An open desert is most of what makes up the Commons, no empire owns any part of its massive expanse, hence the name. Any colony that has attempted to settle the Common Lands has met its swift demise, either from the heat and non-arable land, or from the Trekkers, a nomadic group of raiders possessing rare forms of technology. The desert spans thousands of square miles in the shape of a splattered cross, a ruling monarchy in each of its four corners. The only safe means of transportation between kingdoms is through the well guarded trade routes connecting each corner in a square. Each kingdom is connected only by trade and uses merchant caravans for diplomatic communication as well as economic growth. Any disputes between kingdoms is often met with suspending trade lines, however doing so hurts every kingdom, not just the two involved. When multiple kingdoms close their gates, economies can collapse and revolts will form if peace is not negotiated quickly.
“Do you hear that?” said Resandee in a hushed tone. “Sounds like growling! But, there wouldn’t be any animals out here, would there?” Before Vody had a chance to comment, an explosion of extraordinary power broke the consistency of the noise, pulling them up from the ground. Seconds later, a small bipedal green figure runs around the hard rock alcove they are using to escape the sun. Unaware of their presence, it jumps at their feet, hands on its head, fragments of metal falling behind it. Vody shrieks, and Resandee tries to cover up her mouth. It’s a goblin, about three feet in length, wearing a thin long sleeve shirt, roomy dark brown pants, and a pair of sand covered goggles over its eyes. The goblin looks at Vody with its large amber tinted eyeballs, forcing a wheeze of hot air to escape Resandee’s hand as she attempts to shriek again.
“Quiet! They’ll catch me if you don’t stay quiet,” pleads the goblin with his hands still on his head, now examining the humanoid figures he’s happened upon. Vody, who he’s directly in front of, is wearing mostly white, aside from her long light brown scarf meant to keep the desert sand from irritating her face. She wears her hair long with a braid, sky blue, grey in the shade. Her garments appear plain and stiff and her skin soft and hydrated. His goblin eyes can’t help but notice the large blue gem she carries on her waist suspended from a chain but then he remembers her companion. A much taller humanoid male with unkempt umber hair. He’s wearing much older faded clothing, but most importantly, on his waist hangs a sword. He must be her bodyguard, I better not make any sudden movements.
Time passes with no one saying a word. The goblin no longer has his hands on his head, letting his large ears perk up to scan the air. They all notice the growling continues through the explosion but stops short just as it gets closer to them. Resandee quietly reached for his things and obtained a rectangular scope setup meant for seeing over walls. Then he quietly shuffled to the edge of their hideout, making sure to only let the top of the viewing device above the sand in order to avoid being seen. There were two vehicles among the wreckage of a third and a smattering of gold scattered everywhere at the foot of a particularly large sand dune. The two Trekker pilots beside the smoldering metal seemed to be arguing about their next course of action, now that their prey was strewn about the desert. They stopped arguing long enough to search the wreckage for any remains, pick up the gold, and hop back into their vehicles. One yells something inaudible to the other, and the growling starts back up again. The two Trekkers then head back up and over the large sand dune they had come from.
Resandee retrieves his scope and turns around to see the goblin now sitting on the floor scrubbing his goggles free of sand, looking content with himself. “They’re gone!” yells Resandee, as he picks up the goblin by the collar of his shirt. “Now, who are you and where’d you get that buggy from? The Trekkers don’t share technology with anyone, especially not with goblins! I’m also willing to bet that gold didn’t belong to you either.”
“Tryk,” groans the goblin as he tries to loosen himself from Resandee’s grasp, only managing to catch his breath when he’s dropped back onto the floor.
“Typical, a goblin named after their tricks,” scoffs Resandee, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
Tryk sits up, fixes the collar of his shirt and mimics Resandee's posture as he proceeds, “and I got the stupid thing from the Trekkers, obviously. I needed it to escape. As for the gold, I’m sure they picked up every coin, so what’s it matter to you?”
Resandee points at the goblin with a scowl, his other hand on his waist, but before he gets to say anything Vody chimes in, now more composed than when Tryk had first arrived. “Hold on Resandee,” she looks at the tiny goblin, “What will you do now? That you’re stranded in the desert I mean.” Tryk stays quiet and begins to scan his new surroundings. The alcove is bigger than he had first thought, about ten feet deep and almost as high, fully encompassed by stone. The shade it provides keeps it much cooler than the desert landscape just outside its roof. Vody and Resandee reek of inexperience, but they don’t seem to have been suffering in the hell-scape that is the Common Lands. Their provisions are made up of one large rucksack and a set of cooking utensils set over an unlit collapsible stove. The thought that it might be beneficial to join them, at least for now, goes through Tryk's mind as he puts his hand on his stomach.
“You’re not getting any of our supplies, if that’s what you’re thinking!” Resandee says, now pointing his sword at the goblin.
Tryk, having taken note of Vody’s curiosity for his wellbeing, set’s his eyes to the ground and begins to whimper. “I don’t know what I’ll do… there’s no way I could make it to a city with my supplies blown up.”
Vody sits down on the bag and straightens her back ignoring Resandee, “You can stay with us then. We were just about to eat. Would you like to join us?” Tryk immediately drops the act and with a large smile reveals his crooked and pointy teeth as he nods frantically.
“Wait, just one minute!” Resandee puts his sword back in its sheath and looks at Vody, mouth gaped in confusion. “You can’t be serious. Vody, just a second ago you were freaking out that a goblin showed up,” He says pointing at Tryk, “You can’t expect him to behave himself. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, and we can't be takin' in every charity case that shows up along the way!”
Tryk instinctively puffs out his lower lip and droops his ears to look submissive in Vody’s direction. Vody stands up looking at Resandee eyes fixed, as to not be misunderstood, and says, “I thought he might have been a monster, but now that I know he isn’t you can’t expect me to throw him out into the desert!” She sighs and crosses her arms as she puts her nose in the air, “It’s not reasonable to assume we will run into anyone else. And if you were in his place, how would you feel having lost everything and finding yourself stranded out here? Finding us is nothing short of a miracle.”
After a long pause, Resandee sighs as he wipes his face. Tryk looks up at them both, and Vody begins to light a fire in the stove. I’m the luckiest goblin who ever lived, he thinks to himself, visibly entertained by his victory over Vody's compassionate heart. Resandee shoots him a glare but Tryk ignores him as a savory smell wafts into the air from the now busy pan. All three of them spend the rest of the evening getting to know each other as they wait for the sun to go down. Tryk explains his most recent adventure as he crawls around the alcove acting out each scene of his story. Vody occasionally claps or giggles and Resandee, finally giving in, manages to crack a smile. As soon as the shade of their stone roof is no longer discernible, they collect their gear and head out in the opposite direction that Tryk had escaped from.