In the Goblin tongue, these beings are known as The Old Ones, or perhaps The Wise Ones, and they have been resident down here for a lot longer than any of our histories. They have always been few in number - at least in our memories - and are exceptionally long-lived, even by our standards.
Only a human would think of them as winged monsters, although they did sport impressively large wings, leathery and bat-like, together with scales and claws like a lizard. Whether you want to think of them as demons or dragons is up to you; they are neither, human mythology and misinformation not withstanding.
The Old Ones can speak the Goblin tongue and their words are widely regarded as being worth listening to - if they deign to answer your query or even acknowledge your presence. They do have names, too, but these names are not known to mere Goblins, and they seem oblivious to the names of individual Goblins, too. Except in a very few cases, under which circumstances the named individual can be expected to have a very interesting - and possibly rather short - life in the near future.
They also have other ways of communicating: each of them know what all the others know, and it is best - according to the limited amount of lore on the subject - to speak whatever statement or question you have in mind, and to answer their enquiries, with total honesty and conviction. The Old Ones have no truck whatsoever with duplicitous or self-serving individuals, and any attempt to knowingly lie will be summarily dealt with.
The Goblin tongue is full of overtones, both metaphorically and in the sound of the words being pronounced. In the mouth of one of the Old Ones, the language is slow and sonorous, with subsonics which rattle the bones and make one's stomach distinctly queasy.
"You are Findo Gask," the voice boomed out again, a hint of interest just detectable within the guttural utterances, "Enter my presence."
I stepped inside. Behind, I could hear Gumshoe and Rosie following me. Gumshoe probably knew enough of our language to understand what the Old One had said, and even Rosie would have recognised the pronunciation of my name. Their movements sounded hesitant, even fearful - and who could blame them - but to their credit they had elected to follow me into the dragon's den.
Inside was a large circular space with a high domed roof, nearly hemispherical in its proportions. The walls were all of smooth polished stone, and the floor stepped down steeply like an amphitheatre towards a raised dais set in the exact centre. I had half-expected the vast stone block which formed the door to slide back into place. It didn't move. I found this only faintly reassuring.
The Old Ones, I had once been told, had long ago mastered the art of fluid masonry. They could make stone move, flow like water, or become transparent or opaque in a moment. They could slide one massive block through another on different trajectories, each unaffected by the solid mass of the other. These techniques were used to make vast constructions of intricate design and obscure purpose. It was even said that some of these devices yet remained in the lowest of the Lower Realms, quiescent and waiting for who-knows-what event or contingency. Where the truth lay, I couldn't tell.
As I stepped forward, the floor lifted, flattened and smoothed itself into a seamless expanse of polished stone. Obscure and complex patterns - decoration or mechanism, I could not be sure - froze themselves into the unbroken surface. The Old Ones liked their open spaces, we have always been told. If they had once been accustomed to flying freely in the upper world, the theory went, they might be prone to claustrophobia underground, which is why they were always inclined to build their new habitats on a monumental scale.
The red glow was brighter here, bright enough for a human to be comfortable without being crippling for a Goblin. I waited for a second for Gumshoe and Rosie to catch up.
"What is it?" Rosie hissed.
"One of the Old Ones," I replied, "Be very respectful. Speak only if spoken to. Move slowly. And let me do the talking."
Rosie nodded, as did Gumshoe.
"Looks like a dragon to me," she muttered.
Together we trekked across the floor to the dais where the Old One was waiting for us. He was a fine specimen: scales polished and unbroken, the leathery wings shiny as if recently oiled, the teeth and claws pearly-white and sparkling. These beings never seem to age and always look as if they had emerged from some giant eggshell not twenty-four hours before.
I stopped and bowed politely at what seemed like a prudent distance, motioning Gumshoe and Rosie to do the same.
"Ah, humans," the Old One spoke, switching to English with no perceptible hesitation and speaking with a crisp accent that was no more than a hundred years out of date, "I have not had the pleasure of the company of your kind for a very long time."