Right then, I heard a voice from behind me.
“…Locke. Are you alright?”
“I’m so sorry. We ran away without you.”
It was Ario and Josh. They had come worried that I had not come out, and so they returned.
“Don’t worry about it. I’m the one that told you to run away.”
“We’re so sorry.”
As I talked with Ario and Josh, Shia began to inspect the Goblin Lord’s corpse.
Then Ario lowered his head to her.
“And thank you as well.”
“Do not mention it.”
She said with a smile.
I had something to say to her myself.
“When you were fighting the Goblin Lord, you said it was a weakling.”
“Did I really?”
“You did say that. Did you perhaps say that because you knew that there was a stronger monster deeper in here?”
Shia became quiet.
Perhaps there was something that she didn’t want to say.
“Well, it’s fine if you don’t want to say it.”
I couldn’t leave it. We defeated most of the goblins.
But if there really was something even stronger in here, the nearby villages would not be safe.
We had to kill it.
I turned to Ario and Josh.
“I’m sorry, but could you two wait here? I have to take a look further in.”
“No, Locke. What are you saying? It’s too dangerous.”
“Exactly. You think there could be something stronger down there, don’t you?”
They said frantically.
I decided to answer them cooly in order to calm them down.
“I told you this before. I’m not that young. I’m actually quite a bit older than both of you.”
“You did say that…but, uh, what does that have to do with anything?”
“Hmm. Well, I have fought much stronger enemies than goblins for a long time. I only registered as a Warrior the other day, but I actually have a lot of fighting experience.”
I say this, and Ario and Josh nod.
“So that’s why…”
“I did notice that you didn’t move like a newcomer.”
“And your sword is oddly impressive. A newcomer wouldn’t have something like that.”
While both of them were new, they had followed the etiquette of Adventurer’s of not prying into personal business.
They were great F Rankers.
“So don’t worry, I’m pretty strong. And I’ll just run away if it’s too dangerous. I’m fast on my feet, in spite of appearances.”
And so I persuaded them before walking down the tunnel.
“Mr. Locke, please wait a moment.”
“I’m going to be blunt here. Even if you are B Rank, you’ll just get in my way if you don’t have a sword.”
Shia looked conflicted.
Josh spoke to her.
“Would you use this?”
“This…are you sure?”
“Yes, I am an archer, anyway.”
Josh handed her a plain broadsword.
It was something he had picked up from a goblin that we had killed. It was not of very good quality.
“I will not be called a burden if I have a sword!”
“Uh, fine then.”
And so Shia and I walked deeper into the tunnel.