by Jamie Gergen
honey-bourbon hot toddy
The king had died. That’s how these things always start, don’t they? After a reign of forty human years, the King’s heart wore out. I didn’t really mind, as the affairs of men are rarely my concern, and I only saw him one or two days a year when he went on his campaigns and adventures.
No, the death didn’t strike me particularly hard. There is always another King, Queen, or one of their little brats to step into the vacancy and declare themselves the new King or Queen. This one, of an age somewhat advanced for humans in his line of work, had managed to marry a younger Queen. She’d now rule the kingdom until one of their children grew old enough to replace her. In my line of work, I can appreciate stability in leadership like that. That’s why I always let their leaders flee.
So, the king and I had this yearly ritual. He’d make some speeches in his castle, rally some knights to his banner, and they’d all ride across the valley to sally forth against the ‘evil’ residing in my lair. It really was the highlight of the summer, though I did take some minor offense to being considered evil. Maybe the goblin welcome committee had some shady types within its ranks, but I really didn’t think my place was shabby enough to be labelled as evil. Dingy, perhaps. Maybe even a tad bit dangerous. But evil? Perhaps a bit of propagandic hyperbole there.
The real trouble began that Fall, when the queen died. I had to break the news to the trolls and goblins that next year’s celebrations might be called off. And Grigtooth had brewed up a special grog for the occasion! His little green heart was beside itself. You see, the problem with humans is they take so long to grow up. The Princess was eight years old when the Queen died, which meant it might be ten years before she brought the knights forth, as was tradition. How do you keep goblins, spiders, trolls, orcs, and a host of other lair-dwellers entertained for ten years?
So that’s how the professional goblin-tossing league began. If I really practice in the coming weeks, I might be able to win the title in the Behemoth Division for the seventh straight year. As the lair’s only resident dragon, I think I have a good shot!