The sound of the base of my staff ringing out as it strikes against the stone floors just outside of the palace is accompanied by the shuffling of thirteen pairs of metal boots behind me as the royal-guards follow in tow. Looking at the familiar well I ponder if I could get away if I jumped down it and just ran up the secret stairs but honestly… honestly I don’t really feel like it? These kids need to learn what responsibility means so I have to step up and make sure they do.
I mean yeah, granted this will all be for nothing like everything else in my life in about a couple of hours once we’re all dead. But, you know? It’s about the principle of the matter like I’ve been telling you, guy. You can’t just give up because it seems pointless. If you do, where will that leave you? I’ll tell you friend, it’ll leave you right where you are right now. At the bottom of the dungeon forever and that’ll be it. No, I look around at the many goblins filling the square and crude road who are looking at us. At the faces of the hundreds of creatures trapped in a cycle of death and rebirth just like me. The only difference is that they don’t know it, bless their dark little hearts. I envy them just a tiny bit.
It is unusual for this many royal-guards to leave the palace, let alone being led by some old, scraggly caster like myself. As we cross the bridge many make space to let us through, either out of respect or out of fear of the consequences if they fail to do so. From the other side of the bridge I hear a series of laughs and giggles and a frantic squeak. Looking over I see a pair of goblin young chasing a frantically running rat over the bridge in our direction.
The rat looks up as it sees me but then continues on scurrying away between my legs as it runs for its life. Squeezing by in a hurry the two laughing children pass us in their pursuit, the others making room and that was that. Once the rest of the goblins see we’re not here to make a ruckus they all resume whatever it is they do all day. Rat hunting, patrolling, making more of those little goblin babies. But I’ll spare you the details on that last one friend, you’re not ready to hear them just yet.
It takes a little bit but we eventually cross over all the rickety, rat-bone bridges and arrive at the entrance plaza. There where the staircase is that leads to the above, just before the first rope bridge. Just before…
I look at the rope bridges. Why don’t we just… Why don’t we just cut these? I mean… I look down into the gaping abyss below. Hmm… looking over my shoulder I try to gage the distance between this side and that side. But… hmm, no. No, I think the hero can jump this honestly if he’s feeling dramatic about it. Probably the thief too. Bet she’d do some crazy thief move like running along the walls or something. Maybe not the priestess though, she’s a little less athletic than the others and a little more ah… soft, if you catch my drift.
Having reached the far side we stand before the real stairs leading up to the next floor and I continue walking without breaking my stride.
“Wait!” calls out a voice from behind me. I turn around to look at Min’man who had called out. He continues, “What if stairs dangerous?” he asks with some concern. “Then we won’t reach dragon” I respond and step up a second step. They all gasp. Nobody has ever technically seen a trash-mob actually go up the stairs before, so I guess I can understand them being wary. “Stairs aren’t dangerous. They’re just exhausting” I say and turn to walk up the flight.
Once I reach the top of the precipice, before they vanish off into the darkness above I turn around and see all thirteen of them still standing there down below at the bottom. All of them looking at the others, waiting for one of them to take the first step. I sigh. How am I going to reach these kids? Then out of the bunch, to my surprise, steps out a young face. Scarred from one-sided roughhousing and a brutal childhood. Phil steps up out of the group and without another thought takes the first step and then, with my bated breath held, he takes the next one as well.
The group behind him murmurs in surprise and approval of his bravery. Zig’nal shouts out to him how courageous he is. Phil doesn’t turn around to respond, he wants to look cool. I can see it in his eyes. Good for you, kid. I nod to him in approval. Gil’zil, jealous of him getting Zig’nal’s attention hurries after him and then a second later everyone else follows behind them. Ah, young bloods. The fact that they didn’t feel the stairs were safe after I went up them though does feel just a little insulting really.
So we begin our ascent, up the staircase towards floor uh… I forget. The journey starts off quiet save for the rustling of their armor, the usually fairly jovial group of goblins is timid and paranoid now. Soon enough though I begin to hear the first sounds that remind me that the forms that are rising behind me are living, breathing beings. Panting. Groaning.
I turn around to look at the exhausted bunch of sweaty goblins behind me. “Elder. Let us take break” says Hil’zal, Rif’ral nods in approval and plops down before I give mine. Usually Gil’zal would be the leader of this bunch, but I’m an elder which gives me seniority. Even if I am going to be sacrificed. Looking at them, I feel a tinge of pity. They are absolutely exhausted. Sweat drenches their green goblin skin and I wonder if this is really the best the goblin elite has to offer.
Actually, why am I not exhausted? I look down to myself, my old legs are holding up well and I could use a breather, but honestly I’m fine. But after ten minutes of stairs those kids are just done with everything. Hmm. Well, I guess they do have armor on to be fair.
“Fine, take two minutes to breathe," I say. The rest of them fall against the walls of the staircase with a collective sigh and rest. Dil’den opens his bag and takes out a dead rat and bites into it before offering some to the others. Ugh. I look away as I hear the wet crunch. Poor rat never had a chance. Lil’pal and Jin’jim are comparing their weapons to each other and laughing and Nix’dim is ogling Phil who stands alone in the distance, brooding. He is still the closest one to me. Gil’zal is all the while talking to her in an awkward attempt at making an impression.
Ah, I look up into the darkness waiting for us above. Waiting for me. If only these kids knew what we were running into. If only they knew what I was leading them into.
I shake my head.
“Okay, pack it up. We have long way to go” I call out to the group who groans in response.
Expect Goblin Caster to be a more laid back, 'talky' saga. I figure I'll use the opportunity to worldbuild a little more =)
More action next respawn maybe, yes-yes?