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Two down, one to go. Helial was exhausted, but at the same time he clearly perceived the freedom and the shooting pain in his shoulder.

Malus Received:

Moderate Bleeding

You lose 5HP/Sec until the bleeding stops.

He brutally tugged at the arrow lodged in his shoulder and let out a horrifying scream. Pain was clouding his mind. He was trying to exercising all his willpower, commanding his body not to faint.

If he fainted he would have died for sure. Killed either by the Goblin or the blood loss.

The Goblin was already nocking a second arrow and soon it was going to shoot it. It must be said that Goblins are not skill archers like the Elves, but it doesn't take much to hit a still target.

Suddenly, Helial got an idea. He turned around and started running in a circle. It was a pretty unorthodox method, but it could work. He activated Mana Reflowing and Communion with Mana. The bleeding slowed down. Helial only hoped that the Goblin couldn't aim that well.

Fiuuu!

An arrow swept just a couple of inches from his neck. Alright, maybe it wasn't a brilliant idea.

Fiuuu! Fiuuu! Fiuuu!

Several arrows threatened to strike him, but he managed to dodge them all at the last minute. The Goblin looked very frustrated. He had seen three of its mates died at the hand of that human cub. How could it let it go? But it seemed that the arrows changed direction a second before hitting him. The Goblin nock a new arrow very slowly and took its time to aim carefully.

Skill Activated:

Precision Shot!

Effects:

The probability of hitting the target increases by 50%!

The strength of the shot increases by 20%!

Shit, thought Helial. He had seen the Skill that the Goblin was about to use. He took out of the Inventory Curse of the Demon. He had no chance to dodge that arrow but he was hoping to stop it. After all, the black Longsword was really cumbersome and the blade almost covered him completely.

The arrow left the bow directed towards Helial's head.

The boy planted his feet on the ground, driving them in the soil. He put a hand flat of the blade, while with the other he gripped the hilt tight. It shouldn't have been a big problem using the sword to block one single arrow, right?

DONG!

The arrow hit the Longsword fair and square. Helial had to take three or four steps back. His wrist were hurting after the impact. His favorite Stat was almost down to zero, his current Strength was that of a common fifteen-year-old, with no military training. He fell to the ground, but luckily the Goblin needed more than ten seconds to recharge the Skill.

Helial was on his last legs but stood up anyway. He had recovered enough life and the bleeding had stopped. He had managed to get rid of the Malus, now he only had to get rid of the Goblin.

On the greenish forehead of the Goblin there were several beads of sweat. It was nervous: it didn't think that it would have been so difficult to get rid of the enemy. It also felt confused. How did the boy manage to take such a huge leap backwards while holding that giant Longsword? It suddenly made up its mind. Since it was too worried about its wellbeing, it started to run in the same direction where it came from. It had a family that could not survive alone the tough hierarchy of Goblin society.

Helial's eyes widened. The Goblin was about to call for backup! He couldn't let it. He began running after it, panting heavily. He was pushing his own body further than ever before. He started condensing Mana on the four fingers, preparing Mana Pistol.

The Goblin was terrified by the human cub chasing him. It couldn't abandon his woman. Its lady Goblin worked in a textile factory that produced the pants wore by the army. It would have been too hard to raise the kids alone. If it had died, another Goblin would have married its woman, maybe even with force, and then it would have got rid of the children.

Skill Activated:

Mana Pistol

BOOM!

Archer Goblin lost 1300 HP!

Archer Goblin suffered a Malus!

Serious bleeding

The enemy is losing 10 HP per second and cannot regenerate HP points.

Helial hadn't aimed very carefully and missed the trunk of the Goblin, though he hit it in the leg, shattering its knee.

Kwiiii!

The Goblin let out a bloodcurdling scream. Helial started condensing the Mana straight away. He couldn't let it go.

"Please, don't kill me. I won't tell anybody you're in the forest!" pleaded the Archer Goblin. It couldn't die right there!

Helial ignored it and approached slowly. He felt the piercing smell of blood filling his nostrils. The shot had severed the blood vessels in the leg and blood was pouring copiously on the grass. There was a large pool of blood already, and the Goblin probably would have died because of the blood loss, even without the finishing blow. Helial though was sure the best thing to do was doing away with it as quickly as possible: he had already walked too far from where his sister was hiding.

BOOM!

He finally got rid of that bloodthirsty monster. The Goblin was lying on the ground, dead. Its face was almost unrecognizable. Where his head had been, now there was only a gooey mess of blood and shattered bones. Helial had not given the beast another chance to scream or beg. He had killed it before it could raise in him any feelings of compassion, before it could convince him to let it go free and then call for backup that the boy would not have been able to face.

The notification windows popped up.

Thanks to that group he had gain quite a little Exp. Now he must go back to his sister. They had to reach the city as soon as possible. They couldn't stay there any longer, that area was swarming with Goblins.

Helial sat down on the soft grass for a while. His exhausted body was covered in an enormous amount of blood. He dropped on his back and let out a terrifying, almost monstrous, laughter. He looked like a demon with all his satisfaction pouring out of his gaping mouth. He spat a mouthful and blood and saliva on the ground, holding his wheezing chest. In his eyes sparkled a ferocity completely inappropriate for a boy his age. He stared at the immensity of the heavens and at their deep colors, their ethereal and fleeting greatness, their freedom.

Ah, freedom. So difficult to obtain, yet so easy to lose. So expensive. It takes away your compassion, but it gives you unrivalled powers. Every time it demands something different in return: that time it demanded the lives of a handful of Goblins.

Few people could have succeeded. Helial had faced four Goblins alone, coming out a winner! No one would have thought that a fifteen-year-old boy, nearly crippled by a Curse, could achieve such results.

Helial knew this but instead of being happy he wondered what he could do once freed from the Malus of Curse of the Demon.

The Exp points of the Mission and of killing the Goblins had made him go up two levels. He absolutely needed to reach the First Phase and have Vidio teach him some Offensive Skills; Mana Pistol was far from enough.

Damn old fart, always thinking about women. I got almost kill and it was all your fault, he thought.

"I need to get rid of that fucking Curse, then I will able to use Strength in melee combat", whispered Helial, his eyes flashing with determination.

He couldn't keep fighting unsure of his own survival, it was too risky. He needed a real weapon and some equipment.

Before that moment, Helial's life had always been grey and miserable, but for some sporadic rays of sunshine. It was the first time that he felt really satisfied with himself. Even though he was not strong or at a high level, he had managed to fight for his own freedom, for his own life. That feeling was overwhelming him. He was free.

He decided that from that moment on he would have never made compromises for his own life. He had been making compromises for the past ten years to protect his sister. But that wasn't life, it was no different from the grim survival of animals in a barn, waiting to be butchered. That's what they had been until now, animals for slaughter. He was done accepting that kind of life for himself and his sister. It was time something changed. This was his turning point.

He got up, exalted and covered in blood, and ran towards the tree where his sister was hiding. When he saw her he hugged her, glad to still be able to hold her in his arms.

Why did Helial feel all that urge to kill? After so many wait and years of subjugation, he could not tolerate abuse anymore, and even more that feeling of impotence, of having to stay still. Even though Helial was not especially proud, he yearned for the dignity of a free man.

He didn't feel any remorse for killing all those Goblins. All monsters, Helial told himself to clear his conscience.

Lumia was confused and noticed only the pungent smell of blood that drifted off his brother. "Why do you have so much blood on you?" she asked. During all the fight she had stayed hidden, so she was completely unaware of what had happened.

"I took out four Goblins!" Helial laughed smugly, almost showing off in front of his sister. But the girl had a dark look on her face.

"You are happy you killed someone?" asked Lumia, with a trace of disgust. "What is there to be happy about? They are not monsters of cave beasts. Old Mei in the village always said that all the humanoid races have a common ancestor. Why are you happy?"

Helial went near Lumia and hugged her. The piercing smell of blood nearly made Lumia gag.

With a solemn expression, Helial began his speech: "Freedom comes at a price. Today the price was the lives of those Goblins. Tomorrow? I don't know."

"Did you really have to…"

"I don't regret it, you know… this is the first time I didn't feel helpless, I could fight. Today I took a step forward, after so many years standing still. You know that we are not in a rosy situation, right? Ad I'm not talking about the Goblins."

Lumia nodded hesitantly, holding tight her brother's shirt. Now, drenched in all that blood, it almost looked like its original color, a deep burgundy.

Helial ran a hand over his face to wipe the drops of blood. " Let's go, from now on we won't have to be strong to walk with our head held high. I have no intentions of bowing down anymore. From now on, whoever will stand between us and freedom will die, including our brother. This is my path."

Helial breathed deeply, as if to savor fully his freedom. Up until now, he had always feared retaliation from his brother's side. But now that his brother had given him a weapon, Helial could finally escape and become as strong as possible before facing him again. The weapon meant that it was time for him to put himself out there. His brother thought he was done for, he thought his Curse of the Demon had sealed his death. But for Helial this was a chance. Where his brother had seen a death sentence, Helial had found a tiny hope to get free from the demons that hunted him.
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