Goblin Masks

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

There are exceptions to every rule. Goblins are exceptionally annoying.

Submitted: December 27, 2017

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Submitted: December 27, 2017



Goblins seldom have a place in civilized society, mostly because few being appreciate having their toilets trapped.  Still, there has always been a tendency to blame others for your own failings, and goblins have long been a convenient scapegoat for the crimes of their neighbors.  But on rare occasions goblins find themselves tolerated if not welcomed.

Goblin Masks

Humans had already settled the kingdom of Long Land centuries ago when a fleet of refugees sailed to their shores.  These newcomers were fleeing war and oppression in a neighboring land.  Their ships were so damaged and their supplies so low that they had no choice but to stay where they washed ashore.

King Jasper of Long Land welcomed the newcomers and did his best to settle them among his own people.  Strategically it was a wise move, as Long Land had a small population and needed more citizens to work the land and defend its borders.  Wise it may have been, but it wasn’t popular with either side.  The original population didn’t want to compete with the newcomers for jobs, land and rare government posts.  Newcomers felt they were being given the worst land to settle and denied positions of honor and prestige, effectively relegated to being second class citizens.

While both groups were humans, there were differences in their appearance.  The newcomers were from a different ethnic group than the original residents, with darker skin and curly hair.  Few dwarfs or elves would even notice, but in Long Land it became an instant way to tell if one was an original settler or a newcomer.  The two sides sparred for the next three generations, threatening to tear Long Land apart.

The matter came to a head with King Jasper the IV (the royal family not being known for selecting original names).  He was having one problem after another with his citizens, with the courts being the worst.  If an original settler did not get his way in court he claimed the king didn’t care about his own people.  If a newcomer didn’t get a case settled in his favor, he said the king was discriminating against him.  And yes, calling yourself a newcomer is an odd choice after living in the same place for three generations, but people are like that.

Jasper the IV had finally had enough.  He issued a proclamation that anyone attending a court function, be they judge, jury, bailiff, plaintiff or defendant had to wear a full costume with mask.  This way no one could tell who belonged to which group, thus eliminating the possibility of prejudice.  The proclamation satisfied no one.  Newcomers felt they were being asked to hide who they were and original settlers viewed this as their king caving in to pressure.  The people obeyed because they had no choice, but they protested the move at every opportunity.

Then goblins got involved.

Three months after the proclamation, every goblin in Long Land started wearing elaborate masks.  The masks were made of leather, wood or other cheap material, but decorated beautifully.  The designs were breathtaking in their intricacies, the colors vibrant, the styles dashing.  Long Land had over a thousand goblins, and each wore a unique mask, some even carrying backups should their mask be lost or damaged.  Many goblins didn’t stop there, making or stealing clothes that matched their masks in quality and style.  They still acted like goblins, but they were at least more presentable.

One man grabbed a goblin and asked it about the mask.  Quite confused by the question, the goblin answered, “I thought that’s what we were doing.”

The goblins had observed men and women wearing masks when going to court and other government functions.  These masks were often bland pieces of wood painted white.  It seemed to the goblins like the men were playing some kind of game.  Goblins assumed these were costumes, and poor ones at that, and they set out to upstage the humans.  They spent weeks making surprisingly sophisticated masks to play along with the game the humans had invented.

The people of Long Land were confused regardless of which ethnic group they belonged to.  They were grudgingly getting used to this whole mask idea, even if they thought their king was mad, but the goblins’ masks were…interesting.  One might even call them attractive.  A few men went so far as to steal masks off goblins to use for themselves, a move that inspired jealous neighbors to ask for more attractive masks.

Rich men commissioned artists to craft them masks that expressed their wealth, using gold, silver, jewels and exotic woods.  Men of more modest means copied them with simpler materials but equal beauty.  It soon became a contest as to who could buy or make the most beautiful masks.  Men even wore them when they didn’t need to, thus showing off their wealth and taste to all rather than just those in court.  In the next few years wearing masks became so common that it did what King Jasper the IV wanted but never dreamed possible.  Men couldn’t tell who descended from an original settler and who came from immigrant stock, only how much money and taste they had.

Three more generations passed, and today the people of Long Land wear masks and costumes whenever leaving their homes.  These outfits display the wealth and power of the owner, and they have become as distinctive as fingerprints.  Neighboring kingdoms think the people of Long Land are stark raving mad, but they are also considered hardworking and peaceful, so they put up with it.  Jasper the VII (yep, still reusing the same name) is happy his people aren’t fighting, and he owns the biggest collection of masks on Other Place.

For their part, the goblins are reasonably happy with the situation.  Goblins are slightly less troublesome than in other lands, as they think they’re playing a very long game with the humans.  Men tolerate them so long as their behavior isn’t totally outrageous.  Goblins still make masks with designs equal to their human neighbors, but sometimes come up with truly amazing masks.  They keep these with them in case they’re caught by the authorities and must hand over a mask to buy their way out of trouble.  

Humans in Long Land tolerate their goblins for another reason.  Goblins occasionally trade away masks to get things they want, and sometimes even give them away.  At times goblins will decide they like a person for reasons no one understands, including the goblins!  Such people are generally poor but always of good character.  When this happens, goblins sneak into their homes and leave behind gorgeous masks for their “special friend”.  And if a man is willing to risk his reputation, he can hunt down a goblin and commission a mask.  If the goblin agrees you never know what you’ll get, but it will be unique.

There has been one last consequence of goblins wearing masks.  Under the law any person who comes to court must wear a mask and costume.  As goblins wear masks and fancier clothes, this makes them eligible to go to court and present a case to a judge.  This happens only rarely, usually when a goblin is involving himself in the affairs of his “special friend”.  To the courts’ horror such an act is legal.  This has made for some memorable cases.  To this day judges shudder in terror at the precedent, and no one has forgotten the case of Goblin v Everybody named Sidney.

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