As I look down on the group, I can’t help but watch the forming of bonds and the power of love binding my friends below.
The power of love; A phrase I had heard many times before, but one I have never truly understood. I lay back and look to the stars and drift into my mind and find myself with company in my head.
“Hello? Riardon” Saiph appeared to me. “You seem lost in thought.”
“Hi Saiph, Yeah. Just watching them down there, It makes me ponder… What do you know of love Saiph?” I asked my friend almost dreamily.
Taking form in my mind’s eye, He created his visage stood to my feet. With small effort I pulled myself up and sat upon the colosseum steps, staring out over my friends below and into the
distance behind the wall to the very cliffs that surround Chult. Looking down at me a smile creeps upon his face, so innocent filled happy memories of his own.
“Well,” He said bring himself down to rest by my side. “There are many theories on love itself, but that is half of its charm. It is a mysterious force, beyond the comprehension of most even celestials.” Saiph chuckled. His eyes joined mine in my stare indiscriminately off into the distance. He took in a small breath and spoke once more.
“Love, that special magic,
That needs no words.
It captures us all,
Bees and Birds.
Love, The eternal bliss,
No matter how strong,
We crave its kiss.
Love, the misunderstood,
It runs in our blood.
“That’s nice,” I said, a warmth building up inside me.
“Bollocks!” I knew the sound of his voice, of course, why wouldn’t I, he’d been haunting me for so long. Gauli sprung from my shoulder and took his place stood the other side of me. Once again I was in the middle of the two like a dramatic angel and devil upon my shoulders. “Look we all know that, “Love” is nothing more than lust made pretty. You can dress it up; however, you like, but Love is nothing more than a base desire, to procreate.”
“Your mind is obviously as twisted as I imagined,” Saiph retorted, “True lust may have a part to play in love, but love is so much more. Love is beyond any manner of description. Truly it is impossible to summarise succinctly, and that’s because its different for each and every person.”
“Quit the poetic rambling, just admit I’m right and be done with it,” Gauli said scoffing at Saiph, He then gave me a light-hearted thump on the shoulder. “So who’s the lucky darling waiting for a ride?”
I had never been so offended by a statement in my life, it was repulsive to my ears, and that translated to my tongue. “There isn’t anyone I want to “Bone”, and I will ask you to chose your words more carefully in the future.” As I pull out a bottle of the Sorcerers ale.
“OK, OK fine. I promise to behave.” Gauli said reluctantly.
“So why did you ask?” Saiph asked, placing a hand upon my shoulder.
Putting the bottle back into my bag, I look to Saiph. “When I drink, regular drink not sorcerers ale. Are you able to see anything?” I asked. “You see, I have been caught up with some fond memories, and I don’t know if you shared them with me.”
“Oh, I see. Well no we can’t see nor hear with alcohol in your system, though as you sober up, we can get drips and drams of information seep through.” Saiph said with words that seemed to get lost in their own train of thought. “Otherwise it is like being in a dark room with only him for company.”
“Not exactly a picnic for me either.” Gauli chimed in.
“That’s why I am so glad we came to this understanding,” Saiph said with a smile upon his face. “But I digress. Please, indulge us. What has caught your mind?”
“I don’t believe that I know what love is, I have heard a lot of love, but never enough to figure out if I have felt its embrace,” I say as I stare off into the distance. “But that said I can’t help but think back to someone I left behind. I know she loved me, but I don’t know if I shared in that experience.”
“I see.” Saiph injected sounding like he understood, “Well tell us your tale, and we will try our best to help you won’t we Gauli.”
“Oh, of course, I must admit it will at least be entertaining for a while.” Gauli laughed.
“Fine, ignore him and tell me,” Saiph said softly, filling me with confidence.
“Do you remember Grosa?” I asked sheepishly.
“I believe I recall her? She was a goblin, right? You saved her… but after that, I am afraid that I don’t know any more of what happened.” Saiph replied I could see that his memory was failing at this point. It made me ashamed of what I had done to him, just because I can’t handle my curse without a drink. It’s pathetic really. The least I could do for him is tell him the story now, in a vain attempt to make up for this wrongdoing.
“Yes, I had just saved her, and in turn, she saved me, after all, if she hadn’t helped heal me, I would be dead in the field.” As I said that a smile grew on my face. “But that wasn’t the end of it, not by a long stretch. After we had both got ourselves back to a comfortable level to travel, I decided that I needed to get back to my mission at hand. Gathering my things and packing my bag I prepared to leave and I noticed that Grosa was doing the same. It made sense really, why stick around when she can go back home, It was only as I tried to leave before her, that she yelled out “Grah!”
I looked back at her. And there she stood, arm stretched out to, her eyes wide and sad. I know she didn’t speak my language, but the feeling came across strongly. She didn’t want me to go without her. Her eyes said it all, but it was in a language I didn’t understand, but I saw the sadness and felt compelled. I smiled and then sat down in the doorway, I nodded to her. I think she got the message as she smiled. She smiled a beautiful smile that lifted into her eyes, it was an expression you could get lost staring at for hours at a time. Overjoyed she ran up to me and hugged me, before scampering back and packing the last of her things. She then joined me at the doorway and gave
me a nod. We were ready to travel.
To be honest with you, I thought that she just needed someone to help her get back to her clan and potentially feared the route ahead. Quite arrogant I know, but I didn’t expect the truth of the matter.
As we started to walk out of the door, she grabbed my hand, and we were on our way. I decided to give up on the mission I was there for, I could get back to that as soon as I saw her home. There was no rush in my mind. So with the best mime work, I could do, as well as a few crude pictures drawn into the dirt I asked her to take me to her warren. At first, she didn’t seem to understand, but after a short period, I think she got it. Well in hindsight I know she did, but at the time I was prepared for disappointment.
We began our walk back to the trail that I had left behind, we had started following the footprints that first took me to this place. It was then that I realised again why she had been there, she must have been one of the goblins robbing the town. My heart sank, what would I do in that situation. I had been hired to solve the problem, and now a new complication had risen from it. I puzzled this over as Grosa, with my hand in tow, took me deeper down the trail.
Soon the footprints seemed to disappear, quite typical really, its used as a method to hide secret locations all the time, but not usually this close to the hideout as I was about to find out. Grosa let go of my hand and ran forth to the bush, it was rather unassuming, I know that I probably would have just walked past it, but she grabbed hold of the branches and pulled it back to reveal an entrance to a cave system. And much to my surprise two slightly concerned goblins on watch.
I can’t blame them for what they did next, as they drew their weapons and prepared to fight. Had I been tricked into an ambush? Could I have been so foolish? I had been warned about the nature of goblins, but not Grosa, she didn’t seems the sort. Either way, I prepared my staff, if I am going to be tricked I am going to go down fighting, with my free hand I grabbed hold of a bottle of my brew and took a nice big swig for the courage, as I held my ground and waited to see what would happen next. I watched as sweat dripped from their faces, each of them glancing at each other, then with a nod, they made quick their advance. I was ready for them.
But I wasn’t ready for Grosa to jump in front of me, she took the brunt of the goblins blows. Two swords going into her side and arm, luckily they attempted to pull back when they realised, so the hits weren’t too deadly, and she only took minor damage. But seeing that I immediately, jumped over her, using the width of my staff, I pushed the two goblins back. Keeping myself between Grosa and them, I wouldn’t let them hurt her again. I checked up on her to make sure she was stable before I turned to face the goblins once more. But before I could do anything, Grosa grabbed my leg and pulled herself up, signalling me to hold myself as she went forward to the other goblins.
As I stood there, I watched as she spoke to them in a language I don’t understand to this day, But from the actions, she was making I could tell she was telling them about me. And before long, they dropped their weapons came over to me, they bent down one knee each and grabbed my hands. I can’t say correctly, but I believe they were trying to apologise. Then as openly as they could, one goblin guided me further into the warren, while the other reset the door. Grosa came back to my side holding my hand, and hugging it. I was just happy that she was safe, even if she might need a bandage again.
I was lead into a vast open space inside the cave system. Shy of a room to the side that I presume was the toilet, that was all it was. One great big open space and about fifty Goblins living inside. It brought a tear to the eye, it was evident that this wasn’t ideal for them, but they were making do. They are natural survivors, but even they have a limit.
They were struggling, it was apparent, but they were making do as best as they could. But I could also see something I had hoped I wouldn’t. To the side, there stood several crates that were apparently stolen from the town, and I had already sworn to solve this problem. But that would have to wait for now, as Grosa took me forward to the goblin who was apparently in charge.
Sat in the middle of the room, on a wooden chair, I saw many a goblin run to him to talk before quickly running away to do the duty they had apparently been told to do. It reminded me so much of any other civilisation I had ever seen. Perhaps our races weren’t as different as I once thought. As we got closer, there was a lot of goblins watching my every step. I won’t lie it was unnerving, but I also saw the goblin guard spreading the word about me to others. Slowly as the word spread, fear turned into confusion. But I was most impressed by the goblin in charge, he didn’t lose his composure. I don’t know why but he didn’t seem to care that I was approaching. Perhaps he
knew my intentions, I don’t know.
Grosa ran up to him and began talking to him, I was unsure what to do, so I did what I thought would be the most proper thing. I stepped forward and bowed down on one knee to show my respect. As I looked down to the ground, I heard him get up and wander over to me. When I looked up, I saw not only had he bowed down but every goblin there had as well. I remember feeling a rush come over me, it was overwhelming, but I knew that everything I had been taught had been wrong. A creatures races meant nothing, a creature can be good or bad; its always different
and dependant on the beast.
The leader looked at me and putting his hand to my chest he said “Riardon”, he then took his hand to his chest and said “Grarg.”
He leads me to a sitting area in the cave, they created my a place to sit down from clothes and bedding, Grosa sat down and prompted me to sit down by her. I did and watched as Grarg went and talked to the others, who began to run around grabbing items and organising space in front to me. It was evident that I had been made an honoured guest. And it would seem that they were making a stage before me. Grarg walked forward and began to talk to everyone there. Now I admit that I don’t know at all what he said that day, but I know that my name was involved, and so was Grosa’s. At the time, I believed that he was recounting the tale of how we had met. Now I have a different idea.”
“What do you mean?” Saiph interrupted.
“Oh, apparently I am married to Grosa. Or at least that’s what she told me, and I don’t believe that she would have lied to me.” I replied to the shocked faces of Gauli and Saiph. Which I must say is an achievement as I didn’t think they could be shocked.
“You’re married!?” Gauli exclaimed. “What do you mean apparently?”
“Well there was a performance, as far I could tell it was their personal history,” I explained, “from what I could put together from it, they lived there happily before the human town formed. In fact, it was their home ground that was taken. So they lost crops and had to take up the lives of thieves to survive. I was more concerned to solve that problem, and I was coming up with a solution. Then they called me up with Grosa. I thought they were just celebrating her return and me as a hero of sorts. I know my ego was speaking to me at that point, but there we stood together hands held together. We were both delighted. Then one goblin ran up and wrapped out hands together with flower chains later we were announced again. Prompted by Grosa, we bowed to the goblins ahead of us, and they bowed back. Then we feasted and shared merriment. It was much later when Grosa had learnt common, that she asked why we hadn’t consecrated our marriage.” This one phrase, I know it was my own, but it struck me like a knife. In an instance, I was struck by sadness gloomed by a dark history point from one of the few brightest parts of my
past. “That’s why I must know. What is love? Was I in it? Is it just a form of connection with happiness involved? If so am I in love with my companions down there?”
I turn to Saiph, “I went on so many adventures with Grosa, I taught her to read, write and speak common. I showed her fight the way I do so that I knew she would be safe if I weren’t around. We shared such experiences along our way. But she loved me completely, and I couldn’t figure it out. She wanted more from our relationship, and she deserved it.” Tears begin to well up in my eyes, I can’t help myself. “I feel like a monster for what I did to her, I felt connected to her, and I miss her like a hole in my very being now she is gone. But did I ever love her? Please tell me!” I cry out to Saiph.
“I’m afraid I can’t say.” Saiph said, “Love is personal, its different for everyone. Only you can truly say that you were or were not in love. Sorry. But at least you had happy memories.”
“I was afraid you would say that,” I said through my tears.
“It sounds like love to me,” Gauli said, less abrupt than he had been recently. “But even I’m not sure.”
“Thanks, Gauli,” I said. I turned back to look up at the sky, “I just hope she’s OK out there.”