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Imp was easy enough to find. The newly transformed hobgoblin was hanging out near the clay pits. He always seemed to be there, working on something that Blacknail didn’t understand. It was almost like he enjoyed it, which was unsettling. Why would he enjoy working? It was weird behavior for a hobgoblin. Even Gob spent most his time bossing goblins around instead of doing chores himself. Blacknail had considered making Imp work somewhere else, but he was too productive to waste. With Imp there, the clay pits were producing over twice as much as before.

On the other hand, Scamp was much more difficult to track down. Blacknail had to look around the base for a while before he found him. He wasn’t in the longhouse or the larder. Eventually, he located Scamp napping over by some rocks on the far side of the camp.

After a swift kick to the ribs, the sleeping hobgoblin yelped and jumped to his feet. When he calmed down and recognized Blacknail, Scamp smiled nervously and greeted his chieftain. Blacknail just snorted and told him to follow. He led Scamp over towards the center of the base, where Imp was waiting. Khita and Elyias were also lounging nearby and sitting in the shade at the base of a hill. Both of them had their swords at their hips, but they only looked up as the new arrivals approached and didn’t move.

“Well, this ought to be an amusing show. It’s usually very boring around here.” Elyias remarked as he grinned nastily at the hobgoblins.

“Now I will teach you how to use a blade,” Blacknail told the other two hobgoblins as he tossed them wooden practice blades. He picked up one for himself and took up position in front of his minions.

Imp didn’t look that impressed. He studied the sword for a second and then looked back towards where he had been working. Scamp smiled excitedly and waved his new weapon around a few times experimentally.

“I always wanted to get a shiny sword. When I learn this, will I get one?” Scamp asked. He looked hopeful, which amused Blacknail.

“Yes, when your training is done,” Blacknail told him. He had a small stash of extra blades he had taken from people who were incapable of using them anymore.

“Now, stand like this and hold the blade up,” Blacknail ordered Scamp and Imp as he showed them the proper stance and technique.

Both of the hobgoblins studied him and shifted their stances, but neither of them copied it correctly. They both looked off balance and open to attack. Blacknail showed them a few different techniques and watched them try them. Imp seemed to just be going through the motions without any real interest, and Scamp was goofing around instead of learning properly.

That was alright. Blacknail had a plan for motivating them. He ordered Scamp forward and told him to take up a defensive stance. Scamp obeyed and sloppily raised his blade up. A moment later, it was bashed aside and Blacknail’s wooden sword smashed into his shoulder.

“Ugh, that hurt!” Scamp yelped as he was knocked over sideways.

"Too slow,” Blacknail hissed coldly. “It was also weak. Are you a real hob or an overgrown goblin?”

“I’m a hobgoblin!” Scamp whined as he got back up. He was wincing from the pain and rubbing his shoulder.

“Then act like it, you runt. Step back and let Imp come over here.”

Both the hobgoblins quickly obeyed. Imp didn’t look very excited about taking his turn. He wasn’t stupid, so he’d already figured out what was coming next.

“Take a defensive stance,” Blacknail told him.

“Can you just show me how to do it?” Imp asked hopefully. “I don’t think I know the right way, but I’m sure a great teacher like you could show me.”

There was a nervous smile on his face as he met his instructor’s gaze. Blacknail grinned back, but it wasn’t a pleasant expression.
“Nope,” he laughed as he swung his blade. The weapon hit Imp in the stomach. He crumpled and fell to his knees.

“Ow,” Imp groaned.

“Pay attention next time, you arrogant runt. You aren’t smarter than anyone else. You’re just an arrogant prick of a hobgoblin,” Blacknail told him. His voice and expression were both harsh and unyielding.

That was how the rest of the training went. Blacknail would explain a technique to them, they would try to copy him, and then they would be tested.

Failure always resulted in pain, and neither of the hobgoblins ever passed a single one of Blacknail’s tests. His blade slipped through their defenses or pushed their own weapon aside every time.

Going on easy on them would defy the entire point of the exercise. It also wouldn’t be any fun. Blacknail was having a great time!

“Why are Khita and Elyias here?” Scamp asked as he stepped forward again. He was obviously trying to distract Blacknail and buy himself a few minutes of rest.

“To watch and prevent you from doing something stupid,” Blacknail replied as he glanced at Imp. “They are also here to remind you of all the people who could stab you to death, because you suck.”

The other hobgoblin glared back. He was seething with rage and red in the face. Clearly, the training was working. Blacknail was a great teacher!

“I can take over the training if you want, Scamp. I think I’d like a chance to knock a hobgoblin around, and I think Blacknail is going a little easy on you,” Khita said from over where she was sitting.

Scamp paused and looked uncertain. He clearly hadn’t expected Khita to say such a thing. However, before he could make up his mind, Blacknail spoke up.

“Not today, but maybe another time. I got this,” he said as he motioned Scamp forward again.

They continued to train for half an hour until Blacknail eventually stopped and addressed his tired out minions. “Alright, that’s enough for today.”

“Really?” Scamp asked hesitantly. He was favoring one leg and he had developed a few purple bruises. Imp was in a similar sorry state.

“Yes, unless either of you want a chance to hit me back.”

“What do you mean?” Imp asked. The hobgoblin sounded intrigued but also cautious. He suspected a trap. It had been that kind of day.
“We could spar,” Blacknail told him.

Imp’s beady red eyes stared intently at Blacknail for several long seconds. His hands were gripping the wooden practice blade so tightly they almost seemed to be shaking. He looked really tempted to give into his rage and take up the offer. Scamp quickly shook his head to signal he wasn’t interested. He was a coward, so that wasn’t surprising.

“No, I would never want to hurt you, wise leader,” Imp eventually hissed in reply. He didn’t sound like he really meant it.

“Too bad, because now your wise leader feels like sparring with you. We will keep going until I say so or you hit me. Maybe you will learn some of my wisdom,” Blacknail replied smugly as he grinned from ear to ear.

There was a hateful hiss from Imp as he raised his blade up in front of his face. It was an aggressive stance, but instead of charging, Imp cautiously inched forward.

Blacknail didn’t feel like waiting for him. He lunged, battered Imp’s sword aside, and then smashed his sword into the other hobgoblin’s ribs. Imp flinched but gritted his teeth and tried to strike back. However he aimed too high and Blacknail easily ducked under his slash.

Over the next few minutes, Blacknail demolished Imp. The newly transformed hobgoblin quickly descended into a blind rage and began swinging wildly.
“Hold still!” he screeched as Blacknail stepped back away from one of his attacks.

Imp continued to attack over and over again, but none of his attacks hit. Blacknail dodged and parried them all, while occasionally slipping in his own attacks. Imp’s complete loss of self control was deeply satisfying. Blacknail couldn’t stop himself from grinning widely in delight. Imp had been far too self-controlled as a goblin, so Blacknail had always wanted to beat the smugness out of him. He wasn’t so smart now was he!

Eventually, Imp screamed hatefully at the top of his lungs, dove forward, and was promptly smacked down. The flat of Blacknail’s blade crashed into the top of his head and knocked him down into the dirt. He coughed and didn’t get back up. Instead, Imp just lay there on the ground.

“Do you give up?” Blacknail asked the prone hobgoblin. Instead of replying, Imp let out a defeated groan that Blacknail assumed meant yes.

“Remember this lesson, weakling. Strength comes from obedience; not from rage,” Blacknail told Imp as he leaned down over him. “Defy me and you will stay weak and pathetic, and weakness leads to pain.”

It was important that Blacknail’s new hobgoblin minions not only learned to fight but also to fear him. Unquestioning obedience born from hopelessness was required. Blacknail couldn’t have disobedient hobgoblins running around. That would be too dangerous.

“Tomorrow will be your turn to spar,” Blacknail told Scamp as he turned and gave him a meaningful look. Scamp gulped in fear and Elyias laughed.
“That sure was interesting,” the young man remarked as he got up and walked over to Scamp. “I always wondered how Saeter trained you, so that you wouldn’t kill him in his sleep or anything.”

“I was a better learner than these two,” Blacknail told him. Memories of hanging from a tree and being beaten up by Saeter rose up in his mind, but he suppressed them.

“Come on, you look like shit. Let’s get you something to eat,” Elyias told Scamp as the pair walked away.

Khita followed Blacknail back over to where the wall was under construction. They left Imp alone on the ground.

The training continued over the next two days. For a few hours every afternoon, Blacknail taught Scamp and Imp how to use a sword and how to control their emotions. They weren’t very good at either yet, but Blacknail was having fun, so he wasn’t in too much of a hurry.

Over and over again, he showed them the basics of sword fighting and hit them when they failed to impress him. The objective was not only to motivate them to succeed but also to enrage them. During the sparring, when they lost control and tried to hit him, Blacknail simply countered using his vastly superior skills and then humiliated them. The point was to condition them to not give into their anger. The hobgoblins' violent instincts had to be suppressed, and Blacknail wanted them to know he was in charge. He was the leader, and he didn’t plan on stepping down or letting himself get killed.

He also took an hour every day to teach Gob, who he didn’t beat black and purple. However, Gob spent most of his time overseeing the construction of the wall around the base. The goblins needed to be watched at all times or they would slack off. Blacknail was fairly sure that most of them were only pretending to work anyway, but there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Still, the wall was starting to take form. Its rickety wooden length looked like garbage, but it would do its job and keep out most the nasty wildlife. Gangs of goblins led by overseers were constantly dragging timber out of the forest. Even goblins with stone axes could cut down slender young trees fairly easily, and there were a lot of goblins around. It was a good thing the larder was full of food because everyone was too busy to hunt or forage.

On the third morning, Blacknail decided to head back to the human village. He had grown bored of hanging around the goblin lair and wanted to talk to some other people. He was also out of cheese. Going without cheese for a few days was unthinkable.

“We need some supplies, so I’m going to lead a mission back to Shelter. It will be dangerous but I can handle it, no problem,” Blacknail told Gob as he smiled confidently.

“Thank you, most powerful of chiefs. Surely, only you could do this,” Gob replied as he gave a little bow.

“Pretty much,” Blacknail agreed as he nodded along happily in agreement. Gob sure said it like it was.

“I want to come,” Ferrar said as he scampered up to Blacknail’s side. The hobgoblin chief looked down at him and frowned thoughtfully.

“Why? All the things you want to burn are here. You’re not allowed to burn things there.”

“I need to learn something from humans,” Ferrar explained. “Humans know a lot about fire and clay that Imp and I want to know too.”

The idea didn’t immediately appeal to Blacknail. The creepy little goblin wanted to go and talk to some humans? That didn’t sound like a good idea. They’d probably kill him and then hunt down every other goblin they could find. Blacknail could barely resist the urge to do that himself.

“It will allow us to cook new tastier foods,” Ferrar added as he noticed his chieftain’s reluctance.

“Alright, let’s go!” Blacknail replied excitedly. He had grown tired of the simple fare available at the goblin camp. Good food made everything better!

“The goblin’s coming with us now?” Khita asked from where she was standing nearby. Half a dozen goblins were beside her. They had been chosen to join the mission.

“Yes, he has a very important task,” Blacknail told her.

“I wish I could go back to Shelter. It’s a pile of dung full of peasants, but I’m really getting sick of staying out here in the forest. The gods know I would do anything to get back to civilization,” Elyias whined.

The young man was also nearby, although he wasn’t joining the mission. He simply had nowhere better to be. Lately, he had been working under Gob a lot and helping out with the wall. Blacknail wasn’t sure if it was by choice or if Gob had conscripted him, and he didn’t really care.

“I told them you stole their coins and deserted so you can’t go back, but you can be the second in command while we’re gone. That’s a promotion for working so hard lately!” Blacknail told him.

“Oh, good,” Elyias replied as he scowled. He didn’t seem all happy about the wonderful promotion he’d just been given. Blacknail decided not to take that as an insult. Elyias had always been a miserable person. That was why annoying him was so fun.

“Just watch for Scamp and Imp while I’m gone,” Blacknail warned him. “They might go insane and start killing people at any time. If that happens you need to help Gob fight them off.”

“What? Is that a real possibility? You must be joking,” Elyias asked in alarm. He looked concerned and more than a little afraid. It was unbecoming of a second-in-command.

“That’s always a possibility with hobgoblins, even me,” Blacknail laughed as he walked away. Elyias was a funny guy.

Without wasting any more time, the group set off. Blacknail took the lead as they trudged through the forest. The mixed group passed between rows of towering trees and up and down rocky hills as they approached their destination. The familiar journey took them about an hour. Once they were near the village, they stopped among a thick clump of bushes at the edge of the fields.

“Can you sneak past the walls and rejoin us?” Blacknail asked Ferrar.

“Sure, I sneak in there all the time,” Ferrar replied with a confident smile and a excited nod.

This reply caught Blacknail off guard. What was this now? When did Ferrar have the time visit the humans? Why would he want to? After a few seconds of furious thinking Blacknail decided to let it go. This didn’t sound like it was his problem. As the leader, he needed to focus on the important things, like getting his cheese.

Khita and Blacknail left the goblins behind. They crossed the fields and went in through Shelter’s gate. The one old farmer that was serving as the guard let them in without any concern. They were familiar visitors now. The hooded hobgoblin even gave the man a friendly nod. Being polite was important.

The pair wandered through the streets until they got to where Geralhd had taken up residence. It was a small home that looked like it had seen better days, but it was clean and serviceable. Compared to Blacknail’s cave it was a mansion. Khita walked up to the door and called out, but no one answered.

“He doesn’t seem to be home,” she told Blacknail.

“I’m right here. I heard you’d come to visit my humble abode and decided to cut you off,” Geralhd answered from behind them. The both turned to see him walking towards them from down the street.

“Oh, where were you? I hope we aren’t interrupting anything,” Khita asked.

“I was simply out and about. It was nothing important. Now, to what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?” he asked in return. Blacknail was fairly sure it was question. Geralhd sometimes had a problem speaking clearly.

“I bet you were with a woman,” Khita laughed. There was an amused grin on her face.

“In this village? I prefer having relationships with less strings attached,” Geralhd replied with a grimace of distaste.

“Oh, like with Vorscha,” Blacknail observed. Geralhd and Vorscha had done everything together until Werrick’s attack. They had been forced to leave her behind when they fled the battle and she had died horribly. It was too bad. She had been strong and useful.

“Yes…” Geralhd replied with obvious awkwardness. He suddenly looked a little sad.

“That was utterly thoughtless. You don’t say things like that,” Khita quietly hissed at the hobgoblin.

Blacknail sighed and rolled his eyes. He had no idea what she was talking about. It must be a stupid human thing. Every time he thought he had them figured out he was proven wrong.

“Well, let’s not stand out here on the public street and under the sun. Come in and have some tea. It’s dreadful herbal stuff but it’s still better than the local swill,” Geralhd said as he walked over to the entrance of his home.

Blacknail didn’t think Geralhd looked too hurt by his words. Khita was probably being overdramatic. She did that a lot.

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ClearMadness

Bio: Not actually a goblin.

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Kekkama @Kekkama ago

I bet we'll see a new evolution for Blacknail. He'll need it if he's going to get a lot more hobgoblins under his command. I'm betting on either him becoming a troll or becoming some sort of mutant.

Lorcogoth @Lorcogoth ago

thanks for the chapter!

ThatOneGuy @ThatOneGuy ago

Great chapter, thanks for all your hard work!

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Saj @Saj ago

Going on easy on them > Going easy on them | sure it was question > it was a question

Thanks for the chapter.

Killashard
Premium

Killashard @Killashard ago

Thanks for the chapter!

tsomv @tsomv ago

Just finished reading all available chapters. Three problems:

-Blacknail: character development has stopped. He's an unpleasant creature by any human standard. He has also somehow become the master of a slave chattel. Is there any reason to assume such a thing could actually function? Where in the animal kingdom can it be found? Even in human history it's very very rare. Goblins are supposed to be super dumb and super unruly, yet overnight they become extremely productive under the lash?

-These goblins are supposed to have the IQ of a Neanderthal or worse. That's why their natural state is lower than hunter-gatherer. How can they learn so fast? How can any of them become almost fluent in English comprehension after a week or less? How has blacknail accumulated so many skills in less than a YEAR? He learned faster than a HUMAN could.

-If the setting is 'western dark ages' then 99% of the population should be farmers, armies should be tiny, and conscription should be unlikely. Also, banditry should be very minimal relative to the normal population because almost everyone is at subsistence. There shouldn't be enough resources to support a lot of parasites. 

    Kekkama @Kekkama ago

    1) I wouldn't call Blacknail unpleasant. He's just playing by a completely different set of morals then his human counterparts. And the goblins aren't so much slave chattel as they are subordinates under the standard goblin hierarchy. While it's true I'd like to see Blacknail learn more about people, we don't want to lose the goblin perspective that gives the novel it's charm.

     

    2) Nobody ever said the goblins were stupid. They had complete societies of their own before humans came, and it wasn't until human colonists wiped them out that they were sent back to a feral hunter-gatherer technological level. Also goblins are supposed to be like children who are very good at picking up languages. While I agree Blacknail has learned many skills, things like rope making and setting traps are relatively simple and can be learned with a few hours of practice. His abilities as an assassin/sneaky fighter can be explained in that they mesh very well with his goblin instincts. We could also explain this by saying Blacknail is just very talented. In addition, most of his battles were won with cleverness. The fact that he couldn't beat the other assassin back in daggerpoint with a sword was what made Blacknail have to go to such extreme lengths to deal with him.

     

    3) The setting isn't 'western dark ages' it's high fantasy, with magic, goblins, ogres, trolls, and those elf-ish people to the north. I'd say there are more parallels to the late eighteenth century colonists of North America than to the dark ages, just with firearms replaced by magic. Even if we're not going to explain the food surplus with magic, in medieval England 90% of the two million people lived in the countryside in about 13,000 towns, villages, and hamlets (Domesday, William the Conqueror [1085]). Not the 99% you said. And keep in mind that not all of those 90% of people were farmers. Many of them worked other occupations manufacturing and producing goods. The variety of goods that Herad captured early on in the story lends more credence to the notion that the level of industry is closer to post-colonization but pre-industrial then it is to the European dark ages.

    Also before Henry VII banned private armies, infighting between feudal lords was seen as normal and legitimate. Over in the Holy Roman Empire, various princes did as they pleased and fought amongst themselves as nearly sovereign powers. Knights were the backbone of any army, but part of their duties as the best trained soldiers was to train up peasant levies to form the bulk of the fighting force. These were often serfs who were obligated to give a certain portion of their time to their feudal lord in lieu of rent. That meant they often found themselves pressed into their feudal lord's armies.

    I will however admit that I found it confusing that so many merchant caravans were passing north. It's not like there's anybody north of the human kingdom's to trade with. I don't think we have a map of the continent yet, but I would say the most plausible explanation would be that passing north allows travelers to bypass some mountains or rivers and head south again to another human kingdom. Perhaps ClearMadness could weigh in here with an explanation.

     

     

    I don’t mean to make light of your suggestions for the improvement of the story, but I just don’t see these as major issues.

     

    Edit: I apologize for the long comment. It didn't seem nearly so lengthy when I was typing it.

      tsomv @tsomv ago

      1. Yes, and his set of rules is unpleasant. I'm not sure how else you can evaluate his behavior, other than to compare it to what is pleasant behavior for a human. A goblin might have a different perspective, but that's irrelevant because WE are humans. The standard goblin heirarchy is basically slavery. Blacknail even explicitly calls his subordinates overseers, and enforces his leadership with violence! Then, he tells the human that if he tries to run away, or disobey orders, the guy will be murdered! If that is not slavery, I don't know what is.

       

      Goblin cognitive capabilities are obviously similar in kind/structure to humans, meaning they can grasp many of the same concepts. Humans obviously have many more insights into social structure than goblins, who have almost no social structure. Why can't blacknail recognize any of it? Saeter's explanation for why blacknail shouldn't menace Daggerpoint was the closest we got to that. The primary 'goblin' flavor seems to be basic cognitive dissonance. They love stealing things, and hate being stolen from and thieves in general, and reconcile the difference with word games. Similarly, they hate being abused and love abusing. Humans can and do do that too, so it's not very unique.

       

      2. Complete societies don't require a human level of intelligence, and certainly regular goblins aren't much better than ~3-4 year old children in terms of development, no matter how much time passes. A human child permanently 3-4 years in physical development would quickly outstrip any goblin. The story presents them as being able to PEAK at that level. When Blacknail leveled up his cognitive abilities by transforming into a hobgoblin, he seemed to reach the capabilities of a 6-8 year old. These comparisons aren't very good because the goblin brains are just smaller than humans. Good evidence of this is an apparent lack of curiosity among goblins. Since the tribes we have seen live in periodic contact with humans, we should expect them to imitate human behavior. Instead, the most we see is makeshift weapons and shelters. Where are goblin tools? They can't even make fire. Despite this, they somehow learn new skills and comprehend their usefulness very quickly in the story. It's simply inconsistent. I feel the author was very sloppy in how the most recent goblins learn English. Some of the grammar and vocabulary used is very complex, not easy to learn in just a week or a few days.

      Intelligence and cleverness go hand in hand. Blacknail has a very unusual amount of cleverness compared to the general incompetence of his race. This is obviously a plot tool so the story isn't extremely boring.

      3. My main point is that Blacknail's companions are improbable, and that the notion of a bandit king is equally improbable, especially considering most of the bandits are just regular people trying to escape enslavement and death.

      Kekkama @Kekkama ago

      1) If you’re looking for a white knight protagonist that helps people in need, abstains from violence, and selflessly cares for others then you’re reading the wrong type of story. Yes Blacknail uses violence to compel obedience, but didn’t Herad do the same thing? I’m not going to argue human morals with you because that’s not the point of the story. The appeal of this fiction is that it is written from the perspective of a goblin, so if you’re saying that’s irrelevant because the reader is human you are missing out on immersion and the whole point of the story.

       

      Blacknail doesn’t recognize finer details of human social etiquette because he’s relatively new to human society and with a background in goblin social etiquette some human proclivities just don’t make sense. As for their behavior, goblins grow up in a very primitive society (at least the settings modern goblins have). What we have is a multi-generational ‘Lord of the Flies’ scenario, where civilized beings have devolved to the level of might makes right. That means stealing and abuse are commonplace.

       

      This is not very different from humans, as archaeological evidence from various dig sites (Specifically the Etruscan site in Italy) tells us that the primary method by which humans in antiquity rose in social status and wealth was by attacking and stealing the goods of nearby settlements. Modern psychologists have found that even modern humans will act this way given proper circumstances (See the Robbers Cave study).

       

      2) You are making false equivalences based off assumptions about the nature of goblins in this setting. Nowhere was the size of a goblins brain mentioned, and never were there any direct comparisons between this settings goblins and human children of any ages. Even if that were the case goblins would have a level of intelligence far beyond what a 3-4 year old is capable of. Scamp and Imp both had a relatively firm grasp on language as goblins, and Blacknail was capable of feats as a goblin far beyond what you could expect of a 3-4 year old child who has only learned to walk and talk. Blacknail was setting snares, on the lookout for danger and able to avoid it, able to express sympathy for Saeter’s melancholy behavior when he realized Herad might become queen of the north, ect. At the age of 3-4 a human child is totally dependent on its parents for food and protection. A goblin is not.

       

      As a hobgoblin, Blacknail is capable of as grammatically correct human speech as his physiology and desires allow. He creates tools, traps, weapons and succeeds in successfully tricking multiple human professional guards and assassins. Could an eight year old child break into a gang leaders hideout, kill their leader, and escape? Trick professional assassins into pursuing him into the woods, where he had prepared traps beforehand?

       

      3) Bandits were not at all uncommon in the middle ages. The following is a quote from Edward I of England from the 13 century.

       

      “Through outlaws, robbers, thieves and malefactors, mounted and on foot [...] wandering by day and night, so many and great homicides and robberies were done that no one with a small company could pass through those parts without being taken and killed or spoiled of his goods [...] and no religious or other person could pass without being taken or spoiled of his goods.”

       

      During the hundred years war in France there were a large number of “free companies” ranging anywhere from a dozen to several thousand men. Their recruits came from the rapidly deteriorating French society, and the banded together pillaging towns and eventually setting down in an area where their leaders would rule like sovereign princes. Look up the Routiers. Similar occurrences have been recorded since before the time of Rome. Bandit kings were not only possible, but in fact a fairly common occurrence throughout history.

      ClearMadness
      Premium
      Author

      ClearMadness @ClearMadness ago

      There are still several large cities in the North. They are protected by large walls and armies so they haven't been hurt to badly by bandits, except indirectly. These cities do a lot of minning, blacksmithing, and forestry. Not all of the North is overrun either. Its a large place and it varies from country to country. 

      tsomv @tsomv ago

      1. I'm not looking for an incredible character. I'm looking for a reason to be interested in the character, and his character development leaves him unpleasant at this point in the story. Originally he was interesting by virtue of being a goblin and having a unique perspective/experience. But, his perspective did not gain anything from being in contact with humans other than awareness of a bigger world, and some bizarre encounters with clearly human experiences. He was not made more pleasant by learning even basic social mechanisms, his unique experience was sullied by things foreign to his race, and now he's on a damn revenge quest.

       

      2. I am making analogies not equivalences. Most evidence points to goblins being quite dumb relative to hobgoblins, and hobgoblins maybe and maybe not being on par with humans. The lack of human imitation is a big red flag. This is inconsistent with how quickly they learn new skills when taught, and how fast some have picked up a new language.

       

      3. You seem to have a better grasp of history than me, so if what you say is true then perhaps the setting here is plausible. A different problem, however, is how many rabbits they seem to eat.. How are local rabbit populations not hunted to extinction whenever Blacknail is around?

       

      Kekkama @Kekkama ago

      1) I was discussing this topic with somebody else on the discord chat and they brought up the fact that you can’t really say character development has stopped because the story isn’t finished yet. And I would say his perception of the human world has changed dramatically as the story has progressed. Starting in daggerpoint, Blacknail has repeatedly saved the lives of humans he considers to be part of his ‘tribe’, including Khita, the guy with her, and everyone he took Into the Green, which can be considered sympathetic human-like behavior. In addition, Blacknails current disposition towards primal practicality adds humor to the narrative, which increases entertainment value.

       

      2) Blacknail has imitated humans where he sees behavior worth imitating. The goblins picked up the sling because it is obviously useful, and Blacknail saw the value in learning the bow even though he wasn’t good with it at first. Hunting with traps was also something Blacknail starting doing. But you can’t expect goblins to start picking up reading when they’ve seen no obvious use for it (Though Imp soon might). And the goblins copying human mating rituals would be very strange indeed.

       

      3) Given a 50% mortality rate a breeding pair of rabbits can easily grow to 50 in just one year. Given a large area to populate and the fact that the bandits moved every so often I think it is plausible that there are still rabbits for the crew to eat. (Stats from bio.miami.edu)

       

      That being said, I will admit that it is unusual that the snares are used for exclusively catching rabbits. That could be explained by saying the snares are only designed to catch rabbits, but an experienced hunter like Saeter should know there is other game to be had in the woods. Where are the pheasants, hares, geese, and quail? Also, the lack of squirrels being eaten in the story disturbed me. Squirrels are all over the world, and they’re not too hard to catch. A determined goblin could probably catch one with their bare hands. I’ve done it myself, though it took a lot of patience. They weren’t that uncommon a food source back in the day, though they’re a little small for a human.

       

      Also, archeological evidence indicates that one of the first animals ever herded by early humans were snails, which would make perfect goblin food! They are easy to keep because you can just feed them bits of scrap and dig a trench around them to keep them from escaping. They’re easy to breed and reproduce rapidly. They’re a perfect, simple snack for goblins to begin raising!

       

      tsomv @tsomv ago

      1. It seems like blacknail is evolving to become human-like, which is frankly unappealing considering a market saturated with fictional non-human humans. He experiences things like fondness, sexual tension, respect and admiration, grief, that no other goblin seems to be familiar with. Are goblins just sub-humans?

       

      By character development I'm referring to a sort of social wisdom. While he has been getting better at identifying the motivations of other people, that is just a skill. There is no evidence he's on the road to comprehending principles like the golden rule, or the productivity value of individual autonomy.

       

      2. Almost all skills demonstrated by goblins were originally taught by humans. Saeter taught blacknail a bunch of stuff, who taught other goblins the same stuff. Only Imp seems to have curiosity for learning new things. Blacknail even SAYS that is unusual for a goblin. If goblins had cognitive abilities similar to humans, they would tend to get bored very easily with their basic existence, and find human activity very interesting because of how much mental energy would be required to observe them. They would also have a lower time preference, ie a tendency to plan for the future. Instead, goblins are child-like in their focus on immediate gratification.

       

      There is a weird contradiction between typical goblin nature, which blacknail makes many comments about, and the feral goblin tribe behavior after blacknail teaches them how to do stuff. Goblins don't plan for the future, are extremely self-centered, and tend to fight a lot. How can a tribe of creatures like that be transformed into a productive community in just a couple days? I would believe it if blacknail spent a few chapters dealing with problems and developing new social norms, and if there was a much larger time lapse. It could have been an interesting project, but was instead glossed over because slavery just works on goblins so well..

       

      3. Yeah it would be nice to have some diversity in blacknail and his companions' food acquisition.