by Allen Davis
A Goblin is too clever for his own kind but too different to fit in with humans. Ch. 1
Zet let out a lethargic yawn, his horrid breath causing the foliage around him to recoil slightly. He was sitting lazily in his favorite tree feet propped up on a branch. It was early morning, and he was late for guard duty. What did it matter? They could manage for a little while without him. Just five more minutes....
Eyes snapping open Zet nearly fell from his perch. In fact, he did fall, however, he managed to catch himself on the branch directly below where he had been sitting. Now, as he hung by both arms he found himself looking directly at a goblin. It wasn't a goblin Zet was particularly keen on meeting at the moment as well.
" 'ello capin," Zet said still half asleep. His drowsy eyes could just make out the features of Captain Fruc. Did he get shorter? Zet had always thought himself tall at his four and a half feet, but Fruc stood nearly five feet almost unheard of for a goblin. It took Zet another few moments to realize that the branch he was hanging from kept him a good head above his counterpart. For some reason he found this amusing, and he grinned a toothy grin. He was young, so he still had position of most of his teeth.
"Who you think you grinnen at?" Fruc asked, scowling. He only had two teeth, Zet noted. This puzzled him. He could have sworn his Captain had three teeth at least. Oh well must have been knocked out sometime the night before. Last night? What had happened the night before? Now that he was awake Zet could feel the beginning of a terrible headache coming on. Ah so that was it. Alcohol. He remembered being at Trih's place early in the evening, she had been wearing a human dress that was way to big for her. She had looked good in it though....
"Are you even listenen to me?" Fruc asked, his wart covered face growing slightly greener. Zet shook his head.
"Aye I'm listenen," he said "sorry capin' didn't realize this was your pissing tree."
"My piss..?" Fruc looked confused "Now you listen here ya slog..."
"Capin' Capin'" Zet said shacking his head "It's nothin to be ashamed of. Takin care of one's business in the morning; It's only natural" Three emotions began to form on Fruc's face all at the same time. Confusion mixed with a dumbfounded expression that was beginning to lead into anger. Zet smiled again. He did enjoy these games with his captain.
"Don't worry Captain. You can have your tree back, as it stands I am already late for guard duty," Zet continued, dropping from his branch. He landed awkwardly and nearly fell into Fruc. How much had he had to drink the night before? Righting himself, he now looked up at his captain "I'll be off now Capin'. Don't worry I won't tell Trih how you lost your tooth."
With that Zet left the hopelessly confused captain Fruc where he was standing and sauntered off. He chuckled to himself as he made his way to the guard quarters. He knew there would be hell to pay in the coming days, but for now he had avoided a confrontation. The words of his older brother echoing in his mind.
"Disagreements get you killed. Best to avoid their lot."
Zet had become rather good at avoiding responsibility as well as confrontation. He had found that a few words in the right place could get you out of the worst duty. Like digging latrines. He had been supposed to do that the night before as well, but instead he had gotten drunk. Something about going to Trih's place always ended the same. At least he had been in a tree this time. Last time he had woken up under the peer with several little glib crabs pinching his toes. Zet sighed heavily. Sometimes it was tough being the smartest alcoholic that had ever lived. He chuckled to himself.
When Zet arrived at the guardhouse he found a scene of pure boredom. Only Bonn and Druk where present which meant that Drulgo was late as well. Bonn glanced down from his perch on the battlements.
"Was she worth it?" he called, as Zet hurried into the guardhouse.
"Aye she was, but she was looking for the man with the most slog on his face. I told her where to find you, she never showed?" he called. He heard Druk laugh, and Bonn give a huff of annoyance. Smiling to himself Zet pulled on his uniform. It was nothing fancy. A simple black tunic with leather shoulder padding, worn down trousers, and a leather cap for his green head. He scooped up the piece of broken glass that was lying on the mess table. Their mirror. He examined himself and frowned. He had never found himself ugly, but he had always thought his nose was to big and his grey eyes where uncommon for a goblin. Shrugging, he placed the "mirror" back on the table. He collected his shield and small spear, noting the rust, and headed up to the battlements.
It was at times like this he wondered why he had even bothered joining the town guard. It was a silly question. He knew why. Money, was unfortunately still a necessity in Goblin society. Of course, they didn't have their own currency, but instead used gold and silver stolen from humans. Some Goblin towns traded with human cities, but Zet's hometown of Vaaldron did not take part in this. For the most part the small town operated on a barter system. Gold and other precious metals still carried weight within the market. However, most goblins had no way of making a single gold coin through normal means. Even some of the merchants could go their entire life only trading in goods and never laying their hands on the smooth metal that made up a solid gold coin. But if one where to join the town guard...
It was an unspoken rule among guardsmen that any gold that was confiscated or stolen during raids would be divided evenly among those who took part. Of course, squad captains such as Fruc would sometimes steal a few extra coins for themselves, but Zet didn't mind that. As long as he got a few coins to spend at the tavern then he was happy. The only downside of joining the town guard was that it was also the only military force that Vaaldron maintained. While it was true that they did have a few allies to call upon in times of need, for the most part goblin cities and towns operated independently of each other. Zet had always feared that one day he might wake up to find an army of humans at their gates with only the two hundred guardsmen to stop them.
Of course, no such army greeted him today as he emerged onto the battlements. Druk glanced over as Zett took his place on the wall next to him "Anythin exctin' going on?"
Druk sighed "Why are you always askin that?"
"Isn't it our job to watch for anything interesting?" Zet asked, with a hint of a smile. This caused Bonn to huff in annoyance.
"Not like you do any work anyhow," he mumbled. Zet ignored the comment directing his next comment to Druk "So nothing to report?"
Scowling Druk glared at him "Listen ya' Slog, everyday we stand up here and look at dirt. Yesterday we looked at dirt, today we are looking at dirt, and tomorrow, when you show up late again, we will still be looking at dirt."
Zet laughed and Druk just rolled his eyes. Bonn was still scowling. In truth the field in front of the main gate was nothing special. The ground was hard; a few patches of grass jutted out of the ground as if in defiance of the oppressive heat of the sun. Druk's description of staring at dirt had been a rather accurate assessment of their job.
"The cappin' is gunna roast you over a slog pit if he finds out you was late again," Bonn said. Zet just grinned. He knew he would eventually have to face Fruc again. He doubted that the Captain would simply let the incident he pulled that morning go without repercussion. Still perhaps he would go easy on Zet because he thought Zet had seen how he had lost his tooth. The reality was Zet had no idea why Fruc now had one less tooth in his smile. However, the look Zet had gotten when he had mentioned the tooth to Fruc meant that it was most likely pretty embarrassing. Maybe if he asked around he could....
Zet's thought process was interrupted as the final member of their squad finally arrived. Zett turned to see Drulgo emerge onto the battlements. He was short, even for a goblin, standing only three feet in height. He was fat as well, though he didn't seem to mind that as much as being short.
"Well look what the Slog dragged in," Druk said with a grin, however his smile faded when he saw the look in Drulgo's eyes. Something was wrong. The usually jovial goblin seemed troubled "What's the matter with you? You look like a glib worm stole your lunch."
"It's the King," Drulgo said.
"What about em?" Bonn asked.
"He's called for a raid."