New Goblin Stories 13

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Aardvarks aren't the solution to life's problems, but with a little creativity they could be.

Submitted: July 21, 2017

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Submitted: July 21, 2017

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Most goblins were a little mad, a touch off in the head, but Yips was in a category all his own.  The red skinned goblin let his orange hair grow long and wild, and wore nothing except damaged trousers.  People who met him could see in his eyes that the goblin had a screw loose with that maniacal grin and the way he stared.

The town of Radcliff had long ago (and reluctantly) accepted Yips’ shortcomings.  They’d tried evicting him many times, and on several occasions men had attacked him.  Both ended badly, and afterwards town leaders had offered a truce of sorts.  Yips would stay at the outskirts of town and no one would bother him.  On good days Yips remembered his end of the deal.

Today was not a good day.

“Tortoise races,” Yips muttered as he scampered through the alleys of Radcliff.  “I could arrange tortoise races and take bets.  Everyone would get bored and wander off before the races ended, and I could keep the wagers.  It’s brilliant!  I need to find which bars tortoises hang out in and hire them.”

Radcliff was a logging town that sent timber down the Not At All Magnificent Rolling River to Sunset City, and was totally without tortoises.  It also lacked dragons, llamas, cheetahs and cantaloupes.  This was a problem because most of Yips’ plans involved one or more of these things.  As a result most of his plans failed utterly, although there was some excitement when he’d invited the dragon Scald to settle in Radcliff.  That had been three years ago, and not only had town leaders been unable to get rid of the dragon in that time, but Scald was also way behind in her rent.

Yips dug through a pile of garbage in search of valuables.  His hypothetical tortoise helpers would no doubt demand pay upfront.  He came up with a moldy apple and chicken bones, which he ate.  He was halfway through his revolting meal when a rare glimpse of common sense got through Yips’ mind.

“Wait, I haven’t seen a single tortoise in Radcliff, and I’d need two to have a race.  No, no, I need someone else to help me.  Hmm, who could help?”

He snapped is fingers and smiled.  “Aardvarks!  That’s perfect!”

Yips ran off into the night, babbling to himself as he went.  “Aardvarks would be much better.  They dig tunnels, and once they were underground there’d be no way for people to tell whether they’re even going in the right direction, or going anywhere at all.  I could still keep the bets, and I’m sure aardvarks work cheaper than tortoises.”

It was looking very much like tonight would go like most of Yips’ nights.  He would run himself ragged looking for animals, plants, things or people who were nowhere near the dingy city, assuming they existed at all.  By morning he’d forget whatever had driven him and find a new obsession, and then another after that.  The people of Radcliff had decided Yips was mostly harmless, and most of the time they were right.

This night was different.  Yips heard men whispering not far from him.  That was odd, as it was so late that few men were out besides criminals.  Yips smiled and followed the sound to its source.  Maybe they knew where he could find aardvarks.

He found the men and was instantly disappointed.  There were four of them dressed in black and armed with short swords, clubs or daggers.  Yips nearly wrote them off as thieves when he saw they all wore gold amulets around their necks.  The amulets showed a pair of open blue eyes, with lapis for the coloring.  That was unusual.  Even stranger, one man carried a bundle of papers and wood bucket.

“The town watch won’t come through here again for an hour,” one of them said.

A second man shook his head.  “That’s not enough time.  They’ll see the flier and tear it down before the people can read it.  We’ll have to put it up at the edge of the alleys so he won’t see them right away.  Morning’s light will make them easily seen.”

“What about your magic inscriptions?” asked the first.  “The guards can’t tear them down.”

“But they can paint over them.  I haven’t found a way around that yet.”

“It takes a lot out of him to do that,” added a third man.  “He’ll be useless for days if he puts up too many magic versions of the papers.”

Annoyed, the second man snapped, “I’m doing the best I can.”

Yips snuck in closer as the men took out a brush and slathered paste from the bucket onto a section of wall.  They pressed a sheet of paper onto the paste and smoothed it out, then stepped back to study their work.  The flier was covered in flowery writing in blue ink, and started with the words ‘no secrets’.

“It’s not enough,” the first one complained.  “We’re only reaching a few towns this way, and only those people who can read.  What good is it to reveal the truth to the masses when they don’t hear it?”

The second man pressed a finger against the chest of the first.  “We are not doing public speeches.  The risk is too great and our movement is too small to take losses.  If the authorities took one of us alive they could force him to talk.  This isn’t perfect by a long shot, but we have to be careful or our message won’t be the only thing to die.”

Yips was as silent as an owl as he slipped in close to the flier.  It was astounding that someone with such a poor grip on reality could read, but Yips was a walking contradiction.  There was just enough light for him to read it.  The flier had a good start by proclaiming leaders were keeping the truth from their people, but from there it went downhill fast.  The Coral Ring merchant guild was trying to import sweet bark trees?  Some rinky-dink king wanted to hire ogre mercenaries?  That was boring!

“The message will spread!” the second man insisted.  “Men will read it and tell others.”

The fourth man spoke for the first time.  “If you keep making so much noise you’ll bring the town watch down on us.”

The others looked down, one offering a weak, “Sorry.”

“Bloody idiots,” the fourth man muttered.  “Wait, where’s the flier?  It’s gone.”

The men panicked when they saw he was right.  The flier they’d just posted on the wall had been stolen while they were standing right next to it.  They hadn’t seen it disappear, not surprising since they’d been arguing.  It took them a few seconds to see Yips sitting a short distance away studying the flier.  He turned it sideways and then upside down until he gave up and ate it.

“That was for your own good,” Yips told them.  He pointed an accusing finger at them and scolded, “You should be ashamed.  That was so boring I thought I’d fall asleep before finishing it.”

The fourth man sighed in relief.  “Praise all above, it’s just a goblin.”

“Who ate our flier!” the second shouted.  “You’re suppressing the truth!”

“No one was going to read that!” Yips yelled back.  “There’s no entertainment value in that hog slop.  You need aardvarks and tortoises and cheetahs.  Say the Coral Ring is run by aardvarks and importing cheetahs.  Then people will read it.”

The first man stomped his foot.  “That’s not the truth!”

“Be quiet,” the fourth man said.  He tried to grab the first one by the shoulders, but the angry man shook him off.

“It’s an abomination is what it is,” Yips said.  He stood up and marched over to the furious man.  Pointing at the remaining fliers, he told them, “That is dull and tiresome and not at all what graffiti is supposed to be.  You should be ashamed!  Good penmanship, though, but no aardvarks.”

“Enough,” the first man said.  “We’re wasting time.  Spread out and post the fliers before dawn.  We can get the other towns here before the week’s over.”

The fourth man finally lost his composure.  “What exactly is wrong with you?  You just detailed our plans in front of a witness.  This is supposed to be a secret society, secret as in don’t talk about it!”

“He said it in front of a goblin,” the third man said.  “I don’t think the little pest is going to even remember this in the morning, and no one will believe him if he talks.”

“Aardvarks!” Yips yelled.  He slipped between the bickering men and grabbed the remaining fliers, then ran off, screaming, “You’re not getting these back until there are aardvarks in them!”

The four men chased after him, the second one screaming, “Get back here with those fliers!  They’re expensive!”

Yips ran through the town, the fliers clutched to his chest.  In theory the chase should have been short and ended badly for the goblin, but he knew these streets and the men didn’t.  That meant he knew where every pothole was, every slippery patch, every narrow alley, and he steered the men into every one of them.  The men cursed as they tripped, fell and banged into one another.  They were so intent on catching Yips (and the lighting was so poor) that they didn’t realize that Yips was leading them in a circle back to where they’d met.  The chase ended when the first man accidentally kicked over the bucket of paste they’d left behind and splattered it over the other three.

“You idiot!” the fourth man bellowed.  He tried to scram off the paste on the corner of a building.

“My shirt’s ruined!” yelled the second man.

“Forget about ruined, it’s marked!” the fourth yelled at him.  The other three stared at him, not understanding the risk.  “Secret organization, you fools, means you don’t draw attention to yourselves.  Clothes covered in paste stand out.  Men are going to notice us and ask questions, and none of us have spare clothes to change into.”

Desperate, the second man said, “The fliers.  We don’t have enough gold to print up more.  We have to get them back.”

The first pointed at the mouth of the alley.  “There’s the goblin!  And…there’s the town watch.”

Radcliff had trouble with drunken loggers, along with bandits, thieves and the occasional monster, and town leaders hired watchmen with the skills to deal with these problems.  The strong, heavily armed and battle hardened men could end a fight fast and had done so often.  When the ten watchmen saw four armed men in an alley, paste or no, they assumed the worst and drew their swords and raised their shields.

“What’s this shouting about at such a late hour?” a watchman demanded.  “Who are you?”

Still holding the fliers, Yips pointed at the four men and said, “They were putting up bad posters.”

“Bad?” the watchman asked.  Yip handed him one, and the watchman scowled as he read it.

“It’s an affront to all that is good and noble about graffiti, with a total lack of aardvarks,” Yips declared.

Watchmen cared little for goblins and nothing about aardvarks, but they scowled at the sight of the flier and its blue ink.  Their leader said, “We were warned that someone’s been putting up this trash in neighboring towns.  Drop your weapons and kneel!”

The four men made a break for it with the watch in hot pursuit.  The second man raised his right hand and drew it back like he was going to throw something, except his hand was empty.  He uttered arcane words and an icy dagger formed in his hand.  He threw it, but a watchman blocked it with his shield.  A crust of ice inches thick spread across the shield, and it grew so heavy the watchman threw it down.

“Anton, cast another spell!” the first man shouted.  It was the first time one of them had openly addressed another by name, and their fourth member scowled at such an obvious blunder.

“That’s the only combat spell I know!” Cried out Anton the second man.  “Scatter!”

Watchmen broke into teams and followed the fleeing suspects.  It was a long chase, and unfortunately a fruitless one as their enemy escaped in the darkness.  By dawn they returned to where they’d first seen the men.

“They got away,” a watchman said to another.

The other watchman grunted.  “This time.  Check for more of those fliers and rip down and you find.”

“That goblin had a lot of them,” another watchman pointed out.  “Where’d he go?”

* * * * *

Dozens of fliers showed up across Radcliff over the next ten days, no two of them alike.  They included countless typos, massive plot holes and seemingly endless references to aardvarks.  Yip was in chicken coop with a feather quill and pot of black ink, ‘correcting’ the last few fliers when the door opened.  He looked up from his work, as did the hens, to find an older man dressed in blue and white robes.  The older man carried a wood staff with a glowing tip, and when he pointed it t Yips’ fliers it glowed brighter.

“Hello,” the man said.  He smiled and approached Yips.  “What’s that you’ve got there?”

“It’s an advertisement for aardvark races,” Yips said proudly.  “It used to be boring stuff, but I fixed it.”

“So I see.”  The older man spotted a flier that Yips hadn’t altered.  He pointed his staff at the flier and asked, “May I see that one?”

“But it’s boring!”

“I’m an Archivist,” the man explained.  Yips’ confused look prompted him to add, “We study ancient history and try to recover lost secrets.  We like boring things.”

Yips looked at an unaltered flier and frowned.  His mind was trying to work, a task it was unaccustomed to.  “This isn’t ancient.  Why would you want it?”

“But it is a secret,” the Archivist countered.  Yips handed over the flier, and the Archivist read it.  “Oh dear.”

Yips took it back and went to work changing it.  “See, totally boring.”

“Not to the right people,” the Archivist replied.  To Yips’ amazement, the man looked profoundly worried by the flier.  “Making public the king’s efforts to hire mercenaries could do terrible damage.  It shows his weakness and could encourage others to take advantage of him before he gets the help he needs to defend his lands.  Oh Anton, what have you done?”

The Archivist looked terrible.  His skin paled and his lips trembled every so slightly.  Yips was shocked by the sudden change and put down his work.  The goblin may have been half mad, or even three quarters mad, but at heart he was a good person, and took the Archivist’s hand in an effort to comfort him.

“You don’t look so good.  I’ll get you an aardvark.”


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