The three Goblins round the campfire dropped their food and ran at Rain as he struggled with the female Goblin, each pulling free from their belt a rusty blade of some kind.
Rain made one attempt at breaking the female Goblin's neck but was forced to give up as the weapons swung toward him. He kicked her free using the momentum to shove himself away from their reach. What looked like a poor attempt at forging a butcher's cleaver glanced off the stone where he had been a moment before, raising a flash of sparks.
He scrambled to his feet and paced the trio.
“Get him! Useless shitty Gobbos, kill the monster!”
The trio charged and Rain was forced to back away toward the wall.
Worst case scenario, multiple enemies, armed, and he had no easy avenue of escape. He racked his brain for a plan, diplomacy?
“I, uh, come in peace?”
A rusty nicked sword slashed at him and he had to step back to avoid it. Another lunged at him with a dagger and he barely managed to move in time. He grabbed its wrist as they passed and swung them against the wall. The Goblin was lighter than he expected and the monster slammed against it with a teeth rattling impact before slumping to the ground.
He blinked in surprise at how easy it was. The sword wielding Goblin took the chance and ran at him screaming, Rain reacted just a bit too late and the sword hacked at his stomach, he flinched in terror expecting the oncoming agony and horror of being disemboweled again, he looked down, trembling, expecting spurting blood, flaps of skin, spilling intestine. But there was none of that, instead a trickle of blood where the sword had embedded itself slightly into the muscle of his abdomen. But that was it. Some combination of his stronger body and the bluntness of the Goblins shittily made weapon had saved his life.
He roared in fear fueled fury and snatched the wrist of the sword wielding Goblin. He swung him into the air like a ball on a rope so hard he dislocated the Goblin’s shoulder. He spun around, the screaming Goblin at arms length and hurled him into the butcher's cleaver Goblin. Flesh met flesh with a sickening crunch and instantly broke the flung Goblins neck, both Goblins went rolling across the cave in a tumble of broken bones until they flopped to a stop unmoving.
Rain breathing heavily with a combination of fear and adrenaline turned on the remaining female Goblin. She was holding up as a weapon the spit the trio had been roasting rat on, roasted rat still skewered on it. Seeing his yellow eyes locked on her she dropped it with a yelp and fled.
“Don't you run from me you fuck!” he roared as he gave chase.
Another desperate chase through the cave system and Rain was soon gaining on her. The tunnels began to thin and become more varied in shape and the both of them were slowed. Still, his fury wouldn't be put aside and he reached out a paw, he grabbed, missed, grabbed again and this time he latched onto her ankle.
“Get off me Beast!”
She twisted and raked her fingernails along the top of his paw. It hurt but it wasn't enough to make him let go. Unfortunately his paw pads were still bloody from eating and were slippery enough when combined with her squirming to let her slip free. She jerked away and scrambled upward vanishing through a hole in the ceiling of the cramped tunnel.
Rain, blind with rage, rushed after her, got stuck and after thrashing around for a moment he burst through the opening into a vast cavern lit overhead by a crystal formation.
His eyes swept around and he slowed in dismay as dozens of eyes looked back at him. He’d popped up right in the middle of the Goblin tribes camp.
What looked like a Goblin Chieftain, going by his size and higher quality clothing, stood up from a fire where he was attended by several other Goblins. He was a good inch taller than himself by Rain’s reckoning, tall by Goblin standards. He held a hatchet in one hand, the metal of it in far better care than any weapon he’d seen so far, it gleamed in the crystal light.
“Chief, It’s the Dire Beast, from the great lake! Like the witch said! It killed four of ours!” cried the female Goblin running up to the Chief.
The Chief used the base of his hatchet and clubbed her around the head.
“Stupid wretch, why bring it here! Better you die than risk me!”
She whimpered and scuttled behind the growing group of Goblins.
Rain took a step back but it only took a glance to realise he was surrounded. He glanced back at the hole he had emerged from. It looked ridiculously tiny from this side and he held no illusion that squeezing himself back into it would be anything but a death sentence as he was stabbed from all sides unable to move or escape.
His eyes roamed over the growing crowd. Only one real choice. If Goblins were anything like levelers then killing their strongest would be devastating for morale. More often than not a leveler army broke and fled if their strongest died in battle, he would have to gamble the Goblins relied on their elites just as much.
He set his feet and charged, sand pluming up behind his paws as he shot forward like a crossbow bolt straight at the Chief who appeared to have been taken by surprise by this sudden attack.
“Stop it, don’t let it get near me!” yelled the Chief waggling his hatchet at the other Goblins.
A Goblin with a spear leapt into Rain’s path, the tip of the spear shifted as It tracked him. Rain didn't hesitate, he knew he would only have a limited window of opportunity to kill the Chief. He reached a paw forward and then as the spear neared he grabbed the blade in his paw and tugged it back and to his side. The Goblin caught unexpectedly was thrown off his feet and face planted into the ground. Blood gushing from his paw Rain didn't stop and leapt onto the unfortunate Goblin’s back where he drove himself forward in an explosive dive straight at the Chief.
He sailed through the air, claws outstretched and blood particles streaming from his fur in his wake.
The Chief screamed, hatchet held high, but Rain caught his arm in his paw and held it away as he lunged for the Chief's face as he rode him to the ground. Razor sharp reddened teeth puncture flesh and with a savage twist Rain tore half his face off. Adrenaline pumped through his body and kept Rain going, had it not been he was sure he would have been frozen in horror by what he’d just done. Instinctively he’d treated his opponent as food, ripping and tearing as he would a dead body.
Terrified Goblins began shouting and screaming around him as he crouched over the fallen Chief. Suddenly something rammed into him from the side and he was forced away. He rolled to the side and looked up to see a Goblin even larger than the Chief, a Goblin rippling with muscle. By Rain’s reckoning this bastard had to be at least five and a half foot tall, in other words as tall as a human on the shorter side. The muscled Goblin roared and long strings of drool were flung from its yellow toothed maw.
Rain tried to find space but looking behind him he found a wall of Goblins holding bits of sharp metal. No dice. In front of him the Chief stumbled to his feet, his face a ragged mess with only one good eye remaining. He held one hand over the gore, trying to hold what remained together. He pointed at Rain and screamed something unintelligible before staggering into the crowd of Goblins.
“This is the worst case, absolute worst case, gods I’m going to die again aren't I.”
His breath came ragged as fear built up, mental images of being tortured and mutilated by a vengeful Goblin Chief if he was subdued surfaced in his mind. No. never again. He would either survive this or he would die fighting. There was no other option.
The muscled giant screamed in anger, beat its chest and charged, its crude wooden tower shield a battering ram aimed at Rain. Rain dove forward and slid onto his back, he raised his footpads and the tower shield slammed into them, he let the momentum carry the shield up and over and then with all he could muster he powered his legs upward. The shield, with unusually large Goblin atop, launched skyward and arced up and behind him.
He and the Goblins looked on in shock as the flailing Goblin went up and up then crashed into the crowd behind him eliciting angry screams.
It occurred to Rain that the Goblins were not in fact unusually light weight but that he was instead greatly underestimating his own strength.
He rolled to his feet, he wasn't sure what else he could do apart from follow his original plan so he snatched up the spear he had earlier pulled from the first Goblin to come at him and ran at the wall of Goblins that the Chief had disappeared behind. Panicked Goblins tried to get out of the way but only ended up blocking each other. Rain stormed toward them, the spear acting as a lance, and he skewered the nearest Goblin, then the next Goblin, the weight of his momentum forced the spear through three more Goblins until he had a total of five skewered on its length. He barely paused and shoved the screaming howling line of Goblins to the side opening up a hole in the crowd which he dived into.
A Goblin dove in his way, a sword that was more rust than metal pointed at him. Rain struck it aside and it bent under his paw, his other paw reached up and tore out the Goblin’s throat. He pushed the Goblin out of the way as it clutched its neck. He moved onward. Two more Goblins that were easily brought down one on one tried to stop him, but at last he burst out the other side of the crowd amongst rows of Goblin tents.
The Chief was there, along with another unusual looking Goblin. This one was covered in blue tattoos and had piercings all over its wrinkly skin where it wasn't covered in rags. She wore a cuffed short sleeve jacket different from the rest of her clothing, much more finely made than anything else he’d seen the Goblins wear. The strange Goblin held up a staff covered in bones and small animal skulls.
“So, you have come at last...” she hissed from between missing and blackened teeth. “Ancient memory has been passed of your kind and yours from witch Goblin to witch Goblin for hundreds of generations, we always knew your evil never left this world. No matter, long have we been prepared.”
The witch Goblin produced an object from its rags, a wooden carving of a wolf with its head trapped in a cage.
“See your end Beast!”
Eerie purple and green lights began to form and swirl around the carving, spinning faster as thick white mist began to materialize amongst the tents.
“Yes, that’s right, you stupid dog, soon you will be mine and I will make you pay for what you did to me. You will beg me for death!” cackled the Chief Goblin prancing around beside the witch while one hand held his face together.
Rain didn't like where this was going in the slightest and deemed it a good time to abandon the plan. The mist was swelling, enough to hide his escape perhaps. He turned to flee but the carving abruptly began to whine, sharp, like a wolf's howl. The witch gestured and the green and purple coalesced into a flame that exploded forward like a lightning bolt and struck Rain in a fiery blast of painful light and white mist. Green and purple fiery shockwaves rushed up and down his body, burning…
Well actually that wasn't the case realized Rain as he looked down at his body that was exactly the same and not burning or in pain at all, whatever that just was had done nothing to him, at least physically.
The mist gradually dissipated and he was left standing facing the pair.
“Excellent!” crowed the Chief.
The witch looked slightly puzzled but raised a hand. “Dire Beast you serve us now and you shall be the foundation upon which our tribe shall rise, our slave warrior. Come to me.”
Rain remained standing.
“I said come, come before me.”
Rain hesitated then stepped forward. He came to a stop in front of the pair. The Chief was practically slavering with glee.
The Chief pulled a knife from his belt.
“I need payment for what he did to me, eye for an eye, well in this case more like eye for a lifetime of unending agony.”
“Do not mortally wound it, I do not know of its ability, much has been lost to time about this creature. We have scant to go on.”
“Of course, of course witchy, don’t worry your little head, I’ve had plenty of practice cutting away bits a person doesn't need.”
His knife wandered down until Rain felt it poking uncomfortably at his groin.
“No problem castrating it like we did to the big lug yes?”
“That... should be fine.”
The Chief leered at Rain, his fucked up face making it all the more disturbing.
“Let's see how much spunk you have in you without your bollocks hrmm?”
The Chief started to press the knife, but then Rain’s paw flashed up and snatched it from his hand and rammed it up through the Chief's jaw into his skull.
The Chief flopped down dead.
The witch stared at the dead Chief, expression frozen in horror.
“Guess I’m not the Dire Beast.” He gave her a wolfish grin.