“The first step in hunting at night is to locate your target,” Emma said casually.

“Easy for you to say. I can’t see anything at all,” Marcello replied, rubbing his eyes. He could make out the faintest of stuff from the moonlight, like the outlines of the Dashi tribe’s tents and burrow, but other than that it was hard to see anything.

“Well, me neither if they’re hiding in their burrows like that. So the second step, is burn everything and smoke them out!” Emma laughed, summoning a giant fireball above her palm.

“Master, human woman is scary,” the goblin shaman grumbled. He appeared to be trembling slightly in Emma’s presence.

Marcello couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. He too was a little taken aback by the black witch’s raw firepower and attitude.

“Fireball!” she shouted, the giant ball of flames hurtling towards the goblin burrow as if it were launched from a catapult. The molten ball of flames slammed into the burrow, causing the wooden entrance to burst into a plume of fire and smoke.

Angry goblin shouts erupted from within, and goblins began to pour out of the burrow and scurry out of their tents in alarm.

“You’re not one for subtlety, huh?” Marcello remarked.

“Just shut up and keep holding my waist,” Emma replied. “Don’t get lost in the darkness, doggy.”

As if he could get lost when the flames she had created were basically bathing the night forest in light. On the way there, he did have to basically attach to her like a lost duckling to a mother, but now it seemed like all that stealth just served to bathe the sleeping goblins’ burrow in hellfire.

Several goblins were toasted by the fire as Emma fired off more abilities. She had multiple mana regeneration trinkets and equipment on, which allowed her to truly fight to her heart’s content without having to worry all that much about mana.

When Marcello compared Emma’s magical firepower to his own, he almost felt ashamed about even trying to attempt it with the bone sceptre. The difference in tier between a bulwark knight’s magic and a magic-centric unique class’s magic was just night and day.

Goblins fell left and right, and Marcello was not receiving any of the experience for it. That kind of irked him, but he remembered that those low level goblins really did not give all that much experience to him in the first place. He was still a far way from leveling past level 33, and a few trash mobs were not going to do that for him.

The real prize was the evolved hobgoblin. Marcello was more than happy to share the experience on that kill with Emma since she was going to play an instrumental role in helping him take it down.

A hobgoblin emerged from the burrow, bursting out into the cold night air with an angry bellow. It seemed to have roused the other goblins in the vicinity, who were now glowing with a very faint red aura around them. If Marcello had to guess, the hobgoblin had summoned some kind of attack boosting aura.

“Oh, there’s a big one!” Emma said on a high note, tossing a fireball at it that immediately chunked half of its health.

It was only level thirty something, but still, to lose half of its health in one spell…

The hobgoblin roared in pain, and the goblins began to charge at them. From the burrow, the other hobgoblins were beginning to emerge.

“Death to Dashi tribe!” Grute shouted with a war cry. “Heathens! No meat for Dashi!”

The bone headdressed goblin shaman raised its own bone sceptre, which Marcello had graciously handed him in return for another month of promised servitude and some venison scraps. The goblin shaman was easily swayed by promises of meat, Marcello found out. He wasn’t about to say no to cheap labor.

Several dark orbs appeared in front of the goblin shaman’s sceptre, before shooting out like homing missiles towards the enemy goblins.

Marcello cocked back his arm with his archeios javelin in hand, kind of feeling a bit left out from all the ranged dps that was happening around him. He threw the javelin, then retrieved it with mana.

The javelin tore through the body of a goblin, but there were so many behind it that it was virtually meaningless. Meanwhile, the area of effect fire spells that Emma casted were a million times more effective at killing the goblins than his javelin toss. Even his own goblin shaman slave was one-upping his ranged dps with its dark orbs.

Marcello sighed, retrieving his javelin. Deciding not to waste any more mana, he took out the trash tier goblin longbow that he still had lying around in his inventory unused, and notched a few of the beginner arrows into it from his old quiver. This felt like old times, and he felt a hell of a lot weaker with a bow in his hands than his longsword.

He fired a few shots at the encroaching goblins, and quickly rediscovered why he stopped using archery in the first place. His aim was absolutely terrible, and only made worse with the lack of practice and all of his muscle memory about aim being overridden by javelin throws.

Arrows traveled a lot lighter than the javelin did, so he didn’t have to overcompensate the angle as much. He had to aim quite a bit lower now, and it all just felt a bit foreign to him.

Thankfully, arrows still delivered a bit of a punch to the goblins. Marcello killed a few stray goblins here or there with some arrows. He brushed aside the you have slain notifications to keep an eye out for the hobgoblin that was beginning to charge their way.

“Marcy, it’s your turn! Keep your princess safe!” Emma declared, without any prior input from him about whether or not she could be considered a princess, of course.

“Emma, one of these days I’m actually going to–” began Marcello’s tirade of a reply, right as he got cut off by a massive level 37 hobgoblin attempting to tackle him like an american football linebacker.

Pulling out his longsword and placing both hands on the pommel, Marcello slashed forward with the steel of his blade at the hobgoblin.

The sword struck the Hobgoblin’s ragged armor in a glancing blow and made a deep bruise in the chest, but the hobgoblin’s armor held and the cut was not deep enough to be deadly.

Grunting, the hobgoblin charged at Marcello, running at him with a curved axe blade outstretched in its hand.

Marcello summoned his shield and braced himself for the attack, but his battle experience against these types of large foes told him to bring the weapon around to catch the charge coming at him from the side. The hobgoblin came in low at the knight, running toward his right hip.

Marcello instinctively brought his shield down, as his sword came around to meet the charge. His shield deflected the hobgoblin’s weapon, but the hobgoblin got its blade underneath Marcello’s guard, hurling him backward.


A kick from the hobgoblin’s foot on Marcello’s torso armor knocked him to the ground and the hobgoblin knocked him in the face with the flat of his blade. Marcello rolled to his knees and brought his sword up to meet the second charge. The hobgoblin was too close, however, and Marcello could not strike him, so he was forced to stand up again.

“Where the hell’s your fireball?” Marcello yelled at Emma, only to see that she was distracted fighting another hobgoblin in the distance.

“Fine, I’ll do it myself.”

Pushing his chest away from the hobgoblin’s blade, the knight slashed down with his longsword in a powerful vertical slash across the beast's chest, this time penetrating through the chest armor, the blade of the sword sinking into its flesh. With another push, he sank the blade into its right pectoral, killing the horned goblin beast.

You have slain [Lvl 37 Hobgoblin (Dashi Tribe)] - Experience has been awarded. System points have been distributed between contributors.

It was a while since he saw a notification for shared experience and points. In a way, it was kind of nice to know that he had other allies now in his crusade against the horrors of the night.

Marcello rushed over to help Emma, who was kiting the hobgoblin rather well. She darted between casts of magic to gain more space, using the terrain and her better sight to shoot fireballs and missiles every few steps.

Grute the goblin shaman, on the other hand, was not doing so hot. He was about to be smashed by a hobgoblin, but Marcello was coming to his rescue. Nobody touched his slave like that and lived to get away with it.

Coming in like a freight train, Marcello activated sundering blow and slashed at the hobgoblin that was standing over the goblin shaman. The armor piercing blow left a resounding shockwave through the hobgoblin’s ragged armor, staggering the large goblin.

A fireball came hurtling from the distance, slamming into the hobgoblin and killing it.

You have slain [Lvl 35 Hobgoblin (Dashi Tribe)] - Experience has been awarded. System points have been distributed between contributors.

Ding! [Enigmatic Bulwark Knight] class has leveled up to level 34. Strength has increased by 1. Constitution has increased by 2.

Ding! [Human] race has leveled up to level 34. All stats have been increased by 0.1.

“Nice shot Emma,” Marcello said, giving her a thumbs up with his free hand. “You just leveled me up.”

Marcello couldn’t see what level Emma was, as most classes gained some kind of identification obscuring ability as they leveled up. Still, he guessed that she was probably around his own level, maybe a little bit lower. It was hard to tell, since he gained a huge boost during the impossible trial, but also wasted a lot of time in between.

Either way, with two hobgoblins down, the third hobgoblin fell rather quickly as well. Marcello happily ate up the experience points from that one, and focused on clearing out the rest of the goblins.

Strangely, the evolved hobgoblin had not made an appearance yet.

“Grute, where’s the evolved hobgoblin?” Marcello shouted in the midst of cleaving a goblin in half.

“Grute think evolved hobgoblin sound sleeper!” the goblin shaman said in reply.

In all honesty, Marcello wasn’t sure if he believed that. That just sounded like some more goblin gibberish.

A bellow from within the burrow proved that all that talk was wasted. The evolved hobgoblin was there, just slow to rouse for whatever reason.

“Emma, you got this?” Marcello shouted.

“I need to recover some mana first,” Emma shouted back, her straight black hair dancing in the moonlight as she casted a spell here or there. “Just give me a second!”

“Sure,” said Marcello, his armor bloodied with goblin gore. The health that he had lost earlier was all replenished now as his blade continued to dance between goblins and drink their blood. Sometimes, it surprised him just how tanky he was. His health pool was topped off at a hundred percent, and that wasn’t even mentioning how massive his health pool was in the first place.

The evolved hobgoblin emerged, its skin a faint purplish hue that looked very odd for a goblin.

“I’m casting a higher tier spell! Buy some time for me!” Emma shouted.

“Will do,” Marcello replied. Longsword in hand, he struck down every goblin that tried to pass him and attack Emma, as Grute cowered behind his master while sending out dark orbs of magic.

The evolved hobgoblin lumbered closer, its body nearly double the size of the regular hobgoblins. The thing was an absolute menace, and it meant business.

Marcello gripped his longsword nervously, shooting a glance back at Emma. She was completely entranced in her casting.

Suddenly, a maelstrom of fire descended upon the evolved hobgoblin.

A note from HereBeTreasure

Hey guys, been getting a lot of comments wondering about the story so just wanted to make things clear. 

There's no guidance on how to deal with almost-successful stories like this one so I'm not sure where to go. It's popular, but not popular enough, and it's good, but also bad and receives a lot of hate comments. So I may continue the story, but I am definitely going to commit some serious effort into writing another story. 

I'm planning to continue with the new story for at least a month to see how it goes. Actually it's already released. I was hoping for a great start but instead it's having a rocky start and I'm starting to get reminded of the mental tax it is to post on this site, but breaker of skulls also had a terrible start but managed to recover somewhat.

My god was the reception to breaker of skulls terrible at the beginning. The very first chapter received two 0.5 star ratings. It might sound like whatever to you guys as readers but trust me, there is nothing happy about putting in 15 hours of writing a day to build up a backlog of chapters to have two people immediately drag your rating down to the low 3's on the very first chapter. Now that there is a tremendous sample size of ratings and an equilibrium at around 4.28, I can pretty safely say that two 0.5's on the first chapter (which is just choosing between classes) were completely undeserved. 

Ideally I want to keep writing this story alongside the new one, but I received some bad news and it is a bit of an emergency so I need to commit half of my free time in remedying that. So I'm going to stop writing this story for the time being to focus on the other one and just grit my teeth through another rocky start. 

Again I just want to say that there's no guidance or manual on how to deal with semi-successful stories so I'm going to play it by ear. And I do want to say, at the bottom of my heart I want to write a story that's universally liked. Writing a story that isn't liked enough on royal road is mentally taxing. 

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