The Grand High Goblin – Obadiah Fingletook
Following on from my previous post A Timeless Tale, I have much pleasure in presenting another from my much maligned fantasy anthology Goblin Tales.
These are stories you can so very easily get lost in as you accompany the goblin brothers on their adventures. Now instead of moving on as many of you normally do, why not do me the courtesy of actually reading the tale. You never know, it might even make you smile…
Held for Ransom
In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous) and finally, curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), set out on a quest to rescue the grand high goblin, Obadiah Fingletook.
A loud knock on the goblin brother’s front door an hour before dawn, one day in early spring, woke Glob from a deep sleep. He leapt out of his bed in such a panic that he stubbed his big toe on the chamber pot beside his bed, sending it clattering across the floor, spilling its contents.
He limped painfully towards the front door muttering and cursing under his breath, unbolted it and angrily flung it open. Leaning heavily on the old oak’s trunk, totally out of breath, was a purple faced plains goblin wearing the Fingletook family crest on his courtier’s jerkin, clutching a rolled up piece of parchment sealed with the beeswax facsimile of the grand high goblin’s face.
“Wot’s it yer wonts at this hour? The world’s still sleepin!” Glob growled as his bruised toe began throbbing terribly.
“Begs pardons master Glob sir, but I’s comes wiv a message from her magnificence, Hermione Fingletook,” the messenger began, briefly bowing low before handing the message over. “She requires yer helps. She asks that yer all travel ter the ancestor oak for a confid – private discushun of the greatest import if yer please sir.”
Although being hugely annoyed at being woken at such an hour, Glob calmed down just a little. He thanked the messenger through gritted teeth and sent him on his way to tell Hermione that they would soon join her.
He tried hard to ignore his painful throbbing toe when he sat down on his chair beside the window. The first weak light of dawn began to break through the gloom as he settled himself, lit a rush-light to illuminate the missive, and broke the seal. He looked at it for a moment marvelling at the fine quality of the batwing parchment, the neatness of Hermione’s writing, and the rich purple ink she used. Then he began to read.
Dearest Globular Van der Graff, my most cherished son,
I have the gravest of news to impart. My Obadiah has been taken prisoner. Yesterday I found the need to scold him for his arrogance and stupidity once again. As a result, he ran away from home. Ordinarily he normally slinks back when he gets hungry, and goes to his room to sulk. But my dear when he did not return last night I began to fret as only a mother can.
I dispatched scouts to find him. Eventually one of them did locate the cave where he had sheltered from a terrible storm during the night, just beyond our borders to the north. But the scout in question, Grassnit Thimblefoot, found nought but Obadiah’s fine clothes and boots. Pinned to his best jerkin dear Globular was a note.
It simply said that if I wished to see him alive and well, I must deliver a ransom of one thousand rubies to the mountain top abode of Baron Cragwit Grimbledoff before the next moon begins.
Cragwit thoroughly despises my first born for his petulance and weaknesses, which I can entirely understand; I don’t like him much myself. Obadiah does tend to upset everyone with his arrogance and childish outbursts.
Cragwit believes he should be grand high goblin. After the wise council decreed that only I could rightfully be called the mother of all, his mother, my sister Sherazid, undertook to create a rival dynasty when he was born.
The wise council decreed that Sherazid be put to death immediately for her highly treasonous act, charging her with bringing a usurper into the world. Since her death, Cragwit has made it his mission in life to undermine the house of Fingletook.
Please help me dearest Globular. I am beside myself with worry.
Your affectionate mother,
Glob quickly roused his brothers. After breakfast they all set out on the long journey to the ancestor oak riding on the backs of Yathle and two of her sister wyverns – Maeve and Iolanthe.
Glob led the way through the vast expanse of rooms within the great tree to Hermione’s royal apartments and knocked courteously on the door. Hermione dried her reddened eyes, delicately blew her nose and then opened the door. “Oh my dears, I’m so glad you are here,” she said as tears of happiness flowed, when her face lit up at the sight of her five wood goblin sons.
“Mornins mother on all,” Make said, bowing low in her presence.
Hermione beckoned them all to sit.
Bejuss flew to her and sat on her outstretched hand. “Rarrk – we’th all here ter therve yer in any way we’th can majethy,” he lisped as he bowed low, almost falling off her hand in the process. Hermione smiled and kissed the old raven on his head. “Thank you all for coming so promptly my dears.”
“Begz pardonz majezty,” Mous began, “I’z wuzz juzz wonderin why Cragwit callz hizzelf baron if yer pleaze?” Glob, Make, Byz and Neo nodded, all equally curious to hear the answer to the question. Bejuss was too.
Hermione sat for a moment in silence, composed herself as best she could under the sad circumstances, cleared her throat, delicately blew her nose once more and then replied. “Even though Cragwit is illegitimate dear Eponymous, he still has a modicum of noble green goblin blood flowing through his rebellious veins. The wise council decreed that because Sherazid was my sister, Cragwit was to be entitled to the lowest possible title.”
“Pity he weren’t strangled at births,” Neo muttered under his breath as he crossed the room to where Hermione sat on the side of her bed. His eyes frantically crossed themselves as his leathery old face took on a look of total puzzlement. “So, if he’s a Fingletooks majesty, whys he callings hisself Grimbledoff?”
Hermione’s sweet smile broke out once more, gladdening the hearts of all. “Dearest Neopol, Grimbledoff is the family name of Sherazid’s old wet nurse. No one but a legitimate member of the house of Fingletook may take the name, not even you my dear son,” she explained as she gently stroked his leathery ears, making old Neo blush deeply.
Glob sat for a few moments, like all of his brothers, trying hard to digest what their mother had just revealed. “We needs ter gets started then if we’s goin ter finds Cragwit’s lair afore dark. I’s heard tell on terrible creatures wot inhabits the lands beyonds our northern borders. We don’t wants ter be out after dark!”
Hermione smiled at her favourite wood goblin son. “A fresh start at first light tomorrow morning will suffice Globular dearest. It won’t hurt Obadiah to be out all night long. It may just be the making of him. Besides, it will take time for my court scribe and his assistants to gather the ransom of a thousand rubies together. Meantime you should speak with my chief scout, Grassnit Thimblefoot. I have instructed him to lead you to the cave and to point out the best route to take. From there my dears it is up to your courage, eyes, wits and noses to follow the trail.”
The next morning after eating a hearty breakfast, the five goblins and Bejuss bid farewell to their mother Hermione, and ably led by Grassnit, they set out on the first leg of their journey.
Because Make and Mous were the strongest, they had been entrusted with carrying the heavy acorn chest containing the ruby ransom with its beeswax Fingletook seal. Byz with Bejuss perched on his shoulder was tethered to Neo, much to the old curmudgeon’s great annoyance. Glob walked a pace behind Grassnit as the scout’s keen eye followed the fast vanishing trail of footprints.
By noon they reached the north western border of goblin held territory within Goblindom. From now on the rest of their journey was into relatively unknown lands. Soon Grassnit saw the cave mouth in the distance. As the sun disappeared behind the mountains to the west, the brave party of goblins made themselves at home in the cave for the night.
Glob and Make first hid the chest containing the ransom and then built a fire at the back of the cave. Neo dragged Byz behind him, complaining bitterly about being bounced from rock to rock. Between them they made a communal bed for all to share out of bracken and moss.
“Me’th hungry,” Bejuss declared.
“I’s is ter,” Make added as his stomach grumbled.
“N me,” Byz chipped in, reaching inside his pocket to give Bejuss a juicy slug.
“I’z gotz lotz on honeycomb,” Mous announced, offering a large leaf packet for all to share.
After they had eaten, Glob sat at the cave mouth in the moonlight talking to Grassnit. Make got out his bestest briar pipe, filled and lit it, before relaxing with Mous while Byz played a merry tune on his pipes. Bejuss hopped up and down on Byz’ shoulder, doing a raven jig as the sound of the pipes entranced him. Even Neo tapped his foot in time to the tune.
“Wot’s this ere Cragwit like thens Nit, ever seed im afore?” Glob casually enquired.
Nit puffed on his own clay pipe blowing a large perfumed smoke ring. “Aye, I’s seed him once when he raided for supplies, two summers back Glob. Not sure he’s a goblin though,” Nit replied, knocking the spent makings out of his pipe into the palm of his hand, before blowing through its stem to clean it.
“Wot makes yer says he ain’t a goblin?”
“Yer shud seed the size on him. Taint natural. No goblin is that big!”
“Whaddaya mean, is he fat?”
Nit shook his head. “Nah – Obadiah’s fat. Cragwit is tall as a humin n heavier built than an ogre’s mother.” Glob sat for a moment and then asked Nit to describe the baron to him as best he could.
Nit thought for a long time as he filled his pipe once more with a plug of his violet flavoured tobacco, lit it, and drew deep on the pipe’s stem, tasting the sweet smoke before replying. “Cragwit has a fat belly wot hangs over his belt see. He wears a long chainmail skirt wot drags on the ground, held up by a strap across one shoulder. His arms n his chest is always exposed. Heavy muscled he is. He carries a war club topped wiv a carved skull, n a sharp mountain goblin war axe. He wears his favourite weapon for fightin goblins on his bonce. It’s a blue metal hat wiv two griffin teeths stickin out on it. When he charges at yer, he always lowers his head ter spike yer. So wotch out, cos them teeths is fierce sharp! On his arms he wears blue metal plates for protecshun gainst blades n the like.”
Glob sat quiet for a few moments, yawned, and then asked one last question of Nit. “How many goblins have he gots in his army then?”
Nit burst out laughing. “Why bless yer Glob. He may fancy hisself a fierce baron n leader on a terribles army ter fright those as don’t knows him, but he’s only gots one goblin wiv him, if yer can calls Snidely Grossbundle a goblin. He’s his servant n general factotum. At the moment he’s likely Obadiah’s gaoler. Yer name it n Snide does it for Cragwit. Yer’ll know when Snide is about believes me.” Nit held his nose at the thought of being downwind of Snide. “The smelly little grotkin do stink so foul cos he’s covered in greasy hair froms the top on his pointed bonce ter the filthy black toenails on his feets. Plus he only eats bats. So his breath do stink sumink awful.” Nit shivered in disgust; even merely talking about Snide, made him feel ill. Glob thanked Nit, and turned in for the night alongside his brothers.
Obadiah was a pitiful sight to behold. Stark naked and shivering uncontrollably, sitting in a mixture of his own filth and discarded bones from his meagre daily meal of one small dried bat, he was feeling decidedly sorry for himself.
The only source of light for his dank cell came from a missing stone in the ceiling above. Water constantly dripped on him through it. Obadiah blubbered uncontrollably in his nakedness. His only item of clothing was a moth-eaten short and damp wool scarf, which he had found in one dark corner, and wound round his thick neck. Cragwit had taken great delight in humiliating his royal cousin by removing the grand high goblin’s clothing before leading him in chains back here to his lair.
Cragwit charged his smelly servant Snide, who he forced to live in the dungeon of his lair because he couldn’t stand his foul smell, with guarding and feeding his prisoner. Compared to Snide, the stench in Obadiah’s cell was so unbelievably bad, that even when the hairy goblin gaoler unlocked the heavy door each day to throw his prisoner’s daily meal on the cell floor, the grand high goblin didn’t notice Snide’s foul odour at all.
Obadiah heaved a heavy sigh and continued to sob pitifully; to think that he had come to this. A hungry beetle bit one flabby cheek of his large, fat, naked backside, making him yelp in pain. “Oh mother, please send someone to rescue me, please!” he bleated in between floods of tears.
The perilously steep path to the summit of Dragon Tooth Mountain, which Nit had pointed them towards before returning home, was constantly subjected to dangerous rock falls.
As the goblin brothers and Bejuss steadily climbed towards Cragwit’s lair, none dare peek over the edge of the path. For a tiny wood goblin to fall down the sheer mountainside would mean only one thing – certain death. Eventually they saw their objective looming out of the clouds that hung permanently over the mountain top.
They all stood on the path not far from the heavily armoured door of Cragwit’s home. Glob signalled for Make and Mous to place the acorn chest in plain sight, and then he ordered his brothers to stand behind it in a line while he went to ring the bell. Bejuss flew off to perch above the door. Glob reached up and grabbed the chain, pulling it twice, before rapidly retreating to take his place beside his brothers, standing behind the ransom.
Cragwit was roused from his nap by the sound of his door bell echoing loudly through his home. He went to his front door, opened it and surveyed his tiny visitors.
“Wot’s yer wonts?”
Glob cleared his throat and began. “We’s broughts the ransom for the grand high goblin hisself yer mightiness,” he said, bowing low.
Cragwit’s beady eyes focused on the acorn chest. “Open’s it! Shows me quick now, else it’ll be the worse for yer,” he growled. Make broke the seal and opened the lid.
Cragwit’s eyes glistened with tears of joy at the sight. He began drooling uncontrollably. “Brings it ter me NOW!” he commanded.
Glob crossed his fingers behind his back. “Sorry’s but we’s cant’s does that I’s afriads yer worship. We’s all tired after carryin it up here. Yer’ll jus have ter come here n gets it yerself!”
Cragwit erupted in anger. “WHY YER STINKIN GOBLIN POTSCRAPES, I’SLL TEACH YER TER ANSWERS ME BACK, SEE IF I’S DONTS!” Totally enraged and losing all sense of reason, he charged head down directly at Glob and his brothers.
Gathering all his strength at the last possible moment, Glob snatched the chest away as all five goblins rapidly stood aside, removing themselves from the path of the angry charging humin sized goblin. Cragwit tripped over the hem of his chainmail skirt and disappeared from view, plummeting to his death. What he had forgotten in his blind rage was that the brothers had been standing with their backs perilously close to the edge of the path.
After they had all recovered from their near death experience, they began to make a plan to rescue Obadiah from his cell. “Right Byz me lad, yer stays here guardin the chest, here me! Bejuss make sure he does stay. No wanderin orf now Byz, else yer’ll wind up alongsides Cragwit downs below,” Glob began, “the res on yer, comes wiv me. Neo gets yer club ready, n don’ts forgets ter hold yer noses cos Snide stinks terrible fierce.”
They entered through the large door and found the staircase leading down to the dungeon. The passage leading to Obadiah’s cell was easy to locate. All they had to do was follow the stink. Neo led the way holding his nose, ready to do battle with his war club at the ready.
Snide was busy picking his nose looking for a snack. He carefully examined each disgusting bogey stuck on the end of his finger, before eating it. Neo crept up on him with tears flowing from his eyes from the foul stench of the hairy goblin, and quickly bashed him on the head. He removed the key to the cell from Snide’s unconscious body and led the way followed by Glob, Make and Mous to unlock Obadiah’s door.
They all fell about laughing at the spectacle of Obadiah’s wobbly fat naked flesh, despite the foul smell that greeted them. Back to his old arrogant self once more, he stood up with a look of deep indignation on his face, failing to see anything to laugh at. After the rescuers had locked Snide in the cell and thrown away the key, they emerged once more into daylight and sweet fresh air.
With Obadiah forced to lead the way back down the mountain path, constantly prodded in his fleshy backside with Neo’s club and Bejuss’ razor sharp beak, to keep him down wind of them, and also for their great amusement at the sight of his fat body wobbling as he walked, they eventually returned him and the ransom safely back to Hermione.
She immediately demanded that Obadiah scrub himself clean with a large prickly thistle stem in a tub of ice cold water, well beyond the confines of the ancestor oak, much to the amusement of all the courtiers, Glob, his brothers, Bejuss, and Hermione herself. It would be a very long time before Obadiah Fingletook flounced off in a huff again.
As they all flew home courtesy of Yathle and her two sisters, Maeve and Iolanthe, peals of goblin laughter, combined with raucous raven caws filled the air above Goblindom.
So, did you enjoy the tale?
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