~~** Interlude | Diana, Orchid, & Lilac **~~
“What is this cave-hole?”
Diana had entered the cave-hole she had heard from Berry that Husband was working on. The one which used to belong to Beast-talker. It wasn’t like the cave-hole belonging to Ivory and Truffle, nor was it like the beautiful cave-hole of Jewel, or the round cave-hole of Lily. Not even the same as the one Ark lived in. It seemed strange, but comfortable. It was wide and open like a cave-hole should be, but felt different, and Diana liked that for some reason.
Both Orchid and Lilac had immediately found the staircase and noticed that it was a way… up.
To these three goblins, the concept of up was exclusive to the forest. Up meant there was danger, and taking to the trees and climbing to a branch was something they had drilled into them by their mothers when they were first brought along on the hunt only a few days after crawling out of their mothers. There was no such thing as up in goblin-home. Not until now, anyway.
Lily’s daughters crawled up the strange sturdy stone path carefully until they peeked over the side and saw that they were high off the ground. They also found a new ground waiting for them when they reached the top, and three new cave-holes to explore. Diana was soon behind them and they all saw how each of the cave-holes looked almost the same. They each had a space for a bed, a treasure box for keeping things in at the foot of it, shelves carved into the walls which could store many many things, and plenty of available space to move around in. These rooms were also bigger than the ones Husband had made for each of their mothers.
“Diana? Should we take this cave-hole for us?” Orchid proposed.
“Maybe Daddy knew the human goblin wouldn’t want to live here. That’s why we each have a cave-hole.. When it’s our turn to get big-seed, we can have Daddy here for all of us to share.” Lilac voiced her thoughts towards the future.
“Hunters get their own cave-holes. We are all hunters… do you think there is enough room not to fight with each other over space?” Diana asked them.
“Why fight? Daddy says if we work together, protect each other, we can kill any beast!”
“Yeah! Diana taught us how to hunt! If we stay with Diana, we will become stronger!” Lily added.
“What about our things?” Diana pointed out something that each of the goblins also innately understood, the desire to have their own things.
“How about we keep things we care about in our cave-holes, and things we don’t care about in the big cave-hole?” Lilac suggested.
“What things don’t we care about?” Diana asked.
“Lilac and I don’t have things besides our weapons and bone-charms.” Orchid replied.
“Then we get things! We are hunters now! We have a big cave-hole to fill! Get daddy to make things for us. Put things that look good in the big cave-hole, like checkers game or Diana’s stone picture game, and things important to us in our cave-holes, like bone-charms and weapons.” Lilac pointedly spoke.
“Yes, we need more things!” Diana agreed. “First thing a goblin hunter needs in their cave-holes is new straw for beds.”
“Then let’s go get straw now!” Lilac said energetically.
“Diana Artemis have straw… but come hunt straw with you to help carry many back. Husband likes bed with many many straw. Sleep for two whole suns on my big straw bed.” Diana proudly touted, not quite understanding what mana exhaustion was for Ark and why he could have slept on a pile of rocks and still been out cold.
“Diana, why do other goblins besides Ivory and Truffle not think to do this?” Orchid asked her older half-sister.
“I don’t know?” Diana felt the call for her own cave-hole, but it’s not like she ever felt the need to not live with Berry in order to have her own cave-hole. Diana felt that Berry was a good goblin to share a cave-hole with. She was a very clean goblin, and Diana also inherited through nurture the desire to be clean.
“Why not have Lily and Berry live in the same cave-hole?” Lilac suggested.
“What about when they have more strong ones? Not enough space.” Diana postulated.
“What is the problem with space? Look at this room. Daddy can just make more space! He can just go… up?” Orchid said the obvious, and all three of them realized how simple, stupid, and perfectly smart the idea was.
“So, when we have Husband’s strong ones… we have Husband build up?” Diana said, tilting her head up to the ceiling. The other two followed suit, and for the first time in their generation, they had a completely coherent human thought.
Which was then immediately drowned out by Lilac’s stomach rumbling.
“I need to shit.”
She wasn’t the only one. They had gorged themselves on redboar, far beyond what a strong one should be able to pack away.
“Then let’s go shit. We’ll tell Berry and Lily that we will take cave-hole when we’re older. But for now, we make it our base and plan hunts, like Husband said.” Diana agreed.
“Wait. How long does it take daddy to give big seed?” Orchid asked. Lily’s daughter’s education on adult goblin matters was not entirely complete, for obvious reasons.
“Okay, we give more time, take big shit, and then piss, and then it should be enough time.” Diana answered constructively. She very much wanted more sisters.
That day, when Lily’s two strong ones became hunters, they also saw, by peeking into Berry’s cave hole after taking an enjoyable shit, just how long it took for it to happen once. The three of them left the cave to go get more straw, each wondering how it could possibly be fun to put something in the same place where shit and piss came out. Thankfully their curiosity stopped there. They were still far too young to understand, and the thought of being great goblin hunters living together trumped everything else for them.
It took them two trips into the forest to gather enough straw. When they came back, their mothers were both lying down and patting their bellies. It took that long.
Diana, Orchid, and Lilac sat down and talked with their mothers, explaining that they would leave their cave-holes and live together after their new sisters were made. Any worries their mothers had about whether or not they would be eating well far into the future was put to rest immediately.
“Berry and Lily will come eat at our cave hole. Bring our new sisters, too!.”
Ark had done something by his meager actions in trying to be a good father. He had awakened something that should not normally be present in goblin children. The three strong ones had a sense of true family now, and they would not abandon the ones who made them with Ark’s big strong seed. Instead they would become many, and become stronger, by working together past the hunt… past the goblin way.
It could be said that it was this moment when it all truly began.
The beginning of Goblinhome, cradle of the world's first true goblin civilization.
And it was all the fault of a single human who just couldn’t keep it in his pants.
~~** Interlude | Vera **~~
Vera had miscalculated.
Ever since she was given big-seed, she had the knowledge of something great inside of her. It was only when her Husband, Ark, had shown her the Runes of formulaic magic that she truly felt trapped in her own body for the first time. Ark wasn’t anything like her sister, Prima the Guardian. He was a human, and getting big-seed from him was one of the greatest pleasures she had ever known, but that was rivaling the feeling she got from using magic.
She understood the concept of force magic with the blue shiny stone, but she couldn’t use it. Well, it’s not that she couldn’t use it. She just couldn’t use it with the strong one inside of her right now. That might change afterwards. There was always some secret knowledge and understanding coming from where her strong one grew, instead of her head.
However in the belly of Vera, there was a strange sensation.
She was supposed to be the next goblin to have a fat belly. She knew this. But something felt wrong. It all began after she put the pillar of dirt up to help the female human who became a goblin. The one Ark called Stella.
She had been trusted along with Berry by Ark to do something, anything at all, to help Stella come to terms with being a goblin.
Vera didn’t quite understand, since she had only ever been a goblin, but Vera loved Ark. She wasn’t the only one to experience that among the first generation, but she was the one who felt it the strongest. Ark was like a kind god who plucked her out of hell. He saw the goblin she was, trapped inside of her own body. And he was kind and caring to her. He moved the walls with his stone magic, he made water turn hot and cold, he ate fire-meat, he made thinking games, and he gave her a cave-hole where she didn’t have to be alone.
He accepted her completely for who she was.
And she wanted to do her best for him in return. Nothing she or Berry did worked to help Stella accept that she was a goblin. Stella cursed herself, and on the night before she put them in the same room together, when her ropes were removed, she saw Stella flee the cave.
Vera didn’t like going out into the forest without the safety of Prima, but she chased after Stella anyway.
Stella had headed towards the big rock, and when she tried to pass it, Stella was lifted up into the air with magic, and made unable to move. Vera hid behind a tree, knowing the feel of magic power, and watched as she saw the Great Protector appear from the sky.
“And where do you think you are going, little goblin?”
“Fix me! You know who I am, you damn monster!”
“Fix you? Why? Whatever do you think needs fixing?”
“You bastard! I’m not a fucking goblin!”
“Oh? Ah! It’s you! Ho, ho, ho! To think you became a goblin. My, my, this is very unexpected.”
“Don’t act like you don’t know! Ark said you were a powerful magician! Who could do something like this if not you?”
“I am a powerful magician, that is true enough. But even I can’t transform a creature other than myself into something else entirely.”
“Ah, you poor, poor human. Or should I say goblin? Yes, I think you are mistaken about being a human. Seeing this, I believe it was worth keeping you alive and bringing you here.”
“Don’t fuck with me!”
Vera watched quietly as the great protector and Stella conversed.
“That human is quite special. I’ve been watching him for years… to think he can even turn another human into a goblin. This is a joyous occasion, I don’t know why you are upset. I brought Ark here to save these poor souls. You have a chance to be part of it, don’t you see how lucky you are?”
“Poor souls? They’re disgusting goblins! Every one of them should be slaughtered.”
“Does that include you?”
“I’m a human!”
A strange silver light appeared suddenly, making Vera have to squint, and a reflection of Stella, as a goblin, shone clearly in front of her.
“What part of you is human? Do you really wish to go? I will let you, but know that you are a damn fool. The black trees, the big rock, and the stream… These are the places the humans do not tread past, on pain of annihilation. But if you think your life as a goblin, amongst the goblins, is such a terrible thing, shall I help send you to the humans?”
Like a fallen branch, Stella was dropped from the sky, landing unceremoniously, eating dirt.
“Go back to your humans then, who are ever accepting of disgusting goblins who should be slaughtered. Your own words, of course. Maybe one might take pity on you, a young nobleman perhaps if his entourage doesn’t kill you first. You would be forever-chained in a basement, made to be his plaything. Day in and day out with the nobleman forcing himself on you, something you are no stranger to now, until he was tired of the novel goblin who could speak like a human, and then sick his beasts on you afterwards to enjoy watching you be mauled to death. I do know how much the idle rich like their little games.”
“Turn me back into a human!”
“As I have said, little goblin, I have no such power.”
“Then, are you telling me Ark did this to me?”
“It’s quite possible. Ark is special among humans, though he doesn’t know it. You adventured together with him, but do you know who he really is?”
“He’s just the half-talented son of some tower magician.”
“HA HA HA! Oh, that is splendid! To hear Wyze be called just some tower magician by a village daughter who became a goblin. It’s been a hundred years or more since I’ve laughed that much!”
“Wyze…? Wait. Grand Magus Wyze?”
“That’s right. Ark is her one and only son.”
“No… no way!”
“So the name of Wyze is not lost on an uneducated sort as you are. Do you even know why he’s here, living among the goblins, so happy and care-free?”
“Why would I know that?”
“It’s because he wished for it.”
“He… wanted to fuck goblins?”
“HA HA HA! Goodness no. How crude you are. Ark wanted his life to have meaning. He despises humans far more than you ever could a goblin.”
“He does? Why?”
“Because he has forbidden knowledge. He knows things that should not yet be, not for thousands of years. Yet he doesn’t crave the power that would bring him… all his heart wants is a large family to care for.”
“It is a matter of confidence, I imagine. Do you not think the son of Wyze could have a harem of concubines at his beck and call to learn all that he knows if he simply thought himself worthy of it? But he’s a particular sort. Doesn’t even show interest in those breeding houses most human men love frequenting.”
“But he’s a second-circle, whatever that is. He’s a nobody as far as magicians go!”
“Such an ignorant child. Ark was born into this world without need to be put into any circle. He is a circle of his own creation! He could quite possibly become the most powerful magician in this world if he had sufficient motivation. A rival even to my great self.”
“...T-then why can’t he escape? Why does he think you are some impossible thing he can’t hope to defeat?”
“That is a question I will not answer, as it would spoil the fun. But he can escape whenever he wants. The important word here is… wants, little goblin.”
“You’re saying Ark wants to be a slave to these goblins?”
“Is he a slave to the goblins? Or is he a slave to his desires?”
“His common sense is not like ours. As I said, he despises humans. To him, these goblins are like innocent children. He knows he can kill them on a whim if he so chooses. But what have they given him? Pleasure! Children! Purpose! With nothing but a ruddy topaz stone, he has carved that mountain cave to his liking. Goblins untouched, unspoiled, untainted by their own cruel existence all yearn to be with him, to have endless children from his seed, his strangely powerful blood running through their veins now, and those same children are to be taught his common sense! Elves which have lived thousands of years, Dwarves nearly as long, the Beastmen and all the other races humans consider similarly civilized will not be able to hold a candle to what is to come with the goblins he sires! So run! Run back to your pathetic humans that would shun you, when you could be like a goddess at his side instead! That only shows how stupid you truly are. I would stand to wager that if he did something to make you a goblin, it is because he wanted you to be a goblin. That he wouldn’t detest you as you looked upon him for what you consider a sickening taboo, as your species does wholly.”
Stella began to laugh.
It was a laugh that sent cold chills up Vera’s spine.
“But don’t you find it interesting that you aren’t fully a goblin? That you retain at least a portion of your human appearance?”
“Are you saying I’m not going to become more goblin?”
“Do you think Ark would prefer it if you were? I, sadly, do not know of his ultimate preference. Nor do I know if he even has one. But humans are particular about the little things like that. What do they call that word in your tongue… nostalgia?”
“So… If I were to be the goblin he wants me to be… then I would rule a great civilization beside him in the future?”
“Perhaps. But it would be in name only, most likely. Is that good enough for you? To have a man powerful enough to change the very balance of the world as your mate? And all you have to do is pretend to be what he wants you to be… the rest of the way?”
“What about… my children?”
“Hasn’t that been taken care of already?”
“So they will be goblins…”
“Goblins of unparalleled power and ability.”
“What about me?”
“I cannot say, and I am not hiding an answer from you. I truly cannot say. But does it matter? That place may be a cave for now, but it could very well be greater than any castle ever known in the future. Maybe even during your lifetime. Your children will be favored, and depending on how you influence them…”
Stella laughed again.
“So all I have to do… is accept that I’m a goblin now?”
“Isn’t it amusing, little goblin? Ark is so simple a human, that is all you have to do.”
Stella had stood up. She looked different now. What Vera saw, that she couldn’t fully comprehend at the time, was Stella abandoning her humanity right before her eyes. But for what reason exactly, she had no clue.
“I will return to Ark. If it’s as simple as that, then… maybe it’s not so bad.”
What Vera took from the exchange she eavesdropped on… was hope. She was too innocent to know better. It was what Ark wanted in the first place, wasn’t it? The Great Protector had done what it had always done for the goblin tribe. It had convinced Stella to go back, and Stella had decided to accept being a goblin, which meant all Vera needed to do… was give her Husband a push.
Wasn’t it… perfect?
But Vera had no clue as to the ugliness of the human heart, because Ark’s morality was rooted in a different place–a different world. Goblins did not hide their truest desires. Goblins hunted, took what they wanted, and were lazy unless they had something to occupy their time.
This was something she could not have known, that what Stella would do after this encounter would so painfully hurt Ark later. That it would change a certain seed of fate which was supposed to take root, and would be a trial that all of Goblinhome, would have to face…