“Perhaps there is some facility down there that is still running and having some kind of ill-effect on them?”
I tilted my head at Manger’s suggestion.
“Remember Reserentrible, Asagi? What happened there?”
“Reserentrible… Well, there was the dungeon…and the defense mechanism…and Karma…Karma was managing… Ah.”
The strange monsters that were there. They were manmade.
“They were performing experiments that involved interbreeding. Now, what if such a facility exists down there as well?”
“…Manager. Are you saying they’re experimenting on the goblins?”
“I am saying that it is a possibility.”
It was quite an idea. Indeed, the ancient elves had been conducting the experiments in an attempt to end a food crisis. Perhaps it wasn’t such a strange idea after all.
And if they were creating hybrid goblins… For instance, goblins with advanced breeding abilities? Perhaps these hybrids had resulted in terribly powerful monsters? Regardless, if they were goblins, there may not be much a difference for Presence Detection. It was less about power and more about their size.
“Well, I am only speculating here. We can’t be sure unless we see it. I was just saying what was on my mind.”
“Still, it was something that I hadn’t even thought about.”
Manager shrugged at me. Was she embarrassed?
“We still don’t have enough information. If the goblins have no intention of coming out, that gives us more time to investigate. What do the rest of you think?”
Adlus felt that it was too dangerous to move based on what we currently knew. The others didn’t answer. They just looked at me. Well, it was no wonder, since I was the one that would be going.
“I have no choice, clearly.”
□ □ □ □
It was now the fifth day of the investigation. I relied on the food in my hollow bag as I traveled in and out of the abandoned city. I spent the nights in the branches of the Nise Yggdra Tree. It had been a while since I last slept in a tree.
I hung a magic illumination tool on a branch as I made a written record of the things I saw during the day. Once that was done, I drank some water.
It was decided that I would have as little contact with the main camp as possible. There were several reasons for this, but the most important one was that it could result in the goblins finding the campsite. The place was surrounded by a wall of trees and snow, which offered a high level of concealment.
And so it would be no good if someone like me constantly moved back and forth. All it would take was one goblin to witness it and report to the others. Then it would be war.
And so I sat there, watching the flapping white cloth that I tied to the branches to protect me from the cold wind. And I thought back on what I had learned.
First, while those goblins had been the ones to start the stampede, it seemed like they had no intention now of attacking anywhere else. After all, there was no Queen’s Knight Goblin. He had been the strongest monster in the city. Now that they had lost their leader, they were more focused on their own survival.
However, there were limits to what their home could support. There was the problem of food, for one. The more their numbers increased, the more food they would need.
And it was the facility that helped them.
“So, Manager was right…”
She was a smart one. She always had been. And things hadn’t changed once she came here.
I was able to find the facility with Eyes of the God Wolf, and infiltrate it. I had never seen anything like it before, but apparently the Queen’s Knight Goblin had fiddled around with it until he understood the controls. There was even a written memo.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling that was hard to describe when I found it. But it was no time to let that slow me down. I used Presence Block to the fullest and investigated the facility.
What I found there, were goblins that had their reproductive abilities raised to the limit. They were terrible to look at and far exceeded ordinary goblins in size. I think they were at least three times the height of a human.
However, at least seventy percent of them were their stomachs. I nearly vomited when I saw the moaning goblin give birth.
There were five of them in all. Perhaps they were not the same as a Queen Goblin, but they still bred at an astonishing rate. I considered killing them all then and there, but it was quite obvious what the starving goblins would do if I did. It would be better to do it once we were fully prepared. And so I left the place.
There was another thing that I noticed. There were stray goblins. A small portion of the goblins that were born and kept for food were able to escape. They had been able to outrun the goblins and escape to the surface. I saw this happen myself. Well, the one I saw was eventually caught and eaten.
I investigated their fighting force. Aside from the normal goblins, were there others that could mutate and turn into Queen’s Knight Goblins?
As for the result, I was not able to find any. However, there were a lot that looked very strong. They were similar to humans in size. They had black skin and took command of the smaller goblins.
Regardless, I didn’t feel like they were that great a threat, and so I ended the investigation there. The bigger problem was their numbers… And I couldn’t count them. There were a lot, that was all I could say. How would we deal with them? That was something we’d have to discuss when I returned to the camp tomorrow.
The plan was to attack the abandoned city on the following day. And so I had to get an early rest. But it was hard to sleep when such thoughts ruled my mind.
I stared at the night sky through the cracks in the sheets. The weather had been rather good recently. Thanks to that, sleeping up in the tree wasn’t too bad. I turned the light off and looked down. I sensed someone. Goblins were running desperately through the snow. They weren’t wearing any armor.
The one in the lead turned and shouted at the one that was lagging behind. The goblin answered just as an arrow caught it in the shoulder. A goblin with a bow had just come out of the hollow in the tree. Its movements were awkward compared to Daniela. Still, it prepared a second arrow and unleashed it. The other goblin went down.
The rest was a familiar scene. The archer goblin began to eat its prey. I could hear it chewing from up in the tree. I grimaced and sunk into my winter clothes.
They would all be dead come the day after tomorrow. I didn’t feel sorry for the goblins that were eaten. Still, they wouldn’t have been eaten had they gotten away.
This sad goblin country would be better once it ended. It was with such thought that I forced myself to sleep.
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