After comparing our forces with the unfaltering enemy elves, I felt it was about time to retreat. We could still keep fighting, but I couldn’t think of a way to secure victory.
If we kept this up, we would only be shooting ourselves in the foot. Replacing the fallen elves isn’t easy, and the goblins are too far from headquarters. We can’t lose here. If we lose here, the dream to conquer humanity will remain but a dream.
“Fei, Gi Ji, we’re retreating!” I commanded.
Fei nodded, while Gi Jii was shocked. Regardless, though, they both understood my intentions and promptly passed my orders.
“Fei, take Ru Rou and scatter into the forest! Gi Jii, have the hordes at the front retreat,” I gave orders while cutting down the enemy. “I will protect the back.”
The three-man-cell groups under me are exhausted, but we have to keep fighting if we are to minimize our losses.
Swinging the orichalcum long sword, I clad it in ether. As the vanguard gradually retreated, the enemy’s focus shifted toward me.
Arrows shot from the forest to cover me.
I don’t know if this is Fei’s or Ru Rou’s, but either way, I’m grateful.
“Gi Za, cover me!”
Cyclones sprouted up around me, blowing away the plants nearby and stopping the heavy infantry approaching me.
We continued our retreat like this, but the enemy continued to pursue. Fortunately, the arrows shooting from the forest were able to slow them down.
“Now! Turn around and run!” I commanded to the goblin vanguard fighting behind me, then we ran toward Jirad.
We lost! Damn it!
The difference in equipment, the knowledge of terrain, the tactics used… There are a lot of things to think about, but right now we have to focus on retreating.
Stifling the sense of loss within me, I ran.
Fei had gone ahead to lead his platoon away when he noticed that several trees had been piled up, blocking their way. With the trees fastened together with vines, it would be no easy task to break this obstruction.
They were almost at Jirad, so who could have possibly laid out this obstruction? Then a cold chill struck him.
“Careful, men!” Fei commanded as he looked around him, searching for the enemy.
Only an enemy would do something like this. If so, then an enemy must be waiting for them here.
The worst scenario flashed through Fei’s mind. It was then that arrows ra
ined from above.
“Wind of Heaven’s Blessing!” Fei chanted, casting Wind Shield and deflecting the rain of arrows.
“So it really is an enemy! Have we been surrounded?”
The enemy that should have been pursuing them from behind was suddenly before them.
The more the sight before him bore itself onto his eyes, the harder it was to believe.
The forest surrounding the roads which they traversed was something that could slow down even the elves themselves. Overgrown with plants entangled with vines, it was a kind of place that would obstruct even one’s vision.
Now that their path was blocked, they had no choice but to retreat.
They didn’t have enough people to overcome the enemy ahead, and neither could they run into the forest, for doing so would be to abandon the goblins coming from behind.
Several elves appeared behind the trees that obstructed the road.
“Foolish citizens of Forni! To think you would actually join hands with the likes of goblins! You are a disgrace!” The enemy elf cried as arrows rained upon Fei and his men.
“Retreat, retreat!” Fei ordered as he glared at that wall of trees that towered over them.
Fei didn’t know this, but the one who created this barricade was none other than the Pale’s detached force led by Felbi. His job was exactly this, to go around the battlefield and seal the path of the Goblin-Forni Army, then they would wait for Pale’s signal, at which they would then perform a pincer attack on the enemy.
“The enemy retreated,” Felbi said as he watched Fei and his men retreat from atop a tree. “…Let’s proceed according to plan. To Jirad!”
By the time Fei’s shrieking report arrived, we had already shaken off the enemy pursuing from behind.
—The enemy is up ahead.
I had to make a decision the moment I received that report.
Should we try and fight with the enemy behind us once more, or should we try and break through the enemy up ahead? Either way, we’re going to be hit from both sides.
If we fight against one side, the other side will come to crush our rear guard. That would be bad. If we go out of the road and into the forest, our mobility will be severely crippled; not to mention, we won’t be able to move while carrying luggage. I also can’t fight more than one front.
The Gaidga and the noble class goblins should also be almost out of steam.
“Fei, is there a path we could use to reach Sinfall from here?” I asked, trying to make myself as calm as possible.
“!?” For a moment, Fei was speechless. “…It’s possible. It’ll be a narrow path, but we’ll probably make it if we go from here.”
As Fei swallowed the bitter taste of defeat, I spoke. “Let’s go to Sinfall, then. We can’t take a pincer attack head on. We have to retreat for now and recover our forces.”
Seeing Fei run again, I couldn’t help but sigh.
“This defeat cost us a lot.”
Exhaling deeply, I stifled the impatience that tried to overwhelm me and gave an order. “To Sinfall!”
I ran at the back of the army as I prayed for Shure’s safety in his search.
“I owe you one,” Gi Ji Arsil said.
Bui wryly smiled and waved his hands when he heard Gi Ji say that. And to think he was so averse to them just some time ago.
“Don’t sweat it. It’s a given for us to help each other,” Bui said.
After failing to infiltrate the human fortress and getting wounded, Gi Ji Arsil was picked up and tended to in the orc village. He once tried to leave even though they were only trying to heal him.
The orc village was built around the land where the mother tree was rooted. The life the orcs lived here reminded Gi Ji Arsil of the time when they lived at the Gi Village.
“Will you be able to return to the goblin village?” Bui asked.
“That’s what I intend… I’ve done what I needed to, after all,” Gi Ji Arsil said.
“…Breaking the human fortress alone will be difficult, I believe,” Bui said.
Gi Ji folded his arms and nodded. Gi Ji had a lot of time to think while he was recuperating from his wounds. Those towering stone walls coupled with the length of the fortress itself. It would take a long time if he were to try and scout that whole thing by himself.
There were also those fields and those soldiers that were always patrolling. Trying to infiltrate by one’s self was indeed too dangerous.
The mission he received from Gi Ga Rax, to sound out the humans outside the forest, doesn’t seem feasible alone.
“I think we can work together,” Bui said.
“I can’t make that decision. At the very least, I need to ask Lord Gi Ga,” Gi Ji Arsil said.
When Gi Ji was wounded, it was the orcs who scouted the human fortress. Bui gathered the information they acquired and gave it to Gi Ji. When Gi Ji heard the details of Bui’s findings, he was shocked, and could not help but to change his view of the orcs. To think they were capable of gathering such detailed information.
“Please ask him then,” Bui said.
“I will,” Gi Ji Said.
This orc king was unlike the king. He wasn’t fierce. He wasn’t a king who led with power, but instead led with wisdom.
Of course, Gi Ji’s faith in his king would never waver. It’s just that he realized for the first time that there were kings like this too.
“Farewell, Orc King,” Gi Ji bid farewell and left.
Gi Ji felt he should teach the other goblins how to gather information as well.
“Lord Gi Ga, Lord Gi Ji has returned!” Yellow of Gordob happily reported to the knight class, Gi Ga Rax, who was tasked with protecting the fortress.
Yellow himself was also relieved to see Gi Ji safe and sound. After all, they had just recently sent a messenger to Ganra’s champion, Ra Gilmi, to look for Gi Ji Arsil. Fortunately, he had returned safe and sound.
Gi Ga heaved a sigh of relief when he saw Gi Ji. “It is good to see you safe, Lord Gi Ji.”
“Sorry for worrying you,” Gi Ji bowed, then he told Gi Ga of his findings outside the forest.
Gi Ga rubbed his chin with his only hand. “We should at least gather the people from the tribes and talk this over.”
“If possible, then by all means,” Gi Ji said.
There was a human fortress right outside the forest, and one too big for them to easily subjugate. The wisdom of the tribal chiefs might prove invaluable.
As Gi Ga was thinking that, Gi Ji spoke.
“I have a request. Please give me some goblins,” Gi Ji said.
“What? Well, I don’t mind, but…”
The noble class goblins were all bestowed with a right to have their own household, but most of them were sent away to expand the horde.
Gathering goblins from a land unknown to create a household. By doing so, one truly became the head of a family, possessing a land that belongs only to one’s self. This system is also known as the feudal system, wherein merit is rewarded with territory. Of course, the goblins didn’t understand this. All they knew was that the king trusted them more.
Gi Ji’s proposal, however, didn’t involve a territory.
Moreover, the goblins received from the king were gifts, they were not supposed to be treated as soldiers.
“I wish to train them to gather intelligence. The way I am now, I am unable to serve the king.”
Gi Gi was doubtful upon hearing that. Hasn’t Gi Ji faithfully completed all his missions until now?
“From here on, we will be fighting against the humans. Alone, I am insufficient. I need more goblins in order to give the king satisfactory intel.”
Finally, Gi Ga understood.
“I see, then in that case, how about the goblins that were recently born…” Gi Ga said when Yellow suddenly barged in.
“Lord Gi Ga! There are strangers knocking on our doors!” Yellow reported.
At that, Gi Ga took his spear and rode on his beloved steed outside.
“W-Who are these people!?”
Before them were a woman that was somewhere in between bird and human, a turtle-like man riding on a beast, and a bull wielding a giant axe.
“Name yourselves! These lands are ruled by our king! Aggression will not be forgiven!” Gi Ga proclaimed on black-tiger-back.
The bird-woman responded. “We are the descendants of the crystals, denizens of the west. We have come here as proof of our friendship with your king.”
“…These are different from the ones I met, but these are demihumans,” Gi Ji said from behind Gi Ga.
“Hmm… That would make you the king’s guests, then? In that case, welcome.”
As the demihumans reached the Fortress of the Abyss, the goblins and the demihumans gradually got to know each other bit by bit.
—300 days until the battle with the humans.
Gi Jii’s level has risen. 86 => 90
Gi Do’s level has risen. 71 => 81
Gi Za’s level has risen. 51 => 56
Gi Ji Arsil’s level has risen 7 => 14