The cold wind blew down the mountain valley, bleak like the young goblin’s prospects. He barely knew what had happened. His dad had been in charge of the others. They had dashed to do his bidding. But something bad had happened. His mom and dad had fought with some of the others. Not the simple play fights from before, but the more angry battling the goblin dogs did sometimes where blood leaked. When it ended, only his mom was still standing. Dad and their enemies lay on the floor not moving. He had tried to go to dad, but mom had grabbed him. They had left the caves, something that would have excited him if not for the fear. Moving stiffly, mom had led him up the mountain side. All the way, she had rambled angrily about traitors, thankless retches, the Wolf Claw clan, and especially revenge.
On the second morning, she had become too ill and weak to stand. She gave him dad’s watch. The golden, round, and ticking badge the marked him as the goblin in charge. He had not even seen mom take it before they left. She made him promise to return and seek revenge on the Wolf Claws and told him to follow the pass through the mountains to the Mad Barkers. He had promised to seek revenge, but refused to leave her. The pass was too frightening without his mother. Finally she had stopped ordering him to leave. Then she had stopped breathing.
Now he sat next to her, clutching his father’s watch. Hunger, thirst, and the cold bit him. Finding the Mad Barkers seemed like an impossible task. What did a Mad Barker even look like? Dad always said that goblins from the other clans could be dangerous. Why were the Mad Barkers any different?
Winkur Glovewright leaned around cliff to take a peek at the sight his hunting partner Guralan Kub found.
“See,” Guralan whispered. “It the darndest thing I have ever seen. A goblin child wandering around the pass. Looks like he is sitting next to a dead adult. You think the adult took him up here to hunt?”
“I doubt it”, Winkur replied. “I don’t see any hunting gear, and he seems a bit young for such a trip. They are pretty far from any known tribe. I suppose one might be moving into the area.”
“There’s a pleasant thought. We should get back and report this so that it can be looked into.”
Govewright sorted in agreement when something caught his eye. The child had something in his hands, something very familiar. “Let’s have a chat with the child.”
“What?! Why?” exclaimed Guralan. “It’s a goblin! He might be dangerous.”
“Really Guralan, he is just a child. An unarmed child”
Winkur walked around the cliff face to the annoyed muttering of Guralan. To his credit in Winkur’s opinion, the young goblin moved between him and the fallen adult after spotting Winkur. He had half expected the child to make a run for it the second he spotted a gnome. “Hello youngster, my name is Winkur Glovewright. What is yours?” he asked in Goblin.
After some hesitation, the goblin replied, “Ambergris.”
“Greetings Ambergris. Do you know what you have in your hands?”
The Boy clutched the watch closer. “It’s mine, you can’t have it!”
“Yes, I know. I am not after your watch. I wondered if you knew what it is?”
Ambergris stared at him for a few moments before answering. “My dad used it to impress others. It is a watch, it tells time somehow. I know it has teeth.” He gave a toothy smile with the last statement.
Winkur smiled back. “Yes it does. Inside are little gears with teeth the work together to make it work. Clockwork like that is a passion of mine. I make timepieces like your watch from time to time. Would you like to learn to do so?”
Winkur ignored the strangled gasp from Guralan behind him. The boy’s eyes widened in amazement, like he was being offered the magical secrets of the universe and nodded eagerly.
“Do you have a place to go Ambergris?” Got a frightened negative. “Well then, come with me, and I will teach you the wonders of crafting fine machines with your hands.”
“Winkur, have you taken leave or you senses! He’s a goblin, not a stray puppy. Leave the boy to his fate!” Guralan exclaimed in gnomish. “You can’t take him home. They are violent, ignorant lot that like nothing but destruction and mischief. They are the enemies of gnomes everywhere!”
“That is true Guralan, but does it need to stay that way? This is an opportunity I would not see pass. Here we have a child barely tainted by the goblin’s culture. One that I think is uncommonly intelligent for their kind as well. What will happen if he grows up without being instilled with hate for us? Will learning temper the pension for mischief and violence they have? I mean to find out. This could change them for the better. Who knows, generations down the line gnomes and goblins might end up the working together.”
“This will end badly,” Guralan stated. “None of the others will support this either.”
“It matters not, I have decided.” Switching back to goblin he coaxed, “Come along Ambergris, you have much to learn.”
***To be continued
I hoped you enjoyed part one of Ticking Teeth, the origin story of the villain of Goblinpunk. Three more parts will be coming over the three Thursdays. To support the project, head over to our currently running Kickstarter. For updates on the project, you can subscribe to our email list of Goblinpunk below.