Kirk A.C. Marshall

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The Cobblin' Gobblin

Published 12/04/04
 
Re-edited equivalent of "The Cobblin' Gobblin" written and original to 2002 (c)

A mist was picking up. It was an unrelenting mist, a lively mist; the variety of mist that was so thick that it felt like fabric and could be cut out into chunks with a knife. Several cirrus clouds were scudding across the sky and a few random shafts of sunlight were feebly managing through.

 

In weather like this birds didn’t move because they were frozen to the sky, and the wintry winds abated because the air had turned to ice. The fishing-holes where many-an adventurous child used to fish off with their fathers were all inside, sitting by the hearth and the fireplace, drinking hot cocoa and being read to about tales of exotic journeys; about lands of fiction; about what might have been or had been.

 

Except, of course, for two beings.

 

One was named Ronktruz, and he was the Imperial Goblin Leader of the Loyalist Underlings. Or he had been the Imperial Leader of the Loyalist Underlings when he was young. When the Ancient Mariner had been an acne-faced teenager. So utterly long ago.

 

Now, though, Ronktruz was a lonely, ineffably isolated goblin. People seemed to suggest that Ronktruz was the loneliest being in the world. Well, actually, they didn’t, because they didn’t even know that Ronktruz existed, which must mean around about the same thing.

 

The other being out on a dark, frosty night like this was Ivonrake the Bohemian. Not to be confused with Ivanhoe the Barbarian, of course. Ivonrake was a warrior. He of the open-toed sandals, scintillating swords and the loincloth. Also he of the foot blisters, the haemorrhoids and the body rash, but analytical people never mention this because it’s not as romantic.

 

Ronktruz the last goblin alive, and a warrior. A homunculus and a killer of homunculi. The antagonist and the protagonist. On a cold winter’s day.

 

Ronktruz heard a knock on the oaken door of his hovel, and creaked it open a fraction of an inch. He popped his head out and instead of leering as was his theatrically-perfected wont, he simply sighed and nodded. He knew it was time.

 

It was time. Indeed. Time for what? What time? Time to die. To perish from the world. Time, in brief, to say one’s farewells, and for a goblin whom had never made any acquaintances to say goodbye to it was a dreary, saddening moment.

 

‘Ah, eh. I see. Yeah. Yup. I see indeed. Jolly good, then. Fancy a quick cuppa before ye get that sodding great sword of yers’ and poke me liver out through me nostrils whiff it?’

 

Ivonrake looked slightly bemused. He had always disliked those who knew his meticulously organized next step before he did it.

 

‘I beg your pardon? You think I am going to barbarously apply this here broadsword to you, a frail, innocent li’l’ imp…er, goblin, like you?’

 

‘Yup,’ Ronktruz smirked, despite himself.

 

‘Too right you disdainful bugger!’ roared Ivonrake but stopped mid-echo when he saw that the goblin hadn’t cringed once or even batted a proverbial eye.

 

‘Surely it isn’t too hard to look a…er…miniscule scared? Come on. Just sort of wince. Please. I’ll pay you if you just petulantly squeak out “No mister, anything but that—aargh”. I’ll give you…um…well, come on then…Please?’

 

Ronktruz cocked his weathered head. ‘Why? I’m not scared. And, anyway, what will I do with the money? Can’t very well hop along to the local shops after and buy meself a dozen oranges, what with me being decapitated an’ all, now can I?’

 

Ivonrake bit on his lip and avoided using any expletives. ‘Oh go on. Go on then. Just this once, pretty please…?’

 

‘Just this once, he says, ha!’ chuckled Ronktruz. ‘Of course it’s only going to “be this once” because afterwards I’m gonna be six feet under whiff earthworms crawling through my skull, ain’t I?’

 

Ivonrake sighed. If someone could call Ivonrake something, ultimately, it would be a traditionalist. He was one of those stolid, loyal people who had to maintain an image of being a righteous, head-chopping altruist. People just had to know that Ronktruz had squirmed before he had been done in. It was essential.

 

Ronktruz slapped him on the shoulder. ‘Come on, now, mate. You’re not frightened of severing me gonads off without me crying, are ye? As a notorious footwear company say: Just Do It.’

 

‘Oh, yes. Footwear, dreaded, hideous footwear. The loveliness of piles on one’s feet. Now then… I was…?’

 

‘About to lob off me head,’ beamed Ronktruz.

 

‘You listen here this moment…’ began Ivonrake.

 

‘I’ll have to, won’t I,’ chirped Ronktruz, ‘because if I don’t at this moment I won’t get to listen at all afterwards. My ears will be from here to Kentucky.’

 

Ivonrake rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Eventually he said, ‘Okay, okay. The world needs a goblin. Can you do good shoes?’

 

A mist was picking up. It was an unrelenting mist, a lively mist; the variety of mist that was so thick that it felt like fabric and could be cut out into chunks with a knife. Several cirrus clouds were scudding across the sky and a few random shafts of sunlight were feebly managing through.

 

In weather like this birds didn’t move because they were frozen to the sky, and the wintry winds abated because the air had turned to ice. The fishing-holes where many-an adventurous child used to fish off with their fathers were all inside, sitting by the hearth and the fireplace, drinking hot cocoa and being read to about tales of exotic journeys; about lands of fiction; about what might have been or had been.

 

About what is. And funnily enough, about shoes.

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