The tiny goblin tribe ate well that night. They danced around a bon fire as if they were celebrating a mighty victory, spears in hand and shrieks of joy filled the stone halls of the Sharpspear tribe. Bellies filled with meat and hearts filled with joy, though the emotion was strange to them, they slept well.
Kevnos was up early and roused the brothers with an enthusiasm of puppy. The brothers looked to one another and then back to their new tribe chief.
“Come! Kevnos teach you!” the ranger encouraged.
“What you teach us?” Nyx wondered.
“I teach you be hunter, trapper, I teach you survive,” he beamed.
The brothers nodded though their new friend’s energy was a little overwhelming for them. They gathered their things and prepared to follow their new trainer.
“We go on rounds,” explained Kevnos, “We check traps. We search tracks. Must learn be silent. Lots creatures here in caves. Many bad. Orcs bad. Elves bad. Very dangerous. All hate goblins. All kill us. Must learn kill first.” The brothers search each other for a sense of what their new friend was talking about but neither showed any sense that they had any answers. They were still very young and very naive. The only lessons they learned from their time with Trickyfoots were out of survival and necessity. No one had ever trained them. They didn’t even know the meaning of the word. In fact, goblins didn’t so much train as they did torture one another into crueler and more vicious ways. This would be different.
Kevnos tossed the boys a spear each and a bow with quiver. Nyx slung the bow quiver like it as natural then gripped the spear tightly as if ready to strike. Zyx on the other hand, fumbled with all of it. Watching his brother, he managed to mirror what he was doing but none of the equipment felt comfortable. With the spear in one hand, the budding shaman picked up the totem. That implement felt perfectly comfortable and Zyx could feel the energy contained within. It was like whispers from the souls that helped build it encouraging him and filling him with power.
“Come!” Kevnos ordered, “Follow Kevnos!”
The Sharpspear king bounded out of the throne room and began navigating through the ruined goblin town. They passed endless ruins and rubble. Nyx kept pace with the hunter and mimicked his movements while Zyx, with difficulty, followed. His totem seemed to vibrate in his hand and the whispers increased, though, he could not decipher what they were saying. They were like many voices at once that just sounded like white noise. So many whispers made a wind in his mind.
The group made it to the edge of the goblin town where hewn and formed stone became rough rock. Kevnos stopped to teach his new protegees.
“From here we move silent. Stay on toes, less noise. Crouch and step light,” the goblin ranger explained. The boys nodded.
Nyx had no issue stepping on his toes and traveling silently, his brother however, struggled. Zyx did not balance well and his steps were hardly quieter than they had been before he tried to step lightly. His gear seemed heavy to him even though it didn’t weigh much.
Kevnos glared back at the smaller, weaker brother several times and even hissed, “Quiet! You loud!”
The ranger led the boys to a trap down the length of the cave. It was a simple design, just some leather skins with dirt to disguise the hole. Nothing had fallen in the trap, so they continued on. There was a labyrinth of caves that the boys could not track, but Kevnos had no problems whatsoever. He knew where he was at all times and the caverns and caves were as familiar to him as the spear in his hand.
The group traveled through the caverns and checked multiple traps. At last they came upon one which had captured and killed a large lizard.
“Cave lizard!” Kevnos smiled. “Very tasty!”
The ranger used his spear to pry the reptile from the spikes at the bottom of his trap and with Nyx helping his new teacher, they pulled the catch up from the hole. The pair carried the lizard together while Zyx followed them.
“Easy carry, two goblins!” Kevnos laughed. “I carry all myself. Good with more.”
Nyx beemed at his teacher’s praise. Zyx just trudged behind them.
They returned to the throne room to drop off their meal and then headed back out to search more traps. The day continued like that. Kevnos occasionally stopped to explain some trick or tip about survival. Mostly the lessons of the day were about trapping. Kevnos was very clever at trapping. There were different styles and manner of traps to suite different prey. Kevnos taught them about the various creatures that roamed the caves of the “deep,” as the ranger called it. He described the various subterranean animals and which ones were best to eat. Nyx ate up every word, but Zyx had no appetite for it.
Zyx continued to have difficulty keeping pace and the more athletic pair but his spirit was sensitive to a great many things as they traveled. He found the whispers much louder in the destroyed village and very quiet beyond that. That was much more interesting to the small goblin than trapping and wild beasts in the deep. At last Kevnos had a story that interested Zyx.
“This path,” began the ranger, “it lead to the open.”
“The open?” Zyx asked.
“The open a place outside mountain. Cave leads to the open. I been there.”
“What open like?” wondered the whelp.
“It big. It bright. It feel unsafe. No hole to hide. Many beasts. I went on raid one time to open. We attack when no light. We attack village. They have many shiny things. We take them.”
“Do you go there?”
“No. It not safe in the open. Not for one goblin. Whole clan must go.”
Zyx wanted to know more about the open but Kevnos stopped them. “Tracks!” he exclaimed.
The boys stopped at looked but they could not see anything. Kevnos leaned over on all floors and looked closely at the cave floor. “Fresh.”
“What it?” Nyx inquired.
“Look like goblin track. Many goblin.”
Zyx’s eyes widened and he looked behind him and glared down the corridor. He saw nothing. Nyx raised his spear and also spun about as though an attack was imminent. Kevnos studied the tracks intently and traced them with his fingers in a few places before declaring that the goblins who made the tracks went away from them.
“I no see goblin tracks long time,” Kevnos explained calmly. “Maybe other Sharpspear live!”
Kevnos continued to study the tracks and began to follow them. Nyx followed directly on his heels, but Zyx plopped on his rear and gripped the totem tightly. He closed his eyes and concentrated.
The whispers were quiet. Zyx breathed deeply in and tried to sense the air around him. A feeling of warmth washed over him and he could feel the would around him beyond the visual. The footprints on the ground glowed. Zyx tried to focus on the footprints and the beings that made them. Slowly, the image of goblins appeared to him. They were fuzzy and Zyx couldn’t make out much about them at all. Then suddenly an image of a giant rat leapt out screaming at him with claws outstretched and sharp teeth bared.
The small goblin screamed, “No!” Eyes wide as he jumped to his feet. “We need leave.”
Kevnos and Nyx froze in their tracks and turned to stare at their companion.
“What wrong brother?” asked Nyx.
“These goblins no good. We need leave. Back to village.”
The pair studied the little goblin and could see the fear on his face. Nyx knew enough to heed his brother’s warning.
“We do what Zyx say. We go back.”
Kevnos paused but when Nyx moved to his brother’s side, he decided to do what they said and they quickly made their way back to the goblin town and worked on preparing the prey they recovered from Kevnos’ traps.