Chapter Four, Part 1: WORMS!!??!??
Matt was apprehensive, though he hardly looked it. Clandestine was hurriedly searching the barn with a focused gaze, digging through supplies before gently replacing them, and hurrying off to move something else out of the way. Matt wasn't sure what she was doing. The goblin was gone, and it wasn't like they were going to fit down that hole to go after it.
"I think that little bugger took some of their tools or something!" Clandestine barked, finally stopping her search. She pointed an accusatory finger at some empty hooks on the wall, the would've held tools, were they there.
Matt looked dully at where her finger was pointing.
"Doesn't that just confirm what they said though? There's goblins, and they're stealing things."
Clandestine's head snapped over to look at Matt over the crates between them.
"No, you don't get it! It happened on my watch now, and we were so close!" she said with determination. "Now we know they're here. Apparently... with worms too, which I still don't get but, ugh!"
Clandestine hurries out the door and Matt follows, lagging slightly behind her brisk pace. Just outside they could see Kaleb at the nearby corral, pouring feed into one of the bins. Matt flinched slightly behind her when she started to yell.
"YA GOT GOBLINS, MISTER SAINT!" she shouted with her hands around her mouth.
Kaleb's head popped up, and he shouted back. "OH WOW!"
"DON'T WORRY, I'M GONNA GET 'EM!" Clandestine shouted back before speeding off ahead of them, hand resting on the blade on her hip for just a moment.
Matt looked over at Kaleb, then back at Clandestine, who was still walking. After a moment of hesitation he hurried after her, catching up and coming alongside her.
"Uh... Clandestine? Where ya headin'?" Matt asked.
Clandestine looked back at him, eyes flickering to his arm, though she didn't say anything about it. "I'm... walking," she said, her pace slowing a little, to a normal walk.
Matt blinked. "Yes, I see that. But where?"
Clandestine pointed ahead at a gaping hole in the middle of the field. Matt's eyebrows raised.
"Okay, but... what's the plan? Should we try to fill the holes or somethin'?" Matt suggests.
Clandestine shakes her head, looking at Matt with a small grin. "Psh, no. They'll just make new ones. We'd just be wasting time and energy."
Matt's jaw stiffened for a moment, and he exhaled quietly. "Would... dropping explosives down the holes do anythin'?"
Clandestine scoffed, ponytail swishing behind her head as she looked over at him incredulously. "No, that would only provoke the goblins! And if we need to go in the tunnels or they need to get out we can't have them collapsing. Explosives just mean more cave-ins and I'm pretty sure we don't want anybody buried under the farm. And Kaleb probably doesn't want more sink-holes if we can help it. The place is already starting to look like a... uh..." she paused, frowning. "Something with a lot of holes in it," she mumbled.
Matt was... at a loss for words for how to respond to that. He looked ahead at the approaching hole in the ground, catching a whiff of a fetid smell as they stopped to look down into it. Clandestine appeared unfazed by the odor, folding her arms as she looked down into it with a thoughtful expression on her face.
"Hmm. Hold on," she says, before running away, back over to the farmhouse. "Wait here!"
Matt watches in confusion as she hurries off, looking back and forth between her and the giant, stinky, slimy hole in front of him. He leaned to the side, looking down it, seeing that it went down at an angle instead of straight down. He quickly concluded at the goblins or worms that dug out the hole had to have done so during the night, while Kaleb and Laura were asleep. Otherwise, with a tunnel of that size, they would assuredly be heard and caught in the act.
As Clandestine disappeared into the distant house, Matt began to feel uneasy. He'd signed up for this, sure. But he hadn't expected goblins to be in the picture.
Goblins made everything more... complicated.
It meant they weren't just dealing with monsters anymore. They were dealing with... people. Albeit, people who most of the human population considered less than people, but people nonetheless.
As for Clandestine, it was too early for him to gauge how she felt about goblins, but if she was like every other monster hunter in the world, he could assume that she saw them as just that. No more than monsters. Just monsters who could talk, and think, and had a whole culture of their own - though foreign to him - just as legitimate.
That can of worms, however, he wouldn't get a chance to open up. Because Matt wouldn't do that.
Clandestine came bounding over with a lamp in her hands. It was a wonder the flame inside stayed burning even within the four glass walls as it bounced back and forth. Clandestine skidded to a stop beside Matt and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Well, are ya ready to go in?" she asked with a smile growing on her face.
Matt furrowed his brows and looked at her with wide eyes. "Wait - what? You're just going to jump in?"
Clandestine's smile faded ever so slightly. "Wh-" she looked at her lamp, and held it up to him. "Yeah! With a lamp!"
"You can't be serious," Matt replied in disbelief, looking at the lamp with increasing concern as it was the sole evidence of any preparation. "Surely there has to be a better plan or something before you just run in there."
He wasn't sure why he was telling her this. She should know this. She was a professional monster hunter. Or at least, allegedly. She did have falsified documents, but he'd had no reason to question the legitimacy of her occupation and her experience up until this moment.
Clandestine just smiled and nodded as he continued to warn her of all of the things that could go wrong and all of the unknowns. She didn't look worried at all.
"You haveta go in more prepared," he insisted.
Clandestine gave him one more nod before she jumped down the hole, sliding down the slimy dirt incline and calling out to him.
Matt stuttered, reaching out after her in vain as she disappeared beneath the ground. He hesitated as he looked down into the dark hole, that went indeterminately deep. With a begrudging sigh, he cautiously slid down, following in after her.
Why the hell am I doing this?
She was crazy going in blind.