"Y’know, me’n th’gobberlin’s we weren’t always at war, y’know. A’course, dwarfs’a dwarf an’ s’a proud tradition’a gobberlin’-bashin’, but we Freemountains always had bigger nasties t’harp on. No, them gobberlin’s done me wrong, and I done ‘em back, and they got what they got comin’, I tell ya’. I learnt m’lesson good on not t’underestimate them little nasties—beasts as vicious as th’bowels’a hell, I say, an’ glass’n old man Kai-jit-see ain’t th’least I seen’a their evil!
I tell ya’, ‘twas near on two year back now, I was comin’ down outta’ th’Churlwood with some degree’a due haste, y’see. So, it bein’ less’n wise t’cut through th’wood, I cut down south through th’Fogscar—now that’s them same mountains these here tribes’s comin’ down outta’: I tell ya’ I seen ‘em there, thick as nettles, an’ it’ain’t no lie. Me, I didn’t have me at th’time the nessecaries a’baubles n’scraps n’garbage n’what t’pay m’way through—n’even if’n I did, them Fogscar gobberlins ain’t afear’d like yer used ta’ seein’, their numbers is so. So, me I took t’goin’ off-road, underbrush real backwoods-like. Suited me, but th’trouble was it was a hard winter a’couple years back, an th’Fogscar ain’t to place t’be come winter. All due haste n’what, I hadn’t much otherwise t’be done.
Few weeks passed a’hard trekkin’ when th’storm come up. Drifts ten, fifteen feet deep! Blowin’ n’thuderin’ like th’gods themselfs was pitchin’ a fit! I swore them moutaintops drifted n’swooped so; they was either stone giants older’n th’blood’a’th’mountain caught’n a brawl or th’storm was a’blowin’ so hard s’might’a knocked th’tops clean off’a them peaks, but I’s weather-blind n’can’t say for certain which certain peril was upon me! I dug in, deep, an waitin’. Near on a week went by, that storm still blowin’ in an’ blowin’ out days on end. Them Fogscar valleys s’mixin’ bowls a’weather, I tells ya. Finally it come down to it: it was t’starve or it was t’brave th’storm. So, I packed in the camp, camoflauged it good I did, an’left m’everythin’ there: an’ I tell ya it was the last time I ever left m’pack behind, I tell ya’! Starvation n’weather, I scarce could’a hefted it out, though. I waited for a break, n’I set out a scroungin’.
I come back, it was scarce an hour ‘er two. An’ I seen it. Goblin-sign. The camp all dug up, ramshackled and ransacked! An’ she was gone. Th’last thing what a gobberlin’ could sink its fanged mouth inta’ in th’whole camp. M’baby girl was gone: they’d taken th’wee baby Aggie!
Now, I tell ya’, weak n’weatherblown s’one thing, but a pappy what whose baby’s took is another, n’then n’there I knew why me forefathers n’mothers had a hate what burned like pyres for them little green devils. An’that rage she poured up in me and made me strong! An’I set out on ‘em, trackin’ ‘em through the storm n’through th’snow! An’ I come on ‘em, two three days I followed ’em, but I come on ’em. There in a clearin’, durin’ a break’n th’weather they was. Dozens, dozens on dozens a’th’feinds swarmin’ and singin’ their damned songs and dancin’ round a great fire twenty, thirty feet across’t! An’ on top’a that fire sat a great iron skillet, bigger’n a man! Them gobberlin’s rode on one another’n shoulders, dumpin’ herbs n’spices, n’cookin’ oils down in that skillet, boilin’ it up to a sizzle—little white hats markin’ their cheifs no doubt. An’ over th’toppa’ that skillet hung three cages—three! There in the middle there hung my precious baby; them gobberlin’s was gonna eat m’baby! T’Aggie’s left there hung a dog, bound n’gagged, a collie-dog she was, misery all’n her eyes. An’t’th’right—t’th’right hung a sight what for a moment stalled m’rage: th’prettiest girl I ever seen in all m’days, I tell’s ya . . . a vision. Sittin’ in her cage, little fuzzy feet buckin’ n’kickin’, her great grand mouth brayin’ all manner’a infidelities to th’high heavens! Th’mouth on ‘at girl’d turn a sailor’s gut t’churl it would! Like heaven! An’ not a moment passed b’fore m’rage, it was up higher’n before! Them vicious savages won’t gonna’ make no meal’a my Aggie nor’a that poor girl’n her wee dog neither! So, I was on ’em!
Ax up, beard high I charged! An’we fought, an’ we clattered, an’ we rumbled, an’ we danced th’dance! Th’little feinds was armed to th’teeth with cookpots n’cuttlery, an’ I got cut up but good. As many as felled, more rose up, an’ I was out-done fer sure, but t’find a high ground. Now, th’only ground high’n th’clearin’ was that great grizzly skillet sizzlin’ n’poppin’, so I jumped up t’grab th’handle and hoist m’self up—but th’gobberin’s cook pots ain’t made’a no ballast or for no count, an’ the skillet she flipped up! Now me, I’s under th’handle, but that gobberlin’ horde barrin’ down on me was runnin’ headlong at th’ hot holy hella’ boilin’ oil what was now flyin’ up through th’air. I doused them beasties good! Screamin’ and wailin’ they was! Turn’t them green-skins pink I did; what with their own secret sauce!
Th’gobberlins in’a panic, I cut down them hostages, an’ we made a break for it—me, n’Aggie, th’collie dog, n’th’halflin’ lass—an’ she barked back all manner a curses an’ mockeries at them gobbers, she did! T’beat th’band she did! We holed us up in’a cave after we run a mile’er so out. Irlana she said ‘er name was. Irlana Goldfoot. Prettiest girl’d ever seen. But proud. An’loud! A woman’s woman, right. Her doggie was Coleen, and she’s fer ridin’. Th’pair was treasure huntin’ in th’mountains when they was took—underground caves she said, old wealth, she said. Won’t long but we heard th’warband a’comin’, th’yappin’ a’there gobberlin’-dogs, th’chantin’ and clatterin’ a’their songsters. We was off again, Irlana, she made for th’nearest entrance she knew of to th’underground. We figured we’d lose ‘em there, an’ make our way outta’ them mountains real covert-like, spelunkers true. But Coleen, her paw was maimed, an’ me I was on foot, so them gobberlin’s was gainin’ fast. Them gobberlins bore down on us, an’ were sure t’ride us down but we come on a great rope bridge what overhung a chasm, deeper’n eyes could delve it was. We took to th’bridge, an’ there a hunderd feet downward me, I spied it, a great cave gapin’ on th’opposite cliffside.
I tell ya’, I been on my share’a adventures, an’ I done many a feat a’note, I ain’t ashamed t’say—but then an’ there, a horde a screamin’ green meanies not a moment at our heels I seen Irlana do the damnedest fool brave thing I ever seen t’this day—an’ that includes you, Wil. Out come her knife, an she cut them ropes what held that bridge faster’n I could tell her no ‘notherwise an’ when she done it, when she done it she let cry a whoop! A whoop a’clean joy at th’thrill’ve it all! Down we went! Me, n’Aggie, n’Coleen an’gods bless her brave fooled heart Irlana too! An’we rode that bridge down through th’nothin’ a’that chasm, gobberlin’s an their dogs spillin’ off th’cliffside behind us, fallin’ down t’their dooms! That bridge she slammed into th’cliffside, an’ there we was, not ten feet across’t from that cave mouth. Bless that woman. Bless that woman, by my beard bless’er!
We hit that underground an’ true we was down under them mountains two, three weeks on a’month we was. Slayin’ and scroungin’, livin’ by th’breadth a’one another’s blade we was. I tell ya’. I tell ya’, them was some’a th’steamin’est moments a’ my life it was—nothin’ improper! Nothin’ improper! But you tell me how ‘tis when a foul-mouthed halflin’ not three inches from her nose gives a grin as she cuts y’down from a Darkmantle’s grip. Then off we’d be again, at one another ‘bout some bickerin’ an’ fair splits a’rewards! Steamin’, I says! That woman! That no-good, pretty-mouthed, copper-countin’ woman!
We made it outta’ them mountains, and she an’ wee Coleen headed for Galduria, fer th’Academy. She had a score t’settle on th’feller what sent her ill prepared into them mountains. But we parted friends, me’n Irlana. I ain’t seen th’last’a her, if’n I have m’own way. Me, I headed south—an’ I expect I was followed by them gobberlins, truth be told.
They hold grudges! They got theirs, an’ they got what they had comin’ fer tryin’ t’eat m’baby, n’that sweet lass’n her dog. But they don’t see it that’a way. I expect it was gobberlin’s what sacked my camp a month’er so back . . . what sent me t’Sandpoint t’supply t’start with. Gobberlin’s or some dread beasty. Both maybe. Maybe both.
An’ that, lads n’lasses, is why y’don’t see me payin’ no count t’no gobberlins, an’ why they ain’t to be taken lightly. Th’old ways is th’best ways: kill ‘em on sight for they do worse’n that t’you an’ your’n!" -M.Fmt