When I first read the runes, I expected something like beware the ides of June, not GOBLINS! engraved on a piece of slate and an address only a few miles away, thirty-seven Mayberry Close, Upper Clambourne. If it had been scribbled on a bus shelter in biro, I would put it down as a joke, but this meant something.
I traced half way round the goblin rune with my finger and felt magic stirring in the stone. So, not just an address, but transport for anyone without the bus fare from Lower to Upper Clambourne.
An invitation to the hunt.
Goblin hunters are a nuisance at the best of times, and outlawed since the Diet of Bologna in ten-twenty-three. And don’t bother to look that up. You will not find any official historical record of the Holy Roman Empire reaching a truce with creatures who, at the time, were regarded as spawn of Satan. Honestly, they only signed the treaty because a whole generation of young goblins were about to emerge from their cocoons after a thousand years metamorphosis. Imagine that medieval leadership suddenly discovering that mature goblins are not five-foot tall easy-meat, but brutes the size of elephants, and absolutely easy going unless provoked into a killing rage fit to make a tiger look like a pussy cat.
According to Toby, nothing winds a goblin up into a murderous frenzy like a bit of religious persecution.
I rang Toby and said the magic words.
“Tobes. I found more goblin hunters.”
My cat says something similar – meaning that litter tray needs cleaning – which is one of those odd linguistic coincidences, because not even a young goblin like Toby uses a litter tray. So he says.
“I have the address,” I told him. “But I think it could be a trap.”
“Ricky, if those shapeek hunters knew that I’m a goblin, they would just break down my door. No need to set elaborate traps.”
“Yeah. Maybe. Even so… maybe they want to get you away from Selene… She can be scary. Or… maybe they aren’t sure if you’re a goblin.”
Because a young goblin can pass for a really ugly human, in poor light and from the right angle, and Toby happens to be a really ugly goblin, which makes him even more passable as human. But honestly, what goblin hunter is going to suspect an ugly bloke shacked up with an elf-human half-breed?
I still have a very disturbing memory of Toby’s cousin Eric moving in next door to him. It turns out that the average council housing officer doesn’t ask if the applicant is human, and the below-average one doesn’t ask about the pet donkey. Eric found out about Selene the half-elf living with Toby and well… I have never seen so much blood on the walls.
Goblins hate religious oppression, except for goblin fundamentalists like Eric putting unclean elves in their place. I don’t suppose Eric ever expected to lose a round of pin the elf on the donkey. He probably didn’t expect Selene to bite his ear off, either. It’s just as well that the donkey was really a snack rather than a pet, otherwise it would have been a terrible waste.
“It’s a new world, Ricky.” And one where young goblins who accidentally kill their donkey subsequently get harassed by animal rights activists instead of religious fundamentalists. “Give me the shapeek address and I’ll meet you there. Teach these onion-frying idiots to behave.”
“OK. Texting it. See you in half and hour.”
# # #
Toby beat me to thirty-seven Mayberry Close by a few minutes, but then he has his moped and I missed a bus by seconds. In the good old days, any well-to-do young goblin would have had his own donkey, transport and snack in one handy package, but Toby has embraced modern living. Apparently, in traditional goblin culture, where a lad parks his donkey is fraught with issues. Nobody eats a moped, although local idiots might steal it, if their street-cred has dropped that low.
“It’s a trap,” Toby told me. “Got to be. Look.”
Mayberry Close was a gentle crescent of detached houses with a significant gap where number thirty-seven should have been.
Toby waved. “Sixties development. What can I say?”
“I meant, what happened to number thirty-seven?”
“Gas explosion. Ten years ago. Apparently accidental, but I would treat it as an architectural statement.” He shrugged, and not even his favourite leather jacket could quite hide his vestigial shoulder spines. “Anyway, that’s what the neighbour told me. Apparently they keep a watch out for suspicious characters here. Probably worried about further architectural statements. So not even shapeek goblin hunters are going to gather in the open here.”
I showed him the piece of slate. “So if I used this instead of the bus…”
“Ohh.” He held it with the tips of his claws, which look almost like finger nails in poor light. “Ohhhhhh!”
“It’s s trap.” He shrugged again. Those shoulder spines are going to be awesome in twelve hundred years when he’s full-grown. “If you used this…”
“Eric made it.”
“Eric the idiot cousin? Seriously?”
Toby sighed like only a goblin can. I’m sure I heard at least one plink of cracking glass, but it’s hard to be sure amid a frantic chorus of wailing cats and barking dogs.
“Eric likes hunting goblin hunters. It’s allowed in the Diet of Bologna treaty. The new generation of adults are about to hatch, you see? It’s a new world. Goblins asserting their rights against humans who breach the treaty.”
“Wow. OK.” That sounds like trouble. “Whatever next?”
“Elf rights, Frank. Elf rights. Time for goblins to come full circle.”
My mind was on Eric’s poor donkey. “Is that a good idea?”
“It’s a right idea, Frank. Selene says it’s time to talk about the Elfin-kind in the room.”
# # #
This was written in response to the #BlogBattle prompt of Revolution.
Image from Pixabay