New Goblin Stories 15

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

Goblins can fight when their back is against the wall. They don't fight fair.

Submitted: November 21, 2017

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Submitted: November 21, 2017



Ballup’s Hole was a terrible name for a community for any number of reasons.  It was, sadly, an accurate description.  The seaside town was built along a river that flooded often and had recently begun to silt up.  Homeowners were busy shoveling mud out of their homes and dumping it on the streets.  Humidity was so high that moisture dripped off every structure and tree.  A dense fog was rolling in and blotted out what little daylight remained.  And the town smelled like manure, salt water and rotting fish.

Brody the goblin stared at the revolting town.  “This looks shockingly like a goblin settlement.”

“It has seen better days,” Julius Craton admitted.  Julius was the most famous member of the Guild of Heroes, and also their longest serving.  Word was that gamblers were taking bets on how much longer the poor man would last.  Tall, handsome, well armed with a magic short sword called Sworn Doom, and wearing chain armor and a steel breastplate, he was a sight to intimidate or inspire.  “There’s too much moisture.  Wood structures decay, are rebuilt, and decay again.”

“How long ago were these better days?” Brody asked.  The short goblin had blue skin and darker blue hair.  His features were boyish, so much so that some people refused to believe he was a goblin.  He had two blue antenna-like growths growing from his forehead and four longer ones sprouting from his back.  They served no purpose he’d been able to figure out.  Brody wore blue swimming shorts and carried paddles to strap to his feet and hands when swimming, but nothing else.  He’d learned the hard way that an armed goblin was a threat to too many people.

“Fifteen years ago.”  Julius walked down a rotting wood staircase set into the hillside as he descended to the town.  “My first assignment with the guild was in this kingdom.  Brigands were raiding settlements in the middle of winter to steal their food, and Ballup’s Hole was the next target.  The town was physically better then, but I wouldn’t call those good times.”

“You think we can hire a ship here?”

“It’s the closest town with a harbor.  Whether or not the fishermen are willing to take paying passengers is questionable.  I’m hoping my history with these people might open doors for us.”

They met a man going up the stairs, and Julius stepped aside to let him pass.  This meant stepping in sodding mud with weedy grasses growing out of it.  The man tipped his cap, but instead of moving on he stopped and stared.  “My word.  It’s Julius Craton!  Saints and angels, I thought I’d never see you again!”

Julius smiled.  “My friend and I are passing through, and—”

“Hey!”  The man waved his arms and shouted to men and women in the streets below.  “Hey!  Julius Craton is back!”

A cheer went up among the citizens of the slovenly town.  Humans ran up to greet him and thankfully overlooked Brody.  They laughed and smiled, shook his hand, patted him on the back and offered him food and drink.  It took the fast growing crowd ten minutes to calm down enough for him to speak.

“It’s a pleasure to have such a warm welcome.  I’m glad to see your town is prosperous,” he said without apparent irony.  Julius put a hand on Brody’s shoulder and said, “My friend and I are on our way to Oceanview Kingdom.  I was hoping that one of your fishermen would be willing to provide us transportation there in return for fair pay.”

“Surely you can stay a few days,” a man asked.

A woman glared balefully at Brody.  “Why is he with a goblin?”

“I’m afraid the people of Oceanview need my help as you once did,” he told the crowd.  “As much as I would like to spend time with you, I can’t without leaving others in dangers.  I hope you’ll forgive my poor manners in refusing your generous offer.”

A man in muddy leather clothes pointed at the approaching fog.  “Much as we’d love to help, no boats are leaving harbor until the fog clears.  Sir, our town still exists because of you and your brother warriors in the guild.  Allow us to open our doors to you at least until the weather improves.”

Julius frowned at being delayed.  “I suppose a day lost won’t affect my mission.  Is the Wind’s Whim Inn still in business?”

A portly man in the crowd laughed and waved for him to come further.  “We’re open and happy to have you!”

Brody and Julius were escorted through the sloppy settlement.  Up close it was even more depressing, with garbage thrown out windows onto the street, rats scampering in the alleys and loose dogs yapping at children.  Brody saw signs of goblins, including graffiti like ‘Goblin Builders! Watch it rot while we build it!’  He also spotted a few goblins slinking through the shadows.

They were brought to a two story tall building with mushrooms sprouting out of the walls.  The portly man opened the doors to show the interior a bit better off, with dry floors, sturdy tables and chairs, and a staircase leading to a second floor.  That floor was more like a large balcony overlooking the first floor, and had a bar and five tables with plenty of stools.  Some enterprising goblin had scratched, ‘An apple a day only keeps the doctor away if your aim is good.’ on a wall.  There were large windows facing the ocean that showed the approaching fog.  Brody saw three patrons, but fifteen men and women from the crowd joined them inside.  To their credit, only five of them looked like they would like to kill the goblin.

“Please, take a seat at the bar and I’ll get you a drink,” the portly man said.  He climbed the stairs ahead of Julius and said, “You probably don’t remember me after so many years.  I’m Iggy Wilvet.  Back when the brigands attacked, you handed me a spear and we held the main barricade with the menfolk.  Someone go fetch the sheriff.  He’ll want to meet you, what with you saving his father’s life back then.”

Most of the crowd peeled off.  Some begged forgiveness for doing so and swore they had work they couldn’t avoid.  Others promised to return and bring friends with them.  A middle-aged woman vowed to bring her son, who she’d named after Julius.  This left them with a smaller crowd of admirers determined to stay.

“I’m glad to see you well,” Julius told him.  “Has it been peaceful?”

“No real trouble,” Iggy told him.  He got behind the bar and poured Julius a drink.  “There’s the occasional thief, and we had a strange beast come up from the sea and attack the fish market.  Lost a lot of the catch before we drove it off.  Goblins cause trouble now and again.  Your, ah goblin, he’s tame?”

Julius respected Brody for reasons the goblin never understood, and as always came to his defense.  “I know Brody and saw him risk his life for the good of others.  He has my respect and he deserves yours.”

“A tame goblin, that’s a first,” a boorish woman said.  Julius frowned at her, and the woman had the decency to look ashamed.

Brody was used to that kind of talk.  Goblins were the lowest of the low, and it was partially earned given their reputation for setting traps and causing chaos.  Everyone he met (except Julius) assumed Brody was seconds away from doing something stupid.  From time to time he was tempted to live up to their expectations, but there was something about Julius that changed you.  The more time a person spent around him, the more you wanted to be like him, to make him like you.  Brody had never acted much like a goblin, and after months with Julius he was considered civilized by those who met him.

A younger woman smiled and ran her fingers through Brody’s hair.  “I think he’s cute.  If all goblins were this nice they’d be welcome more places.”

“If we were welcome more places we’d be nicer,” Brody replied.  He walked up to the bar and climbed onto a stool.  “Aren’t most bars on the ground floor?”

“Most bars don’t have to worry about flooding,” Iggy countered.  “I keep the casks up here or they’d mold.  Tarnation, the town wasn’t this wet in my daddy’s day.”

Iggy handed Julius a leather cup of ale.  “If you vouch for the goblin then he’s welcome.  Say, I’d heard you haven’t married yet.”

The drink stopped before it reached Julius’ lips.  “No, I haven’t.  My job leaves no time for family.”

Iggy waved for a serving boy.  “Don’t just stand there, get him a plate.  It’s a pity, sir, truly a pity.  A man shouldn’t be alone.  My oldest, Helga, she’s marrying age, you know.”  Julius nearly choked on his drink, which Iggy didn’t notice.  Instead he continued his sales pitch, saying, “She’s learned good manners and is handy with a needle and thread, and you couldn’t ask for a better cook.”

One of the men punched Iggy in the arm.  “Can you stop trying to palm off your daughter to every passerby?”

“What?  She’d be a good match for him.”

Julius regained his breath and set down the cup.  “I’m flattered you think so highly of me that you’d have me as a son-in-law.  I’m sorry to say that wouldn’t be a good move.  Life in the guild is dangerous and I’d hate to leave her a widow.  You should know that some of my enemies have threated to kill the people I love.  Your daughter would be in danger as my wife.”

Brody stifled a laugh and asked Julius, “Is that the fourth or fifth proposal this year?”

“Eighth,” Julius said under his breath.  “You weren’t around for the more private ones.”

It was a certainty that Julius received offers of marriage, some of them rather indecent, at every town or city he visited.  His reputation for valor, honesty and success in battle drew a steady stream of admirers.  Many left when they learned he was nearly broke (saving kingdoms not being a well paying job when those kingdoms were broke), but some women weren’t deterred by his relative poverty.

Julius honestly didn’t know how to react to such offers.  Brody had seen time and again that Julius was calm and decisive on the battlefield, almost supernaturally so.  Put him in a social situation, however, and he floundered.  He couldn’t relate to people outside of a conflict, and at parties would inevitably retreat to a quiet corner until the confusion was over.

“What sort of problems is Oceanview having that they’d need you?” a young man asked.  “I’d heard they were happy as could be over there.”

“Their king is organizing a raid against pirates,” Julius lied.  “He believes they’re survivors of the old Pirate Lords trying to make a comeback after their masters were defeated.”

The townspeople flinched at the news.  One managed to say, “Mercy, I thought that scourge was long gone.”

Hunting pirates was the cover story for Julius’ trip to Oceanview.  Their king was really interested in wiping out a criminal gang hundreds strong that had taken root in his capital, Sunset City, and he hoped to make the attack a surprise.  Heroes like Julius Craton, Hammerhand Loudlungs the ogre and the nameless elf were heading for Oceanview from different locations, and together with the king’s men would rout the gang.  It promised to be difficult, bloody and not that profitable given Oceanview was deep in debt.  Nonetheless, the Guild of Heroes had promised help because they knew such problems grew if left unchecked.

Iggy slapped Julius on the back.  “Ah, what’s a man like you got to worry about some pirates, eh?  I heard how you showed that loser the Fallen King what for, and after that a snake cult.”

“It was a secret society, not a cult,” Julius corrected him.  A serving boy brought Julius a plate of broiled fish and toasted bread.  “Thank you.  You can’t underestimate your enemies.  I’ve seen too many surprises to take a foe for granted.”

“I’m glad you’re here if there’s pirates about,” Iggy told him.  “Mercy, it seems every time you turn your back there’s another problem.  Monsters, bandits, wars, pirates, lawyer infestations, it never ends.  You ever hear of the philosopher Loopy Joe?”

Julius dug into his meal and passed the fish bones to Brody, who gobbled them up.  “I don’t believe I’ve met him.”

“He doesn’t live far from here.”  Iggy whistled.  “Poor man used to be a university professor with all kinds of awards.  His king had Joe fired for criticizing him and then confiscated his house.  Joe went to live in the wilderness outside Kenton, and ended up smack dab in the path of the Eternal Army.  He lost another house to those immortal loonies.  Now he’s holed up in a cave by the seaside.  We offered to let him live with us, but Joe said he’s safer where he’s at.”

The younger woman next to Brody looked sad.  “The poor man did everything right and lost it all again and again.  It makes you wonder how safe any of us really are.”

A man to Julius’ right tugged on his arm.  “Hey, there’s this elf who comes by all the time trying to get us to buy tree seeds.  He calls them living houses, and says they’ll grow fast and have hollowed out rooms we could live in.  It sounded like bull plop to us, but after replacing my roof three times in ten years, I’m wondering if there’s something to it.  Have you heard about these trees?”

Julius looked up from his meal.  “It’s funny you should mention that.  I’ve heard the same story in four other towns, but never seen these house trees.  I assume it’s some sort of magic…”

Bop!  Brody got hit in the head with an acorn.  He looked around and saw a goblin climbing into the inn from a window.  The other goblin had long black hair, green skin, a short tail and wore rags.  No one else had seen him, and the new goblin waved for Brody to join him.  Brody slipped away while Julius was talking to the humans and went to see the newcomer.

“Hi there.”  Brody tossed him the acorn.  Hitting someone in the head to get their attention was considered acceptable among goblins, provided you threw light objects.

“You have to go.  There are crazy men about.”

Brody pointed at Julius.  “He’s a bit off in the head, but he’s okay once you get to know him.”

“Not him.  Crazy men are coming in with the fog.  They’ve got weapons and are heading for the inn.  Follow me and I’ll get you to safety.”

The other goblin tried to take Brody by the arm, but he took off like a shot and ran over to Julius.  He tugged on the hero’s leg and said, “We’ve got armed men coming this way.”

“Fool goblin, you heard me call for the sheriff,” Iggy scoffed.

Julius stood up and pushed his plate away.  “Why would he come armed to meet me, and with backup?”

The crowd’s jubilant mood died, and they turned toward the inn’s entrance.  Men wearing dark cloaks and black clothes knocked the door open and poured into the first floor.  They were armed, some with swords and the rest with a mix of axes, spears, and one man had a bow.  They spread out and one of them pointed a sword at Julius.

“It’s Julius Craton all right,” the stranger snarled.  “Kill him.”

Black clad men charged up the stairs with two spearmen in front.  Townspeople screamed and tried to flee.  Their panic doubled once they realized the only exit was blocked.  The goblin with the tail climbed out a window and shouted, “Come on, let’s go!”

“I’m very sorry about the mess I’m going to make,” Julius told Iggy.  He ran to the staircase, and on the way he grabbed a table by the leg.  He was still running when he threw it at the spearmen.  The table hit a man in the chest and bowled him over, then knocked over two more men behind him.

The enemy archer notched an arrow and fired.  Julius lifted another table and the arrow struck it.  The enemies on the stairs recovered and pushed on while Julius blocked a second arrow.  He lifted the table over his head and hurled it onto the men below, striking the archer and knocking him to the floor.

Two spearmen reached the second floor and went after Julius.  Brody grabbed a bar stool and went after the one on the right.  He slid the stool on its side and placed it in front of the man.  The spearman was so focused on Julius that he didn’t notice the obstacle until his foot came down between the seat and crossbars.  Brody then shoved the stool as hard as he could, toppling the spearman.

The second spearman lunged at Julius.  Julius stepped aside and grabbed the spear with his right hand and the spearman’s arm with his left.  Instead of pushing him back, Julius pulled the man forward, sending him into and then through a window.  The spearman screamed as he fell to the muddy ground below.

Brody saw the spearman he’d trip scowl and climb to his hands and knees.  He got no farther as Julius ran over and kicked him with enough force to lift the man in the air and spin him onto his back.  The man was already howling in pain when Julius swung his fists like hammers and struck at the base of the man’s ribs, driving the air from his lungs.  Wounded and gasping for breath, he was a threat to no one.

Three more men reached the second floor while Julius and Brody dealt with the first two.  Two men attacked Julius from the front while the third tried to get behind him.  Like the spearmen, they ignored Brody, and they paid for it.  The little goblin grabbed a tankard of ale off a still standing table and threw it in the face of a swordsman.  Julius grabbed the temporarily blinded man and shoved him into a second one, toppling both.

Brody saw the third man veer off to attack him, and the little goblin scooted under a table.  Thunk!  The man’s sword lopped off a table leg and the table tipped over.  He raised his sword for another swing when Julius grabbed him from behind, spun him around and shoved him off the second floor.

Below them, the archer looked up in time to see the swordsman falling onto him, and had just enough time to scream, “Not again!”

The rest of the gang was trying to get up the stairs to join the fight when Brody saw Iggy roll a twenty-gallon barrel across the floor.  The barrel sloshed as he pushed it to the stairs, and rolled down them with a series of bangs as it hit each step.  The foes on the stairs ran back down or dove off to avoid the awkward weapon.  The barrel went on rolling and actually went out he front door.  Bizarre as the scene was, it bought Julius and Brody precious seconds.

The remaining swordsmen facing Julius scrambled to their feet and found the hero charging them.  He was on top of them before they could attack, so close they couldn’t use their swords effectively.  He drove his fist into one man’s gut and doubled him over, leaving Brody to clobber the man over the head with a stool.  The second man backed up, careful to stay away from the stairs and edge of the second floor.  His caution spared him only for a moment.

Julius pulled the sword off his belt, taking it scabbard and all.  The last of the three swordsmen tried an overhead swing, which Julius blocked.  This left him open as the swordsman drew a dagger from his belt and tried to stab Julius in the gut.  The blade hit his chest plate and skidded off it.  Julius stepped forward and jammed the butt of his sword into the man’s gut.  The swordsman gasped and was pushed back, where Brody waited with the stool he’d grabbed.  He struck the man in the back of the knees, knocking him over backwards.  Julius kicked him off the second floor to the growing pile of men below.

“They really need railings in this place,” Brody said.

Iggy ran up to them with a pitcher full of ale.  “We used to have them.  Termites, they’re devils on six legs.”

The rest of the gang forced their way up the stairs.  Brody couldn’t figure out why they were so determined.  So far they’d lost six men with nothing to show for it.  It should have been enough to make them flee.  Regardless of their losses, four axmen joined the battle, followed by their leader with a sword.

“The town sheriff is on his way,” Julius said as they advanced.  “Townspeople will rally to him and overwhelm you.  You can only find death here.  I give my word that if you surrender you’ll face justice but not execution.”

“Your word means nothing!” the enemy leader yelled.  “Your ways are slavery, your honor a lie and your name is poison!  Your death is freedom to the people!  Kill him!”

The axmen formed a line and charged.  Iggy splashed ale in their faces, but they’d expected this and all but one turned away in time.  The enemies chopped apart or knocked over furniture in their way.  Julius kept his sword sheathed but held it tight.  He gripped the handle hard and prepared to draw his blade.

That was when the inn’s patrons ran screaming into the enemy’s rear, armed with bottles, stools, kitchen knives and their fists.  Seeing Julius face these foes and win had replaced their fear with courage and then rage.  The axmen cried out in shock as eighteen men and women swarmed over them, grappling them, striking them, even biting them.  Numbers and surprise was enough to bring the four men to their knees and then the floor.

An older man put an axman in a headlock and punched him in the face.  “We stood strong once, and we’ll do it a thousand times more!”

“You fools, we’re doing this for you!” the axman screamed.  That earned him another punch to the face.

Alone and facing a man better armed, better armored and battle hardened, the enemy leader should have run for his life.  Instead he ran screaming into the fight and went straight for Julius.  He slashed at Julius’ exposed face, and Julius barely raised his sword in time to block the swings.  The man kept screaming, droplets of spit spraying from his mouth, sweat pouring off him as he attacked.

Brody jumped onto the pile of outraged citizens and defeated axmen.  He ran across the struggling men and women before jumping onto the enemy leader’s back and wrapped both arms around his face.  The man swung wildly with his sword while he grabbed Brody with his free hand and pulled.  Brody grunted under the strain but held on.  Julius batted aside the enemy leader’s sword and punched him hard.  The blow staggered the leader and was followed by four more punches.  The leader screamed in outrage and pain before two more hits brought him to his knees.  One last punch to the gut dropped him alongside his men.

The fight was over less than five minutes after it started.  There was no cheering the victory or toasting, just exhausted men and women glad to be alive.  Their enemies were so battered that few could stand and none could offer battle.

Julius helped Brody up.  “Are you hurt?”

“I’ll heal.”  Brody pointed at the man at Julius’ feet.  “This seemed personal.  Do you know him?”

Julius took the man by the shoulders and set him against a wall.  He took off his hood to reveal a young man barely old enough to shave.  “No.  He hasn’t got scars or tattoos.  Iggy, have you seen him before?”

Iggy left his patrons holding the last four men prisoners and headed over.  He stopped in front of the leader and frowned.  “Not in my whole life.”

Battered and broken, the youth spat at Julius.  “You killed my father!”

Julius stared at the youth.  “I’ve fought for fifteen years.  I imaging that I’ve killed quite a few men’s fathers.”

“You don’t even remember him!” the youth screamed.  “I was a child when my father joined the rebellion against the king.  I was four when I heard you’d killed him and all the others.  Our movement died, our hope died, our chance for a future died at your hands!  You called us brigands when we were trying to save these people!”

“Save us?” Iggy spat.  “You robbed others and would have done the same to us, leaving whole families to starve.  Help like that we don’t need!”

“We needed food for the revolution!  We could have overthrown the king and recast the kingdom.  Taxes would be lower, punishments lighter.”

Brody picked through the belongings of the defeated men.  There was some nifty loot here.  “And the few who survived would have appreciated it.”

One of the axmen stared in horror at Julius.  “We trained for month.  You, you beat us and didn’t even draw your sword.”

Julius unsheathed his short sword and held it up.  The magic blade glowed like a lantern, lighting up the entire inn.  He swung it at an enemy’s sword on the floor and hacked through it as if it were made of balsa wood.  “I wanted to question you after the fight.  Sworn Doom tends to leave enemies in pieces.”

It’s one of my strong points,” the sword said.  People gasped and Julius sheathed his blade.

Armed men raced into the inn, led by a black and gold clad man with a shield and saber.  Iggy pointed to the man in black and gold and said, “Sheriff, the inn was attacked.  These vermin were after Mr. Craton.”

The sheriff nodded to Julius.  “You’re a blessing wherever you go, sir.  We’ll put these dogs in chains and turn them over to the king’s men the first chance we get.”

Men with the sheriff took change of the defeated revolutionaries and dragged them away.  Their leader had to be carried out after the injuries he’d taken.  He stared balefully at Julius, screaming, “My men and I are lost, but hundreds more stand ready to strike.  You can’t resist the future!”

Brody watched the men until they were gone and then glanced at Julius.  “You think he’s bluffing?”

“No.  Those men were determined and already inside the town.  Their weapons were in good condition and worth over a hundred guilders.  This has the hallmarks of an organized and well-financed movement.  We’re going to have to deal with this before we move onto Oceanview.”

Iggy neared Julius.  “Sir, ah, what you said to the fool boy about his father…”

Julius looked down.  “Villains have family the same as the good.  I’ve tried to fight for honorable causes, but there’s no denying that I’ve left wives widowed and children orphaned.  Iggy, I appreciated your help and that of the others here, but you should have left me to handle this.  I’m the only one here with armor!  You could have been killed.”

The older man in the crowd spat.  “I fought beside you once, and I’ll be a goblin’s uncle before I let you stand alone.  No offense.”

“No offense taken,” Brody told him.

Iggy pointed his empty pitcher at Brody.  “If he can help then so should we, and it looks like you’re going to need us again sooner rather than later.”

Sore and tired, Brody sat down in a corner.  Hundreds of armed men?  Mercy!  Things were about to get crazy in Ballop’s Hollow.  He saw the green goblin climbed back into the inn and give him a pitying look.

“I tried to get you out in time,” the other goblin said.  “Why wouldn’t you come?”

It was a good question, one which Brody had trouble answering.  In the end he pointed at Julius, who was already speaking with the townspeople about how many weapons they had and which towns were close enough to turn to for help.  Julius had been in fights as bad or worse than this since he was fifteen.  Chances were good he’d die in battle long before he got white hair.

“Julius saves people,” Brody finally said, and went to help his friend.  “Someone’s got to save him.”

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