A cold wind blew down the mountain trail, whipping Gottschalk back to his senses. Esservassa cried out again and he gritted his teeth, reaching for the first dark form he could put his hands on.
With a mixture of surprise and grim purpose, he realized that it was not some unreal spook of the night, but in fact a goblin. He grappled the monster as best he could, though he sorely missed his trusty miner’s pick that was still back at camp.
Luckily for Gottschalk, the goblin had already begun to remove its garb when attacking the woman, so it was easier to fight him down, though certainly more disturbing. The thing turned to him then, stinking breath emitting from beneath its oversized nose. Gottschalk’s mind raced as it brought its filthy hands up to his neck. The goblin closed them tightly, causing him to gasp as much from surprise at its strength as from lack of air.
Gottschalk’s eyes darted madly and he spotted a rock gently lit by the dying light of the setting moon. Before the goblin could fully throttle the life out of him, he quickly grabbed it and smashed it into the side of its head. The goblin wailed and loosed its bowels, its face turning to one of feigned innocence. In disgust, Gottschalk got up and kicked it in its jaw. The creature lay still.
Esservassa yelled out again, but then was silenced. It seemed that the other goblins were now forcing their mouths onto hers.
Roaring, outraged, Gottschalk lumbered over, his leg still stiff from the impact with the first goblin’s mouth and soiled by its incontinence. He clenched his fist to impact with that of another.
His punch struck true, knocking that goblin off the crippled woman and nearly down the mountainside as well. It clung to the edge of the path with its dark hands, mewling for mercy in its barbaric tongue.
Others came at Gottschalk then, cutting into his salt miner’s garb and flesh with their cruel blades. He yelled out in pain, but his fury stiffened his resolve. Clenching his jaw, he was finally able to turn one goblin’s blade upon itself and then use it on another.
Those remaining began to flee. As their despicable kind was known for, they had the stomach to attack a lone woman, but not an enraged man.
But then Gottschalk stopped and his mouth went wide. One goblin still remained behind. It seemed that it had been watching its fellows this whole time. And beyond all belief, it was even drawing a picture to record their heinous assault!
He marched up and pointed his blade at the fell artist. It looked at him meekly, pointing out its especially childish rendition of colored chalk and parchment upon a crude easel.
Gottschalk couldn’t believe his eyes. The goblin was celebrating the callous, invasive, and horrific nature of its very race by recording their attack on Esservassa!
The goblin showed its underhandedness too, because when he turned back from its picture, the monster had already begun to flee down the trail. Gottschalk would have pursued, but he knew he needed to return to camp. He took solace in kicking its remaining fellows off the path, their shrill screams satisfyingly cut short when they reached flat ground again, a few dozen feet below.
He then held out his hand, but she only folded her arms and refused to take it. Bizarre for even a cultist, Esservassa appeared angry at her rescue.
“Didn’t goblins defile you before... and they were about to do it again!?” He gestured to her many old injuries and missing hand.
Esservassa became furious, shuddering as she spoke. “I was merely trying to Make Amends for the Ways of our People, Amaranthinist!”
“I am not Amaranthine!” insisted Gottschalk. “I merely care what happens to our people!”
“Any human who cares about his people IS AMARANTHINE!”
Gottschalk sighed as he made his way back up to camp. Perhaps he should have left her to her fate?