Chapter 5:

In the Caves of the Goblin Queen


Harvest Moon 2, AS 632. Farmland, near Aphysbia City, Kingdom of Farrus, The Sundered World.

“So, dost any of thou want to hear my story of how I got here?” Erenata asked cheerfully.

The four members of the Sunviewers—Erenata the warrior, Descartes the wizard, Rachel the cleric, and Appraiser the Rouge—were trudging through farmland in search of the goblin caves the mysterious hooded figure had informed them of. They had spent the previous evening packed into a tiny room in the back of the Hopeful Hogs Tavern. The “room” was more of a cellar. Actually, the “cellar” was more of a hole in the ground covered in rotted wood. Still, it had been a place to stay that was better than the open air. Marginally.

“Please, spare us,” groaned Appraiser. She was amusing herself by lopping off the heads of stalks of wheat with one of her massive knives. Rachel was walking behind humming to herself, and Descartes walked silently in the back, her nose buried in a book.

Erenata sighed. “Thee is too grumpy” she said. “Fine then. Why dost thou not tell us your story? What brought you to Aphysbia city, merry companion?”

“Why do you talk like that?” Appraiser replied. “You sound like an escapee from a Shakespeare boot camp.”

“This beist the native tongue of my people,” the warrior replied. “If thou desirest, I can speak of the linguistical history of the People of the Great Tree…”

“No, please don’t,” the thief begged in return.

Rachel hurried up to them. “Now, now, let’s not argue.”

“She started it!” Erenata and Appraiser said in perfect sync.

As the two squabbled on, the quiet Descartes pointed with her charred staff. “Over there,” she said quietly. The other three immediately fell silent to look in the indicated direction.

Sure enough, in the distance was the entrance to a cave, protruding oddly from the rest of the land. The rest of the terrain had been flat farmland. Sheep-filled pastures mixed with wheat and corn fields that stretched as far as the eye could see, except for the horizon of the city behind them. So this opening to a rocky cave looked wildly out of place. The cave opening seemed more like a small hill with a gap in it. Based on the shape of the opening, Appraiser said in a hushed voice that it probably continued underground. She also pointed out one more thing: at the entrance stood a creature with shabby armor and a spear in hand, looking out into the countryside.

This creature was only three feet high. It had little hair, two long ears, and brownish-grey skin. The armor it wore was more like a collection of scrap metal strung together with wire. The spear, on the other hand, was surprisingly shiny. It reflected the sunlight breaking through the partly cloudy sky. It was clearly a goblin. The four had approached from the opposite side, so it didn’t seem to notice them at the distance. “We’re here,” whispered Erenata unnecessarily.

“Let’s go talk to him,” said Rachel brightly. Without waiting for further feedback, hoisted up her white dress in order to jog in the goblin’s direction. When she got within shouting distance, she called out “hello there!”

“Stupid!” hissed Appraiser under her breath, following at a distance. The other two, Erenenata and Descartes, stood back.

The goblin, seeing Rachel, hissed in surprise. Rachel called out “how are you today?” The goblin answered in a guttural language. Rachel shook her head. “I’m sorry. Do you speak English?” After a brief pause, she said, “Oh, er, I mean, do you speak ‘common?’” The goblin gave its answer by lowering its spear and charging at her.

Rachel cried out in fear. Both Erenata and Appraiser rushed toward the goblin, but they were too slow. The creature was running full speed now; too late, Rachel had begun to run away. The spear was about to connect with Rachel when suddenly the goblin’s head exploded into a burst of fire. It shrieked, dancing in a circle trying to put out the flame before collapsing with a charred head.

The other three looked back to see the quiet Descartes still pointing her staff at the Goblin’s location. A few sparks still circled it, and one of the char marks looked fresher than it had before. When she saw the other three looking at her, she lowered her staff. “We should keep moving” she said quietly. Rachel ran over and hugged her.

Renata made a motion to walk into the cave, but Appraiser stopped her. “Let me” the thief said. She slipped into the cave. Sure enough, the floor sloped downward about 50 feet. At the bottom was a stout wooden door. “Time for me to get to work,” Appraiser muttered to herself. She began thoroughly checking the door. First, she tapped it lightly with a rod to check if it was hollow—it was not. Then, she carefully ran the blade of a knife along the cracks on both sides and the top. Then, she pressed her ear to it, listening for sounds on the opposite side; still nothing. Finally, she took out a very thin knife. She used it to begin the delicate process of picking the lock. She put her ear to the door and began very carefully wiggling the knife in the lock, listening for a telltale click.

“What are thou doing?” asked Erenata as she pushed open the door. The two stared at each other for a moment. “It was unlocked” Erenata added helpfully. The two kept staring at each other until Rachel and Descartes walked down the stairs. The two spellcasters looked at the former pair strangely until Appraiser finally broke eye contact. “We should keep moving,” she muttered.

The room was a storage room of some kind. Crates lined the walls. Experimentally, Erenata popped open the lid of one. A rotten smell immediately wafted out of the crate. “Spoiled milk,” Erenata confirmed. “It seems as though the goblins do not possess adequate means of refrigeration.”

The party opened the door to the next room. Inside was a surprised goblin. It had been sitting at a table eating, but upon hearing the door open it grabbed a sword with a snarl. It leaped at the four adventurers. Before it reached them, however, its head burst into flames just as the previous goblin’s head had. As Descartes lowered her staff, Appraiser slapped her on the back. “Nice going! We should make that part your signature thing.”

“Wh-which part?” the shy wizard stammered.

“The part where you kill enemies with one shot so the rest of us don’t have to fight. Let’s move on.”

The next several rooms were mostly empty. They contained a few dirty blankets, some moldy food, and a handful of rusted weapons and armor. This was all passed by except for the weapons. Whenever a knife or short sword was available, Appraiser would take it and strap it to her collection. When Rachel asked how she was holding all that gear, Appraiser told her not to worry about it.

The next room the group busted into, however, was not deserted. It contained three goblins all playing a card game, but when Erentata loudly slammed open the door, the three monsters immediately grabbed their weapons and rushed to attack.

As before, Descartes brandished her staff and cast the same fire spell, causing one of the attacking goblins to collapse into a charred mess. The other two hesitated, but only for a moment. They both charged Descartes. She waved her staff once again, but this time, only a puff of smoke appeared. She turned pale. “I’m sorry. I can’t cast any more powerful magic for the day,” she said. The goblins closed in, snarling. Shrieking, Descartes broke out into a run, the goblins in hot pursuit. “Help meeeee” she cried as she ran. She was not a fast runner.

“Friend Descartes!” exclaimed Erenata, who broke out into pursuit of the goblins, brandishing her wooden sword.

“I’ll help too” cried Rachel, also running after them. Appraiser just sighed but also joined the chase. Soon all six—the four Sunviewers and two goblins—were running circles around the room, chasing one person or another.

After a few furious seconds of comedic violence, the fight was over. Both goblins were slain, dispatched by Erenata’s sword or Appraiser’s knives. Descartes was on the floor, too injured to move, although her wounds were quickly being healed by Rachel’s magic. As Rachel held her hands over the wounded wizard, the latter gestured for the healer to lean in closer. As she did, Descartes said in her quiet voice “I know you don’t use combat magic. But there is a way for you to help.” She whispered a few more words into Rachel’s ear, who nodded seriously.

Appraiser, who had been stealthily scouting out the path ahead, returned to the rest of the party. “The hall splits ahead. If we go left, we fall into an obvious pitfall trap. To the right is a large cavern with an extra big goblin lady beating some guy. Shall we mercilessly kill her and take her stuff?”

Rachel in a disapproving voice said “don’t say it like that. Maybe diplomacy is possible.”

“Right. Just like all the diplomacy we’ve done so far,” replied Appraiser. “I’m sure all those charred and beheaded goblin corpses feel really diplomatic right now.” Rachel nodded reluctantly.

Descartes’ wounds were healed enough for her to stand. The four checked their weapons one final time before striding through the door. They took the hallway to the right, as Appraiser had advised. This was a longer pathway than the party had encountered previously, but luckily it was deserted. At the end was a tattered piece of cloth hiding the exit of the natural cavernous hall. Striding forward, Erenata slashed down the cloth to reveal the final room.

This was the largest cavern yet. Stalactites and stalagmites decorated the area. It was dimly lit by several torches flickering around the edges. In the center of the room, just as Appraiser had described, stood a massive female goblin dual wielding a massive whip and knife. She was wearing what could only be described as a pink sundress decorated with yellow flowers. The effect was grotesque. This goblin woman was leaning over a young human man in tattered clothing tied up in rope. He had several welts on his face where he had apparently been struck with the whip. Finally, completing the bizarre scene, a large box sat along the wall. It had the size, shape, and appearance of a stereotypical treasure chest.

As the Sunviewers burst into the room, the goblin woman spun around, but the injured man on the ground spoke first. “Run,” he coughed. “Save yourselves. You’re no match for her.”

The monstrous goblin smacked him with the whip. “Quiet, you!” she snarled in accented but understandable version of the Common language. She turned to the Sunviewers. “But he is right. My name is Sin-Dee, the Unchained Ex, the Unbreakable Ancient Attachment, toyer and destroyer of the hearts of men everywhere!” She cracked her whip menacingly. “I rule these caverns with my brood, and soon, I shall rule this kingdom! As punishment for disturbing my sanctum, the sentence is death. However, I am a merciful being. Grovel before me, and I shall grant you a quick and painless—”

“Paralyze!” cried Rachel, pointing her finger at Sin-Dee. There was a crackling sound like a burst of static electricity, and Sin-Dee froze in place, her arms locked in a comical position. She made guttural noises but could not utter a word. “Go get her, girls,” said Rachel, pumping her fist with a triumphant grin on her face.

With Sin-Dee unable to fight back, the fight was over quickly. A flurry of strikes from Erentata and Appraiser quickly cut down the monster. Even Descartes, in her injured state, managed to get in a few good whacks with her staff. Within seconds, the body of the monstrous Sin-Dee fell to the ground. Rachel exchanged a high-five with Descartes. “Thanks for the advice,” she said to the wizard. “I am so glad I can be helpful to all of you besides using healing magic.” Descartes gave a truly heartfelt smile in return. Rachel smiled back. “I haven’t seen you smile so purely yet,” she said. “It makes you look wonderful. You should smile more.”

Meanwhile, Appraiser had cut the bonds of the young man, who slowly stood up, rubbing his wrists. He introduced himself as Cyton, explaining that he was traveling to deliver a message to the king of Farrus when he was captured by the goblin hordes. “Please, escort me to the king,” he begged. “This message could save the lives of tens of thousands.” The Sunviewers unanimously agreed to help him on his mission.

Of course, before leaving, the group thoroughly explored the treasure chest in the room. It contained 100 gold pieces and two potions. Descartes performed some magic on the potions and identified one as a Potion of Lesser Healing and the other as a Potion of Speed. After some debate, they divided the 100 gold equally among the four. Erenata held the Potion of Speed, while Descartes became the bearer of the healing potion. They debated spending the night recovering in the caves, but nobody other than Erenata fancied the idea of sleeping in a drafty cave on the hard stone ground. With Cyton in tow, the Sunviewers began triumphantly marching back to Aphysbia City.