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Day of Goodbye
I sliced off part of my tunic and patched Dru up as best I could. Then I led her by the reigns along the river a ways. I figured it was best not to ride her until she was feeling better.
After only an hour of travel she and I were both pretty wrecked. I scouted around for a good spot to hole up and I found this old hue-men cave. Neither one of us felt like wandering the Upworld any more at that point.
Diary, I can tell you this. I’m worried. Drucilla just ain’t herself anymore. She tries to put on a good show for me, but I don’t think she knows how busted up she looks. She doesn’t seem to be losing any more fluid, but that leg is raw and nasty. I wonder what an infection looks like.
I caught us some food and she barely touched hers. The Sun will be up soon. I’m going to watch it rise through the square shaped cave holes in the higher levels of this place. Maybe I can spy its lair from up there. Then I’m going to snuggle up with Dru.
If anything happens to her it will be my fault. I don’t know what I’ll do without the old girl. I had just been learning how to live alone in this messed up world when she found me. I almost wish she hadn’t. It’s really terrible to fear losing her twice.
It’s kind of beautiful, The Sun. I never stopped to watch it float up above the world like this. The ordinary blue black dome above me starts as a bright crack along the edge of the trees. Slowly it opens and the line becomes more and more brilliant. The light trickles out like blood from the wound made by a sharp blade. I can feel the heat from its fire as it illuminates the land around me. The split between the night dome and the land is growing as it emerges, pushing back the darkness. I was so wrong. This isn’t a creature emerging from its den. This is light itself being born. This happens every day here, doesn’t it, Diary? Brighter than ten thousand campfires this flaming beast crawls across the ceiling of the world. It’s floating past the clouds and changing their colors to purple, pink, and gold.
What does it eat, I wonder. Where is it going? I’m still unclear if it is the same Sun each day or if a new one is born. If I can find more kindly hue-men like Red and Miri maybe I can ask them. It’s so gorgeous I can’t believe that the Updwellers aren’t up worshipping it every time it rises (sorry Gashwhisker- no disrespect meant). Maybe they do. I’ll check and see.
What will happen when I kill it? Do the Updwellers fear it or love it? Will they curse me for killing their god? Or thank me for slaying their monster?
I’m going to sleep now. If Drucilla is feeling better I’ll head in that direction tomorrow. It can’t be more than a few days away. I’m going to make it. I just know it.
Diary. The worst has happened! It’s been a few days. I haven’t eaten. I’ve barely slept. I’m sorry to burden you with this, but you’re the only one I can talk to.
Drucilla and I slept so deeply. We were both so hurt and tired. We didn’t hear them coming. I didn’t know until it was too late.
Hue-men wolves. Those creatures the pig-master had with him. Not the same ones. Different ones. A whole pack. They surrounded us while we were out cold. I didn’t know until they were upon us. One was tearing at my boot and I awoke startled.
I kicked at it only to realize there were a half dozen more all over us. I managed to unsheathe my knife, but there was so much light coming in through the cave holes that I could barely see. I slashed and kicked at two of them as they pounced on me.
They weren’t as strong as a shadewolf, but there were so many. Claws and teeth all around us.
I wasn’t able to stand before I was covered in fur and blood. I don’t recall exactly what I did, it was so fast. They yelped and whined as I cut at them. You might think they were just poor beasties out for a meal, but I didn’t want it to be me. When I struggled out from under their carcasses I saw two more still standing before me and realized that Dru was fighting off three more of the dang things.
I couldn’t get to her without getting past those two. I growled. They growled back. I cursed and spit at them. They leapt. The stupid Updweller cave floor was made of wood and it must have been weakened by the years. The creatures fell on me and the boards cracked beneath our weight. I landed on my feet, but it wasn’t graceful. Bleeding, nearly crippled and covered in splinters of wood I tried to fend off the animals. One of them bit my weakened ankle and knocked me to the ground. The other jumped on my chest and bit into my face.
I stabbed at it twice before I realized I must have dropped my knife.
I punched and kicked the critter as hard as I could. It released it’s jaws.
Drucilla had saved me once more.
In the blackness of the lower cavern I could see clearly again. She had slain the other two beasts and then jumped down to rescue me. The final attacker ran off once his fellows were dead.
Diary. Then came the worst moment in my life.
I was hurt but nothing permanent. Maybe a scar down my face, but that only makes me more of a goblin.
But Dru. Oh sweet Drucilla. One of her legs had been torn clean off by those things. Spiders can’t scream in pain. Spiders don’t cry. She just looked at me with all of her eyes.
I stroked her fur one last time. I kissed her bristled head and patted her thorax right where she likes it.
The light in her eyes faded slowly. I hugged her and squeezed.
She could not cry but I made up for it. I wept and wept for hours. Long after she was still I cradled Drucilla in my arms.
Eventually the Sun faded as it always does. I looked around the cave. It was littered with broken hue-men furniture. All of it was made of dry and ancient wood. I would give Dru a proper goblin funeral.
I gathered the planks and other bits into a pyre. I spoke a prayer to Gashwhisker. I spoke a promise to The Sun. I set the fire.
I climbed out of the lower cavern into the area that had probably been a school. I glanced behind me for one last goodbye.
I gathered my things and marched out of the cave and into the Upworld forest as the school burned behind me.