69 – Half-Goblin Mass Production Plan (2)
Nariel stood up from her seat.
And desperately called Isrin’s name.
“Isrin, are you there?”
No matter how much she called, only the rustling of leaves could be heard, and Isrin’s figure could not be found.
In the face of her sudden disappearance, Nariel placed her hand on the tree she had been leaning on just a moment ago.
Maybe nature knows something.
But there was no response.
Not just the tree, even the surrounding grass fell silent.
No, it wasn’t silence.
Nature was trembling.
‘Why on earth?’
This phenomenon was something even Nariel was experiencing for the first time.
Quickly, she bowed her head.
She grabbed a handful of soil and closed her eyes.
Maybe something will come out this time.
As she tightened her grip, the soil slipped through her fingers.
But even this time, it was in vain.
As if sworn to secrecy, everyone fell silent. It was an uneasy, frightening silence. And then, at that moment, Nariel’s vision turned to darkness. Someone had covered her eyes.
It was sudden.
She tried to scream, but no sound came out. She struggled, but her opponent’s strength was overwhelming. There was nothing she could do but yield her body.
A moment later, she felt strangely off. Her head was spinning, her body contorting, as if the very space itself was warping.
She felt like she might be sick for a moment. Fortunately, the sensation didn’t last long.
The force that had bound her dissipated, and the darkened vision slightly brightened.
Before her were seven people, each holding a torch.
“You…,” she began, recognizing them as the adventurers she had been with until just before they had parted ways.
Had they somehow escaped from the forest?
Nariel glanced hurriedly around, but that wasn’t the case. She was still within the woods. Although the place she was in now was slightly different from moments ago, she hadn’t exited the forest. If there was any silver lining, it was that she had encountered the adventurers.
Now, all I have to do is find Isrin and the others and escape.
“I… Where are the others-“
Nariel’s words were cut off.
Something was strange.
The armor of the people in front was all stained red.
Had they been hunting monsters?
But there was no life in their pupils.
Each one had a eerie and frightening expression.
Just by looking at them, you could tell.
That blood was definitely not from monsters.
Realizing this, Nariel began to step back slowly.
Every time she took a step back, the adventurers in front took a step closer.
But soon, something collided from behind.
“Oh, a cute little lady, isn’t she?”
A voice reached Nariel’s ears.
Among all the voices she had heard so far, it was the most mellifluous and beautiful.
It had a silky tone, gently winding around her ears with a mysterious charm.
Seductive yet sweet.
Nariel turned around to find the owner of the voice.
There was truly a beautiful woman in front of her.
Her appearance transcended that of a human.
The snowy-white hair seemed to emit a subtle light, coexisting with purity and elegance.
And her skin, oh, it sparkled more like glass than an elf’s own, smooth and glossy.
Her crimson eyes that met Nariel’s gaze were deep and enchanting.
She was so beautiful.
However, Nariel shook her head.
It seemed that if she let her guard down now, she would be captivated by it.
Nevertheless, Nariel tried to regain her composure by pinching her cheeks hard.
She knew she was beautiful.
But at the same time, she could also see that she was not an ordinary being.
The horns above her head proved that fact.
“Shadow Seed, thank you for bringing her. Today is incredibly lucky for us.”
Where exactly was the luck in this?
The woman in front of her spoke with a voice full of joy.
At the same time, Nariel noticed.
The adventurers who had been approaching until a moment ago had stopped in their tracks upon the appearance of the woman. She also became aware of the increasing presence of monsters among the trees around them.
“W-Who are you?”
Nariel spoke to the being before her.
Instinctively, she could realize.
The fact that this being was the true ruler of this forest.
‘I can’t win.’
And that she absolutely couldn’t win.
She would lose her life before even reaching the bow at her back.
Before that, she couldn’t even move under the overwhelming force.
“W-Who on earth are you?!”
Her voice trembled.
It was a presence that should never exist in the world.
A power reminiscent of the force Nariel felt when gazing at the World Tree in the distance during her childhood.
What kind of being was the World Tree?
The mother of all things, embracing the lives of elves and nature, supporting the world.
Of course, it was not as powerful as the World Tree.
Still, Nariel couldn’t help but be astonished at the similarity in the aura emitted by this being, as she had never experienced a monster with such power before.
Could it be the resurgence of the invasion from the distant past in the demon realm?
The woman in front of the trembling Nariel spoke softly.
“My name is Celia. I am but a servant following the will of the great one.”
He tilted his head, unfamiliar with the name.
And the mention of a great one?
“It might be better to show than to speak.”
Celia clapped her hands once.
Then, goblins emerged from behind.
Each goblin appeared, leading a fallen adventurer.
Among them was the sight of a bound Isrin.
Nariel called out Isrin’s name, approaching.
“Don’t worry. She’s just asleep.”
Indeed, Isrin seemed unharmed, just unconscious.
Celia took steps toward Nariel.
“An elf and a mage as friends, a truly deep bond.”
Celia placed her hand on Nariel’s shoulder.
“This one has an abundance of mana.”
Nariel nodded slightly.
It was true.
When it came to Isrin, no one knew better.
Isrin was a mage.
Not just any mage but a mage of the third circle.
At the age of twenty-two, a mage soon to reach the fourth circle.
It is truly overwhelming talent.
Such a talented individual is currently lying in a mere forest.
Even if they claim to be alive, only that monster knows what will happen to their fate.
“What do you intend to do with us?”
Nariel was somewhat perceptive.
The goblins were still bringing in unconscious adventurers one by one.
And chaos surrounded them.
There were adventurers who had escaped from the slime dungeon earlier.
Except for herself, everyone else was in a defeated state.
It was impossible to miss such blatant implications.
“What do you want from me?”
Celia smiled in response to Nariel’s question.
As if expressing joy with a smile that seemed to say, “That’s the right answer.”
“It’s good that you’re perceptive. I really like people who are quick-witted. I assume your master also likes those who are sharp-witted, right?”
Celia raised a finger.
“Certainly, you. Oh, may I call you Nariel? As Nariel suggested, if you want to escape from this mountain range, you should be with this child.”
Nariel bit her lip.
It was the content she had mentioned just before Isrin disappeared.
In short, the other party had been observing her every move.
Perhaps from the first time she climbed this mountain range.
Thinking about it, there were not just one or two strange things.
‘Was it also the meaning of the orc sparing me…’
As that thought crossed Nariel’s mind, she shivered.
It had been a tale played out in the palm of the other party’s hand from the beginning.
This mountain range was already in a state of erosion by that existence.
Did the royal family of the Sale Kingdom know about it?
Many questions arose, but that was for a moment.
When Nariel remained silent without any response, Celia moved her finger to the side.
One of the adventurers who had fallen to the ground had his throat cut, blood spraying.
It happened in an instant.
“Do you wish for this child to die, Nariel?”
Celia said, raising her finger again.
Nariel raised her head in response to that gesture.
Caught off guard and unable to find her voice, all she could do was nod as forcefully as possible.
When Nariel managed to express herself in her own way, Celia smiled, seemingly satisfied.
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“Good. That’s the attitude. Normally, there would be no mercy, but I’ll make an exception.”
Celia clapped her hands once again and spoke.
“There aren’t any useful personnel left. Leave only the women.”
In response to her command, the goblins raised their rusty knives.
Then, they thrust the blades into the necks of the fallen male adventurers.
Midnight blood spewed out like flames.
Amidst the erupting blood and the dark shadows entwined with moonlight, a sense of horror and despair prevailed.
It felt like a nightmare.
Yes, a profoundly dreadful dream.
It was a horrific sight, as if witnessing a nightmare.
All the adventurers were dead, leaving only the women behind.
It was an inexplicable conclusion.
Celia glanced at the scene once and straightened her attire.
“Do you want to save your friend?”
Nariel nodded her head.
Barely managing to do so.
Who would want to leave someone to die?
“Good. Then let me get straight to the point. Serve me, and beyond that, serve the great one for my sake.”
“If you keep that promise, I’ll guarantee this child’s life. Someday, you’ll have to leave this place, won’t you?”
It was an irresistible whisper of the devil.
“If I refuse, not only will Isrin’s life be at stake, but my own life as well.”
In the end, it was a proposal that one could hardly refuse.
But it wasn’t just that.
Nariel looked at Isrin.
Isrin, though in a state of unconsciousness, seemed oddly at ease without any apparent hesitation.
Isrin is a talented magician.
Not just any talent, but an overwhelming mastery of the fourth circle at the age of twenty-four.
In truth, Isrin could have been welcomed into nobility rather than pursuing the life of an adventurer.
Perhaps even becoming the royal magician of a kingdom.
Yet, Isrin turned down such honors.
And continued the life of an adventurer.
It wasn’t something of great significance.
Isrin simply pursued adventuring to take care of oneself.
Nariel, when she first emerged into the world of humans, was bewildered by everything.
It was difficult because it was so different from the life of the elves.
Isrin was the one who took care of her.
Isrin’s current state is her own responsibility.
Isn’t it too much to die before her overwhelming talent blooms?
With that thought, Nariel had only one choice.
“Alright. I’ll do as you say. What should I do then?”
At Nariel’s acceptance, Celia gestured.
As Celia gestured, something flew in from the air.
It was Venci, just as Nariel had said.
Venci flew in and approached Isrin.
It was obvious what was about to happen next.
“T-this isn’t what we agreed upon!”
Venci inherently controls the mind of the opponent.
Of course, it’s ineffective against higher-ranked beings, but Isrin is currently unconscious.
She was in an incredibly vulnerable state in front of Venci.
“This is mercy. Look at them.”
Celia suddenly pointed to one side.
There were the seven adventurers I had seen earlier.
Somehow, I had a feeling that something was strange; they were already under Venci’s control.
As Nariel looked at the adventurers, an immediate change occurred.
“Uh? Where is this…?”
One of the seven adventurers spoke up.
Life returned to their eyes.
“I was definitely following the holy knight…?”
Before he could say more, his throat was cut by Celia.
“Did you see that?”
Celia looked at Isrin without hesitation.
“Just because someone is being controlled by Venci doesn’t mean their personality dies. I can release them anytime I command.”
Celia pointed at Isrin.
“In a way, this might be mercy for Nariel’s friend. Oh, I won’t force it. This mercy applies only to Nariel’s friend, you see.”
Nariel nodded at Celia’s words.
It was true.
This place was where blood splattered and people died without any care.
Anyone witnessing such a scene continuously would lose their sanity.
So, it was better to do this for Isrin’s sake.
As Nariel agreed, Venci began to enter Isrin’s mind.
After a while, Isrin’s eyes opened.
But I know.
The current her is not Isrin.
She’s just a monster wearing Isrin’s disguise.
But I won’t let her live like that forever.
‘Someday, I’ll rescue you…!’
Nariel had her own reasons to be reluctant.
Then, she looked at Celia.
For now, she had to lower her head.
“If that’s the case, Nariel, follow this shadow. Shadow, guide Nariel to the third quadrant.”
The shadow behind Celia shifted direction and began to move its steps.
“Don’t worry about your friend; just go.”
Upon Celia’s words, Nariel finally followed the shadow.
There was nothing that would change even if she continued to stay here.
Soon after Nariel’s figure completely disappeared, Celia spoke.
“Now, Goblin Lord.”
As she spoke, the Goblin Lord in the vicinity revealed himself.
“I present you this child. She will be a great wizard in the future.”
Celia attached a charm to the Goblin Lord.
Eislin was currently being controlled by Venci.
She wouldn’t remember anything that happened to her.
Whether it would be despair or hope for her, no one knew.
Maybe she herself would never know.
“The remaining women, take care of them yourselves. It’s better than having nothing.”
The number of goblins in the dungeon has greatly increased.
In that sense, they gave all the surviving adventurers to the Goblin Lord.
“This will make the plan move a step forward.”
Celia smiled with satisfaction.
In the distance, goblins were bringing bones.
The remains of adventurers who fell to slimes.
When all the bones were gathered, they would be reborn as skeletons by Ark Lich.
The flesh of the corpses with leftovers would become the monsters’ food.
Adventurers who would not leave anything behind.
And unexpectedly, they even got an elf in their hands.
The elf would have a lot to do in the future.
“Finally, we can develop the 3rd zone.”
In the first zone, Death Knights acted as mid-bosses.
The second zone had Goblin Lords as mid-bosses.
In contrast, the third zone was so barren, consisting only of plants.
This had always been a concern, but now, an elf appeared.
“As you wish, Master-“
Celia murmured, shifting her steps.