In a deep dark cave far away from the eyes of civilization live creatures that no one cares to acknowledge let alone meet. They are monsters, they are nightmares, they are goblins. Hideous and cruel they lurk in shadows, steal and maim and murder all they can. They abide by a different set of rules than the civilizations of the realms. Even evil creatures such as dark elves have order; no, goblins are ruled by chaos. They survive only if they are strong enough and if they are not they are devoured by the very clan that birthed them; stripped of all they possess and forgotten as quickly as the sun sets beyond the mountains. Goblins are despised a reviled creatures; unloved and unwanted. Theirs is a frightening world.
As the flicker of flame from torches danced a hypnotizing dance two goblin whelps crawled along the cave searching for food. Their tummies growled as they often did and already they learned the first lesson of goblin life. Food is always difficult to come by and you will never cease searching for it. While the stomach may rule many creatures and all beings must eat to survive, the goblin is driven by it in a way that is difficult to understand. These two whelps, brothers they were, crept together in search of it as they had a hundred times before and would thousands of times after.
The deep caves of the world were not abundant in food. In pools of water there were sometimes slimy creatures that one could consume, mushrooms were common as well as some insects and bats, but none of these would be considered food by sophisticated beings. Only the creepy crawlers of the dark would consider them edible. That was the life of a goblin.
The boys stuck their hands in cracks in the rocks trying to discover a grub or a beetle of some sort, or if there were very lucky they could find a rodent. For quite some time they explored and searched unsuccessfully; pushing and shoving each other as they did. Yet, their stomachs continued to growl and their temperaments worsened.
At last a glow beckoned from ahead. They ducked down behind some stone when they first noticed it and clung to one another, but the glow did not harm them and so their ears perked up and they chose to follow it.
The light shone from some place much further than they anticipated and their keen eyes noticed it far before their other senses caught up. As they neared a tapping sound was added to the mystery. The goblin boys looked at each other blankly for help or reassurance but found none. There was no other option but to follow the light and the tapping and learn their origin.
With soft, light feet the boys slinked towards the light and the tapping, which they had never quite heard before, when an even stranger sound joined the tapping. It sounded like a creature but they never heard such a sound. It vaguely resembled the sound some of the goblins made when they were very much drunk from cave wine but those were typically unpleasant sounds while these were something harmonious, something happy. Harmonious and happy were entirely foreign concepts to the goblin brothers and they could not make sense of it whatsoever.
The sounds of the tapping turned to clanging and yet it was the humming that pierced their ears and their hearts. The boys crawled, knowing they were very close, and as they slipped into the shadows of a hallway they nearly tripped over themselves as they found a lone dwarf mining away in this section of the cave.
The boys dove behind more stone and huddled together limbs shaking and lips quivering. For several long minutes they remained, clinging to each other awaiting certain death. Yet death did not seem interested in the boys. As the fog of fear lifted slightly the sound of the dwarf humming eased their spirits. Their hearts slowed and they loosened their grip on each other enough to peer over the stone and study the dwarf.
Their eyes widened as they watched a grey haired sturdy dwarf dressed in leather and swinging and iron pickax and humming. He didn’t notice the boys as far as they could tell. The dwarf swung his ax heavily against the stone then inspected the result of his blow then struck again, all the while humming a steady tune. Behind him a few feet away there was a leather pack large enough for both the boys to fit inside if they wanted to stow away to where ever this dwarf lived, though the thought never occurred to them as the grumbling of their tummies interrupted their enjoyment of the hypnotic tune and their keen noses alerted them that there was some dried meat in the pack along with ale. This was the prize they sought.
The boys looked to each other and knew they would try to steal the dwarf’s pack, or at least what was inside. Without the benefit of a plan they pressed themselves to the cold stone floor of the cave, their loose loin cloths leaving them exposed to the coldness of the stone and its jagged edges but they learned long before to ignore both. They were life.
Like snakes along the floor they slithered to the pack, the dwarf intently mining for a gem which caught the boys’ eyes. It glimmered from the dark stone surrounding it and the light from the dwarf’s torch reflected from one of its finer edges. Distracted for only a moment the scent of food kept them focused enough and soon they found themselves upon the pack.
A drawstring was tied round it securing it from the boys, but one of the brothers pulled a bone dagger from his waistband and began sawing the string. The dwarf still did not notice the boys as he hammered away at the stone and hummed his song. At last the string was cut and the boys reached in and quickly found the food they longed for. As they did so however at last the old dwarf turned and saw the boys.
“You filthy buggers!” he roared and kicked at the two whelps catching one on the back side and sending him toppling end over end before crashing against the stone wall. The
other raised his bone dagger to threaten the dwarf but with pickax in hand a mighty swing sent the puny goblin ducking and scampering away for cover. Both goblins quickly fled running on all fours like monkeys they never looked back but shrieked and tripped and crashed their way from the dwarf.
The old dwarf cursed at them but was in no mood and no shape to chase a pair of goblin whelps so he gave up pursuit before it even began.