Chapter 15: A Loss and a Win

How to be an Adventurer — The Guide to Sentients: Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins are a race of sentient humanoids that should be rather fearsome. As a people they are legendary for their drilled battle prowess and martial upbringings. Hobgoblins are often honorable, though they also tend to be quite selfish and unnecessarily cruel. In most Hobgoblin societies, these humanoid sentients are ruled by their warrior elites.

Hobgoblins are lean and muscled. Their bodies hold feline-like, angular heads and stern faces. The only outside indicator that they are sentient, living, beings and not some sort of automatons is their tendency to laugh in the face of pain. Unlike many of the humanoids, the hobgoblins are a superbly disciplined bunch whose battles against novice adventurers often, strangely, do not reflect their aptitude in combat.


The hobgoblins spoke their guttural tongue at Yenrab, who translated it.

“They say equal shares for everyone from here on out; keep what’s been grabbed personally and . . .”—Dorduken interrupted Yenrab.  

Yenrab listened and grinned in happy approval—“Dorduken just wanted me to tell you all what a godsbeblessed great find this is!”

I like these guys, Bern thought to his surprise as the rest of the party voiced their jovial approval over the sentiment expressed. A monsterless dungeon full of coins, jewels and who knows what else, all ripe for the taking? Godsbeblessed indeed.

The mood continued as they picked their packs back off of the ground, stumbling around, trying to look professional as they worked out a marching formation and pushed each other into line. The party began the trek deeper into the dungeon. The storm, behind them, lessened to a light patter as they marched forward, almost as if it was blessing their wonderful journey.

Dorduken called out, annoyed, from ahead.

“O kak. Wat is hierdie? Ek sit vas.”


“Fricken. Ek is gesteek. Ek bloei. Speider. Reuse-spin. Vorm rangen. Dood hierdie baastard!”

The hobgoblin soldier named Dorduken, so happy and accepting, had walked into a mess of nigh-invisible web and was now ensnared. The whispery gossamer radiated out from him in every direction. Dorduken maintained a stoic face and struggled little as he scanned about for his adversary.

“Guys, to battle! Take the initiative!” Yenrab bellowed. I tap my Berserk Anger special, he heard the Gamer say, first surprise and then rage sweeping through him. Dice rolled and the Gamer sighed. Bad things are about to happen, Yenrab realized.

A huge spider, the size of Yenrab, danced through its web with amazing grace. The crunch and gasp that followed was almost poetic in its darkness. Dorduken screamed as venom gummed his arteries and his heart pounded in a terrified frenzy.

His companion, Aronak, screamed.

“Jy sal gewreek word!”

Silent tears washed down his reddened cheeks. He slashed his longsword ahead with decades of martial experience. The tip of the blade found its target, tearing a hole into the monster’s side as it tried to pull Dorduken back into some unknown recess.

Yenrab howled and grabbed two battle axes out of their back holsters. Fiery instinct guided him as he threw them with ferocious accuracy into the meat of the arachnid beast.

Bloody hell, Bern thought as he stepped back into the shadows, cloaking himself from sight. That was bloody quick.

His short bow held high, the human stretched his bowstring taut and fired. The arrow was silent in its trajectory and struck with a muted squelch. He gave himself a humorless smile as he locked that shot into muscle memory and let the rest fly the same route.

The spider was bleeding from numerous wounds and it tried to scurry backward. Carric blasted it with a torrent of sound from his harmonica, dazing it. Tracy seared its eyes with rays of flame, cast in streams of force from both his hands and eyes.

The web went up in flames and the spider bubbled and scorched where the intense heat flicked over its arachnid hide.

The spider staggered and shook. It dropped its prey and struck out, grabbing Aronak and tearing him in two. The bloody chunks splattered crimson over Yenrab as he howled again in venomous rage.

The mighty barbarian dived under the spider, its lunge having put it outside of the burning web and he sliced upward with all of the two-handed might of his great axe. Sticky innards and strange goops plopped out onto him as the thing shuddered and died, its legs curling in final supplication to those who had bested it.

As the hairy corpse steamed in the humid air, still twitching with the release of its soul, the muscle-bound hulk turned to the rest, his face still strained with anger.

“I commend the spirits of our new friends to the Great Bear, patient, wise and strong, forever hunting in the great forest of eternity,” said the half-orc, emotional at losing these two so quickly after having befriended them. He bowed his head and Carric followed suit, while Bern and Tracy watched, not nearly as impacted by this loss.

After having his moment, with Carric at his side, knee next to knee, the two arose.

“Alright, guys. Let’s loot them,” Yenrab proclaimed.

“What?!” Carric asked. His mouth hung open, surprised and confused.

“Friend Carric, we honor our fallen by using all of their parts.”

“What?!” he asked again, his outrage turning to horror as he pictured what was coming next.

“And no, we don’t eat them!” Yenrab said in sudden comprehension. Bern chuckled from the shadows and Tracy moved forward preparing to strip the dead.


The party stripped their allies of usable gear and stacked it all in the corner. Yenrab thanked them for their sacrifice as the dying flames of the terminated web flickered away into nothingness.

“It’s time to go,” Yenrab announced. All of them filed in behind him except for Bern, who moved ahead of them to scout. They proceeded slowly and carefully, on their lookout for more spiders and clearing more webs left by the nefarious arachnid.

“Spiders are the rogues of the dungeon world,” Bern marveled. “Their traps are so clever and so hard to detect.”

 Bern played point, a torch now in hand, his shadow enframed in reddish-orange flickers that made it dance against the wall. He swiveled eagle-eyed, from side to side and scanned the various aspects of their lane for any sort of arcane traps or animal predators that might be there. All kept their weapons loose and at the ready.

“This is taking forever,” Tracy complained. They came to a side chamber and peered inside, but it was empty. 

Something crackled under Carric’s foot and he let out a scared yelp.

“Seriously?” Bern groused back over his shoulder.

“Sorry! Shoot, sorry! This corridor is just creeping me out!” Carric informed him, his eyes wide and twitching. “Especially after what happened back there!”

Bern nodded. He was starting to feel a little jumpy himself. “Yeah, mate, I got it. But keep it down. We don’t know what might be up ahead of us. Listening.”

The rain was distant behind them and had become a reassuring sound. It told them that the way was clear if they needed to leave quickly. But in front of them was the silence of a tomb. Imagined sounds came unbidden to the inexperienced ears of the fortune seekers. Carric jumped again when Bern broke the silence.

“Hey, guys, look at this!” Bern called from ahead.

“What did you find there, Bern?” asked Tracy.

“Well,” said Bern matter-of-factly, “you see this stone door frame here? Through this frame there is a dead guy dressed up like a bigwig. And if my street pals weren’t all full of it when they told me the adventure stories, I gotta say that this looks like an epic boss fight.”

“Crap. Really?” Yenrab sighed.

“Yeah. There’s this really big zombie-looking corpse lying on a dais, wearing armor and holding weapons. Also, there’s a bunch of coins scattered about the floor,” Bern described with a thoughtful look upon his face. “It screams trap.”

“Hey, uh, I have an idea, guys,” Carric stammered as he scanned around speculatively. “What we need to do is make a kill zone. In the tale of ‘Ouch, Ah, So This is a Kill Zone,’ the heroes set a series of traps and obstacles and lured the big baddy out, letting him run through trap after trap before turning and fighting. What does everyone have?”

Everyone slipped the straps from their shoulders and dropped their packs. Yenrab’s large bag clanked loudly as it hit the floor. The others were quieter as they whispered their bags down and tugged open the drawstrings.

“I’ve got 50 feet of hemp rope,” everyone mentioned at the same time. There was a pause and light laughter.

“I’ve got caltrops.” The thief grinned..

“Well,” Yenrab said as he dug deep into his tent-sized rucksack, “I’ve been hankering to use this thing.” He pulled a massive iron bear trap from his bag, dropping it with a heavy clank. The others gasped.

“Holy moley! That’s awesome, Yenrab!” Bern cried with amazement. “As a professional trap breaker, I have to say that I would not want to be caught in that.”

“Yeah, most things don’t. So, I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.”

“A special occasion? Is that what you call it? Well, alright . . .” Carric rubbed his hands together as he scanned the room for bearing. “Hmm . . . I’m thinking rope across the corridor at the sharp bend there, caltrops after.”

“Yeah, I’ve got caltrops here, but they’re really just for making people hop about. I don’t think a zombie is going to care about spikes in its feet,” Bern informed him.

“Yeah, ya know, he’s right. Good call, Bern Sandros,” Yenrab stated. He coughed uncomfortably. “Now we need to talk about torches.”

Bern shook his head. “No, we don’t. I think zombies can see in the dark. They are pretty shite walking dead if they can’t. Besides, if we do that, then I can’t see.”

Yenrab nodded. 

“Yeah, yeah, learn to see in the dark, human,” Carric chuckled as the party prepared their defenses. “How the heck you guys became the dominant sentients in this world is beyond me.”

“Well look at who’s gotten a mite more confident,” Bern congratulated him. “Oh and ask your mom, humie-spawn,” Bern laughed. “There’s a reason you, Tracy and Yenrab are half-human.” Pantomiming an erotic dancer, he added, “We’ve got moves!” The others laughed along with him.

Yenrab and Bern set the defenses, having the best idea as to how to set them and where to do so. Then they moved back to the entrance of the chamber and ran over the plan one final time. It was time for battle. 


Bern crept forward, alone, while the rest waited at the tomb’s entryway. He had kept his torch lit and now regretted it, thinking maybe he could have sat this one out and let the others handle it.

This is creepy, mate. What have you done to yourself, bro? Being an assassin is supposed to be posh, deadly and well away from the undead. That is practically the job description. And how can I pay it forward to my mates on the street if I get eaten by a zombie in a dungeon? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He continued forward, though, his doubt pushed aside by fierce bravery and habit. Bern Sandros isn’t no slouch nor coward. I spoke a lot of game and now I have to play it.

Bern moved into the chamber. Coins sparkled in the light of his torch, dulled by a thick layer of dust. Upon ancient shelves and stacked into the corners, stood and lay burial artifacts, some decomposed and broken, others with a valuable metallic shine. He licked his lips. They tasted of death.

There was a dusty, fleshy creak and the corpse arose, mouth gaping, its face home to a soundless and endless scream from beyond. It swung its feet down, a toe cracking off sharply and it took to its feet.

“Called it!” yelled Bern, backpedaling quickly from whence he came. “Oh bug nuts!”

“Who couldn’t have called it?” Carric yelled back.

It was very large for a goblin, standing a good five feet in height. Though it was still shorter than the rest of them, it looked very imposing. It seemed muscular in its dusty, mummified flesh that was still well protected in its suit of black mail. From its leathery arm hung a spiked ball on a chain of rusted metal that it swung in maneuvers practiced in an era long ago.

Bern rolled under the quick and powerful arc, the ball smashing into the door frame and momentarily getting stuck within the stone.

“That was high quality steel, that Goblin Empire stuff,” Carric admired. “It’s been sitting there for a millenia and it hits like new.”.

Bern flipped him his middle finger as he scrambled and ran past the party. He was sure no one here would understand the gesture. It satisfied him nonetheless.

His harmonica locked shut over his face, Carric blasted a powerful riff, hoping to blast the creature back. It slid a little, its dry and crispy feet making a crinkling noise as the thing slipped back maybe half a foot. It did not fall. Tatters of rotted flesh left a trail from where it had been pushed.

“I didn’t call it or really think it was a zombie, guys. I’m more of a living-in-the-forest type of guy though, ya know, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of other guys would have known,” Yenrab explained.

A thunk sounded as Yenrab’s hand axe slapped against the zombie’s mail, failing to connect with rotted flesh. The large half-human stepped out of the way as the thing swung at his meaty body. The party slowly retreated, step-by-step, leading it out into the corridor.

“I really didn’t have any opinion on it either way, guys. But if I have to vote, I’d say that Bern, indeed, called it as you say, for he was the first to mention the concept,” Tracy affirmed to Carric in a maddeningly logical manner.

Tracy blasted energy into the creature’s mail, cooking it underneath. The smell of burned earth and baked tin emanated from it.

Despite the party’s onslaught the mummified corpse lumbered forward and they slowly retreated with one eye on the traps they had placed. An axe arced overhead. An arrow launched into its eye. Magic sound blasted and ricocheted. It marched onward, unstoppable. Slow and steady, it stayed its pace. One by one the adventurers turned the corner, chatting and joking to keep the fear aside as the undead monster plodded and stomped after them. 

And then, it fell.

“Look at that!” cried Tracy.

They all turned. It was like nothing they had ever seen before.

Rounding the corner in no-brained pursuit of its quarry, the zombie had fallen over the rope, slapping face-first into the bear trap laid for it. The device snapped shut upon the hard skull and dusty, rotted flesh. With a snap the skull cracked and broke, exploding and expelling out onto the dusty floor. The party leaped upon it, smashing it with an axe, slashing it with swords, until, finally, it succumbed to the death it had long avoided.

“Well, that was fun,” Yenrab said. His smile was plastic in false confidence. and his voice quavered. 

“I don’t know about that, but at least it’s done now.” Tracy breathed a sigh of relief.

“Well, I guess that was a special occasion, Yenrab!” grinned Carric. He hollered and laughed, throwing a punch into the air. “We did it! We actually did it!! Holy cow, we did it!!! We actually stopped a real zombie, not just some song I learned in college but a real one. It feels good to do, not just think.”

There was silence. Unknowingly, the party had waited for Bern to make some witticism or add some observation. His absence in the conversation was a little unnerving. Looking about, the party could not see him.


“I’ve got first dibs on the treasure!” His voice sounded from far around the corner.

“Gods above . . .” groaned Yenrab. They paused and laughed before racing back to get their own share of the treasure.

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Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

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