KYRIE WAS HERE
He opened his eyes and couldn't tell a difference.
The place was cold...or at the very least, colder that the open desert, not that that was saying much.
He heard water dripping.
'Ot 'appened? he thought to himself. Oh yeah...now I remember...
Terchi then reacted without thinking. A chain trailed behind the Goblinchild, the one that the kreen leader, G'Gat, had used to control the creature before turning him loose. The chain whipped by Terchi.
He grabbed it.
" 'AtwuznotthesmartestfingIeverdone..." he quickly realized.
The glowing shape surrounding the Goblinchild dissipated as he charged Styx, but his eyes were still glowing an angry amber color as his bone cudgel slammed into the larger goblinoid. Styx deflected the cudgel with his mordenkrad, but the impact was so violent the bone shattered.
The larger goblinoid was clearly staggered. The Goblinchild headbutted Styx right in the solar plexus, knocking the Marshall of Dragonsfall down.
"This is really not good..." Fallagar said, struggling to keep his own kreen opponent at bay. A spell was looking like more like a worthwhile risk by the second.
Nerwen fired an arrow at K'Kinb; he dodged it, and moved in close enough to strike. She managed to dodge his blow, barely, though it tore a hunk out of her cloak.
"KILL THE ZZZOFTZZZKINZZZ!!!" G'Gat shouted.
Rishot was jumped by the wounded kreen that Styx had hit earlier; he apparently thought getting in the Goblinchild's way was a bad idea, and sought a much smaller target.
The kreen that was chasing Terchi fell behind when the hobbit was dragged by the Goblinchild, but kept running.
It's about then that the Goblinchild noticed he had a tag-along. He yanked the chain, dragging Terchi to him.
"Terchi!!!" Rishot shouted.
The Goblinchild snarled, and yanked the hobbit off the ground.
Terchi saw the Goblinchild's eyes, glowing amber over black sclera.
Then they went wide. The hate drained from them, to be replaced with...
The Goblinchild's other hand grabbed at the return stone dangling from Terchi's neck.
Terchi's world faded into a violet mist...
He looked in the direction of the water dripping, where splashing noises were now coming from. A dark shape was hunkered at the edge of a pool, from which the dim light seemed to be emitting. The dark shape muttered, and pulled up a hunk of mud from the edge of the pool, slathering it over its left arm.
Terchi was scared...but somehow, far less terrified that he'd been during the battle. " 'Allo?"
The dark shape hissed, and jumped back; as it did, Terchi heard the clanking of a chain moving.
"Look, I can sorta see in 'ere, but I gots somefink 'at'll work even better."
He pulled out one of the items the Archmage had equipped him with: a "flashlight" is what the wizard had called it. As he did, he was relieved to feel that the return stone was still hanging from his neck.
Terchi was somehow not surprised to see that the flood of light revealed that he was sharing the cave--or wherever he was now--with the Goblinchild. The chain that G'Gat had previously held was still clamped to his left ankle.
"Bout time you fuckin' woke up." the Goblinchild rasped.
"Ain't my fault!" Terchi retorted. "Somefink about being ganked by you and yer bug friends 'at..."
" 'EY AIN'T MY FRIENDS!!!" the Goblinchild roared.
Terchi shrunk back.
"Okay 'en..." Terchi gulped. " En why..."
The Goblinchild jumped to Terchi, causing the hobbit to yelp. "You talks like me..." the Goblinchild noted. Terchi could see the goblin's eyes underneath the bone helmet, but they didn't look like Styx's. " 'Like elf speak, but not all foofy..." The Goblinchild's head bobbed up and down, sizing up Terchi in a way that made him feel uncomfortable. "You even looks kinda likes me...but different." The Goblinchild slapped Terchi's chest. "Less 'ere..."
" 'ALF A MOMENT!!!" Terchi cried, as the Goblinchild poked Terchi's groin, causing the hobbit to jump and scamper away.
"More 'ere..." the Goblinchild remarked.
Terchi brandished the flashlight like a weapon. "I don't know 'ow you goblinfolk does it, but where I comes from you 'as to know someone a lot better 'afore jabbin' 'em in the junk 'ike 'at! 'At's a might tender spot on my kind!"
The Goblinchild snorted. "Whutever..."
The staggered Styx shook his head angrily, and hopped back to his feat. "YOU PATHETIC INSECTOIDS NOW DEMAND EXTERMINATION!!!"
With that, he grabbed the kreen that had chased Terchi, and hurled it a good twenty feet. It muttered in pain where it landed.
Nerwen dropped her bow; with a fluid motion, two short swords were pulled from her cloak, and she deprived K'Kinb of his shortspear and very nearly one of his arms.
The kreen fighting Rishot shouted at his leader; G'Gat shouted something back.
With a resigned tilt to his head, the kreen moved toward Rishot once more.
We don't have time for this now... Fallagar thought to himself. Styx and Rishot have them rattled, and they're confused by the return stone activation...it won't take much...
Fallagar twirled the quarterstaff. His left hand traced glyphs in the air, and his voice boomed: "CREO AURAM--IOVIS ICTU SCRIPTOR!!!"
The air shook around them; unused to the cold, the creatures of Kreen were also unused to the sound of a thunderclap; even more so, the sensation of one being dropped right onto them.
"DE...DEFILERZZZ!!!" K'Kinb said, clearly horrified.
The kreen scattered, and started to run.
G'Gat looked around, stuttered "Um...RETREAT!!!" and scampered off to join his already running troops.
"What? Done already?" Styx said dismissively. "I appear to have overestimated them. And I didn't have a very high estimation of them in the first place."
Fallagar groaned, and slumped to the ground.
"Archmage!" Rishot called, running up to him.
"I'll be all right in time..." Fallagar said. "The spell was only second magnitude, and as for it's price, I took it upon myself...something a true Defiler would not have done." He managed a wry smile. "Something that never would have occurred to the kreen."
"It is a good thing it did not, Sir." Styx agreed. "Though I imagine that Miss Tarantula would be quite displeased with you."
"She'll only find out if you tell her, Styx." Fallagar chuckled.
As Fallagar had explained to them all before they left, this world was an alternate Earth...but it was a world where ancient wars of the gods turned out far differently, leaving the ectosphere ruined and cursed. Most castings of true magic caused damage to the nearby biosphere--"Defilement", in the worlds of the unlucky creatures that lived in this world.
Fallagar's own command of the mystic arts, and the relatively low power of the spell, allowed him to keep it from damaging the nearby biosphere--it had damaged him instead. He would recover in due time.
Styx continued. "So what do you think became of Master Bagwise and that...'Goblinchild'..."
"The return stone was clearly activated." Rishot noted. "I recognize the effect. But why would Terchi activate it?"
"Who's to say he did?" Nerwen noted, picking up her bow.
"Nerwen. Any idea about that goblin?" Fallagar asked.
"Probably a berserker." Nerwen answered calmly "Macetail behemoth rage. Don't see those every day."
"I am not sure that it was a genuine goblin." Styx said. "Most of Maglubiyet's lesser children don't have the intestinal fortitude to commune with such a powerful spirit!"
" 'Miss Tarantula'?" Nerwen said. "Does Lady Zeriel have some competition?"
Fallagar sighed, slightly painfully. "Tarantula is a cat."
"I don't judge." Nerwen shrugged.
Rishot sighed, looking around. "The crodlu all ran."
"They're well trained." Nerwen told him. "They'll return to the Oasis."
"That doesn't 'elp us find Terchi!" Rishot retorted.
"No..." Fallagar noted. "But this will..." He produced Kyrie Wheatberry's battered return stone.
Terchi looked one direction, and could see sunlight probably around a bend in the cave. He looked the other direction, and saw another corridor, on the other side of the Goblinchild and the pool. He estimated it could be about the right size for a goblin warren, maybe. Or a hobbit hole, more certainly. He pointed his light at it. "Wonder 'at's in 'ere.."
"None of y' damn business!!!" The Goblinchild screeched.
Terchi gulped. Seems a sensitive issue...but the way the stone works, it's gotta be somefink he knows. Okay, Terchi, finks 'ere.
The chain on the Goblinchild's ankle clanked as the creature moved.
"I can take 'at off ya." Terchi offered.
"The chain." He reached into his belt pack, producing a set of lock picks. "See?"
The Goblinchild hissed.
"Oh. c'mon...not likes I can do anyfin' to ya. I right fink gettin' that bug's shackle offa' ya'd be mighty appealin'. Seein' as 'ey weren't y' friends an' all."
The Goblinchild was silent for a few moments. There was confusion in the creature's brown eyes...but also...curiosity.
"All right." He finally said. "But try somefin' funny an' I'll rip yer guts out your arse'ole."
Terchi laughed nervously. "Fair enough."
The Goblinchild moved closer to Terchi, and sat on the ground next to him, holding out the shackled leg. Terchi studied the lock for a second, but also the goblin's leg; the ankle and foot was covered in wrappings, though green-stained claws protruded from the toes. Don't look much like Styx's toes, either. But I ain't ever met a real goblin 'afore, so I guesses 'ey're diff'rent.
"I guess as full of questions as I been, I guess I should tell ya a bit about me. Name's Terchi Bagwise, pleased to meetcha!"
The Goblinchild grunted.
"An' this lock's no big deal. Y'see, I learned about pickin' locks from the best!"
Terchi nodded. "Once upon a time 'ere was a 'obbit treasure 'unter named Bree Tosscobble. Absolute best at it. She said I 'ad a knack for it and taught me on the sly; me Mum would 'ave frown a fit if she found out."
The Goblinchild nodded. His eyes looked downward.
Terchi continued. "When she was done bein' a treasure 'unter, Bree Tosscobble settled down an' married a 'obbit fella named Lem Augusty. 'Ad a couple of sprogs, 'ey did." Terchi smirked. "I don't call Bree by 'er name, 'course. I call 'er Gran'mum."
"Gran'mum?" The Goblinchild asked.
Terchi grinned a little more. "Onea' 'er sprogs was a girl, Orchid. Orchid married a dapper bloke named Benny Bagwise an' 'ey had a sprog, 'oo is me--Orchid's me Mum, so 'er Mum is m' Gran'mum. I comes by it 'onestly, I guess y' could say"
The lock clicked open, and fell to the ground with a clatter.
" 'Ere y' go." Terchi said triumphantly.
"Yer an odd one, Terchi Bagwise." the Goblinchild said.
"Thanks." the Goblinchild finally said, kicking the chain away.
"Yer very welcome." Terchi said, bowing.
"Yer almost as foofy as an elf sometimes." the Goblinchild rolled his eyes as he said it, but made a noise that almost sounded like a chuckle.
"Erm...anyway...I fink I really needs to get back to my friends. Uncle Rishot--'e's Granmum's other sprog--and the others'll be worried sick 'bout me."
"You 'aves a way to gets to 'em, don't you?" the Goblinchild said, pointing at the return stone.
"You...know whut 'is is?" Terchi asked. Since the Goblinchild mentioned it directly.
The Goblinchild looked away. "I 'ad one jus' like it...but not as shiny. Diff'rent symbols on the back. But the kreen took it."
Terchi paused, then asked. " 'Ow'd you get it?"
"NONE A YER DAMN BUSINESS!!!" The Goblinchild roared, gesturing wildly. "JUST GO!!! GO BACK TO YER PERFECT FRIENDS AN' YER FOOFY LIFE AN' LEAVE ME ALONE!!!" the Goblinchild skulked off, going into the hole Terchi'd seen earlier.
Ooops... Terchi thought to himself, gulping.
Terchi slumped to the wall. Despite the violence of their meeting, he couldn't help but sympathize with a creature that had clearly been kept as an abused slave. Honestly, after interacting with the Goblinchild in the cave just now, he was actually starting to like the little scoundrel in a weird way. But perhaps more importantly, he still needed help.
He knocked on the side of the cave. "Um...Mister Goblinchild?"
"Whut the 'ells do I 'as to do to get a nap 'round 'ere?!" the Goblinchild muttered.
"Look...I need yer 'elp." Terchi replied.
The Goblinchild peeked out. "Seriously? You gots the bloody magic stone, dumbarse."
"Well, yeah." Terchi nodded. "But y'see, when it gets used, it needs to recharge. An' 'at takes a while, 'specially 'ere. I don't unnerstand it all, but the Boss said the aura is all fucked up 'ere an' it'll take like, 'ours an' 'ours 'fore I can use it again."
The Goblinchild sighed. "Fine. But I needs a nap. Channelin' the macetail beats the shit outta me." He looked over Terchi again. "Least yer dressed for goin' outside. I 'as to cake up with th' green mud or I gets sunburned bad."
Terchi raised an eye. "Goblins get sunburn? Mister Styx said 'e doesn't..." Terchi paused for a second. "Course, you listen to Mister Styx, you'd fink 'e ate boulders an' shot lightin' out 'is arse, so maybe 'e ain't the most reliable source."
The Goblinchild laughed. Terchi was surprised at how pleasant the sound was.
G'Gat gulped. He was genuflecting before a larger kreen than even himself, clad in blue robes.
This was the kreen sorcerer-king, the Xorak.
"[I...I know Milord.]" Beside G'Gat, K'Kinb silently waited to be executed. Or worse.
"[The Grey Lord has brought a Defiler to my lands. This cannot go unanswered.]"
"[If you will, Milord, my goblin slave and one of the elf younglings disappeared together. I believe it was through the actions of a sorcerous device I took from the Goblinchild after I enslaved it.]"
The Xorak drummed his fingers on his throne. "[Why are you babbling about some goblin slave, G'Gat?]"
"[Because I know where the Goblinchild has gone.]" G'Gat answered. "[And, thus, where the Defiler has gone to retrieve his elfling.]"
The Xorak contemplated for a moment. "[Hmmm...]"
"[Very well, G'Gat.]" Xorak stood up. "[It has been a long time since I have had a decent challenge. We will find the slave, and with it the Defiler, and I will destroy him.]" Xorak looked at the two smaller kreen. "[And if you fail me again, and lead me to nothing, I'll still get to amuse myself with your execution.]" The Xorak laughed a long, cruel guffaw.
Maybe the little buggar's right, and I should try to snooze myself... He did feel his eyelids getting heavier. Either 'at or 'e's tryin' to lure me to go to sleep so 'e can shank me... Terchi then felt less like sleeping, all of a sudden.
He didn't know how much longer it was after that before the cavern started to fill with purple light. He cried out.
The Goblinchild was in there like a shot, between Terchi and the ball of light.
"Wait!" Terchi called out. "I fink I knows 'oo it is!"
Terchi was correct.
The imposing form of Styx, and the less imposing forms of his Uncle Rishot, Nerwen, and the hooded Archmage appeared as the light faded.
The Goblinchild hissed.
Styx growled back at him.
"Terchi! You all right?" Rishot called out.
"I'm fine, Unk! It's okay!"
"I hoped so." Fallagar said. He stepped forward, in front of the Goblinchild. "It's been quite a few years, hasn't it?"
Terchi could see the Goblinchild's eyes narrow. "Whut're you blabbin' about?"
"I have something that belongs to you." He held up the battered return stone.
"Where'd you get 'at?!" the Goblinchild snarled.
"The elves in service to Lord Valross took it from a kreen, whom I assume took it from you." He pulled back his hood, revealing his face. "I know what it is because I'm the one that created it."
The Goblinchild flinched. "You! The Archmage!!!"
"YOU LET 'IS 'APPEN TO ME!!!"
The Goblinchild pounced.
"No! Wait! Kyr..." Rishot started to shout.
Styx was faster. He intercepted the Goblinchild, and physically grabbed the smaller creature. "I would recommend you cool off your temper. Perhaps literally." With that he hurled the Goblinchild into the pool at the center of the cave.
Rishot ran to his nephew, and gave him a quick hug. "It's going to be all right. We used Kyrie's stone to bring us to you, and to her..."
"That was a bit excessive, don't you think?" Nerwen asked Styx.
"Undoubtedly!" Styx replied proudly. "But also quite effective!"
Terchi stepped toward the pool. "I 'ope the little guy's okay...seems to be takin' a long time..." He looked at his uncle. "Wait, 'ut else were y'saying?"
The waters stirred. What happened next was a double shock to Terchi's system.
As would later be explained to him, the pool linked to an underground water table that was quite deep. The Goblinchild was forced to abandon the bone helmet and shaggy pelt he wore or they would weigh him down; he emerged naked save for the wrappings on his wrists and feet.
In the process he had also lost the mud he had caked onto himself to protect from sunburn, and when the Goblinchild emerged from the pool, he was far different from any image Terchi Bagwise had in his head.
For one thing, with the mud gone, the greenish tone had been washed from the Goblinchild's skin--it was now its natural color, a pale shade similar to Terchi's own. The "Goblinchild" wasn't a goblin at all--he was a halfling, a hobbit much like Terchi and Rishot, with pointed ears and somewhat coarse blonde hair framing his freckled face, though with a protruding left fang instead of the buck teeth Terchi and Rishot shared.
But even more shocking--which suddenly brought some of their earlier interactions into clarity--was that the "Goblinchild" was not only not a goblin, he wasn't a "he"--the naked hobbit standing before them was clearly a she.
Terchi suddenly felt dizzy...felt his cheeks flush...and wondered why his nose was starting to bleed.
"Well, now that's improper." Styx said simply.
"Wait..." Rishot shook his head, blushing and looking at Fallagar. "That's not Kyrie!!!"
Fallagar sighed wearily, a sigh that made Rishot feel the eight hundred fifteen years his employer had lived. "No. It's not."
"Then 'oo is it?!" Rishot asked.
"Kyrie Wheatberry's daughter." Fallagar answered. "Coda Monkeyfang."
Styx created by OgreBBQ and Fritz Baugh, and any resemblance to a character created by Steven Moffat is a complete coincidence, you Rutan scum. "Maglubiyet" is a dark god from the World's Most Famous RPG.
Advice on Terchi and the Goblinchild's accents provided by EGBFan.
Tarantula is a Ghostbusters canon character created by James Van Hise and Howard Bender. She first appeared in The Real Ghostbusters No.12 by Now Comics (XU RGB 12A) . So yeah, I actually worked one in!
Inspiration for the kreen race and their world came from the Dark Sun scenario for the World's Most Famous RPG created by Timothy B. Brown and Troy Demming.