Chapter 36:

Chapter 36 Depleted Food Source

Hermit's Diary

With a small offering in our leaf-covered hands, we rushed toward Kaka, ready to feed him and revive some semblance of life.

"Gobbos feed Kaka, make him strong! No more hurt! Kaka, eat! Make the pain go away!"

 However, to our surprise, Kaka, in a voice weakened by the relentless torment of hunger, urged us to give the precious morsels to the rest of the starving gobbies.

"Give to others, gobbies. Me... I survive a bit longer. Feed... gobbies... please."

The rest of the gobbies stood nearby, their skeletal bodies trembling and shivering with hunger, their tiny frames quaking with spasms of starvation. Their eyes bulged, nearly popping out of their sockets in disbelief as if witnessing a miracle unfold before them. Their mouths opened so wide it seemed their tiny jaws might dislocate, tongues slithering and flopping to the ground with a sickening splat, creating grotesque puddles of drool.

One of the starved gobbies, eyes wide and gleaming with hunger, croaked out in a guttural goblin tone, "Food? Give food, now! I want, I want!" His skeletal fingers twitched uncontrollably, the anticipation of sustenance driving him to the brink of madness.

I tried to maintain order, "One by one, not all at once! We share, gobbies. We are not like evil goblins. We share and survive together."

But my words were drowned out by a chorus of hungry wails and goblin-like grunts. The hatchlings, driven by a primal instinct to devour, tumbled over each other, each trying to grab a morsel for themselves.

Deprived moans and whines echoed within the tent as the starved-to-death hatchlings could no longer contain themselves. They surrounded the meager offering, behaving more like ravenous beasts than innocent goblin hatchlings. With a piggish hunger, they dived headfirst, mouths clamping onto the grubs, each bite splashing juices over their skeletal bodies. Other hungry hatchlings, not wasting a precious drop, licked the smeared bug juices off their comrades' bodies. The tent became a grim scene of primal survival, where every drop of sustenance was a precious commodity in a week-long drought of hunger and despair.

Kaka's eyes, sunken and haunted by the trials of starvation, softened as he witnessed the goblin hatchlings devouring the meager grubs. However, the toll of exhaustion finally claimed him. With a deep exhale, he succumbed to the overwhelming fatigue and his hopeful gaze faded. The small, selfless act of urging his little hatchlings to eat had cost him the last reserves of his energy.

We, the hatchlings, clung to Kaka's bony body, our tiny forms pressed against his big skeletal frame. The worry etched on our faces intensified as Kaka's breathing grew shallower. It became apparent that Kaka was losing his fight for survival.

The realization that Kaka might not survive the day weighed heavily on our young hearts. In hopes of saving his fragile existence, we decided to embark on another perilous journey for more food. Urgency fueled our movements as we crawled through the dirt, leaves strapped to our backs, on a desperate quest to find sustenance that could keep Kaka and the rest of the starving gobbies alive.

The meager offering clutched in our leaf-covered hands was barely a drop in the vast ocean of hunger that engulfed the starving gobbies. Hoping to ease the pangs of hunger, we crawled back toward the tunnel, our small frames trembling with both exhaustion and fear. But we had little choice, it was either starve to death or risk getting hurt while looking for more sustenance outside the oppressive camp walls.

As we ventured into the tunnel, a feeble glimmer of hope arose when we stumbled upon Tinker. To our astonishment, he was munching on a massive maggot, its vile juices smearing his face in a grotesque display of primal feasting. Tinker's eyes lit up when he saw us, and he yelled with a mixture of excitement and urgency, "Hermit! Hermit! We found food! More food! Lots and lots of big wrigglies in a big turd! Their wriggle is just right! They do! And Squeak went to fetch more!"

Following Tinker's lead, we rushed toward the source of this unexpected bounty, our leaf coats rustling in the cramped tunnel. The promise of more food sparked a renewed energy in our malnourished bodies, driving us forward with an urgency. The faint sound of Squeak's footsteps reached our ears.

As we emerged from the tunnel into the dimly lit tall grass outskirts beyond the camp walls, the sight before us was both fascinating and repulsive. Squeak, with a blissful grin etched on his tiny face, was dragging behind him a big leaf with a pile of squirming, wriggling maggots on top.

Tinker yelled, "Look, look! Squeak found the yummy wrigglers! Gobbos eat well today!"

Squeak, his eyes wide with pride, squealed, "Big wrigglers for gobbies! Tasty treats, yummy in tummies! Look, look! Mmm, tasty wormies for gobbies! Good find by Squeak!" He dropped the leaf in the middle of our little group, the maggots squirming and wriggling.

Tinker, with his eyes wide and filled with the glint of newfound hope, cried, "Look, look! More num-nums for gobbies! Good job, Squeak!" He patted Squeak on the back.

Squeak, still grinning from ear to ear, proudly declared, "I find lots of wiggly worms for gobbies! Yummy in tummies! The big turd has many more than this, we need to get all of them!" 

Squabble chimed in, "I want lots! Lots for big belly!" 

Tinker reminded us, "Not all for eating now! Some for Kaka, make him strong too." The goblin hatchlings nodded in agreement, realizing the importance of sharing their newfound bounty.

With Kaka's life hanging precariously in the balance, our nut-sized brain came up with a plan to maximize our efforts. Squeak and Tinker, with their small but nimble frames, were designated as the maggot transport team. Their job was to tow the precious bounty back to the tunnel, navigating the tall grass outskirts with the agility only goblin hatchlings possessed. Meanwhile, Squabble, Scratchy, and I took on the covert operation of sneaking the food into the camp through our secret tunnel, avoiding the watchful eyes of the guards.

The day unfolded into a blur of tireless effort, the hatchlings working with a single-minded focus to save Kaka. As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a cloak of darkness over the goblin camp, our tireless efforts continued. The tunnel echoed with the scuttling sounds of goblin feet, the rustling of leaves, and the soft giggles as we worked tirelessly.

As we toiled, more gobbies joined the cause, nursing Kaka and feeding him maggots. Some, secretly, gathered rainwater from nearby puddles using their earbuckets, trickling down precious water into Kaka's parched mouth. The collective effort formed a makeshift assembly line, each goblin playing a crucial role in our and Kaka's survival.

 We toiled until our bodies could no longer move an inch. The scent of earth, damp grass, and the lingering desperation filled the air as we collapsed into the dirt inside our tunnel. Huddled together in a tight pile of gobbies, we wrapped ourselves in our meaty ear cocoons, seeking warmth and comfort amidst the exhaustion and cold. The night unfolded with the soft and adorable sounds of goblin snores echoing through the tunnel.

As the morning light seeped into our tiny dirt tunnel, its feeble glow stirred us from the depths of our exhaustion-induced slumber. We stirred, our limbs shifting and convulsing, jaws cracking and popping in response to jaw-shattering yawns. Our tiny, abused bodies protested with a chorus of aches and pains, a testament to the painful effort we had put in the day before. Yet, in the face of our physical misery, we pushed forward.

Morning maggot snacks, hastily stuffed into our mouths, provided a meager but crucial energy boost. The squirming sustenance wriggled down our throats, fueling us for the day ahead. The tunnel echoed with the sounds of our morning routine - the rustling of leaves, the soft munching of maggots, and the occasional yawn that threatened to dislodge our jaws.

The day unfolded as a relentless cycle of scavenging, transporting, and nursing. We repeated the process over and over again, each goblin hatchling taking on their assigned roles without complaint. Grunts and occasional pained groans replaced the once adorable sounds of goblin snores as we pushed our frail bodies beyond their limits. But by the middle of the day, a disaster struck.

The once bountiful treasure trove of maggots within the colossal turd, our primary source of sustenance, had become a barren wasteland picked clean by our voracious hunger. We scuttled around the lifeless mound, our collective movements akin to a pitiful dance of despair. We flipped pebbles, hoping to uncover hidden bugs, rustled through piles of leaves with a futile vigor, and dove headlong into thick tall grass bushes and moss clumps, our tiny hands grasping at elusive critters. But all our efforts yielded nothing more than a feeble handful of meager creatures.

Retreating to the safety of our tiny tunnel, we gathered in the dirt, our bodies huddled together. The weight of our collective worry pressed down on us as we desperately discussed our emergency. The realization that the giant turd, once our reliable source of sustenance, was now devoid of life left us teetering on the brink of sorrow.

Squeak, with wide eyes and a pouty expression, cried, "No more num-nums! What we do now, gobbies?"

Scratchy, scratching his head, mumbled, "We need more num-nums. Big turd empty. Where do num-nums hide?"

Tinker suggested, "Maybe other big turds have more num-nums. We split up, go, find num-nums!"

Squabble, rubbing his belly, groaned, "Big turd empty, tiny gobbies empty. No good! No good! Splitting up is even more no good! We are strong together like Kaka taught us!"

I chimed in, "Hermit is scared too! Grass monsters and pig-wolf are scary. Maybe find small turds near the tunnel?"

Tinker nodded, "Small turds near, but small num-nums. We need big num-nums!"

Squeak, "We must be brave gobbies! Sneak past grass monsters maybe? Find big num-nums!"

Scratchy, still scratching, added, "Big num-nums make Kaka strong. We go! But me scared of big monsters."

The proximity of the giant turd to our tunnel had been our saving grace, providing a sense of safety in our foraging endeavors. Now, with the turd depleted, the fear of venturing further into the tall grass gripped us like a vice.

Squabble, his eyes wide with terror, cried in a high-pitched goblin voice, "No go there! Pig-wolf eats gobbies! Kaka hurt by pig-wolf! Grrraaww!" He mimicked the snarling sounds of a ferocious creature, sending a collective shiver through our tiny huddled group.

Tinker, with a quiver in his voice, added, "S-s-scary pig-wolf bites, make big ouchie. No want gobbies to be snacks!" He hugged his leaf coat as if it were a shield against the imagined horrors that lurked in the tall grass.

Squeak whispered with wide eyes, "Pig-wolf bad, very bad. Hurt Kaka, hurt us. No want!"

"We need num-nums, but pig-wolf is danger. What do we do?" I scratched my head in a futile attempt to conjure a solution.

Tinker offered, "Maybe find other num-nums, not near pig-wolf place. Sneaky, sneaky gobbies!"

Squabble, still trembling, nodded vigorously, "Yes, yes! Sneaky, sneaky, like little shadows. No wake pig-wolf!"

The fears of grass monsters, deadly ants, and lurking snakes filled our tiny minds as we pondered the dangers that lurked beyond our familiar surroundings. However, the most dreaded creature that haunted our collective nightmares was the pig-wolf, a beast with the voracious appetite of a pig and the ferocity of a wolf.

 We feared running into the same pig-wolf who injured Kaka. The mere thought of encountering such a monstrous entity sent shivers down our spines, leaving us paralyzed with the fear of the unknown that lay beyond the safety of our depleted food source.