The Goblin King
“Bah!” They woke to Alder’s reaction to seeing the two of them curled up under the same blanket. Alder hurried away with his hand over his eyes. “Relax, Alder.” Whilo threw the blanket off from them to break the tension. Alder slowly withdrew his hand as he began pouring himself some tea. “You remember what I told you Whilo?”
“How could I not? You made our conversation all existential that night.”
“I was right though.” “Sure, but anyway, how are you doing with Bree?” Alder nodded. “I went back to her a few days after you’d left. You were right, Lilly. I did scare her. But I was honest with her about what I felt, and she was too, and it all worked out for the better. The wedding will be early in the spring.”
“Alder!” Lilly beamed, clapped her hands, and raced over to hug him.
“Which is why we’re going to sack the Goblin King’s Castle tonight,” Said the old man as he stepped into the living room, “so we’ll all have a home to come back to.”
“But, sir, do we have what we need?” Lilly asked, turning toward him. He pushed the spectacles further up his nose. “I have three heroes with me, and if my whistler works, we’ll have more than what we need to take back that fortress.” The old man motioned to the wall where two swords, a pike, and an axe hung. “I blessed these with holy incantations; they’ll split those Goblins right through the bone, and no one’s going to deny they deserve it. Whilo, it wasn’t a plague that claimed the lives of so many when you were a child. The Goblin King had long been planning his day of violence against the countryside, and he practiced his weapon against the town of Shane.
“And, tomorrow, he plans to unleash it over all the land. Everyone will suffer the same fate as those who died in Shane, unless we stop him tonight.”
Whilo, believed what he was hearing. He had known that he was brought out here for a reason, and Alder, Lilly, and now the Mean Old Hermit only affirmed it to be so.
The four of them sat down and enjoyed one last card game.
The secret passageway that led to the throne room was long and low. For the old man, it was more appropriately a crawl space. They dared not make any sound as they inched along toward the small square opening. From without, they could hear the terrifying sounds of the Goblins laughing and hollering at each other.
Whilo had the clearest view through the opening. Below them was the throne room. Because of the night, there was no daylight shining through, but the lights of torches and of the overhanging chandeliers glowed eerily, revealing the scaly, blood-red forms of the creatures. Their horns shook up and down freakishly as they chanted and pounded on the long dining table which filled the entire chamber. Seated upon the throne was the Goblin King. He was not like the others. His head nearly reached the ceiling, and his broad shoulders stretched from wall to wall. He raised his hand, and immediately, the crowd subsided.
“Tonight, we celebrate, because tomorrow…the day will belong to the Goblins!” There were roars of approval, but the King angrily flicked his wrist, and abruptly, a bolt of lightning materialized in the middle of the throne room and struck a handful of them dead; what was left was a circle of ashes, and embers scattered in the air. Whilo and the others jumped back, hitting their heads against the stone ceiling and grunting in pain and confusion. The old man just shook his head and hushed them angrily and motioned for them to continue to listen. Whilo was unsure exactly how this plan was supposed to work. Supposedly the old man knew exactly what he was doing.
“Tomorrow,” started the Goblin King again, as those at the table quieted and subjected themselves, “we reclaim what was taken from us all those centuries ago. It was not enough that we lived apart from them in the remotest catacombs of the mountains. The prospect that we lived at all was an affront to them. What we rightfully had to ourselves in the caverns, they wanted to exploit, and without any antagonism on our part they invaded our mines with the hopes of slaying us all. But did they get our mines?”
There were loud cries of “No!”
“What did we do?”
“We killed them all!”
A severe frown grew on the old man’s face. “He’s conveniently leaving out integral moments in this story.”
“How do you mean?” asked Whilo.
“Our ancestors originally settled in this countryside after fleeing the tyranny of the Emperor across the Sea. With all of the dark powers at his fingertips, he could toss entire nations into the fiery chasms beneath the oceans. The small band of us that survived only wanted a nice home in which to settle and be safe from his terror. In fact, had we known that the Goblins owned this land we had discovered, we would have set sail once more and looked somewhere else. However, Shalvga, the Goblin King attacked us during the night and burned down our ship so that we could not escape. We were forced to fight against them year after year and drive them further back, because they would leave us in peace. What he is describing right now is the year that he and his troops were in hiding. They had full intention on wiping us all out once they had fully regrouped…” he stopped, though, and listened as the Goblin King continued his address.
“And we sieged their pretty little castle. No one survived except for one old sage, who went by the name of Arsentex. He caused a lot of trouble for us trying to win his castle back, but he never managed. However, he admittedly delivered a strong blow against us, one year, and we had to settle upon a truce. We would divide the land among us and stay on our respective sides. But we don’t answer to the demands of treacherous humans, do we?”
Again, more cries of “No!” rose up in retaliation.
“Every day has led up to this—the day that the humans die, and we be rid of Arsentex forever!”
“Now!” the old man motioned for Whilo, Alder, and Lilly, and the four jumped onto the chandelier. Its rusted chain snapped, and in one terrifying moment, they crashed into the table, and flames erupted all around them. Over the roar of the fire, there were cries of horror and rage as the Goblins gathered outside the inferno.
Whilo was confused that they were not hurt by the flames, but he watched in awe as Lilly and the Sage stood side by side with their hands reaching above their heads, and the encircling fire formed a perfect dome over the four of them. The Old man nodded to her and yelled over the commotion, “Like we practiced!” They assumed a different stance on their legs and thrust their hands forward. Immediately, the wall of fire was thrown back and a number of Goblins were engulfed in it. They crumpled to the floor, hollering in agony while others brashly ran through and attacked the intruders who stood, weapons drawn. The fighting had commenced.
Rays of golden light emitted from the four blades, and as they clashed, it singed the Goblins’ scaly layers, and they drew back in worse pain than those rolling around in the fire. When the fullness of the blade met with the Goblins’ body, the monsters disintegrated before Whilo’s very eyes.
Abruptly, the flames parted, and those Goblins who had been burning now stood up with no visible sign that they had been hurt. The Goblin King rose from his throne with his arms outstretched, and the whole chamber seemed to darken, as his snake-like eyes grew brighter with intensity. “Arsentex!” his enraged cry shook the entire chamber, and rubble came pouring down all around them.
The old man did not bat an eye. “You did not keep your promise, Shalvga, but I did. I said that if you were ever to cross my borders and harm my people again, I would come again and silence yours forever. And now, here I am! I have come to fulfill my honor and prove once and for all that I am true to my word, and that I owe you nothing…Nothing!”
The Goblin King bellowed with his arms reaching above him, and several lightning bolts struck where the old man stood. “Master, no!” shouted Lilly as the air pulsated around them with electric currents.
The dust cleared, the air settled, and the old man was gone. It was now just the remaining three, and the demon standing, glowering over them. His subjects encircled them, and their eyes seemed to glow now as his did, and the room got darker. Whilo stood in front of his friends, sword drawn with no expectation of leaving this place alive.
The Goblin King laughed. “Old fool. He was brash to the very end. He has gone blindly over the edge of the cliff, and he leads the blind to follow after.”
“No I didn’t.” came a voice from above.
A grizzly bear the size of Alder’s boathouse tore through the throne room and lounged at the Goblin King. “Malto!” Alder cried out in joy. He, Lilly, and Whilo grabbed onto a rope extended to them from the old man who sat on top of his back. Malto ripped the Goblin King into pieces, and his remains crumbled into dust. The remaining Goblins tried to escape through the front entrance, but the grizzly bear was already upon them. Soon the entire palace was empty of Goblins.
“So what do we do now?” inquired Whilo, as the remaining Goblins slowly crumbled away into a fine powder. He put his sword back into its sheath and breathed a heavy sigh. The old man looked around a couple times and scratched his head as he apparently gave it some thought. “I’m actually thinking we could fix this place up. Give it a good spring cleaning.”
Immediately, Lilly looked over at Alder and nudged him. “Alder, your spring wedding! You could get married in a castle!” Alder looked around doubtfully. The walls were overridden in vines and cobwebs. The screeching of bats overhead could be heard throughout the tomblike halls. Tapestries hung shredded overhead, stained with what looked like dry blood. A black rat the size of a horse ran past them.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “If we can make this place nice and pretty early enough to plan my wedding, then I’ll take it.”
“Sounds as good a plan as any.” Said the old man. “To be honest, I was so caught up in trying to win my castle back, I had no idea what I was going to do with it when I did.”
Whilo jumped as a spider lowered in front of his nose. “I guess we’d better get started.”