It started as a dare.

It was a fine spring day, and the children had been cooped up all winter. The promise of new life and new things to look at beckoned them, and they swarmed around their mother, begging to venture out beyond the city walls.

Sighing, she agreed. It would be good to get the little brats out from under foot. “But yer not ter go UpTop, yer hear? They eats little goblinses up there.”

Nodding and solemnly promising to keep to the sewers, three little snotlings headed out the door of their tiny shack. Even from the city streets, the odor from the sewers beckoned to them with its promise of trash and excrement. They were quickly joined by other young goblins, whose mums were equally happy to see them disappear into the sewers. No doubt the snotlings would be gone for the better part of the day, playing the games that children all over the world enjoy: stickball, hide and go seek with fangs, and poo tag.

It was during a game of hide and go seek with fangs that it happened. Serumx was it again, and the children knew it would be in their best interest to hide well. Serumx was known for his razor-like teeth, and being found HURT. Being the oldest (and therefore bossiest) of the three siblings, Zkust grabbed his younger brother, Mux, by the shoulder and ran. Gert tried to follow, but her brothers moved too fast. She was quickly left behind, and she could hear Serumx finishing his count. “Sevin, twerlve, six, nine, leven, fixteen…” In a panic, Gert looked around and spied a ladder leading up. Quicky, she scurried up the ladder, scrambling into a dark little recess. From her vantage point, she could see Zkust as he began looking for the other children. Until he had found the others, she was determined to remain as silent and still as possible.

While Gert waited, she studied her surroundings. She sat on a little ledge, hugging her legs close to avoid dangling anything bite-able within sight of the others, and peered around. Looking up, she noticed a thin crescent of light in the ceiling. Carefully, Gert reached up and ran her finger along the crescent. A round cover of some sort had been set into the ceiling here, and the light shone through the crack where the cover didn’t quite fit the opening. Tentatively, Gert pulled her legs up underneath herself and slowly stood until the cover rested squarely on her shoulders, her head bowed low, then pushed with all her strength, her head, her shoulders and her hands. The cover shrieked as metal ground against rock, and she stopped for a moment, looking down below to make sure Serumx wasn’t waiting below, his fangs dripping in hunger. When she was certain things were clear, she pushed once again, and the light spilled into her little crevice. Popping her head up through the opening, she spied paradise.

Piled around the hold in the ground were piles of refuse left by the citizens of Althainia. Half-eaten pies, decanters of spoiled milk, broken and rusty weapons… there were treasures Gert’s young eyes and nostrils had never before beheld. She stared in wonder at the pile after pile until the sharp sting of a pair of poisonous fangs in her ankle brought her to her senses.
“Git down from ther. My mum sed they eats goblinses UpTop!” Serumx hissed at her. Lowering herself back into the crevice, Gert stared at Serumx, perched on the ladder, and the other snotlings down below. A few of them nodded in agreement. “My mum sed that too!” “Yerp, they eats goblinses! Sumtimes only a liddle piece each day!!”

Pouting, Gert followed Serumx down the ladder. As she reached the ground, Zkust grabbed her by the tip of the ear (the most sensitive part), and twisted it hard. “Mums gon beat yer good fer openin’ that!”

Glaring at her brother, her eyes tearing up from the pain, Gert spat at Zkust. “Yer jist mad cuz yer too skeered ter go up there,” she jeered. “Mum dint tell us there were treasure UpTop. She bin tryin to skeer us so we can’t have no treasure.”

“Ain’t no treasure!” Zkust replied.

“Is too!”




“You jist go look. Unless…yer a skeerdysnot!” Gert smiled triumphantly at Zkust. She knew he wouldn’t be able to let it go now. Being called a skeerdysnot was as good as being a baby. His face grew a brilliant green as he realized he’d been called out…by his little sister, of all people. He had no choice.

“Fine,” Zkust hissed, “I’ll go lerk and jist see them treasures. And when we git home, Mum’s gonna beat yer good!” With that, he headed up the ladder, and hoisted himself up through the open hole in the ceiling. All the goblin children watched in wonder and horror as his scrawny green legs disappeared into the sunlight above. They waited, then, for him to call out, or climb back down. They waited, then, for him to yell at his little sister for lying, or bring back news of treasure. They waited, then, for something… anything…

But what happened… was nothing.

Zkust didn’t come back. Slowly, the children wandered home, back to the safety of Dolund’ir. None of them told their mothers what had happened. None of them stopped by the little hut where Gert and her brothers lived, to give the news to their mum. They just…went home.

Gert and Mux, though, crawled up into the crevice and waited. It was a tight squeeze with both little snotlings cuddled up in the muck, but they both sat without complaining, their arms wrapped around each other, watching the hole in horror. Gert shivered in fear. She wasn’t sure which would be more dangerous – going home and telling her mum what had happened, or looking for Zkust. So, instead, she waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, she and Mux fell asleep, waiting for their brother to return.


Gert had been right. Zkust dug through the contents of the junk piles, pulling out all sorts of items for himself. He was amazed at the things he found, from perfectly good chunks of rotting meat to battered pieces of armor. The hours passed as he scavenged through the piles, busily trying things on, while hungrily devouring the savory bits of food he found. Had anyone visited the city dump at the time, they might have been greeted by a tiny green warrior, decked out in a mish-mash of dented and rusted armor, brandishing a broken sword and covered in swill. Few people, though, visit the city dump, so Zkust was left to his own devices for the day. He forgot about Gert and Mux, and the other snotlings of Dolund’ir as he paraded around the dump. He was a great general, inspecting his troups. He was the great goblin hero, General Gew Duckbutt, readying his forces for their raid on Althainia! All hail the conquering hero!

“You don’t look half stupid.”

Zkust turned suddenly, to see who dared interrupt General Gew on the eve of his great victory. Standing nearby was a human boy, his nose wrinkling at the smell rising up from Zkust.

“Wert?” Zkust had never seen a human, much less heard one speak.

“I said, you don’t look half stupid. Meaning…” the boy looked Zkust over, his expression belying his contempt for the scrawny green goblin standing before him, “that really, you look completely stupid. And you smell.”

“Is goblin smell! Is good smell!”

The boy wrinkled up his nose at Zkust. “I think you smell like my grandmum’s piss pot. I don’t think you’re a goblin. I think you’re a skunk.”

“Yer be takin’ that back!” Zkust retorted, baring his fangs. “Take it back er I’ll show yer wert a goblin is!” Zkust was used to bullying his little brother and sister around, so it surprised him to no end when the human child laughed instead of cowering. Angered by the laughter, the goblin lunged at the other boy, sinking his fangs into the child’s shoulder. He sighed with satisfaction as his spit began bubbling in the wound. His mum had always told him his spit was his best feature.

The boy screamed, high and shrill – “like Gert!” Zkust thought to himself – and pulled away from the sharp fangs. His skin ripped in Zkust’s jaws, and the goblin boy had his first taste of human flesh. While he was savoring the taste, the other boy took off running, screaming, “Goblin! Mama! Help!! Goblin!” Zkust watched him run. All hail the conquering hero, the great General Zkust.

Satiated and tired, Zkust headed back to the hole in the ground. Mum would probably beat him for being gone so long, but it was worth it. He’d faced his first human today, and hadn’t been eaten. UpTop wasn’t so scary after all…

And then the hands grabbed him. It felt like hundreds of hands, all pulling at him, lifting him in the air. His feet dangled above the hole, as the Althainian guards hollered at him, dragging him away from his home. He shrieked – “like Gert…” – he thought to himself, but he couldn’t stop shrieking. These humans were huge, not his size like the boy had been. Zkust snapped at the guards, trying to sink his fangs into their arms, hands, anything, but their armor was tough, and he was being held tight. Before he knew it, he had been tossed into a dark little prison cell. As they threw him into the cell, one of the guards informed him that he would be paying dearly for his crime.

“Whut?” Zkust blinked. What crime? He hadn’t bitten that boy any harder than Serumx would have in a game of hide and seek with fangs. The poison would wear off quickly – it always did. A little sting…that’s all.

“Poison. You killed a boy. I doubt you’ll see the light of day, greenskin.”

Zkust sat there, stunned. Humans were that weak? One little bite? “It were jist a little bite…” he began, but the door slammed shut.

“Tell it to the judge, greenskin!” He could hear their laughter as it faded down the hallway. He shivered in fear, wondering if they were going to kill him. Would they kill him fast? Would they eat him a little bit at a time, like in the stories?


It was a fine spring day, and the children had been cooped up all winter. The promise of new life and new things to look at beckoned them, and they swarmed around their mother, begging to venture out beyond the city walls.

Sighing, she agreed. It would be good to get the little brats out from under foot. “But yer not ter go UpTop, yer hear? They eats little goblinses up there.”

“Is that true, Mum? How yer knows it?”

Gert looked sadly at her youngest. “Cuz they et my brother. We watched an waited fer days fer him when he went UpTop. Didn’t know whut happen ter him, until one day…his head come rollin down one of ther trash heaps. They musta et the rest.”

And so, my readers, let this be a lesson to you. Just because someone dares you, or calls you a scaredysnot, DON’T GO UPTOP. They eatses little goblins there.