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.
Part 3: Thrill is caught in a very un-goblinlike activity by Sistig. He has been watching ducks on a pond while his fellow goblins are having a riotously successful time attacking humans. The incident convinces Thrill that he must leave the inside of the mountain, which means getting himself exiled.
Why did goblins have books, anyway? If only the librarians were allowed to read them, that is? Had that always been the case? If so, who had first written the useless things?
Thrill coughed as a cloud of dust escaped from the shelf in front of him. Clearly the librarians were not using the library much either.
“These books are a mess,” he said to no one in particular.
Sistig answered. “You think so? I have been thinking that for some time. Aren’t the letters supposed to be in some sort of order? The first ones, I mean.”
“Alphabetized? They probably should be. I don’t think organizing them by size is very helpful. Even though most goblins are looking for pamphlets, they forget that some of those are bound in large volumes, which are on the other side of the library. If only someone could organize them by subject and then alphabetize them—” He paused, for the light bulb had come on. “Do you think the librarians would like that?”
“Sure. That is, I think they would. Wouldn’t they?”
But Thrill was already on his way to the nearest petty official who had the authority to grant his request. The pettier, the better, actually. Someone who was not paying attention, who would technically be ordering him to arrange the books without realizing he was doing so.
He found his goblin in the junior librarian night lounge, where up and coming descendants of Orif could exercise their inheritance and read books in well lit, comfortable conditions. Coffee and tea were provided, as were playing cards; these last were employed much more frequently than the books scattered over the tables.
Tonight, two goblins younger than Thrill were gambling over a shiny tin ring—human, from the looks of it.
“You bluffed!” the one on the left accused.
“Of course I bluffed,” the one on the right responded. “That’s part of the game.”
“Bluffing is no different than cheating!”
“Of course it is! And what’s so wrong with cheating?”
Thrill gave a small cough. The one on the right waved him in. “Yes, what do you want?”
Thrill produced the request form he had filled out on his way over. “Sorry to interrupt, sir. It’s just a small organizational matter. Some of the books need rearranging.”
“You need a request form for that?”
“Yes, sir. I’m afraid so. I have it here, all filled out. All you need to do is sign it. I have a pen.”
He produced the instrument, which the young librarian took as he glared at the paper.
“Tell me, do you think bluffing is the same as cheating?”
Book stackers were not supposed to think, Thrill thought to himself. Just sign the paper.
“Sir, I am not qualified to say.”
“But if you had to guess.”
“I would say that since you are gambling, the whole point of the game is to keep your opponent guessing about your hand. So you must bluff. To call the very purpose of the game ‘cheating’ is to make the game itself pointless.”
The librarian raised an eyebrow. Thrill gulped. What a fool he was! He was supposed to sound servile and unthreatening, not like some expert on game theory.
The librarian spoke slowly, the unsigned paper still in his hand. “Good answer. What is your name?”
Thrill dropped his gaze. “Thrill, son of Werva.”
“I thought so. A lawyer.” He took up the pen and scrawled his name across the request. “I hope you are never arguing against me. You sound too smart for your own good.”
Thrill took the paper and nodded politely. “Undoubtedly you are right, sir.”
He left the room as quickly as he dared, not stopping even to look at the request until he was in the safety of the shelves.
There it was:
I hereby give Thrill, son of Werva, permission to alphabetize the books of the library, excluding the pamphlets. I deem this a necessary task given the library’s current state of disorder.
Owlich, junior lib.
He was tempted to laugh out loud, until he looked up at the stacks towering over him. Had he really just signed on to rearrange all of this? There was no going back now. A signed order, however it was obtained, was still a signed order.
The task to which he had set himself would take weeks, possibly even months. As an older librarian had once told him, the Goblin Municipal Library, Center Branch had 302, 695 volumes, not including pamphlets. Indeed, Thrill had barely begun his task when he started drawing unwanted attention. Librarians, who were normally a reclusive group, came out of the stonework to see what the clouds of dust, lines of rolling carts, and general fuss was about. Not a few wondered where their favorite volumes had disappeared to. Thrill could only point to the mess and ask them to wait.
Soon the news had escaped the confines of the library walls and into the general population. Sistig, who had no clue about Thrill’s ulterior motive, had appointed himself Thrill’s assistant. Thrill felt great annoyance and a tug of guilt about this arrangement: annoyance because he tripped over Sistig every time he turned around, and guilt because, if all went well, Sistig might get himself exiled, too. Thrill tried not to think about that possibility for a variety of reasons.
To be continued…
Part 5: Thrill gets himself exiled. But he is not alone.