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.
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.