This is the story of how I first met Globular Van der Graff and his goblin brothers, Makepeace Terranova, Byzantine Du Lac, Eponymous Tringthicky and Neopol Stranglethigh when Glob came to my rescue.
The five members of this plucky band who I will always be extremely proud to call my friends were among the last of their kind to live in peace alongside humins before our warlike cousins the humans changed the world forever. With their coming, like all things wholly dependent on the natural world remaining in balance, the goblins soon retreated to the densest woods far from any danger. What happened to we humins is a story for another time.
When my own kind first encountered Globular’s folk two thousand summers earlier, in our still primitive and savage state we did what humins automatically did back then. When confronted with something new like a wholly different kind living here in Goblindom – we attacked.
After that first unfortunate encounter a wary truce ensued. Neither kind actively went out of its way to upset the other, but neither did we freely mix. Because of this deep mistrust on the part of my kind, sadly many a good friendship between goblin and humin until Glob and I first met, simply never happened. Despite the fact that the vast majority of goblins are simple kind folk, and certainly not the thieving, bloodthirsty child stealers that the evil minded and stupid among us believed of them, my father’s generation avoided all contact.
Like all young humin children I had often been warned by my parents that if I ever misbehaved in any way, I would be handed over to the village shaman who would take me out into the forest and leave me for the goblins.
I first met Glob when I was a small child of barely four summers. I was happily playing on my own at the edge of our village, beneath the trees that marked our tribe’s border with the great oak wood. I had become totally absorbed watching a large carnivorous snail slither its way towards a juicy honey ant, that I failed to notice the stealthy approach of a timber wolf who was intent on killing me and carrying me away to feed its ever hungry cubs.
The first moment I knew that danger was near was when a small shadow briefly passed across the boulder where the snail slithered, breaking my concentration. I turned round in time to watch with a mixture of fear and fascination as the wolf curled its lips to reveal its fangs in preparation to do battle with a tiny goblin I later came to know as Glob.
For one so small he showed absolutely no fear for his own safety. He placed himself directly between the hungry wolf and me. Though slightly built, Glob is immensely strong and fast. Each time the wolf attacked, he rapidly fired expertly aimed small sharp sided stones directly into her mouth, each one threatening to jam in her gullet. No matter which direction she approached from she met her match in Glob’s relentless pelting attack of those deadly stone missiles. The shadow of the boulder in front of me had barely moved the width of a blade of grass before she gave up in disgust, and slunk off into the dark shadows of the trees at the edge of the forest.
“Now yunger, Its times ter takes yer home afore yer mother frets for yer,” my defender announced with his friendly, toothy grin.
At that time Glob and I were practically the same physical size. He scooped me up in his arms as if I weighed no more than a goose feather, before silently walking back home to my village. Carrying me effortlessly, he took me to my parent’s thatched wattle and daub walled roundhouse where he gently placed me down on the ground just outside the door, before disappearing unannounced and unnoticed as rapidly as he had first appeared.
It was to be several summers before Glob and I met again.
The summer of my manhood trial occurred when I turned fourteen. Our shaman Yestin took me and a few other teenagers into the forest to the stone circle in the sacred glade where the ancient rite had always taken place. Each of us in turn was given a task to perform to prove whether we were worthy of standing alongside the warriors and hunters of our tribe.
I was to hunt the old wolf who had been stealing our swine for the last several moons. To assist me in my quest I was given a razor sharp flint bladed knife and a stout staff. If I succeeded, and hopefully survived the ordeal unscathed, my place in our tribe was assured. Fail, and the shame brought upon my family would soon see me forgotten and cast out of the village. My name would never be mentioned again, nor would any other male child be allowed to take it in the future.
My first night alone in the depths of the forest was unnerving to one as young as I was back then. Each creak of branch, or hoot of owl, re-sharpened my wits and stretched my nerves almost to breaking point. Glowing eyes watched my every move. Tiredness and hunger announced themselves to me. So I took shelter high up in the branches of a giant oak tree, where at least I could rest in comparative safety away from fang and claw.
I must have finally succumbed to a mixture of exhaustion and nerves, because the next thing I became aware of was being suddenly awoken by a familiar voice whispering in my ear.
“Mornings yunger, stills not paying attentions I’s sees.”
I was so happy to see Glob again. But this time he was not alone. Seated all around me were four more goblins.
“Heh – I’s sees I’s still needs ter keeps an eye on yer yunger,” Glob chuckled, good-naturedly ruffling my hair.
Still not knowing his name at this point in the story I am relating to you, I replied, “I am so happy to see you again too sir. I have never forgotten the day when you rescued me when I was a mere child.”
“Hah, mere child is it? It stills is aint it?” a grumpy cross-eyed goblin said, as he spat on the blade of his knife, before stropping it on the rough bark of the ancient oak. All, with the exception of Glob nodded in agreement, much to my youthful annoyance.
Glob gave his friends a withering glance before seating himself beside me. “Times ter introduce us all yunger,” he began, as his friendly toothy smile replaced the scowl that had formerly occupied his animated leathery face. “Me name is Globular Van der Graff. This fat one ere, stuffin his gob wiv honeycomb, is Makepeace Terranova. The tall skinny one yonder, replacin stale oak leaves for fresh under his armpits wiv the silly grin on his face is Byzantine Du Lac. Sittin next ter him, the one pickin his nose wiv a twig is Eponymous Tringthicky. The cross-eyed ol curmidgin sharpenin his blade, wot jus rudely insulted yer yunger, is none other than Neopol Stranglethigh.”
“My name is Mica,” I said in reply, as I took in the details of each of the goblin brothers.
“Mica – Mica who?” Eponymous asked while scratching himself.
“Just Mica, I have no other name. If I don’t succeed in my manhood trial, my name will be struck from the memory of my tribe.”
“Strange folks is humins,” Neopol muttered, “only gots one name. Perculiar I’s calls it – ouch!” The throbbing pain in his thumb caused by his razor sharp blade biting deep, largely thanks to his inability at focusing his eyes when engaged in such a task, temporarily silenced him.
“Tells us bout this ere trial yunger – er, pardons me – I’s means Mica, if yer please?” Makepeace enquired, smiling between mouthfuls of honeycomb that dripped down the front of his jerkin from the large gaps in his teeth. So I explained the rite of passage from child to humin man as best I could.
“Yer says yer gots ter hunt n kill this ere wolf on yer own?” Byzantine asked, shaking his head with an incredulous look on his simple face.
“Ridicalus I’s calls it, ridicalus; fancy sendin a yunger ter his certain death. Never happin in decent n polite goblin circles – madness – shear madness…” Neopol’s voice trailed off once more. His eyes almost uncrossed themselves at the prospect of my task. All five goblins shook their heads in unison, quite unable to comprehend our ways.
“Well now Mica. Peers old Glob n his party will av ter lends a hand so ter speaks,” Glob began, good-naturedly touching the tip of his long wrinkled nose while winking at me.
“What do you have in mind sir,” I politely enquired.
“First things first yung Mica me lad; most wot knows me calls me Glob see. E’s called Byz, e’s Make, e’s Neo, n e’s Mous,” he said, pointing to each of his four comrades in turn with his long bony fore finger. “Us goblins don’t have no truck wiv formalizin cep when in the presence on the grand high goblin hisself, got it?”
Glob’s ancient eyes fairly twinkled with delight as our formal introductions were finally concluded to his and his compatriot’s satisfaction. “As for our secon names; theys is never used, cep in formal occasions n the like.”
The six of us spent the rest of the morning endlessly going over each step of our plan to capture and kill the wolf. By the time the sun was high overhead our plan was so firmly fixed in our minds that we were all suddenly quite weary, having taxed our brains so much with it all.
Glob and his brother goblins knew about the wolf and his ill health. Old age and injuries had led to his stealing swine from our village to eat. Sadly he was no longer able to hunt properly with the pack in the woods. Glob warned me most earnestly that the wily old wolf, though ill, would still rip the throat out of any that thought him easy prey.
With our planning now over and his thumb still throbbing from the vicious cut, Neo, accompanied by Mous, went off to the stream to catch fish for our evening meal. Byz and Make raided a bee’s nest nearby for more honeycomb to complete our meal, leaving Glob and I on our own to laze away the afternoon catching up with each other’s lives and adventures.
It turned out that unbeknown to me he had often spent time watching over me as I was growing up. He told me he considered it his duty to do so right up until today when we had finally reunited. When I told him about the threat made by our parents to be left for the goblins if we misbehaved, I swear I thought he would turn purple and die laughing.
The following dawn saw us stealthily approaching the old wolf’s lair downwind to avoid giving away our presence. The path we had chosen followed a low stony ridge that ran below the wolf’s den. Neo and Byz together with Mous and Make would act as the left and right arms of our attack formation, with Glob at the centre. I was to be positioned in a forked branch of the yew tree above the old wolf’s den. Although just how I was supposed to climb up there without alerting him eluded me for the moment given that the wind was blowing straight into his den. The only way aloft into the darkened confines of its branches was directly in front of the entrance.
Glob suddenly froze in his tracks. His leathery pointed ears swung right and left while his long nose twitched. Neo and Byz were not paying attention. Both were busy talking in hushed tones about Neo’s still sore thumb.
The next second we heard Neo let out a scream of sheer terror. The wily old wolf had caught the pair unawares! At that moment all thoughts of our carefully laid plan rapidly disappeared. We ran to rescue poor Neo from the vicious death grip of the wolf’s still powerful jaws.
In a trice we all fell on the snarling mixture of furry assassin and bleeding cross-eyed goblin. Neo’s eyes were filled with terror. The old wolf began shaking him rapidly from side to side, trying to break his scrawny neck, while increasing the pressure on his throat to choke the life out of him. To a hungry wolf even a scrawny goblin would suffice to fill his groaning belly.
Cruel razor sharp goblin blades frantically flashed as they bit deep through the old wolf’s thick fur. Make and Byz took a hind leg each and began to hamstring the still strong beast. Mous and I attacked his large body from either side, putting our razor sharp blades to good effect by plunging them repeatedly up to the hilt through the old wolf’s ribs, searching for a vital spot.
Meanwhile Glob attacked head-on. He hurled himself at the wolf’s great head, savagely stabbing the powerful creature’s cataract filled eyes with his knife with one hand, while hanging on desperately with the other to its thick mane of coarse fur. Our battle had now turned from ancient humin manhood rite into a rescue mission to save our compatriot Neo from a savage death between the jaws of this awesome killing machine.
By mid morn the battle reached its bloody end. Neo lay quietly moaning in the blood soaked grass, his crossed eyes were still rolling in his head. Make and Byz applied honeycomb to all of our many wounds, courtesy of the old wolf’s teeth and claws. Mous bound a poultice of herbs and fresh sphagnum moss around Glob’s hand. In the battle it had been savagely bitten, before the wolf finally succumbed to its many wounds.
For the rest of the day we all sat in silence at the edge of the battlefield nursing our various wounds, thanking our lucky stars that somehow we had all come through those terrible moments with our lives intact, if not our limbs. Our vicious wounds would heal thanks to those liberal coatings of honeycomb and sphagnum.
Sunset found us sitting around a hearty fire fuelled by the now skinned corpse of the wolf. There could be no more fitting send off for a valiant foe. While he was our enemy we still felt the need to honour him by this simple act.
The light of the new day gradually increased. Low lying fog rolled across the previous day’s battlefield and us. We lay shivering in the wet grass, where we had fallen asleep exhausted by our ordeal from the day before. “Well yung Mica, peers it’s times ter gets yer back ter yer village wiv yer proof on quest eh lad,” Glob announced as he sat up. I smiled to myself as I saw him shake the heavy dew from his leathery ears, like a dog shaking water from its coat.
Our sombre return journey through the forest gradually changed to one of excitement and good natured banter as Goblindom warmed up. Each of us recalled specific moments of our shared experience. From that day forward we would always remain the very best of friends with a bond far stronger than any family tie.
Poor Neo was picked on mercilessly by his fellows and by me I’m ashamed to say. If it hadn’t been for the unfortunate surprise ambush by the wolf, things may have been very different, especially for me.
My five new brothers stood silently in the shadows of the oak woods as I proudly strode towards the centre of our village shouldering the old wolf’s pelt.
“Glob, yer eyes is leakin. Look Make they is, look!” Byz said pointing at Glob’s welling eyes.
“Shuddup can’t yer,” Glob muttered as his tears began flowing freely. The tough old goblin was proud of his adopted humin younger, so very proud.
We all retold the story over the years, often with embellishments; of the battle we had all taken part on that fateful day so long ago, when a young humin and his five best friends set out on his quest of manhood. Since that day we have shared many an adventure together and our friendship has gone from strength to strength.
As a humin steadily journeys through his lifetime, he is indeed fortunate to have such fine friends as I have had all of my life in Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo) whose eyes have crossed even more as he has aged.