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Goblins.

 

Goblins were used to death. It was such a natural thing for a Goblin to die. If a Goblin has to list the top three causes of death. Monsters and accidents were on that list.

 

Goblins were not the strongest of creatures out there in the world. Nor were they the brightest. If you would ask any species in the world for their opinion on the matter then they would probably tell you that Goblins were the dumbest monsters in existence.

 

Even if that's incorrect, they are still not the brightest and accidents do occur. Falling into Eater Plants. Getting caught by a bigger monster. Accidentally eating a poisonous meal. Goblins die a lot.

 

But at the top of the list. If you would ask a Goblin? Humans would be at the very top of that list. Humans killed Goblins. Humans hunted Goblins. Humans enjoyed killing Goblins whether it was for the money or the experience, Goblins are easy pickings.

 

A Goblin slept after the feast and the naming ceremony. He snored in his sleep and he dreamed.

 

Kruz dreamed of Goblins. Goblins and death.

 

He was an older Goblin. Older than most. Older than a year even. Older than three years. He had grown up in another tribe. Under a strong Chieftain who had led Kruz the Barbarian Goblin on raid after raid. Their tribe was big. Much bigger than the current Bitterbow Tribe.

 

They had raided until a force of Knights rode them down.

 

Humans in shiny metal armor. It was much more durable than ragged leather and hide. And they had horses. It was easy for them to wipe out nearly the entire tribe.

 

Many Goblins had tried to run. But not Kruz. The Goblin Barbarian had stood his ground and fought for as long as he could. Until a pike ran him through.

 

Dazed and confused. Kruz had lain there where he had dropped. Watching and listening as his great and strong tribe burned and died all around him.

 

He should have died.

 

Goblins died. But Kruz did not. Because Kruz had reached a certain level. And he had heard that voice in his head. A strange alteration of his own voice.

 

Goblin

 

Ranked Up!

 

Hobgoblin

 

That voice. It had changed his body. He began to grow and heal. No longer was Kruz a little Goblin Barbarian. He was a Hobgoblin. A Goblin just a little taller than any of the Knights who were killing his people.

 

So Kruz got up and fought some more. He had fought until he had passed out. He was nearly dead when he came to, barely clinging to life. Saved by another Goblin from his tribe. Uli. Uli the Goblin Shaman.

 

Kruz had been the only survivor from the tribe that Uli found. The rest were already dead or long gone into the mountains.

 

So it was just Kruz and Uli. Rebuilding. They left the camp and wandered for weeks until Uli had their first children. Three Archers. Kruz, Uli, and their children settled in a wooded area. They survived a cold winter and found more Goblins. Lost Goblins from another tribe that had shared the same fate as Kruz's own.

 

And one night it happened. After Kruz had banded the stray Goblins together. Somehow he stopped being a Barbarian. And was a Chieftain.

 

Kruz dreamed the death of his Uli all over again. His tribe has found her headless under an apple tree. She had always liked apples. She must have had a craving. Left by herself and ran into a Human. They liked taking Goblin heads.

 

By then Kruz had seven more children by Uli. Half of them were Archers. One was a Barbarian. And one of them was a Shaman.

 

Kruz continued to dream on through the deaths of his and Uli's children. He dreamed on until the day Knights came back and hunted his tribe again. He dreamed he was the last Goblin once more. Standing against an army of Knights. One single Hobgoblin who has been ready to die for years.

 

A crossbow bolt to the face should have meant death to the Goblin. Even if he was a Hobgoblin. Instead, Chieftain Kruz of the Bitterbow Tribe awoke in his tent with two Goblin females in his arms.

 

Oh. It was just a dream. He wasn't dead. Not yet.

 

Kruz reached over one of the females in his arms and scratched at his bare chest. He was getting thin again. The supplies from the farm raid wouldn’t last much longer than a few days. Especially after a feast like the one his tribe sported last evening. Kruz would have to organize the Hunters and the Gatherers for some early morning work. As the Chieftain of the Bitterbow Tribe, Kruz had many responsibilities every morning, day, and evening. Without Kruz’s leadership, the tribe would fall apart.

 

Not wanting to get up just yet, Kruz pulled the two sleeping Goblin females closer to his chest. He yawned and closed his eyes. And farted.

 

The reaction was immediate. One of the female’s blinked up angrily at Kruz while the other started pinching her nose and jabbing into his bare chest with her claws. Kruz laughed at his Goblins and smiled. Goblins had sharp noses.

 

The morning was a rough start for Chieftain Kruz.

 

After shooing two very upset female Goblins out of his tent, Kruz began his search for his highest leveled Goblin. The Chieftain found Ghark the Level 6 Hunter curled up naked with another naked Goblin. Kruz stared at the sleeping couple and did not hesitate to kick Ghark in the back.

 

Ghark and his companion were both startled and glared up at their Chieftain.

 

Kruz grunted down at the two males. “Morning. Work.”

 

Chieftain Kruz left his Goblins on the ground groaning and complaining. It was not long before Ghark caught up with him. “Why?” he asked the Chieftain.

 

Kruz looked down at the Goblin that was nearly a quarter to a fifth of the Hobgoblin’s height. “Feast. Lots of food. Need more,” Kruz said to his Goblin.

 

Ghark who had barely had time to put on a loincloth to cover his privates chittered up at his Chieftain before grabbing his bow from the tribe’s weapon stash. Which was simply a pile of all of the tribe’s weapons. It was nothing fancy. The Goblins of the Bitterbow Tribes did not have chests or weapon racks. It was a poor tribe. Poorer than most. So poor in fact that only the Chieftain had a tent of his own. While the rest of his tribe slept out on the hard ground. A few had bunched furs and leathers as makeshift sleeping mats to make the ground less uncomfortable.

 

Kruz stopped in the middle of his mostly still slumbering tribe in the middle of the woods and felt… disappointed. Not because of his Goblins. He would never feel disappointed in them. No. Kruz felt disappointment in his tribe because of himself. Because Chieftain Kruz remembered another time in another tribe. It had been bigger, better, more tents, there were chests, they even had a cave!

 

Had Kruz done something wrong? As a Chieftain had he made a mistake somewhere? Why did his tribe feel so small, so poor?

 

Chieftain Kruz of the Bitterbow Tribe had a secret. He was afraid. Afraid that he was holding his tribe back because he was afraid that he was not supposed to be a Chieftain. Had the voice in his head been wrong? When it had told him he was no longer a Barbarian and told him that he was a Chieftain?

 

He had lost his Levels as a Barbarian. He had felt the power he had accumulated disappear. And he had become a Level 1 Chieftain.

 

Was the reason his tribe was doing so poorly… was it because he was only Level 5? Had another Goblin been meant to become the Chieftain instead of him? He took so long to level as a Chieftain too. When he was a Barbarian, it had been so much easier to level.

 

He may have lost all of his Barbarian levels. But he had never lost his Barbarian Skills. Only his Passive Skill. He had kept all of the Active Skills. And sometimes he still thought like a Barbarian… not like a Chieftain.

 

That was his fault. Or maybe the world. Kruz did not know who or what to blame for the great injustice. Because even with the Chieftain class… he did not learn to think like a Chieftain.

 

It made him wonder if Uli had died too soon. Maybe he should have died in her place? Would she have made a better Chieftain? Would she have been able to keep their children alive?

 

Kruz closed his eyes, still standing in the middle of his mostly sleeping tribe. He hated thinking like this. But how could he not? He just could not figure out what he was doing wrong.

 

His old tribe raided often. So he tried to lead his tribe on raids just like on the farm. He tried to remember everything his old Chieftain had done… but it had been so long ago and he was never close nor obsessed with his Chieftain like the other Goblins had been.

 

And perhaps that was a good thing. His old Chieftain had been weak!

 

Chieftain Kruz let the coming frown shift into a sneer. The cooling sadness that had been coming up from inside was boiled into wrath and anger. Goblins had no need for sadness. But anger? Anger could be used.

 

Kruz opened his eyes and glared at the mostly sleeping tribe. His tribe may be poor. But his Goblins were not weak! Just the other day he had multiple Goblins level up from the raid. He had even awarded one of his Goblin Fighters with a shortsword. And he had given a name to one of his Scouts. The Goblin Scout who had found the farm. Glub.

 

Kruz stomped through his tribe and began kicking Scouts and Fighters for the morning patrols. Most of them got up and obeyed their Chieftain immediately. A couple groaned and hissed up at him to which Kruz simply growled down at them, raising his fist threateningly. When a Goblin didn’t obey the answer was to scare them.

 

Chieftain Kruz stopped after waking his slothful Goblins and his scowl grew more pronounced. He shoved the little Goblin Fighter he had given the shortsword to and asked where Glub was. Because Kruz could not find Glub.

 

To which the Goblin Fighter smiled and pointed off in the direction of the road. Which meant Glub was already performing his duties as a Scout to the tribe. That was good.

 

Chieftain Kruz stopped scowling and grunted down in acknowledgment of his Level 3 Goblin Fighter.

 

Most of the Goblins in the Bitterbow Tribe did not know how to speak. There were nonverbal means of communication of course. But Chieftain Kruz did not need them to understand the levels and classes of his Goblins.

 

Chieftain Kruz had another secret. His Passive Skill told him the levels, classes, and names of all the Goblins in his tribe. The only thing he could not seek when he looked at one of his Goblins was their Skills. It was a useful Passive Skill but Kruz wished it was something stronger, worthy of a Chieftain. But that was his inner Barbarian talking. Always looking for strengths and weaknesses. Always seeking power and rage. Blood.

 

Kruz could remember the Farmer and his wife. He had let his now Level 3 Fighter Goblin put an end to the Farmer’s life. But Kruz had wanted to end the Farmer. The Human. He remembered seeing the Farmer cut down his Goblins and it had made his blood boil something fierce. He had blindly charged the Farmer, something that would have helped him with his lost Barbarian Passive Skill. Letting the rage takeover… but he was no longer a Barbarian.

 

Kruz was a Chieftain now. And he did not benefit from rage as much anymore. It was like everything he knew had been turned upside down. And it only made him angrier.

 

Letting his Goblins finish off the Farmer, Kruz had taken out all of his anger on the female Human’s body. He had taken her and left her in pieces. Thinking only of his dead Goblins. They were his. Nobody had any right to take them away from him. No one. Especially not some weak Humans.

 

Kruz sat in his tribe and watched as the rest of his Goblins slowly woke with the rising sun. He would make his Goblins strong. He wouldn’t let another one die. Not to Humans, not to monsters, not to anything.

 

Was that the old Barbarian’s thoughts? Or was that the Chieftain inside of him?

 

Kruz got up and started to organize the waking Goblins according to their classes and levels. Some time passed before several Goblin mothers came to him chittering and poking at him. Kruz grunted and swatted at them. They shrieked at him and kept poking him.

 

“What?” Chieftain Kruz asked the clearly distressed female Goblins. Female Goblins that were clearly mothers.

 

Then it hit him. He did not need them to answer. Because he figured out what was the problem. He looked around and wanted to rage.

 

Where are the children?

 

Much of the Bitterbow Tribe's usual activities were put on hold when Chieftain Kruz ordered for a search. Because all of the children were missing. This was a disaster. Children were the future of a tribe. Without children, there would be no more Goblins. The Goblins in the tribe could just have more children, but what if the tribe was attacked? A tribe always needed children. No matter how annoying or time consuming they could be at times.

 

Chieftain Kruz's missing Goblin children problem was solved when all of the missing children returned to the tribe screaming some time later.

 

One of the Goblin children in particular, a young female with a small white flower behind her ear, was crying.

 

Chieftain Kruz grunted and felt like smacking the little runt. Goblins didn't cry. He'd have to break that out of her. But he did not smack her. Instead, Kruz looked around and ordered for the remaining warriors to gather around. The distraught mothers were comforting their children. Kruz ordered his warriors to prepare for an attack. The children had probably wandered off and encountered a monster. It looked like all of the mothers had their children. There were some children without mothers because the mothers had died.

 

The warriors prepared themselves for battle. Chieftain Kruz returned to his tent and emerged with his halberd. His Goblins were readying for anything when the little Goblin Scout Kruz was so proud of that he had given him a name, returned. And he had even leveled up. Chieftain Kruz smiled until he saw what Glub his Level 3 Scout was carrying.

 

Glub the Goblin Scout returned to the Bitterbow Tribe with a shortsword around his waist that did not belong to him. And with a Goblin head in his claws. Chieftain Kruz looked at his Goblin Scout then at the head of his Level 3 Goblin Fighter. And let the old Barbarian out with a roar.






Glub felt a little numb.

 

Goblins died. Goblins died a lot. But Glub had never seen a Goblin die right in front of him. Not like that. Sure Glub had seen Goblins starve in front of his eyes. He had once seen a Goblin Scout get ripped apart by an Eater Plant. Goblins died.

 

But Sword Goblin had died in the blink of an eye. Quite literally Glub had only blinked and Sword Goblin's head was already falling from his shoulders. That monster had been standing over Sword Goblin's body and speaking, playing with Sword Goblin's head. Like it was a child's toy. The monster had poked and prodded and pulled at Sword Goblin's head while Glub had only watched.

 

When the monster had long since left, Glub retrieved Sword Globin's shortsword and carried Sword Goblin’s head all the way back to the tribe. He wasn't going to leave the head there for the Human when he came back for it. It wasn't right. Sword Goblin deserved… he deserved…

 

Better? To live longer? It wasn't fair. But the Sword Goblin was still a Goblin. Had been a Goblin. And the world was not fair to Goblins. It never had been and it never would be. Because they were so small compared to the monsters lurking out there.

 

Glub had heard the stories from his Chieftain about Humans. The most dangerous monsters out there. He remembered the story about the Knights who had slaughtered the Chieftain's entire tribe years ago before he had ever formed the Bitterbow Tribe. Humans had came and went. Leaving headless Goblin bodies and a burning and destroyed tribe.

 

Glub remembered watching the farm from a distance after discovering it. He remembered seeing the three Humans. They had not looked fearsome or monstrous then. The older male had reminded Glub of an older Goblin, grumpy like the Chieftain. And the female reminded Glub of when he watched one of the mothers in the tribe chide their misbehaving children. Then the raid had happened. Glub remembered how many Goblins had left for the raid. And he remembered how many did not return.

 

Glub had underestimated the Humans. Because he thought he was too sneaky for them. They had found him out, given chase... and now Sword Goblin was dead because of him. Something inside of Glub's chest hurt. He wanted to cry but he refused to waste the water. He squeezed his eyes shut and grabbed at his bare green skinned chest.

 

Maybe if… maybe if there weren't any Humans. Then maybe the world wouldn't be as unfair towards Goblins. Humans killed Goblins. Humans hunted Goblins. But Goblins killed Humans too. Glub was sure that the Farmer and his tribe had been slain. But only after they had killed Goblins. And what about today? He had been one stupid Goblin and they had hunted him. And Sword Goblin had paid the price.

 

That Human... monster had been so fast. One blink. Sword Goblin had been killed. Glub had wanted to pick up Sword Goblin's sword and slay the monster. Stab him from behind like a tricky Goblin. But...

 

The monster would have killed Glub too. Glub just knew it. That monster had been terrifying. Strong. Maybe stronger than the Chieftain. It had taken everything for Glub to stay still and endure the monster's presence rather than running away. Would the monster have noticed Glub running? He could have died.

 

For what? What did Sword Goblin die for? What did Glub nearly die for? A full belly of fruit that he could not share with anyone else?

 

Glub shook his head and did not cry. He closed his mouth and kept his lips pursed. He wouldn't let those sad noises come from him. Goblins did not cry.

 

When Glub returned to the tribe with the sword and severed head of Sword Goblin. The Chieftain had started to roar. The energy around the tribe as a whole became violent and aggressive.

 

Glub could see where this was going. He even supported it. Because deep down that sadness he was refusing to acknowledge, was turning into some other emotion. A familiar one that the Chieftain encouraged. Anger.

 

Glub sat the head of Sword Goblin down and told his Chieftain everything he could without words. With his fingers, hand shapes, and noises, Glub told the Chieftain everything. The Chieftain had calmed. But the anger was still there. That cold fury was waiting behind calculating eyes as the Chieftain listened to his little Goblin Scout named Glub. And when Glub finished the tale, the Chieftain prepared the tribe for war.

 

Glub let his own anger show as he snarled and stomped about listening to the Chieftain's plan for vengeance. All the while keeping one claw on the hilt of Sword Goblin's shortsword. The Chieftain had not asked for it back and Sword Goblin would no longer need it. So Glub kept it and planned on running those monster through. Until, during all of the chaos in the tribe, Glub saw a little Goblin child with a little white flower behind her ear. Glub stopped pacing and frowned as he watched the little Goblin girl crying over the head of Sword Goblin.

 

Goblins did not cry. They were not supposed to cry.

 

So Glub did not cry. There must have been some sweat in his eyes or something. Because Goblins did not cry.

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