Sidestory: Redhead's POV
【 POV: Redhead 】
【 Time Axis: Day 27 】
It should have been a simple common quest. However, it did not end so easily. In fact, it ended in complete failure.
The quest was to escort a medium sized group of merchants from the merchant association « The Star God’s Pavilion » to the fortified city « Trient » and protecting them from bandits and monsters. Because I'm a fledgling adventurer with no reputation, I am viewed with a lack of confidence and competence, so normally I shouldn't have been able to apply to such a request. However, because I was part of the Adventurers' Clan « Sword of the Weak » I was able to apply for it.
That's because the Clan Master arranged it so that the fledgling members will be able to apply for it for experience. As a result, this job which normally would require only ten adventurers or less, included eighteen fledgling adventurers like me and six senior members who are mid-ranked adventurers, a total of twenty-four people. The large number of participants lowered the income, but we put up with it since this was to help us gain experience.
At first, everything was fine. The government issues a monster subjugation request to the Adventurers' Guild periodically for the road we used, thus clearing out most of the monsters, thanks to this it was much more secure. Still, there is some risk involved. The large chicken monster with a height of 70 cm called [ Misuteddo ]. Encountering these monsters help fledgling adventurers that hunt them to get some experience points, and as only three came out it can't really be called risky.
The journey did not have much of a danger, so everyone, including me and the other fledgling adventurers who didn't apply to an escorting quest before, weren't nervous at all. Inevitably, because there was a lot of free time, most of it was spent talking, and as it turned out, I was the only female adventurer in this quest.
Fortunately, everyone were openhearted and carefree, and the seniors spoke of stories full of information that will be useful in the future. It was also helpful that there was four women in the « Star God’s Pavilion »'s merchant group that we're escorting. The Blacksmith Emery Furado sold me a ring and a necklace at low prices, saying that they're prototypes. The Cook sisters Alma and Felicia Timiano gave me some sweets. The Alchemist Spinel Fean who was older than me was normally quiet and seemed cold, but when I talked to her she was very gentle, in addition, she gave me a self-made physical recovery drug, [ Life Potion ] that seems to be a little inferior compared to the commercially available ones, nevertheless, for me it's more than enough. My life could well be saved by this one day. Physical recovery potions are essential items for adventurers, however, they are expensive, so they are usually out of the reach of a fledgling like me. So, above all, I was thankful.
With the unexpected income, I relaxed my guard. I was thinking that after the quest this time is completed, I would have a drink in the tavern with everyone. At that time, I really believed this.
But that was not to be.
Suddenly, arrows came flying out of the forest on the roadside and struck the seniors' bodies. Apparently the arrows had been coated in a fast-acting poison, we quickly began treatment, however, the seniors died while foaming from their mouths. And though it was not the first time that I saw someone die, I can't say that I'm used to it. While looking at the corpses, I couldn't help thinking what if I was struck with an arrow like the seniors ? Thinking that, my head stopped working for an instant. However, I didn't have the time to continue thinking about that. That was because a large number of monsters had just jumped out from the forest and are now heading towards us while roaring.
Whilst raising a roar of fighting spirit, I drew out my steel short-sword [ The Sword of Love ], the only parting gift from my uncle who was a mid-ranked adventurer.
[ Rubellia Walline used the Combat Art [Slash ] ]
It was a basic Combat Art that I learned from my uncle along with the [ Warrior ] Job . A pale red light covered the blade of my killing intent-filled sword.
The enemy in front of me was a monster with a distinctive green skin, pointed ears, and an ugly face, it was a [ Bandit Goblin ] - a specific type of goblin tribes - . I launched a slash aiming to cut off its head, however, the enemy managed to parry my sword with its short sword. With the collision between swords, a high-pitched sound was generated and sparks scattered. My hand became numb from the impact, although the power in my hand has weakened a little, but I can still firmly grip my sword. It's okay, I can still fight.
However, it's different for the Bandit goblin in front of me. The shock of the previous blow caused it to drop its sword from the numbness, leaving it unarmed.
That's probably because even though my combat profession [Warrior] is only at level 10, I grew up working in the fields with my uncle till the last month when I became an adventurer, so I managed to get the [Farmer] job up to level 48. That's why I had the upper hand in muscle strength and endurance.
The hard day-to-day farming work made my arms strong and hardened my skin, so it was sturdy, this helped me keeping hold of my sword and not dropping it down. Only for a moment, I though back on those days. I swung my sword again aiming for the kill, but the Bandit goblin was able to barely block my sword with a round shield at the last moment. I broke the round shield but couldn't deliver a fatal injury. The enemy is fighting desperately. However, I was able to break the posture of the Bandit goblin. Without giving it the opportunity to escape, I aimed for the exposed thigh not covered with the hide armor - it seemed to be made of beast skin - .
[ Rubellia Walline used the Combat Art [Slash] ]
Due to the use of a [ Combat Art ], the blade's sharpness was increased and it easily tore through the meat, its momentum slowed down a bit when cutting the bone, nevertheless, I succeeded in cutting off the Bandit goblin's leg and large quantities of fresh blood spewed from the wound.
I raised my short-sword high in order to give the finishing blow to the Bandit goblin groaning in pain desperately while clutching its cut leg. I slashed down aiming for the crown of its head, Without resistance, my sword cut through the skull splattering cerebral fluid and blood and staining my leather armor, 'I have to wash it later', I thought.
"Rubellia!! Behind you!!"
A male adventurer the same age as me who I got along with recently, Charles, called out. I turned around equipping my shield in my left hand and pushed forward.
[ Rubellia Walline used the Combat Art [Shield Bash] ]
Pale blue light wrapped around my shield as I struck the Bandit goblin trying to surprise attack me in the face, it was unable to avoid my surprise attack as it was the one trying to attack me by surprise and didn't expect me to react. The round shield which increased in hardness than it's originally is by using a Combat Art struck the face of the Bandit goblin and broke its nose causing a gushing nosebleed as its body fell back.
This is [Knock Back], one of the Combat Art [Shield Bash]'s effects, it breaks the stance of the target.
I seized the chance and rushed in to cut off the head of the Bandit goblin. I didn't use a Combat Art because it consumes a lot of physical and mental strength, in addition, it's an overkill to use a Combat Art against an undefended enemy, moreover, when using a Combat Art my stance will break after the attack is completed.
I slashed through the neck of the Bandit goblin unopposed due to its broken stance. I hit an artery, and fresh blood spouted out like a fountain, the blade got chipped a little when I cut through the bone, then I thought about sharpening it again in the corner of my head.
In the corner of my view I saw the figure of an enemy striking at me. I avoided the large spiked club that is clearly too much for my small shield to block and jumped back.
The club missed me and the winds it raised shook my hair with a whistling sound. That was all. I didn't get any damage, and succeeded in getting back. However, that seems to have been the aim of the enemy.
"Why is a Bandit Hobgoblin here??!!"
A formidable enemy, a [ Bandit Hobgoblin ] appeared from my blind spot, from behind me while releasing a fearsome cry.
I fought a hobgoblin that my uncle caught before, nevertheless, it was a troublesome opponent to kill one-on-one. Goblins just charge without thinking, so they're easy to deal with, however, a hobgoblin is much stronger than a goblin and it possesses wisdom, and this one is dangerous even among hobgoblins.
From the fact that it's leading the troublesome Bandit goblins, it's most likely a Bandit hobgoblin that evolved from a Bandit goblin. According to my uncle, a hobgoblin that evolved from a goblin have superior physical prowess and techniques, and I agree with him, that's because after killing a lot of creatures, raising it's Level and climbing the hierarchy from below, there's no way a born hobgoblin can have an equal amount of power to it. Effort makes all kinds of creatures strong.
This kind of powerful enemy, the Bandit hobgoblin, launched a strike at me with its powerful fist, it didn't hit me directly since I was quick enough to block it with the round shield, However, I didn't have the time to use a Combat Art, as a result the round shield released an unpleasant sound as it got damaged. I felt as if I collided against something huge, then my body flew backwards.
At first, I couldn't understand what happened, but when the gravity pulled me down and I started rolling on the ground I understood. It was a very simple matter, that strike was powerful enough to send me flying. My round shield that took the attack head on got smashed at the part that received the hobgoblin's punch, my left arm that was holding the round shield broke and I couldn't move it well. As I continued to roll, I hit my head upon a stone, because of the pain and the blood loss I started to lose consciousness. I caught sight of the blood which flowed over my left eye dyeing half of my view red.
Exhausted, I wanted to continue staying on the ground and take a rest, however, taking that choice was impossible. I gritted my teeth to the point that blood started flowing from my mouth, ignored my body screaming in pain and pierced my sword into the ground to support myself as I stood up. My legs were shaking, and half of my view was dyed red. The Bandit hobgoblin didn't attack me again. Hobgoblins apart from their skin color have features which resemble a human's, however, this one is quite ugly. It is the ugliest hobgoblin that I've ever seen. It stared at me with eyes tinged with intelligence and a vulgar smile on its face. A swelling crotch vividly expressed what it was thinking.
I suppressed my nausea that welled up from thinking about it and looked for other adventurer in the battlefield with my eyes. This Bandit hobgoblin is certainly strong, but even if it's strong, it's not an opponent that fledgling adventurers can't defeat with numbers. If there are three of us, then we'll be able to relatively easily kill it. With some effort, even two are enough to beat it. Somebody, Anybody. I looked around the battlefield desperately while rubbing my left eye that got blurry because of the blood covering it.
However, there was no one else, everyone were doing their best to survive.
Because the seniors who assumed the position of the commanders were the first to be killed, everyone panicked and thus got scattered. I didn't know what to do in this critical situation. Because there is even less than the eighteen fledgling adventurers who participated in this quest including myself, we must regroup and cooperate to survive this predicament.
Some of them grouped together and are fighting back, some got cut from behind as they were trying to flee, others were burned by fireballs - then that means there is a Mage too!!
Moreover, it's a hobgoblin Mage, for a moment my view became dark, that's because Mages are able to exercise the powerful art of magic. Against a Mage fledgling adventurers will only get massacred. According to my uncle, if there is a big difference in Level, it's possible to kill a Mage, however, that's impossible for me now.
I was trained by my uncle, a mid-ranked adventurer, however, I can't find a way to overcome this situation at all. I looked around looking for the owner of the voice I heard earlier. Charles, the one who called out to me before and is a little stronger than me, can't afford to help me because he is confronting two Bandit hobgoblins at the same time. Rather, he is in a situation where he needs help.
This situation is the worst.
But I don't want to give it up yet. As an adventurer I know how it will turn out if I give up. As a female I will be taken away and used to satisfy their desires, repeatedly violated and impregnated with goblin children until I die. An existence, like a livestock. It's absolutely disgusting. I would rather be killed. Both of my parents passed away a while ago and I don't have a lover. I apologize for my uncle who trained me in swordsmanship to ensure my life for doing this, but now I don't have any fear of death. I can accept death. However, I refuse to be raped repeatedly and die like livestock.
From the field pack around my waist I took out the [ Life Potion ] I got from Spinel. Luckily it was not broken, I drank it in a single breath. A subtle sweetness spread in my mouth, at the same time, the pain in my body disappeared. My broken left arm can also move without problems. In addition, my fatigue lessened. I was told that this is an inferior product compared to the commercial goods, however, I think its effects are great. Now I can continue fighting.
"As if I will give up"
After raising a roar I charged, to kill the enemy.
However, it was useless. After that, I killed a few Bandit goblins, Charles was killed by the two Bandit hobgoblins he was fighting. After that, I got stunned and eventually was captured. My limbs have been restricted by ropes and a gag was placed in my mouth. It's hard to understand the Goblin language, but it seems we will arrive at their home soon. This is the worst. The bulging crotch of Bandit hobgoblin who defeated me crossed my mind, it was looking at me with an obscene smile while raising a vulgar laughter.
It's disgusting. I do not want to be violated by that thing. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it !! I hate it, but I can't escape my future now. My limbs are bound, so I can't run away. I can't even bite my tongue because of the gag. After we get to the goblins' destination, if I try striking my head against the wall, I will not be overlooked, Even if I managed to do it, that will be only after I get soiled, that would be too late
As we are being carried, I prayed to the [ God of Fate «Shikkuzaru» ]. In this world, Gods exist. Although the possibility of the Gods answering my prayers is low, but I have to try. My prayers have never been answered before, nevertheless, no matter how small it's as long as there's some hope I want to cling to it.
However, I stopped praying because there wasn't any changes to the situation, then I raised my face. My eyes met with those of who I was trusted to defend, but failed. The other women who are in the same circumstances as me. Emery, Felicia, Alma and Spinel. Even now, they did not blame me. That hurt me further. I cried. I felt nauseated from how weak I am. I felt ashamed that everyone who didn't have the ability to fight helped me so much, yet I couldn't even protect them. I'm very ashamed, I apologized to everyone with my eyes. I apologized from the bottom of my heart. I'm sorry that I am weak.
Then I recalled my memories of my parents and my uncle. My tears flowed out without stopping, I thought 'father, mother, I'll be coming soon. sorry uncle'. Then I saw a cave in the distance. 'It's the end' I thought.
However, it seems my luck has not run out.
As I was crying, near the cave I could see many goblins doing something - most likely combat training -, but there was a hobgoblin that particularly caught my attention, it was black skinned. When I saw it, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was astonishing, to the point that I stopped thinking for a second. I didn't ever hear of the existence of a black hobgoblin even in rumors.
There're brown skinned goblins who live in mines and caves most of their lives called [ Mine Goblins ]. Although they exist, this is the home of the Bandit goblins who have green skin, moreover, Mine goblins are dark brown skinned at most, there aren't any black skinned Mine goblins.
However, the skin of this hobgoblin was a jet black color, it seemed like a sea of darkness that could absorb everything.
That's why I think that black hobgoblin must have received a divine protection from a God when it evolved and thus became a [ Variant ]. While I was thinking about this, the black hobgoblin approached the Bandit hobgoblin and spoke to it.
"Those women. Can you release them into my custody?"
On the surface, he is gentle-looking, but he has an overpowering voice. He had a charismatic charm that was difficult to describe. Coming here to meet him may have been my destiny. I got attracted to him who possess "power", which is something that I don't have.
This moment marked the beginning of my turbulent fate.
Redhead got captivated by Goburou due seeing the power he held and gradually fell in love with him.