The tiny Sharpspear party rested peacefully as the water fell around them, held them like a warm blanket and lulled them into a deep rest. They were floating among their dreams and dreamt of mostly pleasant things. For simple goblins that meant mostly food but it made them happy and they were resting with no thoughts of the terrible world they were accustomed to. No taint of goblin wickedness affected them in that fleeting moment.
Eventually, a fog crept into their dreams. It was dark and swallowed the pleasant thoughts whole; devouring their joy and dissolving it into desperation. The goblins wriggled and squirmed in their sleep as their dreams took over and they began to feel an ache deep within. As they tried to make sense of the dark dreams, that began to haunt them with shadows, there was a loud scream and a giant rat with long fangs that dripped with blood assaulted them. They ran in their dreams, but the beast chased them.
They all woke screaming in the physical world and looked to one another and around in the cave. It was as of yet still a soft blue but they were wide eyed and their hearts were pounding they dove into the water and began to swim to the safety of the shore with arms flailing and legs splashing water every which way. They could hardly see as the water hit their eyes and stung them like a poison might.
When they at last reached the side of the pool, they pulled themselves up. The trio looked to each other for comfort and as they recognized their kin their breathing slowed along with their hearts. They laid panting for some time trying to shake the lingering feelings of the horrid nightmare they experienced at once. With the three of them together they felt safer and were glad that they were no longer in the clutches of that giant rat.
They looked about them and Zyx froze when he noted that the totem was no longer where he left it. Their weapons and equipment were also gone. Before they could wonder where their gear wandered off too, their vision went blank. Eyes wide open they saw nothing but white flashes. They stumbled as the lights in their eyes hit them like blows to the head. They were blinded.
They heard screeches and the clang of metal on rock and they each spun about trying to get a sense of what was going on but the noise echoed off the cavern and their blindness disoriented them further and they fell to the ground arms raised trying to ward off whatever might be coming.
A blast of frost slammed into the small group freezing bits of flesh and stinging their bodies. Each now cowered on the ground trying to cover their heads with their arms as the assault continued with another blast and then another. Their bodies were stiff with cold and their joints were hardened as their movement was diminished. They cried on the ground, no longer resisting but more or less waiting to see what foul fate had befallen them.
Then it happened. In the shadows nearby a goblin shaman chanted flesh to dust while holding a crudely constructed totem. The goblin brothers and their friend Kevnos felt like their bodies and bones were being grinded down by heavy stones. Their flesh went from cold to a aching and burning that none of them had ever experienced before. Their mouths opened but they could not even scream, the very breath in their lungs stolen and they felt like they were being pulled apart like a child might pull the legs off a bug. They could not even process what was happening, only wait for it to kill them which in that moment was what they wished for.
“Stop!” a shout came from near the tortured trio. “You no kill them! King ordered!”
The words were audible to the group but they did not do anything to ease their absolute suffering so they could not make any sense of them.
“Stop shaman!” another yell came. Suddenly their searing pain halted and each of the three gasped for breath as they lay flat on their backs not sure if they were alive or dead.
There were screeches as five goblin slavers attacked the shaman who was killing the three. The lead slaver who was barking orders, cracked his whip at the shaman in warning but only provoked his wrath. The shaman snarled at his attacker and with a quick thought shot a small ball of flame from his reclaimed totem that struck the slaver and staggered him backward. Nakbor the shaman of Dreaddeath did not hesitate but fired a second ball at another slaver also striking that one. A third shot sailed towards another goblin but this one was quick enough to duck the blast and then lash out with his whip catching the shaman on the leg. The other two unharmed goblins also whipped at Nakbor who stood defiantly and sent several blasts of fire at the group of slavers.
Cracks of whips, blasts of fire, yelps and screams filled the cavern as the melee ensued. The three Sharpspear goblins could do nothing but try to suck in as much air as they could, each fresh breath a small measure of life returned to their near depleted forms.
Nakbor, overflowing with hate and revenge spat out blood and continued to try to best his fellow goblins. Spells and curses flew from his mouth and he hurt the slavers badly. They however were too many for him. They lashed out with their whips and eventually the leader threw a barded net over Nakbor and he was subdued. They proceeded to kick and punch him until he was beaten into unconsciousness. Only then did his murderous goals fail.
The slavers then proceeded to look back to their initial targets. The two boys and their leader, Kevnos. They were all still writhing on the ground, bodies nearly torn apart by the awful curse they were subjected to. The slavers quickly bound all three of them who were helpless to resist. Only then did they regain their sense enough to determine what happened to them.
The brothers said nothing. Only Kevnos had something to ask, “Why you attack me?’ the boys heard him ask.
“I show you them, you no attack me. You give me gold,” the goblin pleaded. The boys did not understand what he was asking.
“We give you nothing,” one of the slavers laughed.
“But I give you whelps. You no find them. I show you. I bring them here,” Kevnos whined in a high-pitched childlike voice.
“You stupid. We give you nothing. You give us whelps but you no Trickyfoot.”
Trickyfoot! The clan that birthed the boys. They had returned for them. And their new clan leader, Kevnos, the one they trusted and saved from a centipede attack, the one who showed them so many things in the deep, the one who shared with them the beautiful calming pool they had just swam in, had betrayed them and that betrayal hurt worse than the pain of the attack. That pain, more than the physical pain, made them wish they were dead. For pain like that, there is no cure.