Chapter 37

I had felt rather comfortable residing in my own little pool. It was only after Tanner arrived that I started to concern myself with the outside world, and even then, I only interacted when I felt it was convenient. For all intents and purposes. I had already obtained everything that I needed.  Killing those five goblins had even leveled me once again, and while I hadn’t had a chance to carefully examine my new ability, it was a body modification called Cellular Redistribution.

For a multicellular creature, this was practically a cheat skill. Once a cell was created, it was usually stuck in place. You didn’t get any chances to move it around or reallocate it. This was one of the reasons I had struggled in creating complex organs. Any time I made a single mistake, I had to destroy the entire organ and retry. Every organ I created took a fair amount of time and resources, and almost all of them ended up being flawed in various ways. This was ultimately what kept me from forming a physical body.

Cellular Redistribution would allow me to start seriously working on creating organs and a physical body. I wasn’t sure what form I wanted to take. Theoretically, I could look like anything. I felt like what I chose to undertake would define my future and how I interacted with this world. However, with this skill and my fish, I didn’t need humans anymore. In short, Tanner and his family were just a nuisance. If the goblins cleared them out and moved on, wouldn’t that be for the best?

“Ahhh!”

One of the goblins had used a slingshot and sent a stone at Carolina. It hit her leg, causing her to fall. She quickly spun, landing heavily on her back with the young Mara in her arms. The two ended up rolling down the hill, Carolina desperately trying to protect her daughter. Meanwhile, the goblins had foul expressions on their faces and were racing to catch up. My entire body roiled for a moment.

Why was I still this way? Why did I care? I tried to help a girl once. It was even my sister. In the end, I was murdered for my kindness. I didn’t owe this baby and her mother anything. We didn’t have anything linking us together. I didn’t even have the humanity to share with them. The pair stopped rolling. The mom was on her back, motionless, while her daughter squirmed in her arms. Mara was tugging at her mom’s blouse, unable to get out of her arms.

“Mom! Mommy…” She cried.

I had seen enough. I shot out a stream of water, managing to just hit her face. As soon as the water struck, her eyes opened, and she let out a gasp. She rolled over, coughing as Mara fell off her chest.

“R-run… baby.” She croaked in a pained voice. “Run!”

She tried to get Mara to run, but the young toddler was confused. She kept trying to pull on Carolina, who didn’t seem to be able to sit up. She finally shoved her daughter away. Mara stumbled back and ended up rolling down the hill some more. I let out a hiss as Mara tumbled and her mom looked on in fear and hopelessness.

At this point, the goblins reached Carolina and grabbed her. One of them pulled a knife at her, and I thought he was going to cut her throat, but instead, he started cutting her clothing. What the hell was wrong with these goblins? They were seriously going to attack her here? Carolina tried to struggle, but there were five goblins. One held each arm, and the fifth one lifted her skirt and started fiddling with his loincloth. The words they were saying were vulgar, and even a guy who grew up in a gang and had seen a fair amount of abuse felt a bit angry.

“No!” Right before the goblin managed to settle, a stone slammed him in the head.

Mara had rolled down near my shore, but then she had started grabbing large pebbles and chucking them at the goblins. Her throw wasn’t bad, and she hit the goblin again and again. He let out a shriek of anger and then got up and started advancing on Mara. Two of the others joined him, lustful looks on their faces, even when looking at a toddler. My water began to boil in rage.

Mara stumbled back in fear. She ended up falling right into the water. She continued to try to back up until the water was up to her mouth. The goblins made rude remarks and continued forward. I waited until all three of them were standing in the shallows. As soon as one goblin reached for her, Mara let out a cry as she was pulled across the pond like a rope was yanking her. The goblin cried out, stumbling forward in surprise. I grabbed all three of them and yanked as well.

The three goblins let out shrieks as they were pulled under. While I was drowning the three goblins, the commotion was enough that the remaining two let go of Carolina and started heading toward me. That seemed to be all Carolina needed. She had seemingly hidden a dagger in her boot. She pulled it out now and then stabbed one of the goblins in the neck from behind. The other turned just as she leaped on him. He managed to knock the knife out of her hand, but she found a large rock which she picked up and smashed on his head. The goblin only took a few strikes before dying.

She stood up, holding her tattered dress as if to protect her modesty, even while covered in blood. I realized she was looking for Mara. I started to bring Mara back from the middle of the pond. She was just floating there, a confused look on her face.

However, the fat goblin appeared behind her, and I pulled back. Carolina could barely turn before he grabbed her neck and picked her up. How was this fat goblin so strong? He was ringing the life out of Carolina. I was just thinking about what I could do. I could squirt him with water, or get Mara to throw more stones. Instead, the answer came a moment later when a body slammed into both of them. Tanner, the goblin leader, and Carolina all went flying into the pond. As soon as Carolina hit the water, I grabbed her and pulled her away from the goblin leader, bringing her to her daughter.

Tanner stood up, his body covered in blood, some of it was goblin blood, and some of it his own. He had many cuts and bruises and had been through a heck of a fight. He had single-handedly brought down fourteen of the twenty-five goblins, so he deserved some reverence there. The goblin boss seemed enraged. It was hard to tell, even with Translation, whether his anger was over his entire hunting party being wiped out, the woman being pulled from him, or just getting wet.

Tanner swung his sword at the goblin. The sword struck him but then bounced off. Tanner looked in horror as the goblin grinned, his skin glowing with some kind of light. I realized it must be something very similar to my Encapsulation skill, forcefully increasing his defense so high that Tanner couldn’t even hurt him. The goblin gave a cruel smile and then turned away from Tanner as if dismissing him. His scimitar glowed, and he sent the attack toward the middle of the pond. He was attacking Carolina and Mara!

“No!” Tanner cried out.

I sent a giant wave of water up, and a slash that resembled an arc of fire struck the wave, causing steam to erupt and for Mara and Carolina to be safely pushed away. Although I protected them, Tanner had allowed himself to be distracted. The goblin immediately attacked Tanner. This goblin was strong, and his magic was powerful. I had thought he’d be an evolved, but now I had a distinct feeling the boss was Flawless. That was a level three evolved.

To the best of my understanding, Tanner was only a high-ranked level two… or to use the nomenclature my status was used to, he was in his second evolutionary form, level eight or nine. Every evolutionary rank was an entire class over the previous rank. It made sense that Tanner could barely even harm him. The goblin’s stats were higher than his by a factor of ten. He managed to slice Tanner’s arm, nearly cutting it off, and send him stumbling back into the water. He then lunged forward with his killing blow.

Carolina let out a cry of fear as she watched the goblin send the blade down on her husband’s head. I knew I was the only one who could damage him. Before his blade reached, I used Electrogenesis. A second later, the goblin boss and Tanner were being electrocuted. Oops, I had forgotten about the water. I released the electricity, going to grab him instead.

It was no good, the goblin recovered quickly, letting out a roar as he lifted his blade again. However, Tanner acted just as quickly, lifting his blade and then slamming it into the goblin boss’s chest. I was expecting the blade to deflect again, especially since he was aiming for the goblin’s chest plate, but to my surprise, the blade slammed right into the goblin and pierced his heart.

This wasn’t enough to kill a flawless though. The goblin boss let out a shriek, slashing out his scimitar. Tanner had no choice but to abandon his blade and jump back. The goblin went to attack Tanner again, but I still had a hold of his ankles and he ended up falling face-first. The blade got slammed down into the hilt by his body weight. I didn’t give him a chance to process this as I grabbed him and pulled him to the depths of my water. He was still alive, but with the sword impaling his heart, he couldn’t fight long before dying. I ended up leveling again.

Congratulations! You have reached level 7.

You have unlocked the skill, Matter Shifting.

Before I could rejoice over my new crafting skill, I felt a rumble overhead. A terrified look appeared on Tanner’s face.

“Get my wife and daughter out of here! Quick!” He yelled at me.

I pulled them over to the far side of the pond, but I was a bit confused. What was happening? The sky was growing increasingly dark. There was a strange static in the air. Carolina seemed to understand what was happening. She grabbed her daughter and started racing for the forest like their lives depended on it.

“I’m sorry…” Tanner apologized to me. “It was the only way I could defeat him. I… evolved. That means… Tribulation!”

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