William Bradshaw and Fool's Gold

William Bradshaw and Fool's Gold

Status: Finished

Genre: Humor

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Humor

Houses:

Summary

Book 4 in the William Bradshaw series is finally out. Expect goblin related disasters, generally silliness and hints of how to survive a murderous billionaire.
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Summary

Book 4 in the William Bradshaw series is finally out. Expect goblin related disasters, generally silliness and hints of how to survive a murderous billionaire.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Author Chapter Note

Every story has to start somewhere, even if it's in the office.

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 11, 2017

Reads: 52

Comments: 1

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 11, 2017

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Chapter 1

Twain waited patiently, aiming an elephant gun at the mouse hole in the corner of his office.  He’d been sitting at his desk and holding this pose for hours, and would continue to do so for hours more for the chance to defeat his nemesis.  He’d told his secretary to hold his calls, he ignored the paintings in his room that periodically morphed to display new pictures, he paid no mind to the steel door in the corner that led to other worlds, and his clients could go fly a kite for all he cared.  This mouse had to die.

“Come on,” Twain whispered.  “I know you like cheddar.”

Twain was an older man, tall with white hair and a mustache.  His dark business suit and dress shoes made him look normal, but it was an illusion instantly dispelled upon looking into his eyes.  There was a twinkle there, a mischievous glint that told both friends and enemies (and Twain had lots of enemies), that this was a man capable of anything.

He was, in short, exactly the sort of person you’d find working in the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe.

Cickam, Wender and Downe was one of the largest and strongest firms.  They could break, twist or slither around any law their clients found inconvenient, provided their check cleared, and they were undisputed masters at manipulating the law on every world they practiced.  Indeed, while Twain’s office was on Earth, his firm had hundreds of offices on fifteen inhabited worlds.  Admittedly two of those worlds were trying to evict them, but that was to be expected.

Twain had worked at his firm for decades.  His knowledge of the law was second to none, and he could bend the fundamental laws of the universe as easily as local traffic ordinances.  Few knew what Twain was capable of, and he liked it that way.  It made people underestimate him.  Yes, Twain was a man to be feared and respected, or would be if he didn’t have a mouse holed up in his office demanding to have its case heard.

Twain would be the first to admit the gun wasn’t particularly subtle, but he’d learned through years of trial and error that this mouse wasn’t going to be fooled.  It saw through every trap he’d laid for it, tearing most of them to pieces, and took whatever bait he used.  Proof of that was in the corner, where a pile of shredded mousetraps was topped off with a steel-toothed bear trap ruined beyond use.  No, traps weren’t going to work, and early this morning Twain had finally resorted to firearms.

“Squeak.”

“Yes, the cheese is getting stale,” Twain said.  “It’s going to get worse if you leave it there.”

“Squeak.”  The mouse wasn’t budging, not even for cheddar.

Twain’s eyes remained locked on the hole in the base of the wall.  Five feet separated the mouse hole from a plate of cheddar on the floor.  The mouse could cover the distance, eat the cheese and be back in its hole in less than four seconds.  Twain had to time this perfectly.

 Twain’s secretary, an attractive young woman named Jennifer, stormed into his office.  Her pith helmet and the machete hanging off her belt contrasted with her otherwise normal business attire, but then again, so did the parrot droppings on her shoulder.

Holding her right hand over her head, Jennifer screamed.  “I’ve had it up to here with this place!  You’ve got to do something about the plants in the lobby.”

Twain didn’t look up.  “I thought it added a bit of color to the place.”

“Color?  Paint the walls if you want color!  The stupid things are spreading across the office.  I spend twenty minutes every morning hacking a path to the coffee machine.  Now animals are showing up.”

“You knew the job was dangerous when you took it,” Twain said calmly.

Cickam, Wender and Downe had magic doors linking their offices together, allowing an office under attack by rival lawyers to quickly bring in reinforcements.  It also made fleeing the police and/or torch wielding mobs a cinch.  Twain’s door was locked and made of steel, but the door was highly unpredictable even in the best of times.  Although Twain used it only a few minutes a year, it periodically gated in animals and plants.  This resulted in a patch of Brazilian rainforest growing in his office.

“Howler monkeys!” Jennifer shouted.  “I’ve got a family of howler monkeys living over my desk!  What am I suppose to tell your clients?”

“You can tell them how happy you are that we offer daycare for employees.”

“Oh!”  Jennifer stamped off.

“Squeak.”

“Fine, take her side,” Twain told the mouse.  “You always do.”

Ring!  Twain ignored the phone.  Ring!  “Jennifer, I told you to hold my calls!”

“I did!” she screamed over the hooting howler monkeys.

Ring!  This was wrong.  Ring!  Only someone very powerful could force a call through.  Keeping one hand on the elephant gun’s trigger, Twain picked up the phone with the other.  “This had better be important, because I’m already billing you.”

An unfamiliar voice answered him.  Twain listened for a few seconds before saying, “I’m sorry, you have me mistaken for someone who cares about your problems.”

The voice spoke quickly and confidently.  Twain listened more closely.  His expression changed from determination to concern.

“Yes, I handled that particular case” he replied.  “I placed a man named William Bradshaw in charge of the Kingdom of the Goblins.  Mmm hmm, good fellow, tad slow on the uptake, but determined.  That’s the way we like them, clueless and stubborn.  You seem to know a lot about this case.  I’m curious how you learned it.”

A faint laughter came over the phone before the caller spoke again.  Twain took his other hand off the gun and sifted through the contents of his desk drawers.  He brought out a laptop computer and a crystal ball.  He connected the two and plugged the computer into the phone.

“You have your sources, eh?” Twain asked.  “So what’s this about?  You want me to take Bradshaw off the job?  Why the devil would I do that?  The man’s doing well enough and he hasn’t found a loophole in his king contract.  That’s the traditional means of escape.”

The caller replied at some length while Twain worked at his computer.  The longer the call lasted the better his chances of tracing it, but the computer wasn’t having any luck and the crystal ball came up with only static.

“Threats are easy to make, my friend,” Twain said.  The caller shouted through the phone.  Twain smiled and kept working on his computer.  “Since you asked, no, I don’t know who you are.  For all I know you’re a mentally unstable banana grower in central Tibet.”  The caller identified himself and went on at some length listing his many accomplishments, to which Twain replied, “That’s very impressive, and I’m sure your mother’s proud of you.”

“Squeak.”

Twain looked up from his phone to find the cheese was gone.  A trail of crumbs led back to the mouse hole.

He stood up and stabbed a finger at the offending hole and its maker.  “A thousand curses on you and those that spawned you!  You’ve plagued me long enough, you stygian fiend!  I don’t know what sulfurous pit you crawled out of, but I mean to return you to it!  I’ll send you on a voyage down the river Styx if it’s the last thing I do!”  Twain directed his attention back to the phone.  “No, I wasn’t talking to you, but most of what I said still applies.”

This drew a heated response.  Twain wasn’t impressed.  “Now look here my fine fellow, I’ll admit you’re good, or at least have someone good in your employment, but you’re out of your league.”  The caller shot off a string of questions, to which Twain replied, “Uh huh, yes, no, not on Tuesdays and never without my chiropractor.  Look, I’m sure you’re a big man on your little Podunk backwater world, but in the greater scheme of things you’re pond scum.  You want me to reconsider that?  Fine, on your best day you might aspire to be pond scum, but not the good kind.”

There was a pause before the caller replied.  Twain put his feet up on his desk and smirked.  “Oh really?  Listen here you snot nosed, barely literate, imbecilic, slack jawed yokel, I’ve been threatened by the best in the business.  Presidents, emperors, the people who make Spam, they’ve all taken a shot at me and I’m still here.  So if you think for one minute that I’m going to be intimidated by a jumped up salesman, you’ve got another thing coming.”

The steel door in the back of Twain’s office creaked.  He looked up from the phone.  The door was unlocking.

“How in the blazes…”

The steel door swung open.The door only led to a closet when it was turned off, but now it opened to a swirling vortex.  Someone had made a connection to another world through his office.

“That’s not possible.”

Twain saw a tiny point of light in the dark maelstrom within the magic door.  It grew larger and brighter with every passing second until it filled the entire doorway.  Twain grabbed a legal order of protection from his desk.  It would protect him from anything short of a five hundred pound bomb, but only if he had time to invoke it.  He covered his eyes with his left arm as the light grew brighter still, and then ran for the door, shouting, “Jennifer, run!”

The last thing Twain heard before his office was engulfed in flames was a tiny squeak and a whistling sound as the mouse shot out of its hole.

 

Several worlds away, a goblin said, “He’s gone mad.”

A second goblin shook his head.  “Can’t go mad when you’re already there.”

“He’s gone mad in a different way,” the first goblin amended.  “How else can you explain it?”

The second goblin nodded.  “It’s a puzzle.”

The source of their confusion was William Bradshaw, their King and nominal leader.  Will was a young man with brown hair and gray eyes.  He was dressed in the traditional uniform of the Kings of the Goblins, black pants, a green shirt, a black vest, a black hat with a green ribbon sewed into the brim, and a cape, black on the outside and green on the inside.  A bronze scepter set with fire opals hung from his belt.  His gloves were black with green fingers, but at the moment they were stuffed in his pockets.  He didn’t want to get them dirty.

Will was spending this glorious spring morning gardening.  Weeks earlier he’d cleared a few hundred square feet of land, built a crude wood fence around it and planted various crops.  Not much had come up so early in the season.  Correction, few of the crops he’d planted had come up.  The weeds were growing just fine.  Will hoed them up and tossed them in a pile.

Domo walked up to the garden fence and climbed up on it.  Domo was a goblin, a people known for being stupid and a little crazy.  Standing three feet tall, he had gray skin and ratty black hair.  Domo wore yellow robes and carried a red walking stick that was once part of an enemy flagpole.  He was the closest the goblins had ever come to producing their own leader, even if they refused to follow him.

“This is a new level of weirdness even for you, Will,” Domo said.

“I’m just gardening,” he replied.  “Why does everybody act like I’m biting the heads off dolls?”

“That’s something the guys would accept, even appreciate.  This just plain doesn’t make sense.  Why are you growing food when you get it for free?”

Will leaned the hoe against the fence and wiped sweat off his brow.  “I thought it would be a nice gesture to the innkeeper.”

“I don’t follow you.”

Will pulled his king contract out from his pocket.  “My contract lets me eat free anywhere I go, but I always go to the same inn since it’s the only place nearby.  The innkeeper feeds me three free meals a day, and it’s got to be costing him a bundle.  It won’t be so hard on him if I grow some of my own food.”

Domo stared at him.  “Is this that ‘fairness’ thing you keep going on about?”

“What’s wrong with thinking about other people?”

Domo pointed his walking stick at Will.  “You were taken off your world and tricked into being our King.  You don’t get paid.  Three quarters of the planet’s population hates you.  You’ve almost been killed dozens of times.  What’s fair about that?”

“Nothing,” Will said.  “But just because other people aren’t fair to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be fair to other people.”

“You’ve been here a year and I still don’t get you.”

“Yeah,” Will said wearily.  “A year.”

One year and fifteen days ago, Will answered an ad posted by the law firm of Cickam, Wender and Downe for a manager.  The ad hadn’t mentioned that the job was on the world of Other Place, or that he’d be managing goblins.  In theory he could go home once he found a loophole in his king contract.  But theories get squashed when they run into facts.  The fact was his king contract, while only one page long, had thousands and thousands of lines of print detailing ways he couldn’t get home.  For example, Article 89, subsection 4, paragraph 18, line 2: If the King of the Goblins is hacked into tiny pieces, the largest piece is expected to continue the job.

Since becoming King, Will had accidentally started a war with a human king called Kervol Ket.  Will and the goblins won that war, which wasn’t supposed to happen.  Months later a necromancer with the dreaded Staff of Skulls invaded the kingdom.  Will won that fight, but only with considerable help.  During the winter they’d faced the Eternal Army, ten thousand immortal maniacs who hated everyone.  With help from an army of trolls led by King Gate and an army of men led by King Kervol (who felt cooperation was preferable to dismemberment by the aforementioned lunatics), they buried the Eternal Army under countless tons of rock.

Will considered the defeat of the Eternal Army a partial victory.  They’d ravaged the countryside for weeks before they were buried, forcing countless people to flee for their lives.  In addition, a mysterious man had supported those maniacs using a cheap magic mirror to contact them, and he made the Eternal Army’s march of destruction possible.  Will had no idea who he was or where to find him.  While Will considered himself a merciful person, he had some extremely messy ideas on what he’d do to the man if they should ever meet.

Needless to say, Will wasn’t enjoying his job.

“This happened before,” Domo explained.  “We’ve had other kings try to live off the land.  King Aaron of the Runny Nose tried to raise mackerel.”

“In a landlocked kingdom?” Will asked.

“I did say tried,” Domo replied.  “King Stephen the 498th raised sheep for a while, which proved short lived, if entertaining, when they detonated.”

“Did Vial have something to do with that?” Will asked, referring to the source of all things exploding in the kingdom.

“The jury’s still out on that one.  My point is, some of the morons who came before you tried to pretend they weren’t kings.  It didn’t work.  I figured you were a little more level headed after you won three wars.”

“I’m doing this because of my job,” Will explained.  “I’m surrounded by an army of self professed morons.  I’m fond of them, I appreciate the great things they’ve done, but they’re still morons.  When they aren’t doing great things, they go out of their way to be as dumb as possible.”

Domo laughed.  “Yeah, that’s goblins in a nutshell.”

Will pointed at his garden.  “This is my little piece of normal.  If I have to spend most of my waking hours trying to keep the kingdom from exploding, I want something where success is easy and failure won’t get me killed.”

Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of masonry shattering and crashing to the ground.  Will grabbed his tools and left the garden.  “There’s nothing more I can do here.  Might as well try to keep them from destroying the city.”

“Not going to happen,” Domo said as he followed Will.

The Kingdom of the Goblins had exactly one inhabited city.  Formerly a mining center run by dwarfs, the city was abandoned when local iron deposits were exhausted.  Later a cabal of wizards and a firm of lawyers transformed the place into the Kingdom of the Goblins in a vain and failed attempt to keep the little troublemakers out of everyone’s hair.  The ruined city became the capital.

This assumed the goblins wanted a city (they didn’t) or could maintain it (they couldn’t).  Battered by both the elements and the goblins, the city steadily deteriorated until it reached its present state of decay.  Goblins had transformed part of the city into a maze at the suggestion of a previous king.  Will had convinced the goblins to repair and enlarge the maze to keep them busy.  Then Will’s followers misinterpreted something he’d said and somehow drew the conclusion that he wanted them to enlarge the maze into the rest of the city.  The only way to do that was to first destroy the city.  After decades of ignoring the poorly made buildings or doing only minor damage, the goblins were now actively tearing the place apart.

Crash!  Another building came down, and a dust cloud rose into the sky.  A forty-foot high brick wall circled the capital and hid the extent of the damage being inflicted.  Admittance was granted through a gatehouse or the gaping hole made last year by a catapult.  Will and Domo walked into the city through the gatehouse.  The interior of the city was a disaster, with loose bricks scattered across a central courtyard, dust lingering in the air and a new pile of rubble where only hours before had been a building.

Digger and builder goblins were hard at work hauling away the rubble.  Most goblins belonged to guilds like the diggers, builders, warriors and lab rats.  In this case builders and diggers were doing the demolition work while warrior goblins evicted the residents.

Another building came to the goblins’ attention.  Warrior goblins dressed in miniature WWI German infantry uniforms politely knocked on the door.  When the fish eyed goblin owner came out, a warrior patiently said, “Demo team coming through.  You’ve got five minutes to pack up and leave.”

The fish eyed goblin stared at them.  “What?”

“We’re here to destroy your house,” the warrior clarified.

“But I just signed a lease!”

“Sorry, but progress stops for no man, and especially not for goblins.  We’re doing urban renewal and your house is getting renewed.”

The fish eyed goblin folded his arms across his chest.  “I didn’t budge when King Kervol came knocking!  You think I’m going to move for you?”

“It’s for the maze,” the warrior explained.  “We’re expanding it into the city.  You can live in the new and improved maze when we’re done.”

“I can?” the fish eyed goblin exclaimed.  “Hot diggity dog!  Give me a minute to grab my stuff.”

Will walked over to the demolition team and asked, “Guys, can we slow things down a bit?”

“What for?”

“You’re tearing down houses faster than you’re expanding the maze.”

A goblin snorted derisively.  “Yeah, the guys building the maze are slow as turtles, but we’ll get our part done ahead of time.”

“You don’t need to,” Will said.  “I can’t stop you from tearing the place apart, but you don’t have to evict people until you actually need the space.”

The warriors looked to the diggers and asked, “We don’t?”

A digger shrugged.  “I suppose not.”

The fish eyed goblin ran out of his house and set down a pile of dirty clothes, poorly made tools and a small green frog in a glass jar.  “I’m done.  Let her rip!”

Cheering goblins ran around Will and tore the building to pieces.  Builder goblins could put up these rattletrap houses and knew exactly where to hit to bring them down.  Diggers tore up the foundation and hauled off the bricks.  The warriors enthusiastically hit rocks with their clubs, doing very little to speed up the process.  In one minute there was another pile of rubble and a rising dust cloud.

“At this rate we won’t have a city left in a month,” Will said in disgust.

“Less time than that,” Domo told him.  “Vial wants in on the job, and he’s mixing up a batch of bombs.”

Will muttered under his breath.  “Come on, let’s see if we can save a few of the better off buildings.”

This situation illustrated Will’s problem perfectly.  The goblins listened to him only when they felt like it.  In an emergency they fell in line and at least tried to follow orders, but when there was no danger they acted like crazed toddlers on a sugar high.  Will’s efforts to moderate their behavior often created all new problems.

Vial and a horde of his lab rat goblins came up from the tunnels running under the city.  This could only make matters worse.  Vial was an alchemist, which was basically a chemist who didn’t know what he was doing.  He had short red fur and dressed like a university professor, complete with lab coat and glasses.  That and his mild expression did a lot to hide how dangerous he was.  Backed up by the lab rat guild, Vial could produce large quantities of explosives on short notice.  While Vial was far smarter than your average goblin, he was no less crazy.

“Ah, My Liege, so good to see you,” Vial said placidly.  “I understand we are behind schedule in constructing the maze.”

“Bombs won’t fix that.”

“We haven’t tried.  It would be a learning experience.”

Exasperated, Will said, “Vial, I already have half the city coming down around my head.  I don’t need any more of it destroyed.”

“I could blast out tunnels for you,” Vial offered hopefully.

“No.”  Will looked around the carnage and asked, “Where are London and Brooklyn?”

Another ruined building came crashing down.  London and Brooklyn the troll brothers walked away from it, smiling at their handiwork.  The boys stood over six feet tall and were covered in fine green scales, with London slightly taller and darker green than his brother.  Their ears resembled fish fins and they had serious underbites.  They wore only cotton trousers regardless of the weather, ignoring cold and heat equally.  The trolls had served several Kings of the Goblins as bodyguards and enforcers, where they raised excessive force to an art form.  Still rowdy adolescents at the age of fifty, the boys acted like rugby players or soccer hooligans.

London slapped his brother on the back.  “Now this is more like it!  Lots of smashing and no worries about cleaning up.”

“We’re living the good life,” Brooklyn agreed.

“Everyone please stop destroying the city!” Will screamed.  The trolls and goblins stared at him.  Satisfied he had their attention, he said, “We don’t need to tear down all the buildings even if we’re expanding the maze.”

“Why not?” London asked.

Pointing to the original maze, Will said, “A lot of the maze was built by joining together buildings already here.  You’ll speed up the work if the builders have standing walls to work with.  I need you to stop destroying every house in sight.  London, Brooklyn?”  The trolls nodded.  “You goblins okay with this?”  The goblins nodded.  Will looked around.  “Where’s Vial?”

Boom!  Yet another house was destroyed, but instead of falling down it was blown up.  Broken bits of bricks rained down and the goblins cheered.

“If Vial gets to break stuff then so do we,” Brooklyn said.  The trolls and goblins hurried off before Vial destroyed everything still standing.

Will threw his hands in the air.  “That’s it, I’m out of here.”

Will marched out of the city to the light forests and grasslands outside.  Domo found goblins almost as annoying as Will did, and followed him.  It was a pretty place, with young trees lush with new growth, winding canyons and fragrant wildflowers.  The land had nearly recovered from the damage inflicted by the dwarfs so long ago.  This actually worried Will.

“I was thinking,” Will began.

“It’s a bad habit to get into,” Domo told him.

Ignoring him, Will said, “This land was given to goblins because no one wanted it, but that was a long time ago.  It’s gotten better.  I mean, if I can start a garden, then nothing’s stopping people from farming and ranching here.  Do you think men or elves might try to take it over?”

“Not a chance.”  Domo raise one finger and said, “For one, there are thousands of goblins in the kingdom, and the population’s going up.  We have over ten thousand goblins when there isn’t a sitting king.  Now that you’re here, the contracts that made the kingdom are stronger and draw in even more goblins.  I’d say we have close to twenty thousand goblins and rising.”

“That’s a deterrent,” Will admitted.

Domo raised another finger.  “Two, we have you.”

“Flattery gets you nowhere.  Trust me, I know.”

“This is fact, not flattery,” Domo said.  “You led us to victory over a human kingdom.  That alone would make enemies think twice before invading.  You destroyed the Staff of Skulls and defeated the Eternal Army, both of which should have been impossible.  Other kings are going to figure that if you can defeat an immortal army then you’ll make mincemeat out of a normal one.”

“I had a lot of help with that,” Will reminded him.

“That’s another reason people aren’t going to mess with you.  You made nice with Kervol and allied yourself to King Gate of the trolls.  People might ignore Kervol, but Gate?  Ha!  Nobody wants to fight a troll army.  Gate helped you once and might again.  Mind you, everyone still hates us and you by default, but a lot of the troublemakers will keep their distance out of fear.”

That was another of Will’s problems.  Men, elves and dwarfs considered goblins pests.  Will’s victories made them nervous because they had thousands of goblins living inside their kingdoms.  They’d ignored them up until now, but Will proved how dangerous goblins could be if properly led and motivated.  It wasn’t something other races were comfortable with, and they blamed Will for causing the change.  Death threats and hate mail came by the wagonload, and would have filled the city top to bottom if the goblins didn’t eat it.

Will’s musings were interrupted by Milo the minotaur.  Last winter Milo had petitioned Will to be the maze’s resident monster and Will accepted.  Milo had spent the last few months studying the maze, making suggestions and trying to turn the maze into a tourist destination.

“Ah, Mr. Bradshaw, how good to see you,” Milo said.  The minotaur was unfailingly polite and wore a black frock coat, black pants, horn rimmed glasses and a white dress shirt.  In place of a weapon he carried a briefcase.  “Did you by any chance see two young men come this way?”

“No, why?”

“I met them earlier today in the maze.  It was most extraordinary, the first visitors we’ve had since I came here, and I was hoping to ask for their opinions.  Sadly they’ve run off and I can’t find them.”  Milo might dress and talk like a gentleman, but he was still seven feet tall, heavily muscled and had the head of a bull.  It didn’t occur to him that people might find him frightening.

Will shrugged.  “Sorry, I haven’t seen them.”

Domo pointed his walking stick at a patch of dense brush.  “They’re in there.”

“Ah, excellent!” Milo exclaimed.  Their cover blown, the two men ran off with Milo in hot pursuit.  “Wait!  I’d like you to take a survey!”

Milo wasn’t the only new addition to the kingdom.  Hugh Timbers the dwarf was also nearby, glumly walking through the forest.  Hugh was a talented blacksmith and honorable person.  The barrel chested dwarf had lost his home and workshop to the Eternal Army the previous winter.  Hugh once sold iron goods to the city of Kenton, which was burned to the ground and its people scattered by the Eternal Army.  Without a home, business or customers, Hugh had become a refugee in the kingdom.  No matter how much Will wanted to help, he didn’t have the money or equipment for Hugh to rebuild.

“It’s sad,” Will said.  “Domo, I was wondering why Hugh is still here.  I don’t mind, of course, but he said he’d only be here a little while, and that was months ago.”

“That’s easy.  See how Hugh only has a little gray in his hair?”

“Yeah.”

“That means he’s three hundred years old, four hundred tops,” Domo explained.  “He might live another three hundred years.”

“So his idea of a little while and mine—”

“Have nothing in common,” Domo finished.  “You might die of old age before he leaves.”

“Hi, boss,” a squeaky voice called out.  It was Mr. Niff, the best warrior goblin in the kingdom and a trophy taker responsible for much of the junk that filled the goblin treasury.  Mr. Niff had beady eyes, blue skin and dressed in black.  He didn’t think twice of throwing himself headlong into danger, usually not thinking once if he could help it.  His trademark knife was out, meaning he expected trouble.

“What’s up?” Will asked.

“The guys and me are clearing the kingdom of danger,” Mr. Niff explained.  Behind him, a mob of goblins hauled away sharp objects and filled holes in the ground.

Will frowned.  “That’s unusually helpful.  What brought it on?”

“We got to talking, and we decided we like you,” Mr. Niff told him.  “But you run into danger every chance you get.  Kind of like a lemming that way.  We figured we’d remove threats so you don’t get killed.”

“But the goblins are still building traps all over the kingdom,” Will said.  Trap making was something goblins were good at.  They set traps everywhere, which was the biggest reason why other races didn’t like them.

“Yeah,” Mr. Niff said.  “We don’t want you dead.  It’s okay if you get splattered with moldy yogurt.  We’ll get rid of the dangerous stuff and then see what we can do about the fairy godmother in the kingdom.”

“The what?” Will asked.

“Fairy godmother,” Domo said.  “You can find them in nearly every kingdom helping young women in distress.  Which is odd since we haven’t got any of those…unless there’s something you’re not telling us.”

“Not even a little funny, Domo,” Will said.  “Let’s find her and see what she wants.”

Finding the fairy godmother proved to be easy.  In minutes they saw her walking into the kingdom on a dirt road.  They needed several more minutes to realize they’d found her.  The fairy godmother was a young woman with an athletic build, short brown hair and brown eyes.  She wore a cotton blouse and skirt dyed light blue, mud stained leather boots, and carried a wicker basket in one hand and a wand tipped with a silver star in the other.

The fairy godmother smiled when she saw Will.  “On time and in uniform!  We’re off to a good start.”

Puzzled, Will asked, “We are?  I’m sorry if I sound stupid, but you’re a fairy godmother?”

“Yes.”

Will scratched his head.  “Wouldn’t have guessed it in a million years.”

“Me neither,” Domo admitted.

“Shouldn’t she be older, and fatter?” Mr. Niff asked.

The fairy godmother scowled.  “You saw those stupid billboards, didn’t you?  I hate those things!  They were only up for a year, but everybody remembers them.  They make it impossible to get any work done.  I swear, if I ever find the man who came up with that ad campaign, I’ll kill him with my bare hands.”

“This really isn’t going well,” Will whispered to Domo.  Directing his attention back to the fairy godmother, he said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to annoy you.  Earlier you sounded like we’d already met or spoken.”

“Well of course,” she said.  “I stopped by a month ago and left a message with one of your goblins”

“You did?” Will asked.  He had a bad feeling he knew what happened.

Smiling, she said, “I told your goblin that I needed to set up an appointment for today.  He said he’d put it on your calendar, and when I came back there’d be a catered reception and a marching band and…” she paused before adding, “and the little creep lied to me, didn’t he?”

“Yeah, he did,” Will said.  “Sorry about that.”

Laughter erupted from deep in the woods.  The fairy godmother pointed her wand at the noise and shouted, “All right, which one of you was it?  Come on, owe up or I use the wand!”

Will got between her and the goblins in the woods.  The wand was no doubt magic and could be dangerous.  Speaking quickly, he said, “I’m very sorry.  This kind of thing happens all the time with the guys.  There’s no help for it.  I sincerely hope you don’t take offense, and I’ll do whatever I can to make it up to you.”

The fairy godmother relaxed and lowered her wand.  “That’s a very gentlemanly thing to say.  It gives me hope this is going to work out.”

“What’s going to work out?” he asked.  “I’m still not clear why you’re here.”

She shook his hand and said, “Let’s start with introductions.  My name is Lydia Lajcak, and I’m here to get you a wife.”


© Copyright 2017 ArthurD7000. All rights reserved.

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