Mexel ran through caverns. He had to live. He had so much to live for now. He had found it!
Shrieks multiplied and chased him through the underground dark. Or, rather, what should have been the underground dark. But this underground was so bright. Crystal geodes glowed—some red, some blue. Various fungi shed their own luminescence. It was brighter down here than it would be outside on a full moon. Darkness was the traditional realm of fear. And yet Mexel feared this light more somehow. He longed for a shadow to hold and comfort him and hide him away from this this nauseous light.
Mexel ran past statues of ancient dwarves, or perhaps their gods. He longed to study them, to find what wealth was here. The most ancient of dwarven ruins. Others had failed, but he found it. He would be famous!
An arrow swished past his left ear.
These goblins were not like normal goblins. Their coloring was off, a sickening ruddy shade. Their cunning was a little more vicious, a little more unified. Something was terribly wrong about them.
If Mexel could just—
He heard another arrow.
Then two more.
Mexel looked down at himself. He made a lovely pin cushion. He tasted copper. The ground found his knees, or perhaps the other way around. He was near the edge of a precipice.
The goblins approached. Four, at first, then more and more. Even they glowed. Tumorous growths sprouted all over their bodies and pulsed with their own blighted light. They weren't right.
Mexel turned from them and looked over the precipice into a bottomless crevasse. Now, traditionally speaking, your average variety of bottomless crevasses are dark—darker than dark even, a darkness so total it would show blacker than pitch. Yet here, as well, this underworld broke all laws of expectation and decorum. The bottomless crevasse glowed green, an unnatural illumination that somehow failed to reveal what was below.
Mexel's head swiveled like a broken doll. He looked to the glow of the goblin tumors and then to the green light of the crevasse. The goblins. The crevasse. He shrugged. He chuckled though it tore things in his chest.
Mexel spat blood at the corrupted goblins, and then he let himself tumble into the emerald abyss.