The Runesmith

Chapter 24 Little Goblin Slayer to the rescue.

Helci had come to these woods to level up. She was someone you called a late bloomer. The gnome girl was already past sixteen years in her life but she had just recently achieved her ascension class.

The girl looked similar to a gnome but she wasn’t of pure descent. Her height was above what a normal gnome reached at 140 centimeters. Her figure was also quite voluptuous in regard to other gnome girls but she mostly hid it well under baggy clothes or armor like today.

She had fine features compared to others of her kind that mostly had rounder heads with larger eyes. Her hair was long and orange and she had put it in a ponytail so that it wouldn’t get in the way of her first hunt.

She was an orphan, the whereabouts of her family were unknown as she was abandoned at a young age. She was left at one of the orphanages run by the Church of Solaria and spent most of her life there. She would do chores there, slowly learning how to cook, clean and various other tasks.

Even though the church was the ones producing the class change crystals they wouldn’t just give it to the orphans. The child had to decide if they wanted to live as an acolyte or abandon the church life by the age of fourteen. She had chosen to leave, getting a job at a few places throughout Edelgard and finally ending up at the inn where she was now employed.

She had worked for two years saving up for herself and finally managed to get herself one of those elusive stones. She went through her ascension, the class that she was rewarded was a scout that boasted high agility and detection skills. This might have not been her chosen profession but she was happy nevertheless.

There was a slight problem though, the city she lived in had no nearby dungeon with easy monsters to practice on. She was able to register at the adventurers guild but there was not much work for tier 1 scouts that were still at the first level and had no battle experience. The notice board for bronze adventurers was filled with tasks similar to her current job. This was something she was trying to abandon as she was fed up with that sort of lifestyle.

She was someone that was stubborn, she didn’t want to ask for help from other adventurers. She also couldn’t trust them, mostly the male adventurers that could try to take advantage of her.

She finally decided to go into the nearby forest, the walk there took her two hours. She had spent the rest of her savings on a dagger and on cheap leather armor. This armor consisted of a chest piece and some wristguards. The rest of her attire was simple cloth.

She had never hunted a monster before in her life but from what she heard the goblins were quite easy to slay. To her knowledge, they weren’t stronger than ten-year-old human children which was giving her quite the confidence boost.

Helci wandered into the forest with the dagger in hand, going deeper and deeper without looking back. She was dead set on leveling up and starting her new life as an adventurer. The wind howled and the trees started rustling about which caused her to be vigilant.

Her class was a scout that gave her better vision than others. This class was also adept at hiding their presence while feeling out the area. Soon enough she spotted her first target. It was a pale looking goblin with a large wooden club in its hand.

She was a gnome hybrid so her size was slightly larger than this small monster. This placed her at an advantage as she had the height advantage. After observing the monster for a moment she noticed that it was quite lean and muscular. This didn’t halt her advance, she was dead set on hunting this goblin.

She gripped her dagger and started sneaking forward, she knew that the element of surprise was paramount. If she managed to land a backstab she could probably deliver a killing blow. She moved forward while the monster was looking down at something, there were some large insects there that the goblin started stomping on. This gave her a chance to move forward while sneaking.

The goblin was unaware of the small person sneaking up behind it. It switched to hitting the ground with its club while grinning. Suddenly it heard something snap behind it which put it on alert. The goblin turned around with haste to see a pointy-eared girl with a dagger rushing its way.

It didn’t have that much time to react and it wasn’t very skilled either. The goblin just swung its wooden weapon randomly in hopes of protecting itself. This was partially successful as it managed to deliver a blow to Helci’s side. This caused her dagger to go off target and plunge itself into the monster’s shoulder instead of its neck.

The monster screamed out loud, the pain unbearable as it jumped back to get away. The small gnome girl panted hard, she needed some time to catch her breath as the wooden club had slammed into her side causing some damage. The small goblin was a lot stronger than anticipated, even though her armor held she almost had her ribs broken.

She didn’t realize that the monster had called for its friends so she continued, the enemy was wounded and she just needed to finish it off. The goblin with rage in its eyes charged forward, it went into a berserk state and started swinging wide.

The girl was slippery as an eel, the blows weren’t reaching her but she couldn’t move forward either. The first blow had taken the wind out of her and she was now hesitating. She had almost no combat experience, having only occasionally fought with the other orphans or drunkards in the city.

Soon enough more goblins started appearing which finally forced her to turn around and run. She could barely handle one of these monsters, what could she do when four more appeared. So started her getaway, she was panting while running towards the city.

The forest was unknown to her and she was still just a level 1 scout. Her tracking skills weren’t quite there so she found herself running in a random direction. This was a mountainous area and luck wasn’t on her side as she found herself blocked by a high rocky wall.

She looked to the sides as the road forward was blocked. She could hear the angry goblins running behind her which caused her to panic unable to decide. Should she try climbing this or try her luck by going sideways, there could be a better climbing spot further down.

Before she could decide one of the goblins jumped out at her. It didn’t get far though as something bright and red came whizzing from somewhere. It pierced the monster’s head and stopped it in its tracks. One monster was dead and four more remained.

“Hey, you alive down there?”

She heard a voice from above and she found it slightly familiar. She looked up and saw a person standing there, this person was wearing a black robe and it was hard to make out his clothes. By the sound of the voice, she knew that it was someone younger but still a man.

“I-I’m fine but there are more coming!”

She shouted out while slightly relieved that there was another person here that was even willing to help.

“I know, wait a moment I’ll clear them out.”

This was what the person said before the massacre began. She could see more of those red flaming arrows being shot out. They made beautiful red arches and burrowed themselves into the goblins the moment they jumped out from the bushes.Five spells and five goblins were dead.

She looked at the charred corpses that were missing their heads. The smell was something that she wouldn’t forget for quite some time. She spaced out for a moment before that person’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Why are you standing there, you need to leave, more goblins will be coming soon!”

“Oh, you should probably get the mana stone from that goblin there, the second one on the left before that, it’s to the right of its heart.”

The person shouted while dropping down some rope. Helci looked at the goblin in question and decided to follow the advice. To her surprise a small mana stone was there, if she could sell it she could probably earn a few small silvers.

She didn’t remain there for much longer. The girl was already scared as it was, she started climbing to get to safety. The ledge wasn’t that steep so she managed to do it in a couple of minutes. On top she collapsed onto her knees while panting, strength left her body due to having to run in a panic this far.

“You okay there? Helci, right?”

She turned her head to the person that rescued her. This was apparently someone that knew her but she was unsure from where. What she saw was a young human male about 160 cm in height pulling the rope up and placing it into a bag of holding.

The wind moved his hood around and she could finally make out his face. This was indeed someone that she knew, someone that lived at the inn that she worked at. Most people thought he was a weirdo, he always stayed locked in his room and would only leave to eat and rarely went outside.

The innkeeper told her to not bother him as he could be some kind of a cult member. He was always seen in a black robe covering his face and never talked to anyone or made any friends. He fired off some spells so he might have a magic class. A ritualist or a warlock was a person that made a pact with a demon or monster of some sort, so she was slightly concerned.

“A-ah yes… I’m fine…”

She stood up, her dagger was strapped to her side. She backed off a little bit as she was unsure about this person’s motives. You didn’t see many people helping others for no reason, this person was also someone she didn’t know that well. This made her reserved, keeping a distance was probably the correct thing to do now.

“See, there are already some new ones coming.”

The human in the robe pointed into the distance from where she came. More goblins started to appear, probably there to avenge their slain friends that were butchered.

“We should leave if an evolved variant appears it won’t be this easy.”

The youth said while turning his back to her. She was still a bit on the fence about following this unknown person. He was still someone from the city though and the rumors were probably exaggerated. Behind her she could hear the maddened shouts of the monsters that had found their murdered friends, it was time to get out of there.

“Ah, wait for me, I’m coming!”

She ran after the human boy that was quite fast on his feet. She was someone that was adept at running but even then she couldn’t catch up to him. It didn’t take long for them to reach the paved road that led into the city. The goblins would probably not chase them any further than this, so she felt relieved.

She leaned over while panting, her hands to her knees. She made it out alive in one piece. She didn’t expect these monsters to be this crafty, even when she managed to stab the creature in the shoulder it didn’t do much damage. This was a total failure on her part and she knew it.

After resting a bit she looked up, the human boy was staring at her. She felt weird, this person had helped her but she had a hard time expressing her gratitude. Before she could open her mouth he spoke out first.

“What were you thinking? Have you never fought a goblin before? What level are you?”

“If I wasn't close by you would have been getting eaten at this moment.”

“And another thing…”

The human youth had removed his hood and started berating her. He crossed his arms over one another and started listing the things that she had done wrong. He even started questioning her choice of equipment. She felt like she was being scolded by one of the older nuns from back in the church days. This boy looked younger than her, which made the whole thing even more degrading.

“If you weren’t close by? I had everything under control!”

She puffed up her cheeks along with her chest, her long eyebrows angling inwards. She was mad, her plan of being an adventurer didn’t work out as intended and now she was getting lectured by some snotty kid. He might have been some kind of magician but he was still a child in her eyes.

“That’s right, I was just luring them into a trap, you idiot!”

“Then you appeared and ruined my plan, who needed your help, I was fine on my own!”

She moved her head to the side while harrumphing loudly. The youth that was reprimanding her stopped talking while astonishment covered his face. He watched as Helci stubbornly turned her head to the side while biting her lower lip. While trying to act tough and not facing the person that rescued her she started walking. She could slightly see the youth’s face contorting into odd shapes, he was probably baffled by her reaction which made her feel bad.

She was never good at apologizing for her wrongdoings and even worse at thanking people that had helped her. The two didn’t talk much after her outburst, they kept a distance of a few meters from each other. The gnome girl wanted to apologize but each time she saw the youth’s face she felt indignation as if he was looking down on her for failing. They finally separated at the city entrance and both went their own way.

There was a tiny problem though,Helci had forgotten that the youth that she didn’t know the name of was staying at the inn she was working at. She was also a worker that lived there so they almost immediately bumped back into each other.

She kept her distance as he was eating his supper. Both had spent most of their day walking back and forth and adventuring in the forest so it was already close to seven. The world here also had a 24 hour day cycle but there were thirteen months on the calendar instead of twelve.

Helci felt a bit bad about not having thanked him yet. She made a fist with her hand and brought it to her chest while clutching it, she had made a decision. She grabbed one of the better-looking sausages from the pantry. Her plan unfolded as she used the busy hours to sneak over to the robed stranger. She placed the nicely prepared meat sausage along with a plate on his table, her mouth moving fast as she talked.

“H-here, I found this just lying there, thought you might want one.”

The youth looked at the item presented to him with a raised eyebrow, then back to the smaller half-gnome girl that was presenting it to him. Another bout of uncomfortable silence unfolded which caused the girl to have another outburst.

“Just take it already, what are you taking so long, not like I brought it over to thank you for helping me or anything!... idiot.”

She slammed the table with both her hands which made the whole thing shake. She then stormed off back into the kitchen, some of the patrons noticed the exchange and even gave the half-gnome a whistle.

Roland, who was still looking at the sausage that was given to him, seemingly free of charge was quite surprised. He didn’t think these types of people existed in real life. He grabbed the sausage and gave it a taste, he couldn’t just waste good food. In the back of his mind, he was slightly amused by the way the girl acted. It was quite similar to how some popular characters in various works of fiction conducted themselves. He could even see her trying to sneak a peek from the corner, probably wanting to see if he was eating the gift that she prepared.

He also needed to talk to the girl later, she was obviously unfit to wander into those dangerous woods. As an adult, it was hard to not worry about someone that acted this much as a little brat. He would later try talking to her again but after she had cooled off as it seemed that she was still slightly irritated. But this would have to wait for now as he had a really big sausage to devour now.

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