Chapter 57:

Chapter 57 End of Volume One, The Escape

Hermit's Diary

With a jolt that startled me, Kaka stirred from his seemingly lifeless state, his body lurching into motion with a primal urgency that defied reason. His hands, rough and calloused from a lifetime of hardship, closed around me with a grip that was almost too tight to bear.

With a grunt of effort, Kaka rolled onto his side, his muscles straining against the weight of his broken body as he pushed himself off the ground. His movements were fueled by a raw, primal instinct, his eyes wide and unseeing as he propelled himself forward with single-minded determination.

The rain pounded down with relentless fury, each droplet feeling like a hammer blow against Kaka's tortured skin. But he paid it no mind, his entire being consumed by the singular thought of reaching the tunnel he had dug for our escape.

Through the heavy rain, Kaka pressed on, his breath coming in ragged gasps as he fought against the harsh storm and the relentless pull of exhaustion. Each step was a battle against the pain that threatened to crush him, but still, he pressed forward, his eyes fixed on the wall where his tunnel lay hidden.

 A few moments later we reached our destination. With a surge of desperate energy, Kaka threw himself against the wall, his hands scrabbling frantically against the rough surface as he searched for the entrance to the tunnel. But his body betrayed him, and he collapsed to the ground, his form wracked with pain and fatigue.

 I tumbled from his grasp, the force of his fall sending me sprawling across the ground. With desperation coursing through my veins, I lunged forward, my tiny hands grasping at his skin, pulling and tugging with all my might in a frantic bid to drag his massive frame to safety.

With each tug and pull, I could feel the weight of Kaka's body pressing down on me, threatening to crush me beneath his bulk. But I refused to yield, drawing on reserves of strength I never knew I possessed as I hauled him through the mire and into the safety of the tunnel.

The mud beneath us squelched and shifted, the rain making the ground slick and treacherous, but still, I persisted, driven by a primal instinct to save my beloved Kaka. Inch by agonizing inch, I dragged Kaka's limp body toward the opening of the tunnel, my muscles burning with exertion as I strained against the weight of his form.

And then, with a final heave, Kaka's body slipped into the safety of the tunnel, his form disappearing into the darkness as I quickly scrambled to cover the entrance with branches and leaves. With trembling limbs, I kicked dirt and debris over the opening, sealing it shut and hiding our escape from prying eyes.

 I collapsed against the damp earth, my breath coming in ragged gasps as Kaka lay beside me, his chest rising and falling in shallow breaths, his body wrecked and broken but still alive. With a weary sigh, I leaned against his warm body, the weight of our torment finally catching up to me.

As I closed my eyes, seeking respite from the relentless onslaught of pain and exhaustion, time seemed to slip away, each moment stretching into an eternity of agonizing stillness. Hours passed in the blink of an eye, the world around us fading into a haze of darkness and despair.

When I finally mustered the strength to open my eyes once more, the world seemed to blur into a haze of pain and exhaustion. Through bleary vision, I gazed upon Kaka's still form, his chest rising and falling in a steady rhythm as he slumbered on.

With aching limbs and a heavy heart, I reached out to gently rouse him from his slumber, my voice a mere whisper in the silent night.

 "Kaka," I murmured, my words tinged with both relief and sorrow, "wake up. We have survived another day."

As Kaka stirred, his eyelids fluttering open like fragile wings, I could see the weariness etched into the lines of his face. With a groan, he shifted his weight, his movements slow and deliberate as though every inch of his body protested against the effort. I reached out a trembling hand to support him, offering what little comfort I could muster.

"Kaka," I murmured softly, "are you feeling better?"

"I feel a bit better, little one, my wounds stopped bleeding. But... wh-what... what happened? H-how we end up here?" 

"I dragged you into the tunnel, Kaka! But.. but only we made it. We survived, Kaka. We're still here." I replied softly, my voice barely more than a breath of air. 

"No, oh no, no no no! My pore little hatchlings, we need to check on the others, the hatchlings, fellow goblin slaves. We need to check. Little Hermit, we need to make sure. There might be survivors." Kaka said, his voice full of sorrow.

With a grunt of effort, Kaka clawed his way to the exit of the tunnel, his muscles straining against the weight of the debris I had piled up. With each movement, he could feel the jagged edges of broken wood and twisted splinters digging into his flesh, leaving angry cuts in their wake.

Finally, with a heave, Kaka pushed open the makeshift barricade making a big enough hole for his head to squeeze through, and peered cautiously outside. The world beyond was plunged into darkness, the moon hidden behind thick clouds.

As Kaka pushed through his head from the safety of the tunnel, he was met with a torrential downpour that soaked him to the bone within seconds. The rain hammered down with relentless force, turning the ground into a quagmire of mud and filth.

His grotesquely scarred face contorted in agony as rivulets of grime and blood cascaded down his ugly mug, mingling with the rain to form filthy rivers that traced winding paths across his scarred skin. The rain offered no respite, no cleansing relief from the filth and suffering that clung to him like a suffocating shroud.

But even as the rain lashed at his grotesquely scarred head, washing away the grime and blood that had accumulated over his hardship, Kaka's gaze remained fixed on the scene before him. The camp lay in ruins, the once bustling hub of goblin activity now reduced to a graveyard of shattered dreams and broken bodies.

In the center of the devastation stood a large open tent, its tattered flaps billowing in the wind. Around a roaring campfire sat a group of adventurers, their voices raised in boisterous conversation as they regaled each other with tales of valor and conquest.

But it was the sight of the lifeless piles of goblins that truly pierced Kaka's heart with a dagger of despair. Everywhere he turned, he saw the twisted forms of his brethren, their bodies broken and mangled beyond recognition. Little goblins, big goblins, it mattered not - each one had met a cruel end at the hands of merciless slaughter, their vacant eyes staring blankly up at the sky as if pleading for mercy that would never come.

Kaka's heart clenched with grief as he surveyed the scene, his mind reeling at the senseless loss of life that surrounded him. His eyes widened in terror as he witnessed the cruel and sadistic torture inflicted upon the sole survivor, his fellow goblin slave, at the hands of the heartless adventurers.

The adventurers laughed and jeered, treating the lone goblin slave as nothing more than a plaything for their twisted amusement. With each command, the unfortunate goblin was forced to leap over the crackling flames of the fire, his body wracked with pain from the relentless beatings inflicted upon him after each successful jump.

The goblin's body was adorned with injuries from the relentless blows of the adventurers' weapons. His limbs trembled with exhaustion, his skin charred and blistered from the searing heat of the fire. Yet still, he persisted, driven by a desperate instinct to survive in the face of overwhelming cruelty.

But the torment did not end there. As the goblin collapsed to the ground, his body wracked with pain and exhaustion, the adventurers showed no mercy. With a brutal kick to the back, they sent him tumbling into the flames, his flesh sizzling and crackling as it made contact with the scorching heat.

For Kaka, it was a scene of unspeakable horror, a grim reminder of the merciless brutality that lurked in the hearts of men. These were his kin, his brethren, slaughtered without mercy by the ruthless hand of adventurers. Kaka knew that if they were here, the goblins have lost, and not even one goblin was left alive. 

With tears streaming like raging rivers from his bulbous eyes, Kaka withdrew his head into the tunnel's safety, sealing the entrance with clumps of dirt and debris. His heart, heavy with the weight of our shared agony, throbbed painfully in his chest as he dragged his broken body toward me.

"Rest now, little Hermit," he urged, "Until the first light of dawn, we shall remain here, gathering what little strength we possess. Then, with the rising sun, we shall flee from this accursed place, the path ahead will be fraught with danger, and we must be prepared for whatever danger we may face."

I nodded weakly, my own body wracked with exhaustion and pain. Every fiber of my being cried out for rest, for a moment of respite from the ceaseless torment that had become our reality. And so, with a heavy heart and weary limbs, I surrendered to the darkness.

The morning dawned with a sense of urgency, the rain falling in a steady rhythm. Kaka's gentle hand roused me from my slumber, his voice a whispered command urging me to awaken from my restless sleep.

"Wake up, little Hermit," his words a soft caress against the backdrop of the pouring rain. 

"The time has come to move. The rain falls heavy, hiding our scuttle and covering us in secrecy. The adventurers, distracted with their own matters, will not notice our scuttle into the depths of the forest."

 I shook off the remnants of sleep that lingered like cobwebs in my mind. Rising to my feet, I followed Kaka's lead as we ventured forth into the unknown, our path obscured by the dense foliage of the towering tall grass that loomed overhead.

The rain beat down upon us with relentless fury as we crossed the vast expanse of the tall grass field. The sounds of the camp faded into the distance, replaced by the symphony of nature that surrounded us. The chirping of birds, the rustling of leaves, and the gentle patter of rain upon the forest floor served as our companions on this treacherous journey to freedom and a better tomorrow.

 I found solace in the knowledge that I was not alone, that Kaka stood by my side as we faced whatever trials lay ahead. And as we stepped sheepishly into the unknown, I knew that our adventure had only just begun.

The end of volume one.