Goblin Brothers Excerpt: Shaman Chief

I said I wasn’t going to post anything more about the goblins until I wrote the entire story but I couldn’t help but share this description of the head goblin shaman I wrote today. I’m still having a blast writing this story. 

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Zyx and Grattird raced into the main temple room and then slid to a halt as they stood before the most terrifying goblin either of them had ever seen. Standing on the edge of the altar, in a pool of blood was a shaman covered in robes made from the flesh of sacrifices to Sagobr Dreaddeath. He also wore a mask that seemed to be created from a giant serpent skull which had the mouth intact, including long fangs which stretched out from his face. His dark face glared from the mouth of the snake with glowing red eyes, searching and penetrating the two young goblins. They stood, whole bodies trembling as they stared at the towering shaman unable to speak or move.

“I Ziomvor. I chief shaman for Sagobr Dreaddeath. If you be shaman. You must pass tests,” hissed the goblin shaman as he waved a long totem made from a bone of a dragon and the most powerful totem the Trickyfoot clan possessed. It curved towards the young pair and, adorned with scales, it made a knocking sound as if calling for their very souls. Each of them, young though they were and untrained, could sense the hunger and power contained in the implement.

“You live all tests, you be trained be shaman. You die, you sacrifice to Dreaddeath. Come for first test!” Ziomvor called.

The whelps didn’t move, so the shaman’s behind them howled and slammed their totems to the ground sending waves of fear from the clang against cold stone. Zyx and Grattird both leapt forward and shuffled to the altar where there chief shaman waited.

Up close, Ziomvor was even more haunting. His face seemed like a shadow inside the serpent mouth as if he had been swallowed by the beast and was gasping for air from its belly. Mere feet from him, they felt a chill that made them want to run and hide as if a monster in a nightmare stalked them. His body was covered in tattoos, scarred with the blood of sacrifices. Each making him more powerful as he carried the essence of those creatures in his very flesh. His breath was the stench of death as though he consumed souls for sustenance. His voice was constantly like that of a snake hissing. The pair feared that at any moment the skull of the snake he bore on his head would animate and strike them. They could barely remain near him and dared not look up while in his shadow.

Goal Setting

It is basically key to any accomplishment or achievement in life, but goal setting is huge in writing as well. I am starting big and putting them out here so I can be more accountable to my goals. So here’s the goals for the rest of 2018:

1) publish Sureshot the Assassin by end of May.

2) Finish writing and publish Sureshot the King by December

3) (bonus goal) finish writing my Goblin Brother’s story

There, my goals are set for the year. Now I just need some smaller ones to help me get there.

Goblin Brothers Part 27

There was no further punishment for the murder of Kevnos. The Trickyfoot goblins didn’t care about him whatsoever and in fact he was not likely to last long once he got to the clan anyways. He was doomed the moment he found tracked the slavers in search of the escaped whelps that were so intriguing to their king. So, his body was cut loose and left for the vermin of the deep to consume and erase the evidence of his short, miserable existence. He now only survived in the hearts and minds of Nyx and Zyx and they held him in contempt.

Days before their capture the ranger decided to finally follow the tracks and discovered the slavers and with their shaman. He cautiously approached them and when the slavers sought to kill the stranger, the shaman halted them and inquired about their whelps. Kevnos initially hid the fact that he was caring for them and that the trio was living very comfortably. He was their king after all and their leader and together they were creating a new and loving goblin social dynamic. But a goblin is a goblin and his greed and treachery are not so easily abandoned.

The shaman promised Kevnos that he could join Trickyfoot clan and be a member of their scouting soldiers and that he would also be rewarded with an assortment of treasure from the king’s own vault. At this Kevnos could not resist though part of him ached as he explained to the slavers and shaman that he had found the whelps and had been caring for them. A barely budding love was killed in that moment and it pained his heart.

It was Kevnos who explained where the pool was and that he would take the whelps there to be captured and how he would even get them to abandon their gear so they would be an easier target. The slavers scoffed at the idea of having to disarm a pair of whelps but Kevnos convinced them that they were indeed formidable; that one had killed a cave centipede and the other had powers he didn’t understand. The Nakbor, the shaman, understood and he ordered the slavers to follow the plan.

Kevnos did not let them down and lead the boys to the pool where the slavers and vengeful shaman were waiting for them ready to drag them back to the home the narrowly escaped. Of course, the Trickyfoots were never going to uphold the deal they offered Kevnos. Such was the goblin way. The more treacherous were always praised most. There was no honor in loyalty and no reward for honesty.

So they were all at the mercy of the Trickyfoot slavers, betrayer, betrayed and even their own shaman who tried to betray the wishes of his own king and murder the whelps instead of bringing them back to the clan. Treachery upon treachery upon treachery, but as is often the case in the goblin world, the slavers won the day and were laughing with their new captures chained and in tow.

The remainder of the journey back to the Trickyfoot clan went mostly uneventful as long as you consider beating lashings and taunting uneventful. The boys began to vaguely recognize their surroundings as they neared. The caves they were born in were very much the same since their escape. It had not been that long after all. As the slavers paraded them through the halls they were subjected to many observers and more taunts from the various citizens of Trickfoot clan.

In their early days as Trickyfoots, they never went anywhere near the center of the village. They were outsiders really and scrounged for food by searching the caverns leading away from their clan. This is how they were able to escape so easily. It also meant that as they were dragged to the center of the clan, they were experiencing it for the first time.

It was actually a pretty impressive goblin town as for as the creatures go. It had decent construction and various large areas with a somewhat sophisticated design. In reality, there was never any actual planning, but with enough time, goblins sometimes stumbled upon something that made sense. The brother’s may have even enjoyed seeing their clan village had it been under different circumstances, but as it was, they wished they were back at the Sharpspear clan free from the trappings of goblin society.

The slavers did exactly what they were trained, and they lead their slaves to the dungeon. They boys and Nakbor knew they were getting close when they heard the screams and moans of constant pain and somehow smelled the blood that stained the floors there. It was a place many other creature imaged hell to be like, only, it was real and was central to most goblin clans.

With whips, kicks and taunts increasing as they neared the hearts of the boys raced and their eyes darted about taking in the sites and sounds of the torture chambers of Trickyfoot clan.

There was a gateway guarded by a pair of goblins armed with iron swords crudely crafted with curved blades. The guards didn’t hesitate to allow their kin to pass with the new slaves and even spat and kicked at the three as they were dragged through the gateway in hell.

Once inside, the boys were shocked to see the cages that contained various creatures, none of which looked up to see the new tenates. Inside there were many goblins, a few dwarves, a single elf and then various beasts that were unfamiliar to the boys. These creatures were all huddled in a heap on the ground and didn’t dare move. Wounds all over their bodies were the history of their pain and torment. There lives consisted of nothing but constant labor, punishment, emptiness and want. Their spirits were broken and their lives drained from them one lash at a time. They were hollowed out shells and not really even living beings any longer. They had been reduced to tools used by goblins. A fate worse than death.

Through the halls lined with cages and torture room filled with clever machines that were very efficient at delivering pain and anguish to selves and prisoners. The sites were alarming but nothing was worse than the stench. It rose up front the ground and hung in the air. It assaulted the senses of the three newcomers and tried to choke them. It was something that was difficult to describe. It was part blood, past excremental, part vomit. It didn’t smell like death. Somehow it was worse. It smelt like living doom. It was as if anguish had a scent that smelt like a warning to all who neared it.

Through the fog of this anguish, the boys and the shaman, Nakbor, finally reached the chief slaver Thux. He was deep into the goblin dungeon and when they found him, he was busy beating another goblin who cowered and screamed in a corner and tried to endure.

“You stupid!” Thux bellowed, “You worthless. We no kill slaves. We hurt slaves. We punish slaves. We steal life from slaves. We no kill them. Now I kill you.”

Thux was such a strangely large goblin that he towered over the object of his anger. When he kicked his subject the poor goblin’s body lifted from the ground, then he followed that with a crack from his barbed whip that spilt the poor creature’s flesh and slashed deep into his muscles. The victim’s cries were child like and pierced the air.

When the slavers with Nyx, Zyx and Nakbor in tow reached the room Thux turned and snarled, “What you want? You need beating too?”

“No master slaver. We here with whelps,” the head one answered.

“Whelps? What whelps?” Thux’s chest heaved with deep breaths and his huge muscles swelled with his tight grip on his whip and other fist clenched. Blood spatteres stained his face and drool dripped from his teeth and down his chin.

“You send us capture whelps master. We got them. And shaman.”

Thux considered the information for a minute. The blood in his eyes and the rage in his heart receded enough for him to think about what they meant. Through all the hate, he recalled that his king ordered some whelps to be captured. The thought of his king cooled the fire and he took a step back. He turned to the half-dead goblin on the floor near his feet and ordered, “Leave. Do not fail again.”

The words of his master slaver were a breath of life and with new hope that he would not die that day, the goblin suddenly found strength and leapt to his feet then sprinted away from Thux’s chambers to lick his own wounds.

The massive slaver fell back into a chair sewn with the flesh of victims. He exhaled then took a long drink from a massive stein filled with goblin liquor. “They give you trouble?” Thux smiled.

“Yes master,” one explained. “Shaman try kill them.”

“That why you chain him?”

“Yes master.”

“He try to curse us after.”

“You stop him?”

“Yes master.”

“You punish?”

“Yes master.”

“Good. Anything more?”

“Yes master, we find strange goblin. He had whelps.”

“He slave them?”

“No master. They work together.”

“That strange.”

“Yes, but he give them us. We slave them all.”

Thux bellowed a deep roar of a laugh. “Good. Where he?”

“This one kill him,” the slaver explained and he pointed to Nyx.

Thux laughed even louder, throwing his head back as his roars filled the halls. When he finally calmed down he responded, “No wonder king want him. He good goblin.”

Thux leapt to his feet then swung his long whip through the air and smacked it against the ground by the prisoners’ feet. Zyx fell back in the wake of the piercing sound sbut Nyx stood tall and Nakbor was in a place far away from that room, mending his wounds and plotting revenge.

“You lucky goblins,” Thux snarled. “I want to pain you. King want to meet you. Then we know your pain. Maybe live. Maybe die. We know soon.”

Thux smiled, “Bring them. King want to judge them.”

With that order, Thux, smasher slaver lead the way to the Trickyfoot throne room and the boys’ judgement.

Goblin Brothers Part 27

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Twenty-Seven

 

The slaver group went to sleep eventually with their bellies filled and their sides tired from laughing at their slaves so much. Zyx merely laid there silently and wondered about his mother, about how they were captured and what would happen next. Nakbor passed out from the pain of his beatings and rested uneasily wincing in pain as he moved from several fractured bones and many bruises. Kevnos did not sleep well at all but did try to close his eyes and rest. He, like any older goblin, knew that he would need all his strength to endure the trek back to the goblin town and to survive the inevitable beatings that would come. Only Nyx did not try to sleep at all. He was busy glaring at Kevnos. In his heart and rage built. It was ever growing and he had one single thought. Retribution. They whelps had trusted Kevnos. They thought they were a family even though they had never heard the word. They were comfortable and safe, or at least that’s what they thought. Kevnos was good to them and they shared. Things goblins typically never do. Now it was all gone, and it was clear that Kevnos had betrayed them. Nyx didn’t know why as he was too young to understand that goblins are merely like that. It is how they society operates. If a goblin can benefit by betraying another, he will. Nyx only wanted one things from him now. Revenge.

Zyx was also struggling with the goblin world but in a different way. He barely had many memories of his mother but she was still his mother. And although he did not exactly know what role she played in the goblin shaman coming to them in the first place, causing them to flee for their lives, he still had a filial draw towards her. She was a despicable creature like most goblins, but Zyx didn’t really have any concept of that. She birthed him and so his spirit was connected to hers in a way that pained him to know she was lost. The very wicked, treacherous society that birthed him killed her and now he and his brother were slaves. Betrayed by the only one they thought they could trust.

Speaking of the treacherous Kevnos, Nyx barely ever took his eyes off him. Even the next morning, when the group roused and began to march back to Trickyfoot town, he maintained his deadly gaze. Kevnos could feel it but continued to ignore it. He mostly looked down trying to avoid the wrath of the gleeful slavers and also the disappointment he felt when he saw the rage in Nyx’s eyes.

They had much difficulty getting Nakbor up. His body was badly beaten but he as still able to walk. The shaman actually seemed to be in a bit of a trance. He mumbled unintelligibly and shuffled his feet, chains dragging along. The slavers were a little more kind to him this day knowing that if they beat him too much more, he would likely not be able to continue. Normally that would not stop them at all but in this case, they were under specific instructions not to kill the shaman of their wicked god. Even goblins knew better than that, their fear was one of their most developed senses and emotions.

So, the group trudged onward making their way through the caves. They had in fact marked their way so they would not get lost when they went in search of the boys in the first place. Nakbor guided them there, his totem made from their mother’s leg was a great tracking device, but the slavers had no idea in which direction the were going so they marked the walls of the caverns with a glowing powder so they could find their way back with their slaves. It was a good system and they were never lost.

The second night was similar to the first, they slavers watered their slaves one by one as before, taunting and whipping them as they pleased. This time Zyx was more prepared for the task and managed to drink more water, which was good, for he was dehydrated and was having difficulty focusing. He even stumbled many times while walking which only brought on more abuse from the slavers. He suffered several wounds from whips and kicks but only bore some small cuts and light bruises. Otherwise he was in decent condition. The water felt like life flowing through his body and refreshing him. He could even feel his mind sharpening as the fluid replenished his worn soul.

Nyx again had no problem and even though the slaver once more abused him, he did not cry out or beg, only took the punishment, drank the water all the while staring down his abuser.

Kevnos managed to drink plenty and was still in good shape though he worried what they Trickyfoots would do with him. He, knowing goblin society well, figured he was bound for the slave ranks, at least that’s what he hoped because if they did not find him suitable for slave work, it was more likely that he would be fed to some beast or tortured and killed just for fun. None of his future paths were bright.

Nakbor did not attempt anything tricky this time but calmly drank his much-needed water then returned to his trance state complete with mumbling. The others did not know it, but the shaman was indeed channeling spiritual energy to heal his physical body. Without an implement or any other focus for his efforts it was less effective, and goblins did not usually spend a lot of time perfecting the art of healing in favor of causing pain and anguish instead, but they still were able, and Nakbor was well on his way to mending his own wounds.

The evening went same as the previous with the slavers cooking a meal which smelled intensely desirable to the four slaves who had not eating in two days now. They could only watch and want however as the five cruel goblins ate and laughed as they did before.

Only Nyx had a different plan for the evening. As the goblin slavers finished their meal and their fun, four of them drifted off the sleep while the fifth was left to watch over the slaves. Nakbor was deep in his healing trance, Nyx was also in a trance-like state, though he was stuck between his desire to contact his mother’s spirit once more and his regret that she was dead. Kevnos was trying to get comfortable as he could on the hard, cold, stone, the onetime Sharpspear king reduced to just another slave. Nyx continued his stare, all thoughts in his mind were blocked. He had only one goal and one target, the goblin who took them in only to then sell them out.

The goblin guard who was supposed to be watching over the slaves naturally struggled to maintain his attention. Goblins are not typically known for their concentration and this one, like most, got bored quickly. To entertain himself he pulled a pair of dice made from bone from a pouch on his hip and began rolling them on the stone. This was all the opportunity Nyx needed.

With the flame in his eyes and his soul stoked into a roar, Nyx pounced on Kevnos who was chained next to him, he wrapped his hands around the goblin’s neck and squeezed with all his strength. Kevnos squealed only once before the air in his throat was severed and he thrashed about trying to free his breath.

Nyx growled and held on, legs wrapping around his waist from behind pinning his prey to the ground. Chained to the other three goblins, Kevnos’ movements were limited, and he could not get free from the young goblin’s grip though he did thrash about creating a clamor that echoed through the halls.

The slavers woke immediately, and the guard pulled his whip and began striking Nyx on the back leaving sharp slashes which were red with blood, but the blows did not slow the attack or the vengeance that drove Nyx.

Zyx and Nakbor were pulled, chained to the fighting pair, and were struggling to remain clear of the battle. Zyx screamed his brother’s name but nothing else. Nakbor merely smiled.

The other slavers grabbed Nyx and began beating him, trying to get him free from Kevnos, who was growing limp in Nyx’s hands. They shouted and rained down blows on the young goblin, but Nyx clung to Kevnos as the ranger clung to life, each trying to wrestle it from the other.

In just a few more moments, Kevnos dropped to the ground and moved no more, eyes bulged in his head and tongue hanging from his mouth. Nyx took a blow to the head and his own vision failed him as he fell to the ground next to his victim.

The slavers continued to beat Nyx for a few moments, but he no longer moved. Zyx gasped and tried to get to his brother but a slaver slapped him across the face.

With the fight over, the slavers looked to the combatants to assess the damage.

“This one dead!” one of them declared. “Should shaman help?”

“Nah, he no Trickyfoot. We no care,” another answered. “Other one dead?”

“No, he live. What we do with him? Kill him?” Zyx’s heart froze at the words and his mind raced trying to figure what he might do to prevent them from killing his brother.

“Nah, king say he want this one. We no kill him,” the slaver leader decided. Zyx exhaled slowly and sat down. They would live another day.

Goblin Brothers Part 26

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Twenty-Six

 

The slavers began the trek back to Trickfoot clan with their four prisoners in tow. They unnetted the shaman and tied all four of them together. They put Zyx in the lead followed by Nyx then Kevnos then Nakbor in the rear. Each was also gagged because although the goblins were not clever creatures, they knew enough about shamans to gag them lest they be cursed by their god. They had cruel, crudely crafted chains that bound their hands and legs and linked them together. The clatter and clang of the chains as they shuffled across the stone made a noise that swallowed all others and also hurt the captives’ ears and head. It was by design so that they would be easily heard should they try to flee. Besides, it tended to prevent slaves from moving too much to minimize the racket.

The slavers were behaving as though they did this sort of thing every day. In fact, they did. It was their job and they were skilled at it. Two of them, including the leader, lead the procession, the slaves were next, chained together in a line, then the final three slavers in the rear. They took turns taunting and kicking the slaves. They laughed and spat at them while they assailed them randomly. In fact, the randomness was part of the strategy. Not being able to anticipate an attack kept the slaves on edge always. They had to remain ever prepared for a beating, but that was emotionally and mentally exhausting. Whenever the slavers saw one of the captives with his guard lowered, then an attack was usually quick to follow. It often drove slaves mad with anxiety.

When their captives did not move at the pace they wished, they whipped at them. The cruel whips snapped against the boys’ flesh and the cuts stung deeper than the wound betrayed. Often times the slavers whipped at their slaves’ feet making them leap in the air to avoid the blow which usually sent the cruel goblins into a wild laughter. It was a grueling walk filled with beatings and constant attacks.

When they stopped for the night, the goblins chained the group together in a loop so that if one wanted to run they would all have to follow. In reality it would be near impossible for them to escape. The coordination necessary to get away from their slavers was not usually attainable by such creatures. So, they remained seated while the goblin slavers ate, rested and mocked their prey. They offered the slaves no food and only quick sips of water. That only added to the torment. Not only were they in chains, but their bodies were soon low on energy from lack of food. In just the first day the thoughts of the slaves devolved from escape and retribution to food and water.

When the slavers did allow their captives to drink they began with Zyx. The young goblin flinched as the slaver stretched out a hand with a water skin. When Zyx cowered, the cruel goblin laughed at him and hopped about for a moment. Zyx slowly leaned forward and the slaver pulled the rope from his mouth revealing burns at the corners of his lips. The slaver squirted some water quickly at Zyx’s face, but the water came unexpectedly so it sprayed into his nose and eyes. He coughed and squinted while he shook his head then sneezed. The slaver pulled the water skin away and rolled on the stone floor laughing with pure joy. The others too cackled at the sight. Zyx, eyes wide, frantically tried to lick whatever water he could from his face and opened his mouth wide trying to catch some. In the end, he managed only enough to wet his lips and nothing more. The slaver replaced the gag immediately.

The slaver in charge of water then moved to Nyx. He removed the gag and Nyx, although smaller than his captor, stared directly into his eyes. The slaver did not appreciate the whelp’s courage and he punched him in the stomach which doubled Nyx over. The young goblin straightened up quickly though and regained his defiant stance. This time the slaver paused a moment to consider his slave and then, with a faint feeling of respect for the whelp’s strength, held up the water skin and then began to squirt it downward. Nyx opened his mouth and swallowed the stream of water all the while, keeping his eyes locked with his captor’s. The drink completed, he replaced the rope in his mouth then moved on to the third slave.

Kevnos was neither afraid nor brave. If anything, there was a feeling of resignation. He was no stranger to the way of goblins and so he knew the routine. The slaver slapped his face then removed the rope from his mouth. He taunted him then sprayed water at him which the ranger drank up efficiently. The slaver replaced the gag then moved on to the final slave.

The moment the rope was removed from Nakbor’s mouth he began to recite a curse. The slaver was not new to the career however and he immediately head butted the shaman in the nose causing it to break and burst with blood. His eyes watered, and tears streamed down his face as he fell to his rear. The slaver pulled his whip from his hip and began whipping the shaman who could not see his attacker for the stream flooding his vision. Kicks followed the whips until Nakbor moved no longer and then the rope was replaced in his mouth.

With the slaves watered, the slavers formed a circle and enjoyed a meal together laughing and mocking while having a fantastic goblin time. Nakbor laid in a heap on the ground without moving barely awake and more of a trance than any other state. Zyx was slumped into a squat with his hands holding his knees to his chest. His mind raced, and his muscles told him to run and if for a moment his chains were unclasped he just might bolt. Nyx stared hard at Kevnos who avoided the gaze that bore into him like two daggers. Fire simmered in the young goblin’s stare looking for something, or someone, to consume.

When the slavers completed their meal, they fiddled with the equipment they recovered from their prisoners including the totems. They were a little apprehensive about the shaman tools but had enough experience to know that they would probably be ok to fool with the blood covered bones. When they picked up the smaller and fresher one, the tiny hairs on Zyx’s neck stood up. He felt a spirit within. His fear was momentarily in check and he was able to slow his thoughts. He felt a pull from the totem and so he calmed his mind and slowed his breathing until he drifted from the physical world into the spiritual.

Zyx’s spirit floated from his body and to the totem. He could feel a spirit tied to the totem, but it was obscured.

“Spirit,” Zyx called, “I no hurt you. It safe. Talk me.”

The young shaman concentrated and waited. He heard a soft sobbing and focused on the sound. The sound morphed into an image. Zyx saw a diminutive goblin woman cowering and sobbing. He hardly recognized her in her poorly defined foggy form, but intuitively, Zyx knew it was his mother.

“Mother? You here?” he asked her.

“Son? That you?” the grieved goblin mother called out to her son. “You no dead is you?”

“No, I live.”

“Why you here?”

“I feel you.”

“How?”

“No sure. You spirit with bones.”

“Bones? He have bones? My bones?”

“They you? You dead?”

“He kill me.”

“Who?”

“Shaman. He want you and brother. He kill me when you leave. Take my bones. Blood. Spirit.”

The words, the truth, hit Zyx like a sudden gust of ice cold wind. It knocked him backwards and back into the temporal world. He screamed and tried to crawl away from the leg bone held in the slaver’s hand. They stared at him in his panic and for a moment considered whipping him into submission but somehow the tiny goblin trying to crawl away in spite of his chains struck the slavers as hilarious and they burst into laughter falling backwards and rolling all over the ground.

Nyx looked to his brother and wanted to do something about his pain and panic but could only watch. Zyx shook his head and stopped screaming. He locked eyes with his brother. “They kill mother. That her leg,” he whispered with his mind.

Nyx bit the rope in his mouth tightly and glared from the slavers, to Kevnos to Nakbor. The smoldering flame in his eyes stoked into a raging fire.

Goblin Brothers Part 25

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Twenty-Five

 

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.

Goblin Brothers Part 24

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Twenty-Four

 

Kevnos was very ill for a number of days but he slowly recovered with the help of the brothers. They looked after him with Zyx tending to his medical needs and even learning how to create the elixir that reduced the pain and effects of the venom. Meanwhile Nyx continued to check the traps and capture food for the tiny clan to eat. All in all they were doing well as a unit and Kevnos was somewhat proud of his whelps.

Within a week the goblin ranger was much recovered and back to his old duties. Nyx and he continued to sharpen the skills needed for hunting and trapping. The young goblin was glad to have his teacher back. Zyx sat about trying to improve his ability to commune with spirits. It was amazing that he was able to communicate with Kevnos’ dying spirit and seek it for assistance. He even had a few conversations with his clan king about it. Kevnos for his part could hardly remember the experience. He described how much pain he was in but had difficulty sorting which experiences were spiritual and which were physical. In his mind they were all real and all physical. It was even a surprise to him that he was unresponsive and seemed near death in the first place. His memory recalled Zyx talking to him as they would any other day and the idea that it was all in his mind was a bit much for the older goblin. Only Nyx knew that his brother had much more to him than that and could understand that the shaman had somehow communicated with him spiritually. After all, Zyx had saved him once before from death’s call.

Over the course of that week something strange occurred that none of them noticed but had never known. They forged a strange goblin family. It was strange because they were goblins, not the family part. Most creatures form families. Elves, humans dwarves, even animals seem to have a bit of a family and form things like herds or prides or colonies. Goblins however were more primal and savage than most. They indeed became clans but they were not like a family might be. They were constantly in a power struggle along with a struggle to survive. Everything was scarce all the time so they fought each other for food and shelter besides mates and slaves. They were always fighting and betraying one another.

The sharpspears however were more of a family. Kevnos was the father or head with his two whelps learning from him and relying on him for guidance. It was only removed from the clan that this alternative to goblin life emerged. It could never survive the savagery of clan life, but left to their own devices, these three formed a family.

They enjoyed their family life very much. Each had a role and looked out for one another which also was not true of typical goblin clans. They shared what they had which was also strange but perhaps was a result of their abundance. They had plenty of food for just three goblins and so their bellies were full every night and they no longer had to fight a scratch for mere scraps of food.

They felt safe around one another. Goblins always moved in groups but that was to create security from other threats the threat of another goblin stabbing you or hurting you was always there. In fact, it was almost worse than any other threat. If it were not for constant attacks from beasts or orcs or elves or dwarves, the goblins would probably all kill one another. They only spared their fellow goblins out of a vague sense that if they murdered them all, they would be far too weak to resist stronger foes. Such was goblin life.

The Sharpspears, however, were a family, and a happy one. Nyx continued to assist Kevnos in their search for food. Zyx maintained the clan hall and cooked the food while also learning small bits about alchemy and the qualities contained within the flora of the deep. He still spent time every day trying to strengthen his ability to commune with spirits as well and was making small progress.

At the end of the week, after Kevnos was all healed up, the clan leader declared that they would take another trip to the pool. The boys hopped about in excitement when they heard this and then gathered a couple of things for the moderately long excursion.

Nyx of course grabbed a spear and his bow with arrows along with a satchel for fish he might catch and some water skins. Zyx only cared to bring his totem with him in case there was some threat or need for it. Kevnos equipped himself same as Nyx and off they went.

The journey to the pool was uneventful until they were nearly there. Nyx noticed something and halted, then lunged to his hands and knees to study the cave floor.

“Whats it is?” Zyx wondered barely above a whisper, gripping his totem and spinning about.

“Tracks,” Nyx hissed.

“Beasts?” Zyx breathed.

“No, it’s goblins tracks.”

“No worry those tracks,” Kevnos comforted. “You good tracker now,” he smiled at his whelp.

“King,” Nyx began, “They may attack us.”

“No!” laughed Kevnos, “Those tracks no attack. Those tracks us!”

Nyx looked up at his mentor and seeing him calm and laughing began to laugh as well. Finally when the other two goblins were clearly not alarmed, Zyx too began to laugh. Together the clan chuckled and then made their way to the pool.

Once there they stopped and Kevnos turned to them. “You good whelps,” he encouraged, “So swim in pool.”

The boys looked to each other for confidence but then stripped and dove into the pool. They had no idea what to do once in the water and began to sink immediately.

Nyx kicked and swung his arms and eventually stayed afloat a bit, but Zyx was not doing well at all and struggled to keep his head above the water. His eyes were wide and he breathed quickly and spit water out as he did, splashing all over the cave. Zyx cried out for help and his cry echoed all across the high cavern walls.

Laughing, Kevnos reached out his spear for the young goblin to grab and Zyx did so as if clinging to his own life. The older goblin chuckled but pulled Zyx to the side and he promptly pulled his body from the water sucking in air in huge gulps.

“That horrible!” Zyx panted.

“No! I likes it,” Kevnos countered and dove in himself and began to swim expertly as though he were made for the water.

Nyx tried to copy his mentor’s movements and before long the pair were both swimming well.

“Come!” Kevnos called to Zyx who sat at the edge of the pool clutching his knees to his chest. “I show you.”

Zyx did not like the idea but he slowly slipped into the water, not wanting to disappoint his clan leader. He tried his motions carefully and also trying to mimic the better swimmers found some success and finally let go of the wall, wading out and floating with awkward skill.

Kevnos waved for them to follow then began to make his way toward a water fall. The clan leader swam with confidence but the whelps were looking around them constantly expecting some sort of attack.

When he reached the falls, Kevnos disappeared into the water. The boys both shot up and stared at the wall of water. Looking to each other again for reassurance, finally Nyx swam forward and disappeared into the falls. Zyx, with a dark feeling creeping up in his spine, swam after them and also through the falls.

On the other side there was a soft glow and a cavern, hidden by the falls, opened up and the boys saw Kevnos already sitting there, smiling.

The whelps swam up and then pulled themselves out of the water and into the alcove where their leader was. He beamed a wide smile and waited for the boys to enjoy the scene.

There were glowing funguses lining the walls in that same bluish light that adorned the larger cavern but in the smaller space they seemed much brighter.

“Here you safe,” Kevnos explained. “Nothing get you here. You ever afraid, or lost, come here. We find you here.”

The boys sat and enjoyed the glow of the cavern like a surface dweller might enjoy the warm rays of the sun. Worn out from the swim and the walk, they laid down and rested, the cavern comforting them like a blanket on a winter’s night. There they were insulated from any threats and slept in peace, as a family. A rare goblin family.