A scream pierced the white mists of the Astral.
A guttural, high-pitched shriek of anger and frustration.
Clawing, thrashing, punching, kicking, raking the smooth surface; he unleashed power gathered over millennia upon the stone, yelling at the top of his lungs as he did.
When finally his fury subsided, the runes of the monolith stared back at him in silence. The great Ghaba Ghobbok, eldest of goblins and mightiest shaman of Qor, could not even mar the surface of the ancient monument.
He relaxed, utterly spent. Floating aimlessly as the whiteness overtook him and eventually dissolved his form.
Ghaba Ghobbok’s eyes snapped open. Mixed smells from the dried herbs hanging all over and the musty animal hides adorning the walls filled his nostrils as his old eyes slowly adjusted to the gloom. Nothing but dying embers remained in the fire pit, telling him he had been gone for many hours.
He clambered to his feet and stepped outside to survey the ruins of his old village. Once it had been home to thousands, had been the heart of Qor’s tribes. Now it lay long abandoned, yet animals and even plants kept their distance. Ghaba Ghobbok had the respect of the land, and it would not allow disruption of this sacred place by such minor spirits.
“Ruined by a stupid troll…” The words were spoken to the empty huts as much as to himself. “A century in the making, and the trap was ruined by a stupid troll…”
The glorious shaman began to chuckle.
“Great Ghaba Ghobbok, mightiest shaman of Qor, foiled! By a stupid troll! A crag troll!” His mirth echoed amidst the faded memories of his ancient tribe. If any of their spirits had yet remained, surely they would have paused their toil to stare at the cackling old goblin as he howled with laughter.
Relying on his staff to stay balanced, he had no doubt anyone looking at him would think him a feeble minded old fool if they did not know better. Even those who did might well have questioned his sanity.
They often did.
He used the back of his coarse hand to wipe the tears of laughter from his eyes as he began to calm down, his bouts of laughter growing shorter and more infrequent. Eventually he quieted down and straightened, a realization dawning upon him between quiet chuckles.
A sly grin spread across his cracked and wrinkled lips.
With a gesture he let loose the spirit of Qor. It had earned some freedom, despite their failure, and wise Ghaba Ghobbok would not withhold its just rewards.
The transparent dragon loosed a roar that shook the mountains around them as it took form. Its massive claws crushed the tiny huts below and its great wings beat and stretched, sending great gusts of wind that spread the destruction wide around it.
Yet brave Ghaba Ghobbok stood unperturbed. A remnant from the Worlds Before, the titanic ghost had incredible power but could affect the world only through mighty Ghaba Ghobbok’s will. And so, like many things, the devastation was but a mirage.
A reflection of what it once could have done.
The great Ghaba Ghobbok met its gaze serenely, then calmly turned and entered his hut. The Wyrm of the Wood was lost to him, but there were others that needed to be collected. He would turn his attention to one of them. It would likely take years before he had cause to leave the village, but ancient Ghaba Ghobbok had time.
And Qor would enjoy the liberty.