When the officers trapped the goblin it went berserk. It tore chunks of dough from its bread bun hat and hurled them at the officers as they tried to apprehend it. Strings of melted cheese coated everyone together with a sweet red sauce which reeked of a rancid preserving agent. All the while the goblin shrieked in the most ear-splitting tone. It behaved as no goblin has behaved since the time that was. The Queen had taken every precaution to finish those times, eradicate them.
The goblin’s behaviour once in the holding cell was stranger still. It would not give its name nor clan reference. Larell thought he sensed confusion when it had been asked its clan designation, as though it had never belonged to any. This was another in a line of disconcerting occurrences making Larell tremble with fear for his beloved world.
It was clear the goblin was ill. It no longer shrieked. That had stopped some while ago. Now it sat hunched against a far wall, its double hooded eyes unblinking. From time to time its slim body convulsed violently. Large folds of its green skin unpeeled in curls, beginning to clutter up the cell, not to mention the horrendous stench these leavings were giving off. Even Gamden’s nose was twitching and his sense of smell was usually none existent.
Larell had sent Presley to the outmost Island of Elisma. There he hoped the genie could find the most experienced healer Faetaera had in existence.
Please do not let those awful times of sorrow return. Larell sent his thoughts out to the last of the Pattern Keepers binding existence. Don’t let go of the whispering life the Queen brought back to us in the early Days of Thunder. Larell did not want to feel his Queen’s mournful sorrow ever again.
Gamden began to emit a siren-like wail. The goblin was dying and Gamden could sense it.
“Go to your cave Gamden.”
The troll lumbered out of the prison cell. Larell looked over at the jellied mass in the corner of the dungeon. He stirred himself and sent a moth mail to Curly. Perhaps the goat’s horns could give some insight into the goblin’s state of mind, what little there was remaining.
For Larell it brought back the memory of his time in the ranks of the Imperial Infantry. Most of the enemy infantry had consisted of goblins. Such ferocious fighters. They were notorious for their relentlessness in battle. And their speedy breeding capabilities meant a constantly supplied enemy army. Back then he’d killed goblins knowing within hours more would come at him and the infantry beside him. When he took on the task of securing The Citadel, goblin allegiance had been re-established. Larell was still unsure how Aurelia had done it, but she was a most remarkable elf queen. She had proved that time and time again.
He was one of only six to see her redraw the continents, roll and wrap then hide them beneath the folds of her cloak. If anything, he felt she had made them more spectacular. It was in that precise moment, with the essence of world spiralling around her slender frame that he fell deep into the wishing well of his love for her.
When Elumin came from beyond the ends of the oceans with his Elnight reinforcements Larell had stepped into the well and hidden the golden sequins of his love for his Queen beneath the soft lapping of the well’s waters. Because Larell saw the way shooting stars gleamed in her eyes when she looked at Elumin.
Curly’s nostrils trembled at the stench before him but he continued to examine the puddle the goblin had become. “He was of us but not of us. There is a strong tinge of them, as though he is one of their artefacts. It’s a shame I did not get here sooner.”
He and Larell left the cells and headed for Larell’s private quarters. Once settled within they continued their discussion.
“Are you saying he was made by them?” Larell measured spiced 100 proof mead into a shot glass and shallow bowl which he placed before Curly.
Curly lapped before replying. “It seems so.” His eyes went a little cross-eyed.
“How is this possible Curly? How have they managed to get our essence?” Larell was a full 60cm above the ground, his ankle wings beating fiercely, his agitation so great.
Curly sat down on his haunches, an image he knew amused Larell. He hoped now it would serve to calm his friend. “I don’t know. But it can’t be good. They have this habit of taking what is beautiful and sacred and twisting it to their will.” The look on Curly’s face was disturbing. It negated the humour of his rump on the floor.
Larell knocked back the shot of mead. “If only I knew the source. I would launch a unit into their world to investigate and stop it.” Larell, now back on the ground, hunched down before Curly. “Would you come with us? I know it’s a lot to ask. You’ve only just begun to find your place here, but your knowledge is invaluable.”
Dropping his head low between his forelegs Curly contemplated his hooves for quite some time. Then he looked up at Larell. “I can’t refuse. You could have had me executed when you found out but you didn’t. You trusted my motives were of the purest and now I trust you because I know what drives you.”
Feeling startled Larell looked at Curly closely. “You know.”
“Of course I know. I’m trained to look at everyone and everything closely. It’s how my profession works. The unsaid is more powerful than you could imagine.”
“Oh. Perhaps I should be more guarded.” There was a wistful quality to Larell’s voice.
Curly rose from his position on the floor and paced round the room. “I wouldn’t bother. It’s more or less common knowledge.”
Larell shot up clear to the ceiling of his chamber as he shouted. “What!”
“Come down, come down. There’s no point staying up there and feeling embarrassed. Nobody hates you for it. They think you work harder for the Citadel because of it. Don’t be so meek.”
Slowly Larell descended to the floor of the room. His feelings swirled around inside him. Everyone knew. Did that mean She also knew? She probably did. She knew everything. Larell turned to see Curly watching him. The goat shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
Sighing but returning the smile Larell said. “I suppose we have a secret mission to organise.”
At the casement a wasp lifted off on silent wings and headed out to locate its master.