The Trouble with Goblins

Robert Stahl

Wyld FLASH January 7th 2022

“What should we do with the body?” the goblin Sulphur said, releasing her hold on the victim’s neck. She was panting with excitement from the kill, her scaly chest heaving, fresh blood congealing under her long, jagged nails. The man in the scarlet cloak flopped to the stone floor with a sickening whump.

The last few minutes had been quite confusing. One moment she and her sisters had locked away in their limbo-like prison, where they’d spent the last thousand years thanks to an evil witch. The next, they’d found themselves whisked away through a portal to this cold room in what appeared to be a castle. Even though their banishment was now at an end, Sulphur couldn’t help herself. Her murderous instincts took over when she stepped out of the portal and saw the man in the scarlet cloak. The attack was swift, brutal, and thorough. Now, the choked man stared out blankly at the ceiling. Whatever he seemed to be looking at, it wasn’t anything on this plane of existence.

“Let’s gobble him up,” Gravel said, her scratchy voice echoing off the brick walls of the chamber. She began to dance, her arms making circles in the air above her upturned snout, her feet pounding out a rhythmic tattoo on the floor. “Feast on his shank. Strip his skin and sizzle it like bacon. Fricassee his heart with turnips and vinegar.”

That’s your answer for everything, Sulphur wanted to say, gawking at her sister’s plump hips. Their banishment had done nothing to diminish Gravel’s waistline—she could certainly stand to lose a pound or two. Sulphur paid no mind to the rumbling in her own belly. Right now, there were more important things to worry about. She tiptoed to the edge of the pentagram that encircled the chamber floor. Drawing in a deep breath, she eased a clawed toe out over the crudely painted line, and then beyond. There was no painful zap, no mystical bolt of energy striking her from the blue. She stepped out of the circle and exhaled. At last, they were free.

“Let’s lick him and kiss him,” said Dungwort, who had crawled up onto the fallen man’s body. Her forked tongue slithered down his earlobe. “Love him and grope him and do many dirty things to him.” Her fingers tangled in the curls of his long, white beard. She worked her hands down his torso and between his legs. The folds of the man’s cloak flipped open as she reached inside. “Oy, sisters. We do love a stiff one, don’t we?”

“Enough!” Sulphur clapped her hands. The sharp retort echoed off the castle walls. Her sisters turned their eyes in her direction, their mouths agape. “Leave him be.”

“Why?” her sisters cried.

“We are hungry!” Gravel wailed.

“We are horny!” Dungwort moaned.

Sulphur made her way to the rear of the chamber. The air was rich with the tang of herbs and flowers wafting out from several glass jars. Her hands fluttered over brightly colored beakers and vials on the shelves. This was what humans called a laboratory. It was a place of science and magic. “Clearly our dead friend was a man of great power. Think about it, sisters. He ended our banishment. He pulled us to this place. This was no mere wizard. Perhaps his body will be worth something.”

She stopped in front of a wall that served as a library. The shelves were lined with hundreds of books. She pulled one down and opened it. A tiny cloud of dust puffed up from the yellowed pages.

“What does it say?” Gravel said, drawing closer to Sulphur.

“Tell us, tell us,” Dungwort said, following suit.

Sulphur’s eyes grew wide. “Spells,” she gasped. “More than I’ve ever seen.”

With every turned page, more spells revealed themselves. There were spells for persuasion. Spells for beauty. Spells for power.

“Here,” Sulphur said, smoothing out the page. “This is what we need.” Her pointed ears twitched with excitement. “A duplication spell.”

Her sisters stared at her blankly.

Sulphur sighed. “Need I remind you, we are unable to reproduce, as we are all females? Need I also remind you of a certain incident that eradicated all goblin males?” She turned her piercing red eyes to her portly sister.

Gravel stared nervously at the ground. The green skin of her cheeks darkened as she blushed. “I said I was sorry.”

“Nevertheless,” Sulphur said. “With these spells, I can double our number. Nay, I can triple them, and more.”

The dumb expressions on her sisters’ faces told Sulphur they had no idea what she was talking about. Indeed, a spindle of drool dripped from the corner of Dungwort’s mouth.

“What I’m telling you is that our dead friend has provided us the tools to make ourselves legion. Think of it: an entire goblin army! Thousands upon thousands of us razing this world to the ground. Under our fearsome might, all we desire will be ours.”

“Food!” Gravel said.

“Men!” Dungwort added.

“Everything!” Sulphur shouted.

“Then it’s lucky for mankind that I’m here to stop you,” a voice said from across the room.

The goblins jumped all at once. 

It was their corpse, the man in the scarlet cloak. He was floating in the air several feet above the ground. He was hale and hearty, like he’d never been attacked at all. The gouges on his neck were healed. His eyes were no longer bulging with the onset of his painful death. Now they shone with a bright intensity, his irises bursting with sparking light.

“But how…” Sulphur said.

“I’d hardly be known as Merlin the Great if I was unable to cast a simple illusion spell, now would I?”

The magician made a series of quick, nimble movements with his hands. Golden energy pulsed from his fingertips and leaped across the room. Before the goblins could defend themselves, the energy transformed into golden ropes, which bound the goblins where they stood. The ropes crackled and sizzled against the goblins’ skins.

With another wave of the magician’s hands, a fire ignited across the room. Until now, this corner had been drenched in shadows. The goblins could clearly see the stacked pile of kindling that fed the fire, and the large iron cauldron that sat above it.

“You see, I’ve discovered a spell that will bring me immortality,” the magician said. “The main ingredient is ictythin, a substance that’s found only in one place—the marrow of goblin bones. It’s extracted with the application of heat. Excessive heat, to be exact.”

“No!” the goblins shrieked. An invisible force was pulling them across the floor. They struggled against their bonds and scratched at the floor, but it was no use.

“Now,” the magician said with a wry smile. “Who’s in the mood for goblin stew?”

Author Bio: Robert Stahl is a longtime writer from Dallas—an advertising copywriter by day, and a fiction writer by night. His work has appeared in about a dozen different paid publications, including Crystal Lake Publishing and Whispers from the Abyss

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