You can take the Rob out of Goblins but you can’t take the Goblins out of Rob… or something like that, anyway whilst you get that weird image out your heads, Rob may have fled the Mantic Nest last year but that hasn’t stopped him submitting some great short stories for us. So sit back and Enjoy part one of…
Wing And A Prayer
Groany watched in awe as the flying half-men swooped over the battlefield one more time. His devious goblin eyes glimmered with excitement as he followed the almost graceful spectacle. He ignored the screams of horror from his fellow goblins as the half-men’s bombs exploded in their ranks. Instead the self-elected goblin king of Groanonia – his own kingdom in the Ardovikia Plain – only had eyes for one thing: the half-men’s flying suits.
He rounded on the gadjit desperately tinkering with Groany’s unreliable mini winggit suit and slapped a rusty spanner out of the surprised gadjit’s clammy claws. A spring popped out of the winggit suit and flew past Groany’s snarling face.
“I want one,” he said and pointed at the flying half-man. His statement was greeted by another explosion, followed by high-pitched goblin howls.
“Your cunningness can already fly thanks to the winggit suit,” offered the gadjit and bent down to pick up the spanner. “The only flying goblin in the world!”
Groany bristled at the word ‘flying’. It was an exaggeration at best and a downright lie at worst. Since his gadjits had developed the mini winggit suit, he couldn’t remember a time when it had worked properly. His green body was peppered in a mixture of fierce purple bruises and angry-looking scars. His left ear was missing a chunk and his left leg still bent unnaturally from a particularly bad crash. Delayed falling was more accurate than ‘flying’. It was certainly nothing like these majestic half-men who could swoop and dive like a bird on the wing.
Slowly Groany plucked the spanner from the nervous gadjit before speaking in his clearest, most boss-like voice.
“I. Want. That. Grogging. Suit.” With each word he bashed the hapless gadjit over its head. When he had finished, Groany stood over the comatose gadjit and tried to compose himself. His breath came in ragged gasps.
Eventually a nervous-looking goblin slowly approached Groany. Its eyes flitted between the gadjit’s prone body and the spanner.
“We’ll get one for you, boss,” it stammered and pointed to a small group of greenskins nearby. A few waved back anxiously.
Groany quickly snatched out a claw and pulled the other goblin closer, until their long noses were almost touching.
“Don’t let me down,” hissed Groany before shoving the reluctant volunteer away.
“Sound the retreat!” screeched Groany. “We’ll leave the village. For now.”
A wicked grin spread slowly over his face as he thought about returning while wearing the half-men’s flying suit. He even considered stealing several, so a troop of flying goblins could lay havoc to the village. Then again, he doubted any other goblin would be brave enough, or clever enough, to use one of the suits. After all, he was Groany Snark. The only flying goblin in the world!
Rodrick let out a bored sigh. He hadn’t been counting but it felt like it must have been the hundredth that day. He absentmindedly kicked a clod of mud and watched it slowly tumble through the grass. Most halflings would probably enjoy this opportunity for peace. They might take a moment to gaze upon the lush hills and woods of the Shires, or appreciate the refreshing breeze as it whispered through their tousled hair. After all, since the Shires had left behind the alliance of men and halflings known as the League of Rhordia, there hadn’t been many opportunities to just sit back and enjoy the calm.
But Rodrick was not any old halfling. He had signed up to his local militia for one reason: excitement! And so far, the most exciting thing he had witnessed was a particularly savage argument over a meat pie between two members of his troop.
This wasn’t what he expected when he had enlisted. Like the others in his village, he had heard the daring stories of Cadwallader. The tales that told of a tactical genius who could put even the most battle-hardened Basilean Dictator to shame. A hero that was able to summon great numbers of forest trolls to do his bidding. A halfling that would lead the Shires to victory, no matter the odds.
For a moment Rodrick closed his eyes and imagined himself battling alongside the great Cadwallader. The pair would duck and weave as they dodged clumsy blows from Riftforged Orcs, only to strike back with their own deadly parries and thrusts. They would stand firm – back to back against the oncoming hordes.
A loud rustling in a bush to his left snapped him out of his daydream. Instinctively his hand crept out towards his spear. He looked around for other members of his troop, but they were too far down the hill to make it to him.
Before he could stand, a large shape pounced from the bush and knocked him flat on his back. Rodrick tried to catch his breath as the air was crushed from his lungs. The beast stayed still for a moment, then began lapping at Rodrick’s face.
“Jasper,” cried Rodrick. “Get off, you daft lump.”
The aralez continued to lick his face until eventually Rodrick managed to push him off, or Jasper just got bored. Roughly the same height as Rodrick, the shaggy-looking dog bounded around the halfling excitedly.
Rodrick looked sheepishly toward the other halflings and their aralez strutting across a nearby field. The dogs were meant to be the highly trained cavalry of the halflings, but Jasper always seemed more concerned with playing than executing battle drills. The muster captain at the barracks had told Rodrick that the aralez should be treated as just another weapon, rather than a pet.
“Don’t get too close,” the captain had boomed. “You wouldn’t cuddle or play with a sword, so don’t bother with your mutts either.”
Rodrick couldn’t help himself though. Jasper had been turned down by all the other Wild Riders for being too unruly and Rodrick guessed he just felt a bit sorry for him. Kindred spirits, perhaps? Both hunting for a little excitement.
The halfling looked around to make sure no one else was watching.
“Sit,” he commanded in his most powerful voice. “Lay down. Roll over.”
With each new instruction, Jasper chased his tail, scratched his ear and eventually began licking his privates. Rodrick rolled his eyes in frustration. It was hard to be too annoyed at the hapless hound, but Jasper certainly pushed his luck.
Rodrick was about to try another training session when a rabbit bolted from a nearby warren and sped past the halfling. Before he could move out the way he was almost knocked flying as Jasper darted after the rabbit; tongue spilling from his eager jaws.
“Jasper!” hissed Rodrick and hoped the other halflings hadn’t heard the commotion. Then his eyes grew wide when he realised Jasper was heading straight towards the large barn behind him…
Check back in on Wednesday for part two!