Chapter 7: Like Cornered Goblins
Goblins die like rats;
They held not Isawa's statue:
My goal lies beneath.
~ Miyara Miwa
The stairwell was a mere five feet wide and 5 feet high, making it very cramped. Even fighting one at a time would be difficult, as most of us, all of us who were warriors, had to walk and fight with crook backs.
All at once, Kyosuke saw several pairs of beady eyes coming towards him. He nudged Res Li and pointed at them, and I called out the warning. Kyosuke, always interested in peaceful discourse before aggression, greeted them. Of course, the goblins attacked immediately.
The next few minutes were confusing, as battle always is. Kyosuke started bouncing around, in that odd manner which is apparently clown fighting, and Res Li and I worked at trading places. We got tangled up, so it took longer than I wished: we both zigged.
Finally, I was just behind Kyosuke. He was fighting quite effectively, but there was nothing I could do to join the fight. There was just no room. He saw I was behind him then, and he made a leap, landing one rank back. I attacked immediately.
The goblins foolishly believed Kyosuke, as the first danger, was also the only danger. The front rank continued to fight him, turning their backs to me. I cut them down, one at a time, as Kyosuke continued to dodge their attacks at the same time he hit them back.
The goblins beyond Kyosuke turned and ran through a door at the bottom of the stairs, closing it behind them. We took care of the two trapped between us. Kyosuke bound the scratch he had received, and I ensured the five goblins down on the ground were truly dead: I sliced their heads off.
A voice from behind us asked if anyone was wounded, and we replied we were fine. I thought it was Jeisan, but I was not sure. We moved on down the stairs to the door, which was a very stout door, with no landing on the stairs. Kyosuke knocked on the door, and we heard a faint voice from within. Neither of us understood what it was saying, but it was clearly furious. Kyosuke and I let Res Li in front so he could use that peculiar ability of his to look through the door and tell what was on the other side.
He saw a room full of goblins, nine gathered near, but not right by it. The door was lightly latched, but not locked. There was a place for a bar, but they had not used it. A good kick would send the door flying open with ease. Kyosuke again addressed the goblins, assuring them that if they let us in and take what we wanted, we would let them live. They did not listen, of course. Caramela said something in an ugly, harsh language, and they apparently answered in kind. She said we should kill them. As if we truly would have done anything different.
We maneuvered ourselves around so the White Fairy could come to the front. He used his maul on the door, and it flung open, slamming into the wall on the other side. He leapt into the room, and the goblins looked with fear upon him. Kyosuke and I followed right after him into the room, and Ash right after us.
We immediately joined battle with the goblins. At some point, Mongo and Jeisan came in to fight as well. Within minutes, we prevailed, and all the goblins were on the floor. I and the others went through them, ensuring they were truly dead. One rose up and made pleading noises I could not understand. Caramela spoke to it in that ugly language again, but it was just pleading for its life. I sliced its head off. Caramela objected, saying we could have learned something from it. Had it known anything useful, it surely would have said so. I killed it cleanly and quickly, certainly more than it deserved.
Ravena walked up to Kyosuke, who was scratched up. Not knowing what she wanted, he glanced at me questioningly, and I explained to him that she was a healer and wished to care for his wounds. He allowed her to begin her work.
While I was removing heads, others searched the disgusting bodies. They found little, but we added the coins (35 crowns, 10 shillings) to the chest.
The room we found ourselves in was a finished room, about 12 x 15 feet. The goblins lived here, and it was more disgusting than where the ogres lived. The alcove holding the dragon statue was not in this room, nor were there any other exits anywhere. At one end, the room was either unfinished or broken. One corner had perhaps fallen in, or maybe been dug away. The floor was covered with planks, and there was a crude gate up against the wall.
Res Li saw no traps anywhere there, and he then looked through the boards. They covered the continuation of the smooth hole we had seen above: had we jumped down, we would have come through here (and likely continued down, crashing through the planks).
No dragon. The ogres lied, did not know what they were talking about, or we interpreted the vision incorrectly. I asked the White Faerie if anything we had seen in here even remotely resembled his vision. He said all he had seen was the alcove holding a statue.
The only places left are this hole and whatever is behind the portcullis with the ogres. First things first: we removed the planks and lowered a lantern down the hole, to see what was down there. We lowered for 50 feet, and then lantern went out. Bad air? The lantern was wet and covered with mud when we dragged it back up. The walls had been solid all the way down. I threw a small piece of debris from the floor down, and it plunked in the mud.
I asked the White Faerie if he was certain the alcove with the dragon was here in this shrine/cave system somewhere, and he said yes, he was pretty sure. Pretty sure. Still, it was all I had to go on.
Res Li volunteered to be lowered down the hole with a lantern so he could look through the walls and the mud at the bottom.