Goblinque called out to Derek, Evelyn, and William, Were you watching?
Aye… Derek said.
Why won’t Cheryl sleep at night? Evelyn asked. I put her in the crib and leave her alone, and she just cries…
“This is important, Evelyn. Were you watching the competition?” Goblinque asked.
“Yes, I saw. The only way I can get Cheryl to sleep is if I cuddle with her!”
William asked, “What did I miss?”
“You weren’t watching the competition?” Derek asked.
“Hell no, I couldn’t care less.”
Goblinque said, “This Eriq Winter threw blue fire…”
Derek said, “Blue fire, old man.”
“I hate sleeping with Cheryl,” Evelyn said. “She drools all over everything. A couple of times, she’s turned into a python in the middle of the night and wrapped herself around my leg and squeezed.”
“She’s got a death grip,” Derek said with a smile.
Goblinque howled, “Blue fire!”
William nodded. “What about Byron? He said he was going to attend this year.”
“Yes, Byron can pass for a warlock, and he did attend.”
“Well, what did he say?” Evelyn asked.
Goblinque whispered, “This Eriq Winter is going to save this blue fire for me especially. For me!”
Derek smiled. “Perhaps Evelyn and my goblins will get to him first.”
“We need to assert ourselves,” Goblinque said. “We need to start a war. A big enough war to draw the warlocks out of their stinking towers.”
William said, “Agreed.”
Evelyn sighed. “You know it means slaughtering peasants.”
“So we slaughter peasants,” Derek said.
Evelyn barked. “Derek!”
Goblinque said, “There’s no other way to draw them out…”
“If we torture just a few badly enough, it’ll draw them out,” William said. “We don’t have to slaughter hundreds or thousands.”
Evelyn let out a low grumble. “I would rather torture a few than slaughter by the village.”
“Agreed. We send them to Hell then we send them to whatever afterlife they’re due,” Derek said.
Evelyn shook her head.
Derek said, “Cheryl said, ‘Papa,’ a few days ago.”
Evelyn’s eyes open wide. “She did not!”
“She did. I was going to tell you…”
Evelyn shook her head. “Well, she said, ‘Mama,’ five days ago.”
William said, “You lie! You would have said something!”
“She said, ‘Mama.’ She’s said it twice now.”
William smiled. “Oh, yes, she’s said, ‘Unkie William,’ three times.”
“What’s the plan, Goblinque?” Derek asked.
“I imagine small roving bands will be best. Invade small villages one by one. Force them to pay taxes to me, or we kill a few of their firstborn. We shall have to hit farms too.”
Derek nodded. “Small roving bands is best. Apply a two-tiered methodology: small bands with minor wards to draw out small forces of warlocks with a second tier of larger groups to engage the warlocks we do draw out.”
Evelyn said, “What?”
Goblinque said, “He’s right.”
“You spent too much time in school the last few years, Derek,” William said.
“I don’t even know what he’s saying half the time lately,” Evelyn said.
Derek laughed. “That’s because I’ve been trying to teach you Mandarin.”
“Is that what that is? Where did you learn it?”
“A traveling monk,” Derek said. “His name is Hsin Lee. He decided he wanted to explore the world, and over a great many mugs of ale, I convinced him to take up residence locally.”
William said, “You met a traveling monk, and you didn’t tell us?”
“He claims to be a grand master of some unarmed combat. He said he could teach me, for the right fee. He cracked a wooden table in half with the butt of his hand.”
William said, “Well, that’s useful. Did you tell him tables don’t fight back?”
“It was a very thick table. And he mostly only speaks Mandarin. He sort of projects when he talks, so I can understand him in my mind. He talks; I listen.”
Evelyn said, “Why haven’t I met him? Invite him over for dinner!”
“I was going to… He and I haven’t made an arrangement for his fee yet to teach me.”
Goblinque said, “You have offered him gold?”
“Well, he said he wanted a virgin, and I tried to explain to him that he had to find his own virgin. I showed him some gold, and he just said, ‘a virgin!'”
William laughed. “I must meet him!”
Evelyn said, “Christy is still a virgin I think.”
Derek nodded his head and opened his eyes wider. “She might be. She turned, what 17, last week?”
“She turned 18!” William exclaimed.
Goblinque smiled. “Perhaps instead of offering the gold to Hsin, you could offer the gold to Christy.”
“Yes, I was just thinking the exact same thing,” Derek said.
William said, “If she’s still a virgin, I can fix that.”
“No, old man! I shall offer her the gold and introduce the two of them.”
“Just don’t hex her,” Evelyn said with a cold, hard stare.
“I would never think of such a thing.”
Goblinque said, “No, of course not, Derek.”