Goblin war, p.1
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       Goblin War, p.1

           Pete Prown
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Goblin War
Goblin War

  The Chronicles of Dorro (Book 5)

  by Pete Prown

  Dramatis Personae

  At the Library

  Dorro Fox Winderiver: Bookmaster of Thimble Down (door-oh, winn-da-river)

  Wyll Underfoot: Dorro’s nephew (will)

  Cheeryup Tunbridge: Wyll’s best friend

  Mr. Bedminster Shoe: Village scribe & teacher

  In the Gaol & Courts

  Amos Pinchbottle: A prisoner

  Darwinna Thrashrack: A solicitor for the defense

  Hamment Shugfoot: Solicitor for the prosecution

  Tiberius Grumbeloaf: A truth-finder

  Sheriff Forgo: The law in Thimble Down

  Gadget Pinkle: Forgo’s deputy

  The Mayor: Leader and magistrate of Thimble Down

  In the Village of Thimble Down

  Minty Pinter: A traveling tinker

  Amos Pinchbottle: A local troublemaker

  Dowdy Cray: A wagon builder and repairman

  Bog: The blacksmith

  Mr. Timmo: A metalsmith

  Osgood Thrip: Mr. Dorro’s longtime nemesis

  Dalbo Dall: The village wanderer

  In the Grey Mountains

  Saoirse: A lady of great wisdom (sir-sha)

  Truckulus: Her son

  Broog: An adversary

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to action persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  All rights reserved.

  Copyright © 2017 Pete Prown

  Cover background illustration copyright © Unholyvault | Dreamstime.com

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the author.

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  Dramatis Personae

  Preface

  Red Feathers

  The Corpus

  Thrip Triumphant

  Death & Whiskey

  Amos Pinchbottle

  The Solicitors

  The Cell Next Door

  Burial

  The Trouble with Cousins

  On the Case

  Darwinna

  Heartwood

  The Trial

  Decree of the Truth Finder

  Goodbyes All Around

  The Long Ride

  Rotten Cabbage and Beets

  Tartan Bonnet

  Secret Meetings

  Fog Vale

  The Overseer

  A Prickly Thistle

  Bill’s Tale

  Green Slime Cookies

  Seizure

  The Chamber

  Clues

  A House in the Woods

  Like Mice in the Dark

  Mother and Son

  The Exiles

  Darkest Deeds

  The Letters

  Ill Tidings

  Visiting Mr. Timmo

  Broken Boulders

  Words of the Elder

  Thoughts of Home

  Tiberius’ Idea

  Truckulus

  A Cold Return

  Heartwood of the Forest

  Onslaught

  The Battle of Fog Vale

  Friends

  The Dogcart

  The Twelfth Law

  Tobias Grim

  Letter to a Friend

  Preface

  And Justice for None ...

  The tale of I am about to relay touches on notions of truth and justice—more precisely on the tragedy of injustice.

  While the village of Thimble Down has long been grounded in the laws of our realm and a reasonable semblance of equality, it is also evident that wealth creates power and, worse, power corrupts Halflings as easily as it does Men-folk.

  As I put pen to parchment, we will soon find our friend, the inestimable bookmaster Mr. Dorro, facing a new foe: The Halflings of Thimble Down themselves.

  In all my years as a denizen of this hamlet, I’d never felt this much bitterness towards the place I called home. While we learned much about the mercurial nature of the good and bad, it was a lesson Dorro would learn the hard way.

  Indeed, what was to befall him transcended the bounds of cruelty and into the realm of Evil—sprung from our own quiet lanes.

  And now let us turn the page and begin our story, which begins on a snowy day in January, 1722, A.B., well over a half century ago. It was a day that began with great joy and festivity, but ended with tragedy and a shocking accusation, one that would haunt our Mr. Dorro to the end of his days.

  So begins our sad Tale ….

  Yours in literary kinship,

  —Mr. Bedminster Shoe, scribe, Ret.

  September 4, 1775, A.B.*

  [*A.B. = After Borgo, first king of the Halflings]

  Red Feathers

  Ppffffft!

  The arrow pierced the head of the stuffed goblin figure with incredible force, causing the lumpen mass to explode into bits of sawdust and straw.

  Ppffffft!

  Ppffffffffft!

  Two more arrows took flight and found their targets, drawing cheers from the folks gathered nearby. Snow was falling lightly and temperatures chilly, but not unpleasant—certainly not enough to keep the villagers of Thimble Down away from the beloved Winter Festival.

  “This next one is for me old mate, Farmer Duck,” cried Abel Parsnip, the weaver. “Take that, you orkus filth!”

  Ppffffft!

  Abel sent a bolt with blue feathers straight through the heart of a goblin, made from sacks of burlap stuffed with corn husks and sawdust. The folk of Thimble Down had no love for the enemy, as just a few months earlier, they had attacked the village and killed many friends and family including valiant Farmer Duck, who was struck down by an orkus blade.

  The Battle of the Burrows was one of the most horrific events in the history of Thimble Down and none would ever forget it.

  Ppffffft! Ppffffft!

  The sound of flying arrows melted into the background as Mr. Dorro and his young friends Wyll Underfoot and Cheeryup Tunbridge strolled about the Winter Festival grounds, held in a pasture just to the southwest of the village. There were hundreds present on this fine January day, some from as far as the outlying villages of Nob, West-Upper Down, and Upper Down, the last of which had been destroyed in the battle and whose inhabitants were just getting back on their feet.

  Brightly colored banners were waving in the breeze, while younglings had snowball battles in every corner and others built snowlings and placed silly hats on their heads. Merchants were on hand, selling everything from mittens and scarves to tender grilled beef on sticks, sweet pumpkin muffins, and mugs of hot spiced cider and mulled wine. Dorro and the children preferred flagons of steaming chocolate that warmed them through.

  “Mr. Dorro, Cheery ‘n’ me want to go toss some snow pies at the Mayor. Can we go?” chirped Wyll.

  “That’s ‘Cheery and I,’ frowned Dorro. “Haven’t you learned that in Mr. Shoe’s classes? Good gracious!”

  He was referring to the school he had recently helped start; his old friend Mr. Bedminster Shoe had been installed as teacher-in-residence and classes were held at none other than the library that was Dorro’s second home. It was a grand scheme and quite popular throughout the village, as classes were free of charge—every Thimble Downer’s favorite price.

  “Errr … sure, Uncle!” winked Wyll, as he grabbed Cheeryup’s hand and the two dashed off to play and make mischief. Dorro merely grunted to himself and continued toddling through the snowy fair.

  Chop!

  Dorro jumped at the shar
p noise to his left and looked about in a combination of fright and annoyance.

  “What, you don’t like to see goblin heads cleaved in half?”

  There was a mighty laugh from Sheriff Forgo as he and others threw axes at goblin figures. To Dorro, this “sport” was grotesquely violent, but he understood the anger behind it.

  “C’mon, Winderiver, you try it!”

  “My dear Sheriff, you know I have little athletic coordination and, furthermore, that you are merely trying to make light of it!”

  “Aw c’mon, ya sissy!” He gently grabbed Dorro by the sleeve and thrust a hatchet into his hand. “Now look—there’s the beastie. Just pretend he’s got a hold of yer nephew Wyll and is trying to run off. Now put that axe into his back!”

  Dorro rolled his eyes—he hated being put on the spot—but now there was a small audience, including Minty Pinter, Bog the Blacksmith, and Dowdy Cray, the wagon builder, all hooting behind him.

  “Throw it, Dorro! Hack his brains out!” they chanted.

  “Oh fine!” snorted the bookmaster as he pulled back and let the axe fly. It sailed straight towards the effigy, and higher … and higher … until it disappeared over the target altogether. Everyone gasped as they heard a loud thwock!— followed by screams and shouts in the near distance.

  “Now ya did it, Winderiver” growled the Sheriff as he and the others dashed towards the sounds of yelling and destruction. Dorro had no choice but to follow, his face ashen from whatever disaster he’d just created.

  The group turned a corner of merchant’s booths to find a gaggle of Halflings swarming over the beer wagon run by Mr. Mungo and his wife, Farmer Edythe. Dorro had expected to find blood and gore, but instead, there were Thimble Downers laughing and singing as they clambered over Mungo’s table.

  “Get out of the way!” bellowed Forgo in that formidable voice of his; suddenly the swarming villagers parted and made way for the lawman. “Is anyone hurt? Do we need to call Nurse Pym?”

  “A nurse?” begged Mungo. “Someone owes me a vat of ale! That keg cost a pretty penny or two—it’s me special wheat lager. Took me over a month to brew!”

  For there, behind the barman and his wife was a large wooden barrel, its golden treasure leaking all over the snow thanks to a hatchet buried deep in its side.

  “Well, you got ‘im, Dorro! Killed this goblin right good!” laughed a relieved Forgo as he grabbed a mug and started filling it up with creamy ale. “Don’t just sit there folks—come get a sudsy cupful! It’s a gift from our own Dorro Fox Winderiver. He’s just gone from bookmaster to beer-master!”

  Hollering with joy, dozens of Halflings began pushing their way towards the big barrel and grabbing mugs off Mungo’s table. Thimble Downers loved their brew and, as usual, all the more so when it was on the house.

  “Mr. Dorro, I’m afraid I’ll have to send you the bill,” said Mungo with regret. “It’ll be eight crowns, at least, both for the beer and the barrel. But you can have your axe back.”

  The bookmaster stood there red-faced and out of breath, happy that no one’s head had been split open by his errant axe, but still embarrassed and angry that Forgo had put him in such a spot. He knew, it wouldn’t be the first, nor the last time, the Sheriff would have a laugh at his expense.

 

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