The Question

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In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo) ponder the question – where do we come from?

A simple question you may think, but not for a Goblin.

***

Bejuss the one eyed Raven sat on his perch in the witch cage doing his best to preen his feathers with his twisted beak, without much success. Beneath the old Raven, simple minded Byz sat with a worried look on his face.

“Bejuss?”

“Rarrk – yeth?” the old Raven lisped his short reply.

“Where dids you comes from?”

Bejuss gladly abandoned his attempt to preen his feathers and wandered back and forth on his perch, doing his best to make his bird brain think.

The old bird lisped an honest answer to his young goblin master’s question, courtesy of the magic cage making it impossible for its inhabitant to tell a lie.

“I came from an egg me mother laid, rarrk.”

Then he reluctantly returned to the seemingly impossible task of trying to preen his feathers with his twisted beak.

Byz sat in silence for a very long time with a deeply worried look on his normally happy face. His pet Raven’s answer puzzled him deeply. He decided he would ask Glob and the rest of his goblin brothers the same question when they came home.

***

As the sun disappeared below the horizon, the door to their home swung back on its leather hinges with a bang when Byz’s brothers entered, causing Bejuss to fall off his perch.

Mous went to the tiny kitchen to prepare their evening meal, while Glob walked across the living room to his favourite bench beside the one window in their home inside the ancient oak that is their home. Make attempted to climb into his bed for a quick nap, but was pulled back by the strong leathery hand of Neo.

“Gets me boots orf Make me lad – sharpish now, else I’ll fetch you one across your bonce with me club! Gets on with it, me chilblains is killings me!” Neo grumbled as his crossed eyes screwed themselves shut briefly, indicating the throbbing in his old feet.

Make tugged at the first bark boot so hard that when it finally came free, he toppled backwards, knocking over the table and stools, covering himself in the fetid pile of straw that all goblins use to line their boots, much to the amusement of all. When he removed Neo’s remaining boot, the sulphurous stench of unwashed feet and the dry grass lining Neo’s second boot, filled the tiny room making all feel ill, though none dare say anything.

The smell was so disgusting that everyone including Neo pinched their noses, with the exception of poor Bejuss who fell off his perch once more, this time rapidly burying his head in the sweet grass lining the bottom of his cage.

No one dare say a word. At one time or another, everyone had experienced the pain of Neo’s club on their heads – even Glob.

From the sweet smelling depths of the fresh grass in the witch cage Bejuss lisped.

“Rarrk! Murder, foul stinking murder! Whoth murdered a baby birdy still in his egg?”

Bejuss’s alarm cry broke the silence as all with the exception of Neo laughed so much that tears of uncontrollable mirth flowed down their leathery goblin faces.

Needless to say the evening meal of dried fish, watercress, wild onion, mint and honeycomb, washed down with freshly brewed mead, was consumed in enforced silence as Neo angrily glared cross eyed across the table at each of his brothers in turn as they all sniggered, trying hard to stifle outright laughter, defying them to say just one word out of place.

After the plates and mugs had been cleaned and put away, Glob returned to his seat by the window, unable to look his still angry brother in the eye.

Neo ill-temperedly slammed the door behind him as he went out into the dark night to visit his friend Miranda the mare in her stable behind the humin village close by. Make sighed with relief as he reached inside his jerkin for his bestest Briar pipe, and his pouch of honeysuckle flavoured tobacco. Mouse came back from the kitchen and sat beside Byz. All were glad that Neo had gone to see the love of his life.

“Brothers, where do we comes from?” simple minded Byz enquired, while he tended to Bejuss, helping him back onto his perch.

Apart from the odd evil smelling flatulent explosion breaking the silence caused by the fiery mixture of the evening meal fermenting noisily in their stomachs, reminding them of Bejuss’s cry and sending them all once again into fits of uncontrollable laughter, no one immediately replied.

With tears still flowing from his eyes Glob fought hard to calm himself before attempted to answer his brother’s question.

“We’s don’t Byz. We’s always beens here.”

“But Bejuss says he comes from an egg his mother laid. So we’s must have comes from somewhere.” Byz replied tearfully, clearly deeply concerned as a very serious look now inhabited his normally happy simpleton’s face.

Make finished packing a plug of tobacco into his Briar pipe, pushed a splinter of wood into the flames of the fire in their living room, applied it to the mixture, and inhaled the sweet tasting smoke.

“Byz has a points Glob, where does we comes froms? I aint never thoughts on it affor, Is we hatched like Bejuss was?”

Mous looked at his brothers nervously before plucking up the courage to ask.

“Duz we have a mother like Bejuzz, duz we Glob?

Glob sat in silence, peering out the window at the moonlit forest scene beyond. Even he had never wondered till now where they came from. But who could tell them the answer? All living creatures are born, even insects, so why not goblins?

Then Bejuss offered the solution in his lisping way.

“Rarrk! Go ask the grand high goblin; he’th the one who’ll know.” The old Raven returned to his preening, satisfied that he had helped his friends.

A distinct chill filled the air as each and every one of the goblins, even Byz, shivered with terror. No one, positively no one ever deliberately went to the grand high goblin, except if summoned.

His esteemed magnificence the grand high goblin Obadiah Fingletook’s temper was even worse than Neo’s. But, if the question was to be answered, Glob knew that the grand high goblin would be the one to ask.

The following morning Glob went to the nearest clearing in the forest and struck his Emerald topped staff hard on the ground, once more summoning the Wyvern Yathle.

***

All five brothers stood in silence, waiting patiently. Bejuss perched on Byz’s shoulder doing his best to preen his master’s hair. Neo had manufactured a wicker saddle to be strapped on the Wyvern’s back for the long trip north to the ancestor oak, the royal residence of the grand high goblin.

Mighty Yathle flew down in answer to Glob’s call and landed  in front of the goblin brothers. After the saddle had been secured, she gently lowered one wing to allow Glob to climb up. As soon as he was seated, she effortlessly climbed high into the air and set off north.

By midmorning she sat on the largest bough of the ancestor oak watching Glob knock on the door of Obadiah’s royal residence. A minion of the grand high goblin, after enquiring his purpose, nervously led Glob towards the throne room. The minion trembled with fear before he plucked up all his courage, opened the great door, bowed low and carefully approached the throne where Obadiah sat.

“Esteemed magnificence,” he began, sweating profusely with fear and sheer terror, “A lowly wood goblin from the south begs an audience with your most magnificent high gobliness.”

Obadiah turned from studying his reflection in a golden bowl filled with water which sat on an ornately carved table beside his throne and coldly stared, first at the grovelling wretch laying prostrate at his feet, then at Glob who stood beyond the doorway, bent double as he attempted to bow as low as he could in the presence of the grand high goblin.

Obadiah waved his hand indicating Glob should enter. The minion got up, bowed, then turned and ran back through the door, disappearing from sight as rapidly as he could.

“Well, why have you come?” Obadiah boomed.

“If you pardon esteemed magnificence, I have a question that only you can answer,” Glob replied, still bent double, not daring to lift his head in Obadiah’s presence for fear of his life.

“Harrumph – ask your question then be gone!” Obadiah declared loudly, clearly annoyed that one so low had dared to presume upon his time.

Glob nervously cleared his throat, crossed his fingers behind his back and asked his question.

“Oh great and most magnificent grand high goblin, my name is Globular Van Der Graff. My brothers and I have been greatly troubled by the question – where do we come from,” Glob finally managed to say.

“WHAT! You dare to come here to bother me with trivia…” Obadiah began to screech, clearly annoyed that a lowly wood goblin dared ask such a question before his angry outburst was cut off.

“Obadiah mind your manners my lad. Bring your brother to me at once!”

The colour instantly drained from Obadiah’s face as he meekly replied.

“Yes mother.”

He sheepishly beckoned for Glob to follow him into the adjoining royal apartment.

On entering, Glob’s breath was taken away by the gentle amply proportioned kindly female goblin vision before him reclining on a magnificent feather bed.

“Introduce us Obadiah then leave us,” the vision commanded.  Obadiah did as he was told and introduced Glob to the mother of all goblins – Hermione Fingletook.

She invited Glob to sit beside her as she explained that though Obadiah is her first born, all other goblins are his younger siblings.

The reason why goblins have never known where they came from till now is simplicity itself. With each goblin she brings into the world, she determines their purpose, fills their minds with the knowledge they need to survive, sending them across the world. Once they leave the confines of the ancestor oak all knowledge of her is forgotten. Hermione went on to tell him that she knew one day one of her sons would eventually ask the question. Then tenderly throwing her arms around her woodland goblin son she wished him good journey and kissing his forehead, bade Glob farewell.

As Glob backed out of her presence bowing low in deep respect for the mother of all goblins, Obadiah hissed a warning in his ear to say nothing about him being under their mother’s thumb. He has to keep up appearances when dealing with recalcitrant goblins. Glob nodded and continued backing and bowing until he was finally through the throne room door.

***

That night once he was home, safe and sound; Glob told Byz and the rest of his brothers that they all share the same mother, leaving out the knowledge about who really rules the goblin nation, filing it away in the back of his mind, just in case he needed to remind Obadiah in the future, should he ever prove troublesome.

After they had all got over the shock and surprise, Mous suddenly blurted out.

“You meanz we izz all royalty brother?”

“In a way brother, in a way,” Glob replied.

“What’s our mother like then Glob?” Make wondered, as the sudden realisation that he, like all his brothers did indeed have a mother after all.

Glob sat for a while, remembering how kind and gentle Hermione had been to him before replying.

“Our mother is the most beautiful mother a body could ever imagine – kindness itself she is.”

Neo shifted on the stool he sat on beside the fire before asking.

“Whats abouts the grand high goblin hisself Glob, Is he fierce as folks say?”

Glob smiled inwardly about the lie he was about to utter.

“Terrible fierce I’m afriads to say Neo, terrible fierce indeed.”

Simple minded Byz, who had first pondered the question, sat with Bejuss on his shoulder, dreaming up various royal titles out load, trying to decide which one he may like to have.

Neo chuckled as he bowed low before him in mock humility.

“You’re most high royal Byzness I is your mostest humble servant sire.”

All of Byz’s goblin brothers joined Neo in bowing low before him.

“Rarrk – Begth pardonths your majethty,” Bejuss lisped, also bowing low and spreading his wings with a wicked twinkle in his one remaining eye.

Glob shook his head at the merriment and jest as he sat once more by the window staring out at the world, sighing happily, remembering the moment when he finally met their wonderful mother Hermione Fingletook.

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