Gik woke to the usual darkness, but also pain. So much pain.

He was confused, looking around for his work team. Normally they all slept together in the very cozy confines of the cavern. But he was alone. Where was everyone?

And then he remembered. The alarm, the attack, the running, the fighting – all the blood and violence! Gik shuddered as he recalled it all.

He'd tried to defend the cavern along with his work team. What choice did they have? The exits were blocked by these strangers who had come from nowhere to kill them. There hadn't even been any threats or demands. They'd just killed and killed and killed and...

Gik got up slowly, painfully. His right forearm and his chest and stomach were in agony. When he was semi-upright, he looked around again, and saw them.

Dead. Everyone here was dead, cut to pieces or smashed or burned. He checked every one there, in case they were just hurt like him and hadn't yet woken. But no, no one else.

He made his way back to the living areas, leaning on the tunnel walls to support each step. At each intersection he saw more of his cavern-mates, his family, the only people he'd ever know, all dead in various ways. He knew the tribe had set up traps, but it hadn't been enough, obviously not enough. Despite the pain that came with every step, and the agony when he leaned over to check for breath or pulse, he checked each room and each body. All the way back to the eating and sleeping areas, all dead.

Finally, he sat by the fire pit where the older matrons had used to cook for the communal meals. The embers were still hot here and he rested. Before joining the work teams when he came of age, he'd spent his childhood here, helping to cut and carry and stir and serve. Everyone in the tribe had worked, it was what it meant to be in a tribe, to all work together. But that was all gone now...

Why had those people come? Gik had seen what was left of the storerooms. They had looted or destroyed everything in the cavern. Even the sacks of food had been ripped open and poured out.

Why would anyone do this? The tribe had never been a bother to anyone. They just mined and sold what they found. Otherwise they kept to themselves, just trying to work hard together and support each other.

And now his family was gone.

Gik's first memories were of the cooking area, the oldest matron who oversaw the work here had been so caring. She'd engaged the children in what work they could do, encouraging them or punishing them as needed, always helping them to do better at whatever task they had been given. And so he'd come back here. He was the last one left of the tribe, of all the people he'd ever known.

Gik sat there, remembering, getting colder and colder as the embers died out. He knew in some part of himself that he was dying. But without the tribe, what use living?

As he fell into a slumber, he dreamed of that old matron, come to sit beside him. She looked just as she had in those early memories, but she'd never sat like this. She wiped his tears and cleaned his face with a cloth she'd been holding, and asked him what was wrong.

He told her all that had happened, about the strangers and the killing and everyone being dead.

He asked her why the strangers had done it. She told him that those strangers hadn't known the tribe, hadn't realized that they cared about each other. They'd seen the tribe as different, as monsters, and therefore it was alright to kill them and take everything.

Gik said that was horrible. The tribe had just wanted to live and work together. The strangers hadn't even tried talking to the tribe, just killed them.

The matron agreed it was a bad thing, a source of great sorrow. She told him that any time a home was wreaked it made the whole world sadder, even if people didn't realize why.

Gik asked if there weren't people who could stop this. Weren't there Gods to stop this kind of thing?

Matron said the Gods looked on and felt the sorrow, but could only work through those people who cared enough to help. She asked if Gik, having seen and experienced this attack and destruction of the tribe's home, would be one willing to help protect the homes of others.

Gik said he was just a miner, he didn't know anything of fighting for the Gods, of being some Hero.

She agreed, and reminded him that she'd started his training in this very kitchen, that she'd fed his work team every meal until she'd died. But would he help? If he could? Did he care enough to protect the homes of others?

Gik had lain his head in her lap while they spoke. He felt the weariness of his damaged body even in the dream. He thought of the once lively cavern now cold and filled with corpses. He felt the emptiness within him of no home, no family, all killed and smashed. He knew there was nothing he could do, but ...if he could?

"Yes," he whispered. If he could stop this from happening to someone else..."Yes."

"Good boy," the matron said, and as Gik slipped into true sleep she allowed her features to return to her usual form of a young human woman.

Estanna spoke softly, "I've cared for humans and dwarves and halflings. Even the orcs as Luthic. Why not the kobolds too? You too value family and home. You may not be much Gik, but you truly cared." She raised her head, "Perhaps he can truly care for others too. Let us see what kind of a champion he makes."

Author's Note

This will be an experiment. I'm likely to try out different levels of detail re mechanics and rolls.

I plan to take this character through some published modules for D&D 3.x, and write about it from his point of view.