Goblin Stories XII

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
The reason goblins don't have nice things is other people take them…or at least try to.

Submitted: April 09, 2015

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Submitted: April 09, 2015

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Monday mornings were never good for Alan Thedwich, coffee supplier to the masses, and having a goblin run in the bar’s front door was proof this one was going to be a nightmare.

“Hey, outside!” he shouted from behind the bar.  He was barely breaking even as it was, and having a goblin in his business could only make things worse.  The last goblin that got in tied the customers’ feet to their stools and shoved live frogs down their trousers.  Alan had to get rid of him before he drove off the customers.

The goblin didn’t leave.  Instead it ran to the bar, going straight for Alan.  “Is there a back way out of here?”

“You can go out the way you came in,” Alan told the goblin.  The customers looked up from their coffee to see what was going on.  The coffee bar was poorly lit (candles were expensive) and had a low ceiling (good property was really expensive), with wide tables and short stools.  Steaming pots of coffee were on each table with tin mugs.  These men were desperate for an eye opener before work started, but no one wanted coffee badly enough to take whatever abuse this goblin had dreamed up.

“I can pay!” the goblin pleaded.  He wasn’t much to look at, with bandages wrapped around his feet instead of shoes and ragged clothing that had probably belonged to a toddler at some point.  The goblin’s mass of brown hair reached down to cover his brow and eyes, with a single braid reaching to the floor.  His skin was tanned like he’d been outside a long time.

“Hey, Alan, I don’t ask for much, but keep the vermin out,” a customer said.

“I’m working on it.”  Alan made a grab for the goblin, but he backed away and reached into his pockets.  The goblin came up with a silver coin tarnished so badly it was black.  That was good money, as much as a customer would pay for a week’s coffee, but Alan wasn’t fool enough to take a goblin’s money.  “I don’t take stolen coins.  Beat it.”

“Please, I’m begging,” the goblin implored.  “There’s a maniac after me.  I got away from him for a bit, but he’s sure to find me.  Just show me the back door and you’ll never see me again.”

Alan gestured for his sole employee, a street brat named Charlie, to come over.  “Charlie, do something about this.”

Charlie went between the tables but stopped well short of the goblin.  “Boss, he’s got a sword on his back.”

Nearby customers backed away when they saw the sword strapped to the goblin’s back.  It was a short sword, maybe eighteen inches long, but that was all they could tell about it with the handle and scabbard both wrapped in leather.  Goblins didn’t typically carry such large weapons, preferring daggers and short clubs that were both smaller and cheaper.  Short swords cost at least twenty guilders, so the goblin must have stolen it.

“Finally,” a smug voice said.

The terrified look on the goblin’s face showed that he hadn’t been lying.  The stranger at the door had to be who he was fleeing.  It wasn’t cowardice, either.  Alan would have run from the elf in a heartbeat.  Dark blue cloak, black trousers and shirt, twin long swords sheathed on his belt and a look like he’d kill a man for breathing too loud, he was a real piece of work.  Alan had seen some terrible men since opening his coffee bar in Cronsword, a city known for its filth and violence as much as for its riches, but this elf made the others pale in comparison.

This couldn’t end well.  At the very least this would scare off Alan’s customers.  If it got really bad they might never come back.  He was barely paying off his suppliers and the gang boss who ran this street.  Any delay in business would cost him dearly.

Desperate to keep the situation under control, Alan came out from behind the bar and told Charlie, “Get help.”  As the boy ran off, he told the elf, “Whatever this is about, it doesn’t concern us.  You and the goblin can take it outside.  If he’s wronged you, take it up with Boss Crassok.”

“Your pathetic gang bosses don’t interest me in the slightest,” the elf said as he walked in.  He rested his hands on the handles of his swords and eyed the goblin.  “Habbly, you have someone who belongs to me.”

“Wait, what?” Alan asked.  “I won’t have slaving in here!”

“It’s not like that,” Habbly the goblin told Alan.  He pulled the sword off his back but kept it sheathed and wrapped in leather.  Addressing the elf, he said, “I can’t give him to you.  It doesn’t work like that.”

“What the devil is going on here?” Alan demanded.  “Why are you talking about a sword like it’s a person?  Why are you yahoos even in here?”

Habbly pointed at the elf and explained, “Yesterday he said he can smell me, so I thought a strong smell like coffee would be too much for him to sniff me out.”

The elf wrinkled his nose.  “A valid strategy except I saw you enter this pigsty.”

“Pigsty!” Alan yelled as customers fled to the outer edges of the coffee bar.  “I run a clean place, and mister, you’re not welcome in it.  I sent for help the moment you came in and it will be here soon.  So you can both get out and settle this on the street or Boss Crassok’s boys can drag you out by your heels.”

“A week ago I would have been satisfied if you’d relinquished the sword, Habbly, but that was before you ran,” the elf said.  “I’ve followed you across two kingdoms and suffered countless indignities.  That demands blood.”

“He’s ignoring me, isn’t he?” Alan asked Habbly.

“He’s not big on social skills,” Habbly explained.  Looking ashamed, he unwrapped the sword and drew it.

The crowd of customers gasped.  Alan didn’t blame them.  The sword might qualify as jewelry with all those gems on it.  The black handle was set with pearls and the base of the blade had rubies in it.  There was a dragon carved on the shimmering blade, a shimmering that turned into a light as bright as a lantern.

The elf ran in and snatched the sword from Habbly, with the goblin offering no resistance.  Falling back with his prize, the elf kneeled and held the sword flat in both hands.  He spoke in elven, and while Alan didn’t understand the words they sounded reverent.

“Master blade, work of an emperor’s hands, I beseech you oh Sworn Doom, speak,” Habbly translated.

Alan couldn’t hide his disbelief and asked, “You know elven?”

“Only through the sword,” Habbly said.  The light from the sword grew brighter still, and to Alan’s amazement the sword spoke.

Zzz, hmm, huh, is it morning already?” the sword asked.  The elf spoke more to it, but the sword interrupted him, saying, “Don’t say words others can’t understand.  Speak in human, boy.”

The elf looked up, a shocked expression on his face, but he recovered quickly.  “Sworn Doom, treasure of the Elf Empire, long have I sought you.  You return now to worthy hands of the race that forged you from a fallen star, and with your aid we can—”

We?” the sword demanded.  “We aren’t doing anything, chucko.  I already have an owner, one you’ve been pestering!”

“This cretin?” the elf sputtered.

“Watch it!  Habbly is my owner, and you’d better remember that.  He saved me from that psycho warlord on Battle Island when he stole me from the fat slob’s treasury.  I owe him big for that, and I won’t have a punk like you bad mouthing him.  Keep a respectful tongue in your mouth or someone’s going to take it out.”

“Okay, this is weird,” Alan said.

“Great one, he is unworthy of you,” the elf protested.  “I am a respected member of an influential household.  I graduated from the finest fighting schools under the greatest warriors of our day.  I have fought and won ten tournaments.  Many enemies bear my scars.  I am worthy to hold you, not a goblin!  He has no honor.”

Tournaments?  Is that all you’ve got to be proud of?  Listen up, bucko, Habbly grew up on Battle Island.  Gladiators there have careers and lifespans measured in weeks.  He lived there seven years without any of your fancy training.”

“I did that by hiding,” Habbly said.

“Whatever works,” the sword said.  “He freed me from the bloodthirsty idiot running that place and we’re touring the world.  He’s proven himself even more since then.  Golomak the False Knight attacked him.  The fool lost a magic sword and wanted me to replace it.  Habbly gave the jerk a couple new scars to remind him for the rest of his life of what an idiot he is.  There have been plenty more idiots and jerks he’s beaten.  Now you show up out of the blue and say you ought to hold me?  What for?  You didn’t do anything for me.”

“I am an elf!” the elf shouted.  “You were made to protect the Elf Empire.”

“You want to know how that worked out?  My owners and I spent decades dealing with one problem after another, every one caused by elves!  I saw decadence, waste and corruption the likes of which you wouldn’t believe.  I saw the empire rip itself to pieces over who got to be on the throne, and not one claimant worthy of the job.  So if you’re going to try shaming me into working with you, it’s not going to work.”

The elf looked stunned as Sworn Doom went on.  “You say Habbly has no honor?  You’re attacking him, not because he hurt you or another.  You’re doing it because he has something you want, and you’re willing to kill for it.  You didn’t even try to convince him to hand me over or offer to buy me, as vulgar as that would have been.  You act like a thief.  If you have any honor, you hide it well.”

Rolling his eyes, Habbly asked, “Why do you keep saying these things?”

“Because they’re true!”

The elf snarled at Habbly.  “What have you done to him?”

Habbly looked miserable.  “He was like this the first time we met.  If you walked out of here with him, he’d fly back to me before you got twenty steps.  He says he likes me and he wants to stay with me.  I can’t give him away or sell him or even throw him away.  He won’t work for someone he doesn’t like, so even if you kill me you’ll never use him.”

A customer asked Alan, “Should we be rooting for the elf or the goblin?”

“You got me,” Alan said.  “People, please, I’m just trying to run an honest business in a city of thieves.  Whatever’s going on here is way over my pay grade.  You two, or three, I guess, are just going to have to work out your differences, preferably somewhere else.”

There’s nothing to work out.  Hand me back to Habbly.”

“No,” the elf said softly.  He gripped the short sword with both hands.  “I am worthy!”

Sworn Doom wrenched itself left then right, up then down as the elf struggled to hold on.  The sword finally pulled free, cutting a deep gash in the low ceiling in the process, then flew to Habby.  Resting in the goblin’s hands, the sword told the elf, “If I ever find a person more worthy of what I have to offer, I will politely ask Habbly to relinquish me.  If he says no I will accept his decision.  Now walk away while you still can.”

The elf drew both his long swords and screamed in outrage.  His swords were three feet long, giving him a much longer reach than Habbly.  He swung the blades in an elegant and deadly display that looked like a storm of flashing steel.

Habbly watched the elf coming for just a second before he ran between two empty tables.  The elf’s elegant display ended, for the space was so narrow that his swinging swords would have hit a table.  He screamed in elven before coming at Habbly with both swords low and straight like spears.  The blades were still far enough apart that Habbly couldn’t block them both.  Whichever one he stopped, the other one would hit him.

That was when Habbly jumped up onto the nearest table.  He stabbed his short sword into the table and left it there before grabbing a pot of coffee.  Running down the table, he swung the pot wide and sent piping hot coffee spraying into the elf’s face.

If the elf had a shield he could have blocked the coffee.  If there was more room or a higher ceiling he could have dodged.  But he had neither shield nor room, and his twin swords were no defense at all as the hot coffee splashed into his face.

The elf screamed and dropped both his swords.  He backed away and doubled over, covering his face with both hands.  Habbly jumped down off the table and grabbed a stool.  He swung it like a club at the elf’s knees, striking hard enough that the elf fell to the floor.  More blows followed as Habbly hit the elf in the legs again and again.  And just like that the fight was over.  Habbly put the stool down and walked away.  He wiped sweat off his brow and went to retrieve his sword.

Sworn Doom couldn’t be happier.  “Did you see that?  He didn’t even need me!  How did you like that, you inbred twit?”

Alan pointed at the elf and asked Habbly, “You’re not going to kill him?”

Habbly put his sword back in his sheath.  He sounded so very sad when he said, “I grew up on Battle Island.  I’ve seen enough blood.”

With that Habbly left the coffee bar.  His departure drew no attention, but Alan heard men running in from another direction.  Boss Crassok’s men were coming through the crowded streets, too late to be useful, but that was pretty much what Alan expected of them.  They’d be here in half a minute tops.

A customer asked, “What do we do about the elf?

Alan looked down at the person who’d ruined his day and cost him sales.  “I don’t know about you boys, but I’m taking his wallet.”


© Copyright 2020 ArthurD7000. All rights reserved.

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