By the fifth day of my excursion to the Lost Coast, my travels had been uneventful, save for the corpse of a giant gecko that I had stumbled across, the stench of which nearly drove me to vomit. I was ready to declare the entire trip a waste, when a woman’s screech caught my ear. I followed it, admittedly hoping to find a maiden in some minor distress that I might resolve in a dashing manner, and perhaps gain her provisional affections. Further into the forest, I saw a splash of bright purple, the edge of a dress I estimated, from around a large tree. A voice called out, female. “Anyone here? Me need help!”
Her poor grammar should have indicated something was amiss, but I had been unimpressed by the locals’ grasp of the common tongue, despite their claims that it was their native one. I straightened my posture, approaching in my most gallant stride.
“Have no fear, fine lady, your troubles are at an end! You are now in the care of Daevrys Silversong, singer of songs and righter of wrongs!” I rounded the tree, only to be disappointed and disgusted by the “woman” I found Maggots had filled the spaces where her eyes had been, so clearly she had been dead some time.
This time, fortunately, I did vomit. The spasm of my retch caused me to narrowly duck the first arrow. The first goblin was running toward me, his arms outstretched, a burlap bag grasped in his hands. The other was readying a second arrow. I started to run, but neglected to account for the outstretched legs of my intended rescue. Fallling just in time for the goblin’s second arrow to miss, I cracked my head on a rock. The first goblin and his bag were upon me before I could stand.
The world became dark, and air, scarce. I managed to rise to my knees and crawl about ineffectually, pleading with various deities that I not die in such a fashion. Be it Shelyn or Asmodeus that answered my pleas I could not say, but I heard the twang of a bowstring, a squealing shriek, and the weight on my back lifted. I tore the bag from my head in time to see the third goblin, its club descending upon my head.
I awoke some hours later, greeted by the night and a pair of throbbing bruises on my head. I was bound, crude ropes about my limbs. My captors sat on a log near a small fire. I recognized its fuel as my journals. Dozens of irreplaceable writings now kindling.
I observed the group of green-skinned terrors that had fallen upon me. The one that had been firing arrows sat on one end, looking down at his feet. On the far end of the log from him sat the bag carrier, a bloodied bandage wrapped around his shoulder. The middle goblin, my club-wielding assailant, tended and fussed over the wound. I guessed that the middle one was what passed for female among the goblins. She had hair, a feature her male compatriots lacked, and a skirt made from some of the purple fabric of the dead woman’s dress.
The bandaged goblin stood, and swatted at the female. “Klig fine! Grika stop!” he chattered in their horrid tongue. By this time my beautiful works were almost all burned away. “Me bring wood. Grika stay, leave me alone.” Pointing at the other male, he added “Grub stay, guard prisoner. Stupid.” Klig marched off, and the rest of us were silent.
A bit of movement from the end of the log caught my eye. The poor marksman was sheepishly scooting himself toward the middle of the log. I thought he might be trying to get close to the fire, but I caught him stealthily looking at the female, averting his eyes if she looked in his direction. More than once he opened his mouth to speak, but wavered and remained silent. My plan began to take shape.
Eventually Grika stood, “Me see if Klig need help.” and she bounded off into the forest. Grub stared sullenly at the fire, occasionally kicking at the dirt. I turned to my guard. “Grub, I think I can help you.”
Grub’s ears pricked, and he turned to face me. He drew a knife and ran over to me, waving it wildly in my face. “You quiet! You prisoner!” He proceeded to spit and kick dirt on me, spitting out what I assume were goblin curses.
“Listen! I can help you win Grika’s heart!” He stopped, but looked confused.
“What mean ‘win heart’?” he asked.
“I mean I can help you get Grika to like you, Grub,” I clarified.
“How!? How make Grika like!?” He asked, excitedly.
“I’ll tell you, but you have to let me go,” I answered. Grub looked nervous for a moment, but eventually he nodded. “You need to show her you share some of her interests,” I explained, but seeing his confused expression I simplified: “Act like you like things that Grika likes. What does Grika do for fun?”
“Grika like stabbing dogs,” Grub replied. “And horses,” he added, helpfully.
“Well, we don’t have either of those,” I told him.
Grubs eye’s lit up, and he pointed the knife at me again, “She like stab humans!”
“I’m not a human! I’m an elf!” I quickly corrected.
“That different?” Grub asked.
“…Yes,” I finally responded.
Grub slouched and sighed. “It hopeless anyway. Grika like Klig. He good fighter. He good fire maker. Klig good everything!” He kicked angrily at the ground.
Grika and Klig were returning, just as I had my moment of divine inspiration. “Grub, just ki–” I was cut off by Grub gagging me. Klig and Grika added their wood to the fire and resumed their positions on the log. Grub made to take his spot, but a harsh look from Klig sent him to a seat near me. I worked my bound hands around, and started to discreetly scratch my plan into the dirt.
I had spelled “G-R-U-B K-I” before Grub took his rusty knife and stabbed my hand. My gag-muffled scream brought Klig and Grika to their feet. Grub quickly explained, “He try write.” Klig nodded and Grika clapped excitedly at my pain. I shouted in agony until Klig threw a rock at me and told me to be quiet, which I managed by passing out again.
When I awoke, Grub was still sitting watch; the others lay sleeping by the fire. Despite my physical distress, I needed to communicate to Grub the plan that would get him his woman and get me out of this mess. I started scratching out on the ground again. Grub made for his knife, but some frantic hand waves held his stabs at bay.
A few moments more and my work was complete: three goblins, arranged in a triangle, with a heart in the middle. One held a bow, and I pointed to it, then Grub to indicate that it represented him. Another with hair I indicated similarly to be Grika. Grub nodded. The last, I pointed out as Klig. Grub nodded enthusiastically. I pointed at the Grub’s picture, then at Klig’s. I then drew a large “X” over the Klig picture and motioned to Grub, expectantly. Grub scratched his head and gave me a questioning look.
I sighed as much as I could manage and the pointed at Grub’s knife. He looked at the knife, then held it up. He had the idea of knife. I pointed at Klig, then made several stabbing motions. I the proceeded to rub out the section of my drawing that represented Klig, and looked at Grub, pleadingly.
Grub smiled enthusiastically, and leapt to his feet. Soon he was atop Klig, stabbing him like there was gold in his entrails. Klig squealed and thrashed trying to get his former comrade off. Grika started awake, instinctively raising her club. Seeing the bloody mess unfolding next to her, she stared in awe and rapt attention.
When Klig stopped flailing, Grub stood over his victim and looked at Grika, She jumped up and hugged him. “You good stabber,” she acknowledged. Grub stood flabbergasted, until Grika pressed her lips to his in what I refuse to refer to as a kiss lest I lose all interest in ever performing such an act again myself. They fell to the ground, rolling on one another for a few moments before Grub had the good sense to actually throw the knife aside.
Grika and Grub’s offense against all things romantic and attractive was the disgusting opportunity I needed. I grabbed the discarded knife and cut my bonds, fleeing from captivity and the most horrifying thing I had ever seen. Again, I struggled to not vomit.