Last Stand of the World
Chapter Ten: Goblins
It didn’t take them long to reach the top of the passage. They walked out from a rock that slid open, carefully looking around. Her face ugly, she looked up at the top of the stairs; there’d been some kind of rock slide.
They hadn’t just locked the gate. They'd made it impassable, she sighed. “I thought as much I’m not sure if it was my people or the Nullers, it’s pretty obvious that thing captures its victims, but it also seems to bring along its entourage of creatures to do its bidding that listen to it for whatever reason.
Davern sighed; she was right, let's head back down. Do you have anything that can make light? That isn’t magical?”
She eyed him sideways and then nodded; there were all kinds of things in the bond, and he could just take what he wanted from there. Mother did say that humans could be weird; she guessed she would have to learn about his customs as well. Blowing out her cheeks, she bit her lips and closed her eyes, focusing on the inside of the bond. Until she found what she was looking for. Inside one of the chests, she had a few torches and lanterns, and she brought them out and held one up by her tail. “Will these work?”
“It should. Will it make you tired to carry it like that?” he asked her doubtfully.
No, there are special holders on these made for that purpose. She said, showing him and looping a light on her tail.
“It won't hurt you? Will it? Should I carry one?”
“No, I’ll be fine,” she said. A small smile played over her lips, and a little extra sway swished in her tail as they went down the path; maybe he wasn’t so oblivious after all. The light illuminated the cavern walls sending out a blue hue from the chemical reaction, casting a different type of light than the bright yellows and golds he was used to.
“It’s made from insects, so there is no danger of fire, the light has a different hue, but I think it’s kind of pretty,” she said, explaining why there was no flame.
“I see, that would be safer, and I suppose less messy.” He said, his eyes subconsciously following her as she moved.
“It keeps the air in the tunnels of a higher quality. Having open flames could lead to poisoning.” She replied.
“Yes, it could happen without proper venting.” His breathing quickened, and his hand tightened on the pommel of the sword. He knew she’d said that her tribe didn’t bedazzle, but he sure felt that way right now, watching her under the sway of the light. He shook his head. I have other things to worry about. “So, about how far ‘til we reach the junction.”
“We’re about there. It’s just up around the corner.”
Just then, they heard a loud crash and something squeak, “Ryli, we were supposed to be scouting. Hurry up!”
“Just...let me grab one more thing.”
“No, there isn’t time, something’s coming, and the Shaman says we have to find a way out before the controlled ones notice and try to stop us.”
“Fine, I’m coming.”
Davern and Asaa looked at each other and sprinted, towards the alcove, making it just in time to see three small forms disappearing into the darkness, one of them wearing a big unwieldy pack. “Sand goblins, and it sounds like there is something up within their tribe?” Davern said.
“Yes, controlled ones? I wonder what they meant by that?”
“Probably something to do with the Nuller, no doubt, and if I know one thing about Goblins, they breed fast, she could be using them as a readily available food source.”
“That’s just sick.”
He thought of something and a long dark tunnel full of Sand Wyrms, “hey, don’t Sand Goblins work with Sand Wyrms?”
“Depends on whether or not they have a summoner.”
“Yes, that looked like a scavenger at the back there; wonder if they found anything good.” She rolled her eyes at him, “most of the stuff fell into the room on top of you, so probably not.
“I have a bone to pick with you; you said there wouldn’t be anything in the foreboding cavern but a few empty stalls.”
She puffed out her cheeks and huffed at him. “Well, who knew that there would be a whole horde of sand gobs down here.” She flicked her tail, sending the light spinning, creating crazy arches along the walls. She looked at him, snorted, and then stilled the fixture.
They proceeded forward a little more cautiously than before and peeked around the pillar that the goblins had disappeared behind. Davern motioned for her to stay back and crept up a bit, peeking around the corner. He could see that one of the goblins had been captured and was being held up by their pack. Two others were desperately trying to free them.
“Dang it, Ryli, just cut the straps.”
“I’ll get in trouble if I lose the pack.”
“Is the gear more important, or your life? Cut it!”
“Dugger...dang it, fine!”
There were two of them pulling on her ankles and yanking, while a large berserker had restrained her from behind, pulling on the pack. Davern could see the fear on its face as it brought a dagger up and under one of the straps on the pack.
She closed her eyes about to make the cut when suddenly a shudder, and then a rumble from beneath them rocked the cavern, and a giant Sand Wyrm tore through the surface. Dust and debris scattered everywhere, a shrill scream could be heard, and when the dust settled, the three scouts were covered in dirt but not harmed; the goblin who had been trying to drag them off, only a part of an arm was left dangling off of the scavenger's pack. “Eeew eek get it off, get it off. She jumped around and flung it free.”
“Really, Ryli, grow up,” Dugger said as he stood up and shook himself off.
One of them looked over at Davern. Pointing in his direction, “w-w-a...w-a..what's that light coming from over there?” The others turned and looked, and before they could respond, the tiny creature had already started running down the tunnel where the Sand Wyrms were.
Davern couldn’t say what made him do it, they were goblins after all, but he opened his mouth to warn them, “No, don’t go that way; that tunnel is full of Sand Wyrms.” The goblin didn’t stop running. He didn’t know that he really expected it to, and there was really nothing he could do as the ground began to vibrate and another Wyrm broke the surface.