New Goblin Stories

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Trying to keep out goblins is like holding water in a colander. You can do it, just not for long.

Submitted: October 11, 2016

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Submitted: October 11, 2016



The Multicultural Music Festival claimed to have hired the best human, elven and dwarf musicians, but, and Upsky thought this most unfair, no goblins.  Posters and handbills advertising the event went out of their way to say there would be absolutely no goblins present.  Armed guards with dogs trained to sniff out goblins were hired for the express purpose of removing any goblins that might try to join in.

Studying one of the offending handbills, Upsky told his friends, “This here is an example of cultural stereotypes.  Humans make good music.  Elves make good music.  Dwarfs make good music even if it’s so loud your eardrums vibrate for ten minutes after it’s over.  But tell people that goblins make music and suddenly they get picky.  We’re not good enough.  We’re not cultural.”

“Be fair, when goblins snuck into the last music festival and played, the audience ran away, and some of them lost bladder control,” Odd told him.  Odd was a stout goblin regardless of how much he exercised, and his raggedy clothes and filthy skin didn’t improve his appearance.  The dirty goblin carried a pan flute over his shoulder and a bag of rat bones he was snacking on.

Upsky waved off the comment.  “Don’t bring up facts, Odd.  They just get in the way.  These snobs are desperate to prove that Nolod has class, and I won’t let people tell lies about my hometown.”

With that said Upsky crumpled up the handbill and ate it.  Tall for a goblin, Upsky wore oversized shoes and a man’s shirt that came down to his knees.  His skin was pale blue and his black hair was an absolute mess.  He had a scuffed up drum that had seen better decades tied to his back and a coil of rope looped over his right shoulder to his left hip.

The other five goblins with Upsky and Odd carried a fiddle, a kazoo, an empty jug, chimes and one goblin had two rocks to hit together.  This was typical of goblin musicians, who couldn’t afford good instruments and didn’t know how to make them.  Goblin music could best be describes as an enthusiastic attack on the listeners’ ears.  There were goblin performers who could produce worthwhile music, but they were a rare minority unappreciated by both goblins and other races.

These intrepid goblins were huddled in an alley near the newly renovated Grand Music Hall.  The building was impressive in size and design, a towering edifice of elegantly carved stone that evokes images of royal grandeur.  Tall windows let in light from the setting sun as lanterns were lit inside the building.  Men had worked for weeks to scrub the building clean of soot, dirt, slime and graffiti until the building gleamed as it had when it was built last year.

Upsky watched a richly dressed crowd enter the Grand Music Hall.  Mostly they were humans, but there was a smattering of elves and dwarfs who kept their distance from one another.  The people wore silks and furs while dripping in gold and jewels.  Thieves would drool at the sight.  Upsky just wondered how they kept the stuff clean in Nolod’s near toxic air.

“Now that is a proper audience,” Upsky announced.  He pointed his drum at an elf patron and smiled.  “Poor fella probably has never heard a hoe down.  That changes tonight when him and his friends gets an earful of Goblins in Oatmeal, a song for the ages!”

“I think it would be best if we let the other performers do a few songs before introducing our piece,” Odd suggested.  “You know, lull the audience into a false sense of security.”

Upsky edged back into the shadows as a man walked by.  Once the coast was clear, he looked to Odd and said, “I like it, but getting in at all is going to be hard.”

Nolod was rich beyond the dreams of avarice and so filthy that living in a pig stys would be an improvement.  The coastal city made a fortune manufacturing and shipping goods across Other Place.  But the prosperous city was built for a hundred thousand residents, not the million it had, and the waste from so many people and industries made Nolod the health hazard it was today.

Humans, elves, dwarfs and other races made due in the filth and crime, but some aspired to better.  The Multicultural Music Festive was the latest attempt to give Nolod a veneer of class, assuming you could afford it, and were from the right social class, and weren’t from an undesirable race.

“I wouldn’t mind so much if they let in ogres,” Upsky said as he studied the building.  There just had to be a way inside.  “You ever hear them play?”

“Twice,” Odd told him.  “I was surprised they could play so well when they were drunk.  Now for my money, you can’t beat harpies.  Everyone goes on about their screaming, but they only do that when they’re mad.  They sing really good when they want to.”

Upsky nodded.  “Especially when they’re trying to keep their fledglings happy.  I see an opening.”

Odd slipped in beside Upsky.  “Where?”

“The guards are focusing on the entrance, two exits, servants entrance and the windows.  But, and this is important, they’re not on the roof.  We can throw a rope from the government building next door, loop it over the bell tower on the music hall and climb over.”

The other goblins smiled and rubbed their hands together in eager anticipation.  Rooftop entries were difficult to pull off, but once night fell they could do it without being noticed.  All it would take was a dusting of soot rubbed into their skin, and if there was one thing Nolod had in abundance it was soot.

Five minutes later the seven goblins were covered in soot and working their way up the government building.  It was made of bricks, three stories tall and absolutely filthy.  They scaled it without difficulty, coming up on a side of the building facing away from the music hall.  Government workers still toiled away inside their offices, but Upsky and his gang were as quiet as flying owls in their ascent.  They crept up the wall and over the top.  Once the whole gang was up, Upsky slipped off his coiled rope and made a loop at the end.

“Ah ha!”  City watchmen seemed to come from nowhere, swarming over the goblins and pinning them down.  Upsky tried to go back over the building’s edge, but rough hands grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and hoisted him back up.  The seven goblins had their hands tied behind their backs and were shoved to their knees.

“You won’t be causing trouble tonight,” a watch lieutenant said.  Upsky didn’t recognize him, but the turnover rate for watchmen was so high that few lasted more than three years before quitting.  Poking Upsky in the belly, the watch leader smiled and said, “We knew you rodents couldn’t resist trying to make a mess of things, so we left an easy opening and waited for you to show up.”

“That’s…actually kind of cool,” Odd admitted.

“I’d shake your hand if I wasn’t tied up,” Upsky said.  “These ropes are kind of tight.”

“They’re supposed to be.”  The watch lieutenant took off a black cloak that had helped him hide in the shadows.  His eight man team did likewise now that they didn’t need to hide.  Watchmen had chain armor and were armed with swords and clubs.  They were a rough bunch paid to maintain order in Nolod, an impossible task at the best of times.  The watchmen took their goblin prisoners downstairs through a maintenance door to the offices below.

“We were just trying to participate,” Upsky whined as he was dragged past surprised bureaucrats pushing papers at their desks.  “This is supposed to be an event for musicians of all races, but there are no trolls, no ogres, no harpies, no goblins, nobody fun to be with!”

“Civilized races are allowed in,” the watch lieutenant said.  He dragged Upsky while his men pulled along the other goblins.  “You’d just make trouble.”

“That is brutally unfair!”  Upsky squirmed, trying to get his hands free from the ropes, but it was a good knot.  He’d need one of the other goblins to chew it off, and for that to happen they had to be free of the watchmen.

The watch lieutenant took him down a flight of stairs to the ground floor.  “Unfair?  I’ve seen your kind do in this city that would turn a man’s hair white.  I was here for the goblin goat races.  You cretins knocked over fifty vendor stalls and ruined a fortune in textiles.”

Odd looked at Upsky and asked, “Wasn’t that imported cloth from Despairan slave farms?”

The watch lieutenant’s face tensed and his men looked uncomfortable.  “It doesn’t matter who made it.  It was bought fairly, and you had no right to ruin it.”

The goblins were pulled out of the government building and into the street.  Hired guards around the music hall snickered and pointed at the goblins.  One guard said, “They catch the goblins and we get paid.  Got to love that.”

“The only thing you could catch is a cold,” the watch lieutenant told them.  They just laughed as the watchmen led the goblins away.  Once they were clear, the lieutenant muttered, “Is there anything worse than paid swordsmen?”

“I can come up with a few things,” Upsky replied.  The watchmen pulled them through the streets, past bystanders who pointed and laughed.  “Where are we going?”

“You're going to a prison barge that's going to drop you off on an island a hundred miles from Nolod and ten miles from land.  You can make all the trouble you want over there.  I am going to get a hot bath and a good meal.”

Odd rolled his eyes.  “The old prison island idea?  It’s been tried for so many years it should be getting a pension.”

“He’s right,” Upsky said.  “It never works.”

“If it keeps you out of Nolod for a month then it’s good enough.  But first we’re going to put an end to this music nonsense.”  With that the watch lieutenant and his men grabbed the goblins’ instruments and smashed them to bits.  “You’ll get more sooner or later, but not today.”

Upsky didn’t look especially bothered by the loss.  “Why are you doing this?”

The watch lieutenant resumed dragging Upsky through the streets.  “You can’t be so stupid.  I saw you goblins sink a boat in the harbor.  I was there when you rodents broke into the city jail and let out fifteen prisoners!”

“Fifteen out of three hundred,” Upsky clarified.  “Those men shouldn’t have been in there.  As for the boat, that brought in the clothes made with slave labor.  Nolod allows indentured servitude, which is appallingly, but even your leaders won’t stomach slavery.”

When that didn’t get an answer, Upsky asked “I mean why are you doing this, being a watchman?  All your complaints happened after you entered the watch, not before.  You could have gotten a different job, a better job.”

“It pays well enough, and I make a difference in the city.”

“One of us does,” Upsky said.  That got him and angry glare from the lieutenant, but he went on anyway.  “Come on, you’ve seen goblins cause mischief, but there’s been worse crimes, and goblins didn’t cause them.  How much of that should have been stopped long ago?  How much can’t be stopped because it’s legal?”

Getting angry, the lieutenant shouted, “We aren’t talking about that!  We are talking about your crimes!”  Shoving Upsky up against a stable, he yelled, “This wall was clean ten hours ago!”

Upsky took a moment to study the stable wall.  “Okay, the picture of the prime minister with his head stuck in a toilet is our handiwork, same with the banker with a wolf’s head.  And I am downright proud of that one near the bottom with ships being loaded with barrels of filth, which really happened.  It’s a funny story.  I’ll tell you sometime.”

Nodding his head at one of the wall’s graffiti pictures, the goblin insisted, “That's not one of ours.”

The watch lieutenant peered at the graffiti.  The last one was painted in blue and showed an open book with the words ‘No Secrets’ written above the book.  Frowning, he said, “You might be right.  It shows some talent.”

“No, no, it’s garbage, no social commentary, no attempt to influence or humiliate,” Odd said.  “Good brush work, but no message.”

“Getting back to my point, you and your gang don’t need to be here,” Upsky told the watch lieutenant.

“We’re not a gang!  We’re the opposite of a gang!”

“Not according to the prime minister,” Upsky said.  “I heard he called the city watch a step above thugs and a step below mercenaries.  Last week he said he’d get better results if he put baboons in uniforms and paid them bananas to do your job.”

The watch lieutenant roared in outrage and lifted Upsky off his feet.  He slammed him into the stable wall and met the goblin’s eyes with a murderous look.  The suddenness of the move startled Upsky, but only for a moment.

“Why do you work so hard and risk your life for a man and a city that don’t care whether you live or die?” the goblin asked.

“Because!”  Breathing hard, he gradually regained control of his temper.  “Because it’s my job.  Because the money I earn feeds my family.  Because there are days I make a difference.  That’s why.”

“I understand,” Upsky said softly.  More conversationally, he offered, “If you look in my pockets you’ll find job applications.  I’ve been collecting them for weeks.  You and your gang, I mean men, can get better jobs with more pay.  I think you’ll make more of a difference that way, too.”

The lieutenant checked Upsky’s pockets and came up with a stack of folded up papers.  He read them under the light of a nearby lantern, then grunted and stuffed them into his pockets.  “I’ll give you credit, this is new, but it won’t distract me.  You and your followers are going out to sea and far away from the music festival.”

“Those people would appreciate goblin music,” Upsky protested.  “The blissful tones, the inspiring message—”

The watch lieutenant burst out laughing.  “I heard about your latest musical atrocity, Goblins in Oatmeal!  What does that even mean?”

“The final line explains it all,” Odd said.

The watch lieutenant led his men in dragging off the goblins.  “No one would last that long.  Men heard you vermin practicing your assault on the senses.  They complained of suffering dizziness, headaches and blurred vision inside of thirty seconds.”

Shocked, Upsky asked, “Thirty seconds?  Huh.  Normally that doesn’t happen until they reach the chorus.”

“What?”  The watch lieutenant spun around to face Upsky.  “What do you mean they?”

“I, uh, I didn’t say nothing!”

Pressing him against a tavern wall, the watch lieutenant said, “You didn’t say until we reach the chorus, you said until they reach the chorus.  Who are they?”

“Good work, blabber mouth,” Odd muttered.

Upsky tried to come up with a believable lie and couldn’t.  He looked down and sighed.  “Um, we’re not musicians.  We’re warrior goblins.  The musicians called us this morning and asked us to distract the men guarding the music hall.  They thought you’d drop your guard once one group of goblins was caught, and that would give them the opportunity to break in.  They snuck in through the sewers and nailed the doors shut from the inside while you’ve been hauling us off.  They’re playing Goblins in Oatmeal as we speak.”

“But you must be musicians!  You had instruments!”  The watch lieutenant pointed down the road where two rocks lay on the street next to the broken remains of their pan flute, drum, kazoo, fiddle, chimes.

“They gave us those to improve our disguise,” Odd told him.  “You must have noticed it didn’t bother us when you broke them.”

The watch lieutenant threw Upsky to the ground and raced back to the music hall.  His men followed suit and left the goblins behind as the lieutenant yelled, “Come on!”

“How good are your teeth?” Odd asked Upsky as he raised his bound hands.

“I want to see this first,” he said and led the goblins back to the music hall.

Goblins and watchmen reached the music hall to find it in a state of pandemonium.  The doors were closed, but they could hear men pounding on them from the inside, desperately trying to get out.  The hired guards were trying to force the doors open and having no luck.  Onlookers crowded around the music hall while people in nearby buildings opened windows and stuck their heads out.  They could hear noise from inside the music hall, and there seemed to be a rhythm to it, but no one would call it music.

A second floor window broke when a man inside threw a chair through it.  The chair splintered when it hit the ground and gawkers had to run to avoid being hit.  The crowd heard a discordant tune playing within, including the ending line, “And he never got it off!

The man who’d broken the window leaned out and threw up.

Ashen faced, the watch lieutenant stared in horror at the scene until one of his men asked, “Sir, please tell me you kept those job applications.”

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