New Goblin Stories 8

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Goblins can be innocent. It's rare, but it happens.

Habbly was a goblin on the run for a crime he didn’t commit, which was ironic since he’d committed forty minor crimes no one had noticed.  The little goblin hurried through the narrow streets of Sunset City and overturned a pile of wicker baskets stacked on the street.  The old lady selling them shouted at Habbly and shook her fist, but the makeshift barricade blocked the narrow cobblestone street.

Sunset City was the Capital of Oceanview Kingdom, a land not known for creative names.  As befit a capital of a minor power, Sunset City had brick buildings proof against stormy weather, an excellent if small harbor and a population of eighty thousand.  Habbly had come here to lose himself in the safety of the crowded streets.  It hadn’t worked out so well.

“Halt in the name of the…uh…law!”  That was Officer Dalton, the man after Habbly.  Nice man, good hair, popular with the ladies, he had many fine traits, intelligence not being one of them, or agility.  Dalton tried to jump over the baskets and tripped.  Habbly was running for his life, but even at these speeds he saw two old men grin and one hand a coin to the other.

“That makes ten falls this month,” said one.

“Double or nothing he reaches twelve,” the other offered.

Habbly had nearly escaped when he heard Dalton’s partner arrive.  Now he was in trouble.  The goblin poured on the speed and took three turns in rapid succession, all to no avail.  He heard his pursuer’s hard breathing getting closer and closer.  Pounce!  Habbly was knocked over, and the gray furred husky jumped on his chest and licked him.

“Shep, no, bad dog!”  Dalton caught up and tried to pull the exuberant dog off.  Shep was having none of it.  He sniffed Habbly from to bottom, and the goblin giggled where the dog’s wet nosed tickled him.  “Don’t lick him!  You don’t know where’s he’s been!”

Dalton was dashing in his blue uniform with black trim.  He hadn’t drawn his sword during the chase, no surprise given he hadn’t drawn it in two years service.  Word was he’d gotten his job due to family connections.  Dalton was kind.  Dalton was brave.  Dalton had let go every criminal he’d ever caught.  He was known for daring rescues from burning buildings and swollen rivers, and eleven people owed him their lives.  That and his pleasant disposition kept him employed.

Shep was a young dog, big but still very much a puppy at heart.  The husky loved people and took every opportunity to play with them, as he did now by wiggling away from Dalton and jumping on Habbly again.

“Nice doggie,” Habbly said.  Habbly was a weird goblin, with a mop of unruly brown hair and a braid running from the back of his head to the street.  He wore tan clothes over a red shirt, a daring move since everyone knew the guy wearing red got killed first.  In spite of that Habbly was a survivor, having lived seven years on Battle Island before escaping to the mainland, and from there surviving a war against the Fallen King.

Dalton struggled to pull the dog off and went for his rulebook.  “You are hereby charged with upsetting the public morale, by means of posting or presenting seditious materials.  You have the right to an attorney if you can afford one, or you can represent yourself.  Wait, are you writing this down?”

Habbly took a pencil and pad of paper from his pockets to copy Dalton’s charges.  “It seems important.”

“Huh.  No one’s ever done that before.”  Dalton paged through his rulebook and smiled when he reached the right spot.  “You have the right to remain silent, and we’d prefer it if you did.  You have the right to three meals and four bathroom breaks per day during your incarceration, which cannot exceed fifty years in duration.”

“That’s a long time.  Don’t people get bored?”

“Not in our jails they don’t!  There’s hard labor, educational classes, sing-alongs, more hard labor and visits from relatives.”  Dalton looked confused.  “Do you have relatives we should inform of your arrest?”

“No.  Your dog is trying to eat my shoes.”

“Shep, no, bad dog!  Bad!  Don’t lick my face!  Do not, look, you keep this up and the suspect will escape again.”

A crowd grew around Habbly, Dalton and Shep.  Sunset City was known for two things, trade and epic levels of boredom.  In the last century there had been no pirate raids, rampaging monsters, invading armies or natural disasters.  The Sunset City tourism board had lobbied King Baldos to start a war or at least invite a deranged wizard to settle in city limits to improve the city’s reputation, but he’d refused.

This made the arrest of a goblin news, a sad state of affairs.

An old man poked Habbly in the belly. “What did the rascal do?”

“He tipped over my baskets!” the old woman shouted.  She’d restacked them in time for Shep to knock them over again.

“Sit!” Dalton ordered.  Five men sat down, but not Shep.  “Heel!  Beg!  Roll over!  Come on, you’re supposed to obey commands.”

“Play?” Habbly asked.  Shep’s tail wagged faster and he leaped onto the goblin.

Dalton slapped a hand over his face.  “Worst partner ever.”

“Excuse me, but I’d like to contest the charges against me,” Habbly said from underneath the dog.  “Or I’ll contest them once I understand them.”

Dalton pulled his dog off Habbly and seized the goblin by the arm.  “You’re under arrest for posting inflammatory lies on public and private buildings.”

“I didn’t do it,” Habbly said.  He took a moment to size up the men around him.  It was an old habit he’d picked up on Battle Island, where judging enemies was the difference between life and death.  In this situation, death was only going to come from old age.  None of the men had armor, and only three carried daggers.  They didn’t carry themselves like soldiers, either.  If things turned ugly he felt confident he could escape the crowd.

“A likely story.”  Dalton pulled Habbly to a neighboring inn called The Gilded Cod, and the crowd followed them.  The two story brick inn’s only claim to fame was never having a customer die on the premises (over the years several customers had been evacuated to maintain that reputation).  The inn’s outer walls had attracted a fair bit of graffiti, as was common in large cities.  Some of it was from goblins while other messages came from vendors trying to drum up business.  Dalton shoved Habbly in front of a particular message painted onto the wall rather than written in charcoal or chalk.  “See that?”

“It’s a wall.”

The crowd following them chuckled.  Dalton’s face turned red and he shouted, “The message on the wall!  The one in blue paint!  The one we can’t wash off, scrape off or burn off.  The city watch has found fifteen of these since morning.”

That got Habbly’s attention.  He scratched at the blue paint with his fingernails, and sure enough he couldn’t make a mark on it.  “I’ve never seen that before.  How’d you do it?”

“I didn’t do it, you did!”

“Did not.”  Habbly scratched at the letters again.  “Could not.  I think this is magic.”

“I hate it when people say that,” Dalton said.  “If they can’t explain something they blame it on magic.  My laundry won’t dry.  My flowers are wilting.  The cat keeps throwing up.  None of that’s magic and neither is this.”

“Is this fuss over those silly signs?” a woman asked.  “And here I thought it was something exciting.”

“Exciting means someone’s trying to kill you,” Habbly said.  The crowd stared at him as the goblin studied the message on the wall.  “If you’re lucky you get away, but you have to be lucky all the time.  I’ll take boring any day of the week.  I came here because it’s supposed to be boring.  Can we go back to boring?”

The delay gave Habbly time to study what was written on the wall.  His first impression was this was the work of an artist or calligrapher.  The handwriting was exceptional and brushwork clearly from a master’s hand.  There was no paint splattered on the cobblestones below, so whoever did this didn’t waste a drop.

But the longer he looked the more it seemed like the work of a fool.  Habbly read aloud, “No Secrets: Your leaders are keeping the truth from you!”

Dalton dragged him back.  “None of that!  I’ve sent for a man to paint over this, and I won’t have you spreading your lies before he gets here.  Why isn’t he here yet?”

A man in the crowd raised his hand.  “I’m over here.”

“Why aren’t you painting over the graffiti?” Dalton asked.

“You’re in the way.”

“Oh, sorry.”  Dalton stepped back to let the man through.  The crowd snickered and Habbly tried to keep reading the message.

“Mayor Killingbird of Matros City has run up five hundred gold sovereigns in debts at illegal gambling halls,” Habbly read.

“Cut that out!” Dalton shouted.

Habbly looked up at Dalton.  “Where’s Matros City?”

Dalton looked confused and admitted, “I’ve never heard of it, or a Mayor Killingbird.”

One of the old men came closer and looked at the graffiti.  Dalton tried to shoo him away, saying, “You’re not supposed to read that.”

“I don’t know how to read.”  Illiteracy was common among the poor, and in large cities like Sunset more than half the people couldn’t read a word.  The old man tapped the blue words and asked, “What’s so special about this that we’re not supposed to read it if we could read?”

“Guildmaster Kleist Mastro has been seen in the company of women of loose morals,” Habbly read.

That brought the men in the crowd hurrying over.  One asked, “You got names for those ladies?”

“Perverts,” a woman said.

“No, and it doesn’t say where this Kleist guy lives,” Brody told him.

One of the old men rolled his eyes.  “Figures.”

“We’re not supposed to be reading this!” Dalton protested.  “The captain said these messages were seditious and likely to cause a breach of the peace.”

Reading further, Habbly said, “The Elf King Viliamorous Trathanic is engaged in secret negotiations with King Inverness of Kaleoth, regarding the excavation of elven ruins in Kaleoth.”

Dalton’s dog Shep took this opportunity to romp over and play with two small boys who joined the crowd.  One boy wrapped both arms around the dog’s neck, and it pulled him along when it chased the other boy.

Normally this would have earned the dog a rebuke, but Dalton’s attention was on the graffiti.  He, Habbly and the entire crowd stopped to read it.  Dalton frowned and read, “The Gilcas Trading House is in negotiations with the city of Nolod to let them rent an entire city block for reasons unknown.”

Habbly scratched his head.  “So?”  When the others looked at him, he shrugged and asked, “Why should we care?  I haven’t heard of most of these places or people.  None of this is hurting me or people I care about.  Most of it sounds boring.  So what if Gilcas wants to rent a city block?  Who cares if Kleist What’s-his-Name is seeing naughty ladies?”

“Ahem,” a woman said.

“His wife would care,” Habbly admitted, “but not us.  Who here was hurt when this stuff happened?”

Habbly’s question was met with silence.  The men and women shrugged in response or furrowed their brows.  Several lost interest entirely and walked off.  Dalton gave up and waved for the man he’d summoned to paint over the graffiti.

“I guess reading this is no crime when it’s so, well, boring,” Dalton said.  “I thought it would be revolutionary or threatening when my captain said to get rid of these messages.”  He patted Habbly on the back.  “You’re free to go.  Just don’t do it again.”

“I didn’t do it the first time!”  Habbly was starting to lose his temper at this sorry affair.  “Why don’t you go find out who broke into the post office last night and carted off a bag of mail?”

“What?”  Dalton spun around and pointed at Habbly.  “You know about a serious crime?”

“Doesn’t everyone?  The guys who did it were as stealthy as drunken rhinos playing tubas.”

“That’s a lead!  I’ve been looking for leads!  All right, goblin, let’s hear it.”

Oh that was a mistake.  Goblins shouldn’t come to the attention of the authorities; it never ends well.  Habbly backed up and made a break for it, using several large, slow moving men to cover his retreat.  He just needed to get to the main roads and their welcome crowds to complete his escape.

“Shep, fetch!” Dalton commanded, and Shep ran to obey with a giggling boy still latched onto his neck.  “Fetch the goblin!  No, don’t lick him!  Get that out of your mouth!”

Submitted: February 24, 2017

© Copyright 2021 ArthurD7000. All rights reserved.

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Good story! I loved Habbly's interaction with the dog!

Fri, February 24th, 2017 3:53am



Fri, February 24th, 2017 4:35am

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