The boys’ mother was the first to return to their den. She didn’t have a name worth remembering and so no one knows it. She waddled in belly and breasts sagging and barely covered by a torn and dirty cloth. Her hair hung about her face as vines covering a swamp complete with putrid stench. Her eyes were alive however and they darted bright yellow to and fro searching her den for her offspring as a jackal searches for a bone. When she caught sight of her boys her taught muscles relaxed and a dry crooked smile spread across her face and her orange jagged teeth bared. She reached up with her dirt covered hand and combed her hair from her face with her long sharp nails. As she entered the boys shot up Nix with his dagger raised as he growled like a dog protecting its master.
The goblin mother croaked, “It’s good my whelp, no fear me. I your mother am.”
Nix lowered his dagger but his hand gripped it tightly and his arms were tense; eyes focused.
Their mother swayed her hips as she walked closer to the boys. “No, fear me,” she repeated. “I no harm you.” She smiled sheepishly as she spoke.
Zyx noticed an aura surrounding his mother but it was foreign to him. It appeared somewhat dark with shades of green swirling around like a fog distorting her image. Her face melted somewhat then came into focus again. Zyx tried to sharpen his sight fearing there were something wrong with his eyes, and when that didn’t solve his vision he closed his eyes tightly and reopened them. Still a distorted darkness surrounded his mother and it seemed to grow. His head began to hurt and he thought he heard whispers.
“Betray,” the whisper spoke. “Betray.”
The whispers made Zyx’s head throb and he clasped his hands over his ears and fell backwards. Nix turned and caught him before his brother could crash to the ground and instead lowered him. Their mother approached hands outstretched but Nix turned to her and froze her with his icy gaze.
“Zyx hurting!” he spat, “You no help. You let us die would.”
“No, no,” the goblin mother pleaded, “I help! I get food!”
“Then go!” Nix growled and he turned back to his brother. Their mother clapped her hands and sped off again in search of food.
“Brother! What hurts? How I help?” Nix pleaded.
Zyx just moaned and held his head. He opened his eyes but there was nothing but bright light again, much like the time he stared into the mace, skull masher. He didn’t even feel the floor of the den but only the pain in his head. His ears rung and his mind swirled unable to make sense of his surroundings or filter his senses. It was as if there were too many sounds and too many lights for him to separate one from another.
His mother, meanwhile, scampered through the caves in search of a shaman. There were several in the clan and they typically were found near the temple, of sorts, located not far from the king’s court, if one could call it that, and throne. It was easy to find because of the stench of blood and decay of flesh flowing freely from it. There was even a little trail of blood that became thicker and wider as one approached. The goblin dam found this trail and followed it to the temple.
The temple was another large cut out of the cave. It was decorated with skulls and bones. Most prominently were skulls of the surface dwellers. Elves, humans and halflings sacrificed to the goblin god; Sagobr Dreaddeath. There was no race spared however and virtually every size of bone could be found in the vast collection. The archway to the temple and all of the pillars and the alter itself were fashioned from bone. If one did not know better it would appear somewhat normal, but it was of course far from it. Sagobr’s temple was devoted to pain, suffering and death. Blood, bones and screams were the offerings that pleased their deity.
The goblin mother squealed as she entered, hastily smearing thick dark blood on her forehead before calling for a shaman to assist her. One answered her pleas for help with a grunt and growl. She explained that she wanted assistance for her whelp. The shaman raised a bone scepter to bash her stupid skull in and sacrifice her blood to their lord but she screamed about how Zyx and Nix murdered some other goblins that day and now needed attention and food. The shaman stayed his angry hand.
“These whelps, tell me them,” the spiritual leader commanded. Their mother smiled and fell to her knees hands on the goblin’s knees. She told him about her boys. Her words were hasty and barely contained truth but the shaman sensed something more in them. Every time she spoke the name Zyx and Nix, when she could remember her boys’ names, a spark struck in the shaman’s spirit. He knew there was more to them than he was aware he also knew that Sagobr Dreaddeath wanted them. For what purpose he did not know, but he knew their deity took note and so he obeyed his master and asked the mother to take him to the boys, after she paid him tribute of course; with her otherwise worthless flesh.
Slowly the throbbing in Zyx’s head slowed and as he kept his eyes closed he was able to calm his breathing and once again gain a handle on the world around him. He became aware that he was in the den of his birth and he felt his brother holding his head in his lap. He felt safe and so at last opened his eyes and smiled. Nix smiled back.
“Oh brother you scare me! I not know what happen. I worry you sick or dying. How you feel?”
Just when Zyx was waking the shaman approached with the goblins’ mother in tow, carrying a sack with some meats and goblin mead. Both were disgusting and repulsive excuses for food and drink but in the goblin world they were luxuries that many had died for. The shaman halted out of eyesight and silenced the woman with a raise of his bone scepter. The shaman whispered to his god and a dark shadow of a large rat crawled from the floor and crawled forward into the den where the boys sat listening intently to them and studying them carefully.
Zyx considered the question and slowly answered, “I not know. Too many sounds and too many lights.”
“Sounds? Lights? I not see any. What sounds you mean?”
“I think they not real. I hear them in head. See them in mind. I no think they real.”
“Yes more like dream. I no understand but I see and hear.”
“Brother I not know what you say. You safe now?”
“Yes feel ok. But I feel like there others.”
“Yes. Our mother. Another. And a rat.”
The goblin shaman smiled. He had found another brother, another spirit walker, another who could commune with those beyond the physical world.