"Here," hissed Gleebog the Goblin, pointing to the cracked parchment - a map. His great gold eyes slitted for a moment, then, wiping a trail of drool from the corner of his mouth with his forearm, he shoot his head and said,

"Or here."

"Here and here," corrected Mordigo. His teeth showed, pointed and yellow. From the corner of his eye he looked upward, near a hollow opening in the cave wall.

Gleebog slapped his face, pushing Mordigo's gaze downward toward the map. Mordigo grumbled, reaching for a long thin tube. "Terrible they are. Singing and laughing, " Gleebog continued with a voice far too loud for just Mordigo, ignoring his Goblin friend's threat.

Mordigo nodded vigorously, then looking around, he too spoke loudly and with plain words, "Yes, Gleebog. And they stink!"

"Flowers! Perfume!" Gleebog grabbed his neck and fell to the earth, twitching. The earth shook and a low rumbling groan sounded from the cave entrance.

Mordigo snickered, then remembered Gleebog's slap. Mordigo pulled a squirming parasite from his armpit and chomped down on it. Licking his lips, he shrieked at his fingers, crying, "Garrh! Clean! They are clean! No bloodworms on them!"

A grumble sent tremors over the ground like a drum. Something burped long whinnying breaths. The air of the cave stirred. Something in the dark upper passageway shifted in the shadows. Gleebog nodded, pointing back at the parchment. "Dig out these caves here, they will."

Mordigo turned on his heels as though struck by a great mace. "Not the white mud banks?"

Gleebog spoke loudly, over the rising commotion. "The very same. Want the mud, they do. Want to paint it white."

"What white?"

"The caves!"

The shadowy mass howled. Mordigo yelped over the ruckus, "These caves too? Never!"

"All caves will be white. All white and new and clean and pure." Gleebog danced in a circle, as though is feet waked upon hot coals. Spinning about he stretched his arms wide, pointing at each of the walls. The walls shook. Dirt fells from cracks in the many tiers of ancient stone.

Mordigo imitated his friend, trying to sound angry, "We must fight!"

Gleebog pulled out his dagger and stopped dancing. In a voice barely audible over the panting angry background noise, he said, "What can we do? We are Goblins. We are puny."

"And the Dwarves are too clever for Goblins. Only a strong, intelligent thing could stop these invaders," Mordigo said, turning toward the dark opening.

Looking upward, both Gleebog and Mordigo fell to their knees as crimson eyes peered from the black shadow. Without a word the great mass of stone shifted and formed a towering man. An angry roar bellowed from a gaping mouth.

The two goblins scampered out of the path of the giant thing's thunderous footsteps. Stones scattered across the cavern floor. Gleebog and Mordigo ducked into a crevice as a shower of shale covered their hiding place. The thumping monster sucked the air from the room. Echoes of anger rolled as the stones settled.

Gleebog pushed a shelf of rock from his head. Grinning with a face full of cracked teeth he pulled Mordigo to his feet and said, "Nice bit 'bout the bloodworm."

"Tis true. Dwarves don't." Mordigo said, checking under his arm for another morsel to munch.

"Gleebog cackled and reached through a hole in his boot. With a quick twist of his fingers he popped a piece of something fleshy into his mouth and smacked his lips loudly. "Where's the next nearest Troll cave?"

"I don't know. You have the map."

by Ray Bingham, Triumph Studios