So, I've decided...green is my new favorite color...at least until this new venture is finished! This is going to be one of those whirlwind stories. I can feel it coming! Welcome to HobGobble! As always, blame the hobgoblins for any and all first draft typos. They're crafty little fellows!
xoxo -- Hilary
The ancient hobgoblin slogged passed him. His father's once emerald skin now a sallow brown, like the greasy fish and chips bags they pilfered from the veiled alleys of London.
Old Scrod flopped into his throne and slumped down, wrapping himself in his tattered cloak. He looked tired--tired of ruling, tired of worrying, tired of even breathing it seemed. His wooden staff hung limply from his gnarled claws. Scrod slowly lifted his head and looked at his son.
"What is it that you want, son?"
"I don't want anything, father," said Mox.
Scrod gave his son the once over. "You've grown, Mox. You're much taller than your brothers and sisters--and so skinny." He looked up. "More like them."
"Yes," said Mox, his skin bristling. "I hear it ever day. I'm built like them, I know, but I'm hobgoblin through and through."
"And don't you forget it," said Scrod. "Now, why have you come? Your siblings only come to see me when they want something, so out with it, boy. What do you want?"
Mox looked at his feet. He loathed his brothers and sisters all forty-two of them, gruesome crew--always griping and sniping over who would take over the throne when their father finally had the good manners to die. "I suppose I just want to spend some time with you, nothing more." Mox knew his father would not be the Lord Hob much longer. He didn't care about the throne. Unlike his siblings, to rule over HobGobble was the last thing he desired. He shifted uncomfortably. It just didn't feel right--not knowing your father at least a little before he passed on. "You're always so occupied...I only wanted a moment to talk."
Scrod's drooping ears suddenly straightened. His spine uncurled, as he propped his wilted body up with his staff. "Well, why didn't you say so straightaway?" He snapped two slippery fingers. "Servant, bring a chair for my son." A stubby hobgoblin with arms longer than his entire body skittered out from the shadows carrying a wooden chair high over his head. He slapped it down on the dank ground, sloshing water as he did so, and ran off into the dark as quickly as he'd arrived.
Mox sat. He smiled halfheartedly at his father. Growing up, he was in awe of Scrod, the great Lord Hob, so incredibly commanding and noble--now so frail. His once robust arms and legs had all but withered down to bone. His brawny chest, stained with liver spots, had caved inward, leading down to a bulbous round belly. Scrod's dominant jaw had decayed into a sagging sack of rotted teeth. Once so feared, now so feeble, it saddened Mox to look at him.
Scrod patted Mox's knee. "So, my boy, what would you like to discuss?"
Stiffening, Mox took a deep breath. Even in his father's delicate state, Mox still got the jitters when he addressed him. "Well, father, there is something I've been wondering about."
Cocking his head, Scrod leaned on his staff. "Oh? And what might that be?"
Mox cringed as he spoke, unsure how his father might react. "Well..." Hesitantly, he pointed a slender finger at the cavernous ceiling. "I've been wondering about them."
Scrod did not move. He sat firm and silent. The last time Mox had seen his father sit so still it did not end well. The unlucky hobgoblin sitting before him received the lashing of a lifetime. Mox should have known better than to ask. "I'm sorry father," he blurted. "I'm just curious about them, the hu--"
Scrod held up his hand for silence. Mox obeyed. Scrod leaned in, closely studying his son's strangely angular face, his slight curl of a mouth, and his short rounded ears. He spoke slowly.
"You know the tragedy that befell our family the night you were born, don't you?"
"Yes," said Mox, swallowing. "My mother died."
"Yes," said Scrod. "She died. It was awful and terrible and a dark day for HobGobble. A day no hobgoblin will ever forget, least of all me. But do you know what she told me before she died? Do you?"
"Your mother held you in her arms and kissed your small forehead." Scrod chuckled. "My word, you were a tiny thing. As a child, I thought you'd pass away just as your mother had, too weak to survive in our world. Now look at you, still scrawny as a fish bone, but taller than all of us. In any case, you're mother looked me square in the eyes and told me your name was to be Mox, her father's name, the first Lord Hob, and you would one day rule."
"Yes, Mox, that is what she claimed. My latest string of wives are as softheaded as a heap of three eyed potatoes, but your mother...she was a smart one." Scrod smiled. "When she said you would rule--she meant it--she believed."
"You mean rule, as in rule HobGobble--become the mighty Lord Hob?" Mox bolted from his chair and began to pace before his father. "But I don't want to rule! Leave that for one of my brothers or sisters. They'll do whatever it takes to keep hold of the throne. Moreover, I'm not fit to rule." Mox flung his arms up in disbelief. "I don't even look the part. You said so yourself. I'm tall and gangly, my jaw is undersized and my teeth dull. I loathe scaring children and I certainly don't want to eat them! That's all my brothers speak of--when one day they can eat the fleshy, pink children that live above us! I'm unfit to rule and no reasonable hobgoblin would listen to me anyway!" Mox suddenly froze in his tracks. Here he was ranting in front of his all powerful father, the Lord Hob, telling him everything he hated about being a hobgoblin--about ruling over HobGobble--about taking his great father's place. His eyes widened in fear.
The Lord Hob stared flintily at his son. He looked about to lose his temper. Mox's green hue drained to gray. Suddenly, Scrod roared with wild laughter, nearly tumbling onto the floor. Mox seized his father by his shoulders and helped him back into his seat.
His father's laugh had turned into a coughing wheeze as he tried to catch his breath. "It's high time we had this talk," Scrod huffed, as his shriveled lungs settled. "Sit down, Mox. There is much you don't know--much indeed."