The Goblin Seer Snailwort Dewthorn (Dew)
In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), and curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), seek advice, while Bejuss the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, seeks revenge.
It had been nearly half a moon since Mica’s portly friend Cantor finally extracted himself from the goblin brother’s home. Despite his pathetic pleading to be fed, both Mica and Glob refused to bring him any food. Cantor had no choice but to wait until he was slim enough to squeeze his humin sized frame out through the goblin brother’s tiny front door.
Glob’s twig cousin Lim had been taken to the ancestor oak where her magnificence, Hermione Fingletook, mother of all, employed him to look after her petulant first born son Obadiah. Should Lim feel tempted to steal from either of them in the future, he would instantly be thrown into the dungeons beneath the ancestor oak.
Magical Goblindom was once again clothed in its finest colours. Best of all, it was at peace. Summer was fast approaching. The trees of the southern wood were in full leaf. Wild flowers swayed in the gentle breezes. Birds sung their beautiful songs. The plains were covered in verdant grasses, and the many crags of the mountains that marked the west and east boundaries of Goblindom, were richly decorated with flowering alpine plants. All the kinds that lived alongside the three tribes of goblins were busy caring for their new-born.
Snailwort Dewthorn sat on a three legged wooden stool outside his stout double skinned oak door, smoking his clay pipe while basking in the warm sunshine. Unlike all other plains goblins, Dew lived alone. All of the countless wars that were inflicted upon Goblindom, over the thousands of summers of its existence, started by petty squabbles between the three goblin tribes, which inevitably drew in the other kinds living alongside them, had simply passed him by. He loved his snug little abode. He had excavated it in the side of a middle sized mound in the vast western plains, a thousand summers ago when he was a younger. Beyond the front door was a short passageway with doors leading off it, both right and left. At the end of the passageway was the door to his bedroom. The second door on the left led into his extremely tidy living room, dominated by a large fireplace. On either side of the fireplace he had placed high backed carved oak settles, furnished with cobweb cushions for comfort. The other doors accessed from the passageway led variously to his kitchen, a scullery and pantry, his brewing room and a guest bedroom, which, because he normally had no guests to stay, doubled as his store room. Goblins of all kinds came from far and wide to trade for an acorn shaped barrel or two of his most excellent clover mead. More importantly, all within Goblindom no matter what kind they may be, sought out his advice from time to time. Dew’s gift of second sight, thanks to his bunion, was legendary.
He had just nodded off with his pipe wedged firmly between two of his teeth in the sun’s warmth, when he was suddenly woken up in a blind panic when Miranda snorted and her foal neighed loudly. “Arternoon Dew, we’s comes ter seeks yer advice,” Glob announced as he and his brothers climbed down from the old mare’s back. Neo hobbled her before he put the straps of her nose bag full of fresh hay, over her head and gently guided the foal’s mouth to her teat, before following the rest inside.
Bejuss was about to enter, perched in his customary position on Glob’s shoulder, when Dew held up his hand and declared solemnly, “no raven’s is allowed insides me home. Yer kind is cursed in these here parts – be gone black messenger on evil!”
Quite naturally, the old bird took umbrage and began spluttering indignantly. To say Bejuss was incensed, would be an understatement. Glob temporarily silenced him with a juicy slug and sat him between Miranda’s ears, asking him to keep watch. After he had swallowed the delicious morsel he began complaining bitterly at the top of his voice. “Curthed, meththenger on evil indeed – how dare he thay thuch a thing! Rarrk – who doeth he think he ith?”
Simpleminded Byz’s eyes grew wide with amazement as he looked at all of the treasures old Dew had gathered together over his long life. All around them on countless shelves, nooks and ledges sat pieces of wood the old goblin had carved to represent magical beasts, together with beautiful jewels, polished snail shells, intricately carved acorns and a few wooden puzzles that Dew liked to solve during the long evenings beside his fire. It was one of these that Byz picked up and began to play with while the rest talked.
“Sit yerselves down lads – mead anyone?”
After several welcome mugs of the finest mead any of them had ever tasted, Glob explained the reason for their visit. “We’s gots us a problem wiv a plains goblin on yer acquaintance wot is terrorizin folk where we live in the southern woods Dew,” Glob began, while relaxing by the fire in the settle opposite their host.
Despite the thickness of his door, Dew and his guests could still hear Bejuss ranting outside. Dew puffed on his pipe for a few moments, thinking to himself, ‘bringin that bird ter me home is unlucky’. Turning his mind back to the immediate problem, he emptied the ash in his pipe into the fireplace and asked Glob, “Wot’s this plains goblin’s name?”
“Ah, hmm – so that’s where he’s bin n gorn ter is it – the southern woods. He’s a baddun n no mistake Glob. Hows cans I’s help?”
Glob put down his mug and though for a while. “Cans yer tells us his weakness? Wot cans we do ter catch him?” Dew’s legendary bunion immediately began to throb. He carefully removed the extra-large willow bark boot housing his left foot and the huge bunion, before crossing his left leg over his right. Deathly silence ensued while Dew began closely studying his bunion. Apart from Bejuss who was still complaining bitterly outside, and the crackling of the flames in the fireplace, no sound could be heard inside the confines of Dew’s home. Neo started to fidget on the uncomfortable stool he sat on. Make, who was seated beside Glob, packed his bestest briar pipe with a plug of fresh honeysuckle baccy, lent over Glob’s lap to the fire, lit a taper and applied it to his pipe. Mous, who had sat next to Dew, began humming quietly to himself. Glob stared into the fire, idly drumming his long bony fingers on the armrest of the settle.
Dew continued to study his bunion in silence. Divining the signs and omens was not to be rushed. He looked closely at the lines that crisscrossed the surface of the throbbing growth, and its many colours. He even took note of the amount of pain the bunion caused him at specific moments, along with the frequency of its throbbing. Sometimes he cocked his head from side to side to study it from different angles. Occasionally he uttered things like, “Hmm,” or, “Well? No, that can’t be right. Maybe that’s it. Oh dear no, that’s nots it either!” While Dew concentrated intently, with the exception of simpleminded Byz who was happily playing, his guests all eventually fell asleep, bored out of their minds. Outside, even old Bejuss’ anger had finally dissipated for the moment. “I’s gots it!” the old plains goblin suddenly shouted, waking the slumbering goblin brothers when he leapt victoriously to his feet, briefly throwing them into panic.
Neo fell off his stool, crashing to the floor in a heap. He had been dreaming that he and Miranda were picking flowers in the meadow behind her stable. Mous soiled himself, turned bright purple with embarrassment at the resultant stench, apologised profusely and quickly ran outside. Byz burst into tears and began furiously sucking his thumbs. Make got such a shock that he dropped his still smouldering pipe on his lap, scorching his second best jerkin. Glob violently broke wind and began furiously fanning the air around him. “Wot has yer gots Dew?” he asked, after he had regained his composure.
Dew began dancing a merry jig on his right leg, waving his left foot and its bunion in the air in triumph, “Why, the answer yer cames ter me for, wot else?”
“Well that wos a complete wastes on time,” Neo snarled, when they all began the long return journey home, sitting on Miranda’s broad back. Simpleminded Byz rode on Miranda’s foal, who trotted happily beside her mother. “Puts out a barrel on mead, n a pile on honeycomb in a glade indeed; even I’s cud have thoughts on that!” Neo grumbled, becoming more irritated by the second. Clearly like its owner, after a thousand summers, Dew’s bunion was feeling its age. either that or it was losing its powers of divination.
Glob, with Bejuss perched on his shoulder, sat on Miranda’s broad haunches talking quietly. “Rarrk – me’ll fly over ter athk Morweth wot ter do,” the old bird lisped in Glob’s ear. Glob sighed and nodded his head in agreement. “I’sll summon Yathle old friend, n we’ll goes tergether. I’s sorry I’s suggested seekin out Dew’s advice, n I’s really sorry he said wot he dids bout yer Bejuss lad. Can’s yer ever forgives me?”
Bejuss briefly stopped preening his feathers. “Rarrk – he’th a rude old grotkin Glob, twerent yer fault,” the old raven replied with a black look on his face, not that anyone looking at him at the time could tell because of his black plumage. First he would help his friends deal with the immediate problem of Oliphant Wiseblat and then…
“So, wots we’s goin ter do bout Oli thens?” Make sighed, after they had all got home, tired and totally disillusioned by Dew’s completely useless advice. He knocked the ash out of his pipe into the fire, idly watching tiny sparks snake their way through the fireplace’s thick layer of soot.
Oliphant himself solved the problem for them soon after dawn the following day, when he attacked Verig’s young son Barron, at the edge of the humin village. The child had been running an errand for his mother Megan, when the plains goblin seized him from behind and began choking him. Young Barron was no match for Oli in strength. Instead he sunk his teeth into the goblin’s powerful forearm, drawing blood. The combined terrified cries of the child, and the angry grunts of the goblin, brought everyone out of their roundhouses, armed to the teeth.Verig flew at Oli with his flint bladed knife, determined to rescue his son from the evil goblin, closely followed by Mica, Cantor, Jasper and Manx. Realising his grave error, Oli quickly released the humin child and ran for his worthless life, heading north towards the woods.
Glob and his brothers had heard the commotion and quickly armed themselves. By the time they reached the ground beneath their oak tree home, the blood curdling war cries of the humin warriors heading their way in hot pursuit, plus the sound of their pounding feet, made their green goblin blood run cold. The next moment Oli crashed headlong into Neo. In his desperation to get away from the angry humins, he had been looking over his shoulder at his pursuers instead of where he was going. Make, Mous and Glob leapt upon him as he fought to free himself from Neo’s strong grip. Byz joined in the tussle beneath their home, biting Oli’s gnarled leathery nose, drawing blood. Mica and Verig with Cantor, Jasper and Manx close on their heels arrived a few moments later. Verig seized Oli by his ragged ears and lifted him bodily into the air with Glob and his brothers still clinging on, biting and gouging the plains goblin’s face, arms, legs and body with their sharp teeth and talon-like nails.
“Let go of him Glob, call off your brothers. We’ll deal with him,” Mica yelled, to make himself heard over the angry snarls and growls of the goblin brothers, and the screams of their victim.
After tempers had cooled somewhat, Glob asked that Oli be taken before the wise council. Verig quite naturally wanted to execute him on the spot, backed up by Cantor and the rest of the angry humin warriors and Glob’s brothers, who were all howling for his blood. Mica held up his hand. “No, Glob is right my friends. This monster has been plaguing far more folk than just us. There will be many across Goblindom who will want to see justice done. Cantor, bind him and take him back to the village for now and throw him in the cage. “Neo, will you take Miranda please and bring back Figblaster Cornshuffle to arrest him? His fate must be placed in the hands of the wise council.” Turning to Verig, he said,” Don’t worry friend, his days of terrorising Goblindom are over now. Go home and take care of young Barron.”
As the goblin brothers watched Cantor carry Oli away under his arm, surrounded by the rest of the humin warriors, all eager to do him harm, Glob looked all about him. “Anybody seed Bejuss?” On seeing there was no need for him to join in with the apprehension of Oli, the old raven had flown off on a mission of his own.
Slyth the griffin was dozing outside the cave he shared with his brother Garr, after finishing his meal. They had managed to take a party of mountain goblins by complete surprise, seizing and carrying off the fattest two. “It’th me Thlyth, me needth yer help ter take me revenge – rarrk.”
The fierce griffin opened his jet black eyes when his good friend announced his presence, glad to see him. “How can I’s help Bejuss? Need someone killed perhaps?” Bejuss hopped onto Slyth’s head and whispered his problem into his ear. If it were possible for a griffin to grin, he would have. Bejuss’ plan for revenge appealed greatly. Between them they talked over their strategy. At Slyth’s suggestion, Bejuss flew off to a particular location close by to gather an ingredient the griffin deemed was necessary. Within the hour the old bird successfully returned.
Dew was dozing beside his fireplace. A loud knock on his door woke him from a deep sleep. His bunion throbbed violently. The old plains goblin hobbled out of his living room and down the passageway to his stout front door. “H-h-who is it?” he nervously enquired from behind the stout oak door. His bunion did its best to warn him of impending danger. The next thing he heard were spine chilling screams and the sound of vicious claws tearing at the outer surface of his door. He hobbled back up the passageway to his bedroom as fast as he could. Rapidly bolting the door behind him, he gathered his bed and all of the furniture in the room to form a barricade which he cowered behind, trembling with fear for the rest of the night.
The next morning all was quiet. Dew plucked up his courage and began removing his hastily erected barricade. Grabbing his club he unbolted his bedroom door and crept down the passageway to his front door. He carefully placed his ear against it. Hearing nothing unusual he nervously removed the stout oak beam that barred it and opened the door. The whole outer skin of the door was torn to shreds. Splinters of oak lay on the ground. Clearly a monster had tried to enter. Then something caught his eye. Someone had left him a gift on the three legged stool he normally used to snooze in the sunshine, just to one side of the door.
When Glob opened his eyes, his old friend Bejuss was roosting in his normal place in the rafters of their home. The brothers ate their breakfast in silence. Glob fed Bejuss his favourites, fat juicy slugs, snails and worms. After breakfast, Neo left to visit Miranda and her foal while Make and Mous did the washing up. Byz played with his pets beneath his bed as usual. Glob sat beside the window digesting his breakfast, with old Bejuss perched on his shoulder. Once again, all seemed well in the southern woods.
Two days later dreadful news reached the brothers. Snailwort Dewthorn had been found dead. A plains goblin of his acquaintance, one Gordline Mountview, had journeyed from his home on the westernmost edge of the vast plains, just below Dragontooth Mountain, to trade buttercup flavoured tobacco for a barrel of Dew’s clover mead. On arrival he saw that the severely damaged door stood wide open. He called out before entering, thinking Dew was busy somewhere inside. To his horror he found the old goblin seer’s body lying in a foetal position in a pool of vomit on the floor of his living room. The tortured look on his blackened face signalled to anyone who saw it, the extreme agony he had suffered in his last moments before death. Beside him was a bowl containing the remnants of his last meal and his wooden spoon.
Mount quickly travelled to the wise council with his terrible news. They duly sent the bounty hunter Figblaster Cornshuffle to investigate and report back. Fig gathered all the evidence he could find and returned by nightfall after burying Dew. The wise council concluded after two long days and nights of deliberation that Dew had committed suicide by deliberately eating a bowl full of Destroying Angel, a highly poisonous form of mushroom, while the balance of his mind was disturbed. The effects of eating the deadly mushroom were well known by most living in Goblindom. It takes a whole day and night before any symptoms appear. But by then it is too late.
Whether Glob suspected Bejuss’ involvement in Dew’s death or not, he kept silent. Never once did he broach the subject with his old friend, or mentioning it to another living soul. For his part, all Bejuss ever wanted was to make Dew sorry for insulting him. His plan was simply to give the old goblin seer a nasty scare. When Slyth sent him to gather the mushrooms, and later on his instructions, leave them on the stool while he issued his terrible cry and tore at the door with his sharp talons, the old raven honestly had no idea just how lethal the mushrooms were. Either way, he never again took revenge on another living soul for the rest of his days. Plus it would be some time before he asked Slyth for help of a personal nature in the future.
Revenge is always a dish best served cold…