Rain blearily returned to consciousness with a groan. His eyes stung painfully as blood had seeped in, dried, and crusted over. He tried to wipe and clear them as best he could with the back of his paw but it just made it worse. Scrabbling around blindly he managed to find the edge of a ragged blanket and rubbed his face with it. It helped, a little bit.
With a pounding headache he slowly pulled himself up and crawled out the tent. He had to shield his eyes from the light emitted from the crystals above. He could have sworn that they weren't quite so painfully bright before, but then again maybe it was the headache fooling him.
His paw touched at a knife wound he had taken. To his surprise it just felt like a normal touch, no pain. He examined himself more closely and found that he had entirely healed while he slept, and none of the cuts, scrapes, bruises, gashes, and wounds remained. He was whole. He was almost too shocked to process it, this body was aberrant to anything but some freakishly high levelers body. There wasn’t much to be done but be thankful for it.
With one paw over his eyes he looked around. To his relief the camp still seemed deserted. He had no doubt that many of the Goblins had gotten away and were most likely carrying a grudge. If he wasn't on the verge of collapse there was no way he would have chosen to sleep anywhere near here. Unfortunately it was what it was and he was glad he had gotten lucky enough to sleep undisturbed.
He looked down at his body and grimaced. His fur wasn't so much fur but bits and chunks of dried blood. Miserable.
“Gods, I don't think it’s possible to be any filthier. I need to get back to that lake and wash off.”
He wandered through the camp. It wasn't a large camp, only a few dozen tents, but he supposed if some of the larger ones had more than one Goblin sleeping in them it could keep plenty of Goblins sheltered.
He wiped at his nose and sighed realising it was plugged with dried blood. Blowing his nose and scraping at it with his claws managed to shift enough of it that he could draw air in. Unsurprisingly he could smell a lot of blood, but on top of that was the stench of the Goblin’s camp. The bridge of his nose wrinkled in disgust.
“Eurgh. Do these Goblins need to be as foul as possible?”
He wandered past the pile of dead Goblins much the same as it was when he passed out.
It was a lot of meat. He could already feel his mouth watering, his hunger waking.
“No, not yet. I need… I need to wash the blood and grit out of my eyes first. Maybe they have potted water somewhere...”
He continued onward and came to the edge of the camp. He found what he was looking for and then some. A small lake of clear water filled about a fifth of the cavern's floor space.
With a whoop! He rushed toward it and splashed in, cool fresh water washed over him and his aches and pains were soothed away. Blinking without irritating his eyes was an amazing relief. He sighed and shuddered as blood and muck left his fur leaving a big red stain in the water that spread around him.
Desiring something approaching proper cleanliness he swam away from the mess he’d made in the water and began scrubbing. It wasn't ideal but his fur was glossy enough that he was able to remove most of the dirt and blood using furious application of rubbing with his paw pads. He had to find a fresh spot more than once as he turned the water around him red. After the third move he found the water was no longer being discoloured and he stayed in the same spot until he felt he had scrubbed himself as clean as was reasonable.
He waded his way out of the lake and shivered as water began to evaporate from his fur. He shook himself dry like a dog to hurry the process along. Drying fur was not a fun experience.
It was in the middle of a bodily shake when motion caught the corner of his eye.
He snapped his attention to it. It was a Goblin. Just standing there. Looking at him.
He snarled. “Fuck off! What do you want!”
His recent experiences with Goblins had left him with any desire to deal with the little green people again.
He stepped forward threateningly. To his surprise the Goblin stayed where it was.
“Look, I’m done with you, I don’t fear your tribe anymore and I’m not about to chase you down. So you can go. Get lost. Go.”
He waved his paw at the Goblin vaguely.
The Goblin seemed to hesitate, it looked behind as though considering whether to make a run for it. Then it seemed to make a decision and stepped toward him.
“Why?” said Rain.
“Because you aren't the Dire Beast. The witch was wrong.”
He blinked at the Goblin who had spoken in a clearly female voice.
“Wait, it’s you, isn’t it? The one I chased here…”
“You know I was trying to kill you right? I needed to avoid attention and couldn't risk letting you go.”
She set her lips in a line and nodded again. “I know.”
Rain dropped his paws in disgust.
“Then why are you here? I wouldn't do this if I were you.”
“Because you are strong and you think and speak. Chance you are the better option for me than dying remains of a Goblin tribe.”
Rain was about to scoff at that but his own experiences hanging on the coattails of others and relying on their good will made him pause.
“I could just eat you.”
“It’s a risk yes. But that is life in a dungeon. Life is always always a risk.”
“True enough I guess. But what makes you think that I’d want you around me.”
She seemed to be caught unexpectedly by that and spent a second thinking furiously.
“Because I can carry stuff.”
“Really? That's what you’re going with? You know this isn't very believable. If I wanted revenge I would consider fooling my target into thinking I am benign and then get them in their sleep. Is that what you wanted? It is, isn't it?!”
The Goblin shook her head furiously, then with something approaching resignation she withdrew a small knife from a string on her hip and hurled it far out into the lake. She watched forlornly as it sunk out of view. Then she turned on the surprised wolf and marched toward him with arms outstretched to either side.
Rain had to admit she was very brave, she clearly looked ready to die, but he wasn't about to start trusting her.
“Stop, don’t come any closer.”
She paused, then continued walking.
“If you come any nearer I’m going to kill you.”
“I don't understand your motivations. Don’t you want me to die? Look what I did to your tribe! Don’t you care? I eat Goblins for gods sake.”
“I don’t care, not really. Gobbos don't make tribes for ties, they make them so they can fight better. I was born in a litter of five, we were left to fend for ourselves, my brothers and sisters all killed each other.” She shrugged. “The top Gobbos use us as playthings, the witch uses us for blood sacrifice, and the rest of us backstab each other everyday in the hopes of being one of the top. That’s how it is in a Gobbo tribe. No love lost... I… don’t think it is good.”
“Still, they were your people.”
She shrugged. “In the dungeon, when a big monster comes and kills us, you decide either to keep your head down or get revenge. All the Gobbos who like revenge are dead now.”
She grinned “You should know that If I wanted you dead I would have slit your throat while you slept in that tent.”
Rain glared at her. “Doing wonders for my trust here.”
“It’s true, even if you don’t want to hear it.”
“You’re right I don't want to hear it. Look maybe you can stay around, but there's going to be conditions.”
“I’m fierce, conditions don’t scare me.”
“This first one might.”
“No it won’t.”
He strode forward until he was standing in front of her, she still had her arms outstretched.
She looked up at him warily. He had grown taller, but he was still relatively short, still, he was about five inches taller than the diminutive Goblin who was on the short side for her kind.
He leant down until his breath blew at her long slightly curled black hair.
With that he grabbed her by the arms and launched her into the lake.
She flew through the air with a scream until she landed with a ker-plunk!
The Goblin spluttered to the surface.
“Fuck-fucking fucker fuck you you fucking fuck head fuck!”
Rain was already wading toward her and with fear in her eyes she tried to desperately doggy paddle away. Rain caught her by the ankle and yanked her backward, swishing her back and forth through the water until a discolored stain started to form around them. He dragged her away from it to a fresh area and went to work rubbing down the spitting furious Goblin. Grab an arm, hold it out, rub his rough paw pads up and down like some kind of strange scrubbing stone until her skin glowed, grab another limb repeat, ignore kicking and thrashing.
He got quite into it though he did have another reason for being this callous. He was using it as an opportunity to search her for hidden weapons. Not that there were many places for her to hide one. She had a ragged shirt, he shredded that and it sunk into the depths. Loin cloth gone ripped off and discarded, breast wrap parted with a slice of his claw. She was butt naked and trembling in his paws as he moved onto scrubbing her back. He tried to remain as impartial and cold as possible but he was quickly becoming more aware of her curves. That breast wrap wasn't for nothing. He let out a rumbling growl as she tried to scratch at him and she froze.
He snorted and started on her hair. He doubted she had anything hidden in it but it smelled like a fish had somehow gotten lost and died in it. The amount of crud and half rotten food he combed out of her black locks beggared belief. He had to move to a new water spot once again just from hair gunk alone. He slapped a paw down on her head and dunked her under the water a few times just to sluice the last of it out.
Satisfied, he made his way back to shore.
“You absolute scumbag! I hope you die! I hate you! Look what you’ve done to me! I’m- I’m clean!!” spat the Goblin in fury from where she remained in the lake.
“I thought you said you were fierce.”
She gave him a death glare.
“Gobbos are supposed to be dirty, the dirt is good!”
“You can come out of the water now.”
“Fucking dog fuck fuck…” she grumbled, but waded from the water until water was running off her and she was shivering in the cold air, covering her bits with her arms and hands.
Rain eyed her, “I kinda thought Goblins would care less about nakedness, levelers certainly aren't fussed. Shared public baths.”
“That’s easy for you to say, I have no clothes!”
He gestured at his body. “I’m naked too you know.”
She glanced at his body and Rain was amused to see her blush. “That's not fair you have fur!”
Rain scratched his nose and shrugged. “I guess we can find you something.”
He wandered toward the camp again and after a moment she followed after him
“You know I don’t think you told me your name.”
“That’s… a surprisingly nice name for a Goblin, I was expecting something guttural like ‘Argg’. My name is Rain.”
“Gobbos name themselves. Why would I pick a shitty name like that?”
“Fair enough. Oh, and fair warning, I’m going to be eating Goblin now. You might not want to be here for that.”
“I want to see. And I want some too.”
Rain suddenly turned and stared at her. “Goblins are cannibals?”
“Yes? Why wouldn't we be? No monster doesn't eat their dead in the dungeon, that would be a stupid waste of resources.” She gave him a slightly incredulous look as though she couldn't believe a monster like him didn't know that was the norm.
“Oh. That makes a certain horrible amount of sense...”
Rain found his way to the pile of bodies and began carefully picking his way through them.
“Here, strip each body I bring. You can take any of the clothes you like. If I catch you picking out a weapon though I’ll break your neck.”
“I know, I know,” she grumbled as she got to work pulling off bits of clothing, belts, weapons.
Reasonably quickly the Goblin clothed herself. It wasn't until Rain pulled out the witch’s corpse that she made a sound, she gasped.
“She was important?” said Rain.
“Y-yes. She wasn't one to be crossed. She could magic your skin inside out if you made her mad enough. I don't know, maybe she can do something in death.”
Rain kicked her corpse and it rolled over to Opal. “Seems pretty dead to me.”
The Goblin flinched away. “Hey!”
Opal hesitated then knelt down and began stripping her. It took awhile due to the number of piercings the old witch had, she got tired of trying to fiddle them off and ended up tearing the rest free. She didn't hesitate to take the witches jacket however and swiftly replaced it with the ragged thing she had found earlier. It fitted her well, a short sleeve crop jacket open at the front, well made. If Rain was one to judge it had been originally stolen from a halfling or other small leveler species and was not Goblin made.
“You can eat that one by the way. She doesn't look very nice to eat.”
“Oh, thanks, think I might starve then,” grumbled the Goblin eyeing the unappetising looking witch.