Published on 2011/04/10

Just Deserts

Josh Sampson

The village of Ten Square was located in the Alberheim province of Heden. It was a small village of promised life, and those that traveled there were often fraught with the wildness of the locals. Yet, there was some civility in the form of the Count's men. These men were the best hunters and trappers on this side of Alberheim.

They often hunted the wild beasts in the old forest near town, where it was rumored magical and wild creatures lay in wait for those unsuspecting enough. Even so, the men were brave; not to mention, they were led by a rather cruel and pompous man of ill repute.

His name was Sire Jeffrey, and he really was a crotch to watch out for. He was a surly type, yet when a fair maiden visited the small woodland town, he would doff his cap and kneel, portraying a seemingly less arrogant sort.

The townsfolk took pleasure in seeing the captured beasts Sire Jeffrey and his men often brought back from the hunt. These were indeed magical beasts of unknown origin, and sometimes they were quite frightening.

On one occasion, the men brought in a wompadillo which was scarce in all locations of the world with the exception of the Ten Square forests. A wompadillo was a large, armored beast with a tenacity of a dragon, if such creatures existed. Its claws were as long as a sword each and its eyes were the cutting fires of a forge. They were truly intemperate beasts.

However, these were Sire Jeffrey's favorite beasts to kill because they put of such a challenge. In all, he had killed hundreds of them—and he had the trophies to prove it.

On this day, though, the men left Ten Square not to capture a wompadillo but to capture a goblin. While it was an unseemly task, there was much angst over the goblin's actions as of late. As it was, the goblin was playing tricks and robbing innocent grain producers of their...well... grain.

So, Sire Jeffrey and his men suited up and prepared for the journey. They would have made a grand exit, too, if the lonely stable-boy Gordy wouldn't have stopped them in their tracks.

Gordy was an awkward boy, as some have said, and he was not known for his beauty or physicality. He did not appear to be “coming along,” as his uncle Otto said. It was very much like he was “staying behind,” as his father interjected. Some would say his family didn't like him very much, and some would even say his family hated him quite a lot.

“Sire Jeffrey, sir, where is it that you go today?” Gordy asked, with excitement.

“To the woods, boy, now do you mind?” Sire Jeffrey responded with a disdain akin to being eaten by a wompadillo.

“No, sir, I don't mind. I was wondering if I could come along and help you capture the goblin?”

At this, Sire Jeffrey and his men laughed raucously in the boy's face, as if living wasn't enough to dampen the youth's pride.

“No, get away from me!” Sire Jeffrey said laughing; yet, he still seemed quite disgusted at the prospect of mentoring this awkward child. “You go home now. Help your father clean horse pies and what have you. I have no time to sit and listen to such drivel.” The men took off under the dejected eyes of Gordy.

Gordy went back to the stable where he spent the afternoon cleaning horse pies. He did this all very angrily, because he was upset with himself for asking the marvelous Sire Jeffrey such a question.

That evening, as he finished plopping the horse pies in a potato-sac, which his father would use for burning and fertilizing, he looked up to find a goblin sitting on horse stall door.

“Howdy,” said the goblin while he ate a stolen apple. He was a short creature, green skin, black eyes, long fingers, and a miniature potbelly. He wore shoes of leather that looked handcrafted, and his clothes were of the same quality, albeit a little dirty.

Gordy nearly fell back with a cry, but his scream was stifled by the snapping of the goblin's fingers.

“I wouldn't go screaming if I were you,” the goblin said. “I have a way of being irritable.”

Gordy nodded his head. He believed him.

“Look here, boy. I was skirting around town and I happened to hear you crying. Might I inquire as to why you are crying?”

Gordy knew somewhat about Goblins. He knew they were greedy, thieving, sniveling wretches who were no more known for their charitable acts of kindness then they were to be seen dancing to a wondrous jig. Nevertheless, he knew goblins were a curious bunch, and even the ticking of tines could catch their attention from a room over.

The goblin snapped his fingers again so Gordy could speak.

“I was crying because I couldn't go slay you.”

The goblin laughed. “What makes you think you can slay me?”

Gordy thought. “Well, you are just a goblin, after all. You could be killed by all manner of conventional weaponry. Why, I even heard a pitchfork could do you in.”

The goblin laughed again. It was a high, shrill laugh of unforeseen malice. “You think so? Well, I don't think so.”

“I know so,” Gordy replied immediately. “Why, my uncle Otto said he used a pitchfork to kill one of you.”

The goblin looked at him seriously. “No, your uncle Otto didn't kill anything with a pitchfork. He only prevailed in stabbing my brother Neebler in the behind.”

Gordy didn't respond.

“So,” continued the goblin. “You're telling me you want to kill me and be the hero of your town, is that so?”

Gordy nodded.

“Hm,” said the goblin. “What if I told you you could be the hero of the town, and you wouldn't have to kill me?”

Gordy shrugged his chubby shoulders. “I would say that it sounds like a trick.”

“No tricks here,” replied the goblin. “I only want to be rid of that damnable Sire Jeffrey, so I can go on living the life of a goblin. Do you see what I mean?”

Gordy nodded again. He did kind of see what he meant. He thought about what it would be like if a host of goblins were hunting him down. He didn't like that idea.

“Well?” the goblin asked.

“Well, I guess so...maybe. What did you have in mind?”

“Do you know where Dunovan Falls is?”

Gordy knew where Dunovan Falls was. His dad took him there often to show him how far the drop was to the bottom. Somehow, Gordy didn't think his dad was doing that just for fun.

“Yes, I know.”

“Well, get Sire Jeffrey and bring him to Dunovan Falls. When he gets there I will jump out and you can slay me.”

“You want to die?” Gordy asked stupidly.

“No, no,” the goblin said, waving his hand. “It'll be fake. You won't actually have to kill me.”

Gordy thought for a moment. His eyes fell dead as his thoughts raced through his brain. He looked rather dull standing there, and the goblin leaned in as though the boy would fall over.

“Yes, I got it,” Gordy said suddenly. “Then Sire Jeffrey will like me and I can ride with him. I'll never have to clean horse pies again!”

“Yes,” said the goblin slowly with a look of acknowledgment, “you got it.”

The next morning Sire Jeffrey and his men came into town looking exhausted. His men didn't stay long. Instead, they took to the trail again and left for the city by way of express. Sire Jeffrey, meanwhile, knocked open his front door and crumbled on the floor from exhaustion. He lay there for quite some time until a shadow fell over him. It was Gordy.

“What in gods' name do you want, Gordy?” Sire Jeffrey said, inspecting the boy from the corner of his eye even though he was face down.

“No luck finding the goblin?” Gordy asked earnestly.

“What's it to you?” Sire Jeffrey said indignantly.

“What if I told you I know where it is?”

Sire Jeffrey brought himself up lightly on his hands and looked at the boy seriously. “You know where the goblin is?”

Gordy gave a jubilant nod. “Yes, I do. But, I'm not going to tell you unless you take me with you. I will direct you from horseback.”

Sire Jeffrey sat up and rubbed his eyes. The very idea of squeezing the fat child onto his saddle and riding that way for an undetermined amount of time was not appealing. Yet, he had to kill the goblin. He had to have it because it pissed him off so bad the previous night.

“Fine,” he said grimacing. “Take me to him.”

Gordy jumped with a hoot.

They rode for an hour in the direction of Dunovan Falls. Dunovan Falls was a dip off point where the Reldin river opened up over a cliff side. The entire area around the falls was covered in trees and boulders. So, Sire Jeffrey stopped the horse, brought the chubby child down from the saddle and had him indicate the direction.

“Jesus, child, you could have just said Dunovan Falls!” Sire Jeffrey said with contempt. “I would have rode there. But, no. Instead, you take me on a wild two-hour wompadillo race through the whole of the land, where we end up ten minutes outside of town. I applaud you.”

Gordy didn't respond. He was too busy walking with his chin up.

They came to a path shrouded in shrubs and large sticks. For a moment, Sire Jeffrey stuck out his nose as though he smelled something.

“I smell goblin pie,” he said, looking disgusted. He stepped forward and fell through the ground.

Gordy looked on in astonishment. Suddenly, the goblin appeared on a tree-branch, sitting with his legs crossed. “Hello, Gordy,” he said sullenly. “It looks like poor old Sire Jeffrey is caught in a trap.”

Gordy thought dully. “I know!” he said. “I'll just pull him out with a tree-branch!”

The goblin winced. “I don't think you will have a chance.” He pointed to the hole in the ground.

Gordy ran to the lip of the hole and peered in. Sire Jeffrey lay with a broken leg and blood splatters on his face. He looked up at Gordy. “You stupid boy.” He shook his head. “Well, don't just stand there! Get a stick or something so I can get out of here!”

“The goblin said you won't have the time. What does that mean?”

“How in the hell am I supposed to know?” Sire Jeffrey asked, staring at the boy with an expression of disbelief. “You really are that stupid aren't you?”

Gordy shrugged.

Sire Jeffrey looked about for a moment curiously but then gulped. A thin layer of sweat appeared on his head, and he looked back up to the top. “Boy! Get me out of here now! Don't you see what this is?”

Gordy shook his head.

Sire Jeffrey looked to the far wall where a pair of eyes appeared. They were like the cutting fires of a forge. He let out a scream but it was cut short. When it was done, the wompadillo gave a contented burp.

Gordy shrieked and looked at the goblin. “You tricked me! You said you were going to fake your own death. What happened to that?”

“This is more fitting,” the goblin said. “It's like just deserts. Or, perhaps, wompadillo deserts?” He gave another shrill laugh. “Look, just go to town and tell them you watched Sire Jeffrey get eaten by a wompadillo. They'll believe you and will treat you nicer for seeing such a horrific thing. How does that sound?”

Gordy thought for a while on this one, and then he nodded somberly. “I suppose it will have to do.”

“Very good,” said the goblin. “Well, I'm on vacation. Goodbye!” He disappeared in a plume of smoke.

Gordy, meanwhile, walked sadly toward town with Sire Jeffrey's horse in tow.

Josh Sampson is a journalist and writer of short fiction in Northern Michigan.