Original fiction by Dr. Lindsey Scholl, Logic School Academic Director
Links to previous installments:
Part 1: We meet Thrill the goblin. He is fascinated by the Declaration of Goblin Rights, which stands as a monument to goblin pride, though no one can read all the words carved into the high, dark cavern wall.
Part 2: Thrill admits to his co-worker, Sistig, that he reads books only reserved for the librarians. Before Sistig can work the situation to his advantage, the goblins are called out to attack some wealthy humans travelling through the woods.
The dark form of Sistig’s warrior cousin raced toward the unmoving soldiers. He had thrown a cloak over himself to make himself look larger and more frightening. Out from under the cloak flashed a long, wicked sword.
The soldiers jumped away from the goblin and the sword, but they still kept themselves in front of the treasure chest. Sistig’s cousin roared in fury, dropped his cloak, and raised his sword high to attack. The soldiers, grim-faced as ever, raised their blades to meet him. Then the men the soldiers were guarding did something very foolish: they tried to escape. Clutching one treasure chest between them, they slipped from behind their protectors and started to race into the night
The goblins were naturally there to greet them, and the brave soldiers could do nothing but strike the backs of the hordes that swarmed, not so much over the humans, but over their gold. Some of the goblins were injured or killed by these attacks, but the soldiers were soon overpowered and trussed up in the trees like their comrade. The men who they were protecting were deprived of all their gold, as well as their fine jackets and anything else that cost more than a penny. Then they were tied to the trees under the feet of their protectors. The goblins did all of this in the dark, for Sistig’s cousin had put out the fire as soon as he could. After his attack, the humans could only feel, rather than see, cold hands grasping them and tying them up.
Thrill participated in very little of this activity. He had been distracted by something else. On the outskirts of the human encampment was a dark pond. Thrill knew this pond well, though like any goblin, he had no desire to swim. There was no moon out, yet he could still discern the pond’s contours by the light of the humans’ fire. There, cutting through the surface and minding their own business, were two ducks.
He stopped to watch them as their silhouettes glided through the water, marveling at their confidence. Despite the chaos around them, they seemed entirely unafraid. Thrill had never encountered another living thing that did not fear him, excepting his fellow goblins. That the ducks were not afraid was unusual—many ducks had met untimely ends at the hands of goblins.
He watched the scene until he heard a voice in his ear. It was Sistig’s
“What are you looking at?”
“Sure looks like it. Should I tell the chief you were looking at nothing while we all work?”
Thrill turned to glare at him as the ducks flew off. “You would have to admit that you were watching me look at nothing.”
Sistig shrugged. “Maybe I suspected you were acting strange, which you were.”
Thrill was not intimidated, but he also did not want to make it a bigger deal than it already was.
“All right, you caught me staring. Let’s go back.”
Sistig had no wish to continue the conversation, either. The truth was he really had been curious about what Thrill had been watching, but he certainly was not going to admit it.
The night proceeded without further ado, except that Thrill could not get the vision of the ducks out of his head. Had he really looked at something and not been tempted to eat it or abuse it? And had the ducks really not been afraid of him? It was a tantalizing thought.
The next day, Thrill was standing in front of the large letters again. He was more determined than ever to find out what they said. His eyes narrowed. Only goblins would have the idea of putting a massive inscription where nobody could read it. Had they done it to show how dangerous—or even pointless—reading could be? Thrill had once heard that the chief sculptor and all his masons had been ostracized to the outside world, on account of their having too much contact with letters. Such a privilege was naturally reserved for librarians, lawyers, and businessmen. Of course, sculptors and masons were none of those.
So, having been contaminated by influences beyond their class, they had been exiled to the world outside the mountain. To the world outside. Thrill caught his breath. The outside world. Where the ducks lived. The exiled goblins and the ducks all shared the same world—or had shared it, rather. The sculptor and his masons would be dead by now. But what things they must have seen! Not only ducks, but the water upon which the ducks landed. And the trees over the water. Thrill had seen all of these things, of course, but only at night. He had no idea what color the leaves of those trees were. Or if the water had color. The sculptors and masons must have known when they were alive, and their children must have known.
Had they had children? Had their families been exiled, too? Thrill’s heart sank. They may have seen all of those wonderful things, but he would never know. It was much more likely that they got themselves exiled, then died in the first week from overexposure to whatever was out there. Still, there was the slim chance that they were allowed to take their families with them, or at least that they had preserved somewhere the things they had seen. They were masons, after all. Perhaps they had even preserved the Declaration itself by carving it into some rock or tree.
Would it be possible to find evidence of them? How would he do it? Thrill’s mind whirled with excitement. What if he himself were exiled? Then he could find out what they left behind. His mind leapt from desperate imaginings to possibilities to certainties. Of course they would have recorded the Declaration somewhere. And of course he would be the one to find it. All he had to do was leave the mountain.
Could he do it? Could he leave the colony without incurring suspicion? Goblins did not look kindly upon other goblins leaving; there were too many precious secrets that could be lost. On the rare occasion when a goblin had ventured forth to the outside world, he had been hauled back in again by the brute squad, who brutally ensured that he would not travel again. No, to leave under suspicion would be a death sentence or worse.
Was it possible to get himself exiled, as the sculptors had done? Exile was not common. The only reason these ancestors had been exiled was that even goblins had a conscience about commissioning a work and then killing the workers. How, then, to get himself exiled? To walk that fine line between making himself distasteful and keeping himself alive?
The answer occurred to him that night as he stocked the shelves.
To be continued…
Part 4: Thrill begins to annoy the goblins.