Justyn’s lungs burned like fire. He took in a deep breath, inhaling the smoldering smoke before hacking it out in a coughing fit. Stumbling and staggering, the [Receptionist] pulled himself out of the collapsed remains of the Adventurer’s Guild. He looked around and saw nothing but ash and blood in the wreckage of the building.
How could this have happened so quickly? Just an hour ago, the Adventurer’s Guild was brimming with activity like any ordinary day. But now, it was brought to ruin. And it wasn’t just the guild itself.
Half of Windrip had been burned to the ground. Columns of smoke and ash rose to the darkened sky as terrible fires raged throughout the city. Charred corpses lay scattered throughout the rubble, and small shadows scurried about followed by twisted giggles.
Justyn gritted his teeth as he swept his gaze over his city. He was angry. He was upset that this could’ve happened. But he was just a [Receptionist]. He couldn’t do anything about it. He had to get out of here— somehow get the news to Guildmaster Evan. He turned around, limping his way through the streets of Windrip— then paused.
And there it was. The culprit behind this. The one who had laid Windrip to ruin.
Glutaz the Goblin Lord.
Justyn’s eyes grew wide at the sight of the hulking green monster. It was a mass of rippling muscles and sturdy fat. Standing at ten feet tall, it had a hunched back, and scraps of metal armor covered bits of its body. It raised a giant axe, looking down at a groaning figure with its beady crimson eyes.
“That’s…?” the [Receptionist] gasped.
Garron the Steel Tank raised a large shield wall as he faced down the Goblin Lord. He rasped, looking up weakly as he gritted his teeth.
“Pointess,” Glutaz said as it swung down with the axe.
“[Iron Will]!” Garron yelled, forcefully raising his shield with whatever strength he could muster.
There was a flash. The axe impacted the surface of his shield, sending sparks flying into the air. Garron stumbled back, but somehow managed to hold his footing. He stepped forward, thrusting forward with a short sword.
“And— [Piercing Blast]!”
His weapon shone as its blade extended and shot out in a cone of golden light. The attack consumed Glutaz. The Goblin Lord flinched—
And slashed through the beam. He sheared the attack in half with ease, striking the ground. Garron flew back from the shockwave of the hit. His shield went flying as he crashed right ahead of where Justyn stood.
The [Receptionist] squeaked, scurrying to hide behind some rubble. Garron tried to force himself back up, but a group of scurrying shadows leapt up to him from behind. Goblins— each the size of a child— crashed into him as they laughed maniacally.
Justyn watched as the Steel Tank curled up into a ball, being assailed from all sides by those little green creatures. They tore through Garron’s armor, stabbing him and drawing blood as he screamed in pain.
“That is enough, my children,” it said as it loomed over Garron.
The goblins backed away as Glutaz took a step forward. The Steel Tank tried to get back to his feet, but failed as his knees gave out under him. The goblins looked up in confusion.
“Human hurt goblin!”
“Goblin hurt human!”
“Human weak! Human suffer!”
They spoke in broken sentences— barely parsable language. Only Glutaz seemed to speak in a comprehensible tongue. He chuckled as he hefted his axe over his shoulders.
“Do you taste it?” it asked, leaning over the adventurer. “You who have hunted my people for sport and leisure— who have stained your hands with the blood of my kin.”
Garron winced, picked up by Glutaz. The Goblin Lord grinned savagely as it held the head of the Steel Tank in the palm of its left hand.
“It is sweet. It is savory. It is… revenge.”
Glutaz licked its lips before letting go of Garron. He collapsed limply to the floor, and the Goblin Lord raised its axe. Justyn backed up, cowering in fear.
Should he do something? He thought he should— but he was just a [Receptionist]! There was no way he could stop the Goblin Lord even if he wanted to! He paused, catching a glimpse of a crossbow by his feet. And he hesitated.
Garron looked up, meeting Glutaz’s gaze. He opened his mouth weakly—
“Fuck you,” he spat.
The Goblin Lord just laughed. “If those are our final words, then so be it. Goodbye.”
And Glutaz swung down. Justyn flinched. The [Receptionist] slammed his eyes shut as the Goblin Lord brought its great axe at the B-ranked adventurer. He waited for the loud thud. To hear Garron’s body collapse on the ground, lifeless.
But there was only the sound of the axe crashing into the earth unimpeded. Justyn blinked, opening his eyes. He looked up to see Glutaz frowning and pulling its weapon from the ground.
“Oho, another human joins the fray.” The Goblin Lord raised its head.
The [Receptionist] paused, only to leap back in shock as a figure landed right before him.
“Wait, wha— who? How?” He stared at the hooden woman as she dropped Garron at Justyn’s feet.
“You’re a [Receptionist], aren’t you? You should be able to cast [Minor Heal]. Tend to his wounds.” The hooden woman spoke simply.
Justyn blinked a few times, glancing between her and Glutaz. The Goblin Lord harrumphed as it looked his way. He shrank back.
“But… but… but—”
“I will deal with the Goblin Lord. So hurry up and save Garron before it’s too late.” Starting forward, the hooded woman drew a long sword and pointed the blade at the Goblin Lord.
The [Receptionist] narrowed his eyes. Finally, he recognized her. His eyes grew wide as he exclaimed. “Wait— you’re the woman from the guild just an hour ago, aren’t you?”
She nodded in response. “I am.”
Glutaz the Goblin Lord raised a brow as the hooded woman walked forward. She raised a hand, ripping the hood off her head. It tilted its head at her.
“Do you think you can defeat me, human?” it asked, laughing.
Justyn watched in shock as her hood went flying, revealing locks of golden hair. White eyes. Pale skin. She wore a light leather armor that shimmered with protective enchantments
“I am Noele the Noble Spellsword,” she said as she raised her sword. “B-ranked adventurer. I will stop you, Goblin Lord.”
“A B-ranked adventurer?” Glutaz the Goblin Lord wanted to laugh. He looked past the blonde girl towards a bleeding man lying on the rubble. “You think you can defeat me, and you’re just a B-ranked adventurer? Ask Garron how that went for him, human.”
Noele didn’t visibly react. She stood unwaveringly in the face of the giant Goblin. It was the other human man who spoke up in a panic.
“T-that’s not enough! We have to get out of here!” he said as he scrambled to his feet.
She shook her head. “We need to put an end to this, now.”
“You don’t understand— a Goblin Lord is an A-ranked threat! Even a team of B-ranks won’t be enough to stop him!”
“Oh? At least one of you foolish humans understands the predicament you’re in.” Glutaz sneered as he raised his axe.
But Noele was adamant. “And if we don’t stop it now, it will become a Goblin King. An S-ranked threat. Then it will destroy all of the Astrad Kingdom.”
Her eyes flickered. Glutaz frowned as he peered into her white eyes. For a moment, a sense of dread and worry overcame him.
“I will not let that happen,” Noele finished as she placed her front foot forward.
Then the Goblin Lord harrumphed. He spread his arms wide as a red aura overcame his figure. “You are wrong. We will not just stop at the Astrad Kingdom. We will burn all of our persecutors into ash. Humans, elves, dwarves, dryads, gnomes— any of you who have condemned our kind to damnation. We shall exact our revenge on all who have wronged us!”
With that said, Glutaz swung down with his great axe. A blast of crimson energy shot out as Noele’s eyes narrowed. She leapt to the side, nimbly dodging the attack. Noele sprinted forward rapidly as he slashed horizontally at her.
“[Flash Step],” she whispered.
Glutaz blinked as the girl vanished with a flicker of golden light. He spun around, scanning his surroundings with a frown.
“Where did you go, coward?” the Goblin Lord yelled. And he paused as a voice echoed from his back.
“Over here— [Noble Slash]!”
Glutaz recoiled in pain as a powerful strike hit his back. He staggered forward, feeling his purple blood spill from a deep wound. He spun around and swung hard at where Noele stood.
The ground exploded open where he struck. But Noele was no longer there. Instead, she stood atop the hilt of his axe, balancing with a grin. Glutaz tried to raise his weapon, only to realize it was trapped in ice. The Noble Spellsword thrust forward, stabbing as a flurry of golden strikes lashed out at once.
Noele moved with a deft elegance, despite the wild strikes unleashed against the Goblin Lord. Glutaz gritted his toothy teeth as he took the brunt of the attack. She was fast— and not just fast, but strong too. Somehow, she was able to hurt him where even Garron the Steel Tank couldn’t. Was she even an A-ranked adventurer?
Glutaz growled. He let go of his axe and punched at Noele. She grunted as she went flying back, her Skill interrupted. But as she tumbled through the air, she raised her sword and pointed it at the Goblin Lord like it were a wand.
He blinked. And his eyes grew wide as a cone of golden flames shot out. He reeled back as the powerful magic engulfed the streets. He could hear the other human yelping, stumbling away as the flames continued to burn.
The Goblin Lord fought back against the fire, even as the spell dissipated, the golden flames remained eating away at his skin. He dropped to a knee, looking up at Noele with a glare. She had crashed through some rubble and was pulling herself up to her feet.
“Kill her, my children!” Glutaz ordered, pointing at the girl.
Noele’s eyes flickered. She looked up to see dozens of little green creatures— hundreds, even— charging her way. But the Goblins were weak. Most of them were around Level 20, and Noele had to be above Level 40. She cut them down with ease. Even a group of hobgoblins— evolved goblins above level 20 and the size of an average human man— stood no chance against her. They were decapitated just like that.
The Goblin Lord watched as his people fell. Again and again and again. His kind was killed with no apprehension. Like they were nothing but pests.
His eyes burned with fury as he forced himself back to his feet.
Is she really a B-ranked adventurer? Justyn gaped as Noele cut down goblin after goblin. There was nothing they could do against her. She had hurt the Goblin Lord in ways even Garron the Steel Tank couldn’t, and now she was facing the horde of goblins like they were nothing.
“Noele the Noble Spellsword? I think I have heard of you… [Recall Archive].”
As a [Receptionist] of the Adventurer’s Guild, he had to know about most adventurers ranked B or above. So he must’ve stumbled upon her file somewhere before. His brows furrowed as his mind whirled, trying to sort out the information in his head— until, finally, he remembered.
“That’s right— she’s a Level 45 [Warrior]-[Mage] hybrid.” Justyn snapped his fingers. He looked down at the bloodied figure lying at his feet. “But Garron the Steel Tank is Level 47. How is she faring better than him?”
And even more than that, Noele was putting up a good fight against Glutaz the Goblin Lord. Goblins could only evolve to a Goblin Lord at Level 50. So Noele was ostensibly handily fighting an enemy at least 5 levels above her. So how was she winning?
Noele tore through the horde of goblins— cutting down a dozen hobgoblins in a single instant. She charged forward and made a mad dash for the injured Glutaz. Her sword glinted. Her entire body was enveloped by a gold light.
“Now it’s over!” she shouted as she leapt over the unending army of goblins.
Glutaz’s eyes burned. He looked up as a red aura overcame him. And the [Receptionist] froze. He realized what was happening.
“No—” he started. He raised a hand out. “Don’t do it! You can’t win!”
But Noele ignored him. She screamed as she crashed through the sky like a golden comet, falling straight at the Goblin Lord. “[Indomitable Blow]!”
“The most terrifying part of a Goblin Lord isn’t its own strength!” Justyn called out, trying to warn her. “It’s—”
And Glutaz looked up. He stared into the golden light and raised a hand. She slashed down. There was a flash of gold and silver light. A powerful shockwave knocked Justyn off his feet. He barely caught himself, clinging onto Garron’s heavily-armored body. Hundreds of the little goblins nearby went flying as the nearby rubble cleared to the side.
Justyn looked up as Noele blinked. The blonde girl stared— her sword was jammed into the palm of Glutaz’s hand. It smiled even as its hand bled. The attack only pierced through the flesh of the Goblin Lord’s skin. A crimson glow overcame Glutaz.
“A Goblin Lord will only grow stronger as its people are killed,” the [Receptionist sighed. “And it can even gain temporary levels in its fury.”
Glutaz smirked. “[A Goblin’s Rage]. Goodbye, puny human.”
It grabbed Noele and smashed her into the ground.
Why did you become an adventurer? Sometimes, Noele asked herself this question. Especially in moments like these when all seemed hopeless. When everything seemed lost.
As a B-ranked adventurer, the young woman had gotten to know plenty of other adventurers over the years, anywhere from D-ranks to even S-ranks. And each time she got to know any of them, she would ask them the same question.
They always provided a variety of different answers, ranging anywhere from pursuing glory to simply needing to feed their family. Each time she got an answer, she was almost always left dissatisfied. Not because they didn’t pursue noble goals, nor was it because they lacked ambition. Rather, it was because of what she was lacking.
Why did she become an adventurer? Noele didn’t know. She just knew there was only ever one answer that ever resonated with her. One that she heard back when she was still but a child.
“Why did you become an adventurer?” she had asked.
And the answer that came was simple: “To become strong.”
Noele closed her eyes, remembering this fond memory. And she went flying.
Glutaz tossed her hard and far. She soared through the air straight into a brick building. The Noble Spellsword crashed through house after house like they were made of nothing. She only came to a halt because she caught herself, creating an ice wall at her back.
Grunting and bloodied, she picked herself up from the shattered ice. Noele raised her sword weakly as she looked at the hulking green figure walking over the wreckage of the fallen houses after her.
“You are tenacious for a human, I will give you that.” Glutaz the Goblin Lord halted right before the girl. It looked past her at a group of squirming figures. “The rest of your kind would have gone running at this point. Just like them.”
A family covered right by a fallen house. A couple and their two children. Noele glanced to the side, looking at their terrified faces. They screamed as they took off, scared just from Glutaz’s gaze.
“Kill them, my children,” the Goblin Lord said, and a group of little laughing goblins gave chase.
Noele gritted her teeth. “I will not let you!”
She dashed forward, vanishing with a [Flash Step]. But somehow, Glutaz kept up with her this time. The Goblin Lord intercepted her, landing a kick to her side. She screamed in pain as she crashed into the ground sending up a column of dust.
The Goblin Lord landed right next to her, shaking its head. “You will not do anything. You will watch your people die as I have.”
Noele lay there, bloodied and broken. She coughed up a mouthful of blood. Yet, still, she managed to get up. She looked past the Goblin Lord to the family. The goblins had cornered them, and the father picked up a nearby rock, standing protectively before his wife and children.
“Your people have hunted down mine for eons past. You have treated us like pests. Exterminated entire tribes off the face of the world like they were but weed in the grass. No more, I say. My people have suffered enough. Now, it is time for justice to be passed. Watch as the Era of Goblins begins now!”
Glutaz cackled wildly as the goblins easily disarmed the father. They stood over him, weapons raised as his daughter screamed and dashed forward. The mother tried to stop her, but the son ran forward as well. The goblins turned, aiming their blades at the two children—
And a crossbow bolt shot through the first goblin. Glutaz blinked, and the goblins turned in shock. A second projectile impaled another goblin as a voice interrupted them.
“Over here, you little monsters!” Justyn yelled as he loaded another bolt into a crossbow.
The group of goblins shrieked, charging after the [Receptionist] with their daggers raised as he cursed. He stumbled back and dropped the crossbow as they reached him. Glutaz shook his head, laughing.
“A foolish attempt.” The Goblin Lord looked back down at Noele. “They will die, then you shall too.”
Noele bit her lower lip. She watched as the goblins overwhelmed both Justyn and the family. Something had to be done. She couldn’t just give up here. But she was too… too… weak.
And a fire ignited in her heart. Noele the Noble Spellsword looked up as she reached for whatever strength she had left. Her white eyes flashed, and she met the Goblin Lord’s gaze.
“Oh? You still have some fight left in you,” Glutaz chuckled. “Good.”
“You blame us for killing your people, so you choose the path of vengeance. But we only fight back because you goblins have only ever killed or destroyed our cities and our villages. Every single time in history we have tried to make a pact with your tribes, you goblins betrayed us. It is in your nature to destroy. That is why we treat you like monsters.”
The Goblin Lord’s gaze darkened. It watched as Noele rose to her teeth, her left hand shimmering a golden light. Glutaz said nothing as she continued.
“If you really care for the best interest of your people, you wouldn’t have destroyed Windrip. All you’re doing is endangering their lives even further! You could’ve chosen peace, but instead, you chose to destroy. So I will stop you!” She took a step forward, raising her left hand. “[Grand Fireblast]!”
And the golden flames engulfed the Goblin Lord once again. Glutaz stood defenseless as the blast of magical fire lit up the darkened sky. A pillar that rose up above the clouds. Noele put everything she could into that attack. It was more powerful than it ever had been. It should have completely incinerated Glutaz—
But a pair of crimson eyes shone through the golden flames. A large hand reached out, tearing through the fire like it was nothing. Glutaz swiped to the side with his right hand, causing the [Grand Fireblast] to dissipate like he was shearing through a veil.
“Is that really all you’ve got? Pathetic.” It emerged from the flames completely unscathed.
“What…?” Noele just stared as the Goblin Lord took the brunt of her attack and survived. “H-how…?”
She stumbled back, but Glutaz just walked forward. The Goblin Lord grinned savagely.
“You have failed. Goodbye.” Its entire body glowed crimson, and it swung down at her.
Noele flinched, closing her eyes. “No—”
She waited for the inevitable. She readied herself for every single one of her bones to be crushed. But nothing happened. The young woman blinked, finding herself lying next to Justyn and the family of four in safety.
All of them exchanged a confused glance. Noele got up and looked around. The Goblin Lord was standing a hundred feet ahead of her, looking just as puzzled as she was.
“What just happened?” she asked, utterly befuddled.
“Are you alright?” a voice said. “You look pretty beat up. Do you think you can survive?”
Noele spun around to see a ragged figure standing behind her. A brown-haired woman with a sheathed sword who was dressed like she was a beggar. The only part of her get-up that stood out was her cloak. She wore a black and blue cloak that was torn and shredded, somehow still held together despite all the damage it had endured.
“Who…?” Noele just stared.
“I’m—” the brown-haired woman started.
“Amelia?” Justyn interrupted her. The [Receptionist] groaned. “Oh great, and here I thought Guildmaster Evan got here in time to save us. But it’s just you. We’re truly fucked, aren’t we?”
The Goblin Lord spun around, narrowing its eyes as it caught sight of the humans. Amelia just shrugged.
“If you didn’t want me to save your life, you could’ve just said so,” she said flatly.
“Saved our lives?” Justyn gestured at the Goblin Lord as its horde gathered around it. “That right there is an A-ranked threat. What is a wannabe-adventurer like you going to do to stop it?”
“An A-ranked threat?” Amelia blinked. “Honestly, I don’t even know what that means—”
Noele’s eyes flickered. Her gaze snapped to the side as she called out. “Watch out!”
The brown-haired woman cocked her head as the Goblin Lord suddenly appeared behind her. Glutaz’s entire body was glowing with a raging red aura. Its speed had doubled— even compared to just a minute earlier. Noele couldn’t even keep up with it now.
“You humans really are nothing but pests! Where do you even keep crawling out from?” Glutaz screamed as he swung down with both his hands at Amelia’s back. “[Enraged Hammer Blow]!”
Noele flinched, closing her eyes. The earth shook— the ground broke open from just the shockwave. The young woman expected Amelia to be splattered on the ground like paste. But when Noele opened her eyes, she saw nothing of the sort.
Amelia stood there with her head slightly tilted forward, the blow having stopped at the back of her head. Other than the annoyed look on her face, she looked completely unscathed.
Glutaz leapt back, smirking. “Impressive. Perhaps I underestimated you. I didn’t expect a human to be able to survive my strongest Skill. Are you an A-ranked adventurer?” It raised its head, thinking aloud. “Although, I doubt they would stand a chance against me right now. After all, I am now Level 60 thanks to my [A Goblin’s Rage]. So an S-ranked adventurer, then?”
Amelia didn’t respond. Her gaze darkened over. Noele watched as the brown-haired woman raised a trembling fist.
“Then this is the perfect opportunity for me to test the limits of my power. Come, human! Show me the might of humankind, and I will show you the wrath of goblinkind!”
The Goblin Lord barreled forward. Its crimson aura whipped around it wildly like it was in flames. The nearby watching goblins cheered as it reached Amelia. She raised her head, her jaw clenched. Spinning around, she kicked Glutaz in the stomach.
“I was in the middle of a fucking conversation!”
And the Goblin Lord exploded. In an instant, Glutaz the Goblin Lord was reduced to nothing but red paste. Its corpse splattered in a line that cut across all of Windrip, reaching even the edges of the nearby forest. The watching goblins froze as their leader was obliterated from a single hit.
Amelia blinked, taking a step back. She looked down at the trail of red she had made and scratched her chin.
“Oops. Man, I really need to watch myself, huh? I didn’t mean to kill you with that. But I guess that answers that question— an A-ranked threat is really, really weak.”
She spoke to herself as Justyn’s jaw dropped. The family of four gaped, and the nearby goblins screamed, scattering into the distance.
Noele just looked on, wide-eyed. Her mind couldn’t process what just happened. She tried to work her jaw, and only a single sentence came out.
“What… just happened?”
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