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Scrambling as fast as he could, Marcello turned up the speed as he crawled towards the other end of the ladder bridge, the dark waters sloshing around violently below, a reminder of the imminent mortality that would be the consequence of a slip.

The sound of goblin chanting was growing closer, and he was still only halfway across. Marcello looked in horror as the goblins became more and more visible through the fog. He scrambled forward, making it across a few more rungs before the goblins emerged from the fog, right in front of the rope bridge.

The shaman goblins and their bone spear-wielding escorts froze for a moment, realizing that there was an armored human attempting to crawl his way onto their sacred island. The shaman goblins and regular goblins spoke to each other in a harsh, unintelligible language that Marcello could not understand even with his system's inherent language translation active.

Maybe they weren’t even speaking in actual words, he thought, as they seemed to be communicating through growls instead.

After a moment of discussion, several bone spears were raised at Marcello, as the goblins hissed and prodded at him from their vantage point on solid ground. Thankfully, none of them seemed to have a ranged weapon. No bows as far as he could see.

One of the goblin shamans took out a strange looking flute from the side of its body, and put the flute to its mouth.

Was it about to play some kind of curse? Marcello wasn’t entirely sure what the shaman was doing, but all he could do was advance forward, this time equipping his armor which slightly hindered his progress.

The goblin shaman put the strange flute to its lips and then blew. Maybe it was more of a clarinet than a flute, since it was being held straight out. Either way, he was proven wrong, as this particular device was neither a clarinet nor a flute. Instead of any kind of tune coming out like Marcello had expected, a faint hollow tube sound played as a small feathered projectile hurtled out of the tube.

A moment later, Marcello felt something splat onto his helmet. A kind of purple sticky liquid fell from his helmet down to the ladder below, and the liquid emitted a bit of a sizzle as it made contact with the wood of his ladder bridge.

For some reason, Marcello instinctively knew the vague characteristics of the liquid the moment they touched his construction. Poison. A particularly venomous and noxious kind at that, too.

A sulfuric smell of rotten egg rose from the point of contact that the poisonous sticky purple liquid hit the wood, and Marcello nearly gagged, but he remembered that he had to keep a firm grip on the ladder or he would fall.

The goblins looked expectantly at him, as if they were waiting for him to succumb to the poison. By the looks of confusion on the little green buggers’ faces, Marcello quickly smirked, realizing that they did not have the intelligence to realize that his armor was not a part of his body. Maybe the dense fog and low visibility due to the darkened clouds and light rain helped in that respect, or maybe these little green fuckers were just as dumb as a doornail.

Either way, Marcello was not complaining. In fact, he decided to do a bit of acting.

The thing that he was most afraid of was for the goblins to try to uproot his wooden ladder and push it down into the ocean. He wasn’t sure how solidly he had cemented the other side, and he didn’t want to test it.

So why not distract the goblins a bit by letting them think that their poison was doing damage to him?

The goblin shaman raised its dart blower and spat another poison dart onto him, this time splatting onto his upper arm.

Marcello lurched back, pretending to be a bit disoriented from the poison. In reality, he was perfectly fine. He was dressed in full plate armor from head to toe, for fuck’s sake. There was no way that he would be affected by some crappy goblin-made poison that just splattered onto his steel armor harmlessly.

But as long as the goblins believed that he was poisoned, they would not think of tipping over his ladder.

Marcello continued to move onwards across the ladder while trying to act a bit disoriented. The goblin shamans and their escorts fell for that bit of positive reinforcement, shooting more poison darts at him while also looking at the big human curiously, like a cat at play with a mouse.

At roughly three quarters of the way to the other end, Marcello slumped forward just for a moment. The goblins lurched their heads over curiously, speaking to each other in their harsh language. Sensing that they had lost focus on him for a second, Marcello suddenly began to climb forward as fast as he could with a burst of energy.

The sudden movement alerted the goblins, as they shouted in surprise, completely bewildered by how the large human had managed to overcome their deadly poison so quickly.

Marcello quickly made it to the other end, then stood up and drew his longsword. Finally, it was his time to throw a punch back. He smiled, using identify on them.

[Level 26 Goblin Shaman]

[Level 27 Goblin Shaman]

[Level 22 Goblin Spearman]

[Level 24 Goblin Spearman]

[Level 23 Goblin Spearman]

[Level 24 Goblin Spearman]

[Level 22 Goblin Spearman]

There were a lot of them, but this was a matchup that was not so good for them, Marcello thought to himself. As the shamans had shown that their main method of attack was through poison, his class and armor were just too good against that.

Another notification also popped up the moment that he stepped foot onto the new island.

Location discovered: Ritual Isle

You have discovered a secret location in the forest, a strange goblin shamanic ritual island that has been used by the goblin population as a ritual site for many years. You are not sure what you will find on this island, but caution is advised.

Quest [Secrets of the Forest] has been updated with additional information.

The goblin shamanic site has ties to a greater secret in this forest which lies within the old abandoned castle to the far north. You may venture forth to discover who the masters are that the goblins serve, and how these rituals are connected with the blood moon.

It is highly advised for you to secure a silver weapon as soon as possible.

Optional objective: Explore the strange shamanic ritual site [0/1]

Optional objective: Explore the grove [0/1]

Optional objective: Explore the abandoned castle in the north [0/1]

Optional objective: Secure a silver weapon [0/1]

Optional objective: Speak to the goblin shamans [0/1]

Marcello reeled back from the sheer volume of optional objectives that he just got blasted with, but quickly minimized the notifications after skimming them a little bit.

He did notice that there was a certain optional objective to speak to the goblin shamans.

But… his longsword was already out, and it was calling for blood. So many experience points to be harvested.

Choices, choices…

Two darts splattered onto his chest armor, leaving that disgusting sulfuric smell onto his chest plate. The other goblin escorts also brandished their bone spears at him menacingly, hissing. Ah, well. Kill first, ask questions later.

Marcello advanced forward, taking his wooden plank shield out of his inventory while holding his longsword with his right hand. The sword was probably a bit too heavy to carry one handed were he a normal human being, but as a tutorial initiate he was more than capable of performing superhuman feats.

A bone spear stabbed towards him, and Marcello simply tilted to the left and raised his wooden plank shield, the spear lodging itself into his wooden shield. He yanked backwards, taking the spear completely out of the bewildered goblin’s hands, then swung with his longsword. The swing missed, but Marcello simply dropped his shield and swung again, this time a powerful two handed slash originating from the left.

The two handed slash was much faster in velocity than the previous one handed attempt, and the goblin was unable to dodge back fast enough. The sword hacked the goblin’s arm clean off, leaving a bloodied stump.

A spear jabbed itself into his armpit as this happened, which hurt a little but otherwise did very little to him. Up ahead, the goblin shamans with bone headdresses were chanting while throwing their arms in the air, as strange black orbs appeared around them.

Marcello fended off three spear thrusts from the goblin spearmen as the black orbs hurtled towards him.

He activated Giant’s Roar.

GRAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

The effect was nowhere near as strong as when he used it in giant form, but it still managed to silence the goblin shamans from using their next cast. However, those black orbs that were already mid-flight were not stopped, and crashed into his helmet and neck, right as another flurry of bone spears stabbed at him.

The black orbs hurt like hell upon impact, and Marcello felt his skin slightly blackened from where they impacted him through the armor. The destructive power of magic was no joke, and he had very few resistances against magic as an armored knight.

Marcello noticed that his health bar took a noticeable chunk from the black magic orbs casted by the goblin shamans. He had underestimated them due to their level and use of poison darts, but now he knew that he had to take this fight seriously.

Utilizing the momentary stun from giant’s roar, Marcello performed a powerful slash that cleaved a goblin’s entire head clean off from its neck, then slammed his sword downwards onto another goblin, smashing its skull in. His cursed blade grew even more fervently excited with every fresh kill, eagerly drinking their blood to restore some of the health lost earlier.

With two goblin spearmen killed and one with its arm chopped off, there were only two spearmen left. Marcello quickly pounced onto both of them and got to work, his sword snicker-snacking like the vorpal blade from Jabberwocky.

Limbs flew as Marcello quickly gored the remaining goblin escorts like a butcher, as he received bone spear blows from them that he simply shrugged off.

Actually, he was taking a fair amount of damage from the goblins, but the amount of healing that came from the lifesteal effect on his longsword meant that the more brutally that he attacked back, the more effective health he would have in the long run.

It just hurt a hell of a lot to pull off frontline combat like this. For a moment, Marcello had a lapse of confidence as he wished he had picked a ranged class. But he quickly swallowed his doubts as he tanked another speartip to the belly without taking much damage.

Having more margin for error in fights like this was kind of great. It allowed Marcello to focus less on finesse based combat and more on the things that he was better at, like using his size to his advantage.

You have slain [Level 23 Goblin Spearman]

You have slain [Level 22 Goblin Spearman]

You have slain [Level 24 Goblin Spearman]

You have slain [Level 24 Goblin Spearman]

You have slain [Level 22 Goblin Spearman]

The final goblin spearman fell, and all that were left were the shamans. Marcello braced himself for another dark orb hit, as the silencing effect from giant’s roar had already worn off at this point.

He was getting a bit closer to leveling, but the experience still wasn’t that great when it came from monsters so much lower level than him. Marcello was already way overleveled for this stage of the forest, so it was to be expected.

Tch. He was thinking of leveling in the middle of a fight. Maybe he’d need some time to meditate in the future and get his priorities straight.

HP: 202/268

Lunging forward, Marcello threw his right first forward and slammed one of the goblin shamans in the face as another dark orb struck him in the back. He kicked the green shaman to the ground and thrusted downwards with his sword, sinking the blade into the shaman’s torso.

HP: 206/268

HP: 210/268

His health rose steadily as the longsword greedily drank the shaman’s blood.

Finally, he turned to the last goblin shaman. It was surrounded by four black orbs, each circling around the shaman before hurtling forward like homing missiles.

Marcello slashed at one of them with his sword, and was surprised to realize that the longsword actually dissipated a large portion of the orb’s power. Still, the other three orbs hit him painfully as the fourth weakened orb connected as well with a slightly weaker impact.

He tackled the final goblin shaman to the ground, then pointed his sword at the shaman’s throat.

HP: 147/268

His health was a bit low for his liking. That was a situation that could be easily solved if he just pressed his blade down a bit further, and let it drink blood to its heart’s content.

But Marcello remembered that his updated quest had specified that he speak to a goblin shaman as an optional objective. He got up to his feet and planted his right foot on the goblin’s chest, keeping it pinned to the ground.

“Hey ugly,” he said, looking down at the goblin shaman. “Can you understand me?”

The goblin shaman grinned, showing its razor sharp teeth that were badly maintained. It had a few piercings across its upper lip and nose.

“Human,” the goblin said slowly. “You die.”

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