|Tales of The White Goblin|
TWG and the Dragon Riders
It had been several years since his departure from his human life. Now as he surveyed the lands, from astride Melnir, he wondered how he was to make contact with the other tribes in the area. In his earlier years, The White Goblin, heir to all goblin lands, he had never made any contact with the local tribes. Not that he was unwilling, he was very eager to make new friends among the locality but the wizard, Athlanius had insisted he learned the rules and how-to of being king of all goblins. It was worth the wait as now he could explore his world freely.
He’d woken up at sunrise, ordered up a few jugs of hot water, bathed, had his breakfast and left with Melnir. He had insisted no one was to call on him unless it was of the utmost importance. In between his teachings with Athlanius, he had often stolen off to see Melnir. She had a cavern near his palace. She was his best friend. She was not pewter anymore but a very striking color of gold, speckled with white, diamond blue eyes and a wingspan that was as big and wide as circus tents. She was a sight to behold and when she moved; it was as though she were the sun and everything else held second place.
Soaring about in the clouds, he became aware of someone following him. When he asked Melnir to stop at the next peak, she had mentioned that she knew there was someone following but did not want to alarm him. As she lowered herself onto the next peak, she curled her tail protectively around his waist as he unmounted and stood waiting in the snow.
As the stranger neared, he saw that it was a green dragon and sitting between its wings was young man. The dragon was reined with ebony tackle and a leather saddle. He looked about the same age as him, had long curly hair, was dressed in leathers dyed orange and green, and he wore furry boots of pale blue. At his belt, he wore a short scabbard and a fuzzy pouch slung across his shoulders and a long bow of silver and birch. He tried not to smile as the other got off his dragon.
“Hail traveler. What are you doing about in our lands?” inquired the longhaired fellow.
“I was just exploring. Who are you?” said TWG.
“I am Lohahidne, Prince in Waiting, of the Dragon Riders. Who are you?”
“I am, and you may call me…eh…um…what is it that you do again?” he did not know why he stumbled on his name. But it felt that something deep within was telling him that all was not as it seemed.
“Yes?” replied Lohahidne impatiently.
“Eh…from what creature did you get your boots from?”
“From a Snow Yeti, of course. It was the greatest battle I’d ever fought! I sparred with it for hours until sunrise the next day and when it raised its bloody fists, I pierced it between the eyes with my new sword. I got it from my uncle who had it made for his son but his son passed into the great beyond and he told me I was like his son born again and then…”
As the other told his mighty tale of adventure and heroism, TWG tried not to yawn. No matter how interesting the story was. Something kept nagging at him inside. This fellow by all appearance was human enough yet there was something unsettling about him. Maybe he was just nervous but all the same, he kept on his toes. Melnir must have felt the same for she tightened her grip around his waist.
After what seemed like several hours, TWG tried not to nod off. The young fellow had a voice that stayed at the same pitch, never rising nor lowing. It reminded him of schoolteachers from his past. They way they kept going on and going, boring him to death, he could never keep his eyes open long enough to hear the interesting bits.
It was a good idea, thought TWG, and at the same time, I could meet the king and Althlanius could come with me as backup. The more he mulled it over, the more he was plausible to the idea. Finally with a nod and a smile, he accepted the invitation. When the young Princeling heard of his acceptance, he jumped with joy, whooping loudly.
“Yes! Did I mention my battle took place in Vori? Well that was the time when…” gibbered Lohahidne as he reached into his pouch and produced an erudine emblem shaped like a dragon. After he gave the emblem to TWG, he turned to walk back towards his dragon mount. He slipped twice before he regained his composure and sat proudly on the dragon.
Just before the dragon left the peak the young prince added, “Show this at the palace gates. It’s my personal gate pass; I have two, a stalt one and this one. Mother said I should have two incase I lose one. Just don’t forget to have it with you or they’ll shoot you down.” When he was about 100 metres away, he turned around and waved at TWG, a big goofy grin on his face.
When he had told Athlanius about his odd meeting atop a mountain, the old wizard had mulled over it several times before making his decision. After an hour or two, he decided that they would both attend the feasting.
It was dark by the time they left his palace. Melnir had been as eager as he was to go. She had waited for him restlessly in the palace forecourt. As he climbed onto Melnir’s back, the old wizard suddenly appeared behind him. He turned around to find the wizard grinning at him, a twinkle in his eyes. They had put on their best finery and now as Melnir flew into the restless night, he wondered why the old wizard had been waiting so eagerly for him in the palace dining room.
Looking up at the starry skies, his thoughts wandered to the emblem, the young Prince had given him. They had both inspected it closely when Athlanius asked to see it. He thought he would get used to it but it still amazed him how Athlanius made a simple object hover. The wizard had taken it, turning it around and around, muttering to himself. Finally, with a nod of approval, he had handed the emblem back to TWG.
A gentle tap at his shoulder made him turn around. Athlanius had fallen asleep. It was his head that had knocked him out of his revelry. He reached a hand into his breast pocket and took out the emblem. It was glowing. He panicked and almost dropped it. It was cool to the touch and whenever Melnir made a turn, the emblem glowed brighter. It reminded him of something from his past. Something that was from movies, a technological device, he couldn’t quite recall the name of. But it bore the same resemblances. Tracing a finger around the dragon, he thought he heard a roar in the distance.
Without warning, Melnir dived. He quickly shoved the emblem back into his pocket and held on. It was like riding a roller coaster. The speed was so great; he felt his eyeballs being squashed against his skull. A strange light began engulfing him from below. Blinking back tears, he tried to find the source of it. Off in the distance he could hear voices and music.
The sky flashed. A jolt of lightning boomed nearby. It felt as though they were under attack. The emblem! He had momentarily forgotten about it. As he took it out of his pocket, there came several roars from below. In reply, Melnir let one out. It was like being trapped in a thunderstorm. The sounds were so great; it felt as though it came from within his head. Clapping his hands over his ears, he saw several dark shapes looming nearer.
“Tsk! How many times do I have to tell you? That’s not the way to greet visitors!” said an unfamiliar voice. It was deep and raspy.
“Oh, don’t mind her, she’s just jealous!”
“I…AM…NOT…JEALOUS!” roared the raspy voice.
“Yes, yes, whatever you say! Well, Mother, are you not happy for me?”
“Well done, my son. A great king you have befriended.” A gentle voice said.
How did it, she, know? As far as he knew, TWG did not tell the young Prince of his heritage. Intrigued, he listened to their argument.
“But I did well too! I brought two!” it was the raspy one again.
“And where did they go?” asked Lohahidne.
There was a long silence.
“Well? I’m waiting…”
“I…um…lost them,” said the raspy one quietly.
“Hah! Some king you’ll make! Imagine losing your guests! At least mine didn’t get lost, I made sure of that.”
“I couldn’t help it! I was feeling a little peckish and…”
TWG’s head jerked up, what did the raspy voice just say? His heart started racing and his face paled. Melnir had sensed his mood and slowly began to back away from them. They had gotten no further than a few hundred yards when he heard the young prince calling him back. As Melnir turned to face the other, TWG could see a strange glow emanating from behind him. The glow spread forward until it lit up the night sky. When his eyes had adjusted, turned his around to see the old wizard had awakened and was now studying the emblem deeply.
Sensing that TWG was watching him, Athlanius glanced up, grinning at TWG, raising his eyebrows slightly and said, “No need to panic, young sire. All is well. Come now, the guests are waiting.”
At that, Melnir gave another roar, swooped into a dive and as the ground came up to meet them, she stopped at the very last moment. When TWG had recovered from the sudden and deathly move, he clambered off Melnir and stood on the top of the peak. His legs wobbled as he tried to remain dignified.
As he and Athlanius made their way towards the palace entrance, TWG wondered what really happened to the raspy one’s guests. Upon reaching the arched doorway, Lohahidne, waved and smiled warmly at him. In his hand he held a letter, which he held out to TWG and bade him to follow him so that they could read it out in hushed whispers.
“Mother has finally found happiness with me! And to prove it, she has given me a task. Leave your man behind as this task must be performed with the utmost secrecy.” Lohahidne grabbed TWG’s sleeves and dragged him further into the shadows, still waving the letter about madly.
Watching him, TWG sensed the fear and excitement oozing out of the young prince. The firelight dancing in his eyes made the prince look much younger than he really was. Deep within his heart, he knew that the young prince was not all there. He knew it from the start. Why didn’t he see it in the first place? Maybe he was too eager to make new friends that he was too blind to notice. That was why the young prince had two dragon emblems and why they glowed so brightly, day and night.
Reluctantly, TWG resolved that he would accompany the young prince on his sojourn. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to lose the new alliance with the Dragon Riders, he felt that whatever the cost, he had to go with the young prince and make sure he came back in one piece and breathing. He was glad that after many years of begging, Athlanius had taught him some magic. They weren’t powerful spells but they kept him amused for hours. His favorites were Create Food and Teleport. He had spent many hours creating hamburgers, pizzas, fruit jellies and many more. He even tried to persuade Athlanius to taste them but the old wizard had scoffed at it, making excuses that he was “full.” He’d seen the look on Athlanius face when he’d conjured up a pizza, it was one of distaste. Before he could stop himself, he was heading towards the volcano town…
TWG surveyed the lands as they approached the town. The land around the town was dead. As far as the eye could see, it was only basalt, a dead volcano, a few sparse trees and a small mountain range. TWG and Melnir had been circling the town for several minutes, whilst Lohahidne and Gragnar circled the Kriegspire Tower to decide on an angle to work from. It was a small town. Not a soul walked the streets. The few shops that were open had their doors closed tight as if fearing an unexpected attack.
As Melnir made her fifth pass over the town, TWG saw that Lohahidne had gotten to work on the tower. Watching closely from above, he could see the small beads of sweat oozing from the young Prince’s face as the other made small gestures with his hands. It began slowly. From the hands of the Prince, tiny runes of light drifted unerringly towards Kriegspire Tower. At first it seemed that they were meandering around the Tower as if trying to find a way in. Then as he bade Melnir to fly in closer, the lighted runes began to move faster and faster until the Tower was engulfed in pillar of blue light.
Far off in the distance, there came a stampede. Melnir looked up over the Prince’s shoulder, her tongue flickering in and out, tasting the air. She started backing away as the first troop of beasts came stomping out of the volcano. They had the head of a bull, the body of a large beefy man and had hooves instead of feet. In their arms they held gigantic axes, each one bloodstained and decorated with the teeth of their victims.
It was a gruesome sight as the army advanced. A strong wind had begun and as TWG tried to get the attention of the Prince to the advancing monstrosities, he could smell the rancid stink as the army kicked up the dust. They snorted and grunted, steam emanating from their snouts. Their eyes glared a nightmarish red. TWG saw that some had flayed their victims and wore their skins like a gruesome trophy.
He looked back towards the Prince who sat staring out at the horde. The Tower was no longer a lit pillar. The light had dimmed and the runes made their way towards the window. When they’d reached the window, the runes began to weave itself into a tiny ball of blue light. It hovered at the window, slowly bobbing up and down. Suddenly, it stopped moving and as if sensing it was being watched, the ball backed away from the window. TWG was about to say something to the Prince when the ball rushed towards the window at a great speed. It exploded in a puff of green smoke. The window had not broken, the impact of the ball of light left smaller pieces of itself floating around the window, both inside and out. When the smoke had cleared, the pieces began to cling to the window reforming into runes.
TWG saw that they were mirror versions of itself on both sides of the glass. The tiny dots of light were beginning to fade. The message had been written. The task was done. He knew it was time to leave when he heard a horn nearby. It sounded like moans of the dead. Preparing himself mentally, TWG decided that no amount of flying would outrun the horned beasties. He motioned the Prince to fly his dragon closer, they had to be precise, TWG did not want transport all of them and the raging bulls as well. A ring of orange light began to appear around TWG, spreading its glow onto Prince Lohahidne and Gragnar. The last thing he heard before appearing in the palace forecourt was, “Die!”
When the orange light had faded, there stood Athlanius and a small hooded figure. The figure was holding a strange object. It was same length as his forearm and had tiny holes etched along its side. Before TWG could dismount and formally greet the stranger, it had removed its hood and raced merrily towards him. A bright and toothy smile lit up its green face.
“Your Highness! Your Highness! You have returned! Look at what I found in the kitchen basements!” The little green fellow spouted excitedly, carrying on before TWG could say anything. “It’s a magical flute! See? You put in your mouth like this and breathe deeply into it and it makes a bird sound! Isn’t this great? We could have some sort of musical arrangement! Sire? Sire? Are you not well, Sire?”
Now, as he gazed over the forecourt and into dawn, TWG was exhausted. He’d spent the entire night guarding Lohahidne’s back whilst the other performed his spell. His mind was too tired to take in the stumpy goblin’s ramblings. All he wanted to do now was have a long worry free nap. TWG glanced over at Gragnar. The green dragon had fallen asleep where it stood. As for the Prince, he had snuggled up under Gragnar’s wing, also asleep. They had the right idea, thought TWG, if only I could excuse myself properly…