Chapter 19:

Chapter 19 Propelling Into The Sky

Hermit's Diary

With Kaka leading the way, we scuttled cautiously through the spiky barricade, keeping our eyes peeled for any danger. The big opening with tall grass lay before the forest ahead, a daunting sea of towering trees, a place where monsters lurked. Kaka began our lesson on survival. We goblin hatchlings, our forms still hunched and fearful, clustered around him, our wide eyes filled with curiosity and worry.

Kaka said, "Little gobbies, we don't have much time, and you need to learn many things. The bad goblins will force you into tormenting labor or worse. You must learn things to survive."

We nodded with the utmost sincerity, our eager gazes fixed on Kaka's brused and battered face.

He continued, "In the perilous forest, where monsters lurk and danger awaits, you must be silent and invisible. This is our first lesson. Silent like night, invisible like shadows."

Goober asked with excitement in his voice, "Dada Kaka, what we find in the forest? M-Mushrooms? Bugs? Maggots?"

Kaka nodded, his ears drooping as he whispered back, "Yes, mushies, bugs, roots, all sorts of nummy things. B-but we must be careful. Mon-monsters hide here too. And adventurers, grr, they are bad news."

Squeak, shivering in both fear and tension, chimed in, "Monsters? Like big spiders?"

Kaka turned and gave Squeak an earnest look, "Y-yes, but not only big spiders but also things you've never seen. We stay hidden, watch and learn. We sneak, quick and silent, grab nummy things then shovel it down your throats as fast as you can, and run. Going into the forest is dangerous, so we stay close to camp for today. In the tall grass."

Kaka's brows skin furrowed as he pondered his next words and he uttered, "To find food, you must scuttle low, like this."

He demonstrated by crouching low to the ground, his fingers splayed and tracing the earth as if he were searching for something hidden. We tried to mimic him, our tiny forms stooped low to the ground, fingers wiggling across the dirt.

"Good, good!" Kaka praised, a glimmer of pride in his eyes, "Now, when you spot a morsel, you must approach carefully, like this."

He inched toward an imaginary prize, his movements slow and cautious. We crowded around, our tiny goblin forms mirroring his every move. Our big, eager eyes stayed glued to his actions, our curiosity stoked by his odd behavior.

With great care, Kaka snatched up a chunk of dirt, treating it like a valuable treasure. His beady eyes squinted in concentration as he twisted and rolled the clump, examining it from every angle. He turned it this way and that, studying it, and we copied his exaggerated inspection, tilting our heads and squinting at our own clumps of dirt.

Then came the sniffs - with a snort, he shoved it near his snout, inhaling deeply with exaggerated theatrics that made us giggle and follow his lead. We inhaled deeply, pretending our clumps of dirt were the most captivating scents in the world, our nostrils twitching with goblin-like enthusiasm.

Finally, he took a flashy bite, chewing it with deliberate slowness. His wrinkled, bruse-covered face contorted in mock disgust, and he made a show of spitting out the imaginary dirt, complete with exaggerated chomping sounds.

After his theatrics, Kaka told us, his voice filled with the wisdom of a seasoned goblin, "If it tastes yucky and be all funky, you spit it out just like that. Do the ol' spitty. You must understand, little gobs, we goblins we're tough as a troll's toenail against poisonous things, but even we can meet our end by munching too much of the nasty stuff."

"Remember, if it tastes yucky, you do the spitty." He demonstrated again, making sure we grasped the importance of his lesson.

We nodded vigorously, our miniature faces contorting into exaggerated expressions of disgust as we mimicked Kaka's actions. We sputtered and coughed, making comically exaggerated hacking sounds. The dirt and air spewed forth as if we were expelling the deadliest poison, and we spat with the force of goblin warriors in battle.

Kaka's voice dropped to a whisper, his eyes wide with intensity "Listen, little gobbies," Kaka hissed in a hushed tone, his finger pointing at the forest.

 "Watch out, 'cause, in this here forest, there be dangers worse than cruel gobs and monsters. There be adventurers."

Our ears pricked up rising like ship sails at the mention of adventurers, and Kaka's words seeped into our young minds like swamp water into mucky boots. We sensed the dangerous secrets lurking in the woods, and Kaka was our beacon of survival.

Curiously I asked, "W-what is an adventurer? Mumma Kaka?"

He went on, his voice filled with urgency and dread, "Them adventurers, they be tall and sneaky, donning shiny armor and wielding them sharp, pointy sticks. They come seekin' shiny things, fame, and the taste of a good fight. Humans they call! They'll gut goblins without blinkin'."

We swallowed hard, the weight of his words settling in our bellies like a stone. Instinct screamed at us to stay far from these adventurers, and Kaka's warnings echoed in our ears.

Under Kaka's careful tutelage, we trudged deeper into the sea of tall grass. He plucked, chewed, and nibbled at the grassy stalks, creating a path for us tiny hatchlings to follow. Our hatchling pack clung together, huddled together like a tangled knot of frightened creatures, and we trailed closely behind Kaka. We clung to one another with an almost desperate urgency, our scrawny arms entwined around each other's small bodies. Our tiny hands grasped our neighbor's meaty ears, forming a chain of little goblins, each seeking solace and safety in the warmth of our fellow hatchlings.

Our round ears, oversized in comparison to our small frames, drooped low, brushing against the tangled grass blades. They dragged along the ground like wilted leaves, collecting specks of dirt and stray seeds, evidence of our unease. With every cautious step, we stumbled over one another's stubby feet, producing quiet yelps and muted grunts.

As we scurried onward, Kaka delivered his lessons with a goblin flair.

 "Listen good, you little gobs," he rasped, "this tall grass grows fast, and us goblin slaves gotta clear it 'round the camp. The bad gobs toss us over the wall 'til it's plucked clean. But that ain't our concern now, other slaves got that job. This grass is handy for many things - it's our cover, our nest, and our warmth in cold dark times. Pluck it, shred it into bits, and nestle inside the pile to fend off the chilling bite of night."

Kaka's voice remained hushed but brimming with wisdom as he carried on, "Keep them peepers wide for danger," he growled, "broken sticks, strange tracks, or strange ruckus - stay sharp, my little ones."

Leading us to a cunning glade, a small clearing kissed by dappled sunlight, Kaka demonstrated the craft of creating a hideaway from leaves and twigs. He taught us to fashion a covert nest that would shield us from prying eyes.

We stared in wide-eyed fascination as Kaka toiled, his massive goblin paws weaving nature's treasures together with an uncanny skill. He trampled over a patch of earth, gouging and fussing with it until he unearthed a cozy hollow of softened dirt. 

Then, he plucked a bundle of spindly, tall grass and shredded it into bits before sprinkling it into the hole he had crafted. Kaka then rustled within the massive pile of shredded grass, tucking himself in and emerging moments later.

His voice filled the air, "This is our snooze spot, a nap-nook, my little gobs. We gotta stay as sneaky as shadows, especially when the night creeps in. That's when the monsters start their prowlin'. Now, you saw me makin' the cozy nest; it's your turn to make your own snug hidey-hole, little ones."

Eagerly, we followed Kaka's example, rushing into action. I mimicked Kaka's every move with painstaking precision, scuttling in a circular dance while scraping the earth with my chubby toes. Afterward, I gathered some of Kaka's shredded grass and enveloped myself in its fragrant embrace, creating my snug snooze nest. 

Glancing around from under my cover, I observed my fellow hatchlings, who were a heap of delightful chaos, tumbling and rolling across the ground, diving headfirst into the grass, and drawing quirky patterns within it. Some decided to burrow themselves beneath the earth, hiding in the depths, only to be unearthed by Kaka before suffocation set in.

Others were more adventurous, attempting to scale the towering grass stems, but their feeble attempts often resulted in clumsy descents with loud flops and the occasional painful yelp, "Oooof!" 

One spirited group decided to challenge the towering grass stems. They clung to a particularly robust one, attempting to scale its dizzying heights. However, their efforts proved in vain, for the stem buckled beneath their combined weight, sending them tumbling down like leaves in the wind.

 It acted like a goblin's primitive siege weapon, propelling the last hatchling into the air like a projectile. We all watched, wide-eyed, as his scrawny form soared through the sky, landing deep within the tall grass with a resounding splat and an anguished cry, "WREEEEE...! THUD...! Ooooof...!"

Kaka watched the catapulted hatchling with a pallor on his face, fear flickering in his beady eyes. He quickly ordered us to stay still, his voice trembling with urgency, "Be still, little gobs! Kaka will return shortly. I must tend to the little one who was flung."

With cautious steps, Kaka made his way through the tall grass, his goblin heart heavy with worry for our unfortunate fellow hatchling.

Kaka's heart was heavy with sorrow as he ventured into the tall grass in search of our unfortunate friend. Kaka eventually discovered the miserable hatchling. The little one's pitiful form lay splattered across a solid rock, his tender body broken by the impact. His brain, though small, had exploded upon contact, creating a grotesque painting on the unforgiving stone. Even his tiny form had not escaped the brutality of his landing, and a foul mix of feces had spurted from his tiny butt, staining rock.

Tears streamed down Kaka's face, and his body quivered with threatened sobs and mournful whimpers as he gazed upon the lifeless hatchling. Tenderly, he peeled the mangled body from the rock, his goblin hands trembling as he cradled the filth-covered form in his embrace. Kaka pressed his forehead to the tiny body and mumbled a heartfelt prayer in his grief, his body shaking with anguish.

"Little wee gob... snatched away too soon... spirits of the wild, heed my plea... grant him peace in the goblin afterlife, where tall grasses sway gently, and dangers are but whispers in the wind... gheghe..."

Tears streamed down Kaka's goblin face as he cradled the lifeless hatchling's body in his arms, and sorrowful murmurs escaped his quivering lips. He returned to the rest of us hatchlings, his eyes still brimming with tears and his voice laden with grief. We froze in place as we saw our fellow hatchling's lifeless, dirt-covered form in Kaka's meaty hands. Panic and confusion gripped us, and we bombarded Kaka with a flurry of questions and pleas.