Chapter 1: The Fate of Some Adventurers

The brutal fight over, he ground his boot into slain goblin’s cadaver.

He was stained crimson with the monster’s blood, from his grimy steel helm and leather armor to the mail made of chain-linked metal rings that covered his entire body.

A small, battered shield was fastened to his left arm, and in one hand, he held a brightly burning torch.

Heel braced against the creature’s corpse, he reached down with his free hand and casually withdrew his sword from its skull. It was a cheap-looking blade, its length poorly conceived, and now it was drenched in the goblin’s brains.

Lying on the ground, an arrow in her shoulder, the young girl’s thin frame shook with fear. Her sweet, classically lovely face framed by long hair almost a translucent gold was scrunched up into a mess of tears and sweat.

Her slim arms, her feet—her whole gorgeous body was clad in the vestments of a priestess. The sounding staff she clutched jangled, the rings hanging on it striking one another in time with the quaking of her hands.

Who was this man before her?

So strange was his appearance, the aura that cloaked him, that she imagined he might be a goblin himself—or perhaps something far worse, something she had no knowledge of yet.

“Wh-who are you…?” she asked, pushing down her terror and pain.

After a pause, the man answered, “Goblin Slayer.”

A killer. Not of dragons or vampires, but the lowliest of monsters: goblins.

Normally, the name might have seemed comically simple. But to Priestess, at that moment, it was anything but funny.


You’ve heard this one before.

The day an orphan raised in the Temple turns fifteen, they become an adult and must choose their path: Will they remain in the Temple as a servant of the goddess, or will they leave and try to make their way in the greater world?

Priestess had chosen the latter, and a visit to the Adventurers Guild was how she had chosen to do it.

The Adventurers Guild—created to support those courageous questing souls—was first formed, so it was said, by a handful of people who met one another in a bar. Unlike other workers’ associations, the Adventurers Guild was less a labor union than an employment agency. In the ongoing war between the monsters and “those who have language,” adventurers were like mercenaries. No one would tolerate the existence of armed toughs if they were not managed carefully.

Priestess stopped in her tracks as the vast branch office that stood directly inside the town gates took her breath away. When she entered the lobby, she was taken aback to find it bustling with adventurers, even though it was still morning.

These buildings boasted large inns and taverns—usually together—as well as a business office, all in one. Really, this kind of clamor was the natural result of providing these three services in one place.

For every ordinary human in plate armor, there was an elven mage with staff and mantle. Here there was a bearded, ax-wielding dwarf; there, one of the little meadow-dwelling folk known as rheas. Priestess wound her way through the crowd, past males and females of every race and age imaginable carrying every possible type of weapon, toward Guild Girl. The line snaked on and on, full of people who had come to take on or lodge a quest or to file a report.

A spear-wielding adventurer was chatting with one covered in heavy armor.

“And? How was the manticore in the pass?”

“It wasn’t much. If you want a big one, I think you’d better try the ruins or something.”

“Fair enough, but you’re never gonna put food on the table that way.”

“Hey, I’ve heard there’s an evil spirit making trouble up near the Capital. Whoever goes over there might be in for a nice payday, hey?”

“Maybe I could handle it, if it’s just some low-level demon…”

Priestess was brought up short no less than three times listening to their casual conversation, and each time she pulled her sounding staff close to herself to steel her resolve.

“…Soon I will also…!”

She had no illusions that an adventurer’s lot was an easy one. Priestess had seen firsthand the wounded return from the dungeon, coming to the Temple, begging for a healing miracle. And healing such people was precisely the creed of the Earth Mother.

How could she shrink away, then, from putting herself in danger to do as she had been taught? She was an orphan, and the Temple had saved her. And now it was her turn to repay that debt…

“Yes, what brings you here today?”

The line had steadily moved along while Priestess stood lost in thought, and now it was her turn.

Wearing a gentle expression, Guild Girl attending her was a girl, still young, but older than Priestess. Her immaculate outfit was impeccably kept, her light brown hair woven into braids. A quick glance around the hall left no doubt the guild front desk would be a demanding place to work. That the receptionist showed none of the strained demeanor all too common among professional young women was perhaps a sign of how well she knew her job.

Priestess felt a bit of her nervousness ebb. She swallowed and spoke up.

“Uh, I…I want to be an…an adventurer.”

“Is that…right?” Guild Girl asked, her sweet expression momentarily slipping as she hesitated briefly, seemingly at a loss for words. Priestess felt the receptionist’s eyes moving from her face down her body, and strangely embarrassed, she nodded.

The feeling faded as Guild Girl reassumed a smile and said, “I see. Can you read and write?”

“Um, yes, a little. I learned at the Temple…”

“Then fill this out, please. If there’s anything you don’t understand, just ask.”

It was an Adventure Sheet. Gold letters paraded across the light brown vellum.

Name, sex, age, class, hair color, eye color, body type, skills, spells, miracles… Such simple information. So simple it almost didn’t seem right.

“Oh,” Guild Girl broke in, “you can leave the ‘Abilities’ and ‘Adventure History’ spots blank. The guild will fill those in later.”

“Y-yes, ma’am.” Priestess nodded, and then with a quivering hand, she picked up a pen, dipped it in an inkpot, and began writing in precise letters.

She handed the finished sheet to Guild Girl, who looked it over with a nod, then took a silver stylus and carved a series of flowing letters into a white porcelain tile. She passed the tile to Priestess, who discovered it bore the same information as her Adventure Sheet in closely spaced letters.

“This will serve as your identification. We call it your ‘Status.’ Although,” she added teasingly, “it doesn’t say anything we can’t figure out by looking at you.” Then she calmly told the blinking Priestess, “It will be used to corroborate your identity if anything happens to you, so try not to lose it.”

If anything happens?

For a second, Priestess was caught off guard by Guild Girl’s businesslike tone, but it didn’t take her long to connect the dots. The only time they might need to “corroborate your identity” was when you’d been murdered so horrifically no one could tell who you were.

“Yes, ma’am,” Priestess said, and she wished her voice would stop shaking. “But is it really this easy to become an adventurer…?”

“To become one, yes.”

The other girl’s expression was unreadable. Was she worried or perhaps resigned? Priestess couldn’t tell.

“It’s harder to move up the ranks. That’s based on kills, how much good you’ve done, and personality tests.”

“Personality tests?”

“Sometimes you get the I’m-strong-enough-to-do-it-all-by-myself types.”

Then, under her breath, she added, “But there are all kinds of eccentrics out there.” And when she said it, for an instant her demeanor changed. Softened into a warm, wistful smile.

Oh, Priestess thought, I didn’t realize she could smile like that.

Guild Girl noticed Priestess watching her and hastily cleared her throat. “Quests are posted over there.” She indicated a corkboard that covered almost an entire wall. “Choose ones that are appropriate to your level, of course.”

Pickings were slim, since the huge crowd of adventurers had been going over the board all morning. But the Guild wouldn’t have a board that size if they didn’t need it.

“Personally,” the receptionist said, “I’d recommend getting your feet wet by cleaning the sewers. No pun intended.”

“Cleaning the sewers? I thought adventurers fought monsters…?”

“There’s honor in hunting giant rats, too. And you’ll be doing some real good in the world.” She added under her breath, “Newcomers with a little experience could move on to goblins, I guess,” and there was that wordless look again.

“Well, that’s it for registration. Happy hunting!”

“Oh, th-thank you.” Priestess ducked her head in gratitude and left the front desk. She hung the porcelain tablet around her neck and let out a breath she had been holding. She was a registered adventurer. It was just that simple.

But what am I supposed to do now?

Priestess carried only her staff (the symbol of her office), a bag with a change of clothes, and a few coins.

She had heard the second floor of the Guild building was aimed at low-level adventurers. Maybe she should start by reserving a room, then see what kinds of quests were available…

“Hey, wanna go adventuring with us?”


The unexpected invitation came from a young man with a sword at his hip and a shiny breastplate tied to his chest. Like Priestess, he had a brand-new porcelain tablet around his neck.

The tablets came in ten varieties indicating the rank of the wearer, from platinum at the top to the porcelain of newly minted adventurers at the very bottom.

“You’re a priestess, right?”

“Um, yes. Yes…I am.”

“Perfect! Exactly what my party needs.”

Just past the young swordsman, she could now see two other girls. One wore a martial artist’s uniform, her hair in a bundle and a confident look in her eye, while the other had a staff and glasses, wearing a cool gaze.

A fighter and a wizard, she guessed.

Warrior followed her glance and repeated, “My party,” with a nod. “We’re on an urgent quest, but I’d like at least one more person. How about you?”

“What do you mean, ‘urgent’…?”

“We’re gonna get rid of some goblins!”

Goblins. Goblins had been living in the caves near town since time immemorial, or so it was said. They were the weakest of the monsters, and sheer numbers were the only thing acting in their favor.

They stood about as tall as a child, with strength and wits to match. All that distinguished them from a small human was their ability to see in the dark. They did all the usual monster things—threaten people, terrorize villages, kidnap maidens.

They were weak, yes, but it was better to let sleeping goblins lie.

The villagers had ignored the goblins at first…but then things changed. First, the crops they had stored up for winter disappeared, down to the last seed. The enraged townspeople mended the fences, then set patrols outside with torches in hand.

The goblins promptly slipped past them.

They stole the sheep, along with the shepherd’s daughter and some womenfolk who came out to see what all the fuss was about.

The villagers were quickly running out of options. They marshaled their meager resources and went to the Guild—the Adventurers Guild, where the adventurers gathered. Surely, posting a quest would bring someone to help.

Um, and…

Priestess stood with a finger to her lips, lost in thought as Warrior reeled off his explanation.

A good old-fashioned goblin hunt for her first adventure. Lots of people had done that. And she hadn’t even needed to find the adventure—the adventure had found her. It had to be fate.

She had never imagined she could do it all herself, anyway. Soloing as a cleric was suicide. She was going to need a party eventually. She was very worried about joining up with total strangers—but someone who had extended an invitation to her wasn’t quite a total stranger, was he? True, no boy had ever invited her to anything before, but there were two other girls there.

So it would be fine…right?

“All right, then. If you’ll have me.”

She replied with a firm nod, and Warrior gave a whoop.

“Really?! Awesome! Now, who’s ready to go on an adventure?!”

“What, just the four of you?” Guild Girl broke in. “I’m sure if you wait a while, some other adventurers will show up…”

It didn’t seem to bother Warrior that Guild Girl herself had felt the need to comment. “It’s just some goblins. I’m sure four people is plenty.” He turned to his companions. “Right?” He sounded so sure, a cheerful smile on his face. Then he turned back to Guild Girl. “Those captured maidens are waiting to be rescued. There’s no time to lose!”

Seeing this, the young worker’s face settled back into that unreadable expression while a profound and strange unease took hold deep in Priestess’s heart.


The torch flickered dishearteningly in the putrid breeze.

The midday sun was blotted out by the darkness that filled the cave. At the opening, it was hard to see, and farther in, it was almost black.

The shadows of the jutting rough-hewn rocks danced in time with the bobbing flame, sliding along the walls like monsters in a fresco.

Three girls and one boy, covered in whatever poor pieces of armor they could find. In spotty formation, they picked their way nervously through the thick darkness. Warrior went on point, holding the torch. Their Fighter was behind him. Wizard held the rear guard. And sandwiched in between the martial artist and the magician, third in line, was the young woman in priestess’s robes, clutching her sounding staff anxiously as she walked.

It was Wizard who had suggested they travel in a line. So long as there were no branching paths, they wouldn’t have to worry about an attack from behind. And if the adventurers in front held fast, those behind would be safe, able to provide support from the back ranks. That was the plan, anyway.

“I-is this really a good idea? Jumping right in?” Priestess’s murmur hardly sounded confident. If anything, she sounded considerably more concerned than she had before they’d entered the cave. “I mean, we don’t know anything about these goblins.”

“Sheesh, what a worrywart. I guess that’s just what you can expect from a priestess.” Warrior’s voice, a bit too bold in the emptiness of the cave, echoed until it disappeared. “Even kids aren’t afraid of goblins. Heck, I helped drive some out of my village once.”

“Oh, stop,” Fighter said. “Killing a few goblins is nothing special. You’re embarrassing yourself. And,” she added in a disagreeable but low voice, “you didn’t even kill them.”

“I didn’t say I did,” Warrior responded with a pout.

Fighter gave an annoyed but somehow affectionate sigh. “They might chop this loser into lunch meat, but I’ll send ’em flying. So don’t worry.”

“Loser? That hurts!” The torchlight shone on Warrior’s dejected face, but the next moment, he was gleefully hoisting his sword. “Hey, the four of us, we could handle a dragon if we had to!”

“My, aren’t we eager?” Wizard muttered, causing Fighter to giggle. The group’s echoing voices mingled in the cavern.

Priestess kept silent, as if afraid talking would attract something from the darkness.

“But I do hope to hunt a dragon someday,” Wizard said. “Don’t you?” Priestess’s wordless smile seemed to agree with Wizard and the nodding Warrior. But the darkness hid an expression as ambiguous as Guild Girl’s.

Do we really? she asked herself, but she dared not voice her doubts, even as the unease built to a storm within her.

“The four of us could…,” he’d said, but how could he so completely trust people he’d hardly known two whole days? Priestess knew these weren’t bad people, but…

“Are you sure we shouldn’t have prepared a little more?” she pressed. “We don’t even have any p-p…potions.”

“We don’t have any money, either. Or time to shop, for that matter,” Warrior answered with bravado, paying no heed to the tremble in Priestess’s voice. “I’m worried about those kidnapped girls… And anyway, if one of us gets hurt, you can just heal us, right?”

“It’s true I have the miracles of healing and light…but…”

“Then we’ll be fine!”

No one could have heard Priestess say thickly, “But I can only use them three times…”

“It’s great you’re so confident and all,” Fighter said, “but are you sure we won’t get lost?”

“It’s one long tunnel. How could we possibly get lost?”

“I don’t know about that. You get so carried away. I can’t take my eyes off you for two seconds!”

“Look who’s talking…”

Fighter and Warrior, who came from the same hometown, slipped into one of the friendly arguments they had shared since the start of the journey.

Priestess, trailing behind them, clung to her staff with both hands and repeated the name of the Earth Mother under her breath.

“Please, see us safely through this…”

She prayed so softly her words didn’t even echo, only dropping into the darkness and disappearing.

Perhaps the Earth Mother heard her prayer, or perhaps Priestess had simply been exceptionally attentive as she said the words.

“Come on, hurry up. Keep up the line,” Wizard chided her.

“Oh, right, sorry…”


It was Priestess who noticed it first.

She was just walking by Wizard, who had overtaken her while she was praying, when she heard it. A scuttling sound, like a rolling pebble.

Priestess gave a start.

“Again? What is it this time?” Wizard asked in annoyance as she once more overtook Priestess, who stood quivering in place.

Wizard had graduated at the top of her class from the academy in the Capital where she had learned her spells, and she was not very fond of priestesses. The skittish little girl in their party had made an abysmal first impression, and since entering the cave, Wizard’s estimation of her had only gotten worse.

“J-just now, I thought I heard something c-crumbling…”

“Where? In front of us?”

“N-no, behind us…”

Oh, please.

This wasn’t caution; it was cowardice. This priestess didn’t have the guts to take her life in her hands the way an adventurer needed to. Warrior and Fighter kept getting farther ahead as she stood there. Caught up in their banter, the two of them never looked back.

An ever more distant light behind them and only deepening darkness before, Wizard heaved a sigh.

“Look. We’ve been going straight as an arrow since we entered this cave, right? What could possibly be behi—” And then her cool, exasperated tone—


—became a scream.

It wasn’t crumbling Priestess had heard, but digging.

Hideous creatures jumped out of a tunnel and flocked toward Wizard, who had the misfortune of being last in line.

Every hand held a crude weapon, every face a repulsive look. These were the child-sized cave dwellers.



Suddenly unable to find her voice, Wizard raised the garnet-tipped staff she had received at graduation.

It was a miracle her twisted tongue was able to form the words of the spell.

“Sagitta…inflammarae…radius!” Arrow of flame, emerge!

As she pulled each piece of the spell from where it had been carved deep into her memory, the words began welling up—words with the power to mold reality itself.

A glowing, arrow-shaped Firebolt flew from the fist-sized garnet on her staff and struck a goblin in the face. There was a stomach-turning sizzle and the stench of searing flesh.

That’s one down!

The victory brought a rush of exhilaration that left an incongruous smile on her face. It filled Wizard with the confidence that what worked once would work again.


But there were many goblins and only four party members. Before she could finish the spell, one of the little foes grabbed her arm. She didn’t even have time to respond before the goblin slammed her to the coarse stone floor.

“Argh! Uh—!”

Her glasses were thrown from her face and shattered on the ground, leaving her vision blurry. A goblin quickly plucked her staff from her hand.

“H-hey! Give that back! That’s not for the likes of y-you!”

A magical conduit such as a staff or a ring was a spell caster’s lifeline, but more than that, it was her pride.

As if in answer to Wizard’s half-mad shout, the goblin held the staff in front of her eyes and broke it with a crack.

Wizard’s face twisted in rage, her mask of detachment gone.

“Why, you—!”

She writhed on the ground, struggling against her captor with her weak arms, her ample chest bouncing. It was not a wise choice. The irritated goblin took his dagger and drove it hard into her stomach.

“Hrrrghh?!” She gave an agonized cry as the blade pierced her innards.

Of course, Wizard’s companions were not idle, not even Priestess.

“H-hey, all of you! Get away from her! Stop—!” She waved her staff about with her delicate arms, trying to chase the goblins away.

There are those clerics who are skilled in the martial arts. Some, having adventured for a long time, might even boast a good deal of physical strength.

Priestess was not one of them.

The way she was frantically swinging her staff, she wouldn’t have hit anything, anyway.

Each time her sounding staff struck a wall or the ground, it made a rattling noise. And for better or for worse, the goblins took a step back.

Perhaps they took her for a warrior priestess, or maybe they were just afraid she might hit one of them through sheer luck.

Whatever the reason, Priestess took advantage of the momentary opening to pull Wizard away from them.

“Be strong!” Priestess shouted, almost shaking Wizard. “Hang on—!”

But there was no answer. Priestess’s hand came away soaked with blood.

The rusty blade was still buried in Wizard’s abdomen, the cruel tear revealing her ravaged entrails.

Priestess felt her throat close at the awful sight, her breath coming in a strained squeak.


But Wizard was alive. Twitching and convulsing, but alive.

There was still time. There had to be. Priestess bit hard on her lip.

Clasping her staff close to her chest, Priestess placed her hand on Wizard’s spilling viscera as if to push them back into place and recited the words of the miracle.

“O Earth Mother, abounding in mercy, lay your revered hand upon this child…”

Magic spells can affect the rational workings of the world, but Minor Heal is genuine divine intervention.

As the prayer took hold, Priestess’s palm began glowing with a soft light that floated over to Wizard. As the light began to bubble away, Wizard’s ruined stomach gradually stitched itself back together.

Of course, the goblins were not the kind to stand by and just let this happen.

“Damn you! You filthy goblins! How dare you do this to everyone!!”

Warrior had finally noticed what was going on behind him and came flying through to cover his companions, cutting off their would-be attackers.

He had thrown away the torch and now gripped his sword firmly in both hands. He gave a thrust, piercing a goblin’s throat.


“Who’s next?”

He wrenched the sword from his first victim, catching a second as he turned. He sliced the goblin clean from shoulder to hip.

Through a geyser of goblin blood, Warrior gave a great shout, drunk with bloodlust.

“Well, what’s wrong?! Come and get me!”

Warrior was the second son of a farmer, and since his youth, he had dreamed of becoming a knight. How one might go about becoming a knight, he did not know, but he was certain strength was a prerequisite. The knights in the bedtime stories he’d heard were always vanquishing monsters, thwarting evil, and saving the world. Here in this cave—striking down these goblins, saving helpless maidens, and protecting his friends—he saw himself a knight at last.

The thought brought a smile to his face.

Power coursed through his hands, his blood pounded in his ears, everything narrowed until he could see only the enemy before him.

“Wait! You can’t handle them alone!”

He was not yet a real knight.

Even as Fighter’s voice reached him, Warrior found one of the goblins’ worn swords buried in his thigh.

“Ngah! Why, you—!”

It was the goblin he had cut across the chest. Warrior’s blood-dulled blade had not been enough to make a killing blow.

Thrown out of his fighting posture, Warrior dealt a second blow to the goblin, and this time it died without so much as a gurgle.

But a moment later, another monster was leaping up behind him…

“Take this!” He made to counter with his sword, but it struck the cave wall with a blunt thud.

It was the last move he would ever make.

The torch he had dropped on the ground sputtered and died, and in the darkness that pressed in suddenly around him, he was amazed how loudly his scream echoed.

With no pedigree and no money, Warrior had been unable to afford a shield or helm; he had only his thin chest plate to protect him. He had no way to save himself from the goblins’ vicious blows.

“No…it can’t be!”

Fighter had failed to reach the enemy in time. As she watched the young man she thought of so fondly die, she went pale and stood stock-still.

It was all she could do to form her two trembling hands into fists and take a fighting stance.

“You two, run.”

“B-but…!” Priestess protested weakly, but she knew it was useless. Despite the ministrations of Minor Heal, Wizard in her arms was barely responsive, her breath coming in short, shallow gasps.

The horde of goblins was creeping closer, fixed on its remaining prey. They were still cautious of Fighter, but they would be upon her before long.

Priestess looked at Wizard and Fighter, and then she stared in horror at the goblins still abusing the body of the fallen Warrior.

Seeing that her companions still hadn’t moved, Fighter gave a click of her tongue. Then she let out a loud, clear yell, charging into the crowd of monsters.


Her fists and feet were limber and quick. Her own father had trained her before he died, and now she showed the very essence of his art.

She would not die here. Her father’s art could not lose to such pitiful foes.

So long as I live, I will never forgive them for killing that boy!

Heart and mind bore out her training as she drove her fist into a goblin’s solar plexus.

She pushed her enemy to the side as he fell vomiting to the floor, then caught him with a single knifehand strike to the neck as she spun.

Critical hit.

The immense blow to the neck left the goblin’s head leaning at an impossible angle as it collapsed.

At the same moment, she stepped into the space left by his body and used the momentum to throw an arcing kick into the air in front of her. Her tightly controlled roundhouse caught two more goblins, killing them before they hit the ground—


But a third goblin easily caught her leg and trapped her ankle.

Fighter’s face paled as he began to squeeze.

Goblins were supposed to be the size of children…weren’t they?


The creature, whose rancid breath washed over her as it strained itself, was giant.

She was not a small girl, and even she had to raise her head to look this enemy in the eye. The pain in her foot grew worse and worse until it wrenched a cry from her lips.


Fighter’s leg still in his grip, the goblin casually rammed her up against the wall. There was a distant, dry sound of something cracking.

Fighter passed out without so much as a whimper, so she was unaware as the goblin whipped her around and slammed her against the opposite wall.

“Hrr, guhhh…?!”

She came to with a sound that was barely human, her vomit tinged with blood as she was thrown to the ground. Then the rest of the horde fell on her.

“Agh! Urrgh! Ya…yaaah! Ugh!”

The goblins beat Fighter with their clubs, deaf to her cries, until her clothes ripped and fell away with the relentless flailing.

The goblins showed as much mercy to the invading adventurers as the party had intended to show to them.

Racked by her horrific ordeal, Fighter gave a high, piercing scream, but within it, Priestess was sure she could make out words.

“Run! Hurry!”

“I—I’m sorry…!”

Closing her ears to the echoes in the cavern of the goblins violating her companion, Priestess hefted Wizard and began a stumbling retreat.

Run. Run. Run. Trip, then catch yourself, and run even harder.

Through the dark she went, slipping on every stone but never stopping.

“I’m sorry…! I’m…sorry! Please fo…forgive me…!” The words fell out of her in ragged gasps.

There was no light anymore. She knew they were being chased deeper and deeper into the cave, but what could she do?


The footsteps of the goblins, drawing nearer with every echo, were what terrified her most.

Stopping now would be foolish, and she couldn’t head back the way she came. Even if she could, she wouldn’t have seen anything for the gloom.

Now she understood the Guild receptionist’s ambiguous expression.

Yes, goblins were weak. Their party of eager adventurers—their Warrior, their Wizard, their Fighter—had known that. Goblins were about as large and smart and strong as a human child. Just as they’d heard.

But what happened when children took up weapons, plotted evil, sought to kill, and traveled in packs ten strong?

They hadn’t even considered it.

Their party was weak, inexperienced, unfamiliar with combat, had no money nor luck, and most importantly, they were overwhelmingly outnumbered.

It was a common mistake, the kind you hear about all the time.


Priestess’s long sleeves finally got tangled up in her legs, and she fell gracelessly to the ground. Her face and hands received liberal scrapes, but much worse, she lost her grip on Wizard.

Priestess rushed to pull her back up—a girl she hadn’t even known a few days before.

“I-I’m sorry! Are you all right?!”

“Ur, hrrg…”

Instead of an answer, blood-flecked spittle bubbled from Wizard’s mouth.

Priestess had been so focused on running that she hadn’t noticed Wizard beginning to tremble violently. It felt as if Wizard’s entire body were on fire, sweat soaking her thick cape.


Priestess aimed the question directly at herself. Had her prayer not reached the goddess?

Beset by that worry, Priestess used precious time to work off Wizard’s outer garments and check the wound.

But the miracle had worked as intended. Wizard’s abdomen was blood soaked but smooth. The wound was gone.

“U-uh, i-in times like—In times like this, what should I…?”

Her mind was blank.

She knew a bit of emergency first aid. And she could still use her miracles.

But would another healing miracle really help? Was there something else she should try? For that matter, in her wretched state, could she even focus enough to make an effective petition to the goddess?

“Ahh? Aaahh!”

The moment she’d wasted had been the one that counted. Priestess grew faint as a sudden pain overwhelmed her.

She heard a whistle—something running?—and then her left shoulder lit up with a burning pain. She glanced at it and found an arrow buried deep in her flesh. Blood seeped up and stained her vestments.

Priestess was not wearing any armor. The arrow had ripped savagely through her clothes and into the lovely shoulder beneath. The Precepts forbade excessive armor, and she had no money in any case. Now every tiny movement seemed amplified a hundred times and provoked a heat and pain as though she had been stuck with burning tongs.


All she could do was clench her teeth, keep the tears from her eyes, and stare down the goblins.

Two armed monsters approached. Leering grins split their faces; threads of drool hung from the edges of their mouths.

It would be best if she could bite off her tongue and die. But her goddess did not allow suicide, and she seemed destined to suffer the same fate as her friends.

Would they slice her open? Or rape her? Or both?


She trembled; her teeth started chattering helplessly.

Priestess pulled Wizard close, using her own body to shield her companion, but suddenly she felt something warm and wet on her legs. The goblins seemed to pick up the scent, and their faces twisted in disgust.

Priestess desperately repeated the name of the Earth Mother, trying to avoid seeing what was in front of her.

There was no hope.

But then…


Deep within the darkness, there was a light.

It was like the evening star shining proudly against the encroaching twilight.

A single, ever-so-small but vividly shining point of light, and it steadily came closer.

The light was accompanied by the calm, determined footsteps of someone who held no doubts about where they were going.

The goblins looked back in confusion. Had their friends let some prey slip past?

And then, just behind the goblins, she saw him.

He was not very impressive.

He wore dirty leather armor and a filthy steel helm. On his left arm, a shield was fastened, and in his hand was a torch. His right hand grasped a sword that seemed a strange length. Priestess couldn’t help thinking that her own woefully unprepared party had seemed better prepared than this.

No, she wanted to shout, stay away! But terror froze her tongue, and she could not call out. She was deeply humiliated that she lacked Fighter’s courage.

The two goblins turned toward the newcomer, demonstrating no reluctance to show their backs to the powerless Priestess. They would deal with her later. One nocked an arrow to his bowstring, drew, and fired.

It was a crude, stone-headed arrow. And the goblin was frankly a terrible archer.

But darkness is the goblin’s ally.

No one could dodge an arrow that flew suddenly out of the blackness…


Even as he offered a derisive snort, the man cut the projectile out of the air with one swift swipe of his sword.

Incapable of comprehending the implication of what had just happened, the second goblin leaped at the man. The creature wielded the only weapon he carried, another of the monsters’ rusty daggers. His blade found a chink at the man’s shoulder and drove deep.


Priestess gave a scream—but there was no other sound. The goblin’s blow made only a quiet scrape of metal on metal.

The blade had been stopped by the mail beneath the man’s leather armor.

The bewildered goblin pushed harder with his blade. The newcomer made the most of it.

“GAYOU?!” The goblin cried out as the man’s shield bashed into him with a thud and pressed him against the stone.

“You first…,” the man said coldly.

His meaning became clear when he took his torch and drove it dispassionately into the goblin’s face.

An unbearable muffled screech. The stench of burning flesh filled the cave.

The goblin struggled, half mad with pain, but pinned by the shield, he couldn’t even claw at his own face.

At last, he stopped moving, his limbs flopping lifelessly to the ground. The man made sure the monster was still, then slowly pulled his shield away.

There was a heavy whumph as the goblin tumbled to the ground, its face scorched.

The man gave the monster a casual kick, rolling him over, and then stepped deeper into the cave.


It was a bizarre spectacle. Priestess was no longer the only one who was terrified.

The goblin with the bow unconsciously took a step back, understandably looking ready to abandon his companion and flee. Courage, after all, is the last word anyone associates with goblins.

But now Priestess was behind it.

She exhaled sharply. And this time, she was able to move. She may have had an arrow in her shoulder, a goblin in front of her, her legs giving out beneath her, and her unconscious companion weighing her down, but she moved.

With her free arm, Priestess thrust her sounding staff at the goblin.

It was a meaningless gesture. She hadn’t even really meant to do it, acting on instinct.

But it was more than enough to make the goblin pause for an instant.

In that instant, the creature thought harder about what to do than he ever had in his entire life. But before he could reach a decision, his half-formed answer was slammed into the stone wall, propelled by the sword the armored warrior had thrown through him.

Half of the goblin’s head remained on the wall. The other half, with the rest of him, collapsed to the ground.

“That’s two.”

The brutal fight over, he ground his boot into the slain goblin’s cadaver.

He was stained crimson with the monster’s blood, from his grimy steel helm and leather armor to the mail made of chain-linked metal rings that covered his entire body.

A small, battered shield was fastened to his left arm, and in one hand, he held a brightly burning torch.

Heel braced against the creature’s corpse, he reached down with his free hand and casually withdrew his sword from its skull. It was a cheap-looking blade, its length poorly conceived, and now it was drenched in the goblin’s brains.

Lying on the ground, an arrow in her shoulder, the young girl’s thin frame shook with fear. Her sweet, classically lovely face framed by long hair almost a translucent gold was scrunched up into a mess of tears and sweat.

Her slim arms, her feet—her whole gorgeous body was clad in the vestments of a priestess. The sounding staff she clutched jangled, the rings hanging on it striking one another in time with the quaking of her hands.

Who was this man before her?

So strange was his appearance, the aura that cloaked him, that she imagined he might be a goblin himself—or perhaps something far worse, something she had no knowledge of yet.

“Wh-who are you…?” she asked, pushing down her terror and pain.

After a pause, the man answered, “Goblin Slayer.”

A killer. Not of dragons or vampires, but the lowliest of monsters: goblins.

Normally, the name might have seemed comically simple. But to Priestess, at that moment, it was anything but funny.


How must she have looked to the man—Goblin Slayer—as she sat dumbly, forgetting even the pain in her shoulder? He strode closer until he loomed over her, frightening Priestess and making her tremble.

Even now, up close and with the torch illuminating him, his visor hid his face, and she couldn’t see his eyes. It was as if the armor was filled with the same darkness as the cave.

“You just registered?” Goblin Slayer asked quietly, noticing the rank tag hanging around her neck. He had one, too. It swayed gently in the light of the torch, which he had set on the floor. The color reflected dimly in that little bubble of light—it was unmistakably silver.

Priestess let out a small “oh…” She knew what that color meant. It was the third-highest rank in the Guild’s ten-level system.

Only a few people in history had achieved Platinum rank, and those of Gold rank usually worked for the national government, but after those came Silver, indicating some of the most-skilled unaffiliated adventurers plying their trade independently.

“You’re…Silver rank.” He was a hardened veteran who could hardly have been further removed from the Porcelain-ranked Priestess.

“I’m sure if you wait a while, some other adventurers will show up…”

Could this have been the adventurer about whom Guild Girl had been speaking?

“So you can talk.”


“You’re lucky.”

Goblin Slayer’s hands moved so easily, she didn’t have time to react.

“Wha—? Ahh!”

The arrow’s hooks tore her flesh as he pulled it out, the sudden wave of pain leaving her breathless. Blood flowed from the wound as her eyes welled up with tears.

With the same casual manner, Goblin Slayer reached for a bag on his belt and took out a small bottle.

“Drink this.”

Through the clear glass, she saw a green liquid that emitted gentle phosphorescence—a healing potion.

Just what Priestess and her party had wanted but had had neither money nor time to buy.

She could have simply taken it but instead glanced back and forth between the bottle and the wounded Wizard.

“S-sir!” To her surprise, when she managed to make her voice work once, the words came pouring out of her. “C-couldn’t we give it to her? My miracle couldn’t—”

“Where is she hurt? What happened?”

“I-it was a dagger…in her stomach…”

“A dagger…”

Goblin Slayer felt Wizard’s abdomen in that same assured way. When he jabbed it with a finger, she coughed up more blood. Throughout his brisk examination, he didn’t so much as glance at Priestess, who huddled protectively over Wizard. Then he said flatly, “Give up.”

Shocked, Priestess turned pale and swallowed heavily. She hugged Wizard tighter.

“Look.” Goblin Slayer pulled out the dagger still lodged in the mail under his shoulder. A dark, viscous liquid she couldn’t identify was slathered all along the blade.



“They make it from a mixture of their own spittle and excrement, along with herbs they find in the wild.”

“You’re lucky.”

Priestess gulped again as the full meaning of Goblin Slayer’s words dawned on her.

Lucky the arrowhead hadn’t been dipped in poison, so she was still here. Lucky the goblin with the dagger hadn’t been the first to attack her…

“When this poison gets in your system, first you have trouble breathing. Your tongue starts to spasm, then your whole body. Soon, you develop a fever, lose consciousness, then you die.”

He wiped the chipped blade with the goblin’s loincloth and stashed it on his belt, then murmured inside his helmet, “They’re such dirty creatures.”

“I-if she’s been poisoned, all we need is to cure it, right…?”

“If you mean an antidote, then I have one, but the poison’s been in her for too long. It’s too late.”


Just then, Wizard’s rolling eyes focused ever so briefly. She gurgled from the blood in her throat, and with trembling lips, she formed words without a sound, without voice. “…ill…e…”


No sooner had he said it than Goblin Slayer cut Wizard’s throat.

Wizard jumped, gave a low moan, then coughed up one more mouthful of bloody foam and died.

Inspecting the blade, Goblin Slayer clicked his tongue when he saw it had been blunted by fat.

“Don’t be upset,” he said.

“How can you say that?!” Priestess exclaimed. “Maybe…maybe we still could have…helped her…” She clutched Wizard’s body, gone limp and lifelessly heavy.


She couldn’t get the rest of the words out. Had Wizard really been beyond saving? And if so, was killing her a kindness? Priestess did not know.

She only knew she had not yet been given the miracle cure, which neutralized poison. There was an antidote here, but it belonged to the man in front of her. It wasn’t hers to give. Priestess sat on the ground shaking, unable to drink the potion or even to stand.

“Listen,” Goblin Slayer said brusquely. “These monsters aren’t bright, but they’re not fools. They were at least smart enough to take out your spell caster first.” He paused, then pointed. “Look there.”

Hanging from the wall were a dead rat and a crow’s feather. “Those are goblin totems. There’s a shaman here.”

“A shaman…?”

“You don’t know about shamans?”

Priestess shook her head uneasily.

“They’re spell casters. Better than your friend here.”

Goblin spell casters? Priestess had never heard of such a thing. If she had, maybe her party would still be alive…


She resigned herself to the thought in her heart. Even if they had known, they wouldn’t have considered these shamans something to be afraid of. Goblins were weak prey, a way for new adventurers to cut their teeth.

Or so she had believed until earlier that day.

“Did you see any big ones?” Goblin Slayer studied her face again as she knelt on the ground.

This time—just barely—she could see his eyes. A cold, almost mechanical light shone from within that dirty helmet.

Priestess stirred and then stiffened, disturbed by the unflinching gaze that watched her from inside the helm. She suddenly remembered the warm moisture on her legs.

She had been attacked by goblins, watched her friends die in moments, saw her party all but annihilated, and she alone had survived.

It seemed unreal.

The throbbing pain in her shoulder and the humiliation of wetting herself, on the other hand, were undeniable.

“Y-yes, there was one…I think… Just running away, took everything I had…” She shook her head weakly, trying to call up the dim memory.

“That was a hobgoblin. Maybe they took on a wanderer as a guard.”

“A hob… You mean a hearth fairy?”

“Distant relative.”

Goblin Slayer checked his weapons and armor, then stood. “I’ll follow their tunnel. I have to deal with them here.”

Priestess looked up at him. He was already looking away from her, staring into the blackness ahead.

“Can you make it back on your own, or will you wait here?”

She clung to her sounding staff with exhausted hands, forcing her trembling legs to push her up as tears beaded in her eyes.

“I’m…going…with you!”

It was her only choice. She couldn’t bear either going back by herself or being left there all alone.

Goblin Slayer nodded. “Then drink the potion.”

As Priestess gulped down the bitter medicine, the heat in her shoulder began to fade. The potion contained at least ten different herbs and wouldn’t do anything dramatic, but it would stop the pain.

Priestess gave a relieved sigh. It was the first time she had ever drunk a potion.

Goblin Slayer watched her down the last of it. “All right,” he said, and he set off into the murk. There was no hesitation in his stride; he never paused to look back at her. She scurried to keep up with him, afraid of being left behind.

As they went, she cast a glance back. Back at the still, silent Wizard.

There was nothing Priestess could say. Biting her lip, she bowed her head deeper and vowed to come back for her friend.


Somehow they didn’t encounter any goblins on the short trek to the tunnel. They did, however, find awful chunks of meat scattered about. Perhaps it had once been human. There was no way to know. There was enough blood in the small cavern to choke on, and its smell mixed with the thick odor of scattered viscera.

“Err, eurrggh…”

Priestess spotted the body of Warrior and reflexively fell to her knees and vomited.

It seemed like her last meal of bread and wine had happened years ago. For that matter, it might have been an eon since Warrior had invited her on this adventure.

“Nine…” Goblin Slayer nodded. He had been counting the goblin corpses, unperturbed by the scene around them.

“Judging from the scale of the nest, there’s probably less than half left.”

He took a sword and dagger from Warrior’s body and hung them from his own belt. He checked the goblins’ other victims as well but apparently found nothing that satisfied him.

Priestess, wiping her mouth, gave him a reproving look, but he didn’t pause.

“How many of you were there?”


“Guild Girl only said some amateurs had gone goblin hunting.”

“There were four of—Oh!” she accidentally shouted, wiping furiously at her mouth with both hands. “M-my other party member…!” How could she have forgotten?

She didn’t see Fighter’s body. Fighter, who had sacrificed herself, suffering unspeakable things to save the others, was nowhere to be found.

“A girl?”


Goblin Slayer held the torch close and carefully searched the floor of the cave. There were fresh footprints, blood, a dirty liquid, and a track like something had been dragged along the ground.

“It looks like they took her deeper in. I can’t say if she’s alive or not,” he said, fingering several long strands of hair to which scraps of skin still clung.

Priestess nearly jumped up. “Then we have to save her—”

But Goblin Slayer didn’t answer. He lit a new torch, then tossed the old one into a side tunnel. “Goblins have excellent night vision. Keep it lit. The dark is our enemy… Listen.”

She obeyed, straining her ears for any sound.

From the blackness beyond the flame of the torch, there were footsteps, slap-slap-slap.

A goblin! Probably coming to investigate the light from the torch.

Goblin Slayer took one of the daggers from his belt and flung it into the darkness.

There was a harsh sound as it pierced something. The body of a goblin rolled into the dim torchlight. The moment he saw it, Goblin Slayer leaped forward and drove his sword through the creature’s heart. The goblin died without a sound, for the dagger had run through its throat. The whole thing happened almost too quickly to track.


As Goblin Slayer added to his count, Priestess peered into the tunnel and asked timidly, “Can you see in the dark, too?”


Goblin Slayer didn’t bother retrieving the fat-dulled blade from the body. Instead, he took up the sword Warrior had carried, clicking his tongue as he saw it was too long for the narrow tunnels.

Next he picked up a spear from the goblin he had just killed. It was roughly hewn from animal bone, but a spear for a goblin is only a bit longer than a knife for a full-grown man.

“It’s just practice. I know exactly where their necks are.”

“Practice? How much practice…?”

“A lot.”

“A lot?”

“You’re just full of questions, aren’t you?”

Priestess was silent. She hung her head in embarrassment.

“What can you use?”

“I’m sorry?” She hurriedly raised her head again, not understanding what he meant.

Goblin Slayer never let his attention waver from the tunnel as he spoke. “Which miracles?”

“I have Minor Heal and Holy Light, sir.”

“How many uses?”

“Three in all. I…I have two left.” It was nothing extraordinary, but Priestess was one of the more accomplished beginners. It was an achievement simply to be able to pray to the goddess, make a petition, and be granted a miracle in the first place. And then, not many people could bear to join their soul with the goddess repeatedly. That took experience.

“That’s considerably more than I expected,” he said. This was praise, she supposed, but she had trouble feeling like it. His tone was dutiful and cool, hardly revealing any emotion.

“Holy Light, then. Minor Heal won’t do us any good here. Don’t waste your miracles on it.”

“Y-yes, sir…”

“That was a scout we killed. We’ve got the right tunnel.”

With the tip of the spear, he pointed deeper into the hole from which the goblin had come. “But their scout won’t return. Neither will the ones who killed your party. I finished them off.”

Priestess was silent.

“What would you do?”


“If you were a goblin. What would you do?”

At the unexpected question, Priestess tapped a slender finger against her chin, thinking furiously. What would she do if she were a goblin?

Her hand, which had once assisted with services at the Temple, seemed too white to be an adventurer’s.

“…Set an ambush?”

“Exactly,” Goblin Slayer said in his calm voice. “And we’re going to walk right into it. Get ready.”

Priestess paled but nodded.

Goblin Slayer took out a coil of rope and some wooden stakes and laid them at his feet.

“I have a mantra for you,” he said, not taking his eyes off his work. “Remember it. The words are tunnel entrance. You forget them, you die.”

“Y-yes, sir!” Priestess clasped her sounding staff with both hands.

Tunnel entrance, tunnel entrance, she repeated desperately to herself.

The only thing she could rely on was this mysterious man who called himself Goblin Slayer. If he abandoned her, then she and Fighter and the kidnapped village girls were all lost.

A moment later, Goblin Slayer finished his preparations. “Let’s go.”

Priestess followed him as quickly as she could, past the rope and into the tunnel.

The tunnel was remarkably sturdy, not something that seemed to have been built just for mounting surprise attacks. With every step, dirt fell from tree roots that had pushed through the ceiling, but there didn’t seem to be any danger of collapse. The gradual downward slope made Priestess uneasy, however. Humans didn’t belong here.

She should have seen it from the start, and now that she had realized, it was too late: Goblins spend their whole lives underground. True, they were nothing like dwarves, but why had she and the others underestimated the goblins so badly just because they weren’t physically strong?

Well, it’s too late for regrets…

Priestess stepped carefully by the faint light of the torch. She glanced up at Goblin Slayer’s back. His movements betrayed neither hesitation nor fear. Did he know what lay ahead?

“We’re almost there.” He stopped so suddenly, Priestess nearly ran into him. She straightened up quicker than he could turn to look back with his mechanical movements.

“Now, Holy Light.”

“Y-yes, sir. I’m ready…when you are.”

She took a deep breath and let it out. Then she held her staff firmly in place. Goblin Slayer likewise adjusted his grip on his torch and spear.

“Do it.”

“O Earth Mother, abounding in mercy, grant your sacred light to we who are lost in darkness…”

Goblin Slayer leaped forward as Priestess raised her staff toward the blackness. Its tip began shining with an illumination that became as brilliant as the sun. A miracle of the Earth Mother.

With the light at his back, Goblin Slayer flew headlong into the monsters’ hall.

Perhaps they had simply appropriated the largest cavern in the cave complex. The goblins waiting in the shoddily constructed room came into view.



There were six goblins there, as well as one big one and one seated on a chair wearing a skull on his head. The monsters squinted against the sudden, pure light and howled in confusion.

Also there, lying motionless, were several young women.

Some bleak thing had no doubt been happening in that room.

“Six goblins, one hob, one shaman, eight total.” Goblin Slayer counted his opponents without so much as a tremor in his voice.

Of course, not all the goblins were clenching their eyes shut and keening.

“OGAGO, GAROA…” The shaman seated on the throne waved his staff and recited an unintelligible spell.

“GUAI?” He was interrupted by Goblin Slayer’s spear skewering him through the torso. He gave a death rattle and tumbled backward off his chair.

The goblins stood transfixed by this tragedy, and Goblin Slayer seized the moment. Warrior’s sword rang as Goblin Slayer freed it from its scabbard.

“All right, let’s get out of here.”

“What?! Y-yes, sir!”

Even as he spoke, Goblin Slayer was already turning and dashing off. Shocked at his speed and at a loss about what to do, Priestess followed him. The goblins recovered their wits as the light receded and soon gave chase.

In the space of a breath, Goblin Slayer was far ahead of Priestess as she ran up the slope. Was he used to taking the role of vanguard and rear guard, or was this the result of sheer training and experience? Whatever the case, it was incredible to her that he could be so nimble while clad in leather armor and mail, his vision limited by his helmet.

It was when she saw him jump lightly at the mouth of the tunnel that the words of his mantra came rushing back to her. “Oh no—!” She barely missed the trip wire on the ground. Goblin Slayer was already pressed up against the wall, and Priestess hurried to do the same against the opposite side.



They could hear the enraged voices and pounding footfalls of the goblins coming up the slope. Priestess took a furtive peek and saw a hulking shape at the front of the pack—the hobgoblin.

“Now! Do it again!” Goblin Slayer flung the words at her.

Priestess gave a nod and thrust her staff with its symbols of her priesthood toward the tunnel. She spoke the words of the prayer without a stutter.

“O Earth Mother, abounding in mercy, grant your sacred light to we who are lost in darkness…”

Merciful the Earth Mother’s light was to them, but not to the eyes of the goblins, which burned at its brilliance.


The blinded hobgoblin stumbled on the trip wire and took an ungainly fall.

“Eleven.” Goblin Slayer vaulted in and ruthlessly thrust his sword into the creature’s brain. It gurgled once, twice, then spasmed and died.

“H-here come the others!” Priestess called. She was out of miracles, and the repeated soul-effacing ritual had left her enervated, her face bloodless from exertion.

“I know.” Goblin Slayer whipped a bottle from his bag and threw it against the hobgoblin’s body. It shattered, releasing a thick black substance from inside. The cloying smell made Priestess think perhaps it was some unfamiliar poison.

“See you in hell.”

Goblin Slayer kicked the drenched body into the tunnel. The oncoming goblins, caught off guard by the hunk of meat rolling toward them, slammed their swords into it.

It was an instinctive reaction. When they realized it was their guardian they had stabbed, they panicked. The goblins struggled to extract the weapons, buried deep in the hobgoblin’s flesh and now covered in the black substance…

“Twelve, thirteen.”

They were too late.

Without a hint of remorse, Goblin Slayer threw the torch into the tunnel with them. There was a whoosh as the hobgoblin’s corpse went up in flames, taking their two pursuers with it.

“GYUIAAAAAA!!” The screeching goblins flailed on the ground, burning as they rolled all the way back to the bottom of the slope. Priestess choked on the smell of roasting meat that floated up to her.

“Wh-what was that?”

“Some call it Medea’s Oil. Others, petroleum. It’s gasoline.” He had gotten it from an alchemist, he said nonchalantly, adding, “Awfully expensive for such a simple effect.”

“B-but inside—in there, the kidnapped girls—”

“The fire won’t spread far with just a few bodies to feed on. If those girls are still alive, this isn’t going to kill them.” He muttered, “And we’re not out of goblins yet,” causing Priestess to bite her lip again.

“A-are you going back in, then?”

“No. When they can’t breathe anymore, they’ll come out on their own.”

Goblin Slayer’s sword was lost now, stuck in a burning hobgoblin corpse at the bottom of a tunnel. He probably wasn’t eager to fight with a brain-soaked blade, anyway.

He picked up the weapon the hobgoblin had dropped, a stone ax. It was just a rock tied to a stick—rough in every sense of the word. But then, that made it easy to use, too.

Goblin Slayer swung the ax rapidly through the air, testing it, and found he could wield it easily with one hand.

Satisfied, he reached into his bag and pulled out another torch.

“Here,” Priestess said, offering a flint, but Goblin Slayer hardly looked at her.

“These beasts never think somebody might set an ambush for them,” he said.

She was silent.

“Don’t worry.” He swung the ax in carefully coordinated strokes, landing each blow on the flint. “It’ll be over soon.”

He was right.

He dealt with each of the goblins as they emerged from the flames and smoke. One tripped on the rope and found his head split open. The second hopped over the rope but was laid low by the waiting ax. The third was the same. The ax wouldn’t come out of the cheekbone of the fourth creature, so Goblin Slayer took the monster’s club instead.

“That’s seventeen. We’re going in.”

“Y-yes, sir!” Priestess rushed to keep up with Goblin Slayer as he dove into the roiling smoke.

The hall was a terrible sight. The hobgoblin was burned beyond recognition, its companions little better. The shaman lay with the spear still through its body. And the girls were lying in filth on the floor.

As Goblin Slayer had predicted, the smoke floated above them.

But to survive is not always a blessing—something Priestess realized when she picked out Fighter’s body among them.


Nothing was left in Priestess’s stomach. She brought up only bile, bitter and burning in her throat, and she felt tears welling in her eyes again.

“Well, then.”

While Priestess was vomiting, Goblin Slayer had stamped out the flames running along the gasoline on the floor.

He strode over to the speared shaman. The goblin looked surprised by its own death. It lay completely still. The image of Goblin Slayer standing over him was reflected in his glassy eyes.

“I thought so,” Goblin Slayer said, immediately raising his club.

“GUI?!” As the startled shaman jumped up, the club came down, and then he was dead for good.

Shaking the spattered brains off the club, Goblin Slayer muttered, “Eighteen. The high-level ones are tough.”

Goblin Slayer began to kick violently at the throne, now vacant in every sense. Priestess heaved again as she saw it was made of human bones.

“Typical goblin trick. Look.”

“Wh…what?” Priestess wiped her eyes and mouth as she raised her head. Behind the throne hung one of the rotten wooden boards the goblins used in place of doors.

A hidden store—or was that all it was? Priestess gripped her staff at a clattering sound from within.

“You were lucky.”

As Goblin Slayer pulled the board aside, there were several high-pitched screams. Along with a stash of plunder, four terrified goblin children crouched inside.

“These creatures multiply quickly. If your party had come any later, there would’ve been fifty of them, and they would have attacked en masse.”

At the thought of it—of what would have happened to her and everyone—Priestess shivered. She imagined dozens of goblins taking her, bearing half-breed goblin children…

Looking down at the cowering forms, Goblin Slayer adjusted his grip on the club.

“You’ll…kill the children, too?” she asked, but she already knew the answer. She quailed as she heard the flat tone of her own voice. Had her heart, her emotions, been numbed by the onslaught of reality? She wanted it to be true. Just this once.

“Of course I will,” he said with a calm nod.

He must have seen this before many, many times.

She knew he called himself “Goblin Slayer” for a reason.

“We’ve destroyed their nest. They’ll never forget that, let alone forgive it. And the survivors of a nest learn, become smarter.” As he spoke, he casually raised the club, still covered in the shaman’s brains. “There is no reason to let them live.”

“Even if there was…a good goblin?”

“A good goblin?” He exhaled in a way that suggested he was truly mystified by the idea.

“There might be…if we looked, but…”

He said nothing for a long moment. Then he spoke.

“The only good goblins are the ones that never come out of their holes.”

He took a step.

“This will make twenty-two.”


It’s a common story, one heard all the time.

A village is attacked by goblins. Some maidens are kidnapped.

Some rookies decide they’re going to get rid of these goblins for their first quest.

But the goblins are too much, and the whole party is slaughtered.

Or maybe just one makes it out and saves the girls, too.

During their captivity, the girls had been forced to serve as the goblins’ playthings.

In despair, they take shelter at the Temple.

The lone survivor slowly slips away from the world and never leaves home again.

In this world, these sorts of things are an everyday occurrence, as common as the sunrise.

Or are they? Priestess wasn’t sure. Do these life-shattering events really happen all the time?

And if they do, could she, knowing them firsthand, go on believing in the Earth Mother?

In the end, there were only two things of which she was certain.

That she would continue as an adventurer.

And that Goblin Slayer had exterminated every goblin in that nest.

But then, that, too, is no more than another often-told tale.