23: Hobgoblin Fight - First Part

Part 1: Vagabond Arc "Ash-crowned Princess of Slaughter" Chapter 2: The Black Ops' Combat Maid

14 minutes
2761 words
Author's Note

It ended up being longer than expected, so I'll split it into two parts.

That's why I'm posting this a day early.


"Has anyone seen Meena?"


As the sun was setting, a lady's maid with light brown skin tone, who was issuing instructions to the other maids in the mansion next to the castle, noticed that one of the girls was missing.


The lakeside castle was one of Dandall's guest houses, borrowed by the royal family for the sake of the First Princess' recuperation. Although it was a castle, it wasn't very large, so servants, soldiers and normal maids were given rooms in this adjacent mansion.

The royal palace also sent in a lady's maid, but they couldn't send dozens of them, so instead dozens of maids were sent from Dandall and its related noble houses to assist.

The young girl named Meena was one of the maids sent by one such noble house, and her background check confirmed that she was the daughter of a merchant working as an apprentice maid to learn good manners.

Meena was a serious, hard-working, but slightly lacking in common sense girl that fed her lunch to stray cats, so the lady's maid kept a close eye on her.


The lady's maid, who was a high-ranking maid working in the royal palace serving the royal family, gazed around searchingly. One of the maids standing by in the mansion raised her hand fearfully.


"U-um...Ms Sera. Meena is probably bringing food to the newly arrived child."

"A child? Who brought that child?"

"The adventurer who came two days ago...though I haven't seen the child myself."

"...Viro, huh."


About a month ago, Sera "requested" some trustworthy people to introduce a quick-witted child to her.

A certain knight brought in a nine-year-old boy, who seemed to be a relative's child. He was clever to some extent, but had never done any kind of subordinate work. After a few days he reached his limit and resigned.

A certain person from a merchant house brought in a ten-year-old girl, who was clever and performed any kind of work with pleasure, but it seemed that her parents whispered something in her ear. She was clearly manoeuvring to gain a connection with a high-ranking noble house. When the person who introduced her noticed it, they bowed their head and took her back home.


The reason why Sera specifically wanted a child was partially because she wanted a guardian with the point of view of a child, but also because she had the intention of securing capable personnel for the future.

If she just wanted a guardian, Sera's six-year-old son, whom she brought with her, would have been enough. She thought it would be good to have that child become a reliable colleague to her son in the future when the Crown Prince became a King and planned for it, but there were fewer usable children under ten than she expected.


Sera was a knight of the black ops, which was under direct service of Margrave Melrose.

There were a total of 427 knights in the dark ops, most of whom were scattered throughout the country. They replenished their members by recruiting from Melrose's subordinate families and their branches, as well as scouts or the like that they came to know through the military or trusted contacts. Still, they were lacking manpower when it came to collecting information all over the country...as well as other countries.

The black ops was so lacking in knights that Sera, who was still in her late twenties and was doing behind-the-scenes work after her marriage, had no choice but to return to the field and take command.


And finally, about two days ago just before the deadline, the adventurer Viro brought with him a child.

The adventuring party Rainbow Sword was one of the most distinguished rank 5 parties in this country. Although a few of the members had changed several times, she had known the veteran Viro since the manticore subjugation about ten years ago.

At present, Rainbow Sword was on hiatus, but Viro accepted a personal request to provide part of the security for the area.

At the time of the request, she had asked him casually on a whim to introduce to her a usable child, but when he came to greet her he didn't say anything so she had forgotten about it until now.


The introduced children were managed by Castro, a former adventurer scout.

He, too, was introduced by Viro. A man with an inflexible personality, but one who was also overly serious and could be trusted with behind-the-scenes work.

Where did Castro place that child? Two days should have been enough for some kind of report, even if the child turned out to be unusable, but there was nothing from him.

And then, if there was something to be concerned about, it was the report that a few days ago a goblin subjugation took place several kilometres away on the border of this territory, and it was known that several goblins had managed to escape.

There would be no problem if the child was assigned to work on castle grounds, but...


"Call Castro. Immediately."

"Gugaaaaahhhh!!?"


The hobgoblin screamed in agony as the needle dagger that should have pierced its skull was repelled and slid across its face before piercing the bottom of its neck.

...Surprise attack failed. That instant I came to a decision and immediately jumped away from the now rampaging hobgoblin towards another goblin that was still stunned and unable to grasp the situation. While spinning horizontally I pulled the weighted string from my waistband and swung it downwards.

Having practised, I was certain I could hit a stationary target by channelling my magic power through the braided strands of my hair.

Thunk!

"...Gukah..."

The mass of copper coins, which I had increased to twenty, easily reaped the goblin's consciousness after hitting it straight on top of its head. I thrust the needle dagger into the throat of the falling goblin, creating a fatal wound, and rolled away to put some distance between me and the group of goblins.


"Gugagagaga—"

The hobgoblin had been holding its face in pain, but its angry, hateful eyes were aimed at me through its fingers. The other three goblins, finally realising an enemy appeared, hurriedly readied their rusty daggers.

"..."

At any rate, that skull was way too thick...I knew it was partly because I was not strong enough, but it was outside of my calculations that I couldn't kill it with a surprise attack from right above it using all my weight.

The impact had left my hands feeling slightly numb. It wasn't enough to hinder my movement, but it did bother me a little. If this were a human being, the wound on the neck alone would have been fatal, but as expected of a monster, it had a strong vitality.


♢ Hobgoblin

⦗Magic Power: 65/68⦘⦗Stamina: 214/340⦘

◼Comprehensive Combat Strength: 96 (During Body Strengthening: 111) 5Down


But its stamina was considerably reduced. Its combat strength was also reduced somehow, which appeared to be because its left eye was crushed when its face was being gouged out.

Upon closer inspection, the tip of the needle dagger was missing. I thought it was steel, but it's just cast iron... What should I do? The way I was now, I couldn't see a way to kill the hobgoblin while also dealing with the goblins.


"Guoooooooooo!!!"

"Gugya." "Gyagya." "Gyagah!"

The hobgoblin kept pressing one hand on its face and pointed at me with the other, making its goblin underlings attack me in a panic. Such action allowed me to see a slight chance of victory.

If they came at me all at once, I would have had no choice but to run away until I ran out of stamina. But there must have been a reason why the hobgoblin didn't move itself.

Several possibilities surfaced from the "knowledge" in my head, so I instinctually chose the most likely one amongst them. When I turned around and started running, only the goblins came chasing after me with the hobgoblin screaming in anger behind them.

...Was I right?


There was no way the brain would be safe after an impact that numbed my hands and snapped the dagger's tip. Surely the hobgoblin got a concussion from that. Evidence to that was the slight trembling in its legs as it stepped forward to chase after me.

But I couldn't focus all my attention on the hobgoblin alone. Even the low-ranked goblins chasing after me had a combat strength equal to mine.


I had fought goblins once. When we were attacked by three goblins on the highway, Viro told me to "practice" by killing them alone one by one. The numbers were the same, but this time I had to deal with three of them at the same time.

The combat strength of goblins was about the same as the adults in town, but just as Viro said, in the end combat strength was nothing more than a rough estimate.

Although higher magic power increased the combat strength, in the end that only increased the number of times you could use a Battle Technique and for how long you could fight, so unless you were a magic user, it wouldn't increase your offensive ability.

When it came to goblins, they were stupid but cunning and brutal. They would strike wherever you were the weakest without hesitation, but this could also be used to create an opening.


"Gugya?"

As I ran, I casually threw back the dagger that had become shorter, which the foremost goblin dodged in an exaggerated manner. That took about a second. Seeing that its gaze was definitely drawn towards that dagger, I threw a throwing knife at its exposed throat.

"Gya—"

The knife stabbed its shoulder instead of its throat, but in the first place I didn't think I could defeat the goblin with just that. In that instant, I stepped closer to it and swung my weighted string down.

Thunk! With a dull sound, the weight struck the right side of the goblin's head. It shifted slightly from my target. Confirming the goblin hasn't lost its consciousness, I took my next action.

Before I was able to finish off this goblin, the next one drew near. Making a display of hesitating to pick up the dagger, the goblin grinned. It threw away its own rusty dagger and picked up the fine-looking one before attacking me.

Slice!!

"...Guggya."

The goblin wielded the dagger like a normal one, striking me on the shoulder. The black knife I had drawn sliced through the goblin's neck, sending up a spray of blood.


Goblins were said to be able to see well in the dark, but that didn't mean they had the Night Vision skill. They could only catch the same amount of light as a wild animal, so this one didn't even notice that the dagger's sides didn't have an edge.

Experiment over. I wondered whether some of the goblins may have acquired the Night Vision skill, but that didn't seemed to be the case.

Just as planned, their numbers decreased. I erased the presence I was previously showing and slipped into the shadow of a tree. The third goblin was bewildered from suddenly losing sight of me. I crept up to it and I thrust my knife diagonally to avoid the bones, piercing its heart.


"...G-gugya..."

It was then that the first goblin finally recovered from the damage. It saw its dead comrades and looked around, searching for me. It hadn't found me yet since I was using Stealth. But I wasn't careless and didn't approach unprepared. I took a few throwing knives and carefully took aim.

"Gyaah!?"

The knife I threw stabbed the shoulder once again. Where should I aim to snatch away its combat strength with one blow? Where should I pierce to kill it with one blow? There was no better training than a real fight. The more danger your life was in, the higher the efficiency should be.

The next knife stabbed its arm, making the rusty knife the goblin was holding fall into the darkness. And then, the goblin finally started running away. When I threw a knife at its back, it flew more cleanly than I expected and pierced the goblin's medulla oblongata.

Could it be...I learned it?


I was curious, but there was no time to leisurely verify it. As I hurriedly retrieved my throwing knives, the hobgoblin, finally able to move, caught up with me.

...So it already stopped bleeding, huh. That's why monsters with strong vitality are troublesome.


"Gugooooooooooooooh!!!"


The hobgoblin roared in anger, perhaps because it found its underlings dead, or because he found the wounded me. I simply watched it with cold eyes.

What are you angry about? You're an enemy, right? What's wrong with enemies killing each other?


As if it heard my thoughts, the hobgoblin roared in anger once again.

Author's Note

Next time, Hobgoblin Fight - Last Part.


It will probably come out on Thursday.

Translator's Note

The two children's gender isn't specified, but I decided to make them a boy and a girl because constantly using "they" sounds awkward in English. They won't appear in the future anyway, as far as I remember.


The use of the word "knight" when referring to the one who brought Sera the first child is meant to mean someone who was knighted. As in, a person who had done a worthy deed and was awarded peerage just for their generation, which is lower than a baron's peerage. Someone you'd address with Sir or Dame.

Mentioning this because I think this may be alluding to a character that will appear in the future. I've got no clue who the person from the merchant family is, though.


This author seems to like to use "medulla oblongata" instead of simply "brain". I though to just translate it as "brain", but I can see how it's a somewhat important detail (this is a real weak point that can be easily accessed due to the structure of the cranium), and since the author didn't use the Japanese words for "brain", "cerebrum" or "spinal cord".

I guess you can still imagine it correctly if it was just "pierced the brain", but still... By the way, "medulla oblongata" in Japanese is pronounced as "enzui", so it does sound cooler in Japanese.

Differences when compared to the light novel

Legend:

  • [+] Something that was added in the light novel.
  • [–] Something that didn't make it into the light novel.
  • [≠] Some difference in details.
Show differences
  • [+] Detail about how Sera is one of the knights that can do combat at a high enough level as to be able to corner the enemy.
  • [≠] In the web novel it says that Sera knew Viro since a manticore subjugation about ten years ago, but in the light novel it says that it was House Melrose that was in a friendly relationship with Rainbow Sword since more than a hundred years ago.
  • [≠] In the web novel the amount of copper coins for the weighted string was increased to 20 (which was 10 before), but in the light novel it increased to 15.
  • [≠] In the light novel the newly appraised magic power of the hobgoblin is: 63/68. Also, the light novel added an additional "Rank 2" listed next to the name, since Aria became aware of what type of monster it was.
  • [≠] In the light novel the tip of the needle dagger was bent, while in the web novel it straight out broke.
  • [≠] There are quite a few slight differences when it comes to the fight explanation, but I either used some myself while translating or they were too slight to bother mentioning. I also moved some lines around like in the light novel, since it read better that way.

Join my Discord server to talk to me and other readers in real time.

If you've enjoyed my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon.