The great green hand holding the assassin flung him from one end of the cavern’s ceiling to another, and he was knocked out cold by a fearsome blow to the back of the head. I felt my own consciousness swimming as the blow reverberated across our magical connection, but managed to shake off the inviting darkness.
The goblin babbled more of its guttural tongue, but with Ashirk out cold I understood none of it. He stepped closer to me, inch by inch, as if terrified I was going to suddenly burst through both the physical and magical bonds with which he had me powerless.
I remained passive, but the sorcery in the air was thick. I felt a discomfort, that old familiar scratching that so often accompanied the whispers I heard in my soul. As he advanced on me, I felt scratching and scrabbling grow louder, like a rat backed into a corner; the goblin looked at me with horror and hate, whipping out a pair of wicked, rusty iron pliers that would not have looked out of place in the decrepit forge where my last encounter with the supernatural had taken place.
I watched with horror as he brandished them, muttering something to himself, staring intently at my face. Not in the eyes - for whatever reason, soon to be clear, he was staring dead centre of my face.
A swimming mishmash of images whirled through my mind, fear, hatred, decapitation, the brutalisation of dozens, hundreds, thousands all at once - hidden predators, lurking in darkness, yearning to strike, lunging at prey -
The cold, rusted iron of the pliers touched the inside of my nostril. I shuddered as he squeezed the handle tight, gripping something somehow lodged within me that squirmed and chittered -
Filling himself with supernatural might, the goblin yanked as hard as he could, and out from my distending nostril came a hideous, spectral leg of chitin that twitched and spasmed in insectoid fear. Still pulling, I felt my head stretch obscenely, the single gaping nostril wide enough to let a glistening ghostly leg almost as long as my forearm out.
Gritting his needle-sharp teeth, the goblin spat a torrent of magical abuse into the shimmering air, and great green hands lay themselves upon the handles of the pliers with him, pulling in a great heaving jerk that brought a bulbous, circular body forth, vastly wider than the leg, almost the size of my whole head. I felt claws and feelers attempting to hold on to the inside of me with magical force, but the pliers and the goblin prevailed. A misshapen eight-legged spider, covered in eyes and hair, writhed in his iron grip. Dropping the pliers, he reached for his staff and brought it down in a wide arc on the spider’s head as it scrambled desperately towards the wall. There was a sickening daemonic scream and an all-too-real crunch of shell as the hideous creature shuddered a death-spasm, dissolving into shining sparks as it did so.
The goblin exhaled heavily, trembling a little. He looked up with a furious glare at Ashirk’s unconscious form before turning to me. He held the staff out warily, pointing it at me, barking some incomprehensible question in his savage, hissing language.
I shook my aching head, wide-eyed in fear. Whatever magic he had worked, my nostril was back to normal size, if bloodied and torn. I felt physically drained but a great weight had been lifted that I never knew was upon me. My soul felt raw where the spider-daemon had somehow been wrapped around it, constricting. Now that it had been ripped away, I felt my spirit would slowly heal. Had this been the whispering spirit that tormented my sleep? Was this the creature Enmerkar had beaten me to supress? Even freed from its unknown grip, I found no solace. This paranoid goblin had me at his mercy; not a trait even the sane among his kind were known for.
He repeated his question, and I shook my head a little, trying to show I could not understand him. He scratched his chin in suspicion.
“Alright ’ooman. Gerra grip. Yer ovveeossly no killer. An’ yer ovveeossly tied to muggins over dere,” he hissed, in mangled Reikspiel, “by da magical goolees. Now. Maybes I thought your mate” - he pointed to the daemonic spider - “was ’ere ta kill me. But I can see ’ees just a littlun. Some bit of trash yer picked up stickin’ yer nose where it durn’t belong,” he said with a sneer, “which makes sense on account of ’ow youse ended up in my ’ollow. So. While old knife-fer-brainz is wakin’ up from ’is byotee sleep, you best be tellin’ me what in Mork’s name yer up to…”