“Goran needs help with what? That old minotaur can help himself. There are not many mage folks down here in the pits. If he’s over his head in something, that something is something I want no part of. Guess if I get you out of this pit, that’ll mean my debt to Goran is even. You can go tell him we’re even.”
“Look. I barely know the guy but from what I can tell one of his wizard colleagues is out to get him and take some dangerous artifact. You might not butt heads with whatever terrible thing he does with it, but you’ll have been responsible.
“It wouldn’t be my fault.” scoffed the hobgoblin. “Goran’s problems aren’t mine.”
“Well, what problems do you have,” I asked. Maybe there was something I could offer him, something that would entice the hobgoblin to come to Goran’s aid. I didn’t believe in the sentiment the goblin had, while he had a tribe to look over, his motives were selfish. Hopefully, that was something I could use to entice him.
“Well, there is this tribe of kobolds that have encroached on our territory, do you have a way of making the kobolds disappear?” asked the hobgoblin.
“I don't,” I said. “But Goran could probably clear them out for you.” I proposed. I felt somewhat bad for volunteering Goran without his permission but didn’t have much choice in the matter. Goran had made it crystal clear that these goblins were necessary for his plan.
The hobgoblin laughed condescending.
“Don’t you think we've already asked. Goran is a pacifist, he’s not going to willingly slaughter those kobolds even if they’re territory gobblers.”
“But if you get your hands on Goran’s artifact, you could use it to slay the kobolds,” I said. I wasn’t planning on letting the hobgoblin get his hands on the powerful artifact, but I was certain this would be enough to tempt the hobgoblin to come to Goran’s aid. I had seen enough tragedies happen from the misuse of magic in and around Master’s manor.
I had a feeling though that whatever Jorn had planned with the locket was much worse than what the hobgoblin would do. I didn’t think the hobgoblin was any nicer, just maybe less competent. I wasn’t sure if he’d survive fighting Jorn, anyway. Frankly, I wasn’t sure if any of us would survive.
“I do deserve a powerful artifact,” the narcissistic hobgoblin remarked. “What does it do. I have a reputation to build, it can’t have a boring effect.
“I heard summons a legion of the undead,” I said, telling a half-truth. The truth was more complicated than that but I decided not to tell the hobgoblin what Goran had told me. If the hobgoblin knew about the mage’s guilds dislike for the object, he might hesitate on helping. I still didn’t trust Goran fully, not after falling victim to many fake stories told by people. I wasn’t keen on spreading stories that might not be true.
“That is very exciting. Hobgoblin shaman Bokorp commander of the fallen does a nice ring to it. We’ll help.”
“But I want stay. What about spirit festival,” were the muddled words of a goblin I couldn’t see.
I watched as the hobgoblin moved out of my view. Then I heard a loud thud and a sobbing goblin before the hobgoblin came back as if he'd never left.
“Looks like we agree. We’ll get you out of this hole and help Goran for his artifact.” said the hobgoblin.
Fifteen goblins poked and prodded me while allegedly trying to pull me out of the pit. I was convinced they were more concerned about getting into fistfights and stealing each other's stuff. It was a long and unorganized affair, that really shouldn’t have taken as long as it did.
Every so often a goblin would get too far out of line and the hobgoblin would have to step in, or more accurately step on the goblin. The hobgoblin was too good to enter the pit but he didn’t mind walking on top of his stupid gremlins if it meant keeping them working. The goblins didn't mind that much. I figured their memory was so short that they forgot about being stepped on. Was this what humans meant when they say the rich are built on the backs of the poor. I hadn’t seen a human step on another human so it didn’t seem likely.
“Come, we have to tell the others.” said the hobgoblin. I walked behind the groups of goblins as they tumbled their way through the caves, making sure to bite, trip, push each other every chance they got. I wondered how hobgoblins kept these little things in check and what I saw so far suggested kicking goblins was the best way to keep them in order.
Many huts appeared, suggesting this was the goblins village. As I scanned the goblin tribe, I was surprised by their numbers. When I had worked with goblins before I’d only ever seen a group of fifteen at most. There were easily seventy goblins that made up the chaos I was watching.
Law was only a suggestion it seemed as goblins invaded each other's personal space to taunt and torment each other, and occasionally play games. Their numbers were many but I wondered how effective they were as a fighting unit.
The hobgoblin's loud voice echoed throughout the small goblin village. “It is time for war,” he roared. “It is time to eat our enemies and to play games on their rotting corpses.” The hobgoblin paused as goblins cheered at their chief's declaration.