Braandu clumped over closer to Alexia while she spoke. "A Princess!" he thought. "No wonder she acts prissy." He had seen princesses before, when he lived at (or below) the castle of King Telemanxis the Third.
Memories flooded back. That young man had several children, and they had played with Braandu, the furry, squeaky, little mole-boy. He had not liked the sun very much then, but father had fashioned a pair of sun-goggles for him so he could go outside in the daylight without squinting so much. The human children had not liked his tunnels very much, until he had given them glow-stones so they could see. (Of course, Braandu didn't need glow stones to get around in tunnels).
They all had so much fun exploring together as he had led them through miles of tunnels of all sizes, in the wondrous world deep beneath the surface. They even explored the huge, endless mines that his father operated with all the human "helpers", as father called them, who dragged the carts of minerals to the refining operations up top. The humans would "help", when there were insufficient Gronogs to do the job.
Huge, lumbering Gronogs. So strong, and obedient. Very dark, and blind. They had no eyes, and did not need them below. There were never more than a few dozen Gronogs... but there were thousands of humans available to "help". Father could always ask king Telemanxis III -- to get some more men into the mines.
The men didn't seem to like the underworld very much. Sometimes the humans got hurt, or sick. Sometimes there was an accident and father would send little Braandu up to the castle. He wouldn't be allowed back down until everything was fixed again.
He loved his human children friends. All princes and princesses.
And all dead. They had all been hunted down that day by the little goblins and slaughtered by the horrible orcs. Then they had cornered Braandu, and his older sister, and his mother. Where was father? Out on the battlefield.
Mother and sister had killed dozens. Braandu could not believe his family's raging fury, and their power as they fought to protect him. The choking fumes, the energy discharges, the flashes, the screams of the orcs who fell. And how they fell! They had cornered not helpless rats, but fundimentalist moles in their home-lair. The orcs fell, shredded, choking, melting, in flames. Peering out from behind his mother, Braandu had been so astonished that he had not even been really afraid until the larger trolls broke through and grabbed his mother and smashed his sister. Then the goblins turned on him. They nailed him to the stone wall with father's spear points while they cackled with sadistic glee. What happened to him then? That laughter. He could still hear it...
[HA, HA, HA, HA!] the voices laughed in his head. [Stupid Fool! You are DEAD! Don't you remember?! So Dead! So Dead! Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha! You are locked in a dead statue stumping around for over 40 years! Stupid boy, give up and die! AGAIN!]
Braandu turned away from Princess Alexia and tried not to listen. His anger burned inside. His Center burned inside. He felt the rage at the orcs, the trolls, the goblins. And rage at his father who had not saved him or his sister, but had only arrived just in time to transfer Braandu's last wisp of life-energy to this accursed, metallic GoolooMendu form in King Telemanxis I's armour.
So Braandu threw down his shovel with a reverberating "CLANG!" Shards of rock flew up in to the air. Without looking at Alexia again, or father, or Tethon, or anybody else, he stomped down to the river -- disappearing under the water to cool off.