New Goblin Stories 4

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes people trust goblins. They really shouldn't.

Submitted: December 07, 2016

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Submitted: December 07, 2016



Safe in their dirty hovel, a mob of goblins gorged themselves on chicken bones and strips of leather, fine dining indeed.  The city of Nolod provided for all their needs, be it housing, food or entertainment, and they got lots of exercise fleeing the fallout of their mischief.  Happy as could be, the goblins chatted and fed.

One goblin didn’t eat or speak.  Sitting by himself, the pale skinned goblin with large eyes and molding robes stared at the food.  His stomach growled, but he made no move to share the feast his fellows gorged on.

“I find myself hungry even though I don’t exist,” he began.  The other goblins looked up from their meal.  “That’s clearly not possible, as imaginary beings shouldn’t need sustenance.  Nevertheless I am hungry and the food looks appetizing, which suggests I need it and it would satisfy me.  Does this mean the food also doesn’t exist?  Do beings that don’t exist need things that do exist?  Does—”

A fellow goblin grabbed a handful of leather and crammed it into the pale goblin’s mouth.  That ended the monolog as the goblin chewed and swallowed.

“Sorry, Stotle, but you were getting metaphysical again,” the other goblin apologized.

The goblins watched Stotle, who ate his fill without further intervention.  One of them shook his head.  “He’s been like this ever since he read that philosophy book.”

“I knew that thing was bad news,” another goblin said.  “You can’t fit so many big words in such a small head.”

Stotle was a bright goblin and had learned to read, no easy feat when the only way a goblin could attend school is by hiding in the rafters.  He’d taken to books like a fish to water, finishing one book after another.  Children’s books gave way to histories and biographies as he voraciously read every book he could steal.

But the day came when Stotle found a philosophy book.  It took him a year to finish and the effort left him exhausted.  When he was done he was left more confused that any goblin in history, certain he didn’t exist and doubtful about everyone else.  He spent countless hours in mind numbing debates with any person or object he could talk to regardless of whether they’d talk back (tree stumps had proven to be very poor debate partners).  His friends thought it would pass like bad gas, but Stotle’s condition hadn’t changed in months.

“Maybe he’d get better if we bashed him over the head?” a goblin suggested.  Stotle made no attempt to flee this potential attack.

A shaggy goblin shook his head.  “No, I tried that last week.  I think getting him a new book might do the trick.  I mean, one book messed him up, another book might fix him.”

“Which book should we give him?” a short goblin asked.

The other goblins shrugged their shoulders and furrowed their brows.  Getting books in Nolod was hard work.  The city was famously rich from trade and manufacturing, but books were an acquired taste, and few in Nolod had picked up the skill.  It didn’t help that books were expensive.  A man could labor for a year to write a large book, making them both rare and pricy.  The few in Nolod who had books were determined to keep them.

Most goblins living in Nolod stayed in the slums and shantytowns.  Here reading was as rare as hen’s teeth.  Few could read and those who did couldn’t afford books.  Goblins had to sneak into the wealthier parts of the city if they wanted to get a book, and the more money a person had the more they spent to defend their property. 

The goblins were shaken out of their problem by screams and banging outside.  This greatly cheered them up.  Nolod had more criminals than a wolf pack had fleas, and there were robberies, muggings and general mindless violence on any given minute.  The goblins hurried to the door of their miserable shack to watch the fun.

To their amazement the fun came to them.  A richly dressed man forced the door open, knocking the goblins over in the process.  A ten foot tall golem followed him inside and he shut the door behind it.  Panting and sweating, the man put his back against the door to hold it shut.

“Oh God, oh God,” he gasped.  Then he saw the goblins looking up at him.  His face twisted in terror, he begged, “Don’t tell them I’m here, please, for the love of God.”

“Tell who?” Stotle asked.  He hadn’t joined the other goblins at the door and was the only one still on his feet.

“Hold the door closed,” the man told the golem.  It put a hand against the door while the man crouched down.  His smile looked forced as he said, “I, um, I’m in a bit of trouble right now, and there are people after me, bad people.  I, I really don’t want them to find me.  It would be bad.  So, uh, if you can all be really quiet…oh no.”

The goblins smiled like they were about to do something stupid.  Asking goblins to cooperate was the best way to make sure they’d disobey.  One of them asked, “Who’s up for a round of Goblins in Oatmeal?  Nice and loud, boys.”

“Why are these bad people after you?” Stotle asked.

The goblins turned to Stotle, surprised by his question.  It had been too long since he’d shown any interest in the world around him.  This was a good sign!  The shaggy goblin waved to get the other goblins’ attention.  “Hey, fellas, how about we let Stotle and this guy talk.  It might do him some good.”

“Fair enough,” the short goblin said.  He nudged the man in the kneecap.  “Make with the answers, tall pockets.”

“Ah, yes, answers.”  The human was somewhere in this thirties, healthy enough and fairly tall.  It was his clothes that drew their attention.  He wore yellow and black robes with a black cloak, all of it silk and very stylish.  He carried an elaborately carved oak staff, but nothing more.  No jewelry to match those fancy clothes, no backpack, no sack.

“I am, uh, Elegax Stormwright, graduate of the Vastan Institute of Magic and Technology,” the man began.  “The, um, men after me are bounty hunters.”

“You’re clearly a wizard,” Stotle said.  “Why should you fear bounty hunters?”

“There are a rather lot of them, and they’re very well armed and good at their jobs.”  Elegax put his ear up against the door.  “I’m not skilled at combat magic.  I studied how to create magic items and beings.”

The shaggy goblin frowned.  “I thought dwarf wizards are the only ones who do that.”

“They have the market cornered, but the quality of their work has been going down for decades.  Customers are tired of buying buggy, overpriced magic items.  It’s a good time to break their monopoly.  Shh, I hear someone coming.”

The goblins heard men run by and the clanking of armor.  They fell silent until the noise faded away.  Goblins had a healthy fear of men with swords, and if the people after Elegax were willing to kill a wizard then they likely wouldn’t have an issue with killing goblins.

Elegax blew out a deep breath and slid to the floor.  “They’re gone, for now.”

Stotle showed no fear of the armed men outside and instead walked up to the wizard.  “Bounty hunters seldom attack wizards given how such fights typically end.  Why are they after you?”

Elegax gave the goblins that same phony smile he’d used before.  “Say, maybe we can help each other.  I’d love to talk with you, but those men are going to keep looking until they find me.  Is there any way you could distract them?”

The shaggy goblin slapped him on the back.  “Easy!  You and Stotle keep chatting and we’ll keep your bounty hunters busy.”

The other goblins opened a window and climbed out, leaving Stotle with the wizard and his golem.  Stotle took the opportunity to study the towering creation and found it perplexing.  Golems were typically built of one material.  Clay was common, as was wood, but a person with deep enough pockets could buy a golem made of stone or even iron.  This golem was a blend of materials.  Most of it was made of wood, but it was boards pressed together instead of thick logs.  There were bricks in the golem’s chest and shoulders, and its right hand was an iron pot two feet across.  There were more metal parts, namely hinges, nails and iron spikes.  Its left hand was made of wood and had four thick fingers and a thumb.  The golem had black iron eyes but nothing more on its wood head.

“You made this golem?” Stotle asked.

“This is the Model Zero Constructor.”  Elegax put a hand on the golem’s leg and smiled.  “It’s not a golem even if it uses many of the same spells.  Model Zero is my solution to all life’s problems.”

That sparked Stotle’s curiosity.  “How so?”

“It occurred to me back at the Vastan Institute that housing is mankind’s biggest problem.  Too many people need homes and don’t have them.  They lost their homes due to fires, disasters, wars, evictions and any number of other problems.  Model Zero can fix that.”

“He builds homes?”

“It is a home,” Elegax said with a smile.  “Model Zero can unfold into a house big enough for one person.  If there’s a source of building materials Model Zero pulls those in and make a bigger structure, even a mansion.  It took me three years and fifteen thousand guilders, but it was worth it.”

Stotle’s years of reading made him smarter than most goblins even if he was as mad as a hatter.  “A house big enough for one man costs no more than fifty guilders, and a mansion costs ten thousand.  This seems an expensive solution to not having a house.”

“You’re forgetting portability and time.  Model Zero walks.  Admittedly he’s slow and dumb as toast, but I can fix that in the next version.”  The golem’s shoulders slumped, but he kept his hand on the door.  Not noticing the effect he had on the golem, Elegax said, “Let’s say your house was destroyed.  You need a new one now.  Model Zero can be marched in and ordered to make a new house for you.  There would be no waiting for builders to arrive or materials to be gathered, you’d have a roof over your head in less than an hour.”

“I can see the advantage.”  Stotle stroked his chin as he thought.  “A group of your Constructors could replace an entire village destroyed by fire or flood.”

“And they could stay in place until the residents built new houses, then off they go to their next destination,” Elegaz said.  Still smiling, he asked, “I, uh, haven’t heard any footsteps in a while.  Is the coast clear?”

“Let me check.”  Stotle opened the window and looked outside.  The street was a mess of mud and trash, like always, but the only people in sight were street children and peddlers on their way to work.  Stotle closed the window and sat down next to Elegax.  “Five, and they look disgruntled.  They may have guessed you’re in hiding and are waiting for you to come out.  Tell me more of your walking wonder.”

Speaking more softly and sweating a lot, Elegax said, “You see, Model Zero is just the beginning.  It can make many types of houses, but nothing complicated.  I have plans for new series of Constructors.  There’s going to be a high end model for building expensive houses, luxury on demand.  I have plans for larger ones that can build even bigger buildings.  And then there’s the military version.”


“Instant forts, barricades that can be put up in minutes, jails for prisoners and barracks that can go up anywhere.  It would revolutionize how we fight wars.”

“So it would.”  It took some effort, but Stotle didn’t let the disgust he was feeling spill over into his voice.  “This does rather beg the question why bounty hunters are trying to keep you from making your perfect world.”

Elegax looked offended.  “I was minding my own business when somehow word got out about my work.  The dwarf corporation Golem Works sued me.  They said I used their patented spells in the Model Zero.  The next thing I know they sent bounty hunters after me and burned my wizard’s tower.  I barely got away with Model Zero.”

Stotle didn’t try to hide his surprise as he spoke.  “You stole spells from Golem Works, the most litigious dwarf corporation in existence?”

“Not stole, copied.”

“That explains why you’re running from those bounty hunters.  Golem Works has sued dozens of wizards.  They even sued and won against the Inspired, wizards who epitomize evil.  When they hire bounty hunters they pick ones with a track record of fighting wizards and winning.”

Sounding hurt, Elegax said, “Thank you for making my situation even more miserable.”

“You didn’t think this would come back to haunt you?”

“I didn’t think they’d find out until I had royal patronage and a few dozen Constructors to defend me.  I’m still not sure who told them.”  Elegax looked desperate verging on madness.  “There’s a way out of this.  There has to be.”

The other goblins climbed back into their shack, smiling and unharmed.  The shaggy goblin shook Elegax’s hand and smiled.  “Mission accomplished.  The guys after you are heading for the merchant quarter.”

Elegax jumped to his feet.  “How did you do it?”

The short goblin held up a tin whistle.  “We borrowed a couple of these from the city watch.  It makes people think there’s interesting stuff happening when you blow on them.”

“I’m free!”

“You’re free for now,” Stotle corrected him.  “The men after you won’t give up easily.  You still have to escape Nolod without the bounty hunters learning of it.”

Elegax’s elation dimmed, but not by much.  “I can do it.”

“With help, yes.”  Stotle waved at Elegax’s expensive clothes.  “People who see you are going to remember you when you’re dressed like that, and witnesses will talk when the bounty hunters begin buying drinks.  Your robes have to go.”

“What am I supposed to wear?”

Stotle asked the shaggy goblin, “Lord Bryce has been more of a pill than normal these last few weeks.  Do you think you could steal some of his clothes?  I think they will fit our friend and be respectable enough to suit his status.”

The goblins were off like a shot at the chance to cause mischief.  They returned in an hour with armfuls of handsome clothes.  Elegax cast off his robes and put on the new clothes, which fit fairly well.  He smiled at the disguise.  “I look like a rich merchant.”

“You can sell your robes and use the money to buy passage on an outbound ship,” Stotle continued.  “So many leave port each day that you should have no trouble finding one going far away.  The bounty hunters will never find you, and will be hard pressed to follow you even if they learn which ship you’re on.”

“That could work,” Elegax said approvingly.

Studying his fingernails, Stotle added, “But you will have to abandon Model Zero.”

“What?”  Shocked, Elegax grabbed the golem by its one hand.  “This thing cost fifteen thousand guilders!”

“Your change of clothes lets you blend in with the million people of Nolod.  What can you do to disguise someone as large as Model Zero?  Taking him with you makes your disguise worthless.  You can buy passage on a ship, but few captains will take a golem onboard, and none without demanding a hefty fee.”

“I can’t just leave it here!”

“You can and you must,” Stotle told him.  “You know how to make another, so he is replaceable.  You plan on making better ones, meaning he has little value to you.  I should also point out that this abandonment is temporary.  Nothing is stopping you from coming back at a later date to reclaim him provided no one finds him, and they won’t.  You are in one of the largest cities on Other Place.  Model Zero can turn himself into a house.  What better place to hide him than in a city?”

Elegax stared at Stotle.  “I, uh, I guess that would work.”

Checking again to make sure the coast was clear, Stotle led Elegax and the goblins out of their shack.  They snuck through the shantytown until they came to an open patch of ground.

“Model Zero, change from a man to a house,” Elegax ordered.

The goblins oohed as Model Zero transformed.  Wood legs pulled apart into boards.  Bricks set down to form a foundation.  Model Zero’s wood boards looked like spider legs as they reached out and snatched up loose bricks and old boards to add to the building.  In half a minute Model Zero was gone and a modest house was in its place.

Most people would have thanked the goblins, but Elegax headed for Nolod’s port in his stolen clothes without a word.  He did stop partway down the street and look at Stotle.  “When you spoke of Model Zero, you used the word he instead of it.  Why?”

“He describes a person while it refers to a thing.  Too many people call goblins it for us to use the word in regards to another.”

The wizard gave him a funny look.  Chances were good he didn’t get the point.  The goblins watched him leave before turning their attention to Stotle.

“You sound good,” the shaggy goblin said.

“It has been an interesting morning.”  Stotle studied Model Zero, who looked like a house that had always been there.  “A thought occurs.”

The small goblin grabbed Stotle by the arm.  “No, no!  Don’t go thinking, Stotle!  Nothing good has ever come of that!”

Stotle ignored him and pointed at Model Zero.  “I have seen few golems, but they all came with a ring or amulet their owner wore to control them.  Elegax had no such item.”

“You’re right,” the shaggy golem said.  “If he did we would have seen it when he changed clothes.”

“Then how did he control the golem?” the short goblin asked.

Stotle shrugged.  “Presumably there is no magic control device and one can simply give the golem orders.”

“You think he’d build something this nifty, but not make it so the golem only took orders from him?” the shaggy goblin asked.

“He did have a history of bad decision making,” Stotle pointed out.  He walked up to the new building and stopped in front of the door.  “Model Zero, change from a house to a man.”

The earlier process reversed itself as the building changed into a golem.  The extra material fell to the ground and the golem stood facing Stotle.

“We’re going to go someplace nice,” Stotle told the golem.  “I would like it if you would join us.  Will you come?”

Stotle took a few steps down the road, and to his delight Model Zero followed him.  The goblin waved for the others to join him.  “Come along.  The bounty hunters are doubtlessly after both Model Zero and his maker.  We have to get him to safety outside Nolod.”

“Wait, the ten foot tall guy made of wood, metal and bricks needs us to save him?” the shaggy goblin asked.

“Oh yes,” Stotle said.  He smiled and put a hand on Model Zero.  “Gentlemen, what we have here is a good home in need of a good home.”

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