Ultimate Level 1

Chapter 7: What a difference a skill makes
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Chapter 7: What a difference a skill makes

The tree swayed from the forceful winds blowing right now. Sounds similar to the ones he had heard the night before rose from underneath him. Looking down, Max woke up to the sight of four goblins sitting around his campfire.

Unsure how long they had been there, Max watched, keeping himself pressed to the trunk as he peered at the guests he had half expected to show up. It was that reason he had climbed higher up the tree tonight. Sure, having not put any more wood on the fire before he had retired would have been safer, but some light was better than none.

As the leaves rustled and the sound of the trees creaking and cracking, the four goblins were eating something that looked like a rotten carcass. They shrieked at each other and fought over who got what as they tore apart a carcass that had seen better days. Perhaps it was a deer, but Max couldnt decide as it looked smaller than what he would expect for one.

They laughed, pointing pieces of bones with meat on them at each other before depositing them into their teeth-filled maws. In his head, Max started pretending they were telling stories with each other about the time they killed a deer or fought an ogre. Well, maybe not the ogre part because they wouldnt survive that encounter.

Hours went by as they consumed the carcass, speaking in whatever language they had. His eyes struggled to stay open as he watched them do nothing interesting. It seemed they were content to enjoy his fire all night as two of them lugged a large log over, way bigger than should be on the fire he had built, and dropped it on the red coals.

Sparks and embers erupted, sending a fireworks show of sparks into the air. One of them watched the sparks as they rose into the air and up into the tree he was hiding in.

Fear and panic filled Maxs mind as he leaned against the trunk more, pressing himself back so hard that he hoped the bark would allow him to meld with it.

The creature cackled and pointed as the last sparks died out before turning his attention back to the fire his friend had just angered with their offering.

Slowly letting out his breath, Max felt his heart pounding hard enough to burst through his ribs and take off running through the forest.

He turned his head at a snail's pace and watched as two goblins lay down on the ground near the fire. Each of them held a small spear in their hands as they closed their eyes. The one who had glanced up was holding a small dagger-like blade, more like a piece of metal with a piece of cloth wrapped around the end of it.

The largest one had a piece of wood with some rope tied around it that it probably considered a shield, along with a wooden club sitting on the ground. He was barking at the one with the dagger, and it appeared to upset him greatly.

The larger one pointed his finger at him multiple times, motioning away from the fire. The dagger-wielding goblin whined a few times before letting out a grunt, turning as it moved to a tree a bit further away, leaning against it. The goblin who had just ordered it over there gave a few more instructions that sounded like he would eat it for breakfast and then find its mother and eat her if it fell asleep. Or at least that is what Max convinced himself the goblin had said.

The larger goblin leaned back against the log Max had reclined against while his clothes dried, intertwined its fingers behind its head, and closed its eyes. He moved his feet and wiggled his toes closer to fire as a guttural sigh escaped its crooked lips.

Sitting there in the tree, Max wanted to groan. The sound of the wind in the trees would hide him, but four goblins was not a fight he really wanted to try. As he considered his options, his bladder started to let him know that he needed to answer the call of nature, making him fight to hold back a shout of frustration he really needed to let out. There was no way he would be able to hold this for another five hours or more if he was awake, and falling asleep right now with those four under wasnt going to be an option.

All he could do for now was wait.

Covering his mouth, he fought off a yawn that was doing its best to take hold of him. His leg wanted to twitch, and all he could think about was the stream and the running water. An hour must have already passed. The three goblins under him were sleeping so hard they snored, chasing any living creature away as it echoed through the woods. Max couldnt see the fourth goblin unless he moved from where he sat. No noise had risen up, and he had been expecting it to join its friends near the fire at some point, but it never had.

Perhaps it is asleep. I mean, I would be if I was him.

That seemed like it was to good be true, no matter what he wanted to tell himself. The truth was, he would have to shift and move at some point, and when he did, he might give his position away. His legs were already fighting the pain of having branches digging into the same spot for hours. He had flexed his leg and butt muscles as much as he felt was safe to keep them from locking up on him.

What he wouldnt give for an ally right now.

As he stretched his back, a strong gust of wind came, moving the branches and causing his spear, a few limbs below him, to shift. He held his breath and prayed that it wouldnt fall. Things would be worse if that happened than burning a cake in [Baker] Mitchells kitchen.

Considering what had happened last time when he jumped out of a tree, Max was concerned for a repeat performance. Yet when he started to consider the attack he had done before and repeating it this time, his mind informed him what he had done wrong and how he needed to attack now.

His [Spear] skill filled his mind with how to attack. It told him the distance from the two sleeping goblins and how to hold his spear to reach one. Taking them out first would be the best choice since they were together, and their reach was the biggest threat. Once they were gone, a dagger and a club were nothing against his reach.

Steadying himself, he slowly turned, getting into position to fight. The improved dexterity was paying off already as he felt himself moving swiftly without fear of stumbling or tripping.

Even with the wind blowing and the tree branches moving more than before, his feet felt secure as he crouched in position, holding his mighty weapon at the ready.

This content has been misappropriated from Royal Road; report any instances of this story if found elsewhere.

Taking a breath, he dropped the twelve feet from the tree. This time, his spear went exactly where he wanted it to go. It plunged into the chest of the closest sleeping goblin. As he landed, the spear penetrated the green skin, piercing its body and embedding itself into the ground. Weirdly it created a sound that reminded him of dough farting from rising gas as it rose. The other two goblins barely reacted as they began to wake up from their stupor.

Max rolled after hitting the ground, grabbing the small spear from the one he had just killed. Taking a small step, he drove it quickly into the throat of the one near its fallen comrade. It looked at Max, eyes wide and unable to register the sight of a stick impaled under its chin.

A shriek sounded behind him, causing Max to turn as he saw the goblin with the dagger running toward him. It had not been asleep after all.

His body felt alive, and his mind was filled with excitement as so many different options on how to use the weapon in his hand flooded him. Considering how little he had practiced like he should during all his lessons, it felt weird as his brain put all those drills he had half-assed into motion.

Max turned, shifting his feet, yanking the wooden shaft free from the goblin, grasping onto the spear lodged in its throat as it tried to take its last few breaths. The goblin with the club and shield was still not up, yet the one with the dagger quickly closed the distance toward him.

The screaming goblin charged, holding its dagger in its hand. It had the blade pointed down as if it expected Max to stand there and let it stab him from above.

A smirk appeared as Max dashed forward, his feet moving quickly, keeping a low center of gravity as he flipped the stick around and held onto it with both hands. He saw the goblin's eyes go wide in surprise, the light of the campfire reflecting off the increased surface of its black eyes. It hesitated mid-step as Max lunged, driving his hips and shoulders forward as the small stick pierced its lungs, glancing off a rib while sinking deep into its chest.

It fell forward, yanking the spear with it, but Max knew it would happen. He planted both feet quickly and shifted his weight again as he yanked it from the goblin's chest. It stumbled toward the ground, dropping its weapon as it landed with a thud.

Max spun on his heels, bringing the stick around quickly, barely catching the movement of the goblin with the shield and club. It was on him quicker than expected since it had initially reacted so slowly. Trying to rotate the stick to block the incoming strike, he failed to get it into position before the club smacked his side, knocking the breath out of him and causing a crack to ring in his ears. It just broke a rib or two of his with that blow.

Rolling as it hit, Max struggled to rise as the goblin came at him again, shouting in its language as it pressed the advantage it had.

Max winced as he dashed back, feeling the pain in his chest and struggling to breathe. His hands were shaking, and his arms felt weak on his left side where the club had struck him. Over and over, the goblin kept coming after him, swinging the club with no real strategy as Max used his spear to keep it at a distance, deflecting the strikes.

Frustration filled the goblin's face as it couldnt close the distance. Even with its shield, it wasnt able to get past the jabs that Max was sending out each time it stepped forward. He kept an eye on the area around him, watching the other two who were dying, waiting for what he knew was coming. He just had to wait for one of them to die.

The goblin seemed confused. It knew Max was hurt, and it seemed content to wait also. It would send feints with its club as it tried to find a weak point to attack. It had lowered itself also, becoming a smaller target and able to use its shield more effectively.

Seconds ticked by, and finally, what Max had been waiting on came.

[ 15 Hit Points Consumed ]

Max groaned and then took his first full breath. His left side still had a twinge of pain, but he knew the broken ribs were mostly healed. Max saw the goblins eyes narrow as it watched him breathe differently, and it hesitated. It knew he had been injured. It couldn't understand why Max was suddenly acting as if he wasnt.

Without wasting time, he went on the offensive. Max figured the other one would die in a moment, and he wanted to not waste the chance to take out this last one. The spear in his hand lunged forward as he drove off his back leg, sending attack after attack at the unprepared goblin.

It did everything it could to block with its shield or club, but an attack came at it every other second. The spear slid between his left hand as he drove with his right hand and the power of his hips. He aimed for its head, then the next attack at its leg after it raised the shield to block. The strike hit its quad, causing it to drop its shield only to take another strike to its shoulder.

Max was breathing hard, but the rain of attacks kept coming as he put hole after hole into the goblin. It couldnt even call out as the rain of blows overwhelmed it, and once the number of injuries had weakened it enough, Max thrust his spear into its unprotected neck, hitting an artery and causing the creature to drop to the ground.

[ 6 Hit Points Consumed ]

[ 7 Stamina Consumed ]

The cold feeling he felt rejuvenated him immedietly. His side felt great, and the exhaustion he was beginning to feel was almost gone.

[Simple Stamina Check]

Stamina: 17/20

Leaning against the spear for a moment, another wave of cold hit him.

[ 3 Stamina Consumed ]

Grinning, he checked once more.

[Simple Stamina Check]

Stamina: 20/20

That is so god-like! he shouted to himself as he did a few quick jumps and realized he wasnt tired at all.

Looking at the dead goblins around him, frustration hit that no stat gains had come, and he tried to figure out why. Their stats were not high enough anymore to give him any. The dog was faster than him it must have been why he had gotten a point of dexterity.

Moving to the goblins, he started dragging them a little bit away from the campfire, knowing soon enough they would empty their bowels, and he did not want to smell that again. As he dragged them along the dirt, he felt their skin and noticed it for the first time. It had a weird, leathery feeling to it. Almost like a dried fruit roll that he had eaten once. Not that he wanted to eat their skin right now.

Looking at the four dead bodies, he shook himself as their smell hit his nostrils. None of them had any clothes worth taking, but he had heard something jingle as he moved the one with the shield. Bending over, he started rummaging through its belongings and found a small pouch tied inside its shirt with a piece of rope.

Inside were fourteen coppers, two buttons, a couple of small bones, and a rock. In his opinion, everything but the copper was basically junk, but he kept them all for now. Glancing down at the corpses, he groaned at what was to come next, fighting the vomit that threatened to come up.

You can do this, Max muttered to himself as he pulled his knife out.

He grabbed one of the ears and started cutting it off. Then he stopped a second later and turned to the side, emptying his stomach of what was inside it.

Or maybe I cant, he grumbled, wiping his mouth with his torn sleeve. Looking at his clothes, he realized the choices were to starve and be naked or get this done and go into town with trophies he could make money off of.

Sighing, he took a breath, grabbed the ear he had partially cut off, and groaned again.

Just get this over with

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