Read Goblin Quest Online

Authors: Jim C. Hines

Goblin Quest

Table of Contents
 
Raves for
Goblin Quest:

Goblin Quest
is a hilarious ‘good read.’ One of the funniest dungeon-delving epics ever!”
—Ed Greenwood, author of
Elminster: The Making of a Mage
 
“Most fantasy gamers read fantasy novels. Most fantasy gamers like to slay goblins for fun and profit. After
Goblin Quest
, most fantasy gamers are going to have a very hard time doing that. Jim C. Hines has given us a wonderful adventure from the goblin’s point of view, and it’s fantastic! I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in ages.”—Wil Wheaton, actor and author of
Just a Geek
 
“Need a book that will make you smile, then grin, then laugh out loud? If your tickle spot’s the same as mine,
Goblin Quest
is the book you’re looking for. I love an unlikely hero and Jig the goblin is my kind of unlikely love! New kid Jim C. Hines is already an expert at the unlikely but lovable . . . who could beat Jig’s pet/ sidekick/companion animal Smudge, the fire-spider? Bonus 1: How to manage when your companion animal sets your hair on fire. Bonus 2: How to choose the right god to pray to. Bonus 3: Why you should never challenge a goblin to a duel.—I’m still laughing.”
—Janet Kagan, Hugo-winning author of
Hellspark
and
Uhura’s Song
 
“If you’ve always kinda rooted for the little guy, even maybe had a bit of a place in your heart for the likes of Gollum, rather than the Boromirs and Gandalfs of the world, pick up
Goblin Quest
—just make sure you keep well away from Golaka’s stewpot.”—
The SF Site
 
“This exciting adult fairy tale is filled with adventure and action, but the keys to the fantasy are Jig and the belief that the mythological creatures are real in the realm of Jim C. Hines.”—
Midwest Book Reviews
Copyright © 2005, 2006 by Jim C. Hines.
All Rights Reserved.
 
 
DAW Book Collectors No. 1383.
 
DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA).
 
All characters in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
 
 
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First paperback printing, November 2006
eISBN : 978-1-101-09857-8
DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REGISTRADA
HECHO EN U.S.A.
 
 
S.A .

http://us.penguingroup.com

“We may be outnumbered. They may have magic and muscle on their side. But we’re goblins! We’re tough, we’re mean, and we’re more than a match for a few so-called heroes. Some of us will die, but for the survivors, this will be a victory to live forever in goblin memories.”
 
—Goblin captain (name unknown), shortly before his death by multiple stab wounds to the back.
CHAPTER 1
Muck Duty
Jig hated muck duty.
He didn’t mind the actual work. He liked the metallic smell of the distillation room, where week-old blood and toadstool residue dried in their trays. He never complained about having to scrape the pans as clean as possible and mix the residue with boiled fat, spiderwebs, and a dark green broth that smelled of rotting plants. He liked the way it all went from a lumpy soup to a smooth, gelatinous slime as he forced his stirring stick around and around in the giant bowl.
Walking around with the muck pot hanging awkwardly from his shoulder as he doled out gobs of the slow-burning stuff wasn’t so bad either. True, if he got careless, it would be easy to splatter a bit of muck onto his skin. Even when it wasn’t lit, the mixture could raise blisters in a matter of seconds. When burning, the yellow and green flames were almost impossible to extinguish, which was why they used muck to light the lair. But Jig was careful, and unlike most muck workers, he had survived for several years with all his fingers intact.
Jig would have been perfectly happy if he weren’t the only goblin his age who still got stuck with muck duty. It was a job for children. Goblins Jig’s age were supposed to be warriors, but the few times Jig had gone on patrol had only sealed his reputation as the clumsy runt of his generation.
He adjusted the thin handle on his shoulder. The goblin lair held forty-six fire bowls. Each one was little more than a hole in the dark red obsidian of the walls, with a palm-size depression at the bottom to hold two days’ worth of muck. Jig squinted at the fourth fire bowl, the last in the corridor that led out of the distillation room and into the main cavern.
To Jig the flame was nothing but a blur. He could bring the fire into better focus by squinting, but that required him to put his face closer to the fire than he liked. The triangle of flame flickered as his breath touched it. The bowl was nearly empty. Whoever made the rounds yesterday had been lazy, and Jig would have to relight many of the bowls before he was done.
“Lazy children,” he muttered angrily. He dipped a metal spatula into the muck pot and carefully scooped out a large blob. This he scraped into the dying fire bowl, where the flame whooshed and grew as it touched new fuel. He scraped as much muck from the spatula as he could, then extinguished it in the sack of sand on his belt. It wouldn’t do to return a still-burning spatula to his pot.
He passed into the main cavern, a roughly circular, high-ceilinged cave of hard obsidian. The walls felt greasy to the touch, the polish of the rock hidden beneath years of grime. While the muck fires gave off very little smoke, several centuries of “very little” had led to a blackened, soot-covered ceiling. The sweaty odor of five hundred goblins mixed with the powerful scent of Golaka’s cooking. Jig’s mouth began to water as he smelled a batch of pickled toadstools boiling in Golaka’s great cauldron.
Jig kept close to the wall as he worked. The faster he could finish his duties, the sooner he could eat.
But the other goblins weren’t going to make things easy. Five or six large goblins stood bunched around the closest fire bowl, watching him. Jig’s pointed ears twitched. He was too nearsighted to make out who was waiting there, but he could hear their amused whispers. Porak and his friends. This was going to hurt.
He thought about starting with the other side of the cavern. If he worked his way around to Porak’s spot, which would take at least an hour, maybe they would get bored and go away.
“And maybe Porak will make me honorary captain of his patrol,” Jig muttered. More likely they would circle around to meet him, and whatever they planned would be worse for having to make the effort.
Jig hunched lower and walked toward the group. Most of them were still eating, he noticed, and he tried to ignore his hunger. Porak grinned as Jig approached. Long fangs curved up toward his eyes, and his ears quivered with amusement. Several of his friends chuckled. Nobody moved out of the way.
“Cousin Jig. Muck duty, is it?” Porak asked. He scratched his bulbous nose with a clawed finger. “How long before you’re ready for
real
work?”
“Real work?” He kept out of their reach, ready at any moment to continue the long goblin tradition of running away.
“Glory, fighting, and bloodshed.” The goblins puffed up like rock lizards competing for a mate. Porak smiled, a warning sign if ever there was one. “We want you to come along on patrol.”
“I can’t.” He held up the muck bucket. “I’ve barely started.”
Porak laughed. “That can wait until they mix up a new batch of muck, one that hasn’t been contaminated.”
Jig watched Porak closely, trying to guess what that laugh meant. “The muck is fine,” he said cautiously.
Fingers seized Jig’s arms from behind. He squealed and twisted, but that only made the claws dig deeper. Stupid! He had been so intent on Porak that he ignored the others. “What are you doing?”
Porak held up a black rat by the tail. “Look at that,” he said. “I don’t know who’s more frightened, the rat or the runt.”
The goblins laughed as the rat flipped and jumped, trying to free itself. Jig forced himself to relax. They wanted him to struggle like the rat.
Porak stepped closer. “Everyone knows rat fur makes the fire bowls smell awful. A shame someone let this one into the mix.”
The rat struggled harder, prompting more laughter. The hands holding Jig relaxed. As fast as he could, Jig grabbed his spatula and flicked muck over his shoulder. A few drops landed on his arm, and he cringed as the skin blistered. But the goblin behind him took a far worse splash in the face. He howled and tried to wipe the muck off.

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