New Goblin Stories 6

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
When is a goblin raid not a goblin raid? When you asked for it.

Submitted: January 25, 2017

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Submitted: January 25, 2017

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Bub the goblin crouched in the cover of dense brush, backed up by his Tactical Assault Squad.  He didn’t know what a Tactical Assault Squad was, but it sounded cool, so that’s the name he’d christened his thirty followers.  It wasn’t easy to keep so many goblins together, what with them constantly wandering off, but Bub managed through a mix of generous payouts and the promise of mayhem.  It took years of hard work, but he’d assembled the best goblins for the hardest jobs, like tonight’s caper.

“Could we be the Ultra Tactical Assault Squad?” a thin goblin asked Bub.

“No.”

“Hyper Tactical Assault Squad?” the same goblin suggested.

“That one’s already been taken,” Bub told him.

“Almost dark,” another of his followers said.  The squad was dressed in black clothes that covered every inch of their bodies, with soot rubbed around their eyes to complete the disguise.  Five goblins carried specialized tools and ten more brought a ladder.  Normally Bub’s goblins were armed with clubs and daggers.  Tonight’s work required better weaponry, and they’d armed themselves appropriately.

Bub’s hideout had another advantage besides the thick brush.  It was also on a ridge and provided an excellent vantage point to view the large valley below.  They saw abundant fields around a walled village.  Two guard towers on the walls manned by archers bolstered the already heavy defenses.  Roads had all trees and brush cut back a hundred feet to deny cover to potential attackers, and soldiers patrolled those roads often.  It was an excessive level of protection for anywhere else but here.

This province of Oceanview Kingdom bordered The Land of the Nine Dukes, a wildly dysfunctional kingdom (and coming from a goblin that said a lot!).  Hungry soldiers were knows to cross into Oceanview and turn bandit to supplement their slender and often nonexistent rations, or just to do some looting.  That was the official story, anyway.  Word was that the dukes secretly ordered these attacks to feed their men at someone else’s expense and fill their coffers with stolen gold.

Speaking of soldiers, a pair of them was coming with a leashed dog.  Bub peered at them from the shade of his hiding place.  They wore the king’s colors, an orange shirt over their chain armor, and they had shields and sheathed swords.  The men came closer as the road went up the ridge.  The goblins were camped where the road split in two.  Which one would the men take?  If they got much closer the dog would catch their scent.  The goblins had washed before coming here, but a good dog wouldn’t be fooled.

Bub held out a hand and one of his followers gave him a small glass vial.  He opened it and held it away from his face before he slipped out onto the road.  He sprinkled the bottle’s contents of concentrated peppermint across the road and brush before retreating into cover.  In seconds the smell of peppermint was overpowering.

The dog caught the scent and went wild.  One soldier said, “What is it, boy?”

“Something wrong?” the second asked.  Both men came closer, but the dog strained at the leash to stay away.  The second soldier frowned when he noticed the smell.  “Some rogue’s been here and tried to cover his scent.”

“Figure we should head back and report it?” asked the first.

The second soldier shook his head.  “This is so strong it has to be recent.  Let’s take a look around in case whoever who did this is still close.”

Bub rolled his eyes.  This was just dandy!  He had hoped the men would get help and go running off after smugglers or thieves who didn’t exist.  Instead they were being intelligent.  With any luck they’d find nothing and leave, a minor win but one he’d take.

The dog barked wildly and tried to flee the peppermint smell, forcing the soldier holding its leash to work hard just keeping it in place.  His fellow soldier looked down nearby roads and then searched for tracks in the dirt.  He was nearly finished when he peered into the brush.  His expression went from curiosity to shock.  He’d seen them!

Bub burst from cover, no easy task when you’re two feet tall and weigh fifty pounds.  The soldier went for his sword, but Bub was faster.  Whap!  Bub’s aim was perfect, and he nailed the soldier in the face with a pie.  More goblins ran out and threw pies at the dog and other soldier.  Whap!  Whap!  Three throws, three hits, a new record.

The first soldier put back his sword and scrapped pie off his eyes.  Pale yellow cream and white meringue covered his face so he looked like a ghost.  The man tasted the white and yellow goo and spit it out.

“Coconut cream.  You monster!  There are rules!”

Sympathy wasn’t Bub’s strong suit.  “Hush, you’re dead.  And muzzle the doggie.”

The soldiers cleaned off their faces and sat down on the road before muzzling their dog.  If the poor animal had been miserable before, getting a face full of coconut was pure horror.

“I can’t believe people eat this stuff,” the second soldier said.

Bub marched over and poked the man in the nose.  “You are dead, and dead people don’t complain.  It’s not a hard concept.”

The soldiers grumbled but fell silent as the goblins pulled them into the brush with their dog.  Bub’s mind raced as he considered his next step.  The two men wouldn’t be missed immediately, and a reasonable delay returning from a patrol wouldn’t be unusual.  After that other soldiers would assume something had happened (it had) and be doubly vigilant.  Maybe they’d send out a patrol and thus split their forces, but any soldier left behind would be ready for an attack.

“Hurry,” he told the others.  The goblins followed him into the growing darkness.  Together they skirted the villages and headed deeper into enemy territory.

The locals were prepared for trouble because it came so often.  The walls were brick twelve feet high and in good repair.  Militiamen stayed on those walls with bells and lanterns, and the men drank prodigious amounts of coffee to stay awake.  Dogs were common and kept hungry and alert.  This forced the goblins to give villages a wide berth to avoid drawing attention.

“How long do we have?” a goblin asked Bub.

Bub scurried as fast as his short legs would carry him.  “Figure their patrol would last two more hours.  Half an hour after that other soldiers will notice they didn’t come back and get worried.”

“Not a lot of time,” a third goblin said.

“Plenty enough for what we’re doing,” Bub told them.

“We could be the Maximum Assault Force,” the thin goblin suggested.  Bub gave him an ugly look.  “What about the Furious Knights of Entropy?”

“I am not changing our name,” Bub snarled.  “The business cards are already printed up, and the focus group was very enthusiastic about Tactical Assault Squad.”

A strong goblin scratched his head.  “Focus group?  You mean those drunken elves you pestered at the bar?”

“Yeah, those guys.  Now pipe down.”

It took nearly one hour to reach their destination, a manor house on a hill.  It belonged to Baron Ironseller, who also owned the villages and farmland in these parts.  Ironseller was a clever sort and it showed.  He’d built his manor house on high ground and cut back tree cover around it.  A tall brick wall fifteen feet tall surrounded the house with watchtowers at each corner.  Archers manned those towers and swept the surroundings with bull’s eye lanterns.  They also had bronze bells to alert the manor of danger.

Bub left the others behind and snuck in as close as he dared to study the defenses.  He dug a shallow hole and hit bedrock inches below the surface.  Tunneling would be hard and take time they didn’t have.  A closer look at the wall showed it was plastered and had shards of broken glass embedded in it.  In daylight that would make the wall glitter, but more importantly the sharp glass would cut anyone foolish enough to try climbing the walls.

Impressive as the defenses were, Bub saw weaknesses.  There was only one person per tower and fifty feet between towers.  The archers were focused on the exterior, but their lanterns could only illuminate a small area.  He didn’t hear or see dogs, nor were there guards patrolling outside the wall.

Satisfied he’d found an opening, Bub returned to the others.  “Here’s the plan.”

“Kaleidoscope Rangers,” the thin goblin said.

Bub grabbed the thin goblin by his black clothes and dragged him down until they could see eye to eye.  “We are not having this discussion.  Not now, not ever.  We are breaking in there, and here’s how.”

It took only minutes to explain the plan, and the goblins went into action.  They crept to within a hundred feet of the wall and waited for an archer to sweep his lantern from right to left.  Once the beam of light passed, they scurried up to the wall and leaned the ladder against it.  It would have made a noise when it touched the wall, but Bub had wrapped the last two feet of the ladder in straw.

The archers didn’t notice what was happening.  Goblins went up the ladder and spread out across the wall, with Bub leading one group and the thin goblin taking the other.  Splat!  Splat!  The two nearest watchtowers fell with barely a sound.  The archers scooped pie off their faces while goblins seized their lanterns.

“Not one word,” Bub told the archer he’d pied.  The archer scowled and sat down.

Bub and his goblins pulled the ladder up and lowered down the other side.  Two goblins stayed at each of the watchtowers and swept their stolen lanterns back and forth the same as the archers had.  This made it look as if the archers were still on duty, a worthwhile accomplishment that cost Bub the use of only four goblins for the rest of the mission.

Now inside the walls, Bub led them to the manor house.  The place was a fortress three stories tall.  The walls were brick and the doors oak with iron bindings.  The windows were narrow with the hinges on the inside.  An added defense came in the form of rosebushes planted under each window.  It was impossible to tell what color the flowers were in the dark, but Bub had no trouble seeing the sharp thorns on those long branches.  The goblins could cut down the roses to access the windows.  It might come down to that.

The manor house’s upper floors looked like a better bet.  No one expected a break in so high up, and the windows were larger.  Bub led his followers to place their ladder against a second story window.  He went up first and tried to break in.  The window was shuttered and barred, but wasn’t locked.  He took a long, thin flat blade from his belongings and slipped it between the shutters.  The blade went in, barely, and he felt it press against the bar inside.  Bub raised the bar slowly and then pressed the knife to the left.  The shutter opened two inches, enough for him to reach in and grab the bar.  He set it down inside the manor and waved for the goblins to follow.

“Hey, George, it’s my turn,” a man’s voice called out.  Bub winced.  The guards were changing shifts!  He helped his goblins in, hurrying them as much as he could.  He saw a man leave the manor and approach the outer wall.  “George?  You see something out there?”

“Move,” Bub urged his followers.  They spread out through the manor, stopping to listen at each door before opening it.  They found storerooms and an armory, but not their target.  Bub’s heart beat faster.  In moments the whole place would be in an uproar and he hadn’t found his target yet.

That’s when the dreaded cry came.  “George?  George!  Invaders!  Invad—”  Splat!  “Oh for the love of God, there’s coconut in this pie!”

“Move!” Bub yelled.  Secrecy was lost, making speed and numbers the goblins’ only advantages.  Bells rang out across the manor, and Bub could hear men running both above and below him.  A door opened and a soldier came out.  For a moment seeing a room full of goblins left him too surprised to move, a precious second where the goblins splattered him with four pies.

“That was uncalled for,” he said sourly.

Bub pushed past him and found a spiral staircase.  He took a pie from another goblin before running up and told the others, “Hold them off!”

“Intra Galactic Hyper Mega Soldiers of Doom!” the thin goblin shouted as Bub climbed the stairs.  “It could work!  Think about it!”

Every second counted as Bub entered the top floor of the manor and a long hallway.  Candles and lanterns were being lit across the building, and he saw light coming from beneath several doors.  Below the sounds of battle rang, or rather splattered as the Tactical Assault Squad hurled pies for all they were worth.  Judging by the bangs, someone was overturning furniture to use as barricades.

The last door on the hallway had a crest on it that looked like a dragon twisting around a stone tower.  Bub ran past the other doors, two of which were opening, and he pushed the last door open.  There he saw his quarry.

Baron Ironseller was in a surprisingly plain room.  There was a bed, a desk with a chair, a bookcase and a chest in the corner.  The baron was sitting at his desk reading a book when Bub came in.  His clothes were nice but nothing fancy, just well tailored cotton.  The man himself was in his forties, healthy enough but with worry lines around his eyes and thinning hair.

Splat!  Bub’s pie was spot on and struck the baron full in the face.  Men ran up behind him and grabbed the goblin.  Unperturbed, the baron didn’t even wipe away the pie, instead picking up a bell and ringing it.

With that the battle ended.  Goblins came up with the soldiers they’d been fighting.  Many men had been pied and goblins mussed up clothes looked like they’d been tackled.  Embarrassed men and triumphant goblins waited while the baron cleaned up.

“And that concludes our business,” he said.  The man had a lovely accent, very formal and polite.  He took a paper and feather quill from his desk and prepared to write.  “What are your findings?”

“You need a wide moat around the outer wall,” Bub told him.  “There needs to be a second guard in each tower, and they need to keep in better contact with each other.  Maybe have one guy walk the wall and visit them.”

“I see.”  Baron Ironseller wrote down Bub’s findings.  His men stared at their feet, too ashamed to look at the leader they’d failed to defend.  “Go on.”

“Having dogs with your patrols was a good idea, but there has to be a couple in the manor to sniff out trouble.  You need locks on the windows.  Doors inside the manor need locks, too.  And you need more lights outside and inside.  Those bull’s eye lanterns throw light a long way, but they don’t cover much area.  That’s about it.”

“Valuable advice,” the baron said.

Bub cleared his throat to get the baron’s attention off his writing.  “There was a fee in our deal.”

“Of course.”  The baron gestured for a soldier to go to the chest.  The man brought out a wheel of cheese two feet across and five inches deep, and with the greatest reluctance he handed over the bounty.  “Gentlemen, that concludes the manor’s yearly security check.  I’m grateful for your assistance and look forward to doing business with you again.”

“Keep safe, baron,” Bub called over his shoulder as he led his followers away.  “Even shares for everyone, and no, we are not changing the name!”

Once the goblins were gone, the baron looked at his men.  One man covered in pie managed to say, “Sir, I know we failed you, but was this really necessary?”

“When I hired the goblins to test our security I included the clause that no harm come to my staff,” the baron replied.  “Pie throwing was agreed to as the best way to simulate injury without inflicting it, although I must admit their choice of flavors was a surprise.  Next year I will have to insist on apple pie.”

Baron Ironseller stood up and addressed his men.  “This was humiliating.  It was meant to be.  If goblins could penetrate our defenses then so could others far worse.  Bandits, thieves, assassins, we do not live in peaceful times and must be ready for their kind and worse.  We have to improve our performance considerably, for my good and the good of the people.”  Baron Ironseller made a face when a glob of pie still on his face slid into his mouth.  “Distasteful as this has been, in every sense of the word, it has one benefit: goblins work cheap.”


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