Goblin Stories V

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
When goblins are feeling helpful, start running.

Submitted: December 30, 2014

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Submitted: December 30, 2014

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“I was sure they’d give up by now!” Thipins shouted as he and Campots ran out of town.  The mob behind them was fifty strong, an improvement over the two hundred men and women who’d started the chase.  But those fifty were a determined lot, and nothing would shake them off the goblins’ trail.

“These people can’t take a joke!” Campots shouted back.  “They’re not too big on taking the truth, either.  I thought everyone knew the mayor had a mistress.  We figured it out in less than a day!”

“And needed half that long to prove it,” Thipins gasped.

Thipins and Campots left the human town and ran into a patch of woods, the trees young and growing close together.  For the goblins it was a minor issue to slip between them.  The humans had a much harder time of it as they forced their way through the young trees, snapping some of them in half as they pushed forward.  But the farther they went the harder it got, for the branches of the broken trees caught on branches of ones still standing to form a formidable barrier.  They finally gave up the chase and fell back, leaving Thipins and Campots to make good their escape in the growing darkness.

“The tourism board is going to have a lot of explaining to do,” Thipins said.

“So is the mayor.  He was old enough to be that girl’s granddad, and a whole lot heavier than she was.  I understand it’s the same way with elephant seals.”

Thipins rested against a thick tree deep in the woods.  The builder goblin had long brown hair and spikes jutting out of his shoulders.  Otherwise he was a typical goblin, dirty, stupid and possibly insane.  “Do you think we misjudged the situation?”

“I don’t see how,” Campots told him.  Campots was a builder goblin and a rope hoarder, with fifty feet wrapped around his arms, chest and even his head.  It was hard to see his turquois blue skin under the rope, and would have been even harder had he kept the extra hundred feet he’d brought for this trip.

“Well, live and learn,” Thipins said.  He and Campots continued on, the day’s disaster already out of his mind.  “That’s what I love about traveling.  You go to a new place, you learn new things.”

“Like not to tell a man’s wife about his mistress while they’re together,” Campots said.  “That’s one I’m going to have to remember.”

“Remember what?” Thipins asked.

Campots scratched his head and shrugged.  “I forgot.  So, what’s the next town on this road?”

Thipins took a map from his pocket and unfolded it.  The setting sun offered just enough light to read it.  “Says here there’s a town named Last Light a few miles from here.We should make it before dawn.”

“We’ll have to talk to their mayor when we get there.  I don’t want any more misunderstandings.”

Night fell fast so late in the year.  The pair had been traveling ever since Thipins lost his troll friend.  It had to happen, for trolls lose their impatience and anger as they age, making them poor targets for goblin pie traps.  Thipins had taken it poorly and left troll lands, and Campots had come along to keep him company.

“I’d just like to say how unfair it is that the mayor didn’t get chased out of town,” Campots said.

“That we know of,” Thipins countered.  “His wife looked pretty steamed.”

Campots nodded.  “That was a mighty big frying pan she was swinging at him.”

With the sun down the air quickly cooled.  Campots shivered, for the ropes and rags he wore couldn’t keep out the cold.  “You mind if we find somewhere to spend the night?  Nothing fancy so long as it’s out of the wind.”

The pair came out of the woods onto farm fields.  The crops had been harvested weeks ago, leaving little more than stubble and dirt.  But where there was fields there were farmers, and farmers meant barns and attics to hide in.

“Jackpot,” Thipins said as he saw a small house in the middle of the field.  It was wood with a thatched roof and attached barn.  “It should be warm enough in there, especially if they have sheep or cows.  They make a lot of heat.”

Both goblins hurried across the field and stopped outside the house.  There was a light on inside, and a human couple wearing simple cotton clothes was cleaning up after supper.  The husband and wife looked grim as they scrubbed out their wood bowls and plates.

“The war’s already cost us half our harvest,” the wife said.  “How much more can they take?”

“All of it,” her husband said.  “They’ll take every grain of wheat to feed the army.  It won’t be the first time I’ve had to poach game to keep fed.  It’s you and Joshua I worry about.  I don’t know if I can catch enough for the three of us.”

The woman looked down.  Tears brimmed around her eyes as she said, “The duke has loss many men, and mercenaries cost too much.  What if they conscript you?  I’ve seen it done!  They grab every man well enough to walk and hand them spears, as if that makes a man a soldier.”

The husband embraced his wife.  “I’ll not leave you and the baby.  Come what may, our son will have a father.  Rest now.  Worry won’t solve our problems, and tomorrow will have work enough for us both.”

The couple went to bed, and Thipins and Campots snuck in once they were asleep.  The cooking fire was out, but the embers were still warm, and the goblins settled down by the ashes.

“Bummer about these folks getting pushed around,” Thipins said.

“Happens a lot.  We’re in the Land of the Nine Dukes, which is eight dukes too many if you ask me.”

Curious, Thipins asked, “How’s that?”

Campots waved his hand at the window.  “See, there are nine dukes ruling here.  No king.  The dukes all want to be king, and the best way they can think of doing that is to get rid of the other dukes.  The way I hear it, they’ve been fighting on and off for eight centuries.  They take off a decade here and there, but the wars keep starting up again.”

“That’s really stupid,” Thipins said.

“I know.  You’d think they could play chess for the crown, or make whoever’s tallest king.  Humans, huh?  They’re not so good at thinking.”

Thipins frowned.  “The guy said he had a son.”

“Yeah, Joshua.”  Campots got up and looked around the farmhouse.  He smiled when he saw a cradle next to the sleeping couple.  “There he is.”

Thipins and Campots snuck over to the cradle.  Inside was a tiny baby boy wearing white.  The boy had a hint of brown hair on his head, and to the goblins’ surprise his brown eyes were open.

“Hey there little fella,” Thipins said.  The baby kicked his leg, not in response to Thipins greeting but just because he felt like doing it.

“Don’t wake his parents,” Campots whispered.  The tiny baby looked at them, showing neither fear nor interest.  “Cute kid.  He’s going to be in a real bind if the dukes take away his food and his dad.”

“They really need new rulers around here,” Thipins said.  “Maybe we could hold a raffle to see who’s going to be the next duke.  I think everyone would agree that’s for the best.”

“I like the idea, but people with swords have funny ideas on who should be in charge,” Campots told him.  He made a disgusted face and added, “They have some pretty nasty idea on what to do with anyone who disagrees with them, too.”

Thipins smiled at the baby.  “It’s funny.  Humans don’t do much when they’re this little, just sit around and wait to be fed, maybe wiggle a bit.  But there’s something about them that makes you want to hold them and feed them and beat the snot out of anyone who makes them cry.”

“Yes,” Campots said as he stared at the child.  “The effect…it’s almost hypnotic.”

“Yeah,” Thipins said lovingly.  “So small, so pretty.  You’d never guess he was plotting world domination.”

Campots smiled.  “Really?”

“You can tell just by looking at him.”  Thipins pointed at the baby and said, “He’s not bothered by us at all, and we’re strangers in his house.  That’s proof of a keen, unflappable mind.  He hasn’t said a word, either.  Keeps his own counsel.  And what stamina he’s got.  He’s still up when his parents are both out cold.”

Thipins’ observations were both true and irrelevant.  Joshua was two months old, too young to do much of anything.  His vision was poor as well, like most infants, and it would be months more until he could see farther than three feet.  Between his weak eyes and the dark room, Joshua had no idea who or what was standing next to his cradle, and it would be a long time before he spoke to anyone.  Joshua’s being awake had nothing to do with stamina, for he’d slept fifteen hours that day already.

Campots snorted.  “It’s always the quiet ones.”

Thipins nodded.  “Yep.  He’s just biding his time until he’s attracted an army of fanatically loyal allies.  Mark my words, the next time we hear about this one is when he’s overthrowing all the nations and kingdoms of the world.”

“Frankly I won’t miss them,” Campots said.  “He’ll be a big improvement over the nine dukes.  He’d have a hard time being worse.  Let’s help him get started.”

“You’re right,” Thipins said.  He took a piece of paper out of his pocket and a short pencil.  “It’s our duty to promote the next generation of would-be despots and conquerors, especially the cute ones.  I’ll start a signup sheet for his legion of doom and we’ll pass it around.  You mind if I put my name first?”

Campots patted him on the shoulder.  “Not at all.”

 

A week later the farmer and his wife saw Duke Edgely’s soldiers come.  There were five of them led by a sheriff.  For a moment the farmer thought that they’d learned of his poaching game birds two years ago after Edgely had confiscated his entire harvest.  But one look showed that these men were bored.  They weren’t here to kill him.

“Kalen Samstack?” the sheriff asked.

“That’s me,” he said warily.

The sheriff unrolled a parchment and read aloud, “Kalen Samstack, you are hereby ordered and obliged to provide military service to your duke, for a period of no less than one year and no longer than five.  You will be provided a spear, a shield, a uniform, a backpack and one pair of boots.  You will also be provided two meals a day and a change of boots after six months.”

The farmer’s wife wept as he tried to reason with the sheriff.  “Please, I’ve no relatives to take my place in the fields.  If you take me there’s no way we’ll pay the grain tax.  I beg of you, my wife just had a son.”

“Then you’ve an heir to carry on your family name if something happens to you,” the sheriff replied.  “The duke’s calling up one man in ten.  It’s poor luck, Samstack, but there’s nothing to be done about it.”

The farmer backed away as the soldiers approached him.  “I’ve never fought a man in my life!”

“There’s a first time for everything,” the sheriff said dryly.  “We can take you to the front in chains if we have to.  For everyone’s sake, be reasonable.”

Reasonable?” a hissing voice said behind them.  The soldiers spun around to find a threatening man walking up the road.  His plate armor covered him head to toe, an ebony nightmare of spikes and armor plates.  The man, if it was a man, carried a steel bar six feet long, with brass spikes on top two feet.  “Reasonable isn’t my strong suit.”

He wasn’t alone.  A smiling man in leather armor dyed bright blue joined him.  This one was armed with spiked gauntlets that came up to his elbows, a strange choice of weapon but one that seemed to suit him.

“Ah, hello there,” the grinning man said.  “Gentlemen, you’re leaving, and you’re doing it without this fine fellow.  I know that’s not what you were told to do, but I think we’ll all be a lot happier if you make the smart choice and walk away.”

The sheriff drew a sword, and his men did likewise.  “Now look here—”

“No one ever makes the smart choice,” the grinning man told his companion.

It makes life interesting.”

It took the hissing man and his grinning companion ten seconds to send the soldiers to the ground.  None of them were dead, a minor miracle, but they’d be sore for a long time.  The sheriff backed away.  “You’ll hang for this, you—”

The grinning man pounced on him, taking the sword from his grip and then grabbing him by the hair.  “If you have something to say, tell it to the wall.”

Wham!  The grinning man shoved the sheriff face first into the farmhouse’s wood wall.  The sheriff fell unconscious, prompting the grinning man to quip, “Short conversation.”

“What’s going on?’ the farmer asked.

The grinning man took a sheet of grubby paper covering in names from his pocket and said, “Sorry about the fuss.  We wouldn’t bother you, but we need a touch of help and your sheriff wasn’t going to give it to us with our reputations.  Now then, on behalf of myself, Ironfang here and the rest of our associates on their way, I’d like to ask for you assistance in a small matter.”

Looking serious for once, the grinning man said, “I’m looking for a Joshua.”


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