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I was lead to a slightly larger room. But at the very center, there was only one square table, but not as tall as any normal, and there were no chairs. At each edge of the table was a cushion where everyone could sit on. At the center of the table were many short flowers decorating it. Three sides of it were already filled with people. Lu, Alice, and Arryn.

Now that I could have a look at Arryn, she had a completely different kind of clothing. It was mostly slim full leather clothing, but slight red clothing piece came out from her waist to around her knee-length. It began as a triangle, taking half of her waist, but finally meeting as a sharp tip. Behind her back, she had a hood she could easily pull over, but at the moment, it wasn’t.

Well, I also had a lot of fancier clothing than I had before. It was leather, covering upper body, a simple long-sleeved white shirt below, with a simple, but higher quality pants.

The three of them were talking, and lightly laughing, or chuckling.

“Ah, Hero. Or should I call you Hiro? I see you’ve finally made it,” Lu said, giving me a nod. “Please, come, take a seat. Food is arriving soon.”

I returned the nod, and walked to the only available seat, opposite side of Lu.“Thank you very much for providing such high-quality clothing. I’m not entirely sure we deserve that,” I said as the first thing. Both Alice and Arryn looked at me. But it was more like I had asked the question they wanted to ask but were too afraid to touch the subject.

“This is absolutely nothing. And I only assume that you’re going back to the… mine was it?”

I nodded. “This would be my plan yes,” I said.

“He means that this is our plan,” Arryn said, immediately.

Lu smiled. “So, it’s only natural that we provide you with clothing that’s for adventuring. Think of it as a present.”

“Presents for…?” Alice said, looking at Lu.

“You did just manage to stop a possible catastrophe,” Lu said.

“But if I understood correctly, we did destroy a huge deal of your… fortune?” Alice muttered.

“And if the wrong people got what they were seeking, I wouldn’t have lost it?” he said, looking at Alice. “All is a matter of perspective. I like to look at it this way - with some loss, I might’ve gained something as well. Maybe if I were forty years older, I might’ve been stupid. But I can only thank my father that I never had any power until I was ready.”

I bowed slightly. “Your words are wise. I do appreciate all of it.”

Lu returned the bow. “And I do hope to work with you in the times to come. The future is bright. And you’ve shown already a great promise.”

“Please, you’re exaggerating,” I mumbled. With a slight sigh, I got more serious or at least tried to. “You have any news?”

Lu nodded. “That I do.” He stood up and walked to the nearby door, slightly pulling one side more open to look at outside, and let the fresh air enter the room. “You were right. The adventurer’s guild already sent a lot higher ranking help. They already took down the hob-goblin party near the village, securing the villagers. As expected, all the corn is dead. The women were also returned home. We also got some of your belongings that women had gotten hold of. We returned them here, back to their owners. You can get them later.”

“How are the women?” I asked.

“Whoever was leading them, weren’t using them for… goblin breeding. But they were violated by the leader themselves.” We all felt slightly disgusted. “But as we speak, adventurers should be about to enter the tunnels near the ruins.”

“I need to send them a message, as fast as possible,” I said immediately. “If it’s possible?”

“It is,” Lu said, turning around, and looking at me.

“If there are any goblins hiding in the rooms somewhere, they should not be harmed,. At least if they don’t fight back.”

Everyone in the room looked at me, confused. Only Lu managed to hide his surprise. But his words did not.

“That is surprising. May I ask why?” Lu said.

“It’s thanks to them we are alive. They showed us where the Elder Heart was. In the end, they aren’t like any other goblins. They were slaves, forced to work in extremely hard conditions. They were merely trying to survive.

If we would let any other goblins survive, they would hate us, escape, and work hard to get revenge. But they might be different. They hate their own kind for hurting them, for… everything.”

“You know that goblins are naturally evil, right?” Alice asked quietly, looking at me. “According to the books, that is…”

“So were Orcs, long time ago,” I said, looking at Alice. “Yet now they play an important part in our society. I’m not saying that this is entirely wrong. But at least I’d want to try something. Get them to the other side of Kirkwall’s wall. Let them be together with the fire giants. Let’s give them a chance to prove themselves. And if it does’t work out, we know for sure.”

Lu looked at me for a short time, but a smile appeared on his face. “You heard him, deliver the message,” he said as he looked at his main guard.

“There were also goblins that followed you through the tunnel,” Lu continued, as he looked out once more. “But not many. Only five. It would’ve been foolish to send any more.”

I nodded. “Did you capture any of them?”

“Sadly no, there wasn’t really a chance nor choice.”

The doors opened, and women began to enter the room, holding plates. As they were placed in front of us, it was salmon, and rice, together with some salads. There were also basic utensils and two sticks. Lu turned around and got himself once more seated, taking the two sticks. “There’s no better timing. Please, eat. And feel free to use utensils.”

Alice took casually fork, as Arryn took the two sticks and began to use them easily.

For me, it was a moment of choice. Should I try the new ways, or should I just feel comfortable and eat? After a short moment, I also went after the fork. It wasn’t time to learn new things. Not now.

“I’ve heard that Akagi family has created a culture of its own that many others like to follow,” I picked up a side topic. The food, by the way, was delicious.

“Well, Hin was an exceptional hero, like many other heroes. He had those preferences, and standards. But as he had a family, and got many children, they also followed his head. Like father, like son. And one generation after another, most of us has kept up the tradition. Many outside of our family has also picked up our likings. His always had his exceptional charm with him.

“But he wasn’t perfect. Not even close. There are many not that great stories or secrets that we heard, but never reached bard’s lips. Or if they did, they didn’t become song. And those secrets happened for many reasons. Some because he was the hero. And some because in the end, he was still a simple mortal man. Perhaps you, of all people, would understand. Or mayhaps it’s still too soon for you.”

But I understood him perfectly well. It felt like I was in his position, with even more disadvantages. Or perhaps he was the same, but with some other issues and weak points. And as I thought about it, I began to understand why he had hid the Elder Seed away. Maybe I would’ve done the same? There was also a chance, that it was all a greed. But the end result wasn’t that bad. The Elder Seed was hidden away, and the world was okay.

We kept having a small talk, and we kept eating. Eventually Alice and Arryn became more active talkers as well, as I just enjoyed the moment.

But as soon as we all finished, and got our belongings, we were lead to some horses, and were taken to the ruins.

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About the author

Elven

  • Matthew E. Damson

Bio: 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.

You can read my stuff and shorts at reddit.com/r/Elven

If you like my stuff, I'd really appreciate if you'd become patreon or perhaps show your supports with any other means ^^. Or show it via comments, discussing the story and sharing your thoughts.

I'm not the best at grammar, but I try to fight against it with a better story-writing.

Cheers, and thank you each and one of you who support me and my writing in any way! You have no idea how much it matters to me!

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