“On Goblins” By Melker the Wise

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goblin

My conversation with a goblin

When I woke up that morning, I quickly realized it would be a horrible day.
I dangled in a large metal cage beneath the biggest air ship you could ever imagine.
Around us was nothing but open air and dark clouds.
My back, my feet, my head … well, my entire body, hurt.
It was fairly obvious that we had been captured by a goblin legion.

As I looked around, I saw many others who had an equally bad morning.
Trying to understand where I was and where we were heading, I decided to ask one of my fellow captives. The closest one was a goblin in rags.

Dear sir goblin, could you tell me where we are heading?

The bruised goblin looked up with a sly grin on its face.

“What? Ehrm … Th-the old man doesn’t know? Hehe …
He’s to be slaverized by the great legion.”Oh, that’s … eh … That doesn’t sound too appealing.

“No. Oldies don’t last very long in the factories.
You’ll be useful though. Probably nutritious and tasty.“

“Luckily for the old man, he met Fnerg the … ehm … the uncatchable!
Yes, that’s right. I am the grand king of factory escapes!
Fnerg already has an escape-plan, which could include an oldie, such as yourself.
Though not for free.”

I’m sorry, I don’t have much of value on me at the moment, but I’m sure th …

The grin widened, revealing far too many unkempt, scissor-like tooth-stumps.
The look on his face was grim and expectant, and made me very ill at ease.

“Oh, but Fnerg would say that the old man has plenty to offer, yes!
Fnerg hasn’t eaten in days, and the old man is mostly made of … meat.”

The goblin licked its drooly lips and looked at me like I was dinner. An unsettling sensation for someone used to being near the top of the food chain.
I had heard stories of the goblin labour-camps. None of them had a happy ending.
I didn’t really know what to say or what to do.

“Fnerg isn’t greedy, but the legion … oh, that’s many mouths to feed.
Fnerg just wants a leg … or two.”How would I escape without my legs?
I would only slow you down.“Well … Ehm … That’s true. The old man did some good thinking!
Maybe Fnerg could take a bite of belly? No?
Keep in mind that there can be no runnin’ away, without the help of Fnerg the … the all- escaping!”

As much as I hate to admit it, the filthy creature had a point.
It was obvious that I wouldn’t last very long in a goblin slave camp.
I couldn’t escape on my own. Not in my shape or age.
So, either I lose a part of my body or I die.
Well, I could at least try to haggle down the price.

Well, no. Sorry, I can’t do it. I’m too old to escape anyway.“Greedy old man, wanting all of himself for himself!
What about good old Fnerg, eh?!
Okay! This is last offer: Fnerg gets one hand, and as a bonus, old man gets to choose which one.”

I started to doubt the truthfulness of Fnergs words. Goblins are, after all, notorious liars.

Okay, well, can you tell me about your escape plan?“What escape-plan? … Oh yes! Fnerg the … non capturable.
No. Nope. Absolutely not. Fnerg can’t tell you, but there is a plan, promise!”

There was no doubt in my mind. His words were nothing but lies.
There was no escape plan, only a dinner plan.
As I was considering my options, I heard a rumbling noise in the distance.

“W-What’s that sound?”

There was no real point in answering his question. Fnerg saw them as well as I did.
Out of the clouds came two dozen boarding-copters in attack formation.
Each one filled to the rim with eager dwarves.

I never saw what happened to Fnerg, he got lost in the commotion. My guess is that he ended up at the receiving end of the dwarven frenzy. A fate shared by most goblins on the slave-barge.
Personally, I’m alive and well, no small thanks to the same frenzy.

This meeting taught me that goblins are greedy, lying savages.
…Well, nothing I didn’t already know.

Overview

Goblins live like locust, travelling from one world to another, leaving only ash and pollution in their wake.

The foul mind of a goblin is capable of cunning treachery and apparently, brilliant engineering as well. Their monstrous factories lay waste to entire regions as they exploit and consume all within reach.

They try their best to hide their savage nature behind a thin facade of fancy words and velvet clothes. Goblins however, are messy and chaotic beings, and must rely on punishment and fear to maintain order.

Technology and magic

Goblins don’t have any magic within them, not even a pinch. Their relation to magic and those who practice it, is simple; blast to oblivion if possible. If not, run.

Only a century ago, goblins were primitive, roaming the lands in search for easy plunder and defenceless villagers. Then, something happened.

A goblin brigand was seen firing a pistol in battle. Previously they’ve been seen wielding clubs, spears and the occasional hunting bow, but never before firearms. Ten years later, guns were commonplace amongst goblins, and rumours of a goblin “legion” was told in every tavern in every town. Today, there are multiple legions, all armed to the teeth. Not just with pistols, but with bombs, huge airships and all manner of horrific war-machines.

Where dwarven designs are works of art built with reliability and quality in mind, their goblin counterparts are cheap to build and easy to mass produce. As a famous goblin Legion Legate once put it: “Quantities has a qualityness all in its own right.”

Goblin sky-ships however, are excluded from this rule; city-sized and teeming with legionnaires and explosives. Just one of these things is enough to take an entire world.

Not even the goblins themselves seem to know how they reached such a level of technology. But they don’t care much either. People who know anything about goblins, all agree that there’s no way they made these things up on their own.

Society

Goblins are chaotic, wretched beings for whom fear and respect are one and the same. A century ago, no one believed such miserable and unorganized creatures could ever form an army. They were terribly wrong.

Today, goblins live like locusts, ravaging one world after another. Their society is divided into two parts. Both sharing the same value foundation, namely: power abuse, slavery, plunder and industrialised destruction.

The Legion:

Most notorious are the legions. Venturing from world to world, they turn villagers to prisoners and treasure to loot wherever they go. The highest ranking officer of a legion is the Legion Legate, who operates from the legion’s flag-ship. Only the most ruthless goblins ever make it to the rank of Legion Legate. Only the most feared Legion Legates get to keep it.

The lieutenants of the goblin legions are called Centurions. It’s a title that comes with a lot of perks, like a private airship, legionnaires to boss around, and a fancy helmet. However, this title also comes with no small proportion of risk. A centurion that doesn’t win often enough is deemed incompetent. The punishment for incompetence is death.
A centurion that wins too often might get more popular than the Legion Legate. The punishment for being more popular than the Legion Legate is also death.

The Factory:

Each factory serves at least one legion. Here, whipped slaves are forced to heavy labour and thankless toil.

To feed their factories the goblins turn valleys to mines, trees to ash, fresh air to foul smog and clear water to … Well, no one really knows what, but it’s certainly not nice. In return, the factories spew out bombs, airships and other instruments of death and destruction.

It’s a perfect cycle of violence and oppression: as the legion collects new slaves to help the factories produce weapons, the factories build weapons to help the legions collect new slaves.

Warfare

The biggest goblin invasion ever seen was the legendary Cinder War. The necronomen said this was to be the great triumph of the goblin race and the decline of all others. They promised to help, and in return, they would be spared, once the goblins were in power. Of course, the goblins never had any intentions of sparing anyone.

This war looked promising in the beginning, but ended in disaster. Humans, dwarves and gnomes all came together as one big happy family and defeated the goblin legions. No aid came from the treacherous necronomen. However, twenty years have passed, and many goblins now believe it’s time to give world domination another shot.

There are three tactics favoured by the goblins. The first one is the famous “outnumber them by three to one”-tactic.
Secondly, there is the “drop bombs from a safe distance”-tactic. If all else fails, goblins will fall back to the proven tactic of “resolute rearward advancement”, meaning they make themselves scarce as quickly as possible.

The legionnaire:

This is the foot soldier of the goblin legion. It’s well-equipped and eager to fight (as long as the odds are favourable). While it’s true that the legionnaire is famed for its discipline, this discipline doesn’t come natural. Keeping the goblin legionnaire in check requires rigid drilling and the threat of severe punishment. Even then, the discipline can easily digress to wild frenzy or desperate flight.

The auxiliary:

At the very bottom of the legion hierarchy, beneath the common legionnaire is the auxiliary. This is basically the legion’s term for a slave. The auxiliary is assigned to the worst duties, such as scrubbing floors, blocking enemy fire and carrying far too heavy stuff. In desperate times it might get eaten, in good times it might be used for target practice.

The praetorian:

The Praetorian is an elite body-guard of the Legion Legate, to whom it’s supposed to be utterly loyal. However, “Utterly loyal” means a lot less in the case of goblins, who all suffer from “compulsive backstabbing disorder”. More than one Legion Legate’s head has ended up on a Praetorian spear.

The bomb:

Most Legates favour the bomb. It’s full of hurt, it’s loyal, and most of all; it makes the Legion Legate feel powerful. Bombs are, however, more expensive and more volatile than legionnaires, and thus should be used with care. “Care”, unfortunately, is not something which comes natural to goblins.

Physiology & Appearance

Goblins work hard to rid themselves of their history. No more squirming about in the mud. No more robbing beggars and petty thievery. This is the new era. The era of progress, of conquest of … subjugation. This also means that goblins can’t dress as savages anymore. At least not those that count.

Rich goblins wear stylish togas, long tunics, plumed helmets and elegant armours. But in truth, no clothes can make such nasty things pretty. Even though they’ve learned fancy words, these words are still accompanied by putrid goblin breath.

Relation to other races

Because of their bad breath and history of betrayal, goblins have a hard time making new friends. Even with a brittle facade of “civilizationness”, their savage, and not so charming nature is obvious.

Their relation with the necronomen can be summed up as “kill on sight”. The goblins will not soon forgive them for their betrayal during the Cinder War. Goblins were to betray necronomen, not the other way around. This last decade, a few goblin legions have scoured the worlds in search for necronomen, but so far, with little or no success. Meanwhile, the necronomen do their best to manipulate goblins from the shadows.

Dwarves and goblins have fought each other since time immemorial. Goblins with sticks and Dwarves with cannons and axes. But the rules have changed. Now, it’s the goblins turn to deliver pain … No denying they receive a lot of pain as well, but at least now the odds are even.

The biggest battles ever witnessed were between goblins and humans, the two most numerous races in any of the worlds. Historically, humans have consistently kicked goblin butt, but slowly, the scale is tipping in favour of the goblins.

The goblin legions have offered the human race a chance to be part of the great goblin civilisation. Humanity would then serve as slav … – labourers – in the factories or as auxilia in the legions. Sadly, the response was not as enthusiastic as hoped for.

Perhaps a few more raids will persuade them …

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