New Goblin Stories 20

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Welcome to the new Weary Traveler inn, ready to show its guests a time they won't forget.

Submitted: January 01, 2019

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Submitted: January 01, 2019

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Fenton smiled at The Weary Traveler II, and the gray skinned goblin said, “Now that is one fine looking trap.”

“That it is,” Pug agreed.The thin green goblin added, “It took a lot of time and lumber, but the old girl is back in action, and in a prime location.”

Fenton, Pug and their mob of forty goblins were as proud as new parents as they stood before The Weary Traveler IIinn. The building was two stories tall and 10,000 square feet, every inch a nightmare of interconnected traps.You wouldn’t guess it by looking, as the goblins had outdone themselves making the inn appear normal.They’d even planted flowers and slapped on a coat of whitewash. The inn was on a crossroad between two villages, a town and a mining camp, sure to bring in travelers who’d find out the hard way how frustrating a stay at TheWeary Traveler IIcould be.

Fenton tipped his floppy hat back and said, “I was worried after that loony with the magic gauntlet smashed up the old place, but it was a blessing in disguise.We’d worn out our welcome at that location.Too many people knew to avoid us.But we’re on fresh ground here with plenty of rubes coming in fat and happy. You mark my words, Pug, Oceanview Kingdom is going to be the promised land for pie traps.”

“And isn’t that what life is all about?”Pug nudged his fellow goblin and added, “That old coot was crazy, but you stole some good stuff off him.”

“That I did,” Fenton said, and glanced at the oversized magic gauntlet covering his left hand.The fight with the crazy man had been weird even by goblin standards.The lunatic had attacked his own son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, a horror no goblin could have imagined possible.The goblins had stopped the madman, and Fenton had seized the fool’s magic gauntlet.It was rare for a goblin to be so well armed, and Fenton was enjoying being the exception to the rule.

It was getting late and the sun was setting, and the late hour would encourage passing travelers to stay at their inn and run afoul of the goblins’ twisted traps.So far few people had come by, and all had left when they saw the inn still half finished. The goblins had hid when those earlier visitors had come to avoid giving away their presence, but that grace period was over now, and The Weary Traveler IIwas open for its first victims.

“Hello?”

The goblins spun around to see fifteen humans coming up the road. Fenton slapped his right hand over his face at the timing.Here were all the victims he could ask for, and they’d seen him, ruining the surprise.

An older man was leading the group while the rest pushed a handcart loaded with clothes, farm tools and food.The man took a hat off and added, “We’re looking for a place to stay for the night. Does the owner of this inn accept work in exchange for beds?”

“Someone was supposed to be watching the road!” Fenton yelled.

A lanky goblin who’d been assigned that task hurried out of the bushes while adjusting his belt.“Sorry. Nature called.”

Fenton waved his right hand at the humans.“That’s just lovely.Here we have what should have been our first victims for our new inn, except they know to expect trouble after seeing us.This is why we rehearse, people.”

Pug shrugged and said, “We might still be able to make this work.Hey, old-timer, can you pretend to be surprised? Yeah, that expression says no.”

Goblins grumbled at the lost prospect for mayhem.Fenton studied the approaching humans and waved for the goblins to shut up.“Guys, cool it, they’ve got kiddies.”

That made the goblins hurry over to inspect their guests.Sure enough, the group included three small children riding on top of the packed handcart.Pug smiled at a little boy, who tried to grab the goblin’s nose.Goblins liked children of all races, and having little ones prevented most goblin related stupidity.

“There isn’t an owner to talk to,” Fenton explained.“We built the inn to catch people in traps.”

The old man looked puzzled.“Why would you do that?”

“Boredom, poor upbringing, possible madness,” Fenton answered.“The jury’s still out.If it helps, we feel the victims have it coming.”

“And they generally do,” Pug said.

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in all my days!” the old man shouted.He pointed at the inn and demanded, “Why build such a nice house if not to live in it?”

“You caught us at a bad time,” Fenton continued.“The inn is finished and most of our traps are done, but it’s kind of pointless letting you inside when you know what’s coming.Would you mind leaving and not telling anyone about us?”

An old woman tugged on the man’s arm.“Father, it’s late, and the children need rest.Can’t you bargain with them?”

The old man looked at the woman before turning back to Fenton.“A deal: I tell no one about your silly inn if you let us stay the night without trouble.”

Fenton glanced at the other goblins, who shrugged or held up empty hands to show their indifference. The decision was up to him.“Fine, but if you spoil our fun, we’ll find you and make more mischief than you can handle.”

“That I already have,” the old man told them, and waved for the others to follow him.The humans unloaded their handcart and followed the goblins inside the inn. “Come on, we have a dry place to sleep tonight.Make sure a goblin goes in ahead of you in case they forget where and what they’ve trapped.”

Pug clapped a hand over his heart.“You wound me.”

Having official guests was a new experience for Fenton.He’d tolerated visitors in the past when they’d had kids he didn’t want to catch in his traps, but to actively let someone come in? Unheard of.Maybe he could go through their belongings during the night and find some good stuff.

“Someone shut off the traps in the common room, bathroom and kitchen,” Fenton said as he entered the inn.“And this time I want someone watching the road.”

“This is a nice place, father,” the old woman said when she went in.“The floors are varnished and swept clean, the boards are tightly fit together with no cracks, and the furniture looks new. Why, you’d never think goblins made it.”

“Goblins work hard when they’re making trouble, mother,” the old man replied.

Pug rolled his eyes.“I’m standing right here.”

The humans settled down in the common room and dumped their belongings in a corner.Fenton lit a lantern and got a better look at his guests.Their clothes were worn and patched, their leather shoes were cracked, and their money pouches were so flat they might be empty.With the exception of the young children, all of them had calloused hands, and most had scars.

Pug smiled and opened a secret door.“As long as we’re friends, I think I’ll slip into something more comfortable.”

“Not the clown costume,” Fenton told him.

“Why not?” Pug demanded.

Fenton waved his gauntleted hand at the humans.“I said we wouldn’t bother them, and you traipsing around in that plaid nightmare goes way beyond bothering.”

Pug folded his arms.“You and your anti-clown bias.”

A small boy looked at the old woman and asked, “Grandma, why don’t these people make sense?”

The old woman patted the boy’s hand.“The can’t help themselves, dear.”

An older girl pointed at Fenton’s magic gauntlet.“What’s that?”

Fenton held the gauntlet up for the humans to see.“It’s magic.”

The old man took off his shoes and rubbed his feet.“A goblin with magic.It makes as much sense as the rest of this place.”

These people looked odd to Fenton.Plenty of humans, elves and dwarfs had fallen prey to the first Weary Travelerinn, and they’d been fairly prosperous people. They’d almost have to be considering how expensive and risky travel could be, with road tolls, taxes, bandits and monsters.But these people were so poor they’d asked goblins for help.Plus farmers rarely left their land since crops and livestock need constant tending.

Curious, Fenton asked, “So what’s your story, grandpa?”

The old man slid into a chair and let his shoulders slouch.“We’ve been walking fifteen days since we fled Duke Kramer’s realm in the Land of the Nine Dukes.Taxes, taxes, they’re a tax on everything you do, everything you eat, everything you touch, all on account of a dead man.”

That got the goblins’ attention, and they leaned in eagerly for more. When the old man said nothing further, Pug demanded, “You can’t just leave it at that.”

“My family’s suffering amuses you?”The old man rubbed his eyes.“You’ve given us a place to sleep out of the cold, so I suppose I should entertain you. Last year the Fallen King rampaged across the Land of the Nine Dukes.He led an army of thieves, bandits, deserters and worse across the land, burning what they didn’t eat or steal.”

“He took your stuff?” Pug asked.

The old man laughed.“An amateur like him?He was killed long before reaching us, but he still did a lot of damage.Our illustrious duke lost towns, farms, livestock. He had to make up the loss somehow, so why not raise taxes?And as long as he’s doing it once, why not again?The Fallen King, ha!A beginner like him couldn’t hope to do as much damage as our own leaders.”

“So,” Fenton began, “you ran off to avoid paying your taxes.”

“I know a goblin who hunts tax collectors,” Pug said.

“I’d like to meet this fellow,” the old man said.“Yes, I ran.Duke Kramer said any family that can’t pay their taxes in gold or grain can pay it in children.Slavery is forbidden in the Land of the Nine Dukes, but you can indenture a person for five years, making them a slave in all but name.Duke Kramer said any man that couldn’t cover his debts would have a son indentured to work the duke’s fields, or more than one son if they owed a lot.I owed more than any man could pay, so I gathered my children and grandchildren, and I ran.”

Goblins stared at him in horror.Monstrous as the tale was, worse was how he told it in such a conversational tone, as if it was bad, but not unusual.

“Nothing to say, eh?” the old man asked.

“Nothing that can match that,” Fenton replied.“Goblins set traps, we steal things, now and then we fight, but we’d never do that.”

“I know.”The old man looked at them for a moment before he spoke again.“When I saw you on the road, I said to myself, ‘goblins cause much trouble,’ and I wondered if I should pass you by.I came because no goblin has done as much to me as my own kind. What traps can you build that match Duke Kramer’s cruelty?”

Fenton started counting off fingers.“We’ve got tripwires, deadfalls, pie throwers, a stuffed bull on wheels, and my personal favorite the catapulting toilet, patent pending.But you’re right, we’re not in the same league as this Kramer guy.”

“Where are you headed?” Pug asked.He’d gotten too close to the small boy, who now had a firm grip on Pug’s nose.

The old man pried the little boy’s fingers off.“My eldest son heard from traveling peddlers that there’s work in Oceanview Kingdom.My family and I have been farmers, loggers, and we can build houses and barns.If it puts food on the table, we can do it.”

Fenton cheered up at the news.“You heard right, old fella.Local goblins told us there were jerks called the Pirate Lords active a while ago. They did a lot of damage, like that Fallen King, and chased off lots of people.Merchants, landowners, nobles, church officials, they all need help. We’ve got paperwork to prove it.”

“Paperwork?” the old man asked.

Pug ran off into the secret door and came back with a sheet of paper covered in blue writing.“See, it says it here.Peasants from the Land of the Nine Dukes are being hired across Oceanview Kingdom.”

The old man stared at the paper.“Huh.That’s what those marks mean?”

Puzzled, Pug asked, “You can’t read?”

“Duke Kramer discourages reading with whippings,” the old man replied. “Most of the dukes do.They say reading gives us bad ideas.I hear Duke Warwick teaches his people to read, but he’s always been odd.”

“I guess these papers must not get much attention in your kingdom,” Fenton said.

The old man shrugged.“They don’t get attention because we don’t have them.”

“Wait a minute.”Fenton took the paper and held it up for all the humans to see.“We built this inn in the last month, and we’ve scrapped ten of these off the outside walls.We’ve spoken to hundreds of goblins living nearby, and they say these weird papers are all over the place, hundreds every week, thousands every month.With so many papers plastered on walls, wagons, trees, rocks and a few cows, you’ve never seen one?”

The old man stood up and clapped his right hand over his chest.“I solemnly swear that I have never seen such a thing in all my days or heard about them, and may I be torn limb from limb if I tell a lie.”

“That’s, um, that’s a disturbing oath,” Pug said.

“It’s used a lot in Duke Kramer’s territory,” the old man replied.

Fenton frowned.“Which says a lot about Duke Kramer.”

The old man sat down again.“That it does.Your paper confirms what we heard.We can settle here, earn our keep and keep our children.Whatever hardships we face are unimportant so long as my family is together.”

The old woman stared at the paper.“What else do those marks say?”

“Oh, lots,” Fenton told her.“It’s embarrassing stuff that happened far away, even in other kingdoms.You know, government officials cheating on their wives or running up gambling debts, kings plotting against their neighbors and what dwarf corporations are up to in the area.”

“Most of it is boring,” Pug interrupted.“We’ve learned some of this stuff is true, but so what?It’s about people who never helped us, never hurt us and we’ll never meet.”

“Yes, yes, but the paper said families from the Land of the Nine Dukes are coming here for work,” the old woman said.“Why is that embarrassing?”

Fenton and Pug looked to one another and frowned.Fenton said, “Now that you mention it, that doesn’t fit the trend.

The old man perked up at this change in the conversation.“How many of our people have come to Oceanview?”

Pug went into the secret door and came back with more papers.“Let’s see…this one from last week says there were dozens, and the most recent one says hundreds of men have left the Land of the Nine Dukes.So the answer is lots of them, and it looks like the numbers are on the rise.”

“You’ll feel right at home with so many of your countrymen,” Fenton added.

Pug looked like he was about to agree when the little boy toddled over and made another grab for the green goblin’s nose.The boy’s mother hurried over and scooped him up before he got a solid grip.“That kid is fascinated with my nostrils for reasons I’m not clear on.Mind you, I’m not complaining.”

Safe in his mother’s arms, the boy saw Fenton’s gauntlet and reached for it. Fenton took a step back to make sure the boy didn’t come close.“It’s not a toy, little guy.”

The old man put his shoes back on and pointed at the gauntlet.“Where did you get that?”

“I stole it from a crazy human who wanted to kill people with it.”

“That doesn’t narrow down the possibilities much,” the old man replied.

A goblin standing by a window looked out and said, “More people coming. Humans, I think.”

Pug smiled at Fenton and said, “You were right.This is prime victim territory.”

“Humans with torches,” the goblin at the window clarified.“And pitchforks.”

“This is an unusual time to be farming,” Pug said.

Fenton hurried to the window and peered out.The approaching crowd numbered over fifty men strong, all armed with makeshift weapons and heading straight for the inn.“It’s an angry mob.”

“But we haven’t done anything yet,” Pug protested.“We didn’t even do anything yesterday or last week, as if that counted.Why are they here?”

The old man came to the window with his family behind him.“You’re sure they’re not mad at you?”

The mob approached at a steady pace and stopped outside the inn by the empty pushcart the old man’s family had come with.There was a grumbled discussion before the mob seized the pushcart, overturned it and battered it to pieces.

The old man’s eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped in shock.“What are you doing?”

The mob wasn’t done.They set the broken pushcart on fire and then descended on the inn.Some men covered the front door and rear exit while the rest picked up loose stones.They hurled the stones at the inn, sending them through windows and forcing humans and goblins to duck for cover.

“You in the inn,” a voice in the mob said.“We saw a bunch of dirty foreigners go in there.Send them out.”

The old man wore a look of confusion as he peaked his head up to the edge of the window.“I don’t understand.We haven’t done anything to you.We’ve never even seen you before.”

A rock sailed through the window, barely missing the old man.“We don’t want to see you!Any of you!You stinking, no good outsiders are taking our jobs!”

“You told me there was plenty of work,” the old man said to Fenton.

“There is!”Fenton waved to the north and west.“I know a dozen guys desperate for workers, and fifty who could use a few more.”

More rocks flew through the window.“Those jobs belong to people here!You come in to our land, hat in hand, begging!Landowners hire you instead of us because you’ll take slave wages.We’ve had enough.Go back wherever you came from!”

“We can’t go back!” the old man shouted.“The punishment for fleeing the Land of the Nine Dukes is death!”

The mob’s answer was as swift as it was cold blooded.“Then die.”

Another man in the mob held up a sheet of paper.Fenton could see it by the light of the torches and burning pushcart, and even at this distance could see words written in blue ink.“Whoever owns this inn, listen up.We found out where these parasites are coming from, even which road they’re taking into the kingdom.If you take in one more, we’ll burn this place to the ground with you in it. Now send out those foreign dogs!”

Fenton stared at the mob.He was fairly stable by goblin standards, almost intelligent.But Fenton had limits, and sending children into the arms of that hateful mob crossed them all.His eyes narrowed and his lips twitched before he looked at Pug and the other goblins.He saw loathing in their eyes, a rage rare among goblins, and a potent force on those rare occasions when it arose.

“Back me up?” he asked.

“All the way,” Pug told him.

“You want them, come and get them,” called out to the mob.More softly, he asked, “Have been in many fights, old timer?”

The old man shook with fear as the mob charged the inn.“Never.The dukes don’t let peasants even touch weapons.”

Fenton grabbed the nearest goblin and pushed him closer to the old man. “This guy is going to take your family to an emergency exit tunnel in the broom closet.Follow him and do what he says.Everybody else, rearm the traps and pull back.TheWeary Traveler IIhas its first official visitors, and we’re going to show them goblin hospitality.”

Goblins scattered across the inn, flicking concealed switches and pulling levers. They finished reactivating the inn’s traps as the angry mob slammed into the front door.It was thick and barred from the inside, but someone in the mob had brought an ax.Thwack! Thwack!The door splintered as blow after blow cut into it.Goblins went into hiding as the door was chopped apart and men poured in.

The first man got five feet in when he stepped on a loose board.The board swung up, hitting him in the face.A neighboring man tried to help him and was rewarded with a blow to the crotch when a board swung out from the wall. Rage filled shouts degenerated into confusion and then panic as the common room seemed to come alive with traps.

Most mobs have a leader, a person who brought the group together and fueled their rage with his spite, pettiness and intolerance.This mob was no exception.A tall, older man with long sideburns and a perpetual scowl pushed to the front and broke one of the swinging board traps with his club.He walked by men writhing in pain and pointed his club at the nearest door.

“You won’t stop us that easily!” the mob’s leader shouted.His scowl deepened as he ordered, “Fan out!Bust the place up, and do the same to anyone you find!Take anything worth having!”

Fenton and Pug watched the display through peepholes.They’d taken refuge in hidden passages running through the inn, where they had access to even more switches and levers for their arsenal of traps. Pug asked, “Are we going with any particular routine, or just hit them hard and often?”

“It’s too late to surprise them,” Fenton replied.“Let’s give the inn a real workout.”

Men charged through the inn, looting and smashing as they went. Fenton was surprised to see them take furniture.Their choice of loot didn’t save them.Chairs came apart in their arms.Beds folded in two over men trying to carry them.A table swung up on hidden rails to slap a man trying to take it, sending him into a nearby wall.

The mob went further into the inn, setting off still more traps. Springboards hidden in the floor sent men screaming into walls.Doors slammed shut, hitting men from behind, and the ceiling opened again and again to drop live spiders and buckets of mud.Secret doors opened to release marbles on the floor, sending men skidding about.

Finding no one to hit, the mob’s leader stalked through the inn, shouting, “Where are you!”

Fenton smiled and opened a secret door.Pug tried to stop him, but Fenton went out anyway, saying, “Trust me.This is going to be the cherry on top.”

Fearlessly, Fenton stepped out into a hallway to face the mob’s leader, who had five more men behind him, a formidable threat to a lone and relatively small goblin.Outnumbered, Fenton smiled at them.

“Hi there.Yeah, that’s right, you and your boys got pushed around by goblins, a new low for you, I’m sure.Now we’ve been gentle so far—”

A man with both hands over his bruised crotch asked, “Gentle?”

“But you crossed the line,” Fenton continued.He pointed his gauntleted hand at the mob as he addressed them again. “You boys test our patience again and we won’t be so gentle for round two.”

“We can negotiate,” the man with the bruised crotch offered.

“Like blazes we will!” the mob’s leader bellowed.“I won’t be pushed around by a goblin with a fancy glove! You—”

The hallway attacked them as fifteen traps swung clubs, boards and mud pies at the mob.Half went down under the furious attacks, and the rest fell when a door opened to reveal a taxidermy bull on wooden rails.The bull ‘charged’ down the hallway, knocking men to the floor.The mob’s leader had nearly gotten to his feet when Fenton ran in and swung his gauntlet.

Wham!The gauntlet glowed when the blow struck home, sending the foolish man flying. His fellow men looked shocked and backed away.One offered, “We’ll leave.”

Fenton was about to congratulate the man on his common sense when they were interrupted by a voice calling from outside the inn.“Burn the place down!”

“Wait, we’re still in here!” a man in the mob cried out.

The warning either came to late or was ignored entirely as men in the mob hurled lit torches into the inn.Some landed on the wood floor and began to char the wood, but more hit beds with straw mattresses and set them ablaze.Those larger fires spread rapidly.Men inside TheWeary Traveler IIpanicked and ran, and goblins broke from cover to flee.

Fenton shouted, “Bug out!Did the kiddies get out?”

“They’re gone,” Pug told him as he ran for the broom closet and its escape tunnel. “Come on, let’s go!”

Running for your life was an ancient goblin tradition, one Fenton was all to happy to participate in, but the opportunity was lost when the mob’s leader regained his footing.The shocked look on his face was priceless, proof that he’d overestimated his control over the mob if they’d set fire to a building he was standing in, but shock was replaced with rage when he saw Fenton.He gathered up his men and charged.

Fenton was momentarily shocked.Running was the only way the men could survive the spreading flames.Heedless of their own survival, they came at Fenton in numbers he couldn’t beat even with his magic gauntlet.

Surprising even himself, Fenton didn’t panic.Instead he ran to the broom closet as Pug headed down the escape tunnel. Letting these men follow the goblins, much less the children and their family, was unthinkable.Fenton slammed the door shut and smashed off the doorknob with his gauntlet, then ran for the bathroom.He was mere steps ahead of his pursuers when he ducked into the bathroom and slammed the door in their faces.The room had a toilet, cabinet and tin bathtub, all trapped, and that was why Fenton had come.

Locking the door, he raced to the window and opened it.Outside, a large dung heap waited for anyone foolish enough to sit on the catapulting toilet trap, except the catapulting toilet could throw 155 pounds.Fenton weighed only 65 pounds.

Angry men beat on the door.Fenton yelled back, “Occupied!”

Smoke wafted up from under the closed door as Fenton ran to the toilet. He reached it as the door splintered and came apart.The mob’s leader and four men burst into the bathroom to find Fenton standing in front of the toilet.

Fenton smiled at them.“Sorry, guys, I gotta go.”

With that he jumped onto the seat of the toilet.Sproing!The catapulting toilet hurled Fenton through the open window, where he sailed over the dung heap and rolled across the grassy ground.He got up and ran for his life, stopping only when he was hidden by the near total darkness of night.He turned to see The Weary Traveler IIburning so hard that it lit up the sky.Terrified men fled the building and ran off like frightened deer.

Helpless to stop the fire, Fenton snuck off to where the inn’s escape tunnel exited onto the surface.He found his fellow goblins huddled together watching the distant flames consume their home, and beside them were the old man and his family.

“You went all heroic again,” Pug chided his friend.

“Had to be done.”Fenton studied the fire before turning to Pug.“I want to know where those papers are coming from.”

“More heroism?” a goblin asked.

Fenton scowled.“This is revenge through and through.Whoever wrote that stuff cost us our house, and could have cost these people their lives. There’s got to be payback for that.”


© Copyright 2020 ArthurD7000. All rights reserved.

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