TL Note: Sorry for the delays, got a little sick (which should be a lesson to all of you including me to sleep properly!), but I'm fine now. Here's your chapter! This counts as last week's chapter by the way, so there'll be another one for this week.
Chapter 18: Charm of the Saint
[Class] Duke; Horde Chief
[Possessed Skills] <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>
[Divine Protection] Goddess of the Underworld, Altesia
[Attributes] Darkness, Death
[Subordinate Beasts] Kobold (Lv9)
I caught the kobold thinking it would have intelligence, and was even planning to have it as a part of my main force. But who would've thought that my expectations would be so far from the truth.
Right now, that supposedly intelligent being that should've become a part of my main force is at my feet, grooming itself with its tongue.
No matter which way you spin it, this is unarguably a pet!
And watching it yawn as it scratches its face with its fang just makes me want to throw a tsukkomi at it and ask, "Are you an old man?"
On my way back, around a half day's distance on goblin foot, I've already mostly finished my search after having walked to every direction from the village.
And in my search, I've come to understand that there're currently no monsters in the surrounding area that could pose a threat to us.
Roughly speaking, the distribution goes like this. At the east of the village - deduced based on the rising of the sun - resides the kobolds. At the north is where the spear deer are. While in between the north and the east is the lake. And then as for the south, that's where the triple head and the triple boar live.
The only problem remaining is the west.
According to Reshia's group, this forest is known as the Forest of Darkness. The boundary of human life lies north from the east of the forest. The south and the west are untouched.
There are no problems regarding the south. There are neither any dens in which a powerful beast might dwell in, nor are there any traces of a village. There were no dangers at all whether it was in my search or when I used my goblins to hunt.
Now, the reason I find the west to be a problem is because the orcs have mostly been coming from the west. The orcs generally form groups of either 3, when small, or 8, when big. They're always moving because they don't have a permanent home.
They look for a place, settle down, then after eating everything, they move again and repeat the same thing. Just like grasshoppers. Not that I have any intentions of talking about the pros and cons of their way of living, mind you. The only thing that matters is that I know how they live their lives.
Now, the problem is why they're coming from the west.
According to the humans, the deeper into the forest, the stronger the monster. So there are two possibilities. Either the orcs are being driven away by something frighteningly strong, or the orcs have many villages.
Regardless, the threat's from the west.
Troubled, I consulted the elder goblin about my thoughts. And I asked him whether it'd be possible to merge with the other goblin villages once we track them down.
My current pieces number: 3 goblin rares, 32 male goblins that can fight, and 9 goblins that can't.
It's a rather worrying number. Thinking back to it, I once asked whether there was a king amongst the goblins or not.
And if I recall correctly, there should be no unifying leader but rather, four main groups. So if each group had 30 goblins, then that would total to 120. If I'm able to take all of that, then... it wouldn't be such a bad army now, would it?
"I want information regarding the goblin villages that are similar to ours. If possible, their chief as well," I said.
I explained the circumstances to the old goblin. And in response, the old goblin replied with a frown.
"My king, it will do us no good to be hasty. To begin with, the east isn't even under our control yet," replied the old goblin.
Hearing him point out a sore spot, I unconsciously knit my eyebrows.
Certainly, I can't just ignore the humans. How long will it take before those bastards reach this village? I need to have a precise answer to that, otherwise... I might just make a blunder. And if I do, then the only future left for this village is destruction.
Especially since I have Reshia with me. It's definitely not farfetched to believe that they're putting together a unit to bring her back.
But at the same time, if I keep worrying over something like that, then I'll never be able to make my move.
But the thing is... it's difficult to predict when the humans will make their move. In fact I can't even ascertain how much Reshia's group is worth to the humans.
So considering my priorities, the only path I have left to me is to deal with the humans.
"Oi," I said, calling out to the kobold at my feet. "You are to let me know when the humans enter the forest. Understood?"
A curious expression appeared on the kobold, then as it barked out a "Woof!" it wagged its tail.
At that, I gave it some meat. And as soon as it took it into its mouth, it ran away at full speed.
"When humans come. I let you know," said the kobold.
I don't know how trustworthy that kobold is, but it's better than nothing. But just in case, I better spread some goblins to guard the area.
With this, the east should be fine for now. After this, I should increase the number of goblins at the eastern hunting grounds.
"The east should be fine now, right?" I asked the old goblin. To which in response, the old goblin unwillingly nodded.
"Then let us talk."
With those words I persuaded the old goblin to give me the information I wanted. And from it, I found out that our village is apparently one of the smallest amongst the goblin villages.
It would seem that our village's survival so far has mostly been due to good luck. Then again, I've always had a feeling that was the case. But while that may be true, that doesn't meant that the other groups will be able to break through either.
Because if there was such a group, then there should be another one like me who would attempt to gather the nearby villages and increase their power.
The fact that there's no such thing just goes to mean that there's no group that sticks out from the crowd.
Now, the closest group to us has about 30 goblins as its fighting force. It should only take us around a day on foot. At the same time, they appear to be living in a sturdy cave. And their chief is only a goblin rare.
Unfortunately though, this information isn't that reliable as it's only based on the old goblin's memory. As for why knows it, apparently his father was a mutual goblin rare and the chief of this village three generations ago.
A father, huh?
Well in any case, this isn't such a bad deal for our first invasion.
The lack of information is a bit troubling, but there's not much time left, so this'll have to do.
"Gi Gu, Gi Gi, begin the preparations. We'll take 10 goblins with us, while Gi Ga will defend the village in our absence."
After I ordered my subordinates. I ordered the old goblin to guide us.
The old goblin hesitated a bit, so I threatened it.
After which, we then had to prepare our food supplies before moving out.
We took some raw meat, and smoked it in a small shed.
I mobilized what little knowledge I had, and then left the meat for a few hours.
The result? Burned.
Where did I go wrong?
At the depths of my despair, a voice came, "What are you doing?" it asked. That voice came from a curious Reshia who was in a nearby shed.
It would appear that she's quite excited, but in contrast to that vigor of hers, I replied with barely any, saying,
"I want to make some preserved meat."
"What for?" she asked.
"I need it to destroy a different village," I replied.
Now I don't know what she thought of my words, but she suddenly clapped her hands, and then suggested,
"Please add some fruits to our meal. I know, how about some keju for everyone?"
Apparently, this woman's tougher than she looks.
As for that keju, it's supposedly a fruit that grows on trees, and turns red when ripe... It's kind of like an apple.
"Alright, I'll have it ready from this day's lunch onwards," I agreed.
Goblins love meat. The goblins with the [Skill] can eat relatively anything, but they still love meat. They can eat leaves, they can eat roots, and even fruits. But they still prefer meat.
That's why we don't really have much of that keju gathered.
Or at least as long as I don't order them to anyway, but...
"Chinos," called Reshia.
"What does the saint require of me?" replied Chinos.
"Apparently he wants to smoke some meat. Would you mind teaching him how to?" asked Reshia.
"If that is the request of the saint, then..." replied Chinos as he turned his quivering gaze at me. But without another question, he began to explain.
After hearing his explanation, I then proceeded to order my subordinates according to his instructions, and lit a flame in the same way.
The result? A success.
"Why?" I asked.
A sense of disappointment filled my heart as I persistently asked the quivering Chinos, "Why?"
And as it turns out, the secret was in the strength of the fire.
Maybe it also has something do with his skill? I thought. But without pursing the matter any further, I just gave up and rewarded Chinos with rabbit meat.
After all, there's a problem of whether or not the goblins would be able to recreate something so subtle like that. The goblin rares and the goblin nobles might be able to, but it's too big of a hit to our forces to tie down such important pieces with a menial task like that.
Besides, if humans can do it, then why not just leave it to them, right?
"Please don't forget your promise, ok?" reminded Reshia cheekily.
Hearing that, I nodded.
But almost immediately after, I was startled, and couldn't help but turn back to look at her. Why? Because Reshia spoke to me as soon as I finished thinking!
No way, right?
And not only did she take into consideration the odds of me using the food supply to attack a human settlement, she's even made the humans, indispensable! Did she really calculate this far?
Right now, what I'm feeling from that girl is not that same girl who was just asking for better food, but rather the wisdom of a higher being, a saint!
"It's past lunch already. I'll add the keju starting with supper."
Intriguing. Very intruiging.
To what extent is she Reshia? To what extent is she the saint?
In the same vein, to what extent am I a man? To what extent am I a monster?
Suddenly, a desire wishing to ascertain that bloomed from within me.
Regardless of whether it's because of her charm or not, this formidable emotion is simply far too strong for me to resist.
The believer of the healing goddess, Zenobia, has manifested her [Skill] <>.
Your mind will be slightly affected.
It will be difficult for you to harm the saint.