Chapter 33:

Chapter 33 Returning Home

Hermit's Diary

As the relentless hours dragged on, my tunnel started to take shape, but not without turning me into a mud-soaked, unrecognizable goblin mess. The dirt cascaded onto my body, smearing and coating me in a slick mud concoction, transforming me into a living mud creature. The damp muck, provided some comfort, cooling my overheated, sweaty goblin form and the same time shielding me slightly from the cold.

"Mud, mud everywhere! Gobbie does not look like gobbie, look like mud pie! Dirt fall, make mushy, make muck! Mud everywhere, on nose, on ears, on gobbie. I don't like."

The relentless digging siphoned away every ounce of my strength. I wasn't even halfway there, my spindly hands now resembling a contorted mess of tiny crinkled fingers. The pain radiated through my diminutive frame, and my resolve wavered with each feeble scoop of dirt. Tiny fingers, once delicate tools of mischief, now crumpled and disjointed, bore the marks of my valiant yet painful efforts.

"The digging, oh so much digging, make goblin head spinny! Fingers, once dancing like happy spiders, are now sad and crinkly. Ow, ow, dirt, why you so mean to gobbie fingers?"

While digging, I stumbled upon a treasure trove of Grub worms. I piled them up, creating a wriggling mound of unfortunate creatures, all in preparation for a later feast. The worms, paralyzed by my goblin genius, were my unwitting prisoners.

"You stay here, my wormy friends, I make you into a tasty goblin snack later. You see, me smart goblin, find treasure, and now you be in my belly soon."

I continued digging and digging but eventually, my strength yielded, surrendering to exhaustion. I collapsed on the muddy ground, sprawled out and heaving deeply, each breath a laborious endeavor. During my mud-covered defeat, I mumbled to myself about the deep fatigue and the ache that wrecked every inch of my tiny, scrawny goblin body.

"Oh, mud my friend, why you cling to goblin so tight? Me down, down in the mushy muck. Breathe, breathe so hard. Ouchy, ouchy everywhere. Tiny goblin bones hurt, like a big boulder falling and crushing. Mud, you win this time. I talk to goblin muscles and tell them to be stronger next time. Stupid muscles are not listening. Maybe next time, I dig with a big pebble, not tiny goblin hands."

Despite the weariness settling into my tiny goblin bones, the relentless pangs of hunger had yet to unleash their insatiable demands upon me. Deciding to take a break from my arduous digging, I nestled into the damp earth, seeking a moment of respite. Closing my eyes for what was intended to be a quick snooze, I found a peculiar solace in the darkness of my makeshift nest.

"Me tired, but belly not yelling. No food chase gobbie yet. Nestle here, dirt soft like a hug. I close my eyes for a quick sleepy sleep. Dark nest cozy, like hugging mud. Gobbie needs rest for more dig-dig. Maybe the dream of shiny rocks. Shiny rocks are good, not food, but good."

As I slept peacefully, time slipped away into the unknown. The once bright light in the sky had dipped below the tree line, casting my tiny tunnel into darkness. The tranquility of my slumber, however, was abruptly shattered by a sharp pain radiating from my butt cheek.

I startled awake with a scream that echoed through the tunnel, a dramatic "Reeeeeeeee!" escaping my lips. My night-vision goblin eyes adjusted to the dark as I frantically scanned my surroundings. Clutching my throbbing bottom, I discovered a Grub Worm, its tiny, sharp mandibles responsible for the pain.

"Oh, noooo! What does wormie do to gobbie butt? Hurt, hurt! Reeeee! Stupid wormie, bad! Gobbie is not a tasty snack, you are!"  

Fear seized me, both from the sudden pain and the presence of the voracious worm. In a panicked response, I whacked the intruder on the head, the worm rolling away with a chunk of my goblin flesh. I screeched in agony, rolling on the ground and clutching the injury, unleashing a torrent of yells, "Reeeee! Wormies don't eat gobbie! Gobbos eat tasty wormies! Reeee! Bad wormie! Bad! Goblin not food, you are!" My frantic outburst reverberated through the tunnels, a melodramatic symphony of goblin distress.

The Grub Worm greedily munched on the chunk of goblin flesh it had torn from me, relishing its lucky meal. I got back on my feet, determined to assert dominance in the food chain. 

"Gobbie eats wormie revenge! Wormie not smart, gobbie smarter! Gobbie is strong, like a big rock. Wormie, tiny, like squishy bug. Reeeee! Gobbie shows wormie who boss!"

With a fierce resolve, I gripped the wriggling worm in my fingers and took a voracious bite, chewing it in half with a satisfying pop that showered warm juice all over me. Unfazed by the gruesome shower, "Mmm, tasty worm juice! Gobbie not waste food," I licked the worm juice off my mud-streaked body. 

Done with the worm I crafted a makeshift remedy for my injured butt cheek by smearing it with sticky mud.

"Ouchie butt, need a fix! Mud makes it better. Sticky mud is good for everything! Gobbie genius!" I mumbled to myself, patting my mud-covered behind with a sense of accomplishment.

Fueled by the lingering adrenaline rush, I hurriedly returned to my digging mission. Stepping outside, I gathered dried-up stems and leaves, fashioning makeshift tools to aid in my excavation. 

"Me diggy, diggy fast! Stems strong, like gobbie muscles. Leaves big shovel, dirt goes bye-bye. Me goblin smart like a rock!"

Using stems as a pick to scrape the dirt and shovel the soil onto large leaves, I efficiently transported the dirt out of the cave and dumped it outside. The minutes blurred into hours as I tirelessly scraped and shoveled, the night gradually turned into morning light, illuminating my tiny cave.

As exhaustion gripped my limbs and my vision blurred, I flung my limp arms aimlessly at the dirt.

"Diggy, diggy, diggy..." I fell asleep momentarily but then woke up with a stir, "Gobbie not sleepy, just rest eyes. Diggy time!"

 Suddenly, a loose chunk from the ceiling smacked me on the head. I looked up, dazed, and spotted a tiny crack above me, a dim ray of light filtering through. 

I mumbled to myself, "Ugh, what is that? Stupid dirt from the ceiling, bad rock. Hurt head. But wait, light! Light means outside, not dark cave. Good light! Gobbie goes up, up, through the hole. Maybe sky up there, the camp!"

Realization hit me like a bolt of joy - I had breached the other side of the camp wall. Driven by delight, I scraped at the crack in the ceiling until a small hole, no larger than my head, formed, marking my triumphant passage into the goblin camp.

 "I go up, up, through the hole. Out to light, to sky, to... hmm, what outside called? Maybe the camp. Gobbie excited! But tired too. Tired gobbie go up, up, through hole."

With the hole now sizable enough, I cautiously poked my head out and surveyed the Goblin camp. The morning sun cast a hazy glow over the scene, revealing a relatively calm atmosphere. The camp stirred with minimal activity - only a handful of guards dozing off at their posts on the ramshackle walls and a scattering of goblin slaves stumbling about in the distance.

"I sneak sneak, see what's outside. The morning sun is too bright for gobbie eyes. Look, look! Camp is sleepy, and not much happening. Guards snoozing, lazy like... like sleepy rocks. Gobbos stumbling, too early for gobbos. Me tired, but me sneaky, sneaky. Maybe find tasty grub or soft leaf to rest my head on. Morning gobbie, sleepy gobbie, go find something."

 Lucky for me, my cave nestled behind shaky tents, providing a shield from prying eyes. I quickly covered the hole, shrouding my tunnel, and decided to indulge in a well-deserved rest.

"Me tired gobbie, hole covered, no peek-a-boo. I need to snooze and rest my head on soft dirt. The dirt pillow is comfy. Tunnel hard work, me tired goblin. No more diggy, me sleepy, sleepy."

Settling into a hidden nook, I closed my eyes, the weariness from a night of ceaseless digging weighing heavily on me. The racket of the camp faded as I succumbed to the blissful embrace of a quick nap.

"Maybe the dream of tasty worms. Gobbie's life is tough, but me tougher. Shaky tents, a good hidey place. No find gobbie, no sir. Zzzz..."

Emerging from my brief slumber, I gathered a handful of leaves, fashioning them into a makeshift disguise of sorts. Covered in this leafy camouflage, I crawled out of my tunnel, hugging the ground as I moved, blending in seamlessly with the mud and foliage. 

"Leafy goblin, smart and sneaky. No one sees me, hehe!" 

I mimicked the innocence of a fallen leaf, inching my way toward Kaka's shabby tent with calculated caution. Surprisingly, my ruse went unnoticed, and I slithered away, inch by inch, towards my destination. Progress was slow, but I exercised utmost caution, inching forward to avoid detection. Eventually, I passed the entrance to Kaka's tent.

Standing up with a triumphant grin, I quickly peered into the tent, overcome with unbridled joy. There, before me, was Kaka, the cherished caretaker of us goblin hatchlings. A giggle of sheer delight escaped my lips as I looked at Kaka nestled in his cozy dirt nest surrounded by little fellow gobbies. Tears started to burst from my eyes, Kaka was alive, he survived his brutal injuries.   

 I whispered, my voice barely audible, "Kaka alive! Kaka is not squishy, Kaka is alive! Survived boo-boos, yay! Survive ouchies. Look at Kaka, cozy in the nest. Dirt is nice. Friends around. Giggly, wiggly gobbies! Good, good gobbies! Kaka! Kaka! Gobbie's back, see? See?"

Overwhelmed with uncontainable happiness, I let out a jubilant screech that resonated through the tent, a joyful clamor of goblin chirps and clicks. 

"Me so happy! Reeeee! Kaka, wakey-wakey! Look, look! Gobbie did it! Gobbie returned!"

My sudden outburst jolted Kaka from his slumber, and he convulsed in fear, shielding his head with trembling hands. As his gaze met mine, a wide, happy smile stretched across his mangled face.

 Rising to his feet, his scrawny, abused body wobbled, struggling to maintain stability. I couldn't help but notice that his lost arm had regrown, though it appeared so skinny it resembled a mere combination of bone and skin.

"Kaka! I see you! I miss you lots, lots! Hermit missed Kaka a lot! Look, look, Kaka's arm has grown back! Skinny like stick, but arm here! Reeee!"

Undeterred by Kaka's frailty, I unleashed another jubilant screech of ecstatic delight and scuttled toward him. Without hesitation, I leaped into his embrace, and Kaka responded with a happy yelp, tears streaming down his face in sheer happiness and joy at the sight of me.

"Kaka missed gobbie so much! Tears of joy, like a waterfall on Kaka's face," he cried, his voice a melodic blend of goblin happiness. 

"Gobbie brings joy! Kaka never thinks gobbie will come back. Gobbie surprise Kaka! We dance, we sing, happy goblin time! No more sad, only happy, with Kaka and gobbies!"