Grylock awoke to find his eyes glued together by sticky crud. It was, he would reflect before the end, the most annoying part of the day.
Swearing, Grylock dug weakly at the crust with shaking fingers. It flaked away, sticking to his shirt. He ignored the filth. There was so much grime on his body already that a little more barely mattered. Clawing at the sand pile around him, he found his glasses half buried in sliding grains of gold.
His voice did not come easily. His throat seemed to be clogged with disease. Propping himself on his elbows, the goblin hacked and horked until flecks of yellow-red speckled his pants. "D... Dragomir...?"
Dragomir didn't answer. They'd spent the night in an alleyway, one of the few sections of Below still standing. The Nothing had crushed virtually everything else in its circuitous, searching rampage. Grylock called for Jeffrey next, and he, too, did not answer - not that Grylock expected a response from the man.
Muttering curses, Grylock pushed himself onto his feet. He tottered, stumbling against the wall beside him, and bit back a cry. Bone and muscle ground together beneath his cloak, and his too-sensitive skin trickled out a few drops of blood. He could feel them slipping down his arm. Bending to grab the sheathed poisonheart at his feet, Grylock used the sword as a cane as he tottered out to the street.
Below was as desolate, as sandy, and as verminous as ever. The ghostly rats floating down the road ignored him. Grylock raised a middle finger, then pricked his ears to listen for his human compatriots. A headache immediately burned his brain, but he listened anyway, sipping occasionally from a canteen at his side.
On a better day, Grylock might have heard Dragomir's yells immediately. As it was, he only managed to detect them through the haze of pain after two minutes of concentration.
"Fuck..." Grylock wheezed, coughing up another ball of phlegm. It hit the ground as he turned, trying to home in on Dragomir's cries. "Over... south... n... no... fuck... east...? Like it... matters... what I call... these fucking - "
Something slammed the ground far to his left, a few blocks away. Grylock stumbled, shook his head, and began to walk. Soon, despite the sticking sensation that clogged his joints, he was running. He ignored every impulse to stop, every signal from his brain that his body was quickly falling apart, and that running would only make matters worse.
"Fuck it," he hissed to himself, then laughed. "F... fuck... fuck it...!"
Grylock's stomach roiled. His arms, his legs, his very skin, rebelled. His head pounded, as though a marching parade of the finest musicians of Goblinoster were stampeding through his skull. His eyes faltered, and his vision went hazy. He nearly passed out from the pain on three distinct occasions, and perhaps a few more of which he was not aware. Grylock decided that he must have lost consciousness at least once. But he ran without faltering.
When he rounded the corner and saw the Nothing, its leg once again poised and ready to stomp a prone King Jeffrey, Grylock leaped.
Only dimly aware that Dragomir was shouting below him, Grylock rebounded off of the side of a building, towards Jeffrey. He pistoned his legs so violently off of the stone that his knees popped, yet he needed the momentum to bowl Jeffrey off of his feet. The ex-king tumbled and fell, knocked aside for a second time -
- yet Grylock was not so unlucky as Jeffrey's luckless daughter. He hit the ground beneath the Nothing hard, so hard that every bone in his body seemed to break at once. His glasses flew from his face and disappeared beneath the ridiculous black orb of the Nothing's body, and as blood trickled down into his eyes Grylock found himself transfixed by the sight of burbling liquid, coursing along the outside of the Nothing's hull.
Grylock bit his lip hard. Blood flowed. Concentration returned. Forcing every inch of willpower into his body, aware that his tendons were ripping, he leaped again. Dust clouded his vision, thrown up by the thundering impact of the Nothing's foot. It didn't matter, because he knew where he was going without needing to see.
Hands scrabbling for purchase, Grylock grabbed onto the leg of the Nothing. Blind, bleeding, coughing, dying, he climbed, relying on his ears for guidance. He'd heard them before, he knew they were there, he knew they were a weak point, he'd told Celine they were a weak point -
And then, all at once, he reached them. As the leg pulled out of the ground and back into the air, perhaps seeking out its previous target, Grylock discovered the source of the low clanking that had filled his ears, the tangy smell of oil that stung his nose. Gears. Still clutching the poisonheart, letting the sheath drop away, he rammed the sword into the cluster of exposed gearwork, high on the Nothing's leg.
The scream of wrenching metal was one of the loudest sounds Grylock had ever heard. It was also the last thing he ever heard, that and the violent pop of his ears as he went deaf.
Releasing the leg, Grylock dropped almost thirty feet. His body, broken and twisted, somehow responded properly, and he landed in a neat tuck-and-roll. He was back on his feet and staring up at the Nothing in an instant, a second, smaller blade drawn from his belt. As if it would help him at all. Yet he felt a warrior, the mightiest of kings, as the Nothing's leg buckled and spilled it down onto the ground. Metal and stone flew everywhere.
Grylock laughed. He suspected it was a shitty, hoarse laugh, but that didn't matter. Nothing really mattered. Only... dignity.
His lips moved, curled, broke. "There's... ne'er a city... on the roster..."
Dragomir rushed past Grylock, diving for Jeffrey. Grylock ignored him.
"That's b... better... yet... than... Gob... Goblinoster..."
The surface of the Nothing burbled. The nightmare liquid coating the sphere writhed and swirled, forming into a field of harpoons.
"There's... nay a... foe... who will a... accost... 'er..."
Grylock heard the shriek of the tendrils as they whistled towards him, a memory rather than actual sound. Instead, though, he imagined them as the clucks of chickens. That way they didn't seem so terrible. His mouth watered at the sudden thought of a grand meal of baked poultry, served with lots of sauteed onions. The only way to properly eat chicken, he thought. It's been so long since I had a good chicken.
"Or goblin town... with... b - "
The first tendril caught Grylock in the stomach. He huffed, and he heaved, and as the second tendril flew towards his face, Grylock died.