The screams didn’t bother him. The wailing and shrieks, begging and bargaining of the wretched human-men stirred neither compassion nor pity in his heart. The agony and despair of others was of no consequence to Klabaga, Red Goblin of the Clan Modragu. Nevertheless, as he listened to the pathetic sounds of human-men under the merciless hands of skilled goblin interrogators, unsettling memories stirred in his dark mind.
He had been but a youth when human-men came to his cavern with fire and sword. Screams had filled his head then too, the screams of his tribe as they were butchered. When it was over, when Klabaga emerged from his hiding place, they had all been dead. The vision of their torn bodies still haunted the depths of his remembrance and drove him relentlessly toward retribution.
To be certain, there had never been any love lost between goblins and men, and over the long course of history the two races had fought each other in a number of brutal, bloody wars. But Klabaga’s enmity extended beyond the bounds of such conflicts. While most goblins desired conquest and plunder, the Red Goblin lusted after the destruction of mankind. He would not be satisfied with anything less than the extermination of the human race, and not until he stood above the corpse of the last human-man would the consuming fire of his hatred be quenched.
His brooding was interrupted by one of the interrogators. “Got one wants ta talk,” said the Grey Goblin. He was short and round with long arms and short legs and swayed from side to side as he moved.
Klabaga’s nose curled though no real nose existed on his broad, flat face. His yellow eyes narrowed and his thin lips drew back exposing sharpened, discolored teeth. “A dozen others wanted ta talk and none of ‘em had anything worth sayin! Stop wastin’ my time!”
The Grey flinched and drew back, anxious to avoid Klabaga’s legendary wrath. “This un claims he can take ya where the rocks move.”
“We’ll see,” Klabaga hissed, thinking it likely that the desperate human-man was merely saying whatever he thought would satisfy his unsympathetic captors. The Red Goblin pushed past the guards and entered a hot, cramped chamber with a dozen human prisoners shackled to the wall. All bore evidence of the cruel tortures plied to extract information of various types: the location of human-men hiding in the conquered city of Nezadsahr, the whereabouts of foodstuffs, weapons, and equipment, and the crucial knowledge of terrain and geography in the world beyond the great walled city. But of all the information that Klabaga sought, of everything he had learned or hoped to learn, of greatest importance was anything that might assist him in attaining his ultimate goal: the death of Evan MacKeth and the destruction of the world above ground.
Klabaga hadn’t expected Evan MacKeth. Though he had been taught to hate human-men from birth, as all goblins surely hated, he had never imagined finding such an implacable enemy among that race. And his enmity had only increased as he came to recognize the strength that made the human-boy so dangerous. For beyond his considerable physical strength, Evan MacKeth possessed a power that surpassed anything Klabaga had ever faced--the Light.
The Red Goblin knew about light. Though sprung from shadow, he had studied the light of the dwarves, the legendary Golau am Du, under the tutelage of the great goblin sorcerer Glandihoo. Goblins detested the pure brilliance of the Fire Stones that made it possible for dwarves to live beneath the earth and they sought to destroy them whenever they could. The great emblem of dwarfish faith, the Golau am Du was in goblin hands now, deep in the dark crystal Halls of Doryleaum, but no goblin, not even Glandihoo himself, possessed the power to destroy it. Yes, all goblins knew about the light, but there was another light more difficult to understand.
Klabaga believed in a simple equation; destroy the dwarves’ light and dwarf civilization would collapse. Yet in Evan MacKeth, he sensed another kind of light, and at Gwenferew where a handful of human-men and horses routed Klabaga’s goblin host, he recognized this light as his greatest enemy. It was a light mightier than the sun that lit the human world, and it gave Evan MacKeth power beyond anything in the physical plane.
Klabaga realized that the Darkness flowing through goblin hearts was in large measure the absence of that Light. And though the Light was absent from many human-men as well, they were still part of it, children of its power, and the Red Goblin reasoned that when the last human-man fell, so too would the Light fail and Darkness could reign. Now he searched for Children of that Darkness to aid in his terrible plan.
He approached a cringing human-man who had already suffered much. Goblin practice was to begin tormenting the victim long before posing any questions. Interrogation was more entertainment than intelligence gathering, but in this instance information was the goal.
“Have ya sommat ta say?” the Red Goblin demanded in a hideous mimic of human speech.
“You want to know where the rocks move?” moaned the man, his eyes wild with pain and fear. Nearby a Grey Goblin waited with a flaying knife in one broad hand.
Klabaga nodded. “I’ve heard of hills that move across tha face of tha world. Where can I find ‘em?”
“I’ll take you there! I’ll take you there!” cried the prisoner.
“North across the desert is a place where the rocks rearrange themselves. It is a cursed place. No one goes there.”
“Near the ruins of Zarrin Tappeh.”
“The Golden Hill! It was a gold mine before evil spirits killed everyone. Now it’s abandoned.”
Klabaga grunted. “The rocks move, ya say?”
“So say the legends master!”
“At Zarrin Tappeh?”
“Yes! I will take you there!”
The Red Goblin nodded to the waiting Grey who quickly unshackled the prisoner. “Feed him, tend his wounds. He’ll show us tha way.”