing. But give it a try. Humor me.”
“The Elder Heart,” I said. Thomas’s smile disappeared.
“What are you doing?” Bill hissed.
“Buying us time. We are also waiting for backup, remember?” I whispered back. “And that idiot is giving us free information.”
I faced Thomas once more. “Oh, I forgot to mention, I speak Goblin,” I said in Goblin.
Thomas sighed. “You got me worried there,” he said, crossing his hands. “Just because you learned the object name, doesn’t mean-”
“But I do,” I said, smiling. “Maybe not as much as you do, but I have a general gist of it all. I have to admit, you’ve been really careful about it. But those two kids really did fuck up your whole plan, didn’t they?”
Thomas frowned. “You’re a smart one, ain’t ya?”
“You secretly mined and worked for it. You didn’t even think anyone would find out. But then those two village kids found this place. So you silenced them. Are they even alive?” I said.
He looked at me, saying nothing. But I could see from his face that he wasn’t pleased. “I see. Hopefully, they had a painless death. You probably planned to plant the kids somewhere, making it look like an accident. But your goblins were careless, and villagers found the footprints first. The hive brain can be smart, but that doesn’t mean their minions are.”
There was yet another silence. “Go on. I want to see how much you got it right,” Thomas said.
“So, you decided to kidnap all the women to force the village to stay quiet about everything, always keeping an eye on the village as well. So, for Kirkwall, it seemed just a small goblin problem. Especially if the help requests stopped coming in.
“But you never needed it to be perfect. You just needed a bit more time, didn’t you? That’s why you didn’t have heavy guards at the front as well. You put every hand to work, just to increase the mining speed at least a little bit.”
Thomas began to clap. “Bravo. You’re quite a detective. I’d give you candy, but I don’t have any,” he said, grinning. “Yet here we are. Hundreds of goblins at my side. And four of you. You can now make your grand heroic exit here before you die.”
“And even if we escape, we’ll give you just enough time to finish mining, right?” I muttered.
“Well. For once, you’re stupid that you confirmed my theories,” I said.
“Oh yeah?” Thomas shouted. “And whatcha gonna do about it?”
I smiled. “Geez. Why all the evil guys are so damn cocky? Have you ever read any books? It always ends in one way - the good guys win, and the bad guys die. This won’t be any different, Thomas.”
“You’re the cocky one!” Thomas said, slightly annoyed. “You’ve perhaps read too many books, not understanding what's the reality and what’s your imagination,” he said, almost shouting the last part.
“Well. Catch us, if you can!” As I said that, few goblins began to take a few steps up the stairs. I immediately took hold of one of the two bottles that I had readied up just before all of this, hiding them behind my back, and threw it against the stairs, splashing liquid everywhere. I began to grab the other one, but before that, Arryn began to whisper some words.
“May the steel turn red and blaze on fire,” she muttered. As she finished those words, all three arrow tips turned slightly red, fire igniting around them. Of course, I knew she could do that. We had shared that information beforehand.
As she released the arrow, two of them flew towards the two goblins in front, while the third one hit the liquid on the stairs, bursting the stairs into a fire.
“Damn,” I whispered. “That’s hot.”
Thomas immediately took many steps back. “Get them!” he shouted, walking further back. “Kill them all!”
“Yeah, run,” Bill shouted, as I was throwing another bottle where Thomas was a mere moments ago. I had thought of doing that first, but I couldn’t risk them running up the stairs nor Arryn missing. As the bottle broke in the middle of many goblins, they all burst into flames. The oil did a good job.
“Alright, let’s do the plan C!” I said.
They all gazed at me. “Are you sure?” Bill asked.
I nodded. “We can’t have let him have it.”
Arryn sighed, taking a slightly heavier arrow from his quiver. At the same time, Bill took out a lot of rope from his backpack. Immediately, Arryn began to tie the rope around the arrow and getting ready to shoot it. Of course, we were further away from the stairs, so nobody knew what we were doing.
“Run while you can!” Thomas shouted as he laughed, laughter slowly going down the stairs. ”I win!”
We all smirked. “Now I want to do this,” Bill said.
Arryn took a step near the fence as Alice took hold of the rope as well. We only had to make sure that we held onto the rope. She took a deep breath and took aim, focusing just one wooden spot where the arrow could clearly hit. It was some kind of wooden wall that was built to hold the tools. But it was the only visible choice.
She released the arrow. A moment later, we heard arrow hitting the wood. Probably other goblins didn’t hear as they were still screaming and fighting against the fire.
“Alice!” I whispered after I had tied the rope to the fence. Alice pushed her wand against it as well. She closed her eyes and focused. The whole rope began to turn colder, and colder and colder. Then we saw ice appear. But most importantly, the whole arrow that was connected to the wood got more and more surrounded by ice, making sure that it wouldn’t come off that easily.
“Go!” she whispered. Immediately Arryn jumped off, putting her bow above the rope, sliding down. Bill followed immediately after, putting the spear handle above the frozen ice rope. Alice followed, using the spear I had handed her. And then it was finally me left, holding the simple axe that I had taken from the larger goblin.
One of the goblins finally rushed out of the burning flames, looking at me. Immediately he rushed towards me, screaming. I sighed and threw the axe at the goblin, hitting his chest and making him fall down.
“Please die!” I said, hoping that he wouldn’t tell the others where we were. Hopefully, the fire was finishing the job. I slid down as well, using my sword and its sheath as help. Every second I could hear the ice break behind and in front of me. I could see Alice down there, strengthening the ice, slightly. It definitely wouldn’t carry all four of us for a long time. But we didn't need it to do it for long. Just us four.
There was another louder crack in front of me. The ice, together with rope, had finally broken into two. That meant there was no longer a nice slide down, but almost immediately end. I could hear how the ice rope behind me broke.
I only wish I could be the hero who could do some epic landings, but I am not one of them. I was just happy that it was near the very end of the slide. So all I did was brace myself, as I moment later rolled from one side to another over and over and over again, finally hitting the wooden wall as the final stop. My every bone hurt, immediately. But I was still fine. My adrenaline was too strong. And it was still a good landing. It could’ve been much worse.
“Are you okay?” Bill asked as he grabbed my sword nearby, running to me and helping me up, finally handing me the sword. I could see how blood slowly dripped from his other hand’s fingers. The shoulder injury was still there.
We finally looked around. We were now at the bottom of the chamber. It was the pit where the work was done. Every corner was filled with different pickaxes or just rock and dirt. And there were plenty of goblins looking at us. Of course, not all of them had come to stop us. But that was still fine.
After all, after seeing the pit up close, I knew I was right.
Those goblins were different. They weren’t fighters. They were only miners - nothing else. They looked more scared if anything and many of them took several steps back. They were never ordered to fight. The only thing they had probably ever heard was to mine more and more and more.
I walked to the nearest goblin, pulling out my sword and stopping the edge still far away from the goblin.
“Where’s the last mining point?” I said in Goblin, quietly, looking at him. “Tell me, and I will let you live. I will help you! You may yet see the light at the end of the tunnel!”
The goblin looked at me, and around. Many others inspected us, wondering what was going on. I could see Thomas still far away, walking down the stairs. Even he hadn’t noticed what we had done, yet. Different sounds echoed throughout the chamber, creating disturbance and noise.
“Help me to help you!” I said, looking at him. “What’s your name?”
The goblin looked at me. “Miner 73,” he muttered.
I felt disgusted. Even though they were goblins, Thomas hadn’t bothered to give them proper names. Names were important in goblin culture. It gave their life a meaning. “Your name is now Ging.”
“Ging?” the goblin muttered, looking at me, or at us.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea?” Bill muttered. Arryn and Alice immediately shook their heads, whispering something to Bill.
“Where’s the spot?” I asked once more.
The goblin looked once more at the other goblins. They were now slowly nodding. Ging raised his finger, pointing at one very specific tunnel not far from us, but stopped immediately after.
“Hey! What the fuck!” a shout came from the third floor as Thomas was looking down at us.
I grinned. “Gather everyone. Find a room somewhere. Hide!” I told Ging in Goblin, facing others straight after. “Go!”
We all began running towards the pointed corridor. Perhaps it was a trap, but there wasn’t much of a choice.
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Arryn muttered.
“So do I!” I mumbled to myself.
“Hey, you. Kiss my ass!” Bill shouted as we entered the pathway.
“Wow. You told him!” Arryn said, grinning.
It was only Alice who was barely keeping up with us. I had to even slow down, making sure we wouldn’t lose her. It was funny how she had been all fine when we had run long distances beforehand. But now she was tired, gasping for air and really struggling.
“Is it really that bad? How much magical essence you have left?” I muttered.
Alice looked at me. “I-I’m still fine. B-but it’s starting to take a toll on me,” she said. She had used her power many times today, so it only made sense. “I-I’m ashamed that my pool is so tiny,” she said.
But as she said that, she stumbled, hitting the ground. Even I wasn’t ready to catch her. I immediately stopped, rushed a few steps back, and picked her up like a princess.
“Eeeeh? Y-you don’t-”
“Shut up. We don’t have time for this. Rest!” I whispered, following the other two. Alice’s head rested on my shoulder, eyes slightly closing. She was still breathing heavily, but she did as I asked. I may be useless, but this was the least I could do.
Well. Here’s a pro tip. You should never complain about women weight. But being a weak guy myself, it was still fucking hard. Carrying someone, their equipment - and I swear her bag was full of everything - and my own, while trying to be really fast, is really hard. And while doing that, I had to smile just because I was the hero. They’ll find it out sooner or later.
“T-thank you,” she muttered as we got deeper into the tunnel.
I smiled. “No. Thank you. Now rest!”
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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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