As we entered the antechamber of the goblin king, I had a feeling that I’ve been here before. But before I could even take in the gilded decoration and the massive stone doors, the guards had already spotted us. Aien, our elf rogue, shot down three in rapid succession, the force of the arrows knocked the little bastards back into the ranks of their friends. They were small and quite agile, hollering in their blood-curdling goblin language. I whirled around on a hunch and raised my claymore sword, cutting one down, then kicking the other one square in the face. Their armor was a joke compared to my high-level boots and the glinting steel of the two-hander cut through their leather garbs like a razor blade.
One goblin was flying past me, propelled by a mighty punch from Uragog, the orc warrior, who was picking off the enemies that were trying to hack through her shin protection. Jeratus should have finished his spell by now and as I looked for him in the room, I spotted the mage standing on a rickety little table with a rapidly growing orb between his hands. He threw it into the air a few feet and it detonated outwards with a blueish shockwave that ripped through the goblin guards and scattered them around the room. Any second now, the huge stone doors should open and … how did I know this? How did I anticipate the goblins behind me? Before I could continue with my questions, the stone doors opened and the goblin king Shady entered the room, flanked by two generals with shields. While his minions were all half my size, the goblin king towered over us (except Uragog) and he was almost as wide as he was high. For some reason, his weapons were a knife and a fork - judging by the pieces of meat hanging off of them, they had recently been used as eating utensils. The stench that came from him was eye-watering and Aien almost doubled over, her elf nose much more sensitive to smells than mine.
“Jeratus, protective spell, now!” I yelled, startling the mage out of his temporary stupor. He began moving his hands and mumbling incantations. A gossamer sheet unfolded from his hands, then grew in size until it hung like a shimmering veil between us and the goblin king. The elf started to needle the two smaller goblins with arrows, which gave Uragog the signal to start fighting as well. Wiping sweat from my forehead, I raised my sword and stormed after her. While I was running, I heard more goblin yelling coming from Shady’s chamber and saw the little green creatures pushing through the doors like a flood.
“Attack the bigger ones first!” I shouted, while pushing my sword into the chest of a wheezing goblin. Another one got his skull crushed under my metal gauntlet, comically splattering green blood on the floor. The elf had apparently gotten my signal and had switched to flaming arrows, but most of them landed in the generals’ shields and did little damage. Apparently, it was enough to annoy them, so they turned towards Aien, yelling raspingly. I took the chance and circled around them, kicking little goblins out of the way, until I was close enough to jump on the back of the left general, sinking the blade into his neck. His companion swirled to me, his axe already raised. My blade caught on the armor while I was trying to pull it from the dying goblin and all I could do was try to raise my arm to ward off the big axe that loomed over me. But I was saved by my group: the elf shot an arrow that hit the goblin’s black, clawed hand and Uragog swooped in with surprising speed to sweep the enemy off his feet; hurling him to just inches of the mage, who simply had to cast a fireball to melt the goblin’s head.
Short of this being a triumph, we were startled by Aien’s yell, who was slowly being crushed by Shady, holding her like a roasted chicken wing. The orc grabbed a nearby table and threw it across the room. It shattered on the goblin king’s hide, enough to stop him from squeezing the life out of the elf. He dropped her on the floor, grunting and attacked us right away, a lot more nimble than I expected. An ice spell from the mage missed him by inches, so the big fucker rammed into Uragog with a crash that almost made the floor tremble. The two giants were wrestling on the ground so I could barely get close enough to hit the king while avoiding to hit Uragog. For a second, the goblin got the upper hand and landed a massive blow that knocked out the orc, something I had never seen. Or had I? Almost within the same instant, Shady lunged to grab at Jeratus, who had been trying to cast some protection. The mage couldn’t dodge fast enough and his cloth armor couldn’t protect him from a meaty fist as big as his head that punched him into a pile of dead goblin guards. I tried to overcome my surprise that the king had defeated half of the party and swung the claymore, which connected with his leg. Instead of pain, it only seemed to induce anger in the goblin king. With my sword still stuck in his calf, he whipped around, hitting me with the broad side of his fork. Immediately, I could feel at least two ribs breaking and the world dimmed, then my brain seemed to skip a beat and the next thing I knew, Shady held me close to his ugly goblin face, his tiny black eyes glowing with excitement to choke me to death. He might succeed too, between the injury, the pressure on my body and the incredible stench coming from his jaws I blacked out, succumbed to a darkness rising in my throat like bile.
The party has four members: the elf rogue Aien, the orc barbarian Uragog, the mage Jesatur and me, the knight Wulfgar. We stand in front of the town’s notice board and I pick up the paper.
“Who will kill Shady, the goblin king? Reward: 900 gold pieces, fame and fortune, and all gold that the goblin king has in his halls...”
“Does this sound like an adventure to you?” I ask the group. The mage nods and Aien seems excited. Even the orc grunts with something like happiness.
“Then it’s settled, we’ll kill Shady. Dig him a proper grave!”
As we enter the antechamber of the goblin king Shady, I have the feeling of knowing all this. The goblin guards are starting to charge at us and Aien kills three of them with her arrows. I turn around, spearing one coming at me from behind and kicking the other with my boot. Uragog punching the goblin across the room… Jeratus casting his spell… the doors open and Shady enters… The mage casting a protection wall… Charging at the king… the flood of little goblins… killing the two generals… Aien being crushed… the fight with Uragog… the defeat of the mage… the defeat of the warrior as the goblin king strangles me…
The party has four members: the elf rogue Aien, the orc barbarian Uragog, the mage Jesatur and me, the knight Wulfgar. We stand in front of the town’s major.
“The goblin king Shady has terrorized this humble hamlet for years, we are looking for adventurers to kill him,” he says. “Reward will be 900 gold pieces and the thanks from all villagers…”
As we enter the antechamber of the goblin king Shady, it feels like this has happened before. The fight. The defeat. The darkness rushing at me.
The party has four members: the elf rogue Aien, the orc barbarian Uragog, the mage Jesatur and me, the knight Wulfgar. We sit in a tavern, talking to a count.
“My castle has been attacked by goblins lately, and I want you to kill the goblin king Shady.”
“The reward is 900 gold pieces…” I say, not knowing why. He is as surprised as I am. “Yes, that’s correct. And all the loot you can find in his dungeon as well.”
As we enter the antechamber of the goblin king, all of this seems familiar. There will be a fight. There will be death. Already I can smell its foul breath. Already I know. But how do I know? When have I seen this?
The party has four members…
A beeping wakes Ben from his nap. He drops his tablet computer on the floor and tries to identify the source of the noise. It’s Pod 14, the vital signs are critical, red numbers flash on the screen.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…” He tries to remember what to do. Stop the system running on Pod 14, but you can’t just jerk him out, it could result in brain damage, something about PTSD, if only he had listened to the rest of the lecture as well. Call an ambulance? He fumbles with the phone. While it’s ringing, he mutes the alarm, even though the signs are still critical. What happened here? The visitor has been in the Pod for almost… oh shit... twenty hours! How did he not notice it?! Why didn’t the system tell him earlier? Maximum Pod time was ten hours, the visitor must be fried already. And no game was that long! Even if they just walked along in the adventure, they’d be done in four or five! What was he playing? Ah, the classic, Shady’s Grave…
“911, what’s your emergency?”
...instead of any pain, it only seemed to induce anger in the goblin king. With my sword still stuck in his calf, he whipped around, hitting me with the broad side of his fork. Immediately, I could feel at least two ribs breaking and the world dimmed, then my brain seemed to skip a beat and the next thing I knew, Shady held me close to his ugly goblin face, his tiny black eyes glowing with excitement to strangleme to death. He might succeed, too. Between the injury, the pressure on my body and the incredible stench coming from his jaws I blacked out, succumbed to a darkness rising in my throat like bile. I hear death screaming my name, but death’s scream sounds like that of an elf and I force open my eyes to see Aien, whom I thought long gone, burying a huge axe in the skull of Shady, the goblin king. The pressure eases and I drop to the floor, just as the body of the goblin collapses next to me. I want to thank Aien and look at her. She is glowing with pride and suddenly, she is literally glowing, getting brighter, getting whiter, shining over everything like light itself.
A voice calls in the whiteness. “Congratulations on defeating Shady and thank you for playing Shady’s Grave, A Featherlight Systems Production…”