Part Two

Scratching through the undergrowth for insects and worms was time consuming and hard, and getting older made finding the food more stressful on the knees, more aching on the base of the back, more uncomfortable to crawl.

But he pushed on with the scratching and digging because he was hungry. The dawn was coming, time was running out and his stomach was wanting just a little bit more.

He crouched down as he walked between the cover of the shrubs to the cover of a fallen tree. As he neared his target, a rotten log, he smiled as he saw the mushrooms. He was not a fan of them, but he knew a family who enjoyed the taste. This meant bargaining his way into a warm cove for the day, safe within the goblin warren.

He released the small bag from his waist, moved in closer to the fungi and proceeded to carefully pluck them off the log being careful not to bruise the flesh, then he placed them into the bag. Undamaged mushrooms gave them added value. For him, it could be the difference between just a roof and a roof and meal.

He spent a few more minutes by the log to catch a small meal of termites, their sour crutch, while not filling, left a zesty tang in his mouth for a while. He was close to having a good day, he just needed to round it off with the safety of a cave.

Now he was ready to return to the tribe, he peered over the log to check for dangers. Nothing looked out of place so he stood up, attached the bag with the mushrooms, and began the walk back. Within minutes he was onto the walking trail, soon after other goblins joined the trail and the trail became a path full of goblins of all shapes, sizes and creeds.

For the most part, being old was not a good thing. Age meant a weaker body, slower reflexes, and less stamina. The only reason he was not harassed more was his prowess with his sword. Everyone knew it and said “This is the goblin who protected the Goblin King a few years ago.” Anyone with half a brain understands that any protector of any king was more than capable of using a weapon.

The forest path widened and left the greenery of the shrubs and trees. For the next few minutes the ground was clear and open. The Gap between the forest and the cliffs, where The Warren entrances are located, while easy to walk, was there for defensive purposes only.

Anyone who wanted to attack this place first needed to cross open ground. This allowed the arrows and stones to rain down on them from the top of the cliffs.

The goblin crossed the divide quietly and without incident today. His old blue armor, the color of his main tribe The Blue Bloods, creaked its warning to the average goblin. It incensed the goblins who were trained and not of the Blue Bloods.

He made it to the cave entrance that was closest to the family he wanted to visit. He enjoyed the entrances because of the memories they gave him. Humans, big and bulky, powerful and clever, were easy pickings while they entered the tunnels. Before they could get in they had to open the gates, shift the bolder doors, or jump the moat of quicksand. Easy and open targets every time.

He was not sure how many humans he had killed defending the tribe like this, but he would have liked to have killed more.

Inside the caves, which were goblin sized and narrow, there were the traps, snares, pits and falling ceilings to deal with. All disarmed at the moment, but as he navigated the tunnel entrances he saw the trappers already waiting to do their daily tasks.

Catching and killing most goblins in the forest was not difficult to do.

If goblins assaulted other races, the only way to win was by sheer force of numbers.

But, to attack a goblin warren, whoever does that, had better be prepared for a whole lot of pain and misery. And attacking this warren would be especially painful.

He did not always get to sleep within the cavern complex, but every day he did, he knew for sure he would wake up again for another night and another treat of those zingy termites.

He twisted through the maze for a short way. The family he was visiting today was not deep inside, but deep enough.

He approached the entrance to their room and paused to check the mushrooms were there. He brushed some of the excess mud off his old armor and scrubbed it up so the blue was clear to see. Being in the same clan mattered, even if the Goblin King declared clan mentality outlawed after the Great Combining, they still mattered to the lower goblins.

He suspected it still mattered to the Big Wigs as well, but nobody dared challenge the Goblin King. So powerful that he willed together seven warring clans to establish the greatest tribe in generations.

Maybe the greatest tribe ever.

Who would go against such a force of nature?

The door opened so he took the final steps into the goblin home and was greeted with a broom stick to the head. The hit stunned him, although not entirely unexpected he thought he would get to offer the mushrooms first.

Through the ringing in his brain he heard the goblin mother yelling down to him “Did you beat up my boys last week?”

The sting of a second hit crossed his shoulder blades.

“Yes I did, they tried to take my sword. I would not let them.”

He fumbled for the bag of mushrooms as the goblin mother turned her attention to her boys, who then received their own beating for attempting to take the sword from the old goblin.

He found the mushrooms, stood, pushed his arm out to show the bag of offering and said “You are elegant this fine morning my lady, and the smell of your meal is appetizing but for one missing ingredient”

She stopped hitting her sons to turn her attention back the goblin. She walked across the room and gave him another hard whack across his forearm.

That one really hurt.

She snatched the bag, opened it and discovered the plump mushrooms. She smiled, looked at the goblin and said “Well Mbala, looks like you have redeemed yourself. You have a place to sleep”