Last Stand of the World
Chapter Nineteen: Scavengers Way
Davern turned to Ryli "any suggestions?"
"Well, a few, actually. The Summoner's Prissy Princess may have cut off the main access tunnels, but she hasn't taken out the scavenger's tunnels. If she knows where they are, I doubt she even has a clue some of them exist.
'I don't even know what I've done to her anyway." she murmured under her breath and walked towards one of the nearby walls. They weren't far from a few access points anyway and shoved a basket out of the way, motioning for them to follow her. "Here, down this way. We need to hurry before she blows something else up."
They moved through the side passaged, crouched over until Davers face was almost in his knees; "you know this isn't the most comfortable position, right?"
Ryli looked back at him, standing completely upright, and smiled, "well, who told you to be so big? the next turn is just through here," she said, ducking around a corner and crouching next to a wall slapping a series of patterns with the flat of her palm.
Davern looked back at Asaa, "hum, why does that look so familiar?"
She flicked him with her tail and huffed.
He ducked out of the way. "Hey now, I'm just joking; stop with the tail already."
She stilled her tail. "Does it hurt?" she asked in concern.
He just grinned at her and winked.
"Oh, you, erg." she whipped her tail, but this time didn't hit him with it, and he smiled, getting a little closer as they waited for the wall to open. He snagged it out of the air and gave it a few brief swipes with the pad of his thumb.
He leaned in and whispered in her ear, just don't hurt it knocking into things. Then he released her when he noticed her skin had shifted to a pleasing shade of rose, and he walked away. If he'd had a tail, it'd be twitching high in the air, pleased with himself. He rubbed his fingers together; yep, her scales felt just as pleasant as he remembered.
Davern got serious and focused on Ryli. "Do you know where Dugger might have gone?"
"He probably went to the summoners' house to get his practice supplies, and then he might have gone to his house to get some of his stuff, but he might have gone looking for her first."
"Alright, we'll head there first. Do these tunnels head that way?"
She paused for a moment as if to think and then said, "Well, most of them do, but you can't get near The Summoners or The Shamans house in them. You'll have to come out near the middle of the den and then try to make our way up unseen by her. It will be a pain if she's activated any other defenses."
The tunnel had opened while they were conversing, and Ryli peaked her head out and looked both ways before waving behind her and them to follow her. They slipped in and out a warren of tunnels in much the same way until they finally came to one, and Ryli held up her hand; this is the exit that leads out into the open. I don't know if she knows about it or not. It's likely that she doesn't, but she was my friend, and it's possible that she's seen me exit it once or twice if she ever paid attention while I was doing my job."
"So, you're saying she could have blocked it or trapped it."
"Could have, but I'm not sure if she's that smart; she probably thinks she's pinned us in and can do what she wants. Though she might have set the dens defenses to go off if there are any intruders. That she isn't too stupid not to do."
"Well, nothing for it then, but to chance it. I'll take point. You and Asaa stay behind me. That way, I can make a shield; even with the baubles I made, I don't need to waste them unnecessarily."
They nodded in agreement, and Ryli moved back behind him after hitting the sequence to open the door.
Davern looked out into the dimly lit area. He could see crud huts, made of whatever could be cobbled together, tattered strips of leather and tufts of grass, glued together with bits of mud and sand. Several huts had rows of long rawhide thongs with bone beads knotted on them, covering the entrances.
He activated his mana eyes, and looked around, not that he thought it would do much good, goblins didn't tend to use many magic traps, but it might help him detect slight disturbance and avoid them. He also cast a low-grade shield spell that would protect them against projectiles and fire damage.
He snuck out of the door and noted that there were still bubbling cauldrons and spits roasting, some kind of animals, over the central fire. The Shaman must have dropped everything and just come when Dugger and Gabs had come to tell him about what had happened.
They moved past it and with signs; Ryli pointed the way to several larger huts at the far end of the encampment. He swore they were out in the open and quite a ways from them.
Davern paused, scanning the ground, looking for anything that had been disturbed, and Ryli tapped his arm, pointing out several places indicating where she knew there were traps.
Asaa produced a potion and with a gust of wind blew it out across the open camp; the fine dust caught and exposed several lines as thin as spiders silk, almost invisible to the naked eye, that crisscrossed the open spaces and lead to a series of different triggers, and various traps.
"Good one, Asaa," grinned at her, then went back to studying the landscape, perking his ears to hear the faintest sounds.
"Which one is The Summoners' house? Ryli pointed towards the larger and more ostentatious of the two larger huts. He knew that the guy had an ego. Now he could see where his supposedly shy daughter got her attitude. Even if it wasn't hers, she would still feel stilted because she'd had the best even in these troubled living conditions.
He knew that goblin dens didn't always look like this either. Depending on the tribe, goblins could have rather sophisticated living quarters, but they'd been beaten down like the other races, living in squalor. He wondered just how much each of their histories had been lost.
They'd been moving forward at a snail's pace, careful not to disturb the filaments or trigger any traps. They'd carefully avoided most of the traps and were almost to The Summoners hut when they heard a commotion, and one of the livestock got loose and began rampaging through the camp.
They froze, then heard Dugger, "I told you, I don't feel that way about you Gabs, now let me go. The Shaman made his decision for a reason, I'm sure once you know it everything will be okay."
"Why are you always taking her side!"
"I'm not! I just think you're being unreasonable."
"Unreasonable? I'm being unreasonable? A filthy Scavenger was just handed everything we've worked for and you think I'm being unreasonable? Well, I'll should you Unreasonable."
"Gabs? What are you doing? Put that down! No! STOP. Arrg..."
"Is that unreasonable enough for you?"
"Open your mouth. I'm going to give you a little something my papa said might help me. I said I wouldn't need it, but you know what. I think I don't care anymore. All I hear out of your mouth is, Ryli this, and Ryli that do you even care about me? Now open your mouth."