Chapter 34:

Chapter 34 Tale of Survival

Hermit's Diary

With boundless joy, Kaka continued his heartfelt speech, "Gobbies are like a shiny treasure, all of you are precious to me. My heart ached when I heard what happened. Your fellow gobbies told Kaka tales of bad goblins hurting you, tossing you over a scorching bonfire, charring your frail skin, and heartlessly kicking you over the wall into the perilous tall grass to waste away. Kaka cried and thought, 'Gobbie is gone forever, will see no more. Gobbie is no more, dead,' but now, gobbie is here, and Kaka's heart overflows with joy! We make mischief, tell silly jokes, and chase bumble bugs together. Kaka is happy, a precious gobbie not lost forever after all!" The conversation between us intensified as we enjoyed our reunion in happiness, our silly goblin banter filled the tent with echoes of hushed laughter and joy.

Curious, Kaka asked me, "Hermit, where have you been all this time, what did you do? How survive alone?"

I recounted my harrowing tale of survival to Kaka, the trauma etched into every word.

 "Evil goblin guards, they meanies, kicked me over big, hot flames. Ouchies! Heat sizzled my green skin, making it all burnt, bubbly, and cracky. The smoke, so mean too, burned my sniffer and throat. Every breath went 'poof poof,' like smoke and ash in my nose holes. They kicked my noggin so hard, stars danced, and my crunchy bones went creaky-pop.

Then, a mean goblin got mad and threw me over a big wall. He kicked me so hard, that I flew like a tiny smashed thing and crashed into a giant stinky dung heap. It was huge, but the stink saved me from scary monsters in tall grass. I got all tired and sleepy, then everything went dark.

The next day, I blinked my eyes a lot, begging for yummies and munchies. My hungry tummy hurt a lot, begging for a morsel. Lucky for me, the damp dung was weirdly cozy and warm. Crusty outside, but warm and mucky inside. It had lots of tasty wrigglies, like a feast in poop! Kept me warm from the cold too. After staying there a few days, I got some strength back, wobbling on my shaky legs, I went on a walkie-talkie to find you, Kaka!"

Astonished, Kaka's mouth hung open, his eyes wide as he absorbed my tale. He asked, "But how did you enter the camp? Goblin guards are bad and cruel; they would have tortured and killed you or eaten you for a snack."

Trembling in fear, I felt lucky that the goblin guards hadn't heard my pleas at the wall. With a quivering voice, I confessed, "I dug a tiny tunnel under the wall, put a leaf on my back, and sneaky-sneaky crawled to your tent, Kaka."

Suddenly a loud voice came from outside and echoed into our tent, It was the sound of goblin guards tormenting some poor goblin slave for their amusement near our tent. 

Kaka's tear-streaked face shifted from joy to a haunting fear. Our jubilant banter turned into an ominous hush.

In a low, foreboding tone, Kaka murmured, "Gobbie, danger lurks. Master goblins, they come. No like happy goblins, they hurt, they punish." The joyous atmosphere evaporated, replaced by the tension.

Fear etched my goblin features as Kaka's words sank in.

 "No more happy goblin time. We hide in a tent, we stay quiet. Master goblins do not bother us if gobbie stay silent in a tent," he whispered, his eyes darting nervously at his tent's entrance. 

In the stifling air of the goblin camp, a heavy silence hung as we observed a heart-wrenching scene unfold. A helpless slave, subjected to the merciless brutality of the guards, bore the weight of their aggression. The guards stomped and punched the poor goblin slave with sadistic satisfaction etched on their grins. One of them even used a stick to beat the trembling goblin. After a few minutes, they got bored and departed, leaving the beaten goblin twitching in the dirt on the ground, barely alive.

After a few agonizing minutes, the battered goblin stirred and pushed himself up from the dirt, his body a canvas of bruises and wounds, blood dripping from his sniffer and snout. Slowly, he dragged his feeble feet through the gritty soil, tracing a path back to the meager refuge of his shabby tent. 

 However, the moment of uneasy silence was shattered when Kaka's rumbling belly interrupted the terrified tension. He crumpled to the ground, heaving through pained breaths, and clutched his pulled-in belly, his voice a painful whimper.

"Ugh! So hungry, so tired," Kaka moaned, "I had nothing to eat for a week. My recovery seeped the last of my strength; I can barely walk or stand up." The starvation had turned Kaka into a pitiful creature. Kaka's green goblin skin now bore the pallor of exhaustion, a sickly hue that spoke of days without food. His cheeks were sunken and hollow. Dark circles, etched like shadows beneath his eyes, hinted at sleepless nights and the toll of hunger.

The ribs protruded against the taut, malnourished skin. His emaciated arms and legs resembled brittle twigs. Every movement seemed an ordeal. Kaka lay on the ground, his weakened form ruined by hunger.

Unable to contain my grief, I pressed myself to Kaka, tears streaming down my face. With a quivering voice, I whimpered, "Kaka, please! You have to hold on! We need you, you're our precious Muma, Dada. We can't lose you, not now! Wake up! Wake up!"

Kaka's head slumped, and fell to the ground with a weak whimper, succumbing to exhaustion. Desperation fueled my cries for him to wake up, but he remained motionless, the toll of starvation wrecked his frail form.

In a moment of desperation, my nut-sized brain remembered. A feast hidden in my tunnel -Grub Worms. 

"Ah! Yes! I found tasty worms! Yummy, yummy! Grub worms in my tunnel, secret stash! Kaka will love it!"

Without wasting any time, I dropped to the ground and slowly crawled back to my secret stash, a leaf draped over my back for cover, ensuring I stayed hidden from the ever-watchful guards.

"No tell guards, shh! I hide with a leaf on my back, like a sneaky gobbie."

Inside my tunnel, I sprang into action. I found a big splinter and impaled Grub worms on it, creating a makeshift Grub shish kebab. With precision, I covered the food with a big leaf, creating a protective layer against prying eyes.

"Time for a feast, big splinter and Grubs on it! Grub shish kebab, fancy gobbie food. Cover with leaf, hide from guards, hehe! Me smart, no guards find tasty worms. Now, time for a snack for Kaka, make him feel better!"

With my tasty morsel in tow, I sneakily crawled back to Kaka's side.

"Kaka, Hermit got you yummy wriggly treats! Open wide, tasty bugs for you! Crunch, crunch!"

Carefully, I took each Grub and slid them into Kaka's parched mouth. Though unconscious, his cracked lips quivered at the touch of the precious morsel. His teeth crunched the Grubs, and he swallowed with a loud guttural squelching gulp.

"Good! Squelchy, squelchy gulp is good! Yay, Kaka! You feel better soon. Rainwater time now!"

After providing a tiny bit of nourishment, I scuttled outside and dunked my head into a nearby puddle of rainwater. Scooping up two full earbuckets of rainwater, I hurried back to Kaka. With careful precision, I poured the precious quencher into his mouth from my meaty ears, hoping to ease the parched sensation that gripped him in his unconscious state. 

"Kaka, you eat Grubs. Grubs make you strong! Now drinky water from my big ears. Good water, make you not feel so ouchie."

The small act of nourishment became a beacon of hope in the otherwise bleak camp as I did everything in my limited power to mend our dear caretaker.

Despite my earnest efforts, the meager feast of Grub worms and a few drops of rainwater proved insufficient to pull Kaka from the depths of starvation. His breathing remained shallow, his frail form remained limp, and a sense of helplessness washed over me as I clung to his unconscious body.

In my desperation, I looked at Kaka with teary eyes and whined, "Kaka, why not wake up? Grubs are tasty, aren't they? Maybe Kaka needs more grubs?" I poked him with my stubby fingers as if that would magically revive him.

As I attended to Kaka, the slumbering gobbies began to stir from their dirt nests, one by one emerging from their nooks. Groggy and dazed, they stumbled and wobbled, their movements resembling a group of drunkards struggling to maintain steady feet.

Gradually, their bleary eyes focused on Kaka and me. A wave of joy swept through them, seeing that I was alive and well. 

One of them, with a dazed expression, pointed at me and slurred, "Look, that is Hermit! The leafy gobbie is Hermit! He still here, he alive! Thought he got offed by evil gob guards."

Another one scratched its head with a puzzled look and said, "Yeah, thought he was gone for good. Where has he been?"

However, their elation quickly transformed into concern as they noticed Kaka's dire state.

"Kaka sleeps funny. What happened? Kaka no move. Is Kaka sleeping?"

"Why Kaka no movey-movey? Me scared! He needs wakey-wakey!"

With clumsy scuttles and awkward movements, the gobbies rushed toward us, surrounding Kaka and me in a circle. A hushed clamor of gobbie clicks and chirps filled the tent, creating an atmosphere of shared concern and fear.

To my surprise, I noticed that there were more gobbies now than I remembered, and some were unfamiliar to me. They were tiny, half my size. My nut-sized brain worked overtime until the realization struck me - in the past week, I had grown. I was now twice the size of a just-hatched goblin hatchling.

I took a quick look around the tent that housed Kaka and the other goblin hatchlings. The ground, a patch of filthy muck, bore the scars of relentless digging, as the hatchlings clawed and scraped over and over in desperate hopes of unearthing a tasty morsel buried within the dirt. The once-rich soil had been reduced to a muddy, barren expanse, that not even grass could grow back.

The sticks that formed the skeletal frame of the tent stood as proof of the goblin hatchlings' insatiable hunger. Chewed and gnawed, the sticks displayed the bite marks of tiny teeth, evidence of the hatchlings' futile attempts to fill their cravings by nibbling and biting on the wooden supports, it was a cruel reminder of the relentless struggle for food that described their daily lives.