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BaDaBoom!: A Goblin's Tale (Series I)

A Very Special thanks to @Sirrian, @Nimhain, and all the other developers of this amazing game for allowing me to tell a more ‘in depth’ story based on their characters from my prospective

#Prologue:

There is many a world crammed in this ever expanding universe. Worlds full of creatures of every sort, where might and magic are a governing law. Some of these worlds are quite peaceful and run in perfect order. Some however, are in quite a state of disarray. Krystara, is a moderate sized world in a state of the latter, filled full of fantastic creatures of all shapes and sizes. This world is currently a place full of constant turmoil. It is also the setting of a story that is full of inspiration. The story of a goblin, smaller than most, who decided to step out of the cycle of complacency, and to forge his own path.

The story of Gobby, a goblin from the kingdom of Zaejin, is truly a marvelous one. It’s difficult to pinpoint the best point in his life to begin this tale but I suppose the best place to start a good story is the beginning, and so I shall. Gobby is a nature goblin fresh out of school during the most trying of any times… War. War plagues the kingdom of Zaejin and Gobby has chosen to join an academy to be trained to join his brethren to free his kingdom from these outside oppressor. Smaller than his fellow kin and having very little in common, he is often put at odds with his fellow trainees. It would later be known that it was in this time of struggle, where he would take his first steps on the path to a legacy that would be known throughout Krystara, as Gobby Rocko.

#Series I:

The sound of scurrying feet fill the corridor of the Zaejin Combat Academy, new goblins with aspirations of joining Zaejin’s fabled forces swarm to the common grounds to partake in the day’s training. Many a war has long been fought in the name of protection the kingdom from outside invaders and the heroes that emerged from the wreckage became a thing lore. It was this that every goblin in the kingdom aspired to.

“Fall in line fodder!” A voice exclaims as a figure steps from the crowd. A hush falls over clamoring voices well aware of this drill sergeant’s demeanor. Krill was a no nonsense hobgoblin who aimed to make a point and this point he made just as well as he made clear, he was there to train soldiers, to prepare them for war, when it was time to train you speak only when spoken to and you do as your told.

“Today’s lesson will teach you one of the most aspects of battle. Today we I teach you how to for draw and harness mana in battle.”

“Yes sir!” many of the goblins eagerly exclaimed in unison… less one, you see Gobby however, was less then enthused and an all too aware drill sergeant Krill picked up on this notion. He was not pleased.

“Are the way I do things not up to your expectations runt?” he snarled in kind. “I train, no, I create legends of war at this academy. No goblin who has ever passed all of my courses has failed to turn the tide of battle. I would love to know what exactly is so depressing about being trained in the finer arts of war.”

“It’s ju-just that,” Gobby began to stutter, Krill was a very intimidating figure. “It’s just that I joined this academy to learn how to fight a war, yet I’ve yet to have a single class that teaches anything combat related.”

“The skills I teach…” Krill Replied, “Are how to fight and survive. Gobby is puny amongst goblins, how do you expect to get a leg up on an enemy if you cannot wield a decent blade?”

“You have taught us nothing of bla…”

“THAT’S ENOUGH OUT OF YOU RUNT!” Krill snarled, visibly annoyed with Gobby’s insubordination. “You will learn of Blades when you are ready. Speak out of line again and I’ll see you spend every free moment of the remaining month tending to Baratha, as I’m sure you already know, buffing the king’s Black Beast is not a job worth having… The lucky ones can tell you of their endeavors from the infirmary, or perhaps the ones who can no longer tell tales are those who are truly lucky.”

It is well know that Baratha, the king’s Black Beast has quite the appetite. The Zaejin army has been training her for war, well trying to at least. Whenever she is wounded she gobbles her allies. She is very massive and could easily turn the tide of a battle, but sometimes the losses were just not acceptable. Some think that maybe she is sick. It has been for a while now that whenever she eats she spits out these grayish stones always in sixes. The recruits have no idea what they are or why they are so important, but the king always has them collected.

“Goblin’s have a unique talent derived from the harnessing of nature mana.” Krill began, “This inner power allows goblins to blend in with their surroundings to catch enemies off guard. Couple that with a goblin’s natural quickness able to transitions to and from attacks with ease then you have a skill that can give you an edge against even the Spire’s wrath. Sheggra desires to enslave Zaejin to use goblins as slave labor to repair its broken capital. With the better than adequate leadership of Luther, a general mind washed by Sheggra himself, our conquering will be a slow but inevitable event. Whether we rise or fall in this war depend on how well we can master our talents and how well we work together. I am here to show you how to solve the problem, because he who only knows the answer is bound to be lost along the way. But he who can find the answer can find the path that leads to victory.”

“Yes sergeant.” Gobby mutters.

“What exactly was that Runt?”

“I said ‘YES SERGEANT!’” Gobby yells out.

“Good. And that goes for the rest of you too, I train champions here so everyone had better conduct themselves as one.”

“YES SERGEANT!” The goblins yell in unison.

“Good. So we’ll have no more dillydallying then.” Krill said and began his lesson. “The power to blend in and camouflage yourselves to your surroundings comes from the mana derived from nature. There is a shrub before each of you. Focus intently on the energy contained within, extend you grubby little hands, and draw it out.”

Gobby, along with another two dozen or so goblins extend their hands over the shrubs and try to draw mana from them. Slowly the other goblin’s shrubs started to change in color, becoming a bit dimmer then when they first started out.

“Look, they’re changing.” Jaie, the closest thing to a friend Gobby had at the academy although they were often more rivals then anything.

“Drawing mana from an element syphons off its energy. Nature is unique amongst elements, it possesses its own life force. When mana is drawn from it, it slowly withers away to nothing. If some mana is left within it, it will regenerate over time.” Krill said, explaining to the goblins how mana functioned.

Gobby looked down at his shrub that merely flickered in the wind. He knew this would not go over well and not wanting to be made a laughing stalk as the only goblin who failed to draw mana, he focused even harder.

“Errrr.” Gobby groaned putting all of his effort into the task at hand. Still after several moments the shrub failed to be effected by his efforts and the other cadets were already changing color slightly, blending in with their surroundings. His inner fears were realized and he caught the attention of sergeant Krill. Gobby knew this would draw his ire.

“What seems to be the problem runt?” Krill quipped at Gobby’s expense. “I recall ordering you to draw from that plant. Don’t make me say it twice”

“It just won’t work.” Gobby replied. “Someone must have rigged mine. Maybe it’s fake.”

“There’s nothing wrong with your shrub you worthless sack of meat.” Krill said in anger as he drew his blade square into the chest of a training dummy. “Watch how easy it is.” Krill said placing his hand over the plant. The shrub instantly shriveled and then Krill’s blade in the dummy began to violently shake. A loud crack was heard as the blade tore through the wooden dummy and as if almost possessed, took a turn and tore through another before returning to his master. “You best get your act together, or perhaps you’ll be better suited for a farm.”

This comment was a jab at Gobby as his best friend Sierah had washed out of the academy two seasons before he had arrived. Sierah was a good friend of Gobby’s from school who wanted to join the academy. She ended up washing out to become a farmer though, not because she didn’t have what it took to be a soldier, it just wasn’t in her heart. She joined the academy for that was merely what every goblin did fresh out of school. She was drawn to raise animals on a farm.

“I can do it.” Gobby declared. “I just need to practice a little.”

“Well you have better figure it out soon ‘cause in five minutes there’s going to be a war game, Hide and Sneak, the academy’s rendition of the school game’s hide and seek and tag. You are to blend in and hide to the best of your ability, and locate other goblins and eliminate them by hitting them with a ball of mud. You will have five minutes in which to hide, eliminating a goblin get you a point and the goblin with the most points at the end of thirty minutes will receive a prize. Any goblin not discovered will go about their day. A goblin who is eliminated, however, will spend an hour attempting to bathe Baratha… Good luck with that. Fan out and hide goblins, the horn will sound in five.”

Gobby hid behind a bush and desperately tried to draw enough mana to blend into his surroundings. It was futile though. Gobby had all the motivation in the world, if you’d ever run into a Black Beast then you would understand his drive to survive. Thoughts began to run into Gobby’s head, maybe there was a reason he couldn’t draw from the plants, just maybe he wasn’t cut out to fight. These thoughts entered Gobby’s head but he did not allow them to fester. He dismissed them as soon as they appeared, not allowing them to take root. Gobby knew he was meant to be a hero, it was the thing he desired most. If he couldn’t draw mana he would work harder and practice so that next time he could not only succeed, but excel.

The starting horn blew and the game progressed exactly as Gobby had figured. Blasted in the back by a ball of mud, Gobby knew where it came from, he needn’t actually see. Jaie was ever the opportunist and there wasn’t a single game ever that he played, where he didn’t aim to win.

“Step off of the field Gobby, don’t you dare linger where you don’t belong.” Krill shouted out, adding insult to injury. Gobby left the field and knelt to the side, overcome with disappointment when he looked to the field, searching for another goblin unable to see a single one. He looked to the side to see Krill on approach, Gobby knew he was in for a lecture he’d rather not have. “If this were a battle you would be very fortunate if you were able to require a shaman. As for your inquiry earlier, this is exactly why for now we train without blades.” Gobby looked to the ground in shame.

“I understand.” Gobby muttered. “I’ll do better sir.”

“See that you do.” Krill begins. “There’s no room in this war for liabilities… Not on the winning side at least.” Krill tilts his head and glances at the shadow cast by the light on the tree. “Anytime now, the game’s almost through.” Not sooner than he had finished his sentence, the game horn sounded. “Fall in line, fodder, single file.” The goblins all gathered side by side in a row, Gobby slumped over to join them. He pushed himself to stand up straight as to not draw the sergeant’s attention. “Jaie obtained the only elimination so he shall dine with the king tonight.” Krill walked the line staring through the bulk of the cadets. “The rest of you less one can go about your duties.” He continued, stopping just in front of Gobby. “As for you runt… Perhaps you’re not built for battle. As you were the only goblin to be knocked out of the game, you can go tend to Baratha.” Krill glanced a smile. “Try to stay off the menu.” He snickered. “Everyone is dismissed. Runt you know where you belong. If Baratha is a bit too much for you, you can always go seek out the farm.”

Gobby had nothing against those who chose to live life on the farm, Sierah, in particular. Prior to entering the academy, he hung out with her regularly. Goblins enrolled in the academy are not allowed to leave until one of three conditions are met:

You have successfully completed training and move into the Zaejin army,
You leave the academy on your own volition, or,
You “wash out” of the academy and are forced to leave, not having what it takes to rise.

Gobby was not going to leave on his own, he knew he could reign over all on the battlefield… Someday at least. For now however he would need to have his wits about him, very few spend an hour with a Black Beast and live to tell about it. Gobby sought out the garden at the king’s court which was Baratha’s home, led to the gates by two of the captain’s guards, high ranked nature goblins. These goblins, despite their status, where indistinguishable from one another.

“So what did you do wrong to end up here?” One of the guards asked Gobby. “Tending to Baratha is about as huge a punishment you can get around here.”

“I was the first and only goblin eliminated in Hide and Sneak. And I don’t think sergeant Krill cares for me too much.” Gobby said. “So what’s the big deal about Baratha? Why has she always been troublesome?”

“The war has been long and harsh, it was determined that Baratha, with all her massive size, would be a huge asset in battle. Given her size, she could easily trample the opposition.” The first guard replied.

“Why not is she actually deployed then?” Gobby asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

“Baratha was sent out on more than one occasion. There was never anyone left on either side. Bodies of our intruders would lie in ample abundance, no goblins however, would ever be found. It was decided by the king to keep her safe here, only the truly unlucky ever go in.” The second guard says. The king has tried to punish prisoners by sending them to her as a meal, when checked on soon after they have been trampled into the ground, without even a nibble. Whenever someone from the kingdom goes in to tend to her, if they come out at all they usually aren’t ever whole. There aren’t too many other Black Beasts around to tell if this behavior is unique to her or commonplace.” The goblin lifted up his arm and motioned for Gobby to wait a moment. “It has become known to us that the goblin cadet Jaie wishes to speak with you prior to his engagement with the king.” He said.

Gobby looked down the corridors of the king’s court to see Jaie approach. He hobbled to the garden’s entrance clutching a parchment in his hand.

“Gobby I hope there are no hard feelings about earlier, it was a game and if I didn’t win it someone else surely would have.” Jaie told Gobby, handing the parchment to the guards. “I spoke with Krill, he has agreed to allow you reprieve from your punishment in regards to tending to Baratha if you take your leave from the academy. I know you’ve only ever desired to be a Zaejin solider but those who tend to Baratha don’t end up as well as can be, if they end up at all. You can even join me with the king”

“It is official, marked by sergeant Krill.” a guard says, confirming Jaie’s plight. “All we need is your mark to discharge you.” This moment resounded in Gobby’s head. He didn’t want to drop out, but he also wished to remain out of Baratha diet. He pondered over it well, thinking on this moment from every angle. The decision he came to was one of the most difficult he had ever had to make.

“I’m sorry.” Gobby choked up. “But I know I can make a good soldier. I’ll take my chances with the Beast, somehow, I know I can find a way to survive the hour.”

“I’m so sorry Gobby.” Jaie said, the look of regret was plain on his face. “I wish you well, if anyone can work out a plan to survive Baratha, surely it is you. Be well, and be about your wits.” Gobby nodded off to Jaie in approval as he left to join the king. Gobby did not know how he was going to curb Baratha’s appetite, but surely he would find a way.

“Baratha is in need of some bathing at the king’s behest.” The goblin informed Gobby of his task. “Here is a bucket and brush, everything else you need is in the garden, including a pond.” The goblin said handing Gobby a wooden bucket and brush. “We shall return to let you out after no sooner than an hour’s time. You should have taken your leave runt. Now you’ll be lucky if there’s enough of you left to send home.” The two goblins undid the bars to the massive gate hiding the garden, opening the doors.

“In with you runt.” The other guard said, and motioned to the yard. Gobby lifted his head and gathered his pride, he couldn’t hide in plain sight, but as he passed through the gate he knew, he could step face to face with the Black Beast… And survive.

Gobby passed through the gate into a rather large enclosure. Within the courtyard there was about three hundred-fifty square yards of space. The area had several trees just off of the rim of the space. There was a rather large pond taking up about a hundred-fifty square yards to the rear of the enclosure on the left side. Dead center within this court about eighteen feet from the pond was the pride of all of the kingdom of Zaejin, on a four hundred foot post planted in a concrete slab, the mighty banner of the goblins of Zaejin. This banner flew so high above the court that it was visible from all of Zaejin in every direction.

“If I were a twenty foot beast whose need to bathe were as powerful as her appetite, where would I hide?” Gobby asked himself aloud. Gobby took a quick glance over his shoulder. “If I were as hungry as a Black Beast, I suppose I would be behind the meal that just walk in the court.” Gobby let out a sigh of relief, glad Baratha didn’t subscribe to his point of view. “There you are.” He said, spying the beast napping to the right. Gobby counted his blessings, perhaps he could do his job without her ever waking from her slumber. He walked to the pond to the left careful not to step on anything that would cause Baratha to stir. When he had finally made it to the edge of the pond he looked to the space where Baratha had been napping. To his relief, she was still lost in her dreams.

Gobby knelt down to the water’s edge and filled his bucket. The easy part was over, now he would have to get close enough for her to smell him, and very few goblins survived being so close to the king’s pet. He successfully navigated his way to the napping beast with making a sound. Gobby in his three and a half foot frame was dwarfed by the twenty foot beast, engulfed within her shadow. Attributed to how she towered over him, Gobby began to wish he had not rejected Krill’s offer out of hand. Gobby surely would have rather been in the kings company then where he was, as a matter of fact, any goblin would rather be anywhere the here. Gobby took the pail of water and threw the water upon the beast and froze for a moment as the sound of her heavy breathing had shifted. Never before had he known such fear. This moment passed however as soon as Baratha’s rhythm pick back up assuring Gobby that she was well asleep. The dagger, as Gobby felt, was surely dodged. Gobby took the brush and started to scrub the massive beast. Things couldn’t have gone more smoothly until there were pops in the distance. Not from within Zaejin, from further outside the confines of this kingdom, from another perhaps.

The ground had begun to shake and Gobby’s fears finally took hold. Baratha, the kings Black Beast had awaken from her slumber, and she began to rise.

“This is far from good.” Gobby said to himself, frozen in fear, desperately trying to figure out what to do next. Gobby did what he thought necessary to survive… he ran. Gobby ran and hid behind a tree.

“ROOOAARRRRR.” The Black Beast howled, stretching from her rest. She glared around the walls of her confinement as she picked up the scent of something peculiar… dinner. It truly is a fool’s errand trying to hide a meal from a Black Beast, and a hungry one at that. But Gobby had trusted in his resolve to not be a part of Baratha’s diet. He had so much to accomplish, Gobby desired to win the war.

Baratha marched across the court, each step that she took seemed to shake the ground beneath Gobby’s feet. Gobby grew increasingly panicked as the sound of her footsteps grew ever so near. Gobby franticly tried to draw mana from the surrounding nature in a futile attempt to camouflage in the hopes of having Baratha possibly pass him by. Gobby having failed in drawing mana from the surrounding nature looked to the trees, perhaps if he could climb a tree high enough, he could get outside her grasp. He began to climb the tree he hid behind and about half the way up saw something that brought him to a rather dreadful conclusion, even at the top of the tree, Baratha could easily reach Gobby for a snack. Gobby quickly rethought his position and concluded that his first plan was solid enough, he simply had to get himself beyond Baratha’s reach. After but a moment, an image of the four hundred foot post holding the mighty banner of Zaejin.

“No choice but to climb higher than the beast can reach.” Gobby thought to himself. “I won’t have long…” Gobby tried reason the distance from himself to the post and the hungry beast in between. He would have to move and move fast. Blending into his surroundings may be outside of Gobby’s talents, but he knew he could outpace Baratha. He took a deep breath as Baratha approached, it was time to get moving. He dashed off towards the banner’s post and came to a sudden stop as he was headed off by Baratha. “Pretty quick for a critter so big.” Gobby said to a creature with exactly one thing on her mind. Baratha snarled and crept ever closer to an all too tense Gobby. “There is at least one benefit to being so small in the face of a giant.” He said. Gobby ran headfirst towards the Baratha, and ran right underneath her belly, in between her legs and sprinted with all his will to the banner’s post. By the time Baratha had turned around to face him he was already a third of the way up the post, well out of Baratha’s reach. When Baratha reached the post he began to leap up in an attempt to get her goblin meal who was just a bit out of reach. Gobby climbed higher as a precaution, with his life at stake, he was not taking any chances.

Gobby waited near the top of the post for a guard to arrive to release him from his impending doom. The hour crept by as slowly as it could but Gobby was overcome with an exhilarating feeling, he had never been quite so high before, and from the top of the post could look over all the space in the kingdom, his nerves were on fire, most of it was fear of death, the rest, the thrill of survival. Gobby’s skin shivered as the banner post trembled at Baratha’s leaping in attempt to have Gobby for dinner. More time passed as Gobby wondered if his hour would ever be up. Baratha’s resolve didn’t let up while Gobby waited for his punishment to be over with, soon enough, the courts gates opened and who walked in was among the last Gobby had expected to see. The two goblin guards entered the court along with Jaie and the Goblin King.

“Who is it that dare wind up my precious beast.” The king asked as he looked upon a bouncing Baratha. “Woooah, look how itsy goblin is up high. I never see goblin so far off ground. Baratha never get goblin up so high, goblin gonna go boom.” The king looked up the post to Gobby. “Come down, don’t disturb my beast.”

“Only if you can keep that galluk thing away from me.” Gobby yelled down to the king.

“Watch your manner with the king.” One of the goblin guards yelled up to Gobby.

“It’s okay.” The king told the guard. “I not send Baratha gone ‘till task is done. Baratha not bathe yet.” The king relayed to Gobby.

“I can finish my task.” Gobby yelled down to the group. He surveyed the area and braced himself for a fall. Gobby leapt from the post to the pond not far below. He tighten his body as he plopped into the water which splashed up, dousing Baratha and wetting the other three goblins as well. Gobby swam out of the pond and was greeted to the king’s laughter.

“Never I see a goblin fall not go splat.” The king said gleefully, greeting Gobby as he emerged from the tranches. “Getting Baratha so wet is not easy task. Tell me goblin, how are you known?”

“My name is Gobby your highness, I am honored to meet you.” Gobby said to the king. In the kingdom of Zaejin, there was no higher honor for a goblin then to meet the king.

“Why was Gobby in to bathe Baratha?” The king asked.

“I was eliminated in Hide and Sneak. I was the only one.” Gobby answered.

“I eliminated him you highness.” Jaie informed the king. “It’s how I earned my meal with you.”

“I see.” The king said. “So you join academy? Not many goblins I see smaller. Gobby must want to fight so bad, you agree to tend Baratha.”

“I do, your highness.” Gobby said. “More than anything. My father died in the Great Struggle with the giants before my birth, he fell in the battle that saw you rise to power. My mother told me great stories of how he helped to liberate Zaejin. I’ve wanted to meet you and join the academy for as long as I can remember.” Gobby smiled to the king. “Today is a day I won’t soon forget.”

“Lots of good goblins fell that struggle. Sorry your dad did too.” The king sincerely replied. “I see smaller goblins wage war before. We’ll see if you can survive Krill, Krill makes great fighters. Soldiers are created, warriors revealed through him.”

“I’ll be a great soldier, I’ll do my best to show you.” Gobby told the king.

“See you do. When Krill says you are soldier, you are soldier” The king said. “The two of you go about your day. I hope to hear good things of you both.” The king said, dismissing the two goblins. Jaie and Gobby headed back to their quarters full of energy after the day’s events. They both left knowing that sleep would not come well tonight.

“It must have been terrifying up high on that post. Goblins don’t typically survive so high up… not in Zaejin anyways.” Jaie said to Gobby in an inquisitive tone. Gobby looked to Jaie and issued a response that he would find rather odd.

“The only frightening thing about that event was the Galluk beast with an appetite below.” Gobby replied. “It was actually quite exhilarating being up in the sky. There is no other sensation like it. I wonder if it’s the highest a goblin has ever been.”

“There are stories of a goblin who flies on a drake.” Jaie said, shining light on the highest a goblin has been known to be. “He fights for the kingdom of Grosh-Nak. Such pride, for the ruler of a place to name a kingdom after himself.” Gobby thought of how thrilling it would be to ride a drake high above the land. Gobby tingled all over with excitement in his bunk. Time passed by quickly, and before long the sun rose over Zaejin, Gobby still was jittery with joy. Perhaps today he would excel in his training… perhaps.
Gobby and the other recruits went to mess and went about their daily routines. Right at ten o’clock at the tippy top of the hour every goblin training for Zaejin’s military stood side by side in the training field awaiting for Krill to arrive to school them in the art of war.

“Stand tall fodder.” Krill said, emerging as if out of nowhere. “Wars are not fought by a soldier alone. The most formidable force is a team which works well together.” Krill began, his words as knowledgeable as ever. “Goblins are known throughout all of Krystara for their ability to function as a well-oiled machine. It would be a hard-pressed endeavor to find a species who worked better. Today, your lesson is all about teamwork. Work together in groups of four destroy the battle dummies. They may not fight back but they’ll sure take a beating to put down. And you better put them down. UNDERSTOOD?!”

“YES SERGEANT!” The goblins shouted. Gobby stood energetic as Krill approached him on the line, the night without sleep hadn’t shown on him a bit.

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!0/10 would read again.

“So runt, I see you somehow managed to survive the king’s pet.” Krill said to Gobby. “Maybe there’s a bit more to you then as an itsy bitsy distraction… or maybe not. I suppose it may be true, that only time can tell… GET TO WORK FODDER!!!”
Gobby as fate would have it was paired along Jaie as well as two other goblins. They began to relentlessly assault the dummy. As time passed, the destruction of the dummies of the other teams seemed to be quite a bit further along than Gobby’s team.

“Put some heart into it.” Jaie encouraged his team to push harder, the drive to win ever present. “If we fall behind Krill will surely let us have it.” Gobby and the others pushed harder, but their dummy seemed to be made of stone. It showed some minor wear, but bits were already falling off of the dummies of the opposing teams.

“What seems to be the problem here?” Krill inquired approaching Gobby and has squad. “It’s been a long time seen a dummy so healthy this far into the exercise. Someone had better have a good explanation for this.”

“This dummy is just harder then it appears. We’re pushing as hard as we can.” Jaie informed the sergeant.

“Gobby, put some effort into it. Why does it seem like goblins are weaker when you’re around?” Krill barked at Gobby. Gobby felt deep inside as if Krill had something harbored deep within against him.

“I do not make goblins around me weaker.” Gobby said, defending himself from Krill’s sharp attacks.

“Let us just see then.” Krill said in kind. “YOU!!! GOBLIN!!!” Krill called out pointing to a goblin on another team. “Trade places with the runt here.” He said looking at Gobby. “Their Dummy is almost destroyed, there will be no excuses for Jaie and the others to finish before you…” Gobby stood for a moment not knowing what to think. “Well get to it runt, your burning time.”

“Yes sergeant.” Gobby said, switching sides to work on the new dummy. A few moments passed and he noticed that him new dummy wasn’t wearing as well as it was before he joined the squad. This discouraged Gobby. As Gobby looked to Jaie’s team seeing how diminished their dummy was in its current state, he couldn’t help but ponder to himself… Could Krill possibly be right? Does his very presence bring down strength of other goblins? He wrote it off and focused all his energy into the task at hand, it was not long however, until the other dummies started to become dismantled. Two other teams finished first within moments of each other followed by Jaie and Gobby’s old team, followed by another. All teams at this point have had their dummies dismantled, only Gobby’s team was left. A few more moments were spent hacking away at the battle dummy to no avail. Krill had approached the team. Clearly, he had had enough.

“That’s enough out of you runt, step aside.” Krill had said in a tone that was clearly less then pleased. Pressing his luck, Gobby hesitated, he was unwilling to accept defeat. “Did I not speak clearly enough for you runt?” Krill had asked.

“Yes sir…” Gobby said looking to the ground. “Sorry sir.” He spoke softly as he stepped back to the line.

“Take his place Jaie.” Krill instructed. Jaie nodded as he approached the dummy and along with the others resumed its assault. Only a few moments more passed before it fell. Gobby lowered his head in despair. ‘Why?’ He wondered to himself. ‘Why am I not on par with other goblins? Am I just not meant for war?’ These questions would stay with Gobby for a while, much longer then he would have preferred.

“Why do I find you consistently unable to perform basic goblin tasks?” Krill asked Gobby. “I’ve said before, ‘you’re not cut out for war,’ and with each day that passes, this shows to be a little more true. Either get your act together… or find another path to walk.” Krill looked on at Gobby in disapproval. He couldn’t say it but not only did he expect Gobby to persevere, he wanted him to. He had however, a job to do. If Gobby wasn’t meant for war, he was obligated to the kingdom to cast him out. He was tough because you don’t become a great soldier by training with someone who will hold your hand. Great soldiers become great by pushing through struggle, by being put in their place.

“You’re all dismissed, but you runt, are running out of second chances… Soon enough, there’ll be no more to give.” Krill dismissed the group but stopped them to give one last order. “There will be a campfire this evening to unwind at the top of ten o’clock, there’s a big training session tomorrow, and this may be the last break you ever get. You have downtime until then, eat, rest, socialize…” He looked down at Gobby. “Training would be a good step for a few of you but you’re free to do as you wish. Now get out of my sight before I put you to work.”

Gobby took Krill’s suggestion to heart and headed off to the track as the other goblins dispersed. With depression setting in, the sleepless night before began to as well.

“I’ll train hard.” Gobby said to himself out loud. “I’ll overcome everything in my way. I’ll make a difference, just like my dad.” Gobby ran the track. He ran about seven loops until he couldn’t run anymore, then he jogged the track. Off in the distance unbeknownst to him, Krill was observing with the king.

“Gobby has heart. Lots of it.” The king said to Krill.

“The runt sure does, but he has very little else to aid in a war.” Krill replied. “His father had heart too… but he knew how to drop a foe. I’m just not sure if Gobby has the stuff.”

“We will see.” The king said. “Time will tell. Father not succeed in academy first time, he make big difference in Giant Struggle, turned tide for us.”

“He did indeed. The cost he paid for that victory, however, is one I’d rather Gobby not pay.” Krill replied.

“Do what you must… I trust your judgement.” The king began. “Be aware, if he has his father’s will, he not relent.”

“I’m aware, how are we on the battlefront? Will I be needed?” Krill inquired as to the state of the kingdom’s ongoing war.

“Luther sends army to invade. They passed through Adana, nearing Pan’s Vale. I will join troops in forest. We cripple Spire’s force.” The king informs Krill. He puts his hand on Krill’s shoulder. “You stay. Important work for you here. In time, we need more soldiers. No better goblin to train them.”

“I understand. Strength be with you.” Krill wished the king well.

“And you too.” The king turned to leave and paused for a moment. “Lead well, someday you will.”
Krill looked to the track and saw Gobby still jogging along.

“Runt does have heart, can’t deny that.” Krill said to himself. A horn sounded in the distance alerting that it was nine in the evening. “I’ve got work to do.” He said as he scurried off to set up the campfire.

Soon enough time passed by and ten was on approach. Gobby jogged into the campsite and saw a roaring fire, surrounded by logs the other cadets were seated on. It was really quite a marvelous sight, goblins didn’t get see fire all too often. The facts of the flammability of goblins was drilled into most at quite a young age, Gobby had had a close call or two over time but always seemed to dodge the bullet. Gobby took a seat beside another goblin on a log adjacent to Jaie. The twenty goblins sat and awaited Krill to arrive… or approach rather, Krill was always where he was supposed to be when he was required to, even if you weren’t quite to notice.

It wasn’t long after Gobby had sat that the hourly horn sounded. It was indeed now ten in the evening, and the gathering had begun.

“Greetings fodder…” Krill’s voice resounded eerily as he stepped out from beyond the flickering flames. “Tomorrow marks the start of some rather intensive training.” Krill said as he glared around the cadets. “Everything considered, around half you won’t make the grade. Those of you who rise above the challenge, will be well on your way to making a difference in the Zaejin army. The next three weeks of training will be the toughest weeks in your lives compared to the previous two, which were a step up from the five weeks of basic training and classroom studies.” Krill took a moment to take a breath and the seriousness of his tone picked up. “This is not something to take lightly. This here is a time for you all to reflect, on what you’ve been through so far and the struggles of tomorrow and the next day, and the next. Take a breather and decide if this path is the one you ought to walk. Enjoy these precious moments, for the time ahead will make or break you. Take your time, put real thought into it, it’s all uphill from here.”

Gobby had spent a while pondering as to what to do next, not in this moment, it was the only thing on his mind as he ran the track. He resolved to push through, no matter what came next he would take it head on. Gobby focused on the crackling flame, captivated in its mesmerizing light. He felt it draw him near, as if it were calling out his very name. Gobby approached the flame, as he did so Krill took notice and felt the urge to speak.

“I wouldn’t get so close to that if I were you runt.” He spoke. “The fires have had a way of consuming goblin kind. We weren’t built to burn.”

Gobby failed to heed this particular warning. He was hypnotized by its flickering light. A moment passed, and he outstretched his arm. The fire was hungry, eager to consume, and it had leaped out and set the poor goblin’s arm ablaze.

“Ahhhhh.” Gobby cried out, shaking his arm. This to him was a new sensation, there some discomfort, but not nearly as painful as one would expect. Krill had approached and drew life from the flame, barely a second from when Krill had begun the draw, the fire had quelled.

“When I speak advice, it usually carries merit.” Krill said in a rather agitated tone. “The burn is not too bad, you are quite fortunate. Most goblins would be ashes when in contact with the flame. There is special gear to be used in tasks even as small as preparing meals. Go have this checked out, and be more mindful going
on.” Krill had told Gobby. “The rest of you disperse. I would get some rest I if were you, here on out, things won’t be easy.

Gobby saw the Scylla, the chief shaman of the kingdom of Zaejin. She was the shaman who tended to the affairs of the academy although she would also assist other goblins in the kingdom if the need were dire enough. She was amongst the best, even outside the kingdom, she would often venture to other lands in need of a healer, her job she did very well.

“The entire arm was on fire?” She asked. “That’s strangely peculiar.”

“Yes, the entire arm.” Gobby answered. “What’s so wrong with that?”

“The burn is among the smallest I’ve ever seen.” She told him. “I’ve seen much smaller blazes cause much more damage to goblins than this.”

“Really?” Gobby inquired. “I suppose I must be lucky.” He said.

“Yes I suppose. I would be careful just in case, this may have just been a unique instance.” Scylla told him. “Or perhaps, maybe it is you who are unique.” She paused for a moment, Gobby could see that she was intrigued with this statement. “If you have a close encounter with a flame again, be sure to allow me to tend to it.”

“Will do.” Gobby said and left to return to his barracks. As far as news went this wasn’t quite so bad Gobby thought to himself as he walked through the path on his way to the cadet’s living quarters. All of Gobby’s life he had been a little less then what he had aimed for, always just a little too small to fit in. This couldn’t have been more true not, training for war with peers who clearly towered over him.

“Unique…” Gobby said to himself filled with a sense of pride for the first time in a while. “I’m going to rise up, someday. I’ll rise up and be great. I’ll stand out amongst the crowed. Goblins, will remember me." Gobby assured himself as he walked to the outside of the of the cadets’ barracks. He stopped for a moment and glared at the light cast from the torch lamp that lighted the outside of the academy’s grounds. Once again he felt drawn to its captivating light, even more so now, with his renewed sense of purpose. Against all sense of reason Gobby had outstretched his arm and reached out to the flame in the lamp that towered over him. Within this singular moment of innocent resolve, catastrophe chose to reign in chaos.

Within this moment, the flame lashed out and relit the cloth on Gobby’s arm. Gobby however, was not the extent of its unbridled rage. The flames quickly spread and engulfed the corridors of the cadets living area. Gobby had smothered the flame on his arm and raced down to the rooms where the other goblins had slept, to warn them of the coming danger. Gobby ran down the halls banging on the room doors, each room held within them five goblins less himself. ‘What have I done?’ he thought to himself as he screamed to alert those who lie in slumber.

“GET UP AND GET MOVING!!!” Gobby screamed as the flame approached. “THE GALLUK FLAME APPROCHES!!!” Soon enough Gobby’s ruckus had gathered attention and the door began to open and the goblins within scurried out. Panic was heavy in the halls as the goblins tried to avoid the encroaching flames. The thick smog impeded the goblin’s vision and Gobby found himself having difficulty breathing. The room around him began to spin and Gobby fell to the ground, gasping for air. Not too long after, he was lost in his consciousness. Over taken to the smog, unsure of what would come of him.

“I’m so jealous… I need to wait a whole two years to join ZCA. I wish I could finish school sooner.”

“I wish I were as enthused as you. I’m not so sure where I want my path to take me. In truth I’m into boars. Perhaps I’ll raise them someday. I’m just going to the academy to figure out where I belong and what’s next. Who knows, maybe the army actually is where I belong. Only time will tell I suppose.”

“I’m going to be the greatest solider ever, no matter how small I am, I’ll always rise above the world. I’ll show everyone, just you wait and see.”

‘How long ago was this? It’s funny how things change over time. There was a time when I was so sure that nothing could stand in my way on the path to greatness. Now it feels like the smallest of stumps cannot be marched over… where exactly am I? Did I survive?’

Thoughts and memories filled Gobby’s head as he rested in the Scylla’s medical station. He could hear some faint talking in the distance but the dialogue was inaudible. Gobby felt weak and attempted to raise his arm. Scylla took note of this and approached him.

“Don’t try to move so much, you’re going to be fine but have some minor smoke damage.” Scylla said to put Gobby at ease. “You should rest for today, we’ll speak with you tomorrow."

Gobby didn’t try to argue, he let sleep fall over him and slept through the evening. Soon enough morning arrived and Gobby knew he would have to answer for his actions in the events that had transpired. Long before he awoke, he knew his time at the academy drew near its end.

“Morning runt.” Gobby opened his eyes to the sound of Krill’s tempered voice. “Do you care to explain yourself or are you already resign to your fate?”

“I didn’t know…” Gobby began. “The flame lashed out me. How could one prepare? I cannot justify acting in absence of your warning. Did any goblins fall?” Gobby asked, dreading the possibility of having had cost another goblin their life.

“Not many were as lucky as yourself.” Krill told a disheartened Gobby. “But none have yet to have their lives expire.” Krill had said as some of Gobby’s woes were lifted. “Don’t you dare be relieved, many goblins were direly injured. Some were harmed so horribly, they may never be the same. There was but three goblins who escaped the blaze unburned. None of the others share your resistance to the flame.”

“What do you suppose will happen next?” Gobby asked. “What will become of me?”

“That depends mostly on you.” Krill explained, filling Gobby in on his fate. “Your time at the academy is indeed at an end, this can go no other way. As foolish as your actions were, they were not taken in malice, so you can go about your life. Make of it what you will. You were far too small to succeed in war anyhow. Heart can only get you so far, you need much more to overcome a battle.”

Gobby nodded his head accepting the judgment passed down to him. After all the pain he had caused, he did not want to harm others again. If not only his size, he were far too unknowledgeable to mitigate harm to his peers. He wasn’t quite sure what he would do next, but he would do his best to make his mark on the world.

Gobby left the academy with a tinge of despair, he was disgraced and had stripped many other goblins of their dreams of joining the Zaejin army. He decided to head back to the one place where he knew he would always be welcomed. What other place could this be for anyone than home? He approached the steps of the home he had not seen in nearly two months. He knocked on the door nervously, unsure of how to explain this to his mother. ‘What would she think of me, her disgraced son?’ he wondered to himself.

“Your home.” A voice he had not heard in quite a while spoke beyond the door. This voice was not his mother’s but he had recognized it all the same.

“Sierah.” Gobby said greeting her as the door opened. “What are you doing here? How have you been?” He asked.

“I heard from your mother that you had been released from the academy. I came over to meet you. It’s been so long, we have much to talk about.” She had told him.

“Released?” Gobby had said to her. “Must be my mother’s words, she’s always been too kind. I was in fact kicked out, expelled for almost wiping out every cadet enrolled.”

“I know, I said what I said to avoid causing you stress for the events. You’ve been through so much. I wanted to spare you further hurt.” She justified herself to him.

“Where is mother?” Gobby asked the once close friend he felt so apart from. “Did she know of my arrival?”

“She’s fixing a meal. In the kitchen in fact.” She answered him. “She knows you must feel horrible but she’s relieved that the danger’s past.”

“Gobby… Is that my Gobby?” A much more familiar voice is heard in the other room. “Get your behind over here and show your ma some love.” Mothers will be mothers, Gobby thought as he went to give his mother a big hug. “What seems to be the matter my boy?” his mother asked, seeing that he was fighting back tears. She didn’t need to see them though, somehow, mothers always know.”

“I failed…” Gobby said, fighting back tears. “I failed and it doesn’t even matter to you. It’s like you expected it… Or prayed for it, against everything I fought for.” Gobby sobbed to his mother, fighting his tears no longer.”

“Perhaps you did fail, but that is not what brings me joy.” His mother explained. “Your father may have turned the tide of war, indeed he was a hero, but I lost him. You’re all I have left, I rejoice not because your dream had crashed… I rejoice in knowing that you are not lost to me. I love you son. I’ll always love you.”
Gobby hadn’t particularly understood his mother’s heartfelt words, but saw her fighting back tears of her own. For the moment he supposed, he would allow her soft heart to rest.

“Dinner smells good.” Gobby said, trying to move on to spare his mother grief. “What do you suppose we’ll be dining on this evening?”

“Since this is a special evening I thought we’d have something fit for the occasion.” Gobby’s mother replied. “I even chose to cook it. A happy day is a day to cook with fire. You can thank Sierah for retrieving the meal.” Gobby glanced at Sierah with the kind of look that can be read without asking. Sierah looked back at Gobby and chose to break her silence.

“I brought some Sabertooth from Pridelands. It’s actually quite good, and a delicacy over here.” Sierah told Gobby. “Pridelands is only about a day’s journey. I wanted this day to be special to you, there’s nothing quite like a well cooked meal, and there are very few who cook as well as you mother.” She said.

“I suppose that is true.” Gobby said. “Ma knows her way around the kitchen.”

“Yes sir I do.” Gobby’s mother said to her son. “And it’ll be ready soon so you two run along and clean up.” Gobby’s ma was always so particular in regards to homely manners. Gobby was usually stubborn to comply but this day’s meal smelt so tempting that he hurried along to the water trough to clean up. The kingdom of Zaejin had fell a little behind in development over the years. Many other kingdoms have had running water and plumbing in these times but the Zaejin’s in their struggled times, had been unable to make such adjustments.

Gobby and Sierah cleaned up in the trough in the back and presented themselves for dinner. They stood in awe of the meals presentation, glorious displays of meat and all kinds of exotic plants and vegetables lined the dinner table.

“Ma, this is spectacular.” Gobby said in approval.

“Yes ma’am it sure is.” Sierah said in agreement.

“I’m glad the two of you like it.” The mother said. “I’ve haven’t had much reason to cook the last couple of months so I decided to make up for it today with all you see here.”

“Maybe I should go away just a little more often.” Gobby snickered. “Meals of this caliber would be worth coming home to.” Gobby smiled as the three of them sat down and began to feast. “Oh my goodness!” Gobby exclaimed, taking his very first bite into the marvelous, sweet meat. “However could a creature taste so delightful?” He said in his awe.

“I’m glad you approve.” His mother said. She smiled as she began to eat her meal, coming to ease knowing without doubt that her son had finally felt at home. The three goblins enjoyed their meal and savored every bite. As dinner time began to wrap itself up they began to socialize. Gobby and Sierah uplifted much of his mother’s spirits talking about how low the quality of the food at the academy.

“Surely this was a meal fit for the king.” Gobby remarked.

“Yes, indeed.” Sierah agreed. “I do hope he fairs well in battle.” She said.

“Battle?” Gobby inquired.

“Yes, the Spire’s forces are on approach.” She filled him in. “The king intends to meet them in battle in the forest of Pan Vale. He took off at noon the day before last.” She informed Gobby. “How did you not know?” Sierah asked.

“He must’ve left while I was being tended to by the medic.” Gobby said to reason with his lapse in the wake of current events. “I wish him well. If he went in person to handle this affair, the Spire’s troops are surely ill-fated.” Gobby said. “He rules over our kingdom for a reason after all.”

“So…” Gobby’s mother began. “What is it you suppose you’ll do with your time?” She asked Gobby. “Now that you’re home at least?” Gobby pondered for a moment, it wasn’t something he particularly considered.
“I honestly haven’t given it much thought.” He said. “But while I was training I had an experience. I was three hundred or so feet off the ground hiding from Baratha and the feeling was like no other.” He told them. “The rush of being so high in the air was truly captivating, maybe I’ll try to go as high as I can. Climb a mountain maybe.”

“How very Gobby of you.” Sierah said, poorly fighting the urge to laugh.

“One thing about my son…” His mother spoke. “He’s never dreamed a small dream. His stature has never held him back.”

“I know ma’am.” Sierah replied. She turned to Gobby to wish him well. “Try to come visit me at the farm.” She asked him. “You know, before you break your legs falling from a tower.” She smiled at him.

“I can visit for a moment tomorrow.” He said. “I have a couple of plans I want to go over with you.” He said as he winked at her.

“Sounds like fun.” Sierah told him. “I’ll see you there. Thanks for the wonderful meal.” She said to Gobby’s mother as she hugged them both goodbye.

“You’re quite welcome.” She said to her. “But don’t you dare be a stranger.” She said as Sierah went on her way.”

“I won’t.” She said, already out the door. “And I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said. Gobby waived to her and closed the door.

“She’s quite a lovely goblin. Don’t you think?” Gobby’s mother asked her son.

“She is indeed.” He responded. “She’s the sweetest. I’m going to head to bed now.” He told her. “I will need to wake up early if I am to meet her at the farm.” He told her. “Good night.” He said, giving his mother a hug.

“Good night my son.” She said, kissing his forehead. “Dream big.”

“Haven’t you heard? I always do.” He said smiling as he headed off to bed.
Sleep didn’t come well for Gobby this night haunting voices echoed from within himself in the night as he slept.

‘Why would you do this?’

‘What have I done wrong?’

‘Ahhhhhh!’

Screams of pain and agony from the night of the fire tormented him throughout the night. Even more so then the screams of pain where the moments his conscience decided to make itself heard. Gobby found himself torn within himself. Why couldn’t he leave the fire be? What did the other goblins do to deserve their fate? Gobby held more than a few scars from that night, inside and out. Others though, weren’t nearly quite so lucky. We wondered if the other goblins would recover in time. He knew that Jaie’s injuries were quite minor, perhaps he would be able to even rejoin the academy at some point. Gobby dwelt on this in a state of lucid dreaming throughout the night. When enough time passed he could feel the warmth of the morning’s sun on his cheeks. Gobby willed himself to awake, it was time to press on…Today he had work to do.

Gobby went out back and cleaned himself off in the trough and grabbed a couple carrots for the trip to Sierah’s farm. He left without checking on his mother, she was a creature of habit and was always gone before daybreak. Gobby’s mother ran services as a job to pay for a fair standard of life. She was a transporter when it came down to it, bringing water and food and other odds and ends to goblins who couldn’t get around the very large kingdom on their own. Everyone in the kingdom affectionately called her ‘Ma’ even those quite a bit older than her. Ma had kept everyone in the kingdom very close to her heart, even the people in the kingdom who were not goblins came to know her well, she often brought ale from all around the kingdom to a kind man named Brian. Brian was known throughout the kingdom as one of the luckiest creatures in all of Krystara, no one quite knew how he made the kind of gold he had, but when someone did a service for him they were always tipped well, and offered a round at his expense. It was very rewarding to her to make such a huge difference in the lives of her fellow goblins. She was paid for her work, but not that she actually charged for what she does. She does the work out of the kindness of her heart and typically didn’t require payment, the other goblins however refused to let her hard work go unnoticed.

Gobby arrived at the farm not an hour and a half after the sun had risen. The first sight he saw as he approached was Sierah corralling a herd of boars. She was always quite fond of boars even as a child, somehow he had always known she would walk the path that would bring her closest to them. Sierah was actually a key resource for Ma and her work. The kingdom was quite large and Ma wouldn’t be able to cover quite so much distance if not for the boar-drawn carriage Sierah provided. Sierah spotted Gobby in the distance while plopped on top of her prized boar. No sooner than she was aware of his presence did she make her way over to greet him.

“Hey there.” Sierah greeted Gobby at the gate. “Didn’t figure on you being here quite so soon.” She smirked with a very charming form. “Say hi to my baby.”

“Hey there Miria.” Gobby said patting Sierah’s boar. “I hope you’ve been staying out of trouble.”

“She has.” Sierah said. “I’m overjoyed to see that you remembered her name… She seems to remember you too.”

“How could I forget a beast like Miria, as sweet as sweet as she is?” Gobby said, now scratching the boar beneath the chin. “And she’s not likely to forget a gob like me either. Besides…” He pointed out. “It’s only been about thirteen weeks.”

“You’re lucky she likes you.” Sierah said. “She’s been picking up more energy as of late. A little more tempered, so to speak.”

“How so?” Gobby asked.

“It seems she’s grown to drawing magical mana nearby.” Sierah explained. “From the energy the pixies carry. When she gathers enough she has a habit of charging through anything and everything in sight.” She patted Miria on the head. “She even charged through solid stone once. If a troop from the Spire were to charge in here uninvited, he had best be about his wits lest he be gored into oblivion. Miria don’t hardly give no love taps.” She said as her and Gobby shared a laugh.

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“I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of one of her tantrums.” Gobby said. Miria snarled as if in approval. “I’m sure the farm is in good hands.”

“Indeed it is.” Sierah responded in kind. “So what are these grand plans of yours anyways?” She asked Gobby knowing the answer would be one-of-a-kind.

“I wanna fly.” Gobby excitingly to her. “I wanna soar as high as a goblin can possibly go.”

“Goblins don’t have wings and drakes are not particularly indigenous to Zaejin, if you haven’t noticed.” Sierah told Gobby, reminding him of facts that should’ve been all too clear.

“I was thinking of building a device.” Gobby told her. “A stretchy thing, like a big slingshot. I can use it to launch myself as high as a goblin can see.”

“How could you possibly begin to build…?” Sierah begun, only to be cut off by Gobby.

“You have all the materials you need to build the sling here.” He chimed in.

“I suppose that if I said no that you would simply find someone else to help you build it?” Sierah asked, knowing from past experience how very rarely Gobby passed up his desires.

“You know me far too well.” Gobby responded.

“You must have a death wish…” Sierah remarked. “But my assistance might possibly make the difference in whether or not you survive.” The two of them went over the plans for the sling for the better part of the day and spent the next two weeks building it from up from nothing. They passed the time while building by sharing stories and memories of the past, both school and the academy were topics heavily discussed. When the device was finished Gobby made plans to demonstrate his abilities to fly high to all of Zaejin. News of the king’s victory over the Spires troops in the forest of Pan’s Vale was in full swing by now, Gobby knew the king would triumph, so he had decided to put on his display on the day of the king’s return. Gobby and Sierah made plans and spread the news around the kingdom. There was a place to be gathered where the stunt could be seen by all who wished to. After a day of promoting his event, Gobby headed home for the evening, with the king’s arrival the very next day, it was time to get some rest.

Gobby awoke in the morning with the sun on his face, full of excitement for the day ahead. He went through his morning routine, washed up and took a few carrots to eat on his way to the kingdom’s central square. In the middle of the kingdom there was a massive clock tower nearly three hundred feet tall, Gobby had planned to launch himself over it onto a nice soft pile of owlbear feathers to break his fall. Sierah as well as Ma where lending their assistance to insure everything ran smoothly. Ma had been inviting goblins from the kingdom throughout the last week as she filled out her orders. Ma also set up a viewing area to seat the spectators and left a messenger near the kingdom entrance to inform the king of the events should he feel the need to attend.

The turnout was quite nice as nearly two hundred goblins filled the area to view Gobby’s feat just past eleven in the morning. It had been announced the Gobby would be launched at the height of noon, thus far, everything looked to be well. With about thirty minutes left to launch, Gobby and Sierah went over the final routines.

“Are you sure Miria and the other boars can pull the sling far enough that I can clear the tower?” Gobby asked.

“Don’t doubt in the strength of my boars, they’ll hold the weight just fine.” She replied. “If you hadn’t wanted to swap out to a stronger elastic all the way from Pan’s Vale we would’ve had enough time to test the sling out.”

“I did not expect a six day wait for delivery.” Gobby remarked. “I’ve gotten goods from there faster in the past.”

“I’m sure you did not account for the delay with the Spire’s march the Vale’s forest.” Sierah said, reminding Gobby of his kingdom’s struggle. “I’m sure that played a role in the holdup…” She gazed at Gobby for a moment, the reality for thing to go wrong were beginning to set in. “You can always put the event on hold… I mean, until we have time to test it at least.”

“That’s not much of an option for me…” Gobby said. “Look how many goblins turned out and at what you and I put into this the last two weeks… I mean getting the owlbear feathers alone took a lot of tracking down.” The time passed and all was fairly quiet until about five minutes before launch when the crowd began to stir.

“He made it…” Sierah said. “Look over to the right Gobby, the king has arrived and is drawing near to Ma.”

“The king…” Gobby began. “There’s no way we’re calling this off now.” Gobby said, full of resolve.
Ma approached the king, and shyly posed a question. It was quite intimidating being in his presence, as both Gobby and his father had always spoken so high of him.

“Have you come to see Gobby soar?” Ma asked the king.

“I come see Gobby go splat!” The king cheerfully remarked. “Not much excitement when war come ‘round… squishy goblin lift all kingdom spirit…” He said. “No worry, Gobby withstand big crash and fall. Goblins keep feet on ground, Gobby invite pain himself. In Grosh-Nak, one goblin flies drake… He needs shaman often too.”

“My apologies but I do hope you’re wrong, he is my son after ally.” Ma said to the king, praying for some sympathy.

“Worry not lass, Gobby be fine. Rise up as father. You will see.” The king said in the hopes of offering some comfort… he may not have known, but his words meant much to her.

“It’s time.” Gobby said to Sierah. She was still harboring mixed feelings about the endeavor, so she merely nodded him off. Gobby stepped inside and sat in the cradle of the slingshot and Sierah motioned Miria and the boars to pull the sling back.

“Mush!” Sierah declared and the boars pulled back further and further. When the boars had finally pulled Gobby to the distance he required she took an axe and chopped the rope tethering the boars to the sling and away Gobby flew. The spectators stood in awe, of the height Gobby had reached and they all began to cheer.

“Gobby, Gobby, Gobby.” The crowd echoed as Gobby cleared the tower with plenty of room to spare. Gobby fell on the other side of the tower, landing softly on the well placed owlbear feather. Even from the distance he could still here the crowd hoot and holler for him. He made his way back to the center square and greeted those who were truly amazed with him.
After a half hour or so shaking hands with his supporters and listening to them congratulate him, he had encountered a goblin he hadn’t seen in nearly a month.

“It’s good to see you fly…” Jaie said putting Gobby at ease. Gobby at first was put off in Jaie’s presence, not knowing if he had held a grudge for the fire.

“Thanks.” Gobby said. “How have you been, have you resumed your training?” Gobby asked.
“I’ve been well.” Jaie said. “Thanks for asking. I am training again, I was fortunate to escape the blaze relatively unharmed.”

“That’s good.” Gobby said. “We should catch up sometime. Whenever you have a free moment.”

“I’m only free today. I am the only cadet still training, there are two others who will eventually be allowed to continue, but for now they still recover.” He told Gobby. “I was only allowed out today to be able to witness the king’s return… I don’t have to be back to the academy until seven, we can hang out until then.” He offered.

“That sounds nice.” Gobby said. “Let me say bye to Ma and Sierah and we can go for a hike.”

“Sure thing.” Jaie said. “I’ll meet you at the clock.” Gobby nodded him off and Jaie moved to the tower Gobby had just flown over. Gobby went and got his congratulations from his mother and Sierah, filled them in on his whereabouts, and left to meet Jaie.

Gobby met Jaie at the tower and they left to a popular hiking trail that was well known throughout the kingdom. It was known chiefly as the place when Baratha was first found, back when she was small enough that she can be pat on the head without a ladder.

“So how is training progressing?” Gobby asked. “What are you being taught now and how are you learning without other cadets in the class?”

“We’re learning combat tactics now.” Jaie told Gobby. “I’ve been mostly sparing with low ranking troops from the army… Krill occasionally spares with me himself, if the lesson is important enough.” He told him.

“Wanna go a round or two?” Gobby asked, eager to learn at least one aspect of battle.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” Jaie said surveying the area. “This place used to be home to a black beast and I’ve developed further with souls then you.” He told Gobby, cautioning him to unseen dangers.

“I suppose if I were you I wouldn’t want to be shown up by a runt either.” Gobby said, egging Jaie on.

“If you really want, we can I suppose.” Jaie said giving in. “I just want you to know that there are real dangers and you can become badly hurt.”

“I’ll be just fine.” Gobby said. “You’ll see.”

“Alright then, since we’re just sparing, be aware of any of those gray orbs the Black Beasts give out. Be careful not to damage any of them.” Jaie warned.

“I suppose…” Gobby said not taking the warning to heart. “Let’s begin.” He said as he took a fighting pose. Jaie didn’t speak much at this point and took his stance as well. It would be Gobby who made the first move. He charged in a Jaie swiftly but as he drew near Jaie had vanished.

“Hide?” Gobby gasped in amazement.

“And sneak!” Jaie yelled as he stepped out of the shadows and pushed Gobby on his behind. Gobby was full of distain, upset that he was caught off guard by a skill that he couldn’t quite master. In his anger he took a step that was quite rash as he saw Jaie begin to charge at him, Gobby had noticed one of those gray orbs he had been warned about and kicked one up at Jaie. In his tunnel vision with the task at hand, Jaie swatted at the stone that was in his way, it bashed into the ground and shattered.

“Agghhh!” Gobby cried out as a wound gashed onto his shoulder. Gobby was experiencing a new kind of pain he hadn’t felt before. Gobby clutched his shoulder and cried. “You didn’t even touch me though.” He said in a state of confusion.

“I warned you about the orbs.” Jaie told Gobby who began to fade from consciousness. Just a moment later Gobby’s cries were silent as he fell into sleep. Jaie had carried Gobby on his shoulders back to Scylla’s medical ward. Jaie couldn’t wait for Gobby to awake as he was required to return to training. Gobby was tended to by Scylla’s underling as she was away. Three days later Scylla arrived and checked on Gobby’s wellbeing. Scylla tended to Gobby’s wounds and couldn’t help but note how resilient this particular goblin was as most undersized goblins tended to be quite frail. The entire four days passed by Gobby as he slept through half the week to recover from his wounds. The evening Scylla arrived had passed and Gobby awoke the next day.

“What happened?” Gobby asked as he awoke hearing Scylla’s voice in the room nearby.

“That was so foolish of you…” Scylla scolds, entering the room. “Whatever would possess you to spar in a known Black Beast site? Without souls you are much too weak to handle the shock of a painstone.”

“Souls?” Gobby asked. “Jaie mentioned souls. What are they, how do they make me stronger?”

“Souls are the power of the life force of those who fall in battle.” Scylla explained. “You see, when you kill a creature, or simply just defeat it, a portion of their power becomes your own. In all the kingdoms of Krystara, we refer to this power as souls. Souls add their power to your own, increasing your strength.”

“How do you get these souls?” Gobby asked. “I feel like I got trampled by Baratha and I wasn’t even hit.”

“You can most easily receive souls simply from winning battles.” Scylla told him. “Souls can also be gathered by merchants and sold for some gold. As for your injuries, that gray orb you threw at Jaie was a painstone. They harness the aggressive energy of whoever may happen to destroy them, when destroyed, there energy is unleashed upon the breaker’s foes… If several are connected to each other as they are destroyed, the effect is greatly amplified. In smaller amounts, the effect is quite minor.”

“Jaie had only broken the one though, why did it cause so much harm?” Gobby asked.

“You are still quite fragile.” Scylla told him. “You haven’t developed as a fighter at all. You haven harnessed a single soul after all. You should be grateful I was able to see you, I was away for quite a while.”

“Where were you?” Gobby asked. “I’m in need of a good story.”

“Okay, then, I’ll tell you.” She said. “But it’ll not be the shortest you’ve ever heard… I was visiting in the Drifting Sands, the desert to the far south of Krystara, it is about a week’s journey if you travel there directly, stopping only to sleep.”

“Why where you visiting a desert?” Gobby asked.

“To see if I could bring life back to the land. Many, many years ago, before even the struggle with the giants, the land there was full of plant life. It was as lush a forest as there ever was, even more so than Maugrim Woods and the Forest of Thorns. But over time the land was ravished by the Great Maw.” Scylla said.

“What is a Great Maw?” Gobby inquired.

“In a simpler time the Great Maw started as a rather small rock worm named Rhonda from the dwarf kingdom of Khaziel to the northeast. Due to her size she was quite often picked on and wanted merely to fit in. So many year of torment worn in to the young rock worm, so she sought a means of equality amongst rock worm, she longed not to be greater than her peers, only the same. One day by chance she came amongst a well-known alchemist visiting the kingdom on business promoting himself as the greatest of all chemists. He had just developed a potion that he claimed could help grow undersized plant life beyond their natural limitations. Rhonda approached him as pleaded with him to consider other realms of possibilities in his work. She pleaded with him telling him of all her hardships and of how desperately she longed to fit in. Moved with her story and overcome with a feeling of grief on her behalf he had decided to alter his potion in an attempt to allow her to grow. He had taken a residence in Khaziel to complete his work, if the potion would work on this poor undersized rock worm, he knew fame would come. After working on his potions for nearly a month, he finally presented it to Rhonda who drank it down without hesitation.”

“Did it work?” Gobby asked, “What happened?”

“Yes it did.” Scylla continued. “It worked too well. Rhonda grew alright, the only thing was, she grew far too much, far too fast. Within a single day Rhonda had grown so large that no building in the kingdom could house her. As she moved along the streets she was met with gasps and ridicule, she was so big now that she would never fit in with other rock works ever. She fled to the caverns of Khaziel where only the dwarves dared enter. The lore of the possessed daemon Gorgotha had haunted the kingdom so greatly that only the dwarves would enter, there greed for the riches within was far too great. In time sure enough Rhonda was discovered and the Dwarves fled in fear. When they told the residents of the kingdom they rallied to drive out this monster that no one knew was the same rock worm that they had all given so much grief. Confronted by the mob of the kingdom she was frightened so. She had only desired their approval and now she feared she would have to kill them to survive. Not wanting to destroy those she longed to fit in with, Rhonda instead chose to flee.”

“Where did she go?” Gobby asked, intrigued with this new tale.

“She headed south.” Scylla told him. “To a lush forest that was ruled over by nothing. There were creatures there, but they only filled the place, there was no civilization there. Size that great does not come without burden, Rhonda as with all creatures, had to sustain herself. Her hunger was so great. She devoured nearly everything that came before her, no matter how much she ate, her hunger could not be curbed. Within a month’s time or so there were few creatures left to consume. A lack of food does not quell the need to sustain so she did what she had to survive.”

“What was that?” Gobby asked.

“I’m getting there.” She replied. “Rhonda began to feast on the plant life that was there. In the years that followed she was eating more of the forest then could be regrown at the time and the sun scorched the land. The sands soon took over, and the forest’s name was lost in time. Soon enough though, creatures better able to survive in the new environment arrived and by this time, Rhonda’s hunger had finally subsided. She still required food, just not quite so much of it. Rhonda was seen less and less over time and became known as the Great Maw as the size of her jaw could accommodate nearly any sized creature.”

“That’s sad.” Gobby remarked. “Where you able to do anything about the sands?” he asked.

“A little.” Scylla responded. “But not nearly enough. My powers over nature aren’t as great as they once were. They’ve changed over time, as the need for them did, this is true with most things.”

“How did they change?” Gobby asked. “And what else has shifted over time?”

“Long ago, I was once able to gather more power to create larger plant life. I would focus my energy and many plants would sprout out of the ground. It was during the giant’s struggle that much of this changed, as with others. Goblins were injured in the war and lacked sufficient healing. I prayed for a manner to aid in their suffering. On day my power to create nature simply diminished and I gain the ability to heal those in need.” She explained. “The tide of the struggle had turned as well.”

“How so?” Gobby asked, he had always longed to know more.

“The wars and struggles Zaejin has fought in the past had been won simply by weathering through the times, the stamina of Zaejin’s soldier’s was unparalleled. The army of the kingdom could take far more harm that of those up against us. With the giants united against us, we began to fall too fast. The goblin king prayed for reprieve from the tyranny of the giant’s wrath, and soon enough his prayers were answered. Zaejin’s army soon after became a little less durable, but when united, this reduced stamina was replaced with a burst of strength that allowed Zaejin under the leadership of our king to overwhelm the giant’s army.” Scylla told him. “And then the kingdom of Zaejin has had very little conflict until the Spire’s desire to enslave our people.”

“I see.” Gobby said. “Do you thi…” Gobby hesitated to ask this next question. He knew there would be consequences to the information he sought. Weighing the urge against his desire to become great, he opted to open this can of worms. “Do you think the alchemist still makes potions?” he asked.

“I know what you must be thinking.” Scylla said hoping to quell Gobby’s urge to cheat his way into greatness. “But honor isn’t, bought, it is earned. Rhonda wanted an easy way out and paid a very dear price to lose everything she had.”

“I know…” Gobby began. “I don’t want to be so big that I tower over any other goblins, I just want to be able to contribute to the war.” Gobby told her, hoping she would see how he longed to be a part of his beloved kingdom’s army.

“I see…” Scylla saw the pain in Gobby’s eyes and thought of a middle ground to what Gobby had searched for. “The alchemist has taken residence in Adana…” She told him. “I would rather you leave this be, but I can see that you want this above all else. Journey there and seek him out but I implore you to not take the path of least resistance. All the great warriors from this kingdom: the king, Krill and a number of others, had to overcome one kind of obstacle or another. Journey to Adana and get some battle experience, earn a few souls, get there the hard way, those who train hard become stronger than most who get there overnight.” She looked into Gobby’s eyes and saw his renewed resolve.

“I will go to Adana and fight to become strong. I can still make a difference in this war, I will earn my reputation for being the most cunning goblin in Krystara.” Gobby said, determined to become the greatest in all the lands.

“Your journey will take time, you may be gone for quite a while.” Scylla said, reminding Gobby of what was most important. “Be sure to say your goodbyes before you leave. You wouldn’t want Ma to worry after all.”

“Yes ma’am.” Gobby said. “I’ll take today to say farewell and I’ll set off into the world at first light tomorrow.”

“Fair well on your travels.” Scylla wished him well. “I wish to hear about them in full someday. Take care of yourself.”

“I will indeed.” Gobby said as he left to tell his mother of the path he felt he had to walk.
Gobby walked into his home to be greeted by his mother, he could see a glimpse of relief on her face in seeing that he was well, it lasted but a moment and he quickly saw it fade.

“You’re going away again aren’t you…?” His mother began. “Your father had that very same look in his eyes the day he left for war.”

“I’m sorry Ma…” Gobby said, overcome with emotion. “It’s just that…”

“Please don’t…” Ma pleaded. “I don’t need to know why and I can see that there’s no changing your mind. Let’s just enjoy the day together, it’ll be the last we have for a while.”

Gobby nodded to his mother and went in close for a hug. He could see how hard she was trying to fight back her tears.

“I was going to say goodbye to Sierah as well…” He said not wanting to break the moment. “But her farm is so close to the kingdom gates I’ll just say goodbye as I leave.” Ma held her son so tight Gobby felt a little short of breath but hadn’t had the heart to tell her. He knew he wouldn’t see her for a while and in her arms he felt at peace. They didn’t speak much throughout the evening, they simply stayed within arm’s reach. They dined that evening on an owlbear that Ma had prepared for them. “I love you Ma…” Gobby said breaking the silence. “I won’t be gone forever. I will come home someday.”

“I know my son.” Ma said, heading off to bed. “There is a great force within you, I know you’ll rise above.” Gobby felt empowered, realizing that his mother had faith in him. He went to bed for the evening as well, dreaming in a state of pure peace. He awoke at daybreak in his usual manner, feeling the warmth of the sun. As he passed through the dining area to clean up in the trough he saw a utility bag atop the dinner table. Gobby opened this bag to find a note from his mother along with a set of clean clothing, some vegetables, and a standard combat knife along with a few other odds and ends. The note he found had the following message for him:

‘My dearest son. I awoke today earlier than most and found you peacefully asleep in your bed. As hard as it was to leave without saying goodbye one last time I thought I wouldn’t be able to let you go. Before I go about my day I decided to put together this sack and a few items to help you on your travels. There is a small supply of food that will last a while before spoiling, vegetables and the like. Be sure to replenish it every chance you get, you’ll never know exactly how long it’ll be until the next time you’ll come across food. There is a length of rope and some string, you’ll find these things to be indispensable on the road. The is a pot and a case of matches to allow you to cook meat should you come across something easy to slay, be careful not to burn yourself. There is also a blank book as well as a quill and ink, be sure to document your journeys to share with the world, when you do indeed rise as a warrior, people will want to know how you came to be where you are. And finally there is a standard issue, Zaejin military combat knife. Both the knife and the sack where your father’s, he always said that that knife could always be trusted to get him out of a jam, and I know he would wish you to have it. You do have, now and for always all the love I have to give. Take care of yourself, I’ll see you when you’ve become everything you’ve searched for. With love always, Ma.’

Gobby became a bit chocked up as he concluded the letter, now more than ever he would have to make her proud. He took a couple carrots with him from the food storage area for breakfast, put the sack of travel items on his back and headed out to see Sierah. She would surely miss him, but like Ma, he was sure she would understand. He arrived at Sierah’s farm about two hours into daylight. He could see that she expected him, awaiting for him at the gates along with Miria.

“Ma?” Gobby said in an inquisitive tone.

“Ma.” Sierah confirmed his suspicions.

“Did she try to talk you into convincing me to stay?” He asked.

“No, she knew it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.” Sierah said, trying not to become emotional. “I’m glad you came to say bye, even Miria came to see you off.” Miria sputtered and stood up on her hind legs for a moment.

“Atta girl.” Gobby said patting the boar on her head. Miria settled back down and came to rest at Gobby’s feet. “No worries girl, it’s not goodbye forever… just goodbye for now.”

“Ma left this for you.” Sierah said handing Gobby a satchel. “She told me that she only wanted you to have it if you stopped to say goodbye.”

“Oh, my.” Gobby said peeking into the satchel to find about seventy large gold coins. “This is far too much.” Gobby said taking note of value of the bag. “This is worth about seven hundred gold pieces, it must’ve taken her a while to save.”

“Not quite as long as you would think.” Sierah cued Gobby in. “Brian is quite grateful for the ale Ma brings him from around the kingdom, he pays her quite well for it. Besides, you’ll need every bit of that if you’re going to survive out there. Supplies don’t come cheap.” Gobby nodded in acceptance and tied the satchel at his waist. “Now don’t you dare think about leaving without giving me a hug.” She said, knowing his time drew near. Gobby came closer and wrapped her arms around her tight.

“I will be back…” Gobby said. “I’ll make something of myself.”

“You’ve better…” Sierah said not wishing to draw the painful moment out. “Just know that you’ve never had anything to prove to me.”

“I know.” Gobby responded.

“Then make us all proud.” She said, wishing him well. Gobby left with his head held high right to the kingdom’s gates.

“This is it.” He said to himself. “My very first steps towards greatness.”

Gobby stepped beyond the threshold of a kingdom he’d never left that had always been home. As the sun stood high in the sky Gobby was optimistic of what the future held. He knew it would not be an easy journey but no path worth walking ever is. He started on the path to Adana, a kingdom to the east he would have to pass through the edge of Pan’s Vale’s forest to reach. He sought not the alchemist to grant him power but remember tales of a smith well known for the weapons and armor he fastened. Our little goblin has quite the tale to tell, as already mentioned, this is just the beginning.

#See you on the path to Adana.

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Additional thanks to: @TaliaParks, @killerman3333, and @actreal for being amongst my first and strongest supporters, @Zelfore for assisting me with game script to allow additional Easter eggs, and @Eika for allowing her pet Maw to take parts. I would also like to thank all of my supporters and the 25 posters that liked to original post to kick this story off.

there are many Easter eggs hidden in this story, lets see how many you can find. If you enjoy the read please go ahead and like the story as this is a labor of love and it’ll ,mean a lot to me to know that my work is enjoyed.

Welcome to the Cellar

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Great mate. :slight_smile:

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