Goblin Stories IV

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The end of a friendship is always tragic, more so when one of the friends has a catapult.

Submitted: December 26, 2014

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Submitted: December 26, 2014

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It was a warm, windy day as Thipins the goblin finished work on his catapult, dubbed The Ultimate Revenge Machine (patent pending).  Thipins was big for a goblin, with long tangled hair and tanned skin.  His clothes were worn and tattered, which didn’t bother him.  Thipins also had sharp spikes growing out of his shoulders.  While these could potentially be used as weapons in a fight, the thought had never occurred to him or any of the goblins he lived with.

“Hand me the rope,” Thipins told Campots, another builder goblin.  Campots gave him twenty feet of rope, and Thipins lashed two large timbers together.

“Are you sure about this?” Campots asked.  He was spear bald and had turquoise blue skin.  Campots was a big believer in rope and never went anywhere without fifty feet of it wrapped around his waist, shoulders, head and arms.  There was another thousand feet of rope in his home, and he wanted to get another thousand before autumn.

Thipins turned around to look at his friends.  There was a small horde gathered to help out and watch him fire the catapult, but they all looked doubtful.

“Sure I’m sure,” he told them.  Thipins patted the catapult, and something went twang.  “What you see here is the perfect tool for bringing that high and mighty troll to his senses.”

The catapult was quite frankly a piece of garbage.  It was half as big as a human made catapult and nowhere near as powerful, but the faults didn’t stop there.  It was made of low quality timber, with many of the boards cracked or sprouting leaves.  Half the thing was held together with fraying rope, while the other half was built with rusty nails.  Odds were it would fall apart on the first use, like most goblin catapults, but that one shot was all Thipins needed.

“It took us three days to build the first catapult, and five days to build the second one when the first one tore itself apart,” Thipins said.  “And there were some issues with the second one, but everyone recovered.  Now the third catapult—”

“We agreed not to talk about that one,” Campots reminded him.

Thipins nodded.  “Fair enough.  We learned a lot of ways not to do it, so this one has to work!”

Campots looked down.  “That’s not what I meant.”

“It’s going to work!” Thipins shouted.  He grabbed Campots by the shoulders and said, “Everything else failed.  I’ve tried pit traps and snares.  I got an order of stink bombs from the lab rat goblins in The Kingdom of the Goblins, for all the good those did.  And my pie trap?  One meat pie straight to the chest, and what did he do?  He scraped it off and ate it!”

Thipins walked away from his fellow goblins, stopping when he reached the dirt wall.  The goblins lived underground, as was normal for their kind, but where they lived was unusual.  They were unofficial residents of Troll City #118, a city of five thousand trolls.  The goblins had dug out their home underneath one of the giant stone domes the trolls used.

It was a good place to live.  There were no serious threats from outsiders.  No one was fool enough to bother this many trolls, and the goblins lived under their protection.  Food wasn’t an issue since the trolls generated enough garbage that the goblins always had enough to eat.  The trolls themselves were fairly tolerant of their goblin neighbors, which in this case was the problem.

Campots and another goblin went over to comfort Thipins.  “It’s not your fault.  You know how trolls get once they grow up.”

“I will not be ignored!” Thipins declared.  “Look, I’ve seen Lambeth throw a goblin fifty feet for switching his salt with sugar.”

“That was before he grew up and got a teaching job at Bridger University,” Campots reminded him.  “He’s calmed down a lot now that he’s bigger.”

Thipins raised a finger and said, “We know he still throws people around.  Last month he threw that guy from the Peck Merchant House out of the city and set the guy’s cargo on fire.”

Campots shrugged.  “Not sure what else you’d do with black market wyvern eggs.  Can you imagine what would have happened if they’d hatched?  But that doesn’t mean he’ll pay attention to you.”

Thipins frowned.  He’d been friends with the troll for years.  Thipins would set traps for Lambeth, and Lambeth would inevitably set them off.  The troll would get angry and chase the goblin.  Sometimes Lambeth caught him and threw him in the nearest pond or river.  That’s the way the game was played.

But then everything changed.  Lambeth began asking strange questions about ethics and morality.  He spent lots of time in the libraries even as he bulked up from 300 pounds to a whopping half ton of muscle and bone.  The troll began to anticipate Thipins’ traps and disarm them, and even when he set one off, he didn’t chase the goblin or even shout at him.  Then Lambeth got a job teaching philosophy at the university and hung around with boring, dull as dry toast academics.  It was infuriating!

“We’ll get him back,” Thipins promised the others.  “We’re going to remind him that he’s a raging, tough as nails, in your face, take no prisoners, not paying the bar tab kind of troll!  Are you with me?”

There were no cheers from the goblins, but they did grab hold of the catapult.  Thipins opened the door going outside and led them on.

Outside their concealed home was a cluster of massive stone domes.  Some of them were two hundred feet high and twice as wide.  Paved roads ran between the domes, and there were trees and bushes along the road.  The nearest troll was a mile away and busy planting new trees.

The goblins pushed their catapult down the street as fast as they could.  Bits were already falling off and a wheel was wobbling, a bad sign, but Thipins was certain he’d get his one shot before it broke.  They stopped at the west end of a large dome that housed the extension campus of Bridger University.

Troll domes had windows to let in light and fresh air, but they could be closed from the inside during bad weather.  The one window Thipins needed open was a hundred feet off the ground and closed.  A goblin used a lantern to flash a light, and another goblin inside the dome opened the window.  That goblin also lowered a rope for Thipins to climb up.  Thipins went up the rope as fast as he could, stopping on the edge of the window with the other goblin.

Thipins looked into the inside of the dome, where Lambeth was teaching an ethics course.  The room was large enough to house the fifteen trolls in the class, with stone benches and a chalkboard on a wall.  The troll students were scaly brutes, each as big as Lambeth and with the fish fin ears, serious underbites and bulging muscles common to the species.

And there was Lambeth, his brilliant green scales making him stand out like a faceted emerald.  Thipins’ old friend wore nothing but cotton trousers and was standing next to the chalkboard, droning on as he wrote.

“A common fallacy is to assume strength equates worth, and that those with more strength are superior to those without,” Lambeth told his students.  “But power unwisely used is wasted, and strength is relative.  Dragons are stronger than trolls, after all, as are giants, adult tentacled horrors and the giant mollusks off the Lele Island chain.  Should we assume ourselves superior to some beings because of our strength, or that we are inferior to others on the same basis?  Doing so reduces a sentient being’s worth to how much they can lift, clearly a flawed system.”

There was more, but Thipins didn’t need to hear it.  Lambeth was next to the chalkboard, not moving a step in either direction.  Reassured that he didn’t have to deal with a moving target, Thipins climbed back down to the catapult and his fellow goblins.  They adjusted the catapult’s position, which was enough to shake off a dog collar they’d nailed to the siege engine.  Two more goblins ran up with buckets full of musk ox manure.  They poured it into the basket on the catapult arm and backed away.

Thipins stuck a finger in his mouth and held it up to judge the wind speed.  He shifted the catapult an inch back and grabbed the lever.

“Good luck,” Campots said.

Whap!  The catapult fired its disgusting cargo up and through the window, and the goblins cheered.  But even better things were to come.  They heard shouts of, “I say!” and, “What’s all this!” coming from inside the dome.  Capping the day’s achievements, the catapult didn’t fall apart or accidentally throw anyone.

“You did it!” Campots shouted.

“Maybe,” Thipins said.  He climbed back up the rope in record time and rejoined the goblin at the window.  The shot had been perfect, and Lambeth was covered in dung.  Other trolls hurried over to help clean him off.  Thipins watched Lambeth, waiting for the explosive shout of outrage he knew was coming.

“It came right through the window,” a troll said to Lambeth.

Lambeth finished cleaning off, and a thoughtful expression crossed his face.  “An impressive shot.  It would be interesting to do the math on that.”

At once the trolls cleaned off the chalkboard and began working out how hard it would be to hit their teacher with manure.  One troll left and dragged in the catapult (minus the wobbling wheel), and the trolls studied it to determine how much force it could generate.  The chalkboard soon filled with diagrams and numbers.

Thipins watched in dismay as a prank he’d worked on for weeks was reduced to a physics equation.

Silently he climbed down the rope with the other goblin.  He met the horde below, and the look on his face told them he’d failed.  Lambeth wasn’t going to chase him and shout death threats.  He wasn’t going to do anything to them at all.

Campots patted Thipins on the back.  “Tough break, pal.”

The other goblins left, for there wasn’t going to be any chaos or confusion to enjoy.  Only Thipins stayed.  He waited until Lambeth finished with his class and came out.  The troll looked at him, displaying no emotion.  Thipins looked him in the eye and said, “You’re no fun anymore,” then marched off.

“An A for effort, little one, but I know the only way to beat a prankster is to ignore him,” Lambeth chuckled.  He looked at his classroom’s window.  It was a long way up and not a large window, which made hitting it a credible accomplishment.  The catapult had done the job even though it was made of scrap lumber the trolls had judged useless and abandoned.  Catapults were also notorious inaccurate, hitting only in the general area of where they were aimed.  Add in a wind from the north west at twenty miles an hour and Thipins had done surprisingly well…far better than a goblin should have been capable of.  Now that Lambeth thought about it, the shot should have been impossible.

“Goblins are supposed to be foolish, so how could he do that?” Lambeth mused.  He broke into a run, shouting, “Thipins, wait!”


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