Chapter 21:

Chapter 21 The Ant Hill

Hermit's Diary

"Watch closely now, little gobs," Kaka said, his voice tinged with excitement and a hint of goblin-like eagerness.

"To feast, first, you swiftly roll the rock to the side and snatch whatever's hiding underneath. Shovel it into your mouth before it escapes. If something tries to flee, scuttle after it but don't chase it too far. And if you spot a long wormie, grab it and give it a good tug. They're slippery, and they'll try to burrow back under the ground. Now, let me show you how it's done."

Kaka, with a glint in his eyes, bent down low to the ground. His grubby goblin fingers darkened with dirt and grime, reached for a nearby rock, his claws scraping the earth. With a swift motion, he flipped the rock over, revealing a wriggling assortment of creepy crawlies beneath. We watched in awe and curiosity as the creatures scuttled in every direction, their tiny legs and antennae waving in the air.

With his nimble fingers, he plucked a bunch of pebble-sized bugs. The morsels wriggled in his grasp. He raised his hand to his mouth and, with a satisfied grin, crunched down on the creatures, their juices squirting out as he devoured them. The taste of sustenance filled his mouth, a small victory against the constant gnawing of hunger.

"See, little gobs? This is how we find our secret feast!" Kaka chortled, his grin revealing his excitement.

We peered beneath the rock, our tiny fingers fumbling as we tried to mimic Kaka's movements. Beneath it, a host of insects scurried and wriggled, a tiny world of crunchy delights.

Kaka plucked a handful of pebble-sized bugs, their shiny carapaces glinting in the dappled sunlight that filtered through the tall grass. With delight, he crunched on them with joy, savoring the first decent morsel in a week of hunger.

"Come on, little gobs, It's time to fill those bellies!" he urged us, his voice filled with encouragement.

We eagerly followed his lead, Kaka rolled rocks and we discovered a cache of crunchy critters and bugsies. Some were fast runners, and we giggled in delight as we chased them, our tiny fingers struggling to catch the nimble creatures.

Others discovered long, squirming earthworms and tugged at them with all their might, their faces contorted in concentration. The worms wriggled and resisted, but we were determined to add them to our feast.

As we busily gathered our makeshift meal, Kaka watched over us, his heart swelling with a mix of pride and sorrow. It was a hard world for goblin hatchlings, but he was eager to do his best to guide us through it, one crunchy critter at a time.

Kaka picked up some pebble-sized bugs, known as "Skitters," which had iridescent shells shimmering with various colors. He crunched on them with delight, their crunchy shells offering a satisfying snack. Nearby, a few hatchlings imitated Kaka's movements, tumbling small rocks and capturing their own Skitters.

Others found a group of "Crawlers," which were slimy, worm-like creatures with numerous tiny legs that wriggled as they moved. They squirmed and tried to burrow back into the earth, but the hatchlings grabbed hold of them and tugged, revealing their squishy, elongated bodies. With squeals of excitement, they slurped down the wriggling Crawlers, savoring the sensation of their gooey insides. The goblin hatchlings feasted on the creepy crawlies, their munching, and slurping filling the air with a chorus of goblin satisfaction.

The two hatchlings, their eyes gleaming with excitement, combined their strength and rammed into the tiny boulder. With a mighty effort, they tumbled it to the side, revealing a hidden world teeming with bugs. The creatures scattered in every direction, their tiny legs a blur of motion.

"Look! Look! Big bug! Me want! Me want! Yum yum! Bug snack! Gobble it up!"

"Catch it! Catch it! Go fast! Run run! Crunchy bug! Crunchy bug!"

The hatchlings, in their hunger-induced frenzy, got caught up in the chase. They sprinted after the biggest bug they could spot, one that resembled a massive ant with its antenna and six legs. The crunch of their little feet against the dirt was drowned out by their eager yelps and excited squeals.

"I'm gonna get it! I'm gonna! Get back here, bug! Me hungry!"

"Wait for me! Don't go too far! Me too! Bug, stop running!"

Their world narrowed down to this single pursuit, and they forgot about any dangers that might be lurking nearby. The ant-like bug scuttled around the gnarled roots of a tree and disappeared on the other side, into what looked like a massive mound of dirt tangled with tall grass.

 "Where did bug go? Bug gone!"

"No! I want a bug! Find bug! Bug is yummy! We eat!"

Unbeknownst to the hatchlings, they had stumbled upon an ant nest, a bustling colony of insects far larger in numbers and more organized than themselves. Oblivious to the peril they were about to face, the two goblin hatchlings approached the entrance of the ant nest with curious anticipation.

"Where did it go?"

 "It went in there! Let's follow it! Into the dirt! Let's follow!"

One of them, his body contorting and wriggling, attempted to squeeze through the hole after the bug. But halfway in, his triumphant pursuit turned into a frantic screech of terror.

"Aaaagh! Help! Help! Let me out! It's dark in here! Get me out! Something bit me! Clackety clack! I hear Clackety clack!"

 His body thrashed and wriggled in the dark tunnel, and he desperately waved his arms, trying to escape the relentless pull of the ants.

"They're biting me! Ow! It hurts! Get them off! Get off me! Wreeeee!"

The second hatchling, his eyes wide with panic, lunged forward and grabbed his trapped friend's feet, his tiny goblin heart pounding with fear. 

"I'm trying to help! Hold on, hold on! Don't be scared!"

With every ounce of his strength, he pulled and tugged, engaged in a desperate struggle against the ants' relentless grip.

 "Come on, buddy! You can do it! Me gonna get you out!"

His efforts bore fruit as he managed to free his companion, but the sight that greeted him was a nightmare. The ants had inflicted terrible wounds upon the trapped hatchling. His face had been gnawed and torn, the flesh stripped away to reveal bone beneath.

"Look at my face! Look at my face! Me hurts! Me hurts so much! Big ouchie!"

 The injured hatchling, his face a horrifying spectacle of bone and torn flesh, tried to crawl away, but it was too late. With a sudden surge, the ants burst from their nest, swarming over the wounded goblin with relentless aggression. Their tiny but deadly jaws snapped and their acid-filled spittle burned his sensitive skin.

"Aaaaah! They're all over me! Help! Help me! Wreeee! It burns! It burns! Reeeee!"

The second hatchling, unable to do anything to save his friend, fled in terror, leaving behind a nightmarish scene of goblin hatchling and ant brutality. His desperate attempts to outrun the swarm of ants were futile, as the relentless insects quickly overtook him as he tripped over his own clumsy feet. They crawled over his tiny body, biting and stinging, their acid injecting excruciating pain.

Kaka, who had been foraging nearby, heard the distressing cries of the hatchlings. He rushed back, his heart sinking as he witnessed the horrifying sight. Without a word, he began swatting at the ants with his gnarled stick, his goblin face contorted with sorrow. The ants, disturbed by his assault, retreated to their nest, leaving behind the mangled and half-melted bodies of the hatchlings they had slain.

Kaka carefully gathered the lifeless hatchlings, cradling them close to his chest. Tears streamed down his face, mixing with the dirt and grime, as he offered what comfort he could in the face of such a devastating loss. The field was now marred by two more makeshift gravestones, a grim reminder of the harsh realities of our world.

Kaka gathered us all, our pitiful whimpers and trembling bodies reflecting our sorrow and fear. He spoke with a goblin-like resolve, "Today, we've lost too many of our hatchlings, and I'm deeply sorry for that. We rushed out into the wild too soon. It's time to return to the camp, little gobs."

But the thought of returning to the camp, where we would face beatings and be forced to eat feces for food, filled us with dread. We pleaded with Kaka to let us stay a little longer, to find a safer spot in the forest. 

Reluctantly, Kaka relented, cautioning, "Alright, my little ones, a quick peek at the forest, but only for a short while. Me knows of a place, a hidden spot where all them bad goblins dump their dung. The stench keeps most monsters away. Follow me closely, and listen to me every command, little gobs." 

Kaka, taking charge, led the way through the treacherous terrain of the wilds. We huddled together, our tiny, trembling bodies creating a compact group as we followed in his footsteps. The sound of our scuttling feet echoed like a chorus of pitter-patter, our soft, paw-like appendages patting the earth below.

 Kaka striped a trail through the thick grass. His naked body, dirt-caked, and drenched in sweat, bore the marks of his relentless effort. Sharp blades of grass clawed at his exposed flesh, leaving behind a tapestry of tiny grazes and cuts. But Kaka pressed on, his grit unwavering. He plucked and gnawed at the stubborn vegetation, tirelessly forging a path for us hatchlings to navigate through the unforgiving landscape. But as we ventured forth, we were met with a gruesome sight, freezing us in our tracks.