Great! Just Great!
Mr Thomas gave him a queer look.
“Every forty to fifty years the Great Forest explodes with activity. Most of the tribes and intelligent creatures tend to take up arms and fight for territory. It is not large-scale war but rather like skirmishes between different tribes. The Goblin tribe are the closest to us but they live relatively far inside the forest. During that time they usually tend to conduct raids on the farms and villages near the borders.”
“Eh? What border, you mean THIS BORDER?”
It suddenly dawned on Mr Thomas what was wrong with this conversation.
“Ah, didn’t you know the reason why these villages have a larger than normal patrol and garrison defense?
Why adventurers and mercenary parties keep passing through?
Border villages are warning indicators for the Empire. When a village gets attacked the army will know where to mobilize its defense soldiers.”
Chu stared at Thomas who was staring back at him also.
“Are you saying that these villages are in essence expendable?”
“Well I think that is how you can look at it. The main base of resistance to these raids and skirmishes are usually the towns. The lands in front usually serve as the battlefield zone.”
Chu’s jaw dropped and refused to close.
It was now Mr Thomas’s time to make a wry grin.
“Somehow I get the feeling that you did not know about this event.”
“Damn! You think?!”
Chu jumped up and started to pace around the floor.
He could just imagine himself four or five years sipping tea and relaxing only to suddenly find himself in a war zone. Worse yet it was with some alien species he knew nothing about.
He calmed himself down. Well this was why he was so thirsty for information in the first place. It was to avoid being caught up in the unexpected. Who knows if this world had some stampeding beast run or other crazy wonders.
There was no Internet, no satellite to provide real-time news on events. In a world which information flowed slower that snail mail, he as a person born in the information age was screwed.
He finally understood the meaning when they say if you take things for granted beware that someday it might turn around and bite you in the ass.
‘Great! Just Great!’
Chu cleared his head and softly asked a question.
“Do you know anything about the last time these raids happened?’
Mr Thomas moved his hands to his chin in a thoughtful manner.
“I think most of the activity centered around the villages to the north, mostly far up to those around the west of Frost City. Back then my friends and I had not reached that city yet.”
Chu understood why such major activity did not mean much to these uneducated villagers. News of events happening outside the village were mostly for the benefit of merchants and travelers making their way across the Empire.
For people who were struggling to live day by day and make ends meet, this was just rumors that did not concern them. His time interacting with Griz was too short to discuss something that may or may not happen.
No matter, apparently those raids and skirmishes tend to happen to the northern villages near the forest. Unless some major or catastrophic incident occurred to cause those tribes to migrate and move south within the forest, he was safe for another fifty years.
Chu made a face like he was ready to cry.
“Amm…Mr Thomas do you have any idea how those tribes and demon beast interact with each other?”
Thomas took a little while to answer. He was a person who liked to sort out the facts before replying.
“What we know is not much, the Empire does not have much interaction with the tribes living in the Western forest. Our borders technically end at the forest and expansion is too much of a risk given the majority of the soldiers are focused at the northern border.
You may not be aware, but demon beast require human hearts and brains to evolve. Apparently for some reason we are their first choice, if we are scarce then they turn to the other races. Forest dwellers tend to take no chances and quickly move away.”
Chu was this close to bursting into tears.
“So lets say our friends in the forest up north realized that there was a dangerous demon beast around. Is it safe to say that they would move away?”
“Correct. But like I said, most of the tribes have their own fixed territory. Most likely their only way to move would be to the south and not deeper into the forest. They would not try to move into Empire territory, they are smart to know that is the focal point of the demons. Why should they put themselves in the crossfire between humans and demons?”
The tears were now welling up in his eyes.
“So a logical and sane statement would be that the raiders who were present in the north would have most likely migrated to the south. If their scouts find no signs of the demon beast, I am guessing they would begin raids as they move northwards?”
Mr Thomas nodded approvingly.
“Good inference. I think you have the mind of a genius strategist in the making. Such thinking is worthy of a commander in the Military.
Wait!?… Why are you crying? I was complementing you…”
Any person with a sound mind could reason the conclusion Chu came to. Chu was crying simply because any creature with intelligence would arrive at the same answer.
If placed in the shoes of the Goblin Tribe it was easy to guess what might happen in the near future. The chief would surely move south to avoid confrontation between the other tribes, humans and the prowling demon.
Given time the scouts may finally return joyous with the news that the demon has moved on. Whenever the war breaks out the tribe would just keep their usual lands. Of course what better way to fight than to raid the defenseless human farms.
Why fight a deadly battle in the forest when you could raid and gain abundant resources.
Skirmishes for free resources was the best!
To the boy who had some large tears flowing down his face it was far from such a situation.
His little mansion and spread would be one of the first to be noticed and raided.
Just when he believed he pulled himself up he was given a heavy blow. He was now beginning to feel confident in able to tackle those wild animals. Now he had to step up and deal with a more troublesome foe.
“Why doesn’t the army send out some soldiers to reinforce the villages?”
Thomas shook his head.
“Do you know why it’s called the Great Western Forest? This forest runs along the entire western border of the empire. Only to the south do we have a path to the Myriad kingdom. It is too large an expanse to protect by splitting the soldiers.”
He continued speaking as if to himself.
“Sometimes bad things can work in our favor. I remember reading a report about a large bandit group that prowled the western grasslands. The bounties for goblin raiders are huge so I am sure they would gobble up most of those attackers.”
Chu nearly burst into hysterical laughter.
Unfortunately those Mong bandits were now bearing the brunt of the attacks by the Military. By clearing away one pest he had unconsciously opened the door for another.
He paced the ground slowly with one hand on his chin. Mr Thomas remained silent so as not to disturb him. The only sounds were from the hammering and burst of conversation between Ming and Clod.
Run away to Karst and start over?
Too hard. He had come to far to try to take unnecessary chances in a place full of people. Children like them were simply begging to be taken advantage off.
Secure himself in the village?
That would be risking himself among those ignorant people. Who knows if one day they decide to sacrifice the children for some greater good. Chu had come to the belief that nothing was impossible for ignorant people to accomplish.
“Say Mr Thomas, do you have any idea how large these raiding parties are?”
Thomas looked at him in surprise. He was half expecting the boy to hightail it out of here after learning about this situation.
“Not sure, but I guess a raiding party would be about maybe twenty goblins. If they are desperate to attack a village then maybe it would number in the hundreds. Usually they tend to focus on hit and run tactics so they concentrate on the farms.”
Chu nodded. He would do the same in their position. Since they were ranked as one of the weaker tribes, it was a fact that they would like these types of ambush attacks. Farms made perfect targets, low risk with high rewards.
By separating their troops, in one night they could strike multiple targets and make off with the loot long before troops began to mobilized. Like Thomas said, only if they were truly desperate would they attack a fortified village.
He would be lying to himself if he said he was not worried but the merchant blood inside was beginning to boil. This event might just seem manageable.
A part of him was also itching to face something out of legends. It would be a shame to be tossed into a strange world only to live like a coward.
“Hey Mr Thomas, can you take on a goblin in combat as you are now?”
Thomas scoffed and turned up his face in disdain.
“Kid, even with my limp and one hand I can kill one of those bandits in just over a minute. With a crossbow they would dead within sixty paces.”
Chu clapped his hands in appreciation.
“Oh, very good. Tell me, how long will it take to train some newbies such as that hard-headed oaf across there to take out a goblin safely?”
Mr Thomas glanced at Ming.
“I think two years with some live practice will make him more than able to deal with a goblin one on one. Three years of learning the Military sword skills would ensure his safety by a mile.”
Thomas quickly added the last part since he felt Chu may have thought the time-frame was too long.
“No problem, we can work with that.”
Thomas felt the boy was taking things too lightly. Raiding Goblins tend to be highly skilled in ambushes. If they failed to spot a party in advance, he along with the three boys would find themselves in a perilous situation.
Not only would they be hard pressed but his wife and daughter would be at the mercy of the raiders. An ambush conducted with larger numbers had a high chance of success. Alone he stood a chance of escape but with the others…
“I think we should try to gain a house in the village it would be…”
Chu waved his hands to stop him.
“I think with your help we should be able to manage. One last question.”
Chu stopped his pacing and looked Mr Thomas in the eye.
“How much is a goblin raider worth to the Empire?”NEXT PAGE