Patrols, patrols, patrols. These days, all Kluk did was go out on patrols. His five goblin commando squad in tow, Kluk ranged about the wilderness surrounding the town of Name-Still-to-be-Determined. Chief Pulgok never told Kluk what he was supposed to be looking for, and of course Kluk had been much too scared to even ask. Today the chief had him tramping around the swampy riverside to the south east of Name-Still-to-be-Determined. The ground was fairly dry at least, most of the rain had dried up in the summer heat, although the exposed roots certainly seemed determined to trip Kluk up at any opportunity.
Kluk and his commandos were walking along a steep cliff overlooking the fast flowing Wolf’s Run River, which bled into the swamps about a mile to the south. Kluk was hardly paying attention to where he was going or what he was doing. Mostly he was concerned with ignoring the incessant conversation and fawning of the four goblins under his command. Of all the things that Chief Pulgok had given him, goblin soldiers were the worst. Right after the constant fear, suicide missions, and evil looks from the hobgoblin commanders who usually ran things.
Stumbling through the trees and ranging further ahead than his troop, Kluk stumbled again and lost his footing. He fell forward and started rolling down what appeared to be a natural chute in the rocky hillside, that sent him tumbling down off the cliff and into the waters below. The rushing water pulled Kluk downriver, and spat him out, coughing and spluttering on a patch of marshy ground at the very edge of the swamp.
Kluk looked around and picked out a path that would take him back to the riverbank, which he hoped he could follow back to Name-Still-To-Be-Determined. The ground was wet and the sky threatened rain. Kluk began walking, carefully jumping from dry spot to dry spot as he worked his way over to the shoreline and the cliff face.
Not twenty minutes later, the sky opened up with a torrential downpour. Kluk ran along the river’s edge, expecting it to flood its banks at any moment. Up ahead he found a cave entrance, one he’d never seen before but he was grateful for it. The inside was damp, but at least it was shelter, and the cave’s floor was steep enough it was unlikely that Kluk would have to worry about the cave flooding. Kluk climbed up and started walking deeper into the cave. The Wolf’s Run was beginning to break its banks, quickly filling up the entrance to the cave and forcing Kluk deeper inside.
Kluk walked past rows of stalagmites and stalactites, each lined with tiny crystals of various colors. In the darkness, he didn’t notice the lines of tripwires that crisscrossed the cave. Kluk felt a sudden pull on his ankle, and then a rush of air. Kluk dove forward as a swinging blade dropped down from the ceiling aimed at a point a good two feet above Kluk’s head. Not that that prevented Kluk from letting out a terrified shriek, mind you.
With no way to go back and the trap safely triggered, Kluk continued deeper into the cave. He was careful to watch his step, but not careful enough as he heard the click of a pressure plate. The whistling of poison darts sailed over his head, none of them touching the short goblin as he stood, frozen with fear. Kluk was ready to turn back, but the water was still rising behind him so he was forced to continue onward.
Taking the utmost care with every step, Kluk proceeded deeper into the cave. Eventually it began to level off slightly changing from a steep gradient to a series of worn steps that appeared carved into the rock itself. Kluk climbed the stairs, poking every step with his horsechopper before proceeding. He reached the top of the steps and came to a dead end. Before him the cave wall was carved with stylized depictions of dwarven warriors fighting back a horde of goblins, hobgoblins, and lesser demons lead by a monstrous barghest. The face of the rock was split, like a doorway, and at the very bottom of the massive stone doors was a small pile of treasure. It wasn’t much, some gems a few gold coins and a single short sword with a wide cross guard.
Kluk’s oversized ears picked up a rustling behind him. He turned to see a four legged lizard big enough to swallow him whole jumping at him out of the darkness. Kluk ducked instinctively, holding his horsechopper out to block the attack. The beast grabbed hold of Kluk’s polearm and tore it loose from his grasp, then flitted off into the cave on small batlike wings.
Knees shaking, Kluk stood in place turning back and forth, waiting for the dragon to return and finish him off. He held his dogslicer in one shaking hand, point out as a guard against the darkness. Kluk heard another rustling in the wind and spun around, swinging his little dagger wildly. The blade bit flesh, and the dragon shrieked, returning the favor with a swipe of its claws. The blow knocked Kluk onto the pile of treasure, and sent his dogslicer spinning away. Weaponless, Kluk reached for the shortsword and grasped its hilt tightly. Kluk was suddenly assaulted by a series of visions.
A horde of vicious goblin raiders charged down from the mountains, their sharp teeth gnashing at the flesh of helpless women and children. A small band of warriors, elves, men and dwarves stood fast at the bottom of the hill, ready against their charge, at their head, the mighty goblin leader…
The vision cut out suddenly, then started again.
A horde of barbarian raiders, an unholy mix of elves, dwarves and men charged down from the mountains, their furious roars and mighty limbs sending goblin women and children flying. A small band of noble goblin warriors stood fast at the bottom of the hill, ready against their charge, at their head, the mighty goblin leader Kluk.
A voice whispered in Kluk’s ear, or possibly directly into his head. Sorry about that, didn’t know you were a goblin. The voice let out a polite cough. I sense greatness in you, young goblin. You have claimed me from the treasure, and proven your worth by slaying the… You didn’t slay the dragon yet, did you?
Kluk rolled to the right, dragging the short sword along with him, and leaving a trail of foul water behind him as the fear gripped his bladder tightly.
Well, at least you’re nimble.
Kluk swung the short sword in a wide arc, forcing the dragon back. Kluk turned and bolted around one of the fused stalagmites, he completed the turn ready to leap at the dragon, but was met by a wall of pink mist. His head started to get heavy, and the world slowed down around him. Things stopped making sense all of a sudden, only a glowing pair of eyes in the dark.
Barely able to keep his balance, Kluk stumbled about the cave as the dragon attempted to pounce on him. But the off balance and top heavy goblin rocked out of the way of each swipe and lunge.
What the heck are you doing? Get in there and fight! It’s just a hallucinogenic toxin! Amateurs.
Kluk shook his head as the swirling colors faded from his vision. He lunged with the short sword, slicing through the dragon’s wing, then lost his balance and tumbled forward, just barely being missed by the dragon’s counter swipe.
The dragon hissed in pain, and Kluk followed the lunge with an upward swipe of the blade. The dragon dodged the strike, leaping back into the dark. But Kluk did something unexpected, instead of retreating himself, he rushed forward, screaming bloody fury and swinging the short sword wildly.
That’s more like it my boy! That’s how a real hero fights!
Kluk continued to drive the dragon back with wild swings, most of which wouldn’t have hit the dragon even if it had tried to jump in front of the blow. The beast continued to retreat, trying to gain some distance, but the damage to its wing was too much.
Now’s the chance, finish it off already!
Kluk pulled up suddenly, stopping his wild assault. The dragon saw the opportunity and charged towards Kluk.
What are you doing? It’s going to kill you!
Kluk stood fast, and the telltale click of a pressure plate released another hail of poisoned darts that peppered the dragon. The creature fell on its face, paralyzed by the potent venom in its own clever trap.
If anyone asks, you killed the dragon by stabbing me into its heart. I’m impressed, at least. Not very conventional for a hero, but after a millenia, I’m willing to lower my standards a bit. Let me tell you… Kluk? Really? Oh great… Let me tell you Kluk, I’m going to make a hero out of you, maybe even a king. You’re going to be the greatest goblin who ever lived, thanks to me.
Kluk began looking around the cave for his horsechopper, eager to retrieve the trusty weapon.
What do you mean you prefer polearms?!