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Chapter 22 - More Goblins.



Merlin suddenly dashed towards the recruit, lifting his sword up as he entered combat distance. Merlin swung his sword down at the recruit, putting as much power as he could in the one overhead strike.

The recruit lifted his wooden sword to block the strike. As the two wooden swords collided, painful vibrations rushed down the arms of both participants. These wooden swords had no elasticity or any form of shock reduction, so they could feel the full force of every strike.

The recruit recovered from the strike quickly, returning with a wide horizontal swing, it had a lot of power put into it, but it lacked discipline. It made sense that he'd be paired to spar against the weakest recruit due to the quest being designed for beginners.

Merlin parried the sword, almost knocking it out of the recruits hands as he stumbled forward helplessly. Merlin took this opportunity to deliver a turning kick to his opponent's stomach, which staggered the recruit for a moment. This moment was long enough for Merlin to swing his sword at the recruit once more, sweeping the wooden sword out of the recruit's hands and sending it half way across the courtyard.

Merlin was going to continue, but a notification appeared before him, signalling that the quest conditions had been fulfilled.

「You have completed the quest, "Training Montage II", talk to General Perakeles to receive your rewards.」

"Good fight." Merlin showed the recruit some basic sportsmanship, offering to shake his hand before walking off. Basic respect towards an NPC was typically all you really needed to start building good rapport with them, and it was heavily advantageous to do so.

Merlin made his way back to General Perakeles once more. The crowd at the door started to leak into the training grounds, Merlin realised he didn't have much time left to have this NPC all to himself, eventually they'd all realise he was an important quest giver.

"Well, that was some fight. You've proven that you can scrap. But how well do you fair against something that fights back?" As General Perakeles finished talking, yet another quest window appeared before Merlin.

┌───────────────────

[Common Quest]

Training Montage III.

You've proven yourself capable in a fight. Your next challenge will be to hunt and kill something that can fight back.

General Perakeles has heard rumours of a small goblin encampment appearing within the forest just south of the village. He fears that they may start attacking the village if they're left to expand, it may be wise to cull their population as a temporary measure.


Goblins remaining: 5

• Reward: +2 Strength, 250 EXP, Class Soul: Fighter

└───────────────────

Merlin accepted the quest, bid farewell to General Perakeles, and began walking to the courtyard's entrance that was full of people. The crowd watched as Merlin approached, every single one of them was ready to pounce on Merlin and hound him for answers, the self-entitlement emanating from the crowd was almost tangible.

As Merlin entered within a short distance of the crowd, those who focused on him could see his name finally render above his head, and after seeing the name, several faces distorted. They had a hunch as to who this player was, but it was confirmed seeing the username.

It was the same boy who showed off with a custom VR capsule, the capsule that had his username printed on the front of it, and who showed off his familiarity of the virtual hub before the game even started. Yet the most annoying thing about him was that he was an outsider, yet had the gall to appear out of nowhere and show them up.

Nobody present was aware of his background, he kept an extremely low profile due to his shy nature, staying away from large parties and extravagant gatherings for the elites. Whereas most people within the first phase of the game were connected in some way or form. Such as all of the trust fund kids having met before at various social gatherings. And the rest were at the very least known within the various elite circles.

"Treat them like actual humans and you'll figure it out eventually." Merlin gave them a hint, it would probably put him at a disadvantage later in the game, but it'd be better than having a crowd follow him everywhere he went.

Merlin forced his way through the crowd. His behaviour irritating the crowd once more. And once he was free of them, he ran down the cobblestone street on his way to the southern side of the village. A few players decided to follow him instead of following his advice. Merlin wasn't sure if they were following him to be hostile or were just following because they believed he was going somewhere special and wanted to leech from him. Either way, Merlin couldn't accept it.

Merlin turned around to face the small group following him. Merlin quickly scanned the group, there didn't seem to be anybody in the group who mattered in the previous timeline, so Merlin figured he was safe to mess with them if they stepped over the line. Merlin gave the group a wave before dipping into a side street, the group tried to follow him, but Merlin's constant weaving between buildings eventually gave them the slip.

Merlin made his way past the southern side of the village, he was currently standing in a small clearing that separated the forest from the village's boundaries. Merlin looked around, he noticed a couple players fighting small creatures, it seemed a couple people figured out how to get quests already, either that or they were just fighting the first thing they saw.

This was a beginner area that spawned level zero wild hares, these creatures could fight back, but were usually killed so fast that they couldn't deal any damage. Merlin killed a couple hares on his way to the forest's edge, there were a couple quests that required rabbit meat and rabbit pelt, he figured he should grab some before he went back to the village, but he'd do that after the goblins.

As he slipped into the forest's shade, Merlin entered a guarded stance and began sneaking around to the best of his ability. Goblins were tricky and typically relied on ambushing when in smaller groups, they were especially dangerous in environments that gave them vantage points or hiding spots.


Merlin slowly traversed the forest floor, making sure he was constantly hidden with some level of cover and avoided crushing dried leaves or twigs. The forest wasn't as dense as the eternal forest, but there were plenty of blind spots for someone to hide in. Merlin eventually came across a small clearing within the forest, there was a small river running alongside it, making it the perfect location to build a camp.

Merlin made sure to hover around the camp site, making sure to stay out of view of anyone, or anything that may be within the campsite. He saw glimpses of the early stages of a goblin camp, such as the twig beds, rudimentary campfires and various effigies, but no sign of life yet.

Merlin leaped up the nearest tree, using his new bonuses towards his strength stat, he managed to lift himself up with relative ease. Eventually he made his way up to a high branch that gave him a birds eye view of the goblin camp, there didn't seem to be any form of movement within the campsite. Figuring the goblins were currently all out hunting or gathering, Merlin decided he'd wait up in the tree for them to return.

A few minutes later Merlin heard the sounds of twigs breaking and leaves being rustled, this wasn't the sound of goblins returning home, those creatures knew better than to give their positions away. No, this was something else, this was a group of players untrained and lacking any form of talent in the art of stealth.

"Are you sure they said he went this way?" Merlin could hear the hushed voices of a small group, it sounded like they were getting pretty close to his current position.

"They described a white haired pale kid walking into the forest, and when we were following him originally, he was coming this way." Another person piped up, answering his companion.

Merlin made sure that he was well hidden on the tree by condensing his silhouette so he wasn't easily spotted from below.

"Oh, what's this? Looks like some kind of camp." One of Merlin's stalkers eventually made it to the edge of the clearing and noticed the goblin camp, what he didn't notice however was that roughly twenty meters to the left of him, sitting up in a tree and staring down at him, was the person he was trying to hunt down.

Merlin watched as the group of three made their way into the goblin's camp without any sense of caution, one thing to note was that it was all three of the individuals who were following him earlier.

"There aren't any monsters around, I guess that kid was here not too long ago." The group seemed to rationalise that a monster area with no monsters in it meant that everything in it was killed not too long ago, whereas that couldn't be further from the truth.

Most monster areas operated as a part of an ecosystem with the nearby areas. And each monster typically had lifestyle habits that could be learnt, so instead of sitting around waiting for a player to come close before it did anything like other RPGs, monsters who inhabited an area would do things, such as hunt, gather, harvest, occasionally fight with other clans and races, etc.

The group's calm stroll through the goblin's camp was rudely interrupted by a crude arrow lodging itself in one of the stalker's shoulders. The residents of the camp had finally returned home.

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